In Episode 18 of the Improve Photography Podcast, Jim and Dustin answer listener questions about white balance, how to know when it's time to start charging for your photos, what to do as the second shooter at a wedding, wireless tethered shooting, and more!
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Guide to Episode 18
[0:53] Wireless tethered shooting: do you have any experience with this technology?
This technology allows you to take pictures from the camera, and have it wirelessly send the pictures to an iPad or other device. Jim and Dustin love this technology. There are a lot of ways to do this, but the way we usually use in the studio is the Eye-Fi Card (improvephotography.com/wirelesscard – this is the specific card you will need to be able to do this). You put it in your SD slot and it will create a wiFi network so that your iPad or cell phone can receive the images. It takes about 2 seconds to send the picture from the camera over to the iPad or phone. Click here for video tutorial explaining how to do this.
Other ways to accomplish this same thing: Nikon has WU-1a that works with a few of the newer Nikon cameras, Canon has started to build this technology in to their cameras (Dustin has been using it a lot lately and just loves it), you can get battery grips that have the wiFi built in as well (but it will cost you – around $350), and you can plug USB right into a laptop and Lightroom will take care of it for you. Additionally, on The Digital Story, Derrick Story recommends the Toshiba FlashAir Card, saying it is quite a bit easier to set up than the Eye-Fi Card.
Just remember that this is newer technology, so older cameras won't support it. If your camera was made in the last 2 years, you can pretty safely assume it will work fine.
[5:48] Advice for a second shooter at a wedding?
When you are hired (or asked) as a second shooter for an event like a wedding, there are some things to keep in mind. First, remember that the primary photographer was the photographer hired for this job – not you. The primary photographer will be the one taking all the formal shots, posing people, adjusting the lighting, etc. When something is happening (the actual ceremony, first dance, cutting the cake, etc.) both photographers should be taking pictures and you'll want to be shooting as many as you can. But when things are moving more slowly (such as when it's time for the formal shots), this is the time for the second to hold the flash or the diffuser and otherwise be helpful or stand back and stay out of the way.
As the second, you should take photos of all the little things: the cake topper, all the little girls with matching bows in their hair, and all the other small little details of the wedding. Someone has put a lot of effort into all these small details to make the wedding beautiful, and you want to capture that. The main photographer is going to be focusing on the bride and groom, making sure they get all the pictures with the people they want, so the second needs to be working on taking shots of all the extra details that the photographer might not have time to notice.
Finally, remember that as the second shooter, your photos belong to the primary photographer – don't use these images without their permission, even for your own portfolio.
[10:14] I'm trying to get into landscape photography and I just bought the new Canon 6D . I'm looking to buy a couple of filters for it, and wondering about circular polarizing filters specifically.
You need to know the filter thread size of your lens. (Most pro lenses are 77mm filter thread.) Then you can use any filter as long as the filter thread is the correct size for your lens. It usually says really tiny on the front of the lens what the thread size is.
Dustin suggests a circular polarizing filter, a graduated neutral density filter, and a neutral density filter. Read here to learn about what a circular polarizing filter can do for your photography as well as what to look for when you buy. Dustin recommends checking out eBay for filters – see if you can get a package deal or save on shipping by ordering through them.
[17:35] I'm currently using some free editing programs for my photos, but I'd like to have magazine-quality pictures and text. I'm not sure what Photoshop program I should use. What do you suggest?
If you want to work with text, you don't want to use Lightroom or Aperture. Though Lightroom allows text, it really is pretty terrible quality. Lightroom and Aperture are great for managing photos, but terrible for text.
So the choice comes down to Photoshop ($600) or Photoshop Elements ($70). The price difference is huge! Though Photoshop Elements is quite powerful (it includes a rudimentary organizer for photos and includes a lot of the tools that the full-blown Photoshop does), the tools just work differently. The tools are easier to learn and more intuitive to use, but they just don't have quite the quality or capability of the full-blown Photoshop tools. Additionally, Photoshop Elements is a little slower.
If you don't want to pay for the full Photoshop, you can join Creative Cloud where you pay a monthly fee to access the entire Adobe suite of products.
If you're wanting to do a lot of text (such as a magazine), don't use Photoshop. Instead, get Adobe InDesign – the layout engine for Adobe. Edit your photos in Photoshop, then send them over to InDesign for layout.
[22:48] If I take silhouettes or pictures from the back of people who don't know I'm taking a shot of them, but there's no feature of their face that you could recognize on the internet, can I post these pictures on the internet, even if the person would recognize themselves if they saw the photo?
IMPORTANT!!! Remember that Jim and Dustin only know about the laws in the US and we can't comment for sure on the laws of other countries. Additionally, remember that while Jim did go to law school, Jim is NOT your attorney, and you need to find an attorney licensed to your jurisdiction to apply the law to your situation.
Having said that, this is NOT a gray area. When people are in a public place, the laws state that they have no expectation of privacy. You can take pictures of them that show their faces, features, pictures that are recognizable, etc. You can take a picture of a person in a public place and post it on Flickr, Facebook, etc. However, if you are going to use this photo for any sponsorship or advertisement purposes or any professional commercial use, then this completely changes the situation. In these cases, you absolutely need to have a model release before you can use these photos commercially.
While it is perfectly legal here in the US to take pictures of random people in public places, do please use your common sense. Don't go shooting pictures of kids in a playground with a telephoto lens – it's simply just a bad idea.
To put it simply, don't annoy people, don't impede their way, be polite, but go ahead and take all the pictures you want. Just be careful – if you're going to use them for professional use, then you'd better know what you're doing!
[29:08] Do you guys use any proprietary software for sharpening images or reducing noise in Photoshop?
Photoshop allows third-party companies to develop additional functionality that plugs in to Photoshop and does specific things. A lot of these plugins are very popular, especially because they advertise a lot to photographers. Jim doesn't use any, but Dustin uses a lot of the Nik Software master collection (color effects, silver effects, sharpening, noise reduction). Photoshop can accomplish anything that Nik Software can do, but Nik Software is often faster at those specific functions. Additionally, if you don't have the skill in Photoshop to create the effect you want, that's another reason for using a plugin. Dustin uses this plugin for finishing effects because it cuts down his workflow quite a bit. This can be the difference between spending an afternoon on an entire shoot or on one single photo. Additionally, a lot of plugins have a huge number of presets that you can use – this can be cool to see ideas of things you might not have thought to try on your photo.
[32:31] Can you please explain what white balance is, how it works, and why it is useful?
White balance means that the camera is trying to determine what the neutral color is and which color balance to apply to the photo. If you're in a department store, you'll see kind of a green, sickly light due to the bulbs they use. In most houses, the light is a yellowish color unless you're using daylight balanced light bulbs in which case they will be more of a white color. The light changes everywhere you go – shade is different than the sunlight, etc. There are some presets for white balance in your camera so you can use these and it will get you pretty close to where you need to be. You can also set a custom white balance.
But we don't usually change ours. Why? Because we feel like the camera is pretty accurate. If we feel it needs to be different, we will change the white balance later when the photo is on a large calibrated screen. But if you're in a situation where you'd need to change a lot of photos, it might be worth changing the white balance so you don't have a lot of extra work to do later. A good example for when you should adjust the white balance is if you are a product photographer, because the color of the product needs to be precise. If you feel having the white balance perfect is vital to your photography, you might be tempted to go buy a gray card. Don't. You will find that even though it is scientifically correct, you won't like the color it produces. Generally, unless you are doing product photography, just use the white balance on auto and you can correct it in Photoshop later. It won't be a big deal.
[38:19] How do I know when my photography is good enough to start looking for paying clients?
When you're ready to do professional photography is as soon as someone is ready to pay you as long as: 1. You're not taking a one-time shoot (like a wedding or a baby's birth when it can't be re-shot), and 2. You're straight with people: tell them this is your first job, let them look at your previous work, and if they're happy with it, go ahead and take the job.
You don't have to wait for any specific thing to happen, and nobody needs to give you permission. We teach a 30 day class about starting up a professional photography business and our students often ask us at the end of the course if it is “ok” if they start their business now. Absolutely! When people start asking you to take their photos for different events, that's a good indication that you should start charging for your photo shoots. Remember that you can start the prices on par with other professional photographers but then offer an introductory discount until you feel confident enough in your photography to charge full price.
[43:15] Doodads of the Week
Jim's doodad of the week is the Streamlight Stylus Penlight, a small LED flashlight (very low power) that has a little rubber nub on the end of it that allows you to control how wide or how narrow a beam of light it puts out. Jim used this light when he was taking his picture for our new feature, the weekly photo duel, this past week. (And he's only a little bit bitter that Dustin beat him.)
Dustin's pick of the week is that Canon announced a new lightweight camera that will be available in April called the Rebel SL1. It is 25% smaller and 25% lighter than the Canon T3i, which was already a pretty small camera! The only thing it doesn't have is built-in wireless for flash control and it is a little bit slower. These cameras are on presale right now for $800.
Jim mentioned that Canon also announced the T5i and, unfortunately, they still appear to be using the same image sensor as in previous cameras.
[49:53] Prizes for reviews!
The winner is Speaking of Amethyst. If that's your username on iTunes, email Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org to get your free online photography class.
To be entered to win the online photography class each week, simply go to this podcast on iTunes and write a one or two sentence review. While they appreciate a a 5-star review, any review will get you entered to win a class for free (a $98 value).