The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Monday, November 12, 2007
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Photographing Hig...
Q&A 2: Low Light Wedding...
Q&A 1: Printing On-Sit...
Q&A 2: High Pass Sharp...
Q&A 3: Program for Bla...

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"When I decided to be a professional photographer," top pro Jim Zuckerman wrote in a BetterBlog, "I quickly realized that clients don’t care why or how I didn’t get the shots they need. Therefore, I had to push myself to get the best, the most dynamic, and the most compelling images I could. In many instances, this requires getting permission to gain access to well-known places that otherwise would be off-limits to the public. ... Even if you have no interest in selling your work, making the extra effort to gain access to great subjects (by asking the owner, manager or agency in charge) will dramatically improve your ratio of good-to-bad pictures. You'll get images that few others have taken the trouble to capture!"
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Featured Gallery
Santorini 2
© - Jill M. Flusemann

Welcome to the 342nd issue of SnapShot!

Would you like to take your photography to the next level? Or are you struggling with Photoshop? Join us for an inspiring online photo course at! ... Have you checked out some of BP's awesome features lately? When you get the chance, stop by the Community and Resources pages and take a look! ... In this issue of SnapShot, don't miss the excellent Photo Tip by Jim Zuckerman, the "Insights from Instructors" update item, and another fine batch of questions and answers. ... That's it for now. Enjoy your week of photography!

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

At BetterPhoto, we have an awesome schedule of online photography and Photoshop courses led by top pros. Need help finding the right class? Our Course Advisors are available toll free Monday - Friday 8am - 4pm Pacific Time at 1-888-586-7337. Or try our very cool CourseFinder. Our Deluxe and Pro BetterPholios are easy to set up, easy to maintain, and great to look at! Along with exciting new design options, BetterPholio owners also receive an excellent monthly newsletter filled with tips, tricks and news. For photo thoughts and techniques, read the frequently updated BetterBlogs - with entries by Jim Zuckerman, Kerry Drager, John Siskin, Scott Stulberg, and other BetterPhoto instructors.

Photo Q&A

1: Photographing High School Basketball
I am looking to shoot high school basketball. I have a Nikon D50 with a 70-300 f/4-5.6 and a 18-55 f/3.5-5.6; neither works great. A flash helps but not preferred due to the nature of the event. What lens would you recommend I get? Thanks!
- David  A. Rowe
Most gyms have very poor lighting. If you cannot (or choose not to) use a flash, you will need a faster lens. I use an 85mm f/1.8 and, at times, I can use my 70-200 f/2.8
- Mike Rubin
Your choices are limited only by your bank account. Fast glass at 200mm can begin to get rather pricey. Really fast glass is out of reach for the average shooter.
Might I suggest one of Nikon's best-kept secrets? The 50mm prime 1.8! Given the crop factor, it actually shoots like a 75mm equivalent (at 35mm full frame). No, it is not a lot of tele, but you just might be surprised what some (scaling) can do in post-processing given the quality optics of this often overlooked lens.
Worst case scenario? You now have a 50mm fast prime of amazing sharpness and contrast for 100 bucks!
All the best,
- Pete Herman
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2: Low Light Wedding Ceremony
Help!! I am shooting my first indoor wedding November 17 in a very poorly lit church. The couple knows it's my first time inside, so that's a bit of a relief. Last night, however, I shot the rehearsal, and all the pictures were grainy from the high ISO. But even with the ISO at 1600, they were junk - too dark and lots of motion blur. I don't know what to do! Flash is not allowed durring ceremony. I shoot digital with a Nikon D40x. Thanks!
- lindsay king
"Photography" is Greek for "writing with light". If there is no light, then there's nothing to write with. Forget the church under those circumstances, Lindsay - unless you're a magician.
- W. Smith
Re-create the ceremony before or after the ACTUAL event. Then, use a flash! That seems to be your only option.
- Pete Herman
what kind of lens do you have? I purchased a 50mm f1.8 lens this summer (under $100 and great for those of us on a budget). It allows me to take pictures indoors without the flash (but then, I still usually need a lot of window light because my photos are too grainy at even 400 ISO). Some 50mm lenses even open up to 1.4 and 1.2.
- Cherylann Collins
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1: Printing On-Site at an Event

I shoot bodybuilding competitions, but one organization is now asking me to do on-site printing. I could really use some guidance. Is it worth the trouble? What printers are best? Does any printer create 8x10 prints on-site or are they all smaller. Thanks!
- Tina Woods

Tina, for event shoots like these, those photographers who do offer on-site prints usually use dye sublimation printers. Kodak makes a number of models, as do a couple of other companies - though sadly they seem to have disconinued their 1400 model. It costs around $500 and can print up to 8x12" output.
The advantages of dye subs are twofold: The output looks more "photo-like" than most inkjet output, and there is no chance of running out of one color of ink. Rather, a type of ink ribbon is used that is consumed 1:1 with the prints - meaning you also know exactly the cost per print.
The downside of dye sub is that you are only able to use the paper/ink that is offered by the manufacturer - generally there are not a lot of options (glossy and matte, for instance). Even though the 1400 was discontinued, you can still get supplies and probably will be able to do so for a few more years.

- Bob Fately
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2: High Pass Sharpening Technique

Which sharpening techique do you all prefer? The High Pass Technique or UnSharp Mask?
- Ken Henry

Hi Ken,
It depends on the the nature of the picture. Unsharp mask enhances the contrast on edges, High Pass tends to enhance the contrast of surfaces. So I use USM where I want a lot of fine detail, and HP when I want a surface to pop out from the background. A classic scenario for High Pass sharpening is a flower against an unfocused background. HP can really get the flower to pop out from the background. Also play with using both. Use USM first, but don't sharpen as aggressively as you might otherwise. Then add a High Pass on a separate layer so you can play with the blending modes and opacity. I have found that overlay, soft light and luminosity blending modes tend to work best. Hope this helps.

- William Schuette

There are quite a few different types of sharpening techniques, and most work by increasing local contrast. I have my own versions of manual sharpening that are more closely related to the darkroom version of unsharp mask which actually work by decreasing global contrast. This can come in handy on images where the image is already contrasty, and can be used successfully in combination with other methods of sharpening. I teach it in my course Leveraging Layers: Photoshop's Most Powerful Tool
The High Pass method, for those who don't know:
1. Duplicate your flattened background (I have to assume a flattened image to keep the instructions simple - you don't always have to flatten). Name the layer High Pass.
2. Run the High Pass filter (Filter>Other>High Pass). You will increase the Radius based on the size and detail in the image.
3. Set the High Pass layer to Overlay mode by selecting if on the Layers palette.
This will increase contrast on the image edges and enhance the sharpness. "Enhance" is a key word as you can't really sharpen a blurry image with success. Sharp images are best for sharpening!
Hope that helps!

- Richard Lynch

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3: Program for Black and White Photos

What photo software do you recommend that will produce the softer black and white pictures and the black and white pictures that have some color?
- Kelly  A. Jones

Hello Kelly, I use Adobe Photoshop CS3. It does just about everything and, though a bit pricey, it processes Raw images much better than CS2, and the new Bridge is really useful for many of your photo management needs. You have the ability to change any photo to B&W and use layers with lots of filters to make images do just about anything.
There is a technique called Orton and if you combine that with a black & white image, you can get a really soft photo. The opacity controls used with various layer effects give you so many options. You can use saturation to make your images appear more black & white and adjust to have just a little color, but though this may be the easiest way, it is not the best to achieve the desired effect.
If you are serious about photo editing, Photoshop is the choice for most photographers. There is other photo editing software out there, and many are cheaper if you have a limited budget. I recently bought Corel Painter X but this is more for turning my photos into paintings, which you can also do with Photoshop but with limited brushes and canvas options. If you look at the classes offered here at BetterPhoto, you will find classes in Photoshop and Adobe Elements.

- Carlton Ward
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