June 2012 Archives

How versatile is the iPhone 4S? Nick Fancher, an Ohio based photographer, posted a "behind the scenes" video of a fashion shoot he did with just an iPhone 4S and a reflector as a fill light. He edited the images with Photoshop Express and Snapseed. Take a look!


Weekly Photography Podcast

You'll find The Digital Story in the new Apple Podcasts app. Subscribe (for free) today.

Podcasts are now out of iTunes and reside in their own app called Podcasts, which is available for free in the App Store. At first it may seem a little confusing to find and listen to your favorite episodes. So here's a quick walk through.

Step 1 - Search

To find a show, tap on the "Catalog" button and go to the "Search" field. In this case, I entered "Digital Photography." On the iPad, the results will be displayed as "Podcast Episodes" and "Podcasts." Browse both areas until you find something you want. (On the iPhone you'll only get the "Podcasts" listing.)

01_podcast_search.png Entering text in the Search field.

Step 2 - Select

One you find a podcast or episode you want to try, tap on it to reveal more information.

02_search_results.png Viewing search results.

Step 3 - Listen and Subscribe

You'll be presented with the most recent episodes for that podcast. You can listen to any of the selections by tapping on their title (streaming). If you want to download it for listening at another time, tap the "download arrow." You can also subscribe to the show by tapping the big "Subscribe" button.

03_subscribe.png Listen (tap on title), Download (tap on download arrow), or Subscribe.

Step 4 - Manage Your Podcast

Once you've subscribed to a show, it appears in your Library. You can see it by tapping on the "Library" button. At this point you can fine-tune some of the settings. On the iPad, click on the "gear" icon in the upper right corner to reveal the settings panel. On the iPhone, tap the arrow bracket > in the upper right.

04_settings.png Fine-tune the settings.

You can also share this podcast with a friend by tapping the "Share" button in the upper right and choosing one of three options: Email, Tweet, or Message.

Step 5 - Remove Episodes from Device

For individual episodes that you've downloaded and have already listened to, you can delete them if you wish to free up space on your device. Simply "swipe to the right" on the downloaded episode to reveal the "Delete" button.

05_deleting.png Delete to remove downloaded shows from device.

The Podcasts app seems well designed, and it's free. You might want to give it a try on your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad.


You can find more photo tips and "photography how tos" on my Pinterest page.


Giants pitcher Ryan Vogelsong had his stuff working, and hitters Melky Cabrera and Buster Posey did their jobs at the plate. The result: Giants defeat Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers 2-0 to pull within one game of the lead in the National League West.

I was there in lower section 128, row 13 on the third base side with my Olympus OM-D E-M5 and Olympus 40-150mm zoom.

Buster Posey Hits Buster Posey connects against the Dodgers at AT&T Park. Photo by Derrick Story. You can see the entire set of images on the TDS Flickr page.

I parked the ISO at 1600 and used Aperture Priority to keep the zoom at the widest setting (f/4-f/5.6). When extended to 150mm on the OM-D, the effective power of the lens was 300mm because you double the focal length for micro four thirds. The high speed burst mode (9 fps) was a pleasure for capturing the action. And since the entire package was so compact, I was able to enjoy the game as a fan and grab a few photos when the action heated up.

Ball for Young Fan Ball for young fan. Photo by Derrick Story

Special Thanks to Hunt's Photo

As you may have read in earlier posts, I had two temporary review copies of the Olympus OM-D, but was having problems purchasing one for myself. I had orders placed with the typical big camera suppliers, and they kept getting delayed.

So I contacted the great people at Hunt's Photo & Video based in New England, US. I worked with Gary, who contacted Olympus US to see what he could do. Within a week my Olympus OM-D was on its way to me. The price was the same as what the other camera suppliers were charging, but the service was heads above. And yes, Hunt's offers free shipping too.

They have a wonderful newsletter that comes out every couple weeks with lots of specials. I use it to help keep up on the latest releases. You might want to try it yourself.

Thanks to Gary and the entire Hunt's crew for getting that Olympus OM-D in my hands so I could shoot this great baseball game at AT&T Park.


You can find more photo tips and "photography how tos" on my Pinterest page.


Whether you work with models regularly, or are contemplating your first shoot, this week's podcast includes "5 Don'ts" for these projects. These warnings were culled from many conversations with the models I work with for TDS workshops and other projects.

In the second story I talk about the winner from the recent World's Ugliest Dog competition. Why? Because an artistic handling of an "ugly" subject can lead to an impressive photograph.

And finally, SizzlPix is offering a 20 percent discount to TDS listeners... on any size or quantity. Listen in to learn how you can take advantage and get "sizzled" for less.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (30 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

Signs is the June 2012 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is June 30, 2012.

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.

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.




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One of the many feature improvements in Aperture 3.3 is the White Balance tool. Among its enhancements is an "uber auto" button and three "filters" for different types of photos. Here's an overview to get you up and running right away.

renee_white_balance.jpg The new white balance tool in Aperture 3.3 includes a "skin tone" option for your portraits. Photo by Derrick Story. Click on image for larger size.

White Balance Popup Menu

Prior to Aperture 3.3 your white balance option was Temperature and Tint. Now there are two additional choices: Skin Tone and Natural Gray. Plus, there's an Auto button, but I'll get to that a bit later.

  • Skin Tone - a great choice for portraits. This new algorithm is designed for portraits. Simply place the eye dropper on a skin tone and click.
  • Natural Gray - designed to correct color cast, but to also leave some feel for the ambient color in your image. In other words, it won't over-correct your photo. An example could be an underwater scene where you want to temper the blue, but not eliminate it all together.
  • Temperature and Tint - this choice is best for color casts that are more extreme where you really need to get in there and move sliders around.

Auto Button

The White Balance brick also includes an Auto button. When you click on it, Aperture runs all three "filters" and you can choose your favorite version. Auto Skin Tone works best when Faces is enabled because Aperture will use face detection technology to fine tune the correction. I had good luck with it, however, even when Faces was not enabled.

What's fun about Auto is that once you run it, you can cycle through the 3 filters to see the different types of corrections, then choose the one you want to use. On this portrait of model Renee Canelo, for example, the Skin Tone version is beautiful, but the Natural Gray and Temperature and Tint versions were a bit too cool.

Recommended Workflow

Apple has made white balance so easy. I recommend that you begin by clicking the Auto button. Then cycle through the 3 filters and choose the look you like best. You can then fine tune the color by using the slider for that filter.

Keep in mind that these corrections are brushable too. So you can further adjust the color in specific areas. I'll cover that in a future post.

Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn more about Aperture 3, check out my Aperture 3 Essential Training on Lynda.com. Also, take a look at our Aperture 3 Learning Center. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.

My next open Aperture Workshop is scheduled for Nov. 2012, in Santa Rosa, CA. You can get on the pre-registration list, plus learn about all the other photography workshops offered this season by visiting the TDS Workshops page.


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


Creating silhouette images is one of the easiest in photography, and often produces interesting pictures. The trick is to control the placement of the negative space in the composition, and to make sure your flash is turned off.

aquarium_silhouette.jpg "Aquarium Silhouette" Click on photo for larger size. Image by Derrick Story.

For example, in this aquarium shot, I had to wait a while until I had two people positioned on the left side. The process went something like this: 1) saw the potential for a good shot, 2) grabbed a position that had the right composition, 3) checked my camera settings, and 4) waited...

Once the elements come together, the actual picture taking is simple. The camera will read the large bright area and usually ignore the silhouetted subjects. So your photograph should be good to go without too much post production fooling around. Just make sure you're not in "auto everything" mode and that your flash is turned off. I think regular "program" mode works great for these types of compositions.

I like the graphical nature of silhouettes. And when these types of images are mixed in with your "regular" photos, they'll certainly grab the attention of the viewer's eye.


You can find more photo tips and "photography how tos" on my Pinterest page.


For the last few years, a chorus of us have been chanting that "the best camera is the one that you have with you." And I totally agree with that. But with high-end point & shoots improving in quality, and Compact System Cameras finding their stride, the "best camera with you" doesn't always have to be your mobile phone.

courting_butterflies.jpg "Courting Butterflies" captured with an Olympus E-PL2 with stock 14-42mm zoom during a family outing. Photo by Derrick Story. Click on image for larger version.

Don't get me wrong. I love shooting with my iPhone 4S. And there have been countless occasions where it has produced wonderful images I would not have otherwise captured. But whenever possible, I also tote a micro four thirds camera, such as an Olympus PEN, even on the most casual of family outings. Why?

  • Greater choice in lenses. I can use a compact zoom or a prime lens, depending on my mood.
  • Raw files. Don't need to say more here.
  • Better shutter speed and aperture control.
  • Bigger files, in case I want to make bigger prints.
  • More options, such as flash control, metering patterns, etc.

I enjoy those moments where I can wander off for a short bit and take a few pictures. In those instances, I love having a more advanced camera... while still knowing the iPhone is in my pocket if I need it.


You can find more photo tips and "photography how tos" on my Pinterest page.


I upgraded to the new MacBook Pro with Retina display for my everyday work. Chief among the reasons why was the 15" Retina display and the NIVIDA graphics card.

Just for fun, I loaded the same Raw file in Aperture 3.3 on both the new MacBook Pro and my 2010 MacBook Air (which I like a lot). The results were interesting.

retina_display_comparison.jpg MacBook Pro Retina Display on the left, 2010 MacBook Air on the right. Click on image for larger version. Photo by Derrick Story.

Specs aside, the first thing that jumped out at me is that the Retina display is more "photographic" than the image on the MacBook Air. I know many people are thinking detail with this display, but what I noticed is a more subtle gradation of tones. That's what I mean by more photographic. The image on the Retina display has some of the characteristics of a film based print. Look at the hair and the left side of the face.

The next attribute that impressed me was color. There is more of it in the Retina display. Keep in mind that it's just not the LCD we're talking about here. There is an entire set of technologies under the hood, that rolled up, contribute to the final image.

Both displays were set to the "Color LCD" profile with exactly the same file shown full screen mode in Aperture 3.3. The color was more accurate on the Retina display. No calibration on either machine. This is "out of the box" stuff.

As you might expect, there's a bump in detail too. But it's not an "earth shattering going to change the world" improvement. And I think part of the detail improvement is the better handling of tones so you can actually see the detail... if you know what I mean.

None of this is intended to be scientific. I'm a photographer walking by two computers with the same image on their screens. It's like the HD television wall at Best Buy. Even the comparison image here is a snapshot captured with an Olympus E-PL2 that was in my backpack at the time.

But, if you just go by what you see on the screen, then I have to say that what I like about the Retina display is that I feel like I'm looking at a photograph, not a computer screen.

Is that worth the $2,199 I paid for the 15" MacBook Pro? Well, considering how many pictures I look at on a weekly basis... the answer is yes.

Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn more about Aperture 3, check out my Aperture 3 Essential Training on Lynda.com. Also, take a look at our Aperture 3 Learning Center. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.

My next open Aperture Workshop is scheduled for Nov. 2012, in Santa Rosa, CA. You can get on the pre-registration list, plus learn about all the other photography workshops offered this season by visiting the TDS Workshops page.


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


Imagine waking up on the beautiful Northern Californian coastline, and the only item on the day's agenda is to focus on your photography. You can experience that on Aug. 24-26 at the Sonoma Coast Photography Workshop.

bodega_bay_alyssa.jpg

Here's what your weekend would look like:

Fri., August 24
5:30 pm - Optional visit to our Field HQ at Doran Beach Park. Refreshments served.

Sat, August 25
8:30 am - Meet at the Bodega Bay Lodge Library
9:00 am - Classroom session on environmental portraiture
10:00 am -Model Shoot #1 at Lodge
11:30 am -Depart for Doran Beach
11:45 am -Lunch at Doran Regional Beach Park
12:30 pm - Model shoot #2 at beach
2:00 pm - Return to Bodega Lodge Library for lab work and classroom session
4:30 pm - Photo walk at beach
6:00 pm - Depart for dinner and relaxation

Sun, August 26
8:30 am - Depart for Ft. Ross State Historic Park
9:30 am - Field session on landscape photography
10:00 am - Landscape shoot at Ft. Ross
11:30 am - Lunch at Ft. Ross
12:00 pm - Depart for Goat Rock for Harbor Seal shoot
12:30 pm - Landscape and wildlife shoot at Goat Rock
2:00 pm - Depart for Bodega Bay Lodge
2:30 pm - Lab work at the Lodge Library
4:30 pm - Student presentation of best images from weekend
5:30 pm - Optional photo walk to Doran Beach Park

Your workshop fee of $550 includes facility fees at Bodega Bay Lodge conference room (with French Doors that open up to the coastal landscape), field station at Doran State Beach, park fees, lunches both days, modeling fees, and instruction. Every participant receives a Lowepro camera bag.

To join our group, simply go to the TDS Workshop page and complete the "Send Me Info" form. It takes 15 seconds... I'll then send you a registration form and follow up details.

I keep these groups very small so to maximize your enjoyment. I hope you can join us on the coast this summer.


You can find more photo tips and "photography how tos" on my Pinterest page.


My 5 Favorite iPad Apps

In the world of photography, the iPad has become an equal partner in my gear bag. Among the many reasons I like it so much are that the apps are affordable, easy to use, and targeted to specific functions. Just like everyone else, I have my favorites. And I'd like to know yours too.

ipad_apps_june_2012.jpg Are any of these on my list of 5 favorite iPad apps? You bet!

Since I am a photographer, I'm going to be biased toward imaging apps. But photography isn't always about just taking pictures. We have to do other stuff too. So my five favorites right now are:

  • iPhoto for iOS - Terrific all-around imaging app that interacts well with the Apple ecosystem.
  • iStopMotion for iPad - Recording and managing time lapse movies has never been easier or more fun.
  • PhotoSync - Even though I use iCloud and like it, sometimes I just want to "send this photo to this device" right now. PhotoSync does that easily and quickly.
  • iA Writer - For me, this is the best note-taking app on the planet. Clean, functional, easy to use. And it interacts with iCloud so my documents are up to date all the time on all iOS devices.
  • Reminders - I've tried many "ToDo" apps, but in the end, Reminders works the best for me because of its deep integration in iOS and iCloud.

So what are your current five favorites? Post them in the comments if you want to share.


You can find more photo tips and "photography how tos" on my Pinterest page.


Imagine a set-up that includes modifiers for three flashes, a grid spot, two sets of gels, and a diffusion panel, yet only occupies the same amount of space as a standard laptop computer. That's the Rogue Master Lighting Kit by ExpoImaging, and I discuss how it could be very handy for nimble portrait photographers.

Then I talk about my experience at the US Open Golf Championship last week, and share a few tips for photographing these types of events.

I wrap up with an update about the upcoming Sonoma Coast Photography Workshop, TWiP, and the new MacBook Pro. Lots of ground to cover. I hope you enjoy the show.

Listen to the Podcast

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

Signs is the June 2012 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is June 30, 2012.

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.

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.




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The Rogue Master Lighting Kitprovides the nimble photographer with a variety of flash modifiers and gels in kit that occupies about as much space as a full size laptop computer. I recently shot a portrait session using just two Canon Speedlites with FlashBenders attached.

Leah Seated Portrait of Leah Lavoneh captured with two FlashBenders, one with a diffusion panel. Photo by Derrick Story.

One of the interesting new features in the master kit is a diffusion panel for the large FlashBender. The clever design attaches to the front of the FlashBender via robust hook and loop material. The flash head positioned between the two pieces, like a sandwich. I used this for the main light, with the small reflector as the fill.

FlashBender Set Up Two-light set up for the above portrait using the large FlashBender with diffusion panel as the main light.

In addition to the three different sized FlashBenders and the grid modifier in the kit, Rogue also includes two sets of gels. These have both creative and corrective applications. I particularly liked the gel set for the grid that allowed me to throw a splash of color on a background or even used as an interesting hair light.

Leah Holding FlashBender Kit The Rogue Master Lighting Kit takes up little space, but provides you with a complete flash modification set-up.

I noticed that the FlashBenders themselves have improved fasteners and updated design. I had no problem securing them to any of my flashes, and I have quite a variety of strobes in the studio.

If you're looking for an affordable light modifier set-up to handle a variety of needs, especially when traveling light, consider the Rogue Master Lighting Kitthat sells for $199. There are plenty of goodies in there to spur your lighting creativity.


You can find more photo tips and "photography how tos" on my Pinterest page.


canon_40mm.jpg

The latest episode of This Week in Photo includes a lively discussion about the just-announced MacBook Pro Retina Display, the Aperture 3.3 release, and the new Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens.

The show plays out like this:

  • Aperture gets a significant update (6:30)
  • Apple adds a retina display to the MacBook Pro (12:30)
  • Canon releases two new STM lenses (33:30)
  • Leica announces a $50,000 Limited Edition Camera (43:30)
  • Is it better to specialize or generalize in your photography? (48:50)

In addition to myself, Dan Ablan, and Nicole Young, and Frederick Van Johnson (host) are there to discuss these topics and more. You can listen in here.


You can find more photo tips and "photography how tos" on my Pinterest page.


I'm enjoying watching 42-year-old Jim Furyk battle a predominately younger field at the U.S. Open golf championship in progress at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, CA. I watched him at work in person during the Wednesday round, and he was striking the ball well.

Jim Furyk Chip Shot
Jim Furyk working on his short game at the Olympic Club on Wednesday.

After 8 holes on Saturday, Furyk is atop the leader board. We'll see what happens as the weekend plays out.


twitter.jpg Follow me on Twitter


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Many Aperture users were hoping for a 4.0 debut this week, and instead they got 3.3. Joe Linaschke over at ApertureExpert.com breaks down this release in his post, Aperture 3.3: The ApertureExpert Review. It's an excellent overview of what is going on with the application, and a look at the features themselves.

Here at the Digital Story, we'll continue to post on the individual components. So stay tuned, Our first installment was on Fast Browsing.

Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn more about Aperture 3, check out my Aperture 3 Essential Training on Lynda.com. Also, take a look at our Aperture 3 Learning Center. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.

My next open Aperture Workshop is scheduled for Nov. 2012, in Santa Rosa, CA. You can get on the pre-registration list, plus learn about all the other photography workshops offered this season by visiting the TDS Workshops page.


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


US Open 2012 - A Day on the Green

The 2012 U.S. Open Golf Championship is underway at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, CA. The combination of historic site plus world class golfers equals an enjoyable day on the green.

us_open_2012.jpg "Tee Shot" I held a 5D Mark II over my head with the 16-35mm zoom set to 16mm to capture this bird's eye view. For more photos, visit the TDS Flickr Gallery.

In San Francisco, it often pays to get up early for photography. On this morning, the mist was still in the air at the Olympic Club creating a mood that evaporated by late morning. I used the 70-200mm f/2.8 Canon zoom to capture these players enjoying a conversation on the way to the green.

us_open_early.jpg

Tournament play begins today. You can find out more about the U.S. Open here. It's going to be an exciting four days.

For more photos, visit the TDS Flickr Gallery


You can find more photo tips and "photography how tos" on my Pinterest page.


Photo Tips and Ideas on Pinterest

In addition to the 7 boards I've already populated on my just-launched Pinterest page, I've viewed hundreds by others who have posted on a variety of topics - my personal favorite, of course, is photography.

pinterest_d_story.jpg Here are three of my boards on Pinterest.

Pinterest is one of those online pastimes that you can enjoy without obligation. When you want fresh ideas for just about any project, browse and see what others are sharing.

There's also a decent iPhone app that's easy to use. Unfortunately, nothing really compelling for the iPad yet.

As for my page, I'm going to focus on photography tips and "how to." That's what I find interesting.


You can find more photo tips and "photography how tos" on my Pinterest page.


Aperture 3.3 provides much for us to talk about, and I'm going to start today with its improved rendering speed during import. Apple calls this "Fast Browsing."

Aperture_import_prefs.jpg Noting the "Fast Browsing" preference in the Import tab (Camera Previews). It should be activated by default. But you might want to double-check it just to make sure.

In the past, one of the annoyances for Raw shooters was the delay in building preview images during the import of files from a memory card. Now with Fast Browsing, Aperture takes better advantage of the Jpeg images embedded in those Raws. It shows you that image first, then will replace it with an Aperture preview (built to your specifications in the preferences menu) once the import has completed.

fast_browsing_image.jpg New "Fast Browsing" image that's available immediately in Aperture 3.3. (Click on image for larger version.)

I tested this feature on a 2010 MacBook Air using Raw files from an Olympus OM-D. As promised, large preview images were available right away during the importing process. And they looked good. I turned on Quick Preview to further speed things up while I worked.

final_preview_image.jpg Aperture's generated preview that replaced the embedded Jpeg. Even better than the embedded file.

Then I waited to see if I could detect Aperture replacing the embedded Jpeg with its own preview. And sure enough, a few seconds later it did. The color was a bit richer in the new preview, and it was a tad crisper too.

But gone are the days of the pixelated image that finally snaps into focus. You can certainly start rating and sorting your images during the import process now. My guess is that the quality of the initial preview will vary depending on what your camera embeds in the Raw file.

I still recommend turing Quick Preview on, because it seems to speed up the browsing process even further.

Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn more about Aperture 3, check out my Aperture 3 Essential Training on Lynda.com. Also, take a look at our Aperture 3 Learning Center. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.

My next open Aperture Workshop is scheduled for Nov. 2012, in Santa Rosa, CA. You can get on the pre-registration list, plus learn about all the other photography workshops offered this season by visiting the TDS Workshops page.


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


Apple announces a 1-2 knockout punch for photographers: a redesigned MacBook Pro 15" with Retina Display combined with an updated Aperture (v 3.3) that supports the super high-resolution display.

mbp_2012_side.jpg

Other Mac laptops were refreshed also (MB Airs, MBP 13" and MBP 15" without Retina display and with traditional hard drive), but my argument for this week's show is to purchase the 15" Retina MBP that is an all solid state machine. It's virtually the same thickness as the MacBook Air, has a quad processor instead of a duo, plus an impressive NVIDIA GPU that you don't get in the MacBook Airs or in the 13" MacBook Pro.

Add the updated version of Aperture with its improved performance and intriguing new editing tools, and you have a photographer's dream machine. If you don't believe me, tune in and let me make my case.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (30 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

Signs is the June 2012 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is June 30, 2012.

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.

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.




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The Power of Pattern

Repetition isn't necessarily a good thing when it comes to our daily work, but it can be a terrific photo subject.

mini_coopers_row.jpg A line of Mini Coopers. Photo by Derrick Story.

The trick is to find an exception to the pattern, or a way to isolate one of the items so the viewer's eye has a place to rest. Once the viewer absorbs the "resting spot" you've created, they can go on to enjoy the pattern that fills out the rest of the composition.


You can find more photo tips and "photography how tos" on my Pinterest page.


Getting Ready for WWDC 2012

As Apple applies the finishing touches to Moscone West for the World Wide Developers Conference, we can look forward to some important announcements on Monday morning.

moscone_west_wwdc_2012.jpg A long view of Moscone West, San Francisco, before WWDC. Photo and video by Derrick Story.

Even though this is a developer conference, Apple uses the spotlight for various types of announcements, both software and otherwise. We know there will be more information about iOS 6 and the upcoming Mac operating system, Mac OS X Mountain Lion.


Final touches to giant Apple logos being applied to Moscone West prior to the WWDC event.

I think we'll also learn more about the evolution of iCloud and how it will be further integrated into the OS and applications. There's a good possibility we'll hear news about hardware too, with a revised Mac Pro in the works. Personally, I would not be surprised by laptop announcements also. New MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs are still fitting for this event, and would add the pizazz that stock holders and the press would love.

So, it's going to be a busy week in San Francisco. With WWDC kicking off on June 11, then the 112th US Golf Open reviving up at the same time out at the Olympic Club, there should be plenty of traffic and a shortage of hotel rooms.

I think I'll follow the action via my MacBook Air, which I hope will soon be revised.


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


Grab Shot 220 - "Union Jack"

roderick_james_gs_6-12.jpg

"I captured this with my Olympus Pen E-PL1 camera and 17mm 2.8 pancake lens," writes Roderick James. "This was the last day of the Royal Jubilee in the UK, and a giant poster of the Royal family (from the Queen's silver jubilee) was hung across the full width and height of a building along the Thames. I saw this guy with his Union Jack umbrella walking toward the poster, and I couldn't resist grabbing this shot."

Thanks Rod for sharing this image. It's funny, I was just talking about the pancake lens yesterday.

This is our 220th 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 Discreet Pancake Lens

With the impending announcement of Canon's pancake lens, I thought it would be a good time to revisit this svelte class of prime glass.

So, what's the big (eh, small) deal?

olympus_17mm_pancake.jpg The Olympus 17mm f/2.8 pancake lens on a PEN Mini.

Thin is In

There's something cool about a lens that isn't much thicker than the body cap that replaces it. You feel like you're getting away with something. And the thinner the camera is to begin with, the more thrilling the pancake is mounted on it.

Light is All Right

Big zoom lenses add much weight to our camera kits. But put a pancake prime on there, and it feels like your camera has been on a diet. You can barely feel it tugging on your neck.

Bright in Low Light

The typical maximum aperture on a pancake is f/2.8. It's probably not the fastest glass in your bag, but it's a whole lot brighter than the kit lens and most of your zooms.

And in addition to all of this, pancakes are usually sharp and affordable. No wonder photographers like them so much.

If you want to learn more about these thin primes, take a look at this excellent article on B&H about pancakes.

And yes, I'm interested in the Canon version that seems to be waiting in the wings...

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"Where the heck is Aperture 4?"
[a cry from the blogosphere]

Usually when we get this deep into the Aperture release cycle (2 years +), murmurs begin that Apple has abandoned the application. Blog posts are published with disgruntled photographers threatening to switch to Lightroom. (I like the phrase "switch" to Lightroom, btw.) And everything in general seems to get a little tense.

My position? Try not to worry. Why? Well, here are a few things to consider.

Consideration #1 - Raw Updates Are Still Rolling In

Apple continues to provide Raw updates for iPhoto, Preview, and Aperture. That means you can can process Raw files in your two-year-old application from the Nikon D4, Nikon D800, Canon 5D Mark III, and the Olympus OM-D. Your photo management app remains up to date without having to spend an additional dime. Maybe the people who should be complaining are the ones who have to spend big dollars updating their apps to access the Raw profiles from the latest models.

Consideration #2 - Dot Releases Still Being Released

My current version of Aperture is 3.2.4. Lots of minor fixes have been published over the last two years. Apple seems to be on top of its app maintenance.

Consideration #3 - MobileMe to iCloud Transition

Aperture 3 is tightly integrated with MobileMe, which is going away in a month. There's much to work out with iCloud integration, and Aperture 4 won't be released until that work is ready.

Consideration #4 - WWDC Announcements

Did you see all of the TBDs in the WWDC program? There are going to be many changes after June 11, 2012. Some of those will affect Aperture.

Consideration #5 - Mountain Lion

You can bet that Mountain Lion, the next release of Mac OS X, will have an impact on Aperture.

Unlike some other photo applications, Aperture doesn't live on its own. It's a component of the Mac OS X (and possibly iOS) ecosystem. So there are more levers to pull in between releases.

If you want to spruce up your Aperture life while you wait to see what appears around the bend, then I recommend you switch to a solid state drive in your Mac. That will certainly improve Aperture's performance until we find out what Apple has up its sleeve.

In the meantime, try not to worry. Everything is going to be just fine.

Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn more about Aperture 3, check out my Aperture 3 Essential Training on Lynda.com. Also, take a look at our Aperture 3 Learning Center. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.

My next open Aperture Workshop is scheduled for Nov. 2012, in Santa Rosa, CA. You can get on the pre-registration list, plus learn about all the other photography workshops offered this season by visiting the TDS Workshops page.


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


The ability to capture crisp images is a longstanding goal for most photographers. In this week's podcast, I review 5 basic "dos and don'ts" for getting sharp shots.

In the second segment of the show, I recap the recent TDS Action Photography Workshop. Our shoots at the motor sports raceway on the first day, and the hockey ice arena on the second, were both challenging and rewarding. I cover the highlights for those of you who couldn't attend.

And finally, Lowepro is running a Dream Bag Sweepstakes that could put a pro roller and other top gear in your hands. All of this and more on this week's podcast.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (29 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

Signs is the June 2012 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is June 30, 2012.

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.

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.




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I've photographed a lot of junior sporting events, but 7-year-old boys playing hockey is one the best. Our workshop group had an appointment at Snoopy's Home Ice in Santa Rosa, CA. We were looking forward to the shoot, but I don't think any of us anticipated having as much fun as we did.

Going for the Goal

First of all, these kids are good. Skating is hard enough; managing a puck doubles the challenge. But they are also charming photo subjects. The trick is to capture the great shots as they happen.

On the Ice

For the second day in a row, I shot Jpeg instead of Raw. I knew I was going to need long frame sequences to capture the best images. I chose the 70-200 f/2.8 lens for its speed and reach, shooting with it wide open. To get clean color under the artificial lights, we used Expo Discs and the Custom White Balance setting. And finally, I pushed the ISO up to 3200 to provide me with decent shutter speeds.

Instruction

Sorting these shots was a joy. And when we shared them with each other during the closing presentation of the workshop, everyone had a smile on their face.

More images from this shoot can be seen in the TDS Flickr gallery.


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


One of the challenges we grappled with at the Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival during the TDS Action Photography Workshop was how to show the speed of these beautiful cars.

Mustang Motor Sports How to get this type of shot? Slow shutter speed, panning, and a little luck to capture this Mustang in motion. Photo by Derrick Story. To see more images from the racetrack, visit the TDS Flicker Gallery.

As we reviewed the results from the day, the winning combination was often slower shutter speeds combined with good panning technique. Although this seems counterintuitive to normal action photography with a long telephoto lens, the results can be very exciting.

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"It seems foolish until you see it work," commented Carl Short. "If you want to convey the motion of motor sports, you have to find a way to show it," added Rohith Thumati.

We had great access at the speedway, and across the board, everyone in the workshop produced terrific images. "You have to allow the motion to happen," added Brad Parrett.

I couldn't agree more.

To see more images from the racetrack, visit the TDS Flicker Gallery.


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For the April 2012 Photo Assignment, TDS shooters got "up close and personal" with their subjects. See for yourself how the world changes with a tight perspective in our gallery, Macro. And which one will be the SizzlPix Pick of the Month?

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Photo by Hamish Carpenter. "I recently purchased the Canon 100mm f2.8L Macro lens and this assignment gave me an excuse to get out and do some experimenting. For this photo, I set up a standard cheese grater on a table with a towel underneath and placed a colored gel on a speedlight to get this effect. Mild effects were added in Color Efex Pro4. I think it came out pretty well. I look forward to spending more time finding new objects to shoot with this lens - it is amazing!" To see all of the other terrific shots from April, visit the Macro gallery page.


Participate in This Month's Assignment

The June 2012 assignment is "Signs." Details can be found on the Member Participation page. Deadline is June 30, 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: June 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 June assignment, and congratulations to all of the fine contributors for April.


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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.

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