July 2015 Archives

Finding a good deal on photography gear can make you week. Some photographers wander into the world of gray market discounts to save a few bucks. Personally, I don't recommend it. But closeout items fall into a different category. They're simply being replaced by a newer version.

induro-tripod.jpg This Induro Grand Turismo tripod originally sold for over $400. I bought it for $139 with free shipping from B&H on closeout. It's one of the best tripods I've ever purchased.

Many of the items we need, such as light modifiers, tripods, and camera bags don't really lose their value. It's not like your old camera that has a 12MP sensor being replaced by one with 20 MPs. These durable goods are excellent candidates for big savings.

For example, I recently purchased a Induro Grand Turismo AGT114M1 Aluminum Tripod Kit for $139 with free shipping from B&H Photo. Apparently, Induro is moving to all carbon fiber components.

induro-kit.jpg

The kit included the tripod with both long and short center columns, tools in a zipper pouch, deluxe case with two compartments, shoulder strap, and Arch Swiss compatible ball head with quick release plate. Everything was shipped in its original packaging, brand new. The ball head alone is worth more than I paid for the entire works.

The Induro weighs 4 pounds, extends to 62", folds to 17", and can handle a load of 27 pounds. Every component is finely machined and handsomely designed. It's a beauty... for $139.

Since I publish photography news daily on a number of sites, including this one, I keep an eye out for great deals. And I share those deals with my readers. I did publish the B&H closeout on both my Twitter feed and on our Facebook page.

Maybe someday I'll have a carbon fiber tripod too... that is if the price is right. But for the moment, I'm enjoying my $139 Induro alloy set of sticks.

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Even though one of the strengths of Photos for OS X is iCloud integration, that only works with Apple devices. If you want to share images outside of the Mac/iOS sphere, Dropbox makes more sense.

Dropbox runs on practically any device and operating system. So even if you manage your images in Photos for OS X, you can push copies through Dropbox quite easily. Plus you have additional backup. And when it comes to pictures, redundancy is a good thing.

photos-and-carousel-1024.jpg Carousel on a Mac on top, with Photos for OS X in the background. These two apps can work together to expand your Cloud capability beyond Apple's ecosystem. Photos by Derrick Story.

The key to this system is installing the Dropbox app on your Mac that gives you Finder integration. By doing so, you can simply export images in bulk from Photos for OS X to a Backup/Sharing folder in Dropbox. It's easy and fast. Here's a movie on how this works.

A nice bonus to bringing Dropbox/Carousel into the mix, is that you get the Flashback feature that shows you images that you took on this day back in time. I really like it.

More Dropbox Tips and Techniques

If you want to dig into Dropbox, take a look at my lynda.com training, Dropbox for Photographers. For those who want to learn more about Photos for OS X, I also have the title, Up and Running with Photos for OS X.

Previous articles on The Digital Story about Dropbox include:

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By now, practically all enthusiast photographers grasp the advantages of shooting in RAW. But one of my favorite reasons is rarely discussed: in-camera editing.

This is one of my best loved coffee shop activities. Pull up a RAW file on the camera's LCD (in this case a Fujifilm X-20), go to the editing functions (menu), and make a completely different image. For this shot of the Easter Lilies, I opted for B&W with a yellow filter. Here are the two files.

Original Easter Lilies Here's the original RAW file that I viewed on the camera's LCD. Photos by Derrick Story.

Black and White Version Here's the Black and White version I created in-camera using the editing tools in the Fujifilm X-20.

You still have the original RAW file, but now there's a different interpretation of it as a Jpeg. And you can create additional versions if you wish. Once you find something you like, transfer it to your mobile device and upload.

If you like traveling light, and creating artistic images, in-camera RAW conversion is worth a look.


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This technique has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

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This week on The Digital Story Photography Podcast: 5 Must Have Micro Four Thirds Lenses, Dropbox for Photographers, Shooting 4K Video for Still Images, Tips for a Gallery Showing - all of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Weekly Update - "Flickr brings back Pro account option" DP Review reports: "With the return of new Pro subscriptions, Flickr has rolled out a few new features. Pro accounts now include 'improved stats' and a revamped interface for viewing analytics, ad-free viewing of your own and others' photos and a 20% discount on Adobe Creative Cloud's Photography plan for yearly subscribers (annual Pro plans only). However, new Pro plans no longer come with unlimited storage, as new subscribers are subject to the same 1TB cap applied to free accounts.

Flickr Pro is offered for to those who currently don't have a Pro plan for $5.99/month or $49.99/year. So what happens to existing paid Flickr accounts? Flickr's 'ad-free' plan subscribers will be upgraded automatically to Pro status at no extra cost. Existing Pro members will also be upgraded, keeping their current pricing for two years and their unlimited photo storage. "

In other news... "Shooting 4K Video for Still Photographs: A Quick Test" PetaPixel reports: "At 30 frames a second, I had a lot to choose from. I imported the clip into FCP X. I put the clip in the browser window and expanded it to full screen. I could shuttle through and also go frame by frame using the right or left arrows. Once I had the frame I wanted I chose to "share" as a still image. You have the option of a TIFF or JPEG. I chose JPEG and imported it into Aperture to do some final tweaking and cropping."

lens-trio.jpg

Story #1 - "5 Must Have Micro Four Thirds Lenses" -

One of the most common emails that appears in my inbox is inquiring about the best lens to adorn a new Micro Four Thirds camera. Here are my five favorites.

I discuss each of these lenses in the first feature of today's show.

Story #2 - The How to Sell Your Fine-Art Prints: A Primer. Here are a few things to think about:

  • Pricing Your Prints: Gallery owners agree... You can always raise prices, but you can never lower them. In addition to pricing their work too high before they're established, emerging artists make the mistake of issuing editions that are too large.
  • What Does "Limited Edition" Really Mean? Twenty years ago, an edition of less than 20 prints was rare; now galleries rarely sell work by a photographer who prints in editions of more than ten. Collectors expect that the photographic prints they acquire remain scarce so they hold their value.
  • What to Expect from the Photographer/Gallery Relationship Who pays for production, promotion, shipping? What exactly does "exclusivity" or "consignment" mean? "A written document is essential," insists noted photography consultant Mary Virginia Swanson.
  • The Growing Market for Fine-Art Videos Technological developments are helping collectors get comfortable with the idea of purchasing video-based art. Buying video works no longer means committing to the installation of a bulky television or finding the space for a projector; video art and multimedia can now be displayed seamlessly on slim monitors hung cleanly on a wall.

Story #3 - Dropbox for Photographers

The thing I like so much about Dropbox is that I can use it for practically anything on any device. I have shared folders set up with TWiP, Rocky Nook, c't Digital Photography, and my own team. Every image that hits my iPad or iPhone is instantly archived in Dropbox and displayed in Carousel. And that includes all of the stuff that travels via WiFi from my OM-Ds and X-20 cameras.

Plus there is the Flashback feature, shared photo albums, comments, and more. So you can imagine how excited I was to finally get to record a lynda title especially for photographers using Dropbox.

Virtual Camera Club News

The Ultimate Lens Guide by c't Digital Photography is now available for download. This 65 page eBook features in-depth tests of more than 20 optics in the 50mm, telezoom, and macro categories. By using discount code: CTGUIDE120 you can get 20 percent off for a sale price of $7.99 through the end of the month.

Fall Color with Safari West: October 23-25, 2015 - Sonoma County has rolling hills covered in vineyards, beautiful trees, and gorgeous blue skies. What a prefect place to shoot Fall color and bolster your landscape library. But there's more. We include environmental portraiture with a professional model, and an exclusive African wildlife photo adventure at Safari West, led by a professional photographer, plus a few surprises. This is our longest running workshop of the season, and for good reason. Two full days plus pre-workshop reception, breakfast and lunch, excellent swag, professional model, private Safari West adventure with a pro photographer guide - all included for just $599.

Moving from Aperture to Photos or Lightroom - August 7-8 - Now that Aperture will no longer be developed, many photographers are contemplating their next move. In this software workshop, we'll explore the two leading contenders: Photos (part of the Yosemite Update) and Adobe Lightroom. By the time we conclude, you'll have a much clearer idea about your photo management future. Two full days plus breakfast and lunch - all included for just $495.

SizzlPix puts a new spin on printed photography

Here's a interesting article that leads off with: "As ultra-high-definition TVs and computer monitors are replacing high-definition screens on the market, a new Davis-based company called SizzlPix is taking this new technology into the realm of print photography." It's a good background piece on SizzlPix.

New Printer Article

Article from Red River Paper: Epson Pro 3880 vs. Epson SureColor P800. The Epson SureColor P800 is the direct replacement to the Pro 3880. Both are 17" wide desktop printers using nine inks to produce professional quality photography, fine art, and graphic design prints. The two printers are very closely related and share most of the same features.

Thanks to everyone who recently reviewed the TDS Podcast in iTunes!

BTW: If you're ordering through B&H or Amazon, please click on the respective ad tile under the Products header in the box half way down the 2nd column on thedigitalstory.com. That helps support the site.

Download the Show - MP3 Version

In addition to subscribing in iTunes, you can also download the podcast file here (32 minutes - MP3 version). You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

More Ways to Participate

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

Podcast Sponsors

lynda.com - Learn lighting, portraiture, Photoshop skills, and more from expert-taught videos at lynda.com/thedigitalstory.

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

SizzlPix! - New 5k Ultra High Definition SizzlPix output for your photography. You've never seen your imagery look so good. SizzlPix.com.

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As I watch the various online cloud services gather, one of the things that I notice is that many of them want to funnel you toward a specific workflow. One of the reasons why I like Dropbox, is that it works on any of my devices, all of my platforms, and with practically any type of file.

carousel-on-ipad.jpg Carousel (the visual Dropbox companion app) running on my iPad mini.

I like that I don't have to worry about what type of machine I'm using. I have my account set up on both Mac and Windows computers, iOS and Android devices. I also like that it's equally adept at backing up my work, and sharing it with others. Again I have complete control over the process.

A big jump forward for me as a photographer was when Carousel was added to the mix. This companion app for Dropbox provides a photographer-friendly front end to the service. I use Carousel to view, organize, and share my images on both my mobile devices and computers.

I've recorded a short movie that explains more about why I think Dropbox is an excellent match for photographers. You can watch it right here.

And if you want to learn the ins and outs of Dropbox's features, take a look at my lynda.com title, Dropbox for Photographers.

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I like to review video on my camera's LCD screen. It's easy, looks good, and gives me a feel for what I have and what I still need to shoot. If only the audio sounded better.

This is especially true when a few people are looking over my shoulder. That tiny built-in speaker on the camera just doesn't cut it. And headphones only work for one. That's why I started packing the JBL Micro Wireless Ultra-Portable Speaker ($39) to enhance my playback experience.

jbl-speaker-1024.jpg

Micro speakers have come a long way recently. Battery life is excellent, usually around 5 hours. You can connect via a built-in audio jack, or Bluetooth, depending on the device you're connecting to. And they sound great.

The JBL is as light as a feather and only 4" wide. It fits anywhere in my gear bag, provides output for my iPhone and iPad wirelessly, and for the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II when I use the Olympus External Grip HLD-8G that includes a headphone jack.

When I review the footage, I set the camera on a table, position the screen for the best view, and plug the JBL into the headphone jack. Now we all can evaluate both the video and the audio. And when I'm not working, I stream music to the micro speaker that's stashed in the mesh water bottle pocket on the side of my backpack. Pretty slick.

Audio is such an important aspect of movies. The JBL Micro Speaker has made playback on the camera so much more enjoyable.


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The JBL Micro Speaker has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

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Dropbox-Title-Screen.jpg

Dropbox appeared on my photographer's radar when I received 50GBs of free storage as part of a deal with Samsung cameras. That gave me enough working room to experiment with the service as it evolved, adding photographer-friendly features such as Carousel. Today I use Dropbox daily and subscribe to the 1TB plan.

Then, in the Spring, I started working on Dropbox for Photographers for lynda.com. This was one of the most enjoyable software titles I've worked on. I finally had a chance to show how this cloud service integrates smoothly with desktop computers and mobile devices... and that means practically any operating system on the planet.

That's one of the many things I love about Dropbox - it allows me to use any device I want to manage just about any type of file I have. If this sounds appealing to you, take a look at the intro video to the title where I provide an overview of the topics I cover.

There are so many well thought out features with Dropbox. Let me show you what I've learned over the years, and from a photographer's point of view. It's really impressive.

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This week on The Digital Story Photography Podcast: "The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8, Cool Apple Watch App for Photographers, The Ultimate Lens Guide" - all of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Weekly Update - "The Apple Watch Can Be Used as a Live View Remote for the Olympus Air". Petapixel reports: "If you're the early adopter type and are looking into owning both the Apple Watch and the Olympus Air, here's some good news for you: the two gadgets can be combined into one functional camera system. A new app allows the Apple Watch to be used as the live view display and control interface for Olympus' unusual camera."

In other news... "Five Cameras That Can Shoot Great JPEGs" The Phoblographer reports: "No matter what your needs are, these five cameras shoot incredible JPEGs.

  • Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II
  • Fujifilm XT-10
  • Canon G1X Mark II
  • Sony A7
  • Samsung NX500
panasonic-gx8.jpg

Story #1 - "The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8" -

Panasonic announced the Lumix DMC-GX8 that provides the first 20.3 MP sensor (5184 x 3888) in a micro four thirds camera. Other highlights include:

  • Tilting 2.36m-Dot 0.77x OLED EVF
  • 3.0" 1.04m-Dot Vari-Angle Touchscreen
  • 4K UHD Video Recording at 30/24 fps
  • Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity with NFC
  • 10 fps Shooting with AF-S and ISO 25600
  • DFD AF System, 4K Photo Modes
  • In-Camera Image Stabilization, Dual I.S.
  • A mechanical focal plane shutter enables a fast maximum shutter speed of 1/8000 sec., as well as a top flash sync speed of 1/250 sec. An electronic shutter function also avails a top shutter speed of 1/16,000 sec. to better enable working in bright conditions and with wider aperture settings.
  • Built-in jack for external mic
  • 5.2 x 3.1 x 2.5" and weighs just over a pound.
  • Scheduled for release on Aug 16, 2015 for $1,197

I discuss the importance of this camera in the first segment of today's show.

Story #2 - The Sigma 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM Art Lens will ship by the end of July for $999. Available for Canon, Nikon, and Sigma bodies, this wide angle Art lens features:

  • Aperture Range: f/2 to 16
  • FLD & Special Low Dispersion Elements
  • Two Aspherical Elements
  • Super Multi-Layer Coating
  • Hyper Sonic AF Motor
  • Internal Focus; Manual Focus Override
  • Rounded 9-Blade Diaphragm
  • Thermally Stable Composite Material
  • Compatible with Sigma USB Dock

Story #3 - The Ultimate Lens Guide by c't Digital Photography is now available for download. This 65 page eBook features in-depth tests of more than 20 optics in the 50mm, telezoom, and macro categories. By using discount code: CTGUIDE120 you can get 20 percent off for a sale price of $7.99 through the end of the month.

Story #4 - From the Screening Room - Photoshop CC for Photographers: Camera Raw 9 Fundamentals with Chris Orwig.

You can watch Chris in action by visiting the TDS Screening Room at lynda.com. While you're there, you can start your 7 day free trial to watch all of Chris' movies, plus every other title in the library.

Virtual Camera Club News

Fall Color with Safari West: October 23-25, 2015 - Sonoma County has rolling hills covered in vineyards, beautiful trees, and gorgeous blue skies. What a prefect place to shoot Fall color and bolster your landscape library. But there's more. We include environmental portraiture with a professional model, and an exclusive African wildlife photo adventure at Safari West, led by a professional photographer, plus a few surprises. This is our longest running workshop of the season, and for good reason. Two full days plus pre-workshop reception, breakfast and lunch, excellent swag, professional model, private Safari West adventure with a pro photographer guide - all included for just $599.

Moving from Aperture to Photos or Lightroom - August 7-8 - Now that Aperture will no longer be developed, many photographers are contemplating their next move. In this software workshop, we'll explore the two leading contenders: Photos (part of the Yosemite Update) and Adobe Lightroom. By the time we conclude, you'll have a much clearer idea about your photo management future. Two full days plus breakfast and lunch - all included for just $495.

SizzlPix puts a new spin on printed photography

Here's a interesting article that leads off with: "As ultra-high-definition TVs and computer monitors are replacing high-definition screens on the market, a new Davis-based company called SizzlPix is taking this new technology into the realm of print photography." It's a good background piece on SizzlPix.

New Printer Review Article

Article from Red River Paper: Epson Pro 3880 vs. Epson SureColor P800. The Epson SureColor P800 is the direct replacement to the Pro 3880. Both are 17" wide desktop printers using nine inks to produce professional quality photography, fine art, and graphic design prints. The two printers are very closely related and share most of the same features.

Thanks to everyone who recently reviewed the TDS Podcast in iTunes!

BTW: If you're ordering through B&H or Amazon, please click on the respective ad tile under the Products header in the box half way down the 2nd column on thedigitalstory.com. That helps support the site.

Download the Show - MP3 Version

In addition to subscribing in iTunes, you can also download the podcast file here (26 minutes - MP3 version). You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

More Ways to Participate

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

Podcast Sponsors

lynda.com - Learn lighting, portraiture, Photoshop skills, and more from expert-taught videos at lynda.com/thedigitalstory.

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

SizzlPix! - New 5k Ultra High Definition SizzlPix output for your photography. You've never seen your imagery look so good. SizzlPix.com.

Want to Comment on this Post?

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

No Need to Be Shy

Some days, it feels like everyone is posing for me.

Street shooting is such a funny thing. I think most conscientious photographers try to balance capturing good imagery with invading people's personal space. And I agree, that's a good tightrope to walk. But there are those times when subjects seem to seek out my camera. Here are two instances from my recent trip to Santa Barbara.

The Kissing Couple

kiss-in-the-shadows.jpg "The Kissing Couple" captured with an Olympus SH-2 by Derrick Story.

I was walking down State Street in Santa Barbara toward Stern's Wharf. It was approaching twilight and the long shadows were stretching across the landscape. I had my camera out and was taking artsy snapshots and enjoying the beautiful weather.

This couple was walking a short distance in front of me. Suddenly, they stopped, she pulled him close to her, and they had a long embrace. My camera was in plain sight, and she saw me as they kissed.

I didn't stop and strike a pose, rather just took pictures as I walked by. I didn't hide anything, nor did they. I think it's a sweet, unusual, photograph.

Strike a Pose

bike-guy.jpg "Bike Guy" captured with an Olympus SH-2 by Derrick Story.

The next day we were exploring Avila Pier near San Louis Obispo, and I noticed this guy who had seen me taking pictures. I gathered that he was a local character. He proceeded to strike a pose. Of course I was obligated to take the picture.

There are cameras everywhere these days. It seems to me that taking pictures in public is about as common as window shopping and asking for directions. A respectful attitude combined with a straightforward approach seems to be a recipe for engaging photographs.

And if someone indicates that they don't want their picture taken, politely move on. I promise there will be something interesting around the next corner.

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Olympus SH-2

When the Olympus SH-2 debuted a couple months ago, I did some preliminary testing with it. I liked the camera, but I wasn't able to test its new RAW support, because my software didn't support it yet.

But last week Apple released Digital Camera RAW Compatibility 6.05 that included a profile for the Olympus SH-2, so I could use it with Photos for OS X, iPhoto, Aperture, and Preview. Plus Olympus dropped the price to $349. I thought it was time to revisit this handsome compact that features a 24x optical zoom, a 16 Megapixel BSI CMOS 1/2.3" sensor, and 5-axis sensor-shift image stabilization.

Duck Portrait Ducks captured with an Olympus SH-2 at 600mm, ISO 800, f/6.9 at 1/160th sec. RAW file processed in Aperture. Photo by Derrick Story.

As it turned out, I had the perfect scenario for the camera. I traveled down to Santa Barbara for a day of business meetings and thought the SH-2 would be great for the trip. It fits nicely in the front pocket of my pants, has a crazy zooming range from 25mm to 600mm, includes built-in WiFi, lots of shooting modes, and of course, that excellent image stabilization.

Wren Portrait Captured with Olympus SH-2 at 248mm, ISO 160, f/6.2, 1/250th, -0.3 EV. RAW file processed in Aperture. Photo by Derrick Story.

Some enthusiast photographers might be concerned with the smaller sensor in the SH-2, but I shot at a variety of ISO settings and the pictures held up quite well. The RAW files gave me plenty of latitude in post production, and the excellent IS system allowed me to shoot at high magnification with moderate shutter speeds.

Duck Portrait in the Shade Duck in the Shade captured with Olympus SH-2, 108mm, ISO 3,200, f/6.9, 1/320th, -0.3 EV. RAW file processed in Aperture. Photo by Derrick Story.

Bottom line is this: the Olympus SH-2 is a handsome compact that's well suited for vacations and business. The zooming range is outstanding, and now practical, thanks to its 5-axis image stabilization. And there are lots of goodies to play with, such as Art Filters, scene modes, HD video, WiFi, and panorama. At the new $349 price tag, I think it's a good value for nimble travelers.

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I Shoot Fewer Frames These Days

One of my most embarrassing experiences from the film days was when I was shooting product shots for a company with a 4"x5" monorail view camera. The setups were fairly elaborate, and I didn't want to take a chance on messing up the shot. So I bracketed wildly in both directions.

When I picked up the transparencies from the lab, there was a thick stack of pictures instead of what should have been a dozen. As I spread the frames on the lightbox, I did indeed get a properly exposed, good color balanced, sharp image of each set up. I also had dozens of over/under exposed films.

At that moment, I felt like I didn't really know what I was doing. And I vowed to get better.

carrie-with-brick-wall-1024.jpg Carrie Dungan with Straw Hat and Brick Wall, Santa Rosa, CA. Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II with 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens. A reflector was used for fill light. Photo by Derrick Story.

Fast forward to 2015. In the digital age, I can shoot as many frames as I want, and it doesn't cost me, or the client, any money. But I still carry the weight of that experience from years ago with me.

My goal these days, is to shoot as many frames as needed to get the proper expression and composition, and trust that I can handle the technical details in camera. When some might shoot 500 frames, I capture 150.

For most model shoots, such as the image above with Carrie, the subjects are surprised at how fast the session goes. "Did you get enough?" they would ask.

I've noticed that this speed is a real benefit for commercial shoots too. Many of my portraits are scheduled for work hours onsite, when busy executives don't have much time to spare for photography. Once client remarked, "We used to have to go to a studio, spend 45 minutes there, then get back to the office. Now we're done in 10 minutes."

Working fast is a good thing in the business world. My days of excessive frames are well behind me. And the bonus is, I spend far less time in post production too.

Can you say, "Good night's sleep..."?

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This week on The Digital Story Photography Podcast: "LED Studio Lighting, Rumors About the Podcast, T-Shirt Winners, Sigma 24-35mm f/2 Art Lens Review" - all of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Weekly Update - "Apple releases Digital Camera RAW 6.05, adds RAW support for ten new cameras". Imaging-Resource reports: "Apple has released Digital Camera RAW 6.05, a substantial update bringing support for ten new cameras to OS X Yosemite and OS X El Capitan, which is currently available as a public beta. Notables include the Fujifilm X-T10, Nikon D810A, Olympus STYLUS TG-4 Tough, and the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G7."

In other news... "Sigma 24-35mm f/2 'Art' Lens Review: How does the world's fastest full-frame zoom perform?" Imaging-Resource reports: "This new zoom is the world's first constant-aperture f/2.0 zoom lens for full-frame DSLRs, which basically means you get three sharp f/2.0 primes -- 24mm, 28mm and 35mm -- in a single lens. Sigma is, once again, offering a unique lens that the major manufacturers simply do not offer! So, the big question is: How does it stack up? Very, very well."
Lens construction: 18 elements in 13 groups, including 2 aspherical, 1 FLD and 7 SLD elements; 9 aperture blades; weighs 33 ounces; Sigma, Canon, and Nikon mounts. Still waiting for details about price and release date.

P7104524-Siobhan-Portrait-1024.jpg Portrait of Siobhan Anderson using LED studio lighting.

Story #1 - "LEDs Light Up My Studio" -

This has been an interesting journey for me. I never really liked professional studio lighting kits with the array of big modifiers. So I opted for more portable speedlites with smaller accessories. And they were fine. I then tried compact fluorescent lighting, and was happy to have a continuous source again. But I have to say, since I've switched to LED lighting, I've been the happiest ever in the studio.

Currently I'm using a pair of FotodioX Pro FlapJack LED Edge Lights that have variable power output and built-in diffusion. I could use AC power, but the lithium battery lasts so long, I don't have to. The color temperature ia a pleasing 5,500 K. And they are so easy to pick and move around during the shoot, I find myself being more creative. I talk more about LED lighting in today's first story.

Story #2 - T-Shirt Winners from the The Digital Story - Digital Photography Public Group Giveaway

Here's the scoop: Last week we had 123 members of our virtual camera club share photos with the TDS Public Group, most of them adding more than one image to the pool. Image quality and creativity were outstanding. I show people the gallery on my laptop and the first comment is usually something like: "Wow, they're really good!"

So without further ado, here are the names of those eligible to receive a free T-Shirt:

  • Joel_Favela
  • RHYockey
  • Jim Hansen
  • Garagewerks
  • callmeunity
  • Tim Gilbreath
  • mommapostal
  • Fran Polito
  • 440 volts
  • LightMovesPhotography

If you name was called, please send email to thenimblephotographer@gmail.com with the subject line T-Shirt and your name (in the subject line). And in the body of the note, your T-Shirt size, your email address, shipping address, and phone (for shipper only). Congrats... and thanks to everyone who posted images.

Story #3 - Rumor has it... that The Digital Story podcast is moving over to the growing TWiP network. I clarify the situation in today's third feature.

Story #4 - From the Screening Room -Street Photography: Posed Portraiture with Steve Simon. Steve is one of those guys who can win the trust of strangers. Here's how he does it.

You can watch Steve in action by visiting the TDS Screening Room at lynda.com. While you're there, you can start your 7 day free trial to watch all of Steve's movies, plus every other title in the library.

Virtual Camera Club News

Fall Color with Safari West: October 23-25, 2015 - Sonoma County has rolling hills covered in vineyards, beautiful trees, and gorgeous blue skies. What a prefect place to shoot Fall color and bolster your landscape library. But there's more. We include environmental portraiture with a professional model, and an exclusive African wildlife photo adventure at Safari West, led by a professional photographer, plus a few surprises. This is our longest running workshop of the season, and for good reason. Two full days plus pre-workshop reception, breakfast and lunch, excellent swag, professional model, private Safari West adventure with a pro photographer guide - all included for just $599.

Moving from Aperture to Photos or Lightroom - August 7-8 - Now that Aperture will no longer be developed, many photographers are contemplating their next move. In this software workshop, we'll explore the two leading contenders: Photos (part of the Yosemite Update) and Adobe Lightroom. By the time we conclude, you'll have a much clearer idea about your photo management future. Two full days plus breakfast and lunch - all included for just $495.

Show Off with SizzlPix

Do you want to blow away friends and family with your photography? Then hang a 5k Ultra High Definition SizzlPix on the wall at home. You won't believe the comments.

Give it a try. They'll send Digital Story listeners and readers a free mini-proof before production; just put "proof first, TDS" in the comment space on the SizzlPix order page.

Tip from Red River Paper

Article from Red River Paper: Frame Your Images for Maximum Impact!. A helpful article to help you choose the right frame for your prints.

Thanks to everyone who recently reviewed the TDS Podcast in iTunes!

BTW: If you're ordering through B&H or Amazon, please click on the respective ad tile under the Products header in the box half way down the 2nd column on thedigitalstory.com. That helps support the site.

Download the Show - MP3 Version

In addition to subscribing in iTunes, you can also download the podcast file here (35 minutes - MP3 version). You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

More Ways to Participate

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

Podcast Sponsors

lynda.com - Learn lighting, portraiture, Photoshop skills, and more from expert-taught videos at lynda.com/thedigitalstory.

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

SizzlPix! - New 5k Ultra High Definition SizzlPix output for your photography. You've never seen your imagery look so good. SizzlPix.com.

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Creative Reflection Technique

Editor's note: Leah Gerber contributed this post.

One of the advantages to being Derrick's assistant is that I get to shoot at photo workshops right alongside the participants. As a result, I've discovered some new techniques, one of which I want to share with you today.

bodie-by-leah-gerber.jpg Photo by Leah Gerber.

This image is from the Eastern Sierra workshop this past June. Day one of the event, we drove out to the old ghost town of Bodie. This place is a photographer's dream, set in an isolated, rural area with buildings and roads forgotten by time. It puts the imagination in high gear, to walk among the remains of an old western town.

We got there at 9 o'clock in the morning, and the sun kept climbing higher in the mostly-cloudless sky. At first I just shot everything I saw, because heck, I was in Bodie! Everything looked fantastic. Every direction I faced there was something to be photographed. I was surrounded by the wild west.

But once I got all that excitement out of my system, I began to curse the harsh midday lighting, the flat sky, and even the other tourists who seemed to be everywhere that I wanted to photograph. I started shooting through the windows, into the abandoned homes and buildings (the public could enter only a few structures). I liked the shots I was getting, but I wanted to be more creative.

I had been using my camera lens placed against the glass to peer into the buildings and take photos. As I started playing around with this technique, tilting the camera to one side or the other, I discovered a new effect.

Where the lens produced shade, I could see inside the home. But on the other side of the frame, the dust-coated windows reflected the ghost town behind me. When I pulled the lens very slightly away from the window, I got a blurred edge, which looked like the two worlds were just barely meeting.

Once I did this a few times, I became enamored with the style, and I ended up with a bunch of shots that I love. What I liked about it was the fact that the very conditions that originally made photography difficult - namely the flat, harsh lighting - were the ones that actually helped me get those strong reflections leading to photos that were quite interesting. In other words, the bad lighting forced me to shoot more creatively.

When I show these photos to others, several comment on the editing between two subjects. I have to correct them: "Actually... this isn't a compilation of images sewn together in Photoshop; this is one image." The only editing I'd done, was with coloring and tone.

The fun part about it is the lack of technology involved, the simplicity of it, and the ability to create art because of undesirable conditions. Had the sky been filled with clouds, or a beautiful sunset, I may not have gotten the images I did, the ones I love, the ones which suggest stories of another world in that old, forgotten place.

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The Classic Canon 85mm f/1.8

canon-85mm-top.jpg

In 1992 I was shooting weddings as a freelancer trying to build a photography business. I owned two EOS Elan film bodies and a handful of glass. When Canon released the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM for less than $400, I knew I had to have it.

It immediately became my primary portrait lens, low-light compliment to the 50mm f/1.8, and soft background wonder. Even though my Canon bodies have evolved over the years - shooting now with a 5D Mark II and 70D - this lens has remained in my camera case. I still reach for it when I need to capture that perfect portrait.

IMG_0698-leah-with-85mm.jpg Leah before a big commercial photo assignment. Canon 85mm f/1.8 set to f/2.8 on a Canon 5D Mark II. Photo by Derrick Story.

The lens basic specs are modest:

  • Lens construction: 9 elements in 7 groups
  • Diagonal angle of view: 28 degrees (at 30 feet)
  • Focus adjustment: Rear focusing system with USM
  • Closest focusing distance: 2.8 feet
  • Filter size: 58mm
  • Dimensions: 3 inches in diameter, 2.8 inches long
  • Weight: 15 ounces

It all hangs together like a timeless black suit that fits perfectly.

When I started shooting with Micro Four Thirds also, I sold many of my Canon lenses. The one optic that I doubt that I'll ever let go of is that original 85mm. Its quality and dependability has gained my trust over 20+ years of assignments.

This is what I love about great glass. Camera bodies my come and go, but a classic lens is for life.

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This week on The Digital Story Photography Podcast: "Cuba Movies and eBook, T-Shirt Giveaway, White House Lifts Photo Ban - all of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Weekly Update - "Instagram stores higher resolution images". DP Connect reports: "After its recent app update it seems Instagram has further improvements up its sleeve, as the mobile image sharing platform has started storing higher resolution images on its servers. In the app and on the web interface, as before, images are still displayed at the small 640 x 640 pixel size, but a look at the website source code reveals that images are now actually stored at 1080 x 1080 pixels."

In other news... "White House lifts 40-year ban on photography during public tours" Imaging-Resource reports: "40 years ago, the White House put a ban on photography during public tours. Now, the ban has been lifted, with First Lady Michelle Obama posting a video on Instagram announcing the White House will once again allow photography during public tours."
"Although the ban has been lifted" there are still limitations on what imagery you can capture. Specifically, you're not able to use video cameras, interchangeable lens cameras, tripods, selfie sticks or flash. Smartphones and compact cameras with a lens no longer than 3 inches (stills only) are permitted on the public tour route as long as their use does not interfere with other guests' enjoyment of the tour.

downtown-havana-cars.jpg

Story #1 - "Cuba Confidential: Movie and eBook" -

I'm thrilled to announce that my lynda.com title, A Photographer in Cuba has been released. I'll tell you a bit about it today.

Plus, I have a sneak preview to my new eBook, "The Rocky Nook Guide to Photographing Cuba," which you'll be able to download for free this week.

Story #2 - "The Digital Story - Digital Photography Public Group Wants to Send You a T-Shirt"

Do you follow the TDS Member Photo of the Day? If so, all of those images are selected from our Public Group on Flickr, which consists of nearly 3,000 members and more than 50,000 photos.
And starting on Tuesday, July 7 we're giving away 10 Nimble Photographer T-Shirts, selected randomly from those who submit photos to our Flickr Public Group. Giveaway ends at 11:59 PDT on Sunday, July 12, 2015. Winners will be announced on next week's TDS podcast. If you submit a photo within the July 7-12 timeframe, you're eligible to win a shirt.

Story #3 - From the Screening Room - A Photographer in Cuba with Derrick Story. I have a great movie for you this week: Music and Art in Cuba. It's a 9-minute journey to Havana to explore the rhythms and visuals that help make that city so vibrant.

You can watch me in action by visiting the TDS Screening Room at lynda.com. While you're there, you can start your 7 day free trial to watch all of the Cuba movies, plus every other title in the library.

Virtual Camera Club News

Fall Color with Safari West: October 23-25, 2015 - Sonoma County has rolling hills covered in vineyards, beautiful trees, and gorgeous blue skies. What a prefect place to shoot Fall color and bolster your landscape library. But there's more. We include environmental portraiture with a professional model, and an exclusive African wildlife photo adventure at Safari West, led by a professional photographer, plus a few surprises. This is our longest running workshop of the season, and for good reason. Two full days plus pre-workshop reception, breakfast and lunch, excellent swag, professional model, private Safari West adventure with a pro photographer guide - all included for just $599.

Moving from Aperture to Photos or Lightroom - August 7-8 - Now that Aperture will no longer be developed, many photographers are contemplating their next move. In this software workshop, we'll explore the two leading contenders: Photos (part of the Yosemite Update) and Adobe Lightroom. By the time we conclude, you'll have a much clearer idea about your photo management future. Two full days plus breakfast and lunch - all included for just $495.

Show Off with SizzlPix

Do you want to blow away friends and family with your photography? Then hang a 5k Ultra High Definition SizzlPix on the wall at home. You won't believe the comments.

Give it a try. They'll send Digital Story listeners and readers a free mini-proof before production; just put "proof first, TDS" in the comment space on the SizzlPix order page.

Tip from Red River Paper

Article from Red River Paper: Frame Your Images for Maximum Impact!. A helpful article to help you choose the right frame for your prints.

Thanks to everyone who recently reviewed the TDS Podcast in iTunes!

BTW: If you're ordering through B&H or Amazon, please click on the respective ad tile under the Products header in the box half way down the 2nd column on thedigitalstory.com. That helps support the site.

Download the Show - MP3 Version

In addition to subscribing in iTunes, you can also download the podcast file here (31 minutes - MP3 version). You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

More Ways to Participate

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

Podcast Sponsors

lynda.com - Learn lighting, portraiture, Photoshop skills, and more from expert-taught videos at lynda.com/thedigitalstory.

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

SizzlPix! - New 5k Ultra High Definition SizzlPix output for your photography. You've never seen your imagery look so good. SizzlPix.com.

Want to Comment on this Post?

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

Capturing Engaged Portraits

When I give portrait assignments to students, I usually ask them to capture three different types: Front-facing head and shoulders, environmental where the subject is part of a larger scene, and what I call the "engaged portrait," which is when the subject is doing something.

charlie-with-soap-bubbles-1024.jpg

I like the activity portraits a lot. My feeling is that we learn even more about the subject when they are focused on their work, a hobby, or in the case of this young boy, watching soap bubbles with his mom.

With engaged portraits, we often see expressions that reveal personality. The person is thinking about an activity and not as much about be photographed. The protective shield is lowered, and the viewer gets a peek at an aspect of the real person.

You have to have your camera available and ready to fire, because these opportunities are often spontaneous. For example, I prepared my OM-D in the morning and had it available as we started our 4th of July BBQ with family. I didn't take any pictures for the first few hours. But when Charlie and his mom started blowing soap bubbles, I grabbed the camera and captured an engaging series of images.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of group shots and other types of portraits during these events. But the engaged portraits are often the ones I share with others.

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Flashpoint 7' AutoStand Review

autostand-with-light.jpg

When you're working alone and have to move your lights from one area to another, it can be a cumbersome task. The Flashpoint 7' AutoStand aims to make that job just a bit easier.

Its standout feature is the set of automatic legs that retract against the main body of the stand when you lift it up, then spread when you place the autostand in a new location. It only requires one hand.

I've been using this lighting accessory in my studio that has a shooting room upstairs and the classroom downstairs. Now when I move lighting from one location to the other, I can still hold my camera in one hand and simply lift up the stand with the other to transport it down the stairwell. It's great.

autostand-legs-open.jpg The three legs spread automatically when you set the stand on the floor.

autostand-legs-folded.jpg But when you lift up the stand with just a single hand, the legs retract against the body so you can easily transport it.

The autostand adjusts from 3 feet to 7 feet and folds down to 30 inches for storage or transport. This kit comes with a reversible 5/8' stud, with a ¼"-20 thread on one end, and 3/8" on the other, which can be mounted either vertically or horizontally as needed. The stand is made of aluminum alloy and weighs 2.8 pounds. It can bear a load of 15.5 pounds.

I like the over-sized tightening knobs and the general construction of the autostand. There is a bit of wobble when extended, due to the design of the legs to allow them to open and close automatically. This isn't an issue for lighting gear (the stand is plenty stable for my lights), but it's a design byproduct that you should be aware of.

The Flashpoint 7' AutoStand comes with a carry case for location work, and the entire kit sells for $59.95. Adorama also carries a variety of accessories to round out your rig.

The autostand is a handy addition to my studio. I always have it set up and ready to work.

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