The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Lenses for Digita...
Q&A 2: Shooting Basketba...
Q&A 3: Lens Hood - Why a...
Q&A 4: Selling Postcards...
Q&A 5: Shooting Object A...
Q&A 6: Cropping: When Sh...

"I really enjoyed this class and Jim was an excellent teacher. I really appreciated the time he took for critiquing and suggestions to improve my work. I have learned a great deal from Jim ... I look forward to signing up to more classes being taught by Jim!" -student in Jim Zuckerman's Developing Your Creative Artistic Vision class

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Sharper Pictures in Low Light ... by Brenda Tharp
If you are working in low-light conditions, and are hand-holding or using a monopod, here's an idea that will help you get sharper pictures: Put your camera on continuous frame shooting mode, and hold the shutter release down for three or four frames. The ones in the middle will typically be sharper, as pressing the shutter can cause camera shake, and releasing it can, too. The ones in the middle will be made with the button already down. This works for film and digital cameras, although digital compacts are harder to do this on because of the shutter lag.
Editor's Note: Brenda Tharp teaches several excellent courses here at BetterPhoto, including Travel Photography: Capturing a Sense of Place and Creating Visual Impact.

Featured Gallery
Stairs Blue
© - Nancy Ferrell

Welcome to the 303rd issue of SnapShot!

Awesome news! We now have the exciting details for the 3rd Annual BetterPhoto Photography Conference. It all takes place September 29th and 30th, 2007, in Chicago - and will feature a great location, a plethora of instructors, a ton of information, and a whole lot of fun. I look forward to seeing you there! ... Meantime, 2007 has gotten off to a fantastic start for our online photography school, with the recent addition of new classes and new instructors! See the complete schedule, with classes listed by category. ... Say, are you receiving BetterPhoto's daily dose of photographic inspiration? Check out our free Photo of the Day newsletter, and subscribe today! ... That's it for now. Enjoy a creative week of photography.

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

Want to receive critiques of your photographs from a professional? At BetterPhoto, we offer two exciting options: PhotoCourses and ProCritiques. Learn more... Our redesigned BetterPhoto Deluxe BetterPholios™ offer very sleek and very cool designs, plus easy Web hosting – at a great price. And they just got cheaper... 15% off all renewals. Learn more... On the lookout for tips, equipment information, books, articles, etc.? Check out our resources pages...

Photo Q&A

1: Lenses for Digital and Film Cameras
I just entered the world of digital photography and I'd like to buy a 28mm lens (compared to film cameras) for my Nikon D70s. I know that if I want to buy a lens "for film cameras", I have to look for a 19mm lens (19*1.5=28.5), but what about lenses "for digital cameras"? Do I have to look for a 19mm even if it's "for digital cameras"? Or is a 28mm lens for a digital camera the same as a 28mm for a film camera? Thanks!
- Giordano Carlini
Focal length is a property of the lens design and does not change if mounted to a 35mm film camera or a smaller-sensored digital. To get the same angle of view that 28mm gives on the 35mm film camera, you need 19mm on the D70s - whether it be a "film" lens like the 18-35 f/3.5-4.5D AF, or a "digital" lens like the 18-70 f/3.5-4.5G AF-S DX.
- Jon Close
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2: Shooting Basketball Pics
I have a Nikon D70 with a 70 - 300 lens and an SB 800 flash, and all my basketball pictures are blurry. I take 75 to 100 pics during a game and may get 15-20 that turn out good. What settings should my camera and flash be on?
- Melinda J. 
Melinda, if you're using the flash then the blurriness is most likely due to the lens not focusing on the subject (since the duration of the flash is less than 1/1000th second). Now the reason for the lack of focus could well be that the lens you have is not all that fast, and the court might not have enough lighting to give the auto-focus mechanism enough contrast to work.
If I am correct in my assumptions, then you might need to focus manually rather than rely on the camera's auto-focus system.
If you could upload a sample of a blurry photo, though, then we could better tell if what I said makes sense.

BP Editor's Note: At BetterPhoto, we now have two new related courses:

- Basics of Sports Photography
- Photographing Fast-Action Sports with a Digital SLR

- Bob 
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3: Lens Hood - Why and When?
Ok In easy terms, what kind of pictures do you use the lens hood for?
- Heather  M. Wareham
It can be used for any kind of picture. It blocks unwanted light from reflecting into your lens from the sides or top.
- Willie Lawton
Hi Heather,
The camera lens acts like a slide projector only in reverse. The job of the lens is to project an image of the outside world into the camera. The image is formed on the surface of the digital chip or film. We have never made a perfect lens. A perfect lens would never allow stray and therefore misdirected light to mingle with the lovely projected image as it degrades. When stray light is allowed to enter it causes glare spots and flare. These are devastating. There are several countermeasures but a lens hood helps a lot. A lens hood is especially useful when the camera is pointed near bright lights like the sun or bright signs. Sometimes when you are facing into the sun, you shade your eyes with your hands or your hat brim does that for you. That’s the way a lens hood woks, it’s an even a better blocker than a hat because it blocks stray light from all sides. Serious landscape photographers almost always mount a lens hood.
- Alan N. Marcus
Hey Heather,
Unless you're messing with filters, keep the lens hood on for protection. If i'm trying to rotate my circular polarizer to a precise degree, I'll have it off, but otherwise it may save the front element of the lens if it happens to crash to the ground for any reason.
- Samuel Smith
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4: Selling Postcards
Does anybody have any advice on selling their images on postcards? I live in Chicago and am very interested in selling my postcard designs to local businesses. Is this something I could do on my own and have it be financially worth my while? Or would I be better off simply licensing my images to someone else?
- Lauren Willman
IMHO, Lauren, any time you decide to sell something or enter into the business of selling, you're adding an additional business to your existing business. Marketing, in my view, is a pain but particularly necessary as a photographer, even as a staff photographer.
What you're proposing is a tough one. First, you need a client list of prospects; then you have to sell them on your work. If you have a rep or sales rep, you need to find them, too, and sell THEM on your work of representing (for a fee, of course). You need to locate a reasonably priced printer to make the deal worthwhile and in quantities that you can get discounts on - not only to make it more feasible to your clients but make things more profitable to you. AND you need a business plan, of course, which outlines all your costs, expenses including any equipment you need, marketing costs, transportation allowances, prospects, fee schedules, and how much you think you can profit from your endeavor.
Then there's shipping and receiving, keeping track of which jobs are in what stage of the process ... ad infinitim. It's a LOT of work. It's a LOT of expense too. Stock work is also a LOT of work, even with the software available to help run your business.
So, whaddya think? :>)
- Mark Feldstein
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5: Shooting Object Against White Backround
I am taking pictures of colorful fabric braids against a white backround, and the background always comes out gray instead of white. What am I doing wrong?
- Suzanne 
Hi Suzanne,
Have a look at BetterPhoto's Forum library:
Have fun!
- W. Smith
Hi Suzanne,
White does not photograph as ultimate white. You need to light the background in order to get to white.
But there is a problem with having a background that is too light: The edges of your subject may burn out. A good way to set up a white shooting table is to put a piece of clear Plexiglas on top of a couple sawhorses. Cover the Plexiglas with tracing paper and put a light below the table. You will need to control the light that you are using to expose your subject and the light below the table.
Good Luck!
John Siskin
- John H. Siskin

See John Siskin's Premium BetterPholio™:

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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6: Cropping: When Should It Be Done?
Do you crop and then fix in Photoshop (or other image-editing program)? Or do you fix and then crop later?
- Heather  M. Wareham
Crop and straighten first. Cropping first is important because you'll change the total pixel count. This can impact some of the other Tools (for example, Auto Contrast.)
Let's say there a lot of bright (but light) sky at the top of your picture, but that the meat of it is in the lower third. Cropping out some/all of the sky will focus a viewer's attention to the subject.
When you begin editing - say, for color or contrast - the software will look to the strong part of the image and not be influenced by the overlying right sky.
- John Sandstedt
For me, it depends. If there is a part of the frame that I know will be cropped out (distracting element, too much sky, etc.), then I crop it out first - what John said, but also because it seems silly to me to process pixels that are going away anyway.
For my portrait work, I tend to crop last, because I usually save the files in 2 to 4 different aspect ratios (4x6, 5x7, 8x10, etc.). If you crop for one aspect ratio, it can make it difficult to then convert to a different one. I do all of my processing, and then last thing before I save, I crop to an aspect ratio. Then I step back, crop for a different aspect ratio, and save again (with a different file name, of course).
I also have been bitten by cropping early, and then starting over because I cropped too much. So I really think it depends on the situation, but for the most part, I think John is right when it comes to distracting elements. Crop them out right away.
- David A. Bliss
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