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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, March 11, 2003
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* SPOTLIGHT: Promote Your Photography with a Deluxe BetterPholio™
* BETTERPHOTO: The February BetterPhoto Contest Winners Have Been Posted
* BETTERPHOTO: Spring Courses Less Than Four Weeks Away
* BETTERPHOTO: Showcasing Deluxe BetterPholios™
* PHOTO TRIVIA QUESTION: Simpsons Self Defense / Paul Simon
* THIS WEEK'S TIP: Polarizer Doubling as ND Filter
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 1: Zoom Lens
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 2: Film Scanners
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 3: Zoom Lens for CANON EOS IX Lite
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 4: F Stops and Lenses
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 5: Manual Focus SLR's vs AE Focus SLR's
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 6: Spotting a Negative
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 7: ISO speed
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 8: Starting a (Portable) Digital Business
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 9: Shooting Photos of Different Ethnic groups
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 10: What is a Transparency Film?
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 1: Starting Business


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IN THE SPOTLIGHT - ADVERTISEMENT
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Promote Your Photography with a Deluxe BetterPholio™
Did you know... with a Deluxe BetterPholio™, you now get your own email address. Imagine printing sales@yourdomainname.com on your business cards. And this is in addition to being able to showcase up to 1000 of your best images! Our Deluxe BetterPholios™ give you a ONE STOP SHOP for getting your portfolio on the Web. Sign up for your own easy Web site at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/sites4photogs/deluxeWebsites.asp

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WHAT'S NEW AT BETTERPHOTO.COM
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Welcome to the 108th issue of SnapShot!

Hi

In this issue of Snapshot, we get to share a great set of contest winners with you. No doubt about it - we have a lot of talent here among the BetterPhoto membership. I myself continue to be inspired the level of high quality images I see submitted to the site. Keep up the great work!

Also, as Winter is coming to a close (thank goodness!) and Spring is just around the corner, we are looking forward to a new exciting session of online courses.

Have a wonderful week of shooting,
Jim Miotke
http://www.betterphoto.com/sites4photogs/dynoMG.asp?memberID=124


*****
The February BetterPhoto Contest Winners Have Been Posted
Congratulations to Daniel Nolan for his Grand Prize winning "Boys Fishing on Honeoye Lake" photo, making it all the way to the top of our new People category. Also a big round of applause to Jimmy Wen, Tess Campbell, Steven Harrington, Jean-François Schmutz, and Heather McFarland for their beautiful First Place prize winning images.

View all of the amazing contest winners at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/contest/winners/0302.asp

You can also view all 271 contest finalists at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGall2.asp?catID=884


*****
Spring Courses Less Than Four Weeks Away
Our next session of online photography courses will be getting underway soon. Seats are filling up fast so, if you have been considering a Spring class, sign up today. What a great way to learn how make the most of your camera during the Spring season - blooming flowers, baby animals at the zoo, bright sunny days... who could ask for a better time to learn photographic skills. Here are a few of our most popular courses:

Beginning Photography with Jim Miotke:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/JCM01.asp

Understanding Exposure with Bryan Peterson:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/BFP01.asp

Eight Steps to More Dramatic Photography with Jim Zuckerman:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/JZK01.asp

Or select your own favorite from our complete list of courses at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/workshops.asp


*****
Showcasing Deluxe BetterPholios™
We have added a new feature to the Deluxe BetterPholios™ for contest winners. Now, when your award-winning or finalist photograph appears on your Deluxe BetterPholio™, it will be designated as a contest winner. Check out BetterPhoto member Donnarae's Web site for an example of how this adds to the interest of a Web site:
http://www.donnaraephotography.com

Check out Donnarae's "Favorites" category:
http://www.donnaraephotography.com/-/donnaraephotography/gallery.asp?cat=330

On another note, BetterPhoto member Art Rosch will be honored in an upcoming issue of a major photography magazine. To check out what Art is going with his Deluxe BetterPholio™ to promote his astrophotography and other images, check out: http://www.artsdigitalphoto.com

We have also recently added a new page to help prospective Deluxe BetterPholio™ owners. If you have been considering getting your own site but have wondered about such things as bandwidth limits, email addresses, FTP, Frontpage, etc., check out this new Q&A page.

Find answers about setting up a Deluxe BetterPholio™:
http://www.betterphoto.com/sites4photogs/deluxeQnA.asp


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PHOTO TRIVIA QUIZ OF THE WEEK
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Last week, we asked:
In one episode of The Simpsons, Homer and his family are about to be killed by robots gone berserk. How does photography save the day?

The first, best answer - entered by BettterPhoto member Sam C. is:
The flash from the camera fries the robots and makes them collapse.

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 - Paul Simon - entered by BettterPhoto member Rick J.

What type of film did Paul Simon once sing of in a hit song?

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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Polarizer Doubling as ND Filter
When trying to shoot with a slower shutter speed - i.e. to capture those long exposure special effects such as streaming, flowy water or traffic lights - the bright sunlight can often be a big problem. If your environment is relatively bright, the shutter speed will not be able to get slow enough for these special effects. One way you can overcome this problem is to use a neutral density filter - basically sunglasses for your camera. If you do not happen to have a ND filter on hand, you can use a polarizing filter to get the same effect. Using one of these filters can cut out about two stops of light, allowing you to get the slow shutter speeds you need.

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: Zoom Lens
I asked a question yesterday and received a great answer, but now I have a more definitive lens in mind. I will be taking pictures of my child active in track and other sports so I need a zoom lens and I think I'm going for a macro lens. Which lens is rated best? I realize the Canon isn't a macro but a lot of people say that I should go with it beacuse you get what you pay for. But Tamron has to be pretty good or they wouldn't offer a 6 year warranty would they? My choices are--
Canon EF 75-300mm 4-5.6 III USM Zoom
or
Tamron telephoto AF 70-300 4-5.6 LD macro?
Canon is priced $164.95
Tamron is priced $149.95

And what does the AF, III and USM mean on the Canon?
I know I have several questions all piled in one but I am very new to this type of photography and I need help. I plan to take a class but I need help with this purchase now. Thanks

- Greg A.

ANSWER 1:
Hi Greg A.
AF in the Tamron model name is for AutoFocus.

III in the Canon model means that it is version 3 of that particular lens. Each successive generation of this lens is a little lighter, has some subtle cosmetic changes and less expensive than the prior, but the optical formula and performance is unchanged. The original was introduced 1992, II in 1995, III in 1999.

USM is for UltraSonic Motor. It is a very fast and quiet motor that drives the autofocus. In this particular lens it is "micro-USM," which drives reduction gears to move the focus elements, so you have to move the MF/AF to MF before attempting to manually focus. With ring-USM lenses, like the EF 100-300 f/4.5-5.6 USM, the USM motor surrounds the focus elements and moves them directly. It is even faster and quieter and because there are no reduction gears to force you can manually focus without switching to MF first.

The Tamron is a pretty good lens. I have no problem recommending it. Just note that it takes 62mm diameter filters, where the Canon and Sigma lenses are 58mm, which probably match your current 28-90. Not a big problem, just by 62mm filters and use them on the smaller lens using an inexpensive 58mm/62mm step-up ring.

- Jon C.

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=5336

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=5336

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*****
NEW QUESTION 2: Film Scanners
Ok this is probably a stupid question that I could find the answer to if I had the time, but do film scanners actually scan your film before its developed? I shoot digital but my daughters shoot film and love for me to enlarge and print their stuff. Is it worth going to a film scanner instead of my old flatbed? I have never been able to get the color right, and I'm just too busy to spend a lot of time editing and learning Photoshop.

- Judith C.

ANSWER 1:
No, you have to get the film developed first.

You will probably get better scans from a film scanner. But how large are the prints you are going to make? I haven't seen the results you get from your flatbed so I can't tell you if you should look into a film scanner.

Most scanners as well as digital cameras impart color casts on images (typically magenta). And color management is probably the toughest thing to master. It's going to require time learning editing and color management whether it's with Photoshop or not.

- Jeff K.

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=5335

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=5335

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*****
NEW QUESTION 3: Zoom Lens for CANON EOS IX Lite
Hi,

Can someone suggest an appropriate zoom lens for my EOS IX Lite camera. I was thinking about a Quantaray 28-105mm F/3.5-5.6 for CANON, but I don't know about the quality of this brand. Money is not my first priority, but quality would be and it can be used or new.
Any help would be appreciated.

- Bernd

ANSWER 1:
I have two Quantaray lens, though soon it will none, once I replace one with a Canon EOS 70-300mm zoom lens. I would recommend run, do not walk away from Quantaray lens. My Quantaray 35-135 F4.0-F5.6 and Quantaray 70-300 F4.5 - 6.3 are decent lenses in daylight. They are terrible in any kind of dark room and forget using them at night even with a flash.
The 70-300 zoom lens mentioned above is actually the cheapest Sigma 70-300 zoom lens made, just using a different name.

I would highly recommend the Canon EOS 28-105 mm over the Quantaray. The difference in being able to see your subjects in low light environments will be worth the few extra dollars.
If money is tight, consider the 28-105mm 2.8 - 4.0 Sigma lens. It is a great value for the price and gives better results then Quantaray.

- Bill M.

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=5328

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=5328

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*****
NEW QUESTION 4: F Stops and Lenses
I would like to know the relationship with f stop and lens opening. I always thought the lower the f stop, the smaller the opening. Today I heard the reverse. Which is it?

Also, a 300 mm zoom. Is that the length of the lens in mm?

- John N.

ANSWER 1:
The smaller the f stop number, the larger the opening. f22 is a very small opening and f1.2 is a very large opening. The mm number is the focal length of the lens. On a normal lens, the focal length is approximately the distance from the center of the lens to the film plane. A telephoto lens, as your 300mm will be at a point somewhere in front of the lens. What that number really means to you is the magnification it produces. If your regular lens is 50mm the image will be about life size. Your 300mm lens has a focal length 6 times that of your regular lens and will give you 6 times magnification.

- wayne a.

ANSWER 2:
John,
The 300mm you asked about is the focal length of the lens. Technically this is the distance from the rear lens node to the film plane when the lens is focused at infinity. Wayne is correct that the rear lens node is typically located inside the lens, but not always at its physical "center," especially with zoom lenses which have a variable focal length.

Since you mention this is a "zoom" lens, it should have a focal length range, such as 35-105mm. The lower number is its shortest effective focal length and the higher number its longest one. In your case, I suspect 300mm is the higher of the two numbers. If it is a "fixed" focal length lens (or "prime" lens) with only one focal length (300mm), a lens this length is not a "zoom" but a "long" or "telephoto" lens.

The f-numbers used for aperture settings are the focal length of the lens divided by the effective aperture diameter. If you set the lens to 300mm and set the aperture to f/4, the effective diameter of the aperture is 75mm. The notation itself refers to the math. If "f" is the focal length of 300mm, f/4 = 75mm.

Reason for this? To get the same amount of light through two different lenses with different focal lengths, the aperture diameters must be different. The f-number scheme "normalizes" aperture settings so that f/4 on a 50mm lens admits the same amount of light as f/4 on a 300mm lens. It makes setting exposures much, much easier. Without it, you would be doing quite a bit of math about aperture diameter and lens focal length. The f-numbers do this for you up front.

You can see that dividing a focal length by a larger aperture diameter gives you a smaller f-number (e.g., 300mm / 150mm = f/2; 300mm / 75mm = f/4). This is why smaller f-numbers mean more light (wider aperture) and larger f-numbers mean less light (narrower aperture).

-- John

- John L.

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*****
NEW QUESTION 5: Manual Focus SLR's vs AE Focus SLR's
From my fellow photographer's experiences... Which SLR, manual or AE, gave you the best quality results? I have become fascinated with my manual forcus cameras, and haven't used my AE SLRs much of late. I have a Canon A-1, and a Nikon FG.

- Jaye

ANSWER 1:
Jaye,
"AF" is commonly used to describe "auto focus" and "AE" is commonly used to describe "auto exposure" which are two different things. From your question, I'm concluding you are asking about "AF" versus manual focus.

The advantage of manual focus:
Focus is set exactly at the distance the user wants.

The disadvantage of manual focus:
Focus must be set exactly at the distance the user wants.

Now for an opinion from a "control freak:"
Manual operation allows the greatest possible control over the latent image (exposure on film). Anything else, auto-focus or auto-exposure, relinquishes at least some, if not all of this control to the camera's electronics. You get what the camera designer(s) decided is "correct" when the camera was designed, which may or may not be what you want.

If you have a vision of exactly what you want in the photograph, use manual control. I can think of a number of practical situations in which manual control is the appropriate method. One in particular is an exacting depth of field. Controlling exact placement of the critical focus distance for exact positioning of the near and far depth of field limits.

If you are willing to accept what the camera designer(s) decided is "correct" relinquish control to the camera. For those that might argue high actions situations demand auto-focus, I would remind them that somehow camera focusing was managed by photographers for decades without auto-focus systems. It's a "convenience" if it provides the desired results but *not* a necessity. Depending on specific camera design, AF systems can have difficulty operating correctly in low light and with slow lenses.

-- John

- John L.

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*****
NEW QUESTION 6: Spotting a Negative
My question is... if I wanted to "spot" a negative or opague it how would I go about it? I have a color 120mm negative and the gentleman was perspiring and left under-arm marks. The client would like them removed from the photo, so I would like to touch up the neg. What do I use and how do I go about it?

Thanks so much (it's my first time asking my own question, but I have been reading and learning so much and for so long from your great site - I thought I would ask my own question. Hope it's right!

- Kim

ANSWER 1:
If you've never retouched a negative before I would suggest taking it to a pro lab and having them do it. It's not just something you can sit down and expect to get right the first time you try it. Another good reason, if you're shooting for money, that you should be using a good professional custom lab. Another option is to get the neg scanned and retouch it in Photoshop (if you have that ability).

- Jeff K.

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=5323

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=5323

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*****
NEW QUESTION 7: ISO speed
My digital camera allows me to control the ISO speed. I don't know what this means... my user's manual is not too helpful. Is the effect similar to controlling shutter speed?

- Nathan

ANSWER 1:
Nathan,
The ISO speed setting determins how sensative the chip is to light. If you set a higher number (e.g. 400) the chip is more sensative to light than at a lower number (e.g. 100.) When the chip is more sensative to light, you don't need as much light to make and exposure so us can use faster shutter speeds or larger aperture settings. The trade off with higher ISO setting is more noise in the image, this is similar to grain in a film image making the picture look less sharp and smooth.

- Deb T.

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=5314

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http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=5314

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*****
NEW QUESTION 8: Starting a (Portable) Digital Business
I am interested in starting a digital photo business. Shooting and printing on location for school events, products for people's web sites, etc. What camera would you suggest starting with? Have you used digital backdrops? Are they easy to work with? Any other things I need to know to get started would be appreciated. I am far from pro but love photography and people. I do have a creative side but need to learn hands on.

- Sharon L.

ANSWER 1:
Again I would like to recommend the Nikon D100, because I love mine. Also and Epson Photo Printer. I have a 1280 - I think they are going for less then $400 now. Camera and Printer are going to run you around $2500. You can go with a cheaper Epson printer, but stay with Epson for the instant dry quality, and the true colors. As far as the camera, you could go cheaper, but if you've shot 35mm I think its the easier transition, and at 6mp makes beautiful 8x10 and 11x14 enlargements. I've never done the digital background thing, but if you do let me know how it goes. I think its a great tool, I'm just not crazy about spending time on the computer, I'd rather shoot pictures. I'm not sure I could ever get fast enough to edit and print on location, unless they want to put me up for a few days. You also need to consider lighting. A starter light set at about $1000 or a really good flash with enough power to use in any location.

- Judith C.

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=5311

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http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=5311

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*****
NEW QUESTION 9: Shooting Photos of Different Ethnic groups
I have been in charge of the pictures at my church. We have some African ministers in our church, but my pictures of them always seem to dark and does not get their facial characteristics. I use a 35mm Nikon with a flash and I do have extra lights that I can use, but I have not been to successful. How can I resolve this problem with photographing people of different ethnics?

- LaVada A.

ANSWER 1:
If you are using print film, your exposures are probably good and the lab is printing the pictures too dark. I'd take the negatives back and have them reprinted, telling them the problem.

- Jon C.

ANSWER 2:
It is possible that the lab could just reprint them paying more attention to their skin detail. But it is also common that black skin requires an extra stop of light to bring out detail. Next time try overexposing by a stop. If the shots still come out too dark then you definitely need to talk to your lab. They are not making the necessary corrections during printing.

- Jeff K.

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*****
NEW QUESTION 10: What is a Transparency Film?
I have read the comments you guys have given regarding the transparency films. I still have a few questions though. what does a transparency film look like? It sounds weird, I think I have seen it previously, but I need you to answer to clear any small doubts that I have.

Another thing is, can one use transparency films instead of negatives? Are transparency films similar to slides? I recently met up with a professional photographer, and she said that she utilizes transparency films instead of normal negatives to avoid error. How does that work?

THANK YOU ALL IN ADVANCE!

- Hannah Y.

ANSWER 1:
Transparency, slide, and color reversal film all refer to the same thing.

The "error" the professional photographer is referring to is adjustments made by the lab in making a print from a negative. In making a print the technician can make adjustments to the color balance, overall exposure, adn cropping that the photographer may not have intended.

With slide film there is no interpretation by a third party. What is developed is just as the photographer shot it.

On the otherhand, slide film is much less forgiving of any errors the photographer makes. It generally have very narrow exposure latitude, giving good results only within +/- 1/2 stop of the correct exposure, where print film can give a good result when the exposure is off by as much as -1 to +2 stops.

- Jon C.

ANSWER 2:
Hannah,
Jon gave you most of the names for this type of film. I will add the reasons for them:

a. Reversal: The general process used to develop this type of film. The film is actually a special type of negative film and it doesn't have the "orange mask" that negative films have. The negative image is partially developed first, then washed (or bleached out). The remaining emulsion is then "exposed" chemically and developed. Very old reversal process methods actually performed this exposure with light! Doing it chemically is much more accurate. Instead of the cyan, magenta and yellow dyes used in color negative, the dyes used for color "reversal" are red, green and blue. BTW, the dyes are *not* in the film. They are in the chemistry used to develop the film. B&W transparency follows a similar process, but without steps that introduce the colored dyes.

b. Transparency: What the film itself looks like after developing. You can hold it up to light and see a positive image. If totally exposed, such as the piece of film leader that hangs out of a 35mm film cartridgee, it is "transparent" and virtually clear.

c. Slide: This is a transparency mounted in a small frame primarily for use in slide projectors. They also allow easier handling of individual film frames.

BTW, an original slide contains the original film from the camera. It is *not* a copy. You can have slides copied and either a negative or another slide made from it. That is why the pro referred to avoiding error. Because it is the original film from the camera "what you shot is what you got." There is no confusion about where error may have occurred as can happen with prints from negative films. Prints are copies of the original images on the film. All manner of error can be made in making them.

Professionals refer to the film as "transparency" or "reversal" because they are considered more correct descriptions of it. In the world of professional work, a lot of transparencies are never mounted into slides. Reason? They are printed or published instead of projected. Transparencies can be printed. There are several methods for doing this. The equivalent one to making prints from negatives uses special positive print materials. If you've never seen a print made directly from a transparency (as one would do with negatives), they look quite different. There is a boldness and often a realism to them that is very difficult to match with prints from negatives.

Jon is also dead on about latitude. It has much less forgiveness to exposure error. If you can consistently do transparency exposure well, you've got you're "exposure" act together.

-- John

- John L.

See John's Premium BetterPholio™:
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ANSWER 3:
P.S.
And that's . . . the rest of the story!
(with apologies to Paul Harvey)

-- John

- John L.

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

CONTINUING QUESTION 1: Starting Business
Hello,
I have been doing photography about 3 years, 2 seriously. I just registered my business name, so I am official. My question is, how do I get my name out there and how do I run a successful business? I have small studio in my home. Any suggestions are appreciated.

- lynette

ANSWER 1:
Get thee to the bookstore and look for a copy of Guerilla Marketing. It has lots of ideas to "get your name out there".

Beyond that a listing in the yellow pages is a good way but I don't believe you need a huge expensive ad. My ad has my name, phone number, and web site address. Which brings me to another option. Get a web site. They are relatively cheap and you can use your other advertising to direct people to your web site. After that there are flier, posters, mailings, and networking.

- Jeff K.

ANSWER 2:
Better still - take Bryan Peterson's Photo Marketing course!


- Chris H.

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