Student Q&A


One Hour Photo featuring Daniel Gregory


Lesson Info

Student Q&A

Hello everybody, welcome back to One Hour Photo with John Greengo. I'm John, and we've got another good episode for you today. Alright, what we're going to be doing, as always, is we're going to be taking a look at some of the questions you submitted, and I'm going to be answering five of those questions about photography gear and everything else. We're going to be then introducing Daniel Gregory, who's going to be my guest today. I'm going to talk to him about fine art photography. We've got a bunch of his photos to look at, so we're going to have a good chat with that, and then he's going to stick around so that we can review your photos that you've submitted through the CreativeLive website, and we've got a real good collection of photos this week, so we're gonna have a good time checking those out and seeing what we like, and maybe what we could improve, or who knows, make a little bit better. Alright, our first question for today, let me read this: I want to get serious about taki...

ng close up flower pictures. What kind of camera should I buy to get good bokeh and detailed/creative shots? Will only post online, not print. Want light weight, I'm a big hiker. Okay, I can understand that, that sounds like a good option here. So, I'm thinking that you're going to need a lens that focuses up pretty close, which is something that you're going to typically find on interchangeable lens cameras, and you're gonna probably need to get something other than the standard kit lens that comes with a lot of cameras. Some cameras do come with some pretty good close up capability, but if you wanna get very creative, sometimes you wanna get very, very close up. So, you want to look to get a macro lens, that can go one to two or one to one life size. Now if you're only posting online, you probably don't need to get the biggest, fanciest thing out there. So, a full frame camera will definitely work, but it's going to cost you more money. You can get a APSC size sensor which is what a lot of the kind of main line Canon and Nikon cameras are. They both make full frame of course, as well. But, I think you can also get away with the Micro Four Third system, which means Panasonic and Olympus. Now, any of the cameras are going to be good enough for doing these type of shots, it's just a matter of how much money you want to spend and what sort of extra features that you might want to have. And so, the key thing here is getting that macro lens, and so, if you wanted to keep things really small, let me give you a couple of options. The Olympus OMD E-M5 Mark II, yes I do have that memorized, is a great, really small camera. And, I am currently not remembering all the Olympus macro lenses that are currently available, but you can get Olympus or the Panasonic macro lenses that'll work on that camera, and that would be a very small package. Another good system that I think is very small would be like the Fugi XT20, and they have a 60 millimeter macro lens, they may have some more macros coming out in the future. But that would be a really good small system that's not going to be too heavy, probably a pound and a half in weight if you're not bringing any other lenses with it. Alright, Ally, thank you very much for that question. Next up from Michael Brown Hamby: I'm trying to break the habit of auto focus, but my images keep coming out blurry. Is there any thing I can do to help improve the sharpness of my shots without the aid of auto focus or post production? Okay, so thank you, that was Michelle, I'm sorry, may have said that wrong a moment ago. So, Michelle, you're not the only one that has struggled with this, there's been a change in the way SLRs are made, and the focusing screens that are used in them, and back in the days of manual focus, the screens were of a different style and nature that were easier to manually focus, and now cameras are actually more difficult to manually focus, because they've needed to make adjustments for them to make them easier to auto focus, and so they've had to change the type of screens that are in the camera. There are a few cameras still out on the market; when I saw few, I might mean one or two, that you can actually change the focusing screen out of the camera and put in a special screen that makes it easier to manual focus. Now, there still are some manual focus cameras out there, notably Leica, which has what I would argue, the best manual focus system, which is a range finder system, and you basically look for vertical lines and you get them to line up, and it's very easy to do that. With your modern digital camera, a lot of times you're having to put the camera into live view and magnify the image so that you can see it's sharply in focus. I have found this easy to do when I'm on a tripod, and very difficult to do when you're handheld, because the camera is constantly moving around. And so, it is very, very hard to do, and so, there are some other features that you can turn on that are available in some, but not all cameras. Namely Focus Peaking, which is going to show you a highlighted area, shimmering in a particular color, it might be red or yellow or blue or something like that, and it shows you where you are focusing, it's not as accurate as say, the Leica cameras, but it's not bad. And so, try a couple of those things. If you are doing it from a tripod it's going to be a lot, lot easier. If you are doing it handheld, it is really tough if you're shooting with shallow depth to field, and I do recommend auto focus in most of those situations. Next up from Tom Bailey: Are there any good cameras that will take video and stills at the same time? Well, obviously there's lots of great cameras that do one or the other, but doing both at the same time, now that is a particularly challenging task. And the way that most companies do this, is they shoot video and they allow you to pull one frame from the video. Now, a few years ago, HD resolution, which was 1920x1080, was the most that we were getting. Now there's a lot of cameras that are shooting 4K, a lot of Sony's and Panasonics, are gonna be probably the best ones. Sony and Panasonic, they do a lot of video cameras and still cameras, and Canon does as well, but they haven't been throwing those features in a lot of their cameras for some reason. And so, if you really wanted to take great video and stills at the same time, I think Panasonic may be the best way to go. If you're looking for a full frame camera, you can pull the stills from a Sony, and do pretty good because it's shooting 4K and it's often times shooting on the full frame of the sensor, depends on the exact model that you're looking. But, it's a very challenging thing to do, and I kind of thought that this was the future of still photography, but I'm pretty sure that that is not the case because when you shoot video, you are limited by what shutter speeds you can choose and a number of other factors as well. It also gets to be very cumbersome if you just shoot ten seconds of video at 30 frames a second, and then need to go search through and download all 300 of those individual frames. But, if you do want to do that, I would say look at Panasonic and Sony, they've got the best systems going right now. Next up from Kristy Hart: I am currently using a Nikon D3200, and love it, but fear that it may be limiting the quality of my work. Does the Nikon D adjust to both DX and FX lenses? Is Canon better than Nikon? Okay, you've got a lot of questions in here, some pretty hot button topics in here. First off, the D3200 is kind of an entry level camera from Nikon, it's a perfectly acceptable camera, there's lots of cameras that are more expensive, have more features, lot of other fancier stuff, but the quality of images that you can get from that, probably surpasses any pro camera from ten years ago. And so, you can get great quality photos with that camera, end of story. Now, there are higher end cameras that can do even better these days. The Nikon D610 does adjust to both DX and FX lenses, DX are the crop frame lenses, and FX are the full frame lenses. Now, when you put a DX lens on the 610, you're not gonna get the full image area, the 610, I believe, is, I think it's 24 megapixels. When you put a DX lens on there, you're gonna get somewhere around 16 megapixels. And so, you're actually gonna be worse off than you would be on the D3200, cause it's got all its pixels packed right into the area that it needs to be. But, you could use it as a transition camera, using your DX lenses, working in FX lenses as your budget will allow. Is Canon better than Nikon? That's a hot question. In general, I think it's easy to say it's a bad question, in the sense that they're both very good camera companies, and what I have seen being in the business for 30 years, is Nikon was better than Canon in most things, and then Canon was better than Nikon, and then Nikon was better than Canon, and Canon's better than Nikon, and then Nikon's better than Canon, and that's just for one individual model level. If you go up a step or down a step, it could be doing the exact reverse. And so, you'll see everybody going nuts on the internet when one company introduces their latest, greatest product, and oh they're the best company, and then all of a sudden, somebody else does something, oh, now they're the best company. And so you've got a lot of people who are viewing the grasses a little bit greener on the other side. I would be happy with either Nikon or Canon, they're very, very good and there's some other brands out there that are also doing well. Sony's coming along really strong, Fugi is out there, and as well as a few other companies that are doing very good. But Canon and Nikon have been competing for a long time, and it's a neck and neck battle with them, and so, no true favored here. John, I need your advice. I take animal portraits, mainly show dogs and I'm known for my portraits. I want to get better with the actions shots, what are the keys to getting my camera set up properly? And that's from Annette McDonald. Okay, so if you're doing portraits of dogs, they're hopefully not moving around too much, and if you want to get into action, the first thing you're going to need to do is get your cameras auto focus system changed from the single shot to the continuous mode. And the second thing you're going to need to do is probably not just use the center focusing point, or an individual focusing point. You're going to want to look for a group of points. Now, it's going to depend on how big the dog is, the framing, what other distractions there may be, but I typically like nine focusing points, so it's kind of a patch right there in the middle, and maybe I'd move it to the left or the right, depending on what the dog is doing. And, that's what I try to keep right on the dogs face as it's moving around. If it's a very small dog or if it's moving erratically, maybe you need to have a little bit larger area. If it's one of the dogs doing the agility tests, where they're running through fences and things, you don't want to choose all the points, because they might catch onto some of the apparatus and other things that are out there in front, coming between you and the dog, and so that's why I'm saying you don't want the smallest one cause it's hard to keep it on target, you don't want the largest cause it's going to pick up other stuff, so you want a medium sized target. And it depends on which camera you have, as to what that medium sized target is going to be. But, those two things, the continuous focusing, medium sized target, and lots of practice. This is really difficult stuff to do, but the cameras have made it a lot easier then back in the days of manual focus, which is what I learned to do this, and it was very, very hard. Now, you're able to get a lot of shots. The other, one little thing, turn on your motor drive. A lot of cameras will have a continuous motor drive: three, five, seven, ten frames a second, and you're going to want to shoot a short burst of images when you think the action is at its best. So, if they're gonna go over a jump, for instance, right as their getting near the jump, you shoot a burst for many one or two seconds, you don't want to shoot too long, those are just images you're going to have to go through and delete later on. And so, that's the basics of action photography with the animals, so thank you Annette for that question, and thanks all of you for sending in your questions.

Class Description

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 student questions and critiques in this exciting new series we're calling One Hour Photo. John will also sit down with one guest photographer who will offer insights, advice and industry knowledge, and participate in a photo critique of student images. This month's guest is Daniel Gregory.

Daniel Gregory started his career working in the high tech industry. Wanting to have a more creative and passionate life, he left all those zeros and ones behind and now works as a fine art photographer and photographic educator based on Whidbey Island, Washington. A huge fan of the importance of the creative process and the photographic object/print/thing you hold in your hand, Daniel spends a great deal of the time in both the analog and digital darkrooms. Working in a variety of mediums, his current focus is combining digital techniques and technologies and applying them to alternative and historical photographic processes such as platinum printing, wet-plate, and mixed media. Check out his CreativeLive classes here.