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A Collection of Polarizer Tips

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The polarizing filter is still the "must have" accessory in our camera bags. White balance settings may have replaced the 81A and other correction glass, but the need for the polarizer lives on.

As we approach the waning days of summer, I want to celebrate this magic filter with a collection of tips and tricks. Enjoy, then grab your camera and go capture those saturated skies with 3D clouds...

Polarizer as a Neutral Density Filter.

"Polarizing Filters" - Digital Photography Podcast 84.

"Sunglasses" Polarizer in a Pinch .

Polarizers Help Saturate Colors.

Low Horizon Line for Dramatic Skies.

Event Calendar

Events! See the TDS Event Calendar for photography workshops, speaking engagements, and trade show appearances.


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I'll be speaking at the Stanford/Palo Alto Macintosh Users Group (SMUG) on Monday evening, Aug. 6. I'll begin with the topic, "iPhoto 6: More than (Initially) Meets the Eye." iPhoto is a solid photo management application that ships on every Mac. But there's more to this program than initially meets the eye. I'll show you how to become a iPhoto power user and unlock some of its magic.

Then I'll move into "Techniques for Great Pictures." Digital photography is like any computer-related activity: the data you input has great impact on what comes out the other side. Good data in, good results out. You might not realize it, but your digital camera is a sophisticated data input device (that also happens to be lots of fun). And it becomes even more enjoyable when you learn how to tap its vast creative potential.

The Stanford User Group meeting is open to visitors, so you're more than welcome to drop by for the evening. The event begins at 6:30 pm with a general Q&A session, then a talk on Shareware at 7:00 pm, and I take the floor at 8 pm. If you're in the Palo Alto area (Northern CA, USA), it's easy to get to the event (right off the 280 Freeway). Here are the directions to SMUG. Hope to see you there!

Event Calendar

More Events! See the TDS Event Calendar for more photography workshops, speaking engagements, and trade show appearances.


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I'm a big fan of interesting photo essay's, especially works that have text that's as engaging as its images. Gary Gladstone, who had been a professional shooter for years, recently published Portraits from the Heartland. Unlike his former corporate images, Gary's Heartland portfolio includes portraits from locations such as Peculiar Missouri, Goofy Ridge illinois, and Sweetlips Tennessee (one of my favorite images, shown here).

Gladstone's portraits are terrific, and the entire collection of photos is both entertaining and inspiring.

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I'm on vacation this week and won't be posting a new podcast. I will be back at the helm next week, however, with a fresh show. For those of you who have a listening schedule to maintain, however, I posted a Best of The Digital Story podcasts -- Killer Shooting Tips with Scott Bourne.

I hope you enjoy it...


Sponsor Note...

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A few weeks ago I posed the question on The Digital Story Flickr Public Group asking about your favorite compact camera. I've been using the Canon PowerShot SD700 IS (which 2 other members also like) and the Panasonic Lumix FZ8 for my grab shots on the go. I like both cameras because they have good lenses with long zooms (4X and 12X), great image stabilizers, handy movie modes, and good picture quality. What was interesting among our membership was that many are still using older compacts, not feeling the need to update to the latest and greatest.

"I still love my Canon PowerShot S30 even if it is 5 years old," says zenlibra. "It may only pack 3.2 MP, but it has full creative controls (Av, Tv, P, M) and it captures RAW files. It's metal body is bulky and a little heavy, but it's been dropped with out any noticeable damage."

And alansf says "I use a Fuji f10 for its high ISO 1600. It is about 3 years old, and I get pretty good low light shots hand held. I use the auto-ISO feature which gives me automatic adjustments in low light. The only drawback is there isn't optical viewer which makes outdoor pictures hard to compose on the LCD screen."

Others, such as pwscott61, are happy with the latest that technology has to offer remarking, "My fave is definitely the Powershot SD800 IS. I've made 13"x19" blowups of handheld shots in only fair lighting that friends bet were with my DSLR. "

Here's the actual list of compact cameras that TDS members said they are currently using:

  • Canon Powershot G3
  • Canon PowerShot S30
  • Canon PowerShot SD700 IS (2 Members)
  • Canon PowerShot SD800 IS (2 Members)
  • Fuji f10
  • Nikon Coolpix 4300
  • Nikon Coolpix 5900
  • Nikon Coolpix 8400
  • Olympus 720sw
  • Panasonic DMC FZ-50

You can read more about why they like these models by visiting the The Digital Story Flickr Public Group.

Program Note: There will be no podcast this week because of vacation. I will be back with a brand new show next Tuesday, Aug. 7.

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I've talked about this camera before, but now there's a full review on dpreview.com that covers all the juicy details. I've also had a chance to spend more time with this camera, and I have a few more comments to add to the discussion.

First the basics. The Canon PowerShot S5 IS updates a number of features over its predecessor, such as higher resolution (8 MP), hot shoe, 2.5" LCD, DIGIC III processor, longer movie clips (up to 4 GB) and face detection. The 12X optical zoom provides a 36mm - 432mm range (35mm equivalent) with a pretty nice maximum aperture (f-2.7 to f-3.5). You also get image stabilization and just about every feature you'd want in a top of the line prosumer model.

I think adding a hot shoe is a really nice touch. This enables lots of flexibility using Canon's wide variety of accessories including wireless flash. Enhanced movie mode with stereo audio is also quite useful, especially when combined with the vari-angle LCD. And using AA batteries gives you plenty of power options, especially on the road when your rechargeables run out of juice.

But, alas, there's no Raw option, which the competing Panasonic Lumix FZ-18 does have, and the Canon is more expensive at $449 than many of its competitors in this class. But the camera feels great in the hand, is well built, takes good pictures, and has a proven track record. This current model s also certified for Windows Vista. It certainly should on your short list for long zoom compacts.

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B&W Conversion Options in CS3

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Deke McClelland says that, "Creating a beautiful black-and-white image can be very satisfying and relatively easy to do. With Photoshop CS3, you can rob your pixels of color in Photoshop CS3 in many ways, from the classic Channel Mixer to the new Black & White command and Camera Raw’s Convert to Grayscale check box. Happily, each one of these functions put you in charge of the color-to-grayscale conversion process."

In his latest dekeBytes titled, Black and White Options in Photoshop CS3, he shows you how to take your color images and transform them into glorious Black & White.

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Label Your Memory Cards

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I recommend that the first thing you do after buying a new memory card is take out a Sharpie and label the card with your name and phone number. You might want to use your cell phone for the contact info so you can retrieve the lost card as soon as possible.

I witnessed the benefits of this technique during my Iceland trip last year. One of the photographers left her full memory cards in a rental car that she turned in. Fortunately they were labeled, and she was contacted before she got on the plane. As a result, she was able to retrieve a full day's worth of valuable pictures. One of those images is featured as a full page in the just released Lightroom Adventure book.

So, before you forget, get out your Sharpie and label those cards...

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After my positive review of Panasonic's DMC-FZ8, I'm looking forward to testing the just announced Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ18. This compact powerhouse looks like a mini DSLR and packs a whopping 28mm-504mm (12x) [Correction: 18X Zoom] Leica zoom into an 8-megapixel body. Panasonic's image stabilization technology is excellent. I've tested it for magazine articles, including the recently released Steady Your Shot article in Macworld Magazine. Believe me, this stabilization technology works.

I'm also very pleased that Panasonic once again included Raw mode (and Raw+Jpeg) in this camera. That means you can still take advantage of the power of Raw, even when shooting with your compact camera.

The FZ-18 also has new "Face Detection" technology that identifies people in your scenes and sets the focus and exposure for them preventing mis-focused shots. Add in other nice features such as a spacious 2.5" LCD, and you have quite a powerful picture taker for around $399 US. The FZ-18 should hit the streets in Sept. 2007.

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Photoshop CS3 Goodies: Photomerge

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There are some terrific new or improved tools in Photoshop CS3, and the one I'm going to discuss today is Photomerge. Adobe has enhanced this function considerably, and if you haven't used it for a while, it's worth a second look.

Photomerge allows you to take a handful of photographs of a subject, such as a landscape, and merge them into one image incorporating information from all of the individual shots. A common use for this technique is to create a panorama, as shown here using five separate images from Maui. But Photomerge is so smart that you're not limited to a horizontal sequence of shots; you can take just about any cluster of pictures, run them through Photomerge, and come out with an interesting photo.

You'll find this tool under the File menu: File > Automate > Photomerge. You have a number of layout options such as Perspective, Reposition Only, and Interactive, but I recommend you start with Auto to get your feet wet. Choose the series of images you want to merge and click the OK button. Photomerge will go to work and build a layered file. You can work on the individual layers if you need to fors some additional tweaking, or just flatten a copy of the file for final use. Either way, you will be amazed at how smart this improved function is in CS3.

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