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This week on The Digital Story Photography Podcast: Photo Gear at CES, Backlighting techniques, Samsung NX3000 APS-C Mirrorless camera kit, Selfies Get a Bad Rap - All of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

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Snapshot - "Selfies Get a Bad Rap" For years, photographers were absent from family photo albums. So once they finally turn the camera towards themselves, they're suddenly narcissistic? I discuss on the first segment of today's show.

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Weekly Update - CES Report. Plenty of news about connected devices and wearables. But what about photography? I provide some insights on announcements such as the Canon Connect Station CS100, the iCamPRO HD, the Inspire 1 Camera Mount, Panasonic's trio of superzooms, 5 new Canon compacts with emphasis on connectivity, and the Segate Seven 500 GB USB3.0 hard drive that's only 7mm thick.

Story #1 - Bargain or Bust? Trying out the Samsung NX3000 with 16-50mm power zoom lens. This kit is selling for around $400, includes a 21MP APS-C sensor, 16-50mm power zoom lens, and excellent WiFi and NFC connectivity.

Story #2 - From the Screening Room - Exploring Photography: Backlighting with Ben Long. This week's featured artist is teacher fantastic Ben Long. He tackles the universal challenge of backlighting, a demon that has overcome us all at one time or another.

You can watch Ben in action by visiting the TDS Screening Room at lynda.com/thedigitalstory. While you're there, you can start your 7 day free trial to watch all of Ben's movies, plus every other title in the library (including over 20 by yours truly).

Story #3 - "How Much Faith Should I Put in DxO Numbers?" Robert Perrin asks, "And all the DxO numbers favor the Nikon/Sony over Canon.  So my real questions are, am I putting too much into the DxO numbers?  Do you think Canon is going to address their disadvantage in high ISO noise, dynamic range, picture quality and color depth or are they going to focus more on the ability of their cameras to do video better?  Knowing that I want to shoot low light, am I looking at the right attributes of camera performance to get better quality pictures?"

Virtual Camera Club News

Photo Assignment for January 2015 is "Backlighting". (You might want to check out our Screening Room selection first :-)

News from SizzlPix: Have your SizzlPix now, and with PayPal Credit, make no payment until July. Great for selling SizzlPix of your photography and collecting your profit even before you pay. Also helpful for any photographer with an opportunity for gallery showings.

Red River Paper - Save 10 percent off your next order of inkjet paper and greeting cards. Good one per customer. Use discount code STORY10X - Ends 1/15/15.

Oh, and Another Thing...

Thanks to everyone who recently reviewed the TDS Podcast in iTunes!

BTW: If you're ordering through B&H or Amazon, please click on the respective ad tile under the Products header in the box half way down the 2nd column on thedigitalstory.com. That helps support the site.

Download the Show

In addition to subscribing in iTunes, you can also download the podcast file here (34 minutes). You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

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

lynda.com - Learn lighting, portraiture, Photoshop skills, and more from expert-taught videos at lynda.com/thedigitalstory.

Red River Paper -- Keep up with the world of inkjet printing, and win free paper, by liking Red River Paper on Facebook.

SizzlPix! - High resolution output for your photography. You've never seen your imagery look so good. SizzlPix.com. SizzlPix! now is qualified for PayPal "Bill Me Later," No payments, No interest for up to 6 months, which means, have your SizzlPix! now, and pay nothing until May!

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When I first heard about the Canon Connect Station CS100, I thought, "that's cool." But the devil is in the details.

It's a $299 media hub with a 1TB hard drive that enables photographers with 2015 Canon cameras to quickly transfer images and video via an "NFC tap" to the device. Once the content is copied to the Connect Station, it can be viewed on an HDTV, shared with mobile devices via a web browser, or sent to PictBridge compatible printers.

The part that's neat is that you don't need a computer to manage your digital images. Great for some non-techy folks I know. If you have a spare HDMI port on your HDTV, then you can navigate the CS100's menu system to sort and view the pictures. The device also includes a USB port and CF and SD card slots for input.

On the downside, you need a 2015 Canon camera to use the Connect Station's wireless transfer, and it only accepts Canon's CR2vii RAW format. So, if you're Canon-only and buy a new NFC enabled camera this year, great. Otherwise, it's a $299 media server with a SD card slot for your Jpegs.

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Samsung NX3000 with 16-50mm Power Zoom

There are some great deals with quality cameras right now, and one of the best is the Samsung NX3000 camera with 16-50mm OIS power zoom for about $409 (and as low as $369 if you don't mind the white lens/body combination).

For your hard-earned money, you'll receive a good-looking mirrorless body (offered in a variety of colors) that houses a 20.3MP CMOS APS-C sensor, 3" upward tilting LCD, WiFi, NFC, external flash, and a 16-50mm OIS power zoom lens with i-Function button. The NX 3000, captures RAW, Jpeg, and HD video. There's a free mobile app for both iOS and Android that allows for remote control of the camera and easy picture sharing.

A perfect complement to this kit is the super-sharp Samsung 30mm NX Pancake lens ($234) that gives you a bright f/2.0 maximum aperture and an equivalent 46.2mm focal length, all in a package that weighs less than 3 ounces.

Samsung NX 3000 with 30mm Prime Lens

The zoom lens (top photo) provides an equivalent of 24.6-77mm and includes image stabilization. It's a quality optic with a precise stepping motor and seven-blade circular diaphragm. Zooming is easy via the buttons on the lens barrel. Plus there's the clever i-Function button that you can configure for quick camera adjustments, such as exposure compensation. When you need a bit more speed, switch to the accessory 30mm compact prime (second illustration) and shoot wide open at f/2.0. Both optics provide excellent contrast and sharpness.

12310170Rudi-Shot-fb.jpg Captured with the 30mm on the NX3000 - f/2.0, 1/400th, +2/3 exposure compensation, ISO 1600. Photos by Derrick Story.

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Noteworthy Features

The 3" 460,000-dot LCD tilts all the up for self-portraits. Selfies are made even easier with compatible features such as smile and wink modes that couple with face detection. If you're in a hurry, you don't even have to turn on the camera. Just flip up the LCD and the lens sets itself to 16mm and the power goes on, ready for that quick memento.

The NX3000 is a good low light shooter with an ISO range of 100-25600. I didn't think twice about jacking up the setting to 1600 or 3200. Images looked great.

Video is also quite good with full HD capture at 30fps using H.264 format and AAC for audio. Samsung has also tossed in a few goodies such as fade-in and fade-out controls to make it easy to post directly to socials without post production.

The kit includes a full working copy of Adobe Lightroom 5 with RAW compatibility for the NX3000. Lightroom is your best option for RAW processing, since neither Apple nor DxO support RAW decoding for the NX3000.

NX3000-in-Lightroom.jpg A full working copy of Lightroom 5 is included in the NX3000 kit.

Integration with smart devices is easy thanks to the Mobile button on the top deck of the camera. Once you've downloaded the respective free app for your smartphone or tablet, simply press the button, choose the function, and connect. I like the Android version of Smart Camera better than what's available for iOS. But I guess that's to be expected with Samsung.

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Things to Be Aware of

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The NX3000 is an LCD-only camera with no options for an electronic viewfinder. This can present problems in bright, contrasty lighting conditions, making it difficult to compose on the screen. For those situations, I've repurposed my Olympus optical viewfinder for the 30mm lens on the Samsung, as shown in the illustration here. Since the NX3000 does have a hot shoe, DIY options can help overcome the lack of electronic viewfinder.

The NX3000 kit does not include a separate battery charger. The default method is to connect the camera directly to the included USB power brick. This is both a pro and a con. USB charging is ideal for solar units and other alternative methods. The downside is that if you want to refresh batteries while using the camera, you'll have to spring for the accessory charger.

P1025168.jpg Back panel of the NX3000 is clean and straight-forward. The 3" LCD is not a touchscreen. The fn button brings up the quick menu, as shown in the illustration.

And finally, it's worth noting that the NX3000 is a fairly simple camera to operate. There are not a lot of dials and customizable buttons. So if you want a more complicated picture-taker, this might not be the camera for you. For me, there was plenty of control. And I've been just fine using the basic controls that photographers depend on 95 percent of the time.

Bottom Line

For about $400, Samsung NX3000 owners get a power zoom lens with one ED and four aspherical elements that sells for over $300 by itself. They also get a full copy of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, worth at least $100. And, as a bonus, have an APS-C sensor camera to use them with. And a handsome device at that.

In case you were wondering, the grip is not genuine leather (rather its textured plastic). But everything else about this camera is the real deal. Add one of the affordable prime lenses, and you have a light, compact, quality picture-taker that has good looks too.

The Samsung NX3000 camera with 16-50mm OIS power zoom indeed has a high nimblesoity rating.


Nimble Photographer Logo

The Samsung NX3000 has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

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"Layers" - TDS Photo Assignment 104

For the Nov. 2014 Photo Assignment, TDS shooters worked on many levels. See for yourself in our gallery, Layers. And which one will be the SizzlPix Pick of the Month?

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Photo by Victor Hermand. Victor writes, "With this month's assignment, I am happy to celebrate a year of virtual camera club participation. Thank you for all the fun!
Here is the recipe for this month's entry:

  • 1 layer of fresh snow
  • 1 layer of long exposure
  • 1 layer of painting with light
  • 1 layer of star trail
  • Multiple layers on my back
See all of the great images from this month's assignment by visiting the gallery, Layers.


Participate in This Month's Assignment

The Jan. 2015 assignment is "Backlighting." Details can be found on the Member Participation page. Deadline is Jan. 31, 2015. No limit on image size submitted.

Please follow the instructions carefully for labeling the subject line of the email for your submission. It's easy to lose these in the pile of mail if not labeled correctly. For example, the subject line for this month's assignment should be: "Photo Assignment: Jan. 2015." Also, if you can, please don't strip out the metadata. And feel free to add any IPTC data you wish (These fields in particular: Caption, Credit, Copyright, Byline), I use that for the caption info.

Gallery posting is one month behind the deadline. So I'm posting Nov. 2014 gallery at the end of Dec., the Dec. gallery will be posted at the end of Jan., and on and on.

Good luck with your January assignment, and congratulations to all of the fine contributors for November.


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My Most Popular Flickr Photo of 2014

I just love the fact that my most popular Flickr photo of 2014 was recorded during a spontaneous tutorial at the TDS SF Street Photography Workshop last May.

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We were scattered about on Pier 14 admiring the night view of the Bay Bridge. Some of the participants had already made some great photos. So I thought we'd do an unplanned tutorial on using Live Time on the Olympus OM-D E-M10.

Using a Mefoto DayTrip Tripod positioned on top of a covered refuse can, I composed the shot. For a little extra spice, I also enabled one of the Art Filters. I so enjoyed being part of the group huddled around the camera as we watched the image come to life.

A few days later, I posted the shot on my Flickr page, and it soon showed up on Explore. It just goes to show, you never know when you're going to capture that popular image...


Flickr Essential Training - I explore the entire Flickr universe, mobile and computer, in my lynda.com title, Flickr Essential Training. Stop by and take a look.

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This week on The Digital Story Photography Podcast: - 5 Tips for a Productive 2015, Ello, I'm Here! Windows Phone 8.1 Adventure - All of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Snapshot - Holiday Group Shots - We gathered, we ate, we laughed, and then we took a group shot.

Weekly Update - Nikon D750 flare problems? Here's why and what to do about them. (It's not your lens.) - Some number of D750 bodies have a problem with internal reflections -- it's not lens flare -- from the autofocus sensor that lead to strong flare and "shadow bands" appearing in the image. Source: Imaging Resource.

Also this week... Hackers Find that Fingerprints Can Be Stolen Through Public Photos - As the quality of cameras becomes better and better, there's a new security issue emerging that you may have not thought about: fingerprints being stolen from photos. Hackers are reporting that a person's fingerprints can be reproduced using public photos that show their hand. Source: PetaPixel.

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Story #1 - 5 Tips for a Productive 2015 - Each new year brings new opportunities. Are you ready to make the most of 2015?

  • Endeavor at least one new project (or product) each year.
  • Decide (and write down) how success will be measured.
  • Keep a running list of great ideas.
  • Reflect on what worked well, and what did not in 2014.
  • Get your house in order. Do you have the tools and resources lined up to take advantage of new opportunities?

Story #2 - Ello, I'm Here! - After a month of observation and posting, I have to say that I think Ello is interesting. In fact, I bought the T-Shirt... literally. Here's more about it. You can find me on Ello here.

Story #3 - Windows Phone 8.1 Adventure - I was curious about the state of Windows phone operating system, so I bought a Nokia 520 on the cheap so learn more about the state of Microsoft in the mobile universe. I share my report in the third feature story of the day. I've also published two articles: 24 Hours with a Windows 8 Smartphone and Has Windows Phone Come of Age for Photographers?

Virtual Camera Club News

Photo Assignment for December 2014 is "Frozen".

News from SizzlPix: Have your SizzlPix now, and with BillMeLater, make no payment until June. Great for selling SizzlPix of your photography and collecting your profit even before you pay. Also helpful for any photographer with an opportunity for gallery showings.

Red River Paper - Save 10 percent off your next order of inkjet paper and greeting cards. Good one per customer. Use discount code STORY10X - Ends 1/15/15.

And Finally...

If you haven't done so already, please post a review for The Digital Story Podcast in iTunes.

BTW: If you're ordering through B&H or Amazon, please click on the respective ad tile under the Products header in the box half way down the 2nd column on thedigitalstory.com. That helps support the site.

Download the Show

In addition to subscribing in iTunes, you can also download the podcast file here (33 minutes). You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

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

lynda.com - Learn lighting, portraiture, Photoshop skills, and more from expert-taught videos at lynda.com/thedigitalstory.

Red River Paper -- Keep up with the world of inkjet printing, and win free paper, by liking Red River Paper on Facebook.

SizzlPix! - High resolution output for your photography. You've never seen your imagery look so good. SizzlPix.com. SizzlPix! now is qualified for PayPal "Bill Me Later," No payments, No interest for up to 6 months, which means, have your SizzlPix! now, and pay nothing until June!

Want to Comment on this Post?

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

Say Ello to Me

I've been hanging out on Ello for a while, and there are definitely interesting people posting there.

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If you want a crash course in Ello, take a look at the post titled, 10 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Ello by Thomas Hawk. Thomas is a fan of this social network for creative types, and he shares some good info in his post.

If you want to look me up on Ello, I'm there as derrickstory. If you need an invite, just send me an email.

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24 Hours with a Windows 8 Smartphone

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Anyone who follows me knows that I'm a dyed-in-the-wool iOS user. But as I was looking around for an inexpensive smartphone to serve as a backup, I couldn't help but to notice that the Nokia Lumia 520 with Windows 8.1. It's an amazing deal at $29 with the "pay as you go" AT&T GoPhone Plan. So I decided to give it a try.

Now if you're thinking that this is going to be a "bash Windows" article, you're wrong. After just a day of use, I like what Microsoft has done with Windows Phone 8.1. And to be honest, I prefer it over my Android device.

Overall Impression

The latest OS from Microsoft is attractive and easy to learn. The Home screen displays tiles that represent your favorite apps. You can "pin" new apps to the screen and remove those you don't use often. There are three sizes to choose from, allowing you to design your Home screen to your liking.

Tap and hold on a tile and it pops forward allowing you to resize or remove it. At the bottom of your Home screen is an arrow icon that you can tap to see all of your apps in list form. You can add any of these to the Home screen by tapping and holding on it, then selecting "pin to start."

As for global navigation, at the bottom of the display is an arrow icon pointing left; that's the go back key. The Windows icon in the center is the home key. And the magnifying glass icon on the right takes you directly to Bing on Windows 8, and to Cortana if your have Windows 8.1 installed. The Nokia 520 can easily be updated to 8.1 over the air, and it's worth doing. Cortana is excellent, by the way.

Overall, I like the typography, design, and intuitive operation of Windows 8.1. It looks great.

Picture Taking and Editing

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Given that I have a very inexpensive smartphone, I tempered my expectations for the 5MP camera on the Nokia 520. And to be honest, it's about what I expected. It takes serviceable images with a minimum of fuss. The side button located near the bottom of the right edge of the phone activates the camera, whether the phone is on or off. Press it again and it takes a picture once the image is in focus.

Dibs the cat captured with the Nokia Lumina 520 smartphone..

This works great for quick snapshots. Otherwise, I'm using the Lumina Camera app that provides more options, such as settings for white balance, ISO, and exposure compensation. You can download the app for free from the Windows Store. The store is easy to use and has a surprising amount of software available.

Either way, the resulting file was 1456 × 2592 pixels and around 1.5 MBs in size. Since the Nokia 520 only has 8GBs on onboard memory, I added a 2GB micro SD card to store my pictures. If needed, I can swap that out anytime for a larger card. It's a good option to have.

As you would imagine, there are a host of image editing apps in the Windows Store. At the moment I'm using Adobe Photoshop Express. It works well and it's free. There are lots of adjustment sliders, auto fix, a before/after button, cropping, and even a handful of filters called "looks." If you have an Adobe ID, you can connect to your cloud storage too.

For those who want to take screenshots with a Windows 8.1 device, press the Volume Up and Power buttons at the same time, and the screen image will be saved to your Camera Roll.

Photographer Stuff

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I was pleasantly surprised to find a number of my favorite photographer apps in the Windows Store.

Instagram is there now as a beta. After a day of use, this early release seems just fine. I had no problems browsing images or adding new ones.

Dropbox hasn't release a native app yet (to my knowledge), but there's a handy third party program called CloudSix that connected easily to my Dropbox account. All the folders show up on the Nokia, and more importantly, I can send images from the device to my account.

Olympus released OI Wireless for Windows 8. It's not as full-featured as the iOS version. But it does allow you to download images from the camera to the phone. I tested it, and the images were transferred smoothly. Now all we need is the nifty camera control function.

Western Digital released WD 2go for Windows 8, that in theory allows me to connect to my wireless WD hard drive. The app can see the drive online, but gives me an error during the connection process. Maybe a fix is in the works?

Bottom Line

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The Nokia Lumia 520 is a great little device for the price. AT&T GoPhone options start at $25 a month. I haven't activated my SIM card, in part, because I haven't needed too. I'm using the Nokia on WiFi with no hiccups. In the field, I've turned on Personal Hotspot from the iPhone 5S, then shared that connection. If I ever need cellular with the Nokia 520, the SIM card is inserted, and I can activate it directly from the phone. I have the SIM information card in my wallet just in case.

As for Windows 8.1, it's delightful. I like it much better on the phone than I do on a computer. The operating system is attractive, intuitive, and snappy. The Home screen is great. I enjoy the interactive tiles a lot.

Will I ditch my iPhone for a Windows device? Nope. iOS 8 is still my top choice. But I would buy a Windows phone before an Android device... easily. I think it's the second best mobile OS available.

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More Help on Managing Your Mobile Photos

In my lynda.com title, Managing Your Mobile Photos, I cover a variety of backup solutions for both iOS and Android users. These tutorials will help you build the perfect backup solution for you, so that you never lose a single memory.

This week on The Digital Story Photography Podcast: - Top Stories of 2014, Lighting Q&A with Leah, Lens Technology, Instagram Cleans House - All of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Snapshot - Instagram Cleans House - My Instagram audience is organic. In other words, I haven't advertised or participated in any promotions to gain new followers. So I was a bit surprised when I lost close to 100 followers during the latest housecleaning. Here's a bit about that.

Weekly Update - Lens Technologies: Fluorine vs. Fluorite - Fluorine is a special coating that's applied to the surface of a lens that helps to repel things like dust, water, grease, and dirt. Fluorite refers to the mineral used to create the lens elements inside the lens. It's a monocrystal that has low chromatic aberration while being much lighter than traditional optical glass. Source: PetaPixel.

Also this week... The Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Gets an Official Price Tag and It's Lower Than We Thought - Tamron Japan has just released the official price tag for the lens, which will be $1,178. It is set to release just five days from now, on December 25. Source: FStoppers.com.

And finally: Apple Adds 7 Cameras with RAW Compatibility 6.02 Update - Canon PowerShot G7 X, Canon PowerShot SX60 HS, Fujifilm X100T, Nikon 1 J4, Olympus PEN Lite E-PL7, Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GM5, and the Sony Alpha ILCE-5100. Source: The Digital Story.

Story #1 - Top Stories for 2014 - What were the topics that caught the eye of TDS readers? Here's the top story for each month of this past year.

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  • January 2014 - 5 Tips for Shooting Sports with the Olympus OM-D E-M1
  • February 2014 - DIY Slide Digitizer with Olympus OM-D and Leica Projector
  • March 2014 - How to Restore Old Photos in Aperture
  • April 2014 - There's More to Lightroom 5pt4 than Mobile Sync
  • May 2014 - Dust Off Your Old Glass
  • June 2014 - Can't Decide Between Aperture and Lightroom? Use Both
  • July 2014 - How Does the Olympus 75-300mm Stack Up?
  • August 2014 - New Uses for Old Camera Bags
  • September 2014 - What Not to Shoot with a Typical Zoom at Sporting Events
  • October 2014 - Long Telephoto for Landscape Work
  • November 2014 - Yosemite Compatibility with Google Nik Collection
  • December 2014 - Panasonic 35-100mm f/4.0-5.6 Field Test

Story #2 - Photo Q&A #3 with Leah - "Side Lighting vs Front" - Leah was admiring a photo that had lots of texture, and she was wondering how the photographer achieved the effect. An interesting conversation ensues. 

Story #3 - New SizzlPix Winners! Congratulations to the follow virtual camera club members who participated in recent Photo Assignments and have been selected as SizzlPix Pick of the Month.

  • October 2014 - "Water" - Carl Shortt
  • September 2014 - "Shot From Behind" - Shelle Singer
  • August 2014 - "My Favorite Close Up" - Gary Legere

Virtual Camera Club News

Photo Assignment for December 2014 is "Frozen".

News from SizzlPix: Have your SizzlPix now, and with BillMeLater, make no payment until June. Great for selling SizzlPix of your photography and collecting your profit even before you pay. Also helpful for any photographer with an opportunity for gallery showings.

Red River Paper - Save 10 percent off your next order of inkjet paper and greeting cards. Good one per customer. Use discount code STORY10X - Ends 1/15/15.

And Finally...

If you haven't done so already, please post a review for The Digital Story Podcast in iTunes.

BTW: If you're ordering through B&H or Amazon, please click on the respective ad tile under the Products header in the box half way down the 2nd column on thedigitalstory.com. That helps support the site.

Download the Show

In addition to subscribing in iTunes, you can also download the podcast file here (34 minutes). You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

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

lynda.com - Learn lighting, portraiture, Photoshop skills, and more from expert-taught videos at lynda.com/thedigitalstory.

Red River Paper -- Keep up with the world of inkjet printing, and win free paper, by liking Red River Paper on Facebook.

SizzlPix! - High resolution output for your photography. You've never seen your imagery look so good. SizzlPix.com. SizzlPix! now is qualified for PayPal "Bill Me Later," No payments, No interest for up to 6 months, which means, have your SizzlPix! now, and pay nothing until June!

Want to Comment on this Post?

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

My Top 7 Instagram Photos of 2014

This was my favorite Instagram year to date. Now that I have a couple seasons under my belt, I'm feeling more at home in this square wonderland. To celebrate, here are the Top 7 photos from this year, based on likes... starting with #1.

#1 - Top Dog

What do you do with a brand new lens? Go out and take pictures. What began as a test for the new Olympus MSC ED-M 75 to 300mm II zoom lens for Micro Four Thirds ended up as my top Instagram image of the year.

Backlit Dog, Early Morning.

A photo posted by Derrick Story (@derrickstory) on

#2 - Passion Flower and Butterfly

I keep a camera by my desk when I'm working at the studio. One afternoon, I noticed this butterfly was attracted to the Passion Flower by the sliding door. Once again I used my new Olympus75 to 300mm II zoom lens to capture this year's second most popular photo.

Butterfly on passionflower, captured with Olympus 75-300mm zoom on the OMD-EM 10.

A photo posted by Derrick Story (@derrickstory) on

#3 - Fisheye Trees

While scouting in the Eastern Sierra for my Bodie Workshop in June 2015, I used the super affordable and fun $89 Olympus 9mm f8.0 fisheye body cap lens to photograph this Aspen grove.

#4 - Bay Bridge at Night

I was on assignment to cover the DJI Inspire-1 launch event on Treasure Island, San Francisco. But after the gathering broke up, I parked the car along the water's edge and photographed this night scene with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm/F2.8 zoom.

San Francisco skyline with Bay Bridge.

A photo posted by Derrick Story (@derrickstory) on

#5 - Eastern Sierra Plain

Outside of Bridgeport, CA is a beautiful open space that I captured with a Pentax K-5 and Cokin graduated filter. I was just having fun...

Oh, how I love open spaces and big skies.

A photo posted by Derrick Story (@derrickstory) on

#6 - Moon Shot

I've been admiring this rusty exhaust pipe for years when I came to work in the morning. It's right in my field of view as I walk along the path to the front door of the studio. This particular day, the moon was lined up perfectly for a fun composition. I pulled the OM-D out of my backpack and snapped this image before brewing my first cup of coffee.

Moon Shot.

A photo posted by Derrick Story (@derrickstory) on

#7 Boy in Tall Grass

It's incredible to me how many of my popular shots were captured with the Olympus75 to 300mm II zoom lens, but here we are again. This time I was having my morning coffee while camping at Sugarloaf Ridge in Northern California, and I spotted this boy in the tall grass illuminated by the morning sun.

Boy in Tall Grass, Morning Light

A photo posted by Derrick Story (@derrickstory) on

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Final Thoughts

I never really know what's going to catch someone's eye. And it's not something I think about while composing the picture. But as I look at this group of shots, I do seen some common themes. They tend to be simple compositions without too many elements. The longer lens certainly had its lion's share of winners. And even though I shoot many, many Instagram pictures with my iPhone 5S, not one them were big favorites this year.

Bottom line is this: I had a blast with Instagram in 2014. And I'm looking forward to a fun, creative 2015.

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