The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Monday, November 03, 2008
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Photographing Pai...
Q&A 2: Attend Wedding Re...
Q&A 1: Refrigerating S...

"Jim Zuckerman is a wonderful teacher. His lessons are easy to understand and his assignments inspire you to think creatively. ...Thanks a million, Jim for a wonderful class! "-Srividya Narasimhan in Eight Steps to More Dramatic Photography

With the Composer, Lensbaby introduces a completely new lens, based on a ball and socket configuration that delivers smooth selective focus photography with unparalleled ease. The new Composer retains its position after being bent and is easy to use even with one hand.

Read what BetterPhoto students have said about our popular online photography classes!

Get word of your product or service out to a rapidly growing list of over 66384 serious photographers.
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A Key to Flower Photography Success: Background! ... by Tony Sweet
A Key to Flower Photography Success: Background! Watch out for busy backgrounds, hot spots, black holes, and extraneous elements entering the frame. In fact, the background is at least as important as the subject. Nothing can kill an image quicker than a busy background. There may be as little as an inch or less of camera repositioning to go from a distracting background to a pleasing, detail-less, muted background. Editor's note: Tony Sweet teaches many courses here at BetterPhoto, including: Fine Art Flower Photography and Image Design: Revealing Your Personal Vision

Featured Gallery

Welcome to the 393rd issue of SnapShot!

Proven results! That describes our online photography and Photoshop courses, which offer personal interaction with top pros - regardless of where you live. School begins this Wednesday (11/5), but act quickly, since many courses are filling up fast! See our November school schedule ... Alert: After this session, we switch back to the "old" quarterly offerings of 8-week courses - beginning in January. So you might want to take advantage of this "extra" (November) session while you can! ... Are you familiar with BetterPhoto's Clubs? Just a year old, the clubs now total almost 400! A BP Club is a great way to meet people with similar interests, learn new skills together, and share and discuss photos. Learn more about clubs... In this issue of SnapShot, don't miss the Photo Tip by BetterPhoto instructor Tony Sweet, along with a fine collection of questions and answers. ... That's it for now. Have fun with your photography!

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

November is 2008's last 8-week course session, so sign up now for one of BetterPhoto's awesome "extended" sessions! Beginning in January, 8-week classes will return to a quarterly schedule: starting in January, April, July and October. ... Note: 4-week courses, however, will continue to be offered monthly. Have some spare time? Check out our Instructor Insights photography blogs! An excellent course by BetterPhoto's popular instructor team - Susan and Neil Silverman - has a new name: Street and People Photography (adding "people" to the name). Check it out...

Photo Q&A

1: Photographing Paintings
I've been trying to photograph my oil and pastel paintings for reproduction using my Digital Rebel XT with the 18-55mm lens that came with the camera. My work varies in size frm 5x7" to 24x48". I have not been able to get a really sharp image except on very rare occasions. Often I have to click the shutter button a few times to get it to focus when I am in autofocus using a single focus point. I've tried using the various av settings. I'm locking the mirror. I'm using a tripod. I'm using autofocus and then switching to manual and just manual focus. I've tried using a picture of a grid to set the focus point. I'm zooming all the way in. I'm using custom white balance. Do I need a different lens? What lens would be the best for this purpose that will also be the most economical?
- M 
1) Zoom lenses deliver inherently softer focus images than fixed focus lenses of equal focal length.
2) 18-55mm = 29-88mm in 35mm equivalent. 88mm is too short for sufficient perspective distortion compensation. Between 100 and 135mm results in less distortion. Perspective distortion may contribute to the softer focus.
3) insufficient light may also contribute to apparent focal softness.
For working from tripod the ideal lens, in my opinion, from a technical and image quality point of view, would be the EF 135mm f/2L USM.
Using the self-timer, to let the camera/tripod combo stop swinging before the shutters pops, could also improve image quality.
It may also be worth your while to consider a reproduction stand with 2, or preferably 4, quartz lights.
Have fun!
- W. Smith VIII
With the DRebel XT, I'd use the EF 50 f/1.8. Less than $100 and very sharp. This gives you good working distance for the larger works, but as W mentioned, you'll be a bit close for the 5x7 (~18"). You might go for a longer macro lens for improved "flat field" performance (so the edges of the frame remain in the same plane of focus as the center), such as the EF 100 f/2.8 USM, or similar from Sigma or Tamron.

Shoot at f/8, where the lens is sharpest. Depth of field is not a concern with a subject that has no depth, like a painting. Just make sure the camera is mounted perpendicular and centered relative to the painting. Use diffused lighting, no direct flash.

- Jon Close
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2: Attend Wedding Rehearsal?
As a wedding photographer, I always go to the rehearsals. People always seemed to be surprised that I'm at the rehearsals because they tell me they never see other photographers at rehearsals.
I am wondering if you other wedding photographers out there attend the rehearsals or not. Personally, I find it a pain because they are always disorganized, take forever, and never start on time. And it keeps me up late Friday nights getting my gear ready for the next day. That being said, I do like seeing how the ceremony is planned so I don't have any surprises the next day and I can also step in and make a suggestion if I see something that's going to interfere with my photography.
So, what do you other photographers do as far as attending rehearsals?
- Scott McCord
Hi Scott,
I don't attend rehearsals either but I do meet beforehand with whoever I will be working with (getting the groups together and scheduling) and will also check out the venue(s) to see what my lighting challenges will be so I can prepare for the event. I still take everything with me anyway because lighting and situations can and do change but having a basic equipment list to start with saves time.
- Carlton Ward
If I shoot a wedding, I always attend the rehearsal for some tech prep. I've learned that there's no better way to get good shots of a ceremony. If you are unfamiliar with the venue being used, You can prep, especially for the lighting. You can talk to the minister and find out in detail what the rules are for such things as flash and movement during the ceremony. Also, you will be able to find a good vantage point before the crouds arrive. I have found that most venues will reserve you a place so that you can get good shots, while being out of the way during the actual ceremony. I whole heartedly concur that it's a great idea to attend the rehearsal.
- Mark R. Hiatt
I attend the rehearsals for the same reason. We had a wedding on Sat. where I attended the rehearsal and even though I knew what was going to happen during the ceremony, the pastor made a last-minute change by moving the groomsmen in front of a chair where the bride and groom were going to sit. Had I not been there, the groomsmen would have completely blocked me from every vantage point. I was able to point that out and resolve the situation. Also, something that happens at EVERY wedding is that the attendants want to walk right behind each other while coming down the aisle. This gives the photographer no chance to capture the following attendants coming up the aisle because the couple immediately in front of them is in the way. I always iron this out at the rehearsal so I allow myself enough time to capture each couple coming down the aisle.

And on occasions when the wedding is far away from where I live and I cannot get to the rehearsal, I have noticed a big difference in my capturing the images. It's much harder when you aren't there to give feedback beforehand.
I wish not to attend the rehearsals, but I just don't see any way around it as far as preparation goes.

And it's becoming more common for officiants to not allow flash. And many times the bride and groom will tell you it's okay until the night of the rehearsal when the officiant tells me no flash is allowed. In fact, I'm usually the one who tells the couple that flash is not an option by request of the officiant. It always gets me that the official photographer can't use flash, but the guests are sitting there flashing away. In fact, I had one pastor tell me that flash was not an option although he fully expected the guests to use flash. His comment was, "I don't have control over the guests, but I do have control over the hired photographer."

Guess you just gotta go with the flow and adapt to the situation you're given.

- Scott McCord
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1: Refrigerating Slide Film

According to the data sheets that came with the Velvia 50 and 100 slide film, and the Ektachrome slide film, it should be kept in the refrigerator. Do any of you do that, and if so, how do you keep it? Do you put it in Ziploc bags in the produce bins? A tupperware container? Or do you do that at all?
- Mary C. Casey

Hi Mary,
I keep all film-slide, color print, and black and white in a Ziploc bag in the freezer until I get low on what's in the refridgerator. This slows the breakdown of the film's chemistry. I keep what I will use in the immediate future in the fridge.
As you use film, keep it out so it will not sweat when you get it in the field. This way, you will not end up with water spots on your negatives or slides. If you need, say four rolls for a shoot, Take four rolls out of the fridge. replace them with four rolls from the freezer. Keep them in Ziploc bags until you're ready to go. Then, put them in your camera case.
Have fun and keep shooting.

- Mark R. Hiatt

Hi Mary,
I have a small refrigerator devoted exclusively to film. I keep many products frozen. Thanks,

- 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
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