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Vivid Light Photography, digital and film photography online
Beginner Questions
by Chuck McKern

With over 12 years of retail and professional experience Chuck thought he'd heard it all - until he took this job.

Send us your questions for either the Beginner or Advanced columns by clicking HERE.  Please include as much detail about the technique, camera, lens, or film as you can so Chuck can answer your questions.

I've been shooting a lot of sunsets and I've noticed that very few of my shots look really sharp. Is there something wrong with my camera? It's a Canon Rebel and I'm using the lens that came with it.

There's probably nothing wrong with your camera. Sunsets usually require long exposures and you didn't mention a tripod. During those long exposures your hands will move a little no matter how steady you're trying to be. Try mounting your Rebel on a tripod and you sunsets will be much sharper.

With all the hype about digital cameras, then please explain how a digital camera can take multiple exposures.


I don't know of a digital camera that offers a multiple exposure feature. However, once you have captured the images you can sandwich them together in programs like Photoshop. Welcome to the digital age.

Two years ago I decided to get into photography. I went into a camera shop and asked for the best camera they had regardless of price. Not long afterwards I had some health problems. Now all is well and I want to take up photography. The shop sold me a Nikon F5 along with the following accessories: a 35-70mm f2.8 lens, a 80-200mm f2.8 lens, a 24mm f2.8 lens,  SB-26 flash, and a Bogen Tripod. My question is did the shop sell me quality equipment?

Dr. Mark Williams

They sold you excellent equipment.  

In most of the SLR camera its written 'AF' what does it means? what one can understand out of it.


The "AF" printed on most SLR cameras stands for "Auto Focus". This means that these cameras will focus for you automatically unless you override that by switching to manual focus mode.

The polarizer is driving me nuts. Quick question, please. When turned to the point of darkest viewing, exactly what is the polarizing result? At the lightest point? My photos are coming out too dark. 
Thanks if you have time. 

In a nut shell, the result that you see through the lens, is the polarizing result you should be getting. If you are having a problem with the images coming out too dark, check to make sure that you are using a circular polarizer if you have an auto focus camera. If the your camera is auto focus and you are using a linear polarizer, this will cause your images to be under exposed bad dark when printed.

The other problem that a lot of beginners make is to think that they should always rotate the polarizer until it has the greatest effect. If you feel the effect is too dark try backing it off a little for a lighter image. 

One other thing to keep in mind is that the effect of the polarizer will be increased with some of today's saturated films. That means that what you get on film is actually a little darker than what you see in the view finder. 

I have a Pentax ZX7 and want to purchase a larger zoom lense than the 28-80mm lens that came with the camera. I am looking at the Quantaray 100-300 f4.7 - 5.8 AF lens. Would this be a good choice or should I look at a different type? My purpose is to be able to catch photos of my little children from far away--they get so weird when I am up close.

Dana Simmons

If you are looking for a good lens in that range with out going overboard in price, the Quantaray 100-300 would be a good choice (it is actually an f4.5-6.7). You may also want to consider the Quantaray 70-300 f4-5.6. This lens is a little faster at 300mm which will help with low light or action shots. The 70-300 also has a macro setting for doing close-up shots. This lens is about $40.00 more but offers a lot more versatility.

By the way if you think your children are getting weird now wait until they're teenagers! :-)

Do you have an archive of past articles?


If you want to find previous articles you can do one of two things. 

If there is a particular topic you are looking for, type it in the search box on top of each page and it will search all back issues for that topic or you can click on the "Back Issues" button on the top of any page. That will give you an index of each issue that we've published to date.

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