January 2012 Archives

Compact Camera Sales Continue to Slip

Canon S100

You have to wonder how secure manufacturers feel right now as they release the barrage of new compact cameras in a declining market for them. In Canon's latest financial results, sluggish sales of compact cameras were a primary culprit for their annual shortfall.

This trend persists throughout the market affecting both hardware manufacturers and accessory companies. Unfortunately for everyone, it's a fairly long pipeline for hardware product releases. So those compacts you see announced today were conceived some time ago.

It will be interesting to see how the low end market shakes out in 2012. My feeling is that DSLR sales will remain strong, but mobile devices, such as the iPhone 4S, will continue to erode compact camera sales.


The Digital Story on Facebook -- discussion, outstanding images from the TDS community, and inside information. Join our celebration of great photography!


I've had a chance to work with Lightroom 4 public beta and publish an article about it for Macworld Magazine. That release has led to speculation about an upcoming Aperture 4 update. While all of this was going on, Corel rolled out their non-destructive pro photo management app, AfterShot Pro. In this week's podcast, I start with a basic review of Lightroom 4 public beta, then discuss some of the features I'd like to see in Aperture 4. I wrap up with a few thoughts about AfterShot Pro. It's great to be back!

Listen to the Podcast

tds_podcast_app_150_tile.jpg

You can also download the podcast here (37 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Mobile Phone is the Jan. 2012 Photo Assignment. Entries must be captured with a mobile device. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is Jan. 31, 2012.

Special Offer from SizzlPix!

20% Discount for Jan. 2012 - So we can build up a gallery of SizzlPix! made from cell phone images. Any TDS listener/reader gets a 20% discount on SizzlPix!â„¢ Hi Definition Photographyâ„¢ made from pictures shot with T-Mobile My Touch Slide 4G, Samsung Galaxy S II, or Apple's iPhone 4S.

SizzlPix! may be from 18" to 60" in the longest dimension. Photographer's cropping will be honored.

Shipping will be within one week. Photographer gives us permission to publicize, with credit, their SizzlPix! made from a cell phone original in yours and our on-line galleries and blogs, Twitter, FaceBook, Google+. etc.

When you fill out your order form for the SizzlPix, add "TDS Jan Offer" to get the discount.

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

Red River Paper -- The $7.99 Sample Kit is back! And with free shipping.

You might also want to check out my article, Artistic Gifts You Can Make in an Hour.

Make Your Photos Sizzle with Color! -- SizzlPix is like High Definition TV for your photography.

Need a New Photo Bag? Check out the Lowepro Specialty Store on The Digital Story and use discount code LP20 to saven 20% at check out.




Technorati Tags:
, , , , ,


Olympus E-PM1 - Quality Nimbleosity

I keep waiting for the charm to wear off. But it hasn't. My favorite camera when heading out the door for a walk is the Olympus PEN E-PM1with the 17mm f/2.8 pancake lens.I barely feel it around my neck. It lies flat against my chest. And I get terrific looking RAW files that look great for printing and Web publishing.

Mural on Concrete Captured during a stroll by the shore with the PEN Mini and 17mm lens.

I often carry the 14-42mm zoom (that comes with the camera) in my pocket, just in case I need a bit more reach or width. But I enjoy shooting with a prime lens when possible. I feel so much, like, well... a photographer.

BTW: the entire Pattern & Texture set was shot with the PEN Mini.

More on the Olympus PEN Mini E-PM1

DP Review Examines the Oly PEN Mini

Action Photography with the Olympus 45mm f-1.8 Lens

On the Road with the Olympus PEN Mini


Find great deals at the TDS Photography Store on Amazon.


Focusing on Pattern and Texture

Creative exercise is much like physically working out: it makes you stronger. And one of my favorite creative activities is focusing on a compositional element over the course of a day. On a recent vacation to Monterey, CA, I decided to work on pattern and texture. (What a great place to do so!)

Two Boats


The original shot had more boats in the scene, but the pattern and textures weren't hanging together the way I wanted. When I cropped to just two boats, I thought the image became more powerful.


It's interesting when you begin to look for certain compositional elements. After a while, you'll see them everywhere. When I experience this, I begin to wonder if I should "creatively exercise" more. Should I shoot with a mission in mind instead of just letting the visual world come to me?

Umbrellas


Once again, cropping was used to isolate the pattern. There were a few distracting elements just outside this frame that I wanted to eliminate so I could focus the eye more precisely.


The thing about texture and pattern is that it is bountiful in both nature and the manmade world. In both cases, however, beware of distracting elements that disrupt the effect.

Two Pelicans Blue Sky


In this shot, I'm back to two main subjects with a soft textured background. Color helps carry the overall image.


The bottom line here is that by taking time to focus on an aspect of your photography, you can improve it overall. Pattern and texture is a great place to start.

You can see more images from this series in my Flickr set, Pattern & Texture.


The Digital Story on Facebook -- discussion, outstanding images from the TDS community, and inside information. Join our celebration of great photography!


Testing the HP TopShot 3D Scanner

The HP TopShot LaserJet Pro M275 multifunctional printer produces fast B&W or color output (17 PPM black & 4 PPM color), is network enabled including AirPrint for iOS devices, and has a 3D scanner. Since its scanner is the most unique feature, I wanted to explore that function first.

hp_topshot_scan_screen_edit.jpg The bundled HP Scan software includes basic image adjustments so you can create a final product quickly.

The TopShot uses a raised arm with camera and LED lights to capture the image. You simply place an object on its white platform, raise the arm, and set up the job. You can scan directly from the TopShot's built-in LCD panel, but I preferred to use the bundled HP Scan software that provides more control over the process.

hp_scan_setup.jpg Set up is quick with HP Scan software.

Once you set up the job and make the initial scan, there are handy controls to straighten, crop, adjust tone and color, or even extract the background. You can then save the file to your computer.

hummel_with_background.jpg

The idea is to enable individuals and small business types to quickly create photos of objects without having to use a camera, set up lighting, transfer the images, edit them, etc. This ability could be particularly handy in a steady volume business where quick turnaround is important.

The image quality is sharp with good color. But the lighting isn't "soft box" quality, nor would I expect it to be. You'll get a dark shadow outline, and with shiny surfaces, probably a hotspot or two.

The HP TopShot LaserJet Pro M275 sells for $399 US. For that investment, you get a fast laser printer, unique scanner, and plenty of wireless and online features. It won't replace the photography studio for product shots, but it certainly can save you time when turnaround is the top priority.


The Digital Story on Facebook -- discussion, outstanding images from the TDS community, and inside information. Join our celebration of great photography!


There are plenty of refinements and new features in the public beta of Adobe Lightroom 4, but the two tools that caught my eye are the robust video handling capabilities and soft proofing. I cover both of these, and more, in my latest Macworld Magazine article, Adobe Lightroom 4 Beta shines with new video capabilities.

new_adj_brush_tools.jpg

The Lightroom 4 public beta can be downloaded from the Adobe Labs site. You don't need prior versions of the application to try the latest. Once the final release comes out, you either have to buy it, or take the beta off your hard drive.

Even if you aren't a Lightroom person, this release is notable for a couple reasons. First, you get to see and test the areas of image editing that Adobe thinks is important. Recognizing that their emphasis is on video, personal books, and printing and web output, helps us see overall trends in photography.

I also think that Aperture 4 is probably not far behind. The competition between Adobe and Apple is fierce in this area, and my guess is that we will hear something about a new version of Aperture before long.

In the meantime, there's much to enjoy with this Lightroom release. Check out my Macworld article for more information.


The Digital Story on Facebook -- discussion, outstanding images from the TDS community, and inside information. Join our celebration of great photography!


Talking Deer

It was the craziest thing. I was out for a walk along the shore, and I saw these talking deer. But because of the sound of the pounding surf, I couldn't hear what they were saying.

(Don't worry: today is the last day of my vacation. I'm back to "real work" tomorrow...)

Really "Seeing" a Landscape

As you look at this picture, what to you see? Ocean, sky, rugged shoreline?

Monterey Landscape

Those were the elements that I noticed as I hiked by. But as you look closer, you might see that the beach is filled with dozens and dozens of Harbor Seals. Many hikers missed it on that day. Make sure that doesn't happen to you.

The Clever Joby Micro 800 GorillaPod

joby_micro_800.jpg

This is ingenious. A compact, machined-metal, ball head, tripod that you can leave mounted on your camera, yet, it doesn't get in the way. That's the JOBY GorillaPod Micro 800that I've been testing. This particular size is great for Sony NEX, as well as Panasonic and Olympus micro four thirds, and other cameras that size. For the Olympus Mini and Panasonic GX 1, however, I would go a size down to the Micro 250.

When not in use, the metal legs fit beneath the camera. When you need to steady a shot, just spread them out and precisely position the camera using the "just the right amount of tension" ball head. After you get the photo, fold the legs together and be on your way.

The 800 runs around $24 and the 250 is about 12 bucks. Nimbleosity rating is 4.5 out of 5. Very cool!

iPad for Exercise Bike

When I travel, I'm impressed with the exercise bikes I see in modern hotel gyms. They have a complete multimedia setups that help pass the time while I'm peddling away. After I got an iPad 2 for a client assignment, I contemplated ways to put my original iPad to good use. Then the lightening bolt struck: upgrade my exercise bike.

Close Up of iPad on Bike

The iPad fits wonderfully on the handlebars. It's a great size for this use. But how to secure it? I used a modul R case with the optional hand strap. It protects the iPad and creates a snug fit.

Close Up of iPad Back

For the actual exercise, I use the CycleOps MAGNETO trainer with progressive resistance. It's easy to set up, and it provides a good workout with my street bike. (I bought mine a while back at REI. You can get good deals on older models.) During dreary winter months here in Northern CA, I set the bike up in the shooting room at the studio. If I have an assignment I need to work on, I can switch back to photography in just a few minutes.

Bike with CycleOps and iPad

Since I've added the iPad to this rig, I found that I'm riding longer, and loving it! I'm able to maintain my workout regiment regardless of the weather outside.


The Digital Story on Facebook -- discussion, outstanding images from the TDS community, and inside information. Join our celebration of great photography!


social_media_handbook.jpg

Photographers and other creatives can help connect with others by understanding the benefits of social media. I think the best approach is "be yourself." Share with others the things you find interesting, and take interest in what others do.

How to accomplish that can be a bit more challenging. Fortunately, PhotoShelter is offering a very helpful guide titled The Photographer's Social Media Handbook to help us with those details. You can get the PDF by requesting it here, and they will send it to you (in two parts) via email. It's free, and it's quite well done.


The Digital Story on Facebook -- discussion, outstanding images from the TDS community, and inside information. Join our celebration of great photography!


When I first picked up the Polaroid Z340at CES, the sensation was more old than new. That's not necessarily a bad thing.

Polaroid Z340

Even though the Z340 has a digital camera on the inside, it feels and shoots like the traditional instant print cameras that were so popular in the 70s. Using a second generation ZINK printer engine, you get ample-sized 3" x 4" prints within minutes. The images look like the Polaroid prints of yesteryear.

But there's also a 14MP digital camera inside that writes files to an SD card. Controls include ISO settings, scene modes, and more. What you don't get is an optical zoom. Polaroid provides a fixed focal length lens, and if you dare, a 4X digital zoom (resist the temptation).

I liked the tradition wedge-shaped design that's now outfitted with a pop-up LCD screen. The menus were easy to navigate, although you probably want to just snap a picture and enjoy what emerges from the printer.

Is the new Polaroid Z340 worth the $299 price tag?That depends on what you need. As a digital camera, no. But as an instant print device with digital backup, quite possibly. It's easier to use than standalone instant printers, more compact, and much cooler looking. I found it hard to put down.

I'm back from Las Vegas, and my "travel light" system worked! This week, I talk about small planes, hotel life, and highlights from CES. Lots of fun stuff that you won't want to miss.

Las Vegas Sunset

Listen to the Podcast

tds_podcast_app_150_tile.jpg

You can also download the podcast here (32 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Mobile Phone is the Jan. 2012 Photo Assignment. Entries must be captured with a mobile device. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is Jan. 31, 2012.

Special Offer from SizzlPix!

20% Discount for Jan. 2012 - So we can build up a gallery of SizzlPix! made from cell phone images. Any TDS listener/reader gets a 20% discount on SizzlPix!â„¢ Hi Definition Photographyâ„¢ made from pictures shot with T-Mobile My Touch Slide 4G, Samsung Galaxy S II, or Apple's iPhone 4S.

SizzlPix! may be from 18" to 60" in the longest dimension. Photographer's cropping will be honored.

Shipping will be within one week. Photographer gives us permission to publicize, with credit, their SizzlPix! made from a cell phone original in yours and our on-line galleries and blogs, Twitter, FaceBook, Google+. etc.

When you fill out your order form for the SizzlPix, add "TDS Jan Offer" to get the discount.

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

Red River Paper -- The $7.99 Sample Kit is back! And with free shipping.

You might also want to check out my article, Artistic Gifts You Can Make in an Hour.

Make Your Photos Sizzle with Color! -- SizzlPix is like High Definition TV for your photography.

Need a New Photo Bag? Check out the Lowepro Specialty Store on The Digital Story and use discount code LP20 to saven 20% at check out.




Technorati Tags:
, , , , ,


The Making of "Pro Roller Swing"

I found a motorized "lazy Susan" in the garage the other day, and asked myself, "What could I do with this?" I had just seen the movie Hugo that features the filmmaking pioneer Georges Méliès. One of Georges' favorite tricks in the old days was to stop the camera, change the scene, the start filming again. This created the illusion of things appearing and disappearing.

derrick_movie_making.jpg The set for recording Pro Roller Swing.

I thought that it would be fun to honor the work of this early filmmaker, use the motorized lazy Susan, and check-off an assignment request from a client... all at the same time. So I set up the shooting room to make this short, fun movie.

I used natural window light with a large white fill card for the lighting. I added a bit of sparkle to the bag using a small LED panel on a boom. I recorded the footage with a Canon 60D and the 16-35mm f/2.8 L zoom. I edited the movie in Final Cut Pro X. The royalty free music was created by Kevin MacLeod.

I decided to keep that lazy Susan in the studio for now, instead of the garage. Who knows what else I'll think of to do with it?


The Digital Story on Facebook -- discussion, outstanding images from the TDS community, and inside information. Join our celebration of great photography!


Field Test of the Panasonic Lumix GX1

This field report, including photos, is contributed by TDS member, Ed Shields. I also took a look at the GX1 while at CES, and enjoyed testing it in the short time I had with it. I'll talk more about that in the comments of this article.

As one would expect, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1is very identifiable as belonging to the Lumix line of cameras -- a comfortable, solid feel in the hand, solid feeling dials, control wheel, and buttons for the many external controls. And to me, a very intuitive menu system.

Illustration 1.jpg

I feel that even if one didn't have previous experience with a Lumix camera, one could easily pick it up and use it without reading the manual. Most likely due to size and form factor, the similarity of the external controls are closer between the GX1 and the LX5 than with the G1. One thing I really appreciate is the fact that the main control dial only has a single icon for jpg scene mode vs the G1's and and my 60D's cluttered practice of squeezing 150 different scene mode icons onto the mode dial. Some early reviewers have faulted the metal 4-way controller buttons as being largely unreadable. My aging eyes are no longer good enough for manual focus, but I don't have any problem reading them in all but the dimmest, almost dark, light.

Image Quality

Because Aperture 3 does not yet support RAW conversion for the GX1 (as of Jan. 2012), I shot everything with RAW+JPG and imported the JPGs into Aperture. I don't shoot high speed action photography, so I don't normally shoot JPG. I wasn't really expecting stellar performance with the GX1, especially since everything I've read or seen about the Olympus PEN cameras having such great OOC (out of camera) JPGs. What I got out of the Lumix was just so-so at best. I felt they were a bit soft and flat. I suppose one could tweak the GX1 settings to increase sharpness and saturation to get better results, but I didn't go there as I discovered that on the Adobe Labs site they had a release candidate LR3 update that supports the GX1 RAW conversion.

So I downloaded it and imported both JPGs and RAW images into LR3. Nice! With only a minor boost in Clarity/Definition and Vibrance to about 18-20 and a slight nudge of sharpness from LR's default 25 to about 28 or so the image quality was excellent. If one sets these as a camera specific import adjustment it would be all that is needed for many grab images and an excellent starting point for those images where one desires local adjustments and further artistic expression. One caveat, I haven't printed anything yet, but I have no reason to expect anything less than excellent print quality for 11 x 14 or 16 x 19 inch prints.

One thing I did discover after comparing the LR3 RAW to JPG images is that rather than the JPGs universally being somewhat soft and flat, I feel they're more inconsistent. Take a look at the images below. There's a clear difference between the RAW and JPG in the Poinsettia images.

OOC_FM_AP3.jpg Out of Camera Jpeg from the GX1.



fm_RAW_in_LR3.jpg Processed RAW file from the GX1.

In this ocean image I don't see much difference between the RAW and JPG. If anything, I like the JPG better and need to go back and lighten the shadows in the RAW image. Its inconsistency is the same with others, hence my opinion that OOC JPGs are inconsistent vs. a bit soft and flat. But the RAW images all are consistent and excellent.

ocean_ooc.jpg Out of Camera Jpeg from the GX1.



ocean_RAW.jpg Processed RAW file from the GX1.

There are more images on my Flickr site -- all processed as RAW in LR3.

General Use, Shooting, and Handling

I purchased the GX1 with the non-powered 14-42mm zoom lensas I'm generally not a fan of power zoom lenses (I have my LX5 zoom programmed to discrete focal length increments, and with my S90, I have the lens ring set the same way, which isn't too bad). But the GX1 kit 14-42mm zoom is nowhere near the quality of the older 14-45mm kit zoom that came with my G1.

Besides looking and feeling rather cheap, zooming with it is more akin to turning a rusty faucet rather than a lens zoom ring. I know that's an exaggeration, but you get the point. It's quickly been relegated to the back shelf of my closet until it's time to sell my G1. Except for a few early images, all the rest were shot with either the older 14-45mm zoom or the 20mm pancake lens.

Except for one area, I find the handling and control of the GX1 excellent, very straight forward, and intuitive -- with external wheels, knobs or buttons for most functions. There are two configurable Fn buttons but I haven't had the chance to explore them yet. The generous hand grip is a pleasure to use.

The only real con I've discovered is that the rear thumb grip is rather small and too close to the rear control wheel. My hands are only medium size at best, but my natural grip covers both the thumb grip and thumb wheel, which when depressed, toggles between aperture or shutter speed and exposure compensation. I need to develop the muscle memory to keep my thumb away from the wheel and in the meantime make frequent checks that I haven't accidentally changed something.

Lenses

gx1_with_pancake.jpg

Although the 14-45mm is well balanced and not over powering for the GX1, it definitely loses a "nimbilosity" star. I can comfortably walk around all day with it hanging from a neck strap, but it's a bit large, for say, putting on the table when going out to dinner. The 20mm pancake is much better, but not wide enough for my liking. I've already ordered the pancake 14mm pancake, which I suspect will live on the camera with the 20mm in my pocket. When available, the 14-42mm power zoom might be an option that would provide a bit more flexibility and still maintain a 4 star "nimbilosity" rating (assuming the S90, 95 and 100 are the 5 star standard).

Touch Screen

I briefly tried the touch screen. My feeling is that touch focusing could be real useful when the camera was on a tripod. But having it on for general use is a pain, unless one turns the camera off after each shot. The problem is that while on a neck strap the constant hitting movement and handling causes the camera to constantly change focus location, or worse if one has full touch screen activated but aperture and exposure compensation settings as well. For me it's infinitely easier to center focus and recompose.

Exposure and White Balance

As with my other Lumix cameras, I find auto white balance to be fine in just about any light other than low light where flash is required. It's almost always fine as is but if a post processing adjustment is required, it's only a minor tweak one and that more often than not for personal artistic preference. Speaking of flash, the built in flash is for minor fill flash at best as witnessed by several of my Flickr photos.

Initially, I thought exposure was spot on, unlike my G1 or LX5 that consistently need a -1/3 compensation adjustment. However when I view the GX1 files in LR3 or AP3 they also seem to be overexposed by 1/3, the difference being that the GX1 LCD histogram doesn't necessarily show this.

Battery

I haven't done any precise testing, but in general use the battery feels to be noticeably less robust compared to either of my other Lumix cameras. This is just an observation I have by viewing the remaining battery indicator at the end of a day's shooting.

Final Thoughts

Overall I'm very satisfied with the GX1. It feels great in the hand, has lots of external controls, an intuitive menu system, and excellent RAW image quality (albeit JPG just so-so). Overall I'd rate it at least 4.5 stars (out of 5). Nimbilosity is probably quite different for different people, especially considering where they are starting from, but with any pancake lens it's a solid 4 star for me (deduct at least a 1/2 star with the 14-45 non-powered zoom). For traveling both the GX1 with the 14-45mm zoom and 20mm pancake, plus the LX5, and the chargers -- all fit nicely in my Lowepro Nova 160 AW.

As I mentioned previously, I've already ordered the 14mm pancake, which will probably live on the camera with the 20mm in my pocket. When readily available, and depending on the reviews, the new 14-42mm power zoom may be a nice option. But for me, I want to upgrade my G1 to a GH2(3?) before my wife and I go to Peru later this summer. So budget wise, the zoom upgrade is probably way down the road.

Is it a perfect camera? No. For me a perfect camera would have the GX1 form factor and price with in-body stabilization and a tilt LCD (like the the Sony Nex 7).

When I get the 14mm, and as I continue to use this camera, I'll shoot Derrick an quick update if I uncover anything substantially different from this review.


Find great deals at the TDS Photography Store on Amazon.


Whacky Favorite Shots from CES

When you watch people and technology collide, have your camera ready. It's a playing field for interesting photography.

As expected, 3D was a major theme at the 2012 show. Here, however, an attendee is having a personal experience.

Sony Personal 3D Viewer
Sony personal 3D viewing experience.

And how our backs get tired during the long days on the trade show floor. Fortunately, Inada was there with high-tech massage chairs for all.

Inada - World's Best Massage Chair

There's more in my Flickr set titled Wonderful, Fascinating CES, including a portrait of Rohan Marley, Short White Skirts, and a solar charging station for mobile phones.


The Digital Story on Facebook -- discussion, outstanding images from the TDS community, and inside information. Join our celebration of great photography!


Samsung - A Force to Be Reckoned With

The question that surfaces in nearly every conversation here at CES is, "Have you seen the Samsung booth?" Not only is it amazing in terms of design and dazzle, but looking at the contents there, it's clear that this company has become a major force in the technology world.

Samsung Smart TV Display at CES The Samsung booth at CES 2012

In my normal life, I hear mostly about this Korean giant in terms of their cameras, such as the Samsung NX10APS-C camera system, or about the battle with Apple in the smart phone arena. Their latest Samsung Galaxy S II 4G Android Phoneis a good example of their excellent hardware.

But when you enter the booth at CES, you see so much more -- super thin OLED big screen TVs, 3D cinema quality Internet connected TVs, a plethora of digital devices, and a whole lot of people interested in them.

Samsung LED TV Series 8 Samsung LED TV Series 8 with stunning picture quality.

It's clear that Samsung is a driven company. Competitors beware.


The Digital Story on Facebook -- discussion, outstanding images from the TDS community, and inside information. Join our celebration of great photography!


You'd be surprised at what you can discover at an electronics event. For example, in the North Hall at CES there's an entire car show featuring vehicles of the future, exotic audio systems for today's cars, and high tech goodies to enhance your driving experience.

One of my favorites of the day was the Audi Urban Concept -- an all-electric, carbon fiber beauty designed for city life.

Audi Urban Concept Car at CES 2012 Audi Urban Concept Electric Car. Photo by Derrick Story.

This two-seater was first unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show. Fortunately for us, Audi shipped it over the US for our enjoyment. And like many things at this trade show, the future is closer than we often think. The Urban Concept may go into production as early as 2013.


The Digital Story on Facebook -- discussion, outstanding images from the TDS community, and inside information. Join our celebration of great photography!


The Nimble Photographer takes to the air! Here's the challenge: I'm flying to Las Vegas to cover the CES event, but I'm using my local airport with those very small planes operated by Alaska Airlines. I need to carry-on my clothes and my gear. And once I return on Friday, I have to drive directly to another appointment. No time to check bags. So, this week, I talk about how to travel very light, stay nimble, and yet have the equipment I need to fulfill my paid assignment. Tune-in to see if I pull this off.

The roller bag I mention in the show is the Lowepro Pro Roller Lite 150 AWfor the camera gear during transport. I also am using the Lowepro Pro Messenger 200 AWsoft bag for my clothes in-flight, then as my carry around camera bag in Las Vegas.

Listen to the Podcast

tds_podcast_app_150_tile.jpg

You can also download the podcast here (34 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Mobile Phone is the Jan. 2012 Photo Assignment. Entries must be captured with a mobile device. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is Jan. 31, 2012.

Special Offer from SizzlPix!

20% Discount for Jan. 2012 - So we can build up a gallery of SizzlPix! made from cell phone images. Any TDS listener/reader gets a 20% discount on SizzlPix!â„¢ Hi Definition Photographyâ„¢ made from pictures shot with T-Mobile My Touch Slide 4G, Samsung Galaxy S II, or Apple's iPhone 4S.

SizzlPix! may be from 18" to 60" in the longest dimension. Photographer's cropping will be honored.

Shipping will be within one week. Photographer gives us permission to publicize, with credit, their SizzlPix! made from a cell phone original in yours and our on-line galleries and blogs, Twitter, FaceBook, Google+. etc.

When you fill out your order form for the SizzlPix, add "TDS Jan Offer" to get the discount.

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

Red River Paper -- The $7.99 Sample Kit is back! And with free shipping.

You might also want to check out my article, Artistic Gifts You Can Make in an Hour.

Make Your Photos Sizzle with Color! -- SizzlPix is like High Definition TV for your photography.

Need a New Photo Bag? Check out the Lowepro Specialty Store on The Digital Story and use discount code LP20 to saven 20% at check out.




Technorati Tags:
, , , , ,


fuji_xpro1_front.jpg

FujiFilm announced the Fujifilm X-Pro1, and it's exactly what many of us were hoping for. The beautiful styling of the X10 combined with the brains of the X100... and with interchangeable, wide aperture prime lenses.

Quite honestly, this company is wearing down my resistance. When I saw the X100 at Photokina, I immediately wanted to shoot with it. But I was able to argue with myself that the fixed mount lens was too limiting at that price. Then they rolled out the X10. Again, those feelings of desire surfaced. But I already had a terrific compact system camera with fast prime lenses. So I was able to look the other way saying that the X10 was a high end point and shoot. But now... it's going to be tough to pass on the X-Pro1.

xpro1_with_3_lenses.jpg

At its heart, the X-Pro1 features a Fujifilm-designed 16MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS sensor. It includes that wonderful hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder from the X100. And they've rolled out three prime lenses with launch: XF 18mm f/2 R, XF 35mm f/1.4 R, and XF 60mm f/2.4 R Macro.

Once this system hits the streets, which should be soon, the body is estimated to sell for around $1,700 US, with lenses going for around $600 each. More lenses are planned for the future.

Now, what's my excuse going to be this time?


The Digital Story on Facebook -- discussion, outstanding images from the TDS community, and inside information. Join our celebration of great photography!


canon_g1x.jpg

You knew Canon would respond to the large sensor compacts and CSCs recently introduced. And to their credit, they've offered photographers yet another option: a relatively big 14MP 1.5" CMOS sensor (18.7 x 14mm) in a "jacket pocket" sized body with a fixed zoom, ranging from 28mm to 112mm (f/2.8-5.8). Add an optical viewfinder, 3" 920,000 dot articulated LCD, and 14-bit Raw, and you have the just-announced G1 X (not to be confused with Panasonic's competitor, the GX 1.)

The 1.5" CMOS sensor is larger than the sensors found in micro four thirds, Nikon 1, and FujiFilm's X10. It's a tad smaller, however, than APS-C that used in Sony's NEX line of CSCs.

Basically what Canon is saying with the G1 X is this: if you want a big sensor in a small package, but don't want to mess with interchangeable lenses, we've got the camera for you. So for the estimated street price of $799, you're done.

We'll see how the market responds to this proposition when the camera starts shipping in February.


The Digital Story on Facebook -- discussion, outstanding images from the TDS community, and inside information. Join our celebration of great photography!


The Spring TDS Aperture Workshop is set for March 17 & 18, 2012.

Have you wanted to learn Aperture, Apple's complete photo management software, but haven't had the time or the guidance to do so? Coming this Spring, you can become a part of our popular TDS Aperture Workshop, and finally take control of your photo library.

Some Highlights Include

  • Quality instruction from an Aperture expert.
  • Comfortable classroom environment complete with tables, power strips, high speed Internet, full kitchen, two bathrooms, refreshments, lunches, and more. You have the run of the studio during this workshop.
  • Photo studio that we'll use for shoots to provide you with fresh content for your Aperture library (I provide the model for our shooting sessions).
  • New Epson R2000 professional printer for our printing instruction (paper and ink provided).
  • Excellent location with wine country, the Sonoma Coast, redwoods, and other natural attractions if you want to spend a little extra "get-away" time.

I'm also considering a second Aperture Workshop in March, on the 12th & 13th.

Reserving is Easy!

If you're interested in attending either of these events, use the "Send Me Info" box in the middle of this page.

Off-Camera Flash Workshop - Join Us!

How would you like to sharpen your off-camera flash skills (and have a blast while doing so)? Coming this February, I'm conducting a two-day workshop (Feb. 25 & 26) that focuses on improving our lighting skills -- for both portraits and objects.

Alyssa Moods Multiple exposure portrait using a single off-camera flash.

This two-day event at TDS Headquarters flows like this.

Workshop Itinerary

Fri. Feb. 24, 7:30 pm - Orientation reception at TDS HQ with refreshments and swag for attendees. (Each participant gets a Lowepro camera bag.)

Sat, Feb. 25
8:30 am - Classroom session on off-camera technique for portraits
10:30 am - Model shoot #1
12:00 pm - Lunch served
1:00 pm - Model shoot #2
2:30 pm - Classroom session on uploading, organizing, and basic editing
3:00 pm - Lab work - participants organize and choose 6 best images
4:30 pm - Review session. Each participant shows 6 images with discussion
5:15 pm - Final Q&A

Sun, Feb. 26
8:30 am - Classroom session on off-camera technique for product photography
10:30 am - Product shoot #1
12:00 pm - Lunch served
1:00 pm - Product shoot #2
2:30 pm - Classroom session on editing product photography.
3:00 pm - Lab work - participants organize and choose 6 best images
4:30 pm - Review session. Each participant shows 6 images with discussion
5:15 pm - Final Q&A

Lunches, model fees, and instruction and included in the $495 price. The studio is a great place to work, featuring classroom area, shooting room, full kitchen, two restrooms, WiFi, and parking. Plus, you're in the heart of Sonoma Wine Country with its vibrant agriculture, rugged coastline, and towering Redwood trees.

It's Easy to Sign Up

If you want to join us for this event, just go to the Send Me Info box half way down on the TDS Workshops page. I'll get a reservation form to you right away. And if you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them too.

If you want to improve your lighting skills, spend time interacting with other photographers, and immerse in the craft that you love so much, join us in February!

Getting Serious about the CES Event

ces_logo.jpg

The 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) begins on Tuesday, Jan. 10 in Las Vegas. It is one of the biggest technology events of the year, now being bolstered by photography manufacturers who have targeted this trade show as "essential."

The Photo Marketing Association (PMA) has moved its annual party over to CES, strengthening the photography ties with PMA@CES. You've probably already seen pre-show announcements from FujiFilm, and the big one from Nikon, the Nikon D4 Multi-media DSLR. The D4 is a perfect example of how CES has changed. There's nothing "consumer" about this flagship DSLR. It's pro all the way.

As a result, some of us who passed on CES in years past are now on our way to Las Vegas next week to cover the chaos. I'll be there writing and shooting for Lowepro. I'll also be posting many times a day on the Lowepro Twitter feed. You might want to follow that conversation, because I have some interesting things I'm going to do there.

If you're going to be in Las Vegas, definitely tune in, because I'll be giving away goodies on the show floor. If you're not attending, stay tuned. There's going to be lots to report. You might also want to check out the Panasonic Live page. They will be broadcasting from the PMA@CES floor for two days. It looks like a great resource.

After the event is over, I'll post a wrap-up via my weekly TDS Podcast. You'll get all the highlights in a 30-minute show.

OK, time to pack my bags and head to Vegas.


The Digital Story on Facebook -- discussion, outstanding images from the TDS community, and inside information. Join our celebration of great photography!


"Flying Dancer" - Grab Shot 218

TDS member Michel Bricteux was attending a Mexican dance class in Madrid, Spain when he captured this beautiful image.

Michel Bricteux Grab Shot

He mounted a 50mm lens on his Nikon D3X, set the ISO to 1600, then used Aperture Priority mode at f/1.4. The resulting shutter speed was 1/1000th of a second, plenty fast to catch this airborne dance in mid-flight.

This is our 218th Grab Shot! Wow. If you want to review the collection that began back in 2006, go to our Grab Shots page.

If you have a candid you'd like to share, take a look at our Submissions page, then send us your Grab Shot. We'll try to get it published for you on The Digital Story.

And you can view more images from our virtual camera club in the Member Photo Gallery.


The Digital Story Podcast App is the best way to stream or download weekly TDS podcast episodes. No more syncing your iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, or even your Android phone just to get a podcast. And the best part is, The Digital Story Podcast App is your way to help support this show. Download it today!


twitter.jpg Follow me on Twitter


Developing a short list of favorite portrait locations is a terrific asset in your photography arsenal, especially when a potential subject asks, "So, where should we shoot it?" I just read a helpful article at Digital Photography School titled, How to Scout for Portrait Shooting Locations that provides good food for thought.

Model at Fog City Diner
Outside Fog City Diner in San Francisco.

Based on my experience, here are a few additional tips that I've found useful:

  • Keep things close. Exotic locations might be fun conceptually, but time is always a factor to consider. I have locations that are as close as 2 minutes away, and most are within an hour's driving distance.
  • Comfort is important. Is there a place to change clothes or visit the restroom? Not every setting will have these options, but you should have a few "comfortable locations" for those subjects who need them.
  • Safety First. You're probably not going to get very good shots if your subject is concerned for his/her safety. Avoid the bad side of town.
  • Lighting, lighting, lighting. Know the light at different times of day and year at your favorite spots. Some will be great morning shoots, others best in the afternoon.

And if you really get this organized, you might want to have examples of your favorite spots on your mobile phone. That way you can show the subject what you're thinking as you're making plans.


The Digital Story on Facebook -- discussion, outstanding images from the TDS community, and inside information. Join our celebration of great photography!


A New Year, and a fresh set of opportunities to improve our photography. In this week's podcast, I present six goals for 2012. Each one addresses a different aspect of our craft. Personally, I'm going to endeavor to complete all six. How many of these do you dare to try?

Listen to the Podcast

tds_podcast_app_150_tile.jpg

You can also download the podcast here (31 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Mobile Phone is the Jan. 2012 Photo Assignment. Entries must be captured with a mobile device. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is Jan. 31, 2012.

Special Offer from SizzlPix!

20% Discount for Jan. 2012 - So we can build up a gallery of SizzlPix! made from cell phone images. Any TDS listener/reader gets a 20% discount on SizzlPix!â„¢ Hi Definition Photographyâ„¢ made from pictures shot with T-Mobile My Touch Slide 4G, Samsung Galaxy S II, or Apple's iPhone 4S.

SizzlPix! may be from 18" to 60" in the longest dimension. Photographer's cropping will be honored.

Shipping will be within one week. Photographer gives us permission to publicize, with credit, their SizzlPix! made from a cell phone original in yours and our on-line galleries and blogs, Twitter, FaceBook, Google+. etc.

When you fill out your order form for the SizzlPix, add "TDS Jan Offer" to get the discount.

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

Red River Paper -- The $7.99 Sample Kit is back! And with free shipping.

You might also want to check out my article, Artistic Gifts You Can Make in an Hour.

Make Your Photos Sizzle with Color! -- SizzlPix is like High Definition TV for your photography.

Need a New Photo Bag? Check out the Lowepro Specialty Store on The Digital Story and use discount code LP20 to saven 20% at check out.




Technorati Tags:
, , , , ,


For the Nov. '11 Photo Assignment, TDS shooters got their grayscale on while exploring the theme Black & White. The imagery in this huge gallery is striking. And which one will be the SizzlPix Pick of the Month? (These will look great Sizzled! I've tried B&W with SizzlPix)

Carl Shortt nov2011_assign


Photo by Carl Shortt, Jr. "This image was captured on November 8, 2011 in Oklahoma City. I was on the 35th floor of what is now the second largest building in our city setting up to take head shots for a local not for profit leadership training organization. This is the view from the room opposite from my photo station. It was a cloudy evening so little outside light was coming into the room. Then, all of a sudden, the room was flooded by beautiful warm light. I turned around to see this scene. I knew that I had only moments to capture this very contrasty light so grabbed my Canon 5D Mark II, switched the dial to C1 which is set to a take a three shot bracketed exposure, pressed the lens to the glass to get rid of reflections and fired off a series of bracketed exposures. The building under construction is the new Devon Energy Tower. I understand that this is the largest building currently under construction west of the Mississippi River. Photomatix Pro was use to render the HDR image and conversion to B&W was done in Nik Silver Effects Pro 2, other adjustments on Lightroom 3." To see all of the other terrific shots from Nov., visit the B&W gallery page.


Participate in This Month's Assignment

The Jan. 2012 assignment is "Mobile Phone." To qualify, the entry image must have been captured with a mobile device. Start working on your contribution now. Details can be found on the Member Participation page. Deadline is Jan. 31, 2012.

Please follow the instructions carefully for labeling the subject line of the email for your submission. It's easy to lose these in the pile of mail if not labeled correctly. For example, the subject line for this month's assignment should be: "Photo Assignment: Jan. 2012." Also, if you can, please don't strip out the metadata. And feel free to add any IPTC data you wish (These fields in particular: Caption, Credit, Copyright, Byline), I use that for the caption info.

Good luck with your Jan. assignment, and congratulations to all of the fine contributors for November.

Special Offer from SizzlPix!

20% Discount for Jan. 2012 - So we can build up a gallery of SizzlPix! made from cell phone images. Any TDS listener/reader gets a 20% discount on SizzlPix!â„¢ Hi Definition Photographyâ„¢ made from pictures shot with T-Mobile My Touch Slide 4G, Samsung Galaxy S II, or Apple's iPhone 4S.

SizzlPix! may be from 18" to 60" in the longest dimension. Photographer's cropping will be honored.

Shipping will be within one week. Photographer gives us permission to publicize, with credit, their SizzlPix! made from a cell phone original in yours and our on-line galleries and blogs, Twitter, FaceBook, Google+. etc.

When you fill out your order form for the SizzlPix, add "TDS Jan Offer" to get the discount.


twitter.jpg Follow me on Twitter

-


Now Available! The Digital Photography Companion. The official guide for The Digital Story Virtual Camera Club.

  • 25 handy and informative tables for quick reference.
  • Metadata listings for every photo in the book
  • Dedicated chapter on making printing easy.
  • Photo management software guide.
  • Many, many inside tips gleaned from years of experience.
  • Comprehensive (214 pages), yet fits easily in camera bag.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Top Photography Gear Stories of 2011

The past year showed us how priorities are shifting in the world of photography. New DSLR announcements were at a premium -- in part due to the flooding in Thailand, but also because of a changing market. Mobile devices and Compact System Cameras grabbed more than their fair share of the headlines. I found a comprehensive wrap-up over at photography talk.com, with their article, 15 Unforgettable 2011 Highlights of the Digital Photography World.

Glif Tripod Adapter for iPhone 4 The iPhone 4S was a big photography story in 2011, sporting improved optics and an 8MP sensor housed in a very mobile device.

From my own perspective, I thought it was interesting that the only new DSLR camera that turned my head in 2011 was the impressive Pentax K-5, which has become one of my favorite DSLRs. (And it was technically released at the end of 2010, though hard to come by then.)

Compact System Cameras were a much different story. Nikon, Olympus, Samsung, and Panasonic all had big debuts. I've been shooting with the new Olympus PEN E-PM1, and love it. I fell deeper in love when Olympus released the 45mm f/1.8 prime lens to go with it.

And last, but certainly not least, was the iPhone 4S with its great lens system and increased resolution. I've published many shots taken with the iPhone 4S, and it is truly the camera I always have with me.

We'll see what 2012 brings. I suspect we'll see more interesting stories in the DSLR category. I think 2011 was just a off-year timing-wise for those cameras. At the same time, I don't see the CSC and mobile device train slowing down.

What ever happens, I'll be on top on the news and posting the stories that I think are most interesting. Buckle up.


The Digital Story on Facebook -- discussion, outstanding images from the TDS community, and inside information. Join our celebration of great photography!