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Reader mail: How do you get good portrait lighting indoors?

Lighting is obviously an essential element of photography. Making photos, after all, is about catching those stray photons that bounce off of the world in a creative way. Reader Cory asks, “How do you get good portrait lighting indoors?” Getting good lighting can be tough in any situation but indoor lighting can be especially tricky. Normal indoor light levels are fine for eyeballs but are usually pretty low for a camera. So what’s an indoor shutterbug to do?

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Photo restoration, creating a matte, and stock photos

Do you have any idea how much custom matting costs? The Small Object has a good tutorial for making your own and saving a few bucks. They even make it look easy. [via Make]

Macworld of all places has a tutorial on scanning and restoring all of those old photos from your pre-digital days. Works on Windows and Linux, too.

Along those lines, Operation Photo Rescue is looking for volunteers and donations to help them restore photographs for victims of hurricane Katrina.

Finally, Citizen Image is a recent entry into the stock photography business with a unique angle. They’re banking on the ubiquity of digital cameras and welcome photographers of all skill levels, from amateurs to pros, to join their “citizen army” of photographers.

Learning composition: simplify, simplify, simplify

What’s really important is to simplify. The work of most photographers would be improved immensely if they could do one thing: get rid of the extraneous. If you strive for simplicity, you are more likely to reach the viewer.William Albert Allard, National Geographic

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
Albert Einstein, Smart Guy

Like a cluttered room in a house or an overstuffed closet, a photo with too much random stuff can make it difficult for a viewer to find the subject. How many times have you taken a photograph of something only to have something else completely unrelated (and unwanted) in the frame like a car or a telephone pole? This isn’t to say that all photos should be minimalist affairs with a single subject and a plain background ala Apple Macintosh ads. But you should strive to only include elements in a photo that add something to it rather than serve as distractions. One way to do this is to simplify your compositions.

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