Vivid Light Photography, digital and film photography online

Beginner Questions

With over 15 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. 

How do you take good sepia pictures using your sepia filters with your SLR cameras using either color or black and white films?


Taking good pictures with a sepia filter can be easy.

The first thing to remember is sepia filters only work with color film, while black and white film only recognizes black, white, and gray tones. It is also very important to tell the photo lab NOT to color correct your prints. If you don't tell them that you used a sepia filter, they may try to color correct your images to look "normal".

To get proper exposure just use your in-camera meter. The meter will compensate for the filter over the lens. If you are not using your in camera meter, you will need to compensate for that filter by increasing your exposure based on the filter manufacturers recommendations.

I have a Nikon F100 and a Tamron lens. I purchased 2 filters recently, a Red Enhancing and 81A Warm polarizer. I've been reading a lot of information on how to properly use them. For example, I'm making a shot, shooting in the program mode and in the meter I see a reading such as 1/600th shutter speed and f16 aperture. In some books it is suggested to add 1 or 2 stops if I use either filters. How do I do that? Do I change it to the Shutter speed mode and change my shutter speed to 300 or do I have to do something different?

Can you describe in detail how to use both of these filters (as far as settings, providing a few examples of each one). Thank you for your help.


With these filters using your in-camera meter, you won't need to compensate for exposure. Your meter will automatically compensate by measuring the light coming through the lens. If you're not using your in-camera meter, and are using a hand-held meter, then you need to add the appropriate amount of exposure. You can adjust either the aperture or shutter speed, depending on your preference. For example, let's say that you get an exposure reading from your hand-held meter of f11 at 1/125th. If you are using a filter that requires a 2-stop correction, you could open your aperture to f5.6 (you're adding more light). However, if you need better depth-of-field than f5.6 can provide, then you would change your shutter speed to 1/30th instead. Remember, these exposures will need to be set by hand in manual mode.

Using the "Priority" modes, you are setting one constant and letting the camera set the appropriate variable. In other words, if you are shooting in Aperture Priority, you can set the aperture and the camera will set the proper shutter speed in order to give you the correct exposure. With Shutter Priority you would set the Speed and the camera will select the corresponding aperture.

I would like to know where do you focus if you're shooting landscapes, in the middle, the foreground, or in the background? And what aperture would you use? Thanks


To achieve the best overall sharp focus front to back in a landscape, focus 1/3 of the way into your frame. This, combined with a small lens aperture (i.e. f/22), will assure greater depth-of-field.

For more detail on this, see Gary Stanley's article Getting that 4x5 Look From Your 35mm Camera

We have an exposed roll of black-and-white panchromatic film speed 125, according to the yellow sticker wrapped around the roll. But on the roll it appears to say 127-8 exp.-1 5/8 x 2 1/2 and below that it says 12 exp. 1 5/9 x 1 5/8. We were told by a couple of our local camera shops that you might be able to develop this film. Can you develop our film? If so what do we need to do? Looking forward to hearing from you. Thank you

John & Nancy

While we do not offer film developing services, you can check out Rocky Mountain Photo Lab. They specialize in processing old films that are either no longer in normal use or require an older development process that is not available at most labs. They do process black and white 127 film, so they should be able to help you. Be sure to read their information about pricing and guarantees.

I use a Canon EOS Rebel Ti (300v) with a 28-90 Canon lens and a 50mm 1.5 II Canon. I am planning to buy the Sigma 70-300 APO Zoom II.

1. It is worth going for it at that price range? 2. What should be the best 2x TC suited for that lense? 3. Is there a review already available for the lens in any of the previous issues? Warm regards.


The Sigma 70-300 APO lens appears to be a good lens for the price. Sigma's Special Low Dispersion lens elements produce higher quality images than their lower priced version, all things being equal. As far as the tele-converter goes, any good quality converter designed for use with the Canon EF lenses should be a good choice. But be careful, some converters are designed only for certain lenses. The Tamron 2x AF Tele-converter for Canon EOS cameras may be the best all around choice. It is a good quality converter at a reasonable price. Also be aware that with many tele-converters, you may lose auto-focus with lenses whose apertures are f5.6 or smaller.

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