The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Monday, October 02, 2006
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Photographing Bui...
Q&A 2: Focusing in Low L...
Q&A 3: Making the Jump t...
Q&A 4: Pet Photography T...
Q&A 5: Indoor Action Sho...
Q&A 1: Canon 30D and C...

"Thanks again for your wonderful teaching, insightful critiques and inspiring comments. Without you guys, I would never have tried to take a shot of a moving taxi. I owe it all to you!" - student in Susan and Neil Silverman's Street Photography class at BetterPhoto.

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Making Money with Your Photos ... by Jim Zuckerman
"One of the quickest ways to begin selling photos is taking pictures of puppies and kittens," says Jim Zuckerman in his recent BetterBlog. "There is an endless demand for these kinds of pictures in the calendar and note card markets, and many other markets as well. In my Making Money with Your Photography course here at BetterPhoto, I discuss in detail how to make contact with various photo buyers and how to present your work. For now, I can assure you that if you take the time to create adorable sets for these lovable subjects (and they don’t have to be elaborate or expensive), and you have a lot of patience in getting the best shots, you will definitely make money... Just make sure that the lighting is attractive in your photographs, and that the background complements the subjects. If you have distracting elements or unattractive shadows behind your subjects, your pictures will be hard – or impossible – to sell."

Editor's Note: Learn more about Jim Zuckerman and his BetterPhoto courses!

Featured Gallery
Autumn Gold
© - Gail P. Sullivan

Welcome to the 284th issue of SnapShot!

Are you ready to take the next step in your photographic development? BetterPhoto's upcoming Fall online school is better than ever, with lots of exciting new classes. Beginning this Wednesday (October 4th), our 8-week online courses and 4-Week Short Courses get under way. ... Also, a reminder about our new ProCritiques feature: Upload up to 8 photos and get a critique by one of our professional instructors! ... In this issue of SnapShot, don't miss Jim Zuckerman's "Making Money with Your Photos" tip, Kerry Drager's article on Bruce Smith, and a fine batch of Questions and Answers - with great input from instructors Jenni Bidner on Dog Photography, Richard Lynch on Raw, and Jim White on the Canon 30D. ... That's it for now. Have a rewarding week of photography!

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

Learn photography in the comfort of your own home with our famed line of online classes. Check out our Fall photography school, which gets under way Wednesday, October 4th. Need help deciding? Then try our Course Calculator. This 4-week online course - taught by author and digital imaging specialist Richard Lynch - is designed to provide all you need to know in order to get up and running in Photoshop with confidence. Learn more... Master fashion photographer and BP instructor Bruce Smith came all the way from England to attend the recent BetterPhoto Summit and then put on a terrific demonstration for the lucky workshop participants. Read all about it... Bruce, of course, also teaches the awesome Fashion and Beauty: Introduction to Fashion Photography online class.

Photo Q&A

1: Photographing Buildings
I have been asked to photograph the front of a church for their directory. What size lens will I have to use in order for the building to not be leaning?
- Rosalind McClam
Any lens has the capability to cause what's called "keystoning" or the leaning effect you mentioned, even a view camera which provides swings and tilts of the lens and film plane to prevent distortions. Without a view camera, like a 4x5, one thing toward successful architectural photography and preventing that leaning effect is to make sure your camera is set plumb, square and level to the building or the architectural element that you're shooting. There are levels that fit in the accessory shoe on your camera, cost about 30-35 bucks. Tripods also have levels built in for the legs, etc.
Take it light. ;>)
- Mark Feldstein
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2: Focusing in Low Light Conditions
Can anyone give me tips on how to focus in low light?
- Deepak Damodaran
While focusing, shine a flashlight at what you want to shoot.
- Ariel Lepor
The old standard: keep practicing. Focus on something near, then something across the room. Keep changing distances and try to get quick and accurate. But if you're talking about autofocus, then your camera may just have trouble with that in low light. Look for high contrast spots, or spots that are not as dimly lit - ones that are of equal distance, of course.
- Gregory La Grange
Good advice from Gregory. Also, if the camera is hunting and cannot focus, switch to manual focus.
- Mike Rubin
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3: Making the Jump to Raw
I'm looking into shooting Raw but don't know where to start - can anyone out there point me in the right direction, maybe with software, Web sites, classes. Thanks for the help
- Mandy Hank
Addressing all the possibilities of RAW processing is far beyond the scope of a short post, but it is possible to take a look at some simple facts about the RAW interface as a quick overview. Other courses on Camera RAW will be appropriate to help you get more from your images using a workflow that incorporates additional advantages of RAW processing. My own courses cover it in the context of your workflow, but only as part of a lesson - for some, that is all you will need. Please understand this long sidebar is just a brief on the topic. It isn't something to sweat, as has been suggested, but whole books have been written about it, so there is a lot to learn.
RAW file format compiles the information from the camera’s sensor, without pre-processing to compile it as a more portable file type like JPEG. RAW files are simply the raw image information not processed into a standard file type, and are not subject to standard pre-processing that the manufacturer has decided is correct. RAW files carry higher bit counts, meaning they have more image information to work with and greater *potential*.
While opening images in the RAW dialog, there are a lot of options for change. Use the rotate right or rotate left to turn the image so the proper side is up. The settings to the left and bottom of the dialog are based on what is delivered from the camera - don't change them unless you have a good reason. The settings for the sliders to the right of the screen will be determined automatically based on the camera profile and exposure information passed from the camera in the file. These settings will be accurate for normal exposure, but you may want to make adjustments to optimize how an image appears if it is not exposed optimally. Make small changes in any one slider position and leave broader changes to later adjustments in Photoshop. Make few changes until after you gain experience with corrections in Photoshop and know better what you might want to achieve in Camera RAW. The graph at the upper right of the screen is a histogram that charts image information; you want to avoid large spikes in information to either end of the graph (see the image I've attached which has clipped detail in the shadows [left]; the smaller spikes in the highlights [right] are OK).
Anyone can use RAW, but not everyone will use it to its best advantage. Its advantage is not in overhauling an image, but finessing it. I hope that helps!
- Richard Lynch

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Take an Online Photo Course with Richard Lynch:
From Monitor to Print: Photoshop Workflow
Leveraging Layers: Photoshop's Most Powerful Tool
4-Week Short Course: Photoshop 101: The Photoshop Essentials Primer See Sample Photo - RAW dialog histogram

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4: Pet Photography Tips and Tricks
I was asked to do a pet photo shoot, which will be held at a Senior Living residence. I am planning on taking two lights with umbrellas. We will have two scenes for them to choose from - photos with Santa and a winter scene. They are expecting approximatly 50 animals, but really have no way of knowing exactly how many will show up. I can use ANY suggestions you can give... on posing, keeping the animals attention, camera settings etc. etc. Beside covering my expences, most of the proceeds will be donated to Animal Friends of Western Pa. I am hoping this will be good exposure for me. I am getting nervous! Thanks, Sharon
- Sharon K. King
That sounds like a very exciting shoot! I’m one of the BetterPhoto Instructors - teaching Photographing Your Dog with Any Camera and Photographing Your Dog with an SLR Camera. I have a few hints that might help with the dogs:
  • First and most important, try and recruit an animal-loving friend to assist you as an “animal wrangler”. They’ll probably have fun, because they get to play with pets all day. This person will hover just out of the active picture area, and can help keep the animals from bolting. If an assistant is impossible, have the owner do this job.
  • Whenever possible, include the owner in the shot. The dog will be more comfortable. And you can usually work out a “hugging” picture that actually controls the dog or other animal.
  • Don’t rush the dogs. Have the owner let the dog smell the whole set first. It takes about 30 seconds, and you’ll probably get a better result.
  • Bring a LOT of dog treats. The wrangler can stand next to the dog and feed them for sitting, then step back the instant you shot. Even the youngest dog will stay for treats. Use non-crunchy, single-gulp treats, like soft commercial treats, Bil-Jac liver bits, cheese sticks (break them into 40 pieces), or tiny cut-up pieces of hotdogs. And by small, I mean 1/4 the size of a dime or about 80 pieces out of a hotdog! ALWAYS ask the owner if the dog can have them, because many have allergies or health problems. If not, try a tennis ball or toy.
  • Let the leash dangle loosely to the ground and have the wrangler step on it. If you can borrow a 15-foot lead, even better! Only take off the leash if you are in a contained room with no other dogs around.
  • Find the highest-pitched squeaker toy you can at a dog store. ToyShoppe has some under $3 that are much louder than most. Small ones are great because you can hold them behind your camera, and squeak it by squishing it with your thumb into the camera body. That way it seems to the dog that the noise is coming from the camera itself, and they’ll look straight at the lens. Use it judiciously. They’ll soon tire of it, or be overstimulated by it.
  • While you’re there, pick up a Kong (looks like a small black or red toy) and put biscuits or a smear of peanut butter (or both) in it. The dog may lie down and become obsessed with it. Great! Then get his attention with the squeaker, his name, or your best “meow” and he’ll look up from it. You can donate the toys to the Animal Friends organization afterwards!
As for poses, the most important thing is to get down to the animal’s eye level. If it is a person with their pet, either have them get low with the animal or raise the animal up - this will avoid too gappy a composition. You may want to bring a picturesque chair (or borrow one from the Senior Center Lobby). That way, the owner can sit with a smaller pet in their lap - an especially good plan for senior clients.
Other suggestions:
  • If you raise the animal, make sure they are safe. Puppies and older dogs should never jump off anything taller than their shoulder.
  • Check your monitor often. Do some tests with the lighting, and then set the exposure in Manual Mode (assuming you keep the same lighting and you are practiced at using Manual Mode). This will prevent your in-camera meter from getting fooled by all-white or all-black animals. Even so, you may have to under or overexpose on certain animals.
  • If you can bring or borrow a laptop, it might be a good idea to check the shots for critical focus and depth of field throughout the day.
Most of all, have fun!
Good luck ... and please post a few of the shots afterwards!
Jenni Bidner
- Jenni Bidner

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4-Week Short Course: Photographing Your Dog with Any Camera
4-Week Short Course: Photographing Your Dog with an SLR Camera
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5: Indoor Action Shots in Gymnasium
I want to know what is the best lens and setup for indoor action shots with a Pentax isd camera. I am having a problem shooting my daughter's gymnastics because I can't use a flash at her meets.
- Mark Radice
Without flash, you need to set a relatively high ISO, set the white balance for the type of lighting used in the gym, and use lenses with wider maximum aperture. Typical kit and economy zooms are f/4-5.6. An f/2.8 lens will gather 2x to 4x more light, an f/2 lens 2x to 8x more light. An f/2.8 zoom will be pretty expensive, but if you find you shoot mostly at a particular focal length, you can get a prime lens of f/2.8, f/2, or even f/1.4 for not too much.
Example: FA 50mm f/1.4 ~$220 ($170 after rebate)
- Jon Close
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1: Canon 30D and Cards...

So, I've decided to buy the Canon 30D. This is my first DSLR. Help me with all this talk on cards. what is the additional white card thing you can add to the camera, and what exactly does it do? what is a good GB/MB card to start with with before getting a bigger version. Also, is the Canon 30D a good camera for someone who can't stop clicking (i.e., to be used all day, it can take the wear-and-tear)?
- Bruce Campbell

I have the Rebel XT. I just upgraded to the 2 GB and LOVE it. No more worrying about having enough space or having to use smaller file sizes. I can shoot my largest JPEG (files end up being 4-6MB each) and still fit 500 on the card!

- Denyse M. LaMay

The 30D is indeed ideal for the person who can't stop clicking. One of the newer features is the Pro-Level heavy-duty shutter, supposedly good for 100,000 exposures! I would agree with the previous posts that the Sandisk Extreme 2 Gig card would be a good CF card to start with. As far as a "White Card", I’m assuming you mean to set White Balance. If that is the case, there are several products available to deal with that. I cover all this and more in my Canon 30D online course right here at BetterPhoto!

- Jim M. White

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4-Week Short Course: Mastering the Canon 5D, 1D Mark IIn, and 1Ds Mark II
4-Week Short Course: The Canon EOS 20D
4-Week Short Course: The Canon 30D
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