The Digital Photo Guy

Monday Morning Tip – 6/8/09

by on Jun.07, 2009, under Monday Morning Tips

Today’s MMT starts to delve into the real “meat” of ACR. We start with brief overviews of the 5 Basic panels on the right side of the ACR interface. Here, we can tweak and enhance most digital photos that are reasonably good to start. In other words, the exposure just needs a little adjustment, color temperature is pretty close and sharpness is good. If the photo is a train wreck to start with, there’s not much that can be done in any program. Bottom line, ACR can turn good photos into great photos but lousy photos are forever lousy with a single exception. Very bad photos are often good examples of bad examples.

As always, go to the Tips and New section and click on Monday Morning Tips. Register for this site to have a password e-mailed to you. Remember to set up an RSS feed so you don’t need to wait for my e-mails to know when the site has been updated.

Quick Tips

If you have an old flash lying around from your film SLR days, resist the temptation to mount it on your new digital SLR. Most older film SLRs used a mechanical switch to trigger the flash so they could withstand trigger voltages up to the hundreds of volts. The new dSLRs are almost all restricted to trigger voltages below about 12v max. It doesn’ t take rocket science to figure out what can happen if your blast 250v through a circuit designed for 6v. When I was a young engineer, we used to call this a “smoke test”. To avoid smoke testing your dSLR, you can check the voltage with a digital volmeter or look for your flash on this site.

So, if your old flash is incompatible with your dSLR, what are the options? Wein to the rescue! Wein has been producing several products for many years to help in just this sort of situation. The first is Wein SafeSync, a device that reduces the trigger voltage to a safe 6v. This device mounts to your camera’s hot shoe and has a hot shoe on top for your flash. All it does is intercept the high voltage trigger and reduces it to about 6v. You can continue to use that old flash with your new cameras. The SafeSync goes for about US$50.

An even better solution is a Wein Peanut Slave, a US$20 device that turns your old flash into a slave flash triggered by the light from your main flash. Be aware that your old flash needs a PC sync socket for the Wein to plug into. A PC sync socket was a common connector on most older 35mm SLRs and most older flashes had one.

Using either a dedicated flash on your camera or the little integrated, pop-up flash, a slave flash fires when it detects the main flash has fired. As many of you have discovered, the little pop-up flash leaves a lot to be desired but by adding a second, slave flash, interesting effects can be added to your flash photography. For example, if you want a more interesting background than the standard Navajo White most houses are painted, you can cover the slave with a piece of colored plastic, aim it at the background and, “Voila!”, instant colored BG.

Of course, if you think this is too much trouble or not your cup of tea, send that old flash to me. 😉 I’m sure I can figure out a use for it. In fact, I’ve been thinking of a 6 flash project for capturing hummingbirds.


Our remodel is almost done. Anyone who has ever lived through a remodel knows that it’s a bit like waterboarding. You feel as if you’re drowning in a sea of contractors, appliances, materials and, most of all, dust. There’s dust everywhere including your toothpaste and ice cubes. We were dumb enough to remodel both our home in Escondido as well as a new place we bought in Arizona at the same time. I’ve been driving back and forth to Wickenburg, AZ to check on that house so the RV has been racking up the miles.

We’ve decided to rent the place in AZ to friends and family as a short-term vacation rental so if anyone wants to check out the Southwest for 1-3 months, let me know. The house has 4 bedrooms/2 baths in 1900 square feet on 2/3 acre on top of a hill. It also has partial RV hookups (no dump connection) so someone with an RV who wants to explore the southwest will find it perfect. Wickenburg is a day’s drive from most southwest destinations including national parks, wildlife refuges, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson and parts of New Mexico.

Anyway, I’m hoping to get back to some serious shooting as soon as all this is done. My first plans are acorn woodpeckers at Live Oak Park in Fallbrook. I’ve been meaning to get up there for months now but just haven’t had time. If anyone is interested in joining me, shoot me an e-mail. I’m also hoping to get out to Oceanside Pier for some surfing action. Let me know if that interests you.

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