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Raw Photography with Older Cameras

Canon G2 Black

One of the things I like about my older Canon PowerShot G2 is that is supports Raw as well as Jpeg. This used to be common with advanced amateur models such as the G1 and G2, but these days you often have to buy a digital SLR to get Raw support.

Of course Raw photography isn't any fun unless you have a good application to interpret the files. I remember (way back when) struggling with Canon's software to process my Raw files... probably why I decided that Raw was only for special occasions. But now I can have my Raw and convenience too. Adobe's new photo workflow application, Lightroom, supports many of those older cameras that could capture Raw, including my black PowerShot G2. (You can see the entire list of supported models on the Adobe Labs site.)

I guess this is the modern version of nostalgia -- I really enjoy grabbing the G2 (it has a very smart custom leather case like cameras of yesteryear) on my way out the door, knowing that I have a fast f-2 lens, full manual controls, vari-angle LCD screen, hot shoe, and yes, Raw format. It even uses the same batteries as my state of the art Canon 5D DSLR.

When I return home, I can process my 4-megapixel Raw files with the beta 3 version of Lightroom. And they look great. It's old meets new. And it's a lot of fun.

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Pro Shooter Shares Travel Tips

Travel

Have you ever wondered how professional photographers prepare for trips to exotic (and sometimes hazardous) locations? In the article Travel Advice for Photographers, pro shooter Ed Carreon shares tips from his years of experience. Regardless if your next adventure is a safari in Africa or a family vacation in Hawaii, I'm sure you'll glean some gems from Ed's advice.

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Peephole Fisheye Lens
Photo by Make Magazine

Here's a new thing to do with your compact camera: hold a peephole viewer to the front lens for "do it yourself" fisheye view of the world. (Peephole viewers are available at any hardware store for cheap.) The creative folks at Make Magazine demonstrate their spin on the concept based on a paper by H. G. Dietz at the University of Kentucky.

The Make Magazine version is simple. Hold the peephole viewer in place and take a picture. This gives you a superwide view of the world. (Thanks to Phil and the crew for posting this cool idea.) Mr. Dietz goes into more detail about this technique and discusses mounting the viewer on a variety of cameras.

If you want to go the other direction and create a super-telephoto for your compact, take a look at our earlier post on digiscoping.

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New Lightroom Beta Available

Inside Lightroom

I've been testing the new Adobe Lightroom Public Beta 3 on a new Intel MacBook Pro and am impressed with the application's performance. There are also many UI refinements from Beta 2, including a new module: Web.

That's where I started experimenting. The Web templates are quite attractive, although you don't have much flexibility with them yet. There are 3 presets -- HTML gallery, Exif metadata, and Flash gallery. You have two options for exporting: Save to your hard drive or upload to your web server. You can enter your FTP settings directly in Lightroom saving you a couple steps.

The code Lightroom generates is XHTML compliant and looks fairly clean. It uses CSS and JavaScript to perform much of its appearance and navigation magic. I really liked how my generated site performed in both Safari and Firefox.

The Develop module also received some attention. You now have additional tools above the filmstrip -- most notably a Before/After view, which is really handy while image editing. There are RGB value readouts too.

A member from The Digital Story community, Jeremey Barrett, has published first impressions of Beta 3 on his weblog. You might want to take a look.

One final note: still no official word on the Windows version yet. For now, the beta is only Mac. But you can sign up to be notified as soon as the Windows beta is ready.

Zoom Effect

If you're in the mood for a little photo amusement, give BeLight's Image Tricks a spin. This Universal Binary application (that's absolutely free) works on both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs running OS X. It taps the power of Core Image to arm you with an array of special effects for your photos.

I applied the "zoom blur" effect to this image capture in Silicon Valley. The effect transformed a pleasant, but not exceptional photo, into something far more dynamic. I could have selected from any number of transformations, including bump distortion, circular splash, glass distortion, and more. Plus I have nuts and bolts adjustments such as unsharp mask, exposure, gamma, hue, white point, monochrome, and others. There's even a nifty cropping tool and image resizer.

If all of that isn't enough, I can also use the image generator to create my own patterns for backgrounds and textures. Some of the most interesting ones require an upgrade to the Pro version, but that's still only $9.95.

Image Tricks is a terrific tool for creating new looks for your old pictures. Yes, you can use it as a standard image editor, but its real charm is how it encourages the child that just wants to play.

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Olympus 720 SW

Here's an interesting camera for summer activities: the Olympus Stylus 720 SW. This very pocketable point and shoot is immerse-able in water as deep as 10' for as long as an hour. And it can take a licking too -- up to a 5' drop -- and still keep taking pictures. On top of that, it's kind of cute.

If you're looking for a tough little camera that can survive the rigors of summer activities, you might want to take a closer look. The 720 SW has a 7.1 MP sensor, 2.5" LCD monitor, 3X optical zoom, 28 preset shooting modes, uses xD-Picture Card, has 19.1 MB of internal memory that lets you shoot even when your media card is full, and comes with a Li-Ion rechargeable battery and charger.

The 720 SW has ISO settings for 64, 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1600, but I don't recommend going above 400 except when absolutely necessary to get the shot. You can capture video and sound with the QuickTime movie mode at a maximum quality of 640x480 at 15 fps.

The Olympus Stylus 720 SW is available online at Amazon for about $360.

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Cruise View

I often refer to The Digital Story as a virtual camera club. Indeed, an online meeting place for the exchange of ideas is a beautiful thing, and I know many of you agree. But there are times when working face to face in an exotic location is the ultimate photography experience. I have such an opportunity coming up at the end of October, and you can join me if you wish.

I've put together a digital photography workshop with my friend Ben Long, and we're taking it on the high seas to the Western Caribbean. This Geek Cruise (Oct. 28 - Nov. 4, 2006) features stops in Key West, Florida; Belize City, Belize; Sano Tomoas De Castillo, Guatemala; and Cozumel, Mexico. The sailing begins and ends in Tampa, Florida. What's extra special about this trip is that we have a full-fledged photography workshop included in the trip. Here's a quick overview of the topics we'll cover.

  • Location Shooting Techniques
  • Introduction to Shooting RAW in the Field
  • Introduction to Adobe Bridge and Photoshop Workflow
  • Introduction to the iPhoto 6 and Photoshop Elements 4 Workflow
  • Introduction to the Aperture Workflow
  • Photography Clinic
  • Exposure Techniques for Minimum Post Production
  • Photoshop for Photographers
  • Mastering the 80%: Image Editing in iPhoto 6, Aperture, and Elements 4

We have three instructors for this week-long workshop: writer, photographer Ben Long, Macworld Magazine editor Kelly Turner, and myself, Derrick Story.

We've integrated the workshop with the days in port to provide a full-bodied photography adventure. While at sea, we get together in classrooms and learn techniques in preparation for our excursions in the Western Caribbean. Then, when we return to the ship, we compare our experiences, fine tune our techniques, and prepare for the next adventure. We'll even have open camera clinics where you can ask any question and have us help you with your equipment.

Members of the Digital Story audience will receive signed photo books by me. I'll also have a special "The Digital Story" birds of a feather session where we can get together to meet one another and talk about grab shots, photo assignments, and other virtual camera club topics. I think this will be tons of fun.

If you're interested in a late-season photo vacation this year, take a look at the Geek Cruise home page for complete information about the trip, the photo workshop, and the other sessions offered on this cruise. As a tempting teaser, you might want to peek at some of my photos from the Mexico cruise. You'll see a mix of location shots combined with the images from ship life while at sea. It's a powerful experience.

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How to Share Your Slideshow

iDisk

Once you've made your slideshow, how do you share it with others? You may want to enter it in the FotoMagico Slideshow Showcase, post it on your web site, or make it available for download. Here are a few tips for sharing your video masterpieces.

iDisk and .Mac

If you have a .Mac account, this is the easiest place to post your slideshow. In the Finder, select "iDisk" from the "Go" menu and choose "My iDisk" (Go > iDisk > My iDisk). Your iDisk will appear on your Desktop. Double-click it to open it.

You have a couple of options at this point. If you want to make it available for download, drag your slideshow into the "Public" folder. It will take a while for it to finish uploading, often 20 minutes or more, so you can go grab a cup of coffee. Now, all you have to do is tell people the name of the file and the name of your .Mac account, and they can download the movie out of your public folder. This is a legitimate way to enter your presentation in the Slideshow Showcase. I think this is the best method of all.

You can also make a movie web page to show off your work. Instead of using the "Public" folder, find the "Movies" folder and drag your slideshow into it. Once it has uploaded, you can go to the .Mac site, log in, and click on the "Homepage" tab. In the "Create a Page" section, click on "iMovie." Choose a template from the offerings. Then when the template is loaded, click on the "Choose" button. You'll see your slideshow in the list of movies. Select it, then publish the movie page. You can now send this url to friends and family, and they can watch the slideshow right there in their browsers. This is also a legitimate way to enter your presentation in the Slideshow Showcase.

File Sharing Service - Mac or Windows

There are free services that allow you to upload your slideshows to a server, then the service sends an email to your recipient with a link so that person can go download the slideshow.

In my post, Big File Transfer Winner, I list a couple of these services and how they perform. My two favorite free services are DropSend and YouSendIt. You can use any of these to enter the Slideshow Showcase.

Burn to Disk

If you don't have any bandwidth for electronic transfer, you can always burn your slideshow to disk and mail it. All you have to do send an email to questions@thedigitalstory.com, and I'll email you back with a mailing address that you can use to send your disk to.

This tip is to help you prepare your entry for the FotoMagico Slideshow Showcase. Submit your Entry Form today (to get on the books), then start working on your presentation. Deadline to submit your presentation is June 15. Don't delay!

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sony_dslr.jpg

Sony's partnership with Minolta has yielded the Alpha DSLR-A100 system -- its first Digital SLR. The new camera features a 10.2 MP CCD image sensor. Sony is offering 19 lenses, plus the camera will be compatible with Minolta-mount lenses.

Sony has brought many of its own innovations to this camera, such as its Super SteadyShot image stabilization and dynamic range optimization, combined Minolta-type brilliance including Eye Start AF and honeycomb pattern metering. The A100 accepts CF cards and Sony's Memory Stick.

The A100 captures in both JPEG and RAW formats. Because of the APS-sized sensor, the camera does have a 1.5x image magnification. The Sony DSLR will list for $899, and is expected to ship before the end of July.

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iView MediaPro 3.1

iView Multimedia has released the latest version of their robust cross-platform digital asset management application. iView MediaPro 3.1 is now Universal Binary for the Mac (runs on the new Intel-powered Macs) and runs natively on Windows computers.

This latest version features a new Notepad Tool that enables communication between a MediaPro user and his/her client. The client simply drags and drops selected catalog items onto the Notepad palette, adds comments and then e-mails the Notepad file. This Notepad file imports easily into the creative professional’s original catalog where he or she can view the client’s feedback and execute the appropriate actions.

You can download iView and try it free for 21 days.