The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
 
Monday, May 21, 2007
IN THIS ISSUE
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Underexposure Pro...
Q&A 2: Automatic Vs. Man...
Q&A 3: Monopod & Qui...
Q&A 4: Lighting for Busi...
Q&A 5: Portrait Photogra...


TESTIMONIAL OF THE WEEK
"I loved this class! Vik is a great teacher, and I learned so much from my classmates too. I especially appreciated Vik's careful critiques and suggested edits. My photos have improved, and I'm enjoying photography and the editing process more because of this class." -student in Vik Orenstein's Photographing Children course





FEATURED COURSE: CREATING VISUAL IMPACT
Learn the creative techniques for transforming your images into striking and memorable photographs in Brenda Tharp's exciting 8-week online class: Creating Visual Impact.


FEATURED COURSE: FINE ART FLOWER PHOTOGRAPHY
Avoid the cliche's in flower photography by creating personal, unique, and well-lit images of wildflowers, roses, tulips, etc. Join Tony Sweet in this inspiring 8-week online course: Fine Art Flower Photography.


BP RADIO: TUNE IN FOR TIPS & INSIGHTS!
BetterPhoto Radio is on the air - Fridays at 1 p.m. Pacific time. Listen to Jim Miotke interview instructors and BP members! Learn more...
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THIS WEEK'S TIP
Selecting the Best ISO Setting ... by Susan and Neil Silverman
Always try to work with the lowest ISO setting that you can in the circumstance you are photographing. You will have better color saturation and less chance of what is called noise, or graininess. As you increase your ISO, you will have faster shutter speeds and so it is wonderful for darker lighting situations, but always be aware that you might have more noise in the image than you wanted.
Editor's Note: Susan and Neil Silverman teach several excellent courses here at BetterPhoto, including: Street Photography and Jump Start to Digital Photography.


   
Featured Gallery

Welcome to the 317th issue of SnapShot!
Hello,

So many exciting things going on at BetterPhoto.com these days! First, instructor and Outdoor Photographer columnist William Neill has a brand-new course - Landscape Essentials. This class runs 4 weeks and begins in June, but also be sure to review our 8-week courses that start in July - they're awesome! ... If you haven't already, check out the fascinating interview with instructor and portrait photographer Ibarionex Perello, as well as our Instructor Insights blogs. ... In addition, don't miss my BetterPhoto Photography Interview with acclaimed photographer Art Wolfe. ... That's it for now. Enjoy your week of photography!

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

At BetterPhoto.com, we have an outstanding line of online photography classes, including many 8-week courses. Also, check out our entire school schedule. Discover the essential elements of good landscape photography to improve your work! Outdoor Photographer "On Landscape" columnist William Neill offers Landscape Essentials, an exciting new 4-week online course that begins June 6th. Learn more about BetterPhoto's pro instructors through excellent interviews.

Photo Q&A

1: Underexposure Problems
Does underexposure causes problems with Raw files? And, if so, is this further affected by a smaller digital camera?
- Susan Shepard 
ANSWER 1:
Underexposure can often be the source of digital noise in many digital cameras and brands. If you over-simplify this to consider the effect under-exposure has on film, you will have similar difficulties. One of the keys is to be aware of in-camera meter readings, and know when your exposures are not going to be their best. At that point you can either accept the risk, or make adjustments (e.g., using a faster lens, changing the ISO, etc.).
Underexposure is not only an issue with RAW, it will likely cause additional noise in other file formats, and in many cameras - more and less depending on the brand of camera and the extremes of exposure.
OK?
- Richard Lynch

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2: Automatic Vs. Manual?
Should I use auto settings? In other words, will I get good results?
- Susan Shepard 
ANSWER 1:
Depending on your equipment, auto settings will do a fine job for normal exposures. But what is considered "normal" may be in question. If a scene is one where you are not pushing the limits of the exposures, and you are not interested in controlling depth-of-field or stopping action, then you will be happy with auto-results. However, if you want to use your equipment to control the results you get, understanding manual modes, what they affect, and how to use them will likely be to your advantage.
- Richard Lynch

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From Monitor to Print: Photoshop Workflow
Leveraging Layers: Photoshop's Most Powerful Tool
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3: Monopod & Quick-Release Head
I own a Canon S3 IS camera. I have always wanted a monopod. After lengthy research, I have decided between the Bogen Manfrotto 676B and 679B monopod along with the 3229 QR Swivel Tilt Head. Is either one of these combinations a good choice for my particular camera?
- Frank B. Pearman
ANSWER 1:
I just wanted to mention my favorite do-it-yourself accessory, the chainpod. Hereís the tip I put on BetterPhoto.
The simplest and best piece of photo equipment you can build is the chainpod. It works like a monopod, weighs a couple of ounces and fits in your pocket. To build it drill a small hole in 1/2 inch 1/4X20 (that is a thread size) thumbscrew. Attach about 6 feet of chain to the hole (more if you are really tall). Next put a nut onto the thumbscrew and position it so that the screw canít go too deep into you tripod socket and glue it in place. To use, attach the thumbscrew to the base of your camera drop the chain and step on it. Now pull up against the chain. Steady! Photos: Demonstration of Chainpod and Chainpod Detail
Thanks, John Siskin
- John H. Siskin

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ANSWER 2:
Thanks, I'll have to try that. I'm guessing the tension "resists" the swaying effect.
- Frank B. Pearman
ANSWER 3:
Hi Frank,
Exactly, and of course, it is inexpensive and fits in a pocket.
Thanks.
- John H. Siskin

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ANSWER 4:
Frank, you mention a QR head - this is generally the term for "quick release". QR mounts (like from Kirk Enterprises or Really Right Stuff - both have web sites) involve having a plate on the camera (or lens) and a clamp-like device on the tripod or monopod. The clamp can lock down or loosen very quickly, rather than having to screw the camera down to the support.
John mentions his chain idea. This is certainly compact, but still relies on your muscles to hold things steady. Another approach might be to use a vice-grip type plier with a couple of 1/4" x20 bolts welded to it and a ball-and-socket head screwed onto that. You can clamp the pliers onto a bench, tree branch, whatever (assuming one's around) and that way have a quite stable platform for your shot.
But to answer your orignal question - either monopod is probably fine, and the swivel head on top is the best way to go. In fact, if you check out Really Right Stuff's site, they have an article on just this approach.
- Bob Fately
ANSWER 5:
Iíve been using a modified vice grip for about 20 years. It is very handy if you have something to clamp it to. With some sculpture wire, it makes a good tabletop tripod. Good suggestion, Bob!
- John H. Siskin

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Understanding Professional Lighting
ANSWER 6:
Frank, I have the 676B & the 3229 combination and you will be making a good decision with this set up. Lightweight, quick and stable.
- Carlton Ward
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4: Lighting for Business Job
Hello All,
A client wants me to shoot some photos of his yogurt stores for brochures and general advertising purposes. This is a new area for me in terms of lighting, as I have focused on outdoor photography in the past. I still prefer natual lighting, and it appears the stores have plenty of windows, but was wondering if I should rent some general lighting gear for this job. If so, what is recommended? As a last resort, I can use my on-camera flash but I know that is not recommended.
Thanks,
Matt
- Matt Parker
ANSWER 1:
Hi Matt,
I did some Italian ice cream stores about a year ago, so I have some experience that applies here. First, if you havenít worked with professional strobes in the past, you will find this work extremely difficult, maybe impossible. In order to work in an architectural environment, you must know what your tools do and be able to integrate them into a plan in your head and then execute the plan. If you go into the job expecting to see the light first and then shoot it will be very frustrating. You could try to do this with existing light, but color balance will be tricky, since the lights in the store wonít balance with the daylight. If you want to try the quick-and-dirty method, I would bet one professional strobe with at least (that means you really need more) 500 watt-seconds. Watt-seconds are for rating strobes; a 500-watt quartz lamp is not the same thing and will not do a good job. This question was labeled lighting for business job. If these shots are for professional usage, your client may be better served working with someone who has some experience with this kind of project. You may be better off sending the job to someone else and showing the client you understand the limits of your expertise.
Thanks, John Siskin
- John H. Siskin

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Understanding Professional Lighting
ANSWER 2:
Think through if they want photos of the layout of the store, or if they want the appearance of regular happenings during business hours. If it's interior shots only, you could use the windows you spoke of as your only light source if you can schedule when you shoot at the time you have good light available. Interior shots with strobes aren't necessarily lit with strobes, but strobes are used to enhance available light. Add light to a dark corner, bring out a hallway in the background.
Check the location for white ceilings, window shades to block direct light, how it would look at different times of the day, and things like that.
- Gregory La Grange
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5: Portrait Photography Lighting
I'm wanting to buy a lighting kit for shooting portraits. I don't know the difference between continuous lighting and strobes. Which would be better to buy for portrait pictures and why?
- Greg D. Scharton
ANSWER 1:

Hi Greg,
Continuous lighting is, well, permanently switched on - like your average desk lamp, but a bit stronger. And you can see exactly what it does on the subject. It also generates a lot of heat, which requires excellent venting and an up-to-date insurance policy.
But what you see is what you get, and that's not much for portrait lighting. You'll have to use low shutter speeds to expose sufficiently. Slow shutter speeds will complicate your portrait shooting: they are live subjects after all. And they won't appreciate the heat either.
Continuous lighting may be usable for table-top still photography, but not for portrait photography.
Strobes are basically flash guns that plug into an electrical wall socket. They recycle fast and consistently. Most have a 'modeling light', a permanently-on light, but much less powerful than the flash, that enables you to see the effect on the subject. They're ideal for portrait photography. You need about 1,000 watt seconds output power, or up. You can attach all sorts of light 'modifiers', like softboxes, umbrellas, dishes, snoots, barn doors, etc.
For portrait photography, you'd do well to get 2 reflectors, 2 by 4 feet minimum, either D-I-Y (do it yourself), or foamcore from Home Depot, or flip-out foldables from http://www.lastolite.com/originalreflectors.php.
Have fun!
- W. Smith
ANSWER 2:
Hi Greg,
Continuous lights are hard on the subject, because of heat and brightness as W. mentioned. Strobes require you to learn to see light in your head, as modeling lights are not that useful. This is a very fine skill for a photographer to have. You have the lcd of a computer monitor and histogram to help you. These tools make it easier to learn lighting than ever before. You could certainly start with one light, but eventually you will probably want three. Your most powerful light should have at least 500 watt-seconds; more would not be bad.
Thanks, John Siskin
- 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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