The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
 
Monday, May 15, 2006
IN THIS ISSUE
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Polarizing Filter...
Q&A 2: Black Reflective ...
Q&A 3: Flash Photography...
Q&A 4: Graduation Photos...
Q&A 5: What Does a Weddi...
Q&A 6: Shooting Silhouet...


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THIS WEEK'S TIP
Macro Focusing ... by Laurence Saliba
When filling your frame with a macro shot, disable your autofocus and set at the closest range. Move in very slowly till the subject is clear and take some consecutive shots to try and get one, at least, to your desired effect.
Note: Check out Laurence Saliba's Premium Gallery.


NEW FOR SUMMER! PAINT SHOP PRO COURSE
Learn how to use Corel Paint Shop Pro X - a veritable powerhouse of features and image-making potential. This excellent 8-week online course is taught by instructor and master photographer-author Robin Nichols. Learn more...
Photo by Robin Nichols
   
Featured Gallery

Welcome to the 264th issue of SnapShot!
Hello,

May has become such a thrilling month at BetterPhoto.com! We are putting together our very best lineup of online photography courses yet - with the upcoming Summer School schedule. So far, we have six new courses lined up, including an awesome one from new instructor Scott Stulberg: Photoshop Tips, Tricks and Filter Magic. At the same time, the Second Annual BetterPhoto Summit is never far from our thoughts - an event where you can meet the BetterPhoto instructors and staff, and learn photography during an intensive, jam-packed weekend (September 16th and 17th, 2006, in Seattle, Washington)! That's it for now ... enjoy this issue of SnapShot, and enjoy your week of photography!

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

We've added two more outstanding SLR classes to our 4-week lineup for Summer: Jim White's The Canon 30D and Simon Stafford's The Nikon D50 Camera. Learn to see creatively and to develop your photographic vision through sound principles of art. Master photographer, author and instructor Jim Zuckerman draws upon decades of experience to share with you creative ways of "seeing" that will enable you to identify and capture great pictures. Learn more... Don't miss the excellent photography Web logs - i.e., blogs - posted by two of BetterPhoto's master photographer/authors: Brenda Tharp and Jim Zuckerman. And, of course, BP founder and instructor Jim Miotke checks in regularly too, with his BetterPhoto Digital Photography Show blog.

Photo Q&A

1: Polarizing Filters: Linear Vs. Circular
Can anyone tell me the difference between a "linear polarizing" and "circular polarizing" filters? And how much should I pay for such a filter?
Thanks, Matt
- Matthew M. Paulson
ANSWER 1:
If you have an older manual-focus camera, you can use either type. If you have an auto-focus camera, you'll need to use a circular polarizer.
How much should you pay? That depends. Like most things, you tend to get what you pay for. Some very cheap filters have cheap coatings that scratch easily.
Tiffen, Hoya, and B+W all make good quality products that are reasonably priced. The actual price will depend on the filter thread diameter of your lens.
- Chris A. Vedros
ANSWER 2:
Chris is right. A linear polarizer acts like a Venetian blind, letting light pass through to the lens in one plane. By turning the lens, you adjust the angle of said plane, but still keep control of the uni-directional vibration of the light rays.
A circular polarizer maintains controls but the rays are controlled around the lens' axis. This type of lens is a "must" for all auto-focus cameras.
Singh-Ray and Kassemann filters are great, but very expensive. Hoya, Tiffen and B&W are lower-cost, very good filters. However, if you go for a Hoya "thin" polarizer, designed for a wide-angle lens, you're still looking at >$100.
- John Sandstedt
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2: Black Reflective Surface
Any ideas on what to use as a black reflective surface. Very reflective like a mirror? I tried to fun something like black glass at Home Depot... no luck.
- Damian P. Gadal
ANSWER 1:
Well, black plexiglas won't do it because it's not mirrored so all you're going to have is a large black mostly non-reflective surface.
One way to do this, however, is to get a large-sized roll of mirrored mylar film, some 4x8 sheets of foamcore that's white on one side and black on the other, reflect the black side of the foamcore into the mirrored mylar and voila !!! Looking in the viewfinder, the black reflected in the mylar will produce a black reflective surface that you can place objects on or in front of.
Using large mirrored walls works, like closet doors, etc., but sometimes that's hard to set up. Mylar is much easier to work with. BUT be careful not to wrinkle it. It's somewhat like aluminium foil, but a bit more flexible.
Attach your foamcore using some kind of tough tape to make a vertical seam running down the entire panels, so the end result is that it's hinged and you can open it at a 45-degree angle to stand on its own facing the reflective surface. Make your seam fairly tight, I like using black gaffers tape for that, and make sure you can't see the seam in the viewfinder when you set your camera.
Both techniques are tricky to light but it works. You need to shoot in a space where you can get it totally dark and really control your lighting.
Both the foamcore and mylar are available from a company called Studio Specialties - http://www.superspec.com/cat2001/index.html. Most medium to large photo stores also carry their backgrounds.
Take it light.
Mark
- Mark Feldstein
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3: Flash Photography: Beyond Snapshots
I use a digital rebel 300D. I love to use natural light, and I have a separate flash (when needed) so I never use my camera flash (built-in). But I still feel like my pictures are coming out like snapshots. How can I get that soft, glowing tones in a color photo without too much PS intervention? Viewing my gallery I guess would help me out and giving some pointers. Thanks to all.
- Rhonda M. Ramirez
ANSWER 1:
Rhonda:
Part of the reason your pictures still look flat is because of the angle of the light. You didn't specify, but I'm assuming your (separate) flash is mounted on the hot shoe of your camera. The light is still head on, which is very flat, harsh and unbecoming, except for snapshots. A diffuser over the flash head will help to soften the light so it won't be as harsh, but it will still have that flat look.
You may want to look into a flash bracket, which will not only move the flash from over the center of the lens, but also elevate it some. This will help give you a little shadow and cut down on red-eye.
I use a stroboframe bracket for my Sunpak 544. I like to keep the flash as high as I can. This casts a little shadow so the light isn't flat looking. There are numerous types of brackets on the market these days that have adapters for all types of flashes from shoe mount to handle mount like my 544.
Whoever made your flash might also make diffuser panels that fit over the flash head to help disperse the light so it won't be so harsh. If not, there are a number of ways you can go on the after market, from inflatables, to soft boxes and mini-umbrellas. Or, at the very least, wrap a clean white hankercheif over the flash head.
- Bob Chance
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4: Graduation Photos
Has anyone done this kind of work - graduation photography? How much is a good price? Thanks.
- Julio Yeste
ANSWER 1:
Julio,
Graduation photography is big business and a lot of fun. I suggest you contact studios in your area to find out what they charge. Most places give prices on in-studio and on-location since this is a big request when it comes to grads. I charge $50 for the sitting fee... they get clothes changes, and I know that is very cheap. Call around and see what others are charging, or look at their Web sites and pricing.
Good luck,
Debby
- Debby Tabb
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5: What Does a Wedding Photographer Wear?
As a wedding photographer, I dress in a more dressy attire whiling filming. Would it be wrong to wear a uniformed T-shirt and khakis? I am a hired vendor and am not there as a guest. DoI have to dress up for the event?
- Holly Marie Spoonley
ANSWER 1:
Well, I usually wear faded jeans, a T-shirt and sandals myself. Seriously, you are a hired vendor but it is a wedding for goodness sake. You are a professional and should dress the part. Even when I have shot a backyard wedding I wore a suit.
- Kerry L. Walker
ANSWER 2:
It could play to an advantage if you dressed not necessarily in your best, but dressed up enough to blend in. Make it easier to get candids. And get other people relaxed. I wouldn't do a suit if it meant getting hot and keeping up with a jacket.
- Gregory La Grange
ANSWER 3:
I've worked for many years as a caterer, and most of the photographers I've worked with dress as the guests do. Not flashy or sartorially eloquent like the bridal party but not like a slob either. It's usually somewhere in between.
- Bob Cammarata
ANSWER 4:
I did a wedding interview once and the mother of the bride told me that she went to a wedding where the female photographer was wearing a see-through blouse... I was shocked. I then went to a wedding and the wedding coordinator had the shortest skirt in the room and was drinking a martini to boot. Now as for the guests, it always amazes me how in this day and age 'anything goes' - one guest is in jeans and the other in Oscar De La Renta.
I say dress professional. I always wear a black pant suit (with pockets) as not to be too noticed by the guests. I agree that you have to be comfortable ... but there are lots of potential clients at that wedding (including the bridal party), and the way you present yourself is of the utmost importance.
Good luck!
- Debbie Del Tejo
ANSWER 5:
I always wear a very flowing pair of black pants with a dressy top, and you wouldn't believe the compliments I get on how professional I am. Show your customers respect and they will recommend you! If you dress nice, then you train people how they should treat you ... with respect!
- Deborah Lee Liperote
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6: Shooting Silhouettes Against a Sunset Sky
What are the factors to be considered when photographing silhouetted subjects? Also, what will be the aperture and shutter speed?
- Jayaprakash Ms
ANSWER 1:
All you have to do is get the composition that you want, spotmeter the color in the sky that you want to come out in your picture, use that exposure and, bingo, your subject will be a silhouette.
- Brock E. Litton
ANSWER 2:
Most newer cameras have an AE lock button. Set up the picture the way you want, move your view to the sky, press and hold the AE lock, recompose and shoot. Or if you prefer, take a reading off the sky in auto, note the exposure and set the camera to those settings manually. You can then recompose and shoot the silhouette. This option allows you to adjust the darkness of the silhouette - i.e., close down a stop for a darker silhouette and a more dramatic sky, or open up a stop and bring in a few foreground details. It's always a good idea to bracket these shots at least a stop or two either way. You may get an unexpected result that you really like.
- Paul Tobeck
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