Joe and Mary Ann McDonald's

Wildlife Photography

August 2003

Question of the Month

How can you determine distances?

For what, you might ask!

I've deliberately made this question vague because, in our photo workshops, people have all sorts of questions dealing with distance. Questions like, what is hyperfocal distance, how far will a flash travel, how deep is the depth of field with a particular lens or with a macro lens, etc. etc. Fortunately, there are several great accessories that you can use to determine many of these distances.

I've written about the Foto-Sharp products in the past, and Foto-Sharp also offers a HF card. It's slightly larger than a credit card, but would fit into most wallets or any pocket in a gadget bag or vest. Foto-Sharp offers a whole range of distance cards, including one for Macro and the corresponding working distances and depths of field. Did you know the approximate working distance required for a 400mm lens is 2'7"! Nobody I know shoots macro with a 400, but it's interesting trivia that might be applicable if you needed the working distance. Obtaining that image size, 1:1, might require 300mm or more of extension but again, it could be done.

Foto-Sharp also has a card for making the correct exposure compensations for multiple exposures -- up to 16 shots; effective flash ranges for various guide number flashes (did you know that at f8, a flash rated at 120 -- the typical true GN of a Nikon SB or Canon EX flash, that the effective flash rangeis only 15 feet! If you understand the inverse square law, something we teach in our Advanced Nature Photo Course that we'll be offering next year, you'd also be able to infer that at 30 feet your flash would be effective only at f4 -- and that's pushing it, really, on both counts. Foto-Sharp has cards on Composition and Design Elements in Composition. An example, if you're trying to convey "Pride, Dignity,m or Power" it's suggested you use Vertical Framing and Lines, while if you were conveying "Loneliness or Solitude" you'd choose monochromatic elements. Sharp edges are more dominant and powerful than smooth edges, rough textures more dominant than smooth, and so on. The cards make a little book in themselves that could be useful for folks in the field, especially newcomers and beginners trying to advance their photo skills wuickly.


Previous Questions of the Month




 Camera Techniques

 In the Field

How would you meter these images?

Why should you know Manual Mode? 

 The Sunny 16 rule -- is it worth knowing today?

  How do you shoot silhouettes?

 How would you meter these challenging images?

 Who should go Digital,
and when?
Last Posting

 What do we really think about digital photography?

 What do we think of the Canon D30 digital camera?

 How long will film be around?

 Should you have a depth of field Preview button on your camera?

 Using Zoom lenses with tele-converters and extension tubes -- can you use both together?

 What the heck is the Scheimpflug Law?

  Reciprocity Failure

 What is the Best Composition?

 Are Image Stabilization Lenses Worth the Money?

 Hyperfocal Distance

 Flash and Tele-flash Techniques

 What is the most versatile remote release camera firing system?

 What the heck is a Plamp?

 What is the best flash for closeup and
macro photography?

 How do you shoot high-speed action images?
 How did I photograph that flying wasp?

 What is the Fotronix's
Flash System?

Last Posting

 How do we carry our film when traveling?

 How can you attract insectivorous birds to your feeding stations and bait sites?

 How do you make things happen in wildlife photography?
 What is our Favorite bird-shooting location?  What are our Five Favorite Shooting Locales?  Which binoculars do we just love to use?

How Easy is Whale Photography?
 Is NANPA for you?  What is NANPA and how will it benefit me?  

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