Doug Sahlin's Digital Photography Blog

Rants, raves and other delights!

Welcome to My Digital Photography Blog

Hi! I’m Doug Sahlin, a best-selling author of digital photography books, and a professional photographer. I’ve had a love affair with photography that spans five decades. I feel more alive when I have a camera in my hands, and I’m more observant as well. In this blog I’ll post information about new products, my books, tips and tricks, and I’ll also share resources and my latest images. Please feel free to leave comments about my blog posts.

Learning to See

Photographers see their world through a viewfinder or LCD monitor. But do they really make an effort to create images that show the beauty in their world, or are they merely attracted to all the bells and whistles on their digital cameras? In the old days, just about everything was done manually. You adjusted your exposure manually, and manually focused the lens. Back in the old days, many photographers used prime lenses(lenses with a fixed focal length), and had to walk closer to or farther away from their subject to frame the image. This is known as foot zoom. In the old days, the photographer was in control of the image he was creating. He had to be. Unless he had a darkroom, he had to wait until his film was processed to see whether or not he got the shot he envisioned.

The advent of digital cameras with auto-exposure, auto-focus, and zoom lenses tended to make photographers a little lazy. They saw something that piqued their curiosity, zoomed in or out to pick the low hanging fruit, took a picture and moved on. Photography is so much more than that.

If you consciously make an effort to be in control, you slow down and make sure you’ve got all the settings right before taking a picture. When you slow down, you have the opportunity to determine if what you see in the viewfinder is what compelled you to stop and take a picture. If it isn’t, you can zoom in until you remove objects that will distract the viewer, or move to a different vantage point and then take a picture.

The first picture you take is what caused you to stop. But you’re not done yet. Milk the scene for all it’s worth. Is there a picture within the picture? Can you create a more interesting or different image from a snail’s eye view or bird’s eye view? When you slow down and take multiple pictures of a scene or subject, you learn how to see. You notice textures and patterns. You notice shapes and curves. Instead of taking a picture of an oak tree, take a picture of a pattern of leaves, a close-up shot of the veins in the leaves, the texture of the bark and so on. Think creatively outside the box and you learn to see and put a unique stamp on your photography.

Another thing to remember is that you don’t have to carry every lens you own. If you limit yourself to one or two lenses, you’ll use your creativity to make wonderful images, instead of rummaging through your camera bag and using technology as a crutch. Less is more.

The following images were photographed with vintage manual focus prime lenses mounted to Fujifilm XE-2 with an adapter. I started with a 50mm f/1.4 Pentax Takumar and then switched to a 135mm f/2.8 Pentacon lens.

Shapes and repeating patterns

Shapes and repeating patterns

Details of a vintage railroad car.


Lines and Curves

Lines and Curves


Creating a Metadata Preset in Lightroom

In spite of your best efforts, people will try to illegally use your photographs on other websites. When you create a photograph, it is your intellectual property and you own the copyright. If the ownership of an image is ever in question, the metadata can prove who created the photograph. You can easily add your copyright information to images you import into the Lightroom catalog by creating a metadata template and adding it to each image you import. In the following video tutorial, author and photographer Doug Sahlin shows you how to create a metadata template in Lightroom. This tutorial was created in 2013. The steps work in the current version of the application: Lightroom CC or Lightroom 6.

Focusing the Velvet 56

The Lensbaby Velvet 56 is a versatile lens. When you shoot wide open(aperture of f/1.6) the images have a wonderful glow. However, your focus needs to be spot on when shooting wide open. Here are a couple of things you can do to ensure that the image is in focus when shooting wide open:

  1. Adjust your camera diopter to your vision. Some people recommend setting the diopter with a lens other than the Velvet 56, which is not always convenient. If you own a mirrorless camera with an EVF (Electronic Viewfinder), take a picture of a landscape with the focus set on infinity at an aperture with an f-stop value of f/5.6 or greater. Review the image in your EVF, and adjust the diopter until you see a sharp image.
  2. When want to take a picture using a large aperture, change the aperture to f/5.6 and focus the image. Then without taking your eye from the viewfinder, turn the aperture ring counterclockwise and count the number of detents. There are four detents from f/5.6 to f/1.6—f/4.0, f/2.8,f/2.0,f/1.6.

The second technique takes a bit of practice. After a bit of experience with the lens, you’ll be able to access the focus and aperture rings by feel. The focus ring has enough friction to hold focus when  you change the aperture. Just make sure you don’t accidentally bump the focus ring after your subject is in focus.

At the Beach

At the Beach

February 2018
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