Student Q&A

 

One Hour Photo Featuring Sandra Coan

 

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 gonna be doing, as always, is we're gonna be taking a look at some of the questions you've submitted and I'm gonna be answering five of those questions about photography gear and everything else. We're gonna be then introducing Daniel Gregory who's gonna be my guest today. I'm gonna talk to him about fine art photography. We've got a bunch of his photos to look at so we're gonna have a good chat with that. And then he's gonna stick around so that we can review your photos that you've submitted through the CreativeLive website. And we 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 can 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 "taking close up flower pictures. "W...

hat kind of camera should I buy to get good bokeh "and detailed/creative shots? "Will only post online, not print. "Want lightweight, I'm a big hiker." Okay, I can understand that, that sounds like a good option here. So I'm thinking that you're gonna need a lens that focuses up pretty close, which is something that you're gonna typically find on interchangeable lens cameras. And you're gonna probably need to get something other that 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 wanna look to get a macro lens that can go one to two or one to one at 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 gonna cost you more money. You can get an APS-C 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 4/3 system which means Panasonic and Olympus. Now, any of the cameras are gonna be good enough for doing these type of shots, it's just a matter of how much money you wanna 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 OM-D 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 will 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 Fuji X-T 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 gonna 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 anything I can do to help improve the sharpness "of my shots without the aid of auto focus "or post production?" Okay, so thank you, actually that was Michelle, I'm sorry, I may have said that wrong a moment ago. So Michelle, you're not the only one that has struggled with this. There has been a change in the way SLR's are made and the focusing screens that are used in them. 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 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 say 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 gonna 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 gonna be a lot, lot easier. If you are doing it handheld, it is really tough if you're shooting with shallow depth of 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 1920 by 1080, was the most that we were getting. Now there's a lot of cameras that are shooting 4K, a lot of Sony's and Panasonic's 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 at 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. It 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 10 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 wanna 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'm currently using a Nikon D3200 and love it "but fear that it may be limiting the quality of my work. "Does the Nikon D610 adjust to both DX and FX lenses? "Is Canon better than Nikon?" Okay, you 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, a lot of other fancier stuff, but the quality of images that you can get from that probably surpasses any pro camera from 10 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 D '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 the sudden somebody else does something, oh, now they're the best company. And so you got a lot of people who are viewing the grass as 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, Fuji 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 favorite here. "John, I need your advice. "I take animal portraits, mainly show dogs "and I'm known for my portraits. "I wanna get better with the action 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 wanna get into action the first thing you're gonna need to do is get your camera's auto focus system changed from the single shot to the continuous mode. And the second thing you're gonna need to do is probably not just use the center focusing point or an individual focusing point. You're gonna wanna look for a group of points. Now it's gonna 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 move it to the left or to the right depending on what the dog is doing. And that's what I try to keep right on the dog's 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 test where they're running through fences and things, you don't wanna 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 gonna pick up other stuff, so you want a medium size target. And it depends on which camera you have as to what that medium size target's going to be. But those two things, the continuous focusing, medium size target, and lots of practice. This is really difficult stuff to do but the cameras have made it a lot easier than back in the days of manual focus which is when 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, 10 frames a second and you're gonna shoot a short burst of images when you think the action is at its best. And so if they're gonna go over a jump, for instance, right as they're getting near the jump you shoot a burst for maybe one or two seconds. You don't wanna 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. And I'm.

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 Sandra Coan.

Sandra Coan is a film photographer specializing in studio portraiture and family photography, with over sixteen year’s experience working in both film and digital photography. Her award-winning work has been featured in a variety of publications including Click Magazine, Lemonade and Lenses and Seattle Bride. Sandra's work is also part of the Seattle Museum of History and Industry’s permanent collection. Sandra is an educator with a passion for teaching others about the beauty of film photography and the joys of building and running a successful photography business. Check out her CreativeLive classes here.

Reviews

SunSoBright
 

Enjoyed this wonderful conversation with Sandra Coan and I love her photographs and how she seems to get the personality of the baby and the person she is photographing. So happy when I see someone using film.

a Creativelive Student
 

This is great, John. Thank you!