The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Monday, December 11, 2006
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: How Much Should I...
Q&A 2: Micro Lens Vs. Ma...
Q&A 3: Interior Design S...
Q&A 4: Lighting Ratios a...
Q&A 5: Shooting Indoors ...

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Faster vs. Slower Lenses ... by Sean Arbabi
When it comes to deciding which lens to purchase, use, or carry, remember these points:
- Faster lenses are ones with lower fixed number f/stops such as f/2.8 (wider maximum aperture openings).
- Slower lenses are ones with high number f/stops such as f/5.6 (the lens can't go wider than that aperture number).
- Faster lenses allow more light into the camera enabling the photographer to shoot faster shutter speeds.
- Slower lenses (such as zooms) sometimes have variable f/stops such as f/4-5.6 (the lens lowest aperture setting changes depending on the lens length) changing the exposure or shutter speed.
- Faster lenses have a wider aperture enabling the photographer to shoot with minimal depth-of-field.
- Slower lens are more affordable and usually lighter to carry.
- Faster lenses are usually more expensive & possibly heavier.
- I recommend shooting with the lens you are most comfortable with, can afford, and want to carry.

Editor's Note: Sean Arbabi teaches an awesome course here at BetterPhoto:
Exposure A to Z: The Ins and Outs to Metering

Featured Gallery
First Snow
© - Allen L. Thornton

Welcome to the 294th issue of SnapShot!

This holiday season has been filled with excitement at BetterPhoto! Signups for our winter online PhotoCourses™ are well under way, and our schedule is shaping up to be our best ever. Stop by our main courses page... Speaking of the holidays, we have some nice seasonal deals going on at the BetterPhoto Store... If you haven't already, be sure to check out our exciting new features: ClassTracks™ and ProCritiques™... This time of year is so wonderful for photography. If you would like some tips and techniques, don't miss our How to Photograph Christmas Lights and Other Holiday Events article!... That's it for now. Enjoy the week!

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

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Photo Q&A

1: How Much Should I Charge?
I have been asked to do photo shoots for a few of my friends but I am unsure as to how much to charge them for my services. I am also being asked for enlargements of some of my work. What would be a reasonable price? I don't want to overcharge but I don't want to be taken advantage of, either. Please help me. Thank you so much!
- Stacee R. Webster
You should charge 1) what you are worth, and 2) what they are willing to pay. Look at some Web sites of photographers locally and see what they charge. That will give you a guideline.
- Jerry Frazier
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2: Micro Lens Vs. Macro Lens
Is a macro lens the same thing as a micro lens? In your discussions the terms are randomly thrown around and I don't know the difference. Something I have never gotten into until looking at all the wonderful photos displayed on this site. Thank you.
- Debra Forbes
Debra, they are the same thing. Nikon refers to their macro lenses as micro. As far as I know everyone else refers to them as macro. Any lens that will give you a 1:1 or life-size image is considered macro. Often a zoom lens will advertise they are macro but most will only give a 1:2 or half life-size image.

Macro is fun, and I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as I do!

- Sharon D
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3: Interior Design Shooting
I have my first interior design shoot coming up. I'll be shooting with a DSLR, so it's not expected to be right on perfect, but I'm concerned about lighting setups. It will be during daylight hours, with much natural light coming in through certain areas of the house, but not every part. Should I use natural light where possible, but fill in shadows and so forth with my studio lights? Should I use a warm filter over the studio lights to give a warm, natural feel? I want to keep as much ambient light as possible, so should I rig the lights up as high as possible and shoot down? Any advice would be great, thanks!
- Andrea 
Use as much of the ambient as possible, with flash as fill, even if it means a very slow shutter speed. Remember that a dark room can be overexposed to a point where it looks bright. So if you have a dark room that you want to use and don't know what to do with flash, try doubling or more the exposure to brighten it.
Available light with wood floors, earth tones usually don't need any extra warming.
If you use flash, bouncing off the ceiling works well for overall spread of light, plus making it look natural. Or if you have it with a softbox, you can use it to the side out of view as if it were another window.
And don't forget to watch out if you need a flash to add light in a room off-camera, to light up a hallway or entryway.
- Gregory La Grange
Hi Andrea,
I have a few suggestions to make, but first you might want to consider your client. If you are working for an interior designer, keep in mind that they are often difficult clients: very demanding and low budgets. In general, they will need accurate color reproduction. Remember that these images will be used to help get the next job for the designer.
The middle of the day is often a bad time to do this sort of photography. The light from outside will overwhelm the light in the room, so information about the lamps and lighting design in the room will not show up. If you can shoot in late afternoon, you can see through the windows, and the room lights might show up. In a situation like this, the tonal range from shadow to outdoor light is very long. Your camera will probably not be able to handle this without extra light. These should be strobes.
Color-balance the strobes to match the predominant color balance in the room. Use large diffusers as much as possible - possibly 60-inch umbrellas. Your goal is to lighten the shadows. If you add light to the highlights, the light will probably be a small fraction of the light in these areas, but it should be a large fraction of the light in the shadows. I use lights at several angles in order to keep the light smooth and shadowless.
One other thought, Photoshop CS2 has a new feature that allows you to layer several exposures together to achieve greater bit depth. I have not yet played with this but I think it might work very well with interior lighting. You could certainly use Photoshop to repair perspective problems from shooting at an angle. I have done this successfully many times.
- John H. Siskin

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Understanding Professional Lighting
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4: Lighting Ratios and Flash Photography
Hello everyone. I'm new to this site and just came across it after reading some great posts in the forums. I have a question about calculating lighting ratios. I'm using a two light setup with a main and fill light. Let's say I want a 4:1 lighting ratio. Assume I'm using F8 on my camera. To get a 4:1 ratio, that would be two stops from F8, so F4 would be my fill light setting if my calculations are correct. Here's where I'm confused. Would I then set the main light at F8 with or without the fill light on? I hope my question makes sense. I'm very new to using flash, but I'm trying to learn as much as possible to keep it fun!
- Jason Rogers
Hi Jason
I am not a big fan of ratio lighting. If you want it to work according to predictions, you need to use small light sources, which means harsh light on the face. But you asked about doing this, not about whether you should do this. :-) 1:4 lighting means that your fill light puts one unit of light on both sides of the face and the main light puts three units of light on one side of the face. So if your fill light is f4, your main light should be 1.5 stops brighter, or about f6.3. So I think the answer to your question is that you would meter the main light with the fill light on and you would want to consider the fill light in your exposure calculations. You might check out a BetterPhoto article I wrote about working with just one light. It’s also on the magazine article page at my website: Good luck!
- John H. Siskin

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Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with John Siskin:
Understanding Professional Lighting
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
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5: Shooting Indoors Without Flash
I have a Fuji S2 and I'd like to take photos of my daughter's play where I'm not allowed to use flash photography. How can I shoot photos without using the flash? I did slow down my shutter speed, but they're still too dark... any suggestions?
- Joanne Brousseau
Try a higher ISO setting, Joanne. The trade-off is that you will also get you more noise, though.
- W. Smith
If you do find they come out too noisy with the higher ISO, there's a program called Neat Image that does wonders with removing noise. You can take out as much or as little as you want. It's a download ( - there's a free version, or you can pay for the full version. Good luck and enjoy the play!
- Jenn T.
- Jennifer L. Taranto
Eliminate camera shake! Use support for your cam! A table, a chair, a railing, a bannister, anything! Of course, a tripod or monopod is better still.
- W. Smith
Ok... I do apprieciate all these great ideas, however this is for a digital camera, not a camcorder... so I'm not sure noise will be an issue... The photos I did try the other night 'after slowing down the speed' came out too dark and a little bit orange... So I know if I slow down the speed, that may help, any other ideas?
- Joanne Brousseau
A digital camera at a high ISO will produce a lot of noise ... pixellation ... cruddy looking artifacts ... whatever you want to call it. But it is probably better than images that are too dark.
- Open up the lens (change the aperture).
- Use Photoshop to lighten images if all else fails
- Dnd if you haven't tried it yet, try a tripod. It does magic for me.
- Cherylann Collins
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