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help - clear, crisp bright photos...before editing!

Kathryn Elliott , Jan 19, 2010; 12:23 a.m.

I use a Nikon D70s SLR with a Nikon SB-600 flash, usually a 55 - 70 lens and I shoot in RAW. Is there something more I can do in order to get Bright, crisp, clear photos when shooting? I try using natural light and I bring basic lights to help fill if needed. Is the average freelance photographer bringing huge lighting systems into everyones home for an hour session, or do I need some kind of metering system or a new lens (fixed 50)???

K

Responses

Dave Quinn , Jan 19, 2010; 02:44 a.m.

I think we need more information and a specific example to look at.
In general though lens quality is everything: a prime (fixed) lens will give you the sharpest results. Even cheap prime lenses offer very good quality. I did a 50mm lens test a while back and was quite surprised just how good an $80 50mm lens was. Easily as good as my $800+ 28-70/f2.8L pro zoom and in a different league to cheaper zooms (I know those are Canon examples, but the principle will be true for Nikon too).
Dave

Marc David , Jan 19, 2010; 04:25 a.m.

Window light is always great, you may need fill flash or a reflector though... Otherwise yes, bring in lights. Show us an example of what you shoot and what you'd like to shoot and we can help you more.

Mark Chartrand , Jan 19, 2010; 06:07 a.m.

Kathryn,

Yes, an example would help. Make sure you are focusing very carefully on the eyes. If never hurts to use a tripod. Try to shoot so that you don't have to do much, if any, cropping. As you make larger prints any errors will be magnified. Good luck.

Mark

Brett Y , Jan 19, 2010; 02:28 p.m.

Along with an example, tell us what settings you used. Shutter, f, iso

Jef Larremore , Jan 20, 2010; 09:57 a.m.

I agree the glass is the way to go. I get much better clarity out of my prime 50mm lens. I hate not having a zoom, but I am getting used to it.
If you want to do something in Photoshop, you can use the High Pass filter ( and use the Multiply setting ). This will clear it a little. ( careful not quite safe for work, but a really good explanation. http://www.better-boudoir-photography.com/photoshop-tips-high-pass-filter.html )
The other thing you can do is play with Curves. I didn't catch on to this until recently, but lowering the RGB curve to make it a little darker makes the colors a little punchier. This is a great tutorial on that. It helps with the clarity.
http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/photoshop-curves.htm
I'm beginning to believe that clarity and color come more from what you do before you squeeze the shutter release. But Photoshop helps!
And Kathryn is right a tripod or unipod will do wonders.
I hope this helped.

Jef

Mark Anthony Kathurima , Jan 25, 2010; 09:22 a.m.

Is it just me, or does someone else have a problem with the word 'clear' as relates to photos? Does it mean sharp? Unobscured? Correctly exposed? All the above?

Kathryn, no photos to gauge from = inaccurate (grope-in-the-dark) advice. Please oblige by posting an example, preferably of your own shots so that we can give specific advice...

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