The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Monday, December 08, 2008
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Camera Not Workin...
Q&A 1: Taking Pictures...
Q&A 2: Mounting Metall...

"I want to thank you for your leadership, course material, and expertise! I received a tremendous amount of value from the class and felt it was money well spent. ... I have already started my next class and will continue to use and recommend BetterPhoto. Thanks again, Jim!" -John Cranor in Learning Your Canon Digital SLR with Jim White

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More Advice for Sharper Photos ... by Jim Zuckerman
Here are thoughts on ensuring that your photos are just as sharp as you want them to be:
- Hold Your Breath: When you are forced to shoot in a low-light situation without a tripod, hold your breath as you very gently push the shutter button. Don't pounce on the shutter with enthusiasm and end up with a blurred image. Lean against a wall or brace yourself against a rock -- anything you can find - for stability. That will help you get sharp images.
- Low-vs.-High ISO: Don't use an ISO that is inappropriately reduced for low lighting situations. We all should be shooting at 100 ISO or thereabouts to minimize digital noise. But ... there is no point in going this low if your pictures won't be sharp. If you are not using a tripod, you have to adjust your ISO until your shutter speed is fast enough to hand hold the camera. Making your pictures noise-free is irrelevant if they will be blurred.
Editor's Note: Jim Zuckerman teaches many outstanding courses here at BetterPhoto, including Developing Your Creative Artistic Vision and Eight Steps to More Dramatic Photography

Featured Gallery
Power and Innocence
© - Jim Stringer

Welcome to the 398th issue of SnapShot!

Would you like to learn more about exposure, composition, digital photography, Photoshop, or the business of photography? BetterPhoto's online classes give you personal interaction with top pros, along with all the convenience of the Web. The next school session begins January 7th, but if you'd like to jump into a December 4-week class, there's still time. Our unique virtual classroom and course flexibility make it easy to catch up on what you've missed! Learn more... If you're looking for a great bargain, consider our "frequent flier" plan. For every five classes you take, you receive a 50% discount on your next course! Learn more about the MVBP Rewards program. ... That's it for now. Have fun photographing the holiday season!

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! BetterPhoto Gift Cards are redeemable toward PhotoCourses, BetterPholios, or books. Best yet, no wrapping required! Have some spare time? Read our Instructor Insights photography blogs! If you aren't receiving BetterPhoto's daily dose of visual inspiration, you should be! Find out more about the free Photo of the Day newsletter at the subscription page.

Photo Q&A

1: Camera Not Working At All
Hi! I was asked to help take photos at a conference in Manila, and when I arrived and turned on my Rebel XT, it was dead. Just plain dead, no sign of life at all when I turn it on. It's not the battery, because I had two fully charged batteries with me, and I know my battery charger is working normally. This has never happened. I have gotten a couple error messages in the past month or so, but nothing serious, just turned it off and on again and it worked.
My problem is that I know of no camera shop in my relatively small town (Japan) that has someone who could look at it - everyone sends cameras away for repair. I'm wondering if there's anything I can do before taking that step. Thanks so much for any advice!
- Susan J. Allen
The problem could be as simple as a lifeless battery. If true, the best plan is to find another owner or perhaps a camera shop with a replacement battery, or better, a working camera that accepts the same battery. If you are in luck, you can try a direct replacement. If this solves the problem, you can order a new battery.
Another approach: Any repair shop (TV – radio – VCR etc.) can check your battery, battery terminals, camera connection points and confirm whether your battery is good or bad. Take your battery charger along.
If the battery and/or charger is bad, order a replacement. Otherwise, it will be necessary to ship the camera away for service. Hope this helps!
- Alan N. Marcus
Also, you should attempt to polish the battery contacts on both the battery and inside the camera and on the charger. Get a coarse cloth and rub it vigorously to polish the metal connectors. Inside the camera is difficult to reach. I use an old-fashioned pencil-style typewriter eraser. This is a wood pencil but instead of lead, the center is filled with a coarse rubber ink eraser. Likely you won’t have one, so the next best is an ordinary pencil with eraser. Also a fingernail buffer tool can do the job. The pencil type makes a wonderful banisher as you can apply some pressure as you clean the inside metal battery contacts.
As to battery life: Rechargeable batteries fail suddenly. Normally they fail slowly as each time they are charged their potential to hold a charge is diminished. Say, the first time used, they power the camera for 500 exposures; next time 475; then the next 450, etc. As time goes by, their ability to hold a charge diminishes. Also, the battery contacts are metal and subject to corrosion. Soiled contacts are poor conductors of electricity.
Direct substitution is the best tool for diagnosing battery problems.
Hope this helps.
- Alan N. Marcus
Another thing you can try is to remove the lens, check those contacts as well for dirt, bent pins, etc. Some of these cameras will not even power up without communication between lens and camera. Silly question, but do you have the CF card in?
- Pete H
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1: Taking Pictures of a Home Aquarium

I like to take pictures of my goldfish in their 55-gallon aquarium but don't seem to have the best lighting to get a faster shutter speed. I've used flash with some success and no glare, but I still would like to take fish pictures without using the flash. What do some people do to add light besides the aquarium light, outdoor light and room lights? Do you use extra spot lights like in a studio?
- Christie Kleinert

Hi Cristie,
As you know, the aquarium is typically illuminated from above by florescent lamps. Additionally most aquariums are hooded. My advice is to remove the hood and lamp assembly and light with pin-up tungsten lamps purchased at the hardware store. First a word to the wise! Aquarium lighting is inherently dangerous so please take some precautions. I am talking about the existing hood and its lighting fixture. These fixtures, their sockets, bulbs, switches, and wiring are always wet and always corroded. So I am advising that you unplug and remove the hood/lamp exercising care to avoid electrical shock.
Purchase a 10 inch aluminum pin-up fixture or two. Buy two PAR 150 watt clear flood bulbs. These are the hard glass outdoor bulbs. You can use them without the aluminum reflector that comes with the pin-up as they have their own built-in reflector. Position them above the aquarium. Pre-set your white balance on tungsten. These lamps will provide all the light you need and you will be able to use a relatively fast shutter speed. Some might advocate that you use an electronic flash in place of the tungsten. That’s OK if you can afford the lash-up. Otherwise the pin-up will serve you well.
Lots of luck!

- Alan N. Marcus
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2: Mounting Metallic Prints

I'm printing 10 x 15 and 20 x 30 images on metallic paper, framing them (without a mat), and selling them as fine art for $250 - $500 (retail). I want to do the best job of mounting possible, considering the price I'll charge for the print.
I'm wondering what's the best way to have these photos mounted. From what I've read online it sounds like a dry mount would be the best method, but do commercial printers use that method? I've had prints made from mpix and whcc, but I'd go with anybody who did a good job.
- Craig J. Salmond

Hi Craig,
Dry-mount presses use heat to make a tissue bond the image and the support. Many digital prints will be seriously degraded by the heat of the press. Some manufacturers use a plastic substrate in their papers, and for others the inks are the issue. I would suggest that you avoid a dry mount press. Since I own a press I speak with some experience.
The best alternative from a point of archival quality is to use photo corners to hold down the print and then cover it with a mat. Alternatively there is an adhesive tissue, available in large sheets, called Gudy #831. In my experience, this is a good product and it meets the standards for PAT, photographic activity test.
You can see an article about mounting photographs through this link:
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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