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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, February 07, 2006
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* SPOTLIGHT: Rob Sheppard: OP Editor, Photographer ... & New BP Instructor!
* BETTERPHOTO: Book of Month: Creative Nature & Outdoor Photography
* BETTERPHOTO: BetterPhoto Online School: Focus on Specialty Subjects
* BETTERPHOTO: Lensbabies & Tamrac: Proud Sponsors of BetterPhoto's Contest
* FEATURED GALLERY: Focusing on People's Best Friend: The Dog
* PHOTO TRIVIA QUESTION: Art Trend / Lunar Mission
* THIS WEEK'S TIP: The Lowdown on Wildlife Photography ... by Jim Zuckerman
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 1: Wedding Photography - Need Some Tips!
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 2: Background Vs. Flash
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 3: Night Photography: Lights and Fog
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 4: Creative Photography: Zooming Technique
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 5: Is My Nikon D70 Defective?
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 6: Landscape Photography
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 7: Reducing Red Eye


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IN THE SPOTLIGHT - ADVERTISEMENT
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Rob Sheppard: OP Editor, Photographer ... & New BP Instructor!
Learn how to create images that grab viewers' attention in "Impact in Your Photographs – the Wow Factor". This exciting new online course is taught by Rob Sheppard, editor and columnist of Outdoor Photographer magazine, editor of PCPhoto magazine, and author of The National Geographic Field Guide to Photography - Digital and Adobe Camera Raw for Digital Photographers Only. More info:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/RSH01.asp


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WHAT'S NEW AT BETTERPHOTO.COM
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Welcome to the 250th issue of SnapShot!

Hi {FirstName}

Lots of exciting news at BetterPhoto.com, including the 250th issue of this newsletter! And, of course, I am thrilled to announce our newest instructor: Rob Sheppard. An awesome photographer, he is also the editor of Outdoor Photographer and PCPhoto magazines, and the author of many books. Plus, Rob writes OP's outstanding "Digital Horizons" column. Check out his new course, Impact in Your Photographs – the Wow Factor:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/RSH01.asp

In this issue of SnapShot, don't miss items on two of our outstanding instructors - photographer-authors Brenda Tharp (Book of the Month) and Jim Zuckerman (Photo Tip). Plus, we have our usual collection of excellent questions and answers.

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


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Book of Month: Creative Nature & Outdoor Photography
Our online store showcases the fantastic books and DVDs from our talented crew of BetterPhoto instructors. For February, we spotlight Brenda Tharp's awesome "Creative Nature & Outdoor Photography." If you buy this fine book before the end of February, you'll receive free U.S. shipping. And it's autographed by Brenda! For details:
http://www.betterphoto.com/product/ourProductDetail.asp?productID=1171


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BetterPhoto Online School: Focus on Specialty Subjects
We have an amazing range of courses in this category, with topics including: fashion, portfolio development, flowers, people, animals, travel, photojournalism, wedding albums, Corel Painter, Polaroid image and emulsion transfer, and digital black and white printing. See the schedule:
http://www.betterphoto.com/online-photo-courses.asp?catsearch=SPL


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Lensbabies & Tamrac: Proud Sponsors of BetterPhoto's Contest
The BetterPhoto monthly contest is a popular one. It's free, of course, but it also includes some very cool incentives for entering, including a choice of two excellent First Place options: a Lensbaby 2.0 or a Tamrac Sling Pack. To enter the contest, go to:
http://www.betterphoto.com/contest.asp

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FEATURED GALLERY
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Focusing on People's Best Friend: The Dog
Some of the more photographer-friendly subjects at BetterPhoto are dogs. And our gallery shows so many creative images: ears-to-paws portraits, close-ups of wet noses, shots of sleeping dogs, images of owner-pet interactions, and some very funny poses! View this BP gallery at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGall2.asp?catID=457

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PHOTO TRIVIA QUIZ OF THE WEEK
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Last week, we asked:
There's an art trend that imitates photographic effects and details. What is its name?

The first, best answer - entered by BetterPhoto member Benjamin Trapnell is:
Photorealism

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 - Lunar Mission - entered by BetterPhoto member Kerry Drager

In what year did a spacecraft return to Earth with the first images of the far side of the moon?

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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The Lowdown on Wildlife Photography ... by Jim Zuckerman
The Lowdown on Wildlife Photography ... by Jim Zuckerman
Instructor-author Jim Zuckerman loves sharing his expertise here at BetterPhoto.com's Instructor Insights blogs. Great advice, too, in Jim's blog from his recent winter Better Workshop in Montana: "We also took pictures of a wolverine. I had never photographed one before, so it was great to add this species to my collection. I suggested to all the students that to make the shots more impressive, we had to shoot from a low perspective. This creates a more intimate portrait, and it gives the animal greater stature. Wolverines are very close to the ground, and that meant that we had to shoot from the prone position. The temperature had warmed up and the snow was starting to melt, so we all got wet. But we also got exceptional shots."

Jim Zuckerman teaches many excellent courses at BetterPhoto.com:



Top Ten Tips:
http://www.betterphoto.com/exploring/tips.asp

All Tips:
http://www.betterphoto.com/exploring/allTips.asp

Add Your Own Tip:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/login.asp?category=tip&inputType=tip

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ADVERTISEMENT
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Absolute Beginner's Guide to Taking Great Photos
My new book guides you away from the point-and-pray method of taking pictures to shooting with confidence. In this simple and clear how-to book, you will learn:
  • How to compose your picture with a more artful eye
  • The top qualities that winning photos exhibit
  • Tips and secrets for consistently getting better results... and much more.
You can order this book online, call our toll-free order processing number 1-888-927-9992, or simply send a check or money order for USD $16.90 (or USD$18.90 if shipping to Canada or USD$24.90 to other international addresses) to:

BetterPhoto.com
P.O. Box 2781
Redmond, WA 98073-2781 USA

To order online, visit:
http://www.betterphoto.com/product/ourProductDetail.asp?productID=1096


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PHOTOGRAPHY Q&A - NEW THIS WEEK
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NEW QUESTION 1: Wedding Photography - Need Some Tips!
My friend has a wedding coming up, and she likes my pictures. I have all the equipment, but I've never shot a wedding. I've watched a photographer at a wedding once and it looks easy. I'm good with people so that shouldn't be a problem. I've spent countless hours in the library and bookstore, reading and looking at photos. Is there anything that I should know that I can't find in a book? Thank you much.
- Brenda Lee

ANSWER 1:
Brenda,
Congratulations on your event. You're doing this for a friend who is well aware of your experiance and I believe (and you'll see that from all my posts) that is a great place to start. Here is what I suggest:
- Still have a contract. I have I contract that includes "Photography is an artistic media, and as such, you may not see the value in every shot taken..." However, we do guarantee to get every pose on the suggested pose list that has been provided. (There is a thread on contracts where I have posted all of this.)
- Have a posing list or two. We have three - a small one we present, a long one we shoot from (in addition to candid and photojournalistic) and one for the DJ. Present it at least 2 weeks before, and invite them to add anything else (people or places) they may want to see in the way of poses.
- Talk to them and, hopefully, the officiator, and visit the venue for test shots.
- Discuss the time they would like to do the posed shots and then take control of that time.
- Ask another family member or friend to help gather the family or party members for the larger shots.
Well, here are some suggestions for you. I wish you the best of luck in this venture.
- Debby Tabb

See Debby's Premium BetterPholio™

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=22248

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=22248

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NEW QUESTION 2: Background Vs. Flash
Hi Everyone...
I have noticed that many of the wedding photos I have taken have dark backgrounds... especially when I am indoors at the receptions. Now I am shooting with only one flash, so I understand that the backgrounds will be somewhat dark, especially when I am close to my subject. But is there a way to compensate perhaps we timed exposure, faster film speed or exposure value? Thanks
- Joseph M. Kolecki

ANSWER 1:
You need to slow your shutter speed down to let more "ambient light" in. I only did one wedding so I'm still learning, but this was my experience: If the subject was moving (bridal dance), I got blur when I went too slow (1/8) even though everyone told me the flash would be enough to freeze the motion. I probably should've gone up to 1/20 or 1/30, not sure. But if they were standing fairly still (pose for cutting the cake), I got great shots on 1/8, nice balanced ambient light with flash. (I was using Kodak Portra 160NC film.
- Denyse M. LaMay

See Denyse's Premium BetterPholio™

Visit dmariephoto.com - Denyse's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
When you use a strobe, its speed (often 1/50,000 sec.) controls the light situation. Your camera needs to be set below its flash synch speed - not sure what camera you're using. Typical synch speeds: 1/125th or 1/250th sec.
Light fall off from the flash follows the laws of physics - you'll lose 1/4 the light for each doubling of the distance between the flash and the subject or background.
With one flash, it'll be very hard (if not impossible) to control background lighting, especially when your subject might be a bride in a white wedding gown.
While you can take a picture at a speed of 1/20th or 1/30th with flash, you can't hold your camera steady at that speed. You'll have fuzzy results even though the flash can freeze the action.
- John Sandstedt

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=22244

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=22244

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NEW QUESTION 3: Night Photography: Lights and Fog
I have very little experience with night photography. This past weekend I experimented with shooting a bridge at night in a particularly dense fog. I was disappointed that the street lights ended up as globes of light with halos around them instead of the artistic lanterns that they were. Is this because of the fog and is there a way to lessen the halos without compromising the overall exposure of the shot?
- Ken Cole

See Ken's Premium BetterPholio™

See Sample Photo - Night Fog Picture:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGallDetail.asp?photoID=1734225

ANSWER 1:
The halo effect was caused by the overexposure of the lights, a necessity to get the rest of the bridge properly exposed. Primarily, it was caused by the fog, which reflected the light from the lanterns back onto the lanterns. Personally, I like the photo the way it is. It brings out the mood caused by the fog. Really like the photo.
- Kerry L. Walker

ANSWER 2:
Hey Ken,
Kerry is right, and I like the photo also. Next time, take it when there is just a little bit of daylight left. That should even out the exposure and give you better detail.
sam
- Samuel Smith

See Samuel's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 3:
Ken, what Kerry and Samuel are describing relates to a reality of imaging systems - the so-called dynamic range. This measures the differential between the lowest and highest amount of light a single shot can have while not losing details in either the shadows or the highlights.

Film and CCDs have less dynamic range than the human eye/brain vision apparatus. This is why you can make out the details of the lanterns as well as see the details of the bridge stonework with your eyes, but the camera cannot capture both simultaneously. Sorry, it's just the limit of the medium.
Now, there is sort of a workaround, which can be done with a digital camera (it's just a lot harder with film since you have to have precise registration). You can try this:
Set the camera on a tripod for sturdy and stable support. The plan is to take two photos, then use an image editing program to sandwich them together and remove the "bad" parts of the top layer.
So, take one photo to expose properly for the shadow and dark details. Without moving the camera a whit, change the aperture (or shutter speed) to get the lights properly exposed - so you will be able to see them rather than the globes of luminance you got now.
On the computer, open one of these images, then the other - the second must, of course, be precisely registered over the first (which makes it tougher to do with film). Say the top "layer" is the one exposed for the shadows - so the lamps on this one are big balls of light. Using the appropriate erasing tool in the editing program, erase the top layer in the area around the lamps to reveal the properly exposed lamps on the layer below.
Hope that made sense. Not easy, but at least it gets you beyond the inherent limitation of the camera's ability to record vast differences in light simultaneously.
- Bob

ANSWER 4:
Thanks so much, Kerry, Sam and Bob. I really appreciate all your suggestions. Bob, I have heard and read elsewhere about the technique of combining two different exposure settings. I didn't think of it here and didn't have time for it, anyway, because it started pouring buckets right after taking this shot and had to pack up very quickly. However, it is a great suggestion for future situations. I definitely want to go back again (not necessarily in fog) because this is a westerly view and I think has some twilight/sunset possibilities with the lights on.
Thanks also for the comments about the shot in general. I appreciate it!
- Ken Cole

See Ken's Premium BetterPholio™

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=22242

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=22242

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NEW QUESTION 4: Creative Photography: Zooming Technique
I have been reading all of this info pertaining to zoom and telephoto and I am still confused. I have seen some really cool images that were made while zooming?? What does that mean exactly?
- Andrea W. Hedgepeth

See Andrea's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 1:
By definition, a zoom lens has the ability to change focal lengths. Photos created while zooming were likely tripod-mounted cameras, and the photographer changed the focal length (zoomed in or out), while the shutter was open.
- Bob Cammarata

Visit cammphoto.com - Bob's Deluxe BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
Andrea, as Bob C described, a shot taken with a zoom lens mounted on a camera at a slow-enough shutter speed with the lens itself changing focal lengths is what you are describing. I have such a shot, taken many moons ago, at this site:
http://www.yessy.com/f8lee/index.html?i=9227 This was taken with an 80-200 zoom lens (in New Orleans, if you couldn't tell) at a relatively slow shutter speed on Kodachrome film. I don't know the shutter speed exactly - something between 1/8th and 1/30th of a second, I think. The camera was handheld - no tripod in this case.
This was the shot I liked best of the 20+ I took that day - each at a slightly different shutter speed and/or different speed of my twisting the zoom ring. It's the kind of thing you need to experiment with - there is no simple formula. There is even a difference between zooming from wide angle to telephoto and then doing it in the reverse.
So, find a subject (something with some bright colors and contrasted shapes perhaps) and go shoot a bunch of shots with all kinds of variation - if you have a digital camera you could even see the particulars for the shot you end up liking best.
- Bob

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=22232

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=22232

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NEW QUESTION 5: Is My Nikon D70 Defective?
Hi all,
I posted a query a few days ago about shooting with Nikon D70, and I got very good responses from you all. But, I was also told to check if my Nikon d70 was not "back-focusing" due to a misaligned sensor (?), by taking two pictures in the Autofocus mode and in the Manual focus mode. So could you look at my gallery and find two pictures of a pumpkin and let me know what you think about them?
Thanks - I really appreciate it.
- Radha

ANSWER 1:
Radha,
There's no simple answer to your question, other than to say that it depends on the situation. Most Autofocus camera and lens systems work very well under most "normal" shooting conditions. There are a few situations that can cause problems for Autofocus systems, such as:
- Low light conditions - especially if your lens does not have a large maximum aperture like f/2.8 or f/1.8.
- Shiny, reflective surfaces
- Low-contrast scenes, like a bare featureless wall or a very clear or very gray sky.
- Shooting through glass - sometimes a polarizing filter can help this, sometimes not.
- Shooting through bars at the zoo, or a chain-link fence, or branches of a tree.
- Macro (very close up) shots - many photographers will use manual focus for macro shots, since the depth of field is so shallow, it is critical that you focus on a precise spot.
- Many photographers will choose manual focus for portraits to be sure that the eyes are precisely in focus.
I'm sure there are some other situations that I have left out. And I'm sure that there are photographers who simply prefer to use Manual Focus because they are more confident with it.
- Chris A. Vedros

See Chris's Premium BetterPholio™

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=22231

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=22231

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NEW QUESTION 6: Landscape Photography
Hi, I own a Panasonic Dmc Fz5 digital camera. While shooting in very bright sunlight landscape photos (shutter speeds at 1/1300 - 1/2000), the photos appear very soft, miscoloured and slightly dark when viewed on a PC. The camera is set on program mode. There is no problem at speeds less than 1/1000. Could you tell me the ailment and remedy? Thanks
- Ajit S. Pai

ANSWER 1:
My immediate reaction reading your post is to ask why you are shooting landscapes at such a high shutter speed. Typically, high shutter speeds are used to stop action, not to capture a static subject – i.e. landscapes. The fast shutter speed may contribute to the softness of your image; however, it is probably not the main factor. If you shoot your landscapes in full sun – particularly very bright sun – the colors may appear washed out or not accurate to the colors you eye sees. Most landscapes, at least in my experience, are better shot in the softer light of early morning or late afternoon when the sun is lower on the horizon. I have found that when colors are washed out, the entire image can appear soft or even blurred.
The fact that some of your images appear dark when “developed” (I know, it’s digital, so that means computer developed as it were) may mean that the very bright sunlight is tricking your in-camera meter to expose for the brightness while underexposing your actual subject. This is a common error when trying to compose and shoot any subject in bright light. Assuming that you can control both aperture value and shutter speed manually, my suggestions would be to stop shooting in program mode and start taking control by using either aperture priority or manual mode. Select an aperture value first – one that is chosen based on how much depth of field you wish to include – and then select the shutter speed that will provide you with a correct exposure. I think you will find that your images will come out better.
I am also a strong believer in using a tripod whenever I can – my handheld shots rarely have the sharpness I want. Anyway, I hope that this helps, and try loading a few of your images so we can see what you are talking about.
- Irene C. Troy

See Irene's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
Irene is so right, Ajit. Usually I only shoot 1 hour after sunrise and 1 hour before sunset.
sam
- Samuel Smith

See Samuel's Premium BetterPholio™

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=22205

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=22205

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*****


NEW QUESTION 7: Reducing Red Eye
I have heard or read somewhere that by taking a picture of a person or group at an angle while they are looking ahead, or having them look off to the side of the camera while you shoot straight on, will reduce red-eye. Does anyone know if this really works?
- Anita Taylor

See Anita's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 1:
Red-eye is the reflection of the light directly off the subject's retinas (which are red with blood vessels). So, whether you will get red-eye depends on a bunch of things: the distance of the flash tube from the axis of the taking lens, the distance you are from your subjects, the diameter of their pupils when you take the shot (which, of course, depends on how dark it is), as well as the direction in which they are looking.
It is certainly likely that red-eye will be reduced or eliminated if you tell your subject to look off to the side - again, depending on how dilated their pupils are. A better way might be to move the flash up a few inches (this is why pros often use flash brackets) as this will increase the angle of incidence from the tube to the retina and consequently the light reflecting off the retina will fall below the lens rather than go directly through it.
- Bob

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=22140

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=22140

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PHOTOGRAPHY Q&A - CONTINUING FROM PREVIOUS NEWSLETTER
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BetterPhoto.com

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