The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Monday, April 19, 2010
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Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Half of Photo is ...
Q&A 2: Best Lens for Par...
Q&A 3: Sunset Wedding Ph...

"I have taken many pictures over the years. However, it was not until I started taking classes at BetterPhoto that I learned how to take pictures so that other people could enjoy them too. This course was one of the best that I have taken. ... It is still amazing to believe that I can have access to professional photographers who help me to understand and develop my photographic skills!" - Shelia Earl on Basic Masks In Photoshop with Doug Steakley

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Composition - Facing the Right (or Left) Way
Whenever possible, make sure your subject moves into - not out of - the composition. This keeps the viewer's attention directed to the main center area, rather than have their eye wander distractingly to the edge of the frame and out of the picture. There are artistic exceptions to this "rule", but in most cases, it's a good guideline to follow. Read Kerry Drager's Team BetterPhoto blog here...

Featured Gallery

Welcome to the 469th issue of SnapShot!

Big news as BP founder Jim Miotke brings his Whirlwind "Master the Mindset" Tour to the U.S. West Coast! In this one-day workshop, you'll learn how to gain the competitive edge as a successful creative photographer. Here are all the details of this exciting event, so sign up today! ... In this issue of SnapShot, don't miss the answer to a popular BP question ("What Size Images to Upload to BetterPhoto?"), Brenda Tharp's "Getting Creative in Morocco" post, and my own Photo Tip ("Composition - Facing the Right (or Left) Way"). ... That's it for now. Have fun with your photography!  Kerry Drager  Newsletter Editor  Where is Jim Miotke? Follow BetterPhoto's founder and president on Twitter - BetterPhotoJim - and in his blog:

Jim Miotke
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Updates From BetterPhoto

Our next school session kicks off on May 5th. But you can enroll now in any online photography course, and get started today with an early lesson! See the school schedule...

Not sure how these classes work? Take a quick tour...

That's a question we hear a lot. And Amy's excellent Team BP blog offers some valuable details on the subject. Read it here... Nature/travel shooter Brenda Tharp shares her thoughts and techniques in an excellent Instructor Insights photography blog. Check it out...

Photo Q&A

1: Half of Photo is Black
I just got a Busy Bee set from Alien Bees. The first two images came out fine. From that point on, however, I have not been able to get a picture. Half of the image is always black. It follows the way my camera turns - on the bottom when I hold it level and on the side when I turn it to the side. But when I go outside and shoot a couple, they are fine. This may be a no-brainer to someone but I just cannot figure out what I am doing wrong. My camera is a Canon 5d, recently fixed.
- Jessica K. Cunningham
You've made your shutter speed too high. Sync speed is a term to describe the shutter speed that you need to have when using flash.
The shutter opens, the flash goes off, the shutter closes. If you set the shutter speed too high, the shutter will start to close before the flash goes off, making part of the picture dark.
If you look at a camera's specifications, you'll find its max sync speed listed. Whatever it is, that's the fastest you can set the shutter speed when using flash. Some may be 1/125, 1/250, or others.
- Gregory La Grange
Hi Jessica,
I did an article on strobe sync that has a lot of information on slaving strobes: Basically, the shutter has an opening and a closing curtain. In order to make a fast shutter speed, the closing curtain starts to travel before the opening curtain finishes moving, so some part of the sensor is always covered. Some manufacturers have created a longer strobe duration for a shorter sync, but I’m not sure that it’s very useful. This only works with proprietary strobes, so not with the Bees. I hope you enjoy your new strobes.
Thanks, John
- John H. Siskin

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2: Best Lens for Parties, Puppies, Etc.
I am only an amateur photographer currently, but my best friend's wife always has me take photos of my nieces' birthday parties, etc. I currently have a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L that I use sometimes, and a Tamron 18-270mm that I use other times. Since neither of these lenses is very 'fast', I was thinking of purchasing an 85mm focal length lens (Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 or EF 85mm f/1.2L) to use for the parties - and for taking pictures of my newly purchased lab puppy. I can afford both lenses, but don't really want to spend the extra $1600 for the 1.2L if I don't really need it. Has anyone used either (or preferably BOTH) of these lenses, and if so, what were your experiences??
In addition, I have a Canon XSi (450D) that I will be using it on - as an FYI...
- Jeff L. Harwell

With the camera you are using, any 85mm lens would not be the best for a birthday party. On a cropped camera, you have the equivalent of a 135mm lens on a full-size 35mm camera or full-frame DSLR camera. That is perfect for a head-and-shoulders photo taken about eight feet away. The best lens, without purchasing a new lens, is your 24-105mm f4L. You may have to raise your ISO to 800 but your current camera will be okay with that. You may even be able to use ISO 400. But I would avoid ISO 1600. You have a zoom capability effective from 38mm to 168mm, so you are able to get close-ups when the kids are on the other side of the room. If the kids are closer, or there are a bunch together, you can zoom back to the 24mm setting. Plus, you have all the range in between.
Do yourself a major favor. Take the best photos possible by taking the time to think what you are trying to capture. You may miss out on a couple incidents that would have been great to have captured but you will be admired for taking time and thought by giving them your best.
There are going to be times when you want to use a smaller f-stop so take a lightweight tripod along so you can take a longer exposure, such as 1/25" @f8. Also do not use the shotgun approach trying to capture everything. Let the moms do that with their P&S cameras.
When taking close-ups of the children, do NOT use the wide-angle up close. It distorts the face too much. As an example, put your fist against a mirror and place your nose on it. Move your fist and take a good look on how you look close up, then step back from the mirror a step or two and notice the difference. You have also seen why people close their eyes when kissing. :-)
Try to preplan your photos. Take a special portrait of the child whose birthday it is. The children playing games, decorations the presentation of the birthday cake, the cake itself and the kids eating it as well as the opening of gifts. Oh, I forgot. While you have nothing else to do, you have to make sure that you have taken photos of all the guests. You don't want to hurt any feelings. And, finally, you have to take a picture of the mess that remains at the end of the party. Then get out quick or you will have to help with the clean-up.
Rather it be you than me.
Have fun and Good Luck!

- Lynn R. Powers
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3: Sunset Wedding Photography
I've been asked by a friend to photograph his wedding on a beach, followed by a bonfire. I just photograph for fun, so don't have a lot of equipment, nor do I have a lot of experience photographing at this time of day.
I have a Nikon D40x with 18-55, 70-300 and wide-angle lenses and a speedlight.
I'd like to avoid having to use a tripod, partly because of the sand (finding a stable surface) and to have more flexibility in my position. Also, I'd like to try to get by with one lens (don't want to be changing lenses with the wind/water/sand). I tend to have more of a photojournalistic style of photography.
Any recommendations are greatly appreciated.
- Michele E. Myers
Hi Michelle,
Sunsets are great for silhouette shots but you will want more than just silhouettes so I do recommend using the speedlight as well. You may need to switch lenses and just use a towel or sheet to cover your camera as you switch to keep the sand out.
Having the sun in your face or your back will drastically change your exposure settings and if you are not used to switching quickly in manual mode, you may consider Av/Tv mode and select your preferred aperture or shutter speed.
You may need your tripod, so bring it along with everything else you think you won't need because when you get there and say to yourself, "I wish I had brought ____ along with me" - you will be learning one of the first lessons of shooting weddings :) I carry my tripod everywhere and you may not need it much if the light is working for you and you can keep your shutter speeds fast enough, BUT there are always a couple of cool artistic photos that will present itself that may need the tripod to execute the capture.
I hope this helps.
- Carlton Ward
I have been shooting weddings photojournalistically for over 3 years and have never used a tripod. A fast lens and a flash with a diffuser is what I recommend. Also, I use two bodies with two different lenses. Careful with the sand! Practice ahead of time shooting at that time of day.
This is one time when you cannot afford to screw up. Paid or not. It is someone's VERY special occasion that can't be done again. If you don't feel up to it, don't risk it, and let them know to hire someone else. You wouldn't want your inexperience to ruin their chance for memories. Especially a friend. Good luck!
- Michelle M. Peters
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