Category Archives: Tips

Flash Sync Speed Limitation – a question from a subscriber

Question: “One thing I am curious about is the shutter with regards to off camera flash. Is there still a physical shutter that limits me to a max synch speed of around 1/200 of a second? Or have they moved to an electronic shutter that would allow much faster synch times?”

In order to appropriately respond to the question lets first understand how mirrorless camera sensors operate. Most mirorless cameras use CMOS sensors that contain light sensitive pixels arranged in rows. These sensors are always live as long as the camera is powered on and booted up.

Panasonic LUMIX FL580L Flash: Hybrid Flash System with Built-in Video LED

Panasonic LUMIX FL580L Flash: Hybrid Flash System with Built-in Video LED

In the mirrorless world, the sensor information is being constantly fed to the LCD and/or the electronic viewfinder. When you press the shutter the following sequence takes place: a) the sensor is wiped clean electronically; b) next the sensor is turned on and receives light while the pixels record the information; c) now the computer in the camera reads the data collected by the sensor pixels to generate the image. This data is finally recorded to the memory card.

We know that the sensor is sensitive to light and always receiving information. In order to capture a good image, the sensor should be restricted from receiving light while it is being wiped clean and then again when it is reading the data captured during exposure. As the sensor data is being read you do not want the pixel information changing with any new light that may fall on the pixels. So, for both these events, mirrorless cameras use electronic or mechanical shutters or a combination of the two.

The electronic shutter works by first erasing all the pixel data on a row-by-row basis. Then new image information is gathered and the data is read by the computer on a row-by-row basis very similar to how a television picture is generated. All of this takes time, albeit just a fraction. The greater the number of pixels the more the rows of information and the slower the process. This limits the cameras from achieving high shutter speeds. For proper exposure these rows of pixels gather the same amount of light but do so a row at a time. The data is read at the same rate. The collective time determines the fastest achievable electronic shutter speed.

We are aware that to expose properly for flash photography all the pixels must be “alive” and ready to receive data while the flash is on. If the row by row read process starts too early then you will get areas of dark under exposure. In order to properly expose for flash, the computer in the camera has to wait before it can start reading the data collected by the sensor. This wait time determines the highest sync speed for flash photography.

As an adjunct to this, in order to achieve higher shutter speeds mirrorless cameras use mechanical second curtains. The curtain can rapidly close all light from entering the sensor while the computer reads the information. On the Sony A7 that has a 24 MP sensor, there are 4000 rows of pixels. The only way to attain shutter speeds of 1/8000 sec. is possible using a mechanical rear-curtain. On the 36 MP A7r however, there are 4912 rows of pixels. To attain speeds of 1/8000 sec. this camera needs both a front-curtain and a rear-curtain shutter. The MFT cameras like the Panasonic GH4 and the Olympus OM-D series have 16 MP sensors that have only 3456 rows and can achieve 1/8000 sec. electronic shutter speeds without the need for mechanical shutters..

The Sony A7 has an optional mechanical front-curtain that must be deployed when using lenses of longer focal lengths at high shutter speeds.

Unlike DSLR’s, the mechanical shutter on mirrorless cameras remains in an open state in both the powered off and powered on modes, allowing for live view data to be collected and displayed continuously.

The highest flash sync speed is currently 1/320 sec on the Olympus OM-D E-M1 , 1/250 sec on the Panasonic GH4 and under 1/200 sec for most of the Sony cameras.

Hope this explains why the current mirrorless technology is limited and high flash sync speeds are not feasible.  If you have other photography related questions, please do not hesitate to ask and I will do my best to get you answers.

Also posted in Accessories, Educational, Mirrorless, Panasonic GH4, Photography, Sony A7R Tagged , |

Time-Lapse Imagery – Published

Milkyway Pano 1 --001-Edit-Edit 2I am so thrilled. My book is finished and is available in the Apple Store.  It is an interactive iBook/e-Book that can be viewed using iBooks on a Mac or on an iPad.
I am working on an interactive PDF version for all non Mac and iPad users. This should be ready in a week or so.


Also posted in Educational, Night Photography, Photographs, Photography, Software, Time-Lapse Tagged , , |

BBF – Back Button Focusing


This week I saw a post on Facebook where a friend was talking about seriously starting to use Back Button Focusing. I know there are lots of opinions and articles on this topic but one more will not hurt. Please note, this has nothing to do with back focusing. Before we go to far into the BBF stuff let’s get familiar with camera focusing. Most modern DSLR Cameras have the ability to manually focus on your subject or automatically focus.  Some lenses do limit you to manual focusing as they have no motors and electronics to drive the focusing elements.

Automatic or Auto Focus has a few modes, One Shot, AI Focus and AI Servo in Canon speak and AF-S and AF-C in Nikon speak. There really should be some ISO standards for this kind of stuff.

One Shot and AF-S basically means the camera will trigger the lens to auto focus on the subject, lock the focus for you to capture the image.

AI- Servo and AF-C means the camera will trigger the lens to auto focus on the subject and then do its best to keep the focus on the subject while the subject is in motion.

Canon has AI-Focus which is supposed to intelligently detect motion and trigger the appropriate auto focus mode, one shot of AI-Servo. This can be problematic so let’s leave it out of this article.

No lets understand how we get this to work. By default your camera is set to focus and read the exposure when you half press the shutter button. Fully depressing the shutter button takes the picture. Not a bad way to do your photography.

So what is the problem?  If you have a static subject, and use center auto focusing point (it is the most sensitive AF sensor) you would half depress the shutter button.  This action will initiate the auto-focus and then you will see or hear focus confirmation, now you can depress the shutter all the way and capture your image. Optionally, keeping the shutter button half depressed you can recompose and then press the shutter button all the way and take your image. This system works great for static subjects. Now you are trying to photograph moving subjects. You can’t half depress the shutter and lock focus and then take the shot because your subject will have moved and no longer in focus.

You switch your camera to AI-Servo (canon) or AF-C (Nikon). You are capturing great action images and you notice a great subject that is static. You point your camera, focus and recompose – Oh! NO! you lost focus and more Oh! No! the opportunity is gone. What could you have done? You could have switched the camera back to One-Shot or AF-S or switched your lens to manual focus after getting focus and then pressing the shutter to grab the shot. This would definitely be too late.

To overcome this issue you need to separate the focus initiation from your shutter release. Now you need to assign focusing to some other button. Typically this is one of the buttons on the back of your camera and hence the term Back Button Focusing or BBF.

Using your custom functions or menu functions set your shutter to meter only, assign the AF-On button to initiate focus. Now you will use your thumb to depress the AF-On button to initiate focus and then use the shutter button to capture the image. There are two steps but well worth it.

One of the greatest benefits is when you want to lock focus, you simply release the AF-On button.  The lens will not refocus till you depress the AF-On button again. So for any action photography you can be ready for any motion and yet be in a position to lock focus when you need to.

A huge benefit, you can leave your camera in AI-Servo or AF-C mode and never have to switch to One Shot or AI-S mode. When you use BBF, as long as the AF-on button is depressed the focusing system will remain active in follow focus mode tracking your subject (AI-Servo or AF-C), release the button and focus stays locked. So for stationary subjects, all you need to do is to tap the AF-ON button and focus system will focus and lock.  Remember to release the AF-On or the camera will continue to try and refocus.

Now once you set BBF you need to be aware that this will take some getting used to.  Your fingers and brain need a major reset.  You will miss a few good shots but once you are used to this system you will wonder why you have been wasting so may good opportunities.

Warning for Nikon users: The back button focusing button AF-ON will not trigger the lens vibration reduction “VR”. The shutter button must be half depressed to trigger VR.


Also posted in Educational, Motion, Photographs, Photography Tagged , , |

Metering Modes and How Your Camera Meter Works

My latest article has been published in Digital Photography School.  Non DPS subscribers may read it using the link below.  There are lots of excellent articles and product reviews available in DPS and they are all free.

Click Here for the article

Also posted in Accessories, Educational, Lighting, Photography, Portraits, Strobes Tagged , , , , |

Balancing Color for Flash and Ambient Light Using Gels

So glad to see another one of my articles published in Digital Photography School

Click Here read the article

Also posted in Accessories, Educational, Lighting, Photography, Strobes

Cold Weather Photography Tips

_J6L7102-Edit-EditWith temperatures in New England and other parts of the world, down in the single digits and below I thought it would be a good idea to provide some cold weather photography tips.

There are three key items to keep in mind:

  • Going from warm into the cold
  • Photographing in the cold
  • Coming back in from the cold

Going from Warm into the Cold

Going out into the cold has minimum issues with your camera equipment but is a problem for you if you are not dressed appropriately.  Layers of warm clothing are preferred rather than one inner and a thick outer layer.  Good boots, hats, scarves and touch sensitive gloves or flip out photographer’s mittens are a must.  Use chemical warmers in your boots and gloves to keep your extremities warm. Unless it is snowing, your camera and lenses need little additional protection.  They will survive the cold once they come down to temperature.  This is one time you do not need to worry about condensation – cold air carries minimum moisture.  Carry carbon fibre tripods as they do not get as cold as the aluminum ones.  Cover the upper legs with leg covers that can be purchased from any camera store.  You can also tape hot-water pipe insulation that you can buy at you local hardware or plumbing supply store.

Photographing in the Cold

_J6L7119So now you are out and your equipment is freezing as are you.  Keep your camera inside your over garment – keep it warm as in extreme conditions you can end up with a frozen shutter (it is the lubricant that tends to freeze). You will soon realize that your camera’s battery has depleted and the camera stops working.  Always bring a few spare batteries with you.  Carry them in an inner pocket so your body will keep them warm.  Swap out the depleted battery with a fully charged warm one and you are ready to shoot again. Cycle through your spares.  The first battery you thought was dead will recover a decent charge when it warms up so you can repeat the process a few times.

Take your camera out from under your clothing when you are ready to shoot.  Do not breathe on your camera, particularly the viewfinder. The moisture in your breath will condense on the eye pice and cause a loss of visibility and lost photo opportunities. If it is snowing heavily, use protective waterproof devices to protect your camera and lens.  You can use plastic bags in a pinch. Always carry a lens brush so you can brush of any snow from the front element of your lens.  It is good to periodically check for snowflakes.  If the lens was warm and some snow starts melting then use a dry lint free cloth to wipe off the moisture.

Coming back from the Cold

_MG_0005-EditWith your photography done it time to come back indoors or to the warmth of your car.  Stop! The equipment is cold the indoor air is warm and moist – CONDENSATION is ready to play havoc with the camera and lens. What is worse, the humid air will penetrate all openings within your camera and lens.  This condensation can be really detrimental to the electronics and mechanical components of your gear. Even if you own weatherproofed professional equipment you should still take precautions.

What you need to do is to let all this cold equipment warm up slowly while it is placed inside an air tight enclosure.  Large Ziploc® or similar bags are ideal. If you do not have any of these bags you can place your equipment in your camera bag that can be zippered shut.  Messenger style bags are not suitable.  Put the equipment in the bag before you bring it into a warm area.  Now any moisture will condense on the bag, not inside and no moisture will condense on your equipment.

Hopefully these pointers will help you and give you the opportunity for some great cold weather photography.

Also posted in Educational, Photographs, Photography

A Special Discount for LRTimelapse 3

LRT3_flat_250LRTimelapse 3 is one of the best time-lapse assembly software products available and works seamlessly with Photoshop Lightroom 5.

For the remainder of 2013 and January 1, 2014 you can license or upgrade to any version of LRTimelapse for a 15% discount.  This applies to upgrades and cross-grades too.

A brief explanation of the options:

  • If you still don’t have any License, you can choose LRTimelapse 3 private and LRTimelapse 3 Pro. You can read about the differences here.
  • If you have a LRT2 private license, you can get a discounted upgrade to LRT3 private or a discounted crossgrade to LRT3 Pro. For the latter, you will then save the cost of the update to version 3.
  • If you have a license for LRT2 Pro (commercial), you will require the update to LRT3 Pro.
  • If you already have upgraded to LRT3 private, you can crossgrade to Pro, if you need the advanced features.

Click Here and use the discount coupon code: XMAS2013LRT

Also posted in Blur, Educational, News, Photography, Software, Time-Lapse, Video, Workshops Tagged |

onOne Software Announces Availability of Perfect Photo Suite 8


New Perfect Eraser for Content-Aware Fill, Enhance and Browse Modules, Perfect Batch Processor, and Re-imagined Effects Module Evolve Popular Plug-In Into a Complete Photo Editing Solution for Every Workflow

Portland, OR – November 26, 2013 – onOne Software, Inc., a leading developer of innovative digital photography solutions, today announced the availability of Perfect Photo Suite 8—the Photographer’s Choice for Photo Editing. Perfect Photo Suite 8 is a full-featured, standalone photo editor that also integrates seamlessly with Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, Photoshop Elements, and Apple Aperture. It includes all the best tools a photographer needs to create stunning images.

Key new features include the Perfect Eraser, with content-aware fill technology; the Perfect Enhance module for essential photo adjustments; a new Browser that streamlines direct access to images wherever they are located; the Perfect Batch engine that applies presets to multiple images with a single click; and a re-engineered Perfect Effects module, with twice as many adjustable filters, customizable presets, and integrated FocalPoint technology. These new tools and capabilities alongside Perfect Photo Suite 8’s eight modules, one-click presets, tools for automated enhancements, and powerful controls allow photographers to enhance, retouch, and stylize images in a layered workflow, replace backgrounds, create high-quality enlargements, and prepare images for output—giving them the ability to express their creativity and transform their photos quickly and easily.

“We are extremely excited about Perfect Photo Suite 8,” said Craig Keudell, president of onOne Software. “This version is the result of what photographers have been asking for, not only from us but from the industry as a whole. We’re grateful for the contributions and feedback the photography community has invested in our effort and we believe that we’ve created an extraordinarily powerful image editing tool that meets their specific needs in return.”

After a successful public beta program for Perfect Photo Suite 8, many photographers had a chance to try out the new version and give their feedback. “The attention to your user’s needs is unmatched,” said Rebecca Lyyski, owner of Lyyski’s Designs. “As a graphic designer and photographer with an elevated workload, your product has made editing my professional photography a pleasure instead of a chore,” she adds. Greg Lambert, public beta user and onOne Software photo contest winner shared, “Perfect Photo Suite 8 continues to evolve by refining its existing capability, streamlining the interface and providing some new and exciting tools and presets to enable photographers to produce the images they visualize when they press the shutter button.”

The New Perfect Photo Suite 8 Features:
• Eight integrated modules – Effects, Enhance, B&W, Portrait, Mask, Layers, Resize, and Browse. Each module is designed to target a specific image-processing task. Together, they help photographers enhance, retouch, and stylize images in a layered workflow, replace backgrounds, create high-quality enlargements, and prepare images for use in various capacities.

• New Module! Perfect Enhance provides essential tools for basic enhancements, such as brightness and contrast adjustments; colorcast, dust spot, and power line removal; and the addition of vignettes. It is an ideal module to start with when using Perfect Photo Suite 8 as a standalone application or when quick corrections are needed.

• New Module! Browse provides convenient and direct access to image files wherever they are stored—whether they are on a computer, an external drive, a connected network, or on a cloud-based storage service like Dropbox, Google Drive, or Apple’s Photo Stream.

• Reimagined! Perfect Effects – As a cornerstone of Perfect Photo Suite 8, the Effects module has been redesigned by adding adjustable filters and customizable presets, making it the most powerful and versatile image stylization tool available on the market today.

• Twice as Many Adjustable Filters to create the most sought-after looks, including:

• Dynamic Contrast – Adds stunning clarity to images and makes them pop by exaggerating the levels of contrast, without sacrificing highlight and shadow detail, creating halos, or affecting saturation.

• Lens Blur – Includes the best parts of FocalPoint technology to create bokeh, tilt-shift, and selective focus effects after the shot.

• HDR – Gives images the edgy look of high dynamic range. Settings are adjustable and create effects that range from subtle to surreal.

• Vintage – Turns photos into a nostalgic memory with retro-style filters.

• Powerful brushes provide the right results for specific editing tasks:

• Perfect Eraser removes objects with content-aware fill technology

• Retouch Brush uses spot healing to remove small distractions

• Clone Brush removes unwanted items by replicating and covering specified areas of an image

• Masking Brush reveals underlying layers or selectively applies effects
• Perfect Brush delivers precise edge-detection masking

• Hundreds of Customizable Presets are available throughout Perfect Photo Suite 8 that make it easy for any photographer to instantly create an image they love. Presets can also be used as starting points for creativity and efficiency. Presets are included in the Enhance, Effects, B&W, Portrait, and Resize modules.

• Improved Masking Bug in the Effects and Layers modules make mask creation easier and more intuitive.

• Perfect Batch engine simultaneously applies presets from multiple modules and a watermark to a selected group of images.

Availability and Pricing
The new Perfect Photo Suite 8 is now available by clicking on the logo below

Perfect Photo Suite 8 is available in three editions: Premium, Standard, and for Adobe Lightroom & Apple Aperture.
The Premium Edition works with Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, Photoshop Elements, Apple Aperture, and as a standalone application. It is priced at $179.95. Owners of previous versions of Perfect Photo Suite Premium Edition can upgrade for $99.95. For a limited time, orders of Perfect Photo Suite 8 Premium Edition will include a special collection of Professional Presets and The Essential Video Guide to Perfect Photo Suite 8, which provides a comprehensive collection of getting started training videos for Perfect Photo Suite 8—for free ($80 value). This offer ends on December 3, 2013.

Perfect Photo Suite 8 for Adobe Lightroom & Apple Aperture works with Lightroom, Aperture, Photoshop Elements, and as a standalone application. It is available for $129.95; upgrades are $79.95. The Standard Edition works as a complete standalone photo editor and is available for $79.95. For more information on Perfect Photo Suite 8, please visit A 30-day Money Back Guarantee backs all onOne Software products.

About onOne Software
onOne Software, Inc., is a leading developer of innovative software tools and apps for digital photography and offers time-saving software solutions for photographers of all levels, from enthusiasts to professionals. Leveraging its extensive history as successful plug-in developer for Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Photoshop Lightroom, and Apple Aperture, and continued development of cutting-edge technology, onOne publishes unified solutions that offer both full-featured photo editing capabilities and the flexibility of traditional plug-ins. Founded in 2005, onOne Software is a privately held company located in Portland, Oregon. For additional information, visit

Press Contact: Amy Chan, onOne Software,, 503-968-1468 x 137

General Press Inquiries:
Online Press Center:
onOne Software Blog:

©2013 onOne Software, Inc. All rights reserved. onOne Software, the onOne Software logo, and Focused on Photography are registered trademarks and Perfect Photo, Perfect Enhance, Perfect Effects, Perfect Eraser, Perfect Batch, and FocalPoint are trademarks in the United States and are the property of onOne Software. Adobe, Photoshop and Lightroom are registered trademarks of Adobe Systems, Inc. Apple and Aperture are registered trademarks of Apple Computer, Inc. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.

Also posted in Accessories, Black & White, Noise Reduction, Photographs, Photography, Software Tagged , |

One Day Workshop Schedule for December 2013

Here is the schedule for the remainder of  2013.  Please use this REGISTRATION link to register and pay for these workshops.  Please also fill out and mail or bring with you the Workshop Registration and Waiver Form  This is an electronic form, you may print it and then fill it out or fill it out directly and then print the required copies.

Click on the links for detailed PDF documents.

December 7, 2013 – Photography Basics a one day class   

December 8, 2013 –  Time-Lapse Workshop

December 21, 2013 – Lighting Workshop

December 22, 2013 – Macro and Closeup Photography

If you have any questions or would like more information please call 617-759-0010 or email

Also posted in Educational, Lighting, Macro, News, Photographs, Photography, Portraits, Stacked Image, Strobes, Time-Lapse, Workshops

Lighting Demo and Educational Program

I am truly honored and proud to have been selected to demonstrate and teach lighting for Manfrotto.  They represent Gitzo, Elinchrome, Lastolight, Gossen and more of the finest.

Join me for a day at Hunts Melrose or a  1/2 day in Hanover.

This is a great educational experience as well as an opportunity to check out some fantastic lighting gear.  Some of the finest manufacturers products featured in one location.

The event is free but you need to register.

Dealerday june 2013 MDD – Hunts Promotional Piece

Also posted in Accessories, Educational, High Key, Lighting, Photography, Portraits, Presentations, Shows, Strobes, Workshops