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iPhone 4S on a Gymbl Tripod

I just spent a week on the road with the Gymbl case and tripod for my iPhone 4S. It's a clever combination of a hard case that protects the iPhone, and includes a low-profile mount to attach the tripod/stand in a jiffy. The two pieces work together great, and they add little bulk or weight to you pockets.

The case itself is rigid plastic that covers the back and edges of the iPhone. There are beveled openings for the camera lens, flash, lock slider, volume buttons, earphone jack, power button, dock connector and speakers. You shouldn't have to remove the phone from the case unless you have a special need for it to be unencumbered.

The Gymble tripod/stand is Swiss Army knife in design. At first it looks very simple. But then you realize that it includes a regular tripod socket (for a standard set of sticks), and its own mount that provides for a wild variety of positions. Be sure to take a look at the Gymbl site to see all the possibilities. You might miss one otherwise.

I used it as a tripod to record this time lapse movie at PhotoPlus Expo. But I found other uses for the Gymbl too. When taking a coffee break, for example, I could position my iPhone at a comfortable viewing angle to read the daily news or check email. It also works as a secure grip for recording handheld video.

The Gymbl costs about $69,and that includes both the durable case and clever tripod/stand. The metal and high tech plastic components are nicely machined and well-designed. The tripod itself is very light and easily slips in any pocket.

If you use your iPhone for photography, video, and reading, you'll probably find that the Gymbl provides value for your investment. If you don't use these functions often, the price is high for just the case (which would be the component you regularly use when the tripod is still at home.)

Nimbleosity Rating: 3.5 out of 5

(rating would climb to "4" if the price were $20 less).


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Time Lapse Boogie with iPhone 4S

You could call it: "time lapse photography made easy." I mounted an iPhone 4S on a Gymbl tripod and launched the Joby Gorillacam app to make this 1-minute recording of Friday morning at PhotoPlus Expo just as the doors were opening.

The video consists of 328 frames played at 6 frames per second. I used the Pro version of QuickTime Player 7 to take the individual frames from the iPhone and make the movie. The images were automatically sent to my Mac using Photo Stream.

iPhone 4S with Gymbl Tripod iPhone 4S mounted on a portable Gymbl tripod.

While still in QuickTime 7, I added a royalty free music soundtrack as the finishing touch. I think the boogie beat goes great with the time lapse images.


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Eating Big in New York City

I saw this served across from me at Trattoria Dell'Arte, 900 7th Ave (between 56th and 57th st) in New York City. I think it qualifies for a Man vs Food episode.

Crazy Meal (Not Mine Though!)

In case you've never seen this dish before, it's Veal Parmigiana. And no, he did not finish the meal. So in this case, food won!

I'm heading out for Day Two of PhotoPlus Expo. If you're in town, come by and see me. I should be around the Lowepro booth most of the day. My class on Revenue Streams is Saturday morning also.


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pro_messenger_200_aw.jpg

It looks like that comfy soft canvas bag from a previous era, but the new Lowepro Pro Messenger 200 AW camera bag is anything but old fashioned.

What feels like canvas is actually a high-tech fabric that is lighter, more weather resistant, and wears longer than traditional fibers. The 200 AW can accommodate a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens on body, and still have room for other lenses, accessories, and an iPad.

I've been using the Pro Messenger 200 AW for a while, and I've come up with an alternative way to pack the bag by creating a false bottom with one of the dividers. Here's how that works.

If you like shoulder bags for you gear, and find the tactile sensation of a canvas-like fabric appealing, then take a look at the Pro Messenger 200 AW. It's available for preorder from B&H Photo for $189.95.


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Don't Over Polarize

When working in clear air, especially in the mountains, keep an eye on your sky when using a polarizing filter. Believe it or not, you can overdo it and ruin your shot.

High Sierra Lake I had to back off the polarizer in this shot to get a consistent blue in the sky. Other images in this series didn't fare as well.

The tendency for many photographers using a rotating polarizer is to crank it all the way for the most intense effect. The problem at times can be that the effect isn't applied evenly across your image. The result can be a splotchy blue sky that is very difficult to fix in post production.

Look out for this phenomenon when working in the mountains. You might find that you get the best photograph with just a little polarization.


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The Passionate Photographer

In his latest book, The Passionate Photographer,Steve Simon presents 10 steps toward becoming great. For example, in Step 3, Work It: Don't Give Up on the Magic, he writes, "Your first shot is your starting point. Give yourself a variety of options. It's a game of inches. Slight movements have dramatic effects on your final image, altering the juxtaposition of foreground subjects with background elements and the horizon." Each step is explained from a variety of approaches and illustrated with numerous images.

This is not a book for the beginning photographer still learning the camera. The Passionate Photographer is for shooters ready to take the next step. With its mix of inspiration and perspiration, Steve Simon challenges you to get better.

I'd keep this book in mind for the passionate photographer in your life. It would be a great holiday gift.


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Two big topics this week! I'm heading out to PhotoPlus Expo in New York and will talk about what's going on at that event. It's one of my favorite photography gatherings. Then I'll spend some time discussing the Pentax K-5 DSLR that I've been testing. It's quite a camera, and I have lots to say about it. In fact, I'm going to visit the Pentax folks in NY at PhotoPlus to see if I can get a few more lenses for testing. All this, and more, in this week's TDS podcast.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (30 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

Side Lighting is the Oct. 2011 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is Oct. 31, 2011.

TDS Nov. Aperture Workshop

I've organized an Aperture Workshop on Nov. 12th and 13th. Signups are in progress now. If you want a registration form, or just more information, drop me a line. BTW: We include a professional model shoot as part of this workshop. Just saying...

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.

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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Pentax K-5 DSLR in the Elements

I packed a Pentax K-5DSLR on a recent trip to the Eastern Sierra to test its ruggedness and picture quality. In short, it impressed me on both counts.

Pentax K-5 Pentax K-5 with Cokin Graduated Filter. Photos by Derrick Story. Click on image for larger size.

On the very first day I found myself in the rain at 9,000 feet at Sonora Pass in Northern California. I had to protect the other cameras I had with me. But with the K-5 in hand, I marched out into the hostile environment and shot pictures for about 20 minutes.

Sonora Pass in the Rain In these hostile conditions I could march out into the environment with the Pentax K-5 in hand.

In terms of performance, good conditions or not, this camera has some excellent specs: 16.3 APS-C image sensor, useable ISO from 80-3200, 7 fps burst mode, 1080p video, 3" LCD with 921,000 dots, 100% field of view optical viewfinder, body-based shake reduction system, both Pentax PEF Raw files and Adobe DNG capture, and in-camera HDR.

Here's one of my favorite photos from the trip captured handheld at twilight with the Pentax K-5.

outside_bridgeport_k5 Twilight landscape capture with the Pentax K-5 and and kit 18-55mm zoom. Click on image for larger size.

You can get this camera and lens for Pentax K-5$1,350 US. And for your investment, you get a serious camera for outdoor work. I'll be writing a bit more about the Pentax K-5 in coming weeks, including a full review on Macworld Magazine.


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Morning Walk with the Olympus PEN Mini

I love the morning light. So as I'm heading out the door, I usually grab a camera for my walk. Today, I had the Olympus PEN E-PM1with the 17mm f/2.8 prime lens. I love this combination because it is very compact, yet produces great results.

Waning Sunflower in Morning Light

Eggs Chickens Lemons Figs

Morning Ride

I'll have the PEN Mini with me on my trip to Photo Plus Expo this week. If you see me there, please say hi!


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Art and Soul

The first time I saw Brian Smith shoot, I realized how he makes those compelling portraits. Brian is like a sculptor. And with his camera he chips away all distracting elements until he discovers the essence of his subject.

You can experience this for yourself by getting your hands on a copy of Art & Soul, a stunning collection of portraits and thoughts by well-known actors, musicians, and filmmakers. Brian teamed up with editor Robin Bronk to portray the thoughts and images of dozens of stars sharing their views on the importance of art. The book was created in partnership with the Creative Coalition, and a portion of the proceeds will support their nonprofit programs.

Anne Hathaway photographed by Brian Smith Anne Hathaway photographed by Brian Smith

Now here's the truly amazing part. You can purchase this book on Amazon for $26 with free shipping. And it's a lot of book: 13" x 10.5", 256 pages, over 4 pounds.

I recommend it not only for all portrait photographers, but for anyone who loves the arts and admires those who create it. Art & Soul is inspiritional reading. You may want to buy two copies: one for the artist in your life, and the other for you.


Find great deals at the TDS Photography Store on Amazon.