The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
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Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Tropical Rain For...
Q&A 2: Photographing Lar...
Q&A 1: Cure for 'S...

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Down and Dirty Exposure Basics ... by Rob Sheppard
Here are some exposure thoughts from BetterPhoto instructor Rob Sheppard's PhotoDigitary blog:
-Try using your camera on Aperture priority - use small f-stops (e.g., f/11, f/16) for more depth of field (sharpness in depth). But watch that your shutter speed does not get too slow (pay attention to the sharpness in the LCD when you enlarge the photo). Use large f-stops (e.g., f/4, f/5.6) for narrow depth of field to emphasize your subject and to gain a faster shutter speed with Aperture priority.
-Watch your exposure so that it is neither too low (big gap on right side of histogram) or too high (washed out important highlights).
Editor's Note: Rob Sheppard teaches several courses here at BetterPhoto, including Guaranteed Better Photography and Storytelling Nature Photos

Featured Gallery

Welcome to the 417th issue of SnapShot!

We have just returned from Florida after a highly successful BetterPhoto Summit. What an awesome experience! It was great to meet so many members, and a huge thanks to all who attended. Now we look forward to our May session of 4-week online courses, which features a wide range of photography and Photoshop courses. ... In this issue of SnapShot, don't miss This Week's Photo Tip, plus an excellent Q&A selection. ... That's it for now. Have fun with your photography!

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

Are the controls, dials, menus, etc., of your Nikon, Canon or Olympus digital SLR camera a total mystery? Then check out these 4-week camera courses... Discover the best techniques for shooting nature photos, as well as processing those images in Photoshop CS4! Check out Kevin Moss's excellent 4-week course: the updated Photoshop for Nature Photographers. Learn more... The contest continues to be an important part of everyday BP life. If you are a member, student, or BetterPholio website owner, you can access the contest and upload photos via your Member Center. ... Also, check out this page for current and past monthly contest themes:

Photo Q&A

1: Tropical Rain Forest Concerns
I will be traveling to Costa Rica in three weeks to photograph the tropical rain forest. What concerns should I prepare for? Any special gear besides my photo backpack to protect my equipment?
- Arthur Bohlmann
I don't know if it's past the rainy season or not, but rain and humidity can cause condensation, and watch out for bugs when changing lenses.
Take plastic bags and silica packs (desiccant).
- gregory la grange
Thanks for the advice! It will be rainy. Thanks!
- Arthur Bohlmann
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2: Photographing Larger Groups of Small Flowers
Looking for some advice and tips. I do pretty well photographing single flowers or even smaller groups of flowers, but when I try to capture a larger group of flowers, particularly when they are small and all of the same predominant color, the photos just seem to fall short for me. I just cannot seem to capture what it is I am trying to capture, the large splash of color while also retaining some detail in individual flowers. I have tried different depths of field and still just cannot seem to get what I want.
- Nevia Cashwell
The welcomed warmth of spring and shooting flowers seem to go hand in hand. We all strive to try something a little different each flower season ... a unique angle of perspective, creative use of light and background. Sometimes it can hard to come up with something new.
What about your photos do you feel "falls short"? If it's compositionally, try to include the group of flowers as part of a larger landscape. Use a wide-angle lens and a small aperture. Get low to the ground and focus on the nearest flower in the bunch. Include the background landscape and part of the sky if you can. The cluster of colorful flowers will become the primary point of interest and the rest of the landscape will add balance to the scene.
If your interests lie in capturing only the flowers, try shooting them from a higher angle of perspective ... eliminating the rest of the background. A small aperture setting will insure apparent focus throughout the group.
Another neat trick you can try on a calm day is to set the camera on a tripod, set the ISO on your camera to its lowest setting and select a small aperture and slow shutter speed (around 1/4 second). Focus on the front group of flowers, then set the timer and press the shutter. Before the timer runs out, create a "breeze" by waving a piece of flat cardboard back and forth (out of frame, of course) over the flowers toward the back of the frame. When done properly, the blooms in front are tack-sharp and will stand out against a blurred colorful background.
Also, cloudy days offer the best conditions for photographing flowers. The colors are more saturated and the slow shutter speeds I suggested earlier are easy to achieve. Harsh sunlight tends to burn out highlights and create deep shadows.
- Bob Cammarata
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1: Cure for 'Soft' Photos?

I've been shooting with Canon 40D and 24-70 f/2.8 lens for some time now and realize that rarely do my images come out tack sharp. Do you have any suggestions on what to do? I do focus on an subject (the AF red light goes on) but the images are still soft. I tried increasing shutter speed - sometimes to 200 or higher and they are still not tack sharp! Any suggestions? I am sure that I just don't know how to use my equipment because I've seen others produce very sharp images with the same camera/lens.
Any advice is really appreciated!
- Lena AntaramianSee Sample Photo - Fatherly love>

Lena, your photo is nice, but, as you say, soft. Notice the edges of the ears look sharp, but the features further back look soft. This is called shallow depth-of-field, where part of the image is sharp and areas in front and behind are not in focus.
The solution is simple - your aperture needs to be stopped down a little. I suggest you shoot this at f/4 to f/5.6 to increase the sharpness just enough. Don't stop down too much or the background will also be too sharp and distracting.
If you can practice "aperture bracketing" by shooting a similar scene with f/2.8. 4, 5.6, 8, .... to see the effect.

- John Rhodes

At the same time, when taking the photo, make sure your primary point of focus is the eyes, not the ears.

- Dennis Flanagan

Hi Lena,
You've received some great advice. Just to add: A rule of thumb for lenses is the lens will be its sharpest about 2 stops above its fastest aperture. So if you have a f/2.8 lens, it may be sharper at f/5.6
I know this is true for some of my lenses, but again it's just a guideline. Every lens has its own characteristics as there are variances between the glass/optics and assembly that make the lens. If you have (3) 24-70mm lenses, there will likely be little differences between each of them.
Experiment a bit and see where your lens is its sharpest.
Have fun!

- Carlton Ward
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