Ask David: White Balance, RAW images, Slow shutter speeds and Lenses :: Digital Photo Secrets

Ask David: White Balance, RAW images, Slow shutter speeds and Lenses

by David Peterson 2 comments

In my Ask David column, I answer common questions from my readers. By answering them here, I hope to help everyone else who might have this problem, and not just the person who asked the question.

Today, we cover White Balance, RAW images, slow shutter speeds and a few questions on lenses.

The first question is from Linda Lynn from Santa Fe, NM

Hi- Even on auto white balance, some faces come up red tones while others OK. What can I do to reduce red skin tone?

Linda, the best way to make sure your colors are absolutely correct is to use a white card and tell your camera to take a white balance setting from that. If there is no white in the scene, your camera's auto white balance won't always work. I think that's what is happening with your skin tones becoming more red.

Here's how: Get The Perfect White Balance Every Time.

Freddie from Port Elizabeth, South Africa asks:

I went to the beach and tried to take pictures of the shallow waves with a slow shutter speed, I just could not get it right, the pictures were all too white...I played with several options with shutterspeed and aperture settings but still could not get the desired effect. I wanted a blurred effect on the shallow was midday and the sun was bright as well....what did I do wrong..?

Hi Freddie,

Try this to get smooth water. The below articles are for waterfalls, but the method is the same:

If everything is white, you've likely got the shutter open for too long, or your aperture is too wide open. Try a shorter shutter speed and/or a higher F-number.

From Keith Hyslop, also in South Africa (Johannesburg):

I have been using a digital SLR - Pentax k-x for about a year and the tips you send me have been very useful in learning about digital photography. My question is: In your opinion would it be better to purchase a dedicated zoom lens, say 70-300 or use my existing 50-200 and extend it with a 1.4 teleconverter which could also extend the range of the 18-55 lens as well? Bought both lenses with the camera.

Thanks so much for your kind words, Keith.

Honestly, I'd purchase the 70-300 rather than use a lens teleconverter. While converters do work, they do so at the expense of image quality. If you're looking to take a lot of shots at a high zoom, then it would be better to go with the 70-300. You'll still have a full range of zoom available with all your lenses (18-300), and all at the best quality.

Ray Mitchell from White Rock, BC, Canada wants to know about using RAW:

Have you written anything on using RAW. It was mentioned to me recently and I'm not sure of the value, if nay, of RAW

Ray, I think most photographers should NOT use RAW! It just adds a level of complexity that most don't need. Here's why:

Which File Format Is Best

Pro photographers should definitely use RAW, but unless you're a pro, then don't bother with the extra hassle.

Henry Gnatowski from Plainfield, Ct has an old camera and wants to know if his lenses will work with his newer one?

I have a canon A1 with 8 lenes, now I have CANON 50D. Will my old lens fit the new canon?

Not directly. Your A1 has what's called the "Canon FD" lens mount system which is not compatible with your 50D (which uses the newer "Canon EF" mount).

There is a lens converter available on Amazon that will allow your FD lenses to be mounted onto your 50D, but you might find it's a lot more hassle to use as your older lens won't be able to autofocus your image. The newer lenses can autofocus and they have other advances like Image Stabilization.

Finally, Elsie Walbrook from Jackson, Michigan has a question on lenses:

I dont understand the different kind of lenses.example 50mm or 24-70mm exactly what do they mean? I know there are many different lenses but if you dont understand them then how do you know what lens to buy for what situation. Thanks

Those numbers are the focal lengths of the lenses. I wrote an article a little while ago that explains all about focal length on lenses. Check that out for details.

I hope that helps!

If YOU have a question, please feel free to send in your question on my Ask David page. Because of the amount of questions I receive, I can't always answer your specific question, but I do try!

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  1. Marleen says:

    I have problems with the correct settings to photograph water flow that gives you that misty appearance. I do have a ND 1 filter. I have a Nikon D7000. What apperture and time should I try. I have been experimenting with F22 and 5, 10 and 20 seconds but al pics were over exposed. Thanks all help will be appreciated. It is a dream of mine to take a good photo with water flowing over rocks etc!

  2. Antonio Rodrigues says:

    I would like to put two questions. A) What is "unsharp mask" good for? B) Do I need RAW with cameras like canon 5D MarkII? Isn`t JPEG
    sufficiently enough and good?
    Thank you

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