The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Monday, June 14, 2010
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: How to Get More Z...
Q&A 1: Digital Mats...

"This was a perfect course for myself being relatively new to anything but auto mode. I've relied on luck in the past to create nice photos. No longer. Peter Burian's method of conveying his expertise was not at all intimidating. This was literally an eye opening class. I'll be back for more!" -Craig Minton on Mastering the Digital Camera and Photography

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Tips on Twilight Photography
Photographing cityscapes during twilight is such a rewarding experience - with a rich blue sky, twinkling lights, and overall wonderful colors. In her BetterPhoto Instructor Insights photo blog, Deborah Sandidge shares some great techniques, as well as an eye-popping image. Read more here...

Featured Gallery

Welcome to the 477th issue of SnapShot!

Just as you can predict the migration of geese or the setting of the sun, says Lewis Kemper, you can predict that Adobe will unveil a new version of Photoshop every 18 months. That time has come with the release of Photoshop CS5. And Lewis, a longtime BetterPhoto instructor and contributing editor of Outdoor Photographer magazine, points out many new CS5 features that will benefit photographers. Read his "Photoshop CS5 Review - What's New!" article... ... Of course, here at BetterPhoto, our online photography school offers many courses on Photoshop (Elements too!) and other topics too. Get motivated, and receive valuable feedback from a pro. See our course schedule here... ... In this issue of SnapShot, check out Deborah Sandidge's "Tips on Twilight Photography" and Jim Zuckerman's "Graphic Design in Photography: How to Shoot Symmetry". ... 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

Learn to create exciting images of your adventures, whether close to home or far abroad. Check out Brenda Tharp's 4-week online class: Travel Photography: Capturing the Spirit of a Place ... Class begins July 7th, but you can get started now with an early lesson. George Schaub's new 8-week course will help you make better photographs - ones that express what you see and what prompted you to snap the shutter in the first place. George covers both in-camera and lightroom techniques. Learn the specifics here... In his BetterPhoto Instructor Insights blog, Jim Zuckerman offers great tips - along with inspiring photos - on graphic design ... specifically symmetry. Read all about it here...

Photo Q&A

1: How to Get More Zoom
My current telephoto set-up is a Nikon D300 and Nikkor 70-300mm lens, which essentially gives me 450mm of zoom since the lens is made for a film camera. I'm happy with the quality of photos with my current set-up, but am looking for an inexpensive way to get more zoom. (Is that possible?) I don't have the big bucks to drop on a high-mm lens. I am not very familiar with extension tubes or teleconverters, and have heard both pros and cons (and stories of incompatibility) for each. Any recommendations?
- Celeste McWilliams
Extension tubes don't give you more zoom; they reduce your minimum focusing distance. Teleconverters are an inexpensive way to increase focal length, with inherent give and take with aperture/shutter speed loss. But you need a good one, and a good one may not fit that lens.
- Gregory La Grange

Gregory is correct about the cheapest way to get more mm is to purchase a 1.4TC. Do NOT use a 2X except on the finest telephoto prime lenses (fixed focal length).
I doubt that your lens will accept a teleconverter. With an f/stop of f5.6, you will have to use manual focus and your camera will be limited to f8 while wide open and full zoom. At these magnifications, you NEED a very sturdy tripod, remote or cable release, high ISO and mirror lockup. Don't skimp on the tripod. If you pay much less than $200, new, it is not sturdy enough.
You have a great camera, and that is from a Canon user, so I recommend that you use your current lens until you save all of your pennies for a year or so and purchase a quality lens. Your camera deserves at least a darn good one. Unfortunately, this does come at a cost.
The best lens for the least amount of money that I have been able to find is the Sigma 150-500 f5-6.3 APO OS HSM for $1000. You may also find something used at B&H, KEH, or Adorama. Buying from Craigslist and other places in general is a shot in the dark. Buying at what seems to be cheap prices for new equipment is always a warning.
Good luck.

- Lynn R. Powers
Definitely check out E-Bay, Keh, B&H Used Department and other venues for a good deal on used telephoto lenses.
If you don't mind focusing manually, an old AI-S Nikkor prime super-telephoto is fully compatible with the D-300 (...except for the exposure meter, which will only work in Aperture Priority and Manual modes).
My D-300 system includes a 300mm f-2.8 and a 600mm f-4. Both AI-S manual focus lenses were acquired used at a fraction of the cost of new glass.
- Bob Cammarata
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1: Digital Mats

I would just like a little input on digital mats. What do people think of them?
- Chris Rice

Hi Chris,
Digital mats are fine as long as they are not replacing bad photography. If you have a lousy background and good lighting on a model, use a plain mat. If you use a different scene, you must insure that the light is coming from the same direction as onto your subject.
I make a few of my own that include the moon, clouds (blurred and sharp), as well as plain solid and graduated mats.
I have seen one photographer who offers his flower photos using the same photo with different colored mats so people can pick the one they like or will work best in their home.
Just don't use them as a substitute for good photography.

- Lynn R. Powers
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