The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Monday, July 28, 2008
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Shooting Floating...
Q&A 2: Ring Flash: What ...
Q&A 3: Need Help with Im...
Q&A 4: Film-to-Digital: ...
Q&A 1: Monitor Calibra...

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Composition: Don't Stop Now, Keep Shooting ... By Kerry Drager
Whenever I find a photogenic (and static) scene that really motivates me, I work it every which way I can within whatever time constraints I have. This means trying different compositions, different focal lengths, or different lighting angles. But this process also might mean the following:
- Vary the f/stops ... in order to experiment with the depth of field (the range of sharpness in a scene that has front-to-back depth).
- Vary the shutter speeds ... in order to experiment with subject motion - by freezing the action or by showing a soft blur of movement.
Editor's Note: Kerry Drager teaches Creative Light and Composition here at BetterPhoto.

Featured Gallery

Welcome to the 379th issue of SnapShot!

Lots of good news as July winds down! The next award ceremony for BetterPhoto's fun, challenging, and "addicting" Quick Keyworder Game is coming up fast: August 1st. Don't miss the announcement in this issue of SnapShot. ... Would you like to learn more about exposure, composition, digital photography, photographic field techniques, Photoshop, specialty subjects, or the business of photography? Then join us for an inspiring online course. The next school session begins August 6th. ... In this issue of SnapShot, check out the photo tip by instructor Kerry Drager and a fine collection of questions and answers. ... That's it for this week. Enjoy your photography!

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

Imagine getting direct feedback on your photos from a famous professional photographer - regardless of where you live! Our online photography courses give you personal interaction with successful pros and published authors. But act now, since school starts August 6th! Learn more... The next award ceremony for BetterPhoto's Quick Keyworder Game is coming right up: August 1st. To participate, just click on the Win Big Points graphic on the Welcome page of your Member Center (note: for BetterPholio owners or student alumni). Top score wins 50% off a photography course or BetterPholio!

Photo Q&A

1: Shooting Floating Objects
I want to shoot items on a piece of glass, some see-through and some solid. The see-through would have the light behind, but how do you avoid seeing the light itself? For the solid objects, how do you avoid reflection if the light is focused on the glass to illuminate the objects? My goal is for these objects to be floating. Thanks.
- Lucia I. Stanley

Hi Lucia,

"How do you avoid seeing the light itself?"
By placing it off-axis of a telephoto lens, using a snoot, and using a good lens hood.

"How do you avoid reflection?"
You may want to experiment with polarizing your lights and using a circular polarizer filter. Also, if you can identify the offending reflections you may be able to kill them by covering them with black non-reflective material or cardboard.
The best way to control reflections, though, is to use a light tent. But from your description I'm led to believe that may have to be a rather large one in this case.
Have fun!

- W. Smith VIII
W.S. is exactly right in terms of handling reflections etc. But if you want to photograph objects as floating then actually float them by using nylon filament of sufficient strength to hold whatever you're shooting in mid-air and match the filament to your background. Then just suspend the objects on some sort of rod or stand arrangement. Light them using reflected or at least very diffused light (not direct) to minimize or eliminate the reflection off the filament so it just blends into the background and can't be seen. In other words, light the object not the suspension line. Black or white backgrounds with matching line work well. If the line actually shows, and if you do this right it shouldn't, then you might be able to use a little PS to touch it out or blend it to the background.
To attach the line to whatever you're suspending, unless it's something really heavy like a bowling ball or a Hummer, you may have to drill a hole through whatever you're photographing. Or most objects can be suspended using some gaffers tape or even some kind of rig using contact cement. And if you suspend something like a Hummer, I'd recommend that you don't try and shoot it from underneath.
Good luck. Let us see how it turns out.
- Mark Feldstein
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2: Ring Flash: What Is It?
Exactly what does a "ring flash" do?
- Simone Italia
It provides light like any other flash. It's just that its shape has unique characteristics that give a different look than other types of flash. You can use it for fill flash and as a main light. If you've ever seen those make-up mirrors that have a light that goes all around the outside of the mirror, that's the same thing.
- gregory la grange
Simone, I own a ring flash and it's great but not nearly as easy to use as I thought. I do have a red-eye issue I had to learn to combat ... never had a problem with the 22" beauty dish I own. It does provide a great look in portraits with the cool kinda shadow/halo around the entire subject. I've used both the Profoto and Alien Bee (own the AB). Not sure of your level of light knowledge/ability, but I'd say you should be at least intermediate/advanced to use it on a shoot. That being said, I shoot professionally and can't afford to shoot photos that aren't high quality when the model/agency is paying me by the hour to produce high-quality images.
- Oliver Anderson
As Mr. La Grange points out, ring flash is another source of light. Besides giving a shadow-free type of lighting to subjects for portraiture (sometimes used in studios), smaller ring flashes (like the Sigma EM140DG) are usually used in macro photography, to afford even lighting where a shoe-mounted flash might cast shadows across the subject that's too close.
- Bob Fately
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3: Need Help with Image Editing!
My brother wants me to combine two or 3 photos into one photo, but I'm not sure which photo editing software is capable of doing that! Any suggestions? And it will need to be able to add text in the photo! Thanks. I need this info ASAP! :)
- Heather Froehlich
You can procure a copy of Photoshop Elements, a light version of Photoshop, or my favorite: Corel Paint Shop Pro. Under $100. You can go to Corel’s Web site and download a free trial copy.
- Alan N. Marcus
Hi Heather!
I am new to the whole photo editing thing and have been using Photoshop Elements 6. You can download a free trial at Hope that helps!! Good luck!!!
- Jeanine M. Bailey
Any editing program that uses "layers" will work. You will have to learn "layers", but it is not difficult. Think of it like painting: You paint something on your canvas. Then you lay a clear piece of plastic over it and paint on the plastic ... place another clear plastic piece over that. You now have two "layers" that can be removed, added to, erased, rearranged even ... etc. Though this is a very simplistic description, it is basically how they work.
Layers are nothing more than what the word describes.
- Pete H
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4: Film-to-Digital: Lenses?
I am thinking of transferring from film SLR to a digital SLR. I have lots of lenses for the film body, but will they work with a digital body? Thanks!
- Vicky 
All depends on what lenses / mounts you currently have and what digital camera (d-SLR) you get. Some lenses / mounts will work fine with some digital SLRs. Some won't.
Most likely, you will have to buy the same brand of digital SLR as your film SLR, but you will also probably have to limit yourself to only particular d-SLR models, depending on the particular lenses you currently have.
Look at the manufacturer's Web site for d-SLRs you are considering ... it should provide a list of compatible lenses (at least Nikon does for Nikon lenses).
If you have lenses made by a 3rd party manufacturer, you can probably contact them about compatibility once you have narrowed your choices of d-SLRs. Generally, though (at least for Nikon), cheaper d-SLR models will be fully compatible with only the latest lenses, while more expensive models tend to be more compatible with a wider range (although you may still not have complete support for all features).
If you want more specific answers, I suggest you post the specific lenses and film SLR you have and ask for d-SLR recommendations.
- David Van Camp
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1: Monitor Calibration Problem

Hi Everyone:
I'm using a new iMac with Leopard (OS 10.5). And I've just calibrated my monitor using Spyder 2 Express. Now, I realize that although I just bought this version of Spyder 2 Express, this software was created in 2005. So, I'm wondering, do I need to get some sort of software update from ColorVision? Although I followed the directions implicitly, the calibration has not helped my print quality at all. The colors I see on my monitor are quite different on my prints. This is so frustrating. I should mention that I'm fairly handy with Macs and am doing my photo editing in Photoshop Elements 6 for Mac.
Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions!
- Beth Howe

Howdy Beth,
How are you? Do you have your printer set to the same profile as your monitor ?
When I run Spyder2, I set the profile created (I name mine "Spyder2") on my Imac (also running Leopard) and then also designate my Canon 9000 printer to use the same color profile and my prints match perfectly.
One thing about Spyder2 is to run the calibration for the light you usually work in. I do most of my work at night, so I keep the room pretty dark and then run Spyder2 calibration. Then when I tweak images, I try to keep the room lit the same as I had it when I ran my calibration. If I try to tweak images in the daytime, they do look very different on my monitor and I could run calibration again with daytime lighting but choose just to wait til it gets dark again. I calibrate every 30 days but some people do so every 2 weeks. My Spyder2 from 2005 is working just fine, and I have not yet seen a need to upgrade.
Hope this helps!

- Carlton Ward
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