Category: picture problems


It is time for Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photo Walk, again. This year, our local walk will be in¬†Ashland’s North Mountain Park during the Bear Creek Salmon Festival.¬†These photo walks are always a good chance to step outside of our normal or comfortable shooting environment. That is my first thought as I look through my own photos below; I was experimenting.

My hope is that this year’s photo walk will really set up a good opportunity for us to stretch ourselves in an area where so many of us struggle: people photos. This is a festival: lots of people will be out and about, cameras will be plentiful, and everybody’s guard will be down. We should have ample opportunity to catch photos of people without the awkwardness of us wondering if they mind us taking a photo. I am looking forward to the opportunities.

Enjoying each others photos after the photo walk.
Enjoying each others photos after the photo walk.

You know that really groovy lens flare you see every once in a while? It make you feel like the photo just has that extra little something, as if by accident, but I am betting that a majority of the time, it is on purpose…well, with professionals, anyway. I gotta get me some o’ that there flare.

As it turns out, I think I do not have flare and will not get flare. I kept trying different approaches: putting the sun in the photo, just on the edge of the photo, just out of the photo, and maybe a little further out. Nada. No flare.


The other day, a friend of mine was showing the photos from his daughter’s wedding. Initially, I was only in the same room and enjoying some conversation with someone else, but then I started to realize how incredible the photos really were. I asked who had taken them, because the wedding was out here in Asia and (believe me) a little out of the way to find a nice wedding photographer. Unknowingly, I had asked the photographer, herself.

Assuming, from the quality of the photos, she was an experienced photographer, I actually asked how she used her flash to balance the light so beautifully. After a brief exchange, which I still have a hard time processing, I found out she had used a regular, old point-and-shoot camera! How could it be?


It is called the Cactus. Why so, I have no idea. They are about $40 for a pair, and once you have them, you attach a radio transmitter to your flash hot shoe and the receiving to your flash. Place the flash anywhere you want and you have wireless radio flash triggering.

Of course, you could just buy the unnamed, expensive radio triggers, and they really are worth the $400 or so if you need super reliability and other kinda groovy features, but those kind of folks will not read this anyway! I had given up on my pair of Cactus triggers. I had debated giving them away and just sticking with optical triggering (using the light of a flash to set off another flash wirelessly), but everything changed the past couple days. Here is what happened.


After the past three or four days, I feel like I did sitting in the school principal’s office, waiting for the imminent whipping. It is in those times that you would do anything to avoid what is coming, and it is not so much the physical beating as much as it is the emotional tension of having to look your bad decision in the face.

My current humbling experience all started a few days ago with a wonderful meal and talk with a photographer friend of mine. It was not him, but just watching some of the videos he has produced recently really reminded me what a two-bit punk hack I am. It was not the technique, but how he captured the power of the story.

Then today, I shot a very “ok” family portrait session. That is “ok”, as in, I do not want to say more of what I really think. The harsh sunlight made things tough, not only for lighting, but for the quickly wilting subjects. Excuses aside, though, I really want to know what happened. How do I improve? What can I learn here?


Most of the time, my wife lovingly tunes out when I talk about photography. Every once in a while, though, she shares her thoughts. I always value her comments highly because they do not come from a photographer or artist, but just a simple, everyday viewer. And, when it comes to my photography, she is more than willing to be a hard reviewer, so none of that, “oh, that’s great honey” jazz. Here were her thoughts, as best I can recall, for the photos in the recent Graveyard Shift gallery.

Feel free to leave your own comments below. And please, leave some negative comments. Positive comments are only good for buffering the hard stuff.


Ok, that is not exactly a frequently asked question, as I claim, but…well…it should be! There are way too many accidentally out of focus pictures out there. Out of focus can be cool, sure, but only if it is on purpose. Some of the great photographers had out of focus shots, but that was for very different reasons.

The basic problem is that most cameras are set, by default, to a multiple focus point setting, meaning, a pathetic, little computer in your camera is deciding what in the scene needs to be in focus. I personally think my brain is a bit more sophisticated than my camera, and I would much rather choose for myself what is in focus. So, here is how I do that.


Not too long ago, I was reading a great blog entry from a seasoned pro (though somehow I cannot find it again to give him credit and a link), and a little something he mentioned which “they used to do in the old days” sounded just like a trick I use. Evidently, I am not the first person to come up with this idea, but at least it made me feel a little more normal.

Maybe you have the same problem I do. You do not have the Nikon D3 or the Canon 5D or some other full-frame, no-noise wonder, and moving your ISO up just a little turns your image into static. Do you want to keep image quality at its best (or pretty close) and stop sacrificing your pictures to the ISO noise gods? Here is what I do.


This is an e-mail from a friend of mine and I could not help but put a couple of my comments to it here online so that more people could benefit from it.

[My wife] got the D40, it was an eBay buy. I wish that we had a better lens, it came with a lower end model. We are saving up and hoping to get a better one soon, they are all just so stinking expensive. It has been great, though, being able to catch those moments with [our kid] that you normally wouldn’t because of the slow shutter speed on the point and shoot digital. I know there are some ways to tweaking the camera so you can get a little better shot out of it, but I haven’t had the chance to play with it enough.

What new lens should my friend buy? Are there some not so expensive lenses out there for amateur photographers on a limited budget? I have just the answer.


I have had too few chances to use my umbrella flash set up. Most of my shooting is still natural light (everyday life and such), but this past week, I have had two chances to take photos for a friend of mine who is graduating with his Master’s degree, and I figured that was the perfect opportunity to put my set up to the test in the field. And out comes the umbrella!

The first day, about a week ago, things went ok…not great, but lessons learned. I also wanted to field test a pair of Cactus triggers. “What are those,” you might ask? With those, I can remote trigger my flash via radio (i.e. no cords). Those ended up incredibly frustrating, to be honest. They did not fire very consistently. When you read through discussions about these on Flickr, some folks love them and some hate them. They are consistent for some folks and inconsistent for others. For me, when they are needed, the break. When I am goofing around, they work flawlessly.

Wait, this was about the flash. I will get back to the story.