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SNAPSHOT - PHOTO NEWS FROM BETTERPHOTO.COM
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Welcome to SnapShot, the weekly newsletter on
the art of photography from
BetterPhoto.com


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IN THIS ISSUE - Tuesday, December 17, 2002
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* SPOTLIGHT: Last Minute Shopping Ideas... How About A Photo Course?
* BETTERPHOTO: Exciting Enhancements to the Site
* BETTERPHOTO: Sign Up Today For A Winter Photo Course
* BETTERPHOTO: The Contest Winners Are In!
* PHOTO TRIVIA QUESTION: Christmas Break / Turn of the Century Christmas Gift
* THIS WEEK'S TIP: Zooming Christmas Lights
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 1: How To Get White Spots Out of Eyes
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 2: Lens Terms
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 3: Location Copyright Question
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 4: How to Balance Exposures
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 5: Flash for a Pentax MEF
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 6: Cokin Filters
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 7: Night Time Photos With a Fash
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 1: Picture Sizing
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 2: How to Deal with 'Shutter Lag Time'
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 3: How's Of Mounting Pics on Greeting Cards


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IN THE SPOTLIGHT - ADVERTISEMENT
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Last Minute Shopping Ideas... How About A Photo Course?
BetterPhoto online courses make wonderful gifts for any photographer. And it is now easy to give a gift certificate for just such a course. A beautiful certificate will be mailed to you to give to your friend or family member. And we can even keep it a secret until after Christmas! But in order to get your gift certificate in time, don't hesitate. Order today at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gifts.asp

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WHAT'S NEW AT BETTERPHOTO.COM
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Welcome to the 102nd issue of SnapShot!

Hi

Yahoo! The judges' votes for the November photo contest have been tallied and the winners have been published. Of over 3500 images entered, the top 100 finalists and 14 winners can now be viewed on the Web site. There was in inordinate amount of exciting and visually stunning images this time - check the Home page or read below for more information about the winners.

Many of you have emailed us in the past asking for better tools for navigating through the site, especially through all the interesting photo galleries. Well, you asked for it, you got it! We've made a few enhancements to BetterPhoto that I think you will really enjoy.

For those of you who celebrate it, have a wonderful Christmas season! Seven days left... don't forget to do your final shopping before it's too late ;)

Happy Holidays!
Jim Miotke
http://www.betterphoto.com/sites4photogs/dynoContact.asp?memberID=124


*****
Exciting Enhancements to the Site
Many of you have already noticed some of the fun changes we have been making to the site. First off, we now have a rotating photo on the Home page. This beautiful image is now pulled from all of our recent contest winners. This new feature should help keep each visit to BetterPhoto exciting and inspiring.

Another great enhancement can be found in the Galleries, Discussions, Q&A, and Photo Links sections: we now have navigational page links at the top and bottom of each page. These "Page 1, 2, 3..." links allow you to zip back and forth among the photos and other items. No more laboriously clicking through page after page - you can get right to the area that you want to be... in seconds. Thanks to all the members who have suggested this enhancement and a special thanks to Bill Elliott for helping us work out the programming ideas.

Oh yeah, you will also now see an option for viewing 30 smaller images per page, as well as the old way we use to do it - 10 larger images per page. This should help make the galleries and contest all the more user-friendly and fun! To see what I mean, visit the Home page, Discussions, Q&A, and Photo Links, or Galleries sections:
http://www.betterphoto.com

Galleries:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery.asp

Discussions:
http://www.betterphoto.com/discTOC.asp

Questions and Answers:
http://www.betterphoto.com/qnaTOC.asp

Photo Links:
http://www.betterphoto.com/linkTOC.asp


*****
Sign Up Today For A Winter Photo Course
Whether it is Tony Sweet's totally inspiring "Image Design: Revealing Your Personal Vision", Kerry Drager's "Beyond Snapshots: Making the Most of Your Equipment", or Bryan Peterson's "Photo Marketing" course - you will love taking one of our exciting online photo courses. These fun courses are a big hit and this next section is filling up fast. Sign up today if you have been considering joining!

"Image Design: Revealing Your Personal Vision" by Tony Sweet (with Bonus Filter Workshop)
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/TNS01.asp

Kerry Drager's "Beyond Snapshots: Making the Most of Your Equipment"
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/KRD01.asp

"Advanced Photo Marketing" with Bryan Peterson
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/BFP03.asp

Jim Miotke's "Beginning Photography" (with Digital Imaging Bonus)
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/JCM01.asp

"Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/BFP02.asp

Learn about all eight classes or enroll online at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/workshops.asp

Or call us toll-free at 1-888-927-9992 to order.



*****
The Contest Winners Are In!
Just in time for Christmas... the November photo contest winners have been posted! And they are, once again, gorgeous! Congratulations to our 16 winners, the 100 finalists, and to all of the contestants who entered such great shots. Browse the winning images at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/contest/winners/0211.asp

Enter the contest today for your opportunity to win this month's exciting Grand Prize (your choice of a Deluxe BetterPholio™ or 5 custom calendars from Digi-Labs):
http://www.betterphoto.com/contest.asp


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PHOTO TRIVIA QUIZ OF THE WEEK
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Last week, we asked:
In his first starring role, a certain actor plays a college student who is motivated to travel across America during his Christmas break, all because of a photograph of a beautiful girl. Who is the actor and what was the movie?

The first, best answer - entered by BettterPhoto member Melinda C. is:
John Cusack
The Sure Thing

To see all answers to this question, visit:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/trivia.asp?stat=PRV

And Now... This Week's Photo Trivia Question - Turn of the Century Christmas Gift - entered by BettterPhoto member Jim M.

How much did the first mass-marketed camera, Kodak's Brownie, cost?

Submit your own answer to this question by visiting:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/trivia.asp

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THIS WEEK'S PHOTO TIP
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Zooming Christmas Lights
One way to add a lot of pizzazz to your holiday photos (and a lot of fun to your shooting experience) is to use zooming special effects techniques. Place your camera securely on a tripod (or not - you can have just as fun without it this time). Then put your camera in shutter priority mode and select a slow shutter speed (i.e. 1 second or longer). While shooting, zoom in or out. You can even swirl the camera. If you have a digital camera with an LCD monitor, you can see right away if you have captured the interesting effect you had in mind. More often than not, you will be pleasantly surprised.

Top Ten Tips:
http://www.betterphoto.com/exploring/tips.asp

All Tips:
http://www.betterphoto.com/exploring/allTips.asp

Add Your Own Tip:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/login.asp?category=tip&inputType=tip

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ADVERTISEMENT
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Absolute Beginner's Guide to Taking Great Photos
My new book guides you away from the point-and-pray method of taking pictures to shooting with confidence. In this simple and clear how-to book, you will learn:

  • How to compose your picture with a more artful eye
  • The top qualities that winning photos exhibit
  • Tips and secrets for consistently getting better results... and much more.
You can order this book online, call our toll-free order processing number 1-888-927-9992, or simply send a check or money order for USD $16.90 (or USD$18.90 if shipping to Canada or USD$24.90 to other international addresses) to:

BetterPhoto.com
P.O. Box 2781
Redmond, WA 98073-2781 USA

To order online, visit:
http://www.betterphoto.com/product/ourProductDetail.asp?productID=1096


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PHOTOGRAPHY Q&A - NEW THIS WEEK
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NEW QUESTION 1: How To Get White Spots Out of Eyes
In a few pictures I have taken, instead of red-eye, have had white-eye. Can you tell me how to fix this problem?

- Lynne C.

See Sample Photo - 2002 x-mas:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGallDetail.asp?photoID=62837

See Sample Photo - jason and jake:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGallDetail.asp?photoID=62836

ANSWER 1:
This is still the old "reflected light ruined my picture" problem. Red eye is caused by the light from your flash reflecting off the retina, which is red. The white spot is still a reflection, but obviously not of the retina. I don't know what kind of flash unit you have but the best way to remedy this problem is to move the flash head away from the lens, typically with a flash bracket. If the flash is built in to your camera this, of course, would be impossible. The built in units are by design always too close to the lens for good flash photography. If this is the case, or even with an external flash for that matter, you could try the cheapest soft light box attachment there is, a Kleenex. Cover the flash lens with a Kleenex and put an elastic band around to hold it on. Then when you take closeup pictures, the flash light will be diffused. This should not affect the exposure, because most flash units meter the reflected light from the subject when you release the shutter. Good luck.

- wayne

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=4717

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=4717

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*****
NEW QUESTION 2: Lens Terms
What do these terms related to lenses mean - aspherical, APO, mirror? What are their advantages over ordinary lenses?

- Jasbir

ANSWER 1:
Conventional lenses have surfaces that follow the curve of a sphere. Light rays from the outer portion of the lens will focus to a different point than rays from the center portion, leading to "spherical aberations." These aberations are controlled by using several lens elements in groups. An aspherical lens has a non-sherical surface contour to focus all rays to the same point. Aspherical elements can be used to reduce the number of elements used in a lens, saving weight and fewer surfaces help to better control flare (light reflecting off the surface of a lens element rather than passing through it).

APO is short for apochromatic. Conventional glass does not focus all wavelengths of light (colors) to the same focus point. This chromatic aberation can also be controlled with complex groups of elements, or with elements made of special superlow dispersion glass or flourite crystal. The manufacturers will designate the use of these special elements with the terms APO (Minolta, Sigma), ED (Nikon's Extralow Dispersion), LD (Tamron's Low Dispersion), UD or L (Canon's Ultralow Dispersion or Flourite crystal).

A mirror lens (aka Catadioptric) is a compact way to build a telephoto lens (and telescopes) by using mirrors to form a "folded" light path. They are inexpensive to make and don't introduce the as much chromatic and spherical aberration as conventional lens elements. But mirror lenses are limited to a single fixed aperture and have the unique and (sometimes) annoying side effect of out-of-focus highlights are rendered as doughnuts.

- Jon C.

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=4702

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=4702

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*****
NEW QUESTION 3: Location Copyright Question
I have numerous photos of lighthouses, National Park Scenes etc. I am sure I am not the only who has very similar if not identical shots of these structures (angles, lighting, etc.) Is it copyright infrigment to sell these photos even if they are like others?

- Charles B.

ANSWER 1:
Interesting question! I can't see how anyone could claim copyright if someone else happened to be standing next to him/her and took the same shot at exactly the same time. Each person would have an original slide or neg. and could show this if challenged. I've been at many classic tourist viewpoints along with dozens of others taking the same shot - the trick is to try to be a little different. Or try to find that special place that nobody else knows about (not many of those left in the English Lake District!) Often though it's the 'straight' shots that sell, so I try to get both!

- Vincent L.

See Vincent's Premium BetterPholio™:
http://www.betterphoto.com/sites4photogs/dynoMG.asp?memberID=13745

ANSWER 2:
If you took the shot you own the copyright on that shot. You can do with it as you please. The only time you might be infringing that I can think of is if the shot requires a model/property release.

- Jeff K.

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=4696

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=4696

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*****
NEW QUESTION 4: How to Balance Exposures
I would like to learn how to balance exposures when using low ambient light (i.e. daylight) and flash in a particular scenario. Say I want to capture movement in my subject and therefore need a long exposure, but at the same time at one point in that exposure I want to freeze my subject so I use my flash. I take a meter reading for the ambient light and a separate one for my flash but is there a "formula" so that the shot is not over or under-exposed - I hope you get what I mean? I can't upload an image at the moment because I have to get a new scanner.

- Sally

ANSWER 1:
It's very simple and there really isn't a formula. You measure the ambient light and get a reading like 1/15 @ f5.6. All you do is set you flash for f5.6 and set your camera to 1/15 @ f5.6 and your good to go. If you can't easily adjust your flash for a particular f-stop then decide what f-stop you will have to use at the distance you are and calculate your ambient reading based on that f-stop. IOW if your flash at the distance you are using it will put out f8 then you meter the ambient @ f8 to determine which shutter speed you should use. If it's the same light as in my example above you should set you camera to 1/8 @ f8. Basically you're setting the shutter for the ambient light and the aperture for the flash. Make sense?

- Jeff K.

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=4689

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=4689

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*****
NEW QUESTION 5: Flash for a Pentax MEF
Hello, everybody. I have a Pentax MEF that I've used for about 3 years. I enjoy taking pictures for myself, for friends and for family. Right now I'm looking around for a flash but I'm not sure which kind I should get. I'm mostly looking on ebay, and I'm not looking to spend all that much. I am by no means a professional, although I do like to take pictures that look nice. I would very much appreciate any kind of advice. Thank you for you time.

- Amber C.

ANSWER 1:
I would say the best all around flash for the money out there is the Vivitar 283 or 285. It's powerful, has auto and manual capabilities, is durable, easy to use, and is relatively cheap. I've used 283's for years.

- Jeff K.

ANSWER 2:
Thanks Jeff, I'll look out for the flash you recommended.

- Amber C.

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=4686

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=4686

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*****
NEW QUESTION 6: Cokin Filters
I am looking to purchase some Cokin filters. I am aware that there are three different sizes of filter holders you can buy and they will fit 36mm-118mm. I have a 55mm and a 58mm diameter lens and would like to be able to use the filters for both and possibly larger lenses in the future. Is it possible to use one size filter and holder for these lenses or to purchase the largest and have it work for all? If so, which would I buy, the A, P, or XP?
Thanks.

- Katie

ANSWER 1:
The Cokin site has all the information you want to know. In your case, the P size holder is the one for you. You just need to pick up different adapter ring for each lens.

http://www.cokin.fr/index.html

- Andy

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=4685

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=4685

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*****
NEW QUESTION 7: Night Time Photos With a Fash
I took some photos at night with a flash and my photos came out black. The object was Big Ben, in London. The ones where I did not use a flash had a dark blue sky and rather orange building surface. Any advice?

- Tyrone

ANSWER 1:
(1) The amount of light from your flash reduces with the square of the distance to your subject. The usable distance of most built-in flashes is about 18 feet with 400 speed film and an f/4 lens, half that with 100 speed film. Big Ben was far beyond the range of your flash.

(2) When using automatic exposure mode with the flash, the camera generally sets the shutter to a hand-holdable speed, like 1/60 second. That's too short an exposure to record a dark scene that your flash is unable to light up, so your flash picture came out black. When you didn't use the flash, the automatic exposure sets a much longer shutter speed since it's not expecting extra light from the flash. The building surface looks orange because the film is balanced for colors under sunlight, but the incandescent lights lighting the building have a "warmer" (yellow/orange) color balance than daylight.

- Jon C.

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=4683

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=4683

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PHOTOGRAPHY Q&A - CONTINUING FROM PREVIOUS NEWSLETTER
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

CONTINUING QUESTION 1: Picture Sizing
I just purchased a sony P9 digital camera, my first digital. I shoot 1600x1200(fine). When I developed the pictures (4x6) they were all cropped.

QUESTION; is there a program - or how do I size the pictures to the proper size for 4x6 and 5x7, so there is no cropping.
Thank you

- William Y.

ANSWER 1:
Dear William Y,
I've recently, like so many others, bought a digital camera after 20 years continuing film use.

The problem you have is that your camera takes pictures in a 4X3 ratio, the paper sizes are closer to 3X2. This means to fill the paper one way you either get a big white border on two edges or you lose a portion of your picture. Labs normally give you the white borders, as this way you get the entire scene that you shot.

The way I get different sizes is to crop and resize in Adobe Elements and then write the adjusted file/photo to CD, and then get that printed.

The easiest way to get around the border problem is to get a good quality trimmer and take the excess and distracting borders off. Not very high tec I know but still the best way. You cannot, to my knowledge, change the ratio of your CCD and if you could, you could only do so by not using as many pixels. This would defeat the point of getting the camera, and pixel count that you did.

Hope this helps, regards Scott.

- Scott

ANSWER 2:
Thank you Scott, for responding so quickly. It obviously wasn't the answer I hoped to hear, in our high technology times. I hoped a program would fix all.
thanks again.

- William Y.

ANSWER 3:
There are digital photo printing services who support the 4x3 ratio. One example is www.photocolor.de/english/index.htm directly on the boarder between Germany and Switzerland.

- Chris

ANSWER 4:
Sizing is a problem for me also. I have discovered that PhotoDeluxe 4 has a resizing ability that allows you pretty complete control of what gets cropped, etc., in common photo sizes up to 8x10. I often send an image there to resize and either finish it there or re-open it in Elements for final work. I have not been able to find an easy way to do this in Elements or elsewhere(?).

- Duane D.

ANSWER 5:
Hi William,
There is a program out there... very simple, fun, and inexpensive! ($40.00) With just the basics for editing. It is called Jasc Aftershot.

The photo crop option lets you pick whatever size you want the picture to be, and places a template on the photo, so that you can crop it exactly.

Also, many of the online services such as dotphoto, snapfish, photoaccess, etc., will allow you to select a cropping choice for each photo before your images are printed.

- Karen M.

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=4676

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=4676

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*****
CONTINUING QUESTION 2: How to Deal with 'Shutter Lag Time'
My Sony DSC-S50 has what I consider an unacceptable 'shutter lag time.' I miss at least 50% of the photos I want. I can't always anticipate when a person is going to turn their head, etc. How do I cope? Are all digital cameras like this or just my model?

Help.

- Bonnie W.

ANSWER 1:
Not all digital cameras have a lag time. The more advanced and expensive they get, the faster they shoot. If you buy a new camera, try it first in the store. As for dealing with the lag time, I really don't think there is a way, other to anticipate the shot way in advance, or pose everything. I had the same problem with a less expensive digital I bought. I went back to using my 35mm until I could afford the digital I really wanted - a Nikon D100 $2000.00, but no lag time. Of course their are other less expensive models that don't have this problem.

- Judith C.

ANSWER 2:
Hi Bonnie,

One thing that I had to learn when I bought my digital camera was to pre-focus. I went through 2 other cameras before this one, because I didn't realise that this was so necessary. If you think that the action might be going on in a particular direction, try to prefocus there, then the lag is almost un-noticable when you press the shutter button. I can even manage action shots with my Canon A40 now.

I hope this helps, Good Luck
stormi

- T L.

ANSWER 3:
One way I found around the shutter lag was to set my camera in the burst mode. My camera then takes 5 quick shots then writes the images to the disc. This has really helped with my grandkids hockey pictures.

- Ed M.

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=4636

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=4636

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*****
CONTINUING QUESTION 3: How's Of Mounting Pics on Greeting Cards
I have some travel photos that I like very much but I'm not ready to try and market anything yet.

I would like to make these into greeting cards (mount on greeting card stationary) to send to my customers when I send thank you notes. I'm looking for a supplier of this type of stationary.

Any suggestions?

- Toni

ANSWER 1:
Toni,

Browse the products offered by the following companies:

Photographer's Edge
Colorado Springs, CO
http://www.photographersedge.com/

Modern Postcard
Carlsbad, CA
http://www.modernpostcard.com/
[Look for "greeting cards" under the "card uses" tab. Some galleries use this firm for postcards to announce their show opening receptions.]

VistaPrint
Waltham, MA
http://www.vistaprint.com/
[Their postcard dimensions are slightly smaller than Modern Postcard's.]

Psprint
[Post Script Press]
Oakland, CA
http://www.psprint.com/

-- John

- John L.

See John's Premium BetterPholio™:
http://www.betterphoto.com/sites4photogs/dynoMG.asp?memberID=322

ANSWER 2:
Actually I am not providing an answer, but a follow up question. I have used note cards from Photgraphers Edge and they are excellent, but a bit too pricey. I have sold notecards to gift shops but the price of the cards from Photographer's Edge cuts deeply into the profit margin. The other suppliers you recommended have post cards rather than note cards. So I am looking for other note card suppliers.

- Burt K.

ANSWER 3:
Burt,
Yes, I came to the same conclusion about Photographers Edge. They seem to be marketing toward "end users" who are creating personalized cards for themselves. I got their catalog which included a couple of samples which were well made.

Not certain what size you are looking for with "note cards" which can be very small or can be about the same as standard "greeting card" size.

Modern Postcard:
Has "greeting cards" which is a 4.25 x 6 inch picture printed on 8.5 x 6 inch stock that is folded and scored. This can be done with tabs for use without envelopes, or without tabs for use with envelopes.

Psprint:
Also has "greeting cards" in the same style as Modern Postcard without the tabs. They come in three sizes: 5x7 folded to 3.5x5, 6x8.5 4.25x6 (same as Modern Postcard's), and 7x10 folded to 5x7.

-- John

- John L.

See John's Premium BetterPholio™:
http://www.betterphoto.com/sites4photogs/dynoMG.asp?memberID=322

ANSWER 4:
John -

Thanks for the reply. I have tried modern postcard and was unable to find the notecards. I'll try again.

And I'll check out Psprint.

There MUST be others...

- Burt K.

ANSWER 5:
I too went with Photographer's edge, but I bought a larger quantity and split them with another photographer. We got a better deal at a lower price. I don't know if that helps.

- Suzannah G.

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=3859

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=3859

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
ASK YOUR OWN QUESTION ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY
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Until next week, happy shooting!

Thank you,
Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto.com

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