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Using only natural light for your portraits, you can produce absolutely stunning results. Or the pictures can be extremely unflattering. I have two videos, right here, that you can watch to help you prepare for this type of shoot.

The first movie is an introduction to my Natural Light Portrait Assignment on Lynda.com. Here I set up how this, and subsequent photo assignments, are structured.

Then in this second video, we go on the computer and analyze natural light for portraiture. Here I show you the difference between "good lighting" and "bad lighting," and the effects they have on your final images. This is a very instructional movie that I think you'll find useful.

These are the first two movies in the Natural Light Portrait Assignment. In the third movie, we go out into the field for the actual model shoot using a variety of techniques. Then, in the fourth video, I go back to the studio and analyze those images. Finally, I do the "call to action" where I encourage you to go shoot your own natural light portrait and share the results on our Flickr Natural Light Portrait public group page.

I have more photo assignments coming up. I'll keep you posted.


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Bottle Video Frame

Ever wonder how those dramatic shots of water shooting up from a bottle are created? Take a look at this video by Gavin Hoey titled, How to Create Amazing Photos with Water and a Bottle. You don't need a specialized gear for this weekend project. A DSLR, a flash that can be triggered off camera, and of course, water in a bottle. When you're done, just rotate the image 180 degrees in Photoshop. It's a lot of fun.


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Is social networking valuable to photographers? Do you need Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr to be successful? That depends upon your goals. Whether you're an avid amateur shooter or an aspiring professional, you need to at least have an opinion about social networking, and the better informed you are, the more intelligent your thoughts will be on this subject.

I'm going to discuss a little bit about what's worked for me. I believe in diversity. I like to have multiple revenue streams. I think photography and its related skills can be a great source of revenue in addition to being satisfying artistically.

The danger of course with these new communication tools, is that you become absorbed with social networking and you lose sight of your original goals. I've heard photographers remark that they didn't "get any work" done today because they lost so much time online. And do you have to blog about every activity or post every shot you take? Like so many things in life, moderation is most likely the key to successful social networking.

I'll discuss all of this and more during the show.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (26 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Feet is the Oct. 2009 Photo Assignment. Shoes, bare feet, paws, manmade objects, my gosh there are so many possibilities. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is Oct. 31, 2009.

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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Podcast Sponsors

SiteGrinder lets you take ownership of your websites. Effortlessly output pages right from Photoshop.

Red River Paper -- Try the $7.99 Sample Kit.

Add Magic to Your Slideshows -- FotoMagico presentations are so amazing that your audience will be asking how you did it.


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Photoshop LIVE Comes to Washington DC

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Headlined by Photoshop super instructor Michael Ninness, Photoshop LIVE is coming to Washington DC on Nov. 2, 2009. If you want to improve your Photoshop skills, and have fun doing it, you need to take a look at this affordable, two-day conference. And in fact, I can sweeten the pot even more because I have 10 conference passes to give away. More on that in a minute.

I'm teaching two courses myself: How Adobe Camera Raw Made Me Love Photoshop (which is a class I just love teaching to photographers) and Five Things Photo Hobbyists Need to Know About Photoshop CS4. And there are other great courses too. Here's just a sampling:

  • Creative Black and White and Color Effects
  • How to Retouch Like a Pro
  • Get Smart: Smart Filters and Smart Objects
  • Photoshop Power Shortcuts

And a whole lot more.

Register Now and Save Big

You can register before Oct. 23 for only $125 if you use this discount code: DSPSLMM09 (case sensitive). After Oct. 23, the price is $295 for both days. The event will be held at the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation and Naval Heritage Center, 701 Pennsylvania Ave, NW Washington, DC. I always love an excuse to visit DC, and in fact, I'm adding on a day so I can spend time as a tourist too.

The Free Passes

I have 10 free passes to give away. If you want one, all you have to do is be one of the first 10 people to post a comment to this article stating which session at the conference (mine excluded) that you're most excited about seeing. You can see the entire line-up here. Those first 10 comments (that have filled-in legitimate email addresses in the "Leave a Comment" box) will receive a code from me via email that can be used during online registration for free admission. When you see 10 comments to this article, then you know that all the passes have been given away. One free pass per person please!


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Silhouette images are an excellent way to bring simplicity with an artistic flare to your photographs. In his very helpful article, 7 Tips for Photographing Silhouettes, Steve Berardi shows you a handful of useful techniques that you might want to try on your next adventure.

I think a big part of being successful at this is training your eye to be on the lookout for potential silhouette compositions. Subjects that might be less than thrilling in midday light can be transformed into poignant images at sunset. For example, take a look at this Grab Shot by Thomas M. Loftus. During the day, it's just another bridge shot, but at sunset the colorful sky changes the entire feel.

We're always looking for ways to add drama to our photographic narrative. Silhouette compositions can help us do that.

Photo of Veteran's Memorial Bridge on the Missouri River by Thomas M. Loftus.


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"I took this at Spring 2008 Strawberry Music Festival," writes Moira Haines. "We were enjoying a short reprieve from the rainy weekend. It seems that bubbles are more captivating than religion to some, and I enjoyed watching the innocent fascination on the boy's face."

Moira used her Olympus C 770UZ digital camera to capture this captivating scene.

Photo by Moira Haines. Click on image to zoom to larger size.

If you have a candid you'd like to share, take a look at our Submissions page, then send us your Grab Shot. We'll try to get it published for you on The Digital Story.

And you can view more images from our virtual camera club in the Member Photo Gallery.


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As I described in a recent podcast, The Simple Photo Shoot, I love grabbing my camera, going to the park, and shooting portraits. You'd be surprised at how well these images can look if you apply a few easy techniques.

In my new Lynda.com training, Photo Assignment: Natural Light Portraits, I take you on a photo shoot with me (and a lovely model) to illustrate some of my favorite natural light techniques. Once the shoot is over, we go back to the computer to analyze our images. Some techniques work better than others, but you get to see them all.

Photo by Derrick Story for the Natural Light Training Video. Canon 5D Mark II and 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L lens.

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Then here's the part I'm really excited about. I'm facilitating a Flickr Public Group page dedicated to sharing all of our images and ideas connected to natural light portraiture. The page just went live yesterday, and already we have lots of great stuff to look at, think about, and possible incorporate into our own bag of tricks.

This is the first of many photo assignment trainings that I'm doing for Lynda. If you want an easy way to learn new techniques, practice them, then share with others, I highly recommend both the Lynda.com training, and the participation on the Flickr page.


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The Canon BG-E5 Battery Grip ($117) provides comfort for larger hands, gives you two battery options, and adds a vertical shutter release button. An interesting side benefit that isn't listed in the specs is that it also makes either the Rebel T1i or XSi a bit more chunky and professional looking.

When I'm on the road in outdoor settings, I load up the battery grip with 6 Sanyo Eneloop rechargable AA batteries. That way, if I'm away from power for extended periods, I can keep shooting as long as I have AAs on hand. You can also use two LP-E5 lithium batteries instead. This configuration is much lighter than AAs. You get inserts for each of the two configurations. So switching back and forth is easy.

The built-in control buttons for vertical shooting include shutter release, AE/FE lock, main dial, and aperture/exposure. So no matter which way you turn the camera, you have maximum comfort.

Unlike with bigger cameras, when you want to travel lighter, just remove the battery grip, insert a single LP-E5 lithium battery, and you're ready to go. The bottom battery door does need to be removed to use the grip. It's easy to snap on and off. Just make sure you don't lose it when it's not in use.

Other Posts on the Canon Rebel T1i

Canon Speedlite 270EX Review - Versatile, Compact Flash

Canon Digital Rebel T1i Field Test at Bodie State Park, California

Street Shooting with Canon 500D/T1i

"Hands On Review of the Canon T1i (500D) - Digital Photography Podcast 179


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What is the simple photo shoot? I define it as one camera, one lens, and one accessory. That's all you take. The ginormous bag of lenses and modifiers stay home as you go "MacGyver" and improvise with the equipment that you have in hand.

In this week's show I discuss how important the simple photo shoot is, and detail my latest one, a portrait shoot with Bonnie at the park. My three pieces of equipment? 1) Canon 5D Mark II 2) Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS zoom lens. 3) Canon 270EX compact flash. Listen to how I used these items during a relaxing photo session.

"Bonnie in the Park" by Derrick Story Captured with a Canon 5D Mark II and a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. Click on image to zoom. See the entire gallery on The Digital Story Flickr page.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (29 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Feet is the Oct. 2009 Photo Assignment. Shoes, bare feet, paws, manmade objects, my gosh there are so many possibilities. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is Oct. 31, 2009.

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!


twitter.jpg Follow me on Twitter

-


Podcast Sponsors

SiteGrinder lets you take ownership of your websites. Effortlessly output pages right from Photoshop.

Red River Paper -- Try the $7.99 Sample Kit.

Add Magic to Your Slideshows -- FotoMagico presentations are so amazing that your audience will be asking how you did it.


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Lightroom's presets in the Develop module are one of the application's best features. Out of the box you get cool effects such as aged photo, antique light, selenium tone, punch, and much more. If you have the Navigator open, then you can mouse over the preset and see a sample of the effect applied to a thumbnail of your image. Great stuff. You can also create your own presets. So if you build an effect that you love, you can easily apply to future images.

Since presets are sharable documents, you can benefit from the creative experimentation of others. I found an excellent resource at Yanik's Photo School, Top Free Lightroom Presets that lists all sorts of terrific stuff. Yanik also shows you how to install LR presets, which I think is a helpful tip unto itself.

If you want the inside scoop on Lightroom, also keep an eye on the Lightroom Journal. It's info straight from the Adobe Lightroom team.


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