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Welcome! I don't know about you guys, but I plan on having a good time. It's a lot of work putting together each episode, but photography has been in my life — work and play — since I was a strapping sapling simpleton. And that's saying something (especially if you try to say it through thrice).

Connect or comment, please. Each episode will have a conversation, and I'll be glad to strike one up with you, too!

- Mark

Nov 10, 2017

Welcome to the episode before the neXt one! It is, yet again and again, jam-packed. I don't know how I do it, but I do, and you should, and maybe those guys will, if we can figure out who those guys are, but the mythical "they" are the ones who should be doing something, and I'm not convinced the "they" even exist.

You Say DoF, I say DoF

Before I get too deep, let's talk depth of field. This is a measure of the nearest and farthest objects or details in a photograph that are in focus. That range of distances wherein focus exists is called depth of field. And if you'll listen to this episode, instead of reading these low-rent CliffsNotes, you can hear me complain about the nomenclature and suggest, heaven forfend, that it be re-named depth of focus!

 Wizard of Oz book art

Sounds easy, except for the millions of articles and blog postings and camera operating manuals and tomes on optical principles, but you gotta start some time, somewhere, and I vote for now and here! Thank you for volunteering to help!

(Listeners will understand the "Wizard" graphic. Those who only read, well, you're just gonna have to guess.)

Looking (not unnaturally) Good!

Speaking of depth, portraits of humans always attract the eye. We are programmed at our genetic level to recognize others of our species, and by familiarity discern one person from another. We are highly attuned to the nuances of faces.

We are also not as visually perfect on paper, or on a screen, as we are in our mind. But altering the paper/screen image is fraught with the danger of moving the image to beyond the reality of our appearance.

All of that to say this: we all usually prefer our image be just a little bit better than reality, but not unrealistically so. (That's actually self-referential as a goal, but let's just move on.) How to make such changes, good but not over-good? Spend years of training and hours of work and, voilá, your photo looks better! Or, drop a few coins on Anthropics for their Portrait Professional software and in less time than it takes to put on lipstick or brush your teeth, you — or whoever's picture you fed into your computer — look astounding yet natural.


Emily Helm

Gene Hauenstein

Above are three sets of images. On top, the lovely Svetlana, in pink, has received naught but the default enhancements. You can easily discern how the "after" image is better, but you are bound to not understand all the little tweaks that went into — automatically — making that happen.

Emily, in the green sweater, was treated to a bit more than the default enhancements. My tweaks include opening her eyes just a little bit more, putting in some green contacts — not at full strength — firming up her cheekbones, and pushing even more red into her hair. It still look absolutely like Emily, but definitely enhanced.

Finally, Gene. You can see the odd "icy frosting" skin tone that is added by default. My tweaks, then, were probably limited to giving him a bit of a tan. The "pushed" version, though, resulted in a person related to Gene, visually, but would not be mistaken for him.

Learn more about Portrait Professional at the web site and compare the three available versions at

That's Skater Punk, Sir!

Joe Copalman admits to being late to the photography game, wandering through being a brainiac and then a skater punk before trying smart skater punk, then chucking all of that to enlist in the Army where they (maybe this is the "they" I mentioned at the start?) ran him around but didn't get any value out of what he had to offer. Their loss and our gain, and he picked up a camera more seriously when his wife was about to deliver their first child. Later, he turned his skills to aviation photography (he had entered the Army with dreams, and "promises," of a career in aviation).

He writes and photographs for several aviation magazines and co-founded a group for aviation photographers in Arizona they called Arizona Aviation Photographers — we're talking journalism, remember, not creative writing. You can see the group's work — and apply to join if it suits you — at

Joe Copalman

Joe Copalman. Photo by Joe Copalman.

You can also see his work, and follow him, on Flickr at and look him up on Facebook too. Just search for him by name - Joe Copalman.

Get Down, Get Down — So Sayeth Bette

If you look up at your photographic subject, you imbue the image with majesty, heroism, or domination. Much depends on the subject and your knowledge of its intrinsic meaning, but by looking up you are, naturally, lower in space and that translates to lower in status, power, pecking order.


Here is Che Guevara in an image titled Guerrillero Heroico. The photographer, Alberto Korda, is looking up at Che on a stage. Heroic, right?


How about this handsome young man? Pretty heroic here, too, right? This image soon to adorn hipster T-shirts the world over, maybe?

Shoot Till The Cows Go Home, Then Shoot The Fence

Joe McNally is a very accomplished photographer, shooting for LIFE and National Geographic and myriad commercial clients. He's also a nice guy, a funny guy, and shares his knowledge and experience through lectures and books. I've pulled a few quotes from his life and start off with this doozy of an admission: "I can't tell you how many pictures I've missed, ignored, trampled, or otherwise lost just 'cause I've been so hell bent on getting the shot I think I want."

I've met him and seen him work, but unfortunately didn't capture a photo of him, so we'll have to make do with this one from Wikipedia. Poor Joe, suffering from at least one of the calamities foretold by Mark Twain in episode 2.

Joe McNally

Joe McNally. Photo by Ahmed Arup Kamal.

More? Nein.

Thanks for reading. Of course, there's much more to the episode if you'll lend it your ears, or your kingdom for a horse. Thanks go out to Anthropics for providing Portrait Professional 2017 for the review. It really is surprisingly good and very reasonably priced — plus you can download a trial copy for free.

If you would be so kind, enter some sort of comment, question, observation, or witty bon mot into the comments section, available just below. Or do the same, plus add a rating, in iTunes. I read them all even if I don't share them all — and not because they are bad, but because they are only two. Let's go listeners, give me something to read!