Expert Discussion with Julie Govan

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Expert Discussion with Julie Govan

  • At 1PM today we will start an expert discussion with Julie Govan, Crutchfield Video Manager/Projects Editor and photography enthusiast. Julie will be answering questions in this thread from 1PM to 3PM on digital photography. 

    All information provided is given on an "as is" basis. No warranties are stated or implied. Standard Forum Rules ( and Terms of Service ( apply.

    This thread will be unlocked at 1PM today and then closed at 3PM.

    [edited by: Jeff Kitchen at 3:08 PM (GMT -5) on Fri, Feb 12 2010]

  • We are live now with Julie. Please post any questions you may have.

    I'll get the ball rolling:

    One of the issues that I have had is in taking pictures of my 2-year old daughter. With our Canon point and shoot, even with red-eye reduction on, she always seems to come out looking possessed. Do you have any tips on how to prevent this from happening?

    [edited by: Jeff Kitchen at 3:11 PM (GMT -5) on Fri, Feb 12 2010]

  • Thanks Jeff! This is fun.Thanks for sending in the first question!

    This is a really common problem. First, a quick description of red-eye reduction: in most cameras, it works by setting off the flash several times very quickly before taking the picture, in order to make the subjects' pupils contract and to reduce the amount of red-eye possible. Of course, this only does so much -- tiny pinpoints of red aren't necessarily much better than large red pupils when you're looking for a cute kid photo.

    To avoid this problem, I try to shoot without the flash going off. (The red eye appears because of light bouncing off the surface in the eye behind the pupil: this Wikipedia article has some nice info about why kids are more prone to red-eye).

    Of course, if you're indoors in low-light, that may be tricky. If you have a point-and-shoot model, look for modes designed for better indoor shooting, and try to shoot a little farther from your subject -- both approaches can help.

    If you have an SLR or a manual mode with lots of control and a "hot shoe" for adding a flash, consider using a really high ISO -- 800 or more -- to shoot flash free, or use an external flash to "bounce" your flash off a wall or ceiling and achieve some indirect lighting that won't go straight into your subject's eyes. (The Strobist has great resources for playing with an external flash.)



    [edited by: Jeff Kitchen at 3:12 PM (GMT -5) on Fri, Feb 12 2010]
  • Julie, here's one I hear a lot - how can you avoid dreaded "shutter lag?"

    [edited by: Jeff Kitchen at 3:12 PM (GMT -5) on Fri, Feb 12 2010]
  • Shutter lag is a real nuisance. Usually, folks use the term to describe the effect they experience when they aim their camera at their subject, push down the shutter button, and have to wait a second or two before the camera actually takes the picture.

    Often, this lag doesn't have anything to do with the shutter itself being sluggish -- it has more to do with all the automatic functions the camera is trying to carry out. A camera in full auto mode is trying to focus on the subject, check lighting and set exposure, etc. It can do that stuff very, very fast -- but not so fast that you won't notice the pause. And not so fast that your subject won't move in the interim. 

    Avoiding shutter lag can be accomplished a lot of different ways. Here are a few of my favorites:

    • Set an automatic camera to continuous autofocus. This can drain the battery much faster, but it does mean that the camera doesn't wait for your finger to push the button before setting focus.
    • Instead of using continuous AF, identify your preferred subject, push the shutter button halfway down to get the camera to set everything, and then, keeping the button half-depressed, follow your subject until you're ready to push the button all the way and take your photo.
    • Digital SLRs are generally way less prone to shutter lag than digital point-and-shoot models -- that's the main reason I went with one way back when  in 2003 -- and shooting with your SLR in a manual or largely manual mode will make shutter lag negligible most of the time.

    Zak, got any other avoidance approaches you like to try?

    [edited by: Jeff Kitchen at 3:12 PM (GMT -5) on Fri, Feb 12 2010]
  • Hi Julie,

    I'm shooting with a Nikon D60. It came with two kit lenses (18-55mm and a 55-200mm). I chose the camera over a point and shoot for it's versatility and not having to do as much post-processing. That said, I'm still a novice on SLRs.

    I have noticed that photos that I take with the 18-55mm tend to have richer color and more vibrancy than shots with my 55-200mm lens. Why is this? Is there anything I should be setting to help correct this (to avoid pot-processing) ?

    [edited by: Jeff Kitchen at 3:13 PM (GMT -5) on Fri, Feb 12 2010]
  • You said it above - just be ready to shoot by pressing your shutter button halfway and holding it there. If your subject moves, you might have to let go and start over, but with practice it'll become second nature.

    I think it's helpful to keep one thing in mind, generally - that modern cameras all use a 2-stage shutter button. A half press meters/focuses, etc., and then the picture is taken with the full press. The camera "thinking" is what people refer to as shutter lag.

    Many DSLRs come with a focus button on the back of the camera, and you can set it so that only that button activates autofocus. In that case, the shutter button simply trips the shutter. But you still have to hold the button down, so the principle remains the same.

    [edited by: Jeff Kitchen at 3:13 PM (GMT -5) on Fri, Feb 12 2010]
  • Oooh, tricky one, Christopher.

    Without experimenting with your lenses and your camera and its settings in a specific situations, I'd have a hard time putting my finger on the answer to the question. Here are two thoughts, though:

    You may be unintentionally influencing the apparent richness of color by which subjects you tend to shoot with the more telephoto lens versus the more wide-angle lens. For instance, if you choose the 18-55 when you want to take in lots of the scene around you, there may be more color in that scene than in a specific zoom in on a far-off object, when fewer colors may be visible. That's one guess.

    One other thing that could be influencing your photos, and this may be just my subjective way of seeing the world: I've noticed when I take my glasses off and look around, the colors around me pop much more, even though all the details blur. If your 18-55 has lower quality glass than the 55-200, then the resulting images could be softer, and subject to the same apparent enriching of color.

    Like I said, these are just guesses. It would be cool to do a trial set of shoots, on the same day, in the same light, of the same subjects, and see what results you come up with.

    [edited by: Jeff Kitchen at 3:13 PM (GMT -5) on Fri, Feb 12 2010]