The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Monday, November 24, 2008
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Shooting Subjects...
Q&A 2: Best Lens for Spo...
Q&A 3: Shadow Problem: H...
Q&A 1: Using a Window ...

"The instructor, Sean Arbabi, really made this a great experience! ... I am amazed at how much I learned and how much it will change my in-field methods immediately. ... The instructor reviews were to the point but extremely helpful and encouraging!" -Brian A . Marchetti in Better Exposure: How to Meter Light

Treat yourself to an easy gift-buying experience this year, while also giving your favorite photographer something really special! Consider a BetterPhoto Gift Card.

BetterPhoto's very cool Community page is continuously updated. Access the page via the Community tab near the top of any BP page, or click here...

Check out Jim Miotke's awesome new book: The BetterPhoto Guide to Photographing Children.

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Why Aren't Your Photos Sharp? ... by Jim Zuckerman
There are many factors that at times are beyond our control to fix - like photographing a kid on a skateboard in a park at night with no flash - but there are many situations that can be remedied. Here are a couple of solutions for getting sharper images:

-Don't raise the center column of your tripod too high. This is a relatively unstable situation. In essence, you will be shooting from a monopod. Instead, extend the legs fully and, if that's not tall enough for you, get another tripod - a model that when the legs are extended, the camera is at eye level.

-Don't hand-hold your pictures when shooting at twilight or night, and don't raise the ISO so high that the increase in digital noise degrades the picture quality. Use a tripod.

Editor's Note: Jim Zuckerman teaches many courses here at BetterPhoto, including Techniques of Natural Light Photography and Perfect Digital Exposure

Featured Gallery
Abundant Blessings
© - Michele Jordt-Sheets

Welcome to the 396th issue of SnapShot!

A happy Thanksgiving to all BetterPhoto members who celebrate this inspirational holiday! I always enjoy setting aside the opportunity to observe such values as family and gratitude. ... Looking ahead to December, we at BetterPhoto are excited about our next session of 4-week online courses, which begin Dec. 3rd. See our school schedule ... Meantime, we are thrilled with our new partnership with Photographer’s Edge, manufacturer of the patented do-it–yourself Keepsake Photo Greeting Card Frame. All card and calendar products are environmentally friendly - made from recycled stock and printed with soy-based inks. ... In this issue of SnapShot, don't miss Jim Zuckerman's Weekly Photo Tip and our featured collection of Q&A discussions. ... That's it for now. Be sure to have your camera handy to capture family and friends this holiday season!

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

Betterphoto's online photography and Photoshop classes are so much fun and you learn a lot in a short time. See our December 4-week schedule! ... Too soon? Check out our next 8-week session, which gets under way on January 7th. ... BetterPhoto Announces New Partnership with Photographer's Edge! and Photographer’s Edge have entered into an exciting partnership! The plan is to create products and strategies to assist all photographers in their endeavors to improve their skills and display or re-sell their work in the form of high-quality Keepsake Greeting Cards.

Photo Q&A

1: Shooting Subjects Next to Fireplace
I am trying to take a Christmas picture of my children next to the fireplace. I have a Canon Rebel. I am wondering what I should do to get a clear shot of the kids but not use a flash so that I can get that nice "fire glow" effect.
- KB B
Have the kids stand still long enough to allow you to use a slow shutter speed. Set ISO 200, and Shutter Speed priority. Do a series of exposures at progressively slower shutter speeds. Starting at 1/30th sec. Add a couple of lit candles to the scene. This all presumes you shoot from a tripod! Have fun!
- W. Smith VIII
You can still use a flash if you up the ISO a little (400) - low power flash - and keep the slow shutter speed. Getting a flame to show is much different than getting something to show from the light from the flames. The light falls off very quickly.
- gregory la grange
Experiment with the white balance set to 'shade'. The warm hue may add to the mood of the light of the fireplace.
- Bernard 
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2: Best Lens for Sports Pictures
What type of lens would you recommend for taking indoor sports pictures where you are not permitted to use flash? I have a digital Canon Rebel.
- Cathy M. Tenney
Less versatile than the zoom, but 1+ stop faster, are the EF 200 f/2L IS USM and EF 135 f/2L USM. If you can be closer to the action, the shorter telephoto primes are very economical, like EF 100 f/2 USM or EF 85 f/1.8 USM.
- Jon Close
The focal length of lens you use also depends on where you're positioned to the players and how far from the action. For example, in the stands, on the sidelines, what the lighting will be, whether you can use a support like a monopod, etc. etc. 200mm may not be enough and you might need more than that - say, 350mm to 500mm. It depends. For sports, I'd recommend that you always get more lens than you think you need.
- Mark Feldstein
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3: Shadow Problem: How to Position Lights
I Have two vuPro 100 w lights, and a miniboom/hairlight 250. I'm Having Problems with shadows and either not enough light or too much. How do I Figure out how to position my lights , so that I get better photos with no shadows?
- Bianca S. Newby
Having trouble uploading my photos, however, I've been taking pictures of people,for example a family portrait.
- Bianca S. Newby
Hi Bianca,
You might think about it this way: If you are outside on a right sunny day, the sun takes up a small part of the sky. You have hard detailed shadows and you see texture very well. The sun is a small light source. While I know that it is very large, the business of being 93,000,000 miles away makes it effectively a small light source. If you are out on an overcast day, the light comes from the clouds. The light comes from all directions. The light effectively creates no shadows at all. This is a big light source. The only reason for using things like umbrellas, soft boxes and light panels is to make a small light source act like a large light source. It is important to remember that you do need more power to make a large light source, as any of the tools for changing the size of light also absorb light. Bouncing light off a surface also increases the size of the light source. 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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1: Using a Window for Backlighting

I was wondering how to photography a subject with window behind as backlighting. I want the window light to be blown out and the subject to be exposed properly. I have a Nikon D70s, using a 50mm 1.8 lens with no other lighting. I don't have a meter, so I can't figure out how to meter for my subject and not the bright light coming from the window. Also, I need to keep up my shutter speed because my subjects are moving. Thanks in advance!!!
- Jennifer Orbistondo

If it's backlit outside, or backlit with a window inside, there are differences with the two, but the approach is the same. You still expose for the light that shines back on the subject, and also for the look you want. And I have to stress "the look you want" because you didn't say if you wanted a silhouette or something else, like the very high-key, faded look.
Backlit outside, you have the sky and everything else bouncing light back to the subject. A room, since it's enclosed, doesn't offer that much of it. And there are other things like dark walls, etc.
Outside, increasing the exposure of what you get with the light behind you, not facing into it, by 2 f/stops as a standard starting place gets you pretty close - that's for having the subject visible. With a window for backlight, how the subject is placed in regards to the window matters. The closer you are, the more light you'll have wrapping around, illuminating the front of the subject. The farther away, the more directional the light gets.
You can use a camera's spot meter if it has it, and meter a face or hand as you're looking into the light, and make slight changes for dark or light skin tones.
Also, you can always add fill light back into the subject with a reflector, or a flash. This will give a different look than exposing strictly for the amount of light bouncing back from the surroundings.
A sheer curtain over the window will help with getting a white wall look to the photo.

- gregory la grange


Gregory is correct: You must meter off the subject ... reflected light.
1) Use Program Mode.
2) Use Matrix Metering.
3) Get close enough to your subjects face so it fills the entire frame.
4) Make mental note of shutter speed and f/number.
5) Place camera in manual mode.
6) Set the readings you just noted.
7) Back up, compose as you wish and shoot.
There are several ways to accomplish what you want ... this is one of the easier ones.

All the best,


- Pete H
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