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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 - Monday, March 15, 2004
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* SPOTLIGHT: Take Fantastic Animal Photos! A Once-In-A-Lifetime Opportunity
* BETTERPHOTO: Photographing Hot Air Balloon Festivals
* BETTERPHOTO: Correction: Jim Zuckerman On Shutterbug Web Radio
* BETTERPHOTO: Need Help Picking a Photo Course?
* PHOTO TRIVIA QUESTION: Alice Again / Jean Coquin
* THIS WEEK'S TIP: Don't Get Rid of Your Film SLR Just Yet
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 1: Airport X-Rays
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 2: Deep and Shallow Focus, Light Meter
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 3: Processing B&W Film as Color Film
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 4: C-41 Processing of Color Slide Film
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 5: Why Late in the Day?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 6: Photo Heartbreaks
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 7: Saving Digital Photo Files
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 8: How To Do a Double Exposure?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 9: Which Backdrop Should I Use?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 10: How to Use a Zoom Lens
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 11: Converting from RAW to TIFF
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 12: Longevity of Printer Inks
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 1: Raw Versus Jpeg Fine
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 2: Tripod Recommendations


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
IN THE SPOTLIGHT - ADVERTISEMENT
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Take Fantastic Animal Photos! A Once-In-A-Lifetime Opportunity
Join Triple "D" game farm in central California for its 2004 wildlife photography road show!

This unique opportunity offers photographers the chance to photograph wildlife models in an array of natural settings, providing you with beautiful, convincing, and visually interesting backgrounds for your animal pictures.

In addition, Triple "D" is offering a rare and exciting "Day On The Ranch" photo opportunity, where you can photograph colorful horses, roping activities, cowboys, as well as a cattle drive.

NOTE: it appears that this may be the last time Triple D will be going to this location in California. There is a good chance they will not be able to do this trip in the future. So this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

I know I'll be there!

Learn more about Triple D and the California road show at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/wildlife-photography/tripleD-california.asp


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WHAT'S NEW AT BETTERPHOTO.COM
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Welcome to the 151st issue of SnapShot!

Hi

These are exciting times at BetterPhoto!

The California wildlife photography road show at Triple "D" is coming up, as is BetterPhoto's spring lineup of exciting photo courses. The upcoming session begins in just over three weeks - and classes are already filling up fast. By the way, in case you need a little help in deciding which course is right for you, be sure to check out our brand-new Course Categories page described below.

In many areas this time of year, wildflowers are already beginning to bloom. For a few tips on how to shoot flowers, listen to the Shutterbug Radio show mentioned below.

Speaking of colorful subjects, check out Kerry Drager's article on hot air balloon festivals and races. He shares all sorts of techniques for taking photographic advantage of these bright and beautiful events.

One quick last note: We are running a little behind on the judging of February's contest. You should see the finalists posted to the site by late Tuesday.

Now, enjoy this latest issue of SnapShot, and happy shooting!
Jim Miotke
http://www.betterphoto.com/MG.asp?ID=124


*****
Photographing Hot Air Balloon Festivals
Hot air balloon festivals are fun to watch and fun to shoot, says author and instructor Kerry Drager. And why not? The balloons are so big, bright and beautiful! Nonetheless, successful balloon photography hinges on planning and preparation. To learn some valuable tips and tricks on shooting these colorful events, check out Kerry's article:
http://www.betterphoto.com/article.asp?id=7

Also check out Kerry Drager's excellent course, "Beginning Photography II: Beyond Snapshots," at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/KRD01.asp


*****
Correction: Jim Zuckerman On Shutterbug Web Radio
Jim Zuckerman, a BetterPhoto instructor and the celebrated author of several photography books, made his guest appearance last Friday on the fun and informative Shutterbug Radio show with Jack Warren. Last week we told you in advance about that exciting event, and the show turned out great. Unfortunately, we provided the wrong link. But in case you missed this Web radio show, you can be access it through this correct link:
http://www.wsradio.com/shutterbug

Learn how you can create your own stunning imagery in Jim Zuckerman's fun class for beginners, "Eight Steps to More Dramatic Photography":
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/JZK01.asp

Or explore the other exciting courses Jim Zuckerman teaches at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/online-photography-courses.asp


*****
Need Help Picking a Photo Course?
You might choose a particular BetterPhoto course for any of several good reasons: You admire and appreciate the instructor, you want a course that best fits your skill level - whether it be beginning, serious amateur, or advanced - or you are looking for a class on a particular subject. This latter option is where our new Course Categories page will come in handy. Use the following link to help you decide which course is best for you:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/categories.asp

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PHOTO TRIVIA QUIZ OF THE WEEK
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Last week, we asked:
As a photographer, Lewis Carroll made many portraits - his subjects ranging from Alfred, Lord Tennyson to a little girl named Alice. Besides, Carroll, which other famous photographer (a female) photographed Alice as a young woman.

The first, best answer - entered by BetterPhoto member Rumiana Tenchova is:
Julia Cameron photographed Alice Liddell as a young lady. Julia Margaret Cameron (born 11 June 1815; died 26 January 1879) was an English photographer. She was known for her romantic pictures, also for portraits of celebrities. Her portrait of Alice is wonderful.

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 - Jean Coquin - entered by BetterPhoto member Jim Miotke

What is professional photographer Jean Coquin most known for?

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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Don't Get Rid of Your Film SLR Just Yet
I find myself reaching for my digital SLR almost all the time now. I love the immediate feedback and the ease. Especially when my end purpose is to publish the images at BetterPhoto.com, there is no better way for me to shoot.

However, I am still hanging onto my film SLR. The main reason is simple: when using my 16mm lens on my digital, I get much less of the wide angle effect. My digital SLR magnifies the focal length of every lens I use.

When I want to shoot super wide angle images, I just can't beat combining my wide angle lens with my film SLR.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
PHOTOGRAPHY Q&A - NEW THIS WEEK
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NEW QUESTION 1: Airport X-Rays
Will the x-rays at the airport damage processed film and prints?
- Jordan

ANSWER 1:
After developement, No.
- Jon Close

ANSWER 2:
How about undeveloped film? Or digital cameras?
- Jessy Aspery

ANSWER 3:
X-rays can harm un-developed film. Never put film in checked baggage, the high power x-rays will fog all speeds. The scanner for carry on luggage is generally safe (in the US) for speeds up to 400 and maybe one pass for 800. You are generally allowed to request hand inspection of higher speed films.

Digital cameras are immune to x-rays, but the digital storage media can be affected by the magnetic fields of the wand and the walk-through metal-detector. Put your digital and all storage cards through the carry-on x-ray machine.
- Jon Close

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=8641

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=8641

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*****


NEW QUESTION 2: Deep and Shallow Focus, Light Meter
As you'll read this question you'll see that I'm a full-fledged beginner. I use an AE-1 and I'm having difficulty trying to get a decent reading since the light meter only has the apreture digits and not exposure times. How do I measure exposure?

Can I trust what I see in the view-finder regardless of what the f number is? If I use 5.6 and want only the backround to be sharp can't I just achieve that through adjusting the lens?
- Cesar A. Tafoya

ANSWER 1:
If you are seeing only aperture settings, you are probably using the shutter-priority feature on your camera. You've selected a particular shutter speed, and your in-camera meter is telling you the appropriate aperture (f-stop) for that speed. The two combined, will equal proper exposure.

If you want only the background sharp at f-5.6, focus on the background...(Or whatever part of the scene you want to be in focus).

As a "beginner", I would highly recommend some good reading on photography basics, such as exposure and depth of field control. And, as always,... get out and practice as much as possible!

p.s. You've got a great camera! Good luck with it.
- Bob Cammarata

Visit cammphoto.com - Bob's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
The workaround to using aperture as your starting point is:

Set the aperture you want and remember it. Then move the shutter dial until that aperture lights up in your viewfinder. Don't worry if you end up bewteen shutter speeds. If you're shooting print film, it won't matter.

The A-series Canons are decent cameras. What's more than decent are the FD lenses. They are excellent, cheap and plentiful.
- Doug Nelson

Visit DougNelsonPhoto.com - Doug's Deluxe BetterPholio™

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=8633

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=8633

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*****


NEW QUESTION 3: Processing B&W Film as Color Film
Hi,
I've heard that there are some B&W films out there than can be processed as color film. Does anyone know which ones? I think Kodak may be one source, but not sure which film in particular would work.

Thanks,
- Paula Vergara

ANSWER 1:
True...
Kodak and Ilford both make a black and white film that is C41 processed (normal color) that you can take to any one hour photo lab. The Ilford is much better in my opinion (Ilford XP2). The Kodak film seems to be less consistent and the b&w tones seem to vary greatly within a single roll of film. I've had very good luck with the Ilford. Good luck!
- John Wright

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=8632

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=8632

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*****


NEW QUESTION 4: C-41 Processing of Color Slide Film
What color slide film can be processed C-41 creating dramatic color shifts? I worked at a local lab a few years ago and had some photography students bring in slide film to be processed C-41 and I can't remember which type of film it was. Please help me, this is driving me crazy...:(
- Jan K. VanLeer

ANSWER 1:
See http://hotwired.lycos.com/webmonkey/99/23/index3a_page4.html?tw=design

Any E-6 process slide film can be cross-processed in C-41. The effect varies by specific film.
- Jon Close

ANSWER 2:
Thanks much Jon - I appreciate your time. :) I just shot a roll of Astia just to see what results I get? Now I can have it processed today. I remember that the results that I saw from others' film I wasn't crazy about, but I also didn't know what shooting situations they started with. Just want to play :]
- Jan K. VanLeer

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=8630

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=8630

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*****


NEW QUESTION 5: Why Late in the Day?
Hi,
Reading about a holiday photograohy course I see that they like to take the photographers out early or late in the day because they say "light is better/softer" at that time.
I would have thought that the long shadows cast late or early in the day would be bad for photography.
What is the reason for this?
- Carol

ANSWER 1:
Well, Carol, the reasons are many. Casting long shadows can be one of the good reasons. Here are some others.

The color of the light changes throughout the day. It starts very warm (more red) in the morning and progresses toward cool (more blue) midday and and back to warm in the evening. Most people and subjects respond better to a picture with warm tones. Your eyes may not see much difference, except right at sunrise or sunset, but your film or digital sensor can. This is a good reason not to use auto white balance on digital. That will just "correct" out the warm tones early or late in the day.

Midday light is very harsh. It casts strong shadows. For people or animal pictures this will often put a shadow on the face or eyes, which is almost always bad. You can use fill flash, but then you lose any differences in lighting that can be beneficial. Early or late the shadows, while longer, are much softer. There is much less contrast. It adds a much more dramatic effect to landscapes.

That brings us to the last big point. Our vision is capable of handling something in the range of 1,000:1 contrast ratio. In other words we can see two objects at the same time where one is 1,000 times brighter than the other. Film and digital sensors are limited to a range of about 30:1 up to about 100:1 (more or less. Not worth arguing the exact amount, just that the difference is huge). Much less than human visual perception. In midday the contrast ratio can exceed even our human visual capability. No film or digital sensor can come close to capturing it. You end up with either objects in shadows being black, or bright objects being pure white. Lots of information is lost. Early and late in the day the contrast ratios are much lower and closer to what film or digital can record. Even then it will be too much for many scenes, but you will still be able to capture much more information.

I have rambled on for quite a while here. You might want to look into one of the BetterPhoto.com courses to get a better understanding of light. It is the most important subject in photography.
- Roy Breslawski

ANSWER 2:
Hi Roy,
That was an excellent explanation - I did know about the strength of light at different times of day but had not related that to what cameras can pick up AFA shadows are concerned and colour.
Now, however, I dont what setting to use for WB on my digital camera.
I can *set* it but a brief experiment produced very false colours indoors.
Is this going to be all trial and error?
Thanks again,
- Carol

ANSWER 3:
Hi Carol,
Trial and error is one of the benefits of digital. I don't know what digital camera you are using, and as a result do not know what range of color balance settings you have. What I would do is take your camera outdoors at a time of day you would like to shoot and photograph a scene using many different color balance settings. Look at the results and see which ones match what you want to produce. Do that for each type of scene and time of day you like to shoot and make a note of what settings give you the result you desire.
- Roy Breslawski

ANSWER 4:
Did you use a white balance that was set for natural light with indoor light?
- Gregory La Grange

Visit gregorylagrange.org - Gregory's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 5:
I've been checking this feature of my Oly 3040Z.
It seems that I can put in a correction for red and/or blue light.
So if I'm doing a sunset I should over ride the AUTO function and increase the red?
Have I got this right?
- Carol

ANSWER 6:
Sounds right, but I haven't used an Olympus digital. Easy enough to go out and shoot the next sunset with different settings.
- Roy Breslawski

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=8626

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=8626

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*****


NEW QUESTION 6: Photo Heartbreaks
I've just been snookered I think. I've loved photography since I received my first Kodac Brownie Camera when I was 12. I loved the feeling of catching that one fleeting glimpse, that one vision that for a single moment only belonged to me. Rarely was I able to capture exactly what I remembered, however once in a while it would come across with all tingle of a first kiss... and I would proudly show off my moment captured by my accidental skill. I discovered digital photography at the same time that I was introduced to my new computer, and it's been a love/hate party. I now help others fix their precious photos/memories before they are lost to time and I get a real joy from their amazed and grateful faces when they see the results.

I entered a photo contest with Photo.com and was so excited to hear that one of my 'moments' had been good enough to go into a book... now I've been told I was invited to receive a trophy, for being OUTSTANDING as a amature photographer in DC - WOW even as a Military Family Member for 51 yrs, even with having my 3 sons serving in the military, even with the youngest in IRAQ still serving, I had never seen our Nation's capital. What a thrill to be going to compete and see DC, and to photograph it, to make memories that I could share. I reserved my spot for $75. and then started looking for the HOTEL. Well there were 3 of them with the name Washington Hilton - don't know which one. I wrote to them, my e-mail bounced hard from Photo.com, then I put in a search trying to find the convention people... can't find them either. I ran a reverse phone # look up, it came up as being in a different town, zip code from what was on the papers, yet the same street address?? I was then lead to this site. I wept Like a car crash, where everything slows and stretches each nanosecond into a ludicrous slow motion movie in your head. I saw every missed warning sign, & castised myself again & again for being so pridefull and gulible. Thank you for letting me know. Maybe someday I'll get published, but for now I will just continue to capture moments.
- Karla C

ANSWER 1:
Well, to me this is heartbreaking and seems a crime!

I'm glad you posted your story as it will help others.

In the meantime, keep shooting and doing what you love to do - if your goal is to get published and you work at it, it will happen!
- Damian Gadal

Visit gadal-imagery.com - Damian's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
Oh Karla, sorry for your experience with photo.com Yes we have all been had by them. I to was excited the first time I sent in a pic and it was accepted, but soon realized that it is not a 'real' thing. Have you posted some of your pics here on the betterphoto.com contests? we for sure appreciate great shots,you may even win a 'real' prize by entering the contest. Its also a big boost when people comment on your work and they say the love it.
Keep shooting and you will get where you want to be.
- Pamela CM Lammersen

Visit pcmlphotography.com - Pamela's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 3:
Thank you both for being so kind. I'm still trying to figure out how to explain this to my hubby who was just as excited for me as I was. It was just wanting so badly to have other photographers appreciate a photo that I took, kinda like having everyone come up and tell you that your baby is the cutest baby they have ever seen... LOL Oh well, pride goeth before the fall eh? I've looked at many of the photos that have been entered in the contest here and was awe struck at their beauty. Some left me breathless--what a mass of talented people there are here! I have so many photos, but they pale in comparison to these wonders. I would not want to have to choose, I surely don't envy the judges. I have some photos that I digitally turned to canvas and using sublimation have put them on actual canvas... are they still photos? I don't know. I have a couple that I'm proud of, I'd like to know what people thought of them who AREN'T trying to make a buck off of me. (shakes head)... I know, I know... I talk too much!... LOL ty again & God Bless You all.
- Karla C

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=8623

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=8623

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*****


NEW QUESTION 7: Saving Digital Photo Files
HELP! I am a novice digital photographer. I use a Nikon D100 and edit the images with Photoshop CS. (I am also a Photoshop novice.) I recently discovered that my saved edited images are about 1/3rd the size of the original, unedited images. I normally shoot the D100 in JPEG fine at Large resolution because I want to be able to make large prints at 300 dpi. For convenience, I save both the unedited and edited photos on a 200gb external hard-drive in different folders. Now I find that the edited images are too small to print as large as I'd like. What am I doing wrong?
- Jim Sutton

ANSWER 1:
Hi Jim,

What is most likely happening is that your images are being saved in the default quality setting for JPEG, which is somewhere between 50%-80%. So each time you edit your image and save it again, you lose 20% - 50% of your image's quality.

The best way to go about saving your digital files while working and for archiving is to work with a TIFF image.

The D100 supports RAW format, so once you have taken your original image in either JPEG or RAW, convert it. IF from raw, once you have your adjustments made, comit the file to TIFF format.

TIFF is a lossless file format which will allow you to retain more of the information. Some programs like PS CS will support TIFF files that are 16bit/channel, so if you convert from 16bit raw to 16bit tifff and work on the tiff, you will have even better leeway to work with.

Once you have finished your edits and cleanups and are ready to commit the image to a website, THEN save it to a JPEG format. But keep both the original and final version in TIFF format in case you want to do something else with it later.

You should be able to retain your original images' resolution and data better that way.

JPEG saves space, but does so at a great cost to quality. Hence many will recommend working with TIFF and then saving to JPEG for output, but retaining the TIFF versions.

If you work almost exclusively with PS and use layers and such, keep the file in PSD format. That way, you get to keep your layers and other PS customizations.

The downside of TIFF and PSD storage is that they will take up more space.
- Wing Wong

See Wing's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
One thing that the previous poster forgot to mention... SAVE TO CD ASAP! I had my external hard drive crash on me recently and it would've cost $1100.00 to recover the data. However, I had just about everything on CD so the recovery wasn't worth it.
- Terry L. Long

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=8622

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=8622

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*****


NEW QUESTION 8: How To Do a Double Exposure?
Okay, I understand the part about multiple exposures adding density to the film. So I guess that my question is has anyone done a 2 frame mulitple exposure? i.e. The famous huge moon setting over a beautiful landscape?

Do I meter normally for the landscape, take the picture, wait for the moon to rise attach my tele and expose the moon? How do I make sure the moon is going to show up on the right part of the frame since I am changing my compostition?

Any input or tricks?
Thanks!
- Ryan Chai

ANSWER 1:
Hi Ryan
There was a wonderful article in the jan/feb issue of Outdoor Photogapher about double exposing the moon, also about 'painting' within time exposure.

Maybe try to find this on line www.outdoorphotographer.com. The article was written by Bill Sharpsteen (he does have a web site www.billsharpsteen.com). In the article he gave all sorts of tips and tricks which I can't wait to try soon as it gets warmer. Good luck
- Pamela CM Lammersen

Visit pcmlphotography.com - Pamela's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
Shoot the landscape and then shoot the moon with it in a spot in the frame where there was empty sky with the landscape shot. I'm assuming that the landscape is at night too.
- Gregory La Grange

Visit gregorylagrange.org - Gregory's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 3:
The landscape would be shot during the sunset, then I would wait till the moon was out. Should I use sunny 16 rule or my spot meter?
Thanks
- Ryan Chai

ANSWER 4:
I would think both shots would have be at night, leaving the portion of the sky where you want the moon to be black, then take the shot of the moon with black around it to fit in the picture of the landscape. It would probably look more natural that way. I too have looked into doing double exposure.
- Jordan

ANSWER 5:
You can create multi-exposures in any light, as long as the total time exposed is correct.

The enclosed example was triple-exposed, with a red, blue, and yellow filter applied during each time the shutter was released. The total time was equal to what it would have been with just one exposure.

For the moon shots, I would expose the moon first, using the sunny 16 rule, (or one stop over, if you like a brighter moon with a little less detail), then re-compose,... making sure that the moon will show up in the frame where there is empty sky.
- Bob Cammarata

Visit cammphoto.com - Bob's Deluxe BetterPholio™

See Sample Photo - Primary Colors:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGallDetail.asp?photoID=323061

ANSWER 6:
A bright sky, even if it's sunset, is going to make the moon look too faded because of the overlap of the blue sky, or whatever color it is at sunset.
If you want it to look clean, it would be better to do it with a dark sky. And the f/16 for the moon makes it look too dull to me. To make it look more how the eye sees it, I would prefer to go about 1&1/2 or 1 over that.
And you can make multiple exposures in any light, but having too much overlap from other images makes them look too messy. Like the rocks didn't come out very well.
- Gregory La Grange

Visit gregorylagrange.org - Gregory's Deluxe BetterPholio™

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=8620

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=8620

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*****


NEW QUESTION 9: Which Backdrop Should I Use?
I need to know what to buy for a backdrop when shooting products. Right now I am currently using black and white bristol boards. Is that good enough? And when is it proper to use black instead of white (vice-versa)?
- Ziyaad Khoja

ANSWER 1:
For small product photography, the poster boards, sold at any craft shop or art supply store, make great backgrounds. They are inexpensive, and come in a variety of colors. (I like to use color backgrounds as an "attention grabber" for products I'm selling.)

Either black or white can also be good choices because they focus the attention on the products themselves, especially if they have color of their own.

When using black boards, try shining extra light on them. They will be rendered as a muted gray, which is a desirable effect for many subjects.
- Bob Cammarata

Visit cammphoto.com - Bob's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
Does it depend on what I will be doing with these photos. Like I would either be doing some black and white prints or full colour on the net. Does white or black work better when removing it as the background in photoshop?
- Ziyaad Khoja

ANSWER 3:
I bought my first backdrop as a neutral gray with splashes of other colors that looks quite good with many different subjects.
- Ryan Chai

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=8619

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=8619

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*****


NEW QUESTION 10: How to Use a Zoom Lens
I have recently purchased a Nikon f-55 with 28-80mm lens. Please guide me about the following :
the lens has 3 markings on it 28mm, 50 mm & 80 mm. When I use manual focus I can rotate the lens as per my choice. But when I use auto focus am I supposed to keep the lens at 50 mm marking always or I can use all the 3 markings on the lens, i.e. 28 mm as well as 80 mm? I am in doubt as the manual says in auto focus don't move the lens. But does it mean do not move from any of the 3 markings or keep at 50 mm only.?

I know it is very stupid of me to ask such naive questions, but frankly I am a novice in the field of auto focus. Please help.
- vinod wadhwan

ANSWER 1:
The 3 markings, 28, 50 and 80 are the zoom range. You can turn to any setting you want (or in between). Then you press the shutter half way down to set the focus. What the manual says is that every time you change the zoom range, you have to press the shutter down half way to re-focus. When the camera is focusing, do not turn the zoom range. In manual focus mode, you first set the desire zoom range, then there should be another ring to turn to set the focus or turning the front lens element to set the focus, depending on the type of lens you have. Hope this helps.
- Andy Szeto

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NEW QUESTION 11: Converting from RAW to TIFF
I recently had a chance to borrow a D2H Nikon camera, with which I shot about 130 raw compressed images. It was my first experience with a digital SLR. To date, I have used the F100 and film.
I don't understand the raw to tiff conversion process using Photoshop CS. Can anyone refer me to good reading on this process or explain it to me? I don't have any digital camera software, so I can't use that, but I do have the latest version of PS with the RAW plugin included. Is there a way to batch process them into TIFF? Should I individually adjust each one during the conversion process in terms of sharpness, exposure, etc, or can I wait to do that with each image during more typical PS CS color balance, cropping type of editing?
In short, what's the most efficient, effective Raw to TIFF conversion process using PS CS once the images come off your camera onto your pc?
THANKS!
- Paul Sivley

ANSWER 1:
First of all, why do you want to convert them to TIFF? Unless you have a need to send all the shots to someone in TIFF format it is probably best to keep them in NEF. PS CS provides a great workflow starting in NEF and finishing in PSD without having any other format in between. At the end of the process you can create a TIFF or JPEG as the need arises.

The easiest way to work with the D2h NEF files is to open the Photoshop CS browser. It will create thumbnails automatically of all your NEF images. You can then select any image from the browser and the raw conversion window will open automatically. From there you can adjust white balance, exposure, brightness, contrast and many other parameters. The best part about working with the raw files is that these adjustments do not actually change any pixels. They just assign a formula for the editing program (PS CS) to use in viewing the image for editing. You can go back and change things from the original raw file as if no changes were ever made.

After Photoshop loads the image with your adjustments you can do anything you would normally do with any other image in Photoshop. Just save it in PSD or any other format and you will always have your original image file in NEF format should you want to start over for a different effect.

In essence, raw files are the equivalent of exposed, but undeveloped, film. Your raw conversion gives the same control as developing the film in the darkroom. You are basically one step earlier in the process, with the comparable added control, than with any other digital workflow.
- Roy Breslawski

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NEW QUESTION 12: Longevity of Printer Inks
I was wondering if anyone knew how long normal ink lasted on a picture printed on Kodak paper. I've had a few prints made from a Lexmark printer on Kodak, before I bought my Epson and I'm wondering how long the prints will last and still look good? What is the typical longevity of normal inks? Thanks
- Michael T. Rehker

ANSWER 1:
Hi Michael,

You can usually find that information on the website of the printer manufacturer and/or the paper manufacturer.

Unfortunately, I'm not familiar with Lexmark+Kodak combos. ^_^;;

My own personal experience:

Prints I've made from my earlier printers(dye based epson 760) held up well when printed on epson photo paper and various other glossy RC(resin coated) papers.

Prints I made to some low cost glossy papers faded in about 6months to a year. By fade, I mean the various colors fade at different rates, so you get color cast shifts/etc.

How much sun/moisture the print is exposed to will also affect the longevity. I have a matte print made from my pigment based epson c80 on display in my office which is exposed to a flourscent light for about 8hours every day, framed and matted behind glass and it has not changed for about three years now.

Most epson printers of the pigment(durabrite/ultrachrome) variety will last at least 25-50 years if kept away from direct sunlight and displayed under glass/plastic. If using their archival papers and archivally matted/framed, will last 75+ years.

Their Dye based photo printers(760, 860, 960, 1270, 1280, etc) will last 25-50 years given the above same precautions. Dye based inks are more susceptible to fading when exposed to UV/sunlight.

As for the prints made on the lexmark+kodak paper, you could scan them and reprint on your epson system or you could just reprint from your original files.

The digital file I printed from is sort of the backup. Just as the negatives are the backup to the photograph print. If you lose the print, you always have the negatives/files to reproduce the image again.

But for consumer discount inkjet printers that are not specifically formulated to be long lifed, you can expect max life to be in the 2-5 years range. Much shorted if exposed to light, moisture, heat, and poor quality papers.

Check out epson's longevity site. They have a link to the research group that does longevity testing of various papers and inks. I don't have the link off the top of my head. ^_^;;
- Wing Wong

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PHOTOGRAPHY Q&A - CONTINUING FROM PREVIOUS NEWSLETTER
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CONTINUING QUESTION 1: Raw Versus Jpeg Fine
I use a Canon Rebel 300D, I shoot in the large Jpeg fine mode (highest setting except raw). My question is, is there really any difference? If I shoot a wedding, and then want to edit some pics before customer sees them, it's easy in Jpeg, Raw is so hard and time consuming - I have to convert to tiff to edit. And I can't see any difference in image. I take time to frame the shot carefully before shooting, this way I dont have much editing to do, just resizing. Am I off the mark here? Or am I right?

I understand that by over editing the Jpeg it will lose quality, but after converting a Raw to Tiff doesn't that, too?

All confused now (lol).
- Nick Milton

ANSWER 1:
I believe that shooting in RAW or Tiff you will get more detail. Jpg uses different levels of compression, thus causing some loss of detail. RAW and Tiff will be much larger files and will require more storage, but you can always convert these images to Jpg after you're done editing and you will still have your orginal RAW or Tiff file to work with (providing that you work from a copy of the original image)...
hth
- Damian Gadal

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ANSWER 2:
I would add a couple of things here.
First, I believe the difference between shooting RAW and Large/Fine is actually minimal as far as the quality goes. What RAW does do is open some opportunities to modify the image as the camera saw it - Prior to applying it's "in camera" configuration.
On the 300D - shooting RAW, you are given the chance to change some settings and effect the image by selecting a different Exposure compensation, white balance, contrast, color saturation, color tone, sharpness, and color space. All of these are set with the camera, but if you shoot Large/Fine the image is modified in camera with the settings as they are set prior to shooting the image. Shooting RAW, you can change all of these settings after the image is in the camera and transferred to your computer.

I agree that it's more work to process the RAW image afterwards. If you shoot correctly from the start and configure your camera with the proper settings before shooting the image - your workflow will be shorter and you'll end up with fantastic images shooting in the Large/Fine mode.

I hope that helps...
- John Wright

ANSWER 3:
Thanks guys. What is the most popular way of shooting images, for example, if you're taking a wedding, and the customer wants a slide show that evening, before you've created a contact sheet, etc. etc., would you do Raw or top Jpeg setting?
- Nick Milton

ANSWER 4:
You're not going to need raw for typical wedding photos and typical wedding photo sizes. For highly manipulated photos that a graphics artist might do, or for anything that would be possibly made into posters such as fashion, or shooting an ad for a product, an agency would want digital without compression.
If you were to make a large file jpeg into a 20x30, you would see a difference between something that started out raw because without any compression that raw offers, software can extrapolate more info.
But shooting large/fine jpegs, the image size is 11x17 when you open it in photoshop. So if you're just going to make regular size prints of somebody's wedding, and especially if it's uncropped and unchanged, all you'd need is large/fine jpegs. Just set the resolution high enough, and you'd have a good print.
And with good lenses and good paper, I bet you could even do med/fine or large/normal jpegs if they are saved in the highest sized files. Just shoot a picture in a couple of jpeg settings and see how the prints look in the size you normally make. Because that's all that really matters, how does the print look.
- Gregory La Grange

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ANSWER 5:
At the most basic level, what you get with shooting RAW is the ability to compensate for some exposure issues. It isn't that RAW captures more detail than JPEG, but rather, more detail is preserved.

If you shoot raw, one of the things you will find is that you will be spared JPEG artifacting which while minimal in fine/super-fine modes, is still present. This becomes more apparent when you are sharpening/filtering the image. With RAW conversion to Tiff, this is not as much of a problem.

For most prints, you will not even notice the difference. If you crop heavily or if you plan on blowing up the image to a large size, then shooting raw might be a better option. As usual, you will need to determine for yourself which option is better for your workflow.
- Wing Wong

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ANSWER 6:
Regarding the "instant" slideshow:

Depends on the computer you have. If you have a MacOSX system, you could do it with JPEGS in iPhoto right off the bat. Just make sure pictures are rotated okay.

With windows and third party slideshow programs, it's really up to you. A quick and dirty way would be using PowerPoint if you don't have a slideshow program otherwise.

In this regard, JPEG would be best as raw would require conversion before you have a file which most programs can read.
- Wing Wong

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ANSWER 7:
I have the Canon 10D and shoot in RAW/Large jpeg format. Using the Canon Digital Camera File Viewer Utility program, I can extract and save the jpeg file for manipulation by selecting "file", "save file" and "extract save JPEG" and still have the RAW file for future use.
- Jeffrey Judd

ANSWER 8:
Hi All, the most important aspect of RAW beside giving you ability to control most image processing on your computer, is 16 bit per channel color depth witch is not achievable any other way.
- Artur

ANSWER 9:
I have a Canon EOS 10D and all I shoot in is RAW. I shot jpeg for months, and them immersed myself in RAW - I will never go back. With the right Raw conversion program - converting to TIFF/JPG is easy. Use the Photoshop 7.0 RAW/JPEG 2000 plug-in, or something like Capture One. I do not convert to Tiff, too big. I convert to JPG.

Raw takes the data right from the sensor and saves it before; jpeg pompression, sharpening, white balance, contrast, saturation, etc.

The best thing about shooting in Raw is White Balance can be set during conversion. A Jpg with an inappropiate or off white balance is tough to correct. In Raw, white balance has not been preformed yet.

The second most important thing Raw gives you is latitude to correct moderate exposure problems. You can compensate, as you would with the camera, as much as 2 stops in either direction. Although I only recommend a 1/2 stop to a full stop.

Give it a week, the advantages well outweigh the added post-processing. Download Capture One and give it a good try. If you want the best out of your photography - get it right at the shoot, and shoot in Raw to give you better control of the outcome of the photo.
- Phil Forister

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CONTINUING QUESTION 2: Tripod Recommendations
I need a sturdy tripod with a pistol grip head that is sturdy for veritcal shots and longer lenses. Any suggestions?
Thanks!
- Jill M. Higgins

ANSWER 1:
The minimum decent tripod is the Bogen manfrotto 3000-series. Most people who use tripods tell us that the more vertical extension over the apex of the legs, the more likely your shots could suffer from vibration. That extra height of the pistol grip heads bothers me, although I've never used one. I'd consider a high quality ball head, maybe a size or so over the one rated for the weight of your set-up. The conventional 3030 head is a favorite here. Bogen sells a long lens support that you should look at. If you're like me, Image Stabilization lenses are a bit pricey, so we need all the help we can get.
- Doug Nelson

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ANSWER 2:
Good news. Manfrotto is coming out with a new HORIZONTAL grip action ball head 322RC2. It may hit the stores in a month or two. It supports up to 11 lbs of load and use the popular 3157N release plate. Check with B&H. Hope this helps.
- Andy Szeto

ANSWER 3:
Don't waste your hard earned money on fancy names like bogen amd manyretto or what ever it is. They are just a stick with a screw on the top. You still have to buyu a quick release head for them. Go down to Ritz and look at the heavier Quantary tripods. I have a 550 series with a handgrip, and panhead. They all come with a quick release plate too! There is a heavier one yet the 750 series. These are very strudy, well constructed tripods.
- Scott

ANSWER 4:
I recently bought a Promaster SytemPRO with the Ball head. They had the pistol grip set up also for slightly more.

The nice thing about the kit I bought is it came with 2 center posts that the head mounted on a short and long. The long post will telescope out and doubles as a mono pod.
- Mike Johnson

ANSWER 5:
Everyone has their opinions but from this viewpoint, Manfrotto is superior.
Money spent on Manfrotto is an investment in good tools. I have the 322RC2 head and it's advantages over the older 3265 seem significant for your needs. With the 322RC2 you can mount your heavier camera setup at the axis of the grip and tripod for best comtrol but if you are using a lighter setup, the camera can mount on the end of the grip (see the Manfrotto web illustration) just like with the 3265. I'm very pleased having purchased the 322. It's also light enough and works great on a monopod as well (Manfrotto 680).
- Robert G. Rottschalk

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ANSWER 6:
I use a Manfrotto tripod. Each leg is independently adjustable, a great feature on uneven terrain. The legs can be opened enough to get the tripod nearly flat to the ground. As to a pistol grip, check out the Manfrotto 3265. It comes with a built - in quick release plate and a level. The specs say it is good up to a little over 5 lb. BUT weigh your camera and lens combo. I use a Canon Elan 7 with 28 - 135 and 100 - 300 lenses. Either setup is within the head's published weight spec and I've never had a problem with creep in any position. And, yes, quick release is definitely worth the price. Check BandH or Adorama websites for further specs and cost info.
- Philip Munroe

ANSWER 7:
I'm just going to add my two cents regarding the tripod head.

I was about to buy the Bogen grip when a friend (Lewis Kemper) told me how he got a less expensive head like that and, in the long run, just ended up having to buy a better, more expensive head. The problem with less expensive ball heads is that your camera will often "travel" - or slip a bit.

I went with the Arca Swiss B1 ball head and love it. This is a very expensive head but, if you think you are going to be using it for several years, you may want to save yourself money in the long run by getting the best tripod head right from the start.
- Jim at BetterPhoto.com

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