The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Monday, June 01, 2009
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: How Do You Shoot ...
Q&A 2: Low ISO vs. New C...
Q&A 3: Upgrade from Poin...

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Photographing Children Around the World ... by Jim Zuckerman
One of the delights in traveling internationally is interacting with children of many cultures. They are almost universally both shy and curious.
There are only two types of natural light that should be used for shooting children, or for that matter any person, when outdoors: diffused and low angled sunlight.
Diffused light occurs when a cloud cover disperses sunlight similar to what a softbox does to a flash head in the studio. It is soft and shadowless, and your subject can be placed anywhere where the background is complementary to the composition.
However, if the sun is high in the sky, harsh shadows and contrasty light will invariably degrade the image. Under these circumstances, ask the child (if necessary, through an interpreter or with hand gestures) if he or she will move into the shade of a tree or building.
This takes care of the problem. If you have a diffusion panel, it can be held above the child to soften the sunlight, enabling you to shoot in the open. The only problem is that large, unfamiliar objects might frighten small children and dissuade them from posing naturally.
The second type of natural light that can be used effectively is low-angled sunlight. Early morning and late afternoon light, when the sun is close to the horizon, provides flattering, golden illumination that can be effective for either front, back or side lighting.
Editor's Note: Learn more about Jim Zuckerman and his excellent BetterPhoto courses.

Featured Gallery
A Winter wave of the North Shore
© - Michael Rogers

Welcome to the 423rd issue of SnapShot!

Would you like a great photo vacation but can't afford the time off? Our online classes are affordable and fit right into your busy schedule - without the expense of an on-location workshop! BetterPhoto's June 4-week courses, by the way, launch this Wednesday. Learn more about our online school... If you really want to make 2009 a year to remember, it's easy: We offer a choice of 2 - that's TWO! - BetterPhoto Summits. Whether Seattle (July 25th) or New York City (Oct. 31st), you'll learn new techniques, gain new insights, get inspired, and have tons of fun too. And that's not all: The optional post-Summit Workshop is a special opportunity to shoot side by side with a top professional. Read all the Summit details... In this issue of SnapShot, don't miss the Weekly Photo Tip, plus news, notes, and Q&A. ... That's it for now. Enjoy your week of photography!

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

An exciting new month starts with this announcement: Our June 4-week courses launch this Wednesday (June 3rd). But enroll now, since some classes are starting to fill. The next 4-week session kicks off this Wednesday (June 3rd), while the next 8-week school starts on July 1st. Receive a FREE Polaroid Guide book with your order of Kathleen Carr's creative 8-week course: Polaroid/Fuji Image & Emulsion Transfer. Supplies limited - enroll soon! Learn more... Check out our What's New page for links to photos, announcements, etc.

Photo Q&A

1: How Do You Shoot Lightning?
I am interested in shooting lightning. Thanks!
- Eric S. Rundle
Hi Eric,
To get a dramatic shot of lightning, the camera must be aimed and the scene and composed and the shutter pressed during the actual lightning strike. Not an easy task. Therefore, we place the camera¡¯s aperture at f/22. This is a tiny lens opening. It is so tiny that at night, nothing much records. An even smaller f/32 might be better if your camera has that setting. Next, we point the camera at that region of earth and sky likely to receive a lighting strike. The camera is focused on infinity ( ¡̃ as far as the eye can see). Next we are going to use a long ¨C long shutter speed. This way the shutter is open for one or more lightning strikes. Because of the long shutter speed it will be necessary to place the camera on a tripod or some other sturdy mount. It will be important not to jiggle the camera when you press the shutter release so a cable release appliance is best. These are 8 or 10 or 12 inch long mechanical devices that screw into the shutter release post found on many cameras. If your camera will not accept a cable release you will need to resort to other measures.

Shutter speed: Many film cameras have a time setting on the shutter speed dial. This setting causes the shutter to open and remain open until the shutter release is pressed a second time. If your camera has a "T" setting, use it with a cable release. Most advanced cameras have a "B" setting (a hold over from the old rubber bulbs used on early cameras). The "B" setting causes the shutter to open when the shutter release is pressed however unlike the "T" setting, pressure must be continuously applied while the shutter is open, otherwise, the shutter will close. If your camera has a ¡°B¡± settings use it. Again "T" is best. We use a cable release with the "B" setting to keep pressure on the shutter release without transmitting vibrations to the camera. Get a cable release that has a locking thumbscrew. This keeps the shutter open relieving you of the necessity to hold pressure.

Now the idea is to aim and compose and hold the shutter open during the lightning strike. No "T" or "B", set the shutter to the longest possible exposure time. Use a cable release. Use a tripod.

Best of luck.

- Alan N. Marcus
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2: Low ISO vs. New Camera Sensors
Hi Everyone,
I have always kept my ISO as low as possible for best image quality. 400 was the most I would use in low light. Now these new cameras are claiming you can shoot at ISO 3200 with little degradation in quality. Is this becoming a reality? Can we really shoot high-quality pictures at very high ISO?
- mike santella
Cameras are getting better at higher ISOs, although I still try to keep mine as low as possible but sometimes have to sacrifice to get the DOF or shutter speed I want. I shoot a lot of bands in small clubs and concerts and continually fight with this. I am glad they are getting better and hope to get the 5D Mark II soon for its low light capability.
- Carlton Ward
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3: Upgrade from Point & Shoot to D-SLR?
I am considering an upgrade to a D-SLR - Nikon D5000 with a 18-55mm VR lens. Would you recommend the switch to a D-SLR? Can you really tell the difference in clarity and image quality? Also, I have really liked the versatility of my 10x zoom... Is the D-SLR w/ a 55-200mm add-on worth the effort to achieve similar zoom capabilities?
- Brook M. McCaskill
Whether you should switch depends on what point-and-shoot you're currently using and what it cannot do for you that you want from the D-SLR. But generally, yes, a D-SLR will give better results, especially large prints, and greater creative flexibility. But a D-SLR requires greater effort in handling (larger, heavier, several lenses, accessory flash), and while JPEGs straight from the camera are quite good, best results require post-processing the RAW images.

The D5000 + Nikon's 18-55 VR and 55-200 VR lenses is a good start that gives you 11x zoom range with good image quality and reasonable cost.

- Jon Close
Also consider the expense of the lenses.
What do you use your camera for, and what are you wanting to do that your point-and-shoot can't do? The expense of the lenses finally did me in... I've been shooting with a D-SLR for the last couple of years, but couldn't afford the lenses I wanted, so I've thrown in the towel and gone back to a point and shoot. If you are interested in doing stock or something like that, then sure, go for the D-SLR ... but on the other hand, as far as what the average person can see from one to the other, I doubt you'd notice a difference.
- Carolyn Fletcher
For me, it was never a question of image quality but rather the flexibility and most importantly - instantaneous capture which the DSLR provides. I find myself getting extremely frustrated when family members ask me to take photos with their P&S because the delay always seems to make me miss the shot I wanted.
I think Jon C. and Carolyn made an excellent point - ask yourself what your point-and-shoot is not doing for you. That's really an excellent way to determine whether or not the switch is necessary. Then again, necessity may not be the criteria. If you've got the money to invest and don't mind a little extra bulk, I think you'd find it worthwhile to experiment with the D-SLR. It's all subjective...
- Ron Evans
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