The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
 
Monday, February 09, 2009
IN THIS ISSUE
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Suggestion for Ba...
Q&A 2: Photoshop Plug-in...
Q&A 3: Lens Choices for ...


TESTIMONIAL OF THE WEEK
"If you want to learn about your Canon camera, this is the course to take. It really made me understand what all those buttons were - and what they all did. I purchased this camera for better photos but never used anything other than the auto mode. Now, the sky is the limit. Thanks!" -Delores Fouillard, student in Peter Burian's Mastering the Canon EOS Digital Rebels course




GET MOTIVATED, GET CREATIVE ... AT BP SUMMIT!
Learn from the pros, meet fellow members, and give your photography a giant boost ... all at the next BetterPhoto Summit! Join us February 28th in San Diego, CA. Learn the Summit details...


GREAT BARGAIN: MVBP REWARDS!
For every five classes you take, you receive a 50% discount on your next course! Learn more about our "frequent flier" plan - MVBP Rewards!


GET YOUR OWN WEB SITE: IT'S EASY!
Our Deluxe and Pro BetterPholios are great ways to show - or sell - your photography. Plus, our monthly newsletter for BetterPholio owners offers tips and updates. Compare the options...


ADVERTISE YOUR BUSINESS IN SNAPSHOT
Get word of your product or service out to a rapidly growing list of over 65988 serious photographers.
Learn More...

THIS WEEK'S TIP
Winter Blues ... by Jim Zuckerman
Photographers go to great pains to eliminate the blue cast from their landscapes. Blue is associated with photographing in deep shade, twilight, and under an overcast sky. Warmer tones are often preferred, and in the past photographers used warming filters to neutralize the blue. Now it's a simple matter of adjusting the white balance on the camera or you can make the adjustment in Bridge or Lightroom if you shoot RAW files. The blue can be eliminated and warmer colors can be chosen.
However, I have never understood why so many people want to get rid of a deep blue color cast in their landscapes. I always thought it was beautiful. If there isn't enough blue in the original picture, sometimes I'll enhance the image digitally to add what I feel gives impact to the shot. Blue connotes cold, and for winter landscapes in particular I think it is not only artistic but it seems appropriate on a visceral level.
You can set your white balance to a lower Kelvin temperature setting (like 3200K) or use the "tungsten" option to get blue pictures outdoors, but I prefer to do it in Photoshop because of the control I have.
Editor's Note: Jim Zuckerman teaches many courses here at BetterPhoto, including Techniques of Natural Light Photography and Perfect Digital Exposure


   
Featured Gallery
Cranes in the Morning Light
© - Holly Higbee-Jansen

Welcome to the 407th issue of SnapShot!
Hello,

February has been such a thrilling month for BetterPhoto, with the launch of our latest session of 4-week courses! And there's so much more to come. In fact, if you've been hitting a wall lately, then we have an exciting event to get the creative juices flowing. Learn and grow with your artistic visions at the next BetterPhoto Summit (February 28th in San Diego, CA). ... In this issue of SnapShot, don't miss the "Winter Blues" Photo Tip by instructor Jim Zuckerman, updates on the Forum and Instructor Insights blogs, and a very fine collection of questions and answers. ... That's it for this week. Enjoy your photography!

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

Our online photo courses offer personal interaction with top professionals! Join a short 4-week course or enroll in a more intense 8-week course. See our school schedule... Have a few spare moments? Check out our Instructor Insights photography blogs! In order to ensure constructive feedback and a greater sense of community, we have moved the public Forum into the membership benefits. If you're a Masterpiece or Basic member, a student, or a Deluxe/Pro owner, click the "Discussions/Q&A" tab in your Member Center.

Photo Q&A

1: Suggestion for Backgrounds?
I have been asked to photograph a Father/Daughter dance in April. It is a Girl Scouts event and is a Luau-themed dance. Does anyone have a suggestion for the type of background to use here? Do I go with the same luau theme or something simple for the portraits that isn't too distracting? Any suggestions are welcomed! Thanks
- Sabrina Hull
ANSWER 1:
Trying to match a theme would require props. If you have them, fine. If don't, use an area of the venue and the decor, and you have to bring a background. Gray doesn't get in the way of anything. A father-daughter dance isn't something to make any bigger or more complicated than yearbook pictures. ... Also, a duotone, graded sky blue would do well with tropical prints.
- gregory la grange
ANSWER 2:
Thanks. I do not have many props but I do have some simple backgrounds. I actually have a sky blue one! I was concerned about the colors and prints being too much for a photograph!
- Sabrina Hull
ANSWER 3:
Go to eBay and in the search box, enter photography backdrops. There are some very good deals if you go to individual's eBay stores. I have bought a number of them for under $100 each.
- Dennis Flanagan
ANSWER 4:
Sabrina,
I am an instructor with BetterPhoto, and I have an idea for you. Using the image you displayed here of the sunset and sailboat, have it enlarged super-poster size, and use that for your background for head shots or 3/4 shots.
I went to your BetterPhoto Deluxe web site, and your portrait work is beautiful!
Kevin
- Kevin Moss

See Kevin Moss's Basic BetterPholio™:
http://www.betterphoto.com/mg.asp?id=198787

Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with Kevin Moss:
4-Week Short Course: Photoshop and Elements for Nature Photographers
Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

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2: Photoshop Plug-in Filters
I have been playing with various filters and software lately and am looking at either the Nik, Lucis Art, Alien skin, Flaming Pear and others. I have been playing a lot with PhotoMatix HDR and just downloaded Topaz. Does anyone have a favorite and/or experiences they would care to share? Thank you!
- Carlton Ward
ANSWER 1:
Carlton, I have Nik Color Efex Pro and I love it. I find myself using a few filters more than any of the others I am still learning to use the control points. I love the dynamic skin softener on portraits, the vignette and a few others. I am taking Tony Sweet's HDR class right now, so I am trying to master Photomatix. Your web site is inspiring!
- Linda Buchanan
ANSWER 2:
Hi Carlton,
I agree with Linda. Nik is very good a lot of effects and controls Flaming Pear for Flood and Flexify are good for some effects I like Topaz except it seems to have a lot of what looks like noise. Maybe I am not using it right. My favorite is Velvia Vision and Mystical Lighting. Love your web site!
- Linda Proctor
ANSWER 3:
I do not use any plug-ins. I have found them consistently to simply be something else to learn, and ultimately unable to do anything I can't already do myself, do with more control, and do better. I think that Photoshop is such a mature application that Adobe has already adopted the most useful add-ons. Much more valuable, I think, to invest in learning more about Photoshop than to invest in something more to learn. After 18 years, I still learn more about Photoshop every day.
The only add-ons I have valued for Photoshop are graphics tools that provide libraries of shapes, boarders, patterns, and the like that can genuinely save time in creating elements you might need ... but these are not really something I consider needed for digital photography.
That may not have been what you were looking for, but I hope the perspective helps!
- Richard Lynch

See Richard Lynch's Basic BetterPholio™:
http://www.betterphoto.com/mg.asp?id=121428

Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with Richard Lynch:
4-Week Short Course: Correct and Enhance Your Images
4-Week Short Course: From Monitor to Print: Photoshop Color Workflow
4-Week Short Course: Photoshop 101: The Photoshop Essentials Primer
Leveraging Layers: Photoshop's Most Powerful Tool
ANSWER 4:
Thank you Richard,
You are correct about the learning curve for photoshop. I have been using it for 7 years and still feel like I only use a small part of its capabilities. I did try making HDR images with Photoshop but struggled to get the results I wanted. When I tried PhotoMatix, I was so impressed with its results and with their tone-mapping tool, I am able to manipulate and control the images much easier. After trying the trial version, I decided to purchase it. The same thing for some of the Topaz filters - where I may need to create a couple of layers and play with Gaussian blur, opacity, saturation, etc, I found I could get the effects I want much simpler with 1 click of a filter. I use both programs with Photoshop and still rely on levels, curves, selective color and many other PS tools to complete an image. The filters just seem to get me in the ballpark much faster & easier.
Linda P and Linda B - Thank you for the compliments and the NIK reference. Right now, I am trying to decide between NIK and Lucis Art ... they are about the same $$.
Thanks again!
- Carlton Ward
Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

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3: Lens Choices for Portraiture
I have an old Tokina lens 28-80mm, and I'm looking to upgrade it. I have a Canon XT DSLR and I do a lot of portrait shooting (semi-professional) - mostly young children. Some friend have recommended the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L, and I'm wondering it would be a big enough difference from what I have to justify the expense or should I go another route. Thanks.
- Jodi M. Walsh
ANSWER 1:
Hello Jodi,
I had the 28-75mm Tamron and sold it to get the 24-70mm Canon L and am happy I did as the 24-70 is a great lens.
For portraits you can also use a prime lens, and the 50mm f/1.4 or the 85mm f/1.8 are very good lenses in the $300 range.
I would definitely consider the 24-70 f/2.8 L or the 135mm f/2 L if you are ready to upgrade.
Hope this helps.
- Carlton Ward
ANSWER 2:
You know, another great lens is the Sigma 24-70/2.8 EX DG. You can pick these up for around $400, and you'll get a lens that performs up to the 'L' glass for about half the price, or less. If performance is more important than a label, this would be a good way to go.
I have this lens, and it is tack-sharp, quick-focusing, and is a great lens for both formal portraiture and for candids at events where you mingle with the crowd.
- John G. Clifford Jr
Read this Q&A at BetterPhoto.com

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