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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, October 25, 2005
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* SPOTLIGHT: Catch Jim Miotke - in Person! - in the S.F. Bay Area
* BETTERPHOTO: BetterPhoto's Short Courses: Next Session Starts November 2nd
* BETTERPHOTO: Halloween Articles: Photographing Scarecrows and Pumpkins
* BETTERPHOTO: BetterWorkshops: On-Location Excitement and Online Critiques!
* FEATURED GALLERY: Focusing on Halloween
* PHOTO TRIVIA QUESTION: Digital Timeline: Going Pro / An Author's Vision
* THIS WEEK'S TIP: Portraits: Background Distance to Light? ... by Charlie Borland
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 1: Names on Images
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 2: Waterfall - Flowing-Water Effect
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 3: Photographing Silhouettes
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 4: How to Photograph a Group at Sunset
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 5: File Formats?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 6: Photoshop Help, Please: Darken Sky
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 7: Polarizers Used as ND filters?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 8: Photographing a Parade
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 1: Image Information for the Future


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IN THE SPOTLIGHT - ADVERTISEMENT
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Catch Jim Miotke - in Person! - in the S.F. Bay Area
Join Jim Miotke in the San Francisco Bay Area this week - or in Seattle in November! The founder of BetterPhoto™ and author of The BetterPhoto Guide to Digital Photography is giving a lively, fun, and informative series of free talks on digital photography. For all of the where-what-and-when details:
http://www.betterphoto.com/where-is-jim.asp


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WHAT'S NEW AT BETTERPHOTO.COM
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Welcome to the 235th issue of SnapShot!

Hi {FirstName}

Lots of exciting things are happening at BetterPhoto! I'm having a great time meeting people and sharing my thoughts on digital photography in a series of free talks in California. The program is titled "Top Tips for Digital Photography: Storytelling With Your Digital Camera". For details, go to:
http://www.betterphoto.com/where-is-jim.asp

With Halloween coming up, we have lots of tricks, tips, and photos to share. Check out our new articles (noted below) on photographing scarecrows and carved pumpkins. Also, in this issue of SnapShot, don't miss instructor Charlie Borland's Photo Tip on lighting for portraits and BetterPhoto's gallery of Halloween images.

The winners for BetterPhoto's September Contest have just been posted, and they are so awesome! Kudos go to the winners and finalists ... including a special congrats to Marc Adamus for his Grand Prize-winning image: "Ocean Fury!". See all of the winners at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/contest/winners/0509.asp

More good news: Our winter online course schedule has just been posted, and it promises to be our best lineup yet. Go to:
http://www.betterphoto.com/online-photography-courses.asp

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


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BetterPhoto's Short Courses: Next Session Starts November 2nd
Are you still kicking yourself for not signing up for a fall online class at BetterPhoto.com? Don't fret any longer. Our 4-week Short Courses kick off November 2nd. For specifics:
http://www.betterphoto.com/online-photography-short-courses.asp


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Halloween Articles: Photographing Scarecrows and Pumpkins
Autumn's centerpiece - Halloween - is such a colorful time of year. Check out BetterPhoto's tricks and tips for photographing two Halloween icons:

Article: "Scarecrow Face Patterns":
http://www.betterphoto.com/article.asp?id=101

Article: "Faces to Put on Pumpkins":
http://www.betterphoto.com/article.asp?id=103


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BetterWorkshops: On-Location Excitement and Online Critiques!
Our lineup of workshops combines the very best of two worlds: online and on-location. For example, you get a pre-workshop lesson, assignment, and critique. That will make you ready when you head out for the fantastic field sessions. Afterward, you'll get some terrific post-workshop feedback on your images! And each BetterPhoto workshop is led by one of BetterPhoto's expert instructor-photographers. For information:
http://www.betterphoto.com/on-location-photography-workshops.asp

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FEATURED GALLERY
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Focusing on Halloween
Scary costumes, colorful pumpkins, bright Jack-o'-lanterns, and ragamuffin scarecrows, are just some of the photogenic images that BetterPhoto members and instructors have captured. See this Halloween Pictures gallery at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGall2.asp?catID=305

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PHOTO TRIVIA QUIZ OF THE WEEK
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Last week, we asked:
Which company developed the first digital professional camera?

The first, best answer - entered by BetterPhoto member Donna Cuic is:
Kodak (and Nikon - I guess they should get credit also). Here is a quote from the History of Digital Cameras at:
http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/bldigitalcamera.htm
"In 1991, Kodak released the first professional digital camera system (DCS), aimed at photojournalists. It was a Nikon F-3 camera equipped by Kodak with a 1.3 megapixel sensor."
~Donna Cuic

See Donna's Premium BetterPholio™:
http://www.betterphoto.com/sites4photogs/dynoMG.asp?memberID=56588

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 - An Author's Vision - entered by BetterPhoto member Jim Miotke

What author wrote the following? "Real vision is the ability to see the invisible".


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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Portraits: Background Distance to Light? ... by Charlie Borland

To create nice portraits in the studio, you will have a background of some sort behind your subject. Since the person you are photographing is the star of your photo, everything else in your photo setup is there to support them. This includes props and backgrounds.

If you place your subject against the background and place your key light to the side, they will cast a shadow on the background and this can be distracting. Move your subject away from the background until their shadow no longer hits the background. This will be the minimum distance your subject should be from the background.

If you can move them even farther, this will have a pleasing effect as the background will become more out of focus the further the subject is from the background.

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:
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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: Names on Images
I am having a debate with several family members over having my name in the bottom right-hand corner of the images with the year (sort of a copyright stamp). They think it's tacky and unnecessary. The images that I shoot mostly are for weddings. So I'm wondering what is the "correct" answer to whether or not my image should have my name on them. Now to add a little more info. I give a limited copyright release to my clients so that they can copy and re-print all images from a CD that I provide to them ... so what does everyone think??
- Kimberly Armstrong

ANSWER 1:
That doesn't sound tacky to me. I think every studio on the planet does that. It tells everyone who looks at the pictures who you are. That's how you bring in more business.
- Stephanie M. Stevens

ANSWER 2:
I agree with Stephanie. I recently had a customer who was upset that I didn't have my name and copyright on the bottom. To some, it is almost a status symbol. Some people like to show off which studio has done their portrait. The funny thing is, I purposely didn't put the name and copyright on it because it was for extended family and I wasn't worried about her copying it. But she really wanted the name on there. You would be surprised how much some people really like having it on there. You have worked hard to capture that photo for someone, you should definitely put your name on it. You can make a copyright symbol in Photoshop, too, if you need one.
- Liza M. Franco

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=20136

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=20136

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NEW QUESTION 2: Waterfall - Flowing-Water Effect
I was wondering if someone can help me. I have a Nikon 8700 and would like to try taking a pic of moving water, and getting that flowing effect. I haven't actually used my camera on manual mode before ... so what shutter speed, etc., would be best?
- Rachel Scott-Renouf

See Rachel's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 1:
A one-second shutter speed will get you nice veiling. You can shoot at shutter speeds faster than that as well. I've gotten nice effects at 1/15th of a sec. Without a ND filter, you'll need to shoot on a cloudy day. Good luck.
- Sharon D

See Sharon's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
Also, it depends on how fast the water is moving, and how much veiling you want. One second is a good starting point, but then try going longer and shorter. It just takes a lot of experimenting, because every waterfall is different.
- Brendan Knell

ANSWER 3:
And don't forget to use a tripod. You'll need it at those speeds! The shots I took in my gallery I believe were one - two seconds ... no tripod, I used the Canon lens with Image Stabilization and rested the camera on a bench and a stone wall.
- Craig m. Zacarelli

See Craig's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 4:
Well, thanks guys! All I need now is a waterfall :o) I tried the hose pipe over some stones out of desperation today. I think I am going to need a lot of practice!
- Rachel Scott-Renouf

See Rachel's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 5:
The kitchen faucet works well. Run water into a tall vase from the faucet and let it run out, over the side. Really crank up the flow so it gets kinda foamy. This way you'll be able to see the water, and when you slow it down, it should look all silky and dreamy-like.
- Craig m. Zacarelli

See Craig's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 6:
You will definitely need a tripod, and use a neutral density filter or a circular polarizer filter to get the slower shutter speeds. You can try starting out at about 1/15th of a sec and slower from there till you get the effect you want. Also be sure to set your f-stop to the highest setting ex. f22
- Brian A. Wolter

See Brian's Premium BetterPholio™

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=20117

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=20117

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NEW QUESTION 3: Photographing Silhouettes
I just wanted some advice on taking sunsets and sunrises with digital cameras. Is it true you should take these shots a little higher or lower from the sun or slightly to the side? And should your flash be on? I really want to get better at these shots. And if you are using a subject in this shot, what is the best angle? Off to the side some?
- G .G. Leger

ANSWER 1:
If you want a silhouette, don't use flash and allow the camera to meter for the background/sunlight. If you want detail in your subject, use flash.
- Justin Renshaw

ANSWER 2:
Follow Justin's advice with these parameters in mind:

-Don't include the sun in the frame when metering.

-Meter off a blue portion of the sky.

-Watch for lens flare if you re-compose to include the sun in the same frame with your silhouettes.
- Bob Cammarata

Visit cammphoto.com - Bob's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 3:
Welcome G.G.,
By subject, do you mean a person, tree, mountain? All? There's a rule of thirds, but it doesn't always apply. If you want some ideas, you can walk through my gallery for free. You don't have to include the sun for good sunset pics or silhouettes.
hth, sam
- Samuel Smith

See Samuel's Premium BetterPholio™

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=20093

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=20093

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NEW QUESTION 4: How to Photograph a Group at Sunset
My shoot will be of 8-10 people on a golf course about 1/2 hour before sunset. I want to make sure everyone is in focus. I have a Nikon N60, using Portra 400, and was planning on my Tamron 28-105mm 1:4-5.6D vs. Nikkor 35-80mm 1:4-5.6D or Nikkor 70-300mm 1:4-5.6G. Is the Tamron the lens to use? Also, I want to shoot at a small aperture/large f-stop# ... correct? Any advice is much appreciated!
- Anndrea

ANSWER 1:
Anndrea, there are a lot of variables in there, but here's an overview:

First, I presume you will position the group so they are facing the sun - in order to be illuminated by it. If you face into the (beautiful) sunset, then the group will become a silhouette of shadow because the sun will likely cause the meter to overcompensate and reduce exposure to the film. Or, you could have the group with the sunset behind them, but will need to use a flash to add lighting to the people (so-called "fill flash").

As for lens choice - it would seem that the wider angle focal lengths are most appropriate - assuming you plan to be standing relatively close to the gang. If you'll be taking them from 75 feet away, then you might need the longer lens. The difference between 28mm and 35mm is noticeable, so perhaps the Tamron at 28-ish mm would be a better choice. If that's too wide, you can always zoom in - while you can't "zoom out" from 35mm on the Nikkor lens. Since they're both the same speed, there's no advantage there. And while the Nikkor might be slightly better optically, unless you're planning to make a poster-sized print, the difference is negligible.

You are generally right about what f-stop to use - the smaller aperture (higher f-number) will give greater depth of field, keeping everyone in focus (if they're standing in 3 rows, for instance). However, you might prefer to NOT have too much DOF, because it might look nicer if the group is sharp but the background behind them (trees and bushes, say) are out of focus - this is where you use the depth-of-field preview button on the camera (I think the N60 has one) - just to view through the lens while it's stopped down to f5.6 or 11 or whatever the meter indicates.

The other consideration on f-stop is that the smaller the aperture, the longer the required shutter speed to compensate. And too slow a shutter speed means potential blur. Even if you put the camera on a tripod (which you should, if at all possible), the motion of the people in the picture will cause them to blur out at too slow a shutter speed.

And you thought this would be easy, eh? ... Final thought: Why not go out tonight and take some shots in similar circumstances? Any field around sunset with a subject - could be a dog or a herd of cats - and experiment with various f-stops and shutter speeds. Take note - what f-stop, shutter speed (and flash setting) you used on each picture. Then get them developed at the 1-hour kiosk someplace to see which gives the best results.
- Bob

ANSWER 2:
Bob-
Thanks for the advice. I've shot this time of day on a golf course before but never with this many people. I was planning on taking some w/flash and some without. I have a Nikon SB-50Dx. Will this even provide any fill?
Thanks again!
- Anndrea

ANSWER 3:
Well, I would think that for the distance at which you'll have to position yourself and the width of the group, it's unlikely that the on-camera flash will provide enough fill light to make a difference. I would think this is another variable to test.
- Bob

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=20089

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=20089

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NEW QUESTION 5: File Formats?
I looking to understand all about digital image file formats, JPEG's, TIF's, PSD's, ect. If anyone knows of a few websites or has the time to give their own input, I'd be extremely grateful.

Jon
- Jonathan Travis

ANSWER 1:
Hi Jon,
You've come to the right place! In fact, we have many articles on all sorts of photographic subjects. Just click on the Articles button at the left on any BP page. But here's an excellent article on file formats:
Article - Digital Decisions: TIFF vs. JPG vs. Raw

Also, this subject has come up frequently in the Q&A, with lots of terrific input from BetterPhoto members. Our Search Site box (top left of BP pages) is often overlooked, but can steer you to countless topics. Here are three threads to get you started:

Q&A: Explain TIFF, JPEG and PSD

Q&A: Raw vs. JPG - vs. TIFF

Q&A: Raw processing vs JPG processing

In addition, BetterPhoto has a great line of Digital and Photoshop courses. The winter session schedule, which begins in early January, will be posted within a a week or two. Meantime, you can check out the course descriptions in the fall schedule (many classes say "full", but simply click on the course title in order to read the information). Most Fall classes will also be offered in the Winter session:
BetterPhoto Online PhotoCourses™

Hope this helps, Jon!
Kerry

- Kerry Drager

See Kerry Drager's Premium BetterPholio™
Visit Kerry Drager's Web Site - www.KerryDrager.com

Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with Kerry Drager:
Creative Light and Composition
4-Week Short Course: Details and Close-ups - January
4-Week Short Course: Details and Close-ups -February

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=20070

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=20070

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*****


NEW QUESTION 6: Photoshop Help, Please: Darken Sky
I have a landscape photo that I am very happy with except that the sky is a little blown out. Can someone provide me the instructions to darken the sky? I have elements 2 and 6.0. Please be really specific, step by step, I am brand new to Photoshop. Thank you so much.
- Linda Buchanan

ANSWER 1:
Hi Linda, try this:
In Layers, choose Duplicate Layer
In the Layers window, close the little eye on the background layer and then click on the duplicatge layer. Select a feathered eraser and erase the area of sky that you want to darken. Click and hold the button down on the mouse until you have selected the entire area to be darkened. Then click on the background layer - the erased sky will re-appear. In the Image menu, you can use Levels or Curves to darken the clouds. When finished, go back to the Layers window, click on the little arrow in the top right and a menu will pop up. Look for Flatten Image, and click on that. And you are done.
- Elisabeth Ann Gay

See Elisabeth's Premium BetterPholio™

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=20050

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=20050

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*****


NEW QUESTION 7: Polarizers Used as ND filters?
Hi all,

I love the effects of my polarizers and would like to know if anyone has ever used them instead of an ND filter if you need to cut light?

Would they be as effective? If not, would stacking an ND filter with a polarizer cause vignetting?

Thanks!


- Steve Warren

ANSWER 1:
A polarizer loses two stops of light, thus it works well as an ND filter in addition to reducing glare.

Vignetting occurs more often with wider-angled lenses. Whether stacking will produce vignetting really depends on the angle of view, plus how thick the filters in use are. You won't really know until you stack the filters on the lens and see. Stop the lens down all the way, depress your DOF preview, and look through the viewfinder. If your viewfinder shows 95%-100% of the image, you should be able to see any vignetting. Otherwise, you will probably just have to shoot an image and see.
Michael H. Cothran
www.mhcphoto.net

- Michael H. Cothran

See Michael's Premium BetterPholio™

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=20037

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=20037

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*****


NEW QUESTION 8: Photographing a Parade
I recently shot a local parade and a few pictures were slightly blurry. I used a zoom lens and 400 speed film. Would anyone suggest using an 800 speed film and a zoom? Normal lens?
- A D. Ross

ANSWER 1:
Depending on the lighting, 800 might be the way to go. But I've shot ISO 100 in bright sunlight with speeds around 1/2000. It all depends on your lighting. I would always have 800 on you - just in case. A zoom lens is fine. A wide zoom probably would've helped with the bluriness, but you probably wouldn't have gotten the framing you wanted with a wide compared to a telephoto. Upping your film speed is best, unless you can afford a faster lens.
- Justin D. Goeden

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=20009

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=20009

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PHOTOGRAPHY Q&A - CONTINUING FROM PREVIOUS NEWSLETTER
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CONTINUING QUESTION 1: Image Information for the Future
How do I identify or post pertinent information of the photograph for future generations of my family? The old way was to write all the information on the back of the photo. How do I do it now when I scan a photo or take a digital photo and download it to my computer? I would truly appreciate any help or suggestions.
- Raymond J. Card

ANSWER 1:
With photo-editing software, you can add comments to the EXIF data (UserComment field) embedded in the photo.
- Jon Close

ANSWER 2:
Raymond,
You might consider putting your photo onto a Word document, then you can add all the pertinent information below it.
Floyd Stearns
Warsaw, NY
www.betterphoto.com/gallery/gallery.asp?memberID=131282
- Floyd Stearns

See Floyd's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 3:
With the same editing software, you can add text to the bottom of the picture itself and there would be no need of your future relatives having to know about EXIF.
- Paul Illes

ANSWER 4:
I am on a Macintosh. What I do is this:
Click on the photo file once ... then click COMMAND "i". This will bring up a window with information about the pic. Lower down in this window is a "text area". Type in whatever you want to record inside the pic ... then close the window.
- Roy Blinston

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=19985

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=19985

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Until next week, happy shooting!

Thank you,
Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto.com

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