The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Monday, September 01, 2008
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: How to Shoot Acti...
Q&A 2: Posing Mom and Te...
Q&A 3: Teleconverter or ...
Q&A 4: Matting and Frami...
Q&A 1: Backlighting: G...

"Wonderful course! My photography has been totally tranformed. Aside from all the new techniques, I've also learned to experiment and to try different ways. Hard to believe that I could learn so much in 8 short weeks!" -Ann Jacobson, student in Fine Art Flower Photography

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Showing Motion: Flash-Blur ... by Jim Zuckerman
This is done by combining the flash with a long exposure. The result actually looks like a double exposure because the flash gives you a sharp rendition of the subject while the slow shutter speed results in a blur. I find that dancers are among the best subjects to shoot because of the colorful costumes and artistic movements of their bodies. But you can also photograph athletes in motion, race cars at night, flowers blowing in the wind in low light, horses running and many other things. The best circumstance for flash-blur photography is in low light conditions: indoors on stage, outside under a thick cloud cover, or at night.
Jim Zuckerman teaches many popular courses here at BetterPhoto, including Developing Your Creative Artistic Vision

Featured Gallery
Yerba Buena at Night
© - Alex T. Mizuno

Welcome to the 384th issue of SnapShot!

Exciting times at BetterPhoto, with our new online school session kicking off this Wednesday (Sept. 3rd)! But time is running out, since some classes have already filled up and others are quickly approaching maximum capacity. If you've been thinking about taking one of our exciting photography courses, now's your chance! Learn more... ... In this issue of SnapShot, be sure to check out the excellent Photo Tip ("Showing Motion: Flash-Blur" by instructor Jim Zuckerman), along with a fine collection of questions and answers. ... That's it for now. Enjoy your week of photography!

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

If you haven't lately, stop by our cool Community page, which includes updated Announcements. Access the page via the Community tab near the top of any BP page, or click here... "This class has been a great inspiration to my work! As well as improving my technical skills, it has helped me capture the essential feeling that I have being trying to communicate with my images. It has trained my eye, and expanded my vision!." -Lisen Stibeck in Digital Photography Course ... Note: Classes begin Sept. 3rd. See our entire school schedule.

Photo Q&A

1: How to Shoot Action in Low Light?
I have the Canon Digital Rebel XT and am having trouble taking action shots inside a gym as well as at night football games. I have used the manual and tried a variety of approaches but must be missing a simple step. Does anyone have this camera and take successful shots as outlined above???
- Renee L. Harris
Welcome Renee,
No simple step missed. Just low light. Have you tried an ISO of 1600? 3200? Even a fast lens (one with a very wide aperture - i.e., low f/number - to let in more light) isn't enough in those situations.
- Samuel Smith
Hi Renee,

Sam is correct: the word "photography" is derived from Greek and means "writing with light". This presumes the availability of sufficient light to write with. So if there isn't sufficient light – like in the gym and with night football games – there can be no writing with it, can there?
Depending on the light situation at your specific venues, fast, expensive, glass in combination with ISO 1600/3200 may just be enough. Just! And shooting Raw can perhaps add another couple stops latitude in Photoshop. But at the end of the day, if there isn't enough light, there just isn't enough light.
Of course, if you shoot at telephoto focal lengths, say 100mm and longer, you will be using a tripod or other support. That may allow you to use a stop slower shutter speed than the recommended inverse of the focal length if you choose your exposure moments carefully (when there's little or no lateral movement in the subject).
Have fun!

- W. Smith VIII
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2: Posing Mom and Teen Son
Does anyone have ideas on poses for a mother and teenage son? I've seen lots of couple poses, but they don't seem quite appropriate.
- Karen Johnson
The best shot I've ever taken of this nature, I had the mother sit in a chair, and had the son stand behind her with his hands on her shoulders. I hope this helps.
Have fun and keep shooting!
- Mark R. Hiatt
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3: Teleconverter or Extension tube for Motorsport
I have an E-500 DSLR with a 40-150 lens, and I want to get closer to my moving subject, motorbike racers, but cannot get beyond the safety fencing. What's my best and most cost-effective option? Teleconverter, extension tube, or even another lens?
- Mark Guiver
Hi Mark,
Your 'best' option is another lens, image quality-wise. Your 'most cost effective option' is a teleconverter, but it ruins your image quality BIG time. You'd wish you hadn't wasted your money on it, because you'll never use it again after the first, very dissappointing time. An extension tube is for macro photography. It does NOT get you "closer to my moving subject, motorbike racers". So you had best save up until you can afford a real telephoto lens. You will regret it if you don't.
Have fun!

Addendum: Using a telephoto focal length of over 150mm dictates the use of a decent tripod, because the built-in image stabilization can't hack it by a long shot (pun intended). You'll get bad camera shake if you try to shoot handheld.

- W. Smith VIII
Mark, to capture motorsports you need a fast lens - hopefully with (IS) image stabilization of some sort. The faster lens has a lower f/stop like 2.8 and is accompanied with a higher price. When you add a teleconverter, you lose a stop or 2 ... 1.4x or 2x, which makes the lens even slower but closer to the action. I shoot AMA and NASCAR with a f/2.8 w/1.4x teleconverter, so the lens becomes an f/4 lens ...
Simply put, buy the lens that has the lowest f/stop you can afford and has a good review.
- Oliver Anderson
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4: Matting and Framing
I have 21 images and I now know how to sign them. But custom framing is $100+ per image and none of the pre-sized frames work with my pictures. Any suggestions?
- Jared L. Loftus
Buy your own mounting board and standard frames with glass, cut them to the proper size you need, matt and mount your prints, insert into frames, add picture wire with eye screws, and voila !! By the time you'd calculate your time to do this properly at, say, $40 bucks an hour, you'll probably end up saving - parts, labor, oh and tools for mounting like matt knife and blades, mounting tissue, framing corners/blocks, bevel cutter, and dry mount press or at least a good iron, ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh - roughly $5 bucks a print, maybe. (That's not counting reprint fees for the ones that need reprinting for problems in the mounting process. :<(
$100 bucks a print is about a good average these days for framing a 16x20 in a standard alum. frame with a double matt and mounting. Not a bad price actually.
- Mark Feldstein
Since it seems by your last posting that you plan to hang these in coffee shop type places, try this:
Mounting in frames may help with sales and frames are reusable if prints don't sell and the cost can be added to the price of the print. But to do this less expensively, try just mounting the prints on a simple matt board with adhesive spray (that's probably going to be non-archival), usually bright white matt, put a beveled overlay on it cut to the size of the print, sign it and hang it up on the wall with a price using hardware designed for that purpose. Eliminates the cost of the frame and glass and might get you started less expensively.
Take it light ;>)
- Mark Feldstein
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1: Backlighting: Getting the Right Exposure

I took a picture of a cat in tree looking upward and the cat and the tree was too dark, though the light through the tree branches was quite bright. I was told that I had a backlight problem but cannot find an answer in my manual for correcting this. I have a Canon 30D and really need some help. Thanks!
- Vickie Lyon

Read about exposure compensation. You must change the exposure from what the camera would normally determine by increasing it because of the light direction and the very bright background of the sky.

- gregory la grange

Thank you Gregory. I was told to leave the meteoring set mostly on "spot". Do you recommend that also in this kind of situation? I hate to admit this, but I am very new with cameras and though I read this section, Im still not clear if I try to match the bright light coming through the tree on set the exposure to match the cat? My apologies for I know what must sound like a lame question.

- Vickie Lyon

Spot will work, but you have to put it on the right spot. I don't have your picture to look at, but shooting up into a tree is like shooting into the sun at evening/morning. Very bright sky or sun, but the surfaces that are facing you with the camera, the light in the direction that they are receiving is very low in comparison (although you may be able to see it with your eyes, film or digital can't record things the same as your eyes can see)
So your camera sees and determines the range of bright and dark areas. Think in terms of every time you aim your camera, it's thinking, take this scene and divide it into 8 squares. I've got 6 areas that are really bright and 2 that are dark.
What you actually want may be in the dark area, but the camera thinks there are so many bright areas, I need an exposure for those 6. So what you actually want in the dark areas, it comes out too dark.
That's how you would use exposure compensation. And a spot meter. Exposure compensation will shift that reading over or under as needed for the situation. That really bright scene, normally a fast shutter speed but exp comp will shift to a slower one. Like a catapult that has no way to adjust it's range, you move the starting point back so that in the end, you're on target.
Spot meter, you take a reading from one of the 8 areas like I said above, and that will give you the correct reading for what you want to see. But if you spot meter and it's still reading one of those 6 bright areas, you'll still be having the same problem.

- gregory la grange
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