Scott Hanselman

Hanselminutes Podcast 107 - Digital Photography Explained (for Geeks) with Aaron Hockley

April 04, 2008 Comment on this post [22] Posted in Podcast
Sponsored By

My one-hundred-and-seventh podcast is up. In this episode I sit down with my Twitter-Friend Aaron Hockley and he helps me understand my new Nikon D40. Aaron is turning pro as a photographer, but he's also a programmer, so I figured it'd take a true geek to explain aperture and F-Stop to me. I was right!

Links from the Show

Subscribe: Subscribe to Hanselminutes Subscribe to my Podcast in iTunes

If you have trouble downloading, or your download is slow, do try the torrent with µtorrent or another BitTorrent Downloader.

Do also remember the complete archives are always up and they have PDF Transcripts, a little known feature that show up a few weeks after each show.

Telerik is our sponsor for this show.

Check out their UI Suite of controls for ASP.NET. It's very hardcore stuff. One of the things I appreciate about Telerik is their commitment to completeness. For example, they have a page about their Right-to-Left support while some vendors have zero support, or don't bother testing. They also are committed to XHTML compliance and publish their roadmap. It's nice when your controls vendor is very transparent.

As I've said before this show comes to you with the audio expertise and stewardship of Carl Franklin. The name comes from Travis Illig, but the goal of the show is simple. Avoid wasting the listener's time. (and make the commute less boring)

Enjoy. Who knows what'll happen in the next show?

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

facebook twitter subscribe
About   Newsletter
Hosting By
Hosted in an Azure App Service
April 04, 2008 22:08
I love this. I bought a Canon 40D 2-3 months ago.
April 04, 2008 22:08
Oh... I have no idea about photography.... yet...
April 04, 2008 22:57
I'm gonna make this my first Hanselman podcast! I met Aaron last weekend and am excited to hear what you guys have to say about photography.
April 04, 2008 23:01
Great show, listened this morning. I have a Nikon D80 and have been very happy with it. Instead of the stock lens I got it with a 24-135mm lens, which fits probably 90% of my needs. Makes a great walking around lens, etc. For doing portraits I picked up the Nikkor 50mm lens that goes down to a 1.8 f-stop. I used it to make some good shots of my kids at the local botanical gardens and had them printed for my wife for our annivesary.

Also picked up the 70-300mm zoom lens. Wish I could have afforded the vibration reduction, but on a bright sunny day or with a tripod I haven't found it to be too big of an issue.

One piece of advice, pick up a transparent UV filter for your lens. Put it on and never remove it. That way if it gets scratched, scuffed, marred, dinged, etc (and it will) you just unscrew it, toss it, and buy a new one and you're out 20 bucks instead of megabucks for a new lens.

Two of my favorite sites for photos (both have active forums that should be checked out):

One is about Urban Ruins photography, the other is about night time photography, and are both very good sites with active forums.

When you are ready to get more into the manual settings of the camera, check out the Magic Lantern video for your camera. Mine for the D80 was quite good, got into understanding how to setup your camera to do some of the things talked about on your show.

Finally you mentioned someone complaining about the ads, by all means keep them! Those wonderful folks pay so we don't have to, so I'm more than happy to listen to their product info in return. In addition it's often useful info to just know about.


Arcane Code
April 04, 2008 23:09
I just wanted to say that for the picture of your son in fast movement and blurred background, a longer zoom lens and a shooting session outside will help too. If you will shoot at 200mm with an aperture of F4 or F5.6 you will have a good nice blurred background just like if you were to use F2.8 at 50mm and if there is decent light you may even get something like 1/500 shutter speed, enough to freeze the movement.
April 04, 2008 23:34
Another great source of information:

They have interesting podcasts too.
April 04, 2008 23:40
Thanks for having me on the show Scott.

Gheorge, thanks for chiming in about one way to solve the movement/depth of field issue without necessarily having super-expensive glass.

ArcaneCode brought up a UV filter. There tend to be two schools of thought... either folks who recommend leaving a filter on all the time, or those who don't. I'm in the latter category. Adding a filter puts one more layer of glass between your sensor and the subject, which can lead to issues with lens flare. I do a fair amount of "other than bright daylight" shooting and flare can be a real problem when dealing with lights in the environment. In my opinion, a better method of lens protection is to purchase a lens hood. They're usually made of hard plastic and will protrude out past the front of the lens, so if you accidentally bump it into a wall, your car, etc. you won't scratch the glass. Perhaps I'll do a blog post about filters and flare, with photo examples.

And to reiterate something I said at the end of the podcast... get out there and shoot. Take your camera everywhere. Experiment with different types of shots, from different distances, using different camera settings. Shoot in the sun. Shoot in the rain. Shoot when it's dark. Just shoot... anything. Then look at the results and see what worked well and what didn't, and learn from that.
April 04, 2008 23:48
@ArcaneCode - One thing to keep in mind about the Nikon 50mm is that it is not an AF-S lens, and therefore will not auto-focus on a D40 (or D40X/D60).

And just to nitpick Scott Hanselman, the D40 only has 6.1 megapixels :). And yes, Nikon really needs to pull their heads out of the sand and release a Vista x64 codec.
April 04, 2008 23:51
And regarding the Photoshop Express license. Adobe admitted that the license is bad and they'll re-work it.
April 05, 2008 1:31
Shooting in RAW mode has pros & cons, as Aaron mentioned; I find the pros outweigh the cons and shoot most of my pictures in RAW. The main cons are much larger file sizes, on best jpg the file is 4.5MB on RAW it's 18MB per picture, another down side with the larger file is that it takes longer to write the data to the card, so for action shots it can take awhile for the camera to be ready for the next shot. The pros are, considerably more "head room" for image manipulation, which can make a lot of difference if you need or want to adjust the image.

If you go the RAW route I'd highly recommend getting Photoshop CS3, Adobe will let you upgrade to CS3 from three previous version (7, CS or CS2) for about $200. With CS3 the Bridge add in (Photoshop's file explorer) has been greatly enhanced from earlier versions and hosts the Camera Raw plugin, which will handle most current manufacturers RAW images. A great book on how to use Camera Raw is Bruce Fraser's Camera Raw with Adobe Photoshop * this is published for each version of Photoshop, get the one for the version of Photoshop you use.

Regardless of whether you use RAW or not make use of the Histogram (a histogram is also utilized in Photoshop and Camera Raw). There is no "perfect" histogram and you do not want a bell curve as Aaron mentioned; what you want to avoid is spikes on either end or a flat line on either end. A spike indicates a complete overload and a flat line indicate a complete lack of information. No two image histograms will be the same, normally.

The D40, like most camera, has a roughly 3 x 4 aspect ratio if you want to fill up your wide screen monitior(s) or HDTV with the 16 x 9 aspect ratio you will need to do one of two things, crop the picture so it is a 16 x 9, which will require throwing away part of the image, or making a pano photo, by stitching two or more pictures together (this is a whole other arena in photography), Photoshop CS3 will automatically do the stitching for you (a very nice feature); but you must shoot in manual mode for it to work so that auto focus, auto white balance and auto exposure do not change between shots.

Besides having several memory cards another tool for the photo safari is a portable hard drive (battery operated) with a build in card reader so you can copy the memory card to the hard drive while in the field then plug the hard drive into a USB on your computer when you get back.

Lot's of 'Kodak' moments with growing children. Another option for sharp images and blurry backgrounds for moving objects, besides the narrow depth of field is to pan the camera with the movement of the object when you take the picture. This takes some practice but you can achieve some nice affects and works best when the movement is linear and perpendicular to you line of sight (riding a bike in front of you).
April 05, 2008 1:44
Scott, any reason why you chose a Nikon over a Canon?

P.S Good to see a non-developer podcasts for a change...
April 05, 2008 2:11
Scott as always another great show.

It's great when you divert from development topics occasionally.

I also have a Nikon D40. Purchased when I decided to take an Open University 10 week on-line short course in the UK T189 Digital photography: creating and sharing better images. It concentrated on photography and use of Adobe Photoshop Elements for editing and cataloging. If you can find time for a similar short course (I guess you can't do this one in the US), then I'd certainly recommend it.

I was surprised ISO settings and/or flash were not mentioned as potential solutions to aid with taking photos in lower light conditions while maintaining a narrow depth of field. I opted for a Nikon SB-800 flash from the outset to avoid the harness of the built-in flash. Since the course I've invested in a Nikon DX VR 18-200 mm F3.5-5.6G Zoom to replace the stock 18-55mm lens and a 55-200mm lens. Saves swapping lens and the quality has been good enough for me. The vibration reduction technology allows for taken pictures in lower light conditions.

Happy tip is to learn about Adjustment Layers for Levels and Saturation something the Histogram is useful for. Also remember to calibrate the colours on your screen prior to editing otherwise any prints you may get might turn out quite as expected.

Thanks for your time and effort podcasting each week.

April 05, 2008 3:25

Even though you chose Nikon, I forgive you.

enjoy the Camera. Shoot a TON with it.

I am receiving my 2nd Digital SLR on Monday (Canon 40D). I already have the Canon 350D and LOVE IT.

the world of the Digital SLR is amazing and rewarding.

Great Podcast.....

Post your pics as you learn...I cant wait to see.



April 05, 2008 5:54
What a nice surprise for a change to "tune in" today and hear a discussion about digital photography. I'm a first time commenter on this blog, but have enjoyed your Scott's blog and podcast immensely over the last 6-7 months since I discovered it.

To share, the DSLR my wife and I share is a bit off the beaten path -- a Pentax ist DL -- or something like that. The name is so goofy I can't remember it. I chose the Pentax around 2 years ago because of cost and versatility, as I have a couple old Pentax lenses I used with my old 35mm Pentax K1000 that are still compatible.

Anyway, I was amazed that in the approx. 37 minutes of the podcast, you guys did a pretty good job of explaining some of the complex interactions of the manual operation of a DSLR (or SLR for that matter). I think I saw it in the comments above, but there's yet another dimension to the exposure/depth of field equation: ISO or in the case of digital, ISO equivalence. Of course, there's flash and other artificial lighting, too, but ISO is the other non-supplemental light source component. However, I think if you went there, you'd have run out of time!

You could easily devote an entire series of shows to ISO, flash, f-stops and shutter speed, followed up by more discussion of RAW and post-processing concepts (things like white balance, etc.)

As for photo processing software, I am definitely preferential to Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop -- Lightroom in particular is fantastic if you don't need the layering and masking of Photoshop. Also, there versions for the Mac and PC that look identical.
April 05, 2008 18:39
Shutterbugs unite, good show.
I am craving a DSLR, just have to get my wife to be as much of a shutterbug as I am, but I think the first born will bring that about.
April 06, 2008 6:52
@Scott Williams, it was my understanding the D40 did have the motor to allow it to autofocus the 50mm (and other non AF-S) lenses. The big change from the 40 to 40X was a) the additional megapixels and b) the removal of the motor. I recall someone knowledgeable that the 40x was the 80 without the auto focus motor.

I'm hardly and expert though, especially with the 40, as I have the 80 which I love.

@Scott H - Photo processing software might be a good topic for a follow up show. And something besides Photoshop, at 600 bucks it was no surprise when I saw a statistic that 60% of all copies of Photoshop in use today are pirated.
April 07, 2008 16:56

Check out Scott Kelby's The Digital Photography Book. It's sort of like a "cookbook" for obtaining different types of effects, such as a blurred background with an in-focus foreground. I took this book on a recent vacation and found it to be a helpful companion.

April 08, 2008 10:28
@ArcaneCode, it was with the D40 that the motor was dropped. That was one of the warnings when I read the review prior to buying my D40. As far as I'm aware the D40x is a 10 megapixel D40.
April 08, 2008 11:46
Aw, my wife has been nagging, I mean, asking me about digital SLR. I'm quite interested in digital photography too, so I guess I will have my wife listen to this podcast to get better ideas.

Thanks as always, Scott!
April 10, 2008 6:11
Adobe did actually rework the TOS for the Photoshop Express, more info here

Also, if you're really interested in progressing your photography skills, check out the Tips from the Top Floor podcast. I've listened on and off for a long time, and really picked up a lot of great information.

April 10, 2008 18:39

I really enjoyed this show and the fact that someone else owns a D40. It may not be top of the line, but it does take some really nice images.

As others have noted there are a couple of things that are missing such as a focus motor, although Nikon is coming out with more AF-S lenses every day. The only other things I am wishing for is an ISO-100 setting and more focus points.

If you have free time (I don't know how you could) check my Webshots page to see lots of images taken with the D40.

April 19, 2008 14:19
Learned a lot from the show.
Just a few days ago one of my friends bought a D40 and I realized I don't know anything about the different settings on the camera.
Maybe now I should go ahead and buy one myself :D

Comments are closed.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.