The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
 
Monday, May 12, 2008
IN THIS ISSUE
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Main Light for St...
Q&A 2: Studio Dimensions...
Q&A 3: Extension Tubes...
Q&A 4: Lighting for Mode...
Q&A 1: Shooting Soccer...


TESTIMONIAL OF THE WEEK
"I really enjoyed this class! I feel very comfortable with my camera now, and I can take the picture that I want with confidence. Your feedback has been very helpful. Thanks again!" -student in Susan and Neil Silverman's Digital Photography Course





TURN YOUR PHOTOS INTO EYE-CATCHING 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...


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


GET A GREAT-LOOKING WEB SITE!
Would you like to show - or sell - your photos in an extremely sleek and cool way? Our Deluxe and Pro BetterPholios are easy to set up, easy to maintain, great to look at, and with a music option, great to listen to as well!


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Learn More...

THIS WEEK'S TIP
Fill Flash Tip for Portraits ... by John Siskin
Camera brackets are a great thing to use with strobes for flash fill. Since they move the light away from the lens, they move the catch light out of the middle of the eye. This looks more natural!
Editor's Note: John Siskin teaches many excellent online courses here at BetterPhoto, including Portrait Photography Lighting on Location and in the Studio.


   
Featured Gallery
Navajo Nation - Monument Valley
© - Diane M. Kroupa

Welcome to the 368th issue of SnapShot!
Hello,

BetterPhoto's May photography school is off to an awesome start, but there's good news! It's not too late to enroll in one of our online photo courses, which offer great interactivity with top pros, plus all the great convenience of the Web. See our course listings ... Incidentally, you may qualify our new "frequent flier" program. For every five classes you take, you'll receive a 50% discount on your next course! Learn more about MVBP Rewards... In this issue of SnapShot, don't miss our usual features - including John Siskin's Photo Tip on fill flash, a gallery depicting the great state of Arizona, and a fine batch of questions and answers. ... That's it for now. Enjoy your week of photography!

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

Yes, you can still join the fun. If you sign up for one of our 8-week online courses today, we will send you the first lesson pronto. Then you will have plenty of time to do the first assignment, which isn't even due until May 18th. Our four-week online courses are fun, fast and to the point. There's still space in our May session. Otherwise, our next session kicks off on June 4th. Learn more... If you haven't already, check out the new BetterPhoto Quick Keyworder - located on the "Welcome" page of your Member Center (assuming you are a Premium, Deluxe and Pro BetterPholio owner, or a course alumnus). Click on the Win Big Points graphic to see the "what, why and how" details. A word of caution: Our keywording feature can be addictive :)

Photo Q&A

1: Main Light for Studio
As I am experimenting in my new homemade studio, I know I need a good main light. I am thinking what I need to do is get a nice softbox for a main light and use my smaller two lights for fill and accent.
Can anyone recommend where I might find a good light-box kit for a reasonable price as I am not yet ready to go out and set up a 'real' studio? I need to take a few more classes and practice for a while on family and friends. Also, what size and wattage should I be looking for to start out?
Thanks for your help!
- Leslie J. MorrisSee Sample Photo - RJ Sitting in Studio After


ANSWER 1:
Hi Leslie,
I rarely use soft boxes, as they are expensive and a problem to set-up. In addition you seem to be using some kind of hot lights, and, as soft boxes enclose the light, you will have problems with heat. Make light panels, and use them with umbrellas. You can create a really fine light source this way. Check out these articles: www.betterphoto.com/article.asp?id=129 and www.betterphoto.com/article.asp?id=156.

If you are going to look at strobes I would recommend that your first light have at least 600 watt-seconds of power. Many people will think this is a lot, but not for the way I light. The idea is not to buy equipment that creates limitation. One more article: www.betterphoto.com/article.asp?id=148. Also start with one light and see where it takes you, then get lights as needed.

By the way, nice picture of RJ.
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 Photography Lighting on Location and in the Studio
4-Week Short Course: Understanding the Tools of Photography Lighting
ANSWER 2:
Thanks very much John, I have your lighting class on my wish list!
- Leslie J. Morris
ANSWER 3:
Hi Leslie,
My Understanding the Tools of Photography Lighting class is a good place to start. But, in the meantime, check out the articles. 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 Photography Lighting on Location and in the Studio
4-Week Short Course: Understanding the Tools of Photography Lighting
Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

Answer this question:



2: Studio Dimensions and Props
What is an adequate amount of space to create a portrait studio? Does it need to be 15 to 18 feet in length with around 19-foot ceilings? Also, where is the best place to find nice props?
Thankful for advice.
- Beth Huling
ANSWER 1:
Hi Beth,
Certainly I would like to have a large studio, my last one was about 24X30 foot with a 10-foot ceiling. I am in a smaller space currently. The first thing I did to make the smaller space work was paint the walls a dark neutral gray. If I had white walls, the reflections would be uncontrollable. I think that if you do not have 12 feet in width you will be limited in the size background and subject you can use. If you had a little more length, that would be good. If the ceiling is dark, you can work with a low ceiling, even 10 feet - it could work for most subjects. You want to make arrangements to hold a reflector on the ceiling, and you will want them for the sides of the shot, some of the time. Check out this article: www.siskinphoto.com/magazine4b.html
Studio Specialties (www.superiorstudio.com) makes a range of props, also backdrops. You should also check out thrift stores for bargain furniture.
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 Photography Lighting on Location and in the Studio
4-Week Short Course: Understanding the Tools of Photography Lighting
Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

Answer this question:



3: Extension Tubes
I have a Nikon D70 and I bought some extension tubes. I cannot seem to get them to work correctly. When I put them on my camera and then put the lens on, I cannot see anything out of my viewfinder. I am using a Tamron 70-300 tele-macro lens. Does anyone have any idea what I need to do? Thanks.
- Rebecca S. Cottingim
ANSWER 1:
Are you trying to use normal focus distance when you use the tubes? Extension tubes allow you to focus at much closer distances from the subject than a macro lens will. Try moving in closer and see if that works.
Have fun and keep shooting.
- Mark R. Hiatt
ANSWER 2:
Thanks Mark, I tried that and it works!
- Rebecca S. Cottingim
ANSWER 3:
Anytime. I didn't think you were used to them. Macro and micro photography are new worlds. Enjoy!
- Mark R. Hiatt
Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

Answer this question:



4: Lighting for Model's Portfolio
My son's girlfriend has asked me to do some head shots of her for a modeling portfolio she's putting together. I have no special lighting equipment and wonder if anyone could give me any ideas on how/where to do this shoot and what type of background to use? My camera is a Nikon D70, and I do have a tripod.
- Joni Earley
ANSWER 1:
Hi Joni,
The tripod is good! Use a window as your main light source to light your subject from one side, and fill/soften/open up the shadows with a D-I-Y reflector on the opposite side of the subject. Experiment with it, placing it closer or further away.
Choose an empty wall as background, at least 4/5 feet behind the subject. Shoot Raw, so that you can adjust exposure after the fact in Photoshop, and shoot as many frames as you can.
Have fun!
- W. Smith VIII
ANSWER 2:
Wow! Thanks for the quick reply to my question! Great advice and I will definitely try what you suggest! I always shoot in Raw so that's a given. What sort of materials could be used as a reflector that one would have around the house?
- Joni Earley
ANSWER 3:
Hi Joni,
No fancy lighting equipment is needed to take great portraits in a home setting. However, studio lighting makes everything far more convenient. You can make do with window lighting and reflectors. Reflectors can be foam-core insulation purchased at Home Depot or cardboard covered with aluminum foil.
At Home Depot, you can buy several clamp-on lighting fixtures, with or without aluminum reflectors. I suggest the with-out reflector design with porcelain sockets. Buy several R-40 bulbs; these are indoor floods with built-in reflectors. You will need stands to clamp the fixtures on. With a little forethought, you can make do, clamping to doors and pole lamps and the like. Set one lamp high and off to the side to simulate midday sun. Place another close to the camera to act as a fill to soften shadows. Place another behind the subject aimed at the background.
For portraiture, focus on the eyes and use a large aperture like f/5.6. Large apertures yield shallow depth-of-field as this the convention for portraiture.
Because the learning curve is quite steep for indoor lighting, my advice is to shift the venue to an outdoor setting. Use parks with trees and fountains and gardens as your backdrop. Try to work on an overcast day or in the open in shade cast by a building or under the trees. Take along a couple of friends armed with sheets of foam-core. The idea is to use reflectors to fill shadows. You can also shoot near white walls, they serve as excellent reflectors.
As to focal length: Use a long lens. The D70 sports an imaging chip size APS-C. This format is 66% the size of the chip used in full frame models. The normal focal length for this camera is 30mm. likely you purchased with the 18-70mm zoom lens. Note that 30mm is about the center of the zoom range. This is true because when set to 30mm the view that results is considered "normal". Longer is brushing telephoto range and shorter the wide-angle range. For the type of work you described, you are advised to shoot at 70mm - i.e. maximum zoom. Best would be 75mm or longer but the advantage will be slight so don’t go shopping unless these sessions become routine.
Hope this helps,
Alan Marcus (marginal technical gobbledygook)
- Alan N. Marcus
ANSWER 4:
Hi Joni, Alan and W have some great advise. I would just like to add to make notice of shadows. Some people's features look better with hard light and strong shadows while others may look better with diffused light and soft shadows. Again, experiment as much as possible to get the most flattering light. Have fun...
- Carlton Ward
ANSWER 5:
Hey Joni, I shoot models for agencies in SF/LA. The reason I got accepted is due to my ability to properly light the subject. When shooting for a portfolio, you MUST light the face properly so the agency representative gets a complete idea of what you look like on camera. You do NOT want anything to artsy with shadows when starting a portfolio, you want a clean simple photo that doesn't distract from the clients vision ... and that is the major mistake I've seen. I've seen models get turned down with amazing photos because they're just not what the agency is looking for ... you'll hear too commercial ... only good for editorial, etc. When you're shooting for a model's portfolio, makeup and hair are very important as well. You need makeup, even on males, but less is best.
- Oliver Anderson
Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

Answer this question:
1: Shooting Soccer in Overcast Conditions

I shoot sports with a Nikon D80 using a Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8D (telephoto) lens. I have had much success using this combo, except when shooting late afternoon outdoor games in cloudy conditions ... typically just before or after rainfall. Most of my images are blurred (see the sample). I've brought my monopod on several occasions but this hasn't improved the problem. Does anyone have suggestions on adequate shutter speed and aperture settings for these types of low-light conditions? Thanks!
- Shane Oechsle

ANSWER 1:
I have shot football in a drizzle, and it was no picnic. My best advice is to boost your ISO to the point where you can use a shutter speed of at least 1/320. I prefer 1/500 minimum, but have gotten sharp images from 1/320. I use a 30D, 80-400 Tokina ATX, monopod, and I will push the ISO as high as 1000 on lousy days. The last shot in my gallery here was taken on a day just after the drizzle let up, with my backup camera no less. You can always underexpose a stop or two, then adjust later in PS as well. That should get you sharp pics in poor light. An IS/VR lens does not hurt either...

- Tom Leckwart

ANSWER 2:
Your example did not load but you can look carefully at your blurred images to determine the best course of action.
Are they fuzzy overall?
Are the athletes blurry against a sharp background?

If the first scenario is true, better support for your camera will help sharpen things up.
In the second scenario, try a wide aperture and don't zoom all the way to 200 mm. You can gobble a little more of that lousy light and get a faster shutter speed without boosting your ISO.

- Bob Cammarata
Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

Answer this question:


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