The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Monday, September 11, 2006
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Gray Card for Exp...
Q&A 2: Monopod - What It...
Q&A 3: Digital Camera: L...
Q&A 4: Photoshop: Sharp ...
Q&A 5: Donating Picture ...

"This is a fabulous course. It delivered far more than it promised. In addition to showing me how to make my photographs more powerful, it expanded my vision and gave me a whole new perspective on photography. I highly recommend the course. I will take other courses taught by Rob." - student in Impact in Your Photographs: The Wow Factor course by Rob Sheppard, who also has a brand-new course beginning October 4th: Better to Best Color in Digital Photography .

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Use a 4X Loupe with Your Digital Camera! By Scott Stulberg
There are many things that I take with me on every shoot - my 4X loupe to view my images on the LCD screen. My favorite is made by Peak and is the 4X loupe that comes with a string, I use this loupe and have it around my neck every time I shoot.
This loupe fits over the cameras LCD screen very nicely whether it’s a 2 inch or even a 2 and a half inch LCD. The 4X loupe magnifies the entire image and is nothing short of remarkable for helping you see your images clearer and bigger and if there is anything wrong in the image.
Editor's Note: This tip is adapted from Scott Stulberg's Sept. 6th Instructor's Insight BetterBlog. Scott also teaches the excellent Photoshop Tips, Tricks and Filter Magic course.

Featured Gallery

Welcome to the 281st issue of SnapShot!

I am thrilled to announce the launch of the BetterPhoto Radio program! The first show will take place this Friday (September 15th) - the day before the 2nd Annual BetterPhoto Summit Photography Weekend. In this innovative Internet radio show - hosted by - you will learn how to make great photos each and every time you shoot. I'll tell the stories behind some of my favorite images, plus I'll share digital photography tips on how you can make your own eye-catching imagery. Each show will also feature one of our world-acclaimed professional photographers who teach online photography classes here at BP. And BetterPhoto members can take part too! A portion of each show will be devoted to answering questions from call-in guests, emails, and Q&A. The BetterPhoto Radio show airs 1-2pm Pacific time each Friday afternoon. The call-in phone number is 1-877-474-3302. We welcome and encourage your participation. Please call-in with questions or comments. The phone number is 1-877-474-3302. I look forward to answering your questions! ... By the way, we have a great deal that involves our Better Photography Classes. With the new Refer-A-Friend program, you can get a $20 discount on your next photo course. Simply sign into your Member Center and then click the Courses tab. There you will see a link to the Refer-A-Friend form! See our class schedule...

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

A jam-packed, fun-filled photography weekend - known as the BetterPhoto Summit Photography Weekend - is coming right up on September 16th-17th near Seattle. Learn to compose better images, have Photoshop de-mystified, and come away filled with new insights. And don't forget: If you have taken two or more courses at BetterPhoto, you immediately qualify for 20% off. If you've taken 10 classes, you get in for free! Learn more about the Summit... Read the Strobe Lighting - Just the Basics! article by John Siskin, who also teaches the excellent Understanding Professional Lighting course here at BP. At BetterPhoto, we have an awesome lineup of online classes - all taught by top pros who are well-published with extensive teaching experience. Check the Fall schedule...
Looking for the Right Course? Then try out our brand-new Course Calculator, which will help you choose the online class that best meets your needs!

Photo Q&A

1: Gray Card for Exposure
When and why do you use a grey card?
- Jane 
Grey cards provide a neutral target for exposure meters, including the one in your camera. You use them to calibrate your camera against a handheld meter, to take a reading in difficult situations, to check the incident light reading against the reflected light reading of your camera's inbult system. They are especially useful with backlit subjects or when there is a bright light source like the sun or a light fitting in front of you. Also when the scene is dark on dark like a black cat on a dark blanket or light on light like a snowy landscape.
- David A. Rich
If we convert our world to B/W, everything would be made of black, white and various shades of gray. Most things, especially grass and foliage, have a reflectance value of 18%. That is, they reflect 18% of whatever light is hitting them. Meters are designed to give an acceptible exposure to reduce the subject to this same reflectance value. It would be impossible for a meter to know exactly what the reflectance value should be for every subject. Some things reflect less light, some things more light. But in the broadest sense, 18% covers the majority.
It's therefore up to the user to be able to distinguish those subjects that don't meet the criteria of 18%. If you meter a white wall, the meter still thinks it's a medium gray and the resulting exposure will give you a murky gray picture. But you know the wall reflects a lot more light than a gray card. More light means more exposure. The meter is giving less exposure to make it gray, so we must compensate for this and give it more exposure to brighten it up. The reverse is true for a black or dark wall.
However, if you meter off of your gray card in the same light as your subject, then your exposure should be good always. But it's not always practical to carry an 8x10 piece of cardboard around. It's easier to learn how to read a scene and determine how the lighting would fool the meter and know when and how much to compensate.
Incident meters read the light directly, not reflected light, but the exposure they give is to the same effect - that is, to expose an 18% reflectance to come out as 18% in your picture. You don't have to carry a card around with you as they read the light direclty. However, you can't always be in the same light as your subject. And for any meter to be valuable, you have to be able to read the light that is falling on your subject. Not much good to take a reading in the sunlight, if your subject is standing thirty feet away in the shade. The results would be disappointing, to say the least.
- Bob Chance
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2: Monopod - What It Is, Why Use It
What is a monopod?
- Estella Aguilar
It is a one-legged instrument upon which a camera can be mounted.
- Kerry L. Walker
It's like a tripod, only with one leg instead of three. It's mainly used in sports photography or where space is confined and you still need to shoot at a slow shutter speed.
- James Lynch
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3: Digital Camera: LCD Brightness and Format
My camera's LCD monitor brightens up to 5 levels. Does it change brightness when you print your photos? Or does that brightness only apply to the LCD? Also, when should "Format" on my camera be used? And what is "format"?
- Estella Aguilar
Changing the LCD brightness on your camera does not affect the printed photos.
The format function on your camera will erase all of the images on your memory card so you can take more pictures. You should do this ONLY after you have copied your pictures to your computer.
Chris A. Vedros
- Chris A. Vedros
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4: Photoshop: Sharp Vs. Blur Effect
I have seen these portraits where the everything in the picture is diffused-glowing except for the face. It looks really cool. I am going to play around. But, if I can't get it, any suggestions would help! Thanks!
- Melissa A. Caudill
There's a diffused glow filter and a gaussian blur filter, so I'm not sure which one you're talking about. But with either one, the basic way to do it is to use the marquee tool, or use the lasso tool to select the areas to apply the filter without doing it to the face.
Either way, you use either tool to select just the face. Then use inverse (which you'll find under 'select' in the title bar at the top of the page... file, edit, select...).
Then select all the photo but the face area. Then apply whichever filter you're talking about.
- Gregory La Grange
Another way of doing it with more control and ability to adjust afterwards is to duplicate the layer, apply a gaussian blur to it (and screen blend maybe), and then create a mask so that it only affects the non-face areas. You can use different opacities for the mask so that the transition from sharp to blurred is gradual (can do this with feather in Greg's method too). Also (there's 99 ways to do anything in PS) instead of the mask, you could just erase the duplicated blurred layer over the face area, again using different opacities on the eraser to blend it in.
A lot of people also use high settings for noise reduction software (such as Noise Ninja, Noiseware, etc.), which will leave most of the face very soft/blurred but leave the eyes/mouth/nostrils/eyebrows sharp.
- Jane  M
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5: Donating Picture for an Auction
I have been asked to donate one of my photographs for a silent auction. My question is: Should I send an 8x10 printed or should I send through email? And do I have to worry about copyright paperwork? Thanks!
- Marilou Olejniczak
Hi Marilou,
Silent auctions are fund-raisers for charitable causes. My experience has been that those in attendance are prominent people of the community. Items to be bid upon on placed on tables for all to see. Your signed image should be a minimum of 8x10 and tastefully mounted and perhaps framed. Your costs may be tax deductible at fair market price This is a good opportunity to display your genius. The party that gets your treasure may not be computer literate so only a hard copy will do. Think of your work hung over the mantel at the Governor’s Mansion. Shoot the works!
- Alan N. Marcus
To keep your cost down in framing and mounting, see if there is a local framer that is willing to frame the work for the auction. They can also have their name on the donors list. (Not being a framer myself, this works for me and then my work looks professional and great.)
- Debbie Del Tejo
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