Student Q&A


One Hour Photo Featuring Rocco Ancora


Lesson Info

Student Q&A

Hello, welcome everybody to another episode of One Hour Photo. We have a great hour in store for you. I'm gonna start off with some of your questions. We'll go through and see if I can help you figure out some of your photographic needs. Secondly, we have a great, great guest in the studio today, Rocco Ancora, who is a fantastic wedding photographer from Australia. Brought some photos along as well, so we're gonna talk for a little bit and see what we can pull out of his photographic brain. And then finally, we're gonna look at some of your photos in our image critique section and we're gonna be seeing what we like, what we don't like, what might make your photos a little bit better. Let's go ahead and get started with our first question, which is from Milos Otic. In a culture where the clients turn-around time and patience to compose and produce is diminishing, where do you see the future heading with camera equipment? Well, obviously what comes to mind is the changing business struct...

ure, but when it comes to the camera equipment itself pretty much every camera now for the last two years now has Wi-Fi in it, so that you can transfer images from your camera to your phone instantly. And so I see that just being done more and more easily. I remember about 10 years ago Nikon introduced their first Wi-Fi camera. And the local Nikon tech rep came out to show a bunch of us what it could do and they couldn't even get it to work, because it was so complicated. And in my mind they still have some ways to go to make things even easier and faster. I think Nikon is trying really hard, they have this new thing called SnapBridge where it automatically transfers to the phone, and it's got a few bugs and it isn't totally working smooth, but the idea is that you'll be able to pull photos from your phone or your laptop or any other device just as immediately as you need them. And so I think we're gonna see more and more of this and I think you'll be able to set up your camera so that you can shoot, just indicate a photo is to go up to your phone and up to your website or any place that you want very quickly. And so more integration and hopefully it's gonna be easier for all of us to do this as well. All right, next question. What's the best way to compress a close object and a distant background into one image, wide depth of field? Example, a person standing in Battery Park next to the Statue of Liberty a mile away. All right, so this one, this one's a little bit difficult, 'cause I'm not totally sure where you're going with this, but I think I know. And the problem here is that you need a wide angle lens in most cases to capture kind of the person who's right there in front of you and if you wanna see what's in back of them if you use a wide angle lens it's gonna be very, very far away. And so ideally when you're talking about compressing a subject you're gonna need a telephoto lens and you're gonna need to get back further. And so if you're shooting something with a phone that doesn't have a zoom lens, for instance, it's just a wide angle lens. Well, you could try to frame it up the best you can and it kind of looks like a typical selfie with a person standing in front of a small background. But if you want that background to be bigger and more noticeable you're gonna need a telephoto lens. And so for a full-frame camera, at least 100 or even a 200 millimeter lens and then you're gonna need to back up in order to compress it. It's kind of a separate thing getting it in focus and that's gonna be stopping your aperture down, of course. But to compress them together you need that telephoto lens. Thanks, Chris. All right, next up from Kristina Trowbridge, is there now or will there soon be any smaller and lighter equipment almost as good as my big DSLR, Nikon D8000, and the three Nikkor dream lenses that go with it? So when you say the three Nikkor dream lenses I imagine you're talking about what we often call the holy trinity of glasses, which is also known in Japan as I think the big dragons of glass, so the three 2.8 zooms, the 14 to 24, 24 to 70, and 70 to 200. Now the linchpin of your whole question comes down to, where is it? Almost as good. And it really depends on what your definition of almost as good is, because there are some people who if it's just a little bit off they don't want it, they actually want the exact same quality. And the D800 has a full-frame sensor and so you're not gonna get anything as good that has anything less than a full-frame sensor, at least at this point. I'm a pretty big fan of Fuji and I think like a Fuji X-T with their 2.8 lenses is gonna be a smaller package and it's gonna be very good and it's, in my opinion, almost as good. I think Sony is also making some really good things that have smaller lenses, but they don't have quite as many of those 2.8 lenses, so I think the best system to go with would be the Fuji system if you wanted something on the next smaller size. And as far as is it almost as good? Well, you're gonna have to test it yourself to see how it meets your needs, but I think it's getting very, very close to that. Next question from Mario Gabriel. How do I know when to clean my sensor? Would it be safer to leave it to a professional or can I do it myself without hurting anything? Well, keeping your sensor clean is very important for everybody who shoots digital. And when dust gets on your sensor you will know it, because there's going to be little black spots oftentimes in the sky where you have white areas in a photograph. And so you can check this yourself. The easiest way that I can do it is put your camera in aperture priority, set your exposure compensation to about plus one or plus two, and then photograph a pure white wall or a blank piece of paper. And you can be really close, it could be out of focus, in fact it actually helps for it to be out of focus. That way anything that is a sharp black spot is gonna be very, very clear to you. And this is something that I like to do before I go on a like big trip to Africa or something, because getting your camera cleaned on location is really, really challenging. And so to clean it yourself there's many three different steps that you can take. One is you can get a little rocket air blower and that's a little rubber bulb that you squeeze and it blows air onto your sensor. And so put your camera in the sensor cleaning mode if it's an SLR, if it's a mirrorless you can just take the lens or body cap off, hold it upside down, so that any dust you hit falls out, and then you kind of just blow in there, hopefully knocking off the dust. Everyone is qualified to do that in my mind. The tip of the blower doesn't need to come that close to the sensor, you can keep it two, three inches away, just right outside where the lens would be. And that's safe and easy to do. Second step would be a dry cleaning and third step would be a wet cleaning. And so there are devices that you can get, it kind of looks like a pen, but it's got a flat little, kind of like felt pad on the end and you can reach in there and you can kind of sweep off any dust that is on there. And I think anybody who's reasonably careful can handle that. Then there is the wet cleaning where you get a swab and you put a couple drops of alcohol on there and you swipe it across. And I think anyone who has a steady hand that feels comfortable working with small equipment can probably do that. But there's some people who just don't wanna go into the steps of actually sweeping it clean and that's why you can send it in and that's basically what the professional will do. So it's a little bit up to you, but I think the air bulb is a good first step and I think the little dry cleaning pens might be a good step for a lot of other people as well. Next up, this is from David Good John. I'm not sure if your name is Good John or you were sending me a compliment that I was good at what I was doing and your name is simply David, but I'll assume it's David Good John. I have gone to a MIV from a 60D and now my mind is messed up about lens length going from a crop sensor to a full-frame. How do I make the adjustments, if any? All right, I'm gonna be honest with you, I'm not totally sure what you mean by MIV. I'm thinking you mean a mirrorless camera with a smaller sensor. It's possible that you could mean like a Mark IV Canon camera, which is a full-frame, which is different than your 60D. And so if you saw my class on the fundamentals of photography you probably remember this slide that had the different cameras and the different sensor sizes. And I think the names that we have for our sensor sizes, like APS and full-frame and Four Thirds, it just doesn't make things easy on new photographers, because they don't mean a lot. And if you measure the sensor from corner to corner you're gonna get the diagonal. And when you do that you actually get the number that is the normal lens for your camera. So your old 60D was a Canon APS-C sensor, which means it has a 27 millimeter sensor. So the normal lens for you is a 27. And that's all you need to remember, is 27 is middle of the road for you. Anything smaller than that is a wide angle, anything with a bigger number is a telephoto. And if you take your sensor size and you divide it by two that's gonna make for a pretty nice landscape wide angle lens. So if you have a full-frame camera that's a 43 millimeter sensor, divide that by two, that's about a 21 millimeter lens, that's pretty right in the middle of where a lot of landscape photographers like shooting with a wide angle lens. You wanna find a great portrait lens. Double the diagonal of your sensor. So with the full-frame, 43, that comes up to 86. One of the favorites for most portrait photographers is gonna be about an 85 millimeter lens. If you are using a Four Thirds camera, which is a 22 millimeter sensor, you'd wanna get about a 25 millimeter lens for doing portrait photography. Multiple it by four it ends up being a good sports lens and if you wanna multiple it by eight that's probably gonna make a good wildlife lens. And so whatever system that you have, if you can just figure out what your normal lens is, just remember, that's in the middle of the game and everything smaller is gonna be wide angle and everything bigger is gonna be a telephoto lens. Next one is from Todd Hobert. I'm using a TTL on a Nikon. He's talking about a flash system here. I'm taking a picture of the same subject on the same background, but the exposure is wandering. Any ideas why this is happening? I flipped to manual by the way. So using a flash on your camera in its TTL, which stands for Through the Lens technology, it's a metering system, it should be consistent. So if you are frustrated by this I can understand it, because in theory it should be the same. But your camera is constantly adjusting the light meter reading and the flash output according to exactly what you point in the frame. So if it's a little bit darker on one side and a little bit lighter on the other side the flash is gonna change its power. And so anybody who shoots a series of photos with flash in a relatively controlled environment is probably gonna wanna turn their flash onto a manual setting, so that you have consistent results. You'll shoot a few tests to make sure that you're on the right page and then once you get that dialed in then you're set for life. The TTL system I think is fantastic when like you're in a banquet hall doing event photography and every lighting situation is different. There's more lights here and less over here, there's windows over here, and you need the camera to kind of constantly adjust for all your changes. And so in that environment I would prefer to take the camera out of TTL. Even if I think it may do okay, for consistency reasons. And this is true with almost everything in manual. When you have a number of photos that you're gonna take over a period of time it's best to rule out any sort of change that the camera might wanna go in there and make for you. But I really don't have a good reason as to why it does that. It happens on a lot of other systems, it's not just a fault with the Nikon system, it's that the cameras are just constantly looking for new information to have a different exposure. All right, next up, from Lucia Ccv. Hi John, I just tried to set up the camera for a night sky photo and still can't do it. I have a Nikon D and a lens 20 millimeter F/1.8 to work with. I think my problem is the shutter speed. Okay, so you got a decent camera to do this with, so I think you're doing okay in the camera department. Your lens is fantastic. That is a great lens for doing nighttime. Especially if you want like star point photography. It's great to have a lens that gets down to 2.8. Yours goes all the way down to 1.8, so you're in good shape there. You can open it all the way to 1. or maybe you wanna stop it down just a little bit for greater sharpness, especially around the edges, maybe you just go to F/ or maybe you gotta go down to 2.4 or 2.8. And so shutter speed is a critical thing when doing night sky photography. And so with a 20 millimeter lens there is a rule of, and I think there's two different rules depending on how strict you wanna get on it, there's the 500 rule and the 600 rule. And I'm trying to remember if you divide, you take that 500 number and you divide 20 into it and then you'll get the total length of time in seconds that you can keep your shutter open before you start seeing lens movement, or before you see star movement, excuse me. Right now, from what I recall shooting with a 24 millimeter lens, I can safely shoot 15 second exposures. 30 seconds can or cannot be acceptable, depends on the exact situation. So I think what you wanna do is you wanna get your shutter speed in the 15 to 30 second range, your lens at F/1.8 to 2.8, your ISO is probably gonna have to be in the ISO 1600 to 3200 range, depending on some of those variables. Play with some of those numbers, it will depend on how clear the sky is, but that should get you pretty close to the mark. All right, next one from James Smith. Do UV filters negatively impact an image quality? Are they a waste of money in today's digital market world? Well, first off, do they negatively impact image quality? Well, I certainly can't say that they help. UV lenses at one point were filtering out UV light and that's not really that important with today's digital sensors. And so UV filters are often just on the front of the cameras for protection. And this is a personal choice, it's kind of like buying insurance for the front of your lens. It is helpful on some lenses for helping protect from the weather elements. Some lenses are more weather sealed once you put a filter on them. And so some people do it. If you were shooting say motocross and you got dirt kicking around and you know a chip on your lens is gonna cost you a lot of money and camera repairs are very expensive these days, that would be a great thing to have. There's some people who maybe work under a more controlled environment, they're in a studio, they're not going outside, it's all very controlled, and they don't wanna have any other piece of glass on the front of their lens. And so that makes perfect sense. And so they're not a waste of money, it just depends on how you wanna use them. And I am totally not talking about all the other filters that actually do something significant, like polarizers and split neutral density filters and a variety of other filters out there that are actually changing the way the light is entering your camera. And so it's a hot topic and so at your next photo gathering grab a group of people and start talking about whether they use UV filters and you'll see some people become very animated and steadfast about their belief and the way that they do things is correct. And so a little bit of an opinion on that one as well. All right, from Pedro Pereira. How do you know the type of lens you need for a specific shoot? Is there any way to know which focal length to use according to the subject distance and/or size? Well, a lot of this is gonna depend on what you are shooting and what the environment is. And so this is about getting as much information about what you're gonna be doing and where you're gonna be going. And so if you're gonna be photographing someone's car, is it stuck in their crowded garage? Are you gonna have a nice field to shoot it at? Is it gonna be in a parking lot? Is there other cars in the parking lot? And so it's knowing as much about the situation as possible. And so the more room you have the more opportunities you have for using a variety of lenses. And so it's just knowing also what type of story you're trying to tell and this really could cover a lot of different types of photography here. And so with wider lenses we're usually telling a bigger story. A lot of times we'll use them for environmental portraits where we show a person or an object kind of in its natural environment. If you're using telephoto lenses you're going in more for details and isolating a subject. And so you gotta know more about what you're doing and what you're getting into. And so if somebody's hiring you or if you're being sent some place to shoot something you wanna try to ask as many questions. What type of room is it? What type of lighting is it? How long is that room? And then you're gonna be thinking about what you need in order to get that shot. So thanks for that question. All right, from Brad Chymist. What is involved in advanced composition? The rule of thirds, golden ratio, and Fibonacci Spiral are great, but they only go so far. All right, well actually I just taught a composition class this last weekend and it's kind of hard to define what advanced composition is. For me it would probably involve a fairly complex photograph where there's a number of subjects and a number of relationships going on. If you can imagine a ball in the middle of the frame and there's just a white background there is really no way to take that one simple object and do some sort of advanced composition with it. If you were to include three or four other objects and they kind of had leading lines, one leading to the other or something, I suppose that could be advanced. But I think a lot of this is just come down to what we think looks good and some basic rules about not cropping off important subjects. And so I'm always keen to find new ideas in the world of composition, because there's a lot of basic ideas, like the rule of thirds and the golden ratio. And that does only take you so far and if you're not familiar with those, it basically is talking about getting the subject out of the middle of the frame. And where things get advanced and more complicated is when you have a number of subjects in the frame. And so that's something I'll have to look at for the next issue of my fundamentals class to see if I have some, a section on advanced composition. And for the most part, the composition classes are really, I think they're fun, they're easy to teach, they're easy to watch, because it's mostly just ideas and as many ideas that you can come with as to hey, this makes a good element in a photograph. All right, so yeah, that's a tough one to answer, but thank you for sending that in.

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 Rocco Ancora.

In this hour, John responds to questions about how to compress a close object and a distant background, how to know when to clean your sensor, best practices for TTL, setting up your camera for a night sky photo, UV filters, and more.

Named as one of the Top Ten Photographers in the world by the iconic photography magazine American Photo, Rocco Ancora’s poetic imagery continues to evolve with his mastery of light and the ability to capture the human connection. Rocco’s distinctive style is classical and romantic; his imagery is exquisitely imbued with evocative lighting and composition it’s a look and feeling that Rocco strives for. Check out his CreativeLive classes here.