The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
 
Monday, January 14, 2008
IN THIS ISSUE
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Old Family Photog...
Q&A 2: Photo of Glass an...
Q&A 3: Flash and Camera ...
Q&A 4: What Type of Stud...
Q&A 1: How to Soften a...
Q&A 2: How Much to Cha...


TESTIMONIAL OF THE WEEK
"Lewis Kemper is an outstanding teacher! ... He answers all questions in a timely manner and is always there to help. Thanks, Lewis, and BetterPhoto for another great class!" -student in Photoshop Toolbox III: Bridge, Raw & More online course





TURN YOUR PHOTOS INTO BEAUTIFUL CARDS!
Photographer's Edge features a complete line of do-it-yourself Photo Frame Greeting Cards for all types of photographers and subjects. Visit Photographer's Edge...


WIN UP TO $1,000 IN NEW CONTEST!
BetterPhoto introduces a new Cash Photo Contest! Enter today...


BP WEB SITES: LOOK GREAT, SOUND GREAT!
Our Deluxe and Pro BetterPholios are easy to set up, easy to maintain, look great, and with the new streaming music option, sound great too! Buy a Web site for you or for the photographer in your life. Learn more...

ADVERTISE YOUR BUSINESS IN SNAPSHOT
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THIS WEEK'S TIP
The Power of Personal Projects ... by Charlotte Lowrie
One of the best ways to hone your skills as a photographer is to always have a personal project in progress. Pick a subject - any subject. Maybe itís a photo story on how an elder copes with living alone, the first months of a babyís life, how to use color as the subject of a series of images, or the ongoing construction of a new building. Develop a body of work around the project theme. Then set a limit on the final number of images that you can display. Shooting, editing, and compiling project image into a coherent story is a great way to learn how to tightly edit your work choosing the strongest, most meaningful images. And in the process, youíll learn which images work and which donít work, and why.
Editor's note: Charlotte Lowrie's BetterPhoto online courses include RAW Shooting: From Capture to Finished Photo.


   
Featured Gallery
valley view
© - Anton Falcon

Welcome to the 351st issue of SnapShot!
Hello,

Are you kicking yourself for waiting too long? Don't fret, since there's still time to enroll in one of BetterPhoto's interactive online photography courses! See our class schedule... By the way, if you haven't already, be sure to check out our new "frequent flier" program. For every five classes you take, you receive a 50% discount on your next course! Learn more about MVBP... More good news! We've added a People & Portraits option to our already outstanding year-long ClassTracks course program... I am really thrilled with the success of our BetterPhoto Clubs, in which you can interact with photo friends, share photos, exchange tips, and even get together for trips. ... That's it for now. Have a great week of photography!

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

Our online photography and Photoshop classes offer personal interaction with top professionals and published authors. You can join a fast 4-week course or enroll in a more intense 8-week course. See our school schedule... BetterPhoto's awesome year-long online course program - ClassTracks - offers five exciting options: Nature Photography, Photoshop, Making Money, People & Portraits, and Customized ClassTrack. Complete your ClassTrack and get an additional 4-week class AND a Pro BetterPholio - both for free! Learn more... For excellent insights and techniques, read our photography blogs and how-to articles.

Photo Q&A

1: Old Family Photographs
Hello,
I'm hoping someone can help me with identifying a particular photo process from around 1900 - 1910. We acquired some pictures that are around 24X30 that seem to have a black residue on them that smudges when touched. I'd like to identify the process used so I know how to better preserve them. Thank you so much for any information you can provide.
Amie :)
- Amie Thomas
ANSWER 1:
Hi Amie,
I checked with a conservator. She said they might be "Crayon Portraits". Materials were used on top of a photograph as a hand finish.
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: Portrait Lighting on Location & in the Studio
4-Week Short Course: Understanding the Tools of Lighting
Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

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2: Photo of Glass and Jewelry
I have a Nikon D40. Is there a lens accessory that eliminates the hot spot created by using a flash when photographing glass or glass jewelry?
Thanks!
- Tom L. Fettes
ANSWER 1:
Tom, in a word, no. However, there are techniques for using flash that can reduce or eliminate the "hot spot". When I shot glazed pottery for a local gallery, I used a three-strobe setup with two difused slaves at 45-degree angles and a center master flash bounced off the ceiling. I moved the lights around and adjusted the intensity of each until I was happy with the results. You don't want to completely eliminate the "catch light", but you don't want it blown out either.
- John RhodesSee Sample Photo - Pot


Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

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3: Flash and Camera Settings for Indoors
I have been asked to take candid shots for a fund-raiser being held inside a hotel ballroom. My equipment: Nikon D300, SB800 flash, 17-200 F3.5 VR. My questions: Should I use a tripod or hand-hold? My lens is a VR (vibration reduction), so I can shoot handheld. And what are the best camera and flash settings to use? The shots will be posted on a web site, and possible prints 4x6, 5x7, 8x10.
Thank you!
- Joann Cablas
ANSWER 1:
Hi Joann,
I would avoid a tripod. It is useful if you set up some sort of portrait station, but not much good for shooting candids. The light from the SB800 will be harsh, so you might want to make adjustments that will help. For instance, you could set the flash compensation dial to a negative one. This will use more of the existing light and less strobe. You may also want to get a Lumiquest or a Sto-fen unit to soften the light from the strobe. Neither of these will make much of a difference if you are more than 5 or 6 feet from the subject. I would try to shoot with a wide aperture to isolate your subjects from the background.
Good Luck! 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: Portrait Lighting on Location & in the Studio
4-Week Short Course: Understanding the Tools of Lighting
ANSWER 2:
Thank you, John, for you input. I do have a Sto-fen, and I'll look into the Lumiquest and adjust the flash compensation. John, I looked at your photo gallery, and your shots using various lighting situations are really nice. Thanks again for the tips! Joann
- Joann Cablas
ANSWER 3:
Hi Joann,
Thanks for your comments. After more than a quarter of a century, I have learned a lot about lighting. I guess that's why I enjoy teaching at BetterPhoto!
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: Portrait Lighting on Location & in the Studio
4-Week Short Course: Understanding the Tools of Lighting
Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

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4: What Type of Studio Back Drop?
I would like to buy some back drops for my pictures, but I don't know what kind. Canvas? Muslin? What colors work best? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Thanks!
- Cathy J. Warren
ANSWER 1:
Hi Cathy,
For portraits, I usually use a mottled gray backdrop on muslin. Because the background is gray, I can use gels on lights to add color. I like muslin because it is soft enough to drape easily, which can change the look of the background. I use different things for products, and of course, I donít use the gray for all portraits. Check out this article on lighting and making backdrops here at BetterPhoto: www.betterphoto.com/article.asp?id=176.
Thanks!
- 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: Portrait Lighting on Location & in the Studio
4-Week Short Course: Understanding the Tools of Lighting
Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

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1: How to Soften a Portrait?

I wish someone could tell me the best (and best priced) photo program that is easy to use. I'm wanting on occasion to soften a close up portrait. I currently use Adobe 7.0, I've had it for several years and to be honest I don't use it much. Thank you!
- Marc Bell

ANSWER 1:
An easy way to do this is (on a flattened image):
  1. Open your image
  2. Hold down Command / Ctrl [Mac / PC] and click on the RGB Channel thumbnail in the Channels palette. This loads the luminosity of the image as a selection to select, essentially, the bright part off the image.
  3. Copy
  4. Paste (creates a new layer with the highlights isolated).
  5. Apply Gaussian Blur (the amount will depend on the softness desired, resolution of the image, and a few other things).
  6. Lower the opacity of the layer (usually somewhere between 20-30%).
I usually duplicate that layer and set the mode to Softlight to enhance the contrast that gets lost.

My Correct and Enhance Your Images and Leveraging Layers: Photoshop's Most Powerful Tool courses provide more details on this and MANY other effects and techniques.

- Richard Lynch

See Richard Lynch's Premium BetterPholio™:
http://www.betterphoto.com/mg.asp?id=121428

Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with Richard Lynch:
Leveraging Layers: Photoshop's Most Powerful Tool
4-Week Short Course: Photoshop 101: The Photoshop Essentials Primer
4-Week Short Course: From Monitor to Print: Photoshop Color Workflow
4-Week Short Course: Correct and Enhance Your Images

ANSWER 2:
Thank you Carlton and Richard for your advice. I appreciate it.

- Marc Bell

ANSWER 3:
Risking sounding like an anachronism, how about just using a Singh Ray Soft Ray filter? Just pop it on the lens and take the picture. The approx. $200 price tag will certainly pay for itself in the time not spent in the digital darkroom. Check out: http://singhray.com to see some example images.

- Tony Sweet

See Tony Sweet's Premium BetterPholio™:
http://www.betterphoto.com/mg.asp?id=22359

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Fine Art Flower Photography
4-Week Short Course: Mastering the Nikon D200 & D2X/D2Xs
4-Week Short Course: Creative Nature/Outdoor Photos with Lensbabies
Image Design: Revealing Your Personal Vision

ANSWER 4:
Risking sounding like an anachronism, how about just using a Singh Ray Soft Ray filter? Just pop it on the lens and take the picture. The approx. $200 price tag will certainly pay for itself in the time not spent in the digital darkroom. Check out: http://singhray.com to see some example images.

- Tony Sweet

See Tony Sweet's Premium BetterPholio™:
http://www.betterphoto.com/mg.asp?id=22359

Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with Tony Sweet:
Fine Art Flower Photography
4-Week Short Course: Mastering the Nikon D200 & D2X/D2Xs
4-Week Short Course: Creative Nature/Outdoor Photos with Lensbabies
Image Design: Revealing Your Personal Vision

ANSWER 5:
Thank you, Tony, actually using a filter was my first thought. Especially since I'm far from being hip to photoshop. I'll admit I'm a total dummy when it comes to adobe or any other form of program to fix, manipulate or otheriwise alter photos. I try to get the shot I want with my camera and not worry about having to spend the time I don't have in photoshop "digital darkroom". I will check out the Singh Ray filter, Tiffen has a soft filter as well ... Any info on that?
If you don't mind, I'd also like to ask you this (not to change the subject, but I noticed your a Nikon guy like me). I was looking into getting the D2Xs but someone else told me to take a long look at Nikon's D300. I'd welcome any thoughts you have on this.
Thanks!

- Marc Bell

ANSWER 6:
You may want to get into some Photoshop stuff. You don't need to know a lot, but you do need to know how to increase contrast, adjust saturation, and sharpen for print. This is essential no matter how little you want to use PS, in order to get the picture to look like a slide.
In regards to filters, the Singh Ray soft ray is about the best-quality soft filter out there. Zoftar is also quite good, comparable to the Singh Ray. Tiffen filters are lower quality and inconsistent (in my experience). Nothing good is cheap.
Take a look at the D300. I have a D3 and D300, and both are the current state of the art. I'm putting together a course on the D300 beginning in Feb. You'll be able to see a course description in a couple of weeks on the site. The D2X is a professional camera with a better metering system in marginal light than the D200/300 and is better sealed against the elements. It's your choice. You can probably get a used D2Xs in excellent condition for a good price if you look around.

- Tony Sweet

See Tony Sweet's Premium BetterPholio™:
http://www.betterphoto.com/mg.asp?id=22359

Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with Tony Sweet:
Fine Art Flower Photography
4-Week Short Course: Mastering the Nikon D200 & D2X/D2Xs
4-Week Short Course: Creative Nature/Outdoor Photos with Lensbabies
Image Design: Revealing Your Personal Vision

ANSWER 7:
I'd agree with Tony that shooting how you want it is probably the best idea: there is never a better solution than shooting it right first (and Tony has some great courses that help show you how!). But when you find you didn't do it, digital processing can be your second best solution.

Richard Lynch

- Richard Lynch

See Richard Lynch's Premium BetterPholio™:
http://www.betterphoto.com/mg.asp?id=121428

Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with Richard Lynch:
Leveraging Layers: Photoshop's Most Powerful Tool
4-Week Short Course: Photoshop 101: The Photoshop Essentials Primer
4-Week Short Course: From Monitor to Print: Photoshop Color Workflow
4-Week Short Course: Correct and Enhance Your Images
Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

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2: How Much to Charge for Greeting Cards?

How do you know how much to charge on greeting cards, note cards and postcards if you want to make them and sell them? Plus, if I wanted to have some in a book store for sale, how much to charge them? Any information on this would be appreciated ... thanks!
- Wanda-Lynn Searles

ANSWER 1:
I've been selling my note cards in stores for about a year now. I charge $4.00 ea and charge the store $3.00 ea. When I sell myself or at my booth at craft fairs I charge $4.00 each or 3 for $10.00. Most cards I've seen sell between $3.00 and $4.00.
I print my own cards out and print a colored border on the card itself to match a color in the photo. I then use double face tape in the four corners and attach the 4x6 photo inside the colored border. The colored border really dresses it up so they usually stand out from most of the note cards that people are selling. Good Luck.

- Kathy Radford

ANSWER 2:
Well, it really depends on size, quality card stock, if the card image can be framed as a small fine art print. We find that $4-$5 for a traditional sized card and $7 for a panoramic (wide or letterbox format) seems to be in the ballpark. Another way to determine price would be to go to a local craft show and see what others are charging.

- Tony Sweet

See Tony Sweet's Premium BetterPholio™:
http://www.betterphoto.com/mg.asp?id=22359

Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with Tony Sweet:
Fine Art Flower Photography
4-Week Short Course: Mastering the Nikon D200 & D2X/D2Xs
4-Week Short Course: Creative Nature/Outdoor Photos with Lensbabies
Image Design: Revealing Your Personal Vision
Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

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