The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Monday, October 16, 2006
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Hot Air Balloonin...
Q&A 2: Circular Polarize...
Q&A 3: How to Photograph...
Q&A 4: Photographing Bas...
Q&A 5: Photographing Bui...
Q&A 6: Gray Card: How to...

"This was my first Better Photo class and based on my experience, it certainly won't be my last. I've already signed up for another! Jenni's lessons were very informative, and she always included supplemental information and tips... Her critiques were very helpful... This was a great class with a great instructor!" - student in Jenni Bidner's Photographing Your Dog with an SLR Camera course. for owners of non-SLRs, Jenni also teaches Photographing Your Dog with Any Camera.

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Use, Don't Abuse, Raw ... by Richard Lynch
A workflow (workflow = the way you process images from beginning to end) that incorporates Raw images can lead to better results than a non-Raw workflow. However, there is danger in temptation to over-process images with the Raw dialog. There are lots of (powerful) controls in the Raw dialog, and they seem to beg for experimentation.

My suggestion is that you make gentle changes and resist the temptation.
Instead of making big changes to your images using the RAW dialog, use Raw processing to set yourself up for better corrections in Photoshop/Elements. Raw isn't meant to usurp your image editing workflow, it should complement it.

Raw gives you options and opportunity to tweak your images - by design it is meant for tweaking, not overhauling. Best use of Raw gives you the potential to make better end results in Photoshop or Elements AFTER you accept the changes in the Raw dialog.

Use the power of Raw, but keep your changes conservative unless you are looking for special effects or you are working with a deeply flawed image.

Editor's Note: For more on how Raw processing fits into your image-processing scheme, see Richard Lynch's excellent BetterPhoto course: From Monitor to Print: Photoshop Workflow

Featured Gallery

Welcome to the 286th issue of SnapShot!

Our Fall online photography school has gotten off to a fantastic start, but some classes haven't even begun yet! These are the November 4-week Short Courses. ... We are thrilled to add two more excellent 4-week classes to our schedule: Simon Stafford's The Nikon D80 Camera and Scott Stulberg's Eye to Eye: Capturing the Face, both of which get under way Nov. 1st. ... In this issue of SnapShot, don't miss instructor Matt Bamberg's How to Teach Photography to Your Children article, Richard Lynch's "Use, Don't Abuse, Raw", and an enlightening collection of questions and answers.

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

At BetterPhoto, we have so many 4-week online photography classes on an exciting array of topics. These classes are fun, fast, and to the point! Classes begin November 1st. Too soon? Check our December school schedule. Learn how to use the Nikon D80's various features and functions to best effect! This unique 4-week online course - taught by Simon Stafford - is devoted to this exciting new SLR camera ... successor to the hugely successful D70-series cameras. Learn more... In his new article, photographer-author Matt Bamberg shows parents how to develop photography skills at the same time as teaching other subjects - math and language - to their children. Matt, by the way, teaches two excellent classes right here at Digital Art Photography and Photo Restoration. Read Matt's article...

Photo Q&A

1: Hot Air Ballooning
I'm going on a hot air balloon flight in a week, and hopefully the fall colors will be good. Any suggestions for getting some good shots while I'm up there? I won't be able to use a tripod (sorry all you instructors), so if anyone's got some technical tips or anything to pass on, that would be great.
- Joyce Fisher
I thought I recognized this ballooning excursion! Feel free to ask questions like these in the PS101 course as well.
A tripod may not be possible, but a monopod might be (tripod with only one leg). I use one of those when a tripod is too cumbersome or when photographing in active areas where putting down a tripod would be impossible. At the very least, you might want to strap on a bean bag to use for steadying your shots.
Speaking of strapping, don't forget to use your strap - nothing would be worse than losing the camera over the edge! In such cases (shooting from a boat, in my case), I double strap: I have a hand strap and a neck strap on at the same time. It acts as a failsafe, and has likely saved me more than once from hearing a dreaded 'kerplunk'.

Enjoy the trip!

- 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
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2: Circular Polarizer - Orientation
When will a circular polarizer have the most effect on the blues in the sky? I've not quite made the connection when out shooting; sometimes the results are very pronounced, with extreme darkening of the blue as I rotate the ring, and other times, I can see absolutely no change when rotating the ring completely through 360 degrees... I recall reading it has to do with the angle of the camera/line-of-sight to the subject, and the location of the sun. Thanks!
- Christopher J. Budny
When you are standing facing your subject, if YOUR shadow is to your right or left, the polarizer will work. If your shadow is in front or behind you, it will work very minimally or not at all.
- Bob Cournoyer
For the biggest effect, you need to be perpendicular to the sun.
- Dennis Flanagan
Thanks, guys! (I believe you're both saying the same sort of thing!) Will definitely try it out on the next sunny clear day...
- Christopher J. Budny
Wide-angle lenses are not recommended for polarizing skies, as a part of the sky will be decidely darker - more saturated - than the rest, and you'll end up with a 'patchy' sky.
- W. Smith
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3: How to Photograph at Night
I was playing around taking some night shots... I wanted to get more of the full moon in the shot but it, of course, just looks like a bright white light. Is there a way (filters to use?) that will help capture the actual moon?
- Linda Lasserre
Linda, what you are experiencing is the reality of dynamic range limitation - which exists in film as well as digital cameras. That is, there is a limit to how different the brightest and darkest portions of a single image can be and still get recorded.
The moon is much much brighter than the surroundings at night - even when to your eyes the full moon seems to illuminate everything so well. This means that if you expose the moon properly, you will greatly underexpose the night scene (to the point of black silhouette). Or, if you expose the scenery properly, the lens/shutter will need to stay open long enough that the moon itself is highly overexposed (to the point of being all white, or completely "blown out").
A filter over the entire lens won't help, as it will cut light of the entire view. If you could put a neutral density filter only over that portion of the image where the moon is, then you might have something (as well as solved a technologically impossible problem!) But an alternative could be to take two separate shots and overlay them.
Of course, to do this you'll need to use a tripod. Take one image exposed properly for the ground - let's say that's 16 seconds. Without moving the camera, take a second shot where just the moon gets proper exposure (perhaps 1/60th second). Then, with the computer, you can overlay on image on the other, and "erase" the portions of the upper image to display what's beneath it.
- Bob 
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4: Photographing Basketball Games
I have been trying to take pictures at basketball games but can't get it to use a fast shutter speed (trying to not use a flash). I've tried the sport program on my Nikon D50 but the fastest shutter speed I've gotten about 1/200 and most are slower than that. When I've tried the built-in flash, it seems like it takes too long to take the picture. Would a flash attachment help?
- Sandy 
Without a flash, the most you can do to get faster shutter speeds is to set the ISO as high as possible (1600) and/or use a lens with wider maximum aperture. With flash, the built-in is not very powerful and so has limited range. At ISO 200 and f/5.6, it is good to just 9 feet. At ISO 1600 and f/5.6, it is limited to subjects no more than 24 feet away. A powerful accessory flash will give greater usable range.
- Jon Close
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5: Photographing Buildings: Permission Needed?
Bear with me, Im new to the whole thing! :0) I have been taking pictures of local farms, barns, old buildings, etc. I was wondering if I had to get the landowners' permission before selling these photographs? Thanks so much!
- Karen S. England
If the buildings are on private property (sounds like they are), then yes, you do need the owner's permission.
Chris A. Vedros
- Chris A. Vedros
Thanks so much!! What would be the best way to go about getting permission? My husband and I drive around, and I just snap the shots, so Im a bit "chicken" to just go knock on someone's door, if ya know what I mean!
- Karen S. England
Unless you see a clearly posted sign that says, "No Trespassing", you actually got it: While driving around, go knock on the door and ask!! Most people will be flattered. They might even offer you a glass of homemade lemonade and a few cookies. And... and... you might even get to photograph them in their home environment - like working in the barn, milking the cows, etc. Plus, you might meet someone who becomes a lifelong friend. The possibilities are endless. Go knock on the door.
Take it light.
- Mark Feldstein
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6: Gray Card: How to Use It?
I own a Canon 20D and was wondering if anyone can explain how the gray card works. I basically know that it corrects wrongly exposed pictures - for instance, a snowy white landscape turning gray because of the camera. But how do you use it? Thanks in advance for any responses.
- Kirstie Goodman
Exposure is determined by the amount of light falling on your subject. It is best measured with an incident light meter placed in the same light as your subject. The exposure meters in cameras cannot directly measure incident light falling on the subject, they measure through the lens the light reflected off the subject. This can introduce exposure error because white or light toned objects reflect more light than black or dark toned objects. The camera's meter is calibrated for light reflected off a middle tone, commonly referred to as 18% gray. This usually works fine for scenes with a mix of light and dark toned subjects since it will average to the mid tone. If the scene is predominantly light or white (snowscape, beach, bride's dress, etc.), the camera meter will think it is brighter than it actually is and tend to under expose (render the white dress as gray). If the scene is predominantly dark or black it'll tend to overexpose.
The 35-zone Evaluative metering of the 20D (as well as Nikon Matrix and other systems) uses artificial intelligence to try to detect such exposure errors and automatically correct for them, but it is far from perfect. Using an 18% gray card is an inexpensive alternative to using an incident light meter to determine exposure. The card is the same mid-tone that the meter is calibrated to. Set the gray card in the same light as your subject and meter off of it, using either filling the frame with the card (and any metering mode), or using Spot/Partial metering if the card covers only the center of the frame.
Per the Canon instruction manuals, the 18% gray card is also preferred for setting the Custom White Balance.
- Jon Close
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