Frequently Asked Questions
What camera gear do you use?
A lot of people ask this question, but before I list my gear, I want to share with you this thought: good photos have a great deal more to do with who is behind the gear than the gear itself. The gear is a means to an end and while I do believe in using the best possible equipment, spending a lot of money does not mean you will take great photos just like having expensive cookware doesn’t mean you will cook a tasty meal. It takes years of practice, learning, and even blood, sweat and tears to become a great photographer.
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How do you get crisp, sharp photos?
- A great deal of sharpness comes from the lens you choose to use. Cheap lenses will not give you sharp images, so invest a little more in your lenses if you want sharp images. When considering a lens purchase, read reviews and pay special attention to comments about sharpness. Prime lenses (that don’t zoom) are generally sharper than zoom lenses. Zoom lenses that have a constant aperture setting tend to be sharper than those with variable aperture settings.
- I rarely use a lens “wide open” aka at it’s lowest aperture number. That’s usually where it is the least sharp. For instance, with a 50mm 1.4 lens, you want to try and stay around 1.8 unless you need the light. So then why buy a 1.4 lens instead of a 1.8 lens? Because the overall image quality is better.
- I’m careful to keep my shutter speed above 1/focal length. So for a 200mm lens, that would be 1/200th. However, if you know that you are a person who moves a lot while shooting, you might find that’s not enough and then you want to bump it up a bit if you want to be assured of a sharp photo. Using lenses with image stabilization (vibration reduction, for you Nikoners) changes the rules a bit. I will go as low as 1/60 with an image stabilized lens if my subject is not moving. Images stabilized lenses will cost you more, but they really help with sharpness.
Do You Shoot in Manual Mode?
Most of the time I shoot in Manual because it puts me in control of my exposure. When shooting horses in motion, I do sometimes switch to Av (aperture value) because the light is often changing more quickly than I can adjust my camera. Changing to shooting in manual is one of the biggest things I ever did to improve my photography.
What is your workflow?
I sort the keepers from the tossers in Photo Mechanic, then color/density correct, crop, and convert from RAW to JPEG in Lightroom. Tweak in Photoshop if necessary. I use a few Photoshop actions, but I mostly use actions and Lightroom presets I developed to fit my style of shooting and processing. I am not big on commercial photo actions and heavy image processing. I prefer rather to let the photograph itself take center stage, not the processing. For more on my workflow, check out my eBook “The Lazy Photographer’s Guide to Workflow“.
Do you offer workshops or mentoring?
Due to a full schedule and workload, I am currently not taking any new mentoring students and have no plans for a workshop in 2019.
I have been interviewed on several podcasts and share about my photography and approach.