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Once you download the trial version of Photoshop CS4, you have 30 days to freely explore, test, and enjoy its bounty of new features. Here are a few things I'd look at during the trial.

Review Mode in Bridge. I've really become hooked on this carousel approach to sorting images. Enable by pressing CMD-B or CTRL-B. Use right and left arrows to navigate, and the down arrow to drop images out of the carousel. Once you have your favorites, use the Make Collections icon to save them as a group.

Collections in Bridge. These virtual folders are like Albums in iPhoto and Aperture, and similar to Collections in Lightroom. They finally give us the versatility to group images without messing up our filing organization.

Graduated Filter in Adobe Camera Raw. What a great addition this is to ACR! Not only can you use it for tonal adjustments, but for color and sharpness too. You'll find it in the toolbar at the top of ACR.

Localized Corrections with the Adjustment Brush in ACR. Another killer tool that allows you to work on specific areas nondestructively. You'll find it in the toolbar at the top of ACR.

Targeted Adjustment Tool in Curves and HSL Adjustment Panels in Photoshop. I like the new Adjustment Panel that automatically creates a new layer for you. But I really like the Targeted Adjustment Tool in the Curves and HSL panels.

Birdseye View in Photoshop CS4. Great navigation addition. When you're working with an image at magnification, hold down the H key and click. Photoshop takes you into Birdseye view enabling you to easily navigate to another area of the photo. You have to see it to believe it. And zooming (Z) in general is smoother and more fun. Try it.

Another recommendation is to get the book, The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers before you download the trial. This 190 page guide will only set you back $16.49 on Amazon, and it can serve as your navigator for exploring Photoshop CS4. If you decide CS4 isn't for you, then you can pass the book along to someone else. If it is for you, you have the perfect companion for learning the new application.


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Of all the features that Amazon offers its customers, reviews submitted by people who read the books are still the most useful. This is especially true when a book takes a specific approach to a subject, such as what I've done with The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers. Unlike other Photoshop manuals that try to cover all of the tools, I filter through hundreds of features to present the most important ones for photographers who want to use CS4 as their photo workflow application.

When I read the first Amazon review for the Photoshop Companion, it was interesting to see that the book was perfectly suited for what that customer wanted (David J. McKee). By David sharing his thoughts, he helps both those who have similar needs and those who may want something else.

I'm mentioning this because, if you've read The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers, and you have insights about it that might be useful for other photographers, I encourage you to post a review on Amazon.

It's like so many other things we do on The Digital Story: share our ideas and our work with each other.


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After spending the bulk of my Saturday organizing the pictures I've captured over the last three weeks, I'm reflecting on archiving in the digital age.

Generally, I'm not someone who waits to get home before I start organizing my work. On my trip to Hawaii, for example, I rated all of my images, and updated the metadata for all of the "keepers" while I was still on the road. So it's not like I'm starting from ground zero once I'm at my desktop computer.

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As I think back to the "old days" of sorting slides, marking them with a Sharpie, then putting them into sleeved binders, I have to say that archiving in the digital age is neither better nor worse. It's different.

With digital, my pictures are easier to retrieve up the road thanks to metadata and great browsing tools such as Aperture, Bridge, and Lightroom. I can multitask (unload the suitcase and start the wash) while files are being copied to backup drives. And I find that I'm making presentations and prints faster that I used to in the analog days.

On the other hand, I'm more nervous about hard drives crashing and optical discs going bad than I ever was about properly stored film. So I'm constantly looking for affordable redundant solutions to put my mind at ease. And those tools cost money. And I'm still not sure about my "return on investment" for all the time I spend writing captions and keywords. Maybe I'm just not taking advantage of that work properly yet.

I'll tell you when digital feels good though. When I really need to find a particular image quickly, and I actually locate it. So, I guess spending some time on the weekend toward this endeavor is not really wasted after all. Maybe I'll go take more pictures today.


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Learn what photographers need to know to organize and edit their images with Photoshop CS4. Take a look at The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers. It fits in your laptop bag and is very easy on your wallet.


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Green Turtle Farewell to Hawaii

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As I had mentioned in earlier posts, this had been an unusual week of diving for me. The swell from the north kept things churned up thereby decreasing visibility. The skies were variable, and when overcast, that also affected how things looked underwater. And, to top it off, I had gone all week without seeing a sea turtle.

On my last dive of the week, I was exploring a rocky area not far off the shore. The water was tumultuous, but the landscape was beautiful. Then, to my right, I spotted a giant green sea turtle coming by for a snack of vegetation. He was only inches from me, and we swayed back and forth in the tide (me trying to stay out of his way so as not to disturb his lunch.)

I figured that my week was now complete, and I should probably think about heading home. It was a terrific conclusion.

Photo by Derrick Story. Captured with a Canon SD700 IS in a Canon underwater housing. Camera set to Underwater Scene Mode.

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Diving Off Ka'anapali, Maui

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The morning was overcast, which is always a drag for snorkeling. But a little light broke through in the afternoon. So I geared-up and headed straight out to the third buoy on my beach. Between the swell and wind, I wasn't expecting much. But to my surprise, I had one of my better shooting sessions underwater. I guess you just never know for sure.

It seemed like all of the fish were out. One of the more interesting creatures was this Sea Slug draped over a handsome coral. He was probably about 18" long. I appreciated him striking an elegant pose.

Photo by Derrick Story. Captured with a Canon SD700 IS in a Canon underwater housing. Camera set to "Underwater" scene mode.


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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A Day Shooting Jpeg - It Is Different

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When I'm on vacation, I try to be more like a normal person and less like a photographer. One of the ways I do that is to put a compact camera in my pocket and leave everything else behind. This usually means that I'm shooting Jpeg.

It's funny, now that I've been shooting Raw for a couple years, I really notice a difference when I process Jpegs in Aperture. I'm so used to being able to recover vast amounts of image data in the highlights and shadows. I have so much information to work with regardless of the slider I'm using.

After processing a day's worth of Jpegs, I feel like I'm image editing with one hand tied behind my back. I move a slider expecting a certain result, and the image just doesn't respond "right." It's a good reminder of just how powerful Raw photography is.

Does this mean I'm going to start lugging all my photo gear around? Nope. I'm still on vacation. I'll shoot Raw when it's convenient. But the rest of the time, I'm still going to be a tourist.

Photo of Dragon's Teeth formation near Kapalua, Maui, by Derrick Story. Captured with a Canon SD700 IS in Program mode.

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A new and terrific feature in Bridge CS4 is Collections. If you haven't heard of them, they are virtual folders that you can use to view your pictures in various groupings without compromising the integrity of your organizational structure. So you can pull a picture from here and from there, put it in a Collection, and use that for display or publishing. When you're done, you can discard the Collection, and there's no impact on your organizational folders.

I've published a new screencast on CS4 Collections that shows you the ins and outs. They are quite handy.

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Learn more about it in The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers

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Canon PowerShot G10 - Is More Better?

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Seems like just yesterday that I was taking a new Canon G9 out of the box and testing it in the field. I was impressed with the camera a year ago, and I'm still using it regularly today.

But now we have the Canon PowerShot G10.

I just finished reading an excellent Canon G10 Review on PhotographyBLOG, and the biggest take away with the new release is the 28-140mm zoom lens, which provides substantial breathing room on the wide end (28mm vs 35mm). Sacrifice is required on the long end, however, with a reduction from 210mm to 140mm. Fair enough. Physics is physics, right?

Honestly, the big concern for me was the decision by Canon to increase the megapixels to 14.7 (from 12) instead of providing better high ISO performance. Sadly, the G10 doesn't capture any better at ISO 400 or higher than the G9.

Despite the ISO disappointment, this looks like a great camera, that is, if the prospective photographer doesn't already have a G9 or comparable compact. So, unless they're willing to spend nearly $500 US for a wider zoom, I think many photographers will sit pat and see what Canon does up the road.

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Street Shots from New York City

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I booked a late flight for my last day in New York so I could roam around Manhattan and enjoy a little street shooting before returning to California. It had rained pretty hard the night before, but it cleared in the morning resulting in clean, crisp walking weather.

I decided to take the Olympus E-520 because it was light around my neck, and 10 MP Raw files felt about the right size. It's a great little camera, and shooting with it put me in a creative mood.

The first image (above) was recorded in Grand Central Station. I was standing on the balcony above watching a dad try to pose his children for a souvenir snapshot. He worked hard, I hope he got what he was after.

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I wandered down to the Chrysler Building because it's such a wonderful structure, day or night. I'm always looking for a new angle to capture this old favorite. First, I found a good reflection in a glass building across the street. Then I discovered how to frame both the reflection and the Chrysler building in the same composition. This is the result.

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Finally, I discovered that they had installed an ice skating rink in Bryant Park. This little haven is always a great place to hang out on nice Sunday afternoons. The tree-lined park is located behind the New York Public Library, with lots of places to sit and enjoy the day. This shot is of a mom teaching her son how to ice skate, probably for the first time. He passed a little test, and they both were thrilled resulting in this "high ten."

I'll talk more about the trip in this week's podcast.

Photos by Derrick Story, captured with an Olympus E-520 DSLR.

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I've posted a new screencast that shows you the ins and outs of Photo Downloader, the bundled app that comes with Photoshop and enables you to organized your workflow during import. I also demonstrate how to add your copyright and how to simultaneously back up your photos to another drive, all automatically during the downloading process.

This screencast is based upon Chapter 2 of The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers, and is free for the downloading.

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