One Hour Photo Featuring Art Wolfe


Lesson Info

Student Q&A

Today we have the great Art Wolfe here, and we've got a number of his photos that we're gonna be looking at, and I'm sure we're gonna have a great conversation. And then on top of that, we're gonna be looking at some of your photos, both Art and I, and we'll be commenting and making suggestions about how you could improve, or what we like or what we don't like about your photos. Alright for this week our first question is... "I use a Canon 6D but my lens is Sigma... What are the pros and cons to using a different brand?" So, Sigma, as of late, has been making some very high-end, optically very, very good lenses, and so from an optical standpoint, it may not be a problem at all. In fact, it may actually be better than what's available with your Canon, Nikon, or whatever other system that you have. Typically, when Canon or Nikon or any other manufacturer make a camera, and make a lens, they're designed to work together, and you have warranties that make sure that they're gonna work. When...

you buy another brand, they're often reverse-engineering how the focusing and aperture connect up with the camera, and it's possible... and Sigma in the past was a little bit guilty of having lenses that were not compatible even though they were supposed to be, and they would have to be fixed by Sigma, and you'd have to send it in. They would fix it for free, but it was kind of an inconvenience because you go out, you buy a new camera, and your old Sigma lens didn't work on it. They seem to have addressed that, for the most part for the last several years. A number of their art lenses, or their sport lenses, as of the last three or four years, are going to beat the optical quality of many of the Canons and Nikons out there. They may or may not be as fast to focusing, and so most photographers who are pretty serious are gonna buy the name brand lens of their camera manufacturer, but there's a number of us, myself included, that do own some of those Sigmas, because they are becoming quite good. There's also Tamron and Tokina, and they can make some very good alternate choices that are sometimes a little bit less money, and virtually the same in quality. "Do you have a good tip for culling down photos from a travel trip?" This comes from Heather Cubrow. The way that I work when I'm traveling is that when I'm traveling, I wanna get the best photos possible, and I don't wanna spend a lot of time working on my computer when I'm on location. But I do wanna try to note down anything that was really important that happened, that I knew one shot was a better shot or not. So I try to get through every day's photo just in a real quick scan, and mark off some images that I know are garbage, and mark off a few that are really good. Sometimes I'll just give myself ten minutes before bed to look through all the photos, mark down five or six that I know are pretty good, give them two stars, give everything else one stars... When I come back home... days, weeks later, when I'm comfortable, and I'm sitting in my office, and then I have a chance to look at the images on the big screen, then I'll do a more thorough culling of them. But I think doing two culls, one right away, and then one later one with a little bit of time to separate you from the emotions of shooting something- because right then, you might be thinking it's the greatest thing in the world, and two weeks later, you might be thinking, "it's not quite ready for primetime yet." Next question. "What is your opinion on Magic Lantern?" This is Robert Stanton. Alright I'll be honest with you, I don't know a lot about Magic Lantern. I don't use it myself. But it is a- For those of you who don't know anything about it, this is a software hack to get into mostly your Canon, a lot of your Canon 5D-Mark 2s and 5D-Mark 3s... Magic Lantern made their own software, or firmware, that you load onto the camera that improves the camera's performance when shooting video and gives you new options that the original manufacturer, Canon in this case, did not give you. If you are very serious about shooting video, I would look very closely at it. I've heard good things about it, it's interesting that they're able to get actually more out of the Canon camera than Canon is offering you. They might be pushing some things, and so it potentially could cause some problems, but I have not heard of it, and so if you shoot a lot of video, it might be a good option to look into a little more closely. "What are the pros and cons of an ultra-wide lens vs a wide-angle lens, stitched vs normal lens stitched?" This is from David Hodgins. Sounds like he's doing panorama stitching, and when you use an ultra-wide lens like a 12 or a 16 millimeter lens... I don't like to use the word "distortion," it's a little bit misleading, but there is a stretching effect when you use a wide-angle lens. And when you try to take two wide-angle lenses, and stretch them together, it's not the best way to do this. It's gonna be better if you can use the longest lens possible, and so... Most panorama stitching is gonna be really easily done and easily stitched together when you're shooting around 50 to 100 millimeters, and so that makes sense if you can do it. There are some environments that you just have to use a 24 millimeter lens and so it's preferred to kind of get back a little bit, use a little bit narrower angle of view, and then stitch those together, because of that stretching effect on a wide-angle lens. "Could you please give us your advised settings, shooting flat monochromatic drawings." Okay they're using a Nikon D800. So if you're gonna photograph a painting, or any sort of flat artwork, there's two things to think about. One is exposure, and two is focusing. Now, first off, you should probably be on a tripod. You should have your drawing or painting or whatever it is either hanging on the wall, or on an easel. You could put it on the ground and shoot straight down, but it's a little bit easier if you don't have to put the camera right on top of it. There could be some problems in that case. So I would lean it up against a wall, and use a tripod. You would focus on it, and it should be perpendicular to the sensor plane, or the film plane in your camera. So make sure that your camera or the painting is not tilted, that you're shooting it straight on. At that point, you don't need any depth of field, so you can use a middle aperture setting. It depends a little bit on what lens you have, but for a lot of people that's going to be around F8 or so. You don't need F22, because you don't need the depth of field, and your lenses are not as sharp, wide open at two-eight or one-four or whatever they happen to be. So, aperture at F8. The exposure can be whatever it needs to be for the given light, and so lighting is gonna be the next key, and you probably don't want to shoot this under any sort of bright or harsh light. And so window light, on a cloudy day, would be a great way to shoot this. You want to try to illuminate it evenly. The professionals, if you have the option, you'd be in a studio with two or four lights on each side, evenly illuminating it. But if you don't have that option, I would go next to a large window that's letting in a lot of even light to it, and try not to cast any shadows on it. That's how I would do it. "I have a Nikon D750 and need to upgrade my apple MacBook Pro... which is the best Apple computer (laptop or desktop) for Photography?" So if you travel around a lot, it's obviously very nice to have a laptop so that you can take it with you. They have little card slots; at least, most of them do these days so that you can download straight into your computer, and it's very, very convenient. But when you're looking at images, you usually want to see them on the biggest screen possible. So most serious photographers are going to have a desktop computer. Now you could always take a laptop, and hook in a monitor. So you could just have a monitor at home, plug in your laptop to it, and your images will look great and you'll be able to judge sharpness and composition a little bit more easily on the largest monitor. To be honest with you, pretty much all the Apple products are gonna be fine for working with photos. I do like ones that have a lot of connections as far as USB, Thunderbolt, any of the other connections. It's nice having that card slot. I know Apple introduced a new model and I forget the names, because they're going crazy with the names, but they took out the card slot and a lot of the USB slots and a lot of photographers have not jumped on that bandwagon yet, because you have to buy these dongles so that you can plug everything in. Convenience is a big part of the issue, at least for me. But I think quality wise, screen wise, they're making some very good products. "I was wondering if you know of a store that actually rents out cameras. I have a D500 on my mind but since I'm not used to shooting manual I'm a little scared to purchase and regret it." So that's understandable. When you make a big purchase, you wanna be happy with the camera. I talk a lot about purchasing cameras and it's not about finding the best camera, it's about finding the camera that's right for you. And rentals is a great way to do this. There's a number of places, and you can of course do a Google search, you'll probably end up at a place called Lens Rentals, or Borrow Lenses, and despite the names, they rent cameras as well. And so they can actually ship them out, mail them to your house, you can keep them for a few days, or a week, or as long as you want. And it does cost a chunk of change. Now, I'm not a big fan of renting, if you know what you want, and you just wanna buy something, because, you could buy something brand new, and use it for two weeks, turn around and sell it, and it would be less expense than renting it for those two weeks, if you have the money to spend on that particular product. But for testing out two cameras or lenses side by side, it's a great way to do it. And it's kind of nice, because in the world of photography there's some really expensive cool gear that you can use, and rather than going out and dropping ten-grand on a 500 millimeter lens to shoot eagles, that one weekend that eagles are in your neck of the woods, you rent the 500, you go out... it's like driving a Lamborghini for a weekend, and then you return it. And so I think it's a great experience, and a great way for people to try out new gear. A little Google research, read some reviews, and you will find a good place. There are a number of stores. Here in Seattle, we have Glazer's camera that has gear right there for the professional, and amateur, they can just walk in, rent it for the weekend, and they're out. So it depends a little bit on where you live but pretty much no matter where you are, you can get it sent to you. "I can afford a full frame camera, but is it okay if I get a crop sensor camera and the right lenses, and get in the path of learning? Do you strongly suggest to make the sacrifice and get the full frame one from the beginning?" César Quintero. Okay so this is the question that I get over, and over, and over again. As soon as people get into photography, and they start learning what is what, the immediate question is, is "should I go straight to full-frame" or should I take kind of the small step getting there. I guess it depends a little bit on how sure you are, about where you are going and what you are doing. For a student who is getting into photography and you didn't really know where they were gonna go, I would say definitely get the crop frame. The cameras are less money, the lenses are less money, everything's smaller, lighter, easier to work with. For somebody who said they've been working with it for a while, and they know they want to get into a particular area, let's say portrait photography, and they knew that they wanted to go professional, they're gonna sell their work, and all the other professionals are using full frame camera... Well then yeah. You better get full frame right away. Because that's where you're gonna end up. I'm a big fan of taking steps as far as you need to go. Because there's no sense buying a full frame camera if you're not really sure that that's where you're gonna go. It's a very tough question and there's actually another question that relates to this. "I'm looking at the D500 and D750. They are now the same price so the question is;" Now, is full frame, or DX? I know it your classes you compare them, but help me decide! So the D500 and the D750- The D500 is a crop frame camera, the D750 is a full frame camera, and they may be the same price, but they are very different cameras. The D500 is a sports, action, and wildlife camera. The D750 is kind of a midrange full frame camera that is a very, very versatile camera. It's good for landscape photography, portait photography... And so if you really are doing a lot of telephoto, fast-action work, the D500 is gonna be the choice there, because the focusing on that is tremendous. For more general purpose, then the D750 is probably gonna be the better choice. They're both highly rated, very good cameras, but as I said before the choice between crop and full frame- It's a hard choice for a lot of people. Most of the people that I encounter who are into photography have crop frame cameras. But when you look at the professionals, they pretty much are all using full frame sensors. It's partly because, it's a little bit like an arms race. When everybody else is shooting a full frame camera, and you're trying to sell, and compete against them, you need to have equivalent gear in that case. If you're doing photography just for yourself, it's probably more important that you have a camera, and a system of equipment that fits your needs, that you can afford, that's something that you're willing to carry around and use on a regular basis, and something that you really enjoy using. I believe the best camera is the camera that you are most happy using.

Click here to ask John Greengo your questions for future One Hour Photos!

Every month, John gives you an hour of expert guidance and immediate feedback with ten questions and ten critiques in this exciting new series we're calling One Hour Photo. John will also sit down with one guest photographer to offer insights, advice, and industry knowledge, and this month’s guest is Art Wolfe.

In this hour, John responds to questions about the pros and cons of using different brand lenses from your camera brand, tips for culling images, pros and cons of different wide angle lens types, and the pros and cons of crop sensor vs full frame cameras, just to list a few.

The son of commercial artists, Art Wolfe was born in Seattle, and though he travels nine months out of the year still is glad to call the city home. He graduated from the University of Washington with Bachelor’s degrees in fine arts and art education, and these fields continue to inform his work every day. To see his photos, unique in their mastery of color, composition and perspective, is to experience first-hand the power of photography. One of his lifelong goals is to win support for conservation issues by “focusing on what’s beautiful on the Earth.” Wolfe’s breathtaking images of the world’s fast-disappearing wildlife, landscapes and native cultures do just that. Check out Art’s CreativeLive classes here.