The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
 
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
IN THIS ISSUE
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Storage for Light...
Q&A 2: Light Therapy Box...
Q&A 3: Wedding Photograp...
Q&A 4: High Resolution C...
Q&A 5: Merging images in...
Q&A 6: Fixed Vs. Zoom Le...
Q&A 7: Faster Focusing L...


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THIS WEEK'S TIP
Resizing Images in Photoshop ...
by Jim M. White
I am constantly asked, "What's the best way to resize an image in Photoshop?" Right off the bat, let me say Photoshop is where you want any resizing to take place. Don't let the print driver do this for you, as results will vary dramatically.

First off, I like to see the largest size my image can be at a good print resolution. For our purposes, this will be 240, 300, or 360dpi. Printers like these resolutions, as they are multiples of 60 and consequently multiples of the native print resolutions printers use, i.e. 720, 1440, 2880 dpi. As I understand it, this makes for much smoother interpolation.

To find out where you stand with regard to print image size, first select Image, then Image Size, uncheck Resample Image, and enter 300 in the Pixels/Inch box. The resulting height and width is the largest your image will print at that resolution without interpolating up (inventing pixels). If what you want to print is smaller, just check Resample, enter the height or width you want (constrain proportions should be checked by default) and hit okay. Your image is now ready to send to the printer.

If your image will support 360dpi and give you the desired size, then use that. If it isn't as large as you wish to go at 300 dpi, first drop down to 240dpi and see if that gets you close enough. I get better image quality by dropping down to 240dpi than I do by interpolating up a 300dpi image. For really large prints, like those measured in feet, I drop down to 180 dpi as that is plenty for large images.

Using Camera Raw and 180 dpi, I was able to get an image from a 20D up to 3X5 feet with just a bit of interpolation in Photoshop. Resampling down is okay, resampling up should be done as a last resort and only using the 110% rule, but thatís another tip.

Jim White teaches a couple of excellent camera-specific courses here at BetterPhoto, including The Canon Pro Digital SLRs, which starts May 3rd.



   
Featured Gallery

Welcome to the 262nd issue of SnapShot!
Hello,

Lots of big news at BetterPhoto these days - the biggest being this Wednesday's start of the May session of 4-Week Short Courses. These short courses, by the way, are not extensions of a previous course. Rather, they are entirely independent, beginning with Lesson #1. In this issue of SnapShot, don't miss the excellent Photo Tip ("Resizing Images in Photoshop") by one of our newest instructors - Jim White, who teaches The Canon Pro Digital SLRs - and our usual collection of excellent questions and answers. Also, I'm thrilled about the release of my new Photographing Kids DVD. And, of course, all of us at BP are looking forward to the Second Annual BetterPhoto Summit.

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

Check out these outstanding 4-week online courses: Jon Canfield's Camera Raw Processing and Charlotte Lowrie's Advanced Camera Raw Creative Techniques. Both classes get under way this Wednesday (May 3rd). At BetterPhoto, we have a number of courses that cover the creative side of photography, including these 4-Week classes that begin this week (May 3rd): Matt Bamberg's Digital Art Photography; and two from David Bathgate: Focus on Photo Style and The Magic of Wide-Angle. You asked for it, you got it! The 2nd Annual BetterPhoto Summit is official! Learn photography, meet friends, and have fun in a jam-packed weekend - September 16th-17th, 2006, in Seattle, Washington. For details...

Photo Q&A

1: Storage for Lighting Equipment
I just got a big lighting package with many light modifers. I don't have a studio and need good a storage system. The lights need to be easy to transport because I do a lot of on location shoots.
- Kalina Acord
ANSWER 1:
If you need to just store the light modifiers you got, try the boxes everything came in. For transport cases, look at Lightware cases; B&H seems to always have the best prices on them. These cases come in different sizes. They're lightweight but extremely sturdy and well-made with more than sufficient padding to protect any lighting equipment from most hits. The fabric is extremely durable with tough zippers and their interiors that can be fixed or adjusted with various inserts. I've used these cases for years both for my monolights and pack systems, and they're excellent. A tad pricey, but then what's a lamp head worth, right??
Take it light.
Mark
- Mark Feldstein
Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

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2: Light Therapy Box?
Has anyone experimented with a light therapy box for portrait lighting? I'm kind of a newbie, and I have a 1000W tungsten beast with a softbox. It's so hot, and not at all natural. I can fix the color cast on the computer or change the color temp on the camera, but the main problem is that I can't successfully mix it with what natural light I do have coming from the windows in my home studio. If I do, some parts of the image look too blue and some too red. What about other ways to make the best of natural ambient light?
- Alison E. Copeland
ANSWER 1:
Remember the old math rule, you can't mix apples and oranges? Well, that's essentially what you're doing. You can't combine two entirely different light sources - i.e., tungsten and daylight - in the same color shot without color shifting.
Soooooooooo, if your camera is set for tungsten, then you need to do something to your daylight source to lower its color temp from about 5500 Kelvin to 3200-3400 degrees kelvin (which is roughly the temp of your tungsten lighting). You could get some Roscoe Cinegel and cover the windows with it, OR bring your tungsten light up to 5500 degrees Kelvin by hanging a gel off of that.
The light therapy box you mentioned, for those who don't know, is simply a box with daylight flourescent tubes that people use to treat or avoid seasonal affective disorder. Remember, though, a fluorescent by any other name (or color) is still a fluorescent, and while it may simulate daylight, its true color temperature may not and it may produce different color casts as well, including blue-green, yellow-green, or some variation. So the answer is no, a light therapy box is not a substitute for a true tungsten-rated hot light, a strobe or anything of similar ilk.
Take it light.
Mark
- Mark Feldstein
ANSWER 2:
Thank you! So I need to get a gel for my light kit. Will do. I wish there was something I could do in my studio/bedroom to make the most of my light in there, like reflective paint, or some ceiling treatment. Have you heard of anything creative like that?
- Alison E. Copeland
ANSWER 3:
Howdy. IMHO, Alison, I suggest you invest in something along the lines of a monolight strobe that puts out daylight, rather than using a tungsten light ... and for a few reasons. First, as a tungsten light is used and its filament burns, the color temperature changes and continues to cool toward lower values. That makes it increasingly difficult to accurately balance and correct for precise compensations.
Second, tungsten lights are pretty warm for people sitting for portraits. Unless you're trying to defrost them, strobes are much more comfortable for the subject.
Strobes also give you more bang for the lighting buck. You can either buy a monolight new or used, I own a number of Bowens monolights sold individually or in kits from bhphotovideo.com. These are great lights. One rated at 1000 watt seconds should solve your lighting problems.
BUT if you can't afford a new light, instead of using the window light as fill or gelling, try using a large sheet of white foamcore positioned opposite your main light to bounce fill light back into the subject. That way you should be at the same temperature, OR you can use the fill card to move light around where you need it, within limits, like how much output you've got, absorbency and reflectance of various materials in the room, etc.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Take care.
- Mark Feldstein
Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

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3: Wedding Photography: Aisle Shots
I'm just wondering where photographers typically stand when getting pictures of the bride coming up the aisle. Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
- Pat Wimpee
ANSWER 1:
I stand about the 8-10th row from the BACK of the church... I generally tell the bride and dad to WALK SLOWLY AND ENJOY THE MOMENT. This is one of the most favorite photos, and I usually get at least 5 shots in while the bride is walking in. Some photographers stand in the middle of the aisle in front of the church, but I try to be as invisible as possible, and when the bride walks by (and the wedding party), I just scoot in the pew and let the guests and future hubby enjoy the moment.
- Debbie Del Tejo
ANSWER 2:
I usually stand in about the same place as I do when they are coming down the aisle.
OK, I had to insert that smartbottom answer in there. I agree with Debbie. I usually stand toward the back of the church because there is usually an empty spot toward the back where I can get into the pew and out of the way of the wedding party. If the aisle is long enough, I often back up ahead of the bride and Dad and get a few extra shots.
- Kerry L. Walker
ANSWER 3:
2nd row, if your a pro. Left or right side doesn't matter. 70-200mm, no flash at 800-1600 if you have to. Digital fill in PS for dark areas (eyes and wherever else it needs it).
- Brady 
Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

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4: High Resolution CD - Image Storage
I'm trying to figure out how to burn my own high-resolution CD at home. The company I'm using charges me .40 a image which can get really pricey. My question: Does anyone have any recommendations on CD programs to do that or types of CDs I should use? I don't know if buying a CD at the store will give me a high resolution quality or if I need a special brand. Thanks for any advice.
- Mandy Hank
ANSWER 1:
Sonic Record now is the burning software that I use. Its easy and straightforward. As far as the high resolution CD, it looks like you're shooting with a digital SLR so just buy some medium-priced CDs and start burning. The resolution of the images on your CD come from your camera, not the CD. You have some great images by the way.
- Brock E. Litton
ANSWER 2:
Mandy,
The CD that you use has nothing at all to do with the resolution or quality of your images. I see you're shooting digital, so this isn't a question about scanning, just image storage.
To get the highest resolution images from your camera onto a CD, start with setting your camera at its highest resolution and quality setting (JPEG-Large/Fine or RAW). When you process your images in your image editing program, make sure you save them at the highest resolution and quality available. Remember that any cropping with reduce the resolution of your images, so try not to overdo it.
If you have a CD burner, any CD-burning software will work - you don't need anything fancy. I use Nero, but Windows XP even had CD-burning capability built in, and it works well.
In the CD-burning program, you want to make a DATA disc, NOT a "Photo CD" or "Picture Disc". Then select the photos you want to copy and burn them to the disc. The photos on the CD will be exact copies of the photos on your computer.
Although the brand or type of CD-R discs that you buy has nothing to do with the resolution or quality of your pictures, it can have an impact on the lifespan of the CD itself. In general, higher-quality name-brand CD-R discs are said to last longer than cheap generic discs.
There are lots of threads here that have addressed that issue. If you search for "archival CD" or "Gold CD" you will find lots of info on that.
- Chris A. Vedros
Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

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5: Merging images in PSCS2
Hi everybody, I've been experimenting with exposure adjustments in RAW recently. I'm wondering if anyone can give me info about merging images in PSCS2. I want to increase the overall dynamic range using 2 frames - i.e., one exposed for highlights, one for shadows.
Does anyone have any advice or know of resources on how to effectively do this? I know that FredMiranda.com has a plug-in for doing this. Any experiences with this one? Thanks in advance for any tips! :)
- Chris Macer
ANSWER 1:
Hi Chris,
I haven't had experience with Fred's action or plug-in, but if you want to merge two processed RAW files in PSCS2, here are the basic steps.
*Be certain that you used a tripod to take both images. If there is the slightest difference between the images, this process won't produce good alignment for obvious reasons.
1. Open both processed images in PS CS2 and tile them so that you can see both images.
2. Click the Move tool in the Tool palette, and then hold down the Shift key as you drag one image on top of the other image. Then let go of the mouse key before you let go of the Shift key. This action precisely aligns the images.
3. Click the Layer mask icon at the bottom of the Layers palette. Be sure that the Foreground and Background colors in the Tool palette are set black/white (click the double arrow to reset them).
4. Be sure that the Layer mask is active, and then click the Brush tool (at whatever brush size is appropriate), and then paint using Back to hide the layer and white to reveal it.
5. Tweak as necessary. ;)
If you REALLY want dynamic range, try High-Dynamic Range imaging with RAW files!
Best regards,
Charlotte
- Charlotte K. Lowrie

See Charlotte Lowrie's Premium Gallery:
http://www.betterphoto.com/mg.asp?id=161243

Take an Online Photo Course with Charlotte Lowrie:
4-Week Short Course: Advanced Camera Raw Creative Techniques - April
4-Week Short Course: Advanced Camera Raw Creative Techniques - May
4-Week Short Course: Learning the Canon Digital Rebel Camera - April
4-Week Short Course: Learning the Canon Digital Rebel Camera - May
Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

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6: Fixed Vs. Zoom Lenses
I am going to buy a wide-angle lens in the very near future (I have a Canon 20D). What is the advantage of buying a fixed lens when you have so many more composition options when shooting with a zoom? I shoot mainly people...what focal length should I be looking for so I can shoot groups without any weird distortion? Any advice would be hugely appreciated! :)
- Jaime Brandel
ANSWER 1:
Back in the day... I'm not sure just what day ...but prime lenses were inherently sharper than zooms. But, alas, with the help of computers, today's zooms are very comparable as far as sharpness and colour go. If you're looking for wide-angle, the Canon 10-20 is amazing. It retails for around 799.99. A friend of mine purchased a Sigma 10-20 for less than half the price, and he really likes it. Good luck.
- Brock E. Litton
ANSWER 2:
Jaime, while Brock is correct that many of today's zoom lenses (at least the better ones) are optically as good as primes, there are two differences of note:
Primes can be much faster - a 50MM f1.4 offers a 3-stop advantage over a 17-70 f4 lens. This doesn't mean that you must use the widest aperture, but in terms of limiting depth of field so your subject "pops" against a blurred background, faster is better. Of course, faster lenses also afford the ability to take available light shots when it's just plain darker.
Primes are generally lighter in weight - something to possibly consider if you plan to carry your camera around all the time. Of course, the weight advantage goes away if you consider an 85MM f1.4 lens, but that's another story.
As for what focal length - well, that's got a lot to do with your shooting style. Certainly a zoom gives you more flexiblity, though of course with a prime you can walk towards or away from the subject. The weird distortion you mention is no doubt perspective distortion - this happens with very wide-angle lenses when they are used too close to the subject.
Say you want to take a head-and-shoulders shot of me. With a 50MM lens (a short telephoto for your camera), you could stand about 6-8 feet away from me and fill the frame, and my facial features would look "normal" (well, forgetting about my third eye and all).
Now switch to a super-wide angle lens - like a 14MM or less. In order to fill the frame with my head and shoulders, you'd need to stand much closer - a couple of feet or less from my nose. So here's what happens - because the distance from the camera to my nose is 2 feet (say) and from the camera to my ear is 2 feet 6 inches, the perspective makes my nose look outlandishly large. The ratio of those distances is basically 1:1.25. With the 50MM lens, the ratio (6 feet to 6'6") is about 1:1:08 - which we generally see as normal. If you took the same shot a third time, this one with a 600MM lens from 60 feet away, then my face would look somewhat "flattened", because the ratio of camera-to-nose to camera-to-ear would be tiny (1.008 or so).
The point is, this perspective distortion has only to do with how close you are to the subject. If you like street scenes, or to capture entire outfits rather than just the face, then a wider-angle lens could suit you fine.
- Bob 
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7: Faster Focusing Lens?
I'm shooting basketball games (available light only required), using a Nikon D70, a Nikkor 85mm 1.4D lens, ISO 1600, speed of 1/500, and aperture 1.4. If I prefocus for under-basket shots, I can get some good pics. However, if I try to pick up action at half court coming toward me, I don't get clear pictures. I hear the camera seaching for focus as the player runs. I feel I need a lens that can focus quicker.
- Pete petersen
ANSWER 1:
Try manually pre-focusing onto a particular spot at half-court. Then wait for the action to arrive there.
- Bob Cammarata
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