In a previous blog post, we talked about exposure and how f/stop affected exposure by adjusting the amount of light enters the camera. The f/stop adjusts the opening (the aperture) with a diaphragm (groups of leafs that adjust to make a larger or smaller aperture). However, that is not all that an f/stop does. There are three functions of an f/stop and we will discuss them here.

1)f/stops are half of the control of exposure (the shutter speed is the other half).

2)f/stops allow the photographer to adjust the aperture for the best definition of the lens.

3)f/stops control depth of field.

As we mentioned before, exposure is determined by the quantity of light (intensity) and the length of time light is allowed into the camera. The shutter speed adjusts the time and the f/stop adjusts the quantity.

f/stops are half of the control of exposure (the shutter speed is the other half).

We have also discussed that when light passes through a different medium it changes speed. This means that when light passes through glass it moves slower than when it moves through the atmosphere. If the glass is crafted properly, the light bends in a very predictable way and you can recreate the light to form a focused image on the film plane.

When the light does not directly focus on the film plane that part of the image is represented as fuzzy spots. These fuzzy circles will translate to the image as out of focus. If the lens is focused on a particular point of a scene, there will be an area in front of and behind that focus point which will represent itself as “in focus” and everything closer and farther away will be “out of focus.” The distance of area that is in focus is called “depth of field” or DOF.

What does this have to do with the f/stop? Well, the f/stop determines the angle light that comes into the lens. With a small aperture there is less competition for light to get into the lens, and that will increase the depth of field. The larger the aperture the more light can come into the lens and the shallower the depth of field.

Now remember that the larger the aperture, the smaller the f/stop number. So f/4 will be a larger aperture than f/8. That also means that if you are focused on a single object at f/8 and open up the aperture to f/4 you will cut your depth of field and less of the image will be in focus.

f/stops allow the photographer to adjust the aperture for the best definition of the lens.

Before I go into detail on depth of field, I want to address what I mean by best definition of a lens. While lenses may have an indicated range of f/2.8 to f/32, that doesn’t mean that the lens will perform at its best at all of those f/stops. Some lenses lose their quality when you go to their extremes. While it is not true of all lenses, a good rule of thumb is to close a lens down or open it up at least one stop to start getting the best performance from a lens.

There are some newer lenses that perform amazingly well opened wide open, but you will have to research which lenses these are. Some lenses are designed only to work at optimum performance wide open.

f/stops control depth of field.

Depth of field is defined as the distancefrom the nearest point of acceptably sharp focus to thefarthest point of acceptably sharp focus of a scene beingphotographed. The depth of field isn’t the same at all f/stops and it also changes as the focal length of the lens changes. When you shoot at f/4 on a 50mm lens and a 180mm lens, the depth of field will be different.

Depth of field also changes with distance. The farther the subject is from the camera, the larger the depth of field. There is a focus point (called the hyperfocal distance) when everything behind the focus point will be in focus for infinity.

The depth of field can be measured with a DOF calculator. CLICK HERE

Adjusting the depth of field is an important to photography. It gives you control over your environment and isolate or integrate your subject with its environment.

Using a large depth of field with 14mm wide angle to integrate the environment.

Using a shallow depth of field with an 85mm lens to separate the subject from the environment.

There are two factors in creating exposure: The time light is allowed in and the amount of light that is allowed in to the camera. The math for exposure is exposure is equal to time multiplied by intensity.

E=T x I

To give a mental image, imagine that you have to fill a cup of water. There are two ways in which you can fill it at the sink: 1) open up the faucet so that a lot of water fills it up quickly or 2) let the water drip for a long time and fill up the glass that way. A camera works in a very similar way: that camera either lets in a lot of light or adjusts the time light is allowed to hit the film plane. 

How the camera measures the time of an exposure is easy. A shutter opens up for a moment and closes. This is called shutter speed. Shutter speeds can vary from the very fast (e.g. 1/8000 second) to very long (e.g. 1 minute).

What is more difficult to understand is how the camera determines the amount of light into the camera. This is determined by f/stop.

In a lens there is a device called a diaphragm (normally a series of adjustable leafs that make a smaller or larger opening in the lens). When more light is needed, the diaphragm is opened. When less light is needed the diaphragm is closed. f/stops measure the size of the opening, which photographers call the aperture.

So why are they called f/stops and how do they work?

First, f/stops aren’t fractions. It is a math equation where the f/stop number (represented as f/8, f/11, f/16 etc.) measures an amount of light. The f/stops are constant measurements. So while a small pocket camera f/8 setting may be a very small hole, and a large format camera f/8 may be a very large opening, the same amount of relative light is hitting the focal plane.

Full f/stops have specific numbers assigned to them. Each full f/stop represents a perfect measurement of light that is either double or half the amount of the next full f/stop. If you open a lens aperture one full f/stop then you have doubled the amount of light from the previous f/stop. If you close the aperture one full f/stop, you have cut the light in half.

The common full f/stops are – f/1, f/2, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22, f/32, f/64

Many digital cameras now allow partial f/stops.

Once we know what our exposure should be (that will be covered in a different post), we can make adjustments to the shutter speed and f/stop to get the effects we want. Because shutter speeds are normally set to be in the same doubling principle as the f/stop (i.e. shutter speeds are normally 1 second, ½ sec, ¼ sec, 1/8 sec, 1/15 sec, 1/30 sec, etc.) each setting has the same effect of either adding or subtracting the amount of light to the film plan by a factor of 2.

Remember the formula for exposure (E= T x I). If you take your shutter speed and make it faster (less light), you can proportionally adjust your f/stop to allow in the equal amount of light. Adjust your shutter speed two settings from 1/125 sec to 1/500 sec (skipping by 1/250 sec), you have cut your light by 1/4th (You cut it in half from 1/125 to 1/250, and half again from 1/250 to 1/500). This means you must open up your aperture to allow four times the amount of light in, or two f/stop settings.

In another blog, I will discuss the effects you can create withf/stops.



“The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”
— Albert Einstein

If you think in the same old way, you will arrive at the same old conclusions and leave behind a wall-worn rut.The first step to sales is mindset. You must believe in your product and believe in yourself.

Remove negative thinking.

remove one-dimensional thinking.

Seek opportunities instead of identifying problems.

Be mindful of thinking traps.

Don’t be afraid of not knowing answers. Don’t be afraid to find them!

Break down all obstacles one brick at a time.

The first step in changing mindsets in sales is to first become a strategic thinker. What I mean by “strategic” is that you should be thinking about the long-term effects of your plans. It is much easier to get to someplace on a map if you know where it is on the map you want to be. Many photographers believe that success is measured only by income; however, income is the result of success, not the final destination.

A strategic plan may be to find twenty new wedding clients for the next year. It might also be building two new steady clients for your freelance work. Those goals are much more easily mapped out than “I need to make $50,000 next year.”

Sometimes, people feel that locking yourself towards a specific goal locks them out of opportunity. Nothing is written in stone. You can always change your goals. Nevertheless, there is a lot of freedom to committing to a goal. If you are focused on getting twenty new wedding clients, you have removed other options that may be detractions.

I also tell people to write their strategic plans down. Writing, even for yourself, is a contract that is concrete and tangible. It is a promise, to yourself if no one else. It is a focusing tool. Once you are focused on a destination, you can plan on how to get there.

The first rule of sales is that sales is about business and business is about people. Once you have your goal for your photo business, you now have to start dealing with people. The great thing is that people love to buy. Your job is to just convince them that your product is worth spending money on. You do that by developing relationships with — people.

The best way to develop any relationship is to have something to offer of value. For a photographer that should be your skill with a camera, but also your superior products, and customer service. But that isn’t always enough. Savvy photographer with sales experience can get business with inferior products, if they can convince the client that they don’t need better services. How do they do that?

Nearly every time, the photographer that wins the contract (barring jobs that are contracts because the photographer is their cousin) is the one that presents the best “win-win” scenario.

I have seen some photographers pull the “elite” card in a sale pitch, and demand that everything goes the photographer’s way. This is a “win-loose” negotiation, and unless you have clients banging down your door because you are famous, it will rarely work for most. The photographer leverages their status to call the shots, and psychologically some clients believe that they are fortunate to hire a photographer so “elite” that he deserves such reverence.

Low-end photographers have a less than ideal situation as well. They present “loose-win” situations where the photographer gives away their services and is essentially begging for work. Clients who hire this photographer feel like they are getting a real deal, but offer the photographer little respect; and almost always come away dissatisfied. How can you love images created by a photographer you don’t believe in, and who doesn’t believe in themself?

The “win-win” sales concept is the best. You are worth your money, and you are going to prove it to the client. Remember, the client wants to spend money. Your only job is to convince them it is best spent on you.

In any meeting with a clients, something is sold. Either you sell the client on buying your service, or you sold the client on walking away. In either case, you sold them. The best way on selling them on buying your services is to have a superior product and to anticipate all objections they may have for not hiring you.

1. Believe in your product.

2. Realize that objections to a purchase are never the reason for not buying.

3. Listen to the client and look for what their real concerns are.

4. Ask the client if your assessment of their concerns are accurate.

5. Provide solutions to their objections and remove them from the equation.

6. Sell to help. It is about benefits, not features.

7. Be sincere and always tell the truth.

8. When you ask a question, be quiet and listen.

9. Never down the competition.

10. Most important– Ask for the sale.

11. Regardless if you got the sale: follow up, follow up, follow up!

The last two are the real stumbling blocks for photographers. A salesman is not afraid to ask for a sale. If he believes in his product, and he has successfully removed all objections, then he should have confidence that the client WANTS to hire them. Some salesmen will play a fishing game and force the client “think about it.” That is a very tricky game, because they are essentially not finishing the meeting.

Imagine if you went on a date and then just walked away before the kiss goodnight? If you didn’t ask for it because you were afraid, do you think a date is inclined to agree to be asked out again? If you didn’t ask because you think it will make them realize that you are the perfect date– you better be darn sure your date was amazing.

The client expects you to ask them to close the deal. That is why you are talking. Don’t be afraid of rejection. A famous ballplayer once said, “If I swing a hundred times I may not get a home run, but if I don’t swing at all I certainly won’t.”

Whether you get the contract or not, always follow up. For new clients this is important, but for those who passed on your service, this is an important time to develop a positive business image. There may be clients they may refer down the line.

Most of all, sales it about being positive and strategic. Have a goal and get out there and sell yourself to get that goal.

“If you are given a bag of cement and a bucket of water, you can build either a stepping stone or a stumbling block.”


There are several factors that must be included when you are considering the characteristics of lenses. To perform well as a photographer, you must recognize the effect of these lens characteristics. Realize also that it is the recognition and use of these various lens features and/or qualities that can make the difference between a good and a poor photograph. By understanding the advantages and disadvantages beyond just the field of view of a lens opens an entirely new level of photography that is an essential, but often overlooked.

“let me be clear on this the focal length of a lens DOES NOT CHANGE PERSPECTIVE”

Focal Lengths of lenses is all about (what I call) “perception of the angle-of-view .” The human eye sees in three dimensions because of binocular vision (two optical cameras with overlapping images). A camera does not have the optical ability to be stereoscopic on its own and therefore does not allow for the sense of depth. What is considered “normal” focal lengtha for a lens gives the similar field of view that our vision covers (which is 45-55 degrees field of view), and the relative DOF (Depth of Field) of these lenses gives the familiar sense to feel the “depth” of our normal vision.

If you close one eye and look with the other, you can still register in your brain the sense of depth, because our brains have been programed to view the sense of Depth of Field through what is in focus and what is not.

However, when you use wide or telephoto lenses, the field of view and the characteristics of depth change properties. The “angle of view” and the perception of depth are changed– hence the “Perception of Angle-of-View” has also changed.

Any lens with an angle of view less than 45 degrees with a given film size has a longer focal length.

However, just as we know that we want/need more than just a pinhole camera to create the images we want, when you start using the studio lights, you will find that you need more from your flash than just a bright light.

Now…let me be clear on this the focal length of a lens DOES NOT CHANGE PERSPECTIVE. If you stand in one spot and change lenses, you get the same perspective no matter what lens you use. It is constant, because perspective is the relationship between the subject and the camera.

There are three classes of lenses that effect “angle-of-view perception:” Normal, wide, and telephoto. Within these catagories there are often subcategories of ultra-wide, zoom lenses, macro/extreme close-up to name a few. Regardless of the nomenclature– the following characteristics apply to the sub-categories.

Normal— as we said, the normal lens gives the same angle of view and feeling of depth of field as your normal vision. For most 35mm film cameras a 50mm lens is considered “normal.”

“ … you should have a good spectrum of lenses in your bag, and know the characteristics of each …”

Wide— Wide angle lenses have a greater than normal field of view. This change of FOV also changes the characteristics of compression between objects. These lenses create an exaggerated sense of distance. For example: You can shoot a close up of a subject model’s face and have a group of people who are close by seem very far away.

Wide-angle lenses have their own qualities, causing apparent, repeat, apparent, distortion and foreshortening of perspective, so objects close to the lens appear large, while background objects diminish in size dramatically

Obviously, there is the advantage of being able to get more of your scenery in your photo with a wide angle lens. You will able to get closer to your subject. You will be able to get steadier shots at lower shutter speeds. You will get greater Depth of Field at almost all distances.

Telephoto— Telephoto lenses have a smaller field of view, but they also have more reach. Just like binoculars or a telescope, they use the science of light refraction through glass to be able to see objects at a far distance up close. The reduced angle of view has the opposite characteristics of the wide angle lense. With the telescopic view, the angle of view is decreased. However, telephoto lenses characteristics also compress their images making subjects seem much closer than they actually are. (remember that this apparent change of distance is because our brains look at things through our “normal” lens. Thus there may seem to be a change in prespective, but the perspect hasn’t changed at all).

Telephoto lenses are great for: Shallow DOF. Making images look closer to each other and the compression often gives a sense of equal sizing. Compression of distance, the ability to see objects far away.


Lots of photographers find a lens they like. Or a zoom they rely on. In fact, you should have a good spectrum of lenses in your bag, and know the characteristics of each.

The difference between a good picture and a great picture is often a matter of matching the images in your head to the image on your print. Very often, people will get lazy, or at least comfortable, and try to make a wide angle zoom do the job of a long telephoto and then wonder why the photo doesn’t cry “brilliance” to them later.

Here are some photos of lenses fromn 10mm to 180mm. I moved between one foot to twelve feet away from the bottles to fill the frame. See how shooting a very similar shot differs greatly as the compression, field of view and DOF change. Note the house next door behind the bottles and how it seems much closer with the telephoto lenses. This is an important consideration in choosing a lens.

Understanding photography requires an understanding of art and science. The word photography comes from the Greek “to paint with light.” So in order to create art with photography means you have to understand how light works.

Light is a form of radiation that has been studied by scientists for hundreds of years. Two theories have been around for hundreds of years: quantum theory and wave theory. Quantum theory states that light moves in a single direction. Wave theory also believes that light has wave lengths like sounds. These wave lengths move in vary small oscillations (measured in nanometers). The visible light rang moves from 400-700nm.

Eventually, the two theories were reconciled into a unique quantum wave theory. This makes light unique in many ways.

Another characteristic of light is that, in a vacuum, light travels about 186,000 miles per second. I say “in a vacuum” because when light travels through different mediums, it changes speed. The best example I have is to imagine what it is like to walk through an empty room and then how much more difficult it is to walk through water.

When light moves through a camera lens, the speed of the light changes, and if the glass is given specific shapes it will bend as it moves through the glass. When the light re-enters normal air, it resumes it previous speed and continues on its way.

This is how a lens is able to bend the light (refraction) to capture the light on the focal plane (the flat area that captures the image on the film or computer chip).

The color of light is determined partially by the bandwidth frequency. The longer the wave length the warmer the color: Red sits closer to the 700nm wave lengths. Blues and violets are on the other end of the spectrum in the 400nm area. The color spectrum breaks out exactly like the colors of the rainbow (remember R.O.Y. G. B.I.V.?).Light spectrum chart courtesy of \

Light itself does not have a color. The band width frequency must first react with a material and then bounce back to the eye. Even the blue in the sky is a reaction of the moisture in the air that our eyes register.

The blue color has a tighter wave pattern and reaches our eyes with more energy than the slower frequencies of red. However, as the sun lowers to the horizon, the distance between the sun and our eyes has more atmospheres to work through. By the time the light hits our eyes only the lower frequencies meets our eyes and that is why we see a warm red, orange and pink sunsets.


When light hits a surface, the material will absorb certain frequencies and reflect others. So when you see a green cloth, you are really only seeing the light that is reflected. The red and blue light is absorbed by the cloth.

Light is effected by a medium in three ways: reflection, absorption and transmission.

Now that we understand that light is a linear wave length. It is time to start understanding how to a photography practically deals with light.

Color Balance—Each light source is transmitted at a different light frequency. That means that not all light is white. The sun at noon is about as white as you can get naturally. The sun at sunset is red. The light is different in incandescent light bulbs and fluorescent lights.

Photographers need to know how to measure the light in order to know how to deal with it. The most convenient way to describe color is by degrees Kelvin. Degrees Kelvin is a measurement of whiteness (i.e. the amount of pure light).

Kelvin is a measurement of heat. Zero degrees Kelvin is equal to -273 Celsius. If you are wondering why that number, well that is because at -273 Celsius is absolute zero. Nothing can get colder than zero degrees Kelvin. That also means that all light is absorbed and anything that is zero degrees Kelvin is absolute black.

If you have every seen a piece of metal heat up, you will notice that it changes color. The hotter it gets the more it starts to glow. At first it will glow red. Eventually it will glow blue and then white. That color can be measured in degrees Kelvin.

Daylight, or pure light, is approximately 5000-5500 degrees Kelvin. An incandescent bulb burns approximately 2000 degree Kelvin. Fluorescent lights can be 3500, 4500 and 6500 degrees Kelvin.

If your camera has precise color balance control, it will probably allow you to adjust both the default settings (incandescent bulb, fluorescents, daylight, cloudy day, and flash) AND your camera will also have the ability to adjust the specific Kelvin temperature.

Color Relationships—Color and Light can also be defined by its three qualities: hue, brightness and saturation.

Hue is the actual color (or wave length) reflected by an object. The primary colors are red, green, and blue (remember the rainbow?). There are also complimentary colors, which are even mixes of each of the primary colors. These colors are cyan, magenta, and yellow. Many photographers represent these colors in a wheel. This makes it easier to see the association of colors.

phtoographic color wheel

Brightness is the color of the light independent of its hue. This means you can have a bright blue and a dull blue. Think of adjusting the brightness on your monitor. Even though you can make the screen brighter and darker, the hue remains the same.

Saturation is the degree of black and white that is added to a hue. Think of it like mixing a color with paint (white and black).

Understanding these fundamentals are important to a photographer. It will allow you to learn how to adjust the color balance of your film or digital camera. Understanding how light works will also help you later on when you are crafting light for specific effects.