Most modern digital SLR cameras are equipped with advanced autofocus systems that are often hard to understand. Whether you are shooting with an entry-level or professional DSLR, knowing how to use autofocus system effectively is essential to get sharp images. A badly-focused, blurry image can ruin a photograph and you cannot repair it in post-processing. Some professionals often end up converting their images to black and white, to hide their focusing problems. If you learn how to focus correctly, you do not have to resort to such measures and you can deliver much better results to your clients and family. Simply put, accurate focus translates to sharper images and that is something everyone is looking for in photographs today. I know some photographers will argue with me on this, saying that sometimes image blur yields a “creative” look, but it is one thing when you do it on purpose and another, when you consistently mess up just because you don’t know how to focus well with your camera. Once you learn how to properly focus with your camera, you can then decide whether you want to blur something on purpose.
In this fifth issue of the Photography FAQ series, I will answer some of the interesting questions from our readers that I thought would be beneficial for others. Big thanks to our readers for continuously sending questions to us and participating in the comments section of our blog. We truly value your feedback and we do our best to respond to your queries as soon as we can.
- How can I get sharp images of moving people?
Use a faster shutter speed! If you do not understand the relationship of motion blur to shutter speed, check out my “understanding shutter speed” article, where I explain what shutter speed does and how you can freeze motion.
- Is it worth buying UV/protection filters for Nikon 35mm f/1.8G and Nikon 50mm f/1.4G lenses? Isn’t using a lens hood good enough to protect the front lens?
I would definitely recommend to buy UV filters for both lenses, for one simple reason – it is easier to clean these lenses with filters! If you look at the front part of both lenses, you will see that these lenses have “layers” or threads of black plastic around the front lens element:
This page is used for posting links to our articles on flash photography gear and various tips we have written on flash photography. As we post more articles in the future, this page will be updated frequently with more flash photography tips and other lighting-related articles to help our readers enhance their knowledge of flash photography and get the best out of their equipment.
Flash Photography Gear:
- How to Build an Affordable Photo Studio
- Flash for Nikon DSLR cameras
- Nikon Flash Comparison
- Infrared vs Radio vs Hybrid Flash
Flash Photography Tips:
One of our readers, Steven Ross, was kind enough to send an image to me as a Case Study. He is wondering why his image did not come out sharp, with some light spill and overexposure. Here is what he sent me:
And his comments:
I used the camera on aperture priority mode and on a tripod but it appears that since the monument was being lit by spotlights the shutter speed was too long and the monument seems much brighter/overexposed compared to the rest of the scene.
During the last two weeks, I have received several emails from our readers, asking what the best time to photograph Maroon Bells is. I have been to Maroon Bells many times, so I would love to share some info on when to photograph the most popular location in Colorado (and one of the most photographed spots in the world).
Maroon Bells is truly magical, the one place you can only appreciate when you are there. While photographs do show the beauty of Maroon Bells, they still cannot transfer the raw beauty of the place with its high altitude fresh air, the smell of wildflowers and plants, pleasant afternoon breezes, the ever-changing weather and freezing-cold nights and mornings. Maroon Bells changes drastically during seasons. In the spring (which is around late April and May), the water level of the Maroon Lake is high, the aspens have new leaves, with wildflowers and plants just starting to turn green. The summer is beautiful, with the busy streams and gorgeous wildflowers. The fall season is what draws the most amount of people to Maroon Bells, due to aspens rapidly changing their colors. If you are lucky, you might get some snow with aspens in their fall plumage. Winters are rather harsh, but still beautiful with fresh snow. The roads in winter are closed though, so you would have to rent a snowmobile to get to the lake. In terms of seasons, I personally like to visit Maroon Bells from mid-July to late September.
Uma and Maz are cute as they come! My first child photography mini-clients are growing up and getting so adorable! Loved working with them and talking to their mother, my dear friend Laura. Please enjoy the images. Photos are all taken with the Nikon D700 and Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G, natural light. One of my favorite combinations!
Post-processing was very quick – I simply imported everything into Lightroom, then cropped and aligned images a little. For the black and white image below, I used Lightroom’s built in functionality for converting to B&W. Under the HSL/Color/B&W panel in Develop Module, I used the following values: Red: 0, Orange: +3, Yellow: 0, Green: -20, Aqua: -35, Blue: -30, Purple: +5, Magenta: +5. To give it a slightly “chocolaty” look, I used “Split Toning” with a slight coloring to Shadows and some tweaks to Hue and Saturation. Then, I used “Strong Contrast” under “Tone Curve” to make B+W look punchier, but it was not enough, so I increased the “Blacks” to 25 under “Basic” to bring up more blacks.
The day was sunny and nice, but the sun was still rather harsh, so I moved the kids under the porch to move away from direct sunlight. As usual, I shot in aperture priority mode and used an aperture of f/3.5, since I was standing rather close and I did not want to blur their faces. At the same time, f/3.5 was small enough to bring the bodies into focus and large enough to blur some of that background :)
I know Madi from one of our weddings that we shot earlier this year. She was a perfect little flower girl and her mommy Erin was a perfect bridesmaid! I secretly wished that someday Erin would call me and let me photograph Madi. My love for little girls is not just a secret. But if you haven’t heard before I am telling you now: I kind of secretly wish to have a baby daughter some day! Our house is full of boys and at times it gets pretty lonely down here (I say to my husband)!
My wish did come true! You can cross the part about having a daughter though :) Erin contacted me asking to photograph her two beautiful children, Madison and Tyler. There goes the saying about wishing and them wishes coming true! Maybe one day I will have a baby girl after all… Until then, enjoy some of the images I took of Madi and handsome Tyler!
Do you dream of pictures? Most passionate photographers do. Some dream of a beautiful location with the right lighting, while others dream of perhaps a perfect subject in a perfect environment. Whatever the dream is, the goal is to create a unique, beautiful image that will trigger the emotions of the viewer, touching their deepest senses and ultimately creating a very positive experience – a picture worth a thousand words…
I had a dream like that for a while, perhaps after seeing Yellowstone for the first time. The raw nature, strangely beautiful and colorful pools of hot spring water and geysers left some unforgettable memories in my head and I have been dreaming of some images of Yellowstone ever since. While there are plenty of pictures of Yellowstone out there, most of them show the famous Yellowstone Falls or some other waterfalls, geysers and hot springs. Most other photographs are of bison, wolves, bears, moose, elk, deer and other animals – the wildlife part of Yellowstone. Landscape photographers certainly give a lot more attention to Grand Tetons, largely because of Ansel Adams’ classic photographs and also because the Tetons are very “contrasty” and beautiful, especially in fall.
Lola and I took a short trip to Wyoming this past weekend and decided to check out Yellowstone and drive through Grand Teton National Park on the way back. Obviously, I already knew that I would not be able to capture anything good from the Tetons, since we were planning to leave Yellowstone at around noon time – the worst time of the day for Tetons, especially when it is hot. On top of that, the wildfires of Yellowstone and the surrounding areas contributed to the thick haze, making it extremely difficult to capture images during the day. Here is the picture of Grant Tetons with fall colors that I captured right before we took off home:
Here are some of my favorite images from the last shoot with Isadora. The first image was taken in a shady area and I had to use off-camera flash (umbrella with a single strobe) as fill-flash to brighten up her face and get rid of raccoon eyes (shadows under eyes). The flash was positioned a little higher at approximately 30 degrees, to my left:
This image was shot with natural light, early in the morning in the beginning of the session: