Saved By Features and Super Powers

In Master Photography Roundtable by Jeff Harmon7 Comments

Quick Side Notes

Before we get into our topic today we have two small things we don’t want to spend much time on but need to just do a little follow-up on at the top of the show.

  • Canon EOS RP Spec Reaction: As we thought we would, we had some listeners contact us about our reaction to the specs of the new Canon EOS RP full frame mirrorless camera.  Don’t want to go over any of it again here, go check out the previous episode to hear that, but wanted to say here that some took away from the episode that Nick and I seemed really happy that would could kind of tear down the RP and could have a negative reaction.  That somehow we had an inner excitement that Canon released something we didn’t like. Nothing could be further from the truth. I can’t speak for Nick but I think he would agree when I say I want to see Canon put out good cameras. I very much want to see Canon succeed, that would be the very best thing for me.  I am a very happy Canon shooter. The cameras I have are truly wonderful tools that I can use to make photos I am proud of, tools that enable me to realize my creative vision. No matter what camera you are using as you listen to this episode, get out there and shoot! It doesn’t really matter which camera you choose, anything you buy right now is going to be plenty of camera to do a whole lot of amazing work.
  • Improve Photography Questions
    • It has almost been a year now since our very good friend Jim Harmer was extremely generous and turned the podcast over to the 5 co-hosts who had been on many episodes with Jim for several years.  The podcast was called the Improve Photography podcast originally and it was something Jim created through a lot of hard work. Jim decided that he wanted to make a significant career shift and focus on something different and I will forever be grateful to him for taking a massive chance on me as a hobbyist photographer and mentoring me as a podcaster.  
    • All of that said, we get questions from long-time listeners about Jim’s websites and services and need to take a moment here to let you know that the only thing we took over from Jim was the podcast.  He still owns and operates those websites independently of our team running the Master Photography Podcast Network. We love Jim, he is a great friend, but we don’t have a business relationship any longer.

Camera Features Saved a Shoot

Brent, I want to talk about a couple of camera features that saved a shoot for me this week.  These are two features I haven’t used as much of until this week when they both became really important.  There is more to the story that we will get to at the end of the episode today, but to kind of outline why it is we did an episode reacting to the specs/features of the Canon RP full frame camera last week I wanted to talk about two features of the Canon 80D that saved my bacon at my last shoot.

This was a portrait shoot for a couple and we were shooting in a pretty small room in a house.  It was the room for an infant, about 10 feet by 15 feet. There was a crib and a rocking chair and a diaper changing station in the room that we had to move around to get a small bench into the room for the couple to sit on.  After we got things kind of situated I setup my Canon 80D on a tripod using my Tamron 24-70 lens, putting the focal length at 24mm to get as wide as I could in the tight quarters and I still had to put the camera and tripod all the way up against the wall of the room which means I couldn’t be behind the camera.  Fortunately the Canon 80D has a fully articulating touch LCD screen. So that is the first feature that saved the shot for me.

I pulled that screen out away from the camera and could stand/kneel beside it instead of behind it and have a lot of options for composing the couple in the portraits.  I used the electronic level on the camera to make sure I was getting the composition level too, so I suppose that is another feature that really helped me make sure I was able to make the photos that I wanted.  It really would have been impossible for me to make these photos in this specific situation without those two features.

Then there was one other feature I hadn’t really used with the Canon 80D until this shoot.  One that we briefly covered in the previous episode on the EOS RP. That’s the WiFi capabilities on the Canon 80D.  After Nick and I talked about it in the last episode very briefly and I had said that I hadn’t been too impressed with the WiFi capabilities on Canon cameras at that point but Nick said that his experience on the 5DM4 had been really good.  I am glad he had said that because it made me revisit that just before this shoot this past week and discover I hadn’t really checked it out thoroughly.

I know I had tried it a little while doing shoot in the past, which is never the time to check out the new feature of a camera.  At least not for me. I don’t want to be digging through menus or sort of testing things out while there is a client there that has paid for me to make photos of them.  It adds this pressure and I have to give up and just do what I know. So the morning of this shoot I decided to really check out WiFi on the Canon 80D because there was something specific I wanted to have at this shoot.  I knew the room we were going to be shooting in was fairly small, but the client had told me as we were talking about where and when to do the shoot that the room was not very large and that it was going to be VERY important that this client be able to see the photos as we were making them right there in the room.  I nearly always show the photos to my clients on the back LCD screen, but this time it was going to be more important that the client see the photos which we will discuss at the end of the show.

Knowing the room was small and my camera would probably be backed up against the wall if I had to take the camera off the tripod to show the client the photos it would make the shoot last longer, which was also going to be a big problem for this particular shoot.  I was so excited to find out how good the WiFi capabilities are on the 80D because it was going to make this shoot work.

Here is how it works:

  • Go into the menus and there is a place to configure the WiFi.  Have to enable it and configure it to either connect to a WiFi or it will provide a WiFi signal of it’s own.  It is better to connect to a WiFi that provides Internet access like you would have in your house/studio/library/school etc because the phone or tablet you are going to use to connect to your camera over WiFi is going to be checking for an Internet connection and if it can’t get to the Internet many phones/tablets will disconnect from the WiFi and go back to the data connection – especially on a phone.  If you are going to have the camera create a WiFi to connect to then I suggest you first put your phone or tablet into airplane mode and then enable WiFi on the phone or tablet so that it won’t be testing to connect to the Internet through the WiFi of the camera.
  • One of the things I had to do in this shoot was do it as fast as I possibly could, so I didn’t want to connect to the WiFi at the house and spend the time to put the password in using the camera – which is awful by the way.  I used the WiFi signal from the camera and got that all setup before the shoot.
  • The next part of this is the Canon Connect app.  There is an older app, Remote something, from Canon but if you download and launch it the app tells you that Canon Connect is the app you want.  I installed the Canon Connect app on an iPad, put the iPad into airplane mode, enabled the WiFi, and connected to the WiFi signal that the camera created.  It shows the password for the connection it is creating on the screen, so you type that in and it gets connected and then you switch over to the Canon Connect app.  Not too bad to get it all setup, but it took a few minutes and I am glad I did that well before the shoot.
  • With the 80D the Canon Connect app lets you control the camera pretty much like shooting in Live View mode using the rear LCD on the camera.  You can control focus, all of the manual settings, and take a picture. But that wasn’t the feature I needed for this shoot. What I needed was to be able to show the client the photo we just made so that they could decide how to change it with regard to their pose and positioning.
  • The idea then was that I would be with the camera at the back of the room and my wife would have the iPad right there near the client and after every click of the shutter button she would show them the photo we just made.  Worked really well. It worked very reliably and really helped us to make this shoot work. The only thing I wish it did differently would be to have the app automatically refresh to show the new photo that was just taken and it doesn’t do that.  

Most Impactful Photo

Brent, I want you to think over the time you have been a photographer to and image you created that had a lot of impact.  Whatever that might be. Is there anything that comes to mind that either had more personal meaning with the story behind the image or the image meant something extra special to other people?

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Brent: It’s really hard to narrow it down to one image. In a sense I like to think I keep improving as a photographer but also my purpose and vision has shifted subtly over time as well. I did an image in downtown Walla Walla of an iconic clock. It was just after our parade of lights that happens every December. It was dark, I slowed the shutter speed to have the people walking by go all blurry with the motion. It was the cover of my first calendar I published, and my coffee table book I published on Walla Walla.

As far as impact is concerned, this image helped me establish myself as a regionally recognized photographer with those two products I created.

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See more of Brent’s Mission Trip Photos at the bottom.

Also, I’ve participated in many teen-focused short-term mission trips from 2007-2014. Working with a purpose like that gives a different meaning to the images and the craft. I love donating my time like that and many times find myself wishing I could do more. Primarily, the projects focused on building churches and schools in Central and South America. And once in the Dominican Republic. The images have been used in church publications to inspire other teens to participate in future projects and by the organization that coordinates the projects.

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My Taj Mahal image too! Awesome stuff right there…

Jeff: I just had a shoot where my wife and I were able to make some of the most impactful photos we have ever made. A long-time friend of ours of better than 20 years contacted us this week to ask if we would make photos of her and her husband. We were next door neighbors for more than a decade and you won’t find better people. For the past decade she has been battling cancer and has gone in an out of remission a few times but doctors have recently told her that things have turned for the worst and she is going to lose the battle very soon.

She wanted to have my wife and I make some photos of her and her husband while she still looks relatively healthy. Her condition had already deteriorated to the point where she had to use a walker to get around and needs help to get up and down. She would wear out fast, so we had to do everything we could to shorten the length of the shoot.

She also wanted to have the photos in front of a white wall in her daughters house nearby. She likes the look of the wall but she also loves the memories she has of rocking her grandchildren in a rocking chair and looking at that wall. That is why we worked within the constraints we did and why I needed the features of the Canon 80D to make the shoot possible.

We were able to make some well lit photos that she was so happy with. I am sure there are ways that we could have done better, I know a couple of things I would change about the shoot already, but I am really proud and grateful that I had the gear we needed and the skillset needed to create some real memories that she and her family will be able to cherish. Feels really good to have helped provide a little bit of light in an awful situation. I encourage every photographer listening to this episode, no matter where you are in your journey to master the art of photography, to look for opportunities like that. To many, we have super powers.


Jeff: WiFi capabilities on a camera.  If your camera has WiFi capabilities and you haven’t really tried to use them, go check them out!

Brent: ThinkTank Photo BackLight 26L ($250)


Brent’s Impactful Photos

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Image may contain: 1 person, standing and outdoor
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Jeff’s Impactful Photos


  1. The problem with canon connect is that you cannot use it for video. So if you have a canon that doesn’t have a flip screen on the back you cannot use your phone to substitute for that. You can for still shots but not for video. I keep hoping they will update that somehow soon.

    1. Lisa, in what sense do you mean? I use it all the time to control my camera for video from my iPhone. It’s basic controls, like start and stop the video, exposure and the like, but i found it very usable when doing my course project.

  2. Jeff & Brent, this was a wonderful episode! I love hearing the story behind how and why images were taken. In 2017 I was laid off from work for 7 months and in-between jobs. During that time my Goddaughter was pregnant and I asked her if I could document her pregnancy. The project started with her pregnancy through the birth of her daughter and the baby’s 1 year birthday celebration. I doubted my photography skills but the purpose of the project outweighed my fears. I am so glad I pushed through. Not only does my Goddaughter have photos for herself and photos to pass on to her daughter, but I was so grateful to experience this journey with her. I also had a few lessons-learned that will help me in the future. I love the impact that we as photographers can have on someone’s life.

    I hope you do more podcasts like this. Keep up the good work!

    1. Author

      Thank you for taking the time to send us this kind feedback Linda. We really appreciate it. Thanks for listening too!! How wonderful to hear you pushed through your fears and tackled that very important project with your Goddaughter. I am sure that will mean the world to you, her parents, and you for many years to come!

  3. Wow, Jeff. Thanks for sharing your story behind the pictures. I don’t think I could have made it through a presentation like that. You are a true friend to the couple in your photos.

  4. Another great episode Jeff!

    One part I found funny was when you were saying about the difficulty typing on the rear LCD of the Canon cameras. I’m pretty sure they keyboards were equal in size the phones like the iPhone 4/4s which we found normal for the time but now seem tiny compared to today’s standard. Maybe if we had these features on our cameras back then, we would be amazed by how big the display is haha

    1. Author

      Very true. I go back to trying to use my duaghter’s iPhone SE occasionally and find it equally as painful. Much worse when the screen is a touch screen.

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