The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Photo Backdrops...
Q&A 2: Studio Wall Color...
Q&A 3: How to Fix a Nose...
Q&A 4: HELP! Resolution...
Q&A 5: Portrait Photogra...
Q&A 6: How Do I Get a Co...

"This course was really fantastic. I thoroughly enjoyed the assignments and learned a lot... Susan and Neil were great - very quick to respond to questions and email, and very quick to critique the photos. Also, the 'Extra Click' photo we were encouraged to upload each week was a real bonus, and a lot of fun." - student in Susan and Neil Silverman's Digital Workout #1: Beginning Digital Photography course

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Family Trip Tip .... by Jim Miotke
"If you're traveling with family, sit down with your spouse and family members to discuss things they can do while your shooting," writes BetterPhoto President Jim Miotke in a recent blog. "Get everyone talking, put every member's requests out on the table so you can discuss the plan (and make compromises when necessary). The goal here is to go with everyone on the same page - to reduce the stress of disagreements, bored teenagers, and surprising expectations when you're on the road. Hope this helps you turn those daydreams into fully-realized, fully-successful photographic adventures! Have fun!"
Resources: Jim Miotke's The BetterPhoto Guide to Digital Photography book, and Brenda Tharp's Travel Photography: Capturing a Sense of Place online course.

Featured Gallery
Sea of Boulders
© - Alan L. Borror

Welcome to the 272nd issue of SnapShot!

Are you kicking yourself for waiting too long? Don't fret, since you can still join one of BetterPhoto's online photography courses. Check out our Summer school schedule. Although the first lessons have already been sent out, the assignments for our 8-week courses are not even due until this coming Sunday (July 16th)! IBut if you're having trouble finding the class that's right for you, then check out our new Course Calculator. In this issue of SnapShot, don't miss our usual features, including another fine collection of questions and answers.

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

Yes, you can still join the fun. If you sign up for one of our 8-week online courses today, we will send you the first lesson pronto. Then you will have plenty of time to do the first assignment, which isn't even due until July 16th. School schedule... Get started with artificial lighting and learn how to approach lighting problems with your equipment. John Siskin, a widely published professional photographer, draws on more than 15 years of experience in teaching professional lighting. Best yet, it's not too late to sign up for class, with the first assignment not even due until July 16th.Learn more about Pro Lighting... Learn photography, meet friends, see programs by BP instructors, and have fun at the 2nd Annual BetterPhoto Summit. This event takes place September 16th-17th, 2006, in Seattle, Washington. Learn more...

Photo Q&A

1: Photo Backdrops
In every department store portrait studio I've worked in there have been a few photo backdrops. Not just the plain muslin. And although I tend to prefer the plain muslin, I know that there are customers who will always prefer the photo backdrop - especially at times like Christmas when they want a tree in their portrait. So now that I'm going to be opening my own portrait studio, I'm wondering how to make those. I saw this thing being sold on eBay that would take your image and blow it up nice and HUGE, and you'd print each 8x10 by 8x10 and then paste them all together in some way. It seems like you wouldn't need a program to do that, though. So I'm just wondering if any of you studio photographers out there have any photo backdrops and how you got them. Thanks!!
- Danielle E. Rutter
Those are canvas backdrops. They can come cheap and will look very cheap. Those on the rollers you use now are an excellent quality and are very expensive but will last a lifetime, which is something to remember as you choose them. Pick a theme that will transcend some years. (They got those from Dennys.)
When using your own photos for backdrops, make sure they put absolutely NO glaze or sealer of any kind on them. As a company, they had to send those small ones they have back 3-4 times until they were done right. Any bit of glaze was send a flare.
I hope this helps; let me know if you want to discuss lights. I do hope this helps,
- Debby Tabb
I have backdrops that I made out of sheets and spray paint that are really easy, inexpensive, and they wash really well. New Blue in my gallery is the first one I did.
- Pat Worster
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2: Studio Wall Color
What color should I use to paint the studio wall that I use as a backdrop when taking portraits?
- Melissa Sweeney
I would do either white or black, but probably white. If you shoot digitally and edit them, then it would be easy for you to extract a white wall and replace it with a different background. That's just my thought ,though!!
- Collette Storkel
Collette's right in that either black or white are the most common colors, but it depends on what and how you like to shoot and whether you're shooting with film or digitally, I guess. I don't do digital. But our studio has a shooting cove that appears seamless right down to the floor line. The walls are all flat black - except one, which is bright white for its reflective value. But we also use Bogen autopoles that allow seamless paper backgrounds to roll down like big window shades to give any color we want really, and rolling flats that are essentially portable wall sections with different textures like faux brick, plaster, canvas, etc. The walls themselves can be quickly painted in about an hour or so and left to dry overnight. Clients pay for the background colors, including paint or seamless. You might want to score a book on studio design and see what the latest and greatest is these days.
Take it light.
- Mark Feldstein
I am in the process of building a studio, and I will be painting my wall white, but also with a pulley system in order to have a black velvet type backdrop as well. The reason I am having the white wall instead of the black: I can get a smooth finish with white, and as it is a solid structure, I won't get get any "crease" marks that are easily seen on light-coloured backdrops. I am going with a cloth black backdrop, cause if there are "crease" marks, they are not seen due to the fabric being black. I hope this helps.
- Natalie Howe
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3: How to Fix a Nose with Photoshop?
I am new to Photoshop and have yet to learn all the millions of techniques it has to offer. I have a client waiting on these proofs and I was hoping to get some help. How can I get rid of the little flakes on his nose? I need step-by-step directions. I'm not sure how to use layers, but I am familiar with the filters. Thanks!
- Amber StephensSee Sample Photo - Berekley

Hi Amber,
The best tool for this is the “Healing Brush”. You can find this on the left floating toolbar.
1) Once you select this brush, assign it a hardness value of 0 (this gives a nice smooth look)
2) Set a size to something 2-4x larger than what it is you’re trying to correct.
3) Press and hold the ALT key and click somewhere near the nose, but not too close to the part you’re trying to correct. Try your best to make sure the part you select has the same skin tone.
4) Now that the healing brush is set up, click (and optionally move) the mouse on the part you want to correct. You may need to move the mouse around to clean up the photo. You should see the correction immediately.
It may take you several tries to get it right.
- Nathaniel Meyer
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4: HELP! Resolution problems in PS Elements
Two questions please! I recently purchased the Canon 30D. When I load my pictures into Photoshop, the resolution is 72. Is this correct? Can it be changed?
The next question is when I manipulate (crop, add text, adjust levels in lighting), the image prints out blurry. I haven't changed any resolutions or anything. Just added things or adjust color. Any help on these matters appreciated.
- Janet SpearsSee Sample Photo - Team collage after gaem

It's nothing to worry about. This is normal. What's happening is that the default resolution setting for JPEGs on the Canon camera is 72 dpi. This doesn't mean that you're dealing with a low-resolution image. If you look at the width and height of your image, you will see that it is a very large photograph. If you look at your Pixel Dimension at the top of the dialog box, you see that you are dealing with a large file. If you want to see what the image at another resolution looks like, go to the Image Size window, uncheck Resample Image Box and then change the resolution to 300 dpi. You will then see the width and height change. You will also note that your Pixel Dimensions will not have changed.
- Ibarionex R. Perello
Thank you so much. Mind at ease about resolution, but what about when I do things to the picture? Why does it look blurred (like a low-resolution picture)? The team picture I sent is one that this happened to. I took out a line on the fence behind the coaches' heads and then enhanced the lighting. Then it became blurred. Any suggestions? Thanks so much.
- Janet Spears
The first thing to do when you've chosen an image to edit is to save a duplicate file. Created a folder, preferably a subfolder where the current shoot is located and name it "Working". These will hold the image you will be enhancing. Save the image, not as a JPEG, but rather as a Photoshop or TIFF file to prevent further compression of the image. Then apply whatever changes want to the image (contrast, color, brightness). Once you have done this, you can resize the image for output. For a specific resolution and image size, you will need to check the Resample Image box. After you've resized the image should apply any sharpening.
If the original file when you open it and magnifify it appears blurred it's likely it was blurred while shooting and not because of anything that you were doing in Elements. If this is not the case, follow the procedures I just explained and try again.
The key is not work edit your original as mistakes and changes if saved eliminate the possibility of being able to work from an uncorrupted original.
- Ibarionex R. Perello
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5: Portrait Photography
I am finally able to buy another flash unit, but I am not sure which is the best to buy for portrait photography. I already have a B800 unit from AlienBees as my main light and am now looking for a fill light. Should I get another B800 and just set the power lower than the main or should I get something completely different such as a soft box, diffuser, or what?
- Jodi A. Birnbaum
You will do just fine with another B800 for a fill. But really, before buying a fill, I would buy a smaller backlight unit. You can do both studio and on-site work with a two-light system. I recommend a main and a backlight, then add your fill later for "the best" - a three light system. I hope this helps. If by chance you have my CDs or the one on Building a home studio, then there are setups in there for the 1, 2 and then 3 light systems - then those using a hair light as well. I hope this helps,
- Debby Tabb
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6: How Do I Get a Copyright?
How do I obtain a copyright (photo by photo or many at a time)? Can a "running copyright" be attained if you are photogaphing daily?
- Sandra  Jo Troupe
Here in Oz, we are protected by copyright until 50 years after our death from the time we press the shutter button - no forms, nothing. You just have to prove we took the photo.
- Natalie Howe
"How do I obtain a copyright?" - You own the copyright to any and every photo you take (with exceptions if you are doing so in the employ of someone else)
"Photo by photo or many at a time?" - Yes. Registering your photos with the U.S. Copyright Office is not necessary, but is advisable if you want to use your images commercially. You can register images singly, or in batch. For more information, see
- Jon Close
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