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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, February 18, 2003
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* SPOTLIGHT: Promote Your Portfolio of Photos in a Deluxe BetterPholio™
* BETTERPHOTO: January Contest Finalists Have Been Posted
* BETTERPHOTO: Ongoing Discussion on Studio Lighting Techniques
* BETTERPHOTO: Understand Exposure or Master the Basics of Photography
* PHOTO TRIVIA QUESTION: Ready to Wear / Presidential Portrait
* THIS WEEK'S TIP: Shooting Snow Scenes
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 1: Exhausing Batteries Quickly!
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 2: Prints are half black
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 3: Deciding on a Flash
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 4: How to Start a New Photography Busniess
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 5: Taking Band Pictures In Low Light
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 6: Scanning Images for Optimum Photo Processing
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 7: Difference in NC and VC Film
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 1: How to Start Up Your Own Photo Studio?


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IN THE SPOTLIGHT - ADVERTISEMENT
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Promote Your Portfolio of Photos in a Deluxe BetterPholio™
With a Deluxe BetterPholio™, you can now display up to 1000 images! In as little as 24-48 hours, you can have a Web site that displays all of your favorite photos. No worries about bandwidth, no need to learn Frontpage or FTP software... our Deluxe BetterPholio™ solutions give you a ONE STOP SHOP for getting your portfolio on the Web. Sign up for a Deluxe BetterPholio™ at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/login.asp?productID=1007

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WHAT'S NEW AT BETTERPHOTO.COM
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Welcome to the 105th issue of SnapShot!

Hi

Hello again, fellow photographers! We hear that those of you located on the East Coast are experiencing some amazing snow storms. While many of you are finding yourselves stuck at home, we hope that you are able to make the most of this photographic opportunity and turn it to your benefit! We look forward to seeing your interesting images of snow scenes and the cold weather. And to those of you located in sunny, warm regions... all I have to say is don't rub it in!

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


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January Contest Finalists Have Been Posted
Many of you have been asking about the contest and when the results will be in. We've posted the finalists and the judges are working on the top placements. Why did it take so long this time, you ask? Quite simply we had an amazing selection of about 5,200 entries!!! We hope to have the final results posted in the next few days.

We are also considering a few changes that will allow more variety and more winners to be selected, so we'll keep you informed. Thank you, everyone for your patience - selecting even the 200+ finalists was challenging... there were so many excellent images to choose from.

View the contest finalists at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGall2.asp?catID=879


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Ongoing Discussion on Studio Lighting Techniques
We have a wonderful continuing Q&A going on, but it is simply too long to include in this newsletter. A question about how to set up your own home studio has yielded so many helpful answers, we wanted to bring it to your attention. To see the many helpful tips and useful thoughts on studio lighting, go to the link below:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=4611

If you are interested in more on studio lighting techniques, check out Vik Orenstein's upcoming course:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/VIK02.asp


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Understand Exposure or Master the Basics of Photography
Want to improve your photos but don't know how? Join a BetterPhoto online course! If you are new to photography, you can learn all the basics of digital and film photography in "Beginning Photography" with instructor Jim Miotke:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/JCM01.asp

Or join Bryan F. Peterson as he teaches you the ins and outs of aperture and shutter speed "Understanding Exposure":
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/BFP02.asp

All of our online photo courses start in about three weeks. Learn more at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/workshops.asp


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PHOTO TRIVIA QUIZ OF THE WEEK
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Last week, we asked:
What arena of photography is parodied in the movie Ready to Wear?

The first, best answer - entered by BettterPhoto member James K. is:
fashion/model arena

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 - Presidential Portrait - entered by BettterPhoto member Jim M.

Who was the first U.S. President to have his photograph taken? What year did this occur and which photographic process was used?

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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Shooting Snow Scenes
Whether you're socked in on the East Coast or seeing more than your fair share of snow elsewhere, you can still get excellent images of snow scenes. In fact, many professional photographers thrive in these cold conditions, finding snowy and stormy days ideal for producing dramatic photos. One thing you will absolutely need to keep in mind is that your camera will likely be fooled into underexposing a bright snowy scene. When you find yourself filling the frame with such a bright scene, remember to use your Exposure Compensation feature to overexpose by about one stop. This +1 exposure will give you white snow instead of blue.

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:

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You can order this book online, call our toll-free order processing number 1-866-896-5022, 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:

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8609 173rd Ave NE
Redmond, WA 98052 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: Exhausing Batteries Quickly!
My Canon Eos 300 is eating up batteries. It goes from full power to empty in a couple of days.

Also, the shutter does not open when the lens is set to less than 100mm but it does release when it is 100mm - 200mm. Normally I would return it to the shop but it is out of warranty and I am overseas travelling. Has anyone had either of these problems?

- Douglas R.

ANSWER 1:
What lens are you using? How long have you had it and when did the battery problem begin?

Your symptoms are very close to those that occur with some Sigma and other manufacturer's lenses used with later generation EOS models. Sigma and some other third party lens makers backward engineer Canon's EF electronic interface and didn't get it quite right on some of their older designs. Sigma will replace the integrated circuit in these lenses. see
http://www.sigma-photo.com/html/news/Elan7.htm for more details.

- Jon C.

ANSWER 2:
You are spot on. I wrongly assumed it was the camera but I have had the lens tested on another camera and it does the same thing. It is a Tamron 28-200mm xr and it is just out of warranty (damn!) but I am hoping they might fix it for free if I ask them nicely - to anyone else considering buying this lens I would suggest you consider other similar Tamron models that come with a 6 year warranty as opposed to the 1 year I got with mine. They are not much more expensive.

- Douglas R.

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=5167

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=5167

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NEW QUESTION 2: Prints are half black
Recently given an Olympus iS-20 and tried two rolls of film with both having the photo only developed halfway (bottom half is clear photo; top half black). Is it me or the camera?

- Dale C.

ANSWER 1:
This is the typical effect when using the flash and having the shutter speed set faster than the camera's flash sync speed (1/100 sec on the IS-20). However, most cameras with an electronically controlled shutter, like the IS-20, will not let you set a higher shutter speed with a flash, so while that's possibly the cause, I would doubt it in this case.

More likely is the shutter is broken and only opening 1/2 way.

- Jon C.

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=5166

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=5166

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NEW QUESTION 3: Deciding on a Flash
Hi, I've only had my Canon Rebel 2000 for a couple of months, it's my first SLR camera. I got it to take pics of my son playing basketball. I've been using an 80mm-200mm lens with the built in flash. Some of the pictures turn out all right except for the red eyes (I do have my red eye reduction on) but others are kind of dim and not good clear pics. Would you recommed this flash for that also?
Thanks a bunch!!

- Connie C.

ANSWER 1:
oops....

the flash in which I am refering is the Vivitar 730 AT auto focus zoom electronic flash.

- Connie C.

ANSWER 2:
Red-eye is due to the flash light coming from a low angle too close to the lens. The light shines through the open iris of the eye and reflects the red of the retina directly back to the camera. The 730AF has a tilt head that allows for bounce flash, which will eliminate red-eye. If you are outdoors, or in a gym with a very high ceiling, bounce flash is not practical. In these cases you can reduce red-eye with a relatively inexpensive diffuser over the flash head, such as the Omnibounce from Sto-Fen, or the many diffusers/"softbox" attachements from Lumiquest. You can also reduce redeye by moving the flash farther from the lens by using a flash bracket.

Your other pictures that appear dim and not clear are because your subject is beyond the effective reach of your flash. The 730AF is one of the more powerful shoemount flashes available. Even so, based on its maximum guide number of 115, the effective useful range of the 730AF is under 20 feet when used with an lens with maximum aperture of f/5.6 and ISO 100 speed film. It's effective range is extended by 1.4x with each doubling of film speed, so with ISO 200 film the range is extended to about 28 ft, 39 ft. with ISO 400, and 55 ft with ISO 800.

- Jon C.

ANSWER 3:
P.S. Using a diffuser attachment will decrease the effective range of the flash by at least 1/2.

- Jon C.

ANSWER 4:
Thanks Jon for all your help !!
Is there a certain flash you would recommed?

- Connie C.

ANSWER 5:
I would highly recommend the Canon 420EX flash. It really makes a difference compared to the built-in flash on my Elan 7. If you are using a 200mm lens or setting your lens at 200mm length you may have trouble with most flashes as that may be too long. You would start to loose the effect of the flash.

- Doug V.

ANSWER 6:
I respectfully disagree with Doug's statement about 200mm lenses. This is not true. The effective range of the flash is a function of its guide number rating, film speed used, and lens aperture only. Whether you use a 50mm or 500mm lens doesn't matter.

Flashes do have a restricted angle of coverage, most providing light to area in view of a 28mm lens. If you use a wider angle, such as 24mm or 20mm, then you'll notice dark areas at the sides where the flash light doesn't reach. To use wide angle lenses you need a flash designed to cover that wider angle of view, or use a diffuser or bounce flash to throw the light on that wider area.

- Jon C.

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=5165

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=5165

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NEW QUESTION 4: How to Start a New Photography Busniess
I have taken an at home photography course. I feel I am progressing very well. I already have several weddings, reunions, seniors, baby, and family portraits under my belt. I want to break away from the man and work for myself and I really don't know what I need to get started in a new business. Could you please give me suggestions on how to get rolling?

- Wanda S.

ANSWER 1:
Before you take off on your own, learn all you can. Do you really know all he/she can teach you about lighting? about dealing with wedding parties? (I'll never again try to shoot a large wedding without a drill sergeant lady as an assistant to herd these people around.) Working for someone else may give you health insurance, stability and other benefits. Don't burn this bridge.

- Doug N.

See Doug's Deluxe BetterPholio™:
http://www.DougNelsonPhoto.com

ANSWER 2:
Do you have any business experience? Knowing photography is only half (or even less) the battle. Whatever else it is, a photography business is a business. Even the best photographer won't stay in business very long if he/she doesn't understand how to run a business.

- Jeff K.

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=5162

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=5162

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*****
NEW QUESTION 5: Taking Band Pictures In Low Light
I am having trouble with my Canon A-1 figuring out how to take good indoor pictures inside a bar at night. What speed film should I use? What other settings should I use?

- Melissa

ANSWER 1:
Color? B&W? What lenses do you have? What are you going to do with the images? Settings? I don't even want to go there.

- Jeff K.

ANSWER 2:
Hi--I am embarrassed to try to articulate my problem, but I looked on the site and I just can't figure it out--and I know the answer is trial and error, but, I want to use color film with my 210mm lens and I want to images to be clear (with moving targets) in a low lighting setting. I am afraid the pictures will be grainy because I have seen some with high speed film that are, but, how else can I get a fast enough shutter speed to catch the musicians looking still enough but besides high speed film? Should I just try the fastest shutter speed and the smallest number aperture setting (widest opening) and see what happens? Would a tripod help? The only pictures I have taken have been with a flash but they show too much bar clutter. I have been afraid to try without flash, but a photographer has been taking the promo pictures of a band I manage, and, they are just terrible--blurry, grainy, terrible--so I got to thinking I could try to take them myself. I apologize in advance for my ignorance and I totally understand if no one wants to deal with me!!!! :)

- Melissa

ANSWER 3:
The thing is, when working with low light speed is everything. Not only do you need fast film but you need fast lenses. My guess is that your 210mm lens has a max aperture around f4.0 or 5.6. Unless the band is unusually well lit that's just not going to cut it (even with high speed film).

A tripod might help keep the surroundings sharp but it won't help with movement of the band members. If you can catch them in a still moment you have a chance.

There are a couple of good 800 speed color films available. Fuji NPZ (someone may correct me if I'm wrong on the correct letter designation on that one) and Portra 800 are both decent films.

If you're serious about doing this you need to consider getting a faster lens that will be easier to handhold (seems like a tripod could be kind of unweildy in a bar). Something as cheap as a 50mm lens with f1.8 aperture or better would be fine.

The kind of lighting you are talking about is tricky. "Settings" aren't going to help you. They will mostly be just hit and miss. I suggest taking a little time at the library or bookstore and doing a little reading on exposure.

- Jeff K.

ANSWER 4:
I really appreciate that Jeff. I actually do have a couple 55 mm lenses--I didn't realize that they are faster....I've just liked the 210 because, obviously, I can get closer. Anyway thanks a lot! I know I have some studying and practicing to do!

- Melissa

ANSWER 5:
Very good advice on how to photograph a band onstage can be found at
http://www.photo.net/concerts/mirarchi/concer_i

- Jon C.

ANSWER 6:
My suggestion if you want to get clear pictures in low light is not to use the 210mm lens as it is too long. You need a shorter lens as Jeff suggests such as 50mm with f1.8 opening. I would also suggest using a good quality flash that is powerful enough to reach the band. If you don't use a flash to freeze movement you are going to have trouble getting clear pictures since band members usually move around. A tripod is also a definite asset.... Take lots of pictures and use the best of them.

- Doug V.

ANSWER 7:
What about taking pics of every single individual in the band and make a collage!...

If you do't have the lens, go ahead and try a different aproach like this! Use your flash and your 210mm lens, and use a photo software to make a collage!

- Leo E.

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=5161

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=5161

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*****
NEW QUESTION 6: Scanning Images for Optimum Photo Processing
I have scanned photos for my website and as long as it looked ok on the screen I was happy. Recently I have received contacts from people looking to purchase prints. Now quality has become an issue as I want to give the best quality for the buck.

Locally I have a lab that will print my digital images as actual photos, which I prefer over printing them myself... but I am unsure as to what resolution to scan the images at, what format to use (jpg or tiff), or any other correct setting to use to insure a top quality print.

- Ray L.

ANSWER 1:
The general rule is 300 pixels-per-inch.

Scan them at the maximum capability of your scanner. You can always resample them down if necessary, but I'd think you want to give the printer the most digital information with which to work. Scan into TIF, if possible. JPEG is only for compressing for web use. Ask your printshop the same questions.

- Doug N.

See Doug's Deluxe BetterPholio™:
http://www.DougNelsonPhoto.com

ANSWER 2:
Ask the lab. Each lab has their own set of parameters. I have one lab that likes 300ppi and another that asks for 250ppi. One accepts jpegs or tiffs one only wants jpegs. JPEG is not just for compressing web images. It is quite common to use this format when submitting images to a lab. Just be aware that when you have a JPEG file each time you save it the image gets compressed again. So always save a master file as a TIFF or PSD (if you have Photoshop).

- Jeff K.

ANSWER 3:
As Doug already mentioned, scan your photos as TIFF files at the highest resolution your scanner will produce. Then save this original scan. If you are using Photoshop or something similar to alter the photos, do all of your work and save the reworked photos as TIFF files. TIFF files contain all the picture colour data. Only when you are satisfied with a final copy should you convert the file to JPEG. JPEG compression discards some of the colour data to save file space and there is no way to retrieve this lost data by uncompressing the file.

- wayne a.

ANSWER 4:
Great.. and thanks for all your responses.

I scanned another image at 300 dpi and it looks fine and yes I saved it in TIFF format... now to just figure out what would be a good size (demention wise) to print 8x10 or 5x7 with out losing the quality.

- Ray L.

ANSWER 5:
Check out www.scantips.com.

- Jeff K.

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=5160

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=5160

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*****
NEW QUESTION 7: Difference in NC and VC Film
Hi everyone,
I am doing a wedding that I really am not prepared for - however it has been recomended to me that I use Kodak professional 400 NC. I also know that this film comes in VC - does anyone know if the natural colour is better or the vibrant color?

- Jennifer

ANSWER 1:
In the 400 speed Portra I prefer the VC for most situations. Not so much because the color is more vibrant but because it has a little more contrast. If you are shooting in high contrast lighting then the NC would be the way to go. But for most lighting the VC is a little snappier.

- Jeff K.

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=5149

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=5149

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PHOTOGRAPHY Q&A - CONTINUING FROM PREVIOUS NEWSLETTER
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CONTINUING QUESTION 1: How to Start Up Your Own Photo Studio?
My question is, what all do you need to have a home photography studio (equipment and accessories)?

- Sabrina C.

ANSWER 1:
Sabrina, I have gone through many stages with my "home studio". I can give you the most basic of guidance on this.

I started with desk lamps and fabric for backdrops. Then later I purchased foam board for backgrounds and a couple of flood lamps from the hardware store. THEN, I had my husband build a backdrop hanger out of PVC pipe and I purchased an auto light from the hardware store. LIGHT, very important to my digital. Just recently, my husband purchased a lighting kit for me consisting of three floods and diffusers. Before this, all expenses were next to nothing. Even this kit was affordable. I would suggest reflectors and or softboxes with such bright lights. You can also get creative with gels and express with color without changing your background. Oh yeah, I also purchased some basic white window shades. On one side of one I sponged black and pearl to create a smooth texture of gray for more professional portraits.

Denise Miotke has a wonderful article on making backdrops at this site http://www.betterphoto.com/exploring/MakingBackDrops.asp

Also, if you are interested in still lifes and want to make an inexpensive box studio, refer to this article http://www3.photosig.com/viewarticle.php?id=933
I hope at least some of this helps.

- Shelley S.

See Shelley's Premium BetterPholio™:
http://www.betterphoto.com/sites4photogs/dynoMG.asp?memberID=17432

ANSWER 2:
Sabrina,
First point is a safety one. If you go the "hot light" route, especially with halogens, be careful when using light modifiers on them and ensure the heat has someplace to go *other* than starting a light modifier on fire. They're referred to as "hot lights" for very good reason.

If you're using film, be aware that "hot lights" are *not* the same as daylight. Incandescent lamps have very little blue and a lot more red and yellow compared to daylight. The higher powered halogens are usually close enough to tungsten photo lights in color balance that you can use tungsten balanced film with them and get good results.

If you're contemplating monolights (studio strobes) and even think you might eventually branch out into doing things like weddings, don't scrimp on the lights you buy. Save your money and get some higher powered ones. In a home studio you can crank the power down on them. At a wedding in a large church, the distances from lights to subjects are much farther and the spaces are much bigger (the light dissipates more). You'll *need* the power.

BTW, I use a similar system at home in a dining room for photographing small objects and plants. My favored backdrop is pure black. These home-made backdrops are made from polar fleece which has very low reflectivity and very low texture. One of the other favored materials for achieving a deep pitch-black background is velvet, but select it carefully. Some velvets have a reflective sheen to them. I also found velvet to be quite expensive compared to similar lenghts of polar fleece.

-- John

- John L.

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

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=5098

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=5098

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ASK YOUR OWN QUESTION ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY
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Ask a question or answer a few from your fellow photographers:
http://www.betterphoto.com/qnaTOC.asp


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Until next week, happy shooting!

Thank you,
Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto.com

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