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SNAPSHOT - PHOTO NEWS FROM BETTERPHOTO.COM
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Welcome to SnapShot, the weekly newsletter on
the art of photography from
BetterPhoto.com


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IN THIS ISSUE - Wednesday, February 15, 2006
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* SPOTLIGHT: Ready for an Online Photo Adventure? Take a BetterPhoto Course!
* BETTERPHOTO: Beginning Photography: Learn from Jed Manwaring and Silvermans!
* BETTERPHOTO: Where Is Jim? Catch Free Book Talks in Florida & California
* BETTERPHOTO: Learn Digital Wedding Album Design
* FEATURED GALLERY: Focus on Valentine's Day
* PHOTO TRIVIA QUESTION: Lunar Mission / Topping the Digital Charts
* THIS WEEK'S TIP: Look for the Light ... by Brenda Tharp
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 1: Photographing Silhouettes & Using Fill Flash
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 2: How to Use Flash and Flash Meter
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 3: How to Photograph the Moon
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 4: Youth Basketball Photos
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 5: Archiving Your Digital Images
* NEW PHOTO Q&A 6: Lens Speed Numbers


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IN THE SPOTLIGHT - ADVERTISEMENT
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Ready for an Online Photo Adventure? Take a BetterPhoto Course!
In BetterPhoto's online classes, you interact directly with published, professional photographers who are also experienced instructors. These courses are so much fun and you learn a lot in a very short time. See the Spring schedule 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 251st issue of SnapShot!

Hi {FirstName}

Lots of exciting things going on at BetterPhoto! Our Spring school session is shaping up to be our very best ever. For example, we recently added Outdoor Photographer and PCPhoto editor Rob Sheppard to our talented staff of instructors. Rob will teach the awesome "Impact in Your Photographs Ė the Wow Factor" course. Check it out at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/RSH01.asp

In this issue of SnapShot, don't miss instructor/author Brenda Tharp's excellent Photo Tip, along with the usual fine features.

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


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Beginning Photography: Learn from Jed Manwaring and Silvermans!
Begin capturing memorable photographs instead of forgettable snapshots! "Getting Started: How to Make Great Photographs" with Jed Manwaring and "Jump Start to Digital Photography" with Susan and Neil Silverman are just two of BetterPhoto's outstanding beginning courses. For info:
http://www.betterphoto.com/online-photo-courses.asp?catsearch=BGN


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Where Is Jim? Catch Free Book Talks in Florida & California
Catch BetterPhoto founder/photographer Jim Miotke as he shares tips on digital photography. Coming up next: Jim will appear February 26th in Orlando, Florida. For complete details, see Jim's schedule at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/where-is-jim.asp


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Learn Digital Wedding Album Design
Offering digital albums to clients can be the unique selling proposition that sets you apart from other wedding photographers. In her exciting BetterPhoto online course, author-photographer Kathy Woodford will show you how to create digital albums. For details, go to:
http://www.betterphoto.com/photocourses/WFD01.asp

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FEATURED GALLERY
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Focus on Valentine's Day
Our gallery of Valentine's Day images is just awesome ... with BetterPhoto photographers sharing so many creative images that mark this very special day. See this gallery at:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGall2.asp?catID=303

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PHOTO TRIVIA QUIZ OF THE WEEK
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Last week, we asked:
In what year did a spacecraft return to Earth with the first images of the far side of the moon?

The first, best answer - entered by BetterPhoto member Connie Cleveland is:
1959

Editor's Note: Yes, indeed, Connie! Here's more: Luna 3 was launched in October 1959 by the old Soviet Union.

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 - Topping the Digital Charts - entered by BetterPhoto member Kerry Drager

What camera manufacturer captured the No. 1 slot in U.S. digital-camera sales for 2005?

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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Look for the Light ... by Brenda Tharp

Here's a tip from photographer Brenda Tharp's recent "Instructor Insights" posting in Better Blogs: "Learn to see what light would be best for your subject. Sidelight? Backlight? Soft or diffused light? Strong, direct light? Each subject has qualities that would be best expressed by a certain type of light. If itís stairs with shadows you want, youíll need strong light. If you want the details of something macro, itís usually diffused light. Sidelight makes texture stand out; backlight defines the shape of something. So walk around your subject, and study it, or go out looking for subjects that will work under the light you have right now."
See Brenda Tharp's Premium BetterPholio™.

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

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

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

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ADVERTISEMENT
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Absolute Beginner's Guide to Taking Great Photos
My new book guides you away from the point-and-pray method of taking pictures to shooting with confidence. In this simple and clear how-to book, you will learn:

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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: Photographing Silhouettes & Using Fill Flash
Hi,
I'd like to know how to take silhouette pictures: Does the sun have to be behind the subject? Should it be at a particular time of day, or can it be any time at all? Also, what does fill flash mean? Do I need special flash to do this, or can I use the built-in strobe in my camera? I find the camera's flash to be quite harsh. Thank you!!
- ewurama

ANSWER 1:
A silhouette is simply an image where the foreground subject detail is lost in favor of the background lighting being properly exposed. That is, if the sky in the background is bright, and you position yourself in such a way that your subject is in its own shadow, you will get a silhouette. This is because, compared to our eyes, film (and CCD chips) have a limited dynamic range - the difference of the brightest and darkest things they can record is far less than the brightest and darkest things we can see visually.
Think of taking a picture at the beach... you can see your friend clearly even with the sun at her back, as well as make out the wispy clouds in the sky. But a camera can either expose the sky properly (where the person will be blacked out) or else expose the subject properly (where the sky behind will be "blown out" - that is, turn completely white.)
So the answer is: You don't have to have the sun itself behind the subject - you just need to have any very bright background behind the subject and have the camera meter expose the background properly.
Fill flash, then, is what it's called when you have that friend on the beach and use the flash, even though it seems far too bright to need a flash. What the flash unit provides is extra light to reflect off the subject, to bring the subject more in line with the light coming from the sky behind. If the subject is not too far away, your built-in flash can be fine.
Hope that helps.
- Bob

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=22402

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=22402

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NEW QUESTION 2: How to Use Flash and Flash Meter
I have the Nikon D70 and the SB-800 flash unit. I usually avoid taking photos inside but sometimes it can't be helped. My husband is retiring from the military in a few months and my nephew is getting married in October. I will need to use my flash for these events. I'm not the professional at the wedding but I want to take nice photos. If I'm taking a photo inside a dark hall, which mode do I put my camera and flash on? I thought about buying the Sekonic L-358 meter. Will the meter help? Do I have to use a sync cord with the Sekonic meter? I would appreciate any help you can give me.
- Sherri McGee

See Sherri's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 1:
The separate flash meter is best used in a studio setting and full manual settings. In the situations you describe you are best off using the i-TTL Balanced Fill Flash metering of your D70 + SB-800. Use P mode, or to set a longer shutter speed (1/15-1/60) to keep the background from going too dark use S. If the ceilings are not too high (about 12 feet or less) and your subject not too far away (<15 feet), use bounce flash to avoid harsh shadows.
- Jon Close

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=22375

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=22375

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NEW QUESTION 3: How to Photograph the Moon
I shot some pictures of a full moon, and when using an exposure long enough to get detail in the tree and night sky, I blew out the moon... Does anyone know the correct way to shoot this without blowing the moon out? Anyone know how to tone it down in PS?
- Tonya Cozart

See Sample Photo - moonlite:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGallDetail.asp?photoID=1761600

ANSWER 1:
Probably the best way would be to take two separate pictures and combine them into one. The two exposure values for the two things (trees and moon) are so different that it's probably impossible to get them exposed properly with a digital camera ... unless somehow the trees and such were lit very well. Hope this helps!
- Andrew Laverghetta

See Andrew's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 2:
Hey Tonya,
Here is a pic I did without Photoshop. I took a photo of the moon using the "Moony 11" rule (f11 and shutter speed of 1/ISO or film speed). I then took a separate exposure of the city with a long 30-second exposure. Like I said, I didn't use Photoshop, as it was all done on film with a multiple exposure, but you may be able to use digital editing to get like results.
- Steve Warren

See Sample Photo - Edited moon over NYC Photo :
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGallDetail.asp?photoID=1713357

ANSWER 3:
If you are metering in a lot of background, the detail of the moon will wash out. The camera will try to incorporate the brightness into its grey scale. Cameras have to use a grey scale to meter all colors. If it sees mainly dark colors, it will think it needs to open up to read the dark. You need to compensate to achieve good detail of the moon. I've gotten some really great tight shots of the moon. The best shot I got of a distant frame was by using a spot meter. Have a great day and keep shooting.
- Mark R. Hiatt

ANSWER 4:
This isn't really an answer to your question, but it's a tip on moon pictures. I've found out that full moons generally don't turn out as good as crescent moons. An exception to this is definitely Steve's pic. So when a crescent moon comes, make sure that you try it to and see which works out better for you.
- Brendan Knell

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=22370

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=22370

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NEW QUESTION 4: Youth Basketball Photos
My first professional assignment is taking photos for a youth basketball league (still shots, individual and team). I'm using a Nikon D70s with a 18-70mm lens and the built-in flash. What equipment do I need to avoid the green tint in the pictures? Do I need to purchase a flash, perhaps the 800? I have also purchased 250-watt lights w/clamps... will these be handy? Should I use a backdrop?
- Tara Warren

ANSWER 1:
I always prefer a flash to floodlights. As for the built-in flash, I suggest a dedicated flash. I'm not familiar with the 800, but I suggest a flash that will have an auto range of at least four feet. Another thing you may want to think about is a slightly longer lens, maybe a 70-210mm zoom. I do my best portrait work with a 135mm prime lens.
If you use a flash, you won't need to worry about the natural lighting. If you use natural lighting, you will need a correctional filter. When working with indoor lighting, I always use a flash. I have a Promaster 5750DX that I mount on a grip using a dedicated cord and module. This system works very well (for me) in theaters and sporting events. When shooting portraits, I add a Lumiquest Promax bounce card system to further help in the reduction of red eye.
Backdrops are a good idea. I usually use a painted muslin backdrop.
I hope I've helped a little. Have fun and keep shooting.
- Mark R. Hiatt

ANSWER 2:
Tara, the most important issue about the lighting is the control you have over something you bring as opposed to being limited to whatever way the light and shadows fall from the gym lights.
You ask about the green tint - which, of course, is due to the typical cast of fluorescent or mercury vapor lights (probably the latter in the gym). Since you have a digital camera, you could correct for this tint using the white balance feature in one of two ways:
1) Take your first "picture' of a neutral gray card - or better still, a card with pure white, black and gray on it - and use that as a reference shot in post processing to correct the colors later. This process amounts to you "teaching" the post-processing software (Photoshop, et al) what is white, gray and black (using the eyedropper tool) and letting it then correct the whole range of images.
2) Use an Expodisc and the custom white balance function of the camera to set white balance before taking any photos in the first place.
That said, it is still advantageous for you to "bring your own lighting" rather than rely on the positions of the existing lights. If you arrange your lighting such that your flash (or lamps) provide most of the illumination, then the gym's light's colors will be subdued. But since flash and tungsten lights have different color temperatures themselves, (flash is daylight balanced, continuous tungsten floodlights are warmer at about 3400 degrees K), you may not want to use both at the same time.
When you need portability or are concerned with heat build-up, flash is usually a better approach. But in a large room where the lights probably won't make everyone feel like a baking cookie, the floodlights might be a better choice since you can position a few of them around rather than rely on a single light source. I mean, the SB800 is an excellent unit, but for your purposes here perhaps the lamps would be a better choice.
- Bob

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=22350

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=22350

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NEW QUESTION 5: Archiving Your Digital Images
I know that some people will buy the CD cases that hold about 100 at a time, but is this the safest way to store your important images?
- LaChelle A.

ANSWER 1:
Well, this is an important issue, and there's not one simple answer.
First: when you back up files (of any type) to optical media, you should plan on making at least two sets. One set is then transported to a different location altogether. Having your CDs (even 2 sets of them) sitting on your desk next to the computer itself is fine if the hard drive fails, but if your house burns down, you'll have lost everything. So, while I have one of those 128-capacity CD/DVD holders at home, I have another book at my office with a duplicate set of discs. Of course, if the big one hits (I live in Southern California), then perhaps even that won't be enough, but I'm not ready to ship a third set to family back east. Though who knows...
Meanwhile, another important aspect of backups to CDs or DVDs is the quality of the discs themselves. There are, as usual, different levels of quality in these things - and the cheap ones can literally go bad just sitting on your shelf for a few years.
The solution is to use high-quality archival discs - Mitsui Gold have a great reputation - even though these cost more than the stuff you find at Circuit City or Staples. So, while I use Memorex or Fuji or Imation blanks for general file moving (if I want to take a few images to my office and not spend a long time downloading them, for example), I only use Mitsui's for long-term storage.
- Bob

ANSWER 2:
Hello LaChelle;
You ask a question that is full of unknowns, and that is unfortunate, as I too struggle with this issue. I agree 100% with Bob - backup is imperative if we value our work. I am still unsure about these "archival" discs. While some boast 100 years of service, I am not convinced enough to wait 100 years before I do another backup. (LOL) So I back up with an extra copy.
Another thing you might do is "refresh" your data, perhaps every two years might be sufficient (i.e., burn a new one). With CDs, it's a pain due to their smaller capacity compared to DVD.
Next to archiving is categorizing. This one still eludes me to some extent.
"Where is that photo of Aunt Sally blowing out her candles from 4 years ago?" LOL
- Pete Herman

Visit digitalmagicreations.com - Pete's Deluxe Web Site

ANSWER 3:
Hi, I'd be interested to know whether there's any difference between CDs and DVDs for archiving, apart from the obvious one that you can store more on a DVD?
- Robyn Mackenzie

See Robyn's Premium BetterPholio™

ANSWER 4:
There have been rumors that DVDs could be longer lasting, Robyn, but frankly if you get the gold or silver-based long-lived ones, then it's kind of moot - as in another 10 years we'll look back at these methods as quaint relics of the "old days" and will have moved on to holographic discs (these have been in development for about 5 years and are starting to hit the industrial-level market).
As Pete points out, a second set of copies (at least), again, stored off-site someplace, is also quite important.
And Pete, the answer to your question involves some software (iViewMedia PRo, Canto Cumulus, etc.) and basically a lot of effort on your part. That is, with these so-called cataloging packages, you can create any number of categories of photos and include a given image in numerous categories, which you must set up. So that photo of Aunt Sally could be in the categories "family", "birthdays", "candles", etc. ad infinitum, but only you can decide which categories to assign it to.
- Bob

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=22308

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=22308

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*****


NEW QUESTION 6: Lens Speed Numbers
My question has to do with lenses in general, not necessarily film camera or digital. I've always noticed on my lens speed number, there is a one (1) just before the speed: 1:2.8 or 1:3.5-5.6. What does the "one" designate on the lenses? Thanks... Rich.
- Richard Jackson

ANSWER 1:
1:2.8 is another way of expressing the maximum aperture as a ratio to the focal length. Aperture diameter is to focal length as 1 is to 2.8. It is identical to "f/2.8" (aperture diameter = focal length divided by 2.8), or simply "2.8".
- Jon Close

Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com:
http://www.betterphoto.com/forms/qnaDetail.asp?threadID=22285

Answer this question:
http://www.betterphoto.com/QnAredirect.asp?threadID=22285

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

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