My REVEIW of the HoodLoupe

HoodLoupe Professional LCD Screen Loupe for 3″ Displays

This is a really neat little accessory. It is especially useful if you do a lot of shooting outdoors and can’t see your photos on the LCD screen on the back of the camera.  With this little device you can see your photos in all their glory to check for sharpness, exposure, color, the settings your camera used, histogram, and pretty much anything else you use the LCD screen to see.

The loupe comes with a strap to hang around your neck so it is readily available. You can adjust the loupe to your eyesight, similar to the diopter on the camera.  Another great, almost, a must, use for the loupe is to take video if your camera has video.  On HD video enabled cameras you have to use the LCD to take the video as the viewfinder doesn’t work in this mode on most cameras. Well, if you are outside, you have the same problem as with reviewing your photos in bright light. Enter the hood loupe.  You can even buy several accessories that make the hood loop stick to the view finder so you don’t have to hold it there while taking video. This basically makes your LCD a view finder like you see on video cameras.

Now, I did find it a bit cumbersome when I first started using it as I had to figure out how to hold the camera and the loupe at the same time. Also, if I got a lot of finger prints on the LCD it tended to blur parts of my review which was real easy to see with the loupe. However, I have a pretty large camera (5D) with a battery pack. I would think smaller cameras without that would be easier to maneuver

But all in all I love this purchase. It is priced a little higher than I would have liked at $79 (B&H) but I have no regrets!!

To see the hood loup and accessories, go to:

Basic composition in photography and video

No matter what camera you’re using, from an entry level point-and-shoot to a high-end dSLR, simple changes in how you compose your photo (scene) can turn a lackluster picture into an engaging one. By taking the time to carefully compose your photo, you can draw in your audience and communicate the story and emotion behind the photo more effectively.  Here are a couple of simple steps to improve your photos now!


It’s human nature for your eyes to instantly focus on your subject and ignore everything else when you look through the viewfinder of your camera or its LCD panel. However, remember that your camera records everything within view. It can not discriminate between subject and background. It has no way of knowing, that the bright red stop sign is going to be an eyesore in your otherwise beautiful photo.

You’d think that something as obtrusive as a large road sign would jump out at you immediately, but it’s not necessarily the case. Have you ever looked at your pictures and thought, “Why didn’t I notice all wires in the photo.  Any background clutter in your photo pulls your eye away from the subject, so your eye is fighting to focus on what is really important.

So your first compositional technique is:

Scan the four corners…

You can avoid this problem very simply. Once you have your photo composed, let your eyes sweep to each of the four corners of the viewfinder. This simple exercise takes your eye away from the subject and forces you to consider the background. Make it a habit to always take this step before clicking the shutter and you won’t be disappointed by distracting backgrounds again.

Light can be clutter, too. When you check your corners, look for light that competes with your subject.

Once you find the problem, how do you fix it? Removing the item is the easiest option. If it is a stationary object, you may need to simply move yourself and/or your subject to remove it from view. If neither of these options is available, try using a shallow depth of field (Low aperture setting) to blur the background.

Practice this techniques for the next class.

Quick Histogram Overview

The histogram can be seen on the LCD panel on the back of your camera. You have to push a button labeled display (DISP). Sometimes it has a little icon that looks like an LCD screen. Check your manual for sure, as it may also be in your menu. One you bring it up on the screen you want to make sure the data is as close to the left and right of the histogram WITHOUT touching.  If it does touch either side but it isn’t a high spike that may be ok depending on the photo.

You can see in this histogram that the data is slightly touching the left side (the shadows) and almost touching the right side (the highlights). This is what you are looking for in a nearly perfect exposed photo.  Now,  many of your photos won’t have this histogram.  Remember, the final decision of how great your photo is remains your decision. The histogram is just one tool you can use, especially when you are out on a shoot, to determine if you should make adjustments and take the shot again. To see a quick video go back to my page and click on VIDEO podcast and choose the Digital Photo I folder and then the histogram video.

Review: Flashpoint Model II 320A Monolight, 150 Watt Second Strobe


Only $99 (you’ll need a stand and some kind of diffuser like an umbrella, softbox, etc. which will cost additional).

Pros:  Attach Securely, Good Color Value, Durable
Best Uses:  Small groups, Indoors, General Use, Portraits
Describe Yourself:  Pro Photographer
Bottom Line:  Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

I am totally satisfied with this light. Best uses would be a second light for fill or accents but I use it as a key light also for single or small group portraits.  GREAT FIRST MONO-LIGHT.

TO HEAR MY AUDIO PODCASTS go to links section on the right-panel of this page and click on “Audio Podcasts.”

Holiday Shots

Well, we are starting the holiday season.  You’ll be around family and friends.  This is a great time to take family portraits.  How do you get the best shots to show off your skills?  Well, believe it or not I am going to suggest taking the first shots or so in AUTO.  Now, check the settings the camera used and go to manual and plug in those numbers. Now you can fine tune the shot. Remember if the camera used FLASH in auto, it will not in Manual.  So you will have to pop the flash up or use an external flash.

But the best light is window light if it is during the day. So put your subjects near the window so the light is touching one side of the subject’s face.  Now move the subject back and forth, even to a position where the subject is behind the window opening.  Observe how the light falls on the subject.  Pick the look you like first and take those shots. If they will stay around awhile, take additional shots, while moving them around. Another great place for natural light is under an overhang like the porch, deck, maybe even a tree.

If you are taking shots inside at night, make sure you have your White Balance set for the type of light you are under.  Use Auto White Balance if it gives you photos that have no color cast. Remember also, you may be using flash which will overwhelm the light in the room, making it necessary to use AWB or FLASH WB.

Instead of starting with AUTO, you could try P (Program).  The flash will NOT pop up if needed. The camera will set a real slow shutter speed if the light is too low. So pop the flash up if needed or use a tripod for natural light.  Remember in “P-MODE”  you can change the exposure compensation, use bracketing, and ISO, as well as some other settings depending on the camera.

Remember the family is going to want a copy of the photo(s). This is going to cost you time (touching up the photo) and money if you are doing prints for them.

Have fun and a happy holiday season!!

My Review of the Pro-Optic 500mm f/6.3 Manual Focus, T-Mount Mirror Lens by Pro Optic

Probably not worth it

Long focal length, Lightweight
Blurry Focus
Best Uses:
Wildlife, moon shots

I knew at $159 it couldn’t be that good, but I was surprised how hard it was to focus. When I had it in focus on a tripod, with a cable release the photos were out of focus, not soft, but out of focus. Used it for big birds on a nest and moon shots. Moon shots were not too bad so it could be a cheap telescope. If you are a beginner this could be a low cost way to get long photos. I WISH IT HAD Auto focus which may have helped a little. Also the Depth of field it tiny.

Remember, this is a fixed 500mm focal length and a fixed aperture of F6.3. It is also a MANUAL focus lens, not auto focus.

I’ve attached 1 photo. This is a cropped zoomed version to check sharpness. I took about 100 shots on this shoot. This is the ONLY usable one.  I took a second shot. This is the actual size of a photo of the moon at 500mm.

OH… and remember to get the lens mount for your camera brand, Canon, Nikon, etc.