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We have two terrific hands-on workshops scheduled for this Spring, and an addition to the Summer line up. On April 21-22, we're conducting the "Close-Up" event at TDS Headquarters. Then on June 2-3, we're heading out to Infineon Raceway for our Action Photography workshop. I've also added the Wine Country Big-Q Workshop on July 13-15. All of these can be reviewed and reserved on the TDS Workshops page.

Flower Open

Close Up Photography - April 21-22

Learn and practice how to get up close and personal with your subjects. You'll see how to set up your own "close up" studio, including lighting options, backgrounds, and more. We'll also venture outdoors (weather permitting) for nature photography using our macro gear. You'll come away with plenty of beautiful shots and new ideas that will energize your photography. Lots of hands-on shooting, sharing with other photographers, and of course, great tips and techniques to improve your images.

Action Photography at Infineon Raceway - June 2-3

Want to improve your sports photography? Or maybe learn how to use techniques such as panning? In this workshop we'll cover the important techniques for action photography, then go out on location and practice "getting the shot." Our big event for this workshop will be The Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma County. Admission to the event is included in your workshop fees.

Event Photography at Wine Country Big-Q - July 13-15

Learn how to prepare, photograph, and publish coverage for a big event. You'll actually be a working photographer for the Big-Q, shooting behind the scenes, editing content, and contributing to the online event coverage. Plus, you will enjoy some of the most amazing BBQ on the planet. Live music, micro brewery beer, and Sonoma County wine are all included in your workshop fees.

Sign Up Now!

Reservation forms are available now for the Close-Up Workshop. If you're interesting in the Action or Event workshops you can get on the Reserve List. Either way, use the Send Me Info box on the TDS Workshops page.

Hope to see you at one of these events!


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Corel AfterShot Pro Review

I was impressed with Corel's ambition in its 1.0 release of AfterShot Pro. And for the most part, the execution wasn't bad either. I provide a complete rundown of my impressions in the Macworld Magazine review, Corel AfterShot Pro photo manager plays well in the big leagues.

aftershot_pro_layers

Pros

  • Fast decoding of raw files, even on a laptop
  • Excellent raw file support across camera brands
  • Completely non-destructive workflow
  • Easy to use Layers implementation
  • Decode or edit images on the fly without a catalog
  • Perfectly Clear and lens correction tools included
  • Plug-in support for a variety of tools

Cons

  • Can't export slide shows for outside display
  • Library management less refined than competition
  • Mediocre sharpening tools
  • Lack of importing tool for those who want it
  • File output limited to TIFF and JPEG
  • Dialog boxes don't feel Mac-like

Since the review, I've been using AfterShot for quick turnaround jobs. It won't replace Lightroom or Aperture (at least not yet). But it has taken over the jobs I used to use Adobe Camera Raw and Bridge for. You might want to try the 30-day free trial. Full price is $99. But Corel does offer the "competitive upgrade" deal for $79.


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Your investment in micro four thirds gear is about to pay off. And if you haven't made the leap yet, this might tempt you to do so. Olympus announced the OM-D E-M5 body that brings pro capabilities to the compact system camera world.

Olympus OMD Front

Basic Features

  • Rugged dust proof and splash proof body
  • 5-axis image stabilization that works with all micro 4/3 lenses (including those by Panasonic)
  • Fast autofocusing system (Olympus claims "fastest")
  • 9 frames per second burst mode
  • Redesigned 16.1 MP image sensor
  • High ISO performance: 200 - 25600
  • Full HD recording using .mov format (MPEG-4AVC/H.264) and AVI (Motion JPEG)
  • Built-in electronic viewfinder with 120-fps refresh rate
  • Tilting back viewfinder (3.0-inch touch screen OLED, 610k dots)
  • Wireless flash functionality
  • Art filters for both stills and movies
  • Stereo audio recording
  • Compact body that measures only 4.8 inch (W) x 3.5 inch (H) x 1.7 inch (D)

OM-D Back with Tilting LCD

Pro Accessories Too

The HLD-6 Power Battery Grip in the same dust and splash proof construction as the Olympus OM-D body, is an adaptable, two-part grip that can be used either as a landscape grip for easier handling or as a portrait grip with an additional shutter release. The portrait grip accommodates an extra lithium-ion battery to supplement the one in the camera body.

The FL-600R electronic flash (GN 50 at ISO 200 or GN 36 at ISO 100) offers improved recharge time and enhanced flexibility and operability for movie recording, and with a wireless control option. Equipped with a built-in LED, the FL-600R can be used to light movies and as a brighter AF auxiliary light.

The MMF-3 Four Thirds mount adapter is designed for mounting a Four Thirds Standard-compliant lens on the OM-D body. The MMF-3 also features dust and splash proof construction.

OM-D with New Grip

US Pricing

The Olympus OM-D will be available in April 2012 and will ship in the following configurations:

  • $999.99 (Body only, available in Black and Silver)
  • $1,299.99 (Black or Silver body with black M.ZUIKO Digital ED 12-50 mm f3.5-6.3 EZ lens)
  • $1,099.99 (Black body with black M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 14-42 mm f3.5-5.6 II R lens)

I think the best deal is the OM-D with the 12-50 mm zoom for $1,299. Currently, the 12-50mm zoom lists for $499.

The Bottom Line

The OM-D body elevates micro four thirds to a new level. This rugged all-weather camera should provide the performance most serious photographers want while taking up less room in the camera bag. The pricing is reasonable, especially considering the specification. And for those of us who already have a collection of four thirds and micro four thirds lenses, the investment in the OM-D body seems like a wise one.

nikon_d800

Nikon has throw down the gauntlet with the impressive D800 featuring 36 high resolution megapixels. Canon meanwhile, decided that today was a good time to announce 3 high resolution lenses designed for a full frame camera that would require such good glass. Hmmmm....

So basically, Nikon beat Canon to the punch with the D800. Canon wants to let everyone know that an answer is imminent, without actually having to make an announcement. Ah yes. Let the games begin.


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If printing were as fun as the other aspects of your photography, you might engage more often. Right? After all, we like sharing prints. It's the creating them that can be frustrating. In this week's podcast I explain a few nimble options for creating prints that just might get your juices flowing. I use mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPad, a compact printer, and a few other goodies. Give it a listen and decide if a nimble printing setup might be the ticket to you creating prints to share with friends, family, and even clients.

Technical note: My recording studio is still under repair because of water damage. So I'm having to use a portable rig that doesn't have as high quality audio. I'm hoping to be back in the studio next week. In the meantime, please hang in there until I return to normal life. Thanks!

Listen to the Podcast

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

Monthly Photo Assignment

Rule of Thirds is the Feb. 2012 Photo Assignment. Entries must be adhere to a Rule of Thirds composition. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is Feb. 29, 2012.

Nimble Printing Setup
Nimble printing set-up with HP compact printer, AirPort Express, and iPhone app.

More Ways to Participate

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

Podcast Sponsors

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

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

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

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




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Postcards present great advantages. In a mailbox full of bland envelopes, postcards radiate like desert flowers. They're easy to send: stick a 32-cent stamp on the back, write an address, and drop them in the mail. Postcards will bring smiles to the faces of good friends, or catch the eye of potential clients. And you may not realize it, but they're easy to make. Yes, you could use outside printing services for this, but why not create your own?

Monterey Postcard Delight friends and family when a beautiful landscape appears amongst the bills and ads in their mailboxes.

By downloading the postcard "backs" on this page for 4" x 6" and 5" x 7" versions, all you have to do is add your artwork on the front, and you have a professional-looking mailer that you can send, share, or even sell. You can use your choice of paper surfaces. Take a look at the Red River Postcards Info Page for affordable paper options, tips, and specs.

4x6_postcard_back.jpg 4"x6" postcard back template. Right-click to download.

5x7_postcard_back.jpg 5"x7" postcard back template. Right-click to download.

The best papers to work with are those that are at least 8.5 mil thick (which exceeds postal regulations) and have plain paper backs that make it easy to print the template and write an address. The links on the Red River page offer some good suggestions that meet these requirements.

I like to print up a handful of templates to have on hand, then just run them through the printer again when I have an image I want to add. I also keep the digital templates on my iPhone, so I can create new postcards anywhere I find an AirPrint printer.

If you want to stand out from the crowd, both for business or pleasure, postcards are a great way to do so. Print up a few, and see what you think.


Like Red River Paper on Facebook -- Free paper give aways, printing tips, and lots more.


canon_g1x.jpg

The folks at Imaging-Resource.com have published an excellent image comparison test with the Canon G1 Xand a batch of its competitors, including the Canon G12, Canon T3i, Nikon J1, Olympus E-P3, and Sony NEX-5N.

The lab shots were captured at base ISO and then at ISO 1600 and ISO 3200. You can read the report and see all of the photos here: Canon PowerShot G1 X Preview.

Bottom line: The Canon G1 X definitely held its own, or surpassed, all of these cameras in this test.


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Curious about what the Mac App Store has to offer for photographers? You might want to take a look at the Apps for Photographers collection.

apps_for_photogs

Three sections are featured there: Organize & Share, Digital Darkroom, and Cool Creations. There's plenty of interesting software to peruse and experiment with, such as the just-released CameraBag 2, that's 20 percent off right now to celebrate its launch ($18.99).

One of the things I like about buying programs through the App Store is that the updates are easily managed there, very much like new version notifications on your iPhone or iPad.

To see the Apps for Photographers collection for yourself, use this link, or launch the App Store and look for Apps for Photographers in the right hand column under Categories.


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


The new Lowepro Event Messenger is a good looking shoulder bag that holds your DSLR, Compact System Camera, lenses, and laptop or tablet computer. It has a distinct urban style that doesn't scream "camera bag!," yet provides fast access to all of your gear.

event_messenger_series

Aside from the looks and functionality of this shoulder bag, I like the pricing. Suggested manufacturer's price is $79, $69, and $59. TDS members who use our Shop Lowepro store and add the discount code "LP20" at checkout will get an addition 20 percent off.

I've had a chance to play with this bag in person, and I have to say... it's sharp


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


For the Dec. '11 Photo Assignment, TDS shooters looked close to home for exploring the theme Family. One of the things I enjoy most about this gallery are the captions that accompany the images. Make sure your read them as you view the pictures. And which one will be the SizzlPix Pick of the Month?

fred_brundick_family


Photo by Fred S. Brundick. To see all of the other terrific shots from Dec., visit the Family gallery page.


Participate in This Month's Assignment

The Feb. 2012 assignment is "Rule of Thirds." To qualify, the entry image should take advantage of the rule of thirds in its composition. Details can be found on the Member Participation page. Deadline is Feb. 29, 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: Feb. 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 Feb. assignment, and congratulations to all of the fine contributors for December.


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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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