The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: How to Do Montage...
Q&A 2: Instructions For ...
Q&A 3: Help Working with...
Q&A 4: Photo Shoot with ...
Q&A 5: 32 Bits/Channel i...

"Without a doubt, Jenni B. is an excellent teacher! Jenni goes the extra mile for the students in the class. I'm not sure how she finds the time to respond to all of the entries! ... She is extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic about photography, especially when it comes to the canines! Excellent course and an excellent learning experience! Thanks, Jenni!!!!" -student in Photographing Your Dog with an SLR Camera, which begins Dec. 6th.



Learn everything there is to know about creating great exposures in Sean Arbabi's exciting new course - Exposure A to Z: The Ins and Outs to Metering . Class begins Dec. 6th.

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Tools for Lighting ... by John Siskin
One of the most important things about using photographic tools is understanding what they do. This is particularly true of lights. Our tools do some of the same things that the lamps you might have in your living room do. Lampshades broaden the light source to make it softer and spotlights draw attention to a specific area.
Lighting tools fall into two basic groups, tools that broaden light to make it smoother and tools that concentrate light so that you can affect just one part of a photograph. I use, and I think most others do, more of the light broadening tools. These would be things like umbrellas, light panels and soft boxes.
For more details on this subject, check out John Siskin's Nov. 24, 2006, BetterBlog

Also, John teaches several excellent courses here at BetterPhoto: Portrait Lighting on Location and in the Studio and Understanding Professional Lighting.

Featured Gallery
Colors of Paradise
© - Jay Patel

Welcome to the 293rd issue of SnapShot!

Wow, what an awesome month that December is shaping up to be! Our next round of 4-week PhotoCourses™ begins Wednesday, December 6th... Would you like to master photography in one year? Then check out our exciting new feature: ClassTracks™... We are thrilled to welcome yet another new instructor to our talented Team BetterPhoto: professional photographer Sean Arbabi, whose excellent Exposure A to Z: The Ins and Outs to Metering course is on the December school schedule... And just in time for the holidays: BetterPhoto Gift Cards... In this issue of SnapShot, don't miss the excellent contributions by Matt Bamberg (article) and John Siskin (tip)... Summit Update: We appreciate everyone's suggestions, and we have made a decision: The 3rd Annual BetterPhoto Photography Weekend will take place September 29th & 30th, 2007, in Chicago! We'll post more info after the holidays... That's it for now. Have a great week of photography!

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

At BetterPhoto, we have so many 4-week online PhotoCourses™ on an exciting array of topics. These classes are fun, fast, and to the point! Classes begin Dec. 6th. Too soon? Check our January school schedule. No more need to figure out your best next class! With our year-long Online Photography ClassTracks™, we have simplified things by giving you fabulous combinations of PhotoCourses™. Plus, upon payment of the enrollment fee for your ClassTracks™, you get your choice of an additional free 8-week course (up to $297 value) OR admission to the 2007 BetterPhoto Photography Weekend. Learn more... In his new article, instructor-author Matt Bamberg tells how to capture the nitty-gritty elements of the real world. Matt, by the way, is the author of Digital Art Photography for Dummies and instructor of these two BetterPhoto classes: Digital Art Photography and Photo Restoration. Read Matt's article...

Photo Q&A

1: How to Do Montages in Photoshop?
I have been trying to figure out how to do montages in my digital darkroom. In slide work, I just put the slides over each other and remounted. With PS, I am not sure. Do I open each photo and put them on top of each other and then play with opacity? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
- Pamela A. Davis
You can play with the opacity, or you can use diiferent transparency effects. In the layers pallet, there is a drop-down menu with effects like dodge, burn, and color. You could also erase parts of some layers to let others show through. Press all the buttons, that's the only way to see what they do. :)
- Stephanie M. Stevens
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2: Instructions For Lighting Assembly
I recently purchased the following:
Interfit Background Support System
Impact 125oW 3-Light Mini Boom Kit w/Case
Interfit/Paterson Stellar Tungsten Soft Box Kit INT106
None of these came with instructions on assembly. I did find the background kit instructions and got that together. However, I can't find instructions to assemble the light kits. Does anyone have any help they could offer??
Thanks much.
- Carrie Zohn
Hi Carrie,
I had a chance to take a look at the kit and have a few suggestions. I am assuming that you are shooting people; if you are shooting a car, you are in big trouble. Set up the camera on a tripod. Position it in the relationship you want to the subject/subjects. Take one light, with an umbrella, and place it just behind the camera and above the camera - think of this angle as 90º to the plane of the subject. Take the other light with the umbrella and place it at 45º to the subject - you can use the right or left side, whatever works. If you think of the subject as being in the center of a circle then the sides of the subject, if extended would cut the circle in half. The first light is on the centerline of this half circle, and the second light is in the center of one of the quarter circles. This should get you light that is reasonably smooth, but allows for some structure on the face. Keep it simple do not use the boom. Your lights should be no more than 8 feet from the subject, less would be better. The lights should be the same distance from the subject, at two different angles. You can use your camera meter.
Your real problem is with color. These lights are tungsten balanced. You can use one of the preset balances on your camera for color, which will work. If you allow either daylight or fluorescent light into this shot you are going to be in color hell. Digital cameras can balance for only one color of light, if you have two colors (daylight and tungsten) the tungsten will appear sort of orange and the daylight will appear bluish. Not good. So cover that window with a quilt.
These are inexpensive lights. You will have difficulties working with them because of heat and light mixing. You will need a tripod because your exposures will be longer, and you may still have problems with noise. You may want to check out Smith-Victor makes a lot of lights like yours, they have some information that will help!
Good luck!
- John H. Siskin

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Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with John Siskin:
4-Week Short Course: Framing and Mounting Your Photographs
4-Week Short Course: Introduction to Product Photography
4-Week Short Course: Portrait Lighting on Location and in the Studio
Understanding Professional Lighting
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3: Help Working with Toddlers
I have been having fun taking Christmas card portraits for my family and friends this year. My biggest challenge has been with those portraits that include cute toddlers. Does anyone have any tricks or tips? What works for you when you have a difficult subject? Thanks for any help you can offer.
- April Narby
Make them sit quietly with a new cuddly toy? Don't show it/give it too soon. Wait with that until you're really ready to shoot. Let them play with it - preferably on someone's lap. Then sound a little bell (which they didn't know you had), and watch the smile break through on their face... then release the shutter!
Best to have a few little bells with different pitches/sounds available. Or a quacking duck, or... so on, so forth.
Obviously, they'll get to keep the new cuddly toy. Unless you want a drama, of course... Good luck.
- W. Smith
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4: Photo Shoot with a Newborn
Hi all,
I have my first newborn (she's 1 month old) studio photo shoot next week and would appreciate any suggestions, tips on posing and any other ideas. Thanks.
- Kathy Cobb
It is long ago that I did babies, but I would consider stuff like what's the background, have I got (soft) enough lighting and fill-in (light? reflection?). Especially if you want high-key images, have I got 3/4 different sounds (little bells, quacking duck) and/or jiggling thingamejigs to draw the baby's attention. Be aware that the actual session probably won't last much longer than a half hour max before the baby will probably fall asleep (good for sleep photos of course).
Try to get as many eye-level photos - the baby's eye-level! - as possible. On her back, on her stomach, sitting up if possible (in her car/carry seat?), on mama's lap, on mama's shoulder, and nursing on mama's breast.
But also try to take photos from straight overhead. Both when she's on her back and on her stomach.
Good luck. Could be a really nice session.
- W. Smith
W.S. had some great suggestions! The only other things I could think to add was to keep things simple. Too many bright colors or lots of props might over-stimulate the baby's senses and then you'll have a fussy screaming newborn on your hands (not fun, LOL). Maybe Mom and Dad can bring a special blanket or stuffed animal with them to use as a prop. My daughter was a preemie and in the NICU for 20 days before coming home, and some nice ladies from a local nursing volunteered to crochet blankets for the babies - Ashley was the 1st to get one, they put it over her isolet ... anyway ... she still uses it. And my son was given a blue stuffed animal dog when he was in the hospital that he still absolutely loves. If the baby has something like that, it would add a nice personal touch to a photo. Baby boys look great in blue, and baby girls look great in pink ... I know it's cliche but maybe for some of the photos you could use a pale pink or blue (not sure if it's a girl or boy LOL) background, or maybe a soft white background with the baby laying on a pale pink/blue blanket. Oh, and try some black and white shots!
Best of luck! -Jenn Taranto
- Jennifer L. Taranto
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5: 32 Bits/Channel in Photoshop?
Could anyone give me some advice on setting the image mode to 32 Bits/Channel? It's under Image > Mode > 8/16/32 Bits/Channel in PS CS2. Is it necessary to do this before starting any PS work on an image? Does it help get better color distribution after some effects are applied to the image? Also, how different are these three settings - 8/16/32 Bits/Channel? I would appreciate very much your help!


- Holly Shao
Holly -
There is no reason really to work in 32-bit mode, as all consumer grade printers and most pro printers only print using 8 bits (so I've read here on this sight). Also, when editing in 32-bit mode, you are limited to what adjustments and filters you can use in Photoshop. Next time you're in your raw converter, save it as a 32-bit image, then open it in PS and look under filters and adjustments, and you'll see what I mean.
- Sipho Eish
If the image originated in high bit (more than 8 bits per RGB channel, over 24 altogether), you will do less damage to it when you do your tonal and color correction in Photoshop. RAW images and images scanned with high-bit settings in a scanner will give you this control. I do mostly scanning, so I scan in high-bit, do my tones and color, THEN convert in Image Mode to 8-bit. If originating and working in 8-bit meets your needs, stay with it.
- Doug Nelson
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