The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Monday, August 18, 2008
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Zoo Photography...
Q&A 1: Tips for Shooti...
Q&A 2: Wedding Photog...
Q&A 3: HDR Exposure: P...

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Photographing Children Around the World ... by Jim Zuckerman
One of the delights in traveling internationally is interacting with children of many cultures. They are almost universally both shy and curious.
There are only two types of natural light that should be used for shooting children, or for that matter any person, when outdoors: diffused and low angled sunlight.
Diffused light occurs when a cloud cover disperses sunlight similar to what a softbox does to a flash head in the studio. It is soft and shadowless, and your subject can be placed anywhere where the background is complementary to the composition. However, if the sun is high in the sky, harsh shadows and contrasty light will invariably degrade the image. Under these circumstances, ask the child (if necessary, through an interpreter or with hand gestures) if he or she will move into the shade of a tree or building. This takes care of the problem. If you have a diffusion panel, it can be held above the child to soften the sunlight, enabling you to shoot in the open. The only problem is that large, unfamiliar objects might frighten small children and dissuade them from posing naturally.
The second type of natural light that can be used effectively is low-angled sunlight. Early morning and late afternoon light, when the sun is close to the horizon, provides flattering, golden illumination that can be effective for either front, back or side lighting.
Editor's Note: Jim Zuckerman teaches a number of excellent courses, including Eight Steps to More Dramatic Photography.

Featured Gallery
Balloon Detail
© - Cliff Berinsky

Welcome to the 382nd issue of SnapShot!

Great news: The Summit is back by popular demand! The 4th Annual BetterPhoto Summit takes place October 25th, 2008, on California's beautiful Monterey Peninsula. We have a terrific lineup of speakers, a great location, a fun post-Summit workshop ... and it gets even better. Sign up this month to get a $20 discount on the already low price. This photography conference is going to be our best yet! Check out the details. ... Our September online school session has been posted, and we have an awesome lineup of 8-week courses and 4-week courses. ... In this issue of SnapShot, don't miss instructor Jim Zuckerman's excellent Photo Tip and another fine collection of questions and answers. ... That's it for now. Enjoy your photography!

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

BetterPhoto courses are designed for everyone from the novice shutterbug who wants to improve family and vacation photographs to the professional photographer developing a portfolio of masterpieces. Our next online school session - 4-week and 8-week courses, and year-long ClassTracks - begins September 3rd. See our schedule... "Excellent class, and Kathleen Carr is a fantastic instructor! I learned a ton and grew as an artist. All of my photos will look better from now on. My one complaint is that the class is now over. I didn't want it to end. Thank you, Kathleen!" -Seth Tabor in Beginning Photoshop for Photographers

Photo Q&A

1: Zoo Photography
I'm VERY new to the world of photography, and I'm having a blast learning from all the wonderful people on BP! We are heading to the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium this week, and I was wondering if you all could share any tips and suggestions for taking pictures while I'm there. I am using a Canon Rebel XT with an EF 28-135 lens. I'm also planning on bringing my sister-in-law's 70-300 lens. Thanks so much!!
- Jeanine M. Bailey
Hello Jeanine,
Take a tripod to the Zoo and use the 70-300 lens. Be patient to get some animated shots. When shooting through glass, keep the lens against the glass to prevent reflections.
In the aquarium, you will also be shooting through glass with low light so you may have to bump up your ISO to 800 or 1000 and shoot wide open (f/2.8 or f/4) to try to keep your shutter speed at 1/60s (when hand holding). You can brace yourself against the glass as well. I have gotten away with a monopod at the Seattle aquarium since they are easy to maneuver and don't take up space and then I can shoot at slower shutter speeds to get more DOF or lower my ISO setting.
Have fun - Carlton
- Carlton Ward
Hey Jeanine!
Of course, a tripod is a must. Also, if there is a lot of glass exhibits, you might want to invest in a rubber lens hood to hold against the glass. It does a wonderful job of eliminating the glare. Another important thing to remember is that zoos often don't provide a lot of shade, so going midday will produce harsh lighting in your photos. I would suggest going early morning or late evening. But, of course, the most important thing of all is to have fun and take TONS of photos!
Hope this helped you!
- Kristy A. Keene
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1: Tips for Shooting a Rodeo

I'm shooting a rodeo for the first time, and would welcome any photo shooting tips. It starts at 8 p.m., so some shots will be in daylight, while others, I think, under arena lights. I called and there are no photo passes and no photo guidelines. They just said stay in safe areas. Any photo tips are more than welcome. Thanks in advance.
- Mary Beth Aiello

To freeze fast moving subjects like in a rodeo you need a high shutter speed: 1/250th and faster. That will require a high ISO setting: ISO 800 or higher. So expect noise, which can be mitigated in PP with the appropriate software.
Under arena lights (mind the White Balance and shoot Raw), it gets a lot trickier still. Depending on those arena lights of course. Shoot lots of frames so you have plenty to choose from later.
If you use a telephoto lens – anything over 150mm – you will need extra support. Like a tripod or beanbag to minimize camera shake. 'VR', or 'VC', or 'AS' systems for vibration reduction are not enough. Have fun!

- W. Smith VIII

Get there early, and stake out a good vantage point. Try avoiding shooting from the stands ... anyone with a point-and-shoot will get those angles. Be conscious of the background, and hopefully not have things like parked cars in your photos.

- Dennis Flanagan

Howdy Mary Beth ! Here's a couple of extra thoughts since you've already gotten some good advice here.
As for vantage points, stake out a few of them. At that hour, the sun will be pretty low on the horizon and you don't want to position yourself where you'd be shooting directly into it. That also depends on weather and cloud cover, if any. Be aware of your surroundings and potential problems like getting slammed by a paddock gate.
Camera support can also be a monopod, which is handy because it would easily allow you to pan or track what you're shooting. Panning and exposures at, say, 125th or even higher, will allow you to freeze the action you're shooting AND blur out the background, like cars in the parking lot or people who've had too many beers falling out of the stands.
Anticipate the action and the height of the movement. For example, ideally, you want to trip the shutter just an instant before the rider gets tossed while they're in mid-air. Rodeo clowns are great subjects.
And if you can get back to the changing rooms (for the participants not the livestock), see if you can get some shots of people preparing to go out into the arena. Detail shots are nice, as are wider angle views, including any shots of the rodeo queen (or kings) putting on their costumes or make-up. Get a can of compressed air, like Dustoff and after the event, use it to blow the dust off the gear you used. You can also use it to clean the dust off your lens during, although it's not necessary to keep cleaning while you're working. A lens shade is essentially all you need. No UV filters, no polarizers, etc. Just a lens shade will do you fine.
Lastly, don't wear bright red and that ain't no bull. But to stop a charging bull, just take away their Amex card.
Have fun !

- Mark Feldstein
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2: Wedding Photography: Which Lens?

I have a big wedding party this weekend and was wanting some help on which lens for the wedding party, 6 guys and 6 girls and the bride and groom. The choices I already own are Canon 24mm 1:2.8, Canon 50mm 1:1.8II , Sigma dc 17-70mm 1:2.8-4.5. I'm worried about the large group and get everyone as sharp as possible. Any help, please ... thanks!
- Tracy A. Emerson

Hi Tracy,
I would take them all, but I would think the zoom lens may be preferable for its ability to get closer without having to move so much. Prime lenses are great, but you have to position yourself for every shot, and that can sometimes place you in awkward positions to get the angle and distance you want. For large groups, the 24mm will work, and for other portraits, the 50mm may be better suited.
I am also shooting a wedding this weekend, and I will use my 24-70mm & 70-200mm most of the time.
Good luck,

- Carlton Ward

Like Carlton says, Tracy.
Addendum: Wide-angle lenses provide a very UNflattering perspective to human faces and bodies. People look fat and distorted if you use a wide-angle lens. A short telephoto focal length, like 70 to 100mm, is a much more flattering perspective for people. It makes them look decidedly slimmer and less distorted. It also enables you to keep more distance to your subject(s), which will make your subject(s) relax more as you are not invading their 'private space'.

Have fun!

- W. Smith VIII
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3: HDR Exposure: Please Explain

I am hearing so much about HDR and the pictures I see are really stunning. Am I to understand this is basically not much more than "bracketing"? I saw a post where someone did HDR with 11 exposures and got the "perfect" picture. Can you give me more details on this? Thank you!
- Debbie Crowe

HDR allows you to combine the best parts of various exposures. Though "glorified bracketing" is a bit of a misnomer, the idea is similar. If, for example, you took 3 shots of a scene (one to expose the highlights, one to expose the midtones and one to expose the shadows) each of these would have different detail - especially if the scene was one that exceeded the dynamic range of your captures (things like taking shots of stained glass in an otherwise dark church, where exposing for the shadows would blow out the highlights and exposing for highlights block up the shadows).
In the case of the example, you can combine the highlights from the highlight exposure, midtones from the midtone exposure and shadows from the shadow exposure to see the detail in each, where a single shot of the scene might have favored one range or another.
Photoshop provides an HDR plug-in for combining these images (once you have made the exposures). The combination goes a little beyond just merging the best part of the bracket shot by blending some into surrounding areas. These areas of mixture sometimes make some interesting (surreal or other-worldly) results. You can also get more straight-forward results using some straight-forward techniques for layer blending. But Photoshop does provide a special 32-bit per channel option coming out of the plug-in that lets you combine multiple images into the same file ... and then coming out of 32 bit you have additional options for blending what you have combined.
The goal is to capture more, but don't be deceived ... you have only so many levels of tone to work with in any image, and then in output you have additional limitations. You will get different results than straight exposures, but "different" is not always the equivalent of better. It can sometimes be more artistic, but can just as easily fail depending how you approach it and what you expect as a result.
Certainly it is worth playing with!

- Richard Lynch

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