One Hour Photo Featuring Mike Hagen

Lesson 1 of 4

Student Q&A

 

One Hour Photo Featuring Mike Hagen

Lesson 1 of 4

Student Q&A

 

Lesson Info

Student Q&A

Hello everybody, welcome to One Hour Photo. My name is John Greengo. In this hour, we're gonna be looking at some of your questions. I'm gonna be doing my best to answer them. We're gonna have special guest Mike Hagen in here to answer questions about what he does and talk about photography, and he's a big Nikon shooter, so we might get into some Nikon talk too, so. A little bit of tech talk for a change, here. And then what we're gonna do is we're gonna look at some of your images, and we're gonna critique, and see what we would like, or don't like, and how we would improve images as well. So, a lot of good stuff. So let's go ahead and get started. The first part we want to get to is some questions that you have. All right, so the first question is actually a two-part question, or at least there's two questions from the same person. So we have Frederick Wheeler writing in. I'm shooting a group of graduating students. Which focus area should I use for group shots: single or a group? Al...

l right, so it's a little confusing there. You could use the group focusing points for group people, because you've got the word "group" in there. But actually, if the group is just standing there and they're not moving around, which they probably shouldn't be for a group shot, I would prefer to use the single point. And choose my focus point very specifically. Now, the big challenge in some ways is how big is this group, and how much depth of field do you need? For instance, if it's just one row of people, you want to make sure that they're all about even distance from the camera, and just focus on the person in the middle. If it's three rows of people, you don't necessarily want to focus on people in the front row, because your depth of field grows a little bit in front, and a little bit in back, so you might want to focus on somebody in the second row. And it gets a little more complicated as you get up to the group size, but I would be choosing the single point so that you can be very precise about where you are setting your focusing point. All right, the second part of his question: if my group is gonna throw their graduation hats into the air, should I use the AF-C, 21-point, or 51-point auto focus and the high speed continuous drive? Okay, so there's a lot of things going on here. You've got a group of people, they're gonna throw their hats in the air, I would probably have the camera in the continuous drive, because there's gonna be a lot of good moments, and you're not really sure when the hats are gonna make the best pattern in the air, and so forth. So I think continuous, high-speed motor drive is a good start. Now, as far as the focusing, there is a lot of movement going on in the photograph, but the people that you're photographing, the graduating students, they're not actually moving towards you or away from you, in any significant way. It's just the hats moving up and down. So your focus point is gonna be very much like the first question, is you're gonna pick one focus point about the middle depth of where you need as far as the people in the group, and the key thing here in my mind is probably what shutter speed do you choose. Most people would probably go for a fast shutter speed where you can stop, and you can see the tassels moving in the air. There could be some really interesting slow shutter speeds. Personally, I would probably go with the fast one, because you're kind of guaranteed to get something pretty interesting there. The slow one may or may not be interesting, if it was a group that was willing to throw their hats in the air about 10 times in a row, I would do a couple of fast shutter speeds and then a bunch of slow ones to see if I get something interesting. But I would probably be choosing a shutter speed of 500th or 1000th of a second, depending on the lighting that the situation allows for. If you're inside and it's dark, and you're in a gymnasium, you're gonna really have to bump up the ISO to get that faster shutter speed. So if you can get them outside with some better light, that's gonna help out in that situation. But the focusing is gonna be in the single focusing. I don't recommend using the continuous focusing because nothing's really moving towards you or away from you. So hope that helps out in that situation. Congratulations to all those graduating students. All right, next question comes from Gediminas Juska. Could you give a simple explanation of depth of field scale on a prime lens? And so a simple explanation. Okay, that's a little challenging. So I brought in a couple of example lenses over here. And these are prime lenses, which of course means they do not zoom back and forth. They are a single focal length. And a depth of field example over here on a 200 millimeter 2.8 lens, you can see, we can see the focusing scale, and there's a little white mark right there in the middle which shows us where we are focused at. And this is what I would consider a terrible depth of field scale because it gives us very, very little information. It tells us that if we stop down to F32, we get a little bit in focus, to the right and to the left of where the focusing indicator is, and so this is a pretty much completely useless depth of field scale. And it is on here, and it is showing us the range of focus from the foreground to the background. Now, if we move over to our left a little bit, this is a manual focus Canon lens. It's a tilt-shift lens, and all of their tilt-shift lenses are manual focus, but this is a 17 millimeter, and you can see that the scale is much larger on this. And so one of the ways that I would use this is if I wanted everything in focus, right now, the lens is focused on infinity. But if I move that infinity mark over to the F22 portion right about there, if I stop down to F22, the picture will be in focus from infinity all the way up to .5 meters, so about a foot and a half. And so I know that if I set the lens here, I will get pretty much everything in focus, and that's what we call the hyperfocal distance. Something I talk about in my fundamentals of photography class with more graphics, and spending more time. But that's the depth of field scale, and they did mention on prime lenses, because on zoom lenses, you no longer get the scales. Back in the 70s and 80s and so forth, there was these interesting scales that they had on these push-pull zoom lenses that showed you how much depth of field that you got at 70 millimeters or 200 millimeters, and now that we've changed the type of zoom lenses we have, they've taken all those scales off. And so they cleaned up the graphics as far as the look of the lens, but we no longer have that information. So even your top level pro lenses from all the manufacturers will not have those depth of field scales. And just another quick note. Those depth of field scales are quite common on Nikons and Canons, but you're not seeing them on a lot of the mirrorless cameras, because they often use a fly-by-wire focusing system, and so this is something that is kind of disappearing in the world of photography, which is really unfortunate, because they're very helpful tools for photographers out there trying to make sure everything's in focus. But, we do have a number of digital tools that are kind of taking the place. And so I think I've gone past the simple explanation, but that is my explanation of the depth of field scales. All right, next question, got a little bit of a long one here. What are the real advantages and disadvantages of using older manual prime lenses versus today's primes? I've heard the new lenses have a more direct light path to the sensor than old lenses. From Logan Clark, thank you for that. Okay, so, one of the cool things is you can get adapters to use older manual lenses on a lot of the newer, mirrorless cameras because they have a short flange distance and they allow for these adapters to be used. And there's a couple of issues that are going on when you do use one of these older lenses. First off, in pretty much every case that I can think of, there might be one exception, you are gonna lose auto focus when you put a manual focus lens onto an auto focus camera. So you're gonna lose auto focus, and a lot of times, you use a lot of the communication between the lens and the body, so things like shutter priority and program may not work. It's possible that aperture priority may work, depending on the system. In many cases, you will be regulated to use a manual. The metering system may not work on the camera, depending on the combination. You can always use the live view, or an electronic viewfinder to determine correct exposure. The lenses typically are not as sharp. Now, part of it, from what I know, does have to do a little bit with that light path. And so the film and the way that it accepts light is different than the sensor, in that the pixels do need a little bit more light directly coming in to the bucket. Sometimes we use the analogy of water going into the bucket. And it kind of likes that light coming straight in. And so they've changed the optical path on a lot of the newer lenses. Now, I don't know how much they've changed, or which lenses they've actually changed, or not changed when they've gone from film to digital, because the whole optical formula, the light path, that's all proprietary, secret information. It's not real readily available out there. But the newer lenses are definitely better. One thing that is pretty much is very clear these days is that the highest resolution digital cameras that we have out today, 36, 42, 50 megapixels, is more resolution than we were getting on any 35 millimeter film cameras. And lenses have had to increase in quality. One of the trends that I've noticed over the last couple of decades in photography is lenses have gotten bigger. And that's because they've gotten better in quality. The optics are better, and designing bigger, better optics requires more glass, more weight. If you want to see a really high-quality lens that's big, look at the ZEISS Otus Lenses. Their, I think it's a 55 1.4 lens, and their 85 1.4 are just huge chunkin' lenses, but they're some of the sharpest lenses out there. And so there's nothing wrong with using older, manual primes. There's some great little things out there. You're not gonna get the sharpest lens on the block, but you're gonna get a lens that may have a bit of character or a lens that you just like to use. And so look around those thrift shops and Craigslist and eBay and some other places for some funky lenses. Do a little research. Make sure you're not overpaying on them. But there can be really some good finds out there, so have fun with that. All right, last question is: I do event photography and use a manual exposure mode, but during post processing, I'm having a hard time giving the same exposure to every photo as there is always a slight difference in lighting in every photo. Any tips on how I can have same exposure to every photo? Well, if you're shooting under different conditions, it's gonna be very hard to get even exposures. And so with a program like Lightroom, and there's many other programs that'll work pretty much the same way, if you take a group of photos from one general scene, you can take all of them, and select a brightness level for that entire group. You can fix white balance, and pretty much anything else you want for the entire group all at the same time. And so that would probably be the first step to get them generally pretty close. If you really want every one perfect, there's no getting around it. You're gonna have to go to every image, and make that slight little tweak of an adjustment. I'm sorry to say there's just no way around it. But, I think you are right using the manual exposure mode, as long as the lighting is not changing dramatically, if you're in generally even lighting, I would continue to use manual exposure mode, but look at grabbing a group of those in whatever post-processing program you have, so that you can do groups of them and get them pretty close to the mark. You might want to grab an image that's not on the lightest, not on the darkest, somewhere in the middle of the group, and work on that one, and then you'll have the least amount of work to do going with the rest of them. So hope that helps out. Those can be very very challenging situations.

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 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 Mike Hagen.

In this hour, John responds to questions about the best focus area to use for group shots, and the best type of autofocus, advantages and disadvantages for using older manual prime lenses vs. modern prime lenses, and tips on creating the same exposure to every photo.

Mike Hagen is a professional photographer, author, and workshop leader. He's taught hundreds of workshops and thousands of students over the years on just about all photo topics including camera gear, studio lighting, Photoshop®, Lightroom®, landscape, travel, and digital workflow. One of his favorite things to do is take people on photo safaris to far-off places like Africa, Galapagos Islands, and Iceland. Mike is a prolific writer, having published many books on photography, software, and digital workflow. Check out his CreativeLive classes here.

Reviews

Glynda Knighten
 

I just watched this One Hour Photo class and thought it was well done. As a beginning photographer, I found the image critiques (both Mike's travel images and images submitted by others) to be helpful. I like the One Hour Photo class concept - just enough time for getting tidbits to improve your photography. Regarding other classes - I have watched several of John's and Mike's Creative Live classes. They are well organized, easy to follow and provide ideas to improve your photography. As an aside: I have traveled to Tanzania, Galapagos, and Iceland with Mike Hagen and can say this about the trips: Sign up now! All three trips were fantastic. Mike is a great teacher and leader who is focused on participants becoming better photographers.

Sally
 

carrie-anne Grieve