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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 - Sunday, April 04, 2004
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* SPOTLIGHT: Spring Courses Launch This Wednesday!
* BETTERPHOTO: Close-Up Encounters: The Soft-Focus Side of Macro Photography
* BETTERPHOTO: Join Guest Instructor Jay Forman for Beginning Photography
* BETTERPHOTO: Jim Zuckerman Offers 8 Ways to Dramatically Improve Your Work
* PHOTO TRIVIA QUESTION: Impressions in a Photographer's Studio / Using His Little Grey Cells
* THIS WEEK'S TIP: An Easy Way to Use Graduated ND Filters ... by Brenda Tharp
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 1: How to Blur the Background
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 2: Photographing Reflections in Water Drops
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 3: My Lens Moves Around in the Mount
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 4: Macro Lens for the Canon 300D
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 5: Ins and Outs of Metal Vs. Plastic
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 6: This Autofocus Lens Simply Won't Autofocus
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 7: Slide Film in the Studio
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 8: Is a Digital SLR Good Enough?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 9: Setting Up a Portable Studio
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 10: How to Shoot a Document That Is Behind Glass
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 1: Digital Cameras and Low Light
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 2: How to Shoot Glass Art
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 3: How to I Get Clients Without a Studio?


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IN THE SPOTLIGHT - ADVERTISEMENT
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Spring Courses Launch This Wednesday!
Spring is such a great season for learning photography, but time is getting short. A number of our photo classes are already filled to the brim, and still others are nearing capacity.

All the same, there are spots left in many of the courses! The first lesson goes out this Wednesday. That means you still have time to sign up for a springtime burst of creativity and excitement!

Get direct feedback from published photographer-authors such as Bryan F. Peterson, Jim Zuckerman, Joe McDonald, Kathleen T. Carr, Vik Orenstein and more. With so many great teachers, we have the perfect course for you. Take a look at our selection at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/online-photography-courses.asp


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WHAT'S NEW AT BETTERPHOTO.COM
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Welcome to the 154th issue of SnapShot!

Hi

Looking ahead to this week's start of spring courses, I am really thrilled with our line-up - it's never been better! In this issue of Snapshot, we feature two of our offerings - "Beginning Photography" with guest instructor Jay Forman and "Eight Steps To More Dramatic Photography" with Jim Zuckerman.

Still, I realize that the decision-making process can be a daunting one. If you need help choosing a course, feel free to email us or to check out our course categories page at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/categories.asp

SURVEY - A BETTERPHOTO EVENT?

On another note, it has come to our attention that some BetterPhoto members would like to get together in person. So I want to ask you a brief question:

How interested would you be in attending a BetterPhoto Conference in the Seattle area? If we were to put on such an event, it would likely feature talks and mini-courses with select BetterPhoto instructors, a print photo contest, and an opportunity to meet other BetterPhoto members!

If such an event is something that interests you, reply to this email with a short "Yes" or "No". Feel free to give us your thoughts or suggestions regarding such an event.

Have a great week,
Jim Miotke
http://www.betterphoto.com/MG.asp?ID=124


*****
Close-Up Encounters: The Soft-Focus Side of Macro Photography
The wonderful world of macro photography transports viewers into a dazzling world of miniature subjects. But, adds BetterPhoto instructor Kerry Drager, shooting an extreme close-up also means dealing with a great challenge: a surprisingly narrow depth of field (what's in sharp focus from front to back in the final image). Nonetheless, macro's DOF side-effect also lets you produce painterly images that rely more on soft forms than on sharp details. In fact, with a little practice, you'll soon find that a super-shallow DOF is something to cheer about, rather than something to complain about! Learn more by reading Kerry's article at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/article.asp?id=9


*****
Join Guest Instructor Jay Forman for Beginning Photography
BetterPhoto founder Jim Miotke developed the lessons and assignments for "Beginning Photography" - which has become so popular that Jim created overflow courses to meet the demand. As a guest instructor, acclaimed photographer Jay Forman will be answering your questions and critiquing your photos. This 8-week course is especially designed for novice shooters and will give your photographic hobby a big jump start. For the specifics, go to:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/JAY02.asp


*****
Jim Zuckerman Offers 8 Ways to Dramatically Improve Your Work
There are definitive things you can do to immediately transform your photography from mediocre and unfulfilling to exciting and dynamic. Photographer-author Jim Zuckerman shares his knowledge in his eight-week online course, "Eight Steps To More Dramatic Photography." In this course, you will learn to improve your ability to create better compositions, pre-visualize, avoid distracting elements that intrude on the subject, and use color more effectively. For all the details on this class, go to:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/JZK01.asp

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PHOTO TRIVIA QUIZ OF THE WEEK
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Last week, we asked:
In the late 1800's, a group of painters joined forces and held a public exhibition at the studio of a Paris photographer. Who was exhibiting and how did one painting there give the group of painters their name?

The first, best answer - entered by BetterPhoto member Rangan Banerjee is:
The group of painters including Pissarro, Monet, Sisley, Degas, Renoir, Cezanne had put up an exhibition in the salon of the Paris photographer, Nadar. There was displayed the painting Impressions : soleil levant, by Claude Monet. This painting provided the name IMPRESSIONISM to the movement.

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 - Using His Little Grey Cells - entered by BetterPhoto member Jim Miotke

Which famous British actor enjoys photography and shoots with a Nikon? What was the first camera he owned, bought for him by his grandfather, himself a famous "Fleet Street photographer"?

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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An Easy Way to Use Graduated ND Filters ... by Brenda Tharp
It's not always easy to tell where the "line" of gradation begins on a filter when looking through the viewfinder. To make things easier, take a piece of paper and place it over the darker area, to where it just meets the gradation line on the filter. Fold the other end over the edge of the filter, trimming to have just enough to allow it to "hang" on the filter. I use a 3x5 card, but any paper will do if you trim it to the same width as the filter. When using your filter in a holder, you can place this piece of paper over the filter, and when you slide the filter up or down, the part that's the darkest will be completely dark - covered by the paper. This allows you to see where the gradation line will end up in your picture. When you are satisfied with your placement, pull the paper off and proceed with your photography.

Check out Brenda Tharp's online photo courses:

"Creating Visual Impact"
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/BRN01.asp

"Beyond the Postcard: Creating Memorable Travel Images"
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/BRN02.asp

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: How to Blur the Background
I am really wanting to shoot something with a blurred background. I've seen others do it, and it looks really neat. I thought I read my manual on "how to," but whatever it was I did was not right - go figure. So ultimately my question is: How do I focus on my subject, but blur the background???
- Lee Anne Pentz

ANSWER 1:
The wider the aperture, the more blur to the background. And the longer the focal length, the more blur to the background. Thus, f/2.8 has more blur than f/8. And a 200mm has more blur than a 28mm.
- 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=8971

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=8971

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*****


NEW QUESTION 2: Photographing Reflections in Water Drops
Can anyone tell me how to shoot water drops to capture the image reflected in the water? Thanks!
- Linda Spatuzzi

ANSWER 1:
You need a lens that can get close enough to the water drop so you can see the image. After that, it's just a matter of positioning the object behind the water drop, and positioning your camera so that the image appears clearly. And you focus on the water drop, not whatever's behind it. Because of the cohesive nature of water, a single drop has a curved surface, so it acts just like a glass lens. And if you have to add light to the subject, put the lights between the subject and the water drop, not between you and the water drop. It's really something anybody can do - you just need to be able to get a close enough image of the water drop for whatever's behind it to be visible.
- 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=8967

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=8967

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NEW QUESTION 3: My Lens Moves Around in the Mount
Is it common for a lens to "move around" in the lens mount a small amount? This only seems to happen with my 28-80 Sigma lens in my Canon EOS Rebel GII and doesn't with my Sigma 70-300 lens.
- Jordan

ANSWER 1:
I noticed this once with one of my Nikons, and found out that the lens mount on the camera body was loose. I tightened the screws that attach it, and fixed the problem. Maybe the mount on your 28-80 has a few loose screws.
- Bob Cammarata

Visit cammphoto.com - Bob's Deluxe BetterPholio™

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=8964

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=8964

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NEW QUESTION 4: Macro Lens for the Canon 300D
Until recently I used a 35mm Yashica Dental Eye for clinical and nature photography. Now my job requires more medical clinical macro work, so I am making the transition to digital with the Canon 300D, but need advice on the best macro lens for the job. The Dental Eye had a 100mm lens, so I was wondering if it as simple as replicating that lens or should I be taking more into consideration
- Andrew M. McDonald

ANSWER 1:
With respect to macro, the 1.6x crop factor of the smaller digital sensor is not relevant. Close-focus working distance and image magnification are unchanged. So the usual suspects would be the Canon EF 100 f/2.8 USM Macro, Tamron 90 f/2.8 Macro, and Sigma 105 f/2.8 EX Macro.
- Jon Close

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=8962

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=8962

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NEW QUESTION 5: Ins and Outs of Metal Vs. Plastic
I am considering buying a Canon Elan 7NE. Is it worth it to get the "better" metal mount lens rather than the plastic mount lens the Elan comes with? I've been told the metal mount 28-90 is faster, quieter, and sharper, and it costs a hundred dollars more. Does it really make a huge difference? Or should I just find a longer used lens?
- Michael

ANSWER 1:
By all means, the metal mount is much better ... espically if you're going to hang onto the camera for a long time. The plastic mounts wear out much faster than the metal mounts. "Faster" lenses usually cost more than "slower" lenses. I prefer faster lenses because I have a wider control with depth of field, which effects shutter speed too. The 28-90 is a good start, but you'll want a longer lens in the future. Which one you get now is totally up to your preference.
- Terry L. Long

ANSWER 2:
A metal mount is better, but it's really only a concern if you have more than one lens and change lenses often. The standard kit zooms are fine, especially if you rarely enlarge beyond the 4x6 prints. With the better mid-level zooms, you usually get sharpter optics and a "faster" (i.e., wider) maximum aperture of f/3.5-4.5 instead of f/4-5.6. And the lens front does not rotate with focus or zoom, so that it is much more convenient to use with a polarizer and certain other filters, faster/quieter ring-USM that has nicely damped full-time manual focus, focus distance scale, and overall nicer quality. Professional-level zooms will have all of those features, plus even better optics utilizing expensive low dispersion lens elements, a larger constant maximum aperture of f/2.8, and a heavy/rugged build.
- Jon Close

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=8946

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=8946

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*****


NEW QUESTION 6: This Autofocus Lens Simply Won't Autofocus
I just purchased this new lens - the Canon 100-400mm L IS USM. I have had my Canon Digital Rebel for almost 6 months. This lens does not want to autofocus at all. It just clicks when I go to take a picture. I've tried all different camera settings. Sometimes it gives me an Error 99 message. The solution to that error says to remove and re-insert battery. I did that and still no luck. I plug a different lens in (28-135 IS), and it works just fine. Any ideas? I thought maybe it was a compatibility issue, but according to Canon's Web Site, all EOS lenses are compatible with the Digital Rebel. HELP!
- Shaun C. Smith

See Shaun's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 1:
There should be no "clicks" when autofocusing. The USM and IS should be near silent with some gentle "whirring." "Clicks" would indicate to me some damage. Did you buy the 100-400 new or secondhand? If new, you should contact Canon customer service. If secondhand, that might be the reason the original owner sold it.
- Jon Close

ANSWER 2:
Make sure the lens is turned till it locks all the way. Sometime if I haven't twisted it all the way on when I change lenses I'll get an error sign. But if an autofocus lens has been dropped, the very tiny gears inside get jammed up and will make clicking and grunting sounds when on autofocus. The lens could still work fine on manual focus.
- 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=8929

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=8929

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*****


NEW QUESTION 7: Slide Film in the Studio
I am going to shoot a model for my project. I have planned to shoot her with Fuji Provia reversal film. This is the first time I am taking photos with reversal film. So what are the techiniqes I can use with reversal film in the studio? What are the limitations? And another question: I want to do cross-processing ... What are the steps I have to do for that?
- Vamshi P. Haran

ANSWER 1:
Hello Vamshi. If you want to cross-process, you have to cross-process the entire roll. Here's how I do it: Let's say I have Provia 100. I will manually set my camera's ISO at 50. I will shoot as I would normally. When I take the film to the lab, I tell them the settings I used (shot at 50), and then I ask them to process in C-41 chemistry. You will get great results. The colors turn out very saturated. It's a great way get a different look. I have some stuff like that, and people really like it a lot.
- Jerry Frazier

See Jerry's Premium BetterPholio™

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=8927

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=8927

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*****


NEW QUESTION 8: Is a Digital SLR Good Enough?
I'm growing my photo business and need to purchase gear that will cover the most ground for me. At present I'm in a position to buy either a new/used medium format system (Mamiya Pro TL) or a digital SLR (Nikon D70). I shoot Nikon and already have lenses for them. The majority of my work in the past has been weddings and advertising. I would like to also be able to amass stock work. If I go with the D70, will I be able to do bridal portraits that will stand up to enlargements of 16x20? For that matter, how large can you make a print from a 6.1mp camera and have quality results? As for stock, is it realistic to shoot stock with a 6.1mp camera?
- Tim Reese

ANSWER 1:
Yes - the D70 should be fine.
- Damian Gadal

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

ANSWER 2:
Thanks, Damian. Also, just how good is a DSLR? How big a print can you make with one and have quality results that you can consistently sell clients?
- Tim Reese

ANSWER 3:
I have had 20x30 prints made of my TIFF images after converting from RAW format without any other manipulation. I shoot with the Nikon D100 6.3mp DSLR. You will need to shoot in your camera's RAW format (Nikon = NEF) and then use PS or other RAW conversion software to convert to TIFFs. Shooting in JPEG-FINE-LARGE will give you about a 2.5MB file. I don't advise shooting in JPEG for a number of reasons. Most pros shoot in RAW so they can tweak exposure or other issues after the shot and before converting and printing. There are new 8mp consumer cameras out now, but there is more to getting good images than megapixels. The D70 is a nice camera, but I have heard you cannot use studio lighting with it. I suggest you look into the D100 or even the D1X or D2H for studio work. I have used my D100 with my Alien Bees studio flash without any problems.I would add that switching from film to digital is not something you can do between jobs. You will need to learn digital on the side until you are comfortable with the workflow issues. Many people are misinformed about the learning curve here. There is much more involved in digital photography than simply shooting and printing. Photoshop is an integral part of digital shooting. You should include this into your digital budget along with any peripheral software that will make your workflow actually "flow" and not "frustrate" you.
- Piper Lehman

See Piper's Premium BetterPholio™

Visit pipershots.com - Piper's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 4:
... and, YES, you should use at least a DSLR for shooting stock in digital format. The megapixels are important, but many pros shoot stock with less than 6mp cameras. The number of megapixels, while important, is not as important as the end-use FILE SIZE. My principle agency wants 36MB TIFF files, minimally.
- Piper Lehman

See Piper's Premium BetterPholio™

Visit pipershots.com - Piper's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 5:
Thanks, Piper. Great info. And, I couldn't agree with you more on the workflow of digital. Right now I describe myself as a film photographer who has his toes dipped into the digital water. It sounds to me like the Photoshop CS Raw converter is the ticket and worth every penny. Right now I'm using Photoshop 6, and I get so frustated with my RAW mode, mainly because I can more quickly and easily manipulate a .jpeg, that that's what I use - even though I know that I shouldn't do it.
- Jerry Frazier

See Jerry's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 6:
Jerry, just remember, you can always get a JPEG from a RAW file, but you can't go the other way. I can't tell you how many images I've lamented over because the only file I have is a 72dpi JPEG. Before I got my D100, I was shooting digital with a POS compact just for the fun family shots. I was still using slide film for important things, but I hadn't yet gotten into stock either. I wish so much that I had shot the POS digitals with film instead. Now they are useless except on the Web. This said, I do still use JPEG format with my D100, but only when I'm absolutely positive that what I'm shooting isn't stock-worthy. This is still a tricky way to go, since there have been many times that a family photo turned out to be a stock-worthy shot but I couldn't use it because of the size. RAW is always your "safest" way to shoot. It just might not be feasible at all times unless you have the dough to spring for a 2 or 4 gig CF card.
- Piper Lehman

See Piper's Premium BetterPholio™

Visit pipershots.com - Piper's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 7:
One more thought. Remember, there is more to using RAW than just getting a large file size. I don't trust my skills enough to get everything just perfect every time with exposure and all. Having the option to tweak color and white balance, tone, contrast, etc., is a nerve soother for me. I don't have to worry so much as long as I'm close. You can't do that with JPEG, no matter how large.
- Piper Lehman

See Piper's Premium BetterPholio™

Visit pipershots.com - Piper's Deluxe BetterPholio™

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=8915

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=8915

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*****


NEW QUESTION 9: Setting Up a Portable Studio
I'm in need of information on how to achieve "quality" studio portraits. My equipment consists of a Nikon camera with a SB-50DX flash unit on a Stratos bracket. I have had all sorts of problems, from terrible shadows to washed-out images from too much flash. I have been asked to shoot indoor portraits of people and have declined because I am afraid of the results. With so many lighting systems on the market, I have no idea of which way to go. I want it to be portable, but my main objective is quality.
- Diane T. Phillips

ANSWER 1:
It sounds like you are putting the flash on the bracket and just shooting. Most portraits you see are done with some kind of diffusion to diffuse the light and spread it out - like an umbrella or a soft box. The simplest set-up would be to use your flash, but get an umbrella and some way to attach it so that you bounce the light with the umbrella. You can use fabric for a background, and if your walls are white in your house, they can act as a fill reflector for the other side.
- Gregory La Grange

Visit gregorylagrange.org - Gregory's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
Thank you for taking the time to give me this advice. Am I to understand that I should move the flash off-camera and buy a softbox to mount on the tripod/stand? I also would like to know your opinion on the Omni Bounce. The white wall is also a great tip.
- Diane T. Phillips

ANSWER 3:
Hi Diane: You need to be able to move your lights around in order to get different effects and also to flatter the features of your subjects. Good luck.
- Pamela CM Lammersen

Visit pcmlphotography.com - Pamela's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 4:
Having the flash come from a direction other than straight on will allow you to get a more portrait look - whether it's off the camera or turning the head of the flash and bouncing it. I'm not familiar with the Omni Bounce, at least not by name. But the prinicple is the same whether it's something like that, or whether it's a wall, or a foam board from a store. So you don't have to buy a soft box, but if it's something that will make it easier to get what you see in your mind, then it would be a good idea. There are soft boxes, umbrellas, and attachments that fit directly on the flash head.
- Gregory La Grange

Visit gregorylagrange.org - Gregory's Deluxe BetterPholio™

See Sample Photo - pears:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGallDetail.asp?photoID=342226

See Sample Photo - black&white:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGallDetail.asp?photoID=342225

ANSWER 5:
Can you suggest a particular lens?
- Diane T. Phillips

ANSWER 6:
Anything from 50mm to 200mm - depending on how much space you have and the perspective you want. If you want to have some space between you and the subject, a 135 is good. You can always move closer, or back.
- 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=8910

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=8910

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*****


NEW QUESTION 10: How to Shoot a Document That Is Behind Glass
I have an Olympus D-460 Zoom camera and have some documents that are behind glass that can't be taken out of their frames. How do I get a proper picture? I have tried several times, but my lighting is off - so I end up getting a reflection of myself or whatever is around glaring from the glass.
- Betty Amirault

ANSWER 1:
Turn off the camera's flash. Most museums don't allow use of flash anyway as the light from flash deteriorates paper, fades ink, etc. Try to block the reflections from the sides with a dark sheet, or coat, or hat. Getting the camera closer to the glass helps. Use a rubber lens hood - then, if you hold the camera so that the hood is against the glass case, you won't get any reflection.
- Jon Close

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=8905

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=8905

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

CONTINUING QUESTION 1: Digital Cameras and Low Light
I have used only film. I tend to shoot a lot of shots with minimal light (i.e., a quarter of an hour before actual sunrise and also past sunset) - big-scene shots so I don't use flash. How do digital cameras perform in the twilight zone? What should I look out for, as I am thinking of buying a digital camera, but am not throwing out the old camera just yet. Of course, I take many other shots with normal light, but I do enjoy the subtle colours of pre-dawn and post-sunset. Thanks.
- Joe Terni

ANSWER 1:
How long of an exposure do you want to have? Some digital cameras, notably the Canon 10D, have very low noise, even at a fairly high ISO speed (you can go up to 800 if you process the image with some tool like NeatImage or Noise Ninja later). Even 1600 is usable, although noticeably noisy. However, for very long exposures (several minutes and more) you have to deal with another problem, the heat glow: the amplifier circuit will heat the sensor from one side and result in a reddish glow that creeps from the edge of the frame as you increase the exposure. It's less of a problem in cold weather, for obvious reasons.
- Fedor G. Pikus

ANSWER 2:
Thanks, Fedor. I should have been more specific. I am not really looking at the long exposure shots (but the info you gave will be beneficial for me as well as I will be doing some longer exposure shots in the future). What I am trying to ask is how do the digitals perform say at the limit of hand-held film cameras - say, at 1/60th sec with ASA film of 200 or 400? I tend to take a lot of just pre- dawn shots at that setting or until the sun is above the horizon where I have more light. I try and avoid a tripod and wait till I have enough light, albeit minimal. Please forgive me if I am asking a seemingly basic question, but I realy know nothing at all about digitals. Thanks for that info on the longer exposures with digitals.
- Joe Terni

ANSWER 3:
As far as hand-holding, it's the same as for film cameras, as long as the body is comfortable for you. So what you are really asking is, how usable is ISO 400 on a digital camera? That depends on the camera very much, since noise levels vary greatly. When you read reviews of cameras, noise is what you should be looking for to evaluate camera's fitness for your needs. The Canon 10D and Digital Rebel both have low noise, as well as the new Nikon D70, which competes with the Digital Rebel.
- Fedor G. Pikus

ANSWER 4:
The general rule for hand holding is 1 over the 35mm equivalence of the focal length of the lens. "Film" speed is not a factor. For example: Typically the slowest shutter speed acceptable for hand-held use for a 60mm lens would be 1/60. However, depending on the camera and person, you can go to much slower shutter speeds. I have taken 2-plus-second hand-held exposures with a 135mm lens on my SLR, but for my lightweight digital, I am almost limited to the rule. You will need to do some experimentation too to figure out the best way to hold and brace the camera, as well as the maximum time for each part of the zoom range.
- Joe

ANSWER 5:
Joe, I think you will discover that quality digital cameras excel in capturing low light images. As stated above, hand holding for low light shots is just as much a problem for digital as for film cameras. My advice is to use a tripod and shoot at lower ISO's to get cleaner, sharper images. I shoot with a tripod most of the time - regardless of the light - because I don't want to enlarge a good image only to find that it is slightly blurred due to camera movement. As far as low-light image quality, I have a couple of midnight thunderstorm images posted to my gallery (captured with my Olympus E-20) that were 30-sec exposures - my camera actually recorded colors that I don't believe film would have. If you enjoy low light photography, you'll love digital.
- Greg McCroskery

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ANSWER 6:
Thanks, Greg, I have and still do take a fair amount of low-light pictures. I have tripods, but many times do not have one along when a good opportunity arises. The mass of my film SLR was such that it allowed for 2-or-more-second hand-held exposures. I have found that point and shoot cameras need to follow the rule I mentioned above because they tend to be lightweight. In fact, the pressure of pushing the button is enough to jiggle the camera. I have an 11X14 photo on my wall that was taken at night without a tripod. It is very clear. Camera mass has its benefits. :-) One reason the digital will work better is the white balance feature. I have been able to get much more accurate colors in low light using digital. In low light I usually like using the appropriate settings instead of auto.
- Joe

ANSWER 7:
Joe, I'm impressed by your ability to hand-hold to 2 seconds! I have never been comfortable with long exposures without support. Care to share any secrets?
- Bob Cammarata

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ANSWER 8:
Wow, the only lens I can hand-hold over 1 second is the Canon 70-200 L IS, and that's only because the IS on this lens is amazing.
- Fedor G. Pikus

ANSWER 9:
I have been able to do it with my K1000, but that is because it is heavy. Just hold your breath, relax and slowly squeeze the shutter. Do not move until you can see through the lens again. Leaning against something helps too. I have not been able to be anywhere near as steady with my digital camera.
- Joe

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CONTINUING QUESTION 2: How to Shoot Glass Art
I have a unique chance to photograph artists who create glass sculptures. This is the first time I have ever shot a subject like this. What lenses and/or filters do you recommend that I use to take full advantage of this opportunity? I will be photographing the artists, their process from designing to production of a piece, and then the finished colored glass art. I use a Canon D60. Thank you in advance.
- RJ

ANSWER 1:
Lens choice will depend upon the size of the finished product and how close you are able to get to it, and the artist. Any lens from standard size to portrait (50-120mm) with close-focusing capability should work. Try backlighting the finished product to accentuate its shape and detail.
- Bob Cammarata

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ANSWER 2:
To shoot glassware, try to use side lights, lights from above or below it. You can also use a dark cloth or base to stand the glass piece, and a light background - so you´ll get the object in dark shades against the light background. The reverse would work too - light stand and dark background.As you´re using a DSLR, take care with the correct adjustment of the white balance. I suggest you use concentrated dichroic continuous light sources ... cheap and effective. Another tip: You can use a cross screen filter to get some light "star shape" sparkling ... in some cases it´s cool.
- Charles Dias

ANSWER 3:
Do not forget about the opportunity to shoot the artist with his/her piece of artwork, with a moderate wide-angle lens (28 or 35). Also, make sure you catch the pride in the artist's eyes when you take this photo. If you see a lot of glare in the glass or unwanted reflections, you might try a polarizer. You could try it both ways - with and without a polarizer - and see which shot is better.
- Dev Mukherjee

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CONTINUING QUESTION 3: How to I Get Clients Without a Studio?
People call about having their pictures taken, but when I tell them I don't have a studio, that's the end of the call. I have backdrops and lights, in order to take the pictures at their location of choice. What can I say to entice these people into having their photographs taken outdoors or letting me set up in their location?
- Barbara Hoblitzell

ANSWER 1:
Have a way to show them some of your on-location shots - whether outdoors or set up. If you can give potential clients an idea of how their photos will turn out, then you can take it from there. But if the pictures are good, yet they still don't want their place used as the location, then you either have to turn a room in your home into a studio, find some office space to start your own studio, or pay somebody who has a studio to use theirs.
- Gregory La Grange

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ANSWER 2:
Barbara, try some of the local art studios or galleries. I found one and rent space inexpensively from them to store my equipment and use for studio sittings. They also allow me to participate in their showings at a reduced cost. Hope this helps.
- Elizabeth DAntonio

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ANSWER 3:
Barbara, I just tell people that my home serves part-time as my studio. I set up my backdrops and lights as needed, then take them down. People don't mind what your "studio" looks like, as long as you provide good results. I use my family room to set up for closer shots of head and shoulders, and set up in the garage (we move the car out) when needing full-length shots.
- Shirley Cross

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ANSWER 4:
Barbara, I even use the local community center to set up when I need a studio - especially during the holidays when I can schedule several clients for a single afternoon.
- D L. Blackbird

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