The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
 
Monday, April 30, 2007
IN THIS ISSUE
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Displaying Work a...
Q&A 2: Portrait Photogra...
Q&A 3: Converting Color ...
Q&A 4: Getting a White B...
Q&A 5: Make Your Own Bac...


TESTIMONIAL OF THE WEEK
"I learned a lot more than I thought possible in 4 weeks, and I'm excited about it — which is the key to learning!" -student in Richard Lynch's Photoshop 101: The Photoshop Essentials Primer course, which gets under way May 2nd





NEW CLASS ON NIKON D40/D40X CAMERAS!
Learn how to get the most out of the awesome features of Nikon's highly regarded D40 andD40x camera models! This unique 4-week online course by photographer-author Simon Stafford begins May 2nd. Learn more...


SPRING GIFT CARD PROMOTION!
Give the gift of photography with a BetterPhoto gift card and get an additional $5.00 FREE for every $50! For all the details...


ADVERTISE YOUR BUSINESS IN SNAPSHOT
Get word of your product or service out to a rapidly growing list of over 65462 serious photographers.
Learn More...

THIS WEEK'S TIP
Photoshop CS3's Great B&W Feature ... by Tim Cooper
"I love the new CS3! Admittedly, the new features for photographers are not as abundant or splashy as in recent releases. The newest additions, however, are great.
My top favorite is the new Black and White features. The Raw converter now has the capability to render beautiful Black and White renditions from color images. Go to the HSL tab and click Convert to Grayscale. The sliders in the HSL tab will allow you to brighten and darken individual colors! This is a huge addition for the B&W photographers. The sky is the limit.
Be warned, though. Pushing any of these sliders too far can lead to an unnatural pixelating. As with any tool, moderation is the key. You can always continue to work on the image's contrast and brightness in Photoshop. Think of this as the first step. The fine-tuning will come later. In Photoshop, the proper Black and White command takes the form of an adjustment layer and has similar controls. For those photographers who were fond of toning B&W prints in the darkroom, check out the toning options in either one of these Black and White areas.
Editor's Note: Check out Tim Cooper's excellent 4-week course: Understanding Natural Light


   
Featured Gallery
Painted Ladies
© - Inge Johnsson

Welcome to the 314th issue of SnapShot!
Hello,

Lots of excitement as the new month gets under way! First, off, our May 4-week online classes get under way on Wednesday, May 2nd, and with two new classes - The Nikon D40/D40X Cameras and on Lightroom: A Comprehensive Look - this will be our best schedule of short courses yet! ... Also, in the latest of our series of interviews of top pros, we put the spotlight on George Schaub, longtime BP instructor and Editorial Director of Shutterbug magazine. Read this interesting interview ... Next, BetterPhoto celebrates the 50th issues of both PhotoFlash and Digital Darkroom. Subscribe now to these free emailed newsletters. Look for 50th PhotoFlash on May 2nd and the 50th Digital Darkroom in mid-month. ... To mark these golden 50th newsletters, the May theme for BP's free photo contest is Gold. Have fun submitting! ... Lastly, if you haven't already, see two of the awesome new features that is helping to make BetterPhoto better than ever: Trip Planner and Community Page. ... That's it for now. Enjoy your week - and this whole golden month - of photography!

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

At BetterPhoto, you can learn from the pros - online, anytime! Enroll now for our new round of 4-week interactive online photography courses. Check out the schedule... Popular BP instructor and Shutterbug Editorial Director George Schaub is the latest subject of our intriguing series of pro interviews. Read his thoughts here... Also, don't miss the interviews of other instructors. May is golden for BetterPhoto, as we celebrate the 50th issues of our free emailed monthly newsletters! PhotoFlash is due out on Wednesday, May 2nd, and Digital Darkroom will be out in mid-month. Subscribe now...

Photo Q&A

1: Displaying Work at Fairs or Shows
Hi, All...
Does anyone have any cost-effective suggestions for displaying matted images for places such as street fairs or craft show booths? I've looked at easels, and display boards, etc., but everything seems really expensive. We're just getting started, so money's kind of an issue. :)
Thanks for any help you can give us!
Julie & Johnny
- Julie & Johnny Wall
ANSWER 1:
Hi Julie & Johnny,
I’ve seen people use milk crates on tables after putting their images in clear plastic sleeves. The problem is that when you don’t show that you value your images by displaying them effectively, people will not want to give you much money for them. That means it’s hard to get money to upgrade.
Thanks,
John
- John H. Siskin

See John Siskin's Premium BetterPholio™:
http://www.betterphoto.com/mg.asp?id=158091

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
ANSWER 2:
Hi, John...
Thank you for your reply! We used self-adhesive easels on covered tables for a recent auction. I'm not a big fan of them, but they were relatively inexpensive to purchase in bulk. The problem was that they weren't terribly sturdy. I do know that if table space is limited, we're going to have issues, given we do more smaller prints. Also, I feel that since a lot of these festivals and displays are out-of-doors, it may be a little risky to put a fairly expensive display board out where it could be damaged by wind, rain and the other elements. :)
I want a happy medium between obviously cheap and not breaking the bank if it rains. :)
Thank you again!
Julie
- Julie & Johnny Wall
ANSWER 3:
Hi Julie,
I got some nice-looking inexpensive easels at Ikea, but they are floor standing. You might want to look at the stuff from this company (I have used them a lot): http://www.valleymoulding.com/. They have some interesting supplies.
Thanks,
John
- John H. Siskin

See John Siskin's Premium BetterPholio™:
http://www.betterphoto.com/mg.asp?id=158091

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
ANSWER 4:
John,
Thanks, that is EXACTLY what we've been looking for! Their table easels are a LOT nicer than the cardboard ones, and you don't have to let them go with the pictures! Johnny liked them, too! We were also thinking that he could craft some floor-type wooden easels that could hold multiple images. Again, John, THANK YOU!
Julie
- Julie & Johnny Wall
Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

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2: Portrait Photography: Tips on Posing
Hey, I was wondering how to pose for portrait photos? I would love to learn some different ways! So if anyone has any ideas, please let me know. Also, what are some ideas for props? Thanks.
- Heather 
ANSWER 1:

Try some photo portrait magazines, Heather.
- W. Smith
ANSWER 2:
Hi Heather,
Good question! Photo magazines are always excellent resources for studying different types of photography. Here at BetterPhoto, there are many options: Check BP's contest finalists for outstanding pics in a number of categories, including People. For portrait shots you particularly admire, simply click on the photographer's gallery to see more images!

In addition, we have an excellent 4-week online course on the subject: Posing and Portraiture Techniques with Ibarionex Perello Plus, you'll find some great ideas in Ibarionex's BP article: Portrait Photography: Lighting and Background

Hope this helps!
Kerry

- Kerry Drager

See Kerry Drager's Premium BetterPholio™:
http://www.betterphoto.com/mg.asp?id=20858

Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with Kerry Drager:
4-Week Short Course: Creative Close-ups
Creative Light and Composition
Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

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3: Converting Color Slides to Digital Files
Is it possible to convert color slides to digital photos?
- Maria Zammit
ANSWER 1:
Sure. There are film scanners, with the best bang for the buck being the $500 Nikon V model. Short of paying 10K and up for a drum scanner, its a good choice. There is a learning curve, and you should be proficient with Elements or Photoshop.
Epson makes scanners that can do 12 slides at a time. The scans are reasonably good, if you don't enlarge beyond about 11 x 14, and the software is pretty easy to use.
An alternative is to have your very best ones scanned professionally. This process is too expensive to have all your slides scanned.
Once you have the slide as a digital file, you can print it on your own inkjet paper (on photo quality paper), or have a shop print it.
- Doug Nelson
Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

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4: Getting a White Backdrop
I have a white backdrop and am having trouble getting absolutely white results. I have tried to take a blank white photo and set the custom white balance, but it still turns out kinda gray. I want a bright portrait with a stark white background. My photos are in my gallery so you can see what I'm talking about. I have a canon 20D, and two softboxes right now that I've been using. Any help??
- Jessica Johnston
ANSWER 1:
Jess,
Are you using a backlight? You will still need one for that High Key look. I hope this helps,
Debby
- Debby Tabb
ANSWER 2:
I [want] a bright portrait with a stark white background.Then you need about 2.5 stops more light on the background than on the subject.
Oh, and FYI: The background has got nothing to do with "white balance"!
- W. Smith
ANSWER 3:
Jessica,
Most of the responses are correct here. You need more light on your backdrop. One light is rarely enough.
What caught my eye was your subject-to-backdrop distance. Too close. You will throw shadows and never get a white backdrop.
The shadows need to fall outside the image frame. Some will argue, and will be correct in saying a blown-out white background will override shadows falling on the background. Try to avoid this, as it will bring on more problems - blue casting, etc.
Get your subject at least 5 feet in front of the backdrop. You will probably need both softboxes to light the backdrop ... OR ... Just one that is hidden low or blocked by your subject that faces up, fired at full power.
This method, when on a budget, has the added effect of bouncing some light from the ceiling back down to the subject's hair and shoulders, helping to separate them from the backdrop.
Final note Jessica: It looks like you might have some dust on your sensor. Nothing to do with your exposure, just thought you might want to know. :)

Oh, one more idea if you know how to use editing programs. You can always mask off your subject and use levels to "bring up" the back drop.
Here's a sample shot demonstrating the last method.
All the best,
Pete

- Pete Herman
Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

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5: Make Your Own Backdrop or Background Stand
I was wondering: Has anyone tried making their own background stand or backdrop? If so, how did they turn out? I want to make both a backdrop and a background stand, but I'm on a budget! Plus, I'm a beginner ... so if anyone has any info, please let me know. Thanks!
- Heather 
ANSWER 1:
Hi Heather,
To make your own backdrops, please go to this BetterPhoto link. I've found the article very helpful and, in fact, have made two of my own backdrops: How to Make Your Own Backdrop
For the background stand, a couple of years ago, my husband made a stand for me from PVC pipes. You can find it in any home improvement store. You can get the pipes in any length and than join them with the joints available in the same aisle. Once the background and the stand is done, you can clip or pin up the background with the stand or you can sew a sleeve in one end of the backdrop and use it to put your pipe in it. I've found the PVC pipes flimsy, though.
Another thing that I did was to hammer two nails in the wall of my garage since that was my first trial studio, and I fastened a rope from one nail to another. I then attached my backdrop with cloth pins. If you find nails and rope ugly, think of putting up a curtain rod, but it will cost you more than mere rope and nails.
You can start with these or you may want to think about spending $100 on the background stand. I hope it helps.
- Sobia Chishti
Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

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