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


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IN THIS ISSUE - Tuesday, August 09, 2005
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* SPOTLIGHT: BetterPhoto Summit: Act Now ... Price Is Going Up Soon!
* BETTERPHOTO: New Course, New Instructor: The Digital Landscape with Michael Frye
* BETTERPHOTO: New 4-Week Courses for Fall: Strobe Lighting, Camera RAW, Color Management
* BETTERPHOTO: Book of Month: Jim Miotke's BetterPhoto Guide to Digital Photography
* FEATURED GALLERY: Riding the Waves: Focus on Surfing Legends
* PHOTO TRIVIA QUESTION: Legends of Photography / First Photographed Eclipse
* THIS WEEK'S TIP: Maximize Digicam Responsiveness ... by Peter K. Burian
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 1: Snowy Mountaintop Vs. Dark Foreground
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 2: Wedding Photography: What to Buy First?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 3: Camera Mileage: How Many Shots?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 4: How to Get Smell Out of Used Camera Bag
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 5: Presenting a Slide Show
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 6: How to Shoot Fine Art Flowers Like Tony Sweet
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 7: Fish Eye Macro Wide: Definitely a 'Fun Lens'
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 8: Shooting for Magazines
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 1: Advice on Stock Agencies


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IN THE SPOTLIGHT - ADVERTISEMENT
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BetterPhoto Summit: Act Now ... Price Is Going Up Soon!
Meet BetterPhoto's instructors - in person! - and learn photography during one jam-packed weekend! We have some exciting presentations planned. For example: "Making Money with Your Photography with Jim Zuckerman; "Digital Exposure" with Bryan Peterson; and "The New Essentials of Photoshop" with Ben Willmore. This first annual BetterPhoto Summit takes place September 10th and 11th, 2005, near the Seattle airport ... two days of instruction and inspiration for just $297! But you must act quickly: the price goes up to $396 on August 11th! For information:
http://www.betterphoto.com/summit.asp


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WHAT'S NEW AT BETTERPHOTO.COM
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Welcome to the 224th issue of SnapShot!

Hi {FirstName}

Lots of fantastic news to report! First, we welcome noted nature photographer Michael Frye, the latest addition to our talented BetterPhoto team of online instructors. Michael has written numerous articles on the art and technique of photography, is the author/photographer of "The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite" and "Yosemite Meditations," and was featured in the book "Landscape: The World’s Top Photographers". Michael will be teaching a terrific course for fall: "The Digital Landscape". Check it out at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/FRY01.asp

Also, we have three new 4-week courses on tap for fall: Charlie Borland's "Beginners Guide to Strobe Lighting", and Jon Canfield's "Color Management for Digital Photography" and "Camera RAW Processing". Check out those courses, and our entire fall lineup at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/categories.asp

For anyone interested in learning the art of photography and meeting many of our highly-acclaimed instructors, the BetterPhoto Summit promises a thrilling weekend. But you'll want to hurry: the price goes up on August 11th. For details:
http://www.betterphoto.com/summit.asp

In this issue, don't miss the Photo Tip by instructor/author Peter Burian - "Maximize Digicam Responsiveness". Plus, our Featured Gallery focuses on surfing photography. And we have our usual collection of terrific questions and answers.

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


*****
New Course, New Instructor: The Digital Landscape with Michael Frye
Landscape photography has entered a new age, and a new age requires a fresh approach! This exciting course, by nature photographer Michael Frye, will teach you a new, streamlined approach to landscape photography, using your digital camera. You'll learn to take advantage of your camera's capabilities so you can concentrate on making beautiful, powerful, expressive photographs. For the specifics, go to:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/FRY01.asp


*****
New 4-Week Courses for Fall: Strobe Lighting, Camera RAW, Color Management
BetterPhoto's already-exciting online school schedule just got better ... with three new additions to the 4-Week Short Course lineup: Charlie Borland's "Beginners Guide to Strobe Lighting", and Jon Canfield's "Color Management for Digital Photography" and "Camera RAW Processing". Learn more about these classes:
http://www.betterphoto.com/online-photography-courses.asp


*****
Book of Month: Jim Miotke's BetterPhoto Guide to Digital Photography
In his awesome new book, BetterPhoto™ founder Jim Miotke seeks to demystify the digital world. "I want to help make digital cameras less intimidating and more intuitive, so people can relax and have fun with their shooting," says Jim of his hands-on, lesson-based book. To celebrate the release of The BetterPhoto Guide to Digital Photography, the first 500 copies are numbered and signed by Jim! An added incentive: As Book of the Month, there's free U.S. shipping through August. For details:
http://www.betterphoto.com/product/ourProductDetail.asp?productID=1311

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FEATURED GALLERY
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Riding the Waves: Focus on Surfing Legends
Surfing is a sport of great adventure, skill, courage ... and, of course, fun! Check out the work of BetterPhoto shooters and you'll see some very dynamic, very dramatic shots that capture the essence of this exciting sport. See our "Surfing Legends" gallery at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGall2.asp?catID=7297

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PHOTO TRIVIA QUIZ OF THE WEEK
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Last week, we asked:
Last year marked the passing of many giants of photography, including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Carl Mydans, Francesco Scavullo, Eddie Adams, and Helmut Newton. Another photographic master also died in 2004, and in 1994, he was the subject of a special issue of an American camera magazine that looked back on his life and work. Who was he?

The first, best answer - entered by BetterPhoto member Robert Bradshaw is:
Richard Avedon - Still hard at work on an assignment in Texas when he died at age 81.

Editor's Note: Right you are, Robert! And American Photo was the magazine that published the special issue in 1994.

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 - First Photographed Eclipse - entered by BetterPhoto member Blanca Acosta

A solar eclipse was photographed for the first time in what year?

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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Maximize Digicam Responsiveness ... by Peter K. Burian

Photographers who switched from 35mm film cameras to digicams often voiced a similar complaint: the new camera is too slow. As one father said: “I can’t seem to get a good candid picture of my kids. I see a great photo opportunity, but by the time the camera actually takes the shot, the girls have turned away and the moment is lost.”

This common problem was caused by shutter lag: the delay while the camera sets focus and makes all the necessary settings. Some of the more recent digicams are much faster to focus, especially with a nearby subject within range of the focus-assist beam or pre-flash burst. Even so, the camera may not respond instantly to a touch of the shutter button in low light, especially when using a long zoom setting.

The solution is to anticipate. Frame your intended subjects, depress the shutter button partway, and allow the camera to set focus and make its settings. Then simply wait, with slight pressure on the button. When you notice some interaction or a fleeting gesture, take the picture. With this technique, the delay will be shorter and you’ll capture more spontaneous moments.

Sometimes, the pre-focusing technique is not practical: at an outdoor party, for example, when you want to shoot lots of pics of various people at different distances. In that case, low light will not be a problem. For the quickest autofocus response, select the Continuous AF option, if your camera has one. The system will then constantly adjust the focused distance, so it should be even quicker to focus on a new subject. By reducing the delay for autofocus, you should often capture just the right instant of interaction.

Check out Peter Burian's Digital Photography online course and his Pro BetterPholio™: www.peterkburian.com

Check out Peter Burian's Digital Photography online course and his Deluxe Pro Web Site: www.peterkburian.com

Top Ten Tips:
http://www.betterphoto.com/exploring/tips.asp

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http://www.betterphoto.com/exploring/allTips.asp

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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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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: Snowy Mountaintop Vs. Dark Foreground
I am about to go to the Himalayas for the second time. The first time I struggled to get a good early-morning shot of the sun just catching the top of the mountains, when I also wanted the lodge or the valley in the foreground. Basically, the mountains were burnt out and/or the valleys were too dark. Do you think I should use a grad filter and, if so, which is best?
- David Allen

ANSWER 1:
Did you happen to catch what the exposure difference was between the shaded area and the lit mountain top? I'm sure the graduated neutral density filter would help a lot if you can get one that will allow enough stops difference between the top and bottom - that is, unless you are willing to do this digitally. You could take two separate pictures metered for the highlights and the lowlights. If it were me, I would leave the feeling of shadow and highlight there, because they are different color temperatures. See what Shadow/Highlight will do in Photoshop (if you have it) under Images>Adjustments.
Again, if you can frame the image correctly with the filter split down the middle, go with that. If not, take two separate exposures metered for the shadow and sunlit peaks and put them together in an image editing program.
Hope this helps!
- Andrew Laverghetta

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*****


NEW QUESTION 2: Wedding Photography: What to Buy First?
I have loved photography for a long time, but I'm trying to make some money now. I bought a Digital Rebel w/lens 28-55(basic), 70-300 Canon telephoto ISO lens, and a 420ex flash. My question is I am doing my first wedding in a couple of weeks and wanted to get an everyday lens - Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM and Custom Brackets QRS35H 35mm - but I can't afford both. I wanted to know which one would get me the best results for a indoor wedding?
- Andrea Tuft

ANSWER 1:
Instead of the $169 bracket from Custom Brackets, you could get the $65 Stroboframe Camera Flip or the $45 Stroboframe Quickflip 350. Both will do what you need. You will also need to get the Canon Off-Camera Shoe Cord 2. B&H photo has it for $49.95 Good luck.
- Chris A. Vedros

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ANSWER 2:
You want some sort of good, fast lens for an indoor wedding. If you're at the end of your budget, you can get the 50mm 1.8 for $80. It's a good lens (not well-made, but for that price no big loss) and very fast, meaning it can open very wide to shoot in low light. It will get you by for available light shots that are so gorgeous in weddings, but you have to move more without the zoom that some wedding officials find annoying. Still, you can't go wrong at that price. If you have more money, then get a Tamron 28-75 f2.8, which is a VERY highly rated lens in the $300 range.
- Karma Wilson

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ANSWER 3:
Thank you both. It's nice to know that there is inexpensive equipment out there worth buying. I will look into both of those suggestions. I just upgraded my flash to the Canon 500EX. I hope it was worth the money.
- Andrea Tuft

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http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=18320

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NEW QUESTION 3: Camera Mileage: How Many Shots?
Just got my Rebel XT 3 weeks ago, and I've already shot nearly 2000 pics! Of course, I've been practicing and do plan to slow down, but a friend said I am putting too much mileage on my camera and I am wearing it out before its time. I had never even entertained such a thought as "camera mileage", and I guess I am now wondering if there is any truth to this concept. Not that it will in any way change the amount of pictures I plan to take.
- Barbara J.

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ANSWER 1:
Go ahead and shoot it till it quits. Realize, however, that regardless of make or model, the mechanical shutter in a film or digital SLR has a finite lifetime and will eventually wear out. Canon's professional 1-series bodies are designed for at least 150,000 shutter actuations. The shutters in the lower-line bodies are not as rugged and probably rated for at least 20,000 to 50,000 actuations. That's not a hard limit by any means. There may be the odd shutter that fails earlier, or it may outlive you.
- Jon Close

ANSWER 2:
Also, even if you did take about 2000 photos every month, it would take you more than 6 years to get to 150,000. And there is a good chance that in 6 years, you might have a new camera(or at least lens, which would give you another 6 years) Also, I think you can get the shutter replaced, right?
- Brendan Knell

ANSWER 3:
Thanks, with the way today's technology advances, I guess it wouldn't be unrealistic at all to upgrade in 6 years.
- Barbara J.

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ANSWER 4:
You're right Barbara, my Sony F828 is about like the Rebel XT (except not DSLR), and I plan (hope, more like it) on upgrading in less than 6 years.
- Brendan Knell

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*****


NEW QUESTION 4: How to Get Smell Out of Used Camera Bag
I just bought a used Tamarac camera bag that is in excellent condition - yet one thing I noticed: It smells really bad. I sprayed it with Febreeze, but that didn't help. I don't want to give up the bag because it's "perfect" for me. The Tamara Web site said to never submerge your bag in water, as I was thinking to throw it in the washing machine. Anyone have any pointers to get the stench out? Thank you!
- Ernestine Lona

ANSWER 1:
Just open it up and put it out in the fresh air for a day or so. That should help.
- Kerry L. Walker

ANSWER 2:
Depends on the smell! Before anything, make sure no little critters have curled up and died in the pockets or in the bottom of the bag around the seams. There used to be a charcoal product to stuff into sneakers so they'd smell better. Rather than covering up the odor, it absorbed it. Maybe a sports shoe store would have some.
- Kay Beausoleil

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ANSWER 3:
"Ooou, that smell, can you smell that smell"! LOL! I had to throw a little Skinnerd in:-) Baking soda works wonders - unless it's a skunk:-)
- Terry R. Hatfield

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ANSWER 4:
I've also heard that coffee grounds can help.
- Brendan Knell

ANSWER 5:
Vinegar can help to get rid of moldy odors. Just put some in a spray bottle and spray on/in the bag and let dry ... the "vinegary" smell will dissipate after it dries completely. You may want to test an area to see if the color will run before spraying the whole bag.
- J. H. Schneider

ANSWER 6:
The vinegar works! Thank you!!!!!
- Ernestine Lona

ANSWER 7:
Hi everyone, I just received an e-mail about Bounce dryer sheets. Not only are they good for your laundry but you can tuck them in all your backpacks - including camera cases to keep things fresh, but the bees won't come near you. Hikers can tuck them in their hip pockets to keep the bees away . Hope this helps someone.
- Brenda D. Spring

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http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=18309

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*****


NEW QUESTION 5: Presenting a Slide Show
Hi, I just came back from Africa, where I shot about 45 rolls of slides - mostly Fuji Velvia and Kodak 100vs. My colleagues at work want me to give a slide show, and I'm trying to sort out what's a good length of time (I'm thinking about 20 minutes), but I'm not sure how many slides I should show in that amount of time. I'm a reasonably serious shooter, but I don't think anyone's going to want to dwell on any particular shot, so is there a rule of thumb out there for number of seconds/slide that I could use to get a sense of how many slides I should select? Thanks, Howard
- Howard

ANSWER 1:
45 rolls! ... WOW! ... Sounds like you have some serious editing to do. I have had some experience doing slide presentations in the past, and I think I can help to address your concerns. The length of time of your show will depend upon your material and its ability to hold interest.
If your shots include a lot of scenics, edit them carefully to include only a dozen or so of the very best ones. I like to use scenics as "breaks" ... when I go from one theme to another.
As an example, if you were showing a series of big cat photos, a scenic or two would change the mood as you go into grazing animals like zebras and antelope. (I've found that showing a bunch of scenics together will get your audience to lose interest quickly.)
Try to create "story telling" sequences with the images you have on hand.
Example: A shot of a herd of dik-dik or other grasslands species casually grazing, then a close-up of one animal looking over its shoulder. The next frame could contain a lioness crouching in the grass, followed by a shot of a herd running. Photos displayed in sequence will hold interest better than just a bunch of shots shown in random order.
As far as how long to "dwell" on a particular shot, 8 to 10 seconds is enough time for you to briefly caption the shot and let your audience get whatever reaction they are going to get from it.
Don't take time to "explain" the shot - why or how you you took it or what you were trying to capture. Just throw it up there and let it stand on its own. A very brief "captionary" synopsis about the subject matter should be all that is mentioned before moving on.
As to how many slides to show, I've never done more than a standard Kodak Carousel (140 slides) in any presentation. This usually takes about 30 to 45 minutes up to an hour, depending on the audience's participation.
A few more quick tips:
- Have a catchy "focus slide" as the first one in the presentation. This will show up when you first turn on the machine. It should be something humorous and fit into the theme of your presentation. When I do shows of fishing for wild trout, I use as my focus slide a shot of a sign on a tree which reads: "Trespassers will be SHOT". This image stays on the screen while my audience is assembling and they immediately know that they are in for a fun evening.
-When you sequence your shots, start with the weaker ones and place the best ones at the end of each series. This will help to pique the interest of the audience, and they will anticipate what's coming next.
-Be sure to preview the entire show beforehand. There is nothing more embarrassing than having a slide appear on the screen sideways or upside down. :(
- Bob Cammarata

Visit cammphoto.com - Bob's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
Great ideas from Bob. Also, remember, the amateur photographer will show you all his pictures, the professional will show his best.
The slide show can be great, but you really need to do ruthless editing - thereby finding the best of your slides, consistent with the story/chronology you wish to present.
Make certain you have rehearsed some kind of script about what's in the image and NOT how you shot it. And be aware that too short a show might be as bad as too long. However, I'd opt for the 20 minutes you describe.
- John Sandstedt

ANSWER 3:
Dear Bob and John: These are great suggestions. Yes, I spent about 7 hours on my slides this weekend. I've got them down to about 330 slides that I think are worthy of showing to other people, and frankly, only about 5 or 6 that I would actually consider enlarging to frame and put on my wall, so I think I'm in the right mindset.
I also really like the story-telling idea, which supports what I've been thinking about (at least when I do have an interesting story to tell, instead of random shots of animals).
Thank you so much for the point on scenics - I was considering stringing a series together that I took at sunrise and sunset, since the African sky is so spectacular and I was going to weave a theme on that, but maybe I'll reconsider. Obviously, I'd only show the ones that I consider to be truly spectacular - what I might term "Galen-esque".
Thanks also for the advice on not explaining the shot necessarily. My audience is a group of my colleagues, so they're not going to want to know about the graduated filters I used, bracketing, the type of film, etc.
This has been great and valuable coaching, and I incredibly appreciate these thoughts!!


Howard

- Howard

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*****


NEW QUESTION 6: How to Shoot Fine Art Flowers Like Tony Sweet
Hello!

I just purchased Tony Sweet's book, Fine Art Flower Photography I love the images done with multiple exposures (first image sharp, second, etc., with exposure adjustments and somewhat out of focus) for a surreal look on the final printout. Can you shoot same series of shots in digital, then sandwich in Photoshop so that the end result looks similar?
If so, please send exact procedure. I am not new at Photoshop but mostly do retouching of models/actors.
Thank you very much for any help you can give.

Editor's Note: Tony Sweet also teaches the Fine Art Flower Photography" online course here at BetterPhoto.com.
- Deborah L. Ouellette

ANSWER 1:
Layer two images, and adjust the opacity of the out-of-focus layer so the focused layer shows through. You can use a layer mask and a low-opacity level with the paint brush colored black to fine-tune spots where you want more transparency to areas.
- Gregory La Grange

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ANSWER 2:
If you go to www.photosbysharon.com, there is a tutorial there that explains it in detail. The photo "Quakie Sandwich" in my gallery was created using this technique. Hope this helps.
- Sandy Landon

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NEW QUESTION 7: Fish Eye Macro Wide: Definitely a 'Fun Lens'
I would love to invest in both a macro lens and a fish-eye lens. Not that I really need either, they would just be fun to have for effects. I'm wondering if anyone has ever heard of or used a "Fish Eye Macro WIDE Lens".
It is not a lens in itself ... it attaches to an existing lens and gives the effects of macro and fish-eye. (I think you flip it for one or the other.) Anyway, I'm a newbie and don't really know too much about lenses and equipment, yet and I'm wondering if any "old-timers" in photography could give any advice. Thanks in advance for any help you can give.
- Kimberly J. Whipps

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ANSWER 1:
At least you have the insight to acknowledge that this would be a "fun" lens, and I firmly believe we all need a couple of fun lenses in our camera bag.
FYI - As an "old timer," I can say via experience that you'll find the more exotic a lens is, the less you will actually use it. My opinion would be that you will grow tired of this lens after just a few uses - but, on the other hand, I would also recommend buying it, as long as it is within your budget constraints.
Photography to most of us is a passion, and to many of us, a profession. If this strange lens appeals to you, then I say buy it, and get all the thrill mileage out of it that you can.
I bought my first "fun lenses" back in 1982. After receiving a nice IRS refund, I called B&H Photo and ordered a Sigma 18mm lens and 600mm mirror lens, giving me two focal length extremes. The 18mm was a decent lens, but the 600mm was really crummy. But, boy, did I ever have fun with them. It also made me realize that I love telephoto shooting more than wide angle, which I still feel today.
Have fun.
Michael H. Cothran
www.mhcphoto.net
- Michael H. Cothran

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ANSWER 2:
Thank you Michael. That's kind of how I feel, and it's only like $60 on ebay. But the low price actually adds to my skepticism ... can it really work at only $60? Just wondering if anyone else has encountered such a "toy". Thanks again.
- Kimberly J. Whipps

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*****


NEW QUESTION 8: Shooting for Magazines
I'm currently a portrait photographer and am curious how magazines hire their photographers? If a magazine is doing an article on a celeb, and wants "formal" photos included in the article - where/how do they hire their photographers? Are the photographers freelance, employees of the magazine, or represented by agents? What category do these photographers fall under - commercial? What's the best way to "break in" to this kind of specialized photography? Thanks in advance for your input.
- Debi Chambers

ANSWER 1:
Debi,
Magazines hire photographers in just about all of the manners you mentioned. Usually they are freelance, as this allows them to hire a photographer with a specific talent or approach, and that depends on the style they want for the article. To get in, you need a spectacular portfolio of very unique images that show your talent. My suggestion is to open the magazine that you would most like to shoot for and see who has credit for the pictures. Then get on the Internet and Google them to look at their Web site. This will give you an idea of the caliber of photographer the magazines like to use.
Charlie
- Charlie Borland

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Stock Photography
Lighting for Commercial Photography
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4-Week Short Course: Beginners Guide to Strobe Lighting
4-Week Short Course: Beginners Guide to Strobe Lighting (2nd Session)

ANSWER 2:
Thanks, Charlie! Great advice. Onward and upward.
- Debi Chambers

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PHOTOGRAPHY Q&A - CONTINUING FROM PREVIOUS NEWSLETTER
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CONTINUING QUESTION 1: Advice on Stock Agencies
I'd like to start working towards submitting my images to stock agencies. Which agencies are supportive to photographers just starting out in the field of stock photography? Any suggestions? To be honest, I don't know if my images are good enough, so I'm hoping to find an agency willing to give me a chance! Thanks for any help! Darlene
- Darlene Christensen

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ANSWER 1:
Darlene-
Below I have posted some paragraphs to answer your question about stock agents. This material comes from my lessons on Stock Photography, a course taught here at BP. Please excuse the broken flow, as I chose select paragraphs to answer your question. Also check out the following resources for more info: stockphoto.net, photosource.com is loaded with info for beginning stock photographers, and pickphoto.com has the best book out there for established pros. There is also a variety of workshops out there. Santa Fe used to have one. I am co-owner of fogstock.com and the company president, and I will be teaching Breaking into Stock Photography this summer. You can check it out at aspenphotoworkshops.com, which will be online in about a month.

Where to Start
Stock photography is an exciting business when you can make money off your passion. I hope that the previous lessons have given you a good grasp on how and what to shoot for stock photos. Are you ready to move on and shoot with the goal of your own stock photo business or signing with an agent?

Before you quit your day job, let’s look at the business realistically. First, what are you shooting and or planning to shoot? Here is a rough breakdown on the best-selling categories in order of what sells best.

1) Business
2) Lifestyle
3) Technologies
4)Industry/Medical
5)Sports/Adventure
6)Nature and wildlife


Getting into a Stock Photo Agency
To get represented by an agency you should build a large body of unique stock photos. Stock agents are not exclusively for established shooters and are always on the lookout for new talent. They are as much interested in what you can do in the future as what you’ve done in the past. Their primary interest is how much are you going to shoot and how good will the quality be. If you shoot what everybody else does, you won’t get in. With a larger supply of stock photos available than demand, and you shoot flowers, rocks, and moss, you will have a much more difficult time being accepted than if you shoot lifestyle or business. This will be the first point they address.

If you are a beginning stock photographer and approach an agency, they will look through your work. If they see talent and you are shooting something very unique, they may invest the time to nurture you. Some agents give shot lists for you to go shoot, and some don’t. However, if you are accepted by an agent, then they consider you a pro and they’ll expect you to know how and what to shoot. My agents do offer suggestions and guidance when I ask. It also takes -on average - a year for images to find their way to a client and make you a sale. So calling an agent up two months after your images were submitted and wanting to know where the moneys are will get you nowhere and probably aggravate the agent. You should concentrate primarily on shooting lots and lots of imagery to increase the volume of images you have in an agency. The money will come!

These days, your agent will also demand that you are either exclusive or image exclusive with them. Exclusive means you cannot have any of your images at another agency or sell them yourself. Image exclusive means you can send images to another agency, but not the same ones, and sell yourself as well. Fogstock is image exclusive with the images we accept, and I recommend that you only sign contracts that are image exclusive. It is very difficult to put your entire stock business with one agent, not be able to sell images yourself, and rely totally on one company for your stock income.

My feeling as a photographer is to be with as many agencies as I can. However, this can present problems. I have been with a total of 10 different agencies in my career, although no more than four at a time. Some have done well, and some have not. The good part about being with many agencies is that you have multiple revenue sources and, hopefully, money coming every month from each. The problem is that each agency has its strengths and weaknesses.

We need content from highly committed and productive photographers. We actually require at a very minimum 200 stand-alone high-quality stock shots to consider any photographer for Fogstock. If we sign one with the minimum 200, we view them as a beginner because the pros we sign have 5000-10,000 images for us. It is a horribly competitive business out there. This is a business where survival of the fittest rule. The photographers with 5000 images online might make $1500 per month. The ones with 200 might make $20 a month. There is not much success for weekend stock photographers, it's all about volume.
- Charlie Borland

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ANSWER 2:
I've really appreciated the interest this thread has generated and the great advice I've gotten! I'm still working towards submitting to agencies and have been busy building my portfolio. But I've been pretty scared away from submitting just by the shear "bigness" of the whole "STOCK AGENCY" thing. I kinda feel like I'm trying to go to work for Donald Trump without being in the "BOARD ROOM" a few times! I would ask all of you what your opinion is on rights-controlled vs. royalty free. I seem to be going around and around in my head about it. As Howard just mentioned above ... it might be easier for me to break in at that level. BUT if I designate certain images as royalty free ... does that mean I can never sell them as rights-controlled to another agency?
- Darlene Christensen

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ANSWER 3:
Darlene
The biggest part of your question I will address first. You do not want to put the same images at one agency as RC and at another as RF. This could lead to some very big problems for you. If the RC agency licenses it for a nationwide advertisement with an industry exclusive, say for cosmetics, you will receive a handsome royalty. At the same time, if the RF agency puts it on a RF CD and your image is picked for something close to the cosmetics ad and blasted all over, the exclusivity that the RC client paid for is greatly diluted. This is lawsuit material and I have witnessed similarities to this scenario. So I highly recommend you be very careful and frankly just don't place an image both ways.

To determine whether your image should be RF or RC will require you to make an effort to do some research. Get on RF sites and search for the subject you have - say, flowers. If there are a ton of similars to your in RF, then that is where you should go as well. However, if you just got an image of a flying saucer over MT Rushmore, that is a one-of-a-kind and will go RC.

Here is a link to an article I wrote for Naturephotographers.net where I am a contributing editor and it will aid you some in pricing and placement.
http://www.naturephotographers.net/articles0805/cb0805-1.html
Charlie
- Charlie Borland

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ANSWER 4:
Charlie ... you're the best! You've answered my inquiries before and you've given me sound advice ... always! Thanks so much for taking the time! I will do exactly as you've suggested. I'm trying soooo hard to think before I shoot and am getting better at it. I still love taking pics of the places I travel ... even though most are of the "tourist" variety! BUT ... I'm learning to think "outside the box" and really trying to shoot salable stock. My hometown vineyards will continue to be a mainstay for me since the market doesn't seem saturated...yet. But I know I need to continue to pursue the lifestyle and business concepts and that's where I need to learn what and how to shoot. I've checked out Fogstock and printed out all the information it provides to photographers. It would be my hope to someday be good enough to submit my photos for consideration. Thanks again, Charlie!
- Darlene Christensen

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