Photo An­swers

Mys­ti­fied by megapix­els? Vexed over vi­gnetting? Send your tech­nique and cam­era ques­tions to dig­i­tal­cam­[email protected]­

Digital Camera World - - PHOTO ANSWERS - An­drew James An­drew is a high­ly­ex­pe­ri­enced writer and pho­tog­ra­pher – if you have a prob­lem, he is here to help.

Proof pos­i­tive

QIn Light­room’s De­velop mod­ule there is a tick box that says Soft Proof­ing. What does it do? Colin Gould

AIf you are print­ing your im­ages di­rectly out of Light­room, the Soft Proof­ing func­tion is very use­ful. I print from Light­room via a Canon Pixma inkjet; by us­ing Soft Proof­ing and se­lect­ing the pa­per I’m us­ing, I get an ac­cu­rate on-screen rep­re­sen­ta­tion of what the print will look like. If you can’t see the pa­per you are us­ing, down­load the ICC pro­files and in­stall them in your sys­tem.

When you view the im­age as a Soft Proof, it will look dif­fer­ent. Of­ten it will look worse, with the colours muted or the con­trast dulled. You can then al­ter your pro­cess­ing to suit the pa­per you are us­ing, and hope­fully achieve a print you are happy with.

If you click in ei­ther cor­ner of the His­togram you can also see if any of your colours are out of gamut. If any ar­eas show as ei­ther red or blue, it means that they are out of the range of colours the printer can re­pro­duce; and again, if nec­es­sary, you can tweak your pro­cess­ing to suit.

With the many dif­fer­ent types of pa­per avail­able, from glossy to tex­tured fine art, it is def­i­nitely an ad­van­tage to be able to see how an im­age you want to print out will look on that pa­per. It should mean you don’t waste pa­per try­ing to achieve the print you want, although there is still room for some dif­fer­ence be­tween what you see and what you get. I’d also add that you re­ally need to have your screen cal­i­brated to be sure that your colours are ac­cu­rate in the first place.

Change of view

QWhy does the scene through the viewfinder of my Nikon DSLR look dif­fer­ent to what I ac­tu­ally cap­ture? Bruce Hart­nell

AIt’s sim­ply be­cause your cam­era has an op­ti­cal viewfinder as op­posed to an elec­tronic viewfinder. An op­ti­cal viewfinder uses a mir­ror and prism to di­rect the light through the lens to the viewfinder, so you can see what it is you are pho­tograph­ing. This means it will give you a clear and bright view of the scene – but it won’t show you the scene as the cam­era is go­ing to in­ter­pret it ac­cord­ing the ex­po­sure set­tings you are us­ing.

For ex­am­ple, whichever aper­ture you set, the viewfinder will not change; you will only see the scene at the widest aper­ture avail­able.

That’s not the case with an elec­tronic viewfinder. With an EVF, what you see is what you get; so if you set f/11, you will see all that ex­tra depth of field through the viewfinder be­fore you take the photo, as op­posed to hav­ing to view the re­sult on the back of the cam­era. You will also in­stantly be able to see through the viewfinder if your im­age is too dark, too bright or just right – and as you ad­just the ex­po­sure, you can see this chang­ing be­fore your eyes. I am used to work­ing with an op­ti­cal viewfinder, there­fore not see­ing the scene ex­actly as the cam­era is go­ing to record it feels to­tally nor­mal to me. How­ever, I have to say that a good elec­tronic viewfinder def­i­nitely takes the guess­work out of ex­po­sure and aper­ture choice, so some of the high­qual­ity mir­ror­less cam­eras with EVFs are a joy to use.

Iso­lat­ing aper­ture

QAt a re­cent cam­era club talk, the speaker men­tioned us­ing aper­ture to iso­late a sub­ject, but didn’t re­ally ex­plain what he meant. What he was re­fer­ring to? Hi­lary Duff

AThe way I’d use aper­ture to iso­late a sub­ject from its sur­round­ings is by us­ing a wide aper­ture to achieve a very shal­low depth of field. Typ­i­cally I’d use this tech­nique in a por­trait sce­nario, choos­ing an aper­ture such as f/2.8 or f/4 that then helps to sep­a­rate or ‘iso­late’ the sub­ject from the back­ground, by dif­fus­ing the ar­eas that are not in sharp fo­cus. I’m sure this is what the speaker must have been re­fer­ring to.

Although I’ve used shoot­ing a por­trait as an ex­am­ple, you can adopt this ap­proach in all sorts of dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios, in­clud­ing sports, wildlife and na­ture.

The ef­fect can be fur­ther ex­ag­ger­ated by lens choice. For ex­am­ple, a wildlife pho­tog­ra­pher us­ing a tele­photo lens will of­ten iso­late a sub­ject with a wide aper­ture that throws both the fore­ground and the back­ground out of fo­cus.

You need very ac­cu­rate fo­cus­ing with this tech­nique: there is no mar­gin for er­ror. You must achieve fo­cus ex­actly on the sub­ject – and per­haps even a pre­cise part of the sub­ject, for ex­am­ple the eyes in a por­trait or maybe the very cen­tre of a flower.

You must also con­sider your shoot­ing view­point and try to po­si­tion the sub­ject so that its re­la­tion­ship with fore­ground and back­ground helps to ex­ag­ger­ate the ef­fect. In other words, you want the back­ground es­pe­cially to be as far away as pos­si­ble, be­cause this dis­tance will in­crease the dif­fer­ence be­tween the sharp sub­ject and dif­fused back­ground.

In my puf­fin im­age, I’ve ac­tu­ally used an aper­ture of f/5.6, but by shoot­ing through fore­ground rocks with my 300mm lens and po­si­tion­ing my­self so the back­ground rocks are as far away as pos­si­ble, I’ve man­aged to dif­fuse oth­er­wise po­ten­tially dis­tract­ing de­tail and iso­late the main sub­ject.

Cabin bag fever

QI’ve no­ticed that cabin lug­gage for flights seems to be get­ting smaller and lighter, of­ten with big dif­fer­ences be­tween flights. I know you travel a lot, so how do you get around it? David Lloyd

AIt’s an ab­so­lute night­mare, David – es­pe­cially if, like me, you go ev­ery­where on a bud­get and some­times take sev­eral flights to get to the des­ti­na­tion. It seems to be get­ting worse, with no in­dus­try stan­dard.

The first point is re­ally im­por­tant – and that’s to be ab­so­lutely sure of sizes and mea­sure­ments of all flights you are on. It can vary as much as six ki­los per air­line; although bag sizes are gen­er­ally sim­i­lar, you can still get caught out. I once, with­out re­al­is­ing, took a bag that was 1cm larger than the spec­i­fi­ca­tion on one of the bud­get air­lines. Go­ing out it was no prob­lem, but com­ing back they wouldn’t let it in the cabin, caus­ing me some­thing of a headache to re­al­lo­cate the cam­era equip­ment!

How­ever, gen­er­ally it’s weight that’s the is­sue. It doesn’t take much DSLR kit to go over the 7kg some air­lines al­low. These days I make sure ev­ery­thing non-es­sen­tial and ro­bust enough goes into my hold bag. For ex­am­ple, my tri­pod is care­fully wrapped and stored in it.

Sec­ond, I only take what I know I am go­ing to need for cer­tain; some­times that means leav­ing a cou­ple of lenses I might have used at home! Third, I al­ways wear a jacket with large pock­ets – both in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal. There­fore, if my bag is too heavy and it’s checked (it isn’t al­ways), then I can pop a lens or cam­era body pre-packed in bub­ble wrap into a pocket.

The fourth, and much more rad­i­cal, an­swer is to go mir­ror­less! I can’t help think­ing the air­line com­pa­nies are boost­ing mir­ror­less sales with their re­stric­tions. And by the way, your cam­era’s lithium bat­ter­ies must be in your hand lug­gage and not your hold lug­gage.

Mist mis­take

QI re­cently took some pho­tos of mist, but they were all too dark. What did I do wrong? Cathy Jef­fers

ALeft to its own de­vices, your cam­era’s me­ter will typ­i­cally un­der­ex­pose a misty scene. It’s sim­i­lar to when you pho­to­graph snow and the snow comes out grey.

The me­ter sim­ply thinks there is more light than there re­ally is. Dial in some pos­i­tive ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion – any­thing from +0.5 to +2, de­pend­ing on how back­lit the scene is and how much of the scene is pure mist. You don’t want to blow the high­lights com­pletely, so check the his­togram.

Plan ahead for por­traits

QI’ve been asked to do an out­door fam­ily por­trait ses­sion for a friend. Is there any­thing I can pre­pare in ad­vance? Tony Hawk

AWhile you don’t know what con­di­tions you’ll have on the day, my ad­vice would be to de­cide the lo­ca­tion and visit it, so you start form­ing some ideas. The light might be dif­fer­ent when you re­turn, but hav­ing a good un­der­stand­ing of what’s avail­able will help the shoot go more smoothly.

Keep­ing clean

QAre mir­ror­less cam­eras more prone to dirt on the sen­sor than SLRs? Tim Wood

AI can un­der­stand why you might think this, but I have no ev­i­dence from per­sonal use of mir­ror­less to sug­gest they are any worse than a stan­dard DSLR. Cer­tainly ask­ing a num­ber of pros I know who shoot both mir­ror­less and DSLR cam­eras, there was no­body who flagged it as an is­sue.

The new EOS R mir­ror­less from Canon has a screen that comes across the sen­sor when lenses are changed, so clearly man­u­fac­tur­ers con­tinue to find ways to keep the sen­sor as clean as pos­si­ble.

Soft Proof­ing high­lights ar­eas of colour your inkjet can’t print ac­cu­rately.

What you see through a viewfinder

What you ac­tu­ally get...

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