The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Monday, May 29, 2006
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Polarizing Filter...
Q&A 2: The Histogram: Wh...
Q&A 3: Best Slide Film f...
Q&A 4: Wide-Angle Lens V...
Q&A 5: Road Trip and Mem...
Q&A 6: Large Group Photo...

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Photographing Action ... by Jim Zuckerman
"When shooting action, I never take my eye away from the viewfinder," says photographer-author Jim Zuckerman in a recent BetterBlog. "Iíve learned too often that in those few moments when I relax my concentration, something great happens and Iíve missed the shot. And Iíve seen many times that when students participating in my workshops and tours miss a shot, they put their camera aside to express their frustration, and in those few seconds something else even better happens and they miss the shot - again."
Editor's Note: Learn more about Jim Zuckerman and his excellent online courses at BetterPhoto through his Premium Gallery.

Learn photography, meet friends, see programs by BP instructors, and have fun in a jam-packed weekend. The 2nd Annual BetterPhoto Summit takes place September 16th-17th, 2006, in Seattle, Washington. For details...
Seattle photo by Jim Miotke
Featured Gallery

Welcome to the 266th issue of SnapShot!

We have some thrilling news at BetterPhoto: the launch of our June round of online courses! Traditionally, June has been an off time as far as classes go. But for many people, this "in-between" month fits their schedule perfectly. As a result, many of our most popular 4-Week Short Courses are being offered beginning June 7th. Check out our June online classes. And, of course, beginning in July, we have our full Summer school session - both 8-week courses and 4-week classes. In this issue of SnapShot, be sure to check out Jim Zuckerman's photo tip, "Photographing Action", and another great batch of questions and answers. Looking ahead, don't forget about one of the year's most exciting photographic events: the 2nd Annual BetterPhoto Summit! That's it for now... have a fine week of photography!

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

Still kicking yourself for not signing up for a May course? Can't wait for the Summer session to begin in July? Well, we have great news: We are now offering June sessions for many of our most popular 4-Week Short Courses! Learn more... Our online store features the outstanding books and DVDs from our talented team of instructors. And now, in celebration of BetterPhoto's 10th anniversary, we're giving you free U.S. shipping on every book and DVD! Check it out... Are you ready to take the next step in your photography? We have an awesome Summer schedule of online courses at BetterPhoto.comô. All of our instructors are experienced professionals who are well-published, have extensive teaching backgrounds, and love sharing their expertise. The schedule: 8-Week Courses and 4-Week Short Courses-July

Photo Q&A

1: Polarizing Filters
I have a Canon EOS 300/ Rebel 2000. I bought a PL filter but I didn't know too much. What's the difference between a PL (linear) and a C-PL (circular). Some of my friends told me that I can't use a PL with an autofocus camera. I'd like to hear your oppinion.
- Paul T. I
Autofocus cameras require a circular polarizer. Linear polarizers work well with manual focus cameras. If you use a circular polarizer with your EOS, you should do fine. Have fun and keep shooting.
- Mark R. Hiatt
So...wrong investment?
- Paul T. I
If you bought a linear polarizer, I hate to say this, but yeah, you made the wrong investment. If you have the box and all packing and paperwork, the shop you bought it at may exchange it.
Best of luck to ya.
- Mark R. Hiatt
Assuming you bought the filters at a camera store, as you usually don't find these items at Walmart, then I'm surprised the salesperson didn't at least ask you what kind of camera you were using so as to sell you the right kind of filter. But then again, maybe I shouldn't be too surprised at that. Definitely circular polarizer for any and all autofocus cameras.
- Bob Chance
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2: The Histogram: What It Is, How It's Used
I am a bit confused by the histogram. Can somebody explain to me how to read histogram and how one can use it to improve photography? I have a Nikon D70s.
A histogram divides the available tones of light and dark in an image into 256 shades. It shows the distribution of shades in the overall image. It is important to know that a histogram shows you nothing about where in the image the tones happen to be, just how many of each shade is there, relative to the other shades.

So, for a practical example, all of the histogram bunched up on the left tells you the image is a preponderance of dark tones. Bunched up on the right is a high-key image, with mostly bright tones. An even distribution tells you that there are about as many brights as darks.

A histogram will also show you where there is no tonal information, usually at the extreme ends of the scale. Imaging operators usually will move the slider on each end over to just the point at which tonal information is being shown. Most images, whether out of a digital camera, or from a scanner, look a lot better when you do this.

Editor's Note: For anyone interested, BetterPhoto offers this June online course:
What the Histogram Tells You About Exposure

- Doug Nelson
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3: Best Slide Film for Wildlife?
What is the best slide film that can be used for wildlife photography in all light condition (dawn, midday, dusk and low light)?
There's not a "best" slide film for "all light conditions." The general rule of thumb is: For optimum quality, always use the slowest - i.e., finest grain - film you can for the prevailing light and shooting conditions. If you're shooting inanimate subjects from a tripod, the slowest, finest grain film will do you well. If you're in dimmer light, your subjects are moving, and/or you're handholding your camera, you'll need faster speed film. If you're not sure of the upcoming conditions, have a variety of film in your camera bag.
- Michael H. Cothran
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4: Wide-Angle Lens Vs. Built-In Flash
I recently took a dozen or more flash pictures (with the built-in flash) indoors at an awards dinner - with my Canon-20-D and a Sigma 10-20MM digital f.4-5.6 lens. Just about every one came out dark. I set my camera's exposure to P, in full auto mode. There was pronounced distortion when I grouped 6 or 7 people in the shot. First, should I be using a mounted flash system to get more area, and distance, and is the Sigma lens a good choice for this project? Or should I be using a different lens? Your reply is much appreciated.
- Charley Andrisano
First, and in my opinion, an extreme wide-angle lens such as this is not a good choice for people, unless you are in really, really tight quarters, or you purposely want to distort them. Instead, use a longer focal length lens, and back up a little. Flashwise, every flash has a certain angle of coverage. Built-in flashes will normally cover the angle of view of a 28mm lens at best. If you're using a 10-20mm zoom lens, your built-in flash simply cannot cover this much territory, especially at the wider end. You will need something stronger, and you may have to opt for multiple flash units in order to cover that much ground.
- Michael H. Cothran
Ditto the above, except that the built-in flash of the 20D will cover the angle of view of lenses as short as 17mm (28mm is the limit for the built-ins of most 35mm film SLRs). Still, it is not enough coverage for use with the Sigma 10-20 zoom. The 10-20 zoom is also physically large enough to block some of the light from the built-in flash, causing a shadow in the lower part of the photo.
- Jon Close
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5: Road Trip and Memory Cards
Hello everyone! I will be on a trip to a paradise island in the Carribean and I am having difficulty deciding how much memory I will need for all the great shots I got plan to take. I currently have 1GB to work with, but it wasn't until I found out about "RAW" mode that the 1GB memory card cannot hold much. I would appreciate if anyone can help on how I should deal with this issue: Should I shoot in RAW model, RAW/JPEG, or just JPEG mode to save space? Or simply, just spend the big bucks and buy a 2-8GB memory card. Help!
- Wilson Almendarez
A better idea is to buy a few 1 gig cards... The problem I see with a large (8gb) card, is they have been known to crash... at least with two cards, you have a backup.
- Pete Herman
First, I would always shoot in RAW mode, unless your only intent for the images is Internet display. You can always scale down the image, but quality suffers when you start interpolating upwards. On my own camera, I get 80 RAW shots from a 1 GB card. My solution, which may not be the best, is to bring along my laptop, download the images once the card is full, and then continue shooting. This may not be convenient for you. I would suggest (and may now do this myself) purchasing a few 1-2GB cards. The way I see it, and to paraphrase the previous poster, is if a card crashes, you will only lose the images on that one card. If all you have is a 4 or 8GB card, and it crashes, you lose everything. The price has dropped drastically on the price of 1 GB cards, that it just doesn't make sense anymore not to own a few. Back when I bought mine in 2002, I paid $350 for it. No way I was going to buy another. That ship has now sailed, and they are much less expensive. So, in answering your inquiry, you have also helped me make the decision to buy a couple more 1 GB cards.
- Michael H. Cothran
Wilson, one other thought, if I may. There are devices known as "personal storage devices", or PSDs, that are essentially computer hard drives in small enclosures with compact flash and SD card slots on the case. These are designed to allow you to offload the contents of your memory card and reuse it. Then, once home, to offload all the files on the PSD directly to your computer with a USB connector.
You could check out the Wolverine, for example, being sold at Costco.
By using a PSD with a 60 or 80 GB drive in it, you effectively will be able to shoot for a very long time using just 2 memory cards (it may take a while to offload the contents of a card, so you might want the second card in the camera while the first is being recorded).
It's just a thought - these PSDs come in various sizes, and some of them allow you to play MP3 music or have color screens on which you can review your shots (with histograms) or even attach to a TV set if you want to show everyone an impromptu slide show while you're in paradise.
- Bob 
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6: Large Group Photography
I have been asked to shoot the cast and crew photo for my daughter's 6th grade play of the "Wizard of Oz". It is a large group - about 120 kids. I shoot with a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT, and my lens is the 18-55. I'm looking for advice on lighting: What do I do with house lights? Spots? Stage lights? Do I need to bring in extra lighting?And do I need a wide-angle lens for this or a bracket flash? This is a whole new world for me but I welcome the opportunity to learn!
- Rachel Hyde
It will be difficult to arrange that many kids to get them all framed in one shot. You might be able to arrange them in rows (1st sitting on stage, 2nd kneeling, 3rd sitting on chairs, 4th standing, 5th standing on chairs).
If you're in a theater with house lights, stage lights, etc. - that's great - turn them all on. You'll do a much better job lighting a group that large with the theater lights than with any camera-based flash.
Arrange the kids, and tell them to sit still and to be patient. I know that's asking a lot! ;-)
Back up far enough so that you can frame the group when your lens is zoomed to somewhere between 30mm and 55mm, rather than at the wide 18mm end. This will help avoid distortion where the kids on the ends of the rows look smaller than the kids in the middle.
Increase your ISO to 400. Put your camera in Av mode and move in close so that your frame is filled with just a couple of faces and no dark background. Adjust your aperture to the highest f-number that will give you a shutter speed of about 1/60th. Then switch to manual mode and set to that shutter speed and aperture. Back up to frame the shot and shoot.
Shoot a few shots at the selected settings, then shoot a couple at the shutter speeds one over and under the selected, and then at the apertures one over and under the selected.
This should give you something you can work with. Shooting several shots not only will help with getting the exposure correct, it will also increase your chances of getting a shot where most of the kids are looking ahead, not making dumb faces, etc.
Good luck,
Chris A. Vedros
- Chris A. Vedros
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