The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Monday, May 04, 2009
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Studio Lighting...
Q&A 2: Question on Light...
Q&A 3: Portrait/Studio L...
Q&A 4: Photographing Wil...
Q&A 1: Photographing B...

"This was a fun course with challenging assignments each week! I now look at potential images in a whole new way. Doug is a great instructor, and went above and beyond to make sure everyone understood the concepts. Thanks!!" -Chellie Stull in Creating Depth in Landscape Photography with Doug Johnson

... at the BetterPhoto Summit in New York City (Saturday, October 31st, 2009)! You'll learn new techniques, gain new insights, get inspired, and have a lot of fun too. Sign up now to take advantage of the early-bird pricing.

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Analyzing a Photograph's Effectiveness ... by Brenda Tharp
If you look at your picture in front of you quickly, you can often see what grabs your attention right away, and where the eyes travels. If you try to do this after you've been looking at something else for a few seconds or minutes, it's easier.
I put my picture up on my computer, then I look at a magazine or something on my desk, for a moment or two, and when I look back at the computer, I'm mentally ready to analyze what grabbed my attention first, where my eye traveled, etc., and what things I found distracting. I have used this in classes, where I will have everyone look at the projected image, and then I'll move off it, then move back to it, and ask them right before I change to quickly 'read' the picture when it comes up.
That first impression tells us so much about how well we did with composing our picture.
Editor's Note: Learn more about Brenda Tharp and her outstanding BetterPhoto online courses.

Featured Gallery
The Louvre
© - Graham D. Sher

Welcome to the 419th issue of SnapShot!

We're off and running with an exciting new month, which includes two awesome announcements! First, our May four-week online school kicks off this Wednesday with a terrific selection of photography and Photoshop courses. Enroll now, since some classes have closed, while others are filling up fast. Learn more about our courses... ... Second, I'm thrilled to announce that the Fall 2009 BetterPhoto Summit will take place in one of the world's most visually dynamic cities: New York! Saturday, Oct. 31st, is the day for inspiring presentations. But that's not all. The optional V.I.P. Summit Shoot (Sunday, November 1st) is a unique event in which you'll spend a memorable day shooting alongside BetterPhoto's pros. Check out the NYC Summit details... ... In this issue of SnapShot, don't miss Brenda Tharp's valuable photo-evaluation thoughts in the Weekly Photo Tip, plus news, notes, and Q&A. ... That's it for this week. Enjoy 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. But hurry and sign up today, since the next 4-week session begins Wednesday. See our 4-week course listings... If you've been hitting a wall lately, then we have some great ways to get inspired! For example, for BetterPhoto's daily dose of visual inspiration, check out our free Photo of the Day newsletter at the subscription page. ... In addition, check out the past contest winners of our monthly contest, including the just-posted March 2009 results! If you have taken 5 or more classes, you can take advantage of MVBP Rewards Program today. For every five classes you take, you receive a 50% discount on your next course! Learn more...

Photo Q&A

1: Studio Lighting
I have a Canon 5D and will be doing a studio shot with it using Alien Bee lights. Do I need to set the shutter at the maximum sync speed? If so, does anyone know what that is for a 5D? Could I shoot at less than that? The reason I'm asking is that when I use 1/250 of a sec., I have to open my aperture to 4.5 to get light that looks good. I'd like to shut the aperture down to about 8 to get maximum sharpness (and slow down the shuuter speed to correspond), but for some reason, I can't get the lighting to look as good. Does anyone have any suggestions?
- Barb Rathbun
I envision that you are talking about strobe (electronic flash) equipment. If true, your shutter speed considerations revolve around what we call synchronization.
Allow me to explain:
Since the duration of the electronic flash is so extremely short, the main problem is to make sure the flash fires at the moment when the camera shutter reaches maximum opening. To achieve your camera has a built-in timing circuit. You are advised to read the camera manual and bone up on this subject because this dictates the range you can use as to shutter speed. If this range is violated, the flash will fail to record in part or in total. Donít worry, the shutter speeds you referenced are within the permissible range. Do however read about synchronization, you will be glad you did.
You need to know that the flash duration of your strobe is exceedingly short. It averages better than 1/1000 second. It is so extremely short that varying the cameraís shutter speed has utterly no impact on exposure. However if strong light is present (ambient light) we must use a fast shutter speed. This avoids ghost images and reduces interference whereby the ambient light unduly impacts on the exposure.
As to lens sharpness Ė Generally a camera lens will perform at it sharpest about two f/stops stopped down from maximum. This will likely be around f/8. It is unlikely that you will be able to detect differences in sharpness wider opening like f/5.6 or even f/4.5, unless the presentation will be giant prints. Maybe you think you need f/8 because you desire a lengthened span of depth-of-field. Thatís OK however the classic view of a portrait is shallow depth-of-field. This causes the background and foreground to be out-of-focus, generally achieved by setting the aperture around f/5.6.
So whatís wrong? Why is the view screen image dark and noisy? The high quality studio strobe is built with two light sources. A flash tube to provide the brilliant flash for the picture taking instant. A built-in standard tungsten lamps called modeling light to allow you to pre-visualize the lighting as it will be furnished by the flash. Usually the modeling light is sufficient to allow you to compose and focus. These modeling lights either quench for the exposure or they are too feeble to affect the flash exposure.
No modeling lights? You need to provide sufficient ambient light to allow composing and focusing. Keep in mind, exposure is based on the flash that will fire not on ambient light.
Best of luck,
Alan Marcus
- Alan N. Marcus
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2: Question on Lightroom
I downloaded Lightroom 2 for a 30-day trial and have watched and read several tutorials but cannot find where I can take my raw CR2 file after editing in Lightroom and save it as a tif. Do I have to open it in Photoshop to do this or can Lightroom do this?
Thank you.
- Carlton Ward
Hi Carlton, You're going to love LR2 once you use it a little. Keep in mind, LR doesn't "contain" your images, only a map to where the image is stored. You can't do a "save as" in LR.
Go under the Edit menu to preferences and go to the "External Editing" tab. There you will set up how LR exports the image after you have edited the raw file. Set the file format to tiff and select the other parameters such as color space, etc. When you are ready to save the tiff file, go to the Export button at the bottom left side of the library module. The export dialog box lets you determine where the file will be stored.
- John Rhodes
Hi Carlton, I have had LR for some months now and LOVE IT!!!
Try this: File > Export > Export location, File name and File settings (here you can choose to save as TIFF.
The only problem I have with LR is that my TIFF files when editing in PS it doesn't give me the option to save them in JPEG. Otherwise, it's great. I really LOVE IT!!!
- Elida Gutierrez
Elida, Are you exporting your files as 16 bits? If so, try changing them to 8 bits before you try to save as JPEG:
Image > Mode > 8 Bits/Channel
That always does the trick for me.
- Debra Booth
Thanks everyone.
I am still getting used to the layout and the way Lightroom works but it seems pretty cool so far. I am just so used to Photoshop as I know where everything is and it will take a bit of using LR to get comfortable with it.
Cheers, Carlton

Editor's Note: FYI ... Lewis Kemper teaches the excellent Adobe Lightroom - A Comprehensive Look online course here at BetterPhoto.

- Carlton Ward
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3: Portrait/Studio Lens
I am looking for a good studio portrait lens. I have a Canon 40D. I have been leaning towards the EF 85mm. However, reading articles online and talking with a camera store ... the 70-200mm keeps popping up. Any recommendations or suggestions??
- Flo Bringas
Hi Flo,
For a portrait lens, you are free to choose any focal length your heart desires. While there are no hard and fast rules, there are compelling reasons to choose within a range, for your camera itís 65mm ~ 80mm.
Allow me to explain:
The focal length mounted establishes perspective. It is widely viewed that if one mounts a lens equal to the diagonal measure of the format, the perspective obtained is a close match to the human experience.
The Canon 40D sports a CMOS imaging sensor that measures 14.8mm by 22.2mm. We can calculate the diagonal, it is 26.9mm. You donít need to be exactly on this value so we can say if you set your lens to anywhere around the 27mm mark, you will match the human experience.
How about portraits? Experienced portrait photographers will gravitate to a lens 2.5 times the diagonal. Hollywood uses 3x for close-upís. These values are based on the typical viewing distance associated with a finished print or display screen.
That being true, for your camera the ideal portrait lens range is 65mm ~ 80mm.
Why this range? If the focal length you select is too short, the subjectís nose reproduces microscopically too large and the ears slightly too small. In other words, the view seen on the finished work will not match the mental picture people have of themselves. T
his self image is derived from the familiar view as seen in the make-up/shaving mirror. While the distortions I am talking about are tiny, they are enough to cause the subject to say, "I donít photograph well".
Little harm from using a too long lens, however long lenses compress facial features likely destroying the illusion of depth. After all we work in a 2 dimensional media, We want to convey the feeling that our images have depth.
Alan Marcus (marginal technical gobbledygook
- Alan N. Marcus
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4: Photographing Wildlife
I have a Canon EF 100-400mm f4-5.6 IS USM lens which I use with a Canon 40d. I find that this lens is slightly heavy to use as a hand held and even with IS my images aren't as sharp as I would like. Would you have any advice about a lens that might be lighter to use in the field but will give me good distance and image quality?
- Emily Webster
Any alternative with same reach (EF 300 f/4L IS USM + 1.4x, Sigma 120-400 f/4-5.6 DG OS HSM ...) will be as heavy or heavier. Try to narrow down the source of unsharpness. If the image stabilization is not totally correcting camera shake because the lens/camera combination is too heavy, a monopod is relatively inexpensive and doubles as a walking stick on wildlife hikes. If you are using a "protective" filter, try without. These can add reflections and flare that reduce contrast. Use the lens hood. The 100-400L's performance is weakest at maximum zoom and aperture. Try stopping down even 1/3-2/3 stop to f/6.3 or f/7 instead of f/5.6.
- Jon Close
P.S. also check your photos to make sure the camera is not misfocusing a little in front or behind your intended subject. If this misfocus is consistent, then the lens and/or camera can be re-calibrated by Canon.
- Jon Close
Emily, I use the same lens and camera and have found the lens to be very sharp. I find I can hand hold at shutter speeds around 100-150 and up. As far as the weight goes, I use a neoprene camera strap which does reduce it.
- Marianne Fortin
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1: Photographing Basketball: Lens Question

I have the basic Canon wide-angle lens and the 75-200mm 2.8 lens. I'm looking to buy a lens that's in between the two. I heard there's a great mid-range zoom lens for basketball, but I can't remember what it is. Does anyone have any recommendations?
- Tammi T. Paul

Tammi: Hmmmm ... perhaps you mean the 28-135mm IS lens?
Problem is, it does not have very wide apertures, so shutter speeds will be long in low light.
The 24-105mm f/4L would be more suitable and it's also equipped with an image stabilizer. I own this lens, and it's excellent!

Cheers! Peter

- Peter K. Burian

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Sigma makes a very good 50-150 2.8 lens that I use.

- Dennis Flanagan

I agree; the Sigma is superb. And the aperture is even wider, so very useful in low light.
I tested it; you can find my review at:
Peter -

- Peter K. Burian

See Peter Burian's Basic BetterPholio™:

Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with Peter Burian:
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Mastering the Digital Camera and Photography
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