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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 - Wednesday, September 14, 2005
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* SPOTLIGHT: BetterPhoto School: Awesome New Courses for Fall
* BETTERPHOTO: Getting Your Own Web Site Is Easy at BetterPhoto!
* BETTERPHOTO: The BetterPhoto Guide to Digital Photography ... by Jim Miotke
* BETTERPHOTO: Summit Tip: The Sky Brothers Are Your Friends
* FEATURED GALLERY: Boat Dock Pictures and Ocean Pier Photos
* PHOTO TRIVIA QUESTION: Detecting a Photo Op / The Detective and the Photographer
* THIS WEEK'S TIP: Light Quality: Flat Vs. Contrast ... by Charlie Borland
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 1: Resizing/Cropping Digital photos
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 2: Getting Started in Business
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 3: Which Filters Are Most Useful?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 4: Photoshop Question - Exposure
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 5: Lighting Kits, Group Photography
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 6: What Equipment to Set Up a Studio?
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 1: Using Flash Outdoors
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 2: Tips for Taking Wedding Pictures


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IN THE SPOTLIGHT - ADVERTISEMENT
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BetterPhoto School: Awesome New Courses for Fall
Our fall online school schedule is going to be fantastic ... thanks to a great lineup of new courses that include:
  • Beginners Guide to Strobe Lighting
  • The Digital Landscape
  • Camera RAW Processing
  • Color Management for Digital Photography
  • The Business of Outdoor and Nature Photography
  • People Photography Up-Close and Personal
  • The Magic of Wide-Angle
  • Using Your Digital SLR
  • Ready, Set, Go: Get a Jump Start to Digital Photography.
Check out our entire lineup at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/online-photography-courses.asp


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WHAT'S NEW AT BETTERPHOTO.COM
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Welcome to the 229th issue of SnapShot!

Hi {FirstName}

We are really thrilled with the first-ever BetterPhoto Summit. What a great weekend ... so inspiring and informative! To those who attended: Can't you hardly wait to take your next photo trip?

Next up in the ever-exciting world of BetterPhoto.com is the fall session of online photography courses. With all the new classes to choose from, this is our best schedule yet. Check out the schedule at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/categories.asp

In this issue of SnapShot, don't miss instructor/photographer Charlie Borland's latest Photo Tip, this one on "Light Quality: Flat Vs. Contrast". Also, we share one of the many tips and tricks offered at the just-completed Summit ... including one on exposure from instructor/author Bryan Peterson.

That's it for now. Enjoy the week.
Jim Miotke
http://www.betterphoto.com/MG.asp?ID=124


*****
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*****
The BetterPhoto Guide to Digital Photography ... by Jim Miotke
Mysterious icons, strange jargon, a dizzying array of imaging software and hardware. These stumbling blocks are quickly put aside when you read the terrific new book by BP founder Jim Miotke: "The BetterPhoto Guide to Digital Photography." In this practical, lesson-based guidebook, you'll learn about exposure, file formats and quality settings, low-light photography, digital filters and white balance, composition and lens choice, and much more - all in a handy, bring-along format. For details, or to order your autographed copy, go to:
http://www.betterphoto.com/product/ourProductDetail.asp?productID=1311


*****
Summit Tip: The Sky Brothers Are Your Friends
An amazing number of tips and techniques were shared at the BetterPhoto Summit. And it's no wonder, since the weekend was jam-packed with presentations by our talented crew of instructors.

One valuable piece of advice was served up by Bryan Peterson - who teaches Understanding Exposure and Learning to See Creatively - involves calling upon the Sky Brothers in tough lighting situations. For instance:

When photographing a silhouetted subject against a bright sunset or sunrise sky, says Bryan, Brother Backlit Sky is your go-to guy. Take your exposure reading to the side of the sun (leaving the sun out of the viewfinder). Then, either manually set your exposure, or, if using an auto-exposure mode, press the exposure-hold button. Use those settings to shoot your photo.


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FEATURED GALLERY
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Boat Dock Pictures and Ocean Pier Photos
Water is always an attraction for outdoor photographers. For some creative work, check out BetterPhoto's gallery of wonderful boat dock and ocean pier images at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGall2.asp?catID=974

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PHOTO TRIVIA QUIZ OF THE WEEK
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Last week, we asked:
In which episode of the TV show "Agatha Christie's Poirot" does the famous detective, known for using his "little grey cells", photograph Inspector Japp while the two are sightseeing in Brussels, Belgium?


The first, best answer - entered by BetterPhoto member Pam Chester is:
"The Chocolate Box"

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 - The Detective and the Photographer - entered by BetterPhoto member Marion Villines

In this episode of the old TV show "Columbo", how does the detective figure out that the photographer (played by Dick Van Dyke) is the murderer?

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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Light Quality: Flat Vs. Contrast ... by Charlie Borland

Flat light has a shorter relationship between highlight and shadows. Imagine white and black objects against white. If the light is soft and diffused (flat), there will most likely not be a black shadow or a pure white highlight. Contrasty light has a more extreme range between shadow and highlight. The same subjects with hard light as the light source will probably have a pure black area in the shadows and a white highlight.

View Charlie Borland's online photography 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: Resizing/Cropping Digital photos
Hello! I need some help! I did a photo of a family of 13, and they would like a 8x10 pic. I use Buckeye Lab to do my prints but I can not get the image to all fit in an 8x10 area. I've tried to resize it but it gets to a point it starts getting blurry. I'm kind of clueless when it comes to the digital ratios and how it all works, but is there any way to get this photo to fit into an 8x10 picture? I'm going to be doing portraits of kids at a daycare and don't want to run into the same problem. Thanks for any help you can provide.
- Kelly R. Theobald

ANSWER 1:
Hi Kelly
Unfortunately, if the photo is of 13 people, you may not have room to crop the picture. Have you offered an 8x12 print explaining that 8x12 is full frame and to get it to 8x10 you are going to have to crop it, and it sounds like you just won't be able to cause you will crop people off on either side?

You won't be able to resize it from 8x12 to an 8x10 as the ratios are different. The only way to resize is to use your crop tool in the tool bar and enter 8x10 in the bar up the top and then crop, this will also lower the dpi a little.
But if it was me, I would be telling my clients that it is a full-frame photo and you are unable to crop it. The photo needs to be purchased at full frame so 8x12 or 12x18 etc.
I hope this helps!
- Natalie Howe

See Natalie's Premium BetterPholio™

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=19242

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=19242

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NEW QUESTION 2: Getting Started in Business
I have decided to go into the business and I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. I am having a graphic logo worked on, a Web site and business cards. I am not ready to get a location as of yet, I have a very small studio in my house, but will do most on location. Do I offer framing, table books, cards, etc? Do people like to have a place where they can have the pictures ready to hang? How do I go about offering framing if I do? Do I buy wholesale? How do I price? Has anyone out there who decided to make the jump and go into business felt overwhelmed?
- Lisa Carpenter

See Lisa's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 1:
Lisa,
What you are describing and asking is called a "business plan". When you begin to offer more and more, your overhead and start up costs will go up significantly.
Most new startup businesses usually fail for this one reason: under-capitalization ... not enough money or running out of money too soon. This fact is from data posted by the Small Business Administration.
Part of your biz plan needs to include research. What do your customers want? Interview them and find out.
My best advice based on what you wrote is this: Start small, since you are just beginning to venture into this field.
If portraiture is your primary shooting, come up with a few basic packages. Two 8x10's, four 5x7's, ten 4x6's, etc. ... as one pkg.
As for pricing, call a few studios and see what they charge. You'll have to undercut them at first unless your work is as good or better.
I'm sorry I don't have any specific advice for you concerning frames, table books etc.
Please take no offense at this: I think you might be getting the cart a little before the horse. Get a few basic shoots under your belt first. Charge what you think is fair and reasonable ... look at your cash flow and profit. Get referrals from the people you do photograph. If you are a good shooter, many more people will walk thru your doors.
- Pete Herman

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=19240

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=19240

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NEW QUESTION 3: Which Filters Are Most Useful?
I have a Nikon D70 and wonder as a picture hobbyist which 3 filters would be best and most useful to buy, besides a polarizer. Thanks.
- Lori S. Dickman

ANSWER 1:
If you already own a polarizer, I'd spend the money elsewhere. Most other filters could be considered gimmicky. If you shoot in adverse conditions a lot, then a good quality UV or haze filter will help protect your lens.
My advice on filters is to use them sparingly.
Michael H. Cothran
www.mhcphoto.net
- Michael H. Cothran

See Michael's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
I agree, for the most part, with Michael. Film photographers have more use for filters than digital, but not a lot. You don't need color conversion filters - just change the white balance. You don't need an ND - just change the ISO. You can do without a warming filter - change it in Photoshop, etc. The one filter I would suggest is a graduated neutral-density filter. It is often needed when shooting landscapes and the sky is much brighter than the foreground.
- Kerry L. Walker

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=19202

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=19202

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NEW QUESTION 4: Photoshop Question - Exposure
I recently took some pictures that were underexposed. Is there a way to lighten the subjects (portrait of children) in Photoshop without making it look unnatural? Thanks.
- Sharon Rizzo

ANSWER 1:
Hopefully they aren't so underexposed that they lost all the detail, but put in Photoshop as a layer. Now copy that layer so there is one on top of that. Change the blending mode to screen and keep creating layers with the screen blending mode until you get it close to what you want. Here's the part where you get most control. Now that you've got it about to where you want it, do it once more so that it's too bright. Now play with your opacity and fill levels until you get what you want. Good luck.
- Justin D. Goeden

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=19106

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=19106

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*****


NEW QUESTION 5: Lighting Kits, Group Photography
A gym wants to hire me to do group and individual pics of over 200 gymnasts. I have done group portraits in the past when I worked for another studio. My question concerns equipment. I will be using a Digital Rebel. Is this going to be good enough? No one will be ordering anything over an 8x10. And I am looking into the lighting I will need to purchase. I have seen a set from Alien Bees that will be perfect, but is $700. Don't have that much until after I do the job. But I found a Smith-Victor kit with 2 12" floodlights- 500W, 1 5" floodlight-250W, umbrellas and a wheeled case for $232. Is this a good deal, and would it do what I need. The largest grouping would only be 20 girls. And a lot of the groups are less than 10 people. Please help! I appreciate any advice or suggestions. I don't want to turn this job down because I can't afford the equipment.
- Christy Hall

See Christy's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 1:
As far as individual portraits, a single umbrella or softbox should be fine ... maybe a fill reflector as well.
Now, the group of 20 people is a whole new ball game. I hope you have experience in posing that many people.
One umbrella is NOT enough, unless you get them all (VERY) tightly grouped. If there is a large window, you may want to use it as a primary light source.
To artificially light 20 people will require a lot of flash power that must light everyone equally. You don't want any shadows on the people from others in the group, so position them with care. The digital instant feedback will be invaluable here. Then again, you don't want to look like a newbie and have to continually re-pose the 20 people.
Are you shooting in the gym? If so, watch out for color casts, as gyms often use either fluorescent or merc-vapor. Unless your lighting is strong, this can lead to a mixed lighting prob.
Tip: Go to the gym and shoot some practice shots before you actually do the shoot. You won't need 20 people to test ... 3 or 4 friends will do as you can position them at all the extremes - i.e., 2 at the ends and 2 in the middle.
Concerning equipment: Buy as much output power as you can afford.
- Pete Herman

ANSWER 2:
Christy
The SV light kit will not work very well for you because it is too low in power. SV does make strobes also, but some of those are less power than your on-camera flash. If you use an umbrella, there will be hardly any power to light the people. I urge you to go rent from a pro shop if you can. See if you can rent some power packs like Norman, Speedptron, Dyna Light, or any top brand. Try for two 2000 watt second power packs with three light heads and three of the biggest/softest white umbrellas they might rent. Place two of the light heads with umbrellas at one side of the camera at about 45 degrees either side. Split the power between the two lights heads plugged into that pack so they each have 1000ws each. Then the third light head/umbrella and power pack next to the camera, opposite side from the other lights and set at -1 from the other pack/lights or 1000ws itslef. Pete is correct - if you use the available light it will be a different color than the strobes or window light and that will look bad. You may want to rent one more light to put some separately on the background, so it does not fade to black, which looks amateur. For the individual shots you can also use the same setup, but scale back on total power. It might be worth your while to rent this stuff and practice well before you do the job, so you have it perfected.
Have fun!
Charlie
- Charlie Borland

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Visit Charlie Borland's Web Site - www.borlandphoto.com

Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with Charlie Borland:
Stock Photography
Lighting for Commercial Photography
Advanced Lighting for Commercial Photography
4-Week Short Course: Beginners Guide to Strobe Lighting
4-Week Short Course: Beginners Guide to Strobe Lighting (2nd Session)
The Business of Outdoor and Nature Photography

ANSWER 3:
Also please look in on the thread "Studio Photography-the cooked husband". This will help you a lot with lighting and I have put a link to the vender that I and several others have used.
Also, I had added a graph on posing a group of 30 - for Michelle's girls basketball shoot.
I believe you will fine a LOT of help here. Here's the link:

http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=18585

I do hope this helps.
- Debby Tabb

See Debby's Premium BetterPholio™

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=19082

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=19082

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*****


NEW QUESTION 6: What Equipment to Set Up a Studio?
Hi! I have a Canon EOS Digital Rebel and would love to set up a studio to do indoor portraits once it is too cold outside. I wondered if anyone could tell me the basics to start with. I know I need the backdrops and such, but the lighting I'm lost on. Thanks for any help you can send my way!!!!
- Angela K. Harter

ANSWER 1:
Angela
A basic portrait set-up consists of 3 lights - 4 is better - and umbrellas or light boxes. Depending on how much room you have to work in determines whether you use umbrellas or light boxes. Umbrellas throw light everywhere, and if your background is too close the umbrella will spill light onto the background. This makes it tough to create effects and nice light quality. Light boxes control the spread of light. Also, you will need light stands, and possibly grids, snoots, or barn doors that help create hair lights and background lights.
Have fun!
Charlie
- Charlie Borland

See Charlie Borland's Premium BetterPholio™
Visit Charlie Borland's Web Site - www.borlandphoto.com

Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with Charlie Borland:
Stock Photography
Lighting for Commercial Photography
Advanced Lighting for Commercial Photography
4-Week Short Course: Beginners Guide to Strobe Lighting
4-Week Short Course: Beginners Guide to Strobe Lighting (2nd Session)
The Business of Outdoor and Nature Photography

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=19081

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=19081

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PHOTOGRAPHY Q&A - CONTINUING FROM PREVIOUS NEWSLETTER
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CONTINUING QUESTION 1: Using Flash Outdoors
I just bought the SB-800 for use with my D-70. I am going to practice taking some shots of my daughter later in the day ... and I am curious about angling the flash head. Should I angle it at 45 degrees using the diffusion dome? Or use the built in bounce card? (Remember, this is for outdoor portraits.) Thanks!
- Linda L. Clark

See Linda's Premium BetterPholio™

Visit familyfotos4u.com - Linda's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 1:
Outdoors, there is no ceiling to bounce the light. Do not angle the head 45 degrees, use direct flash. Using the diffusion dome or built-in wide panel will help make it a softer fill light.
- Jon Close

ANSWER 2:
Thanks! That's what I thought ... that I should definitely aim it direct on. But two people who I work with told me that they angle it ... and I was thinking, "But what the heck is it bouncing off of?" lol.
- Linda L. Clark

See Linda's Premium BetterPholio™

Visit familyfotos4u.com - Linda's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 3:
Linda -
In addition, I would strongly suggest you dial down the flash a bit, as full flash - even in TTL mode -may look over powering in your outdoor shots. You should pre-experiment with your settings. In TTL mode, I'd dial in a -1, -1.3, -1.7, and see which you prefer. I believe you'll find the results much more natural looking with a little less light.
Michael H. Cothran
www.mhcphoto.net
- Michael H. Cothran

See Michael's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 4:
Thanks for the tips! I did dial most of them down to a -1/3 (some of them were not, though). It definitely helps! Experimenting is the only way, huh? But it is fun!
- Linda L. Clark

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Visit familyfotos4u.com - Linda's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 5:
Linda -
A -1/3 really isn't worth the effort. Go at least a full stop (-1).
Michael
- Michael H. Cothran

See Michael's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 6:
Well, would it help if I use the little "diffuser" that came with the flash? Or should I still stop it down a lot ... and use the diffuser?
- Linda L. Clark

See Linda's Premium BetterPholio™

Visit familyfotos4u.com - Linda's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 7:
Linda,
I really like the effect of dialing down a full stop (-1) and still using the diffuser. It depends on what I'm shooting, and if I were you, I'd just experiment till my fingers hurt, but I really like the effect of diffusers. I really don't use my flash without one, no matter what I'm shooting. I'm a nut for soft light ... indoors and outdoors.
- RoxAnne Franklin

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=19033

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=19033

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*****


CONTINUING QUESTION 2: Tips for Taking Wedding Pictures
This might sound like a dumb question, but to those of you that do paid weddings; do you ever use a tripod when taking the wedding pictures? We had a photographer (she's a hobby photographer, not a pro) who just did our daughter's wedding. All the shots were hand-held, and I was under the impression that if you wanted to blow any of the photos up beyond a 5x7, you should have the pix taken on a tripod for sharpness.
- Kathy L. Pollick

ANSWER 1:
Yes, I use a tripod. No, I do not use it for all the shots. I mainly use a tripod for the shots taken in the church during the ceremony without a flash. I have many photos blown up to 16x20, and beyond that were not taken with a tripod and they are plenty sharp. A wedding is a fast-moving event and, for most shots, a tripod is impracticable.
- Kerry L. Walker

ANSWER 2:
When I am shooting formals of the bride and groom at a wedding (and bride with Dad, etc.), I tell them to enjoy themselves while I get set up, even though I am standing there ready to shoot. They think I am doing something with my camera, so they relax and, often get quite intimate, smiling and looking lovingly at each other. I shoot THAT, then I pose them for the formals. The unposed shots are usually the best ones.
- Kerry L. Walker

ANSWER 3:
Wow, Kerry. Great thing to tell the B&G and Dad/Bride. I am going to try that next time :). It seems that lack of creativity in poses is a common problem among newcomers ...
- Cynthia L. Wanyonyi

ANSWER 4:
Sometimes you can something like: "Well, Dad, your little girl is grown and married now" and you will get a tear - great shot if you can get it. When shooting a wedding, you have to be part photographer, part wedding coordinator, and part psychologist. Just interact with them a little, and direct them a little. If all you do is pose them, all you will get are posed shots. Posed shots are nice, but it is more important to capture the emotion of the event.
- Kerry L. Walker

ANSWER 5:
Hi Kathy,
We shoot around 100 weddings a year. I shoot the weddings where there is a natural bond or attraction to the people, and so on and so on. I hear quite a bit that pros use a tripod, pros don't use autofocus, etc. Kathy, I have found that a good photographer will follow advice for lighting and then develop their own style. Honestly, I never touch a tripod! I have no use for it. I sell 30x40 prints from weddings, they are outstanding. Focus on creativity and lighting and you will be successful!
- Sandy D. Anton

ANSWER 6:
Hi Kathy,
Don't use a tripod if you have a fast enough lens. If you don't have a 2.8 lens, then grab that tripod and bring it along just in case.
- Julie M. Cwik

See Julie's Premium BetterPholio™

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
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http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=19000

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