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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 17, 2006
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* SPOTLIGHT: BetterPhoto's 4-Week Courses: Next Session Begins February 1st
* BETTERPHOTO: BetterPhoto Instructor Interview ... with Vik Orenstein
* BETTERPHOTO: BetterWorkshops: Make 2006 a Photographic Year to Remember!
* BETTERPHOTO: New Designs for BetterPhoto's Deluxe BetterPholios™
* FEATURED GALLERY: Focus on Charlie Borland's Stock Photography
* PHOTO TRIVIA QUESTION: Super Shooter / F/Stop Guide
* THIS WEEK'S TIP: Best Way to Steady Yourself for Handholding a Camera ... By Kevin Burns
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 1: Scanning Photos: Do-It-Yourself Vs. Paying Others
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 2: Portraits in Digital Format?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 3: Wedding Shoot in a Dark Chapel
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 4: Backdrops for Studio Set-up
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 5: How Do You Charge a Client for Photos?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 6: Places To Get Great Animal Pictures
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 7: Reflectors: Buying One Vs. Making Your Own
* CONTINUING PHOTO Q&A 1: Indoor Sports Photography


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IN THE SPOTLIGHT - ADVERTISEMENT
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BetterPhoto's 4-Week Courses: Next Session Begins February 1st
Are you still kicking yourself for not signing up for a winter online class at BetterPhoto.com™? Well, help is on the way ... in the form of BetterPhoto's second sessions of Short Courses. These 4-week online courses kick off February 1st. For all of the specifics, go to:
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 247th issue of SnapShot!

Hi {FirstName}

At BetterPhoto, we are privileged to have so many awesome instructors - published professionals with great teaching experience. That's why Denise Miotke launched our Instructor Interviews. In the latest of the series, Vik Orenstein shares her thoughts in an insightful interview. Read it at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/interviews/photography-instructor-interviews.asp

Spam/Scam Alert: An email scam has been targeting BetterPhoto members, and we are taking measures to block them. In one such email, the sender - from Nigeria - says he is interested in buying photos. According to a BP member, the scam artist wanted to send the member/photographer a "certified check" for more than the agreed-upon rate and then asked that the photographer wire the excess funds back via Western Union. That's NOT an acceptable business practice. Ignore these emails and delete them!

These spammers are contacting you via the contact button from your Free Gallery, Deluxe BetterPholio™, or your Premium BetterPholio™. However, the spammers do not view your email address when they use the contact link, and BetterPhoto does not ever share email addresses of our members. Do not respond to these emails or the sender will then have your email address.

Now back to more enjoyable subjects! :-) Our Winter session of online courses has gotten off to a fantastic start. But some classes haven't even begun yet! These are the second sessions of our 4-week Short Courses. And we have some awesome classes: Beginners Guide to Strobe Lighting; The Four Essential Filters; Camera Raw Processing, Understanding Natural Light; Color Management; The Magic of Wide-Angle; Mastering Macro Photography; Details & Close-ups; and Non-Digital Special Effects. For information:
http://www.betterphoto.com/online-photography-short-courses.asp

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


*****
BetterPhoto Instructor Interview ... with Vik Orenstein
Author and portrait shooter Vik Orenstein tells Denise Miotke how she got her start in photography and how she got her first book deal. Vik also shares advice on how to break into the professional ranks. This is a fascinating piece ... read it at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/interviews/photography-instructor-interviews.asp


*****
BetterWorkshops: Make 2006 a Photographic Year to Remember!
For a unique photographic experience, check out our "BetterWorkshops" page. These adventures offer a pre-workshop lesson, assignment, and critique. Then there are the fantastic field sessions, followed by post-workshop feedback on your photos! Online and on-location ... what a great combination! See our workshop schedule at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/on-location-photography-workshops.asp


*****
New Designs for BetterPhoto's Deluxe BetterPholios™
Give yourself the gift of a Web site! Our redesigned BetterPhoto Deluxe BetterPholios™ offer beautiful and functional design and easy Web hosting - at a great price. For information:
http://www.betterphoto.com/sites4photogs/deluxe-photographer-websites.asp

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FEATURED GALLERY
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Focus on Charlie Borland's Stock Photography
Eye-catching subjects, bold compositions, and great lighting describe the work of master photographer-instructor Charlie Borland. Charlie, of course, teaches a number of awesome online classes right here at BetterPhoto, including his upcoming 4-Week Short Course - Beginners Guide to Strobe Lighting - which begins February 1st. View Charlie's gallery:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/gallery.asp?memberID=77621

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PHOTO TRIVIA QUIZ OF THE WEEK
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Last week, we asked:
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?


The first, best answer - entered by BetterPhoto member Alisa LaPorte is:
Marc McClure played Jimmy Olsen and he used a Nikon.

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 - F/Stop Guide - entered by BetterPhoto member Jim Miotke

What does the "f" stand for in, say, f/22?

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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Best Way to Steady Yourself for Handholding a Camera ... By Kevin Burns

When shooting handheld, your heartbeat can cause camera shake during long exposures. Simply breathing in and holding your breath will cause your heartbeat to speed up. Thus, the heartbeat will be stronger and cause or exaggerate the camera shake.
The proper way to do this technique is to exhale your breath slowly and, at a certain point, you will stop exhaling, leaving only a very shallow amount of air in your lungs. Hold that pose, and snap the picture. But remember not to breathe in, and be calm. That is how the target rifle shooterss do it!

View BetterPhoto member Kevin Burns's gallery at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/free/gallery.asp?memberID=139508

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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NEW QUESTION 1: Scanning Photos: Do-It-Yourself Vs. Paying Others
Is it more cost effective to purchase a photo scanner for negatives or to have them done by outside?
- Jenni Wheeler

ANSWER 1:
Jenni, I think the answer depends on how many negatives you are talking about, and what you want to do with them digitally. First, you should consider getting a film scanner rather than using a flatbed for film - while the latter can be done, the results are not as good as with film-specific models. Canon and Nikon, as well as Minolta, all make pretty good units from about $500-$1000.
The best of these scanners are capable of 4000-5000 dpi resolution (which nears the grain limit of film anyway) and pretty good dynamic range (dMax of 3.9 or 4.12). You can expect a 4000dpi scan of a 35MM frame in 8 bit color to be about 50-60 MB in size (120-140MB for 14 bit color). So space is one consideration. Of course, you could (and should) burn CDs or DVDs as multiple backups, and use high-quality long lasting blanks for this purpose (as even name brand conventional discs can fail after a few years of storage).
Time is another factor - someone will have to sit there and feed the scanner. So, if you have lots and lots of negatives and want to be able to produce high quality large output from them (I've done poster sized prints from 4000 dpi scans) then getting a film scanner would make sense. At least, you'll want to compare the costs (and time) to whatever per-negative price the service bureau will charge.
On the other hand, if your goal is to be able to produce low-resolution images for publishing on the Web or email attachments, then you won't need to scan at super-high resolutions. This may alter the formula - if the service bureau charges less for low res scans.
Black and white is another story, though - they can actually be trickier than color negs to scan properly.
- Bob

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=21796

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http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=21796

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*****


NEW QUESTION 2: Portraits in Digital Format?
I am an amateur photographer interested in trying some digital portraiture. I would like to buy a digital SLR to use for portraiture in the near future. My question is, can I expect to get professional quality results with a DSLR in the $1000-2000 range? Also, any recommendations as to what camera(s) might suit my needs best? I would also like to be able to use the camera for stock photography as well. Am I asking for too much out of a single camera?
- Gerald Coppola

ANSWER 1:
Gerald, I think you will be able to get quite excellent results from the DSLRs now available in the $1000-$2000 price range. Heck, lots of folks shoot wedding, etc., with Nikon's D70 or the Canon equivalent. Some of the differences between these cameras and their more expensive brethren is the chip (though that difference keeps narrowing), and some is the build quality ("pro" level gear is built to withstand a lot more abuse).
The real issue is the lens, frankly. If you put a 28-300MM Tamron lens on a $5000 or more DSLR, you are still going to deal with the limitations of the lens itself. And while a lens like that is fine for folks doing vacation shots, etc., it simply is not as sharp (nor as fast) as other lenses that cost more, even with less zoom range.
As for deciding what gear to use - before folks throw "buy brand X" at you - I suggest you go to a store and actually hold and sample the DSLRs available in the $1000-ish price range. Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Konica-Minolta and Pentax all make good equipment, though the first two are the brands generally thought of as making "professional" gear. But at the $1000 price point, their differences have much more to do with how a given model balances in your hands, how easy it is for you to focus or understand the viewfinder indicators, etc. In other words, don't get lost in the specification sheets - a 6MP or higher chip should suit you fine. The fact that some companies offer 30+ lenses while others "only" offer 5 lenses is also generally moot - it's quite unlikely that you will need the more exotic glass for a while, at least.
So, again - try the various models out. You might find one clumsy in your hands - with the buttons and controls in awkward places. You might find one whose viewfinder is just exactly right for your eyes. You want to make the decision based on these ergonomic factors, since the reality is that, nonsensical status symbol issues aside, the important differences are not things that others can decide for you. I hope that helps.
- Bob

ANSWER 2:
Hello Gerald,
Bob's advice is right on... and I will echo and reinforce his statement about lenses. Nearly all $1,000 to $2,000 DSLRs have great sensors, good ergonomics and pretty decent build quality. Whatever you choose, I'd resist the temptation to get the "combo" kits that offer one or two lenses with the camera body, as they are generally (I say "generally" so as NOT to start another war) are not that good.
Do as Bob recommends, hold them, see if you like the placement of buttons etc. Then, I'd suggest getting the body only and shop for a couple decent lenses.
There is tons of info out there on lenses, quality, sharpness, build quality etc. Not to dissuade you, be prepared for sticker shock. Good lenses are not cheap, yet they will make or break any camera.
- Pete Herman

ANSWER 3:
You can get great portraits with almost any camera - digital or film. Well, maybe not a pin hole! It's not the camera, it's the photographer. You need lighting and background. You need a photogenic model! What you don't need, necessarily, is a $1,000-2,000 camera body!
- John Sandstedt

ANSWER 4:
Of course, John's point is well taken. But good portraits are usually those where the subject stands out from the background - and this entails a shallow depth of field (or post-process blurring in Photoshop, et al). To get the former, you need a fast lens and/or larger format imaging surface, as DOF increases as aperture closes as well as for smaller imaging areas.
In addition, while DSLRs have the reaction times of film cameras, the fixed lens cameras (point-and-shoot or prosumer point-and-shoot with 12X zoom lenses) still have an annoying shutter lag - you press the shutter button and it is still a noticeable delay for the shutter to fire. If your portrait subject is sitting still, this may not be an issue. If they are animated (like a child clowning or an adult talking), then this can become a real detriment, as you will press the shutter button when the smile (for example) is just right and a quarter second later when the camera fires the expression is gone.
Of course, lighting and subject are obviously key, but if those factors are equal, the shots taken with the more appropriate gear will prove more appealing to most viewers.
- Bob

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=21774

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http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=21774

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*****


NEW QUESTION 3: Wedding Shoot in a Dark Chapel
I have shot a lot of weddings, and have always used my 420 EX flash. It works great in dark chapels. Now, I just booked a wedding that is in September. Problem is, it's in a dark chapel and there is absolutely NO FLASH allowed. What would be the best way around this and still get great photos? I have tried using my internal meter on my camera to take photos in a chapel without flash, but I don't like how they turn out. They look really bright and sunny (weird). I have a lot of time to practice this, so please, anyone, if you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them. I am already assuming I am gonna need a light meter and a tripod, but expert advice would be great!
- Janessa Taber-Webb

ANSWER 1:
I figured a high ISO, but with the internal meter, shouldn't it set it to a high ISO??? Or do I have to shoot on "M" (manual)? How high of an ISO?
- Janessa Taber-Webb

ANSWER 2:
Janessa, one approach could be to get as fast a lens on the camera as possible. If you don't already have an f1.4 lens, maybe it's time to try one. Of course, you may still need to set the ISO so high that the shots will have a lot of noise, which you can then try to remove later with Noise Ninja or some other similar software.
Of course, if there is no flash allowed and it is simply too dark to get shots, even with a 50MM f1.2 lens, then the only other option is to see if the no-flash rule is permanent or only during the actual ceremony. If the latter, you will have to explain to the bride and groom that they may need to return to the chapel after their ceremonial exit just to take shots with flash (or with some lights on). Perhaps this has been done for others before - after all, if there's not enough light, then no wedding could be shot, and I imagine that previous newlyweds' photographers have grappled with the same realities.
While a tripod would help for static shots of the interior, unless you can get the people to freeze for multiple seconds, it won't help capture live subjects.
- Bob

ANSWER 3:
I wouldn't recommend going over ISO 800 with the Digital Rebel. I've gotten some usable images at 800, but shots at 1600 are usually so noisy they are hard to salvage.
That's just what I've experienced, at least. If you have a chance to practice in the chapel, you might find something that works. Like Bob said, if you don't already have a fast lens, now would be the time to try one. Fast zooms are pretty expensive, but you can get a fast Canon prime lens at a reasonable price. The Canon 50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.8, or 100mm f/2 at $305, $335, and $375 are all good choices. Although many people like the 50mm f/1.8, it is $80 for a reason. Its build quality is on par with the 18-55mm kit lens. The others I listed are all very good quality lenses.
Good luck.
- Chris A. Vedros

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ANSWER 4:
Consult with the couple and explain the situation. Say you'll do what you can, but don't expect much. Put pressure on churches who do this. The couple should be leaning on the church to bend, not on you to perform miracles. That's my opinion. Shoot on very high ISO and explain to the couple that they will be pixely, but that's how it is. That's life and the science of photography.

I used to routinely shoot with ISO 3200 BW film. It was cool. I have seen some great shots that are pixely that have the same effect. People are starting to get used to the pixels at high ISOs. I predict that this will become an artistic look.
I had this happen recently, and just told the couple that that's how it's going to be. They understood, and knew this when they reserved the church.
A fast lens helps a lot. But, flash freezes motion, so you might get motion blur. But, that's OK, use it artistically.
Take 3 times more shots than you normally would and experiment with the lighting. Use what's there. It might now be perfect or what you like, but be a problem solver, shoot creatively and forget your comfort zone.
Best of luck. I know it's a difficult situation.
- Jerry Frazier

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=21756

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http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=21756

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*****


NEW QUESTION 4: Backdrops for Studio Set-up
I saw a photographer on TV the other day who made a studio in a room in her apartment. She had one backdrop, and all the walls were painted different colors. (I am assuming for different colored backdrops.) What do you think about painting the walls in one room different colors? Like green, pink, blues, etc.? I have thought a lot about that, but I am unsure what the end result would be.
- Janessa Taber-Webb

ANSWER 1:
Well Jan, that's a nice idea. Two problems. First, when you're shooting against a wall of one color, one of the colors from the other wall might cast its color into your shot, causing a color shift of the scene. The other problem that comes to mind is that if you paint a room that's not large enough, you may not have enough room to shoot in rig lights, keep the subject off the background, etc.
I suggest that, instead of investing in paint, buy a couple of background stands with a background pole and buy a couple of paper or fabric backgrounds to use. They're portable and if your walls and ceiling are white (or black), you probably don't need to be concerned with color casts.
- Mark Feldstein

ANSWER 2:
I sort of figured that there could be problems involved with that, but what if the room was really big? I have a big stand for paper, but it's a pain in the rear to change the roll all the time because it's so dang long. It's like 9 feet long and HEAVY! And I am not a very BIG or STRONG girl, and I need to be able to do this on my own (change the rolls). So, instead, would you suggest me buying a bunch of stands with the rolls already on them so I don't have to worry about the hassle of changing them? (That seems like a hassle too, in a way.) This whole studio thing is stressing me OUT! Thanks for the advice, though. I really appreciate it.
- Janessa Taber-Webb

ANSWER 3:
Hi Janessa;
My 2 cents. I would not even use paper backdrops. Yes, they're cheap, but they also have a nasty tendency to wrinkle, tear, etc., and always at the worst time.
You can get 3 or 4 muslin backdrops these days quite cheaply. There are, of course, the more expensive muslin cloths, but for just starting out, I don't think you'll need them. I'd suggest a white, a black, and maybe a tie dye multi-color.
Concerning the walls, I agree with Mark, painting them different colors is a bad idea for the reasons he mentioned. If you want to be a purist and don't mind the look, paint them all flat black. This will "control" the light. This is exactly what I did. I have a roll out thin piece of white translucent lexan for the floor 16x20 when doing group shots. Great lower reflector to add light... over that, I can also overlay a black piece of lexan depending on the shot I want.
- Pete Herman

ANSWER 4:
Well Jan, you could rig sweeps - that is like backgrounds mounted on stands and swept in a long curve with muslins or paper. Muslins are nice since they're washable, and if you get tired of one, you can always toss some more paint or dyes on it.
And, no matter how large the room, if you paint, I'd only do one wall. Our studio has a wall with a built-in shooting cove made of plywood with a swept curve at the floor to make it look seamless. It can be painted any color we need or will support backgrounds either paper or muslin.
Sure, you can paint white or black, or even neutral gray. But I wouldn't go multi colors in the same room, unless it's really really big. Be well. Mark
- Mark Feldstein

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
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http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=21729

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*****


NEW QUESTION 5: How Do You Charge a Client for Photos?
How do I charge the client, when they are requesting images on a CD?
- William

ANSWER 1:
You can do it two ways. Charge them a price for the entire CD, or charge them per slide. Then give them a copyright permission letter.
Or... you could just not offer them. It's your work so it's your decision.
Like for me, I don't offer CDs for studio work, but I offer them to my wedding clients.
I offer all of the pictures in my most expensive package, and don't offer them in the cheaper ones. But if they want them, I charge $5 a slide. Some photographers charge $200 and up for CDs.
It just depends on you and how much money you want to make off it.
- Janessa Taber-Webb

ANSWER 2:
Who and what is your client? IBM? Charge them a ton! Your relatives? Ease off a little. Friends? Somewhere in between.
Shooting one portrait? Shooting a 747 aircraft? Travel costs? Are you doing a lot of post-processing? Are you an experienced photographer? What are you worth per hour? All of these things must be taken into account to answer your question.
- Pete Herman

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
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*****


NEW QUESTION 6: Places To Get Great Animal Pictures
After browsing through some of the galleries here at BetterPhoto.com, I'm amazed at some of the great photos of animals, exotic and local. I am an 'amateur' photographer. I absolutely love to take pictures of animals and landscapes, but I'm kind of getting bored with taking pictures of my cats and at my farm. I was just wondering if anyone could give me some tips on where I might go to be able to find some great subjects. I'm open to all suggestions. Thanks for your help.
- Melissa H. Hallum

ANSWER 1:
Look for zoos and drive-through animal parks in your area, wildlife refuges, parks and protected areas where they aren't so frightened of humans. Look on your state's travel promotion Web site. They usually have good ideas.
- Carolyn Fletcher

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Visit PickYourShots.com - Carolyn's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
Or take a trip to Kenya or Tanzania! The Massai Mara and the Serengeti are great places to see amazing animals.
- Daniela Meli

ANSWER 3:
If you just need a change ... well, shooting out of a local pet store can be fun. The zoo is a blast, but the best time is in the rain. Just some thoughts.
- Debby Tabb

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See Sample Photo - pearls for girl:
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See Sample Photo - his and hers:
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See Sample Photo - bat dog:
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ANSWER 4:
Parks and wildlife refuges are good places, and since the animals are fairly used to people, you can usually see a lot of them and get fairly close (but not too close, since they are wild animals, after all). You don't want to stress the animal or risk getting hurt.
Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain National Park, Glacier National Park are all places I have been that have done well for me. State parks can be good for waterfowl and other birds, deer, etc. Beaches tend to be good places for waterfowl like herons, egrets, ducks, gulls, etc. For wildlife, remember the environment you are in. You will see much more wildlife in an area that supports more life than in, say, a desert. I have seen deer and sheep on my trips to Arches and Canyonlands, but not nearly as often as I have in Rocky Mountain NP.
- David A. Bliss

ANSWER 5:
Living on a farm should give you a little bit of an advantage as far as wildlife is concerned. If I lived on a farm, I'd try to find a spot where I could set up a permanent blind and get a predator call from an outfitter such as Cabelas and spend a little time in the blind trying my hand at calling wildlife to me. You could get something like a 'distressed rabbit' call and if an animal is close enough they will come to investigate. Coyotes, bobcat, fox, and I've read that even deer will come out of curiosity. There are calls for as little as $10 that claim to bring animals as far away as 1/2 mile.
- Sharon D

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ANSWER 6:
Also, check out the National Wildlife Refuge map and see where they are located in your state. You may be pleasantly surprised to fine one nearby. Also, join the local and National Audubon Society and take field trips with the experienced birder(s).
- Nobi Nagase

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*****


NEW QUESTION 7: Reflectors: Buying One Vs. Making Your Own
I would like to purchase a reflector. I am a novice who uses primarily natural light. What would you all recommend? Thanks.
- Jessica Lubs

ANSWER 1:
Greetings Jessica: Instead of purchasing one, make one. The easiest thing is to just get a large piece of foamcore, available at many camera stores, art stores, etc., and cut it into whatever size you want to work with. OR...
You can also paint a sheet of 1/4 " plywood white or any other color and use that. Or...
You can buy material of any color you want at a local fabric store, and any reflective value you want, and just attach it to a sturdy backing like poster board, foamcore, even plywood, and use that. Gold, white, silver are popular. If you've got a light stand, you can attach your home grown reflector to that using any number of spring clamps available in a hardware store or B&H sells a number of clamps by Bogen made for the purpose.
Aside from homemade reflectors working well with available/natural light, they also work fine with studio flash or even hot lights. Get the picture? ;>)
Mark
- Mark Feldstein

ANSWER 2:
Hello, Jessica. For outdoor portraits, my choice is white. Gold is too soft, and silver is too harsh. You can purchase a collapsible reflector and, after a week learning how to fold it up, you should be set to go. lol, just kidding. If you take a reflector on a hike, your youngest daughter looks old enough to be your assistant and cast some light into a shadow to illuminate a flower. She'd like helping mommy, I'm sure. Just a suggestion. (I viewed your gallery.)
- Gary Berger

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ANSWER 3:
As Gary said, silver produces a hard, kind of cold reflection on people. Gold is nice and simulates late afternoon or early morning sunlight ... or jaundice. Depends on how it's used.
The light discs that can be folded up into a small pack are OK, but a bit pricey depending on the size you get. And, although not widely reported, a number of photographers have been attacked by discs with very high-strung bungee cords while trying to fold them up for storage. I hear this is true for the especially larger sizes.
BTW, you should experiment if you make your own. Sure, you can use some spray adhesive or tape to attach whatever reflective surface you want to a piece of foamcore or anything else for that matter. Sometimes a pattern, mixing say gold in strips with white strips softens the effect a bit.
Umbrellas are light modifiers as well, but usually used with an accompanying light source like a flash directed either into it or through it. Umbrellas (depending on the kind you have) are nice for wrapping the subject with diffused light. But I have to tell ya, using an umbrella (or a reflector panel for that matter) on a stand on a breezy day can be a rather exciting experience. Almost lost a perfectly good assistant last year who was holding a reflector panel out on a roof top behind a window blocking reflections for a food shot. YIKES!! Poor guy almost got blown half way to Big Sur. Fortunately, he let go of the panel in time.
Mark ;>)
- Mark Feldstein

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PHOTOGRAPHY Q&A - CONTINUING FROM PREVIOUS NEWSLETTER
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CONTINUING QUESTION 1: 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

ANSWER 2:
Here is a reference point. This shot was taken at a night game, lighting probably about the same as in a gym - maybe a little darker. The exposure details are:
ISO800
f/2.0
1/400 sec
I used Noise Ninja to remove some noise in post processing. You will want to set the camera into manual mode - since the lighting is constant, expose for the players.
- Peter M. Wilcox

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ANSWER 3:
Ken, Peter brings up a god point - post-processing with a tool like Noise Ninja can also help a lot. But again, notice that he shot that at f2 - doesn't say what the focal length of the lens was, though if it is longer than 100MM, it would be a pretty costly lens.
- Bob

ANSWER 4:
It was the ZD 150mm F2 (300mm 35 equivalent), and it is a little pricey. Nice glass, though...
It was very difficult to get good shots with an f/3.5 lens, or worse, f/5.6 when zoomed. I was mostly interested in the marching band during half time, and sometimes they stand still long enough for a photo. The games were impossible, though, before I had a fast lens.
- Peter M. Wilcox

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ANSWER 5:
I'm shooting a lot of basketball and track indoors lately, and there's no substitute for fast glass. Here's one of my shots, taken at ISO 3200 with the Canon 20D, using an 85mm prime lens all the way open at f/1/8. In addition, I haven't used it yet, but Canon does have a $70 50mm lens at f/1.8 if you need something inexpensive - I find 50mm to be the perfect lens for shooting from under the hoop in basketball.
- Ian Lozada

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ANSWER 6:
The guys covering NBA and NHL games are hooked into huge arena strobes that are going off for 1/2000th of a second, which is basically unnoticeable. Some of the photographers I've covered high school games with have wireless remotes attached to their DSLRs, hooked up to Speedlites on stands positioned strategically around the gym. It's not an on-camera setting for that type of stuff.
- Ian Lozada

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ANSWER 7:
Michelle, whether or not the wireless setting in your particular camera will auto-trigger a given flash depends on the models involved. But unless the flash you trigger is pretty humongous and hung from the rafters, it won't matter. You can no doubt imagine the distraction a powerful flash would have to an athlete if it goes off in their line of sight - for this reason, flash is frowned upon in most venues (stadiums filled with folks using their instamatics don't count, as the little bitty bulbs in those cameras are useless beyond 8 feet anyway). If you have a flash unit that can throw appreciable light 30 or more feet distant, then you best not rely on the ability to use it in an indoor sporting situation.
- Bob

ANSWER 8:
Someone above mentioned Noise Ninja. I've been using a product called "Neat Image" for several years and it does a great job of removing noise (both film grain and digital) and is also much cheaper. Although in the reviews Noise Ninja is given a very slight edge in quality over Neat Image. Either way, it may solve part of your problem. I've cleaned up some pretty nasty grain problems in the past.
- James R. Glidewell

ANSWER 9:
I have been shooting my new D50 w/ 18-70 lens at my daughter's indoor games. Like you, I have had problems with the (lack of) light. You may have already thought of this, but I used software to increase the brightness of a photo I took at 1/125 sec shutter speed (it was pretty dark). Although not real professional looking, it wasn't too bad. The software (called FastStone) is a free download off the web. Another thing I tried was to put the aperture at f/8 and take the slow shutter speed the camera calculated. Sometimes I could get some players in focus while others were blurred, giving a nice sense of motion to the image. Something different you might like to experiment with.
I also just bought a 50mm f/1.8 (translates to 75mm on my D50) lens, which I hope will preclude any need to process the images and give me the stop-action shots I want.
- Scott H.

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