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I've been testing the robust Samsung Pro SDHC UHS-1 memory card in all of my SD-compatible cameras. These cards are relatively new, and should become easier to find in the coming months. (Note, link here appears to be for the microSD version even though the SDHC model is shown in the picture.)

First and foremost, the Samsung cards tackle a big problem with SD memory: ruggedness. Their robust build inspires confidence. Samsung says these new SD cards are: "Built to Last: Waterproof, Temperature Proof, X-ray Proof and Magnetic Proof." In other words, your pictures should be safe.

The speed is good too. Read data up to 90MB/s and write up to 80MB/s. The Samsung cards are also rated UHS-1 (Ultra High Speed, a new technology that enables higher bus interface transfer rates) and Class 10.

Inside the card there's a top quality controller and original memory designed and manufactured by Samsung. So you don't have to worry about substandard components that are often found in off-brand memory cards.

As of this writing, I haven't been able to find this particular card at my normal retail outlets. But I suspect they will be surfacing soon. And when they do, you might want to give 'em a test. I'll be taking mine to Europe next month.

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Olympus E-M1 and the Samsung NX30

This week on The Digital Story photography podcast: Samsung NX30 - Does a bigger sensor justify a larger camera?; a PDF Library for Technically Minded Photographers (with free downloads); and Shooting Better with the iPhone 5s - All of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Story #1 - The Weekly Update: The top story this week is the Get a FREE copy of onOne Software's Perfect Effects 8 Premium Edition ($99.95 value). All you have to do is provide you name and email to download. Works with Lightroom, Aperture, Photoshop, and as a standalone. Requires 8GBs of RAM. Terrific software! (Source: onOne Software)

In other news, Olympus OM-D E-M10 Full Review on Imaging-Resource.com. I've fallen in love with this little camera. This review highlights many of the reasons why.

And finally, Canon releases report on consumer fraud saying that 18 percent have unknowingly purchased counterfeit consumer electronics. It's an interesting study worth perusing. (Source Canon USA)

Story #2 - Samsung NX30: Does a bigger sensor justify a larger camera? Holding the NX30 feels more like handling a small DSLR than a mirrorless ILC. But you also get that beautiful APS-C sensor. Is it worth it?

Here are a few my favorite features on the NX30:

  • 20.3 MP APS-C CMOS sensor
  • Tiltable electronic viewfinder and articulated 3" LCD screen
  • WiFi and NFC connectivity
  • Includes Lightroom 5
  • Currently available for $799 with 18-55mm zoom

But how does it stack up compared to its micro four thirds competitors? I discuss during this segment of the show.

Story #3 - New Online Resource for Technically Minded Photographers. Our friends over at c't Digital Photography Magazine have just launched a PDF Library with free article downloads. Topics include: Managing Multiple Cameras with Lightroom, Micro Four Thirds Lens Review, Image Processing in 32-bit Mode, Time-lapse Photography, How to Shoot Gigapixel Images, Build your Own Studio Gear, and more.

As part of this Grand Opening, you can receive a 20 percent discount for an annual subscription, that includes both paper and electronic versions of the magazine.

Story #4 - From the Screening Room - Shooting with the iPhone 5s with Ben Long. Do you have an iPhone but feel like you aren't getting the most out of its built-in camera? If that's the case, this week's Screening Room selection is for you.

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 other design, photography, and computing titles, plus every other topic in the library.

Virtual Camera Club News

New SizzlPix Winners! Congratulations to Mike Boening (Dec 2013 High ISO #93), Kyle Howard (Jan 2014 White # 94), and David Blanchard (Feb 2014 Smartphone #95). You are the latest class of SizzlPix Pick of the Month photographers.

Workshop News: I've sent out invites to the Reserve List for the Fall Color with Safari West Workshop, October 24-26, 2014. You can learn about them both, plus request a reservation form by visiting the TDS Workshops Page and using the "Send Me Info" box.

Photo Assignment for May 2014 is "Around the House".

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.

Listen to the Podcast

In addition to subscribing in iTunes, you can also download the podcast file here (32 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 August!

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If you have a special event on the horizon, such as a prom, graduation ceremony, or wedding, you may want to brush up on your outdoor portrait technique. Here are a few tips to help you capture the beauty of the moment.

outdoor-couples-shot-2.jpg "Ready for the Prom" by Derrick Story. Olympus OM-D E-M10, 14-42mm lens, fill flash.

  • Use fill flash. Whether you're shooting with a compact camera, mirrorless, or DSLR, fill flash adds a twinkle to the eyes and smooths out contours on the face.
  • Learn flash exposure compensation. Every camera has it, and by accessing this control, you can dial down the intensity of the flash for more natural looking portraits.
  • Position the camera even, or slightly below, the eye level of your subjects. This becomes easier when your camera has a tilting LCD screen. Tripods are also excellent aids in maintaining a good camera position.
  • Practice before the event. Chances are that you will only have a minute or two to get the shot at the event. People like photographers who work quickly. Practicing ahead of time facilitates speed during the actual shoot.
  • Remind the subjects to look directly at the camera lens, not at you. For these types of portraits, eye contact with the camera often produces the most engaging results.
  • Watch your background. Choose an area free of distracting elements such as power lines, white fences, and reflecting cars.
  • Add a fun shot to the mix. Yes, you need to capture the straight portrait. But once you have that, add a fun shot too. This is the bonus picture that's often used for Facebook and Instagram. And the subjects just love having it.
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  • Warm up the white balance. Overcast days and shady locations can lead to cool skin tones, which aren't very flattering - not to mention that the flash itself is a cool light. You can offset these effects by changing your white balance setting to cloudy. It will help warm up those skin tones.
  • Fine tune the best shots in post production. Simple adjustments such as white balance, fill light, and vignette, make a big improvement with the final image.

If possible, get the images to the subjects the next day. That way they can enjoy them while in the afterglow of the event.

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PhotoHelpDesk.com is a down-to-earth resource for curious minded photographers. Submit your questions, and we'll post an answer.

For the March 2014 Photo Assignment, TDS shooters set their exposure dial to "bracket" and chased after the perfect high dynamic range image. See for yourself in our gallery, HDR. And which one will be the SizzlPix Photo Assignment Pick of the Month?

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"I hadn't been over to the Cocoa Pier in a while," writes Ed Rosack. "When I checked The Photographers Ephemeris, I noticed that the sunrise azimuth lined up almost exactly with the pier. I made several photos. I like this one best - a perfect place to use HDR." Photo by Ed Rosack. See all of the great images from this month's assignment by visiting the HDR gallery page.


Participate in This Month's Assignment

The May 2014 assignment is "Around the House." Details can be found on the Member Participation page. Deadline is May 31, 2014. 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: May 2014." 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 March 2014 gallery at the end of April, the April gallery will be posted at the end of May, and on and on.

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


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iPad for Digital Photographers

If you love mobile photography like I do, then you'll enjoy iPad for Digital Photographers-- now available in print, Kindle, and iBooks versions.

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If you can light and photograph a perfume bottle, you can shoot just about any product. The great news is, that the secret is technique, not expensive equipment.

In this video tutorial, Andrew Boey teaches you how to use the Zebra-Flag and the M-Flag to capture Clinique-styled product shots. You can make these light modifiers yourself with basic materials such as white cardboard, black velvet, and reflective mylar.

If you shoot any type of product photography, I think you'll find this tutorial helpful.

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Join me on my Instagram site as I explore the world of mobile photography. And now Instagram features 15-second movies too.

What's in Your Bag, Derrick Story?

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I have three basic kits that I keep packed and ready to go on a moment's notice. Personally, I like complete sets. What do I mean by that? I think each bag should have its own memory cards. batteries, filters, and other accessories.

Far too many times I've suffered from the "it's in the other bag syndrome." This was especially true for polarizing filters, which are a bit pricey. But once you buy 'em, you have 'em forever. Over the years I've managed to build out three complete kits.

On the new My Gear page that we've added to The Digital Story, I've listed the contents of these three complete camera kits: DSLR, Everyday Mirrorless, and Spectator Mirrorless. They are designed for specific types of situations.

The DSLR kit is still my "go-to" bag for commercial assignments, portraits, and situations where I need the absolutely best lowlight performance. I'm using Canon bodies and lenses for this work.

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But I don't need to lug this gear around with me all the time, every day. So when I walk out the door in the morning, I'm carrying a smaller Lowepro messenger bag with an Olympus OM-D E-M1, a couple lenses, MeFOTO tripod with Joby head, and an iPad mini. It's amazing how much work I can accomplish with this light and nimble camera kit. And I'm using it more and more, with great results, for event photography too.

And finally, when I go to sporting events and concerts as a spectator without a media pass, I have to adhere to the very strict bag restrictions. So I have a special kit using the Walking Man Shoulder Bag with an Olympus OM-D E-M10 and my iPad mini for these situations. I've never been turned away at security carrying this bag, and I've captured many memorable images using this gear.

You can see the contents for all three kids on the new My Gear page. And I will keep it updated as my equipment evolves.

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twitter.jpg Follow me on Twitter

You can edit portraits on an iPad with Photoshop-like power and the ease tapping and pinching with Facetune by Lightricks ($2.99).

With the tip of your finger, you can whiten teeth, smooth skin, remove blemishes, adjust tones, add filters, and even frame your subject. The final version can be saved to your Camera Roll or shared online using any of the popular social network sites.

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After just a few minutes of editing, I felt comfortable with the app. One technique that I think is important, is to magnify your view when using the retouching tools. This provides more precise application of the effect. There is an erasure tool if you overstep.

I also advise checking your work as you go with the before/after view. This helped me realize when I had become a bit heavy-handed with my edits.

Facetune is an incredible value. And if you shoot and share portraits, this is certainly an app you want on your iPad.

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Join me on my Instagram site as I explore the world of mobile photography. And now Instagram features 15-second movies too.

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This week on The Digital Story photography podcast: Leica's Solid Aluminum T Mirrorless Camera; Top 5 Shooting Tips for Compelling Photos; TDS Site Refresh; and the latest SizzlPix Pick of the Month Winners - All of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Story #1 - The Weekly Update: The top story this week is the Leica T mirrorless camera. "It features a 16MP APS-C sensor. Two lenses - an 18-56mm F3.5-5.6 and a 35mm equivalent 23mm F2 prime have been announced alongside the camera. The camera is milled from a solid billet of aluminum and features a touch screen that the company says uses a user-friendly operating concept. The camera body (available in black or silver) is priced at $1,850. The 18-56mm zoom costs $1,750, while the 23mm F2 prime will set you back $1950. The optical viewfinder has an MSRP of $595." (Source DP Review)

In other news, Fuji will Release a 16mm f/1.4 by the End of 2014. "The mysterious "High Speed Wide Angle Lens" on Fuji's lens roadmap is apparently going to be a 16mm f/1.4 -- no ifs, ands or buts about it." (Source: PetaPixel).

And finally, Panasonic GH4 Review on the Luminous Landscape. Michael Reichmann writes, "Am I getting one? In fact we're getting two, and likely a third as well, replacing our GH3 cameras which we use for all of our video productions. I also expect one of the GH4's to become my daily shooter for both stills and video, as well as serving as Chris' workhorses for video production. No, I'm not kissing goodby to my Olympus E-M1, but let's just say that for some purposes I'll be getting a lot cuddlier with the GH4."

Story #2 - Top 5 Shooting Tips. I've just finished a series of speaking engagements, and I thought I'd share the top 5 tips from those talks.

  • Use flash exposure compensation in tandem with regular exposure combination
  • Keep horizon lines very low, or very high
  • Shoot your night scenes at twilight
  • Introduce motion into your shots - moving lights, panning, and slow shutter speeds
  • Use darks and lights to add punch to your compositions

Story #3 - From the Screening Room - Colorizing Black-and-White Photographs using Photoshop with John Derry. John shows you how to take old B&W photos and apply his techniques for colorization. In a sense it's what Ted Turner did to many of our B&W classic movies.

You can watch John 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 other design, photography, and computing titles, plus every other topic in the library.

Story #4 - The TDS Site Design Refresh - We've integrated The Nimble Photographer, Photo Help Desk, Instagram, Flickr, and Facebook into a refreshed look for The Digital Story. Plus I've added a new My Gear page to the top nav bar. Here are some insights to how the new site works.

Virtual Camera Club News

New SizzlPix Winners! Congratulations to Mike Boening (Dec 2013 High ISO #93), Kyle Howard (Jan 2014 White # 94), and David Blanchard (Feb 2014 Smartphone #95). You are the latest class of SizzlPix Pick of the Month photographers.

Workshop News: I've sent out invites to the Reserve List for the Fall Color with Safari West Workshop, October 24-26, 2014. You can learn about them both, plus request a reservation form by visiting the TDS Workshops Page and using the "Send Me Info" box.

Photo Assignment for April 2014 is "Flower Power".

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.

Listen to the Podcast

In addition to subscribing in iTunes, you can also download the podcast file here (37 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 August!

Want to Comment on this Post?

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

One technique that I learned from Ansel Adams was the way he managed darks and lights. Sometimes he would build the picture around a very dramatic shadow or highlight, and other times he would layer those tones like pastry chef layers a cake.

Ever since those days of studying his work, I keep an eye peeled for strong dark or light areas to build my compositions around. I feel like they help me avoid the flat "postcard look" that happens when the tones are too even.

fences-1024.jpg First, I wanted to use that horizontal line of dark trees to anchor the composition. Then take advantage of the darks and lights created by the clouds in the sky. Photo by Derrick Story.

Once you find an element to build your composition around, the camera will probably accentuate it more than your eyes are seeing. Plus keep in mind that you can further play with it in post production to really bring out the darks and lights.

This is easier with morning and afternoon light, because it's directional. Midday scenics are going to be flat, pretty much no matter what you do, unless you're in a situation where the high position of the sun is creating shadows from trees. And even then it's a difficult task to make that look flattering.

Keep this technique in mind the next time you're out shooting landscape. Look for those layers of darks and lights to build your composition around.

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Join me on my Instagram site as I explore the world of mobile photography. And now Instagram features 15-second movies too.

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Job 1 as a spectator at a sporting event is to enjoy the game and support your team. But if it's an important event, such as an NBA playoff game, you may want to come away with some momentos too. As photographers, those souvenirs most likely will be pictures from the game.

Chances are, that unless you're packing a fast telephoto lens and have a media pass, you're probably not going to get a close-up of your favorite superstar. On the other hand, even with a compact camera, you can document the event in a way that will have value for you in the years to come.

cheering_0169.jpg By combining fill-flash with nighttime scene mode, you can capture both the crowd and the ambience of the arena. Photos by Derrick Story.

I think the crowd is a big part of the story at these events. And I do have access to them since I'm sitting right in the middle of it all. So why not go with that and use the arena as a backdrop for fan shots?

My advice in these situations, is to go to "nighttime mode" in your camera's scene settings, then turn on the fill-flash. All of these images, for example, were captured with a Canon PowerShot S110 in "Handheld NightScene" mode. I typically set the exposure compensation to -2/3 to get a good balance of bright areas in the arena with the flash itself.

cheering_0166.jpg Same settings as above, except this time the fill flash is turned off.

As you can see in the shot above, the feeling is totally different when the fill-flash turned off. You may like it better, or not. But I think the non-fill-flash image doesn't have the vibrancy of the shot above it, where the flash is turned on.

Regardless of which approach you take, it's good to understand how both techniques work, so you can choose the one that's right for you and the situation.

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