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Elevated Panoramas with the DJI Spark

One of the many fun shooting modes with the DJI Spark is Panorama. The aircraft precisely captures eight frames that can be combined into a broad view image.

hop-kiln-from-above.jpg Hop Kiln Winery from 50 feet in Panorama mode. Photo by Derrick Story.

The Spark will also stitch the images together for you. This is nice for an immediate view of your work. I use an iPad mini to control the drone, as well as review its pictures in the field.

But for higher quality output, I take the micro SD card out of the Spark and copy the files to my Mac for stitching in Lightroom. This version of the panorama is far superior to what the DJI software creates. Lightroom reads the files perfectly and creates a high resolution (6010 x 3570 - 21.5 MP) image that you can further adjust in the Develop Module.

In addition to the photo itself, you also record all of the location data including altitude. If you like shooting panoramas, you'll love capturing them with the DJI Spark. Just remember to take those files and process them in your favorite stitching software.

More About the DJI Spark

DJI Spark: The Nimble Drone.

New DJI Spark Firmware.

Exporting a Single Frame from Video

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

Yes, you read that right. Both new Olympus lenses have a maximum aperture of f/1.2. And they are beautiful to boot.

olympus-17mm-side.jpg The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO lens.

"The M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm F1.2 PRO and M.ZUIKO Digital ED 45mm F1.2 PRO give photographers more flexibility in low-light environments as well as an extraordinarily shallow depth-of-field. Each optic is designed to achieve a new level of imaging performance, delivering three-dimensional photos that represent subjects as they appear in the real world through a combination of feathered bokeh and sharp resolution."

olympus-45mm-pen-f.jpg The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 PRO lens.

"By focusing not only on the bokeh's size but also its quality, each lens produces a feathered bokeh effect that better emphasizes the main subject and allows it to stand out within the image. The shallower depth of field produced at f/1.2 is especially ideal for portrait photographers."

"Like other lenses in the M.ZUIKO PRO series, the M.ZUIKO Digital ED 17mm F1.2 PRO and M.ZUIKO Digital ED 45mm F1.2 PRO feature compact, lightweight construction and a dustproof, splashproof, freezeproof (to 14°F/-10°C) design, giving photo enthusiasts and professionals the ability to capture brilliant images in a variety of shooting conditions."

Each lens has the wonderful snap-focus feature that I love. It gives you a hard-stop infinity setting, depth of field scale, and makes it easy to go back and forth from auto focus to manual.

They are easy on the shoulders as well, the optics weight in at 390 grams and 410 grams, meaning that you can mount them on the PEN-F as well the the larger EM-1 Mark II. You can preorder the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 PRO lens and the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO lens for $1,199 each. Expect delivery this November.

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

This is The Digital Story Podcast #606, Oct. 24, 2017. Today's theme is "The Cloud's Silver Lining." I'm Derrick Story.

Opening Monologue

We learned last week that Lightroom becomes a cloud based app with the end of the perpetual license. I was also part of a story where cloud-based backup saved a photo library in the face of disaster. This week we look at both the dark side and silver lining of cloud-based photography.

The Cloud's Silver Lining

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As Adobe moves Lightroom into the cloud, there's a fair amount of confusion about the options available to photographers. The bottom line is, that Adobe believes that cloud computing is the future, and they are embracing it.

And to some degree, I agree. I love Photos for macOS because of its seamless connectivity with iCloud. And the Luminar DAM will definitely have a cloud component.

And by the same token, the one shortcoming for Capture One Pro is its lack of cloud connectivity. Those catalogs are landlocked on hard drives. And I think they will soon have to make a move toward more fluid management of those files.

The challenge as I see it, is how do you manage the balance between files stored locally and online? Adobe and Apple seem to be doing a good job in this regard by providing us enough options to craft a workflow that suits our needs.

But this is a moving target. It's something that we have to think about and adjust as variables change. The dark side of cloud computing is often the fees and subscriptions that we have to maintain. And the silver lining can be when the cloud saves all of our work that would otherwise be lost. I have one such story to share in the next segment of the show.

iCloud and the Forever Lost Computer

As I mentioned in the previous episode of The Digital Story, my brother in law lost his house during the firestorms that hit Santa Rosa. All of his possessions were suddenly vaporized, including his Mac and iPad. His belief was that many of his important files were forever gone as well.

But there was a silver lining to this dark cloud. And Pat agreed to come on the show to discuss how cloud computing provided a ray of sunshine at the bleakest of times.

The Digital Story - Digital Photography Public Group on Flickr

We have more than 3,000 members and 73,000 photos on TDS Flickr Public Group. This is the gallery that I peruse on a daily basis. It's also the source for The TDS Member Photo of the Day on our Facebook page and displayed in the Member Gallery on the TDS site.

Share your favorite images there so others in our community can see them. Plus, you never know, you may be selected for the TDS Member Photo of the Day!

Updates and Such

Big thanks to all of our Patreon members!

B&H and Amazon tiles on www.thedigitalstory. If you click on them first, you're helping to support this podcast. And speaking of supporting this show, and big thanks to our Patreon Inner Circle members.

And finally, be sure to visit our friends at Red River Paper for all of your inkjet supply needs.

Texas-based Red River Paper recently announced a new fine art paper, Palo Duro Etching. The new paper is a 100 percent cotton rag paper and is free of optical brightener additives. The paper is designed to offer warm white tones, deep blacks and a subtle texture to accurately recreate traditional darkroom fine art prints.

See you next week!

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

Cascable - Cascable is the best tool available for working with your camera in the field.

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

The Nimbleosity Report

Do you want to keep up with the best content from The Digital Story and The Nimble Photographer? Sign up for The Nimbleosity Report, and receive highlights twice-a-month in a single page newsletter. Be a part of our community!

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

Macphun was working on their DAM module long before Adobe's recent announcement that Lightroom's perpetual license was ending. But they decided to tip their hand now in light of the news.

Gallery Views_preview.png A sneak peek at Luminar's digital asset manager module coming in 2018.

For those tired of Adobe's "business first" attitude, or who don't need the more complicated approach presented by Capture One Pro, Luminar 2018 offers a very tempting alternative.

Luminar is already an amazing image editor - one of my favorites of all time. Later this year, it will run on both Mac and Windows platforms. Following that, it adds a beautiful, easy to use asset manager module. All of this for an affordable price with no monthly subscription fees.

If you're ready for a change, I would hang on to see what Macphun does with this new feature. There may be joy again in the world of photo management and editing.

Photos for macOS as Your Digital Darkroom

You can learn more about using Luminar as an editing extension in my lynda.com training, Photos for macOS: Advanced Editing Extensions.

And if you'd prefer to cozy up with a book, check out The Apple Photos Book for Photographers that features chapters on basic editing, advanced post processing, and editing extensions.

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

Great New Screenshot Tool in iOS 11

iOS 11 is a robust update for iPhone and iPad users. One of my favorite surprises is the improved screenshot tool.

screenshot-tools.jpg

The capture process is still the same: you simultaneously press the power and home buttons to record a screen. But now, instead of sending the image directly to your Camera Roll, a mini-thumbnail appears in the lower left corner.

Tap on the thumbnail, and the image appears with cropping guides around it, plus a markup toolbox below it. You can choose from a variety of writing and highlight instruments with some basic ink colors to annotate the screenshot. When finished, tap Done to send it to your Camera Roll.

But wait, there's more! In the upper right corner is an Undo command. Lower right has a + symbol, that tapped on, reveals a text tool, signature option, magnifier, and more. You can go crazy adding callout arrows, text and even cartoon dialog bubbles. The Share button in the lower left lets you send the image off to a friend directly from this screen.

If you have iCloud sharing on, the image will appear on all of your connected devices inside the automated Screenshots album in Photos for iOS and Photos for macOS.

If you haven't checked out the new screenshot function in iOS 11, do so now. Become familiar with the tools. That way, you'll put it to use. It's another great way to document our world and catalog the information.

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

iPhone Only Street Shooting

Zach and I caught the E Train last night from Queens to Midtown so I could introduce him to Times Square. He's never been to Midtown before, and I thought 42nd Street would be a good place to start.

times-square-liberty.jpg The Characters of Times Square - Photo by Derrick Story.

Since my focus was on being a tour guide and not a photographer, I decided to leave my gear back in the room and just pack the iPhone. It was an interesting exercise. Normally, my street shooting is a mix of smartphone, mirrorless, and film.

What I liked was the portability. It was easy to keep track of my phone and wallet in the hustle bustle of busy Manhattan. I could shoot RAW when I wanted to, and I didn't draw any extra attention since I was just like the other 10,000 tourists hanging out that night.

What I missed were my lenses. Back in the room I had a 45mm f/2.8 Zeiss Tessar and a 17mm f/1.8 Olympus Zuiko. And there were moments when I was craving focusing with those optics. The other thing I missed was looking through a viewfinder. I don't mind capturing off an LCD screen, and sometimes I need to for a particular angle. But I love the "isolation booth" sensation of composing with a viewfinder. I can really get into the shot that way.

I was looking at the images on our subway return trip and thinking about how the night went. I had made the right call. I was focused on Zach and not my cameras. We had a great time. And some of the iPhone pictures were pretty good.

So, apparently, I did choose the right tool for the job at hand.

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

A free app for both Windows and Mac computers enables direct uploading of images to Instagram, as well as browsing photos posted by others.

windowed-posting.jpg The Windowed browser with a new posting to my Instagram account.

Windowed acts like a mobile browser so Instagram will allow connectivity. if you're a Mac user, you'll have to approve opening Windowed via the Security Preference because it's not an Apple approved app. Depending on how you feel about operating outside the Apple walled garden, Windowed may or may not be an app that you want to try. And for that matter, I'm guessing that it violates the Instagram user agreement as well. Be sure to consider all of these factors before downloading.

If you do decide to give it a spin, it's fairly intuitive to operate. When you click on the camera button, you're prompted to select an image from your computer. You might want to square crop it first, because you don't have any cropping ability within Windowed. IG filters are not available either. What you upload is what you get.

That being said, in my test, the picture did appear in my feed, and the caption was included. So Windowed appears to be a useful option for posts directly from the desktop. Plus, you can manage multiple Instagram accounts with this app. That's a real plus.

We've seen these types of apps come and go. The Windowed developer has already made improvements to the software, so many this one will stick around for a while... that is, if Instagram doesn't clip its wings.

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

One of the more popular 35mm film cameras on the second hand market is the adorable Contax Aria. It is the lightest Contax SLR ever designed, and one of the last film cameras produced by the company before closing its doors. It is a truly nimble SLR that accepts the full line of Carl Zeiss lenses. And the funny thing is, its design intentions were driven by female appeal.

contax-aria-front.jpg Contax Aria with Zeiss 45mm f/2.8 Tessar pancake lens. Photo by Derrick Story.

Contax cameras were known for their robust design and heft. I have a Contax ST that I just love. And if I need to, I can pound nails with it as well. It is solid.

But, back in the 1990s, women were't going for the large, somewhat heavy design. So Contax started from the ground floor and created a camera that was smaller, lighter, and well specified, but not overly so. And they even gave it a pretty name: The Aria. Then to sweeten the pot, they cut the price in half as well.

The upshot was that men, not women, loved the camera. It packed all the features they wanted in a more nimble package. And it remains popular to the day. Generally speaking, Contax Arias sell for about the same price now as they did decades ago at introduction.

Nobody owns the crystal ball for consumer electronics. But I find it interesting that photographers craved nimbleosity long before I launched my campaign. And thanks to the effort to appeal to female aesthetics, we still have one cool film camera available these days that packs lots of power into a compact, portable package.

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

I've received a few notes from workshop attendees wondering if we're still having the TDS Fall Color event scheduled for October 26. The answer is yes. And I'm moving forward with everything else we've planned for the remainder of the year and in to 2018. There's no reason not to.

west-county.jpg Off Eastside Road, Sonoma Country, Oct. 12, 2017 - Photo by Derrick Story

Anyone who has lived in Sonoma County for any period of time knows that we're already putting the pieces back together. True, the fires are not over yet. But we don't really have time to wait around for the all clear signal to get to work.

Many of us haven't had a home to go to since 1 AM Monday morning. And true, our productivity right now isn't what it will be soon. We have to spend big chunks of our day helping others less fortunate, finding services, and dealing with rustic living conditions.

That being said, we are all working.

Yesterday, I was able chip away at projects that didn't require connectivity or electricity. I photographed new items for TheFilmCameraShop, filled a couple orders, worked on the new version of the Wine Country Workshop, published on social networks, and helped my displaced family members.

As soon as I get power back at the studio, I'll start recording again. We will have a podcast this coming Tuesday. I will be ready for everyone when they arrive for the workshop in two weeks.

We have a hashtag going around here, #SonomaStrong. That pretty much sums it up. We have a lot of work to do in the coming months. We'll get it done. That's what we do.

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

Dibs the Traveling Cat

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Dogs are attached to their masters and cats connect with their homes. For Dibs the studio cat, she's going to have to think more like a dog for a while.

dibs-the-cat.jpg

Dibs is on the road with us as we continue to stay one step ahead of the fires in Santa Rosa. We picked her up at the studio 1am Monday morning when we had to leave our house, thinking that my workplace in the middle of Santa Rosa would be safe. She was there waiting for us. That's her home.

An hour after we set up shop at the studio, we were notified that we had to evacuate again, and that included the cat. She hates traveling. Every car ride equates to a trip to the vet. But there was no negotiating this journey, and she seemed to know it. She sat quietly while we worked through traffic again in search of our next safe zone.

Our second stop was Theresa's Dad's place in Bennett Valley. It was up on a hill where we could see the fires down below. We all spent a night there, until another evacuation notice arrived the next afternoon. A separate fire, the Nunsvalley blaze was approaching from the east.

This evacuation was mind-numbingly slow. There are few routes out of Bennett Valley, and everyone got the notice at the same time. Once again, Dibs was riding shotgun in my car. By this point we had a caravan of family as well: Theresa, her dad, her older brother and sister in law (who had already lost their home), and her younger brother. This time we were heading to Forestville. There was enough room for us at a rustic cabin. We all found a place to sleep.

Dibs is starting to get the hang of this travel thing. Now, once introduced to her new accommodations, she calmly surveyed the scene, then looked a me as if to say, "OK, this will do."

I never thought that Dibs would become a road warrior. But she's evolved into a "have litter box will travel" kind of cat. I'm happy to have her with us. No band of gypsies is complete without a kitty or two.

PS: She may be packing her kibble again. We just heard a fire flared up West of Santa Rosa.