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Is it Time to Dust Off my Apple TV?

There are so many things about my Apple TV that I like. Why is it that I don't use it more?

Apple TV

I have a Flickr account, and my images look great on HDTV thanks to the little white box. It's fun surfing YouTube and discovering something unexpected. I've listened to music, watched TV shows, and have even rented movies using the Apple TV.

All stuff that I can do with my MacBook Pro or the iPad.

And I think that's the problem for me with Apple TV. It doesn't do that one unique thing better than my other devices. The iPhone fits in my pocket and makes phone calls. The iPad fits in my messenger bag and does... well, just about everything. And my MacBook Pro has the horsepower I need to run Aperture and Photoshop. I need all of those functions.

So my Apple TV just sits there most of the time looking adorable beneath the HDTV. Maybe on Sept. 7, Steve will give me a compelling reason to dust it off and bring it into my daily life. I sure hope so. I like the little guy.


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Sunglasses ND Filter "Sunglasses ND Filter" I needed to slow down the shutter to shoot a waterfall in Kauai. I mounted a Canon S90 on a GorillaPod and used my Ray Bans as an ND filter.

When you're on vacation and taking pictures in a beautiful place, is it really a "workflow" when you move your pictures from camera to some sort of computer and look at them? What if you're having fun? When it's purely for your enjoyment, could it be called "playflow" instead?

This week I explore a new "playflow" while in Kauai. Instead of bringing a laptop, I took only an iPad. I didn't bring all of my lenses. And in fact, I snapped most of the week's shots with a compact camera. Yet, I was able to review the images, upload to Flickr, post to TDS, and even check my email now and then... but mostly then.

So this week's episode is dedicated to the art of taking a little time off to enjoy family and nature, but still enjoying photography.

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

Tandem is the August 2010 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is Aug. 30, 2010.

TDS Autumn 2010 Photography Workshop

The next TDS Photography Workshop will be Oct. 16-18, 2010. The event is sold out. But, you can place your name on the reserve list for the next workshop. Just drop me a line.

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. It's a blast!


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I did it. I got on a plane and flew far away leaving my laptop at home. For eight days I was totally laptopless.

Instead, I had a 3G iPad with a Camera Connection Kit. A week later, I had shot more than 600 photos, posted to Flickr, and managed to refresh the blog. And truth be told, I never felt better.

iPad Editing with Photogene Editing a photo on the iPad using Photogene.

Here are my top 5 reasons why an iPad is more fun for vacation:

  1. Great for Flying. TSA does not consider an iPad a computer. So you don't have to take it out of your backpack when going through airport security. Sweet. Plus, once I'm on the plane, I can actually use the iPad, even in economy seating.
  2. Less Weight. My MacBook Pro weighs over 6 pounds. The iPad is tips the scale at 1.5.
  3. Easier Internet. The hotel wanted $15 a night for an Internet cable. Plus, I'd still have to bring my AirPort Express to create a WiFi network. I said no to both. I used my 3G connectivity with no drama. It costs me $15 a month for 250 MBs of data. I used 170 MBs during the week at the hotel. In other words, one week of Internet for the price of one day.
  4. No Unnecessary Accessories. I used the Camera Connection Kit, power adapter, and two cords. That was it. Their total weight is less than the power adapter for the MacBook Pro.
  5. Great Software. For photo editing, I tapped the power of Photogene and TiltShiftGen. Wonderful. For navigation, Maps works great. Plus, the iPad is so light you can take it anywhere, yet has GPS and Internet connectivity. I never had a problem finding where I wanted to go or how to get there.

So if the main goal of your trip is to have fun, and not work, then I highly recommend the iPad. Together, we had a great time.


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Aperture 3's slideshow authoring tool allows photographers to mix stills and video to create dynamic presentations. You can playback at full screen in Aperture to share with clients, friends, and family.

Typically, however, we need to move those presentations off our computer to other devices, such as an iPad, or to YouTube and other online sharing sites. Maintaining that high quality during the export process can be tricky. And if you're not mindful, you might be disappointed with the results.

Aperture Export Presets The Export dialog box in Aperture 3. You can go with one of these presets, but you may not like the final output.

In Slideshow mode, when you click the Export button in the upper right corner of the Aperture interface, Apple provides you with a handful of presets for various devices such at the iPod, iPhone, Apple TV, YouTube, 720p, 1080p, and Custom. The first thing iPad users will notice is there's no preset for them. You might be tempted to choose the 720p preset, but unfortunately that preset doesn't work on the iPad. iTunes won't let you copy the movie to the iPad. Plus you're stuck with 30 fps for your frame rate, witch is a bummer if you captured your video in beautiful 24 fps.

You could go to the next preset up, "MobileMe/YouTube" for standard definition output (640x360 at 30 fps). But I can tell you right now, you probably won't like the results on an iPad, or even YouTube for that matter. The audio will sound fine, but my images were consistently soft.

I decided to go back to the drawing board to see what kind of vido output I could squeeze out of Aperture. After a few adjustments, I was able to improve my results substantially, but it required a three additional steps. Here's what I did:

  • Create higher quality previews. Since I do use some Ken Burns effect in my shows, I decided that my default 1920x1920 previews might be compromising quality. Aperture uses your previews to create its slideshows. So I changed the Photo Preview (Preferences > Previews) to 2560x2560 at 9 quality. I then had to regenerate those previews at the new settings so Aperture could use them. I selected all of the thumbnails in my presentation, held down the Option key, and chose Photos > Generate Preview. This took a while for Aperture to regenerate the higher quality previews, so I took a break while the computer churned away.
  • Export Using the Custom Setting. My goal was to create a high quality master file at the frame rate I wanted. To do that, I needed to select Custom under the preset menu. I used H.264, 24 fps (to match the video in my presentation) at 1920x1080. Label this file "master" for both playback on your computer, but also for creating smaller versions for other devices.
  • Now Create Your iPad Version Using QuickTime 7. QuickTime 7 is in your Utilities folder. It gives you more flexibility for exporting than the QuickTime Player that is the default for Snow Leopard. After the movie is open, go to File > Export and choose Movie to QuickTime Movie from the popup menu. Click the Options button and make these selections -- Compression: H.264, Quality: High, Frame Rate: (your choice, I use 24 fps), Encoding Mode: Multi-Pass, Dimensions: 640x480 (or what ever you want), and Scale: Letterbox. For Sound, just make sure you go with AAC at whatever settings you want.

All of these steps take time to process, so make sure you have other tasks lined up to do elsewhere. Once your new movie is rendered, copy it to iTunes or upload to its online destination. On my iPad, I have both versions of the same movie: the Aperture preset for "MobileMe" and my multi-step version. The quality of my version is about twice as good.

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.



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After just having spent a week in Kauai with a Canon S90 in my pocket, I can tell you that this compact is a godsend on the road. The ability to shoot with a fast f/2 lens in low light and save the images in Raw means that I rarely miss a photo opportunity.

Now, with the just-announced Canon S95,a great camera gets even better.

canon_s95.png

Canon has added HD 720p 24 fps video, click stops on the back control dial, improved stabilization, enhanced front control ring, and a high dynamic range mode. These improvements address just about every nit I had with the S90. It's an upgrade that I'm going to get as soon as I can.


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Managing Geodata in iPhoto 09

iPhoto 09 is a handy geotagging tool. This means that if your camera doesn't capture latitude and longitude information when you take the picture (and most of our cameras don't), then you can use iPhoto afterward to add this information... and more.

Using "Places," not only can you add coordinates, but the actual place information in plain English: such as Country, State, City, etc. The best part is, iPhoto does most of this work for you. I demonstrate how this works in the following movie.

This movie is from my Lynda.com training series, iPhoto '09: 10 Things to Know About Places . If you want to tap the full power of iPhoto 09, you might want to take a look.


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Best Shaved Ice on Kauai


Best Shaved Ice on Kauai, originally uploaded by The Digital Story.

When in Kauai, you must have shaved ice... as often as possible. I like a little ice cream at the bottom. You can pay up to $5 for one of these treats, but if you go to JoJo's in Waimea, you can have the best on the entire island, and for only $2. The perfect refreshment after a hike in Waimea Canyon or a swim in the ocean.

Over on Blurb on the Digital Story, I just ran a short, informative piece about the Blurb Color Management Resource Center. If you want the color in your Blurb photography books to be on target, you might want to take a quick look.


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Quick Brushes in Aperture 3

Quick Brushes are a great addition to Aperture 3. They are located in the Adjustments popup menu, inside the Adjustments tab. Quick Brushes are exactly that, when you want to make a specific adjustment... quickly!

Some of my favorites include: Skin Smoothing, Polarize, Sharpen, and Definition. Being able to apply these types of adjustments to a specific area of the image without having to worry about creating masks is a wonderful enhancement to the post production workflow.

In this 7-minute video, I walk you through a typical Quick Brush scenario. You can see a larger version of the movie (better for this type of tutorial) by clicking through to YouTube or going to the Lynda.com Podcast page.

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.



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Sea Turtle Detail, Kauai


Sea Turtle Detail, Kauai, originally uploaded by The Digital Story.

Even when the wind comes up, you can always find something interesting to photograph -- especially if you get a friendly sea turtle swimming by.

I used a Canon G9 in a Canon underwater housing to make this photo. The image was processed on an iPad using Photogene.