The Digital Photo Guy

Tag: canon 7d

What’s That Q Button?

by on May.29, 2011, under Articles, gear, Monday Morning Tips

Are You Familiar With Your Q Button?

On newer Canon dSLRs, there’s a button on the back, labeled “Q.” Pressing it brings up an editable display on the rear LCD. Nikon labels it’s the button either INFO or “i.” Newer dSLRs from other manufacturers all offer some variation of this control. Until recently, I’d ignored the button because it didn’t fit my workflow. I knew what it did but I never made the effort to retrain myself.

Recently, I began playing with the Q (Quick Control) and found that it has benefit in certain situations. The primary reason for using the Q button is when setting up for a completely different shoot. For example, I grabbed my Canon 7D to photograph a huge dove sitting atop my neighbor’s flag pole. It was so big, I first mistook it for a hawk. The camera was still set up from the day before when I was photographing products in a studio. With a press of the Q button, I could see all the important settings in one place (60D screen used for illustration, right.) Before the Q button, my fingers were trained to automatically run through all the knobs, dials, switches and menus, checking for the correct settings. Now, in one glance, on one screen, I can check all my critical settings. Better still, I can adjust all my important settings with the same three or four controls. This is a huge time savings when I have just moments for a “grab” shot.

So, when do I NOT use the Q button? When I’m in the middle of a series or sequence, I still find it faster and easier to dial in adjustments by watching the display along the bottom of the VF (viewfinder) viewfinder. For example, as I’m shooting a scene, I may decide to add or subtract EC (exposure compensation.) This is much more convenient to do via the back dial and the ELI (exposure level indicator) along the bottom of the VF.

Birds in the News

The hummingbird is back with a new clutch of eggs! Last Thursday, as we were leaving for a quick trip to check on the Arizona house, we noticed the hummingbird is back with a new clutch of eggs. Based on what I’ve read and heard, this new pair of eggs has a better chance. The first pair was quite likely a “dry run,” as it were. I imagine humans wouldn’t be quite so fecund if they had to mate while one was flying upside down!

In Wickenburg, we found a dove sitting on a nest in a backyard light fixture. Since we won’t be returning to Wickenburg until July, the chicks will probably have fledged by then. All in all, it’s been a pretty good last few days.

AOL and Yahoo! E-mail Users

I’m having a terrible time with AOL and Yahoo!. Both e-mail services seem to arbitrarily block my Monday Morning Tips as spam. It doesn’t help that some readers forget they subscribed and mark my e-mails as spam.

To combat this, I’m recommending all readers open a G-Mail or other free e-mail service. Your ISP (Internet Service Provider) usually offers multiple e-mail accounts so you can set up a second account for newsletters. For example, Cox allows up to 7 e-mail accounts per account. Check with your ISP for details.

Another idea I’m considering is offering cheap e-mail accounts through my web site. That would give you an e-mail address like “”  If that’s something that might appeal to you, post a comment here.

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Another Success Story

by on Apr.10, 2011, under Monday Morning Tips

I Feel Good!

Copyright Jim TiddI “met” Jim on a forum about six months ago when he posted a question about a Canon 5D Mk II, hoping that would help him make better bird photos. In my reply, I laid out the reasons why, in that price range, a Canon 7D was a better choice. He took my advice and bought a 7D as well as a Canon 300/2.8, a US$4000 lens. At that point, I knew he was either very serious about his bird photography or a recent lottery winner.

Recently, Jim sent me some of his latest bird photos and I was amazed. This photo above was one of my favorites. The detail in the feathers is excellent and capturing the osprey’s eye was outstanding. This photo was made after I pointed out that he needed to add +EC because most birds are much darker than the background sky. Doing so moved his histogram to the right and greatly reduced the noise he was seeing in the shadows.

The thing I admire about Jim is that he takes advice and figures out the details for himself. He’s not a “high maintenance” student. Below are three more from the same series. It’s students like Jim who make me smile and enjoy what I do. You can see more of Jim’s work at his Flickr site.

Copyright Jim Tidd   Copyright Jim Tidd   Copyright Jim Tidd


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Flexibility is the Key

by on Apr.03, 2011, under gear, Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Photoshop Elements

Desert Spring Wildflower Season

San Felipe ValleyThe desert spring wildflower season was weak this year. To top it off, the wind blew at about 25 mph the whole weekend. Even tiny flowers just 1/4″ off the ground were bent at 90 degrees. I’ve learned over the years that a good flower season doesn’t always mean a good flower season for photography. If you were willing to hike 2-4 miles into the canyons, there were some nice blooms but, there, the venturi effect increased the wind speed even more.

Sometimes, PDL (pure dumb luck) intervenes like this field of desert marigolds along San Felipe Valley Road on the way home. I got down low with my Canon 7D and Sigma 10-20 ultra-wide angle lens at f/22 and 20mm on a Gitzo 1228 tripod. I knew if I focused about 20 feet away (the second fence post,) my depth of field would be from about 2.5 ft to infinity.

At home, using DP-HDR by Mediachance, I confirmed what I suspected. There was too much wind for the usual 3-frame HDR. The flowers were just a mass of yellow. Opening it in Photoshop Elements, I added “pop” to the sky and mountains with Topaz Adjust. Popping the background did funky things to the marigolds in the foreground so I added a layer mask and revealed the original foreground in the layer beneath. Voila, instant fake, single frame HDR. More

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Black & White Digital Photography

by on Jan.16, 2011, under Articles, Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Photoshop CS2/4, Photoshop Elements, Workshops

Photoshop Elements in 6 Weeks, starts Feb 16
Flash Photography in a Flash, Feb 26
Palomar College – Spring 2011
Spring Desert Wildflowers, late March 2011
Free Photo Critique

Visualizing a B&W Photo on a dSLR

I started with Black & White photography. I learned how to shoot, develop and print Tri-X in darkrooms, real darkrooms lit with dim red bulbs and smelling of fixer. When I could afford it, I changed over to color slides and prints and never looked back. Now, in the digital age, we can have our cake and eat it, too. We can make color images and convert to BW in Photoshop. Unfortunately, I’ve lost my ability to imagine an image in B&W. It’s a struggle to ignore the colors and evaluate the B&W tonalities.

Recently, I read an article by Rob Sheppard in Outdoor Photographer, one of the few photography magazines to which I subscribe. In it, Rob talked about using the Monochrome Mode in most modern digital cameras to make BW images. I’ve never subscribed to this idea because you don’t have a color image to fall back on if your BW doesn’t turn out well. I also feel that converting a color image to BW gives better control over the final image.

(This photo was made with a Canon 7D and 24-105 at 47mm, f/4.0, 1/2500, ISO 200. I used bare branches as a cucoloris and cut off the very top to create tension.)


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Veterans Day 2010

by on Nov.11, 2010, under Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Photoshop CS2/4, Photoshop Elements

How to Really Honor Our Vets

When our perils are past, shall our gratitude sleep?  George Canning

Every year, on one day out of 365 days, the United States pauses to drink beer, barbeque and carry on like any other weekend. Sure, there are still parades in some small towns and old geezers at VFW halls grumbling about “back in the day”. Somewhere, someone is reading Ragged Old Flag (see video below) at some public gathering.

But, along the way, we seem to have lost the meaning of Veterans Day. It’s not about those (like me) who served a tour, came home and picked up where they left off. It’s not about the dead although they certainly deserve our respect and gratitude. It’s not even about those currently serving in some God-forsaken hellhole though they should never be far from our hearts and minds.

For me, it’s about those who came home in pieces, mentally and/or physically. Those who struggle each and every day to piece together their shattered bodies, minds and lives. It’s for these survivors that I commemorate Veterans Day. It’s for John who, at age 17, watched his platoon sergeant die in his arms. It’s for Eric who, at age 19 had his arm torn off during a POW rescue mission. To all the men and women for whom their service has never ended, I salute you, today and every day.

Also, for me personally, I salute the memory of CMSgt John Altizer and Colonel Truman, men who helped shape me into the person I am today. Men who went out of their way to turn a 17 year old kid into an adult by entrusting him with adult responsibilities and decisions.

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