Here Is A Quick Tip List On Letters For The HELP! Desk:
Please confine yourself to only one question per letter. Both postal letters and e-mails are fine, although we prefer e-mail as the most efficient form of communication. Send your e-mail queries to email@example.com with Help in the subject header and your return e-mail address at the end of your message. Although we make every effort, we cannot promise to answer every HELP! letter.
When sending a response or suggestion that refers to a published letter please include the month and page of the original question.
All postal letters to HELP! must be accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope to be considered for reply. We will respond to e-mail queries with an e-mail.
Follow This Focus Advice
In the September, 2010, issue of Shutterbug (page 176), Sergiu Luculescu indicated that his Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L lens would not focus with a Canon EF 1.4X Extender. I have the same combination, and it generally focuses without a problem in reasonably bright light, albeit not with lightning speed. The trick seems to be, as with any manufacturer’s auto-enabled extender, to first mount the extender to the lens, and only then to mount the combination to the body. This rule applies to both film and digital bodies. If you go the other way, you never know what will happen. I used to get failures to focus, and really odd exposure results. Since switching (I finally read the small print in the Canon instructions), I have had no trouble. Focus can fail in really low light and at the longest focal lengths, but generally under those conditions I’d rather focus manually anyway, especially when I need to pinpoint focus on the eye of a critter or some small portion of any subject.
Stephen D. Smith, Ph.D.
Thanks for sending your practical comments on exactly how you are successfully using a Canon EF 1.4X Extender with your Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L lens with both digital and film EOS bodies. Obviously the amount of existing light at the scene is a major factor in determining just how well this combination works. The actual sequence used in combining first the lens and tele-extender and finally the camera body might also have been a contributing factor to our reader’s problems. Since the effective maximum lens speed is reduced when using a tele-extender, the camera’s autofocusing might have problems, in which case manual focus is the answer.
Q. I am in the process of creating four photo journals through the Blurb website. I am new to this and have a question about people in my pictures. For the most part I have been able to get by with avoiding people in my images. However, the region I am photographing has a number of festivals and outdoor events each year that draw a lot of people. At those times avoiding people in all images is almost impossible. If faces are not clear or recognizable will this eliminate the need for model releases? I don’t want more problems than I need in relation to this issue. It is not always possible to access all people in a crowd. Any advice?
A. This can vary from city to city and state to state, so you should attempt to verify what’s permissible in your locale. It’s best to err on the side of caution. In general, get as many people in the photo as possible and don’t emphasize any one person. Keeping the people positioned so their faces are not easily recognizable would be a good approach. A signed model release is absolutely necessary if you are shooting for any commercial use of the image like advertising or catalogs. Here’s our disclaimer: We are not in a position to give legal advice as the law is different for different uses and locales.
Q. I was going through my late father’s cameras and equipment and came across this blue lens (photo was supplied). Most of his stuff is circa the late 1930s. I can’t find any reference to the device on the Internet. It is convex on one side and concave on the other, plus it’s transparent blue. Any idea what it is?
A. From the photos you attached to your e-mail, I estimate your round deep blue lens to be about 2-3” in diameter. Since it has a hole in one side and a cord attached through the hole, I imagine it was intended to be carried around the user’s neck for ready availability. In the early days of motion pictures, before color became dominant in the 1930s, black-and-white film was the normal method of filming. Deep blue filters were commonly used by the director and cinematographer to both judge the lighting and to anticipate the actual rendering of different colors recorded on black-and-while film. If this item is indeed used for photography, that’s my best guess as to what it was intended for.