The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
 
Monday, September 17, 2007
IN THIS ISSUE
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Cleaning an SLR M...
Q&A 2: Opening a Raw Fil...
Q&A 3: Color Space...
Q&A 4: How to Make a Pho...
Q&A 5: Flexify filter ...
Q&A 1: Portrait Backgr...


TESTIMONIAL OF THE WEEK
"This class was one of the best that I have taken here at BetterPhoto. Scott is experienced, creative and talented as a stock shooter, and as an instructor, he is thorough and conscientious. The materials are complete and interesting, and the assignments require thought, creativity and skill. I really felt as though I was learning something, and getting my money's worth!" -student in Scott Stulberg's Stock Photography Boot Camp





LEARN TO GET CREATIVE WITH A LENSBABY!
New 4-week course! Learn techniques, tips, accessories, and tricks of the trade to create unique images using the Lensbaby 3G in Tony Sweet's Creative Nature/Outdoor Photos with Lensbabies.


NEW COURSES:
CREATIVE FLASH AND GUARANTEED BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY!
Consider these excellent 4-week classes by Outdoor Photographer columnist Rob Sheppard: Drills for Creative Flash Photography and Guaranteed Better 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 pro instructors and BP members!
ADVERTISE YOUR BUSINESS IN SNAPSHOT
Get word of your product or service out to a rapidly growing list of over 70534 serious photographers.
Learn More...

THIS WEEK'S TIP
Saving Photoshop Actions and Action Sets ... by Al Ward
Photoshop Actions may only be saved as Action Sets. A set may contain one or more actions. Image Ready does not allow you to group actions together in sets; Photoshop gives you this option so that your actions may be better organized.
Editor's Note: Al Ward teaches an excellent online class here at BetterPhoto:
Right-Brain Photoshop: Merging, Melding and Morphing


   
Featured Gallery
Jumping Dude
© - Andrew Parfenov

Welcome to the 334th issue of SnapShot!
Hello,

These are exciting times at BetterPhoto! The 3rd Annual BetterPhoto Summit takes place September 29th-30th in Chicago, and what a jam-packed event we have planned! You'll learn to improve your photography, have Photoshop de-mystified, and come away filled with new insights and inspiration. But act soon, since the sign-up deadline is this Friday (Sept. 21st)! Learn more about the Summit... Also on the near horizon is our fall online school, which begins Oct. 3rd. We have an outstanding lineup of photography and Photoshop classes. See the course schedule... Can't decide which course to take? Try our very cool CourseFinder to find the class that's right for you. ... If you haven't already, be sure to check out some of BetterPhoto's newest features: BetterPhotoMentor program (to help teens get inspired about photography), Community Page (for member announcements, galleries, etc.), Trip Planner (get tips for your next photo adventure), and BetterPhoto Girls Blog (read notes from the girls who work at BetterPhoto). ... That's it for now. Enjoy your week of photography!

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

The 2007 BetterPhoto Summit photography conference is coming up fast. You'll learn great techniques, meet new friends, and have fun. But you must hurry: The registration deadline is Sept. 21st! Take the next step in your photography or in Photoshop! At BetterPhoto, we have an awesome schedule of online courses led by top pros. Have some spare time? Check out our frequently updated Instructor Insights.

Photo Q&A

1: Cleaning an SLR Mirror
Okay, Iíve learned to clean my digital sensor Ė thanks to the advice gained here Ė and even know how to remove "welded junk". However, how do I get "welded junk" off the mirror? Everything Iíve ever read or been told states in capital letters: Don't touch the mirror!!! However, there is this extremely annoying little black blotch on the mirror that refuses to go away. Iíve hit with the rocket blower to no avail. I even got desperate and took a sensor swipe, wet it lightly with Eclipse fluid and very gently ran it across the mirror Ė nope, the blotch is still there. Yes, I know, the blotch doesnít show on an image, but it is in the line of sight and drives me batty. In the past, Iíd have taken the camera to the shop and they would have used their power blower and all would be great. The camera shop closed last month Ė Iím still in mourning Ė and the only other shop within 50 miles is terrible and I wouldnít let them touch my gear. The camera is a Canon 5D. So, anyone have any good ideas? Thanks, as always!
Irene
- Irene Troy
ANSWER 1:
Irene - Don't touch the mirror! The reason is that you will undoubtably ruin it - unlike your household mirrors the mirror in an SLR is a front-surface type - that is, the microscopically thin reflective layer is a coating on the face of the glass substrate (your normal mirrors have the silver reflective layer underneath a protective layer of glass).
If this glob o' gunk is stuck on that well, you will need to send it in for cleaning. At least, it won't affect the actual images.
- Bob Fately
ANSWER 2:
I've read warnings about fiddling around with SLR mirrors and I just train myself to ignore those glitches that appear on my reflex mirrors and focusing screens that cannot be easily removed.
As long as my film is not affected, I try not to worry too much about them.
I've "coerced" a few stubborn specks off my mirrors and focusing screens with a dry Q-Tip but NEVER have I tried to remove the mirror to clean it off.
BTW ... Did you ever have a tiny bug get in there and start running around when you're trying to focus??
That can really be a hassle!
Bob
- Bob Cammarata
ANSWER 3:
Hi Irene,
Itís true; SLR mirrors are of the first surface variety. This means the reflective surface is on top of the glass. Had the camera maker used an ordinary mirror with the shinny side on the back of the glass, you would see a weak but annoying secondary (double) image when you looked at a brightly lit subject.
Once upon a time, first surface mirrors were made by plating pure silver on glass. This made a nearly perfect mirror but silver is soft and tarnishes quickly. Modern first surface mirrors are vacuum plated aluminum. Not as good but time to tarnish is long-drawn-out.
Now opticians have a trick or two up their sleeve. A modern fist surface is over-coated with a super thin layer of clear transparent quartz. This over-coat reduces the fragileness of the first surface mirror. In fact, the surface is quite durable.
Now before you take a scrub brush and begin cleaning your first surface, you need to know that a SLR mirror is hinged as its movement is a fast up-down blink. Likely you will damage the gear train if you apply too much pressure.
Now if you are a brave soul, you can safely clean with most any lens cleaner. I use double distilled vodka (40% ethyl alcohol). An OK lens and mirror cleaner is a liter of vodka with two drops of liquid dish-washing detergent added. For a stubborn spot, try ordinary Windex on a Q-tip and polish with a well-washed T-shirt material as these are lint free. Should the Windex leave a streak or smear, follow with the vodka.
Cleaning of precision optical surfaces is not for the faint of heart. Chickens should stay far away.
Alan Marcus (dispenses questionable techno babble)
- Alan N. Marcus
ANSWER 4:
Well, guys, thanks for the advice! Iím trying to figure out just how far Iím willing to experiment with removing this annoying spot. After all, the camera only cost me about $3000 and I have that in my change tray Ė LOL! Bob, I once had a small fly die inside my old film camera. The fly flew in when I was foolish enough to set the camera down with no lens or front cover attached. I removed the corpse with a Q-tip that had been dipped in alcohol. Somehow, despite my lunacy, the camera survived and served me well for a few more years. But, I guess Iíll either try Alanís ideas or wait until Iím in Boston and find a decent camera shop to deal with this annoyance. Thanks again.
Irene
- Irene Troy
Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

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2: Opening a Raw File
I have some images that I shot in raw, I am new to raw and would like to switch over from jpeg. My problem is that when I try to open my file in CS2 it does not let me it says the file is wrong. Do I need an extra plug in?
Any help I would be really appreciated! Thank you :)
- Paola Jofre
ANSWER 1:
Paola, make sure that along with CS2 you have installed Adobe Camera Raw. It is a seperate program that opens and allows you to edit Raw files. If you have ACR and it is not opening the files, then make sure you have all available updates. For almost every camera, Adobe has to reverse engineer the Raw conversion program and adds those to ACR through updates.
Bill
- William Schuette
ANSWER 2:
Paola - just to add to Bill's excellent advice: You will need to download the Raw converter program for your camera from the Adobe PS Web site. It is a free download and will automatically load into your ACR.
Irene
- Irene Troy
Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

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3: Color Space
I recently upgraded my old HP printer to an Epson R1800. Until recently, I've had my camera (Maxxum 7D) set to sRGB color space, but because of the way I've set my printer, it always wants to convert to the embedded space. After looking through my camera manual again, it seems that I should probably have it set to Adobe RGB. When I first bought my printer, its output seemed to be calibrated very closely to my monitor ... but I couldn't leave well enough alone and wanted to make it even better by adjusting some of the settings as indicated in my manual. (I'm also using Photoshop 7.) But now, my colors (saturation, brightness, etc) are off and I can't figure out why. Can anyone help?
- Constance Reid
ANSWER 1:
Hello Constance,
1) You have to first calibrate your monitor to the printer. Hopefully, you have already done this.
2) sRGB or RGB rarely makes a difference when printing with average home printers. RGB simply has a greater "Color Gamut" (more colors).
3) Your difficulty is more than likely an uncalibrated ICC profile (International Color Consortium).
If your printer is set for sRGB, then your editing software be to match. Prior to a save, you should have a check box that indicates a ICC Profile ... usually sRGB or RGB. If your printer is set to RGB, set your software to RGB before you save it and Vice Versa.
ICC profiles are a standard that computers can understand. In other words, Red is red, blue is blue, etc. It is understood across any platform as long as you are using the same ICC profile.
My best guess is that you have your printer set to RGB and the software is saving as sRGB ... a complete mismatch.
Hope that helps a little,
Pete
- Pete Herman
Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

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4: How to Make a Photo Translucent
I want to use the photo as a background for other photos. Thanks!
- aileen cockburn
ANSWER 1:
Aileen, actually, you will have to decrease the opacity of the image on top in order to see through to the photo you want to use as a background. With careful layer masking, you'll be able to see both in full opacity by painting out portions of the top layer.
- John Rhodes
ANSWER 2:
If I understood the question, Aileen wants to use a photo as a background, but not fully exposed. That is how I understood it. John is right, by the way, in that the "translucent" photo you wish to make must be reduced in opacity. The only way to do that is to make a COPY first of the background (photo) you want to use. You can then dial down the opacity of the COPY and move it to the uppermost layer.
- Pete Herman
ANSWER 3:
Thanks, guys, I have managed to do it with your help! Aileen
- aileen cockburn
Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

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5: Flexify filter
What is a flexify filter? Is it in Photoshop or a plug-in? Thank you.
- Jacqueline McAbery
ANSWER 1:
The flexify filter is a plug-in made by Flaming Pear. They give you a free trial period to play with it before deciding to purchase it or not. Their Web site: www.flamingpear.com
- Sherry K. Adkins
Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

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1: Portrait Backgrounds

Hello,
I've just started doing portraits and I'm having trouble getting my background to look right. I'm using muslins. And I've read where they are supposed to be wrinkled, but mine just looks horrible. If I get too low on my f-stop, then the nose is about the only thing in focus. If go up at all, you can see the wrinkles ... I set the subject 5-6 feet away from the muslin, and I'm using strobe lights (Interfit 200w). Thanks for your help ... I would really appreciate it!
- Kim Huston

ANSWER 1:
Hi Kim,
Just a couple of thoughts about your backgrounds., First, when I get a new background, I generally iron it once and then keep it rolled to make a smoother look. The two things you have tried also help - lower aperture and greater distance between subject and background. But I notice that the light in your shots is rather hard, as if it was made by a smaller light source. This shows up in the face as stronger shadows and quicker transitions between highlight and shadow. You might want to try a very large umbrella, like a 60-inch, or using a light panel of about 4X6 feet. You might like the light on the faces better, as well as the light on the background!
Thanks, John Siskin


- 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
4-Week Short Course: Building Better Photographs with Strobes
4-Week Short Course: Assignment Photography

ANSWER 2:
Hi Kim,
Also, a large light source, close to the subject, is more forgiving and flattering. The background might still be better if you ironed it. I have also washed backgrounds, which doesnít always work, and hung them to dry with a pvc pipe stretching them to prevent wrinkles. Regarding focus you want to focus at the front subject or in between, never at the back subject. There is less depth of field in front of your focus point than behind it. You might want to look at a couple of articles I have here at BetterPhoto:
www.betterphoto.com/article.asp?id=176
www.betterphoto.com/article.asp?id=156
www.betterphoto.com/article.asp?id=129
Thanks! John Siskin


- 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
4-Week Short Course: Building Better Photographs with Strobes
4-Week Short Course: Assignment Photography
Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

Answer this question:

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