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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 28, 2005
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* SPOTLIGHT: Next Round of Online Courses Begins Next Week!
* BETTERPHOTO: Jim Miotke's New Online Course: Digital SLR Photography
* BETTERPHOTO: Article: Basic Digital Camera Shooting Techniques ... by Robin Nichols
* BETTERPHOTO: Book of the Month: Capture Your Kids in Pictures
* FEATURED GALLERY: When a Line, Shape, or Form Needs Repeating
* PHOTO TRIVIA QUESTION: Look Who's Shooting / The Match Game
* THIS WEEK'S TIP: Lighting: Angle of Incidence ... by Charlie Borland
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 1: New Photoshop Elements 4.0
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 2: Bracketing - Image Quality?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 3: Traveling Abroad ... Camera Questions
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 4: How Do I Price Restoration Work?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 5: Megapixels: Are They Worth the Money?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 6: Avoiding Reflection from Eyeglasses
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 7: Focusing on a Reflection
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 8: Taking Pictures During Midday
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 9: How to Meter a Backlit Sunset Portrait
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 1: Backdrop Materials


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IN THE SPOTLIGHT - ADVERTISEMENT
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Next Round of Online Courses Begins Next Week!
With just a week before BetterPhoto's fall online courses start, now's your chance! Some classes are already full and others are filling up fast, so if you have been considering a course, don't hesitate to sign up. There are still plenty of fun courses to explore this fall. See our schedule of 8-week classes at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/categories.asp

Don't miss the new page that lists our fine lineup of 4-Week Short Courses at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/online-photography-short-courses.asp


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WHAT'S NEW AT BETTERPHOTO.COM
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Welcome to the 231st issue of SnapShot!

Hi {FirstName}

So many awesome things are happening at BetterPhoto! Our online Fall school is rapidly approaching and it promises to be our best session yet. But prices will increase slightly in January, so sign up today! Check out the lineup at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/categories.asp

I am excited about the launch of my new online course: Digital SLR Photography. Read all about it at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/JCM03.asp

And speaking of new courses, be sure to stay tuned for another new online class: Digital Wedding Album Design. This will be announced within the next day or two.

The winners for BetterPhoto's August Contest have just been posted, and they are absolutely awesome! Huge congatulations go to all of the winners and finalists ... including special congrats to Donnarae Moratelli for her wonderful Grand Prize-winning image: "I'm bad". See all of the winners at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/contest/winners/0508.asp

Oh yes, we have yet announcement: The BetterPhoto Show, a podcast on digital photography, is on its way. In this new show, we'll be putting a "voice" to the pictures - by sharing tips, techniques, and stories on how particular photos were created. For details, see my blog at:
http://jim.betterphoto.com/

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


*****
Jim Miotke's New Online Course: Digital SLR Photography
BetterPhoto founder and author Jim Miotke announces his exciting new class on digital SLR camera usage and technique. In Digital SLR Photography, you will learn what all the terms and concepts mean from an experienced digital photographer. Better yet, you will be guided on weekly photo assignments. Best of all, you will receive direct, interactive feedback on your digital photographs - could there possibly be a better way to learn photography? For all of the details, go to:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/JCM03.asp


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Article: Basic Digital Camera Shooting Techniques ... by Robin Nichols
Snapping portraits, landscape mode, flash off, and format the card are just some of the valuable tidbits served up by BetterPhoto instructor Robin Nichols in his new article, "Basic Digital Camera Shooting Techniques II". And Robin should know: He's instructor for the awesome BP course Bare Bones Digital Photography, the publisher of Better Digital Magazine, and the author of www.imaging, efficient image preparation for the world wide web. Read Robin's article at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/article.asp?id=95


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Book of the Month: Capture Your Kids in Pictures
Our online store showcases the fantastic books and DVDs from our staff of BetterPhoto instructors. For September, we are putting the spotlight on Jay Forman's awesome book, Capture Your Kids in Pictures: Simple Techniques for Taking Great Family Photos With Any Camera. If you buy this fine book before the end of September, you will receive free U.S. shipping. Best yet, it's autographed by Jay! For all the book details, go to:
http://www.betterphoto.com/product/ourProductDetail.asp?productID=1204

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FEATURED GALLERY
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When a Line, Shape, or Form Needs Repeating
A strong graphic-design technique is the repetition - specifically, repeating (or echoeing) a line, form, shape, etc., throughout your photo. This technique is an effective way to grab the attention of your viewers and to draw them into the image. For ideas and inspiration, visit BetterPhoto's gallery:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGall2.asp?catID=1011

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PHOTO TRIVIA QUIZ OF THE WEEK
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Last week, we asked:
A famous model/actress has taken up photography in a serious way. As a result, she's now talking about having to "crank up the ISO" and "opening the aperture up" in low light. "A year ago," she recently told a camera magazine, "I didn't know what those words meant". Her favorite subject, by the way, is a certain rock guitarist. ... Now for the question: Who is this model/actress? Bonus question (but not officially part of the quiz): Who is the musician?

The first, best answer - entered by BetterPhoto member Debra Helm is:
Carmen Electra ... and Dave Navarro

Editor's Note: Right you are, Debra! Carmen Electra is actually married to her favorite subject: former Jane's Addiction and Red Hot Chili Peppers musician Dave Navarro. This "Look Who's Shooting" feature appeared in the October 2005 issue of Popular Photography.

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 Match Game - entered by BetterPhoto member Kerry Drager

Match up the following articles with the magazines in which they recently appeared:

Articles:
1) "Mothers of Invention"
2) "Hide in Plain Sight"
3) "Out with the New, In with the Old"

Magazines:
a) Shutterbug
b) Popular Photography
c) Outdoor Photographer


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: Angle of Incidence ... by Charlie Borland

The Angle of Incidence of light is an important aspect about lighting. When a light source emitting light reaches an object at a certain angle, that light is then bounced off the subject at the same angle. If the sun is at a point in the sky where it shines a specular highlight on a surface of water at a 45-degree angle, then the light bouncing off that water surface will be at a 45-degree angle as well.

Imagine that you are taking a picture of your friend in front of a window. When you take the picture, your flash has just created a glaring hot spot in the window behind your friend. This is because of the Angle of Incidence, where the angle of the flash is at the same angle as the camera. If you moved to the left or right and move your friend accordingly, you can move the reflection caused by the flash's Angle of Incidence out of your frame.

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: New Photoshop Elements 4.0
Photoshop Elements has always been incredibly popular, and rightly so. Now, there's a newer version. (For Windows only.)
I was a beta tester for 4.0 and it's incredibly versatile and easy to use. Info. is below.

Peter Burian, Digital Photography Course instructor
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/PBN01.asp

New Photoshop Elements 4.0 for Windows Delivers More Editing Magic, Creative Sharing and Easy Photo Organization
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Sept. 27, 2005 - Adobe Systems Incorporated (Nasdaq:ADBE) today announced Adobe® Photoshop® Elements 4.0, a significant upgrade to the No. 1 selling consumer photo-editing software*.
Photoshop Elements 4.0 delivers an impressive array of new ways for consumers to easily edit photos, show them off in creative and entertaining ways and always have them at their fingertips. Available for Windows®, Photoshop Elements 4.0 is the software that consumers choose for quick, one-click fixes, in addition to more sophisticated editing techniques when they need advanced creative control.
More Editing Magic: Auto Red Eye Removal, Magic Selection Brush, Skin Tone Adjustment, and Magic Extractor join an already impressive list of consumers' favorite editing tools that fix common photography problems and expand creative control.
The improved Red Eye Removal now eliminates red eye automatically as photos are downloaded from the camera. The new Magic Selection Brush quickly selects specific parts of a photo for easy color, lighting, and contrast adjustments. The new Skin Tone Adjustment allows consumers to get more realistic skin colors in just moments. The new Magic Extractor easily removes subjects from photos, with advanced edge de-fringing, for scrapbooking and composites like placing a friend on a mountaintop, adding ancestors to a family portrait, and creating other fun combinations.

Breakthrough Organization: Simple search and intuitive tagging options make it easier to find and view photos in Photoshop Elements 4.0. Date View automatically arranges photos by date. The enhanced Folder View lets consumers move, create, or delete files and folders. The new breakthrough Face Tagging helps consumers find faces in their photos automatically so that they can easily tag them now and quickly find them later.

Showcasing and Sharing Photos: New sharing options include multimedia slide shows, which consumers can create in seconds, complete with multiple pans and zooms, easier soundtracks with narration, over 80 transition options, clip art and more. New one-click printing makes it simple to order professional-quality Kodak prints and beautiful hardbound photo books in seconds through easy-to-access, integrated online services. Photoshop Elements 4.0 makes it simpler than ever to entertain a roomful of friends and family by showcasing photos on TV over home networks, Video CD, or DVD, for consumers who have both Photoshop Elements and Adobe Premiere Elements.

Photoshop Elements 4.0 is part of a complete family of Photoshop products that meet the needs of a diverse spectrum of digital photographers: the free Photoshop Album Starter Edition for the novice digital camera user; Photoshop Elements for the digital photography enthusiast; and Photoshop CS2 for the professional or the most demanding amateur photographer. Each product offers more growth and creative control for customers, giving them access to award-winning technology and options for more sophisticated editing, organization and sharing options for their digital photos.

Pricing and Availability

Adobe's digital imaging and digital video products will be available in early October 2005 at www.adobe.com and other major electronics retailers, including Amazon.com, Best Buy, Comp USA, Circuit City, Fry's, Staples, and Office Depot. Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0 for Windows XP (Home, Professional with Service Pack 2 or Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005) for an estimated street price of US $99.99. Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0 Plus Adobe Premiere Elements 2.0 for Windows is available as a bundle in the United States and Canada at an estimated street price of US $149.99. Information about the other language versions, as well as pricing, upgrade, and support policies for other countries is available on www.adobe.com
- Peter K. Burian

See Peter Burian's Premium BetterPholio™
Visit Peter Burian's Web Site - www.peterkburian.com

Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with Peter Burian:
Digital Photography with Peter Burian

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=19550

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=19550

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*****


NEW QUESTION 2: Bracketing - Image Quality?
Hi there,
Can someone tell me if bracketing results in a deterioration of photo quality? I have noticed a big difference in the quality of the photos taken with and without and wondered if it was just me who had noticed this. I am using a Canon Rebel DSLR. Thanks for your help.
- Carol A. Beaumont

ANSWER 1:
The point in bracketing is to take a series of shots (usually 3) at different exposure (or white balance) settings, such that 1 has the correct or best exposure. By definition, the other shots in the series will suffer in comparison.
If you are using a flash, then you need to wait for the flash to recycle between each bracketed shot. Otherwise, only one will get a full-power flash and the others in the sequence will get underpowered or no flash.
- Jon Close

ANSWER 2:
Thank you for your response. On the Canon DSLR, the camera is able to bracket automatically, which is what I had it set at. So with one picture, three are created at whatever parameters are set. However, it seems as if the quality of the photos suffer using this feature. Or maybe it is just me...
- Carol A. Beaumont

ANSWER 3:
"So with one picture, three are created..." - this is the White Balance Auto Bracketing feature. One of those files should be no different than what the camera would record if the WB Bracketing were turned off. The other 2 images have different white balance. All other settings (JPEG resoultion, parameters for Contrast, Sharpness, etc.) are the same for the three images.
- Jon Close

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=19543

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=19543

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*****


NEW QUESTION 3: Traveling Abroad ... Camera Questions
I have a Canon Digital Rebel XT and I'll be traveling to Malaysia and Australia at the end of this year. Unfortunately, they use a different voltage, and I'm worried about charging my battery (my camera doesn't use AA type batteries) and maxing out my memory card. At the moment, I have a 1 GB memory card. Has anyone out there taken their camera abroad and had to charge their battery in countries using different voltage?
- Choo Love

ANSWER 1:
Yes. I've been to Kenya and took a 4 GB. I had plenty of photo room. I also took four batteries (from eforcity on E-bay). I used a converter and all batteries worked and are still working :). Have fun!
- Cynthia L. Wanyonyi

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=19541

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=19541

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*****


NEW QUESTION 4: How Do I Price Restoration Work?
I have been doing some work restoring old family photos that have been severely damaged. I've been asked if I could do this for someone and how much would I charge. It can be a lot of work, so I was wondering if anyone has done this and how would you price such work?
- Elisabeth Ann Gay

See Elisabeth's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 1:
I would probably charge it on an hourly basis and give a rough quote on how much it could cost - yep, it could be very time-consuming!
- Natalie Howe

See Natalie's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
Thanks, Natalie,
I thought about hourly, but I guess I should have worded my question differently - how much an hour is a reasonable charge? I don't have the slightest idea what sort of rate to charge. Photographers here charge $85 an hour for weddings and events, but I haven't found anyone who does restoration work. I'm sure $85 would put people off! I live in the Bahamas, small town, don't really have anyone to ask here.
- Elisabeth Ann Gay

See Elisabeth's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 3:
Hi Elisabeth,
I do a lot of restoration work, and I try to be really fair in my pricing. From what I've seen others charge, $35.00 per hour is the going rate in my area and some that I've seen online. Try to leave yourself some room: Estimate how much time you think it may take and explain that you need a little give or take on it, because you won't know for certain until you are actually working on it. If it is less, they'll be thrilled.
- Liza M. Franco

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=19531

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=19531

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*****


NEW QUESTION 5: Megapixels: Are They Worth the Money?
I have thought about upgrading in the future, but I can't decide if megapixels are really worth the money. I'm not a pro and haven't yet printed anything over a 4x6 (although I would like to in the future). Would it be worth the money to upgrade to more megapixels? Would more megapixels improve my smaller prints or should I just shoot at higher resolution? Also, is there an improvement to what can be seen on the screen using higher resolution? I've tried and haven't been able to notice...
Thanks!
- Sherry S. Boles

ANSWER 1:
Hello Sherry,
Your question depends on a few criteria.
1) What do you want to upgrade to? (i.e) from 6 to 8? 8 to 22?

2) Are you upgrading from a "digicam to a SLR? Most prosumer SLRs are now in the 6 to 12 MP range, at least the ones that don't require we sell our first born. LOL. An 8 MP digicam cannot hold a candle to a 6 MP SLR. Going from a 6 MP SLR up to 8 will really not yield that much difference. Now from 8 to 12 will show a marked increase in resolution, color rendition etc. ...
On screen, the higher res shots not only look better, but they are more easily edited when you enlarge them. As far as "should I shoot at a higher resolution?" ... always shoot at the highest possible res, unless you only want the photos for a Web page, etc.
- Pete Herman

ANSWER 2:
There are a lot of things to consider besides megapixels when you are looking to buy a new camera. For example, what other features does the camera have? Will you be able to exploit all the features of a pro level camera or would you be better off with something easier to use? Is it practical for you to have a bulky camera with lots of features, or should you be looking for something that can fit in a purse or pocket? You can get small, consumer cameras that are easy to use and have great resolution, if that's what's right for you. It's something everyone has to figure out for themselves, just make sure you aren't buying a camera based solely on MP numbers.
- Stephanie M. Stevens

ANSWER 3:
Thanks a lot for your responses, Pete and Stephanie.
Right now I am shooting with a 3.2MP (Minolta Dimage Z10, my first digital camera). Unfortunately, I feel limited, at times, by its capabilities. When I print pictures, the photos do not turn out nearly as well as I expect them to turn out (sometimes that is the fault of cheap quick printing), but I would like to have the option to print larger size prints. Also, I am frequently disappointed by what looks great in the viewfinder and awful on the computer.
Do more megapixals and/or higher resolution increase sharpness when dealing with smaller size photos (such as 4x6 or 640x480)?
I hate to ask such elementary questions, but I have just never had these things explained to my satisfaction.
- Sherry S. Boles

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=19495

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=19495

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*****


NEW QUESTION 6: Avoiding Reflection from Eyeglasses
How can I avoid reflections from eyeglasses? My camera has a built in flash (Sony DSC-F717).
- Lee

ANSWER 1:
Turn off the flash!
- Carolyn Fletcher

See Carolyn's Premium BetterPholio™

Visit PickYourShots.com - Carolyn's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
Have the person wearing glasses raise that part that goes over the ear a quarter or half so the glasses' lens is more at a downward angle. Don't tilt them so much that it looks odd, just enough to not bounce the flash reflection back at the camera...
Hope this helps.
- Bob Cournoyer

See Bob's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 3:
Too early ... Make that a quarter or half INCH above the ear.
- Bob Cournoyer

See Bob's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 4:
If the person will oblige, ask him or her politely to take them off for the photo. If they are hesitant to do this, stand at a slight angle. The reflections from the flash will fall out of frame.
- Bob Cammarata

Visit cammphoto.com - Bob's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 5:
I take a lot of pics of fish. I have 12 aquariums up to 6 ft long ... so lots of practice with glass and glare. To use flash and cut glare, just hold a piece of paper towel or tissue over the flash. You can experiment with how many layers. Some fish photographers also tape the paper towel on ... just make sure it isn't resting directly against the flash. Works like a charm.
- Carol Kalinowski

See Sample Photo - Jade eye cichlid:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGallDetail.asp?photoID=1244074

See Sample Photo - Gold severum:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGallDetail.asp?photoID=1244073

ANSWER 6:
I've always been told by teachers, who were professional portrait photographers, to see if the customer could bring a pair of similar glasses (to what they normally would wear) but wearing them without the lenses. That is, with the frames, but without the glass. I've found retouching flashes in the glass is more than my nerves can handle. However, I've also noticed that if you don't photograph the person straight on, like more to the side, there is no reflection (depending, of course, on the placement of the lights). By far, however, it's best to remove the glass from the frames ... because your fill-in light may hit the glass in a way that is a big negative all the way around.
It takes a lot of practice to find the correct angle to light and shoot with the lenses in the frame. Plus, their facial features may not be best captured at that angle.
- Susan K. Snow

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=19481

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=19481

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*****


NEW QUESTION 7: Focusing on a Reflection
I would like to photograph a young lady standing on the other side of a bird bath so that I would focus on her reflection in the water to get a shimmering image of her face. Question: Do I first focus on her head, then swing the camera to the water, or should I focus on the water instead. Any ideas?
- John W. Berger

ANSWER 1:
I would focus on the water and use a small aperture. That would give you enought depth of fiel for both her face and the reflection would be in focus. DOF is greater behind the point of focus than it is in front.
- Kerry L. Walker

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=19465

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=19465

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*****


NEW QUESTION 8: Taking Pictures During Midday
I took some pictures at the local park on my lunch hour one day (1:00 pm). The (film) pictures consisted of mostly water and ducks. (I don't have the digital prints back yet to post the examples.) But I'm curious why the pictures look so blah. The ducks were in the sun, and I was in the shade. I used all auto programming and couldn't use my polarizer with my zoom lens. The pictures for the most part all looked the same. The water had a greenish cast, the ducks, though Mallards, all looked brownish, green, and there was very little brilliant color anywhere in the picture. I also took a picture of the water as it ran under an iron bridge. Even that just didn't have the bold colors that some pictures do. Is it because these were taken at 1:00?? I've read a lot about not taking pictures during the day because of the bright sun. I like to go to the park at lunch as it is relaxing and breaks up the day, but if it is completely a horrible time to take pix, I guess I'll have to take a book instead of my camera. What about resorting to taking pix in the shade, during that time of day? Will they be better? I'll have to post a sample when I get the digital shots back from the lab. Thanks for the help.
- Kathy L. Pollick

ANSWER 1:
Film records harsh midday light differently than our eyes and brain perceive it. Highlights can wash out and lose color, and shadow areas will lack detail. The fact that you were standing in the shade wouldn't make any difference as long as your lens coverage was in the sun-lit area. Your auto-settings would have set the exposure accordingly.

As to the greenish tinge to the water ... possibly a printing error or a reflection of the overhead canopy of trees. It's tough to say exactly without seeing an example.
Shooting in the deep shade might have helped a little to balance contrasts, but you would have noticed an overall blue cast, due to shaded sunlight being much "cooler" than the sunlit areas.
Also, your shutter speed could have been up to 3 or 4 stops slower in the shade on a bright sunny day.
- Bob Cammarata

Visit cammphoto.com - Bob's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
Shooting in midday light is the worst time of the day to do any photography. Sunset/sunrise is the TIME to shoot:-)

Regards,
Philip Pankov
Pictures of Ireland - Fine Art Photographs of Ireland

- Philip Pankov

Visit philpankov.com - Philip's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 3:
Don't lose heart. There are some things that can cause what happened in your prints, most of which were mentioned by Bob. Reflection from trees. Harsh light slightly overexposed. Sometimes it is best to take pictures an hour or two on either side of 'high noon'. But there are also other wonderful possibilities. Texture and contrast. Texture is when light is from the side of your subject and there are many dark shadows in a very small area, such as tree bark. Contrast can be a useful tool when conveying themes such as heat, for example. Metering can be tricky and I suggest reading up on the Zone System created by Ansel Adams, available in his book 'The Negative'. NEVER leave the camera. Because the best shot you miss will be one on a day when you left it at home from discouragement or otherwise. It takes a lot of practice. Keep on keepin' on.
- Christopher A. Walrath

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=19442

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=19442

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*****


NEW QUESTION 9: How to Meter a Backlit Sunset Portrait
I've been told to meter off the sky or to meter off of the subject's face. The two are so different it doesn't make any sense to me. I am thinking of metering off of the sky and then adding a fill flash. Last time I took sunset portrait I was terribly disappointed. Faces underexposed, sky overexposed!! I'll include an example. Please someone help and tell me what I did wrong!
- Barbara J.

See Barbara's Premium BetterPholio™

See Sample Photo - Sunset:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGallDetail.asp?photoID=1231760

ANSWER 1:
Meter the sky, and you'll get good sunset exposure, but your foreground subjects will be in the dark. Meter on them, and the sky will be overexposed. You've hit on the solution: Meter for the sky and use fill flash (or reflectors) to light up your foreground subjects. The only other alternative is to "cheat" by taking two pics - one exposed for the sky, the other for the people - and combine them digitally.
- Jon Close

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=19409

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=19409

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PHOTOGRAPHY Q&A - CONTINUING FROM PREVIOUS NEWSLETTER
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

CONTINUING QUESTION 1: Backdrop Materials
Does anyone know that, if I buy my own muslin material to make a backdrop, will the seam be visable in my pictures? Other than muslin, what is another good material to use? I heard that you can also use vinyl. Any help would be great.
- Megan McKenzie

ANSWER 1:
If you buy the muslin in 108 or 120 inches, you shouldn't have a seam. You can get it this wide at most fabric stores ... at Hobby Lobby, it's about $5.97 regular price, but they run 33-percent off and on!
- Michelle Ross

See Michelle's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
I have used a wide variety of materials to make my own backdrops. I have purchased canvas and painted it by hand, and I have also used king sized bed sheets (the higher the thread count the better) and dyed them as I wished. For specific colors you can go the "Rit dye" site and they have a color blending chart. If you need to have a seam, make it so it hangs on the floor where your backdrop goes from vertical to horizontal ... it's practically invisible that way. And if you position your subject matter far enough away from the backdrop, it won't be visible at all. However, I still like muslin the best and it's just as easy to customize.
- Scott

ANSWER 3:
I bought muslin and did not have a seam. I sponge-painted it, and it turned out really nice. I also dyed one that was OK, too. You could buy velvet material. I also have heard about vinyl and would be interested in learning more about that too!
- Haley Crites

ANSWER 4:
I have been using king-size sheets. I pick them up at discount retailers, and they're a great size without a seam. I buy 2 of the same color ... they cover the wall and floor space. Just a thought!
- Jen Hernandez

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ANSWER 5:
You can make anything a backdrop. You can buy the paper backdrops for 40.00 - you can paint them or just use them as is. Sheets, Curtains, paint-drop cloths (canvas ones). If you do get the muslin and have to put a seam in it, just drape it where the seam is. Have fun with the backdrops ... and experiment.
- Kathy Tugwell

ANSWER 6:
Hi Megan,
You can buy a canvas drop cloth in large size, in the paint dept. at hardware stores (including Home Depot). A 9 x 12 you can get under $20. You can dye them, paint them or use them as is ... they come in beige or white. Hope this helps.
Sandra
- Sandra Barlow

ANSWER 7:
Oh wow, canvas in that size for less than $20?? I'm definitely going to have to check that out!
- Andrew Laverghetta

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ANSWER 8:
Hi Andrew,
I live in Louisiana and we have a store called "Big Lots". It's a discount store - sometimes they have a Butyl drop cloth 9x12 medium weight for $7.99, and it works GREAT as a backdrop. You can also dye or paint it. If you have a Big Lots where you live, check them out.
Sandra
- Sandra Barlow

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