Macro Mania on a Budget


"Off the Grid Photography, EISA Awards, SizzlPix Winners" - Photo Podcast 441

Daily Post

BioLite Wood Burning Campstove and Charger


The BioLite Wood Burning Campstove ($129) is a marvel of technology and simplicity. The device initially seems basic. You gather a bundle of sticks, put them in the handsome fuel chamber, light with a match, and boil your water.

But there is plenty of magic under the hood to produce an intensely hot flame without smoke. The key is the power module that attaches to the side of the fuel chamber. The module can convert heat to electricity for powering a fan that intensifies the fire and produces surplus juice that is accessible via its USB port.

Essentially, you can brew your morning coffee and top off your iPhone, using only a pile of sticks gathered from your surroundings.


In my test, using only a moderate amount of fuel, I was able to boil 1 quart of water in 20 minutes. If you pack the fuel chamber with tinder, you can cut that time in half. Also, the hotter the fire the more surplus electricity generated. I added an 8 percent charge to the iPhone in 30 minutes with a moderate fire. Surplus electricity was being generated for only about 10 minutes of that cooking session. If I increased the fire, then I could charge my mobile device at a faster rate.

The BioLite stove is a shade over 8" tall and weighs 2.1 pounds. It's a reasonable size for backpacking, especially considering that you don't have to carry fuel cylinders too. The USB charging port allows for on-demand electricity. You don't have to wait for the sun to shine. If you need to power a small device, build a fire. I'm using it in conjunction with my WakaWaka USB Solar Charger ($69) to provide multiple options for managing my devices.

BioLite-Stove-with-pot.jpg BioLite stove with my trusty enamel coffee pot. But you can purchase a companion high-tech cooking kettle that's more efficient. Photos by Derrick Story.

BioLite makes some nice accessories, including the BioLite KettlePot for efficient water heating and the Portable Grill Attachment ($59) for cooking your burgers.

Initially, I considered the BioLite stove more of a novelty than a serious cooking device. But after use, I've changed my view. If your primary goal is to boil water for backpacking meals, coffee, and purification, then this device is all you need. And the fact that it provides electricity for devices, and is fun to use, is a sizable bonus.

For more articles on outdoor gear and technique, take a look at our Outdoor Life Roundup.

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This week on The Digital Story Photography Podcast: Off the Grid Photography (the Green Photographer), SizzlPix Award Winners, EISA Awards: the Best of the Best from Europe - All of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Story #1 - The Weekly Update: Sony a5100 First Impressions Review - "Based on my initial experiences with the a5100, it seems like a very compelling midrange ILC. For $699 with the 16-50mm power zoom lens, you're essentially getting an a6000 without an EVF and a few dials. If you don't mind losing that feature, you're getting what seems to be a lot of camera for $699 (with a 16-50mm lens)." (Source: DP Review.

In other news, The European Imaging and Sound Association Awards 2013-14 include the Olympus OM-D E-M10 (Best Consumer Compact System Camera), FujiFilm X-T1 (Best Advanced Compact System Camera), and the Sony RX100 III (Best Compact Camera). You can see all of the winners at the EISA site.

And finally, onOne Software is giving away Perfect Effects 8 ($79 value) in exchange for your email address and a free subscription to their Fotocommunity newsletter. You can take advantage of this offer at the onOne web site.

solar-charging-camera.jpg Olympus camera being charged via USB by a WakaWaka solar charger.

Story #2 - Off the Grid Photography (The Green Photographer) - Our digital tools have made us dependent on Internet connectivity and power outlets. But if you wanted to get off the grid for a week or two, could you? Yes, and fairly easily. Because technology is advancing in renewable energy too. Here are a few of the items that I discuss in today's Green Photographer segment.

Story #3 - From the Screening Room - GarageBand Essential Training with Garrick Chow. Garrick is one of the most season lynda trainers, and he specializes in Mac software titles. If you've wanted to learn GarageBand, but just found it a bit overwhelming, Garrick will break it down for you in digestible parts.

You can watch Garrick in action by visiting the TDS Screening Room at While you're there, you can start your 7 day free trial to watch other design, photography, and computing titles, plus every other topic in the library.

Story #4 - SizzlPix Winners! Here are the latest class of winning photographers for the SizzlPix Pick of the Month:

  • Michael Hoffman -"HDR" - March 2014 Photo Assignment
  • John Dillworth - "Flower Power" - April 2014 Photo Assignment
  • Victor Hermand - "Around the House" - May 2014 Photo Assignment
  • Richard Messenger - "Any Kind of Light but Natural" - June 2014 Photo Assignment

Congratulations on your excellent work!

Virtual Camera Club News

The SizzlPix Challenge is Back! (for one month only). Each week the first 10 TheDigitalStory listeners/readers to order SizzlPix from their own favorite images will receive a mini-sample of each SizzlPix prior to production by return mail absolutely free! Just put the words "free sample first" and your mailing address in the comment space of SizzlPix's new simplified order form.

Visit the Red River Paper Card Shop. You can peruse top selling cards, order the card sample kit, and read tutorials on card printing. Save on Ground Shipping for Red River Paper. Use coupon code ground50c to receive a 50 percent discount on UPS ground shipping for Red River Paper. No minimum purchase required.

Photo Assignment for August 2014 is "My Favorite Close-up".

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In addition to subscribing in iTunes, you can also download the podcast file here (31 minutes). You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. And from those images, I choose the TDS Member Photo of the Day.

Podcast Sponsors - Learn lighting, portraiture, Photoshop skills, and more from expert-taught videos at

Red River Paper -- Keep up with the world of inkjet printing, and win free paper, by liking Red River Paper on Facebook.

SizzlPix! - High resolution output for your photography. You've never seen your imagery look so good. SizzlPix! now is qualified for PayPal "Bill Me Later," No payments, No interest for up to 6 months, which means, have your SizzlPix! now, and pay nothing until January!

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