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 28, 2004
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* SPOTLIGHT: Summer Session of Online Courses Starts Next Week!
* BETTERPHOTO: Designing Eye-Catching Images with Tony Sweet
* BETTERPHOTO: Join Brenda Tharp for Tour of W. Ireland's Wilder Side
* BETTERPHOTO: ARTICLE: Getting a Clearer Picture ... Without Lens Flare
* FEATURED GALLERY: Celebration of Light and Color: Fireworks!
* FEATURED PLACE: Canada Has Its Day ... in Photographs
* PHOTO TRIVIA QUESTION: Slave Labor / An Artistic Duo
* THIS WEEK'S TIP: Making Your Own Diffusion Filter ... By Brenda Tharp
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 1: Taking the Step into Professionalism
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 2: Lens for Wildlife Photography
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 3: Card Error: What to Do?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 4: What Can I Do To Get Started?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 5: Frames That Look Like 3D
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 6: Red Eye Surprise
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 7: 6MP vs. 8MP
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 8: How to Shoot Stain Glass Windows
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 9: Touching Up Senior Photos
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 10: Videocard for Laptops
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 11: Wedding Help!!!
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 12: Choosing A Digital Camera
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 13: Need Help with Focusing Macros
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 1: Model Releases - A Discussion
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 2: Lens Hood: When to Use?
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 3: How to Shoot Architecture in a City


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IN THE SPOTLIGHT - ADVERTISEMENT
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Summer Session of Online Courses Starts Next Week!
Would you like to learn more about the principles of exposure, composition, digital photography, photographic field techniques, or even Photoshop? Join us for an inspiring online photo course at BetterPhoto.com. Let us be your guide ... with our online courses, you will become a better photographer. Our next session promises to fill the season with creativity and inspiration. To make the decision-making process a little easier, review our 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 166th issue of SnapShot!

Hi

Lots of excitement at BetterPhoto as we come upon a new month! On July 7th, the summer session of online courses begins, and we've never had a better lineup - in fact, there's something for just about anyone! For details, visit:
http://www.betterphoto.com/online-photography-courses.asp

Two big North American holidays are on tap, too: Canada Day on July 1st and the U.S. Fourth of July on ... well ... July 4th. We celebrate these photogenic occasions with the Featured Place, which focuses on Canada's outstanding landscapes and cityscapes, and the Featured Gallery, which serves up a vibrant blast of lights and colors.

Also with this issue of SnapShot, check out instructor Kerry Drager's article on preventing lens flare, and instructor Brenda Tharp's photo tip on making your own diffusion filters. And, as always, we have a terrific selection of questions and answers.

That's it for now. Enjoy this SnapShot ... and happy shooting!
Jim Miotke
http://www.betterphoto.com/MG.asp?ID=124


*****
Designing Eye-Catching Images with Tony Sweet
Do your pictures lack visual impact? Do you ask yourself, How do "the pros" see that? At BetterPhoto, we have outstanding online courses on composition and the art of seeing. One of them, Tony Sweet's "Image Design - Revealing Your Personal Vision," will get you to think outside of the box, expand your creativity, and put you on the path to creating more striking imagery. For the specifics, go to:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/TNS01.asp


*****
Join Brenda Tharp for Tour of W. Ireland's Wilder Side
Betterphoto instructor Brenda Tharp is leading a photography tour to western Ireland on September 22-October 2, 2004. Based in County Mayo - the quieter and wilder side of western Ireland, and housed in a simple country home - the group will make daily excursions to photograph in the villages, abbeys, ruins, seascapes, and forests of the area. View a slide show of western Ireland at:
http://www.brendatharp.com/IrelandPics.html

This is a great opportunity to work in the field and apply your newly learned skills in everything from landscapes to architecture to people. See the following Web site for information on costs and to register:
http://www.strabotours.com


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ARTICLE: Getting a Clearer Picture ... Without Lens Flare
Almost any photographic "problem" can be turned into creative advantage - even lens flare. But, more often than not, flare is something to avoid, not something to embrace. BetterPhoto instructor and author Kerry Drager shares his techniques for preventing those unsightly sun spots, light streaks, and bright areas of ghostly glare that can appear on an image. Read his article at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/article.asp?id=18

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FEATURED GALLERY
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Celebration of Light and Color: Fireworks!
Displays of fireworks are such striking events - and it's no surprise that they've captured the attention of BetterPhoto members and instructors. In the United States, these spectacular bursts of brightness strike on the Fourth of July holiday. Regardless of where they light up the sky, however, fireworks always place high on the "Wow!" scale. But, like many subjects, shooting fireworks involves planning and preparation, as well as some special shooting techniques. Not sure how to proceed? Fortunately, the subject has come up often at BetterPhoto. Some suggestions:

  • Check out Jim Miotke's how-to article at:

  • http://www.betterphoto.com/exploring/fireworks.asp

  • Type in the word "fireworks" in BetterPhoto's Search Site, and then check the QnA section for shooting tips and tricks.
  • For picture ideas and inspiration, check out BetterPhoto's "Fireworks Pictures" gallery at:

  • http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGall2.asp?catID=290

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    FEATURED PLACE
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    Canada Has Its Day ... in Photographs
    As with the U.S. Fourth of July festivities, Canada Day is celebrated each year with barbeques, picnics, parades, and, of course, fireworks. This gallery features the work of BetterPhoto shooters, who have focused on a wide array of Canadian landscapes, seascapes, lighthouses, cities, and intimate scenes. For shooting ideas and inspiration, visit BetterPhoto's "Canada Pictures" gallery at:
    http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGall2.asp?catID=205

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    PHOTO TRIVIA QUIZ OF THE WEEK
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    Last week, we asked:
    In the photographic industry, what are people usually referring to when they mention using a "slave"?

    The first, best answer - entered by BetterPhoto member Amanda Radovic is:
    A slave is a flash light unit that is triggered by another flash - whether it be from another camera flash, external flash or even an infrared transmitter. Of course, some assistants can become slaves too, but not assistants of nice photographers (tongue in cheek).

    See Amanda's Premium BetterPholio™:
    http://www.betterphoto.com/sites4photogs/dynoMG.asp?memberID=63913

    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 - An Artistic Duo - entered by BetterPhoto member Kerry Drager

    Famed painter Georgia O'Keeffe was married to an influential photographer and art impresario. Who was he?

    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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    Making Your Own Diffusion Filter ... By Brenda Tharp
    Take a haze filter or warming filter, and lightly coat it with hair spray for that diffused effect. The heavier your spray, the more diffused the effect. It cleans off with soap and water nicely afterwards, or you can leave it sprayed for the next time - but store it in a hard plastic case or you'll have dust sticking to it in no time! I found that this gave me control over just how much diffusion I wanted.

    Check out Brenda Tharp's online courses:
    "Creating Visual Impact"
    "Beyond the Postcard: Creating Memorable Travel Images"

    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


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    PHOTOGRAPHY Q&A - NEW THIS WEEK
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    NEW QUESTION 1: Taking the Step into Professionalism
    Everyone keeps telling me to charge for my pictures that I take, but I haven't yet because I am afraid to take that step. When I enlarge my photos past an 8 x 10 - and sometimes even the 8 x 10's - they get grainy. That is the portrait side. I also love to shoot sports - well, this camera does not do that very well. What do you recommend? I am willing to spend the money. I just don't want to spend too much on gadgets that I will never use.
    - Kathy A. Minor

    ANSWER 1:
    I presume you're using film. Graininess with film photography results from one of two general causes:

    a. Underexposure of print (negative) films. This leaves the emulsion "thin" after developing (also called insufficient density). When printing attempts to correct for this type of exposure error on the film, the result is increased graininess because it's the largest grains in the emulsion that did respond to light enough to produce what can be seen on the negative (and therefore can be printed).

    b. Film speed too fast. This is especially true with the least-expensive consumer films. They are horribly grainy compared to most professional films of the same speed. In general, slower films have smaller granularity in the emulsion. Smaller grain structure requires longer exposure. That said, there are some situations that are "upside down" with some faster pro films having finer grain structure than some slower consumer films.

    Pros starting out quickly move almost immediately in their work to fast glass that have large widest apertures - for several reasons - if they don't already have fast glass. It gives them greater ability to work with a wider range of lighting conditions. The viewfinder image is brighter in dim light, making composition and manual focusing much easier. AF systems, when used, work much more reliably in low light with them. These lenses are much more expensive. The manufacturers pour more design effort into the optical performance, durability and manufacturing tolerances. They will be targeted to finicky and demanding professionals ... who are technically knowledgeable, not swayed by pure advertising hype, but by actual lab and field performance, who know well what truly excellent glass can produce ... and they talk to each other about it too.

    I mention all this about lenses as that will have much more influence over the technical things you're asking about than a camera body. It's not uncommon for me, along with nearly all pros, to spend significantly more money on a single lens than on a camera body. The glass is the ONLY thing light passes through in its path to the film plane. To me, the body is a film and lens holder with a shutter and light meter. It needs to be light tight, have accurate shutter and meter, and be able to wind (and rewind) film. Durability and reliability with heavy use is also important. Beyond that, everything else related to technical capability is the glass on front. The artistic things are me alone ... how I use the tools and whether I've used them properly to produce what I visualized for the photographs.

    Before leaping into buying more equipment, spend some time ensuring you are working with what you have in a manner that optimizes its capabilities. If you're confident that you've hit the limits of equipment capabilities (usually the lens[es]), it's time to change it for something that will give you the *technical* capabilities you need.

    If you're photographing sports, fast glass is essential to getting good results, especially indoors and at night outdoors. It allows getting to fast enough shutter speeds to stop at least some action (stopping all of it is desirable). The alternative indoors is using sophisticated lighting equipment to illuminate the entire arena. While that might allow for slower, finer grain film and narrower working apertures, fast glass allows seeing through the viewfinder much easier.
    - John A. Lind

    See John's Premium BetterPholio™

    Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
    http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=10205

    Answer this question:
    http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=10205

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    *****


    NEW QUESTION 2: Lens for Wildlife Photography
    I am an amateur photographer that enjoys taking pictures of wildlife. However, I am realizing that I may need a longer lens. I currently have a Minolta Maxxum 9 with a 75-300mm and a 50-500mm lens. What would be the next size lens to upgrade to without me having to switch camera brands? HELP. Thank you.
    - KATHLEEN REEVES

    ANSWER 1:
    Hi Kathleen! I use a Minolta Maxxum 5 with a 28-105mm and a 70-300mm lens. I also use a 2x teleconverter, which you may find beneficial! Another idea is to try to find a fixed focal length lens. For example, a 600 or 800mm lens. I, myself, am trying to find either of these lenses. You might want to consider used equipment!
    - Steve McCroskey

    See Steve's Premium BetterPholio™

    ANSWER 2:
    The most economical solution is to simply enlarge and crop the images you currently get with the 50-500. A 2x teleconverter used on either the 70-300 or 50-500 zoom would be a relatively cheap option, but would compromise image sharpness (perhaps as much or more than with enlarging); plus, using the TC restricts you to very small maximum apertures (f/8-11 on the 70-300, f/8-12.7 with the 50-500), which can limit you to longer shutter speeds or faster/high grain film. You could try a cheapie super telephoto, like the Phoenix 650-1300 f/8-16 or Vivitar 600-1000 f/9.9-16 (both are manual focus and aperture, and use T-mount adaptor), but it's a case of "you get what you pay for" with the same sharpness and small aperture issues as a TC on your current lenses. At about $300 it may be worthwhile for occasional use or for the novelty, but don't expect National Geographic quality close-ups.

    Next up would be Sigma's 600mm f/8 Reflex. It is a mirror lens with manual focus, and the aperture is fixed at f/8. There are also some good but inexpensive Russian-made 1000mm f/10 mirror lenses (see link, but there can be some issues with fit and clearance between the lens and the prism/built-in flash). Mirror lenses can be quite sharp, but render out-of-focus highlights in doughnut shapes.

    Then you have a huge price jump to something professionals use, such as Minolta's 600 f/4 or f/4G lens (about $8000), which could be combined with good results with Minolta's 1.4x APO (840mm f/5.6) or 2x APO (1200mm f/8) teleconverter. Sigma also makes a good 800 f/5.6 EX for about $6000.
    - Jon Close

    Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
    http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=10202

    Answer this question:
    http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=10202

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    *****


    NEW QUESTION 3: Card Error: What to Do?
    I have a card of 64MB and the camera says "card error" when I try to review the pictures, I can't continue taking pictures, and my card reader appears unable to read the card. Are my over 200 pictures from Disney during this week lost? Where can I send the card to try to save the pictures? I am desperate ... I really will love to be able to see those pictures!!! Thanks!!!
    - Maria del Pino Cruz

    ANSWER 1:
    Sometimes that happens when I turn my camera on, which is why I don't like to leave things on the card. If you have a card reader hooked up to your computer, you may be able to still get them off the card. If not, there are image recovery software products that you can buy. They're supposed to be able to get images when this very thing occurs. I haven't used one, can't even recommend a particular one. Maybe a trip to Best Buy and somebody there can tell you. Or you can take them to a place like Ritz/Wolf or anywhere that prints out from a card and see if they can get them and put them on a CD.
    - 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=10192

    Answer this question:
    http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=10192

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    *****


    NEW QUESTION 4: What Can I Do To Get Started?
    I currently do digital photography - actually more like video creation ... Web design, etc. But I have always been interested in photography. Recently, an opportunity has become available for me to do photography (my heart's desire). I'd like to do weddings, landscapes, etc. But I haven't actually ever been paid to take photos. What do I need to know, to build clientele and basically what to expect with my first client ...
    - Jamie

    ANSWER 1:
    Take advantage of the opportunity. Find out what they want - if they want a bargain version of what people usually get, decide if it's worth your while, then do it. Tell them to spread the word if they know anybody who's going to need the same thing. Then take the other 95% of the load of getting the word out yourself.
    - 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=10191

    Answer this question:
    http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=10191

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    *****


    NEW QUESTION 5: Frames That Look Like 3D
    I have seen images posted that have frames around them where it appears to be 3D. Can anyone help with how to do this? Thanks.
    - Cathy I. Barrows

    See Cathy's Premium BetterPholio™

    ANSWER 1:
    Hi Cathy. If you have Photoimpact, try this link:

    http://graphicssoft.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.geocities.com%2FHeartland%2FValley%2F1725%2Fframes.html

    Otherwise, a quick Google search on "frames for digital photos" will reveal loads of how-to instructions for most photo editing software. Cheers,
    DC


    - Dave Cross

    Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
    http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=10183

    Answer this question:
    http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=10183

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    *****


    NEW QUESTION 6: Red Eye Surprise
    Recently, I bought a 6900z Fujifilm Finepix Digital SLR and I was doing test shots of my 5-month-old great-granddaughter, when I downloaded the photos to my computer I found that out of the 46 shots, only two of then don't have red eye. I did use the flash on the camera and set it to red eye reduction. She wasn't even looking in my direction, I haven't been able to figure out what I did wrong. So I am going to try to upload two of the photos and hope some one can help me figure this out? Anyone's input would be very helpful. Thank you.
    - Gail Ranney

    See Sample Photo - Cassidy -2:
    http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGallDetail.asp?photoID=437489

    See Sample Photo - Cassidy:
    http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGallDetail.asp?photoID=437488

    ANSWER 1:
    Hi Gail. You did nothing wrong. Red-eye is a fact of life with any on-camera flash, film or digital. In my experience, the red-eye reduction systems do little to help, often making things worse by causing people to blink or look away. The only real solution is to use a separate flash that is well off-axis or bounced off a wall/ceiling/reflector.

    All is not lost. You are using digital. 99% of the software that comes with digital cameras can successfully remove the red eyes in a few seconds.

    Personally, I don't bother with any red-eye reduction, just fix it in Photoshop along with the levels tweaking and creative cropping. Cheers,
    DC


    - Dave Cross

    ANSWER 2:
    Gail, Dave hit all the main points. I would qualify one part: the worst offenders are "built-in" flashes and not necessarily "on-camera" flash units. Depends on what "on-camera" means ... to me, it's anything that's bolted to the camera in some manner and goes wherever the camera goes. For cameras with hot shoes, simply mounting an external flash in a hot shoe and doubling its distance from the lens compared to a "built-in" one can help dramatically.

    Like Dave, I have yet to see any red-eye reduction system of "pre-flashes" that eliminates it and completely agree: Don't bother with it. Another major reason to turn it off is the very long delay required for all the pre-flashes before shutter firing. It guarantees missing the "decisive moment" you're trying to photograph if the subject is moving. Going beyond the squinting and blinking Dave mentions, I have had to photograph young children that have been frequently subjected to red-eye reduction flash systems. They are the worst "blinkers." Some start repeatedly blinking as soon as a camera is in my hands and aimed in their direction. Adults can find it a tolerable annoyance, but most young children truly don't like it, and some will do all sorts of things to avoid it.

    The basic cause is proximity of flash to lens. The closer it is, the greater the risk. That's why built-in flashes are notorious for red-eye, especially on small cameras. The red is caused by light reflecting off of the retina at the back of the eye inside it. The retina is densely packed with blood-filled capillaries very close to its surface. Because it's a reflection from the back of the inside of the eye, red-eye risk also increases as the pupil dilates. The dimmer the ambient lighting, the greater the risk. Young infants also tend to have their pupils open wider than adults under the same light intensity. It makes infants problematic, even if the ambient lighting isn't very low. I don't know what the physiological reason is for this other than maturity of the eye. The eye itself grows very little in size after birth. For adults, alcohol consumption dilates pupils, slows their response to light, and also increases the risk. Wedding receptions after the lights are turned down are particularly problematic. It's one of several reasons we use brackets to elevate flash well above the lens in shooting them.

    Getting a separate flash unit and mounting it farther from the camera lens than the built-in one may not be a feasible option for you. You can reduce or possibly eliminate it, even with a built-in flash, if you can increase the ambient lighting. Open up all the window curtains (if there are any windows) to let in all the daylight you can and turn on all the lights in the room. It's usually much more effective than the red-eye reduction pre-flashes at helping close the subject's pupils some.
    - John A. Lind

    See John's Premium BetterPholio™

    ANSWER 3:
    A quick response to John. You are, of course, right. I meant "built-in" flashes as opposed to on camera in the hot shoe. Sorry for any confusion. DC
    - Dave Cross

    ANSWER 4:
    Thank you all for the info and I will beware of this from now on. I do have one more question: How did the flash affect her eyes? She wasn't looking at me her mother, kept her attention just off to the side, and I was in front of her sitting on the floor. Also there is a hot shoe on my camera and the truth is I didn't even think to use it. I will from now on ... and again, thank you all so much. You are all great and so helpful.
    - Gail Ranney

    ANSWER 5:
    Gail, It puzzles me that you would get red-eye off-axis to her eyes, especially in the 2nd one (the 1st one doesn't surprise me as much).

    I have a dog and cat, and their pupils can become enormously large. Cats are notorious for brilliant, ruby red red-eye, and dog eyes become brilliant amber yellow beacons. If I use flash with them for some reason, ambient light must be very bright to close up their pupils (particularly the cat's to see her iris too), and I work to keep from directly illuminating their eyes from the front unless the flash is at least a foot from the lens (even then there's a risk depending on distance). From a profile, there's never been a problem, and it can actually show the "clear" lens on the eye in front of the iris. In the two photos you posted, it looks as if the ambient lighting is extremely low (background is jet black), and I'm thinking her pupils were so dilated as to nearly make the iris completely disappear. If this was the situation, you can still get some red-eye with built-in flash that close to lens although it shouldn't be as bad as straight on, which it doesn't appear to be in comparing the two.

    Distance between camera with flash and subject also affects risk. Draw a right triangle on a piece of paper from lens up to flash for one leg and the other leg from lens to subject with the hypotenuse from flash to subject. Then change the camera-to-subject distance. The farther you are, the more the flash must be elevated to maintain the same angle between hypotenuse and camera-to-subject leg. Yet another reason why wedding photogs use brackets to elevate flash ... working distances for many photos are greater in the large spaces of reception halls than are encountered in the home.

    If you can, try to watch your working distance, but don't get too close lest it affect perspective of facial features. This is something to experiment with ... if not with Cassidy ... with a willing "victim" ... to get a feel for how close you can get before perspective of facial features start to look unnatural. A caveat to moving in a little closer though. It won't help nearly as much using a built-in flash as it will with an external hot shoe flash that's more separated from the lens.
    - John A. Lind

    See John's Premium BetterPholio™

    ANSWER 6:
    You can still easily get red eye if they are looking somewhere else. You still have the flash going straight on at them, relative to the camera. Either hold the flash up, off to the side, or bounce it.
    - 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=10181

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    http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=10181

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    *****


    NEW QUESTION 7: 6MP vs. 8MP
    I've discovered that I am starting to like the "digital age". My first digital (and auto focus)is a 300D and am looking at replacing it already. (I've actually moved a couple of my 35mm bodies out of my bag to make room for the 300D and Canon Lenses.) I've been shooting with a Nikon F2 and F3 and am not really comfortable with the Canon feel. Now for my question: Should I be looking at the D70 and D100, or should I just wait for Nikon to come out with an 8MP?
    - Shari Morris

    Visit sharimorrisphotography.com - Shari's Deluxe BetterPholio™

    ANSWER 1:
    Shari: Personally, I would buy the D70 - loaded with capabilities, superb image quality, etc. A bargain at the price as well. Who knows when Nikon will release an 8MP SLR?? Cheers!
    - Peter K. Burian

    See Peter Burian's Premium BetterPholio™

    Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with Peter Burian:
    Digital Photography

    ANSWER 2:
    Peter, I'm curious if you could elaborate on your opinion of the comparison of the D70 and the D100 and any key differences. Thanks!
    - K Stevens

    See K's Premium BetterPholio™

    ANSWER 3:
    KS: An excerpt from my D70 review, not yet published. Peter

    "The second digital SLR to break the $1000 price barrier, the Nikon D70 costs $500 less than the D100 and employs the same autofocus module and a similar 6.1 megapixel CCD sensor. That has led some photographers to conclude that the D70 must be a 'stripped down' model. In truth, the newer camera boasts an improved processor and buffer (temporary storage bank) and offers several other advantages. These include 7 extra Program modes, more sophisticated Matrix, much faster flash sync speed, more options for adjusting certain image parameters plus a greater burst depth for capturing long series of images.

    Granted, the D100 is more rugged thanks to a metal (vs. mostly polycarbonate) body, and it offers some of its own benefits, including higher ISO levels plus an extra flash metering mode (D-TTL). Still, the D70 is absolutely loaded with capabilities and proved to be exceptionally responsive while I was shooting stock photos in several cities and while documenting a Vietnamese bride on her wedding day. More importantly, the camera generated high resolution images with an outstanding level of detail, excellent sharpness, and minimal digital noise."
    - Peter K. Burian

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    Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with Peter Burian:
    Digital Photography

    ANSWER 4:
    Thank you, Peter. You have made my decision. D70 it is. I've borrowed a 10D, D100 and D70. I did really like both the 70 and 100, but wasn't sure if I should wait or not. It looks as if I'll be investing in a D70 soon. (At least I'll still be able to use my lenses, albeit manual.)
    - Shari Morris

    Visit sharimorrisphotography.com - Shari's Deluxe BetterPholio™

    ANSWER 5:
    Shari: The D70 will exceed your expectations in long-term use. What lenses will you use? The metering system disengages if you use manual-focus lenses.

    Cheers!
    - Peter K. Burian

    See Peter Burian's Premium BetterPholio™

    Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with Peter Burian:
    Digital Photography

    ANSWER 6:
    Nikkor AIS and for the older ones, I sent them to Nikkor to have a new A- ring put on for A/P ability.
    - Shari Morris

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    ANSWER 7:
    Shari: I did not realize that Nikon still offered that service, but once converted to AI/P, the lenses should be fine - with manual focusing.

    Cheers!
    - Peter K. Burian

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    ANSWER 8:
    Thanks, Peter, for the info. I do have the D100, but purchased it just before the D70 came out. I've been happy with it, but thought I'd get some clarification for my dad who is considering the D70. And eventually, I'll get a second body, but that's a ways in the future. I want more lenses first :) I appreciate all the info!
    - K Stevens

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    ANSWER 9:
    I don't know if they still do, I converted them in the 80's. -Regards Shari

    - Shari Morris

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    NEW QUESTION 8: How to Shoot Stain Glass Windows
    Where would you position yourself to shoot a stain glass window of a church?
    - Rohan Cooke

    ANSWER 1:
    Rohan: It depends on what you want to achieve. A single glass? Move back as far as you can while still filling the frame with the subject with a long zoom setting.

    Position yourself dead straight-on for perfect symmetry.

    Then try shooting from angles - from the side, for example.

    Using a long zoom setting from a greater distance produces a more pleasing perspective. It won't be as obvious that you were pointing the lens upward.

    Cheers!
    - Peter K. Burian

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    NEW QUESTION 9: Touching Up Senior Photos
    I'm taking some senior pictures for my niece. How can we touch up her pimples and blemishes? My husband helped a professional, and he painted something on the pictures. What was the paint, or what cheaper computer program could I get?
    - Debbie A. Carman

    ANSWER 1:
    Digital or film? If you are editing the photos digitally, I think the standard is Photoshop (and that is what I use). For touching up most of the blemishes on my seniors, I use the healing brush (and occasionally the clone stamp). The healing brush works miracles ...
    - John Wright

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    NEW QUESTION 10: Videocard for Laptops
    I'm looking at buying a laptop for on-the-go photo editing, and I was wondering if a really good graphics card is necessary for photo editing or is it only necessary for 3d graphics editing?
    - Benjamin A. Leonido

    ANSWER 1:
    Hi Benjamin. It depends on exactly what you define as a "really good graphics card." As a minimum, you need 24 bit colour (48 bit if you like handling maximum quality TIFF files) with the highest resolution you can afford.

    That said, I manage just fine with my old Dell Inspiron 8100 at 1600x1200 32 bit, although at only 1.2GHz, it is a little slow handling big TIFFs.

    Most of the high-end laptops available today will do the job OK.

    Watch your screen calibration, TFT/LCD displays are much harder to calibrate accurately than regular CRTs. For serious work you may want to get one of the calibration pucks that do the job automatically.

    Cheers
    DC
    - Dave Cross

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    NEW QUESTION 11: Wedding Help!!!
    The classic story. I have been asked to do a friend's wedding. I own a Minolta Maxxum 5, Minolta 2000xi flash, Sigma 24-70 and Sigma 70-300 lens. This is an outdoor wedding but the reception afterwards is indoors. My question is should I use the Kodak 160NC speed film for both and will the flash that I own be enough to handle my situation? Also, what type of lens filter should be used or would a regular haze or sky filter be fine? Thanks for the help.
    - Chad Pinches

    ANSWER 1:
    I just did my first wedding (outside) and I used Kodak Portra 400 VC. It worked very well and I was pleased with the results. I think the VC gives the photos a little more "snap" color-wise with great skin tones too. I took pictures inside for the reception with just my fill flash on my Canon EOS 700 and in my situation it was fine. Only problem I had was they set the cake up near a window and a lot of light was coming in. I tried to shoot away from the window with pretty good results. I have a UV filter on my lenses all of the time to prevent scratching.

    Also ... If possible, take some of the shots BEFORE the wedding. I had to do all of the pics after the ceremony and before the reception. I didn't feel I had enough time to do the shots I wanted to and I had a lot of people snapping photos behind me while I was taking shots. Of course, they were anxious to get to the reception too, so if possible, do some of the shots before the wedding ceremony. The next one I do will be that way if at all possible.

    Any of the Portra line of film is great... I would not be scared of the 160 speed either ... just use VC vs NC ...

    Good luck & relax & have fun!

    Angie

    - Angela K. Wittmer

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    ANSWER 2:
    Chad, See the section of my Web site that was created for your situation. There's information about film, flash, and more important, the planning you need to do!

    http://johnlind.tripod.com/wedding/

    To be very clear about its purpose, it's a "survival guide" for the non-professional that's pressed into service. All the photos there were done using the type of equipment and films described. It's not intended for starting a business to shoot them professionally. That requires, among a few other specialized things, considerably more lighting equipment.

    A few tips:
    1. If you haven't shot candids much, timing is everything - anticipating so you can be there and ready in a position with good perspective to compose it BEFORE it happens - and exact timing of the shutter when it happens to capture the "decisive moment" that tells the story well. It's a skill that's developed by doing. Reading about it will help, but that alone won't get you there. Your finger has to press the shutter a small fraction of a second just before it happens, and your brain has to tell the finger to move a small fraction of a second before that. If you don't have some experience with candids in general, do some practice. Kids playing and local action sports can help with perfecting shutter timing.

    2. With posed portraiture, attention to detail is extremely important. Clothing that's out of place, hand and arm positioning, tips of fingers showing when a person has their arm around someone, prominent poles or candles growing out of the top of someone's head, distracting background objects, etc., while not as glaring when you're looking at it making the photo, can be glaring in the print. The human brain is marvelous at ignoring these things when you're there in person, but completely fails at helping to ignore it when looking at the photograph later.

    3. Plan thoroughly! Don't underestimate what you will need in film and batteries (there's stuff on my site about that). Also think about how you will choreograph your movements during the ceremony. Much of that cannot be done in advance, other than asking if they're planning on doing anything unusual or special during the ceremony. It's something to think about and plan at the rehearsal, which I very strongly recommend you attend.

    4. If you decide you must buy some new equipment for this event (and hopefully it's something you will use for other things afterward), practice with it first! It's one of my prime rules ... to never, ever use something new at a critical shoot like a wedding without first playing with it to ensure I know how to use it, that I'm familiar with all its controls, and have tested it to ensure it reliably produces the desired results every time. This has saved my bacon more than once (oooh, that doesn't quite fit together right, or ... it doesn't work quite as I expected it to)!

    5. Above all, keep it simple with body, lens, flash and film. Experienced professionals often use multiple camera bodies, lenses, lighting and films. Changeover among them is done carefully at specific times. Their experience has taught them when best to do it and allows them to cope with it without making mistakes. In other words, they're not having to think as much about basic things, can pay attention to it more, and have devised little error-proofing techniques in how they go about it (habit at doing it many times correctly is very powerful too). For the inexperienced who must consciously pay attention to more things going on around them, it can become a mental overload that leads to mistakes ... usually forgetting to do something important during a changeover in equipment.

    You can do it. Thorough planning, preparation and not doing anything unduly complicated with your equipment is the secret.
    - John A. Lind

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    ANSWER 3:
    Chad,
    Good luck with your wedding and as someone stated earlier, get as many pictures taken before the ceremony as possible. And have the bride and groom make a list of what pictures they want so that way you don't forget anyone. But the real reason I'm responding is to ask you a question on how you like your 200xi flash? I also have a Maxxum 5 and can't decide on what flash to get. I would love to have the 5600, but can't afford it right now. Do you like the results of your 200oxi? Please let me know and good luck!
    - Candice Hughes

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    NEW QUESTION 12: Choosing A Digital Camera
    I have always been a huge fan of Nikon cameras. I have a Nikon N75 SLR. I'm looking into buying a digital camera. I was wondering which is better: the Nikon or the Canon?
    - Bjana C. Hoey

    ANSWER 1:
    Bjana: Do you mean the EOS Digital Rebel or Nikon D70? The D70 is absolutely loaded with capabilties, while the Canon is much easier to use because it is not loaded ... still offering the essential capabilities, however. Both produce excellent image quality.

    You can find detailed reviews at http://www.imaging-resource.com/DIGCAMA.HTM

    Cheers!
    - Peter K. Burian

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    NEW QUESTION 13: Need Help with Focusing Macros
    OK - I need your advice! Please see the pictures enclosed. I want to know why the middle part of the flower (I believe it is called the stigma) is out of focus in these shots, although the rest is OK. Is there anything I am doing wrong? Or is there a special setting to get it right? Any advice you have is greatly appreciated. I'm using the Fujifilm S5000 on macro mode.
    - Diane L. Dupuis-Kallos

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    See Sample Photo - focus problems:
    http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGallDetail.asp?photoID=434652

    See Sample Photo - focus problems:
    http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGallDetail.asp?photoID=434651

    ANSWER 1:
    This is typical of macro shots. At extremely close focus distances, the depth of field is measured in fractions of an inch. All you can do is set the smallest aperture your camera allows (highest f/number).
    - Jon Close

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

    CONTINUING QUESTION 1: Model Releases - A Discussion
    Over the last three or four sessions that I have taught here at BetterPhoto, several students have asked me about model releases. Releases are a funny thing. For any work that will appear in consumer or trade magazines, newspapers, fine art exhibits, or books, you generally do not need a model release. However, photos that will be used in commercial applications - ads, brochures, posters, greeting cards, catalogs, postcards, kiosks, trade shows, websites, etc., you will need a release to be "legal."

    In the States, people are much "fussier" about it all than in Europe or other countries, but to be safe, it's a good idea to get one when you can. Whenever I think that my picture might be usable for commercial work, I'll ask for a release. If you think that your pictures might be commercially used, make the effort to get a release, and be prepared to give something for that permission - a thank-you print or prints, a small donation or payment, etc., is considered fair price for the permission to use their likeness "forever." It may not be required, but it's only fair if they ask for something in return.

    Which release? There are some books by Amphoto (some older now) that have model releases printed up in them. The Association of Media Photographers (ASMP) also has a stock photography handbook that has standard forms in it. (I have modified those to be user-friendly and simpler in some cases). Keep your release in simple language and spell out your intentions clearly. If they don't want to sign a release at that moment, get their name/address and send a thank-you print with a release form asking again, if you have something great!
    - Brenda Tharp

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    Beyond the Postcard: Travel Photography

    ANSWER 1:
    Hi Brenda, my response is more of a question to the question. I have photos taken in the 1970's and 1980's with various friends in them, sometimes as the center of interest. Some of these people are no longer reachable - others are. Is it problematic to upload some of the silver-based photos to a Web site if I get one here, let's say? Thanks for any response ... your photographs are great.
    - FRANKLIN

    ANSWER 2:
    Thanks, Franklin! And, good question. If you are not trying to sell those pictures for commercial uses (ads, brochures, etc.) you are free to upload them to a Web site - yours or others', without problem. If someone did see their countenance on a site and didn't like the picture or want it there, they'll let you know, and at that point you can just remove it, honoring their request. It's not likely that they'd try to sue or anything, because you are not doing anything with the picture but exhibiting it. Hope this helps!
    - Brenda Tharp

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    *****


    CONTINUING QUESTION 2: Lens Hood: When to Use?
    I have read all the theory about what a lens hood is for, but what I am looking for are real examples of when it is good to use a lens hood and when not to use a lens hood. Also, if some situations require a lens hood and others don't, do you keep taking the lens hood on and off - not very practical for sports photography. Any help/guidance would be appreciated.
    - John Owens

    ANSWER 1:
    The only time I remove the lens hoods from my lenses is when I'm using direct flash, where the additional width and length of the hood would block the flash light and cause a shadow, or block an in-flash light sensor. For bounce flash and all other situations, the hoods stay on. I can't really think of a situation where the hood would not be beneficial. Each of my zooms have non-rotating fronts and bayonet mounted petal-shaped hood. This design allows me to conveniently manipulate a polarizing filter by reaching a finger into the side cuts. If the hood were a simple bowl shape without the side cuts I'd probably have to do without the hood when using the polarizer, or get a hood that screwed into the polarizer's front threads (using a larger diameter hood and step-up ring to avoid stacked-filter vignetting).
    - Jon Close

    ANSWER 2:
    A real example is when shooting towards the sun, and the sun is just outside the frame. Hoods can block or at least cut down on the glare just like a visor on a hat. For sports, if you have one of the big 300 2.8 or bigger lenses, along with the same reason of shooting towards the sun, if it's raining, the big hood that comes with it can keep some rain off the front element. It can also keep some dust, dirt, grass of the lens if you have to set it down. And it makes it easier to put a trash bag or cover over the lens/camera if it's raining. Makes a good anchoring point. And because 2.8 telephotos have such a large front element and they are shallow, it helps things from making contact with it. Other than shooting towards the sun, or bad weather, they really don't affect anything except for possibly minor protection of the lens.
    - Gregory La Grange

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    ANSWER 3:
    All of the above is correct, but please add this: Consider the lens hood as yet another form of protection for your lens, should you drop it. Lens hoods tend to be fairly sturdy and can take the punishment that would have otherwise been delivered to your camera. Especially given the size of some of today's lens for DSLR's, if you are moving around in closer quarters to buildings, walls, etc., the lens front may scrape the side. But if the lens hood is there instead, it can take the scraping - not your lens. Again, like the protective filter on the front of your lens, the lens hood can act as an inexpensive part to replace instead of the whole lens. You should also read the instructions that come with your lens, it may say something about vignetting at certain settings, when you have your lens hood on. This is mainly an issue for extremely wide zooms. I have a 15-30 zoom, that the instructions warned about vignetting at the wider end with the hood that comes with it.
    - Andrew Hart

    ANSWER 4:
    You should leave it on all the time. It's good protection for one thing. But you should make a test flash shot to see if it will block part of the flash. Some of them will.
    - Scott

    ANSWER 5:
    Me too (or, ummm, seven if I counted correctly): I *always* use a lens hood, even on an 18mm super-duper-wide. One notable exception: It's not possible to use a hood that doesn't intrude into the image on a 180-degree circular fisheye.

    I've never had a hood cause a flash shadow in the image. However, that's my particular combinations of flashes, body, lenses, etc., and how I use them. It is possible for other combinations to cause a problem. I've had hoods block a corner of the viewfinder on old rangefinder cameras.

    If there's a bright light (e.g. sun) close to the image edge, the OEM hood made for the lens may still not be enough, especially with short lenses. Some zoom lens hoods leave a lot to be desired, and short wide-angle prime lens hoods can be just as bad. They seem to be better at protecting the lens front than providing much shade, but this isn't necesarily the lens maker's fault. Zoom hoods must accommodate the shortest focal length, and they cannot do much with bright light sources just outside the frame edge at the long end of the zoom range. Even so, having one and using it is still better than none at all.

    Experience with a couple of particular wide-angle lenses has taught me to look very carefully through the viewfinder for aperture flare and check the front of the lens under certain circumstances to see if it's sufficiently shaded. I've used a hat, gray/white card (normally used for metering) and other things in the past to shade the front of a lens ... once had one of the bystanders hold up a coat to block the sun. The trick is keeping these things out of the image frame, and it's feasible only when working from a tripod carefully.
    - John A. Lind

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    CONTINUING QUESTION 3: How to Shoot Architecture in a City
    I live in New York City, and love photographing architecture - especially churches. How do I create a composition of a church without coming in close with a wide-angle lens, thus creating linear distortion, or using a longer focal-length lens while trying to maintain the entire church, steeples, and all in the composition. Also, the adjacent buildings are distracting. I use conventional film. I do have Photoshop - however, I wish to create an unedited gem. How about photographing parts of the church -i.e., steeple, windows, doorway - that will adequately fill the frame? What are your thoughts on PC lenses?
    - Frank P. Luongo

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    ANSWER 1:
    Wide-angle prime lenses (like a 24mm f/2.8) will have less barrel distortion than a wide angle zoom. To minimize keystoning, you need to get the camera up off street level - for example, shooting your subject/building from several stories up in a nearby building. The clutter of passing cars and pedestrians can be eliminated by setting a very long shutter speed (measured in minutes, using very slow film) so that they are never in the scene long enough to register on film. PC (perspective control, aka tilt/shift) lenses are perfect for eliminating linear distortion and controlling depth of field, but they are very expensive (~$1100 for Canon TS-E 24 f/3.5L).
    - Jon Close

    ANSWER 2:
    There is another way which is more work for you, but I personally find it more fun. You can shoot it as a panorama. You take multiple pictures and piece them together to make 1 larger picture. They can be made up of just horizontal shots or vertical or both. There are also benefits to this. You can have a picture with much more resolution available; sort of like using a much higher resolution camera. This is best of course if shooting with digital as there are many programs available to help you splice these shots together.

    If you are interested, you can see my first attempts on my photo site http://www.pbase.com/mkaplan . Look under the Panorama section. The best place to find out how is to scour the internet as there are many examples and explanations & how to's.

    Here are a couple of sites to get you started:
    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/j.houghton/panos.htm
    http://www.caldwellphotographic.com/
    Look especially under mosaics and see some of his work from N.Y. - for example, where he does many single building shots.
    Michael Kaplan
    Canon EOS-10D
    http://www.pbase.com/mkaplan
    - Michael Kaplan

    ANSWER 3:
    If you're interested in large format photography at all, try using a 4x5 view camera. You can get a good one cheap off of ebay. The film is more expensive, but you're able to correct for any distortions. This is the best way that I know of to get what you're looking for. Using a view camera really makes it easy to straighten the lines of a building and get an entire building in view from just across the street.
    - Sreedevi Kashi

    ANSWER 4:
    Great suggestions. Or try this if it is possible in that location: Use a longer lens and move further back - across the street, at least. Try to fill the frame with the subject, without tilting the camera upward. Granted, in a busy city, that might mean taxis and pedestrians in the foreground. But it works well in other situations.

    Cheers!
    - Peter K. Burian

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