The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Monday, September 08, 2008
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Night and Indoor ...
Q&A 2: How Do I Minimize...
Q&A 3: Light Temperature...

"Although I have been doing photography for many years, I will take much better photos because of this course! The lessons were great and the critiques were very helpful. I tried techniques that I had never done before and really learned a lot about my new digital camera. Thank you!" -Emanuel Brams on Impact in Your Photos: Getting the Wow Response course

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Get Inspired with Great Light ... By Kerry Drager
I always enjoy getting out and looking for photos - even when I don't have a specific project or assignment in mind. It's a fun and challenging visual workout. But when a low-in-the-sky sun casts a warm glow and long shadows, that's when things are particularly inspiring!
On a recent photo quest, I discovered a multi-story parking structure amid a group of office buildings. It caught my attention due to its graphic-design appeal - a product of architecture and beautiful late-day light. I used my telephoto zoom to zero in for a very tight composition on the lines, angles, and patterns. No sky, no ground, just a nice light-and-shadow show.
Getting out in fine light is a terrific way to escape the creativity doldrums. After all, just about everything looks better in eye-grabbing light - even parking garages!
Editor's Note: Kerry Drager teaches Creative Light and Composition and Creative Close-ups here at

Featured Gallery

Welcome to the 385th issue of SnapShot!

Are you getting all of BetterPhoto's free emailed newsletters? If you aren't receiving our daily dose of visual inspiration, you should be! Check out the Photo of the Day at the subscription page. ... Our September online school session is off to a great start, but it's not too late to enroll! These courses are by far the best way to hone your photographic skills - you'll love the direct interaction with master photographers, the personal feedback, and the flexible method of instruction. Learn more... ... In this issue of SnapShot, be sure to check out the Weekly Photo Tip, the info on our awesome photography clubs, and a fine collection of questions and answers. ... That's it for now. Have a splendid week of photography!

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

Yes, you can still join the fun. For example, 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 Sept. 14th! "I wanted to say how much I liked this class! I have really learned so much. This class gave me great ideas for future photos. Thank you so much for all your help!" - says Sibylle Basel about Street and People Photography

Photo Q&A

1: Night and Indoor Sports Photography
I am using a d-SLR camera (Canon Rebel XT), and I have a 70-200mm f/4 L series lens. I have been trying to take pictures of Friday night football games and indoor volleyball and basketball games. There are some pictures that almost make it that arn't too blurry, but I still don't know what to do.
Thank you!
- Alec Wittschiebe
Hello Alec,
You may think about selling the 70-200 f/4 and buying a 70-200 f/2.8. They make an IS (Image Stabilization) and non-IS version. I would also recommend bumping up your ISO to 800, 1600 or possibly even 3200, so that you can get a fast-enough shutter speed to capture the images.
With higher ISOs, you will need to be exposed so that you don't have to lighten the images in Photoshop. Images shot with ISO 1600 can be noisy (grainy) and lightening will introduce even more noise.
Try shooting at the higher ISOs with your f/4 and see if this will work. You may also want to consider getting a prime lens at f/1.4 or f/2 and although you lose zoom ability, they will perform better at low light, and primes are generally sharper as well.
Hope this helps!
- Carlton Ward
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2: How Do I Minimize Reflections?
I'm working for a small museum with limited resources. My job involves photographing the collection. I've taken over the very simple studio set up by my predecessor and am having problems with reflections from the overhead florescent lighting. I am using both an Olympus Evolt E-510 and a Nikon D1 to take images of reflective metal objects made of silver, bronze, ect, and of glazed ceramic objects which are also pretty reflective. I've tried diffusing the light which didn't work. I've also tried turing off the overheads and using spot lights and reflectors, which also did not work. I still got the same "hot spot" reflections. Any suggestions whatsoever would be welcome.
- Noelle M. Winkle
Hi Noelle,
Just a few quick points. I do have some experience with the museum world, which might help.
Polarizers, as has been suggested, only work well with light that is moving in a parallel direction; that is already polarized. Sunlight, owing to the distance from the source, qualifies as polarized. Light from a strobe tube or a tungsten bulb is not polarized. If you want to use polarizers to control light in a studio setting you need to put polarizing filters over your light source as well as the lens. I should also point out that the light loss from two sets of polarizers is a problem.
To get back to your problems, you should consider using a light cube or large reflectors, while this will give you a reflection the difference between the value of the bright area and the rest of the object will be much less than if you use a spot light source. I find large light sources very useful. A diffuser the same size as the light source has almost no effect. However, as Mark suggested, there is no one easy fix for this kind of work. Really, experience and experimentation are critical.
One other consideration: Most museums are incredibly concerned about the light hitting their objects. Strobes might be better at controlling this problem, as they have a duration of about 1/1000th of a second. Also, most of the modern strobes have built-in filtration for ultraviolet, which is always a concern.
I’m attaching an image I made recently of the Huntington Library in San Marino. I had the good fortune to work with the senior photographer at the Huntington on this project. While this is not a piece of the collection, it is indicative of the work a museum might need.
- John H. Siskin

See John Siskin's Basic BetterPholio™:

Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with John Siskin:
4-Week Short Course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
4-Week Short Course: Portrait Photography Lighting on Location and in the Studio See Sample Photo - New Image of the Mansion at the Huntington

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3: Light Temperature: Buying Lights
I need purchase addiotional lighting. I currently have two soft boxes that are rather weak (250 watts each). My question is does color temperature play a big part in selecting lighting? I have seen several options with fluorescent lights ... that sounds kind of scary to me. Are these any good?
- Rachel Larson
Yes it does. You need to have your lights match to have consistent color, although you can use different light temperatures together for creative and aesthetic reasons.
And by match, I mean the color temp match. You can use different types of light that have the same color temperature
- gregory la grange
Hi Rachel,
Fluorescent light sources have an irregular spectrum that only approximates the continuous spectrum of daylight, tungsten or strobes. Since the color output varies with 60 cycle electricity (or 50 cycle electricity if that’s what you have), a shutter speed of 1/30 or 1/15 is best. This will ensure you get a full cycle. There may be issues with specific lights and specific colors, but this is not a frequent problem.
Strobes are the best light source for still photography. They are consistent and powerful, and the color matches daylight. In addition, they do not make your studio into an oven.
- John H. Siskin

See John Siskin's Basic BetterPholio™:

Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with John Siskin:
4-Week Short Course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
4-Week Short Course: Portrait Photography Lighting on Location and in the Studio
Read this Q&A at

Answer this question:

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