The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Best Zoom Lens...
Q&A 2: Editing Softwar...

"Deborah Sandidge is the most helpful instructor I have ever experienced. She took her own initiative to help me in a special area at the beginning of the course. ... Her critiques of our pics were also very fine, so you get something to work with to get better - but she does that in a very charming way. I can really recommend this course for all IR-interested!" -Steinar Kibsgaard, student in Digital Infrared Photography

What an exciting goal that Ansel Adams had: Create a masterpiece every month! Now BetterPhoto is paying homage to this legendary photographer with the launch of our Masterpiece of the Month Membership. As a Masterpiece member, you'll receive monthly assignments, private newsletters, and be eligible for benefits not offered with a basic membership. How cool is that!?! Learn more...

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How to Capture That Elusive Rainbow ... by Lynne Eodice
If you experience a summer storm in the afternoon, don’t put your camera away. You may have the opportunity to spot one of nature’s most charming and elusive phenomena - a rainbow.

You won’t be able to predict where it will occur, but you can increase your chances of seeing one by facing away from the sun toward the dark imposing sky after a storm. A picture of a rainbow hanging in an open sky is pretty, but if you can include an interesting foreground, like a building or a landscape, you’ll have an image that gives the viewer a sense of scale and place.

My husband and I were traveling through Santa Fe one spring, and stopped at a restaurant during a brief rainstorm. The storm was just beginning to pass as we came outside, and we saw this beautiful rainbow. Fortunately, I had my camera with me! We were in the middle of town and were able to run around and find a couple of interesting foreground elements, like a church, and another of adobe buildings.

I quickly put a polarizing filter on my lens to intensify the colors of the rainbow. If you’re doing this, rotate the filter, watch through the viewfinder to find the brightest colors, and shoot when you find the best color saturation. Don’t rotate the filter too far in the wrong direction, because it can totally erase the colors of the rainbow as well.

Editor's Note: Check out Lynne Eodice's excellent course: Learn to Shoot Inspiring Images

Featured Gallery
Vintage Yaquina
© - Debra R. Harder

Welcome to the 433rd issue of SnapShot!

Would you like a great photo vacation but just can't get the time off? Then the answer may be a BetterPhoto online course! It's affordable and fits right into your busy schedule. Each week, you'll receive an inspiring lesson and motivating assignment. Then you'll get expert feedback, while interacting with your pro instructor and classmates. Learn more about our courses... ... Looking ahead to October, our quarterly 8-week courses return at the beginning of the month. And, at the end of October, there's the photo adventure of the season: the fall BetterPhoto Summit in New York City. Learn more about the Summit... ... In this issue of SnapShot, don't miss instructor Lynne Eodice's excellent photo tip on capturing rainbows, plus a fine variety of questions and answers. ... That's it for this week. Enjoy your photography!

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

There are many awesome reasons to jump into a BetterPhoto online course. Read our Top Ten list... ... at the awesome BetterPhoto Summit in New York City this fall! Learn new techniques, gain great insights, get inspired, and have a fun time too. The Summit takes place Oct. 31st in one of the world's most visually exciting cities. But that's not all. The optional post-Summit Workshop (Nov. 1st) is a unique event in which you'll spend a memorable day shooting alongside BP's pros. Learn more... If you're a Masterpiece or Basic member, a student, or a Deluxe/Pro owner, click the "Discussions/Q&A" tab in your Member Center. Ask a question, post an answer, enjoy!

Photo Q&A

1: Best Zoom Lens?

Hi! I have a Canon Rebel Xti. I have a zoom lens EF 90-300mm. Other than that one, which zoom lens should I get to go with it? I'm looking at the choices online and not sure what to get.
- Jennifer Dent

You can't go wrong with the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM, which rounds out your range down to near wide-angle. It is one of my most useful and most used lenses and great as a "walking around" lens. For the more budget-minded, the EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM (the kit lens on the EOS 50D) is pretty good, though not quite as crisp as the 25-105 L lens.

- R.K Stephenson

Hi Jennifer,
I agree with RK, but if you want a little longer zoom...
There are 4 versions of the Canon 70-200mm L lens to choose from. The least expensive is the f/4L non-IS version which runs about $600 and is a great lens. Next is the F/4L with IS and then a F/2.8L non-IS and the most expensive is the f/2.8L IS. I had the F/4 non-IS and sold it to get the f/2.8 IS version, and when I go back and look at the photos the F/4 took, I don't see a $1200 difference in image quality compared to my 2.8 lens. Plus, the F/4 models are quite a bit lighter in weight.
If you want a little more length, there is the Canon 100-400mm F/4.5L IS, and this is one of my very favorite lenses. It is very sharp and renders a beautiful soft background.
Investing in quality glass is a true investment as cameras are upgraded each year with many people upgrading every 2 years. 40Ds are selling for $400 less than when I bought mine 1.5 years ago. My used L lenses will sell for almost as much as I paid for them. Lenses will last you a long time and will outlive several camera bodies.
Good luck with your decision!

- Carlton WardSee Sample Photo - Bad Hair Day

If you're looking for a general purpose zoom - one that is a little wide angle, and one that has some zoom - then you can't go wrong with the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens. It's the same as RK recommended. That's the one I use the most. It is an "L" lens, which are more top-of-the-line from Canon.

- Ken Smith

I use my 24-105mm around 80 percent of the time. Great lens.

- Ann J. Przyojski

Thank you everyone! I will check them all out! I'm just so new to this that, really, and it's embarrassing to say that all the numbers and letters confuse me.

- Jennifer Dent

Let's break it down...
The EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens means: Canon makes two type of lenses - EF & EF-S. EF will work on any Canon camera but an EF-S will only work on cameras with a 1.6 cropped sensor (also called an APS-C) like the Rebels, 20D-50D type cameras have. It will not work on full-frame cameras like a 5D or the 1Ds series. 24-105mm is the focal range.
F/4 is the speed or biggest opening this lens will go. An f/2.8 will open a little more and is also a faster lens.
L stands for L lens, which are Canon's to-quality lenses.
IS stands for Image Stabilization (like VR = Vibration Reduction for Nikon cameras), and this will allow you to shoot more handheld shots and at slower speeds but you still need to develop good mechanics (stability techniques) for shooting hand held.
USM = Ultra Sonic Motor, which gives you faster and smoother AF (automatic focusing).
Hope this helps!

- Carlton Ward
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2: Editing Software: Photoshop, Elements, etc.

I've been using Corel Paintshop Pro for the past 2 years and feel very comfortable with it, but I've been considering getting Photoshop to be able to do more things. One reason is that my Paintshop version doesn't recognize Canon 50D Raw files and they have no plans to update that software. To read the Raw in the software, I have to get the newest version. (Now i've used the Canon software to convert to a TIFF and then edit.)
It seems that to get rid of this extra step, I will need to invest in newer software so this seems to be a good time to switch. Should I go with PS Elements or should I go to a full version of Photoshop?
Oh, I have a small portrait business that is growing so I would consider myself semi-professional.
- Jodi M. Walsh

Hello Jodi,
You can download 30-trial versions of anything from Adobe. You should take a look at Lightroom 2 as well. It is priced between Elements and Photoshop and will do most quick editing tasks easily but you will still get the best overall editing software with Photoshop.
I have been using Photoshop for about 8 years and I am more comfortable using it over any other software. It is a huge program and even after 8 years, I use only a small portion of its capabilities. Elements also has the ability to use layers and a combo of Lightroom and Elements may be all you will need, and you can get both of these for less than the price of Photoshop.
Download the trial versions and play with them for 30 days, then decide what you like.
Hope this helps,

- Carlton Ward

I second Carlton's response and would only add one other consideration. Photoshop comes with ACR (Adobe Camera Raw), which is an inexpensive alternative to Lightroom2. Quite often I do everything I need to do in ACR and don't even need to open PS.
It used to be true that the ACR in Elements was not the same product in PS. (Don't know if that is still true.)
But Lightroom 2 plus Photoshop is an unbeatable combination.

- R.K Stephenson

I tried both Corel and Elements on a trial basis. I liked Corel far more but went against my gut and got Elements 7 because I thought that it was what "everyone" was using and I could get some actions as well. Take into consideration that I am a computer novice but I have yet to be able to figure out how to install actions (nor has my computer-savvy 16-year-old), and I find that I use my Olympus Master 2 Raw and only venture into Photoshop if I absolutely have to. There is still a lot of going back and forth and I have been looking at Lightroom 2 as a more user-friendly option!

- Julianna J. Collett

Thank you for the responses. I have lots to think about. One question, though: What is Lightroom? I did a trial of PSE 7 and I found it very different from Paintshop so I went back to Paintshop, but it's definitely frustrating when everyone else has Adobe in some form.

- Jodi M. Walsh

Hi Jodi,
Lightroom is an organizational and editing software that many wedding and portrait photographers swear by because it allows you to quickly organize, edit and post the finished images easily. I use Bridge and Photoshop CS3 w/ACR to organize and process my images, but I rarely have to do a lot of images at the same time. Lightroom has the ability to process Raw images (without needing PS & ACR) and do the most critical edits all within its software. Wedding photogs who go and shoot 500+ photos love the speed & quality they can process their images.
Again, I would download the 30-day trial versions (Photoshop, Elements and Lightroom 2) and see what works for you. You might start with Lightroom 2 and see if this is enough for you. You may want to try one at a time so that you don't get overwhelmed with trying to figure out all three at once. And again, Lightroom will give you enough to do most tasks.
Being a Photoshop user, I agree with RK in that I do most of my Raw processing in ACR. I have played with Lightroom but do not see the need for the way I work, and since I have paid $600 already for Photoshop, it's hard for me to justify spending an additional $300 for Lightroom.

- Carlton Ward
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