The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Monday, December 13, 2010
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Indoor Flash: Avo...
Q&A 2: External Backups ...

"The class was very educational and inspired me to learn more! I have had this camera and only used auto or program. Now I have a general knowledge of what the functions are used for, and I'm enjoying experimenting. Thank you!" -Sue T. Anderson, student in Peter Burian's Mastering the Digital Camera and Photography


Get word of your product or service out to a rapidly growing list of over 89984 serious photographers.
Learn More...

Photographing Reflections
By Deborah Sandidge
Reflections are one of my favorite ways to portray a subject. Opportunities are everywhere - from the smallest puddle to the open sea. The slightest breeze can alter the outcome. The patterns change from mirror perfect, to painterly all within a few minutes. The results are always serendipitous and random, which makes photographing reflections so interesting to me.
Mornings work well as the water is often the most calm. Depending on the angle, a polarizer may help by reducing glare on the water - try it and see. Happy shooting!

Featured Gallery
Fog in the Forest 1
© - Charles Flewelling

Welcome to the 503rd issue of SnapShot!

At BetterPhoto, we have a stellar lineup of instructors who specialize in various aspects of photography. John Siskin, for example, is our lighting master, and he teaches the awesome An Introduction to Photographic Lighting course. In addition, John's terrific new book - titled Understanding and Controlling Strobe Lighting - has just published by Amherst Media. Way to go, John! ... In this issue of SnapShot, check out Jim Zuckerman's article ("Snow Photography: How to Get a Perfect Digital Exposure") and Deborah Sandidge's Photo Tip ("Photographing Reflections"). ... That's it for now. Enjoy the holiday season!    Kerry Drager   Newsletter Editor    Where is Jim Miotke? Follow BetterPhoto's founder and president on Twitter - BetterPhotoJim - and in his blog:

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

In his new photography article, BetterPhoto instructor Jim Zuckerman offers his insights and techniques on photographing in winter! Then try a 4-week or 8-week online photography adventure! Our courses are affordable and fit right into your busy schedule. Learn more about online classes... One of the cool benefits of being a Masterpiece or Basic member, a student, or a Deluxe/Pro owner is access to the BetterPhoto Forum. Simply click the "Discussions/Q&A" tab in your Member Center.

Photo Q&A

1: Indoor Flash: Avoiding Shadows
I just use my standard flash when taking photos with my Nikon D40x and always get people's shadows against the walls. How can I avoid this? Should I buy another flash to attach to the camera - one that is stronger?
- Laura Kalcheff
You should definitely have an accessory flash, bouncing the light with that will eliminate shadows from your subjects, and background lighting will also help.
- Mara Denardo
If you don't want to buy a flash, you can try to use something like the "Puffer" by Gary Fong. It will help soften the shadows. If they are posed shots, move your subjects as far as possible away from the background. The best would be to buy a flash and learn how to use it. I usually bounce it of the ceiling if the ceiling is white. If the ceilings are colored or dark, it would be best to use a light modifier. Good luck and have fun shooting.
- Randy  A. Myers
Hi Laura,
Remember, your flash is really the only light in the room when you use it, so if there were five lights in the room to begin with, there is now one - right on top of your camera. It's rather like strapping a flashlight to your head in a cave. Automatic flash will get you the right amount of light, but not the right quality of light. You might want to try using a shoe cover as an accessory:, it is probably cheaper than the Gary Fong unit. Bounce flash can also be good, if you have a white ceiling or wall. Adding another light adds more shadows, so you need to be very thoughtful about how you use it. Thanks,
- John H. Siskin

See John Siskin's Basic BetterPholio™:

Take an Online PhotoCourse™ with John Siskin:
4-Week Short Course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
The "bootylight" is for use on an accessory flash. The puffer is used for built in flashes. I just put it out there as a cheap alternative to buying a separate strobe and light modifier. It is nowhere near as effective, but if you don't use flash very much, I would think about it. There are others out there besides the "Puffer". I've used styrofoam coffee cups before on strobes. Just holding up a thin sheet of white paper over the flash will help.
- Randy  A. Myers
To take care of the harsh shadows while shooting indoors, one of my photographer friends uses a home-made cover that he puts on top of the on-camera flash. The material he uses is the normal plastic bubble packing. The circular bubbles diffuse and spread the light evenly and greatly reduce the harsh shadows. I have seen the comparison and it really works well.
Another thing that you can try is to shoot it from a slightly elevated position, so the shadows will fall low behind the subject/person you are shooting.
- Usman Bajwa
I too have used the bubble-packing trick to soften the harshness of my flash unit.
(Another thing that works well is the thin foam packing used to ship framed pieces of artwork.)
You can't wrap the material too tightly against the head though or the flash will just shoot through it without affecting the shadows. If you "balloon" the material slightly away from the front of the head the flash output will scatter and soften harsh shadows.
The same material can also be utilized in macro to soften harsh sunlight. With the camera set to go off on the timer, you can hold the diffusion material out of frame at a right angle to the sun during exposure.
- Bob Cammarata
No matter what you do, there will be some sort of shadow. To minimize a harsh shadow, the suggestions are all good. Another thing is to try not having your subject to close to a wall. Another tip is to keep you camera flash in the same plane as the camera to that the shadows are directly behind the subjects, not offset to the side. That gets to be a problem when you tilt your camera sideways and the flash is offset about 6 inches to your right or left, depending on how you hold your camera. I use a flash bracket and a Gary Fong diffuser with fairly good results.
- Dennis Flanagan
Read this Q&A at

Answer this question:

2: External Backups of Photos
I would like to know what all you photo enthusiasts recommend for safe, but simple, external backups of photos. What external hardware is good? Which software makes it easiest, to be able to save photos and then bring photos, by folder, back into Photoshop and/or Lightoom as desired?
- Jeremy D. West
Most hard drives sold as external backups come with backup software. I've used different ones at work and they are all about the same. The one I use at home for my photos is called "Second Copy". I only use this because I've had it for years. External drives didn't used to come with backup software. I use two backup external hard drives. I use the first to back up my internal hard drive, and I use the second one to back up the first external drive. I go in and look at the second external backup, and if the files are good on it, I know I have the files in three places. It gives me a little more piece of mind. If one drive goes out, I'm not in a panic to get another drive ready for backup since I would have it in two places then. I also have a third external that I back up to occasionally, and I keep it off-site in case of a major disaster like fire or a tornado. Hope this helps.
- Randy  A. Myers
Hello Jerry,
I have been using Iomega Firewire mini-max Hard drives for the last 3 years. They are fast, stackable and so far have been very reliable. I have (2) 1TB, a 750GB and another 500GB drive stacked that I am using right now.
I had 2 Seagate hard drives fail or not work correctly but the Iomega mini-max drives are great with both of my MACs - it's just a matter of plugging in the drive and turning it on. I didn't need to download any software or drivers but this may be more of a MAC thing that the drive itself.
I use the Adobe Photo Downloader via Photoshop CS5 Bridge and select or create a folder. I custom-name the images and you can even download these to 2 different drives at the same time.
I also use a Sandisk "Firewire" CF card reader. An 8GB card will download in about 6-8 minutes.
my .02
- Carlton Ward
I snagged a 2T Western Digital My Book Essential portable hard drive at Staples for an amazing $90 a couple of weeks ago. I've got a 1T one on my husband's PC (formerly mine) and love it. Back-up software is included on both.
My new PC has media card slots and speedy download times, but if it didn't, I'd take Carlton's advice on the Sandisk card reader.
Also, I love the smaller WD Passport models for travel. I've had other brands that either failed or I simply didn't like, so I'm planning to stick with WD from now on.
- Monnie S. Ryan
Read this Q&A at

Answer this question:

Unsubscribe | Change Email Address | SnapShot Archives | Recommend to a Friend

If you use a Challenge-Response system for email, please make certain that you can receive our email by adding to your Allow List.
The sender of this email is the BetterPhoto.comŽ, Inc., 16544 NE 79th St., Redmond, WA 98052

Copyright 2010 BetterPhoto.comŽ - All Rights Reserved.
No part of this newsletter may be copied or published without prior permission.
BetterPhoto is a trademark of BetterPhoto.comŽ, Inc.