Photo An­swers

Res­i­dent know-it-all An­drew James tack­les your queries and rates your shots

Digital Camera World - - CONTENTS -

Pro­file point­ers

Q In Light­room, should I change the Pro­file of an im­age once I have imported it? Sue West­land

APro­files can give you an ex­cel­lent starting point for your im­age, and even po­ten­tially save you need­ing to do any ad­di­tional pro­cess­ing at all. By mov­ing the Pro­file op­tion from the Cal­i­bra­tion panel to the Ba­sic panel with the last Light­room CC up­date, Adobe has clearly re­alised it needed to make them more avail­able within the work­flow. You also have a greater choice than ever be­fore, with var­i­ous dif­fer­ent sets of Pro­files that can be ap­plied with one click – whether these are Pro­files that match your in-cam­era op­tions or cre­ative looks.

I par­tic­u­larly like the var­i­ous Black & White Pro­file op­tions: by choos­ing one for a spe­cific im­age, I can give my­self a good head start on achiev­ing a look I want. By us­ing the Amount slider, I can also tweak the ef­fect, mak­ing it weaker or stronger. Once the Pro­file has been ap­plied, you can still do any other pro­cess­ing you want with any of the uni­ver­sal slid­ers or by us­ing Brushes and Grad­u­ated Fil­ters for more lo­calised ef­fects.

One of the lit­tle touches I like is that you can cre­ate your own set of favourite Pro­files sim­ply by click­ing on the star in the cor­ner of any Pro­file while you are view­ing it. Once clicked, the Pro­file will in­stantly ap­pear in Favourites. If you change your mind later on, just click on the star again and it is re­moved.

City slick­ers

Q I take a lot of pho­to­graphs in the city, and never know whether to in­clude peo­ple or try to avoid them. What do you think I should do? Devon Brew­ster

A I think you should do both! There is no doubt that some­times the amount of peo­ple milling around an in­ter­est­ing ur­ban scene can get in the way. To avoid them you of­ten have to get up re­ally early, stay out late or just be in­cred­i­bly pa­tient. How­ever, peo­ple are very much a part of city life and in­clud­ing them in your im­age can help to give it con­text, a sense of scale and so on. The real key is to be in­cred­i­bly se­lec­tive with how peo­ple are used and again, this will re­quire pa­tience, luck and pre-plan­ning.

I was shoot­ing in Bil­bao re­cently, and was do­ing a photo of the gi­ant steel spi­der statue in front of the fa­mous Guggen­heim Mu­seum. Gen­er­ally the space be­neath the statue was filled with lots of peo­ple and this looked re­ally messy, so I waited and man­aged a few frames with­out any­one in it – but this lost any sense of the statue’s scale. In the end, I stood and waited for a long time for a few solo peo­ple to walk past, but even then I still was not happy with the com­po­si­tion. It was only when the cy­clist came past that I felt all the com­po­si­tional el­e­ments had come to­gether. I had al­ready de­cided I needed the hu­man el­e­ment to the left of the spi­der so it was just a ques­tion of shoot­ing a cou­ple of quick frames as the cy­clist sped past. He is only tiny in the frame but is im­por­tant to the over­all com­po­si­tion. Ex­per­i­ment with this next time you’re shoot­ing in the city.

Macro helpers I’ve be­come keen on macro pho­tog­ra­phy. What ac­ces­sories would you sug­gest? Dave How­ell

A There are nu­mer­ous items you can get to help your macro pho­tog­ra­phy. I am as­sum­ing you al­ready have a tri­pod (if not, def­i­nitely add this to the list), and I think a mi­cro po­si­tion plate could be use­ful for very fine ad­just­ments, es­pe­cially if you in­tend to fo­cus-stack.

How­ever, the three things I use most of­ten when us­ing a macro lens are a bean­bag, a small re­flec­tor and a flash­gun. The bean­bag is in­valu­able when you work flat on the ground to shoot in­sects or plants, such as fungi. Get a double-sized one if you can: it’s heav­ier to carry, but it makes po­si­tion­ing the cam­era and lens safely and firmly that much eas­ier.

A re­flec­tor is es­sen­tial for bounc­ing nat­u­ral and flash il­lu­mi­na­tion to fill in shad­ows and makes your sub­ject stand out well. The flash­gun it­self is used when there isn’t enough nat­u­ral light to bring out the tex­tures or colours of your sub­ject. I al­ways pre­fer to have it off-cam­era so I can play with the di­rec­tion of light; this means hav­ing a flash trig­ger and re­ceiver too.

The snail im­age above was taken us­ing an off-cam­era flash­gun, an­gled to bring out the tex­ture on the snail’s body and the colours of the shell. Us­ing a low power with the flash­gun has meant it is bal­anced with the am­bi­ent light, so it looks more nat­u­ral.

Hot shot

Q What is a cam­era’s burst rate? Tina Heath

A It’s the num­ber of frames you can fire one af­ter the other if you hold the shut­ter but­ton down when the cam­era is in its con­tin­u­ous drive mode, with­out the cam­era stop­ping or slow­ing down as it pro­cesses the data. This can vary sig­nif­i­cantly be­tween mod­els. The amount of con­tin­u­ous files that a cam­era can cope with also de­pends on whether you are shoot­ing JPEG or raw, with raw files be­ing harder to process and there­fore more likely to slow the cam­era down. A high burst rate is use­ful if you shoot sport or wildlife.

Fo­cus fail Q My lens doesn’t lock fo­cus. I bought it sec­ond-hand and it has al­ways been like this. Do you think some­thing is dam­aged? Cooper Holden

A There are sev­eral dif­fer­ent rea­sons that a lens fails to find fo­cus, but even a bud­get lens should be able to lock fo­cus eas­ily in bright con­di­tions when there is a lot of con­trast within the scene. There­fore the first thing I would sug­gest is that you test its abil­ity in good con­di­tions be­fore any­thing else. If it still strug­gles, you need to elim­i­nate other po­ten­tial causes. Make sure the front el­e­ment is clean and that your cam­era sen­sor is also dust-free.

Also double-check that you are not try­ing to fo­cus closer than its min­i­mum fo­cus­ing dis­tance. Do any test­ing us­ing the cen­tral AF point, as this should be the fastest to lock fo­cus on your sub­ject.

If you have ex­hausted these pos­si­bil­i­ties and it is still hunt­ing for fo­cus, then

un­for­tu­nately it does sound like an in­ter­nal fault. De­pend­ing on how much you paid for it, you can get a lens re­pair spe­cial­ist to take a look at it. Over the years, I have had sev­eral lenses de­velop fo­cus­ing is­sues due to wear and tear – and on each oc­ca­sion, I have had the lens fixed for a lot less than it would cost to re­place it with a new or sec­ond-hand op­tic.

Blur amount Q When I try to cap­ture slow move­ment in a land­scape as a blur, how do I know what shut­ter speed to use? Rich Granger

A There is no ex­act rule here, Rich; it all de­pends on how much nat­u­ral move­ment there is, and how blurry you want it. With time you get a feel for it, but if you are still learn­ing, noth­ing beats ex­per­i­men­ta­tion and learn­ing from the re­sults.

The sim­ple thing to re­mem­ber is: the longer the ex­po­sure, the more any mov­ing ob­jects will blur. If you only want a small amount of blur, shut­ter speeds of 1/15 or 1/30 sec can some­times be enough to give that hint of move­ment, es­pe­cially for wa­ter. The temp­ta­tion can of­ten be to use very long ex­po­sures, but shorter ex­po­sures that re­tain more de­tail can also be in­ter­est­ing and suc­cess­ful.

When you im­port a shot into Light­room CC, the re­vamped Pro­files sys­tem gives you plenty of choices for how to process the shot. Be­fore Af­ter Once you’ve se­lected a Pro­file, it’s easy to mod­ify it or do fur­ther edit­ing.

An­drew James An­drew is a high­ly­ex­pe­ri­enced writer and pho­tog­ra­pher – if you have a prob­lem, he is here to help.

In­clud­ing the fig­ure helps the com­po­si­tion and sug­gests scale.

A few sim­ple ac­ces­sories can re­ally en­hance your macro pho­tog­ra­phy.

Look for a cam­era with a high burst rate for a bet­ter chance of cap­tur­ing ac­tion.

1/30 sec

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