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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, March 15, 2005
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* SPOTLIGHT: March Madness: Sign Up for a Course ... and Get a Gallery!
* BETTERPHOTO: Article by Jim Zuckerman: Wildlife Photos - Pro Tips and Techniques
* BETTERPHOTO: Contest Tip: Using a Photo ID Number to Enter an Image
* BETTERPHOTO: California's Desert Erupts into a Blast of Color!
* FEATURED GALLERY: Ocean Pictures: Focusing on Sea and Surf
* FEATURED PLACE: Focusing on Greece Pictures
* PHOTO TRIVIA QUESTION: His Camera Is Smokin'! / Annie's Images
* THIS WEEK'S TIP: Lighting People for Stock Photos ... by Charlie Borland
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 1: Flash Photos: Using a Stroboframe
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 2: Rodeo Photography: The Best Lens?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 3: Shooting Outdoor Portraits
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 4: Polarizing Filter: Linear Vs. Circular
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 5: Understanding Exposure
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 6: Copyright Question
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 7: Developing a Photo Career
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 8: Exposure Challenge: Dark Subject, Bright Sky
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 9: Setting Up a Studio for Portraits
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 10: Low Light Photography ... Without Flash
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 11: Photographing Farm Birds
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 12: Viewfinder Question: Focusing with Bifocals
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 1: Photographing Spider Webs


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IN THE SPOTLIGHT - ADVERTISEMENT
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March Madness: Sign Up for a Course ... and Get a Gallery!
To celebrate our new Premium BetterPholios™ and our best-ever course schedule, we offer this special deal: If you sign up for an online photo class anytime during the next week, you will receive a free year of our Premium BetterPholio™! Just enter the codewords "March Madness" in the Additional Comments field when you get to the order form. But act quick - this offer expires Monday, March 21st. Gallery limit: one year per member. For a complete list of BetterPhoto's online courses, go to:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/categories.asp

Learn more about our awesome new Premium BetterPholios™ at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/sites4photogs/premium-photo-galleries.asp


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WHAT'S NEW AT BETTERPHOTO.COM
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Welcome to the 203rd issue of SnapShot!

Hi

Lots of great things going on at BetterPhoto as we enter mid-March. Sign-ups for BetterPhoto's spring online courses are heating up, and no wonder, since we have such a fine lineup of classes, including these new offerings for spring: William Neill's Portfolio Development, Jim Zuckerman's Photoshop II: Advanced Creative Techniques, and Susan and Neil Silverman's Street Photography. Learn all about our courses at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/online-photography-courses.asp

In this issue of SnapShot, don't miss instructor Jim Zuckerman's new article, in which he shares his techniques for photographing animals and wildlife. Read Jim's article at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/article.asp?id=43

Yet another BetterPhoto instructor checks in, too. In This Week's Photo Tip (below), Charlie Borland offers valuable advice on lighting, people, and stock photography.

Plus, check out the contest tip, an update on Death Valley's color season, the Featured Place (Greece), the Featured Gallery (sea and surf), Photo Trivia, and an awesome collection of questions and answers.

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


*****
Article by Jim Zuckerman: Wildlife Photos - Pro Tips and Techniques
There's nothing more exciting than capturing a spectacular image of a wild animal in its natural environment. Of course, says master photographer and author Jim Zuckerman, many times it's simply not possible to travel to exotic locations or spend days tracking an animal. In his new article, Jim shares some of the techniques pros use to get award-winning photos. Jim, by the way, teaches many excellent courses here at BetterPhoto, such as: How to Photograph Animals and Wildlife; Non-Digital Special Effects; and his new Photoshop II: Advanced Creative Techniques. Read Jim's article at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/article.asp?id=43


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Contest Tip: Using a Photo ID Number to Enter an Image
One of the nice features of the BetterPhoto contest is being able to enter a pre-uploaded photo via its ID number. Here's how this process works: When you enter an image in the contest using a photo id number, the photo is placed in the order of the photo ID number. But while the photo ID doesn't matter whatsoever to the judges, it DOES matter if you are trying to find your image, since the picture will be placed further back in the contest pages ... sometimes waaaaaay back. We hope this clarifies things!



*****
California's Desert Erupts into a Blast of Color!
Death Valley National Park's wettest year on record has turned Southern California's desert wilderness into a vivid land of wildflowers and reflecting pools. Here's more from the Seattle Times newspaper (March 13th article):

The region's contoured badlands and rock towers are festooned with bright colors spreading in all directions. With the wildflowers have come the pollinators, especially sphinx moths as large as hummingbirds. The location called Badwater features a lake 5 miles wide.

Rainfall in this 3.3 million-acre expanse averages almost 2 inches a year. Some years, none at all. This year, 6.2 inches.

More than 50 varieties of wildflowers are sprouting where ever water collects. Birds have been feasting on insects attracted by the wild flowers. Seeds mean rodents, which bring birds of prey, snakes, coyotes, and fox.

The bloom is expected to peak by the end of March as temperatures climb to the mid 90s. Botanists believe this is an opportunity of a lifetime to discover new species in a location regarded as a "botanical black hole".

"Where are the best places to see wildflowers?" It appears to be a 40-mile stretch of road at the southern end of the park, between Salsberry Pass and Badwater. A favorite pullout is in the Ashford Mill area. At Badwater, not far from the Funeral Mountains, adventurous souls enjoy the enormous shallow lake covering the lowest point in North America (282 feet below sea level). Nothing lives in this brackish lake. The region is temporarily populated with kayakers and kiteboarders. "Tip over? No problem; walk to shore"!

By the way, last week's SnapShot featured BetterPhoto's Death Valley gallery at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGall2.asp?catID=435

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FEATURED GALLERY
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Ocean Pictures: Focusing on Sea and Surf
Ocean waves, giant sea stacks, sandy beaches, and lighthouses are among the many photogenic subjects covered in BetterPhoto's Ocean Pictures gallery. View the outstanding work of BetterPhoto members and instructors at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGall2.asp?catID=494

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FEATURED PLACE
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Focusing on Greece Pictures
Great architecture, seaside scenes, and ancient ruins are just some of the attractions of this southern European country that borders the Aegean Sea, Ionian Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea. Check out BetterPhoto's Greece Pictures gallery at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGall2.asp?catID=185

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PHOTO TRIVIA QUIZ OF THE WEEK
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Last week, we asked:
Here's another question on "Smoke": What model of camera did Harvey Keitel's character use in that film?

The first, best answer - entered by BetterPhoto member Kerry Drager is:
This question was indeed a tough one. And, although we received some excellent guesses, there were no correct ones. Here's the answer: Canon AE-1. Thanks to everyone who took part!
Kerry Drager, BetterPhoto.com

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http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/trivia.asp?stat=PRV

And Now... This Week's Photo Trivia Question - Annie's Images - entered by BetterPhoto member Kerry Drager

Annie Liebowitz is most famous for ... what?

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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Lighting People for Stock Photos ... by Charlie Borland
Next to composing your scene, lighting can make or break a good stock photo. This is controlled by the contrast, brightness, color temperature, and angle of light. Like all types of outdoor photography, the best light on people is the warm sunset light at the end of the day and sunrise in the morning. Some of the worst light can be at midday where the sun is shooting straight down and creates what I call, Raccoon Eyes, deep shadows in the eye sockets. Rarely is the best stock photo made with this light. There is lots of good light, but the most successful for people is soft, almost flat light, with faint shadows. This light quality is lower in contrast and allows you to be much more flexible with what, where, and how you shoot. Keep an eye on the contrast between shadows and highlights. No matter what, your light must compliment your subject.

Check out Charlie Borland's online courses:



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PHOTOGRAPHY Q&A - NEW THIS WEEK
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NEW QUESTION 1: Flash Photos: Using a Stroboframe
I used my speedlight and frame for the first time this weekend outside and got lots of blurry photos. When shooting outside without flash, I just make sure my shutter speed at least matches my focal length using the AV setting on the camera. Several times I did not have enough light to get my shutter speed up, but I thought the speedlight would help in that area. Maybe I should use manual and set it up kind of like I do inside with a strobe light???? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
- Michelle Prince

ANSWER 1:
Michelle,
How bright was it outside? Day or night? What f-stop and shutter speed were you using, etc??
However, you hinted at some points that probably caused your camera to shake. Normally, with flash photography, the shutter speed is unimportant since the flash fires much, much faster than the shutter speed and will "freeze" most action. If your shutter speed is considerably slower, you will end up with camera shake caused by the ambient light, and this is what I believe happened to you. You state you were in aperture priority and could not get your shutter speed fast enough under the existing light. It sounds like you were using way too small an f-stop, OR the light outside was very dark ... either of which would have resulted in a slow shutter speed, thus resulting in camera shake. Be sure to use an f-stop appropriate to at least 1/15 second or faster. If the light is so dim that you cannot do this, then manually set the shutter speed, and live with the darker ambient light. Michael H. Cothran
www.mhcphoto.net
- Michael H. Cothran

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NEW QUESTION 2: Rodeo Photography: The Best Lens?
I have a Pentax zx30 with a 70-300mm lens. I am currently taking pictures of rodeos. Is this the best lens to use? Or is there a better one?
- Johnelle

ANSWER 1:
The big question I have is: Are you shooting in broad daylight or in an enclosed place? If you're in daylight, this lens might be pretty good. Ideally, you would want to buy a lens that would probably cost more than $500 to have the "best". But your lens will probably work pretty good if you are in daylight, like I said. Otherwise, if it's inside, you would want something that said f2.8 or something like f/(something lower than 4.0 inserted here), so you can shoot in lower light and use faster shutter speeds. In my opinion, the most important thing is that if you are pleased with your pictures and at least a friend (who's not afraid to tell you the truth) is pleased with your pictures, then what you have is good for the occasion at least. Hope this helps!
- Andrew Laverghetta

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ANSWER 2:
Thank you for the help. The rodeos are outside (daylight) as of now, but some will be in an enclosed arena. I am happy with the photos, and all of my customers are too.
- Johnelle

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NEW QUESTION 3: Shooting Outdoor Portraits
I have been asked to take a friend's head shots ... and I have no clue what to do or where to start. I haven't done a lot with taking portraits or head shots. Does anyone have any advice as to how much to charge, what poses to use, backdrops, props, and camera positioning ... pretty much anything would help. Thanks.
- Will Wohler

See Will's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 1:
Keep it simple the first time.
Pick a nice park on a sunny day.
Shield your subject from the direct sun.
Use a flash to fill in the subject.
Close your lens down about 2 stops from wide open. You want the background to go soft, and make your subject pop out of the background. The further away the background, the softer it will get. For a lens, go with a longer 85mm to 140mm. Make sure you use a good lab or calibrate monitor, camera, printer!
Be ready to do some digital work: blemish removal, object removal. Take a friend to help shade the subject. Make sure the outline of the shade creator isn't in the photo. I use pvc pipe in the shape of a T and three small plastic clamps to hold it on. White sheets - doubled - work good and allow some light to illuminate the subject. Black sheets doubled or tripled block the light and require more flash output. You could use a relector to add light back to the subject. The flashes tend to be cool (violet or blue), so be ready to add yellow digitally or warm up the flash with a very slight yellow filter. A little will go a long way.
Let me know.
Chris
What will happen? The subject will be properly exposed, the background will be properly exposed.
- Chris J. Browne

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NEW QUESTION 4: Polarizing Filter: Linear Vs. Circular
I've just bought a linear polarizer and was only now told that I can only use a circular polarizer on my camera, as the linear one will affect the metering system and the autofocus. I have a Pentax MZ60, and I mostly use manual settings. Is there any way of using a linear polarizer, or should I just go buy a circular. Any help greatly appreciated. Cheers.
- Megan

ANSWER 1:
Sorry - you were told right. You'll need the circular polarizer when using an autofocus camera.
You COULD use the linear version with an AF camera, if you use the camera in manual operation, and meter your scene with a meter other than your camera's built-in meter.
Michael H. Cothran
www.mhcphoto.net
- Michael H. Cothran

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*****


NEW QUESTION 5: Understanding Exposure
I just took a photography course, and I still have no idea when it come to understanding the meter. What exactly do I do when I want to make black look black and white look white?
- Jessica Rae Hardy

ANSWER 1:
One, you could take a meter reading off the black and then take a meter reading off the white to see how many stops of light difference there is, and just make your compensation from there. (Use a middle value.) If the black gives you a slow shutter speed and the white gives you a fast one, go for a shutter speed that will split the speed equally between the two of them. Another thing you can do that is really easy is buy a grey card from a photo store and use it to meter from in the same light. The grey card will give you a middle value between black and white. Hope I helped you some.
Justin
- Justin

ANSWER 2:
There is a book called "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson. I learned everything I know from that book. He also teaches a class here at BetterPhoto under the same name. I highly recommend the book and the class.
Chris
- Chris L. Hurtt

Visit CLHurttPhoto.com - Chris's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 3:
I agree with Chris. Get Bryan's book. It's the bible of understanding exposure. Using the gray card is fine, but the card has to be in the same light as your subject. If your subject is beyond arm's length away, it won't work. The secret to exposure is knowing what an average tonality is. Average tonality is not only 18-percent gray, it's 18-percent everything (blue, green, brown, yellow, etc.).

But don't worry about the 18-percent thing. It takes time to learn average tonality. The process that I use is something like this: When looking at a subject, I ask myself the question, "Is the subject brighter or darker than average?" Let's say it's brighter. Then I know that I'm going to open up to let in more light than the camera meter says I should (so the meter will be on the "plus" side). Then I ask myself, "Is the subject a little or a lot brighter than average?" If I feel that it's a little, I open up to +1/2 stop and take a picture, then bracket by opening up +1 stop and take another picture. If I feel it's a lot brighter than average - like a very light subject - then I'll begin at +1 and take a picture, then to +1 1/2 and take another picture. You'll only have to do this process a few times to get an idea of how exposure works. TIP: Never meter black, and meter white at +1 1/2 and +1 2/3.
- Tony Sweet

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*****


NEW QUESTION 6: Copyright Question
I was recently in Vermont and was able to make the NCAA National Championship cross country skiing event, and got some close ups of some of the athletes. I was wanting to send them to the school to give to the athlete, but wasn't looking to make money on it, more just to get my name out there and give the picture to the athlete. Do I need to worry about a copyright for that? And, as far as getting my name out there, is it best recommended to have a business name to give?
- Erik Rasmussen

ANSWER 1:
Give the picture with a business card. Also, having a Web site is essential to doing business.
- Tony Sweet

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Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with Tony Sweet:
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Fine Art Flower Photography
4-Week Short Course: The Four Essential Filters for Film and Digital Cameras
4-Week Short Course: The Four Essential Filters (2nd Session)

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*****


NEW QUESTION 7: Developing a Photo Career
I really love photography, but a friend of mine majored in it and she is now having the most difficult time finding work. She said there just isn't a high demand for photographers. I am into landscape and nature photography, still life, stuff like that. I guess what I'm asking is, is it truly that impossible for a photographer to find work?
- Sydney A. Robinson

ANSWER 1:
For me, photography is a hobby, and if I can make a few $'s while doing it, I'm happy. I think it can take a really long time to become established and make enough to feed your family in photography. May I suggest getting a paying job and practicing and setting up your clientele and portfolio until you make enough money at photography - then quit the other job?
- Diane L. Dupuis-Kallos

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ANSWER 2:
Ninety percent of waiters in Hollywood are actors. Have a good career first ... shoot second and really love it. Enter shows and sit there for 12 hours a day and listen to people say how beautiful the picture is and move on. Rejection is part of it. Landscape is difficult. Think about what you actually have bought! You might have to shoot things you don't like, such as construction sites or crime scenes first. But love it or leave it ... it is supposed to be fun!
- Chris J. Browne

ANSWER 3:
It's like construction ... word of mouth is your best advertising. Sometimes, there's no work and sometimes too much, so it's a good idea to keep your day job and shoot on the side.
- Steven M. Florin

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
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*****


NEW QUESTION 8: Exposure Challenge: Dark Subject, Bright Sky
I recently had the chance to take some shots of a locomotive engine sitting on the tracks with a beautiful sunrise as a backdrop. While trying to keep the beautiful color saturation of the sunrise itself, I lost all definition on the train. When I opened up to get more detail on the train, I lost the colors on the sunrise. Any advice on doing this exposure for the next time would be greatly appreciated ... thanks.
- Frank Goodin

ANSWER 1:
Your recording medium (digital sensor/film) is not able to capture the full dynamic range of this scene. Reflectors or fill flash can normally be used to put more light on the backlit subject, but a locomotive is too large for this to be effective (unless you've got many large reflectors or strobes). Another alternative is a split/graduated neutral density filter to lessen the difference between the sky/background and subject/foreground exposures.
Lastly, I haven't done this myself, but I've read that it's possible: With digital you can merge two images, one exposed for the sky and another exposed for the foreground subject.
- Jon Close

ANSWER 2:
Take a picture of the sky and then of the train. Then stitch them together and crop a little
- Steven M. Florin

ANSWER 3:
I would do like Jon suggested too, since you have a digital camera. Put your camera on a tripod, expose one image for background lighting (do not move camera, use trigger to snap), then take a second image exposed for the train lighting - again, without having moved tripod. Then put in Photoshop. Duplicate a layer in the open layer palette -one layer for the train, one layer for the sky. Since they will match up well, you just fill one black then paint with white (remember: black hides, white reveals) and you have a good shot. When painting, use a soft-edge brush and use one of the selection tools to select either the entire sky or the entire train, invert and you got it. Hopes this makes some sense ... daryl
- Daryl Lucarelli

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*****


NEW QUESTION 9: Setting Up a Studio for Portraits
How can I start my own portrait studio? Which is the best lighting equipment company?
- Sanat P. Tanna

ANSWER 1:
Glad I got in first. Go rent some equipment! Try it out first before brand loyalty strikes.
Different equipment works better in different situations. Good moonlights or strobes with power packs, umbrellas, softboxes, diffusion panels, reflectors, eyelights, oh my!
Start with a key light and fill light at 45 degrees and up high (5'). Play with distance and output power. Reflectors can act as background lights and hair lights. Don't forget the eyelight for eye sparkle. But start with two lights, Key light and Fill light.
- Chris J. Browne

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NEW QUESTION 10: Low Light Photography ... Without Flash
I am taking pictures at a wedding coming up. I will not be able to use a flash during the ceremony. How can I take good photos without a flash in low lighting? Also, what can I use to help with shadows?
- AMY P. TODD

ANSWER 1:
Try using a higher ISO - like 800, maybe. If you're using 35mm film, try Kodak Portra 800. If you have some money to spare, try getting a normal (50mm fixed) lens with a large maximum aperture. I have a Canon lens that cost me only around $90 and has a very large aperture of f/1.8. It can get you by in pretty low lighting - even with ISO 100.
Again, I would try using an ISO around 800 if you're using an SLR camera, and use a lens with a large aperture. Oh, I almost forgot. Make sure you use a good, working tripod. A wedding isn't normally considered action, so the people shouldn't be moving a whole lot. Hope this helps!
- Andrew Laverghetta

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ANSWER 2:
In my experience, photographing low-light candids without being allowed to use flash is a challenge, to say the least. I hope that they have a professional using flash. The best you can hope for is to shoot Tmax 3200 black and white film. Using a tripod in low light with people, unless the figures are mannequins, is a low-percentage situation, as there will almost always be slight movement, resulting in blur. Depending on how low the light is, ISO800 may not be enough.
To be ready, try to get to the location before the event to see what you're up against, light-wise. If that is not possible, consider having two camera bodies, one loaded with ISO800 and the other loaded with ISO3200.
- Tony Sweet

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Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with Tony Sweet:
Image Design: Revealing Your Personal Vision
Fine Art Flower Photography
4-Week Short Course: The Four Essential Filters for Film and Digital Cameras
4-Week Short Course: The Four Essential Filters (2nd Session)

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NEW QUESTION 11: Photographing Farm Birds
I have a friend who cares for ornamental birds: pheasants, chickens, etc. He would like me to take some pictures of them. I'd appreciate any and all tips, as I've never tried anything like this before. I'm assuming that they are in pens and that I'll be outside the pen (hope so, anyway!!). I used to know how to make the cage wire "disappear" but not sure anymore how that was done. It was an f-stop setting I'm sure - but larger or smaller? Any ideas? Thank you.
- Kathy J. Cooper

ANSWER 1:
The things that will make the fencing less apparent are:
Getting closer to the fencing. Using a wider aperture. Using a longer focal length.
- Jon Close

ANSWER 2:
I'm seeing how this Google advertising thing works. At this moment, above the question, there's an ad for "McMurray Hatchery", "Game Bird Farm and Hatchery", "Raising Chickens", and "The Hidden Lives of Chickens".
- Gregory La Grange

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ANSWER 3:
On small enclosures, getting the front fence to disappear is easier than the one behind the birds. Since you are being asked to take the photos, your friend probably won't mind you hanging some kind of material over the fence in the background. Follow Jon C's advice to throw the front one out of focus. If done properly, it should look like a slight overall softening ... barely discernible.
- Bob Cammarata

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ANSWER 4:
Greetings,
I might be overstating an obvious solution. Since the owner is asking you to photograph his birds, you might be able have them removed from the cages altogether and photograph them in a "staging" area. This might give you more options for shooting ... i.e., angles, lighting etc.
Ask him if he knows when the birds are more subdued - like mornings or evenings? Before or after meals? Then set up a place to photograph them away from the cage, when they are naturally inclined to just "sit" there.
Don't worry about the birds being loose with you; they will probably be much more afraid of you than you would be of them. But if they attack: Don't be afraid to use the tripod. (I knew there was a use for one.)
Good Luck,
Robert
- Robert Hambley

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NEW QUESTION 12: Viewfinder Question: Focusing with Bifocals
I'm struggling to focus while wearing bifocals. Would a diaptor help? I use a Vivitar 38000N SLR.
- Deb

ANSWER 1:
I shoot with bifocals, the kind without the lines, and I just make sure I am looking through the top part. However, if you wish to attach a dioptor to your camera, get one to match your prescription (your optometrist can tell you what strength you need) or get one that is adjustable, and you can shoot without glasses.
- Kerry L. Walker

ANSWER 2:
Use single focals in the field, raising the glasses up to see up close. I wore bifocals for about 1 minute in the field and returned them. The instant I looked downwards to a blur, I turned around and went back to the car to return the glasses. A diopter will help looking through the finder, but looking around for subjects in the field is a challenge, to say the least. You'll spend more time moving your head around like a preying mantis to see a potential subject than photographing. At least, that's my experience.
- Tony Sweet

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ANSWER 3:
Tony is correct. It depends on how strong your glasses are. Mine aren't very strong. I can drive without my glasses, but I can't quite pass the test without them so I use them. The lower part isn't that strong, either. Wish I had the 20/13 vision I had when I was young. Heck, I just wish I was young again!
- Kerry L. Walker

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PHOTOGRAPHY Q&A - CONTINUING FROM PREVIOUS NEWSLETTER
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CONTINUING QUESTION 1: Photographing Spider Webs
I took a photograph of a spider with web. But I feel the web is hard to see (although the spider is very clear ). Why did this happen?
- Vikas Shivanker

ANSWER 1:
What was your f-stop set to? A small f-stop like f2.8 will have a smaller depth of field and will keep the spider in focus, but have everything around the spider blurred out. If you want the web in focus also, you must go to a higher f-stop to get more depth of field.
- Brian Wolter

ANSWER 2:
Very fine things like a spider web show up better when there are highlights from a light angle. Also, brighter colors for a background make it harder to see.
- Gregory La Grange

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ANSWER 3:
Both of the above responses are correct.
The best time to accomplish this is early in the morning on a cool fall day. The wind will be minimal ... allowing for the use of a smaller aperture and long shutter speed (with a tripod, of course).
Try to position yourself with the rising sun in front of you, but at a slight angle to the left or right. This will accentuate the web, and create a halo of light around the spider (if he's home).
Also, you can use flash to illuminate the web. This is best when it's cloudy or if the web is in deep shade. Use a small aperture and fast shutter speed to illuminate only the web. Everything else will be black.
- Bob Cammarata

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ANSWER 4:
The best way to get the most dramatic shot of a spider web is by shooting it with a strong back light (such as a rising sun or remote flash) against a dark background. To further enhance things if there are no early-morning dew drops on the web, use a water mister to place small droplets on the web. Unfortunately, this action may scare off the spider, but be patient, it'll be back. You may have to use a small on-camera flsh also to get details of the spider, if still there. My photo attached. Dan Nolan
- Daniel J. Nolan

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ANSWER 5:
Mist the web with a little water. It won't hurt the spider, and the water will pick up the light coming through the web.
- eric brown

ANSWER 6:
Natural dew is much more appealing than that which can be applied with a mister. (I've found few arachnids that will stick around after such an assault ... though applied moisture can definitely enhance empty webs.)
If you arrive early, around sunrise in autumn (about the same time the leaves are changing), after a clear cool night, you can be assured of at least a good hour of shooting time before the sun burns off the dewdrops and the wind picks up.
I've noticed that large arachnids like this garden spider will usually build their webs in a position to maximize the warming effects of the rising sun. They will position themselves on the web where their metabolism will increase in the least amount of time.
During these early-morning hours, they can be approached to within inches for some great close-ups. The attached photo was taken from a distance of about 10".
- Bob Cammarata

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ANSWER 7:
I shot a lot of spider webs last year. A couple of ideas that I used were to wet the web with a fine mist of water (from a handheld sprayer or a fine mist with a water hose). The other idea is to position yourself so that something dark is in the background (like a window with the lights off on the inside of the house) ... and as stated before ... use a flash.
If you're patient, wait until something flies in the web and watch the spider attack its prey. It is very quick, so be on the lookout!
- Ryan Glaze

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