The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Monday, April 03, 2006
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: How to Keep My Le...
Q&A 2: Red Blurring a Pr...
Q&A 3: How to Get a Whit...
Q&A 4: Wide-Angle for La...
Q&A 5: Online Auction Ph...
Q&A 6: Polarizers and Ot...

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Submitting to a Stock Agency ... by Jim Zuckerman
Photographer-instructor Jim Zuckerman is a regular contributor to Better Blogs. Here's a recent excerpt: When you first submit your work to a stock agency, I suggest that you narrow the images to a general theme. They donít have to be too specific, like France or snow skiing, but they should have a common connection. Travel or sports would be an example. If you donít, an editor wonít really know your specialty or areas of interest, and he or she wonít have a handle on whether or not you will be able to fulfill certain types of requests in the future. Once you are accepted, you can then submit a much wider range of material. For example, after I have established a relationship with an editor, they will always take a serious look at what I send them, no matter how dissimilar the images are to each other. Check out Jim Zuckerman's Making Money with Your Photography course and his Premium Gallery.

Recent additions to our schedule: Simon Stafford's The Nikon D70-series Cameras. Paul Gero's Using Your Canon Strobe Creatively. Jed Manwaring's Low-Light Photography. Matt Bamberg's Digital Art Photography. Brenda Tharp's Macro II: Advanced Techniques. Jon Canfield's Macro Photography: An In-Depth Look. David Bathgate's Focus on Photo Style. Ellen Anon's What the Histogram Tells You About Exposure. Charlotte Lowrie's Advanced Camera Raw Creative Techniques. John Siskin's Understanding Professional Lighting . Richard Lynch's Photoshop Elements Workflow.
Photo by Simon Stafford
Featured Gallery
City and Bridge at Dusk
© - Patrick Campbell

Welcome to the 258th issue of SnapShot!

Some fantastic goings-on are happening at BetterPhoto.comô this week: namely, the launch of our Spring session of photo courses! With so many awesome new instructors and classes, our incredible online photography school is better than ever. Check out the "New Courses for Spring" listing in this issue of SnapShot. Also, don't miss the excellent Photo Tip by master photographer, author and instructor Jim Zuckerman, and our usual batch of interesting questions and answers. Enjoy your week of photography!

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

Yes, a number of our online photography classes are already full, but there are still plenty of other fun courses to explore this season. But classes get under way this Wednesday (April 6th), so you'd better hurry. Learn more... BetterPhoto's line of 4-Week Short Courses covers some very exciting specialized photography subjects. Learn more... Catch BetterPhoto founder/photographer Jim Miotke in person as he presents his program: "Top Tips for Digital Photography: Storytelling With Your Digital Camera". Coming up: Sacramento-area appearances on April 6th and April 8th. Jim's calendar has all of the details!

Photo Q&A

1: How to Keep My Lens from Fogging?
I was shooting a football game the other night, and halfway through the game my lens got fogged up. I wasn't sure what to do to clear it off or how to have even prevented it. Can anyone give me some tips? I missed a lot of action while waiting for the lens to clear, and it never really fully cleared the rest of the night.
- Anthony Ruiz
Greetings, Anthony: Are you sure the problem was lens rather than viewfinder fogging? In most instances, when you take a lens from a warmer environment to a colder one, what tends to fog up is the viewfinder since as it cools, your body heat still warms it up enough to fog it, rather than the lens. The viewfinder can be cleared with a piece of lens tissue and the problem prevented in many instances by using an eye cup over the viewfinder.
If it's truly the lens, I don't have a clue as to what may be causing that over such a long period of time without knowing what the ambient temperature, dew point and humidity levels were. Most of the time, the outermost elements of a lens will tend to fog up briefly when you go from a lower temperature to a higher one, rather than the other way around. The problem is also made worse by using filters on your lens in that they tend to fog up frequently too, but acclimate as a lens element does.
Finally, I use some lens cleaner called ROR (Residual Oil Remover) available at places like I'm not sure, but it may be that the lens cleaner, like some glass cleaners, has an anti-fogging property that minimizes the problem. I say that because I don't notice the problem much, if at all, since I started using the stuff years ago.
Just a few thoughts.
- Mark Feldstein
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2: Red Blurring a Problem
I have a nikon D50. When I take macro photos of anything red, especially flowers, they tend to blur and the detail is lost. Is there anything I can do to prevent this?
- Teri L. Witt
I'll lay odds that, first, you're shooting these subjects in direct sunlight or with on camera flash. And, second, that you may be slightly overexposing these kinds of shots.
The solutions are pretty basic. As to the direct sunlight problem, all you need to do is arrange some kind of overhead translucent tent over whatever you're shooting, especially flowers, plants, fruits, veggies, etc. How translucent is up to you. I can tell you from my own experience of shooting fruits, veggies and flowers for commercial growers, that even when the sun is indirect, I'll still use a light panel that knocks down brightness by at least two f-stops. One objective in photography, as you probably know, is to control the light reaching the subject and also the quantity through the lens. If you have a bright backlighting situation, tent that side too with a light panel. These kinds of panels are available at places like, not very expensive, have modular, lightweight portable frames that just snap together, and some have wind flaps so the rig won't blow away. Now if you find yourself shooting with a light tent and your sunlight fades onto the horizon, you can always use a bit of fill flash, through the tent, to illuminate your subject. To do that, you either need to put the light on a small stand adjacent to where you need it, or have someone (even you) hold it while you shoot.
Another thing to use for sure is a tripod or some kind of very sturdy camera support and a cable release. It doesn't matter what speed you're shooting at. This will give you more control over your exposures to prevent any kind of camera shake.
As to exposure, I recommend that you buy and learn how to use a gray card to give accurate exposures AND perhaps even consider buying a separate light meter that will give you incident and reflected readings. There are tricks you can use with your D50 that will get you more accurate exposures, and for that, I'll defer to your camera's manual.
In the alternative, just bracket your exposures a lot, AND since you're shooting digitally, try dinking around with the pixel values and anything else that controls image quality with your camera.
Take it light.
- Mark Feldstein
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3: How to Get a White Background
I am just starting out and I would like to know how to get the shots with all-white backgrounds (like Tim McGraw's video "Live like you were dying"?). Please give me some tips.
- Katrina L. Awbery
I don't know what this video looks like, but if it's all white, it's probably white seamless paper or white muslin.
- Mike Carpenter
I'm not familiar with the video either, but in addition to getting either a white muslin or seamless paper background, you're also going to need to light it. In order to get the background to look white in your pictures, you need to get more light on your background than you have on your subject.
- Chris A. Vedros
A high-key portrait setup would involve the use of a white or off white background and brighter clothing. A high key portrait can be challenging as it requires a great deal of light control and has the most risk of overexposure and loss of detail. In general they would have a low lighting ratio near 2:1. A common background for high-key portraits is paper or muslin which is slightly overexposed resulting in a pure white seamless background and a feeling of cleanliness. Great care is usually taken to separate the subject from the background to eliminate shadows. These portraits also tend to require more light and thus more power and lighting equipment to create. Hope this helps you.

- Gary  Berger
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4: Wide-Angle for Large Group Shot?
I'm going to be shooting my family gathering in a few weeks and would like to know which lens would work best for large group portraits. It will be outdoors in afternoon.
- Justine Stevens
Well, Justine, you didn't say how big a group or which lenses you'd be using. If your wide-angle is a prime, I'd say use it, if it's not less than 28mm. Look for shade (unless it's overcast) and scout for a decent background. Me, I'd use aperture priority for depth of field, but it depends on how many you have in the picture.
I don't know how familiar you are with your camera or I might even suggest manual focus to fine-tune a little bit. For lighting, the later in the afternoon the better. Of course, I don't know where you live and how harsh the light will be or weather conditions.
OK, now we could even get into ISO settings and tripod. Well, the lower the ISO the better.
Take several pics, and tell everyone you are going to. It takes away from the photo-session tension and relaxes them to a certain degree.
All people who are wearing glasses should tip their heads down just a hair to avoid a bit of reflection or glare.
Ah well, best of luck - Sam.
- Samuel Smith
f8 should be a place to start, but it would depend on the background and how much you want in focus. I've seen some beautiful gardens and estates, castles, fountains and rolling countrysides that would make for some great backgrounds. Then you'd be at f16 or maybe f22. If you can, you could set your lens to infinity for those kind of locations. My cameras don't have depth of field preview so it's live and learn.
- Samuel Smith
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5: Online Auction Photos - Lighting
Hello - I'm an experienced Ebay seller, and I usually use natural light for my product (small, table-top) digital photos, but I'm having a hard time wrangling enough light during rainy/cloudy periods (when everything gets dark and blue-ish). I've found a wealth of info on lighting, but no one seems to specify what TYPE of lights will give the best results. I've experimented with household lamps & halogen... but everything I've used provides a very yellow cast. I need advice on brands and wattage and specifics from any who may offer help. Thank you!!
- Diana Quicksilver
If everything is yellowish, try adjusting your white balance. That should help.
- Brendan Knell
I've sold hundreds of items on online auctions, and use a simple Nikon 885 3 MP digicam. When there isn't enough light, I use the camera's built-in flash. I photograph the item on a white background (white cardboard, or for bigger items, a folded-over white sheet) from above (usually standing on a chair!), and zoom in to get it tightly framed. If the object is reflective, I'll deliberately move slightly to one side so that I am at an angle, and I never get bothersome reflections.
Hope this helps....
- John Clifford
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6: Polarizers and Other Filters: What to Get?
What's a good polarizing filter brand to buy? I noticed that there are different coatings and brands. Some are very expensive. And what are some other good filters to have in your bag? Thanks!
- Jyan Crayton
In terms of brand, Jyan, B+W and Heliopan are the best quality (and highest in price). Hoya is quite popular and more reasonably priced. If your camera is less than 10 years old, then be sure to get a circular polarizing filter - this uses a slightly different approach to polarizing that does not interfere with the auto-focus or metering systems of modern cameras.
As for other filters - well, that depends. If you shoot digital, then perhaps the only filters that are really needed would be ND (neutral density) filters (to cut down light when you want to increase exposure time and there's "too much light") and gradient NDs (to darken the top half of the scene for horizon-type shots).
If you shoot black and white film, then a yellow or orange filter can increase the contrast of clouds to sky, to make them pop out more. Other filters, like UV or haze, are arguably good or bad - everyone has their opinion. Some like to use these as "clear lenscaps" to protect the front element of the actual lens; others point out that adding another layer of glass only serves to introduce more flare or optical error potential. And then there are the novelty filters - star, soft focus, etc. - that can be fun if you like that sort of thing.
Finally, there are close-up lenses that look like clear filters - where the glass is ground into a lens (rather than flat) so you can screw one onto your lens and focus much closer to a subject (for macro work).
- Bob 
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