Ask A Pro: Scott Kelby Answers Your Photography Questions
Q. I have a Nikon SB-910 Speedlight but I miss a lot of shots waiting for the flash to recycle so it can fire again. Is there a particular battery I can buy that will make it recycle faster?
A. You can have your SB-910 recycle a lot faster, up to about one pop per second, if you add the Nikon SD-9 accessory battery pack. This external pack runs off either four or eight AA batteries and you plug it into the flash itself to speed up the recharge rate bit time. However, to get that super-speedy recharge time, you have to use the recommended AA Ni-MH rechargeable batteries. Also, the flash itself will still need batteries in it, as will the SD-9. So, you’re going to need a bunch of batteries and around $200 for the SD-9.
Q. I recently purchased a Sony A7R II and have enjoyed the switch to Sony ever since. That said, I’ve discovered an “issue” with certain aspects of a mirrorless setup. There are times I’d like to take shots of a subject at night using a flash. The problem arises when using the EVF to compose with settings that work for the exposure with flash. It is nearly impossible to see anything, as the EVF is just black. Is there a button that you can map?
A. What’s happening is you’re seeing the Exposure Preview—a pretty cool feature until you try to use flash. All you have to do is turn that preview off. Go to the Gear menu; the one with the gear icon—it’s the second one from the left. Then under #3, under “Live View Display,” where it says Setting Effect, switch that to Off. That should work.
Q. In my photos, the color red looks red with an orange tint. I’m using a used Nikon D750 and have tried all of the white balance apparatus without success. My monitors are also calibrated. What can I do?
A. I used to shoot Nikon back in the day, and we used to say the red’s “bloomed” on our cameras—something you’d definitely notice when shooting a red rose, etc. There’s something you can do in Lightroom (or Adobe Camera Raw) to help counteract that. If you go to Lightroom’s (or ACR’s) Calibration panel, you’ll see sliders and saturation for various colors. These are there so you can tweak how the color looks for a particular camera that has a signature color. Once you use the sliders to counteract the “blooming reds,” you can save those settings as the default for that particular camera, so the next time you open up shots from that camera, it will automatically apply that correction.
Q. When you take very long exposures, do you use your camera’s built-in long exposure noise reduction?
A. I don’t, but it may just be because I have the patience quotient of a hamster. When you turn on long exposure noise reduction, the camera has to do a lot of in-camera processing to try and counteract the noise, and it essentially doubles the amount of time before it displays the final image. For example, your 10-minute exposure becomes 20 minutes; 10 minutes with the shutter open and 10 minutes of noise reduction. Plus, now your noise reduction is “baked in.” If you don’t like how it looks, it’s too late. Lastly, in general I just don’t think it does that good of a job. I’d much rather have more flexibility and options by adding it later in postproduction. The built-in noise reduction in both Lightroom and Camera Raw is actually pretty darn good, especially since they apply the noise reduction to the Raw image rather than the 8-bit non-Raw version that most plug-ins require.
Q. If I see something sticking into my photo along the outside edges, I usually try to remove it using Photoshop’s Patch tool, but sometimes it smears along the outside edges of the photo. Am I doing something wrong?
A. It’s not you and I have two strategies that should help: (1) When you make your selection around the object with the Patch tool, drag that selection straight up or straight down right along the edge, so there is a clean area. That will usually do the trick. If not, then (2) go up to the options bar and in the Path tool options, under “Patch,” change the method from Normal (the default) to “Content Aware.” It works especially well on the edges of your image. One of those two will probably do the trick.
Q. I’ve been using the Nik Collection of plug-ins for years now. However, I’m concerned that Google won’t be updating the plug-ins and Photoshop will get updated and they won’t work any longer and then my workflow will be broken. Do you think Google will update the Nik plug-ins if it’s just a minor update that breaks them?
A. No, I don’t think they will, whether it’s a little fix or a big one. I think Google is “done” with desktop plug-ins, which is why they made them free. They all but said they won’t be updating those plug-ins in the future, so we’re kind of using them “as is,” knowing there’s some kind of expiration date that will happen when Apple, Microsoft, or Adobe releases an update that lays them to rest. So, in short, I’m just as freaked out as you are. I think our best bet for replacing them comes from Macphun, a group of folks who used to work at Nik before Google bought them, and they’ve been cranking out some great plug-ins that are very “Nik-esque.” The only downside is you’d need to buy a bunch of different plug-ins from them to add up to what’s in the extensive Nik Collection. In late October, Macphun did announce a new product called “Luminar.” They’re touting it as a “one-step photo editor,” but it plugs into Lightroom and has lots of features of a bunch of their plug-ins, so there’s hope. It is also pretty cheap, like $69. I’ve seen it demoed, though I haven’t played with it myself, so I can’t give it a full green light at this point, but it looks promising. More when I learn more.
Scott Kelby is a photographer, Photoshop Guy, award-winning author of more than 50 books, and CEO of KelbyOne, an online education community dedicated to helping photographers take the kinds of images they’ve always dreamed of. You can learn more about Scott at his daily blog (scottkelby.com), or follow him on Twitter: @scottkelby.
(Editor’s Note: Ask a Pro is a Q&A column from professional photographer, writer, and educator Scott Kelby. Scott is here to answer all your photography-related questions, so if you have something you’d like to know, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org -- with “For Scott Kelby” as the subject line -- and your query could be featured in the next edition of Ask a Pro.)
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