The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
 
Monday, January 08, 2007
IN THIS ISSUE
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: How to Photograph...
Q&A 2: Selling Pictures ...
Q&A 3: How to Shoot Whit...
Q&A 4: Lenses and Concer...
Q&A 5: White Balance and...
Q&A 6: Fluorescent light...


TESTIMONIAL OF THE WEEK
"I am so glad I took this course... The help that Robin gave me was so important to me becoming a better photographer... His critiques were what I needed to push me past my "beginner" level. Thanks, Robin, for your willingness to share your knowlege and love of photography!" -student in Robin Nichols's Bare Bones Digital Photography course


LENSBABIES - SELECTIVE FOCUS SLR LENSES!


PHOTO OF THE DAY
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THIS WEEK'S TIP
Extension Tubes and Telephotos ... by Jim Zuckerman
Extension tubes are known for enabling photographers to do macro work. They are tubes that come in various sizes that fit between the camera body and the lens, and you can use them individually or in combination for extreme close-ups. But these tubes can also be used in conjunction with a telephoto lens to reduce the minimum focusing distance. I took one of the extension tubes from the set of three and placed it between the super telephoto and the Canon body. All of the metering functions work correctly with the tube, and I was now able to focus without changing my camera position. The extension tube reduces the light reaching the chip, but it’s a small price to pay for the frame-filling shot of this beautiful animal.
Editor's Note: Jim Zuckerman teaches many outstanding online courses here at BetterPhoto.com. Check them out...


   
Featured Gallery
The dusk of the Golden Gate.
© - William W. Lee

Welcome to the 298th issue of SnapShot!
Hello,

Once again, lots of awesome news at BetterPhoto! Our winter session of online courses has already begun, but there's still space available. See our lineup of classes... There's also time to enroll in one of our new ClassTracks - the programs that are designed to elevate your photography or Photoshop skills in one full year... At BetterPhoto, we offer lots of resources for photographers. Check them out... That's it for now. Enjoy your week of photography!

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

You can still join the fun in one of BetterPhoto's courses. If you sign up today, we can send you the first lesson pronto, and you will have plenty of time to do the first assignment. In fact, the assignments for our 8-week courses are not even due until January 14th! Choose from the available PhotoClasses... An exciting new feature from BetterPhoto.com® now makes it much easier to learn photography or Photoshop over the course of just one year! We have simplified things by giving you fabulous combinations of PhotoCourses™. Learn more... Several of BetterPhoto's esteemed instructors - including John Siskin, Jim Zuckerman, and Brenda Tharp - contribute tips and thoughts to BetterBlogs. Read the latest Instructor Insights. For past blogs, see the links under the Categories heading on the page.

Photo Q&A

1: How to Photograph Racing Cars
I have been asked by a friend of mine to take pictures of him and his race car during one of the races later in the year. What kind of shutter speed and adjustments should I make in order to take good-quality digital photos? What other kinds of techniques can you suggest in order to produce good photos?
- James F. Mcavoy
ANSWER 1:
James, the "thing" about shooting race cars in action is generally their speed, which in turn can cause motion blur if you don't (or can't) use a high enough shutter speed. Depending on the direction of the car relative to your vantage point, this problem can be minor (when the car is approaching you directly) or a bigger issue (when the car is crossing your field of view, left to right or the opposite).
The solution to the problem is to "pan" with the motion, when the car is moving across your field of view. That means to move the camera in the direction of the car's motion - what this does is keeps the car sharp (except for the wheels, which of course are moving) and causes the background to blur into a streaky ground. This takes the proper timing, of course, so you must practice to get the timing right.
If you can use a tripod or monopod to hold the camera steady in the vertical plane, all the better. This way, when you swing the camera sideways, it won't move up or down, giving you better results.
But again, the timing takes lots of practice. Since you have a digital camera, it won't cost you anything (except time) to take a lot of photos at a track, or a highway, or anywhere that you can find cars moving fast.
- Bob 
ANSWER 2:
Hey James, I photograph Nascar, AMA, MotoGP, Drag Racing and Drifting. Lens wise I usually use my 70-200 2.8IS since it's fast and has IS. But I've also used my 100MM 1.4 since I'm trackside; it's close enough and very fast, and I get some great photos. You'll have to pan (following the car) and try playing with your settings. You can really get some cool effects. Just hope the first time you've got plenty of light because West Coast likes to race Nascar and Drifting under the lights which can make it a little difficult at times. Taking photos in the straightaways at full speed is the easiest because you can pan on them but I like the sharp turns and chicanes where the cars are slower and most of the action is.
- Oliver Anderson
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2: Selling Pictures of Sculptures
A few months ago, I took some pictures of sculptures. The artist allowed me full access to everything that was outside his home. My sister -in-law and her husband run a restaurant, and she has suggested I display my pictures for sale in the restaurant. What sort of laws do I need to be aware of? Do the publicly displayed sculptures fall under the same sort of guidelines/laws as a public buildings would (examples Eiffel Tower, White House, Alamo)? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
- Chris L. Sutherland
ANSWER 1:
No, the copyright laws are totally different when it comes to photography of public buildings vs. sculptures or works of art. Federal copyright law allows the photography of buildings that can be seen from a public vantage point however this does not apply to sculptures or other works of art that may be on the building property or even adorn the building itself. You did the right thing by asking for permission, now go back and get a signed relesase.
Ray
- Raymond H. Kemp
ANSWER 2:
Yep, Chris. Ray is absolutely right. While a verbal authorization is good, to protect yourself from a copyright infringement action later, in case the sculptor changes his mind, you need a signed "property release". You can get them at Web sites like ASMP.org and GettyImages.com. A handy discussion of the law is at http://www.copyright.gov or in terms of people model releases, http://www.simslaw.com/model/model_releases.htm#When
Take it light.
Mark
- Mark Feldstein
ANSWER 3:
Chris, I would add only one suggestion to the above requirements: When I ask for a signed release, I always give the property owner a copy of the print matted and bagged as a thank you gift. There is one thing that someone might clarify for me: Do you need a separate release for each piece of sculpture (in this case), or will a general release for all items on the property suffice?
John
- John R. Rhodes
ANSWER 4:
Since each piece has an individual copyright, I would get a release that details each piece approved for release. I would go as far to attach a photo to the release of each sculpture approved for release as well. What do you think, Mark?
- Raymond H. Kemp
ANSWER 5:
Oh, absolutely, guys. Good thinking!!! I should have mentioned that. Just a release that says something like "all the sculptures I photographed in your front yard on Sunday" isn't sufficient by any means. So, Chris, your releases need to be specific for the property the artist is approving you use.
And while John's suggestion about about giving a gift print is a good one, that could get to be an expensive proposition depending on how many shots you're talking about. Nice thought, though, but you could end up building the artist's portfolio for him/her. Maybe some samples, a few matted prints of your favorite sculptures??? Dunno. Never been in that situation before.
Take it light. Have a great week!!!
Mark
- Mark Feldstein
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3: How to Shoot White on White?
How can I shoot my granddaughter wearing a white coat against a background of mostly rocks and trees covered with lots of snow?
- Howard A. Wimpee
ANSWER 1:
Zoom in close on your granddaughter's skin (cheek, forehead or neck), (spot)meter and lock that in (AEL), then zoom out, recompose the scene and expose. That way, your granddaughter should be lit correctly while the snow gets overexposed = white (instead of grey). Have fun.
- W. Smith
ANSWER 2:
Hi Howard,
White on white can be challenging. In some classes, the final exam is white eggs on a white plate. Try that some day when you are bored out of your socks. Outdoors, this is mainly an exposure problem. If you own a correctly calibrated meter, this would be a good time to use it. Readings close up of the face (you can substitute your own hand if you can’t get close) renders the skin tone at zone V. That’s middle gray (18%) and all that. That’s too dark for light skin, however, perfect for darker. For the lighter folks, close down one f/stop. For extremely dark complexions, open up two f/stops. Better to take a close-up reading of a gray card or use an incident light reading. You may still need a minor adjustment to render a pleasing skin tone. Bracketing is always advisable. Best of luck,
Alan Marcus
ammarcus@earthlink.net
- Alan N. Marcus
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4: Lenses and Concert Photography
I'm shooting for a local concert and was wondering what lens would be better. It's in a smaller venue, and I'll be able to get in the front. I'm using a Canon Rebel XT body. I have a Canon 28mm 1.8 and a Sigma 18-50mm 2.8. Which would be better to use?
- Christina Hill
ANSWER 1:
I would choose the latter, since you would be able to have a wider angle (you're up close). You would also be able to zoom in on one subject better.
- Ariel Lepor
ANSWER 2:
Ariel's right, use the 18-50mm. However, the questions that I have are: Do you have a tripod? are you planning to use flash? Are they going to have stage lights going crazy?My husband is a musician, so I have 'covered' a lot of his shows, and concert pics are some of the hardest in the biz. If you can time the lights, have a tripod and use a semi-high ISO (I suggest no higher than 800), you should be able to get some pretty good shots without using flash. Stage lights are just prettier in a picture. If they are looking blurry this way, experiment, take lots of pics and find what works best for you.
- Becky A. Shadowens
ANSWER 3:
Greetings, Christina. While Ariel is right in principle and a zoom would be helpful for those reasons, the problem with both of those lenses you mentioned is that their focal length is pretty short, even the 50. How useful they are to you is going to depend on where you're positioned and both lenses would be most useful if you're either on stage or really close, say in the first row or two. At a minimum, when I'm a couple of rows or equal distance back at a concert, I use either an 85mm or even 135mm fixed focus, or a 35-105 Nikkor Zoomer.
Becky is right, in that a camera support is really helpful, but a lot of venues, if you're just visiting and not a member of the media, may not let you use a tripod since they're worried someone is going to trip on the thing. A monopod is useful too, BTW, and if they allow you to shoot (which is a separate issue entirely), a monopod might be the way to go or even just resting the camera on some kind of support, even a bean bag.
I shoot concerts and theatrical work for publication, on film. If I'm not using strobes, I shoot with Fuji Press color negative film that allows different ISOs on the same roll up to 800. For b&w, I prefer 3200 speed pulled down to 1600 so Becky's suggestion of 800 is right in the ballpark. It depends on the lighting you have anyway.
As for flash, if you're back more than a few rows, unless you you're shooting with something fairly powerful, it's not going to do you much good and you need to get permission to use one (as is the case with most concerts or they'll just have signs posted that say "no flash photography" or no photography. If you can use a flash and you're close enough, you want to set it about 1/2 or 3/4 of a stop less than your ambient stage light so you get it for fill rather than as a primary light to get the effect Becky suggested. Otherwise, a flash, not the on-camera one I think the XT has, can blow out the colors of the stage lighting.
Take it light. ;>)
Mark
- Mark Feldstein
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5: White Balance and Studio Shots
I have two studio strobe lights and a Canon 20D camera. I also have white and black seamless paper. I am having a horrible time with the white balance (I guess) because even though the paper is stark white, I always end up having to go dodge the color in Photoshop because it doesn't look white at all, it looks gray. How do I fix that? I want that studio look without having to do extensive work in PS. Thank you so much!
- Traci Bender
ANSWER 1:
Increase the amount of light on the background (the background needs its own illumination), so that the difference between the lighting on the subject and the lighting of the background becomes (considerably) greater. Expose for the subject. So you may have to get more and/or more powerful strobes.
- W. Smith
ANSWER 2:
Hi Traci,
White paper doesn’t photograph as white; it is normally a light grey. This is because the camera is trying to record as much information about the whole shot as possible. If you want to fix this in-camera, you will need to add more light to the background, without adding more light to the subject. There is a problem with this: Too much light and you burn out the edges of your subject. So you need to check the amount of light on the background when you set up a shot. You can do this with a meter, but you will make fewer mistakes if you check on a computer. You may want to use the eyedropper tool and magnify the edges of the subject. Sometimes fixing the image in Photoshop after the shoot is actually easier. Thanks,
John
- John H. Siskin

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ANSWER 3:
Thank you sooo much! I do have a third light. I guess that's for the background maybe? It doesn't have an umbrella with it. I'll try putting it on the paper! Thank you again. Traci
- Traci Bender
ANSWER 4:
That would be the reason for the third light. If it does not spread evenly, Rosco makes various diffusing materials that will help. Good Luck!
John
- John H. Siskin

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6: Fluorescent lights
Hello BP family, I do a lot of wedding photography at churches that have florescent lights. Due to the lights, some of my photos have a green tint - glow. Is there a filter I can use to remove that tint?
- Delano  A. Porchia
ANSWER 1:
Delano, if you are using a digital camera, then you can set the white balance in-camera with a filter from Expodisc - the disc allows the camera to take a reading from which you can set a custom balance.
If you're using film, then the answer is not so straightforward, because the sad fact is that there is no one color of flourescent lighting. Some tubes are greenish, others are more purple, etc. - you would only be able to tell the difference if you saw them side by side. So without a color temperature meter (not a cheap device to start with) and a pack of gelatin filters you most likely would not be able to correct for the lighting.

If you are allowed to use flash, then a powerful enough flashburst could provide most of the light and, thus, overpower the fluorescents, eliminating the problem.

- Bob 
ANSWER 2:
Hi Delano,

if your photos are/were shot in Raw, you can/could change the White Balance in post-processing - i.e., AFTER the fact. If they were shot as JPEGs, you'll have to tweak and hustle in PP. But you'll never get it really right.

- W. Smith
ANSWER 3:
Maybe you could turn some of them into black-and-whites. That should effectively take care of any WB prob... ;-P
- W. Smith
ANSWER 4:
Hi Dellano,
If you are mixing strobe with fluorescent light, you have a problem. You can try putting a Rosco Plus Green filter over your light and then use the fluorescent preset on your camera. This only works sometimes. You might try the 1/2 plus green also, since fluorescent lights have a lot of green. If you are only using the church lights, then I would use the fluorescent preset in a digital camera. This works well in my camera. By the way, my next Instructor's Insights blog at BetterPhoto is about fluorescent lights! Thanks, John
- 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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