The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
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Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Slow Photoshop ...
Q&A 2: Camera Shake (Fli...
Q&A 3: Wedding Photograp...
Q&A 1: What Is a Topaz...
Q&A 2: Blurred Photos...

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Deciphering Custom White Balance ... by Rob Sheppard
When doing custom white balance, it is very important that whatever you are using for this can be placed in the light on the subject.

For example, you could be shooting a small waterfall in the woods — the waterfall is lit by open sky, but the light falling on your camera comes from the very green trees all around you. A white balance device that mounts to your lens will then give an inaccurate reading if you do not move your camera. Or you might be shooting a family portrait using some beautiful light from a large window — the people get the light from the window, but you happen to be facing a tungsten light that only hits the people’s heads. If your device is on the camera and you do not move the camera to the people’s position and point it back toward the camera position (like an incident meter), your white balance will be way off.

An advantage of a white card used for custom white balance (or a gray card. for that matter) is that it is easy to put into the exact light that is on your subject. A camera-mounted white balance device of any kind is easy to use at the camera position, which might not always be the light that is on your subject, and not always so easy to place in position where the subject is and pointing in a direction to actually read the light landing on the subject.

You do have to be careful of some white papers, too. A lot of papers used for inkjet printing (of any kind) have built-in fluorescers that make the white look brighter, but also add a blue component to the light that is read by the camera. That can cause your white balance to be too warm. But you can always test a white card to see if it does the job you need.

Editor's Note: This Photo Tip has been adapted from Rob Sheppard's blog. Learn more about Rob and his excellent online courses.

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Welcome to the 422nd issue of SnapShot!

Welcome to the latest edition of SnapShot! Starting things off, I want to remind you that the great $129 price for the Seattle and New York Summits will be ending very soon. So sign up now, before the price goes up to $149 May 31st. See the Summit details. ... As May winds down, we also look forward to the June online school, with awesome 4-week classes in photography and the digital darkroom. Classes begin June 3rd. ... Want to keep up with many of the goings-on at BetterPhoto? Check out our What's New? page. ... In this issue of SnapShot, don't miss Rob Sheppard's Photo Tip on custom White Balance, plus a fine selection of questions and answers from the BetterPhoto Forum. ... That's it for now. Enjoy your week of photography!

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

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Photo Q&A

1: Slow Photoshop
A while back there was a thread on picking up the speed of photoshop. I am using CS2 and the program is stalling and very slow. Carlton had a solution to the problem on the last thread which I could not find on a search. Anyone know the answer???
Thanks in advance.
- Mary Iacofano
Hi Mary,
In Photoshop, go to Edit>Preferences>Memory & Cache, and make sure it is set around 70 to 80%.
This will allocate that amount of RAM for just Photoshop when you have PS open.
- Carlton Ward
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2: Camera Shake (Flinch)?
Can anyone help me? Iam 53 years old, have been shooting since high school year book in 1974. I have discovered in the past year or so that when I depress the shutter release that I flinch real bad resulting in camera shake. I shoot with a Nikon D300 and their vibration restisant(VR)lens ,i also notice when I shoot with my SB800 flash my images look a bit better.i notice also the problem accurs even out doors on sunny days at higher shutter speeds, any ideas?
- Patrick  Patton
Patrick, why don't you buy a shutter remote release? That would probably be the best solution.
- Jessica Jenney
Howdy Patrick !
It's less likely that your flinching is related to age as opposed to technique. In that respect, I offer the following:

Soft images can be caused by a number of factors either singly or in combination. Subject movement aside, using a long lens whether fixed or a zoomer, say a 200 or even 400 mm lens at less than optimal shutter speeds say 1/250th or 1/500th for those two lenses, can lead to soft images especially at higher magnification/enlargement. Thus, that's one technique to try, higher speeds or even bump your ISO up a bit.
Using a camera support of some kind when possible is also helpful. I like using larger lenses off a monopod (I prefer Gitzo but there are countless others offered). As Jess suggested, a remote release, like a radio slave coupled to a release, can be another solution although my preference is just mounting the camera on a tripod and using a short cable release for long exposures.
BTW, I also like using a quick release plate on all my pods, tripods and monopods. Supporting the camera on a tree limb, rock, a wall, are also useful supports. OR, leaning against one of those things can provide additional stability at any shutter speed.
Finally, practicing good shutter release technique can be very helpful again at all shutter speeds. I recommend using an eye cup on the viewfinder to allow you to firmly press the camera to your face, supporting it firmly from the bottom, tucking your elbows into your sides to support them and then holding your breath as you gently depress the shutter release.
Take it light ;>)

- Mark Feldstein
Hi Patrick,

As always, Mark is spot on. I do however offer one tip that could be helpful.
Procure a circular ladies make-up mirror. You can pop one out of an inexpensive compact from the dollar store. Using duct tape, mount the mirror squarely over the camera lens. Procure a flashlight that produces a good tight beam and place it on a mantel or dresser. Aim the flashlight at you and the handheld camera. The idea is to cause the mirror to reflect the flashlight beam and cast it on the wall adjacent to the flashlight. In other words, you see on the wall, a circular spot of light the origin being the mirror taped/camera.
Now practice pressing the shutter release (dry fire). Any movement or unsteadiness will be instantly revealed by movements and dancing of the spot of light. This technique is quite effective when teaching correct shutter release technique.
Practice will resolve this problem.
Best regards,

- Alan N. Marcus
Use your timer.
Or you can set your shutter to "burst" and fire off multiple frames. The movement of the camera will register on the first and last exposures (when you press and release the shutter). The middle frames will be sharpest.
Developing a good shutter release technique is an acquired skill.
(I like Alan's mirror trick).
- Bob Cammarata
I'm a few years older than you and have noticed that I'm not as steady as I once was. My solution is to use a tripod more often, coupled with a remote shutter release.
Once you are in your fifties the abuses of our younger days start taking a toll, at least in my case, so we have to find ways to compensate for the problems. Of course, thoughts of something more serious than normal wear and tear on the body crop up on particularly bad days, but it's mostly just getting older smacking us around a little.
- Jeffrey R. Whitmoyer
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3: Wedding Photography - CF Cards
I'm shooting my first wedding on my own. What would you suggest on the number of gb's I would need in a card or cards?
- Carolyn  V. Watson
What size files does your camera create (megabytes, not pixels)? Multiply by the number of photos you're likely to shoot (200? 500? 1000?).
- Jon Close
Hi Carolyn,
I use 4GB CF cards because after I download my Raw files to my Mac, I also burn the files to DVD which are also 4GB - so they are a nice match. I have (5) 4GB CF cards and a couple of older 2GB ones.
Shooting weddings requires lots of backups, like cameras, cards, lighting, etc. The last thing you want is to start a shoot and have something fail with no backup or lack of equipment to do the job. I have a backup camera, and carry both a 580EX & 430EX flash along with all my lenses, tripods & cards.
I rarely do weddings but do I bring everything with me when I shoot a wedding.
Good luck and hav fun!
- Carlton Ward
I would go with a bunch of 1GB or 2GB cards. A 8GB card would work fine but why take a chance on Murphy raising his ugly head? If a single card gets corrupted, with a 1 or 2GB card, not all is lost.
- Dennis Flanagan
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1: What Is a Topaz Filter?

I often admire images that say the photographer has used a Topaz filter. I have just bought Photoshop Elements 7 and was wondering: Is this filter included - as part of an action package?
- Julianna J. Collett

Julianne, there are many filters that you can add to Photoshop. They're called plug-ins. You can download a trial for free here:

- Jessica Jenney
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2: Blurred Photos

I've read my manuel a bunch of times, and tried all kinds of different settings. When I've outside in full daylight my images are sharp. But when in an indoor arena or an outdoor one with lights, I get lots of blur. I feel liked I've tried everything (though I'm sure I haven't).
- Wendy Wyatt

You need a shutter speed faster than 1/30 to stop your subject's motion. The ways to get there are: (1) shoot at higher ISO, (2) purposely underexpose and recover the photo in post-processing, or (3) shoot with a lens with a wider maximum aperture. 1 and 2 have no out-of-pocket costs, but will give grainier/noisier images. 3 tends to be expensive. 70-200 f/4 or f/2.8 zoom, or a prime lens such as 200 f/2.8 or 135 f/2.
Oops, forgot #4 - use flash, but from a distance, you're going to need a very powerful flash, or the ability to mount it close to the subjects and fire it remotely.

- Jon Close

I'm guessing by looking at your settings that zoomed out to 200mm, that your biggest aperture (lowest f/number) is 5.6. Indoors, it will be hard to get a fast-enough shutter speed for fast action unless the venue is very well lit. You can push your ISO up to 800 but you will get more noise.
Avoid using the camera's automatic settings. Put your shutter at 1/250, your ISO to 800, and use the largest aperture possible, and see if your results are acceptable.

- Dennis Flanagan
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