The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
 
Monday, February 04, 2008
IN THIS ISSUE
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: How to Add Clouds...
Q&A 2: Are My Images Und...
Q&A 3: What Zoom Lens Sh...
Q&A 4: Concert Photograp...


TESTIMONIAL OF THE WEEK
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THIS WEEK'S TIP
Backgrounds Can Make or Break a Photo ... by Jim Zuckerman
Backgrounds are more important than many photographers realize. Distracting elements, unwanted highlights, and bold lines that are not part of the subject will pull our attention away from the important part of a photo.
Sometimes all it takes is a small movement to get rid of undesirable elements behind a subject, and that can make or break a picture. In my Eight Steps to More Dramatic Photography course here at BetterPhoto, I have one entire lesson devoted just to backgrounds because I feel that they impact a picture so much. By paying attention to what is behind your subject, your photography will take a quantum leap forward in professionalism and artistry.


   
Featured Gallery
Strangers In The Night
© - Marcel Eni

Welcome to the 354th issue of SnapShot!
Hello,

Lots of excitement at BetterPhoto, with the February session of online photography courses kicking off this Wednesday! We have an outstanding lineup of 4-week and 8-week courses, plus our year-long ClassTracks. See our school schedule... Need help finding the right course? Try our easy-to-use CourseFinder... Have you checked out our new cash contest? Enter today for your chance at winning up to $1,000! ... And if you haven't checked it out already, see our BetterPhoto Clubs page, and consider joining one of the established photo clubs - or start up one of your own. ... That's it for now. Enjoy your week of photography!

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

Our online photo courses offer personal interaction with top pros and published authors! Sign up for a fun-and-fast 4-week course or a more intense 8-week class. See the course listings... BetterPhoto's awesome year-long online course program - ClassTracks - offers five exciting options: Nature Photography, Photoshop, Making Money, People & Portraits, and Customized ClassTrack. With purchase, you receive a free Pro BetterPholio; upon completion, you qualify for an additional free 4-week course! Learn more... For photo insights and techniques, read the frequently updated BetterBlogs.

Photo Q&A

1: How to Add Clouds?
I have an image that has no detail in the sky and want to add clouds to it. I have an image with great clouds and blue sky and want to add it my other image. How can I do that?
- Peter Appelbaum
ANSWER 1:
Hello Peter,
Not knowing what image editing program you use, I am not able to give you a step by step proceedure ... not sure I want to type that much anyway. LOL
There are several methods to accomplish what you want. They almost always involve the use of "layers".
Essentially, you will place the image with a poor sky on the TOP layer..The cloud image will go on the bottom layer.
You simply "erase" away the sky on the top image, thereby revealing the cloud image below it.
(Adobe Photoshop) will actually combine the two images automatically.
There are many ways to accomplish what you want to do. This is probably one of the simplest.
If you do a search on your editing program, you will no doubt find tips & tricks on this and other techniques.
all the best,
Pete
- Pete Herman
ANSWER 2:
Thanks Pete. I am currently using PS CS3. I will give your suggestion a try. Peter
- Peter Appelbaum
ANSWER 3:
You are probably better off replacing the entire sky. It would be hard to blend the edges of a cloud into the sky and make it look natural.
- Dennis Flanagan
ANSWER 4:
I think there are a lot off things that feed into a realistic correction, including using a replacement that is at a similar angle, similar lighting, and likely even a similar focal length - if not the same lens. Oh, sure, you can fake it sometimes, but the best replacements are those with the least number of variables that would lead them to looking fake.
There is never one way to do this. I would likely never do it without using layers, as layers allow you a lot more ability to make adjustments after the change, and qualify as non-destructive editing.
- Richard Lynch

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http://www.betterphoto.com/mg.asp?id=121428

Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with Richard Lynch:
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
Leveraging Layers: Photoshop's Most Powerful Tool
Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

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2: Are My Images Underexposed?
Hi everyone! I am having serious issues with monitor calibration (I use 2 cheap screens that don't seem to adjust properly), and I am not sure if what I see when I print is accurate or not. What I have done is adjusted my monitors to match my printer profile as best I can, and this has resulted in the last few images I uploaded looking underexposed!
Could someone who knows their monitors to be true please have a look at my latest uploads (the ones of clevedon pier and such) and let me know what you think of the exposure so I can gauge whether it is my monitors or my printer profile? Thank you so much for your help!
- Chris N. Sweet
ANSWER 1:
If you are not sure that what you see is accurate, you may want to get sure. Monitor calibration is a first and necessary step in getting your images to behave and your process to become predictable. You can't just ask a few people how it looks and hope that they have their screens looking right. You also can't depend on what your printer is spitting out to be accurate as color management will play into that as well as the character of the printer and paper. Calibrate your own monitor and stop guessing.
I use a Color Vision Spyder, but the Spyder Express that is well under $100 will do what you need and probably save you that amount in testing and wasted time if you do printing at home.
I also teach some courses here at BetterPhoto that look at the whole process of making your images the best they can be, and defining a workflow: Correct and Enhance Your Images and From Monitor to Print: Photoshop Color Workflow. The process of correcting and enhancing and following a stable color workflow covers a whole process, not just one point (monitor calibration) or another (printer profiles). It works as a continuum.
All that said, the beginning series seems it may be a bit under-exposed, BUT I also don't know what you did to them. You shoot in RAW, but that doesn't mean there is no compensation happening when the image is opened even if you are not doing something Camera RAW is. Unless you have manipulated these a lot already, you can make adjustments to effectively bring more out of the images. if they look right on your screen, likely your screen is a bit too bright ... and just lowering the brightness is NOT the best way to be sure it is correct. That, and some of what Gregory said too ;-)
- Richard Lynch

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

Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with Richard Lynch:
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
Leveraging Layers: Photoshop's Most Powerful Tool
Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

Answer this question:



3: What Zoom Lens Should I get?
I am an amateur photographer who shoots mostly family and my son. I have a Nikon D50 with a standard 18-55mm lens. I am looking to buy a lense with more zoom. I am not sure if I should get a 18-135 or a 55-200. I do not want to have to carry around 2 different lenses all the time. I want a lens that will be versatile for me. Can someone please shed some light on this for me? Thanks!
- Ali R. Sinnes
ANSWER 1:
Ali,
I am an instructor with BetterPhoto.com. I teach Photoshop and Elements for Nature Photographers. I get these questions all the time from my students, and from other photographers when I present to photo clubs.
To answer your question:
The 18-55mm lens you have is actually a very good one. If you're on a budget, I recommend the new Nikon 55-200mm. For the price, I hear it is an excellent choice. If you have some money in your budget, the best zoom I've used on my Nikon gear is the Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VR. It's one of the best lenses in my arsenal.
For portraits, I recommend the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 fixed (sharp! and about $100), or the 105mm Nikon macro lens, again, sharp, but around $750. Both are great portrait lenses.
Happy shooting!
Kevin Moss: Pro BetterPholio at
http://thekevinmossgallery.com
- Kevin Moss

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http://www.betterphoto.com/mg.asp?id=198787

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4-Week Short Course: Photoshop and Elements for Nature Photographers
Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

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4: Concert Photography: What Now?
I am curious what knowledge and equipment people find most useful when shooting concerts with digital and ever-changing lighting conditions. All input appreciated!!
- Cindy Sj
ANSWER 1:
Cindy,
I am an instructor with BetterPhoto.com, and like you, I shoot with Nikon equipment (as well as Canon!).
For concerts, I recommend fast lenses, and digital SLRs. You have a Nikon D80, so you're all set there. For concerts, the important aspect is to get in close, and use a fast lens.
What I mean by "fast" is that the maximum aperture is f/2.8 or larger (remember, small number, larger aperture). This lets more light in, and gives you faster shutter speeds. I recommend fixed focal-length lenses, or fast zooms. An inexpensive fixed lens is the 50mm f/1.8, or the 105mm from Nikon. You'll have to set your ISO to at least 400 as well, as you're shooting in low-light situations.
- Kevin Moss

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http://www.betterphoto.com/mg.asp?id=198787

Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with Kevin Moss:
4-Week Short Course: Photoshop and Elements for Nature Photographers See Sample Photo - The Orchestral Ian Anderson


Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

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