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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, June 24, 2003
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* SPOTLIGHT: Two Weeks Till Summer School - Online PhotoCourses™
* BETTERPHOTO: The Camera Comes To BetterPhoto.com
* BETTERPHOTO: Only Two Weeks Until the Summer Session of Online Classes
* BETTERPHOTO: A Call to Members - We Need Your Help: Phase Four
* PHOTO LINK: How To Photograph Exotic Animals: Article by Jim Zuckerman
* PHOTO TRIVIA QUESTION: Photo Libs / Which Came First
* THIS WEEK'S TIP: For Digital Shooters
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 1: Changing My Email Address
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 2: Lens For a Nikon N80
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 3: What F-Stop should I use?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 4: How Do I Shoot Very Fast Moving Objects?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 5: Black and White Film
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 6: Choosing Medium Format
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 7: Defining Skill and Talent
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 8: How To Photograph a Spider Web?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 9: Shooting Fireworks
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 10: Prints and Proofs
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 11: Variable Aperture on Zoom Lens?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 12: ISO Film Settings
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 13: How to Shoot Seascapes
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 14: Hand Held Light Meters
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 1: Medium Format Camera


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IN THE SPOTLIGHT - ADVERTISEMENT
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Two Weeks Till Summer School - Online PhotoCourses™
Make this summer a special adventure by joining a photography course! Improve your picture-taking skills while having a great time enjoying the summer months. Each class is focused on teaching you how to improve your understanding of photography through exciting weekly assignments and helpful critiques direct from the instructor. Learn more about our excellent courses at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/workshops.asp


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WHAT'S NEW AT BETTERPHOTO.COM
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Welcome to the 119th issue of SnapShot!

Hi

We have some incredible questions and answers to share with you this week. A special thanks goes out to John, Jon, and Doug - and all of you who so generously offer your help to beginning photographers in the Q&A.

Also, there's only two week's before the summer session of classes begins. Several of the courses are nearly full already - sign up quick to be sure you get a spot.

And we have been having a wildfire week of enhancements to the site. On top of the list, The Camera is getting much more presence at the site. The camera is certainly not the most important thing (it is the photographer who actually makes the photo and not the camera) but all the same, these are tools we use. So we are very happy to be launching new ways for you and others to learn more about the various cameras. Read below for more details about this improvement, one of many you will see on the site.

Happy shooting and have a wonderful week!
Jim Miotke
http://www.betterphoto.com/MG.asp?ID=124


*****
The Camera Comes To BetterPhoto.com
It's about time, right ;) We have recently enhanced the site by tying together the great images you all shoot with the cameras you use. This tells viewers know exactly what kind of equipment you used - a very helpful thing to know when discussing a photo, for example.

But wait... there's more! You can now also see galleries of photos created with various cameras. When you view a camera in the BetterPhoto Reviews section that has photos associated with it, you will see a link to "View photos created with this camera". Check out the Canon D30 or Nikon D100 to get an idea of what I'm talking about:
http://www.betterphoto.com/reviews/reviewItemDetail.asp?reviewItemID=251
http://www.betterphoto.com/reviews/reviewItemDetail.asp?reviewItemID=1344

Add your camera for review:
http://www.betterphoto.com/reviews/itemAdder.asp


*****
Only Two Weeks Until the Summer Session of Online Classes
Classes start July 9th - sign up today to enjoy one of the following great courses:

Learn all you need to know to get beautiful, fun, and creative pics of kids in "Photographing Children" with Vik Orenstein:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/VIK01.asp

In "Beyond the Postcard", you'll master the art of getting great travel images with Brenda Tharp:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/BRN02.asp

And Kerry Drager will be guest instructing Jim Miotke's "Beginning Photography":
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/JCM01.asp

Select from all of our online courses at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/workshops.asp


*****
A Call to Members - We Need Your Help: Phase Four
In a recent survey, many members told us that they wanted to help get the word out about BetterPhoto. So over the next several months, we will be presenting new ways that you can help get the word out about BetterPhoto. Your word of mouth advertising is extremely important to the survival and success of BetterPhoto.com. We greatly appreciate your support.

Last time, we asked you to write equipment reviews at BetterPhoto. Especially since we have implemented the new camera pull-down menu (mentioned above), we have been flooded with hundreds of reviews - THANKS!

This week, simply tell us the who, what, where of your local camera club or organization. Email us with:

1) The name of the camera club.
2) The location and phone number.
3) The name and email address of the person to contact.

This will help us begin to share the resources at BetterPhoto with even more photographers like yourself.


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PHOTO LINKS
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How To Photograph Exotic Animals: Article by Jim Zuckerman
At Photographic magazine's Web site, you will find another excellent collection of tips and techniques from BetterPhoto instructor, Jim Zuckerman. If you have been wanting to get a better pictures of wildlife - whether in a zoo, a preserve or on safari, here is a great first step:
http://www.photographic.com/showarchives.cgi?97

Better yet, consider taking Jim Zuckerman's "Eight Steps to More Dramatic Photography" online photo course here at BetterPhoto:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/JZK01.asp

"Mastering Light" gives you all you need to know about flash and available light photography:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/JZK02.asp

Or "Creative Techniques in Photoshop" to learn new ways to make special effects in Photoshop:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/JZK03.asp

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PHOTO TRIVIA QUIZ OF THE WEEK
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Last week, we asked:
Fill in the blanks: Ansel Adams once said, "There is nothing worse than a _______ image of a _______ concept."

The first, best answer - entered by BetterPhoto member Jan Van den Berghis:
Ansel Adams once said, "There is nothing worse than a
SHARP image of a FUZZY concept."

This was a bit too easy to find: http://www.google.com ;-)

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 - Which Came First - entered by BetterPhoto member Jim Miotke

The first flexible, rolled film for still photographs was introduced about how many years before the first motion picture was made?

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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For Digital Shooters
Did you know that apertures on your digital camera may not produce the same kinds of depth of field as those on your film camera? That's right, because the CCD on a typical digital camera is so much smaller than your traditional 35mm film plane, you achieve a much larger depth of field with the same f number. For example, f/8 might be closer to what you are used to seeing in the f/22 range with your film camera. This is wonderful when shooting landscapes - where you might want to have as huge of a depth of field as you can achieve. However, this can be a real set-back when you are trying to isolate your focus with a shallow depth of field. The trick, when you want such an effect, is to shoot as wide-open as you can - in other words, with as small of an f number as you have available.

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
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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: Changing My Email Address
How do I change my email address?
- Margaret L. Schmidt

ANSWER 1:
Just click on the link below and enter your old and new addresses:

http://www.betterphoto.com/subscribeCOA.asp
- Jim at BetterPhoto.com

See Jim Miotke's Premium BetterPholio™
Visit Jim Miotke's Deluxe BetterPholio™ - Miotke.com

Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with Jim Miotke:
Jim Miotke's Online Photography Courses

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=6061

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=6061

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*****


NEW QUESTION 2: Lens For a Nikon N80
Hi all!
I have a question about lenses for my Nikon N80. I have been out of the photography loop for awhile. Someone told me I should buy a new camera because mine will not work with AI or AIS lenses. What is an AI/AIS lens?

Thank you!
- shannon

ANSWER 1:
If you only use autofocus lenses with your N80 then there is no need to change bodies.

AI = Automatic Indexing, AIS = Automatic Indexing - Shutter. These designations, along with "non-AI" (the earliest Nikon F-mount lenses), refer to Nikon manual focus lenses. There is a mechanical connection between the camera body and lens to communicate the aperture setting.

With Nikon's autofocus (AF) lenses an electronic communication of the aperture setting was added. While some of Nikon's new autofocus cameras retained the ability to use the mechanical link with manual lenses, others like the N65 and N80 can only use the electronic connection. So while older manual focus lenses can be mounted on the N80 and used manually, the meter and autoexosure will not work with them.
- Jon Close

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=6060

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=6060

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*****


NEW QUESTION 3: What F-Stop should I use?
I am shooting with a Nikon FM10 and using Kodak Max 400 film. Is there a general purpose F-stop formula to use based on lighting conditions, still vs. motion, etc.?
- Greg

ANSWER 1:
If your meter isn't functional you can use the "Sunny-16" rule. A subject lit by bright sunshine set the aperture for f/16 and use 1/ISO for the film speed (1/400 or 1/500 for ISO 400). For progressively dimmer conditions you open up the aperture to f/8, f/5.6, ...
See http://www.camerareview.com/templates/sunny16.cfm
Suggested exposures based on the Sunny 16 rule are often printed on the inside of the film box.

If the meter in your FM10 is functioning you set the aperture and shutter speed so that the green dot is lit in the viewfinder. If the "+" is lit that indicates overexposure and you need to select either a faster shutter speed and/or smaller aperture (larger numbers for each). If the "-" is lit that indicates underexposure and you have to set either slower shutter speed or larger aperture (smaller numbers).
- Jon Close

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=6059

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=6059

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NEW QUESTION 4: How Do I Shoot Very Fast Moving Objects?
I need to shoot a moving object but don't know how to do it sucessfully. The object is moving about 105 miles per hour, but the image blurs. What can I do?
- Emma

ANSWER 1:
Depends what it is you are attempting to photograph, and how close you are to it. If this is something the size of a baseball, about your only hope is an extremely fast shutter speed.

If this is something the size of a motorcycle or automobile, you can pan with its motion. This requires:
(a) deciding when (where in its motion) you will fire the shutter,
(b) tracking it before it reaches that point,
(c) keeping it in about the same location within the viewfinder, and
(d) firing the shutter just a hair before it gets to where you want the photograph.
If you use the panning method, ensure you "follow through" and keep panning until you can see through the viewfinder after the exposure is made. Best results are usually had with the panning technique when object motion is not directly approaching or directly receding . . . getting bigger or smaller as viewed through the camera . . . although this can be used for creative technique by adding a slight blur as the object changes size during the exposure (picking a good shutter speed for this is critical and not that easy).
- John A. Lind

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Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=6055

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http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=6055

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*****


NEW QUESTION 5: Black and White Film
Can some one tell me what the difference is between the true B/W film and the B/W film (c-41) that you process the same way as colour? Is the quality the same as true B/W?? What are the pros and cons?
Any info would be great. I have never used B/W film and would like to try it.

Thankyou to everyone, past and present who answers my Q's. I'd be lost without you!
- Karen Lewis

ANSWER 1:
I'm told the grain characteristics and tonality of the c-41 black-and-whites is excellent.

If you want to learn the Zone system and will be including your own development as part of the process, you can develop your own silver-based black-and-white, but it's best to leave C-41 processing to the shop.

One big advantage to C-41 B&W is that it scans much better. Silver halide crystals in silver-based film give most film scanners fits.
- Doug Nelson

Visit DougNelsonPhoto.com - Doug's Deluxe BetterPholio™

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=6053

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http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=6053

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*****


NEW QUESTION 6: Choosing Medium Format
I am currently looking into medium format photography and have some questions.

First, are there any advantages to medium format photography over 35mm ASIDE FROM THE LARGER NEGS?

Is there an actual image quality difference?

What disadvantages would there be in switching from 35mm to medium format? With the newer AF 645's available, bulkiness seems to not really be a hindrance even for candid work.

I have noticed many professionals use medium format over 35mm? Is that primarily for the larger negatives or are there some other advantages as well in terms of the images made?

Finally, if one switches to medium format would there be a point in keeping 35mm equipment or would it be better to just sell the 35mm equipment to fund the medium format equipment?

I am not a pack rat and don't really see the purpose of holding onto 35mm equipment just for the sake of having it. But at the same time, I don't want to just get rid of it if there are significant advantages to keeping both formats.

I am primarily interested in outdoor photography ... portrait in the outdoors and on location and nature photography.

I am debating between picking up a 645 system and getting rid of my 35mm system or picking up a 6x7 system and keeping my 35mm for candid work.

Thoughts?
- Laljit S. Sidhu

ANSWER 1:
My thoughts about medium formt:

Not likely what you want to hear. It's all related to "LARGER NEGS." Whether or not it makes a difference in "image quality" depends on how you define "quality." It has the capability to deliver greater technical quality at larger print sizes and in projection of slides to a screen.

The practical magnification limit of film is about 12X its linear dimensions (length and width) before resolving power of the film becomes visible to the "unaided" eye. Some films (in general, the faster ones) exhibit this with less magnification. This puts the practical limit for 35mm format at about an 11x16 print size. Some place the limit at 16x20; it depends on what is considered "acceptable." A projection is viewed at much greater distance than most prints, and it allows more graceful degradation. Close examination of a projected image on a screen clearly reveals its resolution limits though (using an excellent projection lens). If one starts with a larger piece of film, 12X enlargement of it allows a larger print and screen projection shows greater apparent sharpness with higher detail.

The tradeoff is size, weight and agility when making photographs. There are additional tradeoffs with fastest lens speeds and in film reloading. The fastest 35mm format lenses are faster than the fastest equivalent lenses for medium format systems by one to two f-stops. It takes longer to reload a medium format film insert than to reload a 35mm camera body. [Extra film backs can speed it up considerably, but at the cost of $$$ for the additional backs.] This is why all the photographers I know with medium format systems do not abandon their 35mm format systems. They use them for different types of tasks. One excellent example is wedding photography. 35mm has the weight, size, agility, faster lenses and quicker reload time for the candid, photojournalism done before the ceremony and at the reception. Medium format offers ability to repeatably and reliably make much larger prints from the "formal" portraiture done just before and just after the ceremony.

Those who use both systems leverage their respective strengths when their weaknesses do not greatly impair accomplishing the task.
- John A. Lind

See John's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
Thanks for the feedback. It would seem then, that if one was planning on retaining the 35mm system ... it would be wise to find a MF system that complemented it ... made up for its weaknesses and such.

A 67 system, it would seem, would do this ... the 35mm compensating for the lack of a 67 portability and speed; and, the 67 allowing for truly larger neg and greater enlargement ability.

In contrat, it would seem, a 645 system would be somewhat redundant ... somewhat larger negative, but enough to add it to a 35mm system rather than a 67?

In other words, if I am going to keep my 35mm system, why would I want to choose 645 over 67?

Do my questions even make sense ???

Thanks
- Laljit S. Sidhu

ANSWER 3:
This depends on how big you want to make a print (or project a slide compared to viewing distance). All the 6x7 cameras I've handled are significantly larger and heavier than a similar 645 model, making carrying them and hand holding them for any length of time tiring. In addition, the similar lenses for 6x7's are usually slower by yet another f-stop, even though they're physically bigger (and heavier). In a studio, this is much less a problem and some will mount them on tripods with castors (or a dolly) for studio work. When working "on location" when it must be carried and hand held for much longer periods, it can get tiring.

Most 6x7 systems do not have quite the range of lenses available for them too . . . although this may not be that much of a consideration for you.

645 compared to 6x7 is similar to the differences between 35mm format and medium format, although not quite as dramatic. IMO, there isn't that much difference between 645 and 6x6 for standard print sizes. The only advantage a 6x6 offers is the square format which means it need not be turned on its side. If a standard print size is the goal (and not a square print), then the user of a 6x6 must be mindful of this when shooting the photograph as it will have to be cropped to a rectangle for a standard print (some pro labs will print a square, but common frame/mat sizes do not come in squares). OTOH, a 645 is more efficient with film: 15 exposures for 120 and 30 exposures for 220 versus a 6x6's 12 and 24 exposures. A 6x7 gets even fewer frames per roll.
- John A. Lind

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Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=6052

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*****


NEW QUESTION 7: Defining Skill and Talent
How does one assess skill and talent as a photographer?

On one extreme, you don't want to be arrogant enough to presume that your work is brilliant just because your friends say so.

At the same time, believing your photography sucks because its not on par with the likes of Jim Zuckerman or John Shaw seems equally foolhardy when you've only been photographing for a couple of years.

So, how do you assess your work? And, perhaps more importantly, how do you recognize whether you are making sufficient progress?
- Laljit S. Sidhu

ANSWER 1:
Every photograph conveys something from the photographer to the photograph's viewer(s). This can be simple or it can be complex. Creating a photograph involves three fundamental tasks: message, visualization and execution.

The first decisions in creating a photograph are about who the photograph is intended for (its viewers) and what the image will convey to them. This can be simple or it can be complex.

Visualization of the photograph to be created occurs in the photographer's mind. This can be a mental image or a concept, or both (usually both). Its success is in how well the visualization conveys the intended message to its viewer(s). Photographs do not have the same impact or convey the same meaning to everyone. Viewers' use their own life experiences to interpret the meaning of a photograph. Deciding what to convey to others and visualizing an image that will accomplish this are the creative, artistic parts.

Excecuting the visualization is the technical craft. It requires knowledge about photographic tools and how they can be used to transform the mental visualization into a photograph for others to view.

In evaluating your own skills, I recommend doing it in two parts that relate to the visualization and the execution:
(a) How closely does the technical execution of the photograph result in what was mentally visualized?
(b) How well does the photograph convey what was intended to its viewers?
- John A. Lind

See John's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
Laljit, thank you for asking this question as I have often wondered about this myself. And John, I appreciate your succinct response as well, especially your final advice (a) and (b). I have found this site to be excellent especially in relation to (b); the feedback from experienced photographers viewing photos I have posted here has been very helpful.
- Carol Brill

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=6051

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http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=6051

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*****


NEW QUESTION 8: How To Photograph a Spider Web?
I have recently started exploring the world of photography. I have a SLR with a 28-90mm zoom lens. I have spotted a tiny spider web which is intricate in design and wanted to capture it. It is indoors but the place is well lit. But I don't know how or where to begin. Any input? What should I concentrate on? How do I achieve this?
- Yogita Joshi

ANSWER 1:
You should consider using flash to illuminate the web and bring out detail in the spider's body. If you only use the available light, the web and spider may be rendered quite dark.

You may also consider using a mist bottle to spray a fine mist of water on the web, to create a dew effect. If the web was outdoors, you could just shoot it early in the day when it is coated in morning dew, but you can suffice. In a heads-up to ethics, you should wait until the spider is off the web before you soak it with water, as not to drown it. In addition, you can try side- or back-lighting the web to create a lovely effect, much like what you would get if it was outdoors and lit by the sun.

Other than that, it's up to you to find the creativity in photographing arachnids. One can easily shoot rolls and rolls of film on one spiderweb, finding different compositions and experimenting with lighting. And macro lenses can open up a whole new world.
- Derek Cragin

ANSWER 2:
The other thing I wanted to add is simply to move in super close to the spider web. You may need to get your hands on a macro lens, extension tubes, or at the least a long telephoto lens. Such tools will help you fill the frame with this tiny subject. It may sound obvious but this is THE most frequently overlooked tip when photographing any subject, let alone small things like spider webs.

Hope this helps ;-)
- Jim at BetterPhoto.com

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*****


NEW QUESTION 9: Shooting Fireworks
I am a very novice photographer, but with the 4th of July coming soon I would like to know the best way to shoot fireworks. Any ideas for a beginner?
- Evelyn Wilkerson

ANSWER 1:
Dear Evelyn:
What kind of camera do you have?

Frequently people use a 35mm SLR. They focus the lens at infinfity, mount the camera on a tripod or some other sturdy device that will allow them to aim the camera and will also hold it still. Then they set the shutter speed dial to "B" (bulb setting; the shutter stays open as long as you hold down the shutter button), select an f/stop of about f/4, press the shutter button as they hear the fireworks being launched, and hold the button down through one or more bursts of fireworks. The shutter might be open for anywhere between about, oh, six seconds to twenty or thirty seconds, so you might record one, two, three or more fireworks on one negative. Since the brightness of the fireworks is affected by how close you are and how powerful and/or large any individual firework can be, try changing the f/stop for some of the photos, and plan to take plenty of photos to increase your chances of getting a few winners.

Many 35mm SLR cameras allow you to attach a cable release to the camera. This device has a plunger or button on it that will open the camera's shutter, so that you don't actually have to touch the camera, and thus avoid the danger of accidentally moving the camera during the time exposure.

Even if you don't have a 35mm SLR, you may be able to take photos with one of those once-common 35mm point and shoot cameras. Some of the later models had a bulb setting, so you could mount it to a tripod or some other sturdy platform and hold the shutter button down for several seconds. These models didn't tend to give you any control over the f/stop however, unless you were able to set the film ISO manually. If the latter is the case, try changing the ISO on some shots.

As to film, fireworks are bright enough that you don't need an especially high ISO film for great results. ISO 200 can work just fine. (Sometimes you give the fireworks a sense of scale by including some of the crowd at the bottom of the photo.)
- Maynard McKillen

ANSWER 2:
Evelyn,

Maynard mentions the basic equipment and procedure, but I disagree with exposure settings . . . aperture and the maximum amount of time.

Exposure is not determined by shutter speed, but by lens aperture based on the film speed you are using. I've had the best results using slower film, including Kodachrome 64 and Ektachrome E100S (slide films), and Royal Gold 100 and ISO 100 Fuji Reala (color negative).

The following exposure recommendations are straight from the "Existing Light" section of Kodak's Master Photoguide which has given me excellent exposures, even with notoriously very finicky slide films:

ISO 25 - 50: f/5.6
ISO 64 - 100: f/8
ISO 125 - 200: f/11
ISO 250 - 400: f/16

As Maynard mentions, set camera to "B" (B = bulb). Hold shutter open until you have the number of sky bursts you want, but no more than about 8 seconds. Reason for not holding the shutter open any longer is to keep the sky a darker black. Longer exposures can be made, but often the sky will turn gray, especially if the fireworks are creating smoke. If you listen carefully, you will hear a soft "whump" sound when skyrockets are launched from their mortar tubes. I listen for this and open the shutter when I hear it.

One additional trick can be done using a hat (without any vent holes) provided you are shooting from a very dark location. If you want to stop the exposure briefly, you can hold it open with the cable release, and simply cover the front of the lens with the hat. Don't hang the hat on it, or touch the lens with it . . . just block the exposure with it by holding it over the lens front. Continue exposure by removing the hat from in front of the lens. Helps if the hat is black, or very dark blue or very dark brown. Indeed, during the 1800's few cameras had shutters. Exposures with the extremely slow film emulsions were often 10 seconds or longer . . . even in bright daylight. What served as a shutter? The lens cover which was more like a leather cup (similar to a dice cup) than the type of lens cap in common use today. Remove cover to start exposure; replace cover to end it.
- John A. Lind

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ANSWER 3:
These are great responses and once again I wanted to express my thanks for all of the helpful contributions from the BetterPhoto members who frequently answer questions.

I also wanted to add that I have an article on this very topic, Top Tips for Shooting Fireworks.
- Jim at BetterPhoto.com

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Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=6015

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*****


NEW QUESTION 10: Prints and Proofs
What is the difference in a print and a proof? I can have film developed into prints or proofs.
- Kathy

ANSWER 1:
Kathy,
A long time ago, proofs were made using materials and methods that were not "archival" as they were intended for temporary viewing and decision making about ordering prints . . . deliberately in the event they were kept or "lost." Prints were made using archival methods and materials.

Today, the difference is more often with the care taken in color balancing and more attention paid to the printing process. In general, what are referred to as "proofs" today are usually inexpensive "machine prints" with the printing machine running totally on "auto" mode, with color balancing perhaps done with the first frame, or first few frames to be printed. A pro lab making true "prints" should color balance each one individually, to ensure it's consistent with all the rest, and take more care with inspecting them, even if they're still using a print machine to make them.

These are broad generalities. You should ask the lab that offers these what their definitions of "proof" and "print" are, and exactly what the difference is between them.
- John A. Lind

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ANSWER 2:
Thank you very much for the response. What I need for my purpose is prints.
- Kathy

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NEW QUESTION 11: Variable Aperture on Zoom Lens?
My 35-140 zoom lens has the lowest/largest aperture at 3.8-5.3 depending on my zoom level.

1) Does ONLY the lowest setting change as I zoom? Or does the aperture f/8 (for example) also change as I zoom in?

2) Is there a way to reliably estimate what the variable aperture is at different points between 35 and 140?
- Joey

ANSWER 1:
Joey,
Only a handful of variable aperture zoom lenses are "constant" aperture when stopped down from wide open. Nearly all of them vary similarly at all f-stop settings. The f-stop markings on them are typically for shortest focal length, although the manual (usually more like a data sheet) for the lens should clarify this.

The variable range you gave, f/3.8~5.3 is an entire f-stop. If it's set at f/8 for 35mm focal length, it would be f/11 at 140mm focal length. You have a 4X zoom (35 X 4 = 140). To approximate the effect, you can divide this into thirds and think of it as narrowing the aperture in 1/3-stop increments with where the focal length being used falls withing three ranges: 35-70mm, 70-105mm and 105-140mm. With nearly all films, if you're within 1/3-stop on the exposure, you're OK.
- John A. Lind

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NEW QUESTION 12: ISO Film Settings
On my camera(Canon EOS 3000)I can change the ISO speed. Can I change this film speed several times on the same roll of film ie... some sports shots using a hi speed; then some shots using slow speeds??
- June Hyland

ANSWER 1:
You can ..., but the film's sensitivity to light doesn't change. If you increase the ISO setting the autoexposure will set faster shutter speeds/smaller apertures, but this effectively underexposes the film. Print film generally has pretty wide exposure latitude, so that you can get useable (but not optimal) results from -1 or -2 stops underexposed up to +2 or +3 stops overexposed. Eg. for ISO 400 film you can rate it from ISO 1600 (-2 stops) to ISO 50 (+3 stops). If you make a wide variance in ISO settings frame to frame on a single roll you will need a very attentive printer to adjust the printing of each frame as the negatives will be of wildly different densities.

Slide film has much narrower exposure latitude, generally giving useable results in the range of +-2/3 stops (eg. 400 speed film rated no higher than 640, nor lower than 250). Some slide films are amenable to "push processing", so that you can expose the entire roll at +1 or +2 stops and inform the lab to give the film that many stops of extra development. The film stays in the chemical solution longer to bring up the otherwise underexposed image. This cannot be done frame by frame, but for the entire roll only. The result usually has greater grain and more contrast than normally developed film.

Increasing the exposure rating on print film is often called "pushing," but the C-41 print film chemistry generally does not respond to extra development time the way black & white and slide film does. The only advertised exception to this is Kodak's professional Supra/Portra 400 and Supra/Portra 800 print films.
- Jon Close

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NEW QUESTION 13: How to Shoot Seascapes
I am leaving next week for the West coast of Jamaica. This will be my third trip and I want this year's pictures to really be awesome. I do wedding photography and portrait work on the side and do good work, but for some reason I cannot seem to get my landscapes, especially seascapes, to be eye popping with those tropical blues and greens. I always seem to end up with those typical flat shots that a point and shoot would produce. I own two Nikon's N2000 bodies with the standard 35mm and a 28-105mm and a 75mm-310mm lens. I currently do not use a polarizing filter and was thinking of making that purchase before I leave. Any other suggestions? Camera settings... film to use? My composition is good and know when and where to shoot just need that little extra special touch... I will appeciate any comments! Thanks!
- Mare Board

ANSWER 1:
A polarizing filter will be your best friend in a situation like this, especially in the Caribbean where the sun is frequently shining and the glare can be a problem. Also consider a UV haze filter, which cuts through the haze.

A polarizer will remove glare from the water, thus making the colors "pop". Here are some things to bear in mind:
#1 - Polarizers work most effectively when shot at a 90 degree angle to the sun.
#2 - Know when to use the filter and when to leave it off your lens; it shouldn't be on your lens at all times, especially if you include the sun in your image, where the filter could cause a ghost image or flare.
#3 - You will lose up to two stops of light when using a polarizer, so either take it off your lens in low light, or use a tripod.

As for camera settings, it all depends on what you're shooting. A long exposure of waves can create a lovely tapestry effect at dawk or dusk (use a tripod of course). There are boundless photo opportunities at the ocean, so experiment.
I'm not sure if you use slide film, but Fujichrome Velvia is a good choice.

Best of luck to you on your trip, and I hope you come home with some awesome photos.
- Derek Cragin

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NEW QUESTION 14: Hand Held Light Meters
Can someone enlighten me as to how a hand held light meter works? Is it use independantley of the camera? Do you point it at the subject that you want exposed correctly or is it more general?
I use a pentax K1000 camera. What price would I expect to pay for one of these? I'm on a tight budget. Thanks.
- Karen Lewis

ANSWER 1:
Dear Karen:
Big subject, broad guidelines follow: Light meters range from under $100.00 to over $800.00. Handheld meters are designed to measure either incident light, reflected light (More expensive models measure both.) or the color temperature of light. My guess is you're not yet concerned with measuring that last property.

Reflective meters are pointed at the subject, and measure the amount of light REFLECTED from same. The meter built into your K1000 is a reflective light meter. Often people eager to purchase a hand held meter are looking for one that measures incident light.

To use an incident meter, you stand where the subject is and point the meter back toward the camera. You are measuring the amount of light falling on the subject, rather than the amount of light reflected from the subject. One distinctive feature of the incident meter is the white translucent dome that attaches or slides over the meter's photocell.

Why use one or the other?
Reflective meters, especially if they have a spot metering function, which allows them to read the brightness of specific areas of an image, can be used to measure the range of brightness in a subject. (How much difference, often measured in f/stops, is there between the brightest and darkest areas of a subject?) Photographers who use the Zone System typically use reflective meters for just this reason. Your K1000 does not have the spot metering function, just a center-weighted averaging meter, which is, frequently, accurate enough.

If reflective meters have a drawback, or at least something to be wary of, it is that they can be fooled by subjects that are predominantly dark or light. (Reflective meters tend to recommend settings that overexpose dark subjects, and settings that underexpose light subjects.)

Incident meters, since they do not measure reflected light, will not be affected by such subjects. If incident meters have a drawback, it is that you do not always have the luxury of being able to stand where the subject is to take an incident meter reading. (Imagine photographing a gymnastics meet or a rodeo. Chances are slim that you'll be allowed to stand where the action is...)

If a tight budget is muscling in on your creative freedom, and your K1000 meter is working correctly, you might try using the camera meter along with an 18% gray card. The card is touted as having "average" reflectance, so you put it where the subject is, move in close to your subject, point your camera at the card and take a meter reading. If the card takes up the majority of the image as you look through the viewfinder, you will get an accurate meter reading and correct exposures of the subject after you remove the card, even if the subject is very dark or very light.

Sites to visit for more info:

www.clubfree.com/spectra/scr_exp1.htm

www.acecam.com/magazine/gray-card.html

www.kodak.com/global/en/consumer
- Maynard McKillen

ANSWER 2:
Maynard, THANK YOU !!!
Your response was extremely detailed and very helpful. You have answered all of my questions! Thank you!
- Karen Lewis

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PHOTOGRAPHY Q&A - CONTINUING FROM PREVIOUS NEWSLETTER
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CONTINUING QUESTION 1: Medium Format Camera
I am very interested in buying a medium format camera with auto focus. My eyes have really gotten bad over the years but I love taking photos. Any suggestions on what might be the best AF camera on the market. I do have my eye on the Mamiya 643AFD.

Thanks
- Maryann Ianniello

ANSWER 1:
Maryann,
I'm aware of three manaufacturers that have have auto-focus MF SLR's:
Contax 645 AF
Mamiya 645AFD
Pentax 645N II

If priority is given to lenses, the Contax tops the heap with Carl Zeiss glass, but you will pay some $$$ for the privelege of having that name on the front of the lenses. Cannot judge too much on the other two. I use a Mamiya M645 ("j" and "1000-S"), but it's manual focus and the AFD lenses are different from those for the original M645 through current E and Pro-TL . . . an important note to remember . . . and Mamiya's lineup of AFD lenses isn't as extensive as for their manual focus 645's.

I am in the "over 40" presbyopia crowd who cannot focus their eyes as closely as those who are younger . . . a phenomenon of aging . . . and I'm still using all manual focus equipment. A possible alternative to an entirely new camera system is exploring dioptric correction lenses on the viewfinder. If you have myopia or hyperopia (near/far sightedness) without too much astigmatism, you might be surprised at how much this truly helps. You shouldn't need any for pure presbyopia; viewfinder optics place the effective distance of the focus screen several feet in front of the camera.

I started using viewfinder dioptric correction for mild myopia years ago and wondered why I hadn't done that many years before. It made an enormous difference in focus accuracy and allowed significantly better use of the microprism ring and matte area of the focusing screen. Before doing that I was relying very heavily on the center split rangefinder circle. If you have been using dioptric correction, then how much you need may have changed . . . and this is also "normal" with aging. The dioptric correction I use has changed over time. It's much easier than trying to look through a viewfinder while wearing glasses.

-- John
- John A. Lind

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ANSWER 2:
I can highly recommend the Pentax 645N. I purchased mine the first month they were out and have not been sorry. I use it to do all my wedding work. With the advent of the newer version, you may be able to pick up the original 645N for a great price on the used market. The 200mm autofocus lens is great with this camera.
- Judy

ANSWER 3:
Mariann,
I know just what you mean! I purshased the Pentax 645-N in 2000 and absolutely love it! I did a lot of research before purshasing this particular camera and it has really paid off. I've covered 50 plus weddings since then and have never had one complaint about the quality of the photos. Another plus is the cost of the additional lenses compared to other brands...a lot cheaper! Pentax has won numerous awards and is well established so I had no hesitation in spending that much money for a camera. It is lightweight and the automatic focus is excellent. I have nothing but good things to say about it.
- Suzanne Boulanger

ANSWER 4:
I am in the same situation with my eyes. I was reluntant to buy another medium format camera when digital is so much better for me. I do still shoot all my weddings with film. To solve the problem I bought a Beattie Intrascreen with grids and the split horizontal focusong screen. ($145)It took 5 minutes to install. The problem was solved. The image is so much brighter and the split image makes focusing a snap. It solved my problem and saved me $$$.
- Gregg Vieregge

ANSWER 5:
How flash works with medium format?
For example a Vivitar 283 with Bronica?
Any suggestion?
Thank you.
- Gustavo Gil

ANSWER 6:
Gustavo,
Very well, just as with 35mm . . . but that's likely not the answer you are looking for.
;-)

Depends on what make/model and what lens. Also depends on how old your Vivitar 283 flash is.

First . . . about the Vivitar 283:
The very old Vivitar 283 flash units have a high trigger voltage; about 300 volts. These old ones will fry the electronics in newer cameras that trigger flash electronically. Even with older cameras (up to about the early/mid 1970's) that have mechanical triggering (using a relay), it's still not good for them. Depending on camera, it can eventually burn/pit the trigger contacts. Vivitar redesigned their 283 (and 285HV) flashes when camera companies started making cameras with electronic flash triggering. By comparison, most of them should not be subjected to any more than about 10 volts on the flash trigger contacts. All this also applies to the very old Vivitar 285HV flash units versus the newer ones. Both the Vivitar 283 and Vivitar 285HV have sockets on the side that allow connecting a cord from the flash to a PC socket on the camera body. On the Vivitar flash end, the socket and plug are unique to Vivitar. If you connect a Vivitar flash to a camera PC socket, you must have a PC plug on the camera end of the cord, and the unique Vivitar plug flash end. Plugging one of these into the flash disconnects the shoe contacts (to keep them from shorting out in an all metal "cold" accessory shoe).

About the Bronicas:
Depends on which model Bronica, whether or not you have a prism on it, and which lenses you are using with it. Medium format SLR's typically have focal plane shutters inside the camera body and most of the lenses are pretty much like 35mm SLR lenses. Flash sync is on the camera body, sometimes via a PC socket which requires a PC cord to run to the flash, and sometimes via hot shoe on the top of the prism (if the camera has a prism mounted on it). With some models, the optional hand grip will have a hot shoe on top of the grip handle. Others will have an accessory shoe (cold shoe) without flash contacts. All these have an X-Sync shutter speed, which is the fastest shutter speed at which you can use a flash. Again, it depends on the specifics of your camera, and whether you can connect a flash to it through a hot shoe, PC socket, or both. Your options in how to connect the flash to a "Bronica" depends on model, whether or not you have a prism finder, and whether or not you have the optional hand grip.

Special Case with Leaf Shutter Lenses:
Many medium formnat SLR makes/models have a few lenses made for them that have leaf shutters inside the lens, including Bronica, Mamiya, Hasselblad, Rollei (and others). With these special leaf shutter lenses, the focal plane shutter operates at a very low speed and the leaf shutter inside the lens opens and closes while the body's focal plane shutter is open to make the actual exposure. ***IF*** you are using a leaf shutter lens, the flash sync will be operated by the lens, NOT the camera body. The leaf-shutter lens will have a PC socket somewhere on it and the flash is wired to it in the same manner as you would connect a flash to a PC socket on the camera body. The reason for these special lenses is nearly all leaf shutter lenses allow a higher X-sync shutter speed (which is set on the lens, not the camera body).

Hope this helps you out.

-- John
- John A. Lind

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