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This is The Digital Story Podcast #608, Nov. 7, 2017. Today's theme is "My Top 5 Photo Apps of 2017." I'm Derrick Story.

Opening Monologue

Competition on the photo software space has heated up in 2017. Lightroom still maintains its "King of the Hill" status, but there are newcomers and veterans alike challenging that position. But how do you determine what's right for you? Today I will share my favorite 5 with the hope that this information will make your decision just a bit easier.

My Top 5 Photo Apps of 2017

All five of these apps are the winners. I'm not ranking them because each person has his/her own unique needs, and the program that meets those needs the best should be their top pick.

That being said, I have my personal favorites among these five. And I will share those opinions during this discussion. So let's get started.

IMG_1788.jpg

  • Lightroom - Pick your version - Excellent editing tools combined with a reasonable DAM, Lightroom has the largest support community with a bounty of how-to information and tips. Its cloud connectivity with mobile devices is excellent. And if you don't know what you need in an all purpose photo management app, this isn't a bad place to start. Good for pros and enthusiasts. Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android.
  • Capture One Pro - My favorite RAW decoder in this lineup. C1 is know for its excellent, photo-like image quality, but it's also a darn good DAM as well. If you don't care about cloud connectivity and can live with the higher price tag, this app is fantastic for serious RAW photography. Good for pros and enthusiasts. Mac and Windows.
  • Luminar-What started out as an innovative image editor for the Mac is now evolving into a full service application for Mac and Windows. The editing tools are outrageously good. A DAM is coming in 2018. And you can't beat the reasonable price tag. If I had to pick a dark horse contender to 2018, Luminar would be it. Good for enthusiasts and snapshooters. Mac and Windows.
  • Photos for macOS High Sierra - Although it still lives in the shadow of its predecessor Aperture, the third version of Photos is quite capable. Apple RAW decoding is excellent and is tied to the OS, not the Photos app. Performance is outstanding, as is iCloud sharing and backup. If you're an iPhone shooter, Photos is a no-brainer. But it's also a good fit for enthusiasts thanks in part to the excellent lineup of editing and output extensions. Good for enthusiasts and snapshooters. Mac and iOS.
  • Affinity Photo - If you want the power of Photoshop, but with a more modern UI and photographer emphasis, then Affinity is your app. Super powerful tools, great performance, good price, and a killer iOS app to boot. Good for pros and enthusiasts. Mac, Windows, and iOS.

Videoblocks - One Stop Downloading for video, audio, and images for your projects

Over the last month, I've had this ongoing conversation with a group called Storyblocks. They provide downloadable photography, video, and audio for creatives who need royalty free content for their projects. Considering that we have a community of visual artists here, I was interested in learning more.

For me personally, I'm more interested than ever in having additional movie and photo content available. As I record more video and stills with my Spark, there are gaps that I would love to fill. Footage for intros, transitions, and closing content that could augment what I've recorded.

Instead of just editing together a few clips, I could make a real movie. So I started exploring Videoblocks online library of royalty free content.

Two things happened as a result. First, there is a ton of great footage to augment my work. I'm really excited about this because I feel like this will move the ball forward for my projects. And second, the extensive library of content is also stirring my imagination for new creations. "What if I downloaded this footage here, then went and shot that, then combined them?"

This is the perfect time of year to explore Videoblocks. Take those great images and videos for your 2017 adventures, and elevate them to the next level.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be your tour guide for this site. But if you need content right now, you can join Videoblocks for $149 a year and gain access to great video, stills, and audio content. This is really a great idea...

New Benefit for TDS Inner Circle Members

Speaking of video:

Starting in December 2017, I have a great new benefit for TDS Inner Circle Members: Nimble Software Series. Each month I will post two training videos for our Inner Circle Members, covering Capture One Pro, Lightroom, Luminar, Photos for mac OS and more. Each video will run between 10 to 30 minutes, and will show you specific techniques for improving your images.

To become an Inner Circle Member, simple pledge $5 or more a month through the TDS Patreon program. Existing Inner Circle members are automatically enrolled in the Nimble Software Series, and receive their first two movies on Friday, December 1, 2017.

We have more benefits coming in 2018 for our Inner Circle Members. Join today and become part of the TDS Elite.

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

Videoblocks - Go to videoblocks.com/digitalstory to get all the stock video, audio, and images that you can imagine for just $149. Save on millions of studio-quality clips, tracks, and graphics.

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!

Want to Comment on this Post?

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

Among the many embers that iPhone X has stirred, the demise of the camera industry is among them. "DSLRs and mirrorless devices are on their way out," many claim.

Yes, there is a changing of the guard, but not the annihilation of a culture. And the folks migrating to smartphones over other cameras were never really the intended audience for interchangeable lens devices.

olympus-pen-f.jpg The Olympus PEN-F is an example of the types of cameras that manufacturers need to develop to continue to delight true photography enthusiasts. Photo by Derrick Story.

Before the Kodak Brownie, photography was for hearty souls who had the patience for the process and the creativity to create a vision. As the tools became easier to use, more people embraced them. To some degree, you can equate the iPhone as the modern Brownie.

People want pictures to document their lives. Smartphones are the perfect devices to do so. Plus, they have many creative features that make it fun to capture history. I love shooting with my smartphone. And I have an iPhone X on order.

But that doesn't mean that I'm giving up my other cameras as a result. I'm not carrying around a toolbox with only a screwdriver in it.

True photographers will always be true photographers. They will embrace a variety of tools and techniques to further their craft. These will be the remaining customers for the modern camera industry.

Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Fujifilm, Panasonic, Pentax, and others will have to adjust to their shrinking market. They will no longer be able to pad the bottom line with cheap digital capture devices for the masses. Those days are gone.

But photography enthusiasts are still here. And they want to be catered to. So the companies that can take care of the folks like me, will still be here a decade from now. And the tools they create for us will be just as amazing as the iPhone X, only for a different audience.

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

Luminar 2018 - Faster and Bolder

Luminar 2018 is scheduled to ship on November 16. You can preorder now for $59 with bonuses, saving yourself money and receiving extra goodies. And as a Luminar user myself, I think this is one of the best values in photography software.

Karen Hutton_TahoePierre-after.jpg Image by Karen Hutton processed in Luminar.

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Karen Hutton_TahoePierre-before.jpg Image by Karen Hutton before processing.

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My favorite highlights in this latest version include:

  • Windows compatibility (with a shared license for both platforms).
  • Faster RAW processing.
  • A boatload of new filters including lens correction, dodge and burn, LUT mapping, RAW develop, matte look, brilliance/warmth, and plenty more.
  • Plugin support for Aurora HDR and Creative Kit.
  • And lots of improvements including the cropping tool, sharpen on export, and DNG handling.

Plus, Luminar 2018 license holders will receive the new digital asset manager (DAM) for free when it's launched in 2018. Bottom line is this: Luminar can be used as a standalone solution; plugin for Lightroom, Aperture, and Capture One Pro; and as an editing extension for Photos for macOS. It's my favorite app for image editing. It's affordable. You don't have to rent it. And it's fun. What's not to like?

You can preorder now.

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

It dawned on me as I was placing my order for an iPhone X the other morning, what a paradox I am as a photographer.

On one hand, I'm spending money I don't have for a smartphone of the future, primarily because of its camera. On the other, I had just refurbished a half dozen cameras for listing in TheFilmCameraShop that I run for 35mm enthusiasts.

contax-aria-table.jpg My film camera, a Contax Aria, shot with my iPhone.

But wait, it gets even crazier. Last week I photographed Hop Kiln Winery with a DJI Spark, stitching 8 images together in Lightroom CC. Later that day, I pulled out a DxO ONE to inconspicuously capture some high resolution candids.

And that's not to mention that my everyday creative camera is the fabulous Olympus PEN-F with its army of high quality compact lenses.

So, what gives? Have I totally lost my identity as a photographer? Actually, quite the opposite. I'm more focused and creative than ever.

What's happening is that I always have the right tool for the job. When I want that true film look, I pull out my Contax Aria with a Zeiss Tessar 45mm pancake lens. When I need an aerial view of the world, I fire up the Spark. The iPhone is always with me so I never miss a photo opportunity. And the PEN-F inspires me to go out and take pictures when I might otherwise feel less creative.

It's not cheap being a photographer these days. But then again, it never was. But it sure is fun. And I feel more prepared than ever to make interesting images. Plus, I don't think I've ever enjoyed this craft more than I do now.

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

This is The Digital Story Podcast #607, Oct. 31, 2017. Today's theme is "The Thrill of Fast Primes." I'm Derrick Story.

Opening Monologue

The best news to come out of Photo Plus Expo for me was the announcement of the new Olympus PRO f/1.2 primes. But Olympus isn't the only one pushing the wide aperture envelope. Fast primes by Fujifilm and other mirrorless camera makers are boosting not only capability, but price and bulk as well. And they are to subject of today's podcast.

The Thrill of Fast Primes

Olympus-PRO-Primes.jpg

Bigger optics with hefty price tags are the current trend in mirrorless cameras. In many ways, I view these new offerings as the maturation of this product category, not only for Olympus, but Sony, Fujifilm, and Panasonic too. Pros and enthusiasts alike can use these cameras and lenses for their work. Mirrorless has grown up.

What this means for me as a fan of micro four thirds, is that I have tantalizing options for lens selection. I can go compact with modest f/1.8 maximum apertures, or go super fast at f/1.2. So how do I choose? Well first let's take a look at five of these tempting lenses by our favorite manufacturers.

So now, just by way of comparison, let's pick the fast optic that I'm most interested in, the 45mm f/1.2. It measures 2.76 x 3.34" (70 x 84.9 mm) and weighs 14.46 oz (410 g). It has a 9 blade aperture. The smaller Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8 lens has a seven blade aperture, costs only $399, weighs in at 4.09 oz (116 g), and measures 2.20 x 1.81" (56 x 46 mm). That's quite a difference.

The bottom line is this, regardless if you're a nimble photographer or pro who needs the very best, mirrorless now provides options for both.

A Review of the TDS Wine Country Photography Workshop

Beautiful weather, friendly world class wineries, and amazing photographers combine for a fabulous 3-day event in Sonoma County. Here are a few of my impressions.

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!

Want to Comment on this Post?

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

One of the things that I think is valuable about a photography workshop is getting away from daily responsibilities to focus on your craft. Over the last three days here in Sonoma County, a group of us did exactly that.

wine-tasting.jpg Learning about wine (and tasting as we go) at Dry Creek Vineyard in Sonoma County.

During our last hour yesterday in the tasting room at Ferrari Carano Winery in Healdsburg, some of us chatted about the delicate balance between critique and vision.

Earlier in the day, each photographer had presented eight images to the group in a darkened classroom with the hum of a projector fan in the background. We discussed each image, noting the things we liked and offered suggestions when appropriate. The quality of work was quite good. And these are the most important moments of any TDS workshop.

Afterward we celebrated our work with one last winery visit. It was a good call. We were able to reflect upon the last few days when we had experienced so much together.

I loved the discussion about balancing the feedback we receive from others with our own developing vision. How does one walk that line between being open to the suggestions while still following our own artistic voice?

The answer is a little different for each artist. I think it depends a lot on their personality and where they are on their journey. But what's really important is the opportunity to slow down for a minute to let this happen, to discuss these ideas with peers.

I had never combined wine tasting and photography before. I wasn't sure what to expect for this workshop. But it worked. Once again, I was reminded that if we can find a way to carve out time to pursue our craft in a supportive environment, good things will happen. Great wine doesn't seem to hurt the process.

And indeed good things did happen. And it was so enjoyable to celebrate them on that warm Saturday afternoon in that beautiful tasting room, deep in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County.

PS: Next year's workshop schedule will be announced here in November. Stay tuned, and be a part of the experience.

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

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

IMG_1359.jpg

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!

Want to Comment on this Post?

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.