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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, June 07, 2004
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* SPOTLIGHT: Enjoy a Season of Learning and Shooting!
* BETTERPHOTO: Exciting Enhancements to July Contest!
* FEATURED GALLERY: A Great Photo Subject ... Right at Your Fingertips
* FEATURED PLACE: Capturing Central Europe's Color and Character
* PHOTO TRIVIA QUESTION: Where Is He From? / Photographer First Lady
* THIS WEEK'S TIP: More Pet Photography Advice ... By Tom Theodore
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 1: Tele-Extenders: Benefits Vs. Drawbacks
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 2: Wal-Mart Film Developing & Prints
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 3: Buying Digital and Going Nuts
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 4: Flash Work and Babies
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 5: Can Fingerprints Be Removed from a Negative?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 6: Outdoor Shadows on Subjects' Faces
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 7: Model and Property Releases
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 8: Which Is the Best Beginner's Camera to Buy?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 9: Signing Prints
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 10: Web Site Traffic and Sales
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 11: Please Help Me Buy a Camera
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 12: Airport Security: Is It Safe for Digital Cameras?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 13: Lighting for Indoor Portraits
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 14: Query Digital EVF = NOT so great?
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 1: Manual or Automatic Focus for Nature Photos?
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 2: SLR Digital Vs. Point and Shoot Digital
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 3: How to Ask Strangers If I Can Take a Photo of Them


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IN THE SPOTLIGHT - ADVERTISEMENT
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Enjoy a Season of Learning and Shooting!
BetterPhoto's current session of online photo courses may be winding down, but signups for the summer session are just starting to heat up. In fact, some classes are already full, while others are filling fast. And it's no wonder: After all, our course lineup has never been better - in fact, there's something for just about any photographer! If you need help in the selection process, be sure to review our course categories page at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/categories.asp


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WHAT'S NEW AT BETTERPHOTO.COM
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Welcome to the 163rd issue of SnapShot!

Hi

The big news this week involves the new BetterPhoto contest. See below for details!

Now for this issue of SnapShot: We have lots of interest - in particular, another fantastic collection of questions and answers. Also, don't miss the Featured Gallery, which offers excellent ideas for "hands-on" photography. Featured Place takes us on a wonderful visual tour through Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. Member Tom Theodore checks in with This Week's Tip on photographing pets. And, in the Photo Trivia quiz, see if you can guess the name of the photographer-turned-First Lady.

That's it for now. Have an enjoyable week of photography!
Jim Miotke
http://www.betterphoto.com/MG.asp?ID=124


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Exciting Enhancements to July Contest!
We are thrilled about the pending changes for the BetterPhoto contest, and we are confident that these changes will help continue to make it the best photo contest around. Although these improvements won't be in effect until the July contest, we wanted to start letting you know about them now.

For example, we're planning new and improved categories, as well as monthly themes and daily judging. Some things, however, will NOT change: The contest will remain free ... and open to all. Stay tuned to upcoming SnapShots for more details! Meantime, don't hesitate to enter the current contest at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/contest.asp

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FEATURED GALLERY
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A Great Photo Subject ... Right at Your Fingertips
Human hands can lead to some surprisingly artistic photographs. Not convinced? Then take a look at some of the outstanding work by BetterPhoto members and instructors! With the right positioning, hands can be pictured in an eye-catching design - all by themselves. Or capture hands with a "prop" - say, a colorful object. Also, zoom in on hands performing a task. And, of course, you can photograph hands providing that all-important bond between parent and child. For shooting ideas and inspiration, check out BetterPhoto's "Hands Pictures" gallery at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGall2.asp?catID=352

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FEATURED PLACE
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Capturing Central Europe's Color and Character
Grand landscapes, beautiful rural scenes, and amazing architecture are just some of the photographic delights to be found in central Europe. But there's another good reason to shoot in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria: the people! Just check out the wonderful close-up portraits and excellent environmental portraits - in addition to other scenes - that have been captured by BetterPhoto photographers. Stop by the "Germany, Switzerland, and Austria" gallery at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGall2.asp?catID=177

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PHOTO TRIVIA QUIZ OF THE WEEK
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Last week, we asked:
Fill in the blank: Pecker is the story of a young photographer from ______ who gets discovered by the New York art scene.

The first, best answer - entered by BetterPhoto member Blanca Acosta is:
Baltimore (more specifically, the Hampden area of Baltimore)

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 - Photographer First Lady - entered by BetterPhoto member Jose Alas

Which U.S. First Lady was a professional photographer before becoming the First Lady?

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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More Pet Photography Advice ... By Tom Theodore
To add to the great photo tips Jim Miotke had about the table and using a friend to distract the animal, I often use a small squeaky toy when photographing pets. The toy works wonders for getting the animal to look at you, and it really gets dogs' ears to perk up. I have also found that when you photograph animals, you should try to get to their eye level ... that really makes for a nicer portrait.

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: Tele-Extenders: Benefits Vs. Drawbacks
I have a Nikon D-70 with the 18-70 zoom. Does anyone have any experience or comments about using a 1.4 or 2.0 tele-extender? Am I better off with the Nikon unit or one manufactured by Tokina, Tamron or Sigma, for example? Is my money better spent elsewhere? Thanks for your input!
- Jerry Cocuzza

ANSWER 1:
Hi Jerry. The use of teleconverters (that fit between the lens and body of an SLR) is a "swings and roundabouts" situation.

Roundabouts (gains): 1. Cheaper than an additional tele-lens. 2. Light and small (about the size of a 50mm prime).

Swings (losses): 1. Not so sharp as a "proper" tele. 2. Not recommended at the wide end of your current lens (distortion and vignetting possible).

Personally, I use a x2 with my 28-80 f2.8 when I want to go "light" (without the 70-200 f2.8). It's nice to have that extra length available for use if an unforeseen opportunity arises. I suspect that you will see a significant price advantage if you go for a unit from Tokina, Tamron, or Sigma over the genuine Nikon unit. Watch out for really cheap units with poor optics - they really are not worth the savings.

As with all these things, these are my opinions - your mileage may vary. Cheers.
- Dave Cross

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=9839

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=9839

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*****


NEW QUESTION 2: Wal-Mart Film Developing & Prints
I developed a roll of film recently and, looking at the negatives, I noticed there is a substantial amount of cropping in the picture when compared to the negative. Is that normal? Should I start leaving extra space at the edges when I take the picture? Or should I develop somewhere else?
- Lin Schlabach

ANSWER 1:
Is that normal? - Yes. Should I start leaving extra space at the edges when I take the picture? - Maybe. Or should I develop somewhere else? - Maybe.

This is common for all high-volume processors. It takes too much manual intervention to precisely match the full frame to a borderless print. Plus, there are minute differences in the spacing between the frames on the negative strip from one camera to the next. The machines are set for an average spacing and slightly greater than 4x6 enlargement so that there are not blank spaces on the print. A true full-frame print is a custom job that is going to cost more.

Most consumer-level SLRs have a viewfinder that shows only 90-95% of the image, so unless the operator has really messed up, these cropped prints should match what was seen in the viewfinder.
- Jon Close

ANSWER 2:
P.S. I forgot one thing: If you are getting 4x6-inch prints, that format matches the proportions of the 24mm x 36mm film frame. If you are selecting 5x7-inch prints, then this different proportioned format necessarily crops at least 1/2 inch from the long side (exact match to the film frame would be 5 x 7.5 inches).
- Jon Close

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=9832

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=9832

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NEW QUESTION 3: Buying Digital and Going Nuts
I have been reading the QandA section on the BetterPhoto site for a few months now. I have gained so much valuable information, but I am still stuck with a question. My wife and I want to buy a digital camera - especially to have for the birth of our first child. She would like a point-and-shoot with LCD screen. I am leaning much more towards the Canon Digital Rebel (I currently shoot with a Rebel 2000). I enjoy taking close-up shots of flowers, landscapes, and portraits. Here's my question:

In terms of quality, would I be disappointed with a point-and-shoot? Are certain point-and-shoots better than others? Can you still control the aperture and shutter speed with a point-and-shoot? I have recently bought a close-up lens for my Canon, so I know that I would be able to use that with the Digital Rebel. I'm also concerned that having to look through a digital LCD screen will drive me nuts when taking shots.

I have been driving myself crazy for a number of weeks now. I appreciate any advice you can give!! Thanks in advance.
- Seth

ANSWER 1:
Hi Seth. There are plenty of point-and-shoot cameras with enough manual control to satisfy your creative urges, yet are automatic enough for the ease of one who is maybe not so camera inclined. Check out the Olympus C740-750uz for a great example - the 10x zoom alone is what impressed me. You can control the aperture and shutter speeds (although there is a smaller range than with a DSLR). You still have a viewfinder with this camera, it's just that it's digital - which means that you see exactly what the picture WILL look like, depending on your settings. If you are the primary shooter, then you would probably be pleased with the Rebel, and since you have some accessories already, you would start out ahead dollar-wise. My few cents.
- Mikki Cowles

ANSWER 2:
I agree. The Olympus line will do much of what you're talking about, if you can have a salesperson show you a C-750-UZ. The one issue with these is some shutter lag, but they do the trick for much everything else.
- Damian Gadal

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

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=9819

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=9819

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NEW QUESTION 4: Flash Work and Babies
I have shot a few pics of my son using natural light but the pics didn't come out great. He's just a few weeks old, and I have been wondering if I could use a flash in his face, so to speak?
- Takundae Tatundae

ANSWER 1:
It's probably not a good idea to aim your flash at the baby directly. Try to step back and use a longer focal-length lens, and bounce the flash off the ceiling or a wall. The diffused light creates a better-looking image than straight-on flash anyway. If you have a very high ceiling or the walls and ceiling are not white, then bouncing the light on the baby may have a color cast. You can buy a diffuse accessory (e.g. Sto-fen Omni-bounce, around $20), put it on the flash head and point the head up at 45 degrees. It works just like bouncing light from the ceiling. Hope this helps.
- Andy Szeto

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=9810

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=9810

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NEW QUESTION 5: Can Fingerprints Be Removed from a Negative?
I just dropped off a 35mm negative (at a very reputable lab) to have re-prints made (a 5x7 and 8x10). The lab tech told me that there were fingerprints on the negative and they would probably show up on the photo. She said they cannot be removed from the negative. Is this true?
- Debi Beard

ANSWER 1:
It would depend on how long the prints were there. Treat the negative as if it were a plastic eye-glass lens: Breathe on it and wipe with a very - repeat - very soft cloth. If the prints have been there for a while, the acids in skin oil may have eaten into the film, and then there is no way I know of to get them out. Maybe some of our restoration experts may have a suggestion.
- Tom Walker

ANSWER 2:
If the fingerprints are on the base side (shiny), it could be cleaned. But it sounds like it's on the emulsion side(dull). Some people might say "soak it", but I don't recommend that. So the best thing is to scan it, retouch the damage, and print it digitally. That is really all you can do now.

Vince www.PhotoAgo.com
- Vince Broesch

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=9800

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http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=9800

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NEW QUESTION 6: Outdoor Shadows on Subjects' Faces
I am taking some outdoor photos this weekend for a golf scramble and am concerned there will be shadows on the subjects' faces from the golf hats. If I use a flash, will that overexpose the face? What can I do to eliminate the shadow? Thank you for any advice.
- Chrystina

ANSWER 1:
Hi Chrystina. Use your on-camera flash to fill in the shadows. You need to reduce the output or the pictures will look un-natural. Some cameras allow "auto reduction of fill flash" - otherwise, a couple of layers of tissue over the flash head should do it.

If you are taking more "formal" posed shots, an assistant with a white card (about 2 feet square) or a white brolly can reflect some of the natural light up under the hats. Anything with a flat white finish will do - avoid silver (too harsh) and anything coloured.

Check up on any photography restrictions on the course - any restrictions depend on the level of golf being played (and how much money is at stake). Cheers, DC
- Dave Cross

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=9798

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http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=9798

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NEW QUESTION 7: Model and Property Releases
This is going to be a multiple question. When are releases required for shots of buildings, businesses, etc.? Also, in most of the shots I take that include people (if they're not a friend or family), they have no idea that they're being photographed. They are more candid and journalistic photographs - i.e., "Guardian Angels," giving directions to a person on the boardwalk. Thank you for your help.
- Shari Morris

ANSWER 1:
Hi Shari! I was wondering what the answer to this question is, too. Let's hope that someone in the know can help us. :-)
- Diane L. Dupuis-Kallos

See Diane's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
Are you asking about getting permission to photograph and publish pictures of buildings, businesses, etc.? I'm nowhere near an expert on this, but having worked in the tourism industry myself, I do know that a lot of buildings that make money from tourism require a letter of permission/release. If it's a smaller or lesser-known place, they usually say yes (just contact the PR person). In terms of people, if they are recognizable in the photo then you should get a release. I'm not sure about the standard for crowds or large groups of people, though ...
- Rachelle Meilleur

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=9796

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=9796

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NEW QUESTION 8: Which Is the Best Beginner's Camera to Buy?
I'm just a beginner in photography. I want to buy a good SLR manual camera for beginners. I have been recommended the Nikon SLR FM10. Is it a good choice? Which one would you suggest?
- Natasha

ANSWER 1:
Natasha: Well, there are not many basic SLR's out there these days, and the FM10 is as good as any. Cheers!
- Peter K. Burian

See Peter's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
As the resident geezer here, I recommend manual focus, manual exposure-setting SLR's, of which the Nikon FM10 is one. A Nikon FM3A is a bit more expensive, but a pro quality, durable, metal-bodied camera. If you would consider buying used, the Nikon FM and FM2 are good buys as well. Of the major brands of camera, none made a bad 50mm lens, so it's hard to go wrong with even the cheapest of 50's. With Nikons, stick to AI or AIS lenses. My Web page has comments about Canon as used cameras, but only because they are plentiful, relatively cheap, and offer excellent optics for the money. KEH.com is a used dealer that replaces the foam seals and foam mirror bumpers on all used cameras.
- Doug Nelson

Visit DougNelsonPhoto.com - Doug's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 3:
I, too, highly recommend the manual-everything Nikons to learn the basics of photography from the ground up. A used FM or FM2 is likely to be rather old, and you should buy one of these wisely. If you can find one which has been recently serviced or refurbished by Nikon or other reputable facility, it would definitely be worth checking out. This will save you hundreds of dollars over the price of a new body, which can be invested toward better lenses and accessories.
- Bob Cammarata

Visit cammphoto.com - Bob's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 4:
Just pick up a Canon TX off of Ebay. I only use used cameras and haven't had to have any repairs. I also use a couple of Canon ex ee's. I have paid as little as $8.00 for great cameras. New cameras aren't worth what they cost, and they get old too.
- Marvin Swetzer

ANSWER 5:
I forgot to tell you the meter in a Canon TX uses a 1.3-volt mercury battery. You can get them on the Internet, and there are a couple of ways around the mercury battery. You would be better off with any camera to use a light meter. You don't need a battery in a TX to fire the shutter. If you really want to use the camera meter, you may be better off with a Canon AT-1.
- Marvin Swetzer

ANSWER 6:
Don't forget about the Nikon FE2 also - same era as the FM2. It has aperture priority auto-exposure (as well as full manual control) and can control many of the Nikon SB flash units from that era onward using TTL metering. BTW, Nikon continued production of the FM2n until a few years ago. They made them for a very long time. As a result, there's quite an age range among the FM2n's in the used market. With some careful shopping you should be able to find a relatively young one. IMVHO, cosmetic and operating condition are still more important than age. I'd rather have one 5 years older in fully functional and pristine cosmetic condition than one that's obviously taken a beating cosmetically. Cosmetic condition is usually a good indicator of functional condition and how much it has been used. It's not 100-percent accurate and requires a thorough evaluation of its functional condition, but it can help narrow down the field and make finding one in excellent working condition easier.
- John A. Lind

See John's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 7:
While all those comments from the "Nikon" crowd are true, (I also have a couple of old Nikkormats), I would suggest a Pentax K1000 - a good, durable manual-everything camera with an abundance of reasonable-priced lenses available from many mfrs. I have one I've been using for over 20 years, and it's still my back-up.
- Tom Walker

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=9792

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http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=9792

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*****


NEW QUESTION 9: Signing Prints
What is the standard practice for signing unmounted photographic prints? Browsing art fairs I've noticed that usually ... Lithographic art prints are signed on the print in pencil. (I'm a long way from playing in this league!) Matted photographs are signed on the mat in the lower right corner, which I also do. But, I sell more unmounted prints than matted. I format the majority of my images to allow a larger margin on the bottom for this purpose (see my Web site), but I'm unclear if it's acceptable or desirable to buyers to sign them on the front, so I've been just been signing them on the reverse.

I've pretty much decided I should get an Epson 2200 to make my own "giclee/piezo" prints. I will price these much higher than (while still continuing to offer) my "affordable" lab prints, and will sign them as is generally done with litho prints. For the near future they'll be open editions, but I may decide to do some subjects in certain sizes (i.e., on 13x19 paper) as limited editions. www.PhotoGraphics-Gallery.com
- James C. Ritchie

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ANSWER 1:
James, I bought an archival pen - you can find them in a hobby store - and I started signing my photos on the photo itself in a place that does not interfere with the photo. I changed from signing the mattes to signing the photos because someone brought to my attention the fact that if the owner ever wants to re-matte the photo he/she will no longer have the original signature. While to most of us this doesn't really matter, if you were to become very famous (or slightly famous), your signature would be important to the owner. By the way, I have an Epson 2200 and I love it. Hope that helps
- Elizabeth DAntonio

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Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=9789

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*****


NEW QUESTION 10: Web Site Traffic and Sales
Please forgive the long preface to my question. I'm not a professional in that I have ever made a living with my photos. Friends and family finally convinced me that I have lots of work that is equal or superior to much of that we've seen in galleries and art fairs. About a year and a half ago, I decided to test the market on eBay and found that my photos do, in fact, sell. In addition to doing the 7-day auctions, I subscribed to an eBay store where listing fees are far cheaper ($0.03 per item) and can be listed perpetually. The moderate success I experienced prompted me to develop and establish a Web site, which I've had for more than a year.

My prints are packaged in a professional "art fair" manner with a backing board in a re-sealable crystal bag. With each print sold I also include three or four business cards with the purchased (and similar) images which I hope the buyer will give to their admiring and inquiring friends. (I lay out the cards 3-up on a 4x6 canvas in my graphics program and then get inexpensive prints made at the local lab.

Reading this, it might seem as if I'm well on my way to "financial freedom" ... but au contraire. A Web site doesn't do any good if it doesn't get traffic. I concluded that exposure is the key so I submitted my domain name to all the major search engines*, have some reciprocal and other direct links to the site, established a PayPal account and listed in PayPal Shops, listed as a "personal exhibit" at photolinks.com, and set up a gallery here at BP. But, sadly, I just can't seem to get much traffic.

(*Sidebar regarding search engines: Doing a Google search using my meta keywords, page titles, etc., I was getting some good page 1 & 2 positions, but suddenly my site doesn't show up at all there anymore ... despite resubmitting the URL a month ago. Other searches such as Yahoo, Altavista, etc., are fine, however. I've also tried several times to get my site listed with at dmoz.org, but have thus far been unsuccessful.)

The basic focus of my site is to provide quality art at affordable prices. When (if) I can get my traffic to a satisfactory level, I plan to get an Epson 2200 to make my own "giclee/piezo" prints. I will price these much higher than (while still continuing to offer) my "affordable" lab prints. What else I can do to drive more traffic to my site?

www.PhotoGraphics-Gallery.com
- James C. Ritchie

See James's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 1:
Interesting question. It seems you've done and thought about most of what you need to do - I'm not sure what else you could do.
- Damian Gadal

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

ANSWER 2:
Web presence over time ... don't expect instant results. I don't know exactly how the search engines work in terms of how it decides what order to list ... but I do know enough about it that a stable site that isn't rearranged over a number of years helps. Plus, it helps to have other sites having links to it.

Keep in mind that people must be looking for the works you would like to sell. Trying to do it by Web presence is a tough row to hoe. I've sold a few stock photos via Web presence, but it's only after the publishers exhausted other more traditional avenues for acquring specific stock photographs that they've launched a Web search to find what they're looking for. What I've sold was very specific by subject material and geographic locale. In other words, the editorial requirements for the imagery desired were fairly detailed and very specific.

Web sales are much more successful for those with some "brand equity" - the jargon in business for a well-known name that's identified with a quality product. Don't underestimate how much brand equity is required to have people beating a path to your door to buy your work. If you were Ansel Adams or someone of his stature, you would have more hits than you could stand and would have to pay for considerable bandwidth to keep the site. IOW, your success with large quantities of direct Web sales hinges more than you might think on having a nationally or globally recognized "name" for fine photography.

OTOH, that you're selling some works at all is a significant achievement in itself. After seeing dozens of competitive art and photography shows, superb photographers abound in good number. It may be small compared to the number of camera owners, but it's not a small population of artists compared to other media. There are many thousands of highly skilled, quite talented starving artists in the world.
- John A. Lind

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Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=9788

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http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=9788

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*****


NEW QUESTION 11: Please Help Me Buy a Camera
I want to buy an SLR camera. I have two choices: 1) Canon Eso Elan 7e, and 2) Nikon N80. Which is the best? Which one will give sharp, very good pictures?
- Rana Bhadra

ANSWER 1:
Rana: Both are excellent, full-featured cameras ... but any camera can make sharp images if you use a high-quality lens and suitable technique - such as a tripod in low-light photography. Regardless of the camera you buy, start with a better lens than the $90 (28-80mm) zoom, often included in kits. Expect to pay about $200 for a better- quality zoom. Discuss your needs and plans with a reputable dealer as to which lens to buy. Or, start a new thread here, as to What is the Best Starter Lens? Cheers!
- Peter K. Burian

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NEW QUESTION 12: Airport Security: Is It Safe for Digital Cameras?
Is a digital camera and its components/accessories safe going through X-ray/security devices at the airport? Is the compact flash card safe?
- Marilyn M. Micciche

ANSWER 1:
Hi Marilyn. Your camera and CF cards will be quite safe in any machine classified as "film safe". This means 99 percent of the ones used to examine hand-baggage. I don't recommend putting either in checked baggage for the same reasons that you should not put film there (aside from security). The machines lurking in the baggage handling system are FAR more powerful than anything found in the passenger security checks. Keep your photo gear with you and all will be fine.
- Dave Cross

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NEW QUESTION 13: Lighting for Indoor Portraits
I have no professional lighting and usually work outside - thus, I have no idea how to control lighting. I've been asked to take pics for a local church formal (of the couples). Can anyone tell me how to use the light that's available in the church to take good portraits?
- Tiffiany L. COWART

ANSWER 1:
Does the church have windows? Assuming that it doesn't, you'll need some type of additional lighting (hot lights or flash). If you must use only what's available, you'll need to use a film in the 800 or higher range. The problem will be lower quality (IMHO). Of course, if you use lower speed film, the shots will require more time, and blur will become a problem.

If the church does have windows, you can choose a window based on the following preference: 1. Always choose a north-facing window for window light portraits - if available. 2. A west-facing window for shots in the morning. 3. An east-facing window for shots in the evening. 4. Always avoid a south-facing window in the northern hemisphere. Good luck!
- John Wright

ANSWER 2:
Thanks for the suggestion. The church has windows with very little light, so I can't really use them. I will use the high speed film, and I guess prayer is always good ... LOL! (Newbie jitters!) Thanks again.
- Tiffiany L. COWART

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NEW QUESTION 14: Query Digital EVF = NOT so great?
Clarification please! Dave Cross answered another related query ... and the summation seemed to be that if the SLR had an EVF then its quality would never be as good as a digital SLR using standard mirror/prism etc., even if that camera had lesser MP. So, ultimately, if the rule is "want great pix, avoid all cameras with EVF", then what SLR models do you recommend falling into, say, the $1500 range?
- liz read

ANSWER 1:
Hi Liz. First, please remember that these are my personal opinions. Others may disagree, your mileage may vary. ... You are basically correct in your assertions. EVFs are a pet hate of mine, being a sort of half-way-house between point-n-shoot compacts and "real" DSLRs. NOBODY has yet come up with a sensible advantage of the EVF over the mirror-pentaprism system other than cost of manufacture (open to suggestions here). The only place that an EVF belongs is on a VIDEO camera (and here a black and white CRT display not a colour LCD).

Cut to the chase ... in your price band:

Canon Digtal Rebel (EOS 300D in Europe). Nikon D70. With both of these, you should have a little budget left for a decent lens. Canon EOS 10D (maybe just a little over budget). You many also be able to pick up a used EOS D60 (the camera I use) for a song, a very capable machine (same sensor as the Rebel/10D just slightly older electronics).

You need to go and play with the equipment at you local outlet, buy the camera that FEELS right in your hands (assuming that you don't already have lenses you want to use). I could spout on for hours here ... but there are bound to be others wanting to put their points. Let us know what you decide. Above all ENJOY your camera. Cheers.
- Dave Cross

ANSWER 2:
Yeah, I really do not care for an EVF either. The affordable SLR's with optical finders are the Nikon D70 and Canon Digital Rebel at around $1000, plus lens. Cheers!
- Peter K. Burian

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PHOTOGRAPHY Q&A - CONTINUING FROM PREVIOUS NEWSLETTER
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CONTINUING QUESTION 1: Manual or Automatic Focus for Nature Photos?
This may be a somewhat stupid question, but what is better for nature photography, manual or automatic? I know that automatic is much faster (fps) and it allows the person taking the picture to take pictures faster. I have a manual camera and I am going to switch over to an automatic SLR.
- Imrahil Dol Amroth

ANSWER 1:
You will probably get different opinions about which is better, based upon how comfortable the photographer is with his or her equipment. I like manual focus, because I feel it gives me greater control to critically focus on a specific point within the scene ... such as an eyeball of an animal, or antenna of an insect. For action, I also focus manually, but I'm sure that I could do better with AF since my success ratio is much lower than when shooting a subject at rest. For shooting macro subjects and for landscapes, manual focus is definitely better. (At least in my opinion.)
- Bob Cammarata

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ANSWER 2:
Imrahil: The term nature photography is extremely broad and can include landscapes, birds in flight, extreme close-ups, wildlife interaction, etc. Most cameras sold today are autofocus. Simply turn that off and focus manually for landscapes or extreme close-ups. You'll appreciate autofocus for most other situations. Cheers!
- Peter K. Burian

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CONTINUING QUESTION 2: SLR Digital Vs. Point and Shoot Digital
I read somewhere that a 6 megapixel digital SLR camera is better then a 8 megapixel digital camera. How does the "SLR" part of a digital SLR camera make it better then a point and shoot digital camera?
- Tim A. Pierce

ANSWER 1:
Hi Tim. First, let's clarify that a "Digital SLR" has a mirror, a pentaprism and interchangeable lenses just like a film SLR. The "pseudo SLRs" with electronic viewfinders do NOT count :-)

MegaPixels are not everything. Once you get past 4meg or so, the quality of the optical system becomes increasingly important, and the DSLRs use the highly developed, high quality (and often VERY expensive) glass from the film SLR world. What I'm really saying is that a 6 meg DSLR with a decent lens will easily outperform an 8 meg point-n-shoot with a lesser lens. In actual fact, the old EOS D-30 (3 meg) will produce images to rival some of the cheaper 8 meg cameras.

Another factor to consider is that DSLRs, in order to use film lenses, have MUCH larger sensors than the point-n-shoots. It is a fact that the physically larger pixels of these sensors produce less noise than the small sensors of a P-n-S at the same equivalent ISO setting, leading to cleaner images. It is actually easier to get a higher ISO from the bigger pixel because more light falls on it (bigger area) causing more photo-electrons to whizz about. There are few P-n-S cameras that can come anywhere near an equivalent ISO of 1600 (pretty standard for a modern DSLR) with remotely acceptable image noise.

That's the basic argument. Any further questions, ask here. There are a lot of very knowledgeable people on this forum. Listen to them, learn, and above all, enjoy your photography. Cheers.
- Dave Cross

ANSWER 2:
The DSLR should always provide greater flexibility. However, costs can also run higher. The advantage of the smaller 8 megapixel digitals are that they are smaller and easier to carry, and thus you theoretically have them with you more often. The perfect pocket digital does not yet exist. If you are looking to do any type of professional photos, you probably want a digital that uses RAW. I would suggest looking at the Nikon and Minolta A2 8 megapixels. Also use the Web to look up info and find a store to handle the camera. I was surprised to find the Minolta A2 is light and much smaller than the others. It gets a good rating and can be purchased for under $1000. Remember that these are NOT DSLRs - you cannot change lenses, etc. However, they may well have a place as a lightweight, easy-to-carry second camera. Consider the advantage in backpacking, for example.
- Lamont G. Weide

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CONTINUING QUESTION 3: How to Ask Strangers If I Can Take a Photo of Them
I love watching strangers, passersby, and believe there are so many opportunities missed - in taking photos I mean. How do I best approach a stranger to ask if I can take a/some photos of them without making it a big fuss or deal (i.e., signing release papers, etc.), and then be allowed to publish the photos???
- Nicole S. McGrade

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ANSWER 1:
Hi Nicole, I love to watch people as well. I am not shy and have never had much trouble walking up to people. I must say it was a little odd at first, even to a chatty gal like myself. What is a shock is how pleased most are to have their picture taken. Just the other day I was driving with my family out in the country and saw an elderly man sitting on the porch of an old cypress wood house. I could not resist. I pulled over and introduced myself, said that I would be honored to photograph him, if I may. He was so cute, he got all excited. Next I thing I knew, a little lady in pink sponge rollers came out, and they were just so sweet. I always ask for their address and mail them a copy. The one I am speaking of I have just listed in the "People" category of the contest for this month titled "The South". It is my understanding that once you gain permission and you take the photo, the copyright is yours.
- Tonya Autry

ANSWER 2:
One thing worth mentioning about issues of copyright. If you are intending to publish the photos (and receive money for them) or use them for any commercial interests, it is necessary to obtain a signed model release form from the subject (spoken permission is not sufficient). For personal photos, there is no need, however. Don't let the issue of model releases stop you from losing out on great photos!
- Mark Mobley

ANSWER 3:
You should always have some model releases in your camera bag. I think there might even be an example lurking around this site. I can't remember exactly where I found the one I use. Also have a notebook for their address. My question: Is it OK to snap first and get permission second?
- Fax Sinclair

ANSWER 4:
I find it easier to approach a person if I have a business type card to hand them. This card has my name and states that I am a free-lance photographer. You can include any other information that you think is important. I make these cards on my computer and can include a background of one of my photos. This lets the person know I am a serious photographer. Good luck.
- C.J. Williamson

ANSWER 5:
For anyone who's interested, there are some good example releases on this site:
http://www.robinprior.net/info7.html

Nancy
nance.c@poboxes.com
nacespace.com/photos
- Nancy Grace Chen

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ANSWER 6:
Hello Nicole. All good points above. I keep model releases in my camera bag at all times, and I am also one of those obnoxious people that won't miss out on a "photo op." I say, go for it - but like Mark said, if the shot is for profit, get the signed release, since there is no point asking for trouble, and it only takes a second. Get some biz cards printed up - that way your subject doesn't have to worry about "where did I put that piece of paper?" Good luck, and keep shooting.
- Pamela CM Lammersen

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ANSWER 7:
This is great info - thanks to all the contributors. One small question: Does the person being photographed need their own copy of the release? I suppose it would be easiest to just write out another? Also, as a "serious amateur", I'm not expecting to get paid for any of these shots (but one can hope!). But, I presume, releases would still be a good idea for anything that might end up "public", including posting here at BetterPhoto.
- Larry Lawhead

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ANSWER 8:
Regarding your question, Larry, you don't need to give them a copy of the release. However, a good idea is to give them a business card with your details, address etc. on them. Firstly, this lets the subject know that you are serious about photography (making them more likely to sign the release), and it gives them the reassurance that you aren't going to disappear off with their photo and use it for something inappropriate. Accountability is important.
- Mark Mobley

ANSWER 9:
The business card idea sounds excellent. Even if you are only a hobbyist it shows that your intentions are for good. And you can make your own right on the computer!
- Scott

ANSWER 10:
I guess one question is: "people doing what?" Competing at a mountain bike race? Or having a quiet family picnic on a blanket in a Yosemite meadow? Involved in a dance competition? Working as a costumed docent at a pioneer village?

In some situations, everyone is taking pictures so just shoot! In others, the people expect to be photographed, so a casual request is fine. (Good morning. Could I get a shot of you with that covered wagon?) But in others, the people would be quite surprised to see you sneak a photo of them.

Tonya's comment is important. Because how you ask, and the type of response you will get, depends on your personality. She wrote: "I am not shy and have never had much trouble walking up to people. I must say it was a little odd at first, even to a chatty gal like myself." A genuine smile and an obvious fondness for people will elicit a positive response 95 percent of the time - especially if you can explain why you want to take photos.

Also, see travel pro photographer Bob Krist's suggestions in my MSN.com article at:

http://photos.msn.com/resources/targeted/en-us/editorial/tenphototraveltips_p.htm

A business card sure does help, as someone said, but it could be just, "I'm a camera club member, and our assignment for this week is to photograph people involved in some activity." Offer to send a print.

The Model Release issue is an entirely different topic, but you do not need one if the photos will not be used for advertising or some commercial use. (Newspaper photogs, for example, do not need a Model Release.)

Cheers!

- Peter K. Burian

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