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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ask The Pros!

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Q. I have both digital SLRs and film SLRs. Which is the best for scenery photos with pro lenses?
—Dennis Ternent

A. Dennis,
It sounds to me like you could go either way on this question, so I’m going to guess you don’t have a strong love for the “look” of film. Some people just like film better, and I admit to liking it quite a lot, too. Having said that, I’m now an avid digital photographer. Detail, which is important to most landscape photographers, is excellent in most high-megapixel digital cameras. The other advantages of digital? Never running out of film in the field, using high ISO, HDR, no developing and scanning costs, managing focus and always knowing you have a correct exposure in the field, just to name a few.

A final big advantage to digital image-making for landscapes is what can be done in the digital darkroom. With Adobe Lightroom, photographers have more control than ever before over the finished product and can make excellent prints quickly and easily. When I worked only with film, it might have taken me months to introduce a new image to my retail gallery. With Lightroom, I can make prints and sell them on the same day the image is shot. The future of landscape photography is with digital imaging, and I think it will be a great one.
—Tom Till

Salvia flowers separated from the background with a flash.
Q. I’ve been attempting to do detailed photos of bugs and blooms, but I’m having problems with the thin depth of field. Would pulling back create deeper depth of field? What do you recommend for these shots?
—Arthur Raynolds

A. Arthur,
This is definitely a challenge for everyone. No matter what you do, depth of field decreases as you get closer to the subject. That doesn’t mean you should back up, though. Yes, depth of field would be greater, but you’d also have to crop your photo to see the subject better, and depth of field would drop again. Depth of field also declines when you make an image bigger, which cropping is doing. Plus, cropping can affect image quality because of noise issues and because you’re using less of your original image.

A few things you might try: First, become conscious of the plane of your camera. Look carefully at many close-ups by pros, and you’ll notice that the subject is parallel to the camera. Often by tilting the camera slightly, you can get more in focus because you’re tilting the plane of focus as you tilt the camera in order to better match the subject angle. Also, a flash up close allows you to shoot at small apertures or ƒ-stops to get the maximum depth of field possible. In addition, flash essentially eliminates camera movement during exposure, so sharpness is enhanced. Another answer is a specialized technique that only works if the subject isn’t moving. You shoot from a tripod and change focus of the subject from front to back as you take multiple photos. Then bring the group of images into the computer. Photoshop CS4 and Helicon Focus are two programs that allow you to extend focus in depth by combining all the sharp parts of your series of photos into one image.
—Rob Sheppard


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