The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Monday, December 01, 2008
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Best Photo Editin...
Q&A 2: Lighting - Odd Co...
Q&A 3: Studio Lighting S...
Q&A 1: How to Get More...
Q&A 2: Isolated Color ...

"This class was great! ... I learned so much. I now feel that I have an understanding of what I am doing and why. Instead of just randomly adjusting sliders and settings, I have a conscious, rational workflow!" -Cheryl Gould of Camera Raw: From Capture to Finished Photo

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Panning for Gold ... by Jim Miotke
Panning allows you to capture a relatively sharp subject against a blurred background. This technique can greatly increase the appeal in a photo by adding an element of movement!

To execute this, select a slow shutter speed, such as 1/15th sec., 1/30 sec., or 1/60 sec. at the most. Then position yourself parallel to the path of your subject. Anything moving at a good clip and in a relatively straight line will do. As your subject passes, track it with your camera, pressing the shutter button smoothly and turning your head and body to track the object. Shoot in "mid-swing" and follow through on your tracking even after the shutter has closed.

Notes: Panning requires a surprising degree of trial and error before you get that one perfect shot. This process necessitates practice, practice, and more practice. Also, your subject will likely be less than perfectly sharp. Getting it relatively sharp is the main objective here.

Editor's note: This tip is from Jim Miotke's The BetterPhoto Guide to Digital Photography. If you order it today (Dec. 2nd), you'll receive many bonus gifts! See the details...

Featured Gallery
Baritone Horn
© - Danielle Westervelt

Welcome to the 397th issue of SnapShot!

Here's a deal that just might be too good to pass up: Learn how to get better pictures AND get a ton of valuable bonus gifts! To take advantage of this awesome promotion, though, you must order my book The BetterPhoto Guide to Digital Photography today (Dec. 2nd). Check out the details... ... More big news this week: Our next school session begins this Wednesday (Dec. 3rd) with a terrific lineup of 4-week classes. These courses are fast, fun and a fine value. See the 4-week class lineup... ... In this issue of SnapShot, don't miss the Weekly Photo Tip and a fine collection of questions and answers. ... Also, congratulations go to the deserving winners of BetterPhoto's October contest! See all of the contest winners, past and present. ... That's it for now. Enjoy the week, and have fun recording holiday memories with your camera!

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

Jim Miotke's The BetterPhoto Guide to Digital Photography is truly awesome - and so are the special bonus gifts that you'll get if you order the book today (Dec. 2nd)! See the specifics... BetterPhoto's 4-week courses are fast, fun, fully interactive, and filled with information and inspiration. Best yet, they are a great value too! School starts Wednesday (Dec. 3rd)! ... Too soon? Our awesome 8-week classes begin January 7th. Check out the BetterPhoto Quick Keyworder Game! Look for the Win Big Points graphic in your Member Center (note: for BetterPholio owners or student alumni). Top score wins 50% off a photography course or BetterPholio!

Photo Q&A

1: Best Photo Editing Software
What do you think are the one or two photo editing software programs you could not live without?. I have Photoshop Elements 4.0, but would like to either upgrade or get another program for effects, etc. I noticed that many of the winners of the contests here use some type of filter or effect for their photos. Thanks.
- Diane E. Deming
Hi Diane,
I started using Photoshop in 2001 just after going digital, and I think it is essential, especially for processing Raw images. The Canon software also does a good job of processing raw images but with Photoshop and Bridge, it makes my editing very smooth. I also use PhotoMatix (made by HDRSoft) for processing HDR images and Corel Painter with a Wacom tablet for creating paintings from my photos.
Layers in Photoshop makes creating effects and other enhancements easy and is a powerful tool.
I started with Photoshop 5.0 and currently use CS3. I will download the 30 day trial of CS4 to see if it looks worth the $199 upgrade but may skip it and wait for CS5 next year.
As pointed out before, the most used tools are levels and curves, but I use many of the other tools frequently as well. Download a trial version and see what you think. For Photoshop learning, look here for classes offered (I have taken 3 Photoshop courses), and I also read Jim Zuckerman and Ben Wilmore's books.
Good Luck, Carlton
- Carlton Ward
This question gets asked with relative frequency and you may find other opinions by searching the forum. I am copying my response from another thread almost answering the identical question.

"Best" is measured in many different ways. I wrote a pretty extensive look at this idea a while ago in an article that you can find at That focuses on the difference between Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, but the ideas extend to other packages. I think the same issues are still valid.
Key factors in what to use are:
-What do you need it for?
-How much time do you have to spend?
-How much money do you have to spend?
-How good are you with computers and problem solving?

Adobe products are the most widely recognized, and because of that there is just a ton of tutelage to be had in the form of books, courses, videos, and other random advice. Support for other products may be a little more difficult to come by. That doesn't mean they are lesser products. HOWEVER, ANY product you choose to use will require learning to use it. I find it is often less the product that is the problem than the user's knowledge of it. I can do things with Elements that people will tell you is impossible (channel corrections, CMYK file saving, and much more). It is only because I applied what I knew about Photoshop to Elements.

Though the answers to the bullets above may alter my answer, generally, if you don't know what to get, I suggest starting with Photoshop Elements. It won't break the bank, and you get a lot of power from the package ... and a lot of room to grow into, as well as an upgrade path to Photoshop that may make it easier should you go that way. For most people, Elements is all you will really ever need -- if you learn to use it to its potential!

So, recap: I really think you can use anything and make it work depending on the effort you want to put in. I recommend Adobe products because so many people use them and it is easy to get help. But what is 'best' for you may be different than what is best for anyone else who answers here. Don't forget to use the product tryouts before blindly making up your mind. Adobe's products come with 30 day free trials. I hope that helps!

- Richard Lynch

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4-Week Short Course: From Monitor to Print: Photoshop Color Workflow
4-Week Short Course: Photoshop 101: The Photoshop Essentials Primer
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2: Lighting - Odd Color Tint
I have 2 sets of lighting. I have strobe lighting, which I like but not when working with children because it is harder to work with. So I got a set of soft box continuous lighting. Now my pictures are OK but the subjects often have a odd color tint which I repair in Photoshop. What do I need to do to help change that? Also my pictures look wonderful on my camera but when I upload they are darker and the tint is off. Thanks.
- Beth Verser
This sounds like a simple problem with your White Balance. You are probably using (auto White balance.) The color of the light from your strobes is not the same as continuous lighting. Consult your camera manual and use manual White Balance. The process of setting White Balance manually takes about 30 seconds. Don't forget to set it back to auto when you are done taking pics under the continuous lights.
Concerning the monitor on your camera: all monitors are not created equal. Many cannot be relied on to show accurate color, brightness etc. The histogram will give you a better indication of exposure.
- Pete H
Hi Beth,
The kind of continuous light makes a difference. If you have a tungsten-balanced light source, you will be able to do a good color balance, as mentioned by the other fine contributors. If you are using a fluorescent-based system, then you have more significant problems. The first problem with fluorescent lights is that they vary as the electricity cycles; in the U.S., the electricity cycles 60 times a second. So if you shoot a speed faster than 1/60, you get part of a cycle and possibly poor color. The color of your shots would not be stable in this case. The solution is to shoot at 1/30 or 1/15th of second, not good with kids. The other problem is the spectrum of fluorescent lights is not even, and so can cause some additional problems. I prefer to avoid fluorescent lights for photography. You might want to check out this article on the types of lighting for photography:
- John H. Siskin

See John Siskin's Basic BetterPholio™:

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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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3: Studio Lighting Set-Up
I need to purchase a studio lighting set-up. I would like something with a 3 light set-up, umbrellas, softbox, hair light. I don't want to spend a fortune, but at the same time I want a quality product that will work flawlessly, hold up, and not have to be replaced in the near future.
It would be nice to have something I can use in a studio, as well as take on location. If someone has recommendations I would love to hear back!
- Laurie Peaslee
Hi Laurie,
Unless you have experience in using strobes you might do better to start with one relatively large light, like an Alien Bee B1600 or a Calumet Travelite 750 and add lights as you understand what you will use them for. Too often I meet students who bought a kit and are confused by trying to use everything, right out of the box. For what it’s worth here is a link to an article on using one light:
Also this is a list of what you might want to get, in the beginning or eventually:
Here is a one light kit that I would put together. I would suggest that you start with one light. You will understand lights better if you do that.
Alien Bee B160
Or Calumet Travelite 750
60º reflector with umbrella holder if they are built that way.
1-45 inch white satin with a removable black back. An umbrella with covered ribs would be better.
2- light panels with 2-white cotton or nylon covers and a black cover and a sliver cover.
Light stand. At least 8 feet tall, 10 is better
Perhaps a background stand and a neutral muslin background.

With a second light, which would probably be lower in power based on your usage. I would also get:
60º reflector with umbrella holder if they are built that way.
Barn doors and/or snoot
Light stand
2- umbrellas, one matching the one you got and the other a 60 inch umbrella.
Very short light stand

If you add a third light I would get
60º reflector with umbrella holder if they are built that way.
1 more light panel with a gold cover.
Light stand
Barn doors or snoot if you didn’t get it before.
45 inch umbrella.
I hope this helps.

- 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: How to Get More Than 1 Person in Sharp Focus

I have trouble when I shoot more than one person. It always seems like someone is slightly out of focus. Any suggestions? Thanks!
- Robin E. Nichols

Set your aperture to f/8. Step back a little. Make sure that each person is the same distance from you (side by side, not one in front of the other).
If you're taking a photo of a large group, set your aperture to f/11 and step back far enough to get everyone in the photo. Again, make sure that everyone is on the same plane of focus(equally distant from you).
Also, if you're using autofocus, make sure that a focus point is on one of the people you're trying to photograph, instead of being between folks and on a distant background. You will most likely be better off using manual focus.

- John G. Clifford Jr

Are they standing side by side or back to front? In the first scenario, it could be a deficiency in the design of the lens you are using. Try scrunching the group closer to the center of the frame. (You can later crop off the outside edges of the frame if you want.) In the second scenario, choose a smaller aperture to increase DOF.

- Bob Cammarata

Working in bright light try to set the shutter speed at 1/250 or slower. If you do, the camera’s aperture will end up at f/8 or better, f/16. These smaller openings give expanded depth-of-field that carries the acceptable focus zone both fore and aft of the point you are focused upon. The increased depth-of-field provided by these smaller apertures is the solution to your problem.
Also, it never hurts to arrange your subject in a semicircle (arc) this placement equalizes the camera-to-subject distance, the center person and the end people are spaced at about equal distance from the camera.
Also, have the center person of a group, extend a hand so that it hovers just behind the most forward person. Focus on this hand and lock the focus. Why this works: Depth-of-field is that span fore and aft of the point of focus that is rendered with acceptable focus. Depth-of-field is not split down the middle, rather it is a span that extends further to the rear. The split of the zone is 1/3 forward of the point focused upon and 2/3 to the rear. This 1/3 – 2/3 rule of thumb will serve you will when photographing groups. Stated another way, don’t focus on the middle subject, focus forwarded of the middle. Depth-of-field will carry through to the rear person.
Alan Marcus (marginal technical gobbledygook)

- Alan N. Marcus

It's possible you changed a setting in your camera's autofocus, such that it's focusing on something you don't want it to. I've made that mistake a few times, the worse being where it was focusing on one focus point on the far left ... and all my subjects were in the center/right.

- Ken Smith
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2: Isolated Color Effects

How do you do the black and white photos with the isolated eye color creative effects? Is that Corel Painter? Or is it something that can be done in Photoshop CS3? I'm interested to know ;)

- Amanda  M. Freese

Hello Amanda,
I do that kind of thing in CS3. What I do is open the image I want to change, and then copy that layer - keeping the copied layer highlighted. Then go to IMAGE> Adjustments> desaturate. Next, click on the History Brush, and color the parts you want colored. Flatten the layers. I have an example in my gallery of my cat Whiskers. Good luck!

- Robert E. Gaughan
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