The weekly newsletter on the art of photography from
Monday, November 14, 2011
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Updates From BetterPhoto
Q&A 1: Studio Equipmen...

"I would highly recommend this course. Jim Zuckerman is a very effective teacher - generous in sharing his experience and knowledge in both his lesson plans and critiques. His lessons are full of practical information. His critiques are very thorough. ... I found this course to be a really worthwhile investment!" -Stephanie Lewis, student in Perfect Digital Exposure

The Photoshop 'Trap'
By Peter K. Burian
Using image enhancing software, we can fix some technical problems. That’s certainly useful for making a good image even better, but it’s not an alternative to "making" a photograph, in-camera.
Certain problems can be difficult to correct without degrading image quality, especially in pictures taken with a JPEG capture mode. And no software program on the market can turn a quick snapshot into an award-winning photograph.

Featured Gallery
Foggy Morning In The Cove
© - Cathy Barrows

Welcome to the 551st issue of SnapShot!

Save this date: November 19th!! That's the Worldwide BetterPhoto Meetup Day. Photography enthusiasts have been getting together for years, so we thought it would be fun to declare a special day - this coming Saturday! - where BetterPhoto members from around the globe can gather, shoot, share tips, and find experiences together. Get all the Meetup Day details here... ... In this issue of SnapShot, don't miss the input of three top BetterPhoto instructors: Jim Zuckerman's article ("Getting Close-up with a Wide-Angle Lens"), John Siskin's Q&A reply ("Studio Equipment for Portraits"), and Peter Burian's Photo Tip ("The Photoshop Trap"). ... That's it for now. Have fun with your photography!    Kerry Drager   Newsletter Editor

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto Many photographers buy a wide-angle lens thinking its primary purpose is to take sweeping panoramas, to get the entire scene into the frame. However, says instructor Jim Zuckerman, "I think the real power of a wide angle is to distort reality." ... Read Jim Z's wide-angle close-ups article here... BetterPhoto Meetup Everywhere Day

Photo Q&A

1: Studio Equipment for Portraits

I am planning to try shooting some studio portraits. Most of my photography until now has been with natural light. I shoot with a Cannon 7D, and I have a Cannon 580 EX flash. I was planning to buy a bit of equipment for shooting portraits. I would greatly appreciate any recommendations regarding brands/models of lights? Any recommendations regarding size/brand of umbrellas? Backgrounds? Thanks very much.
- Josh A. Friedman

Hi Josh,
There are a number of choices you can make for equipment. I’ll attach the equipment list I often use in class. If you decide to get this gear, it is MUCH better to start with just one light. Starting with more equipment is very confusing.

Alien Bee B1600
Or Calumet Travelite 750
50º or 60º metal bowl reflector. This is the standard reflector, usually 6 to 8 inches. It spreads light over the angle covered by a normal lens
1-45 inch umbrella, white satin with a removable black back. An umbrella with covered ribs would be better.
2- light panels with 2-white cotton or white nylon covers and a black cover and a sliver cover.
Light stand. At least 8 feet tall, 10 is better
Perhaps a background stand and a neutral muslin background.
Chinese Radio Slave. You can get these from eBay, search digital radio slave. Look for one that has a plug like OLD headphones or a guitar, .25 X 1.5 inch. For more on connections check out this article:

With a second light, which would probably be lower in power based on your usage. I would also get:
50º reflector as above.
Barn doors and/or snoot
Light stand
2- umbrellas, one matching the one you got and the other a 60 inch umbrella.
Very short light stand

If you add a third light, I would get:
a 50º reflector, as above
1 more light panel with a gold cover.
Light stand
Barn doors or snoot if you didn’t get it before.
45 inch umbrella.

I hope this helps.
Thanks, John

P.S.: I teach a course here at BetterPhoto about how light works, and how to decide what equipment you need: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
I also teach a class about lighting portraits. Portrait Lighting on Location and in the Studio

- 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
4-Week Short Course: Getting Started in Commercial Photography
4-Week Short Course: Portrait Photography Lighting on Location and in the Studio

Thanks very much, John. That's very helpful. Right now I'm beginning Vik Orenstein's portrait lighting class. It sounds as though some of your courses are right up my alley, so I'll look into them in the future.
Thanks again!

- Josh A. Friedman

Hi Josh,
After I took one of John's classes, I opted for the Alien Bee's and have been very happy with them. John's classes are fantastic and he is such a wealth of information. I am nowhere near his league when it comes to lighting but I am confident from what I learned from him that I can setup & control the lights I have (sometimes with a bit of experimenting with power/placement) and get the captures I want.
I will be shooting about 50 family portraits at the beginning of December (for the straight 3rd year) for Help Portrait as a way of giving back to my community.
My tip to you is use a White Balance Card (Target) even though you can adjust raw images afterward in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw), it's a snap to set your custom white balance to alleviate that step :)

- Carlton Ward
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