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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 love doing portraits. Since I Can't afford the lighting, I usually do it outside when the light is favorable. My question is how or what is the best way to approach would be models. So far I've been taking friends pictures and they are easy to approach. Also where can I get a sample model release form? 

Danny De Dios

Approaching would be models can be a little tricky, especially if you are looking for free models or for print exchange. Some people have successfully used ads in small local papers to attract aspiring models who are looking for an inexpensive way to build a portfolio and gain experience. If you want to approach potential models that you meet on the street, have some professional business cards printed up with your name, phone and other information. Then approach them and tell them you think they would make a good model and ask them if they may be interested. Don't try to get into all the details right there on the spot, instead give them a business card and ask them to call you. If they're really interested, they will call to discuss the details. 

Act in a professional manner at all times, and be sure to clearly communicate what it is you hope to gain from the shoot ahead of time. I have heard of people who have used this method and get a 50% success rate. Also, don't hesitate to ask your friends if they know anybody who may be interested in posing for you. 

For a sample model release try the book The Photographer's Market ($24.99 from Writers Digest Books ISBN 0-89879-912-0).  The book contains a sample release as well as a wealth of information on the photography market should you ever want to sell your images.  One further caution we'd recommend to protect yourself.  Our policy here is that we get proof of age from any model who looks to be under 30. That proof of age is kept on file along with the model release in case any questions arise later. You must have signed parental consent for any model under 18 years of age.

I just bought a new Nikon F-5. I have been out of photography for 15 years. I went with Nikon & I'm worried that I bought the wrong lens. I do a lot of weddings & wanted to get back into it. So, I bought a 28-70 2.8 silent wave & a 80-200 2.8 non silent wave. I was told to buy the silent wave & not to buy it in the 80-200. Should I buy it? Is it worth the extra $500.00? 

If so, then I will return this one & get it. I wanted a wide angle lens for my F-5, so I went with the 28-70 2.8 and now I am looking at the 17-35 2.8 silent wave & WOW, are they expensive. Now, what do you think I should look into? 
  Also, I have a Sony digital S-70 camera & it works great. I would love to have the D-1 but don't have the money. Should I wait for the D-1x to come out and save for it, or should I just buy the D-1 when I have the money? Is the D-1x worth the big money? Thank-you for your time. 


You have definitely gotten yourself into a serious system. Both of the lenses you purchased are excellent lenses. The advantage of the silent wave motors are increased speed, smoother focusing and much quieter operation. Whether or not the extra money is worth spending depends on your needs and budget. If you use the 80-200 for shooting weddings, it would be quieter during the ceremony and it would also focus faster for you. The speed could become handy during the reception when you are trying to capture some good quick candids. As far as the 17-35, yes it is pricey, however you get a great ultra-wide-angle range to compliment what you have. 

Now the D-1, it has recently come down in price due to the release of the D-1x and D-1h. The D-1 has a 2.74 mega-pixel resolution and shoots 4.5 frames per second for up to 21 consecutive shots. The D-1h has the same resolution and is almost twice as fast in continuous shooting mode (5 frames per second for up to 40 consecutive shots). The D-1x has a much higher resolution (5.47 mega-pixel and shoots at 3 frames per second for up to 9 consecutive shots). 

So is the D-1x worth the extra money? It boils down to whether you need that kind of resolution. The resolution of the D-1 and D-h is good enough to get a solid 11x14 print and I have heard of people getting 20" prints from the D-1. Moose Peterson now uses the D1 exclusively for his wildlife photography.  The D-1x resolution is great if you are going to use it professionally and need commercial quality files from it. The D-1 and D-1h can deliver a portrait quality with no problem.

I am looking for the best books on natural light photography. Any suggestions? 

Rick Haris

There are quite a few good books on natural light photography. Two books that I usually recommend are Techniques of Natural Light Photography by Jim Zuckerman ($27.99 F & W Publications, ISBN 0-89879716-0) and Better Available Light Photography by Joe Farace and Barry Staver ($27.95 Butterworth-Heinemann, ISBN 0-24080335-3). Both of these book are currently in print. 

Another book that is worth looking at, is Existing Light Photography ($19.95 Kodak Workshop Series, ISBN 0-87985744-7). I don't feel this book is as good as the other two, but there are some very good pointers in it. 

Also, keep an eye on our book review page, we may run across some more books on this topic and review them there.

I would like to know which lens is a better choice for Landscape photography. Nikon 20mm f2.8D or Nikon 18-35mm f3.5-4.5D


Both of these lenses have their advantages. The 18-35mm f3.5-4.5D has an obvious advantage of being a zoom that can take the place of several prime lenses. You will, however, sacrifice some lens speed. 

If you are primarily taking landscapes during the day, this will not be a problem. If, however, you want to shoot a lot of night landscapes,  cityscapes, or use this lens extensively indoors, then the extra speed of the 20mm f2.8 can be helpful. 

Another advantage of  the 18-35mm is internal focus. This becomes a major advantage when using graduated filters such as a graduated ND or color grads. Internal focus prevents the filters from turning while focusing. The 18-35mm also has "ED" optics. ED glass gives you additional sharpness and color rendition by transmitting the light rays more efficiently. 

There's not a major difference in size between the two lenses. 18-35mm is 3.2" x 3.3" and the 20mm is 2.7" x 2.7" (diameter x length). Weight wise, there is only a 3.5 oz difference. The 18-35mm is 13 oz and the 20mm is 9.5 oz. 

When you come down to it the real decision is whether you want the flexibility of the variable zoom of the 18-35mm or the speed and slightly smaller, lighter lens in the 20mm. If you want the best of both worlds and the budget can afford it, Nikon does have their 17-35mm f2.8. This lens is much more expensive, as well as being larger and heavier, but it gives you all the positive features of both of the lenses you're considering. Frankly, you're looking at two excellent lenses and you'll likely be happy with whichever one you choose.




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What is the best way to approach would be models















You have definitely gotten yourself into a serious system




ED glass gives you additional sharpness and color rendition






MS.C 392x72

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