The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Monday, March 24, 2008
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Fast Lens and Dep...
Q&A 2: Create Gradient i...
Q&A 3: Polarizing Filter...
Q&A 4: Printing Images -...

"John, I'd like to thank you so much for a really really great class! Not only did I learn a lot, I also found the class experience very inspiring." -student in John Siskin's Understanding the Tools of Photography Lighting course

Hunt's is a top retailer of photography gear and also a trusted BetterPhoto partner. Each month, Hunt's offers specials just for BP members! Check out the latest deals...

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...

Top British pro Bruce Smith, who teaches BetterPhoto's outstanding Fashion Photography Course, embarks on a U.S. Tour this May and June. See Bruce's calendar of fashion workshops...
Get word of your product or service out to a rapidly growing list of over 67879 serious photographers.
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Faster vs. Slower Lenses ... by Sean Arbabi
When it comes to deciding which lens to purchase, use, or carry, remember these points:
-Faster lenses are ones with lower fixed number f/stops such as f/2.8 (wider maximum aperture openings).
-Slower lenses are ones with high number f/stops such as f/5.6 (the lens can't go wider than that aperture number).
-Faster lenses allow more light into the camera enabling the photographer to shoot faster shutter speeds.
-Slower lenses (such as zooms) sometimes have variable f/stops such as f/4-5.6 (the lens lowest aperture setting changes depending on the lens length) changing the exposure or shutter speed.
-Faster lenses have a wider aperture enabling the photographer to shoot with minimal depth-of-field.
-Slower lens are more affordable and usually lighter to carry.
-Faster lenses are usually more expensive and possibly heavier.
-I recommend shooting with the lens you are most comfortable with, can afford, and want to carry.
Editor's Note: Check out Sean Arbabi's excellent Better Exposure: How to Meter Light course here at BetterPhoto.

Featured Gallery

Welcome to the 361st issue of SnapShot!

As March starts to wind down, things are starting to ramp up here at Our April online courses get under way next week, and what an awesome way to take your photography - or Photoshop - to the next level! Review our school schedule... By the way, we offer payment plans for all courses. Also, if you're a multiple course-taker, 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... Would you like to interact with photo friends, share photos, exchange tips, and even get together for trips? Then consider joining - or forming - a BetterPhoto Club! ... Depending on your budget or needs, BetterPhoto offers four great ways to showcase - or sell - your photography. Learn the photo-sharing details... Would you like to win up to $1,000? Enter our monthly Cash Photo Contest. ... That's it for this week. Enjoy your photography!

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

Our online photography courses give you personal interaction with successful professionals and published authors! School begins April 2nd. Find out the details... Our yearlong ClassTracks program begins next week. Check out these perks: Upon enrollment, you receive a free Pro BetterPholio, and upon completion, you qualify for an additional free 4-week course! Learn more... We are now offering two excellent courses taught by top pros: Wedding Photography Techniques: An Introduction and Digital Wedding Photography.

Photo Q&A

1: Fast Lens and Depth of Field
I have a Sigma 28-70 2.8 lens and a Canon 50mm 1.8 that I am hoping to use at a wedding I have coming up. I will be shooting in Raw and planning to shoot in Aperture priority mode. Since I will be using a fast lens at the wedding to help with low light, how do you get enough depth of field so that, for example, you're not just getting perhaps the bride in the picture in focus and the groom blurry? I am using two Canon 20D's. One of these will have a flash and the other will not. I will have an assistant using one of the cameras.
Thank you so much!
- Amanda Baker
The larger the aperture number (smaller aperture opening)the greater the depth of field. You may have a depth of field viewing button on your camera. Push the button while looking through the viewfinder, and you can check the depth of field for a particular aperture setting. Of course, a larger aperture number means a slower speed. This could present a problem in low light. conditions. You will need to use a flash if this is the case.
- Donald  R. Curry
Hi Amanda,
As Mr. Curry expressed, depth-of-field is a function of aperture setting. Tiny aperture openings like f/22 – f/16 – f/ 11 yield the greatest depth-of-field; f/22 having the greatest.
As you know, the depth-of-field zone extends back towards the camera and away from the camera as measures from the point focused upon. You need to know that this zone is not split down the middle. The depth-of-field zone extends further away from the point focused upon (away from the camera) than it does back towards the camera. In fact, depth-of-field extends 2/3 away and 1/3 back towards you from the focused distance. You can put this knowledge to good use; when shooting a group, have the middle person extend a hand towards you, focus on this hand. This way you are not focused on the center point; but forward of center. This maximizes your chances to get everybody in focus.
Depth-of-field is a function of focal length. Your zoom operating at 28mm yields the greatest depth-of-field. Your 50mm wide open (f/1.8) has very shallow depth-of-field.
I have never found any pre-viewing technique for depth-of-field to be useful.
Use a flash whenever possible. Hopefully, the flash will allow you to use the smaller apertures to maximize depth-of-field.
Depth-of-field is a function of subject distance. Greater distance yields increased depth-of-field. Try to step back as you compose; this yields greater depth-of-field and forces you to allow some extra room surrounding the principal subject. Extra head room and the like can be put to good use; it allows you to crop for effect and/or allows you to deliver print sizes 8x10 or 5x7 that are a mismatch with regard to your camera’s format.
Alan Marcus (marginal technical gobbledygook)
- Alan N. Marcus
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2: Create Gradient in Photoshop CS3?
Using the premise that you can create your own brushes in Photoshop from your own image, can you do the same to make a gradient? Example: I have a photo of a bed of tulips that I wanted to use as a background but fade it from full to transparent from top to bottom.
Thanks, Terri
- Terri Wells
The effect is easily explained, but I'm not sure if you want it saved as something different than a layer that can be copied and pasted.
If you make your tulip image as a layer - either by directly duplicating the layer or selecting the whole image - copy it and paste it on a new background.
Next, you put a layer mask on it, then you choose the gradient tool. You then can drag where ever you'd like your starting point to be.
You can save it as a psd so whenever you need it, you just copy the faded layer.
- gregory la grange
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3: Polarizing Filter - Light Loss?
The information I have on polarizing filters says that as they absorb light, you need to change the f/stop to compensate for that. In automatic modes, does the camera know there's a filter and do the compensation, or do you need to do it manually?
- Sue Cantan
SLRs and DSLRs use through-the-lens metering for their auto, semi-auto, and manual modes. The light loss from the polarizer is taken into account automatically. If you are using a separate meter and setting exposure manually, that meter does not see the reduced light through the polarizer so you have to adjust the exposure given by the meter.
- Jon Close
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4: Printing Images - Crop Factor
I am just starting out, and I have run into a problem with getting my images developed. I have a Nikon D300, and it takes awesome shots that are so clear they could be developed into large prints. My problem occurs after I edit some of my photos and try to send them to a local one-hour photo place in my town just to print 4x6s ... I get prints with heads chopped off. I don't what I can do to get these images to be able to print in not only 8x10s but 4x6s as well. Help!
- Jess Griffin
Hi Jess,
The D300 produces an image that is almost an exact match to the 4x6 print. This is what we call a 1.5 ratio meaning the length is 1.5 times the height. Now, your photofinisher is slightly over magnifying the image when they produce a 4x6 print. You should ask them to print using a lower magnification. Tell them you do not like your prints cropped i.e. you want as much as the frame is possible.
They are doing this because their printer has a pre-set magnification. Set to avoid borders. If they will not accommodate or lack the skills to do so, change to a different lab.
The 8x10 format is more square than the 4x6. Its ratio is 1.25. Having the lab make 8x10 wills likely make the problem worse.
You need to always compose and then back up or zoom out a little to give yourself more space around the principal subject. You are discovering that common print sizes are not always a good match for the cameras format.
Alan Marcus
- Alan N. Marcus
Even the cheap 1-hour labs have a crop and position setting when you either upload locally at the store or use the internet.
The aspect ratio Alan is speaking of is well known to digital shooters using APS sized sensors. Because of this, with time, you will have to learn to leave enough head room when shooting a photo if you plan to enlarge it later - especially 8x10. For example, if you are shooting a sweeping landscape with subject matter filling your viewfinder totally from side to side and top to bottom? There is no way an 8x10 will you get all the image printed that you see. Leave space ... lots of it if you plan to make 8x10s or larger. Even 5x7s will crop heavily.
All your images should be "pre-cropped" before you send them to any photo finisher ... even the 4x6 so you can position the slightest change.
All the best,
- Pete H
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