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On Saturday, May 19, I'll be in San Jose, CA speaking for TWiP and SmugMug on How to Pack a KILLER Camera Bag, then on Tuesday, May 23 at 10am PDT, I'm conducting an online webinar titled, A Fresh Look at Familiar Subjects in B&W. Both events are free, but you do have to reserve your spot for the webinar (do that right now!)

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The engagements are also listed on the Events tab of The Digital Story Facebook Fan page, the best place to stay in touch with upcoming activities. Here's a brief look at the two talks for May.

How to Pack a KILLER Camera Bag - May 17

Ever wondered how exactly to pack a perfectly prepared camera bag for that next trip?

Photography and travel seem to go together like Starbucks and mobile devices. You can enhance your adventures by following a handful of basic tips for packing your gear.

Professional photographer Derrick Story will show you the things he's learned while covering assignments in Asia, North America, and Europe. He'll show you why he believes that the "nimble photographer" is a happy photographer.

And the best part is, following his advice, you'll travel smarter and have all the equipment you need to get the shot.

The second best part, our friends at Lowepro are donating a couple pro bags to raffle off that evening.

A Fresh Look at Familiar Subjects in B&W - Webinar -May 23

There are those subjects that we expect to see in black and white: landscapes, street shots, and editorial portraits. And then those we don't - such as the blaring lights of Las Vegas.

In this webinar sponsored by Nik Software and Lowepro, Derrick Story will show you how he uses Silver Efex Pro 2 to present a fresh look at familiar subjects. Derrick will explain how he uses Silver Efex Pro 2 in his overall photo management workflow, and present a few tips from his experience that you might apply to your own work. He will also share some of his favorite Lowepro bags and why they make working out of them in the field easier and more efficient.

I'm hoping that you can join me for one or both of these events, and be sure to say "hi!"


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Nimble photographers who like sling bags and want to carry their iPad with them, might want to investigate the new Lowepro Urban Photo Sling.

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This street camera bag has two loading options, three wearing options, and a dedicated tablet computer sleeve. It comes in two sizes: Urban Photo Sling 250 (Pro DSLR without grip with attached 70-200mm lens plus accessories) or the smaller 150 (DSLR with attached 55-200mm lens plus accessories).

The larger model is available now for $89.95, and the more compact model is selling for $76.95.


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One of the reasons that I had to get my hands on The new iPad was for a time-lapse movie project I'm working on. Yesterday, while at the TWiT Brick House shooting some test video, I decided to record sequences with both the iPad 2 and The new iPad to see how much difference there really was.

The New iPad Screen Screen capture from recorded video using the iSight camera on The new iPad. Click on image for full resolution version.


iPad 2 Screen Capture Screen capture from recorded video using the built-in camera for the iPad 2. Click on image for full resolution version.


I mounted each tablet to a sturdy tripod using the Makayama Movie Mount and recorded existing-light sequences. I then made a screen grab from each movie and posted them here without any editing.

Between the improved camera and denser screen resolution of The new iPad, you can see a noticeable difference in detail between the two images. Here are the camera specs for the two iPads, with the iPad 2 specs on the right.

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So in low-light situations where you need to milk as much quality as possible out of the video capture, there is definitely a difference between the iPad 2 and The new iPad. Is it worth the upgrade price? That depends on the projects you have at hand.

Related Stories

Is the Retina Display on the new iPad Worth the Upgrade?


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For the March 2012 Photo Assignment, TDS shooters focused their lenses on the "windows of the soul"...or a twist on that concept. See for yourself in our gallery, Eyes. And which one will be the SizzlPix Pick of the Month?

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Photo by Brian Reynolds. "This is the GOMZ/LOMO Sputnik that I use to make Medium Format stereo slides. This was taken with a Pentax K-5 and a smc PENTAX-D FA 100mm F2.8 Macro lens. It was processed with LightZone to adjust the exposure, color balance, and sharpness." To see all of the other terrific shots from March, visit the Eyes gallery page.


Participate in This Month's Assignment

The May 2012 assignment is "Action." Details can be found on the Member Participation page. Deadline is May 31, 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: May 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 May assignment, and congratulations to all of the fine contributors for March.

SizzlPix Pick of the Month for the Feb. Photo Assignment

Congratulations to Carl Shortt, Jr. for his Rule of Thirds image of an outdoor portrait. Carl will receive a SizzlPix for his winning image, selected by the good folks at SizzlPix.


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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The Olympus OM-D E-M5is about ready for its North American release. I've spent a few weeks with this beautiful micro four thirds system camera, and walk you through its highlights and a few of my nits. Then I switch gears to a handful of photo accessories that I've enjoyed using lately. Plus, there's a new photo assignment this month! All this and more with TDS Podcast Episode 323.

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.

OM-D E-M5 with 12-50mm Zoom The Olympus OM-D E-M5 with 12-50mm Zoom. More photos are on my TDS Flickr page.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Action is the May 2012 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is May 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.

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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The $63 Macro Focusing Rail

Two of the challenges of macro photography is getting precise focusing and correct position. I've found that a focusing rail is an invaluable tool for close-up work. However, this accessory is usually a bit pricy for the enthusiast macro photographer. One exception is the Adorama Budget Macro Focusing Rail Set that sells online for $63.

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We recently put this device through its paces at the TDS Close-Up Photography Workshop, and it got rave reviews. A couple of the participants have already ordered one for themselves.

Adorama's description reads: "Flashpoint rail sysytem provides rack and pinion movement, fine focusing adjustments. Two 6" rails allow movement in four directions, right, left, forward and backward. Mounts on, and accepts 1/4x20 threaded screws, will fit most tripods and copy stands. Positive locking knobs assure rock-steady focus."

I leave is mounted on a tripod in the studio. So whenever I need a close-up shot, it's right there and ready to use.


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Backyard Photo Adventures

We need to shoot often to improve our technique and stay sharp. But it's not always easy to fit a photo expedition into our busy schedules. That's when exploring our own backyards can become a photographic paradise.

joel_kaneshiro_bee.jpg Close-up photography is particularly well-suited to backyard adventures. This photo by Joel Kaneshiro was captured on a patio outside the TDS studio. (See photo below.)

Once the sun begins to shine, I usually stop by the plant nursery and spend $20-$30 on seeds and potted flowers. I plant the seeds and repot the flowers, and before I know it, I have a new crop of photo subjects. Plus, they attract bees, butterflies, and a variety of interesting insects.

backyard_photo_shoot.jpg During this patio shoot, Joel Kaneshiro is holding a diffusion panel for Chaz Benedict while he works a subject with a close-up lens and ring flash attachment.

For a small investment, both in time and money, you can create a rich photo environment that will provide countless hours of shooting.

Images from the TDS Close-Up Photography Workshop.


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Aperture Library First Aid

Do you ever have the feeling that your Aperture library isn't feeling quite right? For those Alka Seltzer situations, try running the Aperture Library First Aid tool.

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Just 3 easy steps to potential relief:

  • Quit Aperture.
  • Hold down the Option and Command keys while relaunching the application.
  • Choose "Repair Database."

This handy tool is built right in to the app. And it just might provide the relief you need for that upset database.

More Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn more about Aperture 3, check out my Aperture 3 Essential Training 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.

My next open Aperture Workshop is scheduled for Nov. 2012, in Santa Rosa, CA. You can get on the pre-registration list, plus learn about all the other photography workshops offered this season by visiting the TDS Workshops page.


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One of the features on the new Olympus ED 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 zoomthat intrigued me was the macro capability. I'm asked all the time if "macro modes are any good." I thought I'd run a quick test with the zoom mounted on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 16MP bodyand show you the uncropped results.

Macro Mode On Macro mode on Olympus 12-50mm zoom.

Macro Mode Off No macro mode.

Not only does macro mode on the 12-50mm zoom get you closer, it also renders a softer background. Not too bad for a compact lens (3.3 x 2 x 2 inches) that only weighs 7.5 ounces and is weather sealed.

To enable close up mode, press the "Macro" button on the side of the lens and move the zoom ring forward to the front optic. Once it locks into place, your world just got a little closer.

The zoom sells separately for $499, but you can save yourself a couple hundred bucks if you buy it in a kit with the OM-D.

So is macro mode any good? Well, it's not as close as your dedicated 100mm glass, but I like having this option on an all-purpose zoom that's easy to pack. So, I would say, "yes!".


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Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen stepped on stage at the de Young Museum in San Francisco to reveal the path to Adobe's future. Adobe is hoping that it's a path upward to the Creative Cloud.

Adobe's vision of cloud computing goes beyond hosting software and sharing pictures. They see a complete creative environment, a virtual studio that integrates tools, assets, published work, and ideas. On a basic level, V1 looks like this.

  • Creative Cloud membership provides users with access to download and install every new Adobe CS6 application announced at the event and two new HTML5 products, Adobe Muse and Adobe Edge preview.
  • Creative Cloud integrates Adobe's creative tablet applications, such as Photoshop Touch, into everyday work -- seamlessly synchronizing and storing files in the cloud for sharing and access on any device.
  • Creative Cloud members will be able to easily deliver mobile apps to iOS and Android marketplaces and publish, manage and host websites.
  • Adobe Creative Cloud members will have access to application upgrades, including new CS point-product features, before they are launched as part of major CS updates, as well as inventive new products and services as they emerge.
  • Adobe Creative Cloud membership is US$49.99 per month, with an annual contract. A special introductory offer of US$29.99 per month for CS3, CS4, CS5 and CS5.5 individual customers is also available.

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But on an idealistic level, Adobe wants to build a virtual studio where participants have all the tools they need in an inspirational environment -- not only to create their work, but to easily publish it also. Unlike box software, where the manufacturer builds it then ships, the Creative Cloud will represent ongoing work by Adobe personal as well as its customers. New ideas inspire updates not tied to release schedules.


Setting up for the Creative Cloud event at the de Young Museum in San Francisco.


Artistic inspiration was the theme of the day. The event was held at one of San Francisco's best museums. The independent artists who created the imagery for Creative Suite 6 were present for the event. And Adobe showed off its in-house talent via demos by respected artists such as Jeff Veen.

Will it work? The keys to success will be in the many details that will be grappled with over the coming months. But the concept is solid. My recommendation is, for those of us who are Adobe customers, is to keep an open mind and take a close look at how you could make it work for you. Like any community, the more of us who participate, the better the odds of success.


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