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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.

I have a Nikon F90X camera with a 28-105 lens with 3.5 aperture, with the SB22 flash. I have taken pictures for fun and also taken a few photography courses. I live in a small community and now I am being asked to take photos on a professional level. I am very nervous about this project. My project is to capture 3 role models in their work enviornment, 3 portraits of each, and one group shot. The shots will be poster size. My models are a police officer, a drug and alcohol counselor, and a bush worker. My question is: Would you consider my equipment professional enough to produce poster size images? I also own 4 hotlights and use daylight balanced lights. Also I did some test shots with the police officer outside by the lake. My sky was washed out. How can I get my sky blue. Will a polarizing filter help? Also, can you give me a suggestion on how I would capture a drug & alcohol counselor in her work enviornment.
Terri Buckshot

Your equipment is definitely good enough to produce the images you are looking for. Upgrading the flash to the SB-28 may help.  The more powerful SB-28 will allow you to increase the distance between you and your subject and still allow you to shoot with smaller apertures for greater depth of field.

As far as the shot by the lake, did you use flash? You should be able to get a good balance using the matrix fill flash capability of your system. This would allow you to get the most detail out of your subject and keep the sky from washing out. Without fill flash for the foreground, the sky has a much brighter exposure value than your foreground subject and will lose much of its detail and color. 

The flash can bring the exposure values of the foreground and background into the same range.  A polarizer will allow you to gain a richer sky but your foreground will still be darker than the background. If you do not want to use a flash try using a Graduated Neutral Density filter. It will allow you to keep the same exposure on the foreground while bringing the exposure of the background down to closer match the foreground. See Moose Peterson's article "Filter That Light!" at in our May issue for more information about the graduated ND filter.

As far as photographing a counselor in their environment, how about the counselor standing facing the camera with a group of people in a semi-circle with their backs toward the camera, silhouetted.

I had a friend show me a great pic the other day. When I asked " so how'd you do that" He told me that he stacked his 2X and 1.4X converters on his Canon 300 F2.8 for 840mm and a great pic. He tells me the meter is not accurate with this set up. He experimented and found a happy "work around". 

Will my Nikon F5 with my Tokina 300mm ATX F2.8 with a Kenko Pro 2X and a Kenko Pro 1.4X meter properly? If not why? If not I guess the best thing is to use my Sekonic 508 from my studio. I just want to travel light as possible. when out shooting birds n such. Thanks 

Teleconverters should still allow the camera to meter correctly. Most cameras read the amount of light coming through the lens and will take into account the light being lost through the teleconverters.

It is possible, depending on the age and brand, that some converters will not allow use of Program and Shutter Priority (Time Value in Canon's case). When this happens you should still be able to use Aperture Priority or Manual modes.

As for use with your F5, you should be able to meter properly with the Kenko converters. Keep in mind, when stacking the teleconverters you will loose enough light that the auto focus may not work properly.

Please explain how to set my camera when using a graduated neutral density filter. ( I loved the article about sun sets in this issue) but really do not know how to set the f stop. Do I expose for the lighter portion, and the dark part of the filter will take care of it's self or vise versa? Or just take an average reading of the scene and let the filter do its thing? If I expose for the sky, should the darker part of the filter be placed for the foreground? HELP!!


The graduated neutral density filter is one of my personal favorites.

Usually you will use the darker part of the filter to cover the sky (brighter) area to allow it to closer match the exposure of the foreground. Typically you can use your in-camera meter and follow it's setting. It sees the effect of the filter and will measure the light coming through the lens to give you an accurate exposure.

If you're looking to set your exposure to control a specific foreground element of the scene. spot meter on that element before attaching the filter and manually set your f-stop and shutter speed for that exposure, then attach the filter (assuming that element falls within the clear portion of the filter).

I've seen a photo of a black man against a black background very faint features of his face but the white of his eyes are the dominant feature, how do you take a meter reading for that photo? Also, a portrait against a window do you read off the subject or the window? 
Al Redorb

In order to make part of a subject become the dominate part of the photograph as you have described, the best thing to do is to meter for that part (the eyes in this case). A spot meter would allow you to get a reading from the eyes without any other influence from the skin. If you want to maintain detail in the skin, you would have to meter the skin and allow for it to be illuminated enough for it to show detail, but keep it underexposed (probably about a stop or so).

As far as the portrait, if your most important subject is the person you are taking the portrait of, then meter for the subject. If the window is in the shot, and the background in the window is what is most important, then you meter for the scene in the window.


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