The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Monday, June 19, 2006
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Portrait Studio -...
Q&A 2: What Lens for Bab...
Q&A 3: Lighting for Tabl...
Q&A 4: ...Not Really a Q...
Q&A 5: Pictures of Band ...
Q&A 6: Best Lighting for...
Q&A 7: File Format, Reso...

"Thank you for this course! You have been an excellent teacher, always ready to help, fast and precise... My knowledge of exposure is now stronger thanks to the histogram tool, and the knowhow you transferred to me. Thanks, thanks, thanks!!!" -student in Ellen Anon's What the Histogram Tells You About Exposure online course.

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No Tripod in Low Light? Try This Solution!
In one of his BetterBlogs, instructor Jim Zuckerman tells of his photo adventure at an ancient cistern in Istanbul: "No tripods were allowed in this very dark place, so I came up with an idea that had never occurred to me before. I left my tripod in the hotel but brought only my ball head. This way, I could use the floor or a railing along the walkway as a solid support, yet the camera could still be angled any way I wanted for a good composition.

"By applying constant downward pressure on the base of the ball head, I could be sure that there would be no movement and my pictures would be sharp. I used the self-timer on the camera to minimize any vibration when I took each shot. Even when I shot the rows of columns and depth of field was important, I could close down the lens because long exposures were fine provided I held the ball head down tightly.

"The security personnel didnít object to the ball head, and all of my pictures came out sharp."

Learn more about Jim Zuckerman and his online courses!

Featured Gallery
Tanker Dreams
© - Gary H. Minish

Welcome to the 269th issue of SnapShot!

At BetterPhoto.comô, the good news continues! Paul Gero's brand-new Raw Workflow for Wedding Photographers course will help you define and streamline your digital Raw workflow. This course joins another recent addition to the Summer lineup: John Siskin's Introduction to Product Photography. In addition, in celebration of BetterPhoto's 10th anniversary, the contest judges have come up with their all-time favorite "cute kids" images. Best yet, the photographers share the "stories" behind the making of their successful shots! See the Top Ten Cute Kids photos. And, of course, be sure to mark your calendar for the photographic event of the year: the 2nd Annual BetterPhoto Summit, coming up in September in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

Are you ready to take the next step in your photography? We have an awesome Summer schedule of 8-week online courses at BetterPhoto. See 8-week course schedule... At BetterPhoto, we offer an exciting range of 4-Week Short Courses. Among them:
- Digital Art Photography :
- Understanding Natural Light
- Photoshop Tips, Tricks & Filter Magic
- The Magic of Wide-Angle :
- Camera Raw Processing
- Using Your Canon Strobe Creatively
- Intro to Macro: Details & Close-ups
- Introduction to Product Photography
- Professional Framing for Photographers
Check out 4-Week courses... Learn photography, meet friends, see programs by BP instructors, get inspired, and have fun at the 2nd Annual BetterPhoto Summit, which takes place September 16th-17th, 2006, in Seattle, Washington. For details...

Photo Q&A

1: Portrait Studio - One Light, Soft Box?
I was at Wal-Mart today in the studio and noticed that they only use one light and a large diffuser soft box to take the portraits. I am curious how good this works as the pictures looked great on the screen. Also curious if anyone knows what size lens they use for their pictures. I want to set up a small studio in my house, but don't have much money or space and thought I could try the one light method with the diffuser soft box. Thanks,
- Desiree C. Preckwinkle
This can be done, of course, but you must consider the space they use to work with and what they offer. In most cases, they cannot do a full-length adult, and the portraits do look a bit flat. You can do this if you have enough depth to your room to bring your subject at, the very least, 36 inches from the background. If you are lacking that type of space, then I would suggest a backlight. But by all means, do start your dreams knowing they can develop into perfection as you can afford to grow. Wishing you the best of luck in your ventures, Debby Tabb
- Debby Tabb
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2: What Lens for Baby's Christening?
Hello all,
I will be taking pictures at my sister's baby's christening. I have a Tamron 28-75, 2.8 - nice and fast!! I feel like that will be adequate, but I wonder: Will I benefit from have a longer zoom, like a 70-300?? The priest will let me be reasonably close, but I can't get up on the altar, or move around too much. Also, I'm taking pictures of my 3 sisters - and I'm looking for a photo that crops at the waist, with them filling the frame. My guess is that a length of about 85 will do this for me - am I right?? Thank you.
- ewurama hayford
That's a good question. I took some photos inside a church and had to be in the back shooting. The 70-300 zoom I had came in handy, but the flash output wasn't quite able to handle the distance. Until the experts weigh in, my guess is the 28-75mm lens will work well for you.
- Sharon D
Hi Ewurama,Just my opinion, but I would shoot the longer focal lengths for a couple reasons: 1) It will give you a shallow depth of field so just the baby and priest are in focus ... less distraction from the background. 2) With an infant, the longer focal length - especialy wide open - will give the child a softer look. Hard focus on infants is not appealing. All the best,
- Pete Herman
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3: Lighting for Tabletop Macro Photography
I would appreciate some ideas on inexpensive lighting for a homemade tabletop studio for macro photography.
- Carole Loiselle
Situate your table near a window for natural light, and use a white piece of paper to reflect the light on to your subject. This is inexpensive and works great. When you play around with the sheet of paper, watch how the light reflects onto the subject. I usually need to move mine around some to get the best lighting, and the effects can be seen while rearranging the paper. There are other inexpensive things you can do if you want to shoot after the sun goes down. I've seen little tent things at eBay for around $50 that look like they'd work nicely. I'll see if I can get the link for you. This seller has equipment at auction all the time.
- Sharon D
To add to Sharon's great ideas: if you're shooting digital and can correct the white balance, a naked light bulb and a flashlight do a very good job. For reflectors, there's also foil paper from the kitchen and gold foil candy bar wrappers.
- Kay Beausoleil
Thanks so much Sharon and Kay. Currently I am using a naked light bulb but tend to get hot spots. I've also sat out on the patio table and taken some nice shots outside. Will definitely try the reflectors you both have suggested. Thanks again!
- Carole Loiselle
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4: ...Not Really a Question, But a Revelation!
Here's a tip I learned recently while on a photographic road trip across the country. If you've ever wondered how to keep your film cool and fresh while on the road during the heat of summer, try one of those battery-operated coolers. They plug into the cigarette lighter outlet in your car, and in normal summer conditions, will maintain a temperature of 37 to 40 degrees. As an added bonus, you can keep beverages cold and store perishable foods for snacking during multi-day road trips ... without the mess and expense of ice. You can also get an AC adaptor and bring the cooler into your hotel room at night. I just thought I'd pass that along.
- Bob Cammarata
Great idea! I got some of those enclosed things you freeze and put in the cooler... well, that worked just fine until I hit the motels without a way to refreeze them, so then I was stuck buying ice or drinking warm soda.
- Carolyn Fletcher
You do need to get the AC adaptor because if you leave them plugged into a car battery too long they will drain the battery. They are very nice for traveling. We used to keep one in our truck when we drove over-the-road.
- Sharon D
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5: Pictures of Band ... But Out of Focus
Hi! I recently took pics of the guys playing in the band... Unfortunately, the pictures came out blurred. It is not the first time that this has happened. It happens also when I use tripod. Does somebody have an idea why it happens? I am using Canon Power Shot Pro1. Is it possible that my camera is damaged? Thanks for any sugestions.
- Patrycja Adamowska
Howdy, Pat. If you look at your results and nothing is sharp then what you're likely suffering from is camera-shake, even on your tripod. If that's so, I'd ask if you're using a cable release or just depressing the shutter release. Or, if you're using an autofocus camera, there may be something wrong with that, so I'd get it checked by a reputable repair shop.
If something is in focus - anything, like in the background or some pieces of band equipment - then you need to determine whether your subjects are moving around too much for the shutter speed you're using, or whether you need to be working at a faster shutter speed. Sometimes in those situations - i.e., shooting live performances - you can do a lot to stop the motion of your subjects by using a bit of fill flash, even working at slower shutter speeds.
Take it light.
- Mark Feldstein
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6: Best Lighting for Wedding Couple
Which is the best type of studio lighting for a wedding couple - soft boxes or umbrella lighting?
- Nadil khan
A soft box will provide a softer light and more pleasant features, while an umbrella will create a brighter but harsher light. I currently put an umbrella and strobe light to limited use when I need it and can produce a soft light. But the task would be far easier with the soft box that I am saving my pennies for.
- Ryan Jones
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7: File Format, Resolution, Etc.
I had a Panasonic Lumix FZ1, now I have a new Lumix FZ30, with everything on it. Now I have to learn all over again. My question: What are the best settings for shots at the zoo? Some animals roam freely up and down hills, some are right in front of me. I want more than 7 photos per card. I am used to getting a hundred per card, with the old camera. But now I have to change resolution. There is also the option for Raw. Which would be the better choice?
- Josselyne 
The best choice would be to use the highest resolution that your camera can do, and buy a larger memory card. Memory cards are cheap.
The next shot you take may be the best shot you've ever taken, and if it is taken at a low resolution, you'll regret it.
After you have a large memory card, you may want to experiment with RAW format, if you are comfortable with editing your images on the computer. If you are more inclined to shoot and go straight to print, stay with JPEG.
Chris A. Vedros
- Chris A. Vedros
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