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Nimble Photographer in Maui

I want the sand beneath my toes and the sun low on the horizon... and not much more during my vacation in Maui. So when it comes to gear, I'm in Nimble Photographer mode.

Maui Sunset

Here's what I'm packing during my 8 days in paradise. Over my shoulder is the versatile Lowepro Photo Hatchback 16L AW. It protects my camera gear and iPad while leaving plenty of room for personal items while exploring the island. And when it's time hike to my favorite snorkeling spot, I remove the camera box allowing enough room in the bag to carry my mask, snorkel, fins (sticking out the top) and Olympus TG-1 underwater camera (more on this beauty in an upcoming post).

After I return from my swim, I put the camera box back in the Photo Hatchback and get into photographer mode. For these adventures I'm carrying the Olympus OM-D E-M5 with the 14-42mm zoom and Power Battery Holder HLD-6. I usually leave the bottom part of the HLD-6 back in my room and just use the grip.

OM-D with New Grip

I'm also carrying the M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6 R Lens, the 17mm f/2.8 Lens, and the 45mm f/1.8 Lens. All of this fits in the Photo Hatchback camera box along with the XZ-1 10MP Compact Camera that I also carry separately at times in my board shorts.

Olympus XZ-1 with VF-2 Electronic Viewfinder Olympus XZ-1 with VF-2 Electronic Viewfinder. I often choose the XZ-1 for my compact camera because I can use the electronic viewfinder with it, which is great in bright beach conditions. More about this in the article, Olympus XZ-1 with VF-2 Electronic Viewfinder - Best of Both Worlds?.

I round out this nimble kit with a Joby Gorillapod SLR-Zoom Flexible Mini Tripod with Ballhead and the new iPad with Camera Connection Kit.

So in my Photo Hatchback that only weighs 2 lbs to begin with, I have a 16 MP CSC body, 4 lenses, compact camera with f/1.8 zoom lens, underwater camera with f/2 zoom lens, tablet computer, card reader, and still tons of room for personal items. And with these tools that nary strain my shoulder, I can handle image editing, uploading, blog posting, and keep up with my social networking... all in-between the occasional refreshing drink.


Take a look at the Olympus Micro Four Thirds Gear Guide for an overview of cameras, lenses, and accessories.


Lowepro Photo Hatchback 16L AW

Leah Lavoneh works on both sides of the camera. As a junior college student, she studies Anthropology and enjoys taking photographs. To help cover expenses, she works part time as a model. Leah recently loaded up the Lowepro Photo Hatchback 16L AW and took it on a road trip to Oregon and Washington State. She was looking forward to exploring the beautiful scenery with a Canon DSLR and her outdoor gear.

"Hiking with the Photo Hatchback was an unexpected pleasure," Leah remarked. "Its compact size is deceiving; it has compartments for food, water bottles, sunscreen, extra clothing, flashlights, and other random stuff needed on the trail -- and all of this while still providing great protection for my camera."

Mount Ranier National Park
Mount Rainier National Park in Washington by Leah Lavoneh.

Part of the pleasant surprise with this bag unique "backside" compartment that keeps expensive gear protected, yet has fast access to make picture-taking easy. All Leah had to do was slide off the shoulder straps and swing the bag around via its waist belt. Then she could access her camera without having to set the bag on the ground.

Open Camera Compartment Backside camera access.

"The ability to use my camera while still wearing the backpack around my waist really made life on the trail easy," she said. "Not only did this feature help keep the backpack clean, it was much easier to put the camera away once I had taken the photo. In fact, it was so convenient, I found myself taking more pictures than normal."

Getting Camera Out "I loved not having to set my bag down in order to get to my camera," Leah said.

Having this kind of capacity without the heft kept Leah light on her feet while exploring the Northwest.

"The Photo Hatchback wasn't bulky at all. So, for example, when I was squeezing between boulders in Ape Cave (a pitch-black lava tube), I didn't have the annoyance that usually accompanies bigger backpacks."

Other helpful features of the Photo Hatchback include an All Weather cover in case the weather turns nasty, a dedicated pocket for an iPad, and a fully adjustable harness system for just the right fit.

Leah on the Trail

The only downside to convenient picture taking? "I have so many images to sort through now," Leah exclaimed.

Editor's note: The the Lowepro Photo Hatchback 16L AW is available for $89.95 from B&H Photo. Thanks to Leah Lavoneh for sharing her experience and a photo from her trip. Bag provided by Lowepro.


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


Inquiring minds want to know, right? On most Canon DSLRs, once you get over 100,000 shutter actuations, the risk of it failing increases (pro bodies more like 300,000). So how do you find out?

Canon 40mm Lens Canon 40mm prime mounted on a EOS 60D. Photo by Derrick Story.

I just read a good article full of information on this topic titled, Finding the number of shutter actuations for your Canon EOS DSLR. The author, Shane, provides good background information on the subject, then lists links to freeware utilities that can help you determine the shutter actuations for your camera.

It's not something that I lose sleep over at night. But it is cool that I can find out if I want to.


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


Sunflowers at Sunset

Earlier this evening, I was part of a conversation on TWiP about what a great time it is for photographers. On my way home, a visual case in point.

Sunflowers_2048_ P8013148.jpg "Sunflowers at Sunset" Click on image to inspect larger version. Photo by Derrick Story.

There's a field of sunflowers near my house that I've been keeping an eye on. Leaving work late put me there right at sunset as I drove by. I pulled out the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and mounted the 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6 R Lens. The light was low, and I wanted to extend the zoom to tightly frame the shot.

As a result, I captured this image at ISO 1600, 1/8 sec. at f/5.5... handheld. The effective focal length was 276mm. In my mind, to hand hold a shot at this focal length at 1/8 of a second defies photography as I understood it for years. But the image stabilization, great electronics, and sharp lens redefines what we can do with a camera.

Like we were saying earlier: it's a great time to be a photographer.


Take a look at the Olympus Micro Four Thirds Gear Guide for an overview of cameras, lenses, and accessories.

For the June 2012 Photo Assignment, TDS shooters found wisdom, humor, and direction in the words around them. See for yourself in our gallery, Signs. And which one will be the SizzlPix Pick of the Month?

gerry_legere_signs.jpg

Photo by Gerry Legere. "After driving around town looking for ideas, I first spotted two spots which looked promising very close to each other," Gerry wrote. "But then, as a bonus, the photo I decided to include also had the word Signs. This image features great colors, and a car in front, which sported a sign on its side that helped to repeat the theme." To see all of the other terrific shots from Jume, visit the Signs gallery page.


Participate in This Month's Assignment

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

SizzlPix Pick of the Month for March and April Photo Assignments


twitter.jpg Follow me on Twitter

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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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In this Digital Photography Podcast: The Nokia 808 PureView camera phone has amazing specs, including 38 MP capture with a 28mm Zeiss lens. Then with PureView zoom, you can go up to 3.6X with the sacrifice being in megapixels, not image quality. Very interesting device, and possibly the best camera phone ever.

In the second story, I focus on a cool feature for photographers called AirPlay Mirroring. It's one of the 200 new goodies in Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. Using AirPlay Mirroring, we can easily share our photos and videos with small audiences.

And finally, do you know what those different album colors mean in iPhoto for iOS? They're actually a helpful organizational tool. All of this and more in this week's TDS podcast.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (33 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

Hot is the July 2012 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is July 31, 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. Get a 20% discount during July by adding "TDS" in the comment field of your order.

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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Do you know why iPhoto for iOS adorns your library shelf with albums that are blue, tan, and gray? They are actually organizational tools to help you find your images. In my Macworld article, Mastering albums in iPhoto for iOS, I explain in detail how you can put these albums to use on your iPad.

color_coding_iphoto.png

In the meantime, if you're curious as to what the colors actually mean, here you go:

  • Blue - Albums created by iPhoto for iOS that contain pictures from your Camera Roll for from Photo Stream.
  • Tan - Once you edit an image, or tagged it with a flag or as a favorite, iPhoto creates an Edited album and colors it tan.
  • Gray - If you create an album in the Photos app on the iPad, or sync an album via Aperture or iPhoto on Mac OS X, those images will appear in a gray album in your library.

So yes, you can organize your pictures on an iPad.


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


One of Mac OS X Mountain Lion's most tantalizing features for photographers and teachers is AirPlay Mirroring. With just one click, you can share your computer screen with any HDTV wirelessly via an Apple TV.

airplay_mirror.jpg

I tested AirPlay Mirroring running Mountain Lion on a MacBook Pro 15" Retina display to my Panasonic LCD HDTV via a second generation Apple TV. The first thing I noticed is that there is no set up. I turned on the Panasonic, then chose Apple TV from the AirPlay icon in the top menu bar of the laptop. My computer screen instantly appeared on the HDTV.

airplay_setting_mbp.jpg

I fine-tuned the image by opening Display Preferences and choosing "Best for AirPlay." Now, even the typography looked decent on screen.

This feature is terrific for sharing photography. My Aperture images looked very crisp onscreen. I played an HD movie that I had created, and the transitions were remarkably smooth. Every now and then there would be a momentary stutter on long Ken Burns effects, however. Audio is also piped through the Apple TV to the HDTV. I'm not sure I would watch a full featured action movie using AirPlay Mirroring, but for teaching and presentations, this is dynamite.

Once I was done sharing, I chose "Turn Off AirPlay Mirroring," and everything went back to normal on both computer and TV. This is a feature that will make it easy for photographers to share their work with family, friends, and small groups.


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


Fast Photo Rescue with Adobe CS6

There are those images that I suspect have good potential, but require just a bit of work. My rescue tool of choice is Adobe Camera Raw 7.1 and Photoshop CS6. Typically, I can salvage a picture in just a few minutes. Here's a recent example of a 3-step photo rescue.

Step 1 - Open in ACR 7.1 and Apply the Graduated Filter

camera_raw_7-1 Using the Graduated Filter tool in Adobe Camera Raw 7.1

The big problem with this shot was that the top of the image was blown out from the setting sun. Since I shot RAW, I figured there was enough image information there, and the graduated filter seemed like the right tool to see what I have.

Step 2 - Open in Photoshop CS6 and Apply HDR Toning

hdr_toning.jpg HDR Toning in Photoshop CS6

After using the Graduated Filter in ACR, I thought I could balance the overall tonality a bit more. I used the HDR Toning tool in Photoshop CS6 (Image > Adjustments > HDR Toning).

Step 3 - Smart Sharpening and Save

Now all I had to do was apply a Smart Sharpening and save the photograph. By this point you're probably wondering what the original looked like. Here ya go.

original_train_tracks.jpg Original train tracks image before the 3-step rescue.

And here's the final image.

Train Tracks P7242542 Retina.jpg Final image after the 3-step rescue.

The entire process took about 5 minutes.


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


apple_up_to_date.jpg

If you recently purchased the MacBook Pro 15" Retina display, or another of Apple's latest offers, you probably qualify for the Up to Date Program.

It takes just a few minutes to complete the registration. Once you've been approved (usually within 24 hours), you'll receive a code that you can use in the Mac App Store to download Mountain Lion. Keep in mind that your order must be entered by August 24, 2012.


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