The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Monday, March 09, 2009
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: 1/2 Image & s...
Q&A 2: Studio Lighting P...
Q&A 3: Help with Studio ...
Q&A 4: Raw Files and Pho...

"This has been a super 8 weeks. I've learned a lot, had my eyes opened, and - best of all - I've become enthusiastic about street photography. Something I was uncomfortable with has become a great daily adventure!" -Sarah Perreten, student in Street and People Photography with Susan and Neil Silverman

The exciting BetterPhoto Summit takes place April 19th, 2009, St. Augustine, Florida. Sign up now, in order to increase your chances of winning the Summit Contest AND to take advantage of the early-bird pricing. Learn the Summit details...

For every five classes you take, you receive a 50% discount on your next course! Learn more about MVBP Rewards...

Each month, BetterPhoto offers a fun new theme for one of its 10 contest categories. See the current and previous themes...

Get word of your product or service out to a rapidly growing list of over 65822 serious photographers.
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Tv versus Av: Which is the best choice? ... by Jim Zuckerman
Many photographers religiously shoot on aperture priority - Av - when they are hand-hold their camera. They do this so they can control the amount of depth of field they are getting, and usually they want as much DOF as possible. I feel in many instances this is a mistake.

My rationale is that depth of field is irrelevant if the picture isn't sharp. What happens too often is that it's very easy to get so involved in the subject that when you close the lens down for increased dof, you lose sight of what the shutter is doing because it's being adjusted automatically based on your f/stop choice. If the shutter speed gets too slow, the picture will be blurred. At that point extensive depth of field won't matter at all.

I contend that first and foremost, you must use a shutter speed that gives you a sharp picture. This is generally 1/60th of a second or faster unless your subject is moving very fast and/or you are using a telephoto lens. In those cases, you need a faster speed such as 1/250th or more.

Then, and only then, can you decide on how much depth of field you can have. If you are shooting at, say, 1/250th of a second and you decide you want more dof, your only option at that point (assuming the shutter speed doesn't get slower) is to raise the ISO or put more light on the scene.

If you are using a tripod, on the other hand, and your subject isn't moving (like a landscape), then you have the luxury of using apeture priority and choosing a small f/stop like f/22 or f/32. The slowness of the shutter doesn't matter since there is no chance of blurring a subject.

There is only one exception to this. If you are hand-holding the camera and you want the fastest shutter speed possible for a particular situation, then you can choose Av and select the largest aperture on the lens. This, in turn, forces the camera to choose the fastest shutter speed possible given the lighting and given the ISO you are using.

Editor's note: Jim Zuckerman teaches many excellent courses here at BetterPhoto, including Perfect Digital Exposure and Eight Steps to More Dramatic Photography

Featured Gallery
The Joy of Motherhood
© - Laurie Shupp

Welcome to the 411th issue of SnapShot!

Our March online photography courses are off to a grand start! We are now looking forward to BetterPhoto's April school, with a full school schedule of both 4-week and 8-week sessions. The fun begins April 8th. ... We are also looking ahead to the next BetterPhoto Summit, which takes place April 19th, 2009, in St. Augustine, Florida. Learn from the pros, meet fellow members, and give your photography a thrilling boost! ... Can't find the BetterPhoto Forum? It's still around and still going strong! 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. ... In this issue of SnapShot, don't miss Jim Zuckerman's Photo Tip ("Tv versus Av: Which is the best choice?") and a fine collection of questions and answers. ... That's it for this week. Have fun with your photography!

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

Are you ready to take the next step in photography or Photoshop? Our online classes offer excellent interaction between pro instructor and students, plus the convenience of the Web. The next 8-week session starts April 8th. See our school schedule... We offer two outstanding 8-week courses taught by top pros: Wedding Photography Techniques: An Introduction and Digital Wedding Photography. BP instructor Jim Zuckerman is teaching an exciting seminar - Making Money with Your Photography - at acclaimed photographer Art Wolfe's gallery in Seattle, WA. It takes place April 3-5, 2009.Learn the details...

Photo Q&A

1: 1/2 Image & sync cord?
I just received my Alien Bees lighting kit and was experimenting tonight. I got maybe 5 shots off and then started getting 1/2 images (see examples). If I unplug the sync cord, I get the full image. I'm shooting with a Canon 40D and have never used a sync cord or had this problem in the past. Please tell me this happens for a reason and it's not my camera. Thanks.
- Ron EvansSee Sample Photo - help with 1/2 #2

See Sample Photo - help with 1/2

It looks like your shutter speed is too fast to sync with the flash units. Check your camera sync speed and make sure the shutter is set at a speed slower than sync speed.
- Jeffrey R. Whitmoyer
Ditto. Your shutter speed is too fast. I shoot Nikon and 1/250 is the fastest speed I can shoot without this happening.
- Dennis Flanagan
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2: Studio Lighting Problem
I have a d-SLR (Nikon D80) and when I connect it to my studio lights (Alien Bees) with the sync cord it will take one or two good pictures and then the shutter does not open all the way leaving black along the bottom of my pictures. Has anyone else had this problem? I've sent the camera in once to get it checked out and they said it was fine. To get it out of its "funk", I have to unhook the camera and turn it off and on a few times and then the shutter will open up again.
- Janet  Schill
Typically, this (black along the bottom) is caused by using shutter speed faster than can sync with the strobes. The D80 will sync as fast as 1/200 sec. with hotshoe speedlights, but studio strobes like the Alien Bees fire slower and you may be limited to 1/125 or 1/60 when using them.
- Jon Close
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3: Help with Studio Lighting
I need some help setting up my studio and lighting. I converted to a whole new system. I own 2 photogenic 1250 and I purchased a new softbox and umbrellas. I do not have a sync cord to connect to my camera or to the light meter to test. I have only had a minute of two to play with the new set-up but couldn't seem to get it right. Suggestions on how far away from the background to set -up the lights? What to set the main light on and the fill flash? What is the difference from shoot through umbrellas to black umbrella? I know I need to take a class but I have 6 children and no time.
- Jamie J. Lange
Hello Jamie,
I do recommend John Siskin's An Introduction to Photographic Lighting course, but he also has a lot of info online that may help if taking the course is not doable. His course is a fast track to get you in the game and a firm foundation to start from.
You can get a sync cord at most electronic stores like Radio Shack. You may also look into getting Pocket Wizards. They just announced a new one that will work with TTL speedlights and strobes.
I would read as much as possible, but ultimately I always find that these are only guidelines to get you in the ballpark and you will still need to experiment a bit to get the look you are wanting. I think the way we light a subject varies from each photographer as an artistic expression of how we want to use the lighting. I tend to like darker with warm (gold reflectors) glowing type portraits as others prefer brighter with maybe more silver reflectors instead. And eventually, you will be able to achieve any effect you want as you get more comfortable with your lights. Take notes. John had us take photos of our lighting setup as part of his lessons, and I also take photos of my various lighting setups just for this reason since it is an easy reference for me. But you still need notes to know what settings/power you used for a specific setup.
Practice and learn.
Good Luck!
- Carlton Ward
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4: Raw Files and Photoshop
I was wondering if anyone can tell me how to convert a .dng file to a jpeg so that I can work on it. I have Photoshop Elements 3.0 and inserted a plug-in so that I could do Raw.
- Jamie J. Lange
Best to just open the file and save from Elements rather than trying to convert to JPEG. You will not really want to convert to JPEG anyway, as it is a lossy format -- meaning the quality of the image will degrade in subsequent saves. Once the file is open in Photoshop, it is not a JPEG or PSD or TIFF it is an image in a document window, and unless you have features that will not be supported in a file type (e.g., layers are not supported by JPEG, nor is 16-bit) you will be able to save the file as a variety of things.

Did you get Adobe's RAW plugin? Or the DNG converter? or another product? If you had to purchase, it may well have been worth getting the upgrade to Elements (whatever) as the RAW plugin comes with Elements 4-7, and these have some 16-bit support -- which is an advantage in RAW image processing. The Elements 7 release for Windows is only $60 (see, and while there are not a great many reasons to upgrade, there are enough to make jumping 4 versions worthwhile.

I hope that helps some.


- Richard Lynch

See Richard Lynch's Basic BetterPholio™:

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
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