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SNAPSHOT - PHOTO NEWS FROM BETTERPHOTO.COM
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Welcome to SnapShot, the weekly newsletter on
the art of photography from
BetterPhoto.com


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IN THIS ISSUE - Tuesday, August 10, 2004
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* SPOTLIGHT: Enjoy a Season of Learning and Shooting!
* BETTERPHOTO: Combo Workshop: Explore Oregon with Charlie Borland
* FEATURED GALLERY: Picturing Patterns: Zeroing in on Graphic Designs
* FEATURED PLACE: Focus on France: Paris, Yes ... But So Much More!
* PHOTO TRIVIA QUESTION: Word Problem / Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1908-2004
* THIS WEEK'S TIP: Explore Your Subject, Then Trust Your Eye ... by Kerry Drager
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 1: Shooting Landscapes
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 2: What Equipment for the Grand Canyon?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 3: JPEG vs. RAW
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 4: Model Release: Pay or Not to Pay
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 5: What Resolution Required for Magazine Use?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 6: Scanning Photographs
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 7: How to Shoot in Aquariums?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 8: Lens or Light Meter?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 9: Hot Spots in Moving Water Shots
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 10: Student Versions of Photoshop
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 11: My First Digital Camera
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 1: Backdrop Ideas
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 2: Photoshop: What to Get?


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IN THE SPOTLIGHT - ADVERTISEMENT
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Enjoy a Season of Learning and Shooting!
Would you like to learn more about the principles of exposure, composition, digital photography, photographic field techniques, even Photoshop, or the business and marketing aspect of photography? Join us this fall 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. But with so many great courses to choose from, the decision-making process isn't an easy one. That's why we created our categories page, which can be reviewed 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 172nd issue of SnapShot!

Hi

Lots of news for this week! First off, our fall schedule of online courses is beginning to fill up... with so many choices for photographers of all interests and skill levels! Beat the rush and sign up soon. Check out the course options at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/online-photography-courses.asp

Next, BetterPhoto instructor Charlie Borland has announced his upcoming Combo Workshop. Set to take place amid the incredible scenery of Southeastern Oregon, Charlie's workshop is limited to only 12 photographers. It is a workhop you just can't pass up: to explore Oregon's Steens Mountain with this top stock and assignment photographer. It takes place September 26th to October 2nd, 2004. See all the details in the update item below.

In addition, this issue of SnapShot includes a fun Featured Gallery that focuses on patterns, and the Featured Place puts the spotlight on France. This is fitting since the Photo Trivia Question involves the great French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, who died last week at age 95.

In this week's photo tip, instructor Kerry Drager shares his thoughts on the importance of exploring your subject and then trusting your eye.

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


*****
Combo Workshop: Explore Oregon with Charlie Borland
Join BetterPhoto's Charlie Borland for an exciting week of photography at Oregon's Steens Mountain. Open to both digital and film photographers, this combination on-location and online workshop - September 26th to October 2nd, 2004 - is a great opportunity to explore and photograph the fantastic Southeastern Oregon scenery with a great photographer/instructor! With glacial cut valleys, aspen filled gorges, wildflower laden meadows, and great desert views, Steens Mountain offers the landscape photographer a vast array of photo subjects. Learn all about it at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/wildlife-photography/charlie-borland-steens-oregon.asp

Charlie also teaches an immensely popular "Stock Photography" course here at BetterPhoto. For details, go to:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/CBL01.asp

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FEATURED GALLERY
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Picturing Patterns: Zeroing in on Graphic Designs
Check the work of BetterPhoto members and instructors, and you'll see precisely how patterns are used to grab the viewer's attention in an artful way! And, best yet, patterns can be found almost everywhere. For example, they pop up in nature (from distant landscapes to extreme close-ups), in architecture (whether in intricate details or via repetition), and in so many other "everyday" scenes. The trick to catching them? Keep your eyes open and your camera ready! For ideas and inspiration, don't miss BetterPhoto's "Pattern Photography" gallery at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGall2.asp?catID=363

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FEATURED PLACE
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Focus on France: Paris, Yes ... But So Much More!
When it comes to the color and character of France, BetterPhoto shooters have explored many of this photogenic country's countless high points: the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, the lavender fields of Provence, the architecture of old Lyon, and the lush valleys backed by the spectacular French Alps. But there's more: striking twilight shots, village and restaurant scenes. And, of course, any complete picture tour of France has to include the human touch, and BetterPhoto's gallery features a wide array of people images. For shooting inspiration, don't miss the "France Pictures" gallery at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGall2.asp?catID=175

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PHOTO TRIVIA QUIZ OF THE WEEK
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Last week, we asked:
If two cameras were shooting from the same position, pointed at the same subject, facing the same direction, one at f8 and 1/500 and the other at f16, what would the latter camera's shutter speed need to be to produce identical exposures?

The first, best answer - entered by BetterPhoto member Karen Pellerano is:
F16: 1/125

Editor's Note: The difference between f/8 and f/16 is actually TWO stops - with f/11 in between. So, for an identical exposure (assuming all contributing factors are equal), going two stops in ONE direction (i.e., stopping down the aperture from f/8 to f/16) requires a two-stop adjustment in the OTHER direction (in this case, reducing the shutter speed from 1/500th sec. to 1/125th).

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 - Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1908-2004 - entered by BetterPhoto member CHUCK TURNER

What was the brand name of the camera that the great French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson used, and what special thing did he do to it?

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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Explore Your Subject, Then Trust Your Eye ... by Kerry Drager
Amid the excitement of shooting, it's not always easy to keep all of the compositional strategies in mind. Here's the key: Whenever possible, slow down and examine your scene in-depth. Try different camera positions, place your main subject in different parts of the frame, switch from horizontal to vertical, etc.

So how will you know when you've come up with the "perfect" photo? If, after thoroughly investigating your subject, you have a picture that "looks great," then you most likely have your shot! But what if the view through your viewfinder still "doesn't quite feel right"? Then it may be time to pack up, move on, and find a more cooperative subject.

To sum it all up: Look, analyze, experiment ... and then go with own visual instincts!

Check out Kerry Drager's online courses:
Beyond Snapshots
Field Techniques
Course Extension

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: Shooting Landscapes
I have a Canon 10D and would like to take better landscape photos. I am influenced strongly by Ansel Adams' work. What settings should I use on my camera (aperture, shutter speed, ISO, etc.). And what type of lens would be ideal(especially in terms of its f/stop rating and how that relates to my aperture setting on the camera)? Thank you!
- Nick D.

ANSWER 1:
With landscape photography, a few prerequisites immediately come to mind:

-- Low ISO setting (or slow film).
-- Slow shutter speeds, accompanied by a small aperture (high f-stop number), especially if the scene includes foreground objects.
-- A medium wide angle prime lens (24 mm or 35 mm).
--Shooting early and late in the day when the light is optimal.
-- A good tripod
-- Bracket exposures (when using film).

This basic formula will cover most shooting scenarios.
For compositions, study the fine artistry of Mr. Adams' works and those of other great photographers/landscapists to learn how they "balance" their scenics and use the available light to their advantage.
- Bob Cammarata

Visit cammphoto.com - Bob's Deluxe BetterPholio™

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=10914

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=10914

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NEW QUESTION 2: What Equipment for the Grand Canyon?
I'm going to the Grand Canyon for the first time. I am confused as to what equipment to carry. I have an Olympus OM2000. The lenses I have are 35-70mm f3.5-4.8, 70-205mm f3.5, 100-300mm 4.5-5.6, and a 135mm f2.8. The telephoto zooms are very heavy, and I don't want to carry both of them because of back pain. I also have to buy a wide-angle lens. Should I go for a 24mm f2.8 or 19-35mm f3.5-4.5? Both are within my budget.
- Rajesh Gaurav

ANSWER 1:
When I went to the Grand Canyon, I carried these 3 lenses: 28mm, 50mm and 135mm FD for my Canon AT-1. I used the 28mm and 50mm most. I only used the 135mm on one photo. So my suggestion to you, either the 24mm or the 19-35mm, the 35-70mm and optional, either the 70-205mm or 100-300mm, whichever is lighter or the better optic. Hope this helps.
- Andy Szeto

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=10906

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=10906

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NEW QUESTION 3: JPEG vs. RAW
I am fairly new to digital photography and would like to know if there is a huge difference between the high-quality JPEG and RAW formats? Thanks.
- Keith A. Trepanier

See Keith's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 1:
Depends on what you're going to do with the pictures. RAW preserves all the data associated with the shot, whereas JPEG has several different compression modes making the file size smaller, but also throwing out some of the information to accomplish this ... This is the short answer, but I hope it helps.
- 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=10889

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=10889

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NEW QUESTION 4: Model Release: Pay or Not to Pay
Does a photographer have to pay a person for getting a model release signed? If so what do you pay them? Do you need a model release for each person in a picture if it's a group or event shot?
- Alonzo J. Adams

ANSWER 1:
Most of the time you shouldn't have to pay. But I think it's a real courtesy to offer copies of prints in exchange for the release ...
hth
- 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=10884

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=10884

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NEW QUESTION 5: What Resolution Required for Magazine Use?
What is the best megapixel/resolution to shoot pictures in for 1/2 page or larger magazine photos? I have a few pictures I would like to show a few magazines and calendar companies, but I don't know if the resolution/MPs are big enough for their printing needs.
- Alonzo J. Adams

ANSWER 1:
How many MPs are you shooting?
- Damian Gadal

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

ANSWER 2:
I'm using the 6.1 MP Kodak DX 7630 EasyShare Camera at this time.
- Alonzo J. Adams

ANSWER 3:
6.1 should be fine! Shoot RAW if you can and convert to TIFF
- Damian Gadal

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

ANSWER 4:
If you haven't done so already, get submission guidelines from the publications to whom you plan to submit. They will outline their specific format requirements in detail, as well as current editorial needs. You would be wise to follow their submission format TO THE LETTER. They look at a ton of material each month, and their selection process can be quite brutal.
For calendar companies ... most are looking for a series of images within a given theme to comprise an entire calendar year. The more original the theme ... the better chance of it getting accepted.
Best of luck!
- Bob Cammarata

Visit cammphoto.com - Bob's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 5:
You should have about 1.5 to 2 pixels to the dot. So one needs to know the lpi (lines per inch) of the publication. But you could guess 133 lpi, so you would want around 200-270 pixels per inch.
Vince
www.PhotoAgo.com
- Vince Broesch

ANSWER 6:
A lot of mags and news mags only print at 180 dpi, so a 6 meg pic will easily do the job.
- Nick Milton

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=10873

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=10873

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NEW QUESTION 6: Scanning Photographs
To achieve maximum results/image quality, is it better to scan 8X10 images rather than smaller formats?
- David J. Allocco

ANSWER 1:
No, it is not. It may seem better because the picture's larger, but really there is the same amount of information on the picture as there is on a 4x6 or 2x3. All you're doing with an 8x10 or some other enlargement is expanding the size of each little block of color, not adding more of them to the picture. A good scanner is extremely accurate and can hit resolutions small enough to cover very detailed and tiny areas. There is no need to blow the image up for the scanner.

In fact, with this in mind, scanning an 8x10 (or any other print for that matter) will give you WORSE image quality. It's kind of like making a picture of a picture, and that never works. Because the enlargement is bound to lose sharpness out of human error and have more apparent grains as well, it is worse quality than the negative. So if you can, scan from the negative (you need a pricey negative scanner) because that's where the raw data is; its tiny size doesn't matter.
- Steven Chaitoff

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=10871

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=10871

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NEW QUESTION 7: How to Shoot in Aquariums?
Should a flash be used while photographing in an aquarium? I have a Fujifilm S5000 and have tried desperately to get good photos in aquariums. They either come out extremely dark or very blurred, and if I use the flash I get mostly the reflection of the flash on the glass. Thanks.
- Marilou Olejniczak

See Marilou's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 1:
If it is dark, and you must use the flash, you have to get right up against the glass to avoid as much glare/feedback as possible. This photo was taken through a glass aquarium with the S5000.
- Diane L. Dupuis-Kallos

See Diane's Premium BetterPholio™

See Sample Photo - Underbelly:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGallDetail.asp?photoID=485854

ANSWER 2:
Oh yeah - I was in Macro mode also... I hope this helps!
- Diane L. Dupuis-Kallos

See Diane's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 3:
Wow, thanks, Diane. Would it be the same for the fish tanks? Or maybe for those I should stand further back and wait till no one or hardly anyone is in front of me.
- Marilou Olejniczak

See Marilou's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 4:
If you stand back, the flash is just going to get in the way of your picture. The camera lens cover has to be right up against the glass. I think if you search the Internet for tips on shooting through glass you'll come up with some suggestions.
Here is another question thread...
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=7982
Hope this helps!
- Diane L. Dupuis-Kallos

See Diane's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 5:
Thanks. Also, for aquarium shots, a lens hood can be helpful. If you can't press all the way up against the glass, this will keep the glare off from the overhead lights. Try to find the cleanest portion of glass that you can (getting above where the kids can reach helps). Hold the camera lens right against the glass and you can even use a flash without glare. You can use your hand to block some of the reflection right above the lens if not using a flash.

As far as I know, there's no good way to get shots of poorly lit aquaria with the whole aquarium and people in front, because using the flash will cause glare and not using it will cause everything to be blurred. One thing you can do is to take the shot right with an animal that is not moving much or is in a bright spot in the aquarium and meter for that animal. This will probably cause the people in the shot to be silhouetted. The best way is to take pictures of aquaria that are brightly lit from inside the tank.

Pam
- Pamela L. Keil

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=10845

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=10845

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*****


NEW QUESTION 8: Lens or Light Meter?
I'm using an F90x with 35-70 lens, and just want to start out learning photography seriously. I'm saving my money to buy additional equipment. The question: Should I save my money to buy a new lens - say the 18-35mm - or should I buy a light meter first instead?
- Ambi Pratama

ANSWER 1:
Just my opinion. I think you should spend the money on the lens instead of the light meter. You just need to learn how to meter correctly with your camera. The situation you may need a light meter is flash photography. But you can calculate the correct exposure manually by using the distance to subject and guide number of the flash.
- Andy Szeto

ANSWER 2:
Thanks a lot for the tips, Andy! I appreciate it.
- Ambi Pratama

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=10838

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=10838

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*****


NEW QUESTION 9: Hot Spots in Moving Water Shots
Hello. I'm a rank amateur and trying to figure things out as I go. My problem is that I want the "smooth" water look in my moving-water pictures. To accomplish this, I slowed the shutter speed (1.5 sec) and plopped on a polarizer filter. The image turned out good in regards to the smooth look of the water, but there are hot spots in the foliage. Any solutions for this? Do I require a different filter? Any help much appreciated! I've attached the images and would LOVE some advice (and I will be getting the book by Jim soon)!
- Karma Wilson

See Karma's Premium BetterPholio™

See Sample Photo - Water scene hot spots...:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGallDetail.asp?photoID=485582

ANSWER 1:
The attachments didn't go through but it sounds like your hot spots are over-exposed areas of bright sunshine. To get the best effect from moving water, an overcast day will help achieve the long shutter speeds without blowing out any highlight areas.
- Bob Cammarata

Visit cammphoto.com - Bob's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
What time of day was this shot taken? It helps to take these shots when there's less light (morning or evening). Also, make sure the angle of the polarizing filter is adjusted to maximally block the reflective angle from the foliage. I've only done a few of these smooth water shots, so I look forward to hearing what others have to say.
Pam
- Pamela L. Keil

ANSWER 3:
I posted too soon! :) Your attachment appeared a few seconds ago, and it DOES look like peaks of sunlight created the hotspots. It is doubtful that a polarizer would have helped. It looks like the shot was metered for overall exposure of the "neutral" areas of the scene. At 1.5 seconds, any brighter lit areas will over-expose.
- Bob Cammarata

Visit cammphoto.com - Bob's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 4:
I use my polarizing filter mostly for shots of clouds or (non-soft) water. I don't know how much you've used a polarizing filter, but make sure you rotate it around before you take the shot to get the best angle for blocking the reflected light. The filter should be able to rotate on its base. If you just aim the camera at some clouds or light reflected off of a car or water body and play with rotating the filter, you'll see that some angles will bring the clouds out more or block more of the reflection. Always test this before your shots. Don't just "plop" a polarizing filter on and expect it to work the way that a warming filter or other color filter would work.
Pam
- Pamela L. Keil

ANSWER 5:
All the above suggestions are the best, only if you can wait and hope for the best lighting. If not, here is one suggestion: Meter for the highlight. I am always in the situation that I only have a very short time to take the picture or go home without it. The accompanying photo was taken in Haleakala N.P., Hawaii. I want to include the swimmers as a scale and show that people actually can swim there. I already have a polarizer on, and I cannot stack a split neutral density filter because of a vignetting problem. But I know the water will come out nice in slower shutter speed even though the rocks go totally dark. I used a 100 speed slide film and a very small shutter (I think it's f32 with a 300mm lens). It shouldn't matter if you use digital or film. In your case, you can meter at the highlight, take the shot, and take another one with +1 exposure compensation dial in. See which one with the water effect you like. What do you think?
- Andy Szeto

See Sample Photo - Haleakala N.P.:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGallDetail.asp?photoID=486018

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=10837

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=10837

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NEW QUESTION 10: Student Versions of Photoshop
Does the less-expensive student version of Photoshop have the same features as the full-price version?
- Jesse Ayers

ANSWER 1:
Yes, it is the same. You can also buy the bundle with Illustrator, InDesign, and Acrobat Pro for about $380 - instead of the $280 that you'll pay for PS only. That is a great deal if you have an interest in the whole publication process. You can buy at your college or from Studica.com
Vince
www.PhotoAgo.com
- Vince Broesch

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=10835

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=10835

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*****


NEW QUESTION 11: My First Digital Camera
I'm going to France, and I need to buy a digital camera. I don't know much about cameras and don't want to deal with too many manual features. I need a digital camera that has easy-to-use modes for pictures and shouldn't be more then 300 dollars. Can you please help me find some good cameras and tell what else I should be looking for if I want to buy a digital camera. Thank you.
- Bob

ANSWER 1:
A big part of buying a camera is deciding what you most want to take pictures of. Will you be shooting mostly people, landscapes, architecture, flowers or insects, larger wildlife, or what? Knowing what you want to take pictures of will help you decide what features you need. Here are some things to think about:

-- Zoom: How close will you be able to get to your subject? How big is your subject? (Remember: Optical zoom is what counts; digital zoom is irrelevant except as a way to view your pictures on the small viewing screen.)
-- Resolution: What will you be doing with the pictures? Do you just want to post them on the Web or print out small pictures, or would you like to blow them up to a large size? How much cropping would you like to be able to do without losing resolution?
-- Lens size: The size of the lens determines how much light gathering ability the camera has. If you're going to be shooting a lot of night shots, you'll want a larger lens.

Most point-and-shoot type cameras have lots of automatic settings. You should think about what you want to do with this camera in the end. My camera can go fully automatic or fully manual or anything in between. You should at least try to get a camera where you can tell it to over- or under-expose relative to its automatic meter reading. Especially if you want to capture good sunset pictures or other lighting effects. Also, the mode "nighttime shot" can work for this.

Also, check out this link:
http://www.betterphoto.com/digital/buying-best-digital-cameras/01-intro.asp

Hope this helps. Others may be able to give you more specific advice, especially if you give us some idea of what you plan to get pictures of...
Pam
- Pamela L. Keil

ANSWER 2:
Well said, Pamela! Although you may not want the manual modes yet, unless you plan on upgrading again soon, you may want one that can go from full auto to full manual. As you take more and more pictures, you may want to try some manual settings and, if your camera can't do it, then you are stuck.
I personally love my Fujifilm Finepix S5000. Check out my gallery for some of the shots I've taken. (P.S.: It's just a hobby for me - and I've only been taking it seriously in the last 8 months or so).
Good luck with your decision! I know it is a tough one!
- Diane L. Dupuis-Kallos

See Diane's Premium BetterPholio™

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=10831

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=10831

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

CONTINUING QUESTION 1: Backdrop Ideas
I'm looking for ideas for good backdrops - inexpensive, because I'm just getting started. Thanks.
- Andrea Hillis

ANSWER 1:
Hmm ... sheets, blankets, curtains, rugs, walls, foliage, windows, sky, beach ... My few cents:o)
- Mikki Cowles

See Mikki's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
Thanks Mikki. How do you get the rippled effect when you place these over the backdrop?
- Andrea Hillis

ANSWER 3:
Sheets are good. You can find them on the clearance table at some bed and bath shops. The problem I ran into with sheets was that they were not long enough to cover the flooring, so I just get two and sew them together.

You can also go to a fabric store and purchase muslin, extra wide - it is cheap, and you can even paint on it, like a bunch of primary colors, spattered on it.

Also, at the fabric shop you can look on their clearance table for cheap fabrics - say, if you would like some fake fur to make a rug to lay on, or some animal print pillows. If you don't sew, the fabric stores always have a list of people that do.
- Rhonda L. Tolar

ANSWER 4:
When you hang them, don't pull them smooth, just attach them to the wall or a pole, slide it together and give it some slack, as if you were draping some curtains. The extra material should fall into a soft, drapey look, which you can adjust to get the desired effects and shadows.
- Mikki Cowles

See Mikki's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 5:
Believe it or not, shower curtains also make good backdrops. For a different texture and color mix, you can use sheer curtains over the backdrop, or to help frame the subject. Good Luck!
- Jerry Ferguson

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ANSWER 6:
Hi Andrea, Ive found a very inexpensive Web site that sells great backdrops of all sizes, colors, styles, and qualities. It's called funkybackdrops.com. The prices are fantastic ... delivery can be slow, but they do arrive. Good luck with your photography!!
Terry
- Terry Lennox

ANSWER 7:
Hi Andrea, Here's my 2 cents' worth on backdrops. I buy about 6 yards of 60" wide stretch velour. It has to be the stretchy kind because it doesn't unravel, it curls a little on the edges, but doesn't unravel. If you're handy with a sewing machine or sewing tape, you can make a pocket at the top and bottom to hang it. You can use two 3-yard pieces side by side, and that pretty much will cover a lot of territory. The velour is usually inexpensive - around $6 a yard (here in NYC) - made of rayon or poly. First, I preshrink it in the machine and throw it in the dryer. It doesn't wrinkle and can be rolled up in a ball without much wrinkling. By preshrinking it, you can then throw it in the dryer when it becomes dirty again. It comes in nice rich velvety colors; I even found a tie-dyed purple. If you hang it with the nap down, it gives a silvery look or if you hang it the other way it gives that velvet look.
- Corinna Chifari

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ANSWER 8:
Corinna, that is a great idea! And, you don't even have to be handy in sewing. They have curtain clips that all you would have to do is clip it on the fabric and thread it on a dowel rod or pole! Or, what I do is set up in my garage and use clothes pins to attach the fabric to my garage door.
- Rhonda L. Tolar

ANSWER 9:
Curtain clips that I find very hard to squeeze open. I just read my original comment and didn't mean to say that you clean it by just throwing it in the dryer! Duh! My fingers work faster than my brain.
- Corinna Chifari

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ANSWER 10:
Hello Andrea, I purchased the painters' drop cloth, they are cheap at somewhere like Home Depot (depending where you live). They also come in different sizes, so for $15-25 you can have a huge sheet large enough for just about anything and, of course, you can paint it, spray it, or do whatever you like. If I am doing head shots or 3/4-style shots, I will clip bunches of the canvas together to hold it in place (out of camera view) and use a backlight with a gel over it to make the colours shine into the grooves on the fabric. Really easy and inexpensive. Good luck.
- Pamela CM Lammersen

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ANSWER 11:
Wow, what great ideas already suggested! I've used sheets, fabric, etc., as stated above, but I've also used tablecloths. It seems all the ideas are for large backdrops, but for smaller projects, construction paper or posterboard will work, too. Also, if photographing people, why not use the outdoors as a backdrop? I have taken beautiful portraits right in my back yard. Then there's always parks, woods, beaches, lakes ...
- Lori Moravcik

ANSWER 12:
Andrea, I see someone suggested velour above. One of my absolute favorites for head shots is black velvet that I purchased at a fabric store. I waited until it was discounted before buying, but the effect is great. I think this tip may have originally come from Vik O (BetterPhoto instructor Vik Orenstein). The only thing with velvet is that it does crease and should not be ironed, so please roll to store so all is well for future uses!
- Teresa L. Bernard

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ANSWER 13:
Just one more comment. When I suggested velour, it's not the sporty kind of velour I have in mind, it's the one that resembles velvet and is usually made of rayon, but isn't as high maintenance as velvet. True, the pile on it isn't as rich-looking as velvet's, but it's low maintenance. I'm an experienced sewer, and take it from me, velvet is difficult to maintain. Actually you can press velvet if you have a thick towel or a needle board. Place the fabric pile side down onto the folded up towel and hold the steam iron close to the fabric but not pressing it and give it some shots of steam AND PRAY. Always best to do a test first in a hidden area or on a scrap. That's the great thing about the velour - it doesn't wrinkle. It's called by various names: panne velvet, stretch velvet, as well as stretch velour. Andrea, if you want, I can send you a sample of the fabric via mail. Contact me through my Web site and e-mail me the info there.
- Corinna Chifari

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CONTINUING QUESTION 2: Photoshop: What to Get?
I have a birthday coming up and have requested Photoshop. I do not know what one to get. I have about $300.00 to spend. Would someone please tell me which one I should get so I do not have to upgrade six months from now? My next course is going to be Photoshop. Thanks.
- Pat Worster

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ANSWER 1:
If you are a student, you can by the Adobe student versions. Student versions are fully functional like the retail. You will need to prove that you are a student. Check out www.studica.com The Adobe pack with Photoshop CS, Illustrator CS, GoLive, and Acrobat is about $380. You will want CS, it is the new one.

Vince
www.photoago.com
- Vince Broesch

ANSWER 2:
Newest isn't always best - I picked up a copy of PS 5.5 (along with the license) on eBay for less than $100.00 and am perfectly happy with it ...
- Damian Gadal

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ANSWER 3:
I concur with Damian that "newest isn't always best." I have v7.0 and won't upgrade to CS ... yet. There are a lot of problems with "plug-in's" and CS. I've got too much money invested in plug-in's to not be able to use them. I'll wait until they overcome the bugs in CS before I upgrade.
- Terry L. Long

ANSWER 4:
Personally, I haven't seen a problem with Photoshop CS or plug-in's, and I use it daily. PhotoshopCS is far superior to previous versions (and I've been using it for years - including v5.5). If you can get a copy that is within your budget, I'd recommend it. There are other alternatives out there (that are cheaper), but I have no experience with them.

Good luck!
- John Wright

ANSWER 5:
Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0 is another option. It runs less than $100, and you can do a lot with it, especially if you're just starting out. I have Photoshop 6, and it a little overwhelming. I received the Photoshop Elements 2.0 as part of the package when I bought my Canon Digital Rebel. I like it much better than Photoshop 6 (at least for now)! Just a thought ! :)
- Colette M. LaCasse

ANSWER 6:
Unless you are just "dead-set" upon purchasing PhotoShop, I would suggest looking at Paint Shop Pro 8 by Jasc. It is feature-rich, with very extensive functions. Also, many, many of the plug-ins for PhotoShop will also work with PSP 8. You can pick up a new copy of PSP for as little as $60-$70 (on sale). You can also download a trial version (30 days) directly from www.jasc.com to check it out. If you are an eBayer, you may find a deal there also.
- Randy Kinney

ANSWER 7:
I used to use Photodraw, and although Photoshop was way, way out of my budget (it is $800 Canadian here!) I recently bought Photoshop Elements 2.0, which I'm very happy with. I'm not a pro, but am very computer savvy and learn things quickly. I guess it all depends on what you plan on doing with it, how much time you have to devote to it, and how good you are with a computer. My understanding is that PS Elements is more for the everyday users (rather than professional graphic artists), and it has many of the same features as PS but in a more user-friendly and easier to use program.
- Diane L. Dupuis-Kallos

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ANSWER 8:
You ever wonder, "If Photoshop is so good, why is there the need for so many plug-ins"?
- Damian Gadal

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ANSWER 9:
I am fairly new to image editing programs. I've used Paint Shop Pro 8, Photoshop elements, Photoshop 7, and Photoshop CS. From a beginner's point of view, CS is so much easier to use. It's my fav so far. Go to www.adobe.com and download some trials, decide for yourself.
- Amanda Scruggs

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