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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, January 10, 2006
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* SPOTLIGHT: Still Time to Sign Up for Winter Online Classes
* BETTERPHOTO: Photographic Adventure: Wildlife and Horses!
* BETTERPHOTO: Where Is Jim? See Him in Person or Hear Him on the Radio
* BETTERPHOTO: Book of Month: Jon Canfield's Photo Finish
* FEATURED GALLERY: Waterfall Images ... And Capturing a Soft Sense of Motion
* PHOTO TRIVIA QUESTION: Monitoring Your Digital Images / Super Shooter
* THIS WEEK'S TIP: Flash Fill ... by Charlie Borland
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 1: Shooting in Cold Weather
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 2: Indoor Sports Photography
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 3: Is a Property Release Necessary?
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 4: Do-It-Yourself Framing?
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 5: Model Release Forms for Repeat Subjects
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 6: Shooting JPEG and Raw ... At the Same Time
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 7: How to Advertise with NO Money...??
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 8: Using Flash for People Shots Outside
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 9: Portrait Photography in the Snow
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 10: White Balance: What, Why, How


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IN THE SPOTLIGHT - ADVERTISEMENT
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Still Time to Sign Up for Winter Online Classes
Kicking yourself for waiting too long? Don't fret, because you can still join one of BetterPhoto's online photography courses. Although the first lessons have already been sent out, the assignments for our 8-week courses are not even due until January 15th! If you sign up today, we can send you the first lesson pronto, and you will have plenty of time to do the first assignment. Choose from the available photo courses 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 246th issue of SnapShot!

Hi {FirstName}

Once again, lots of awesome news at BetterPhoto! Our winter session of online courses has already begun, but there's still space available. Check out our lineup of classes at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/categories.asp

Incidentally, although most of our courses are already under way, the second session of the 4-Week Short Courses doesn't even start until February! For info, visit:
http://www.betterphoto.com/online-photography-short-courses.asp

In addition, instructor-author Tony Sweet - who teaches Fine Art Flower Photography (which just started and still has space) and The Four Essential Filters (a short course beginning February 1st) - has a photography exhibit at the MFA Circle Gallery in Annapolis, Maryland. Tony's "Body of Work #3" exhibit, which features an opening reception on January 15th, runs through February 4th, 2006. For details:
http://www.mdfedart.org/events.html

Also, don't miss instructor Charlie Borland's Photo Tip on using fill flash. An active commercial and stock photographer, Charlie teaches a number of excellent courses here at BetterPhoto, including his 4-Week Short Course: Beginners Guide to Strobe Lighting, which gets under way on February 1st.

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


*****
Photographic Adventure: Wildlife and Horses!
BetterPhoto's workshops combine online learning and on-location excitement. These 3- and 6-day workshops include:
- Snow Shoot: Siberian Tiger, Horses, and Ranchers (January 25, 28, February 6, 20)
- California Wildlife, Day at the Ranch, and Yosemite (March 30)
- Wildlife in Montana (May 19, 22, July 17, 20)
- Summer Horse Roundup (August 14, 23)
For details:
http://www.betterphoto.com/on-location-photography-workshops.asp


*****
Where Is Jim? See Him in Person or Hear Him on the Radio
Catch BetterPhoto founder/photographer Jim Miotke in person and on the radio as he shares tips on digital photography. Check out his schedule at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/where-is-jim.asp


*****
Book of Month: Jon Canfield's Photo Finish
Our online store showcases the fantastic books and DVDs from our staff of BetterPhoto instructors. For January, we put the spotlight on Jon Canfield's awesome book, Photo Finish: The Digital Photographer's Guide to Printing, Showing, and Selling Images (co-authored by Tim Grey). If you buy this fine book before the end of January, you will receive free U.S. shipping. Best yet, it's autographed by Jon! For info:
http://www.betterphoto.com/product/ourProductDetailLg.asp?productID=1352

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FEATURED GALLERY
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Waterfall Images ... And Capturing a Soft Sense of Motion
How do you create that soft-and-silky seen in the outstanding waterfall images of BetterPhoto members and instructors? First, don't even try it in bright sunlight in midday - the light is much too harsh and contrasty! Instead, you'll need low-and-constant light - i.e., solid overcast, heavy shade, dawn, or dusk. Then use a small aperture (high f/number), a low ISO (100 or 200), and perhaps even a deep-tinted filter ... say, a neutral-density filter or, sometimes better yet, a polarizer, which also helps minimize glare on water and wet rocks. For ideas and inspiration, check out the BetterPhoto waterfall gallery:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGall2.asp?catID=495

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PHOTO TRIVIA QUIZ OF THE WEEK
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Last week, we asked:
In what year did the first digital camera with an LCD monitor hit the market? Strictly Optional: What was the manufacturer?

The first, best answer - entered by BetterPhoto member Alisa LaPorte is:
It was the Casio QV-11 with LCD monitor, which was released in 1995.

Editor's Note: That's right, Alisa - 1995 (answer to main question) and Casio (answer to the optional question)! But for the specific model, instructor Jeff Wignall's excellent book - The Joy of Digital Photography - refers to it as the QV-10. In any case, Alisa and everyone else, thanks for your fine input!

See Alisa's Premium BetterPholio™:
http://www.betterphoto.com/sites4photogs/dynoMG.asp?memberID=105592

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 - Super Shooter - entered by BetterPhoto member Jim Miotke

The actor who played cub news photographer-reporter Jimmy Olsen (in the four Superman movies made in the '70s and '80s) actually had film in his camera while acting in those movies. What is his name and what brand of camera did he use?


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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Flash Fill ... by Charlie Borland

One valuable lighting technique is flash fill. This is needed when you are outside and the sun creates contrasty lighting and shadows on your subject's face. You must have a flash unit that you can manually adjust the power settings. In these situations, the ambient light is the Key light and your flash is the fill. You want to bring the shadow brightness closer to the highlight on your subject to brighten up shadows. My approach is to meter the image and adjust the camera settings accordingly, then set the flash at -1. You can also go to -1 1/3 and even 1 2/3 for a weaker fill.

Note: Check out the second session of Charlie Borland's 4-Week Short Course: Beginners Guide to Strobe Lighting, which gets under way on February 1st. Here's a rundown of Charlie's regular 8-week classes:



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
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  • 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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PHOTOGRAPHY Q&A - CONTINUING FROM PREVIOUS NEWSLETTER
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CONTINUING QUESTION 1: Shooting in Cold Weather
How much cold can a camera take? Should I buy sock warmers
- Josselyne Klecanda

ANSWER 1:
Depends on the camera. And whether 20 is Fahrenheit (below freezing) or Celsius (low end of room temp). ;-)
Fully mechanical cameras will work reliably in sub-freezing weather. At seriously low temps, the film may become frozen/brittle and subject to static charges (especially if rewind fast).
Electronic cameras are very dependent on battery power, which will dissipate quickly as the battery temperature nears freezing. LCD displays will also become sluggish or shut down in cold temps. Not sure if freezing will cause permanent damage to an LCD ... it might.
- Jon Close

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=21645

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=21645

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*****


CONTINUING QUESTION 2: Indoor Sports Photography
I have been working on taking photos inside of a gym during basketball games. My problem is that lighting in the gyms causes me to shoot at such at low speed that the action is all blurred. But if I turn up the ISO, I am able to increase the speed to 1/125 but the shots are extremely grainy and still dark. Even when trying to correct in Photoshop, these are not pictures I would even be willing to show my kids. Any suggestions on making this better? Currently, these are being taken without flash due to distraction and distance.
- Ken Glidewell

ANSWER 1:
Ken, you have hit "the wall" of reality here. Essentially, your only alternative will be to use a faster lens wide open. Remember, a proper exposure depends on 4 things: how much light is in the scene (dark gym); how much gets through the lens (aperture, or f-stop); how much light gets through the shutter (shutter speed); and how sensitive the film or chip is (ISO).
Like everything else in life, photography is compromise. Higher sensitivity, as you discovered, leads to more noise or grain. Slower shutter speeds do not freeze motion. You cannot change the gym lighting. So the only option left is to get a faster lens, something with an f2.8 or faster widest aperture and use it wide open. Just beware - "fast glass" costs.
Just so you know, the great shots you see in Sports Illustrated, etc. are made by the use of huge flash units hung in the rafters and triggered by remote radio control on the pro's camera. By placing them above the main lights, these units are made invisible to both the audience and the players - which is the reason most places don't allow use of flash at court or seat level in the first place. Obviously, this is out of reach for mere mortals, so we're stuck with the realities mentioned above.
- Bob

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=21644

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=21644

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CONTINUING QUESTION 3: Is a Property Release Necessary?
If someone hires you for a job - say, shooting a building - is it necessary to have them sign a release when they are the ones who hired you? If they hired you, do you need to ask them for a release if you want to use those photos in your portfolio?
- Ernestine Lona

ANSWER 1:
Well, Ernestine, assuming the property is somehow recognizable, it's always good form to ask for a release that indicates you may use the photo for self-promotion, self-marketing and/or any other usage that you and your client agree upon. While clients usually don't object to using a shot you took for them in a personal portfolio, it's professional to let them know you plan to do that. In addition, you're in a better position to use that photo later on for something else - like for stock - but only if you have a property release.
- Mark Feldstein

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=21642

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=21642

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CONTINUING QUESTION 4: Do-It-Yourself Framing?
Is there a more cost-effective way to get my photography framed, like doing it myself? The amount of money that professional framers charge seems to be completely ridiculous. Are their tools/education out there to allow photographers to frame their own work? Thank you for your time!
JRD
- Joe

ANSWER 1:
Hi Joe,
I had my own picture framing business for 13 years. There are a couple of ways to go.

If you want to get pre-cut frames there is a company called Graphik Dimensions. They will pre-cut metal or wood. Wooden frames have a special cut in the corners that are designed to accept a special peg type piece, that coupled with framing glue holds the frame together. If you choose to do your own framing and desire a mat cutter or any other supplies, United Manufacturing would be the way to go. They have all the machinery needed and any supplies you could possibly need. Mat cutters can run anywhere from $150.00-$2000.00. Don't skimp on glue. For doing matting or papering the back of a frame for a finished look, an ATG gun is an awesome tool. I don't do professional framing any longer, because I needed a change and absolutely love photography and computer manipulation and restoration. However, I held on to every bit of framing equipment for doing my own stuff.
Considering the price of buying glass from a distributor, unless you have one locally, shipping can be outrageous. Craig's suggestion of Home Depot is an excellent one. You might also check at Ace Hardware and Lowe's. When transporting glass, you do not want to lay it flat. It is best left standing between cardboard or wood. If transported flat, it can crack easily from stress.
- Liza M. Franco

ANSWER 2:
You need to buy mat board. 32X40-inch board in a myriad of colors is available at AC Moore and other art supply stores (not Michael's). You'll need a straight edge and a piece of 1.2-inch plywood to support the mat board when you cut it using a box cutter or shop knife. Mat board costs $5.00-12.00 a sheet.
Buy yourself a mat cutter: Alto's - about $90.00 to start (that's what I've had for years) or Logan's - about $120.00 to start. There are other manufacturers.
You don't need to make window mats. You can use spray adhesive for photographs, if you want. About $20 for a large can; I've mounted about 20 8X10 prints and don't notice a significant weight loss in the can yet.
There are lots of "chop shops" on the Internet that'll sell you precut wood and metal frames. Go to Neilson's Web site to find locals suppliers. I use Neilson metal frames preferentially.
Go to your local hardware store for glass and/or plexiglass. I use the latter for really large framing jobs. My little Alto unit successfully let me frame posters to 34X39. For larger framing, plexiglass is safer. You can use glareproof glass; it's a little more expensive.
I can frame a 12X16 for less than $20. My son is a lawyer who had about 15 citations I framed. I also did his law school diploma and his wife's diplomas from undergrad and grad school. Did all for a materials cost under $300.
- John Sandstedt

ANSWER 3:
Wow... I didn't know there were such easy ways! I just cut and router the wood to make frames... I guess, though, since I have the tools, it's a bit easier to do that, and less expensive. Ya learn something new every day.
- Craig m. Zacarelli

See Craig's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 4:
Wow, thanks for the wonderful responses everyone!! I never dreamed I'd get that many helpful responses in such a short amount of time. Thanks again!! JRD
- Joe

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=21628

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=21628

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CONTINUING QUESTION 5: Model Release Forms for Repeat Subjects
For the last couple years, I have been taking portraits of friends, relatives, and some of the children I babysit. I have taken several sets of photos of some of these subjects, but I have not gotten them (or their parents, where applicable) to sign a release form. I have recently been going back through my photos and there are several that I would like to use (in a portfolio and in photo contests). Getting releases will not be a problem, but my question is this:
If a subject signs a release form for me once, does that one form cover ALL photos I have taken or will take of him/her, in the past, present, and future, or do I have to get each subject to sign a separate release form for each photo session?

I just want to have my bases covered, just in case. Thank you!
- Misty Fritz

ANSWER 1:
Greetings; The answer is generally no. Model releases are specific for shoot date and subject photographed and they are, for all intent and purposes, a contract, with some form of consideration, granting you as the photographer, the right to use the specific images taken on that date for whatever purpose (other than pornographic or defamatory, of course).
You could cook up an agreement or release covering multiple shoot dates, but again, it needs to be specific with dates and a shoot reference, if any. Say for example, "park shoot" or "_____beach shoot" AND to be enforceable, sufficient consideration to cover all the images and dates you're looking to cover. That can become quite confusing as memories fade. Best thing to do is specific release for specific date rather than batch releases.
- Mark Feldstein

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=21609

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=21609

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*****


CONTINUING QUESTION 6: Shooting JPEG and Raw ... At the Same Time
I have read and understand a medium amount about Raw. I usually always shoot in JPEG, because I am a little PS shy, but I can do layers, curves, masks, etc. Here is my question: Why do the new cameras shoot in Raw and JPEG at the same time? And when is this used best and why? And why not for that matter? Thanks.
- Daryl Lucarelli

Visit daryllucarelli.com - Daryl 's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 1:
Daryl, the difference between the two formats is basically what the computer processor in the camera itself does once you snap the shutter.
Raw, as the name implies, is the essentially unadulterated data streamed off the CCD chip. Each manufacturer (and sometimes each model) has its own proprietary format of Raw, but in general, Raw files are not compressed - this means they're both bigger than JPEGs and, thus, fewer fit on a memory card, and are slower to load to the card. On the other hand, they are analogous to the concept of a negative, in that they contain all the data the CCD sensed which you can then manipulate later to improve shadow details, etc.
JPEG is a lossy compression scheme - meaning that you can save file space on the cards (thus fit more) and they can be loaded more quickly to the memory as well. They are created by the camera's processor, as per whatever instructions the manufacturer programmed there. They have less dynamic range, and, as JPEGs, can suffer new data loss each time they are saved and resaved. On the other hand, for many uses, the dynamic range is enough and the additional speediness and space savings are worth JPEG being used.
So, if you are shooting something all "artsy" and want the maximum amount of data to be able to play with in Photoshop, use Raw. If you're shooting snapshots of the family gathering, where prints won't be made larger than 5x7 anyway, use JPEG.
Now some cameras can save both formats simultaneously - so, for example, a wedding shooter could make quick & dirty proofs while still at the reception hall from the jpegs and still have the full-data Raw files to touch up and manipulate back at the lab.
- Bob

ANSWER 2:
I like shooting both Raw and JPEG on vacation for the same reason. Instant feedback without the hassle of dealing with Raw files. I know of no easy way of viewing them in Windows without opening them in a Raw converter first. If you have a duplicate JPEG and Windows XP, you can just view them in Windows Picture and Fax Viewer and know what you have without all the hassle.
- Sharon D

See Sharon's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 3:
I can shoot Raw for my main images, but also have a small JPEG for proofing and Web galleries. It's the best of both worlds.
- Jerry Frazier

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=21604

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http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=21604

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CONTINUING QUESTION 7: How to Advertise with NO Money...??
I need some advice. I have absolutely no resources to advertise beyond the few wedding sites that I'm on, but since those are free listings I'm at the very bottom of the listings. How can I get my name out there with no money to spare to advertising? Any suggestions would be soooo grateful. I specialize in wedding photography.
- Kimberly Armstrong

ANSWER 1:
Kimberly,
Could you try making brochures on your home computer for wedding stores?
I have CDs in stores ... they are just cheaper and they can view more of my work.
Also, ask a busy bridal shop if you can hang out and pass out information and answer questions about wedding photography for a weekend.
You could also put lettering on the back window of the car.
Hook up with a caterer: trade your time and portrait work to their company if they refer you to X amount of people. You can do this with a florist as well.
These are just a few ideas to get you started with little to no money. I hope it helps.
- Debby Tabb

See Debby's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
Kimberly, I'm in a similar situation... This is what I've come up with so far:
I got a Deluxe BetterPholio™ here at BP ... then once it was done, I did an email to everyone I could think of giving them my site name and asking for them to check it out and pass it on (friends, family, lots of business contacts, etc.).
I also asked several friends and family members if their company has an employee bulletin board, which they did, so I printed up flyers and put business cards on them (office stores sell a nice self-stick business card holder, and I just modified it a little to fit 5 cards in there). And the flyers are now hanging in several large companies in town! My gym also has a posting board, so one is there, and I know there are some coffee shops and convenient stores that also have bulletin boards around town. Maybe your town does also!
In the nicer weather, I am planning on printing lots of my flyers (they show a few pics and list some general info, directing them to my website for more) and doing the old-fashioned "pounding the pavement", distributing them to neighbors. Hope this helps!
- Denyse M. LaMay

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Visit dmariephoto.com - Denyse's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 3:
You could look into your local chamber of commerce. I heard they have special "networking" functions. It's where all the members can meet and discuss their business and make new contacts, trade business cards, and such.
- Craig m. Zacarelli

See Craig's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 4:
Hi Kimberly, I just sent out 45 flyers to advertise my Intimate Images Valentine's Day Special to all of the hair salons in the surrounding towns. I have had a few calls. I enclosed a business card in each one. Hair salons and florists are good places to advertise, and all it cost me was my time, the paper, and a little bit of ink and the postage.
- Pat Worster

See Pat's Premium BetterPholio™

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=21596

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http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=21596

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CONTINUING QUESTION 8: Using Flash for People Shots Outside
Hello... How should you use a flash on an SLR camera (separate flash that you insert onto the hot shoe plate) for shooting people outdoors? I know that directness is harsh, so what other ways are there to doing it? This would be for a large family gathering - lots of candid and posed photos. Thank you for your help and info in advance.
- Michele Wassell

ANSWER 1:
Here's how I handle that...
I shoot with the flash at full power and use ETTL (that's basically the camera auto filling based on the exposure values). Then, I don't like flash much, so rather than shooting it at the people, I point the flash head straight up, and put on a stoffen bounce diffuser. All I want is a small amount of flash to twinkle the eye. That's it. So, I wind up with a tiny amount of flash on the subject, a nice twinkle in the eye, but the look of natural light. It's a win-win.
Another option is to have someone hold a reflector behind you, point your flash head straight up, with the diffuser on it, and have the reflector over your head point at the subjects. This will work just like a bounce.
Yet another option is to tape a white business card to the top of your flash, so it will throw light forward. Point the flash head up, and shoot.
All of these will work well. Just depends on what you like.
Lastly, the light is more important than the background. Always sacrifice background for light. In other words, move into the shade, regardless of what's behind them. If it's ugly behind them, use a shallow DOF. Light First, Backdrop 2nd
Good luck
- Jerry Frazier

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=21476

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=21476

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CONTINUING QUESTION 9: Portrait Photography in the Snow
Can anyone give me some quick tips on how to take the best portraits in the snow? Should I use my grey card or take a reading from the subject's face? I have read that I need to overexpose a bit to get the snow to look white but will that overexpose the faces? Doing some photos later today!!
- Kristi Eckberg

See Kristi's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 1:
If the sky is clear, metering off sky blue usually works pretty well. If you're shooting in Raw, you'll be able to adjust yur exposure outside the camera, within limits.
- David Earls

ANSWER 2:
I don't think that the faces would be overexposed. Overexposing doesn't just make the snow look white, it makes everything else look better as well. Your camera wants to average everything to about 18% gray. If there is a lot of white in your picture, the camera thinks it needs to make everything darker to get closer to that 18%. As a result, the people in your picture will be darker than usual.
I took a digital photography class this fall and one of our assignments was to take portraits using a black background. My teacher suggested we underexpose for the exact same reason as you would overexpose for the snow. It worked like a charm. It was easy to tell which students didn't follow the recommendation. Instead of a black background, they had a muddy gray background and the faces were washed out.
My best piece of advice is to bracket your shots in addition to shooting raw if you have the time and space on your memory card. Or, just bracket.
- Cherylann Collins

ANSWER 3:
Right! Beware of 'noise' in underexposed faces. Overexpose 1 stop.
- Piotr M. Organa

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ANSWER 4:
Incident meters work really well for this situation.
- Will Turner

ANSWER 5:
Yes, I agree fully with the incident meter being the best choice. Also, just expose off the face and add or subtract maybe a half stop depending on how light or dark the skin is. If you're not sure, then yeah, you can use your gray card. Problem is with routinely overexposing, you'll be assuming that most of the stuff in the frame is snow. If you meter only the center portion where the subject is (of a fairly neutral color), metering should be pretty simple.
- Andrew Laverghetta

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Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=21064

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http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=21064

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CONTINUING QUESTION 10: White Balance: What, Why, How
Hi there, can somebody perhaps explain white balance to me - what it is, why should you change it, and when should you change it to what? My camera manual says something about taking a photo of a white piece of paper and storing it under your custom WB ... why would one do this? And what result does this have?
- Ellie van Rooyen

ANSWER 1:
Different light sources emit lighting of different colors or hues. Your brain "automatically" adjusts these hues so you see normally most of the time, but film and digital devices don't do this. With film, you have your choice of daylight or tungsten balanced. With digital, you have an endless array of "white balance" choices.
Correct color is defined as a hue of 5500 degrees on the Kelvin scale. This is the normal White Balance of sunlight at high noon. Higher Kelvin temperatures result in bluer light, and lower Kelvin temperatures result in more yellow light. So, for shooting outdoors at midday in the sunlight, you would choose the "daylight" option. Overcast days and shade on sunny days tend to be bluer in hue, thus need to be "warmed." Indoor, incandescent and tungsten lighting is very yellow in hue (about 2800K), so it needs to be "cooled," or made bluer. Fluorescent lights are somewhat green-heavy in hue, so they need to be compensated with some magenta hue.
So, if you use the "daylight" setting for any of these other sources, your images will be "off-colored." Many cameras are equipped with an "Auto" setting, which sometimes works, and sometimes does not. You should also have a "Custom" setting, in case you are shooting in a light source different from the ones offered on your camera. This would be appropriate for many studio lighting situations.
If you want your color hue to be accurate, choose the appropriate setting. If none of the settings look good, try setting a Custom White Balance. Good luck.
Michael H. Cothran
www.mhcphoto.net
- Michael H. Cothran

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ANSWER 2:
Thanks a lot, Michael ... can I just bother you once more? You said that if the day is overcast, it is bluer in hue and needs to be warmed. How do you 'warm' a photo, or how do you 'cool' a photo? And how do you, for instance like you said, compensate a photo with some magenta hue?
- Ellie van Rooyen

ANSWER 3:
Your digital camera should have settings for all the above mentioned color hues - cloudy, fluorescent, etc. Just dial in the appropriate setting. It may be to your advantage to learn to master the custom white balance setting by reading your instruction manual. With the custom white balance, you can often adjust your camera to whatever light source you are shooting under more accurately than with the default settings. Otherwise, just set your camera to the cloudy symbol for overcast days, or shooting in the shade, set it to the tungsten/incandescent lightbulb symbol for indoor shooting, and set it to the fluorescent symbol for fluorescent lighting. These settings automatically give you the appropriate color hue, albeit to a default degree.
With film cameras, you are required to use filters. With daylight film, the 80 series (A, B, or C) would cool a scene, the 81 series would warm a scene, and a +10 or +20 magenta filter would compensate for fluorescent lighting.
Michael
- Michael H. Cothran

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