The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Monday, April 11, 2011
Featured Gallery
Welcome Note
This Week's Tip
Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: More important fo...
Q&A 2: Passport Photogra...

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Twilight Time, Not Nighttime
By Susan and Neil Silverman
For everyone who wants to do some "nighttime" photography, try photographing just after the sun sets, but before the sky goes really dark. There will be a beautiful colored sky. Really black dark sky is often not as beautiful or successful as that very dark royal-blue sky, post sunset.

Editor's Note: For more details on the Silvermans, check out their Pro BetterPholio website.

Featured Gallery

© - Becky J. Parkinson

Welcome to the 520th issue of SnapShot!

It's back!! In celebration of BetterPhoto's 15th anniversary, we've brought back the 2-for-1 Super Sale. That's two years for the price of one year on Deluxe and Pro BetterPholio websites. For orders placed by Thursday, April 14th, we'll add a free year to your account - new sign-ups and renewals. If you missed the previous sale, now's your chance. Get your own website today... ... In this edition of SnapShot, don't miss Deborah Sandidge's Featured Blog ("Artistic Photos with Topaz Simplify") and Susan and Neil Silverman's Photo Tip ("Twilight Time, Not Nighttime"). ... That's it for now. Enjoy your week of photography!    Kerry Drager   Newsletter Editor    Where is Jim Miotke? Follow BetterPhoto's founder and president on Twitter - BetterPhotoJim

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Updates From BetterPhoto

With Topaz Labs Simplify, you get to be an artist creating beautiful imagery that blends the line between photograph and painting! So says BetterPhoto instructor Deborah Sandidge in an outstanding new blog. Take your photography or Photoshop to the next level! Our outstanding 8-week courses - fully interactive with pro feedback - return May 4th. Lewis Kemper's excellent online course -"The Photographer’s Toolbox for Photoshop: Exposure and Color" - is fully interactive and includes video lessons!

Photo Q&A

1: More important for hand-held night shots?
Sensor size/pixel area or lens speed/f-number? I already have a compact camera that is fine for landscape and macro photography while traveling. It is no good for indoor or nighttime shots. Smallest interchangeable lens cameras are Panasonic GF2 with a 20mm (40mm equivalent) F1.7 pancake lens available and the Sony NEX-5 with a 16mm (24mm equivalent) F2.8 pancake. Both have faster lenses available for low light shots but are too big to fit in a large pocket. Panasonic has a four-thirds size sensor, the Sony has a much larger APS-C size sensor. Which would be the more effective setup for getting my friends on film at night?
- Marcus Reeves
What's important for good night shots is ISO, lens speed, and picture quality. What you'll probably have to decide on a trade-off is a camera with larger sensors giving you less noise for picture quality, but having a lower max iso than other cameras. Or a camera with smaller sensors that will have more noise, but a higher max iso.
Put in price range as a consideration, because for tech and marketing reasons, you'll find higher priced cameras will have a good combination of high iso range and good picture quality in low light.
- Gregory LaGrange
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2: Passport Photography - How to?
How does one go about doing passport photography? Do you have to be certified by someone? What equipment would you need to print the photos? Where would you get the equipment from? If someone could point me in the right direction, that would be helpful, and also keep in mind that I am in Canada.
Thanks for your help in advance.
- Rachel M. Enge
If they haven't changed due to 9/11 and all the other security changes, passport photos just have to be a certain size, with a white background. It's actually easier to do them now because of being able to print your own. The photo and the image (dimensions of the face) need to fall between a certain size. Photo labs used to use Polaroids that shot a dual image, because you needed two photos.
- Gregory LaGrange
I was curious as to the answer, and a cursory search found that Canada passport photo requirements are different, and more restrictive, than in the United States. For openers, only commercial photographers are allowed to take them.
- Monnie Ryan
Yes, I have read that information. I am a commercial photographer and I would like to expand my business to passport photography because the area I live in doesn't have this service. So I can take the pictures. It is the printed part I am unclear about, and I would like to know how to go about setting that up.
- Rachel M. Enge
Hi Rachel,
I'm a Canadian photographer and although I try not to make a habit of it, I have done passport photos in the past. You don't need to be certified, but you might have to prove you are a commercial photographer if ever challenged. I've never been challenged but I imagine your provincial business license (vendor's permit) or GST registration number (if you have one) would be sufficient.
The setup is not difficult. You need a matte white background and need to make sure your lighting source is soft and even as to not cause glare or shadows. It doesn't have to be fashion studio standards, but pop-up flash while your subject stands 12 inches in front of a white wall almost certainly cause both glare and shadow. Judging by the portraits in your gallery, this shouldn't be an issue for you.
You can print on your own photo printer (I've used various Epson pigment-based printers over the years). Be sure to use the "traditional"-looking matte (satin) photo papers and not the matte heavyweight.
If you are doing this regularly, you might want to have a small space in your studio permanently set up for passports to minimize the amount of time you spend on each photo. Walk in, click, print, walk out. When starting out, I would try to make do with the equipment you already have before investing in a lot of gear specifically for this. I've never found passports to be lucrative (a loss leader at best), and with places like Walmart or Costco charging $10 or less for passport photos, it's hard for a small business owner to turn a profit. Even if you live in a place without either of these competitors and are able to charge more, your production costs will be higher so you'll want to really streamline the process in order to make any kind profit at it.
I wish you luck and much success!
- Eric Highfield
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