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This week on The Digital Story: Photography Mashup, Episode 1, with the hosts from Improve Photography and the Digital Photo Experience.

Via Skype, I'm joining Jim and Dustin from Improve Photography and Juan from Digital Photo Experience for a photography mashup hosted by Improve Photography.

We talk about business and photography mistakes we've made, and the lessons we've learned from them.

You can also download the podcast here (70 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

The April 2013 photo assignment is Architecture.

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

Make Your Photos Sizzle with Color! -- SizzlPix is like High Definition TV for your photography. SizzlPix Spring Sale - 25% Discount! Offer good on orders placed by April 30. Again, "TDS" or "The Digital Story" in the comments space. Of course, they will honor the discount for all TDS listeners and readers, including those who've received SizzlPix samples.

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

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focustwist iPhone

If you want to experience refocusing a picture after you've made the exposure, take a look at FocusTwist, available for $1.99 in the iTunes App Store.

Once you've made an exposure, as explained in the graphic here, you can tap on different areas of the image do determine where the focus should be set. It's an engaging way to experience Lytro-like refocusing with a device you already have.


iPad for Digital Photographers

This is the kind of stuff I write about in iPad for Digital Photographers-- now available at a special pre-order price.

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Well done and entertaining! Here's an animated video showing the history of photography created for TED Education. Worth a watch!

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Here's our crew hard at work on their iPads at Cafe Noto in Windsor, CA during the iPad for Digital Photographers Workshop. Great day to be out and about! TDS iPad for Photographers Workshop

Adobe made a little noise with the release of Lightroom 4.4 and its working closely with Fufifilm to provide top notch decoding of .RAF files from Fujifilm X-Pro1, X-E1, X100S, and X-20 cameras. This lead to some speculation that Apple would be left out in the cold with Raw decoding for X-Trans sensors.

Well, apparently not. Apple today released Raw Compatibility Update v4.05 with support for these very same cameras. So how do these two applications stack up for Fujifilm camera owners?

Aperture 3.4 RAF Decoding for Fujifilm X-20 Camera

Aperture Display of X-20 Raw File Screenshot of unedited .RAF file in Aperture 3.4 with RAW Update 4.05

Aperture Full Rez Export A full resolution Jpeg export from a decoded RAF file in Aperture 3.4.

Lightroom 4.4 RAF Decoding for Fujifilm X-20 Camera

Lightroom Display of X-20 File Screenshot of unedited .RAF file in Lightroom 4.4.

Lightroom Full Rez Export A full resolution Jpeg export from a decoded RAF file in Lightroom 4.4.

No image editing was enabled in either application. Files were saved out at the highest export settings. So what you see here is essentially how each application decoded the .RAF files from a Fujifilm X-20 camera. (Imagine how the Raw files from the X100S look!)

In my opinion, both applications do an excellent job of handling .RAF files. And the fact that both Apple and Adobe had the RAW updates so quickly after the release of the new X-Trans cameras (X-20 & X100S), says that both are taking these cameras seriously. Well done.

Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn more about Aperture, check out my Aperture 3.3 Essential Training (2012) 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.

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Rouge FlashBender Flag Bounce Card

The solution to dealing with strong, directional light that's determined to cause flare in your photograph may already be sitting in your camera bag. If you have a RougeFlag Bounce Cardthat you typically use for bounce flash, you can adapt it to serve as a robust lens shade too.

This particular FlashBender includes a black cloth "flag" that attaches over the white reflective surface. I tend to leave my flag attached so I don't lose it. When I'm using the RougeFlag for bounce flash, I remove the black cloth and store it in my bag.

But, if I want serious flare protection for my lens, I leave the black cloth on and attach the FlashBender to my lens using the adjustable strap. In this photo I'm using it with a Canon 24-105mm f/4 L zoom on a 5D Mark II. Unlike a traditional lens hood, the FlashBender can be positioned exactly as needed to block the sun from striking the front of your lens.

I love multi-use. This $29 bounce flash accessoryhas already paid for itself many times over. The fact that it can help me fight flare too is just a sweet bonus.

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Some pictures just look better in Black and White. And even though there are plug-ins and specialized programs to help you create B&W images, you can produce great stuff using the built-in tools in Aperture and iPhoto.

In this 3-minute movie that I created for my latest lynda.com title, Using iPhoto and Aperture Together, I compare the B&W conversion techniques in both iPhoto and Aperture, and add a few tips too.

Take a look, then make your B&W masterpiece tonight!

More Aperture/iPhoto Tips and Techniques

To learn more about using Aperture and iPhoto together, visit my Using iPhoto and Aperture Together 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.

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This week on The Digital Story: Lightroom 5 public beta is now available for download, Fujifilm X20 deluxe compact camera begins shipping, and the imminent release of iPad for Digital Photographers. All of this... and more!

Story #1 - Lightroom 5 public beta - Just a little over a year since the final release of Lightroom 4, Adobe has reloaded its image editing guns and fired off the first public beta of Lightroom 5. You now need Windows 7 or Mac OS X 10.7 to run Lightroom 5. Key features for testing include Smart Previews, Advanced Healing Brush, a Radial Gradient tool, and more. I take a closer look at the top three features in the first story of this week's show.

Radial Gradient tool - You can draw a circle or oval around an area in the photo, then apply effects to the area out side the selection. Typical uses would be exposure or color adjustments, but there are other sliders too.

Advanced Healing Brush - Great for cloning or healing odd shaped objects that you want to eliminate from your composition. This capacity is probably what has sent many Lightroom users to Photoshop in the past.

Smart Previews - Allows you to set up your Lightroom catalog to edit images, even when the originals are offline on another hard drive that isn't plugged in to your computer. Adobe pulls this off by using the lossy DNG format. Catalogs set up with Smart Previews can save a great deal of space, around 1/6 the size of a catalog with original RAW files connected. The edits you make in Smart Preview mode will be synced up with the originals when you reconnect the hard drive.

Story #2 - The Fujifilm X20 compact camera is now available.

Features include the 12MP 2/3" X-Trans CMOS II Sensor (RAW files can be processed in Lightroom 4.4), Fujinon 28-112mm f/2-2.8 zoom lens, amazing optical viewfinder that zooms and has a data overlay, a variety of intelligent features such as film simulation and pro focus, and looks great with its die-cast magnesium body construction and machined metal knobs. Currently sells for $599. I cover some of its pros and cons in the second segment of the show.

Story #3 - iPad for Digital Photographers will be released in just two weeks. The pre-order price is only $13.45. Not only do you get the book, but you'll gain access to a brand new, secure area on TDS called the Book Owners Lounge. I provide more details in the third story. There's a link for the book at the bottom of every TDS page.

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

The April 2013 photo assignment is Architecture.

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

Make Your Photos Sizzle with Color! -- SizzlPix is like High Definition TV for your photography. SizzlPix Spring Sale - 25% Discount! Offer good on orders placed by April 30. Again, "TDS" or "The Digital Story" in the comments space. Of course, they will honor the discount for all TDS listeners and readers, including those who've received SizzlPix samples.

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

Want to Comment on this Post?

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

Even though it only has a 2/3" sensor (smaller than Micro Four Thirds and APS-C), the Fujifilm X20 compact camera has the ability to soften backgrounds for portraits. Take a look at this comparison.

Soft Background Portrait, Fujifilm X20, Female, Theresa Ann Story Soft background portrait with Fujifilm X20 compact camera in Pro Focus mode in the ADV settings menu. Photos by Derrick Story.

Female Portrait without Background Softening Normal portrait without Pro Focus mode enabled on Fujifilm X20.

Fujifilm engineers created a clever Pro Focus mode (in the ADV menu) that captures two frames to create a softened background without compromising the image quality of the subject. I've tested it a handful of times, each time rendering excellent results.

There are three softening options, from mild to strong. You do have to compose on the LCD in ADV mode instead of the optical viewfinder. And the final capture is a JPEG -- RAW isn't available in this mode. But the compromises are worth the final output, for sure.

For professional work, large image sensors provide the most flexibility and best quality. No doubt. But you don't necessarily want to take your 5D Mark III with 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom on a date. For those occasions, it's fun to have a compact that can deliver artistic results.

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Join me on my Instagram site as I explore the world of mobile photography.

RAW files from Fujifilm's new X-Trans CMOS II sensor can be processed in Lightroom 4.4 with excellent results. Adobe and Fujifilm have been working together to enable Lightroom to get the most out of the X Series cameras.

Fujifilm X20 Camera Processed Lightroom 4 Halftime show photographed with a Fujifilm X20 and RAW file processed in Lightroom 4.4. Click on image for a closer look.

Last night, I packed a Fujifilm X20 for the Warriors game at Oracle Arena and recorded in RAW. This image was captured at ISO 800, 1/420th at f/2.8 in Aperture Priority mode.

I then processed the photo in Lightroom 4.4, adjusting both color and exposure (but not much!). The .RAF file responded well to all of the adjustment sliders in Lightroom 4.4.

If you're shooting with one of these new X-Trans CMOS sensors, Lightroom can definitely help you get the most out of these files. I did notice, however, the fans coming on for my MacBook Pro 15" Retina Display laptop while working on the X20 library. Must be some heavy lifting going on under the hood.

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


Join me on my Instagram site as I explore the world of mobile photography.