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


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IN THIS ISSUE - Monday, November 08, 2004
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* SPOTLIGHT: A Season of Photography, Education ... And Fun!
* BETTERPHOTO: BetterPhoto's Deluxe BetterPholios™: Two Great Options
* BETTERPHOTO: Digital Photography Unleashed: Jim Miotke's Exciting New DVD!
* BETTERPHOTO: Photo of the Day: A Daily Showcase of Creativity
* FEATURED GALLERY: Focus on Light and Shadow
* FEATURED PLACE: Focus on California's Coastline
* PHOTO TRIVIA QUESTION: Career Switch / A Very Big Subject
* THIS WEEK'S TIP: Camera Support When Afield ... By Bob Cammarata
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 1: What's the Difference in Photo Labs?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 2: Portrait Blur
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 3: Shadows as a Result of Using Flash
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 4: Choosing Extreme Wide-Angle Lens
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 5: Portable Lighting Systems
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 6: Blurry Family Picture
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 7: Chicken Barn Shoot
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 8: How to Download from Computer to Disk
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 9: Cropping and Sharpness
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 10: Light Meter
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 11: Shooting Photos From Bridges
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 12: Fall Foliage Filter
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 13: Double-Exposing Moon Shots
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 14: Self-Portraits
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 1: Which Close-up Accessory?


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IN THE SPOTLIGHT - ADVERTISEMENT
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A Season of Photography, Education ... And Fun!
Are you ready to take the next step in your photography? We have an awesome schedule of winter online courses at BetterPhoto, with such subjects as: beginning photography, composition and the art of seeing, digital photography, shooting technique, Photoshop, specialty subjects, business and marketing, and lighting and exposure. Our standard classes run 8 weeks, but we also offer some exciting 4-Week "Short Courses" on specialized subjects. See the complete schedule at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/online-photography-courses.asp


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WHAT'S NEW AT BETTERPHOTO.COM
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Welcome to the 185th issue of SnapShot!

Hi

November is proceeding along very nicely at BetterPhoto. Sign-ups are already going on for our winter photo school - our best schedule of online classes ever! To help with the decision-making process, try out our Course Finder ... located at the top of BetterPhoto's home page. With it, you can select a class by subject or by instructor. It's really easy to use!

A quick note about the publication of an excellent new book - "The Joy of Digital Photography" by Jeff Wignall. This comprehensive how-to manual really kicks, especially since it includes images by BetterPhoto member Robert Ganz! A well-deserved congratulations, Robert!

Speaking of BP members, check out Bob Cammarata's fine photo tip - "Camera Support When Afield" - in this issue of SnapShot. Also, don't overlook the Featured Gallery (shadows), the Featured Place (California's coast), Photo Trivia, and our usual outstanding batch of questions and answers.

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


*****
BetterPhoto's Deluxe BetterPholios™: Two Great Options
Frustrated with the hurdles and hassles of getting your own Web site? BetterPhoto offers two fantastic options for displaying - and even selling - your work! BetterPhoto makes getting your own site hassle-free by taking care of all the technical issues and offering a single, comprehensive package. And we have two exciting plans from which to choose:

1) Deluxe BetterPholio™, in which you can choose the look and feel of your Web site from a selection of unique, high-quality designs. For details, go to:
http://www.betterphoto.com/sites4photogs/deluxeWebsites.asp

2) Pro BetterPholio™, which includes ALL of the features of our Deluxe BetterPholios™, PLUS many more powerful extra features. This option is geared especially to professional shooters and aspiring pros. For details:
http://www.betterphoto.com/sites4photogs/deluxeProWebsites.asp


*****
Digital Photography Unleashed: Jim Miotke's Exciting New DVD!
Learn the basics of digital photography in Jim Miotke's new DVD, "Digital Photography Unleashed: Capturing Wildly Great Photos." This jam-packed DVD is over 2 hours long, and features these four segments: Learning the Basics (with Andy the mountain lion); Day at the Ranch (where we photograph horses, cowboys, branding, and more); Mastering Further Techniques (with a variety of wildlife models); and Exploring Light and Shutter Speed (in Yosemite Valley). Each segment has a variety of tips and techniques sprinkled throughout. For all the DVD details:
http://www.betterphoto.com/product/ourProductDetail.asp?productID=1256


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Photo of the Day: A Daily Showcase of Creativity
Our new daily newsletter, Photo of the Day, has provided a daily showcase of outstanding pictures! The images are selected from either our monthly photo contest or from the excellent work of our online course instructors. In addition to being inspired by awe-inspiring images each day, subscribers receive brief announcements and occasional photo tips from our team of instructors. To learn more or to subscribe, visit:
http://www.betterphoto.com/subscribe.asp

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FEATURED GALLERY
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Focus on Light and Shadow
Shadows produce a quick and powerful impact, since they emphasize form over detail. Best yet, as BetterPhoto members and instructors have proven, chasing shadows is a creative pursuit for shooters of either color or black and white. For a burst of creativity, check out BetterPhoto's "Shadow Pictures" gallery:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGall2.asp?catID=269

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FEATURED PLACE
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Focus on California's Coastline
With a shoreline that stretches hundreds of miles, California offers all sorts of photographic possibilities. A check of BetterPhoto's "California Beach" gallery and you'll see that BP shooters have captured such subjects as: grand seascapes, daring surfers, fantastic sunsets, wildlife, Golden Gate, coastal architecture, lighthouses, sandy beaches, offshore rocks, and so much more. Check out these inspiring images at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGall2.asp?catID=404

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PHOTO TRIVIA QUIZ OF THE WEEK
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Last week, we asked:
Here's a two-part question: 1) What was Ansel Adams' first career? 2) What important photographer influenced Ansel to switch gears and go into photography full-time?



The first, best answer - entered by BetterPhoto member Randy Kinney is:
1) He trained to become a concert pianist. 2) Paul Strand

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 - A Very Big Subject - entered by BetterPhoto member Jim Miotke

In what movie does Gerard Depardieu talk about shooting elephants with a camera?

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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Camera Support When Afield ... By Bob Cammarata
When photographing in the field, weight and convenience are major considerations when choosing appropriate gear. Tripods, although essential to sharp photos, are too often overlooked as being too heavy or cumbersome to lug around all day. A simple tripod bag, slung over your shoulder with a strap, makes it much easier to carry your full-sized tripod to a distant locale. There are also many high-quality compact tripods on the market that fit easily into a camera bag or photo backpack. These work well from ground-level up to a few feet or so and can be made more versatile by building extensions for the legs from three equal lengths of PVC pipe. These leg extensions are easy to make, weigh practically nothing, are easy to stash and carry, and can give you a little additional height from your compact tripod when needed.

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
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  • 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: What's the Difference in Photo Labs?
Here's my question. I have a pro lab I use for my work. They do outstanding work without a doubt. However, their processing is costly. Can I use a good consumer lab to get my negs, then use my pro lab for my prints? I guess I could ask: Will this affect the quality of my negatives? Or will they be the same no matter where the negs are developed?
I don't want to have them done cheaper and they not be the same quality negative as if the pro would've done. Thanks for any input!
Rick
- James Boone

ANSWER 1:
The most important thing that a lab does is process the film. That is because if there is any error in printing, you just print again, but any error in film processing will be difficult or impossible to fix. There are two main factors in film processing, the mechanics of the machine can cause scratches, over or under temp, etc. The other main factor is called "process control," which is the monitoring and charting of the reactions being caused by the chemicals. These things are much more tightly controlled in a pro lab than they would be somewhere else.

Id stick to the pro lab unless you are willing to take greater risk of damaged film as well as lower quality prints.
Vince
www.PhotoAgo.com
- Vince Broesch

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=12477

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http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=12477

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NEW QUESTION 2: Portrait Blur
I've had my first client ever order prints from me with the request for them to be "fuzzy." How do I get just the right portrait blur (soft focus) in PhotoShop? What filter do I use? To what degree?
- Amy Anderson

ANSWER 1:
Gaussian blur ... under blur in the filter category. You could use diffuse glow for a different type of fuzziness.
- Gregory La Grange

Visit gregorylagrange.org - Gregory's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
You can purchase Photoshop actions that do portrait blur or soft focus, etc. Why go to all the work to do what someone has perfected already? Here is a link to a Web site that has some great actions like Porcelin skin, Glamour blur, etc. They're very reasonably priced, and they work great. I have used them myself as I won some of them in a contest ... and not just on portraits. They work great on all types of images. Craig also has actions for generating proofs, etc. Check them all out at -
http://www.auraphotographics.com/Actions/actions.html
- Heather K. McFarland

See Heather's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 3:
Adobe's community studio exchange on the Web offers other free actions for Photoshop submitted by members - like soft focus, glamour, etc. You might check there, since they are free.
- Kip T. Berger

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Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
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NEW QUESTION 3: Shadows as a Result of Using Flash
Hi. I use a Canon EOS 300V (Rebel Ti)35mm SLR. I also have a very basic Vivitar flash, which is not really very powerful. The problem is that the last time I used my flash at a wedding I got these unsightly shadows behind the people. After reading the tips on the same topic on this site, I've come to the conclusion that they were too close to the wall behind them. Next week I have to take pics of a ballet class in a lit hall. The hall is a reasonably well-lit one, but I think I'll have to use a flash as I can't really use a slow shutter speed, as the subjects will be in motion part of the time (they will also be posing). The question is: Should I bounce my flash, even if the subjects are away from the wall? And even if the flash is not a very powerful one? And should I use the built-in flash or use my marginally-more-powerful flash? I use 100 ASA speed film usually and so far I've had good results with in the past in terms of clarity and colour. Hoping to hear from someone soon! Thanks!
- Pranati Mehta

ANSWER 1:
If the subject is away from the wall or the ceiling is too high, you have nothing to bounce the flash light. Even if the wall or ceiling is not white or near white, you may have color cast on the subject when you bounce the light. You may try to get a flash bracket, so that the flash is at a higher elevation to eliminate the shadow behind the subject (you may also need a cord to connect your camera to the flash). Also it is always a good idea to use the external flash than the internal one because the battery for the camera usually are more expensive than the AA types. Hope this helps.
- Andy Szeto

ANSWER 2:
Hi Pranati,
Since you said neither flash is too powerful, I'd try to stay away from trying to bounce off the ceiling or wall. Likely, the ceiling will be too high anyway. A cheap solution might be to use a white index card attached to your flash head to bounce the light off of. Stofen, Lumiquest and others make flash attachments for bouncing the light and are relatively inexpensive. With today's film, I'd try shooting with 200-400 speed; the grain is minimal unless doing large blow-ups. If you do a lot of flash photography, then you'll want to go Andy's route eventually. I like the Strobaframe bracket I use, and you'll need a Canon's off-camera shoe cord2.
- Kip T. Berger

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Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
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NEW QUESTION 4: Choosing Extreme Wide-Angle Lens
I have an F80 Nikon camera with a 28-80 lens. Recently, I bought a Titanium 0.45X wide angle cum macro lens. It is heavy. Pictures taken are not at all sharp. The object at the center is somewhat OK, but the peripheral is totally blurred. I cannot afford to buy a Nikon wide-angle lens. Can you suggest another one which can fit the F80. Thanks.
- Sachin

ANSWER 1:
As you found out, the wide-angle and fish-eye adaptors that mount to the front of another lens cannot produce very high-quality results. Designing and making good fish-eye or extreme wide-angle lenses is a difficult technological task, and the lenses tend to be fairly expensive.
About the most economical alternative available are the manual-focus, Russian-made Zenitar 16mm f/2.8 semi-fisheye wide angle, and Peleng 8mm f/3.5 fisheye. See http://www.rugift.com/photocameras/nikon_cameras_lenses.htm for descriptions from one dealer (there are other sources of these lenses).
- Jon Close

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NEW QUESTION 5: Portable Lighting Systems
What portable lighting system is recommended to use with Nikon D70 for both indoor and maybe some outdoor shots? I am just starting with my own business and am on a tight budget.
- Crystal Williams

ANSWER 1:
Hi Crystal-
Good luck with the new venture, and when it comes to portable lighting I swear by the good folks at White Lightning (Paul Buff Inc.) in Tennessee. They make these really cool "mono-lites" called Alien Bee's in various power outputs, and when it comes to lightweight yet powerful strobes for indoor on location in some corporate boardroom they can't be beat. And know I am not being paid by them to say this, but when I find a product that proves itself time and time again, I am happy to boast about it.
I have been using, along with countless other pros, White Lightning for years, and they work just as easily with film or digital cameras. You will also need a flash exposure meter - of which there are many and I personally use a Sekonic.
- Bryan F. Peterson

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Visit Bryan Peterson's Web Site - BryanFPeterson.com

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Learning to See Creatively
Understanding Exposure

ANSWER 2:
Thank you for you help. I will check into the White Lightning. I have already invested in the Sekonic light meter. I really appreciate all the help.
- Crystal Williams

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http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=12451

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NEW QUESTION 6: Blurry Family Picture
I recently took a photo of my family of 18, and it was taken outside. I had it developed and then printed as an 8x10, and it seems to be not as clear as what I thought it should be. Canon G5, taken on auto or portrait. Any ideas why? Thanks.
- Michelle Thalen

ANSWER 1:
Without seeing the photo, the following are general tips:
- Blur from camera shake is more apparent in greater enlargements ... use a tripod.
- Depth of field (range of distances for apparent "in focus") shrinks with greater enlargements ... choose a smaller aperture (larger f-number). The "Portrait" mode generally picks a wide aperture/shallow depth of field. That's appropriate for a head shot of one person, but not for a group shot. "Auto" isn't much better. Using Av (aperture priority) and choosing f/8, or "Landscape," would be a better choice for group shots.
- The resultant slower shutter speeds will probably require a tripod and a request that everyone hold still.
- Jon Close

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NEW QUESTION 7: Chicken Barn Shoot
I have been asked to take pictures of a family in their chicken barn with little baby chicks. I know that the lighting will be very poor. Dark. I am thinking I may have to take some with me. I will also have the movement of the chicks and kids. Any suggestions on settings that I should use and modes? I am a beginner, so not that comfortable with manual yet. Thank you.
- Michelle Thalen

ANSWER 1:
Low light with moving subjects can be tough. Ask if they have a heat lamp set up for the chicks. This can be very nice soft lighting. It's a nice yellow tone that complements the yellow hue of the chicks. If they have one set up they might be able to pull it up a little higher so the family can sit under it with the chicks ... but watch for shadows. Try to get hay or straw in the background as it goes so nicely with the chicks and mood.
But if it's too tough ask that the chicks be moved to the chicken yard. A backdrop with chicken wire could be very suitable for the subject matter and outdoor lighting is almost always better.
As for modes, indoors with a heat lamp or artificial lighting you could get away with auto perhaps, but use a tripod! If you're outdoors you could easily use auto. If you're dealing with somebody holding just one chick though use portrait mode, stand back and zoom in. This will soften your subjects and give you much better DOF.
If you can't bring your own light, and they have fluorescent, I would insist on going outdoors. It's a very uncomplimentary harsh light in my opinion.
Good luck!
- Karma Wilson

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NEW QUESTION 8: How to Download from Computer to Disk
I have downloaded my photos from my camera to my computer ... now how do I store them on disk? I am getting a new computer this weekend, and I don't want to lose my photos. Or, secondly, can they be sent to a developer to process???
- Darcy

ANSWER 1:
You need a CD burner. Or, if you don't have a way to take them from your old computer to the new one, you can put them on a bunch of floppies and transfer to the new computer that way. There are places that you can email to and have them printed. I've never used them, though.
- Gregory La Grange

Visit gregorylagrange.org - Gregory's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
Or if you have a USB port ... one of those little finger-size zip drive things that are fairly inexpensive depending on how many pics you have.
- Robert Cournoyer

See Robert's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 3:
Darcy, what are you doing with your old computer? I'd take the old hard drive and use it in the new computer as a slave/secondary HD. Then just drag or copy the pictures to the new drive. Then format the old drive and partition to use it solely for picture backup. This way, if the system crashes from the C drive, you'll still be able to hook up the D/secondary drive to another computer to access your pictures.
- Kip T. Berger

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NEW QUESTION 9: Cropping and Sharpness
After I crop pix, they are not the same size as a pic before cropping. How do I make them the same size as all the other pix? Just resize, or does that just change the file size? Maybe change the canvas size? Please help. Thanks, K.R
- Kelly A. Rocco

ANSWER 1:
Hi Kelly,
What is the image's original pixel dimensions? What is the crop dimensions? Depending on the amount you crop out of the original image, when you re-size to get the that size, you lose sharpness. Your photo program will try to interpolate the pixel info as you resize, but depending on the amount you are resizing to, the quality gets worse the more you go bigger. Basically, you are having your photo program add info into the picture that wasn't there, so sometimes the quality suffers. Make sure to use bi-cubic resampling when resizing, as it tends to do a better job on photo than "nearest neighbor".
- Kip T. Berger

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Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
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NEW QUESTION 10: Light Meter
Hi. My mother is an amateur photographer, and I was considering getting her a light meter for Christmas. I was wondering if you had any suggestions for one? She doesn't do anything fancy or serious. It's a hobby, not a profession, so I need something good, but within reason. Is there something that is like that? I was told about a brand called Sekonic, so do you have any other suggestions? Thanks for your help in advance.
- Heather

ANSWER 1:
This is just my opinion. If your mother is not really into photography and she does not seem to need one, then the handheld light meter is only a burden for her. I have one, and I seldom use it. The internal meter in the camera and a few exposure techniques are more than enough for most amateur photographers.
Anyway, Sekonic is a very good brand (I also have the Sekonic). I recommend getting one with the digital readout (easier to read) and can measure flash output (you won't know when you'll need it). The Sekonic L-358 is a pretty good one at about $250. Another one I recommend is the Konica Minolta AutoMeter 5F for about $220. Hope this helps.
- Andy Szeto

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NEW QUESTION 11: Shooting Photos From Bridges
When shooting pictures FROM bridges, even with a tripod, does the vibration from the bridge adversely affect the sharpness of the picture? Thanks.
- Frank P. Luongo

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ANSWER 1:
Yes ... especially if there's steady traffic. On the longer bridges, the vibration from traffic is more pronounced, and there can even be some minute "swaying" if it's windy.
- Bob Cammarata

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NEW QUESTION 12: Fall Foliage Filter
Hi, I want to buy my father-in-law some filters for his Canon AE-1 that will enhance his photos of Autumn Foliage. Aside from the polarizer can you make a recommendation?
Thanks so much.
- Ellen Guthrie

ANSWER 1:
There is one called the enhancing filter (Tiffen, B+W) or the intensifier (Hoya).
- Andy Szeto

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NEW QUESTION 13: Double-Exposing Moon Shots
I've tied the last two months during full moons to double-expose the moon onto different landscapes and haven't had any luck. What I've been doing is exposing the landscape at the required exposure - whatever it may be - and then placing the moon into the picture. But the moon always seems to just appear as a ghost image. My moon exposure is f/8 at 125 or 250 with 100 speed film. What am I doing wrong? Any advice appreciated ... thanks.
- Frank Goodin

ANSWER 1:
If you are exposing the landscape FIRST, the spot where your moon will later appear may be too bright. Try exposing the moon first, (f-11 at 1/125 with 100 ASA/ISO), then shoot the landscape with the moon positioned in a dark part of the sky.
- Bob Cammarata

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NEW QUESTION 14: Self-Portraits
I am interested in doing self-portraits of myself. What is the best way of doing this when on my own? Any tips would be useful.
- joanne

ANSWER 1:
What do you like to do? And for what activity are you most known?
These qualities or activities should be portrayed in any portrait of yourself to make it a little more interesting to the viewer. If you are a gardener ... a shot of you watering a rose bush, or standing proudly behind a table full of healthy-looking fruits or vegetables would convey that fact.
As a photographer ... you can take a photo of yourself, shooting something else. This is easy to do if you have access to two cameras (even if the "prop" camera you are holding doesn't work).
The possibilities are limited only by your imagination. For best results when operating a camera by remote, or with the self-timer, use a manual exposure setting and focus manually on where you will later be standing.
- Bob Cammarata

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PHOTOGRAPHY Q&A - CONTINUING FROM PREVIOUS NEWSLETTER
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CONTINUING QUESTION 1: Which Close-up Accessory?
I'm looking for a close-up accessory for my camera. Price limit: $70. Any ideas? Thanks.
- Anita White

ANSWER 1:
I don't know what kind of camera you have. If it's an SLR, the Tiffen close-up lens set (+1, +2, and +4) costs from $36 (49mm) to $85 (72mm), depending on the lens diameter. I have a set and used them before I got my macro lens. I found the +4 I used the most. Focusing has to be manual for critical sharpness. Hope this helps.
- Andy Szeto

ANSWER 2:
I'm assuming this is on an SLR. Head over to Adorama and search for extension tubes. Another good place to search is, of course, ebay. I paid right under that for my set (Pentax). Extension tubes are way sharper than the close-up filters that you screw on the front of your lens. Focusing and depth of field are critical, so you will need to use a tripod. Some people use focusing rails on their tripods to help with focusing.
- Scott Pedersen

ANSWER 3:
Vivitar did manufacture a combination tele-extender with macro extension capabilities. This device also increases the focal length of the lens so that your primary lens increases in focal length and close-ups can be made from a greater distance. These devices are available as used equipment for between $40-$65.
- Howard T. Cooper

ANSWER 4:
I vote for extension tubes. They are a terrific asset for close-up work.
- Bill Lewis

ANSWER 5:
Extension tubes are the way to go. Close-up filters are not as sharp, because often they use inferior optics to the ones in your lens. When you do close-up photography, making sure the elements in the scene are sharp in the right places is part of the mastery. With extension tubes, you are keeping with your current lens's quality. They are extremely versatile in combinations (when you join them together) to get even closer. You really can get to within touching distance to your subject.

Here in the U.K., you can buy a set of extension tubes new from Jessops for 74.99. Look on ebay and you'll get them for a fraction of the price. This is one item that you shouldn't mind buying second-hand, because there are no optics to worry about being scratched from a previous owner. One thing to make sure of if you do get some second-hand is to make sure they are in good condition, so that the electronic contacts are all intact ... these are used to maintain the metering in your camera. Of course, you will never have autofocus if you use extension tubes ... this is a good thing because macro photography requires very critical focusing, and no macro lens will ever be clever enough to do that on its own. Good luck, and enjoy your photography whatever you do.
- Adam J. Lucas

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