The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Monday, June 25, 2007
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Beach Portraits...
Q&A 2: Using Studio Ligh...
Q&A 3: Portfolio: How to...
Q&A 4: Photographing a W...
Q&A 1: Exhibiting Phot...

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How to Photograph Fireworks by Charlotte Lowrie
If fireworks are a feature of summer activity in your part of the world, I thought I'd share my tips on exposing for fireworks. This technique works for fireworks at a good distance away - not for close-up shooting.
1. Mount the camera on a tripod and point the lens toward the area where the fireworks will explode.
2. Use a telephoto lens or set the lens you have to the longest telephoto zoom setting.
3. Focus the lens on infinity - the furthest point at which the lens will focus. For setup, focus on a distant tree or rock or star.
4. Set the camera to M (Manual) mode. Then set the exposure thusly: ISO: 200 ... Aperture: f/11 ... Shutter Speed: 1/3rd sec.
Now it's a matter of timing to catch the explosions at their peak before the smoke begins to form. Take some practice shots, and you'll soon get the hang of it. Then you can take a seat next to the camera, pressing the shutter button once in awhile as you enjoy the show!
You can also capture multiple bursts on the same frame by setting the camera to Bulb and using a black card to cover the lens between bursts. When a burst happens that you want to capture, remove the black card from the lens for a few seconds, and then replace the black card until another burst happens. This takes some practice, but can result in great shots! It's also advisable to use a cable release instead of pressing the shutter button with your finger.
Editor's Note: Charlotte Lowrie teaches many online photo classes here at, including: RAW Shooting: From Capture to Finished Photo and Raw Shooting: Capture to Finished Photo with Adobe Elements.

Featured Gallery

Welcome to the 322nd issue of SnapShot!

These are exciting times at BetterPhoto, especially with the upcoming July 4th launch of BetterPhoto's Summer online photography school! But with so many awesome courses to choose from, the decision-making process often isn't easy. To help you choose the online class that's best for you, try our very cool and very-easy-to-use Course Calculator. ... In this issue of SnapShot, don't miss instructor Charlotte Lowrie's timely Photo Tip on shooting fireworks. ... Share your photos in a basic-and-free BetterPholio gallery, a sleek Premium BetterPholio gallery, or in a full-fledged BetterPholio Web Site. Find out more ... Plan your next photo getaway with BetterPhoto's continually updated Trip Planner. ... That's it for now. Enjoy your week of photography!

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

Are you ready to take the next step in your photography? Our online classes are so much fun and you learn a lot in a short time. See our course schedule ... School begins July 4th, but you can get a head start! Enroll in a class today and, if you like, we will send you the first lesson before the holiday weekend! Just email after signing up and request a pre-sent first lesson. Would you like valuable critiques of your photographs from a professional? At BetterPhoto, we offer two exciting options! Learn more... The 2007 BetterPhoto Conference - September 29th and 30th in Chicago - is going to be a fun-packed weekend of information and inspiration. See the Conference Program!

Photo Q&A

1: Beach Portraits
I'm going to shoot a friend's family on the beach this weekend (digital, but in BW), and I've been doing some research. This is some of the advice I'm going to try to follow. Am I missing anything?
Protect the camera. ISO around 200. Keep an eye on DOF. Take shots toward the dunes as well. Watch the horizon. Polarizing and/or UV filter. Exposure bracketing. Spot metering. Fill flash when needed.
What color clothing is best? Someone here at BP said red, but the mom wants BW photos. Should I shoot in color and convert in PS or shoot BW photos straight-away? I also have a 52"-round diffuser - should I bother to bring it or will it blow me away?
~ Adrienne
- Adrienne Brand
Ooh - forgot these:
I'll have my lens hood with me too. I'm going to ask the family to not wear patterns. And I will tell them to bring any simple props as needed (pail/shovel). I might bring seed/bread to lure in some seagulls. What's the best for white balance? A friend loaned me one of those new gadgets. Thanks again!
- Adrienne Brand
I'll pick out a few of your points to comment on.
- If you are using a digital camera (which you are), you should ALWAYS shoot in color and convert to B&W on the computer. They may see the color images and love them. If you shoot in B&W, you are limited to B&W.
- Your lens hood should definitely be used.
- Set your white balance to Auto or Daylight - don't waste time with a white balance gadget.
- I would advise against the seagull idea. The people are your subjects - don't detract from them. Also, seagulls don't take posing directions well. ;-)
- I've seen lots of beach portraits done with khaki shorts and white shirts, or denim shorts and white shirts. I don't think the color of the shirts matters that much, as long as all the subjects are coordinated. I always ask clients to avoid wearing any shirts with words on them. I just don't like seeing that in a portrait.
- If the 52" diffuser is a reflector, it may be handy if your group is not large, and you have an assistant to hold it. Otherwise, don't bother.
- What time are you planning to shoot? Morning and evening are better for avoiding harsh shadows in eyesockets. No amount of fill flash will help you on a bright beach at noon.
Chris A. Vedros
- Chris A. Vedros
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2: Using Studio Lights Outdoors
Does using studio light outside make for a more even lighting on your subjects? I have used my flash for a fill. Thanks!
- Sandra Wortmann
Hi Sandy,
The reason for taking studio lights outside would be to have more power. So what can you do with more power? Well, you can do flash fill at a lower shutter speed and higher aperture. If you wanted a shot with a sharp image from the strobe and a blurred image from daylight mixed together, this would do it. Alternatively, you could use the extra power to diffuse the light from the strobe. This would make for softer fill light, thus softer transition from light to shadow. This could be very useful. I like to use Norman 200B strobes outside. I get power and portability fromm these units.
John Siskin
- John H. Siskin

See John Siskin's Premium BetterPholio™:

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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
4-Week Short Course: Building Better Photographs with Strobes
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3: Portfolio: How to Put One Together?
Hello there,
I am looking to make a portfolio of my images. But I need help. I don't even know where to start or what to do. Any suggestions, helpful Web sites? Is digital better? Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!!
- Rebecca C. Barnini
Hi Rebecca,
Technically, a portfolio is a collection of your best work, tailored to meet the needs of whomever you are presenting it. Now, how to put a portfolio together ... I have done so in a couple of ways: (1) My BP Deluxe Web site; (2) matted and bagged images; and (3) presentation programs, such as an Adobe Lightroom slideshow on my notebook computer.
How many images? Not so many that someone would get tired of looking before coming to the end, but enough to get your point across that "this is what I shoot".
Since you did not identify your camera on your BP site, I'm not sure I understand your question, "Is digital better"? If you mean showing your portfolio digitally (computer slide show) versus actual matted images, that's up to you.
Some sites such as Pro Lab Express and Mpix can put a very nice book together that presents your best work. Select carefully and consider having more than one portfolio if your interests lie in several directions - landscape, still life art, etc.
Hope this helps,
- John Rhodes
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4: Photographing a Wedding - Camouflage
I will be shooting a wedding in November. I have done indoor and outdoor weddings before. But the bride has informed me that she will be wearing ALL camouflage! Anyway, the backdrop will be a wooded area. I am so afraid that with all the blending of colors, the couple will not stand out. Would a filter help? Thanks!
- Brenda D. Spring
I don't think a filter will help camo stand out from a wooded background.
- Your best bet is to keep a good bit of distance between subject and background, and use wide apertures to get shallow depth of field.
- Zoom in on faces as much and as often as you can.
- Ask them if they're really serious about this. ;-)

Good luck,
Chris A. Vedros

- Chris A. Vedros
Hi Brenda, I live in Arkansas, a big hunting state and I know of a bride and groom that did something similar. The bride did wear white, the groom wore a camo vest with his tux and the bridesmaids wore the hunter's orange. My husband is a minister and did a funeral earlier this year, and the casket spray was all leaves, pine cones, etc., created around a huge set of deer antlers.
I agree with pulling them away from the backdrop and shallow depth of field. I would also tell them in advance that this is going to be an issue. Good luck!
- Linda S. Buchanan
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1: Exhibiting Photos for First Time ... Help!

I've been asked to present some of my photos to a local coffee shop to be considered for a small exhibit. But I know nothing about framing, matting, pricing, and most importantly, presenting them to the owners of the coffee shop for consideration! Can I take my laptop in and let them view the photos that way? Do they choose the photos or do I? They have several different colored walls ... do I match anything to their walls? Is there a standard-sized print that I should be using? How do you get prints matted and bagged for sale? (If I even get that far!!) As you can see, I need guidance...and a lot of it! Thanks in advance!!
- Cindy Sj

Cindy, don't get your hopes too high, as people like to see the photos on the wall and enjoy good conversation and a good cup of coffee. They don't come to buy photos, per se. Now, having said that, go big and let the owners have an input and you choose some of your favorites as well. Warning: I would frame professionally. There's nothing worse then seeing amateur framing done on some nice photos. Check different Web sites for pricing, but don't be too cheap as then they really don't see them as works of art. Good luck!

- Debbie Del Tejo

First, I would avoid matching mats to anyone's walls. You will display there for a while and pick your prints up to be hung elsewhere. Use white, or neutral, mats. I frame with profile 115 black metal frames. By doing this, when I hang an exhibit, all the images are coordinated - same mat, same frame. By using the metal frames (, I can do the framing myself.
Debbie is right. I have sold well in galleries and at art festivals. However, I have had images hung at a local coffee shop and a restaurant. Neither have produced sales. I'll likely pick them up soon.
Coffee shops have the same group of customers that drop by regularly. They aren't likely to have someone come in looking for art - just a good cup of coffee (or that other strange stuff that coffee shops brew). About the only advantage I can see is that having my art in several places gets my work and name out there, which may result in business down the road.
Bottom line: Don't tailor your framing to fit a place. Choose matting and framing that will work in many different venues.

- John Rhodes
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