In Episode 6 of the Improve Photography Podcast, Jim interviews Jeff Cable. Jeff is a sports photographer who shot the recent London Olympics. He also runs a photography business where he caters mostly to shooting Bar-Mitzvahs, and works at Lexar. You can check out Jeff's blog here, and his facebook page here.
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Guide to Episode 6
[1:10] A listener calls in and asks for a recommendation on an affordable, soft flash.
Jim reminds the listener that one flash will never be softer than another flash. What controls the softness of the light is the size of the light in relation to the subject. So a large softbox or umbrella will create soft light, but an expensive flash will be no softer than an inexpensive flash.
Jeff Cable says that he usually doesn't use flash modifiers outside but just uses low power flash as fill flash. When shooting indoors, he also likes to bounce the flash off walls instead of using a flash modifier because they are too cumbersome.
Jim recommends the YN-560 flash as an inexpensive and high quality flash. Even though he has many more expensive flashes in the studio, he finds himself going back that that one. You can find the review of the YN-560 here and you can find all of Jim's lighting gear recommendations here.
[6:00] A listener asks for tips for taking pictures at the beach. When she has done it, she finds that it is windy and the sand gets everywhere!
Jim says that he likes to pose people on the beach so that the sun is to their back. This makes it so the people aren't squinting looking into the sun, and also so that the sun doesn't cut crossways across the people and cause ugly shadows. If this technique doesn't work, a large diffuser works great when placed above the subject.
Jim recommends that you use the white sand as a reflector to bounce the sun's light to fill in shadows. This works great if you come up with a pose where the people are sitting down or lying down in the sand so that they are close to the sand.
Jeff and Jim mention that they have a lot of trouble with wind on the beach. Jim suggests a small softbox because umbrellas will catch the wind and break. Jeff mentions that the wind is also a problem because it can blow the hair of the subject across their face.
[11:30] Is there a secret to getting a good sports shot without the camera focusing on the wrong player or athlete?
Jim covers some beginner information if you're getting started in sports photography. He said that one thing you need to get used to in sports photography is that some of the photos will be blurry or improperly focused–that's just part of sports photography. He also suggests you use continuous focus (AF-C on Nikon) or AI Servo (Canon) so that the camera continuously focuses until the instant you take the picture.
Jeff says that he likes to use single point focus and then move the frame around so that the athlete covers that focus point. Jeff also mentions that he likes to use back button focus for sports photography.
[18:45] What are your best three tips for shooting swimming photography?
Jim mentions that you should probably adjust your white balance if you normally shoot in JPEG for sports. He says that the blue water and the yellow incandescent lights of an indoor swimming pool will often throw your white balance for a loop.
Jeff mentions that you really need to know the sport to shoot swimming events. He says that if you shoot the butterfly, you usually want to be straight on to the swimmer because they face forward, but if you're shooting freestyle, then you want to be on the swimmer's breathing side.
[22:50] How do you swap heads for family photography? It takes forever, so should I charge the client more if they want this?
Jim says this is the very reason he doesn't do family photography–head swapping is time consuming and is tedious work.
[27:40] How do I know if I have sharpened a photo to much? What settings should I put in Photoshop for proper sharpening?
Jim says there really is no silver bullet to solve this problem, because each medium will require different levels of sharpening. Jim says a large canvas print will need much more sharpening than a small photo displayed on a screen, or a glossy print. However, Jim suggests 100 strength and a threshold of 1 in Photoshop as a GENERAL setting for sharpening.
Jeff says that it's important to shoot sharp in camera so you don't need to sharpen too much in Photoshop. He says that he normally keeps the strength around 75.
[33:00] Is there a lab that you can calibrate your printers to?
Jim says that the first thing you need to do is to calibrate your monitor. If you don't know how to calibrate your monitor, read this article on screen calibration for photographers. After you calibrate your monitor, you can download an ICC profile to fine-tune your screen to know for sure that it will print just right. Jim says, however, that the ICC profile usually isn't necessary unless you're working on something mission-critical. Most of the time a calibrated screen will do just fine.
Jeff warns the listener against offering digital files to clients because it will take away from your sales and also give the customer much better prints.
[40:30] Interview with Jeff Cable
Jeff talks about night photography and mentions a photo he took last week in San Francisco of the night sky. One tip he shares is that it is helpful to arrive at the location to shoot night photography before it is totally dark so that you can work out your composition and get positioned correctly.
He also reports on his experience of shooting the London Olympics and says there wasn't too much that surprised him because he shot two Olympic events before this one. He discusses his workflow for shooting the Olympics and mentions that he shoots everything in RAW on the Canon 1DX and edits his photos using Photo Mechanic.
[42:00] Doodad of the week
Jim recommends the Black Rapid RS-7 Camera strap. You can also get the RS-5 version that has a pouch where you can put business cards or memory cards.
Jeff Cable recommends the Wacom tablet. It is a graphics tablet that goes on your desk and you draw on the tablet screen with a stylus instead of using a mouse. Jim says he has a few Wacom tablets, but can't quite get used to it.
[50:00] Prizes for reviews
The winner of the prize this week was Anando Alvim from Brazil! If that's you, email us at prize AT improvephotography.com to get your free online class!
Jim mentions that you will only see the reviews that have been submitted in your country's iTunes, but that he is using software to get the reviews from all of the countries so that everyone has an equal chance of winning no matter where you live. There are currently 135 ratings of the Improve Photography Podcast on iTunes USA.
You can enter to win a free online photography class from Jim and Dustin by going to the Improve Photography Podcast in iTunes and writing a one or two sentence review. Jim says he really appreciates those who have been nice enough to write reviews as it helps spread the show to others.