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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, December 20, 2004
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* SPOTLIGHT: Last Minute Shopping? Give the gift of a BetterPhoto online course!
* BETTERPHOTO: Learning to See Creatively - Last Chance to Sign Up at Old Prices!
* BETTERPHOTO: View the November Showcase of Contest Winners
* BETTERPHOTO: Our 4-Week Program: Mini-Courses, Maximum Benefits!
* FEATURED GALLERY: Focus on Winter and Snow Photography
* FEATURED PLACE: Focus on the Golden Gate Bridge
* PHOTO TRIVIA QUESTION: Shooting Script / Polaroid Factoid
* THIS WEEK'S TIP: What Makes a Good Stock Photo?... By Charlie Borland
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 1: Traveling Through Airports w/Digital Gear
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 2: Bipod ... Or Monopod or Tripod?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 3: Lens and Distance Scale
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 4: Film and Lighting
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 5: Right-Angle Finder - A Good Viewing Option?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 6: Can You Stack Teleconverters
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 7: Shooting Christmas Lights
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 8: How Do You Sign a Photo?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 9: Shooting Pictures of a Subject in Window
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 10: Sears 60-300mm Lens Questions
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 11: Disposable Camera Focus
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 12: Lighting Ratios
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 13: Invoice for Photo Used in Newspaper
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 1: What Else to Buy for a Beginner
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 2: Best CD-R for Photo Archiving?


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IN THE SPOTLIGHT - ADVERTISEMENT
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Last Minute Shopping? Give the gift of a BetterPhoto online course!
An online course is a fantastic way to wrap up your holiday giving! Best yet, we have an easy way for you to give a meaningful and lasting gift to that special photographer in your life: a BetterPhoto gift certificate. Yes, time is running out, but for fast shipping options, email us (use the Contact Us link) or call our Order Department at 1-888-927-9992. In case time is really tight, we can also send the certificate in an email format. Otherwise, for more information on BetterPhoto gift certificates, visit:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gifts.asp


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WHAT'S NEW AT BETTERPHOTO.COM
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Welcome to the 191st issue of SnapShot!

Hi

First off, let me wish you all a terrific holiday week. I sincerely hope you are all able to enjoy a wonderful break from the daily routine.

Second, we are thrilled about our next session of online photo courses. In fact, the winter lineup is our best ever - thanks to a number of exciting new classes. And, although the next session doesn't kick off until January 5th, signups are already proceeding at a lively clip. See all of our course offerings at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/online-photography-courses.asp

And, in this issue of SnapShot, BetterPhoto instructor Charlie Borland shares another excellent photo tip, with his answer to the all-important question: What makes a good stock photo? Also, don't miss the Featured Gallery (snow scenes), the Featured Place (Golden Gate), Photo Trivia, and yet another fine batch of questions and answers.

Again, have a fantastic holiday season. Resist the urge to pick up that extra cookie ... instead, pick up your camera and take a few more great pictures :-)

Happy Holidays from all of us at BetterPhoto!
Jim Miotke
http://www.betterphoto.com/MG.asp?ID=124


*****
Learning to See Creatively - Last Chance to Sign Up at Old Prices!
Are you interested in expanding your creative potential in ways you've never imagined? Then you'll want to join master photographer Bryan Peterson in his excellent BetterPhoto online course, "Learning to See Creatively." And now - Winter - is the time to get in at the current price of $267. That's because Bryan will be re-doing this course for the Spring session, with the price rising to $339. For information or to sign up:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/BFP01.asp


*****
View the November Showcase of Contest Winners
If you have not yet seen them, the winners of BetterPhoto's November contest are awesome! Congratulations go to Murry Grigsby for a wonderful Grand Prize winning image - "Tah Dah!" Kudos also go to Terry Cervi, Paul Harrett, Dolores Neilson, Choo Kia, Sharon D., Charlene Bayerle, Eric Schneider, Sanjay Pindiyath, Alejandra Reyes, and Alan Borror for their First Place photos. View the winners at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/contest/winners/0411.asp


*****
Our 4-Week Program: Mini-Courses, Maximum Benefits!
BetterPhoto's standard 8-week online courses covers an incredible range of photo subjects. Still, if you haven't checked out our new line of 4-Week Short Courses, you may be in for a pleasant surprise! This online mini-course program covers some very exciting specialized subjects: Jim Zuckerman's "Non-Digital Special Effects," Brenda Tharp's "Mastering Macro Photography," Kerry Drager's "Details and Close-ups," and our two newest Short Courses: Jay Forman's "Kids Photography 101" and Tony Sweet's "The Four Essential Filters for Film and Digital Cameras." Short Courses run twice each session. For details on these and all other BetterPhoto classes:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/categories.asp

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FEATURED GALLERY
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Focus on Winter and Snow Photography
When it comes to photography of the great outdoors, winter is never out of season! See for yourself by checking out the outstanding work of BetterPhoto's members and instructors. See this splendid gallery at the link below.

Snow-Shooting Tip: Bright snow can fool a camera meter into underexposure. One of the following techniques can help: 1) Use exposure compensation (an extra stop or two of exposure, depending on the scene's brightness). 2) Take an alternate reading off the blue sky (or off a gray card or another mid-toned object in the same light as your main subject), re-compose, and use those substitute settings for your exposure. Also, there have been some terrific QnA's on the subject; just type in "snow exposure" in BetterPhoto's Search Site (located at the top of any BP page).
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGall2.asp?catID=450

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FEATURED PLACE
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Focus on the Golden Gate Bridge
As with all world-class landmarks, the Golden Gate Bridge has been shot in every way imaginable. And as with most popular subjects, light and composition are the keys to photographic success. Besides taking advantage of the beautiful light of early or late day, or getting out when the Bay Area's famed fog rolls in, you might consider these Golden Gate vantage points: high in the hills of the Marin Headlands (immediately across the bridge in Marin County), or right along the San Francisco shoreline at Fort Point or Baker Beach. For inspiration, visit BetterPhoto's San Francisco gallery at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGall2.asp?catID=400

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PHOTO TRIVIA QUIZ OF THE WEEK
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Last week, we asked:
In which movie was Julia Roberts a professional photographer?

The first, best answer - entered by BetterPhoto member Kim Moyle is:
"Stepmom"

Editor's Note: Actually, two answers are correct! Julia Roberts played a photographer in "Stepmom" (1998) and in her new movie, "Closer".

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 - Polaroid Factoid - entered by BetterPhoto member Jim Miotke

In which movie does Meg Ryan get suspicious when she notices a friend not appearing in a Polaroid shot?

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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What Makes a Good Stock Photo?... By Charlie Borland
Subjects that are timeless and have long-lasting appeal are the most successful stock shots! A good image could also be a spectacular moment in nature like lightning. It will never age like fashions, technology, and lifestyles do. A good stock photo would be devoid of logos, outdated objects that date it, out of style clothing, yet would have technical excellence and a broad appeal. Lifestyle, technology, and business concepts are the best selling stock photo subjects, but depending on how they are styled, have a limited life span.

Take Charlie Borland's online courses:



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: Traveling Through Airports w/Digital Gear
I will be traveling over the Christmas holiday. I have a Nikon D70 and some other digital camera gear. Can the camera and the compact flash cards go through the X-ray, or should these items be hand-searched? Thanks for any help or other tips.
- Bill O

ANSWER 1:
X-rays have no effect on digital cameras or storage media. Keep them with you in your carry-on luggage. These items have an unfortunate tendency to disappear from checked baggage.
- Jon Close

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=13188

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=13188

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NEW QUESTION 2: Bipod ... Or Monopod or Tripod?
Do any of you know whether any of the tripod manufacturers actually make a bipod? I am purchasing a Sigma 50-500mm zoom lens and think a bipod would help eliminate blur, etc. Thanks in advance.
- Todd Bennett

ANSWER 1:
I don't think anyone makes a bipod commercially. But why not use a monopod or tripod? The latter will give you the most stability, let you walk away from the camera to be certain you've removed clutter, etc.
When you use a monopod, YOU are the two additional support legs. Make sure the monopod leans toward you as you focus and press the shutter.
You might also consider an image stabilizing lens before you purchase the Sigma 50-500mm. Don't know if your camera's maker has one, but this is worth checking out first.
What are you shooting that requires 500mm? If it's birds on the wing, etc., you really aren't going to be too happy, because you'll not be able to move the camera/lens fast enough to easily capture such an elusive subject. If it's insects, you might want to consider freezing the action with flash; this might enable you to purchase a more controllable lens.
Just a thought or two.
- John Sandstedt

ANSWER 2:
Thanks, John. I am shooting wild turkey, deer, perched birds, etc. I don't try to get birds on the wing. I like the ability of the 500mm to zoom in close up on my subject and thought if a bipod were made, it would be more stable than a monopod. Guess I'll have to do the monopod.
- Todd Bennett

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=13185

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=13185

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NEW QUESTION 3: Lens and Distance Scale
Hi everybody. I have a question about the distance scale on some lenses. How do you use them, and why are they put on some and not others? It doesn't seem to be a big thing to add something that looks like a bunch of numbers and maybe a small piece of plexiglass. I've heard that it helps with manual focusing. What benefit does it have to just looking through the viewfinder and making the subject in focus? Or does it have to do more with things like flash and how far the flash will go by the scale telling you about how far you are focusing?
One more question. I'm looking for a decent zoom telephoto lens for my film camera and hopefully a digital SLR I should be getting soon. I'm looking at a Sigma 100-300 f4.5-6.7 or a Tamron 70(or75)-300 f4.0-5.6. All of these lenses hover somewhere around $130-$150, so that sets them in my price range. I wish I could get a really good f2.8 zoom telephoto, but I don't have the money and I don't need it bad enough. I thought that Tamron is a decent brand, as well as Sigma, but what about these lenses? They would be used mostly for some nature, maybe some outdoor sports, and some portraits. Thanks in advance :)
- Andrew Laverghetta

ANSWER 1:
I think the Tamron 70-300 f/4-5.6 LD Macro would be preferred over the Sigma 100-300 f/4.5-6.7.
For a couple of reasons, it is more difficult to include a distance/depth of field scale on autofocus lenses, especially zooms. First, to speed autofocus, the "throw" from closest focus to infinity is much shorter on AF lenses than manual focus, shrinking the focus and DoF scales to be nearly unusable. Manual focus zooms could be easily designed to be par-focal: Focused distance does not change with zoom. But this is more difficult to design in autofocus lenses since the AF motor would be working against the manual zooming, so most AF zooms are vari-focal, so the focus scale becomes more or less approximate.
The distance scale is/was mostly used in combination with a depth of field scale. The DoF scale indicates the range in front and behind the focused subject that will appear in apparent focus at the chosen aperture. It is also easy to set the lens for hyperfocal with the distance/DoF scale.
The focus distance scale can also be used to estimate focus in darkness or in taking candids so that one didn't have to conspicuously raise the camera to eye-level. Autofocus works well in these situations and so the distance scale is not as necessary.
Determining subject distance is useful if you are calculating flash exposure manually. Still nice to know, but not as necessary today with modern auto and TTL-dedicated flashes.
- Jon Close

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=13180

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=13180

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NEW QUESTION 4: Film and Lighting
I took some pictures when we set up our Christmas tree. I didn't use a flash because I didn't want to ruin the lights on the tree. The pictures came back yellow. Does that have something to do with the film speed or is it just the lighting?
- Jack Glasser

ANSWER 1:
A bunch of times when pictures come back yellow, orange, or maybe gold-tinted is because there could have been lights being used that make that color, probably white Christmas light or maybe standard light bulbs used in lamps. This is because of the tungsten lighting element in the bulb. If you have an SLR (assuming it's film) with changeable lenses, you can buy a special filter for less than $20 that can correct that yellow color. If you don't have a camera that can take filters, you can buy special tungsten-balanced film at photo shops. These films aren't usually available at stores like Wal-Mart or Walgreens.
Just recapping, the yellow is probably because of white lights on the tree or other lamps in the room, even though they don't appear to make as drastic of a yellow color as they do. Hope this helps.
- Andrew Laverghetta

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=13178

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=13178

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NEW QUESTION 5: Right-Angle Finder - A Good Viewing Option?
Has anyone ever purchased a Canon Angle Finder C (which includes ED-C & ED-D Adapters for all SLR cameras, according to B&H Photo)? Currently, I am using the Canon Elan 7E, with a goal towards to 20D.
If I understand correctly, a right-angle adapter can be used to better capture wildflowers, rather than lying on the ground at their height, or children, and animals close to the ground. Also, if I understand correctly, it would be like looking into the ground glass from above - like a TLR (twin lens reflex).
I'd love your feedback on this. Thanking you in advance
Bunny
- Susan K. Snow

ANSWER 1:
I found that the Angle Finder C is only useful if you do a lot of low-angle, close-up shots. Or if you are used to the TLR-type cameras. I purchased it to take photos of jewelry and flowers. When I am using it, I have to bend my back and my neck, and both hurt. It is quite different than using the ground glass, because your eye has to get very close to look into the Angle Finder. Most of the time I just don't use it. Well, it's just my opinion. For the Elan 7E (and possibly the 20D), you need to use the ED-C adapter.
- Andy Szeto

ANSWER 2:
Thanks, Andy. I was used to the TLR in decades past, but SLRs have occupied my usage since 1986. Perhaps, money is better spent elsewhere, until I do a lot of close-up work on a regular basis. I sincerely appreciate your input on this, and other topics.
Have a happy, healthy, and wealthy Christmas and new year. ~Bunny
- Susan K. Snow

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=13175

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=13175

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*****


NEW QUESTION 6: Can You Stack Teleconverters
This sounds like a silly question. Can you stack 2X teleconverters on one another - like you can with a set of extension tubes - but only for long-distance shots. Just wondering. Thanks for all your help.
- Sam Endicott

ANSWER 1:
Generally, yes, but it depends on the specific teleconverters.
- Jon Close

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=13173

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=13173

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NEW QUESTION 7: Shooting Christmas Lights
I have a Canon Digital Rebel. Christmas lights bloom without definition. What settings should I shoot at to get crisp, clear photos?
Moore
- moore

ANSWER 1:
Please provide me with the following information. I will be able to give you some ideas on how to make a great photo. What setting are you using? Is your flash on-camera, or built into the camera? Do you use a monopod or a tripod? What kind of a lens are you using? Are you shooting in program or manual mode.
Thanks.
- Doug Elliott

ANSWER 2:
Doug, I am using Program mode with an ASA of 800. Lens is 75mm-300mm. Handheld. I have tried a tripod with ASA 100 in P mode. Same effect. I found changing white balance to tungsten helped. Thanks.
- moore

ANSWER 3:
Moore-
Sounds like the Christmas lights are just overexposing and blowing out. Your camera meter sees the dark green tree and these little light bulbs, and in trying to determine the best exposure, ends up blowing out, or overexposing the light bulbs. I have shot a lot of Christmas-related imagery for my stock photo files, and the only way it works is to use supplemental strobes and light boxes. Or use your on-camera flash as a fill light. Put your camera on the tripod and compose your picture. Take some test shots on M for manual, not P or A. Adjust your shutter speed and/or f-stop until the Christmas lights look great. Most likely the rest of the tree will be very dark, and now you use your flash to open up those areas. Turn on the flash on your camera and shoot another. If it looks too "flashed", then go into the menu and reduce the flash output starting at -1; then if you need more, try -1.3, -1.6, -2. Hopefully, something in there will work.
- Charlie Borland

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Visit Charlie Borland's Web Site - borlandphoto.com

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Lighting for Commercial Photography
Stock Photography

ANSWER 4:
Moore,
I agree with Charlie B. I have been working on a project for our local CofC. I am shooting outside lights. I use a tripod and shutter release, and meter for the lights. I shoot in manual mode, tungsten mode for white balance, and raw. I also bracket my shots.
Hope these ideas help.
Good shooting, Doug
- Doug Elliott

ANSWER 5:
Thank you, gentlemen. You have given me a good project. Regards, Moore
- moore

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=13161

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http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=13161

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*****


NEW QUESTION 8: How Do You Sign a Photo?
I have sold a photo of mine, and the buyer would like me to sign the photo. What should I use to sign it with?
- Tamara Kay Hildahl

See Tamara's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 1:
Sharpie® FP Permanent Marker ... or any archival-type ink if only signing the outer mat.
- Kip T. Berger

See Kip's Premium BetterPholio™

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=13160

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http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=13160

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*****


NEW QUESTION 9: Shooting Pictures of a Subject in Window
I want to take pictures of my children looking out a window (in this case, searching the sky for Santa). Does anyone have any special techniques to try when shooting through glass? I tried it tonight, but I think I waited until it was too dark. I'm thinking I need to try it at pre-dusk to give me a little more light on their faces. Any tips would be appreciated.
- Angela Carter

See Angela's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 1:
Angela,
Are you using any kind of outside light source to illuminate your children? You can an off-camera flash, or a set of hot lights. If you have a set of halogen shop lights you can use them to add light to your subjects. You can also add light to the interior to help illuminate them.
Or make use of the magic time to capture the images with natural light. You have a about ten minutes after sundown to shoot. You will need a tripod, because the time you will be shooting will be slower than a thirtieth of a second. I would suggest that you use a polarizing filter. The filter can be used to cut the glare from the glass of the windows.
Now for shooting the scene. Set up your halogen lights outside to illuminate your children, at a high angle and from the direction of the sun. If you have a second set of lights, set them up in the room behind the children and out of sight of the camera. Turn the lights up towards the ceiling so you get even illumination throughout the room. Now set up your camera so you see the children’s faces. Take a light reading, and make the necessary adjustments to your camera. Make sure your camera is in manual mode so you can be make adjustments when you bracket your shots. Start shooting about ten minutes after sundown until it is pitch black. In each of your shots, shoot one exposure one stop over, one on, and one stop under. Example: Your meter reads 1/10 of second at f/11. Shoot 1/10 at f/16, one at 1/10 at f/11, and your last shot should be 1/10 at f8. This is more than you ever wanted to know about how to shoot your kids, looking out the window, but if you take the time to set it up, you will have a great Christmas card picture for years.
Hope these ideas are helpful.
Good shooting, Doug
- Doug Elliott

ANSWER 2:
Thank you so much, Doug. I do have a set of studio lights. I'm thinking I can just turn the modeling lights on and use that. By the way, you didn't give me too much information ... usually it's the other way around! My main problem now is finding a night when I'll be home at the right time. 'Tis the season! Happy Holidays, and thanks again!
Angela
- Angela Carter

See Angela's Premium BetterPholio™

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=13158

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http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=13158

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*****


NEW QUESTION 10: Sears 60-300mm Lens Questions
I have a Sears 60-300mm Macro Zoom lens. I am having trouble figuring out how it works. Sometimes when I am focused way out the circle in the middle is half dark and half light, and it varies from top to bottom. I have taken a roll of film with it, and it seemed all right - just some of my pictures came out blurry but I just figured it was because I didn't know what I was doing. If anyone can help, please do. Thanks for everything.
- Sam Endicott

ANSWER 1:
It's common that when half of the focusing ring goes dark -when shooting macro or with extremes in telephoto - it means that light levels are low. While this may be an annoyance, it doesn't affect the outcome of the photo, other than making it difficult to lock in on your critical focus.
What I've found helpful is to carry a small flashlight in my camera bag to add a little more light to my macro subjects to get the focus just right. This additional light eliminates the darkening of the focus ring and allows me to focus on the components most critical to the photograph. Then, I'll turn off the flashlight and take the shot.
- Bob Cammarata

Visit cammphoto.com - Bob's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
Back in the '70s and '80s, it was very common for SLRs to have split circle (split prism) viewfinders. Such viewfinder screens feature a circle, bisected by a usually horizontal line, in the centre of the screen. To focus the camera, you find a high-contrast vertical line (eg: edge of a wall, a tree trunk) and look at it through the viewfinder. You then adjust focus until the line appears unbroken in the split circle.

Split circle viewfinders use a pair of tiny prisms set in precise positions in the viewfinder to achieve this effect. They’re arranged such that the image you see lines up (becomes coincident) when the line is correctly focused on the plane of the screen. Some cameras use four prisms so you can look for both horizontal and vertical lines and some use prisms mounted at 45 degree angles. Sometimes microprisms are used - even tinier prisms which give a textured look when the image is not in correct focus. All these types of manual focus assist aids make it much easier to focus manually, especially when light levels are low.

The primary disadvantage of all prism-based focus assist aids is that they can stop working and black out (become so dark as to be useless) when used with certain slow lenses, long telephotos, teleconverters or extension tubes, because of the angles at which light is entering the camera from the lens. They may also require some exposure compensation because they may affect the amount of light reaching the camera’s internal light meter.
- Kip T. Berger

See Kip's Premium BetterPholio™

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=13155

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http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=13155

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NEW QUESTION 11: Disposable Camera Focus
I was wondering if anyone knows how (or if) a disposable camera autofocuses. I once read that low-end cameras use "active" autofocus that bounces an infrared light off the thing closest to the camera to find out what it is "looking" at. I also remember once when I was young, I took a number of pictures of the outside through a car window with a disposable camera and they all turned out blurry. I later figured that it was because the camera had focused on the window and not the outside because it used active autofocusing. But now I'm wondering if they autofocus at all. Wouldn't that require some sort of chip or circuitry? I doubt a disposable camera would have anything like that inside. Are they just preset to the hyperfocal distance to maximize your chances of shooting in focus?
Thanks.
- Steven Chaitoff

ANSWER 1:
Generally, disposable cameras are fixed-focus, using a relatively wide-angle lens (about 30mm) and smallish f-stop (f/8-f/11). They rely on depth of field (as you said, with the focus set for the hyperfocal distance) and the wide exposure latitude of the ISO 400 or 800 film loaded in them since the shutter speed is also fixed.
- Jon Close

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=13154

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http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=13154

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NEW QUESTION 12: Lighting Ratios
I am trying to understand how to get lighting ratios of 3 to 1 - 4 to 1, etc., etc., etc. I realize this can all be done with a light meter. I would like to see a chart that shows what f4 to f5.6 translates into the lighting ratio, for example. There must be a chart set up like the old multiplication tables that you could look down the columns and rows and get the ratio. I am using continuous lighting presently to learn different effects of positioning. Using the same wattage lamps 500w for main and fill and 250w for hair.
- Nick Cavataio

ANSWER 1:
Nick
I am not aware of a chart for lighting ratios, but ratios are quite simple. I also think that there is only a couple of ratios that are of use in photography. I do not know your skill level, so excuse me while I explain this as a beginner. Between the f/stops of 4 and 5.6 you have double or half in the amount of light going through the lens, depending whether you are going from 4 to 5.6 or the other direction. We just call them stops, referring to f/stops. Ratios are explained as ratios and more commonly as stops, like f/stops. A 2:1 ratio means that the shadow side of your subject has one stop less light, or half, hitting it than the key light side. 3:1 is 2 stops, 4:1 is 3 stops. Anymore than that, and you really have no detail left in the shadows to worry about. Film cannot record any detail in the shadows at that ratio, and digital is getting iffy.

If you are using hot lights and bouncing them out of umbrellas, when you move your fill light back to increase your ratio, you also change the light quality because your large umbrella becomes a small umbrella in relation to your subject.

I rarely use hot lights, preferring strobes instead, but I have built units to control the output of hot lights so I do not have to move them in or out to control ratios. I bought an electrical outlet box, a dimmer switch, and an electrical outlet and wired it all into the box with a short extension cord. I then plug the hot light cord into the outlet and use the dimmer switch to increase or decrease power to the hot light and the brightness adjusts as well. This helps control the ratio without moving the light. Problem is that as you dim the light, it changes the Kelvin temperature and makes the light warm up.
- Charlie Borland

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NEW QUESTION 13: Invoice for Photo Used in Newspaper
A newspaper recently published my photo and will pay me for it if I send in an invoice with my Social Security number. Should I put any wordage on the invoice regarding copyright? Do I lose any rights to the photo by getting paid for its use? Thanks for your help!
- Kelli Campbell

ANSWER 1:
Kelli,
I would suggest you make up some sort of invoice on your computer and, as they requested, include your SS number and stuff. Did you negotiate usage rights with them? That is important. If they said they want to use your photo and will pay you $50, you need to tell them for how long they can use it. Otherwise, they may use it forever and not pay you again, and that is unfair. The longer they want to use it and the bigger the size in the paper, the more you should make. Check out www.photographersindex.com's pricing guide to help you determine a price. You do not lose any of your rights by selling the usage of your photo, unless you sign something saying you are giving up your rights. Don't do that; just sell them the right to use the photo for X amount of time. You probably gain more rights in that you were paid for the usage. Once you click the shutter on the camera and take your picture, you are the undisputed owner of that photo's copyright ... unless you took the picture while at work for your boss, then they own it.
- Charlie Borland

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ANSWER 2:
Kelli,
I forgot to mention in my previous post that I was referring to the use of your photo in newspaper-type advertising. If they are publishing it as editorial or newsworthy, they will probably never use it again. But still make sure you mention "One Time Use" in your invoice.
- Charlie Borland

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PHOTOGRAPHY Q&A - CONTINUING FROM PREVIOUS NEWSLETTER
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CONTINUING QUESTION 1: What Else to Buy for a Beginner
I will be purchasing my first SLR camera this spring (Canon T2). I'd like to know what else I should buy to enhance photos or make it easier to shoot pictures. This is a new hobby of mine and am looking forward to learning as much as I can. We have a trip planned for the Caribbean and would love to bring home some lovely photos. Any other advice or opinions are appreciated. Also ... if someone has a 28-80mm lens, why do I see questions if someone should buy a 50mm lens? Thanks for any input!!
- Eva M. Loretta

ANSWER 1:
Flash and maybe a tripod if you want to get pictures of yourself or sunsets while you're down there. There's no real need to go much farther than that. A 50mm is a good start, because:
1) A fixed focal length makes you get more involved in getting the picture you want. It's easy to get locked in to being too shy about moving closer, changing positions and being seen taking a picture.
2) A focal length of 50mm is close to the perspective of how your eyes see things. So it helps to learn when what you first see is close to what the picture comes out as.
3) They are usually clear and sharp for optics, and their biggest aperture is very wide for low light stuff.
4) Price ... usually very inexpensive, but still high-quality.
Since you already have a 28-80, there's no point in getting a 50mm. I think a 50mm is the most underrated for portraits. Most are locked into the small telephoto for portraits, but a 50mm feels more intimate and has more flavor.
- Gregory La Grange

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ANSWER 2:
Thank you for your quick response!! The info is very helpful. Of course, I now have an additional question ... Since I'm new to this ... what type flash would I need (reasonably priced?) and when would I use it most?? Would I use it on the beach to avoid silhouettes? Or pictures in the evening? Thanks Again!!
- Eva M. Loretta

ANSWER 3:
Use a flash anytime it's too dark to shoot without blurring the picture. There are ways to use flash on the beach if it's needed as a fill light, but you can also adjust your exposure for that.
The built-in flash isn't very strong and is only good for a few feet away. For one that fits in the hot shoe, one of Canon's speedlites, Sunpak, Metz.
Read your manual whenever you get your camera. A lot of basic picture-taking is explained in that.
- Gregory La Grange

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ANSWER 4:
Thank you, Gregory, for all your feedback!!
- Eva M. Loretta

ANSWER 5:
Yep - the 50mm lens is pretty inexpensive and a fabulous sharp optical lens. I use mine about 85 percent of the time, and I am a portrait photographer. I find the clarity of the 50mm is far superior to the zoom lenses, and there is a huge difference between my 50mm standard and a photo taken at the 50mm focal length of a 28-80mmm - huge difference. It also allows you to open up to a nice fast aperture making low light photography without a flash possible and you don't get the flattening effect of a tele lens. It also allows you to shoot handheld at 1/45th without camera shake as long as you are pretty steady yourself. You'll also find you'll take your pics from a more creative perspective as you discover different angles as you "move in and out" for the shot. When you zoom in and out with a zoom lens you'll miss a lot of possibilities. I also find that my subjects seem a lot less intimidated by the small lightweight 50mm than a huge pro-looking zoom!! To see some examples of the standard lens, see my Web site: Most of the shots are taken with a standard lens that should give you an idea of its versatility. www.amandasphotos.com
Tripod - necessary for your trip to the Caribbean if you plan on getting some nice landscapes. It will allow you to get sharp pics all through the picture and to get those horizons nice and level before you shoot too!
Hope this helps a little.
- Amanda E. Radovic

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ANSWER 6:
I have zooms and primes from 12mm to 300mm. My 50mm is my second-most-used lens, after my mid-range zoom. It is fast and sharp. I have used it enough that I know how the picture will be framed before I lift the camera to my eye.
On the other hand, you might want a wide-angle for scenic shots or a longer telephoto for nature shots. Get the camera well in advance of the trip, and pay attention to which end of the zoom range you consistently bump into. (I would think about a wide angle first. You can crop to get a narrower angle of view, but you can't crop wider.)
- Christopher R. Marshall

ANSWER 7:
ABSOLUTELY get a good polarizing filter for better colors, skies.
- Jane

ANSWER 8:
Not a necessity, but a convenience ... buy a backpack camera bag. Makes looking for photo opportunities easier when out for extended lengths of time while still retaining much of the needed gear you'll want to transport with you. Also it is harder to be ripped off by a thief. Hope you have a great time!
- Kip T. Berger

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ANSWER 9:
I live in Trinidad in the Caribbean. A lens hood helps with flare. Enjoy the people and culture!
- Chad E. Lue Choy

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CONTINUING QUESTION 2: Best CD-R for Photo Archiving?
I want to archive all of my photos onto CD-R and was wondering if anyone has an idea of which is best. I have heard that Kodak Ultimas are very good, yet they are quite pricey. I have also heard that Fujifilm's CD-Rs are very good. I know that I am going to have to pay a little more for an excellent quality CD-R, but I don't want to break the bank either. Any ideas? Thanks in advance for the help.
- Brian McDonald

ANSWER 1:
I've been using CD-Rs since they first came out. You would be surprised to know that there's not much difference between them. As a matter of fact, many are made by the same company and then sold to Kodak, Memorex, etc. You will be just as well buying something like Memorex ... you can get 50 for about $15-$20. The key is storing and labeling them properly. Keep them in a case at room temperature, and they'll last a lifetime.
- Gary Chevers

ANSWER 2:
Do not use felt markers. They will cause "CD rot" (the CD won't last as long as they should). Use only markers that are made to write on CDs. This was printed in a digital photo magazine.
- Wayne Oliver

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ANSWER 3:
In response to the felt markers, you can use them, but never write on the label portion of the CD. Write only on the clear, center section, near the hole. About all you have room for there is a number, but at least it will not cause harm to the written portions of the CD.
- Steve K. Parrott

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ANSWER 4:
Unfortunately, yes, there is a difference between CD-Rs. I cannot use Memorex in my Omega external. Fujifilm works well. You will have to experiment to see what works for you and stick with that.
- Scott Pedersen

ANSWER 5:
Look at http://store.mam-a-store.com/standard---archive-gold.html
Mitsui CD-Rs with the gold metal layer are said to be the best. I will soon be archiving mine to these and hope the drug-store cheapies they're on now are readable after 2-4 years.
It may be less important what CD you to use than how you treat them. Store them in a cool, dry place, with no labels on them, no marking (unless the marker maker swears they are especially for CDs), and no paper next to them. Needless to say, don't let light get them. A surplus army metal ammo can with a rubber seal, with a silica gel packet in there with them should be safe.
- Doug Nelson

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ANSWER 6:
A layer of ink is used to store the information on a CD-R or CD-RW. This ink layer, in any brand of CD, will deteriorate over time regardless of storage procedures. Keeping them out of the light will extend their life but not indefinitely.
Inexpensive CD-Rs often have read problems due to the poor quality materials in their construction. Archival time on these can be as short as 1 year depending on the materials used and the storage methods. The problem is that even high-quality CD media will succumb to this over time.
If you were interested in long-term storage on CD media, I would recommend a professional Kodak Photo CD, which can be obtained from professional photo labs.

Personally, I don't trust CDs with my images. Hard drives are inexpensive and a computer can be configured to automatically mirror the data to two separate hard drives. There are some minor technical details involved but nothing that the average computer user could not follow. The cost of the drives is far less than that of re-creating lost images.
- Randy
- Randall Ellis

ANSWER 7:
Hi, Brian
I'm a Photographer (30 years) and a teacher at a local college.
I have read several articles on this subject. Their is indeed a difference between CDs. Most of the info I have found recommend Kodak and Mitsui CDs as the #1 CD - but they are expensive compared to other choices. The #2 spot seems to be held by Verbatim, and the #3 by TDK. These seem to be the choice of many, including myself. I use both Verbatim, and TDK. Tech TV also did an article/show on this subject, and mentioned the above CDs in order - #1 Kodak, #2 Verbatim, and #3 TDK.
Other wise advice in several articles: Burn at least 2 copies of all your CDs on different brands, or use a CD and DVD.
As for using hard drives, I have had one go bad on me after 4 years. I recently saw an article where the average life of a hard drive is approximately 5 years. So back up your photos making multiple copies. And plan at some point in the future of moving them to some other type of storage media!
Remember the 33 and 45 records - VHS tapes. CDs and DVDs all will make way for new types of media.
Best of luck.
- GARY FESPERMAN

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