The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Monday, November 13, 2006
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Photographing Spo...
Q&A 2: Putting Together ...
Q&A 3: Filters for Digit...
Q&A 4: Using a Fan to Cr...
Q&A 5: Permission to Use...
Q&A 6: How to Shoot Indo...

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In Praise of Table-Top Tripods ... by Brenda Tharp
In a recent BetterBlog, instructor Brenda Tharp offered many tips for those times when using a full tripod is either impractical or impossible. Here are Brenda's thoughts on table-top tripods...
"These tiny little tripods we often see people using with small cameras are really very useful for more "serious" photographers, too. I carry one with me when I travel, and I have a small ball head mounted to it; I press it against my chest and it gives me about 1-2 stops more stability. It's also great if you have a table, rock, fence post, etc., that you can set it on, but so often they are not in the perfect position, so propping it on my chest and holding the camera with two hands when I shoot works very well."
Editor's Note: Check out Brenda Tharp's gallery and BP classes.

Featured Gallery
The village of Oia, Santorini island, Greece
© - Andreas G. Karelias

Welcome to the 290th issue of SnapShot!

Lots of news at BetterPhoto.comŽ this week! The Fall session of online courses is well under way, and for the first time, we are offering 4-week classes in December - a great way to combine the holiday season with a photographic dose of information and inspiration! See our Dec. school schedule... Incidentally, at BetterPhoto, we offer two exciting ways to receive professional feedback on your photos. Check out the pro-feedback options... Looking for the right class? Try our Course Calculator... Learn more about photography through Better Blogs, including Instructor Insights... Did you know that you can now easily find photos and fellow BetterPhoto members? Just use the search field in the upper right on any BP page (box to the left of the magnifying glass)... That's it for now. Have an enjoyable week of photography!

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

Would you like to learn more about exposure, composition, digital photography, photographic field techniques, Photoshop, specialty subjects, or the business of photography? Then join us for an inspiring online class at We have 4-week classes beginning December 6th, and 8-week classes beginning January 3rd. Learn more... One of professional photographer John Siskin's goals is to keep his studio "an energetic creative place to work". He offers excellent tips and tricks in a recent Instructor's Insights blog. John, by the way, teaches a number of excellent online classes here at BetterPhoto, including Portrait Lighting on Location and in the Studio and Introduction to Product Photography . In his new book, BP Founder Jim Miotke offers exciting lessons that cover every aspect of digital nature photography. We are selling this awesome book - autographed by Jim! - at $5 off the cover price. Learn more...... Also, check out the BetterPhoto Store, where all other instructor books are also $5 off!

Photo Q&A

1: Photographing Sports
When shooting event photography with action - i.e., soccer, football, basketball, etc. - would a tripod be suggested? What camera settings would be most effective to produce the best results? I will be using a Fuji S9000 digital camera.
- Robert F. Walker
A tripod is not really needed for shooting sports. It usually gets in the way, since you have to move around to follow the action. A tripod is good for eliminating camera shake when using slow shutter speeds, but when shooting sports, you typically need faster shutter speeds to stop the action anyway.
If you shoot with a large telephoto or zoom lens, a monopod is handy for helping to support the lens, but keeps you more mobile than a tripod.
Chris A. Vedros
- Chris A. Vedros
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2: Putting Together a Makeshift Studio
I was wondering if I could use regular light bulbs for a very small makeshift indoor studio. I am starting to experiment with studio portraiture but I don't know that much about it, nor do I want to go out and spend the money on photo lights. I shoot mostly outdoors ... any suggestion on this would be great.
- Stephanie Meyer
I just upgraded to studio lights (I'm still waiting for them to arrive actually), but up until then I've been working with a similar situation as you are describing!!
What worked well for me (and is VERY cheap) was to go to a hardware store, and buy those clamp work lights that have a 12" silver reflector dome around them. They were only like $8 or $10 each at my Home Depot. Get DAYLIGHT balanced bulbs (most everyone sells them, Phillips makes one version). A set of 4 is only a few dollars.
I got some 2x4 pieces of wood, set them on top of a dining room chair and tied them with some rope, and clamped the work light to the top. I only used 2 lights, but it was really not enough because the bulbs only come in a max of 100 watts. Going with 3 or 4 would probably be better.
- Denyse M. LaMay
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3: Filters for Digital SLR
I have been involved with photography for sometime but have never used filters. I now have an Olympus E-Volt 500 which offers a varity of filters to choose from contained withing the camera program. What I benefit from purchasing external filters that screw onto the lens? If so, which ones would you recommend and why?

Thanks very much.


- Calgarey G. Penn
Calgarey, the one filter whose effect cannot be replicated in post-processing (like Photoshop) is a polarizing filter, so you might want to think about one of these. You will need to get a so-called "circular polarizer" (which is basically what all the new ones are anyway) in order to let the camera's auto-focus mechanism work properly.
Beyond that, neutral density filters (or gradient versions of them) also allow you to reduce the amount of light (for instance, if you want a slower shutter speed AND shallow depth of field, but it's too bright for both). Or if you take a scenic shot at the beach and the foreground/ocean is much darker than the sky itself then a gradient filter would be helpful.
- Bob 
Bob's right. Also, get a UV filter (always in tandem with a lens hood against flare, but never 'stacked' with other filters) to avoid a bluish tinge and to protect the glass and coating of your lens. The effects of all other filters that were used in film photography can be replicated in digital post-processing.
- W. Smith
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4: Using a Fan to Create Wind
I would like to experiment with using an air fan to mimic the wind (indoors). I would be interested in what some of you more experienced photographers have done. I have a small room fan but am unsure if it is adequate. Any thoughts and information would be appreciated.
- Danette 
I don't know how the fan will work ... but make sure you have adequate lighting to stop the action (with a fast-enough shutter speed) since you'll be working indoors.
- Cherylann Collins
In the studios I've worked, when a fan was used to the effect you describe, it was a large industrial fan (with a 2.5-to-3-foot blade diameter) on a heavy stand. But more important, I think, is that the studio itself be large enough to allow the airflow to dissapate after passing by the subject. That is, if you work in a garage, say, converted to a studio, then the airflow from a large fan might blow by the subject (which is good) and then vortex around the walls and blow back through at a different angle (which might not be so good). My point is that the room will probably have a lot to do with the effectiveness of the fan.
- Bob 
You will also need a lot of flash light to stop the flying hair from blurring.
- W. Smith
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5: Permission to Use a Quote on a Photo
I wanted to use a famous quote on one of my photographs that I plan to put up for sale on a Web site. Is there any special permission you need to do this? What if the quote was written by a well-known deceased author?
Thank you.
- Deborah A. Ciullo
Depends on a couple of things: The general rule is that to use copyrighted materials, including in the manner you asked about, you need written permission from either the author, or the author's heirs, or assigns, or the publisher that may be the entity holding the copyright rather than the individual author.
This also depends on whether the copyright continues to be valid - i.e., whether it's lapsed as a matter of time or been renewed.
So, your best bet is to contact the publisher of that particular work. Be specific in what you want, enclose a photocopy of the photo you want to attach the quote to, make sure you tell them that you'll give the author appropriate credit and see what they say.
If you're talking ISBN numbers and U.S. copyright law, you can find the whole scoop on copyright law, except how to interpret it at If you need help interpreting a particular part of the statute, I recommend you go talk to a lawyer in your area who specializes in intellectual property law. You can find one by calling the lawyer referral service of your local bar association.
One last bit of info you might find useful: Don't do what you're proposing here without taking the necessary steps to contact the publisher, etc. Taking the risk of using it without permission means you'd also be taking the risk of getting caught and that just ain't worth it, especially for the price of a photograph.
Take it light.
- Mark Feldstein
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6: How to Shoot Indoor Ice Sculptures
My sister-in-law has asked me to help her photograph a company Christmas party, including large ice sculptures. She'd like shots of the sculptures and of the people there, etc. She's asked me to bring my camera (Canon 20D)and external flash (Canon 420EX) and flash bracket. Since the objects will be so light/transparent, what do you suggest as far as settings and any other tips?
- Danette K. 
Shoot in ambient light and illuminate the ice from behind. Make sure that the ice is not totally transparent, or portions of it will overexpose from a bright backlight. The best time to photograph these works of art is soon after they've come out of the freezer and have been positioned on the display table. If the sculpture is displayed in front of a mirrored wall (which is commonly done), make sure to angle the composition so that nothing distracting will be seen in the reflection of the mirror.
- Bob Cammarata
Preparation! Preparation! Preparation! Go and view the venue with the organizer one of these days, and have him or her walk you through what will happen where. Take your camera to get a feel of what you will see in the viewfinder. That way, you can spot potential problems and think up solutions beforehand.
- W. Smith
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