The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Metallic Prints...
Q&A 2: Vignetting &...
Q&A 3: Overexposed Ima...
Q&A 4: Filters for Sho...

"I really enjoyed this class. Get ready to be challenged. The instructors definitely have a keen eye in critiquing your photos. I value their opinions and ideas of how to create the perfect shot. ... I have a newfound appreciation for photography and couldn't be done without the help of Susan and Neil Silverman! Thank you so much!" -Ed Lee, student in Understanding Digital Photography

We put the spotlight on one of the latest additions to BetterPhoto's top team of pro instructors: Lynne Eodice. Read this insightful interview here...

There are many awesome reasons to jump into a BetterPhoto online course. Here are 10 of them...

Get word of your product or service out to a rapidly growing list of over 70758 serious photographers.
Learn More...

Photographing City Lights at Night ... by Jim Zuckerman
Night photography means a dramatic mix of colors. Mercury vapor street lamps, neon signs, the sky reflecting city lights, tungsten lamps - all of these types of light produce different colors, and the combination can be quite compelling.
Editor's Note: Learn more about Jim Zuckerman and his BP courses.

Featured Gallery
Scenes From Along the River II
© - James N. Sanderson

Welcome to the 439th issue of SnapShot!

We are so excited about BetterPhoto's next round of online photography courses! The October school is going to be our very best session ever, with the addition of two awesome new courses - one by longtime BP instructor Rob Sheppard (The Magic of F-stops: Choosing the Right Aperture) and the other by new instructor Doug Steakley (Photographing Motion). October also marks the return of our popular 8-week courses. ... In this edition of SnapShot, don't miss the update item on the photographic event of the fall season - the BetterPhoto Summit - in one of the world's most exciting cities (New York)! Time is running out, and seating is reserved, so sign up today... ... Also, check out the fascinating interview with instructor Lynne Eodice and also Jim Zuckerman's photo tip on photographing city night lights. ... That's it for now. Enjoy your week of photography, and follow me on Twitter at BetterPhotoJim!

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

New course! Learn how to gain new power in your images through the understanding and choosing of lens aperture. In Rob Sheppard's new 4-week online photo class, you will learn how to make images that grab viewers’ attention - by the creative use of f-stops. See the course details... The next BetterPhoto Summit - in New York City! - promises a day of motivating presentations on Oct. 31st! Then there's our exciting Optional 1-Day Workshop (Nov. 1st) . These Summits are designed to show how to achieve the WOW factor in your photography! Learn more... Take your photography or Photoshop to the next level! Our outstanding 8-week online courses return October 7th. See the school schedule...

Photo Q&A

1: Metallic Prints

I just ordered three test prints of B&W photos - one on true B&W paper, one on luster and one on metallic - for comparison. My husband really likes the metallic style, and so I will be ordering five 11x14" prints to display in his professional office. Here is my question: What is the best way to display them? If I mat and frame them, especially with "non-glare" glass, will you still be able to appreciate the metallic nature of them? But if I just display them, say, as gallery-wrapped pieces and hang them, well, they will be hanging in a waiting room, so they may be bumped and touched by heads and little children's hands. Any suggestions?
- Mikki Cowles

I wouldn't use non-glare glass! I have also had metallic prints made at MPIX. I framed them with regular glass and they look very nice. You can see the metallic effect.

- Jessica Jenney

Maybe you can focus on your office furniture. Hang them as the gallery wrap, but behind a couch. Display them high enough to be above a typical sitting adult, but move the couch away from the wall enough so when adults sit back, their heads won't touch the wall. And usually adults sit on the furniture and the kids move around. So with adults on the couch, the kids can't get to it.

- gregory la grange
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2: Vignetting & Fish-Eye Effects

I keep seeing beautiful photos with vignetting. I know that there are all sorts of different ways to do it, but I'd like to know about doing it with the camera, not in Photoshop. I am also interested in the "fish eye" effect that I see a lot. Thank you!
- Jennifer Dent

Yes, there are several ways to do it, since vignetting is just gradual fading or blurring to the outer edges. Multiple roads, same destination. And the look depends on what you use. You can simply shoot through a hole in something, and how opaque it is affects how it looks. Completely opaque, you can fade to black. You can shoot through glass, Saran wrap, and the old trick of smearing something on the outer edge of a UV filter. The aperture you use will affect how it will look. Try first shooting through a piece of lace. I think you'll like that. You can change fabric colors with that also.
With the fish-eye effect, I'm not familiar at the moment with anything other than a fish-eye lens. I know you can distort something with the sphere filter or pinch filter with Photoshop, but I don't know if that's what you mean. The fish-eye is a super wide-angle lens, but not all super wide-angles are fish- eye. Canon has a 14mm wide-angle, but their fish-eye is 15mm. And there's a circular fish-eye that sees in 180 degrees. Makes the image in a glass ball surrounded by black kinda look.

- gregory la grange

I have used a cloudy plastic cup with the bottom cut out and placed over the lens - but it's really easy and more controllable using Photoshop :)

- Carlton Ward
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3: Overexposed Images with Flash

I have been trying to use my flash in shaded areas to reduce shadows and brighten the eyes. I tried using the -1 and -2 exposure compensation but the image was way too light(overexposed) I decreased the flash as much as I could so I am not sure what else I could do to prevent this from happening. I was using the flash on my camera at the time but I also have a Canon speedlight flash but I am not sure if that would work better.
- Michelle E. Martin

Michelle, you did not say how close you are to the subject for the shots. Many times someone will get close enough to a person for the purpose of having the subject's face either fill or be close to filling the frame and then use the internal flash. It will wash out. With the built-in flash, there is no way you can avoid that.
You said that you have a speedlight. That will certainly give you much better results but not if it's shot directly at the subject. With the external flash, you can point it away from the subject's face or add a diffuser to soften the light. I understand that there are diffusers for the internal flash as well that may help for that one.
For fill flash, the external flash would work great if diffused. Another option is to increase the distance to the subject. That will help tone down the light a bit and then to get your close-up, do some cropping of the shot. This is a good idea even for the external flash. Diffuse it and back up a little further.

- Dan W. Dooley

Hi, Michelle,
In your initial post, it sounds like you were using camera exposure compensation for the shots that were overexposed. You can also use flash exposure compensation with the speedlite. You can dial it down up to three stops, which will reduce the amount of light on the subject. This is great for reducing shadows on bright days, for example.

- R.K Stephenson
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4: Filters for Shooting Landscapes

Hi everyone,

I am expanding my filter collection to shoot landscapes. I am looking to get some neutral density and graduated nuetral density filters. But am confused what number should I buy. ND .3, .6 or .9 ? I know they cut down amount of light by every increase in number. My question is if I have to buy only one of them, would I better be off with .9?
And does Graduated ND also comes in .3,.6,.9? I would really appreciate advice in this matter. Thanks.

- Sobia Chishti

If money is no object the Singh-Ray VariND is awesome. There are a lot of more reasonably priced alternatives. For example, Lee Filters offers a set of individual .3, .6, .9 filters and a filter holder that allows you to stack them. I believe Cokin does, too.

P.S.: For completeness I should mention that each of the filters I listed, except the VariND, are available as both regular and graduated filters.

- R.K Stephenson

Hello Sobia,
I only have a .3 GND filter and it works fine for the rare times I actually use it. The .3 does a good job in very bright sun. Makes images a little less contrasty and allows for slower shutter speeds. I have never tried a .9 but am a little intrigued to maybe try one :)
I tend to use my circular polarizer more as I shoot a lot of waterfalls and landscapes with water, and the CP works great for cutting down on reflections, making the sky a little bluer and allowing more detail in darker areas. I like looking through the viewfinder as I rotate the filter to see what effect it is having.
I have the B&W Kaeseman 77mm CP and though it's not cheap (about $175), neither is the L glass I am putting it on :)
And the tripod... best bring a good tripod when using GND and CP filters as you will lose some stops requiring longer shutter speeds.
I recently shot some waterfalls in the bright 1 o'clock sun using the CP filter and several exposures to make an HDR image. I wonder how a .9 GND would have looked for this image?

- Carlton WardSee Sample Photo - phish09 0044 hdrtz

Hi Sobia,
If you are getting the 70-200 f/2.8, it has the same 77mm filter size as the 17-40mm (the 70-200 f/4 models are a smaller lens). I use my filters more for landscape with my 17-40mm but I have also used my CP on my 100-400mm lens when shooting on the open water on whale watching trips. The CP filter really helps with reflections and clarity. I have 5 L lenses and they are all 77mm so my CP will work on any of them:)
Singh Rays are expensive but do you want to place an inferior filter over your expensive L glass ? That's why I use B+W, as they are very high quality as well. This is also the reason I don't use UV or other filters, I prefer not to have anything between my L glass and my subject with the exception of a quality ND or CP filter because these are the only ones that cant be duplicated in Photoshop. Warming and cooling filters are no longer necessary as PS can imitate them.
About stacking filters, I would think you would start getting some degradation in image quality with filters stacked on each other, but I don't know this from experience since I've never tried it.
I would start with either a quality circular polarizer or .6 ND filter.
I hope this helps.

- Carlton Ward

Sobia, I enjoy shooting landscapes and I really love the Singh-Ray 3-stop "soft" graduated ND filter ... you mention they're expensive, but if you already have the 17-40mm L lens and will get the 70-200mm L, then you shouldn't skimp on the filters.
I use the Graduated ND filter to hold back the brigher sky, as your camera's auto exposure will be fooled and either expose the skies, leaving more silhouettes in the foreground, or expose the foreground and wash out the sky. Although you can use the Cokin mounts for these rectangular filters, I usually just hand-hold them in front of the lens and move them up/down to get the desired effects.
I also have a circular polarizer, a must for landscapes. And I have the .3 and .9ND filters. But the only times I've used them are to really cut the light so I can get a slow exposure of moving water in bright sunlight.
To summarize: get the circular polarizer (screw-on) and the Singh-ray 3-stop ND filter. You won't regret it!

- Ken Smith
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