The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Monday, November 17, 2008
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Basic Studio Ligh...
Q&A 2: How do I lower th...
Q&A 3: Color Correction ...
Q&A 4: Combining Color T...

"This course pushed me to my limit! Doug Johnson was very supportive and helpful with his critiques, offering constructive criticism and compliments with both style and grace. I'm grateful for the lessons. ... Thanks Doug!" -Richard (Rick) Lowe in Creating Depth in Landscape Photography

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Jim Miotke's awesome new The BetterPhoto Guide to Photographing Children is the latest book in the BetterPhoto series!

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Take Advantage of Window Light ... by Jim Zuckerman
I have always liked using window light as a main source of illumination. It is soft, natural, and very flattering in many situations. Instead of destroying the appropriate highlights and shadows with flash, when you use ambient window light you retain the correct relationship between light and dark in the picture.
I've used it for many types of subjects, including portraits, art objects, architecture and product shots.
Using the light coming in from a window usually requires a faster ISO to compensate for darker conditions and it often means using a tripod.
Editor's Note: Jim Zuckerman teaches many online courses, including Techniques of Natural Light Photography

Featured Gallery
© - Mike Clime

Welcome to the 395th issue of SnapShot!

What an exciting season at BetterPhoto! Our upcoming December online school session offers an awesome line of short courses. Although "just" 4 weeks in length, these classes are filled with information and inspiration, are fully interactive, and are priced just right. See the 4-week schedule... ... Have you checked out some of BP's awesome free features lately? When you get the chance, stop by the Community and Resources pages and take a look! In this issue of SnapShot, don't miss our Weekly Photo Tip and a collection of featured questions and answers from the BP Forum. ... That's it for this week. Enjoy your photography!

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

Treat yourself to an easy gift-buying experience this year, while also giving your favorite photographer something really special! Our BetterPhoto Gift Cards are redeemable toward PhotoCourses, BetterPholios, or books. Best yet, no wrapping required! Learn and gain new skills together. Share and discuss photos. All this in the BetterPhoto Clubs! Learn more...

Photo Q&A

1: Basic Studio Lighting
I'm looking for some good advice about what kind of lighting I would need for an event. I'm photographing a small dance and we want to set up an area to take pictures of couples and groups of people. It will be kind of like an old high school dance! What would you suggest I need for this type of situation?
I also live in Tacoma, WA. Does anyone have any idea where I could rent lighting and backdrops?
- Melanie J. Tinsley
Monolights with softboxes like stripbanks from Chimera would be my choice. Look at Bowens, Calumet, Speedotron, Norman, and even Alien Bees.
For backdrops, try Glasers in Seattle or some stage lighting supply house in Los Angeles. They rent backdrops or just buy one online.
- Mark Feldstein
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2: How do I lower the light in my softboxes
I just recently purchased my first set of soft boxes. Before, I shot just with shoot through umbrellas. I cannot figure out though how to change the power on my soft boxes. All of my photos are pure white. I have tried everything with my camera. I shoot with a Canon XTi and with a 28-80 lens for my studio shots. I have tried pointing the boxes in different directions - i.e., ceiling, wall, ground - and nothing is working ... everything is white white white. And it doesn't help that my soft boxes didn't come with any type of instruction as well. Any help that anyone can give, I would appreciate it. The room I am shooting in is 13x21. Thanks!
- Heidi E. Zimmerman
Reducing the power of your lights themselves is what you need to do. Assuming you're using hot lights and there isn't a rheostat of some kind to do that with, you can build one using a proper sized dimmer switch available in a hardware store or at an electrical supply house. If you're using strobes, read those instructions for reducing power output.
In the alternative, you could modify the softboxes themselves by adding some kind of non-reflective liner and placing modifiers on the front of the box. You can make barndoors, scrims, gobos and other things to reduce output out of screen, cardboard and fireproof materials (assuming again, you're using hot lights). Or buy them.
Take it light ;>)
- Mark Feldstein
Hi Heidi,
"Hot Lights" is a synonym for tungsten lamps. Tungsten bulbs can be dimmed using a resistor or transformer or the like ... however, as dimming occurs, the color temperature of the lamps moves towards the red end of the spectrum. This method is OK for black and white, but adds complications for color photography. Florescent lamps are more difficult, nevertheless specialized dimmers are available. That being said I genuinely doubt that the brightness of the lights are the culprit.
Washed-out images are likely due to overexposure. Likely this is due to camera setting rather than lamp brilliance. I tell you this with confidence because artificial light is feeble by comparison to sunlight. And I can tell you with confidence that your camera is capable of handling a sunlight vista.
First, assuming your soft-box lighting is too bright; you can adjust light energy using distance. Measure subject-to-lamp distance, multiply by 1.4; this calculates a revised distance equal to a 50% drop in brilliance. You can repeat this again and again till you run out of room. Conversely multiplying by 0.7 computes a revised distance that doubles the light energy on the subject. Don’t like math, use a light meter to make these adjustments, your camera has a good one built-in.
What’s the problem? You need a refresher course in camera settings. It wouldn’t hurt to shoot a bracketed series in manual mode. How about setting the ISO at 100. Set the shutter speed at 1/125 sec. Shoot a series using every f/stop. Repeat at different shutter speeds. Wouldn’t hurt to include a gray card (18% target) in the scene. Wouldn’t hurt if you shot in full auto mode.
Try one lamp at 8 feet from subject placed high and off to the side. Place one lamp along side the camera at 11 feet from the camera. Shoot at f/8 at 1/125 sec. examine the results and adjust f/number and shutter speed for optimum.
Best of luck,
Alan Marcus (marginal technical gobbledygook)
- Alan N. Marcus
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3: Color Correction on Outside Photos
I am having a problem with all of my images looking too blue after I take them on an outdoor setting. I am using a Canon 5D. I however do not know much about using a gray card and correcting before I take a bunch of photos ... therefore, I am decreasing blue and bringing back natural color tones one by one in Photoshop Elements. Help!
- Jamie J. LangeSee Sample Photo - After

See Sample Photo - Before

In the sample pic, the subject is outdoors, but in shade. The light in open shade or cloudy overcast is bluer (higher color temp) than direct sunlight. The 5D has separate WB settings for each of these conditions. Or you can simply set AUTO WB. Even so, the actual color temperature may not match that of the presets, so just correct in post-processing.
- Jon Close
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4: Combining Color Temperatures
I am going to be purchasing additional lighting. I currently have two soft boxes that are continuous, tungsten, 2800K. Would it be a problem if the new lighting is either 3200K, or 5600K? And what is the suggested white balance to shoot on?
Thanks for your time!
- Rachel Larson
Hi Rachel,
A 3200º light source would be visibly cooler than your soft boxes, but I can't tell you that the difference would bother you. If you were doing critical color work - such as photographing artwork - this difference would be unacceptable. A 5600º light source, like a strobe, would be a real problem for any usage that combined your soft boxes and the bluer light source. I would use a tungsten preset balance with your soft boxes, or do a custom white balance.
Thanks, John Siskin
- 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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