The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Monday, April 27, 2009
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Q&A 1: Group Shots with ...
Q&A 2: Teleconverter - H...
Q&A 1: How to Get a Bl...

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Wide-Angle: How to Capture a Feeling of 'Being There' ... by Sean Arbabi
When you walk upon a grand scene in nature - regardless of how talented you are as a photographer - it is extremely tough to capture the true feeling of being there. But if you use a wide-angle lens (zooming out the most you can on your point-and-shoot camera), you often can capture a nice landscape by including the foreground as well as the background. This gives the viewer an idea of where you were and what you saw, as well as panoramic feel of the scene you witnessed.
Editor's Note: Sean Arbabi teaches an excellent course here at BetterPhoto:
Better Exposure: How to Meter Light

Featured Gallery

Welcome to the 418th issue of SnapShot!

Been hitting a wall lately? At BetterPhoto, we have some awesome solutions to give your photography a creative quick start. Enroll in one of our awesome 4-week online Photo Courses, with the next session coming up fast (May 6th). Consider the Masterpiece Membership is based on the exciting goal that Ansel Adams had: Create a masterpiece every month! In addition, check out BetterPhoto's daily dose of visual inspiration: the free Photo of the Day newsletter. And see the inspiring past winners of our monthly contest. ... That's it for now. Enjoy your week of photography!

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

Our next 4-week course session is coming up quick - May 6th. These online photography courses give you personal interaction with successful professionals and the flexibility and convenience of the Web! See our 4-week listings... William Neill, Outdoor Photographer columnist and BetterPhoto instructor, has released his latest outstanding eBook: Meditations in Monochrome. Learn more about William and his BetterPhoto courses. Have some spare time? Check out our Instructor Insights photography blogs!

Photo Q&A

1: Group Shots with People in Front and Back
How do I take a picture of a group of, say, 4 or 5 people where you have a person in the front and the rest are behind but at different depths? I hope the question makes sense, but, the best discription I could give is you sometimes see it on album covers where the band is somewhat layered in the shot. What makes this shot work (aperture, zoom lens, depth of field)? Where would one start? I have a Canon 40d with the 28-135mm, a 50mm f1.8, the 75-300mm zoom and a 18-55mm wide angle.
- Manny Valencia
Hello Manny,
You will want to use a deeper DOF like f/16 or preferably f/22 but how much detail will also depend on your lens characteristics and where your focal point is. This will also make for a slower shutter speed so you may have to bump your ISO up a bit.
Hope this helps!
- Carlton Ward
Thanks, Carlton. So would I be better off getting up close with a wide angle or further back and zooming in? Should I focus on the person in the front or the middle?
If you have ever seen the cover of U2's album The Joshua Tree, that is kind of what I am trying to do.
Hope that makes sense of what I am striving for.
Thanks again.
- Manny Valencia
Hi Manny,
I would try the wide angle. I am not familiar with the U2 album cover, although I know some of the songs from that one.
- Carlton Ward
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2: Teleconverter - How to Choose One?
How do you choose a teleconverter for a camera? Do you match the teleconverter to the camera? Or to the lens? Or does it matter? I have a Nikon D70 with a Nikon 16-85mm lens but am looking at a Sigma 18-200mm lens as a 1-lens solution.
Charles, you need to select a teleconverter with the Nikon mount. This will fit any Nikon DSLR camera. Any lens with the Nikon mount will fit the teleconverter. Keep in mind that with a 2x teleconverter, you will lose 2 stops of light; with a 1.4x, 1 stop. If your lens (18-200) has an aperture range of f/3.5-6.3, or f/3.5-5.6 (16-85) you will not be happy with the resulting loss. Best to use the teleconverter on fast glass.
- John Rhodes
Thanks. Could you give me some examples of "fast glass"?
Teleconverters work best with telephoto prime lenses by the same manufacturer. "Fast glass" (in telephoto) can be described as a 300mm to 400mm f/2.8 or an f/4 600mm. When properly matched, terrific results can be achieved. (I would not even try to attach a teleconverter to a zoom lens and expect the same results.)
- Bob Cammarata
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1: How to Get a Black Background?

I have noticed several very nice images with an all black background, it makes the images really pop, so how is this achieved?
- Sarah E. Springer

Hi Sarah,
There are a couple of ways to do this, but select the background and create a new layer and then you can Edit>Fill and use black as the fill color. There are some cool effects you can do with the gradient tool as well with backgrounds.
You can also select the background and create a new layer and add an empty layer mask and use the brush tool to color over the existing background. I believe this is how I did this photo...
Hope this helps,

- Carlton WardSee Sample Photo - glass_0178x

I simply use a muslin black backdrop.

- Dennis Flanagan

I just use the magic wand tool to select the background (or as much of it as is easy to do) and then, like Carlton said, use the brush tool to get the rest. If you have to get close, just enlarge the photo enough so you can see what you are doing better and also it keeps your hand steadier if you're wiggly like me.

- Carolyn Fletcher

Use flash at your camera's maximum sync speed ... positioned at a distance to illuminate only your subject. As long as whatever background is far enough behind your point of interest that it doesn't reflect the burst from the strobe, it won't record and it will render as black.

- Bob Cammarata

When I photograph wildflowers, I place my black backpack a few inches behind the flower. It works great.

- Donald  R. Curry

A small piece of black felt can also be utilized as background material. It can be easily rolled to fit into any camera bag or backpack. If you like shooting bug macros (...and who doesn't?), the felt can even be used to attract insects to photograph.
If you lay out the black material flat on the ground on a cool sunny morning, grasshoppers, leafhoppers, arachnids and a host of other tiny critters will hop on to warm up their tiny little bodies.
This wolf spider was attracted to my black tripod bag.

- Bob Cammarata

Bob C's suggestions will go a long way toward helping you solve that problem because rather than fixing it after the fact, you create the image the way you want it.
In addition, however, use a pure black background, either muslin or seamless paper or even the black side(s) of a 4x8 sheet of fome core. Get your subject moved forward of the background and control your lighting to keep it off the background unless you want to lighten it up by various degrees.
Trying to use a black background outdoors during daylight and to get a pure black appearance is tough to do. You really need to control that with exposures and f-stops. That kind of shot seems to obviate the need for a background altogether or PS it I guess. In fact, I don't think I've ever used any type of artificial background outdoors. I just rely on nature or architecture for that.
Take it light ;>)

- Mark Feldstein


I agree a natural background is usually more appropriate and that is my typical choice. There are times when that doesn't work well. Just this week, I photographed a wild azalea. The flower was above my head and the background was a bright sky. I was able to hang my black backpack from a limb just behind the flower. I like the idea of the black felt. It could easily be placed in position with some alligator clips. Just another tool for the right situation.

- Donald  R. Curry
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