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Advanced 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.

Hello, my question is regarding taking photo's outside (6-8 p.m.) under shady trees (In the Texas Hill Country).  My cousin is getting married and has asked me to take her photos. I am not an experienced photographer but have shot three weddings. One wedding with just a 35 mm and then the others with my Cannon Rebel 2000. Most came out pretty good and I seem to be gaining self-confidence with my abilities. 

My questions are: 

  • What techniques can I use to make sure the photos come out nice? 
  • What type of film should I use? 
  • What type of package should I offer, if any? 
  • What would be appropriate charge? 
  • What extras should I have? 
  • And should I have a meter?

I thank you in advance for your time and assistance,

For shooting in trees that late in the day I would recommend using a good flash attachment with your camera. This will allow you to get  good color and detail. For some detailed information on flash techniques check out the first part of a two part article on flash photography in this issue.

The best thing to do is shoot in Aperture Priority (Aperture Value in the case of Canon). This will allow you to control how much or how little Depth of field appears in your images.  Also, use your flash indoors and out, whenever possible. This will keep the light balanced and you should be able to maintain catch lights in the peoples eyes.

As far as film, try any portrait or wedding quality film, such as the Kodak Portra series films (I recommend either 160NC or 400NC) or Fuji Portrait NPS 160 or Portrait NPH 400. These films are designed for use in wedding and portrait photography therefore they tend to have very accurate flesh tones and are not too contrasty.

Packages can vary across the board. I would recommend checking out the studios and photographers in your area to see what they offer and what they are charging for them. Typically if you are just starting out it is a good idea to charge less than established studios until you get established and your skills improve.

The only extras that I would look into would be a softbox attachment for your flash unit to help diffuse the light so it isn't quite as harsh. Also I would recommend some type of diffusion filter for your lens. These help hide any skin imperfections or wrinkles. I personally use a Tiffen Soft Net filter as they don't create a "soft focus" effect like most diffusers.

If you will be using a dedicated flash for your system, I do not feel you will need a hand held light meter.

I love Black & White film. I'm using a Nikon N80 with both TMAX and Kodak B&W film, but when photographing landscapes, the sky and clouds always look so washed out. I know that a filter or some type of color filter would fix this, but i don't know which one. Help.

Thank you, 
John Crowe

Using filters with black and white film can help to create very dramatic photographs. The most common filters used to increase contrast with black and white film would be a yellow or red filter. Yellow will increase your contrast without it becoming too contrasty. It adds a little snap. A red filter will add even more contrast and will darken the sky and make the clouds white. A lot of oomph! 

The problem with these filters is that they will add the contrast to the entire scene. If you want to add the contrast while bringing the exposure level of the sky closer to the foreground, try using a graduated neutral density filter with the red or yellow filters. For more information on using the graduated neutral density filter, see Moose Petersons article on filters in our May issue or Jim McGee's article on shooting sunrises and sunsets in the same issue.  Both deal with the use of filters to control the exposure of the sky in your images. 

I have this set up: F5, Sigma 400mm AF APO, SB28 with Kirk Photo flash Extender. Using high speed sync @ 50mm. The SB28 is mounted directly on the shoes @ 90deg angle (but not locked in).

What I notice is the center of the flash beam is at the lower right corner of the picture. The bird shots looks more darker than I expect. Is there any particular thing you will do with this problem? I expected the bird to be too bright(2 stops) in the center but it does not look like it.

Kin Hui

It sounds like an alignment problem in the way the extender is attached to the flash head.

Find a wall and mark or hang a small target on the wall to create a bulls eye for your flash.  Set up your tripod at a distance that approximates the distance you expect to be shooting at.  Then with a remote cord or the self timer trigger the camera with your eye away from the viewfinder and observe where the flash beam falls (obviously you want to do this in low light).  If you're low right as you indicated, keep adjusting the flash extender until it line up with your bulls eye on the wall and your problem should be solved.

My question is concerning the shooting of people. If I shoot a group of people or an individual do I need to have them sign a statement giving me permission to publish the photo. What are the laws concerning the filming of people?

Donald Addison

Typically you don't need a release for documentary photography (news or magazine) but you do if you plan to sell the image (stock, fine art, etc.).  What a lot of folks don't realize is that the same applies to buildings.  A release from the owner is needed if you intend to sell an image of a building.  

I have just purchase a Tokina AF 300mm 2.8 AT-X Lens & Kenko Pro 300 l.4 & 2x Tele-Extenders. I would like information on purchasing a quality Circular Polarizer rear drop-in-filter for this lens. Is there a combination of a warming/circular polarizer rear drop-in-filter for this lens? 112mm is the size of the front of the lens, would it be possible to purchase filters in this size? I do realize, this might be expensive! Thanks for your help. 

PS, I do enjoy this site! 

You can get a drop in Circular Polarizer from B+W for that lens. As far as the 112mm for the front element, B+W also makes a Circular Polarizer in that size. I have not been able to locate a Warm Circular Polarizer in either size.  The 112mm filter will cost somewhere around $350.00 to $400.00 and the 35.5mm will sell for $60.00 to $90.00.

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For portrait shooting, use your flash indoors and out, whenever possible.




















using filters with black and white film can create dramatic images




text and photography copyright 2001 Vivid Light Publishing