The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Lighting with Whi...
Q&A 1: How to Shoot in...
Q&A 2: LCD for Viewing...
Q&A 3: Tips on Art Sho...
Q&A 4: What Does Fast ...

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Honing Your Vision ... by Jed Manwaring
In his recent "Instructor's Insight" blog, Jed Manwaring discussed how he transformed a photo from very ordinary (a wide horizontal) to quite special (a tight vertical) with the creative use of light and composition. Says Jed: "Iíve learned to look for details that I can extract from the overall scene, and contrasts that can use to make a photo that has more impact ... This situation proves again and again how important it is to hone your vision and stay open to the possibilities all around you. The more you photograph, the easier it becomes to see the potential in a scene."
Check out Jed Manwaring's terrific online course: Getting Started: How to Make Great Photographs

An exciting new BetterPhoto course focuses on the pro line of Canon DSLRs. Taught by pro shooter Jim White, this 4-week class will take the mystery out of the 5D, 1Dn Mark II, and 1Ds Mark II. Learn more... Photo: Basket of Flowers/Jim White
Featured Gallery

Welcome to the 253rd issue of SnapShot!
Hi {FirstName},

We are thrilled to welcome new instructor Jim White to BetterPhoto's team of published, professional photographers. He will be teaching an exciting new online course for us, one that is camera-specific: The Canon Pro Digital SLRs. Also, as you've probably noticed with this issue, we are unveiling a very sleek new SnapShot. A huge thanks go to BetterPhoto's tech expert/designers Tori Martinez and Jay Wadley! That's it for now ... have a great week of photography.

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

Are you ready to take the next step in your photography? We have an awesome schedule of online courses at BetterPhoto.comô. All of our instructors are longtime pros who love sharing their expertise. Also check out our Student Testimonials page. Give yourself the gift of a Web site! Our redesigned BetterPhoto Deluxe Web Sites offer beautiful and functional design and easy Web hosting - all at a great price. Last week, we asked: In photography, tungsten refers to the type of light commonly found in most household lamps. But what, exactly, is tungsten? First with the answer was Keith K.: "Tungsten (formerly wolfram) is a chemical element that has the symbol W (L. wolframium) and atomic number 74. Tungsten is widely used in light bulb and vacuum tube filaments, as well as electrodes, because it can be drawn into very thin metal wires that have a high melting point. When used for lighting, it produces a particular color of light."

Photo Q&A

1: Lighting with White Background
I am working with my lights, and I need to know how you get a white background (muslin) to be good and white without blowing it out? Or is it OK to blow it out to get it white? Can anyone help? Thanks!
- Tonya Cozart
If you are using two lights, then point one toward the background. With your lights, try 1/2 power from the side so you can move them back as needed. Use your other on your subject from close to you camera. If you try this and post, maybe I can see what's up.
- Debby Tabb
I have 4 lights, but I am shooting right now with 3: fill, main, backlight. I am going to shoot a few more and then post.
- Tonya Cozart
If you are using 4 lights, then I would suggest using 2 on the background, both at 45 degrees so you get an even blanket of light. Incident read this at around +1 to +2 stops above your main light reading. Now set your main light at what you want and your fill accordingly to the ratio you want to use (or use a reflector so you're not using so many lights). Example: you know you want to shoot at f/11. Meter the background anywhere in between f/16 and f/22. Now meter your main at f/11. Meter your fill anywhere in between f/11 and f/4 (depending on the desired effect). Good luck.
- Justin 
Hey Justin,
thanks for helping. Some will probably gripe, but I don't have a light meter. I am trying to do without one because I don't have the $$$ right now. So, if I want to meter with my camera, how exactly do I do that? I get what you are saying, but can I do this without a separate meter?
- Tonya Cozart
Well, I won't gripe too much, but you should make that your next purchase! lol!. Anyway, lucky for you you're shooting a D50. Having a digital is nice because you can simply guess what your lights should be at, and then shoot and make adjustments from the LCD. If you can tether to your computer, that'd be even better, because the picture would be so much larger. Anyway... just set up your lights, fire a test shot or two, and make your adjustments from there. I would assume that doing one light at a time would be easier. So get your BG lights good to go, next do your main and get your exposure correct, and then pull in your fill until you get what you want! Hope this helps.
P.S.: Seriously though, investing in a light meter will save you loads of time!
- Justin 
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1: How to Shoot in an Aquarium

I'm going to the Vancouver Public Aquarium, and would appreciate tips for shooting indoors of large fish tanks, sharks, etc. Also, I have DSLR Rebel. Thanks!
- Zoltan Erdesz

The trick to doing this successfully is to get (preferably) a rubber lens hood for your lens(es). Turn your flash off, get right up against the glass to eliminate reflections, take a meter reading, and blast away. No, you do not need a polarizer because you're going to be shooting directly against and through the glass. The lens hood also prevents you from scratching the glass. And ... bring along something you can use to clean the glass with - e.g. fingerprints, ice cream stains, mustard, etc. Yaknowhatimeanhuh?
Take it light.

- Mark Feldstein

Thanks, Mark. Great advice...

- Zoltan Erdesz

And if it's cool outside, like it is today in Tacoma, Wash... and the aquarium is warm/moist: Keep the camera in its case or whatever till it warms up to room temperature to prevent moisture on the camera.

- Bob Cournoyer
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2: LCD for Viewing with SLR?

I just bought my first digital SLR camera, the Canon EOS 20D. My question is: Why can't I use the viewfinder to shoot pictures? Wouldn't it be nice just to have the choice? Are all the SLR cameras the same? Is using the viewfinder not a professional thing? Or you don't get good pictures? I appreciate any comments ... thank you.
- Alberto J. Quintero

ALberto, the reason you can't watch the live scene on the LCD like you can on a point-and-shoot camera has to do with how they are designed. The CCD chip in a point-and-shoot camera sits behind the lens, and thus can be turned on to send the signal to the LCD view screen. In fact, the chips used in P&S cameras were originally made for digital movie cameras - that's why there is a slight pause between the time you press the shutter button and the time the camera snaps the shot.
An SLR design is fundamentally different. When light enters the lens, it is reflected off a mirror and through a reflecting prism to get to the eyepiece you look through. What you are seeing is the exact stream of light that is coming through the lens (thus the name single lens reflex - the light coming through the lens is reflected up to your eye). In other words, the CCD chip doesn't "see" any light until you press the shutter button, at which time the mirror flips up and out of the way and the shutter opens, exposing the chip.
Since the chips used in DSLRs are specifically designed for still shooting, there is no perceptable delay between pressing the shutter and getting the shot.
So it's not that using the LCD is "not a professional thing" - it's a technically impossible thing. On the other hand, LCDs have crude resolution compared to mirrors, so the level of detail you can spot in the SLR viewfinder is far greater than any LCD could show you. To check depth of field, for example, is a waste of time on an LCD - you can't tell anyway.

- Bob 

Just wanted to say, Bob, how much information I consistently get out of your answers. Thanks for posting!

- Christopher J. Budny
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3: Tips on Art Show Exhibiting

I am doing an exhibit and will have a 10x10' space inside a tent. I have three easels and one stand-up display rack. I do not know how many prints to have made just for matting for people to thumb through, and I need advice in general on how to get started with this. Any help will be appreciated.
- Jeanne Griffith

Jeanne, I am responding because I have the same concerns. I am getting prepared for a couple of shows this spring. I have a 10x10 canopy, a 6' folding table with cover, and have 4 pro panels on the way. One of my biggest concerns is "how many prints do I take to the show?" I sure don't want to run out of anything early in the day. I don't want to over-produce either. I don't have much experience, and I think these concerns will be easier in the future (more intuitive). Anticipating responses from fellow BP'ers who have been there and done that. Thanks for posing the question.

- John R. Rhodes

Hi John and Jeanne,
Great question. Following is a previous Forum thread on the subject ... with lots of excellent tips and techniques from those who have been there and done that!

Hope that is helpful!

- Kerry Drager

See Kerry Drager's Premium Gallery:

Take an Online Photo Course with Kerry Drager:
Creative Light and Composition
4-Week Short Course: Intro to Macro: Details & Close-ups - April
4-Week Short Course: Intro to Macro: Details & Close-ups - May
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4: What Does Fast Lens Mean?

I've heard reference to "fast" lenses. What does this mean and why is it important? I have a Canon 20D with a Canon EF-S17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lens and also a Canon EF75-300mm f4-5.9 IS lens. My primary "focus" (no pun intended) is taking portraits (outside a studio) and wedding photography. Thanks!
- Diana Burrows

A "fast" lens is one with a large maximum aperture (small f-number). This allows you to use a faster shutter speed for a given scene. Both of your lenses have a maximum aperture of f/4. In comparison, the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L lens has a maximum aperture of f/2.8, so it is a "faster" lens. In a given scene, the faster lens would allow you to use a faster shutter speed, since the larger aperture lets in more light.

- Chris A. Vedros

To add to what Chris was saying, The larger the opening, the smaller the f-stop number. The smaller the f-stop number, the more light that gets to the film/sensor. The more light that gets to the film/sensor, the faster the shutter speed needed to regulate the light. Smaller f-stop number means faster shutter speeed, thus, faster lens. That work for ya, Chris?

- Mark R. Hiatt

A tripod (or using the IS feature of your lenses instead) will keep camera movement from blurring your photos with slow shutter speeds, but will do nothing to freeze motion in your subject. To freeze subject motion you have to have wider aperture lenses, and/or shoot at higher ISO.

- Jon Close

One more point, Diana - at a faster f-stop, depth of field is reduced. That is, the thickness of the sharply focused area is less at f2.8 than at f4. This can be a useful factor in portraiture, where you could use it to your advantage to keep the subject in focus while any distractions in the background would become blurred out and less noticeable.

- Bob 
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