Are we suppose to color correct our images?


O.K., I don’t mean to be dense, but I think I missed something? I watched your video on design elements and how you gave us advice on how to take a better photo. I just need to clarify something. I thought we needed to shoot just in maual mode and upload pictures just as we shot them. Are we suppose to fix the pics before we submit? Like, add color, light, etc. Sorry, not sure why I missed this part of the class……..


Thank you for the question.  Please know there is never any need to apologize for asking me questions.  We go over a LOT of material in this class.  When ever anyone needs clarification on any of it, please do ask.
You are to shoot in just manual mode from now on.  (You may use auto focus if you like.)  The Chairs assignment called for no manipulation of the images after being shot. This is meant to help you see what a full stop change (half the amount of light or double the amount of light) looks like.  After Chairs, you are welcome to manipulate your images in some photo editing software program if you like.  You may crop, correct color, increase/decrease contrast, sharpen, dodge (lighten an area) or burn (darken an area), etc… If you do not know how to complete a task and would like to learn, just let me know what software you are using and what you want to do to it.
As for missing this part, you have not.  We are still going to cover it.  I am just trying to keep your brain moving forward with my suggestions.  Points are not lost for not correcting images at this time – as we have not covered this in class.  I am just trying to help you all start to develop a more critical eye with your images so that they become stronger faster.
With all of this said, I would like to remind y’all that this is not a Photoshop class.  This is a photography class.  Any changes/corrections to your photo should be done to help promote your idea behind the image.  Cropping and enhancing a photo is encouraged.  Trying to correct an overall poorly exposed image so that it does not need to be shot again (in other words, putting lipstick on a pig) is not encouraged.  If you need to reshoot your images, then take on the lesson learning potential and do just that.  You will be better served by working with a great image than spending time trying to correct a poor image.  (Trust me, I know this from first hand experience.)  😉
Hope this is helpful,

I can’t seem to get my camera to focus correctly.


How did they get the back to be out of focus this is an aperture setting correct? I can’t seem to get my camera to do this!!



I see an image name in  your email, but there is not image attached for me to see what is going one.  None-the-less, this information may help.
The aperture does not directly focus the photo, it only increases/decreases the amount of focus of an already focused photo.  One must have focus first.
Your lens may have a switch on it that says AF/MF.  AF = auto focus and MF = Manual focus.  If your camera is on AF then it will focus on something in the scene you are photographing.  Most cameras will have a small indicator inside the viewer that will show you what it is focusing on.
In MF, you must focus the lens.  There will be a collar on it or you may need to use the very end of it to turn and watch your image go in and out of focus.  If you are doing this and nothing is in focus, then you may need to turn  your diopter ( to correct vision that your viewfinder is set to.
If all this is set correctly and the images are still not sharp, then you may be getting motion blur.  This is where you are focusing on your subject correctly, but the shutter is open too long for you to hold the camera still during the time the shutter is open.  Many people begin to see motion blur at 1/60th of a second or longer.  This will depend on the lens they are using, how close they are to their subject, and how much caffein they have had prior.
If you would like to try reattaching your image, I will be happy to take a look at it.
Take care,

Why can’t I focus on things that are really close to my camera?


Hello Wendy! I’m trying to focus objects on manual focus but i’m having trouble with that. When i try to focus objects thr are really close to me on auto focus it doesn’t work, so i tried manual but i can’t get it to be focus either. Any tips for me?? Thank you!!!


It sounds like you are trying to focus closer than you lens can do.  Lenses that focus very close are macro lenses.  Unless you have paid extra for this feature, your lens will not have it.  
You can go online and look up how close the specific lens you have will focus.  Chances are that it is also marked on the barrel of your lens.  This image will help you determine what you are looking for.  
Focus scale in feet and meters on a lens.
From what we can see, this lens only will allow focus as close as three feet as indicated by the blue number on the far right side of the lens.
To work around this.  Back up from your subject until focus works again.  Shoot the frame you want and then crop the image in the computer to look the way you want it to look.
Take care,


How do I find my camera’s exposure information in Photoshop Elements?

I just read my feedback from the last assignment. I use Adobe Photoshop Elements Editor to resize my photos. Can I really figure out my exposure on there?
Yes, you can.  I believe Photoshop Elements (PsE) keeps this file stored in the same location as Photoshop.  This means you would need to go to File>File Info.  A new window will open up.  It may have tabs you can search through and twirly triangles to open.  You are most likely looking for the Camera Data or EXIF data.  Open this up and look for aperture and shutter speed information.
Image shows the new window that opens up in Photoshop when a person goes to File then File Info.
I also read online that you should be able to do this in PsE.
“Metadata is read using the File Browser (File>Browse Folders). Metadata is displayed for an individual picture in the bottom left-hand corner of the browser window. Make sure that the Metadata tab is pressed in the Browser so the window is at the front (ie. so you can see it) and then click once on any picture displayed as a thumbnail over to the right-hand side of the browser window. The Metadata is then displayed in the metadata window.”
If anyone out has PsE and can add to this post, please do.  🙂


What is a full stop change with my aperture?

I wanted to write you an email because I had a question about the f stop settings. In my critique you had said that I did not pull it off in full stops. I think I am confused as to what constitutes a full stop. When I adjust the f-stop setting up in down it moves from F 4.0, 4.5, 5.0, 5.6, 6.3, 7.1, 8.0, 9.0, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 25.

Why is full stops only equal to 1, 1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11…. and so on?

Sorry if this is confusing. Thank you so much for your help.

Thank you for bringing this up.

In photography we have full stops.

f/1, 1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22, 32, 45…

When you go from one to the next you are either doubling or halving the amount of light that enters your camera. For example, when you go from f/8 to f/11 the hole in your lens is only half as big as it was. This means you are only letting in half the amount of light.

When you go from f/8 to f/5.6 you are doubling the size of the hole in your lens. You guessed it, you are letting in twice as much light.

Each time you double or half your light, you are moving one full stop.

Now, your camera has some numbers in between. These move in 1/3 of a stop increments. So as I am sure you are already guessing, when you go from f/8 to f/9 you are letting in 1/3 of a stop less of light.

Conversely, when you go from f/8 to f/7.1 you are letting in 1/3 of a stop more light.

The camera companies give you these 1/3 stop increments so that you can have better control of your exposures. The lighting difference is not drastically different from one to another, but it is enough that you can see it.

In this class, we are going to have you work in full stops. It will just help to keep the math easier as we move forward. You will not be tested on these 1/3 stop numbers, only the full stop numbers.

Does this make sense? If not, let me know, I can explain it another way too.

Have a great weekend,

How do I give you my exposure data for the photos I am submitting?


I was going to upload my photo for the first assignment. But I read that you also want exposure settings info. Where do I put that? I saw the note area but wasn’t sure if that was just for me or if you would be able to see that to. Just making sure before I upload. Thanks for your time.



Thanks for asking. I agree, it is not clear at first, but it sounds like you are guessing right. In order to type in your exposure data notes, you will want to click the “Comments…” box towards the  bottom of the assignment. I am including an image to help show the button I am describing.




Will you tell me about studio lighting kits?


So Quality of light…

i am interested in buying my own studio light kit…

And there is an obvious price range… How do you think lower end lighting kits match up to calumet or pro photo strobes etc.? I am wanting to do a project for a friend in town and instead of renting expensive lights from samys, for the same price i could buy a “cowboy studio” pro photo strobe lighting kit. What do you think/



Congrats on moving to the next step – controlling your lighting. Please know that we have a 209 class on campus that will help you learn how to use studio lights and off camera flash units.

As for studio lighting, you get what you pay for. The cheaper kits can be good start, but know that you will need to make replacements. If you are planning on going into the business of photography, then this can be dangerous (and expensive in the long run) as they can fail on you before or during a shoot. Expensive lights can too, but it is far less likely often to happen.

I have not ever touched a Cowboy Studio lighting kit before. I have heard of them, but do not know anyone personally that has used them, so I do not feel qualified to give you an opinion on them. If anyone else reading this has any experience with them, please speak up.

I did do a little research on them and the reviews are mixed. When doing review research, I try to focus on the bad reviews to see if there is a consistent problem. If there is one, is it one I can live with? In this case, the reviews often talk about how cheaply the equipment is made. (When doing this kind of research, be sure to watch where the reviews are coming from too.)

I found one review that gave the guide number (GN) of the 110 watt second Cowboy Studio strobe at 90. This is not bright. Most well made off-camera flash units will give you a guide number of 90.

Let’s back up quickly and tell you how a GN is determined. A guide number is a multiplication of aperture (A) times the distance (D) your strobe is from your subject. In simpler terms… A*D=GN or A x D = GN

So if you know your GN is 90 what this means is that if your flash is 10 feet away from your subject you will need to set your aperture to f/9. Once you put a softbox or a diffuser in front of the light, this will knock off a stop or two. This means you will need to move your lights closer to 7 or 5 feet away or open your aperture up to f/6.3 or f/5. For a single person with a 80mm lens, I recommend you stay around f/8 for starters. For more people, you will need to close down so your depth of field can work for you to keep everyone’s eyes sharp.

You will then need to make sure your shutter is slow enough to be completely open when the flash fires. Some cameras it is 1/60th of a second, some are 1/125, and others are 1/250. If you see only part of your image and the remainder is black, this is caused the shutter being in the way while the flash fired. If you see this, just slow down your shutter. 😉

Now, it is possible to work with off-camera flash units. I have seen it done over and over again very well. If you are interested in this option, check out the Strobist’s blog. ( His has all kinds of DIY (do it yourself) projects and links to projects like this one for a beauty dish –

To get an idea of how powerful this flash units are, the tour bus shown here was lit by them. This was done when the Strobist and Joe McNally were in Austin during their flashbus ( tour. I got to see them in LA when they were there and am a believer in these units now.

Photo of a large tour bus lit with portable flash units.

Yet, you may have your mind set on actual studio strobes. In that case, I can tell you that I have worked with Alien Bees ( think they are an exceptional buy for the money. The company that makes Alien Bees also make the higher end lights called White Lighting. The lights are the same technology inside. The only difference is that the Alien Bees are made of plastic instead of metal.

Whew, OK, I am not sure if I am being much help here, but I want to make sure you know all your options. If your camera store is big enough (like one of the larger Samy’s) they may have some of the strobes set up in back for you to try out to see how bright the light is and if it will work for you. You will want to bring in your camera, fresh with batteries and a clean card, along with a friend to model.

If you camera store does not have this set up, then you may want to consider renting… or talking to the guys in the rental department. I say the rental department because they are not trying to sell you anything and get to hear first hand feedback from everyone that rents from them.

Good luck and be sure to read the safety cards on any studio strobes you get. You really don’t want to get shocked by one of those. 😉


My images look blurry when I look through my camera…


I am having issues with focus when i am taking pictures in manual. Is this normal? any references i can read?



Is it that you can’t see anything in focus?  If this is the case, chances are the diopter on your viewfinder is not set to your vision.  This is no big deal as it is easy to correct.

  1. Get your camera out and look at the viewfinder. Right close to it should be a dial that you can turn.
  2. Turn it.
  3. OK, now put your camera on auto focus and have it focus on something.
  4. Still looking through your camera, start turning the diopter dial until the image is as sharp as it can be.
  5. Viola!  It should now be in focus for you so that you can now focus manually.

If this is not the issue you are having, please give me a better explanation of what it going on.

I Missed a Quiz and Photo Assignment. What Do I Do?

I made a huge mistake. I thought the quiz and photo assignment were due next Sunday, not this Sunday. It was entirely my fault for not reading your reminder email well enough – I just felt like I knew when everything was supposed to be due and was so busy with work that I didn’t double check. Is there any way I could get an extension on the assignments? I will get them done as soon as I possibly can.
Thank you for your time, and I’m so sorry for not checking again.

This is sad news.  I know you know you now know to read my weekly emails more closely, which is good.  You can also look under “Assignments Due” of each week to determine what is due that week as a backup plan.  Lastly, if you go to the calendar in  the upper right hand corner of the main page, the due dates will be posted there too.

Late assignments can be turned in up to Week 13.  Please be sure you have completed them correctly as there is no chance to re-submit late work for a higher grade.   Please also know that turning in work late will cost you 40 points, per department policy.  While this is a costly loss, please remember that it is much better to earn 60 points than zero.  I recommend you take this extra time and make it work for you.  Look at what others have done for the assignment in the Student Gallery.  Read comments students have left for each other and me to them in the appropriate forums too.

Quizzes and exams do not have a chance of being taken late.  Once the due date has passed, so has the opportunity of the quiz/exam.  If you know in advance you will not be able to take an assessment (possibly for a trip that will be taking up your week’s time), please let me know and I will release it early for you.

While it may be disheartening to know that you have not earned all the points you could for this assignment and exam, please know that we will have a lot of projects and assessments in the class.  Missing one and being late for another will not drop your grade tremendously in the long run.  Solid work in a timely manner on all future assignments will assure you of a high final grade for the class.