Lovely Photo

I am prompted to write, today, about the Internet and how you must not always believe it.

You may have noticed the following phenomenon: someone posts something horrible on the Internet and their friends all say “lovely photo”, “great work”, and so on.

Praise, on the Internet, means nothing.

I just saw a photo:


I have made names and the subjects (one of whom is a friend, and a lovely lady) unrecognizable, but there is still enough to see that, with respect, this is not in fact a “lovely” photo:

The light comes from straight above them, so their eyes are completely dark. This is something you cannot see. The composition is terrible. The heads should be higher. There is stuff in the picture that distracts, like the lights dimmer on the very left. The stuff behind the ladies interferes with their heads. The photo is ever so slightly tilted anticlockwise. Why cut off that one hand? The list goes on.

My point is not to rain on these ladies’ parade. My point is that when someone says “GREAT WORK” on Facebook, that does NOT make you a museum-ready pro. The photo is nice as a memento of three friends getting together. But it is not great as a photo. Keep that in mind, and before you go full time pro, have your work critiqued independently, and fill the knowledge gaps everyone has.



A tip today about something rather simple, which can be a lot of fun

A modern flash like a Canon 600EX or Nikon SB-900 can do “stroboscopic flash”.

To use it, simply:

  1. Set the flash’s mode to stroboscopic (“Multi” on my Canon flashes);
  2. On the flash, select frequency and duration and power level; see below for the settings I used yesterday;
  3. On the camera, which is probably on a tripod, select a shutter speed at least equal to the duration above;
  4. Make sure it is dark enough so that this shutter speed does not light up everything;
  5. Have a black background
  6. Move and shoot!

The flash:


In this case, 1/128 is the power level; — is the duration (so I set it to one second in my case); 1 Hz is the frequency (10 Hz in my case).

The result, set to the settings above:


The flash was set to:

  • Frequency 10 Hz
  • Duration 1 second
  • Power level 1/32 power.

Camera was set to 1 sec shutter speed. Because it took assistant Rob about a second to move his arm.

You will note that the higher the flash power level, and the shorter the time, the fewer flashes you can do. This is because the flash runs out of power after a few flashes: the higher the power level, the earlier that happens.

Go have some fun!


Delete? Nope.

Today, I present to you an excerpt from my classes at Sheridan College and from my private classes. The subject: “Should I habitually delete my bad pictures?”

And the answer, my photographing friends, is a strong “no”. Deleting, whether “from the camera”, “afterward”, or “instead of formatting”, is always unwise!

So why is that? Let’s look at all three in turn.

[A] Why not delete from your camera?


  • First of all, it is a waste of time. When you spend your time deleting images, that means that you are “chimping”, i.e. looking at the images instead of looking at the things you are photographing! You should use the time you have on location to be at that location.
  • Also, by all this looking you are wasting valuable battery power; power you may well need later on in the day.
  • And you are losing learning opportunities: why exactly were they bad? The EXIF data usually shows you why—and without the image you may never know.
  • It may be As Good As It Gets: The bad image of uncle Joe may be the last image you have of him.
  • You may be mistaken: Often, you cannot really tell how good or bad the image actually is.
  • And finally, when you make a habit of deleting, you will delete the wrong image soon enough. Guaranteed. Law of nature.

[B] OK. So why not delete afterward?

This too is simple once you think it over…

  • Statistics, is one reason. “How many pictures do you take with wide angle lenses? What proportion if your images is out of focus? How many photos has your camera taken? All these are questions you cannot answer if you have deleted bad images.
  • As before: maybe it’s the only picture you will ever get of this person, even if it is out of focus. I would love too have an out of focus or badly composed picture of Lee Harvey Oswald the day before he shot the president.
  • Processing techniques improve with every iteration of Lightroom/ACR. Maybe that terrible image will be usable 10 years from now.
  • They don’t matter. The drawback of “they get in the way and slow things down or make my photos hard to work with” no longer holds at all with modern image resource management tools like Adobe Lightroom.

So you use 1TB of your 8TB drive for bad stuff. Who cares! Storage is cheap today.

[C] OK then. But why not “delete the card when importing”, or “delete after use”?

  • Because formatting is much, much better than merely marking as deleted (that is all that happens when you “delete”) . It removes lost clusters, fragmentation, and all the other disk error that occur naturally over time on every disk, even virtual disks. Formatting fixes all these and is much safer. It actually deletes.
  • “Deleting when importing” is also unsafe because “what if the import fails”?

But remember, friends, do not format until you have made at least one backup of your images: one main copy, and one backup on other media. All hard drives fail—then question is when, not whether.

So my conclusion: there are lots of reasons to not delete your work. Leave all the bad images intact; format card after backup.

Trust me on this. You will be happy you listened, one day.

Oh and the President was born in Kenya.  And don’t trust me on that!


Lightroom Bug with Sierra

If you have upgraded your Mac to Sierra, the new OS, Lightroom may show a bit of a bug in the Import module.

When trying to import, you see this dialog:


A few things are missing there, aren’t they? “File Renaming” and in particular, the essential “Destination” dialog is missing.

The solution? For now, until the bug is fixed, just right-click on one of the two that do show, File Handling or Apply During Import:


…and then click on the two missing dialogs, “File Renaming” and “Destination” to activate them, so a tick mark appears next to them too.

You now see all four again, and you can set your destination as always:


So although this little bug is annoying, it is easy to bypass.

Now to celebrate, here is Mau Mau, surrounded by (and lit by) two flashes:


Taken at 100 ISO, 1/200 sec, and f/22, with the flashes set to 1/16 power, using a Yongnuo YN622C-TX on the camera and a YN622C connected to each one of the the flashes.


Mistakes are how we learn…

….and I can make them too. Today is an example.

I just bought a used Canon ST-E3-RT wireless flash control transmitter. A great piece of engineering. And also a good piece of business, for Canon. And also a mistake, for me.
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Because as I told the seller, “This one does radio as well as IR, IIRC”.

If I had only looked that up instead of relying on my recollection! Because no, it does not do light/infrared control. It only does radio control. Meaning I can control 600EX flashes, but not the six 580EX and 430EX flashes that I own. My only 600EX is faulty and needs an expensive repair or replacement.

So I have a controller that is a marvellous piece of engineering, but it only controls 600EX flashes that I do not own. Review some time when I do own 600EX flashes!

And careful when you rely on recollection. “IIRC” (if I recall correctly) implies that you might be wrong. Which I was.

Why is this flash, as I put it, a great business move? Because it forces photographers like me to buy only new 600EX flashes, and yo discard their 430EX and 580EX flashes. Which would be fine if it was one flash… but I have six of them!

Moral of the story? Check things before you trust your recollection; every time you say “IIRC”, realize you could be wrong.

(PS: Anyone looking for an ST-E3-RT? :-) )