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Packing Up the Nimble Portrait Studio

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Most of my portrait work is outdoors. But there are those assignments where I need to set up indoors. With my portable studio kit, I'm able to fit all of the equipment in the back seat of car. Here's how I do it.

At the heart of my set up is the Square Perfect Background System ($65) that's quite sturdy, yet folds up into a single over-the-shoulder bag. I also like the Lowel Ego Digital Imaging Fluorescent 2 Light Kit (kit is $269 with stands and clamps).

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I then add a few backdrops, stool, reflector, tripod, and of course my Lowepro backpack with camera gear and Speedlights. When it's all folded up and ready for transport, the studio looks like this.

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Now all I need is a 10'x12' space, and of course, the subject!


Nimble Photographer Logo

This studio set up has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

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First Look at the SOCAM Action Camera

A new entry in the action cam arena is the SOCAM UltiMate, due for release in April.

Highlights include a 330 degree rotatable lens, gyro-image stabilization, 1080p video, slow motion (WVGA 120 fps), time lapse, photo burst (16MP 10fps), simple two-button design, versatile camera mounts, built-in WiFi, and an affordable price. (I heard around $249 with goodies so you don't have to spend extra on accessories. That number still needs to be confirmed.) [Update! I have a confirmed price of $269 US that includes the camera, water-tight housing, accessory clips, battery, and USB cord.]

socam-in-housing.jpg SOCAM in water-tight housing. I shot with it in a rain storm with no issues at all. Camera is easy to remove from housing when it isn't required. There's also connectors for two additional batteries in the housing. Photos by Derrick Story

The unit I'm testing measures 3.25" wide by 3.5" tall in the water-tight housing. The camera itself with no housing measures 2.75" wide by 2.75" tall. The rotating lens feature is handy. You can mount the camera as needed, then rotate the lens for the best composition. You can't, however, rotate the lens when the camera is in the water tight housing.

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There are four ports: USB, external mic, HDMI, and an accessory port. A standard tripod socket is on the side of the camera. That socket is also used for the included accessory mounts. Video files are written to a micro SD card in the .mp4 format. Quality was quite good in initial testing.

You can connect the camera wirelessly to your iPhone via its built-in WiFi and free SOCAM iOS app. I was able to get the two devices talking, but I need a bit more testing before sharing an opinion about the tandem's performance.

I'll have more to report after further use. But if you're looking for an affordable action cam, you might want to keep an eye out for reviews on the SOCAM after it's released in April.

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This week on The Digital Story photography podcast: Sony a7R full review tops the Weekly Update; Build Your Own DIY Slide Digitizer; From the Screening Room: Julieanne Kost on Photoshop CC Essential Training; and on the Nimbleosity Report: How I dropped my iPhone from the top of the bleachers, and what happened after that - All of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Story #1 - The Weekly Update: Full Review of the Sony a7R (DP Review) "When it comes down to it, the Sony a7R's image quality, created by a combination of its high-resolution sensor and premium quality optics, make it an impressive image-maker." Next, Nikon facing potential class action lawsuit due to D600 sensor oil issues (Imaging-Resource). And finally, we've got some specs and price information for the upcoming Pentax 645D CMOS Medium Format camera. It's going to cost about $10,000 and sport a 40-50-megapixel sensor (PetaPixel).

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Story #2 - How to make a high quality slide digitizer with an old projector and a new camera. I'm getting excellent results with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and the Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro lens coupled to an old Leica P 150 projector. I cover why I chose to go this route, and how I assembled it. There'sd also a companion article titled DIY Slide Digitizer with Olympus OM-D and Leica Projector with how-to pictures and sample scans.

Original image captured in 1992 on Fuji 100 slide film.

Story #3 - From the Screening Room - Julieanne Kost: Photoshop CC Essential Training. This week's featured artist is one of the best Photoshop instructors I've ever listened to. Julieanne is an excellent photographer, so she knows the capture side of the equation too. And when she teaches, she's precise and adds plenty of wit and humor.

You can watch Julieanne 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 photography titles, plus every other topic in the library.

Story #4 - The Nimbleosity Report - The Story of my Dropping an iPhone 5S from the top of the gym bleachers.

Virtual Camera Club News

Photo Assignment for February 2014 is Smartphone.

The SizzlPix! Head to Head Challenge

Order a SizzlPix! using the image from which you've already made your best print. If, when you receive your SizzlPix!, you don't feel that it's the best version of your image ever, return yours within 30 days for a full refund.

Oh, and BTW: 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!

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 (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.

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

olympus-share-wifi.png

Like many seasoned shooters, I have a library of slides that I'm not using, simply because they haven't been digitized. Thanks to inspiration from Victor Kaijser Bots, who converted a slide projector into an automated digitizer, I've created my own high quality rig with components that I had on hand.

My digitizer is a single-shot system that emphasizes quality over speed. I've dabbled with these projects in the past. The problem was always mediocre quality because of cheap optics.


Olympus Image Share app running on an iPhone 5S controlling the E-M1 that's digitizing the slides in the projector.


This rig solves that problem by using an Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro lens with an Olympus OM-D E-M1. The Olympus 60mm has excellent edge-to-edge sharpness, plus a small barrel diameter to correctly couple with the slide projector. I simply remove the lens that came with the projector, then point the 60mm optic toward the illuminated slide.

slide-projector-setup.jpg I remove the lens from the Leica P 150 slide projector and point the macro 60mm toward the image. I used the Olympus Image Share WiFi app to control the OM-D E-M1.

The trick to making this rig work is to install a diffuser between the slide and the light source. This creates even illumination that's ideal for digitizing the image. I cut an piece of translucent plastic that was originally used for a portable light box that no longer worked. (I usually take apart broken items and salvage parts before discarding them.) I sandwich the diffuser with the slide and insert them into the single viewing slot on the projector.

slide-projector-diffuser.jpg The diffuser (on the right) is placed between the light source and the slide.

I used the Olympus Image Share app on my iPhone to focus and trip the shutter on the camera. This is really nice because I get a preview on the iPhone and have access to camera controls, without have to fiddle with the camera itself. Plus, I don't jar the E-M1 when initiating the exposure.

Riding the Train

The resulting digital images were very faithful to the originals, and quite easy to scan. This portrait was captured on a train in Scotland in 1992 with a Contax 167MT and Fuji 100 slide film.
The picture below was captured with the same equipment, then converted to B&W using Nik Sliver Efex Pro.

Holyrood House, Scotland

I could further automate this process by figuring out a way to mount the diffuser in the slide projector without damaging the projector itself. I still want to be able to present traditional slide shows with the Leica P 150. But I can tackle that challenge another day. For now, I'm having a blast converting images from my past and adding them to my Aperture library.

Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn more about Aperture, which is what I use to image edit and catalog my digitized slides, check out my Aperture 3.3 Essential Training (2012) on lynda.com. Also, take a look at our Aperture 3 Learning Center. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.


The Digital Story on Facebook -- discussion, outstanding images from the TDS community, and inside information. Join our celebration of great photography!


When you're out shooting with your interchangeable lens camera, remember to pull out your iPhone and snap a photo too. Why? Because your iPhone will log the location data that you can easily transfer to the corresponding images in Aperture.

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In my latest Macworld Magazine article, Geotagging the easy way with Aperture 3.5, I explain three ways to add location data to the images you already have in your Aperture library.

I love the iPhone method. It's so easy. But if you haven't captured location data with it, you can use the geotagging tools built in to Aperture to accomplish the same goal. It's particularly fun for vacation and business trips.

Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn more about Aperture, check out my Aperture 3.3 Essential Training (2012) on lynda.com. Also, take a look at our Aperture 3 Learning Center. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.


The Digital Story on Facebook -- discussion, outstanding images from the TDS community, and inside information. Join our celebration of great photography!


One of the reasons why I often shoot RAW+Jpeg is to take advantage of in-camera effects or film simulation modes. The images with effects are saved as Jpegs. The master files are in the RAW format. By capturing those RAW files too, I have fully editable images to further experiment with further if I wish, especially if I don't like the way the Jpegs turned out.

00-both-versions.jpg Both images captured at the same time with a Fujifilm X20 compact camera. Picture on the left is the RAW file, and on the right is a B&W recorded using Fujifilm's Film Simulation mode. By shooting RAW+Jpeg, I get both files. Photos by Derrick Story.

When it's time to upload these files to Aperture, I choose "Both - Separate Originals" for my RAW+Jpeg pairs. I *do not* recommend using the other Pairs settings because the files get linked together. This proves to be a problem up the road.

01-import-as-separates.jpg Import as "Both - Separate Originals". Don't be fooled that the RAW files are B&W at this point. Aperture is just reading the embedded Jpegs.

Once the files are in my Aperture library, I select Auto Stack (Stacks > Auto Stack) and set the timing to 0:01. This creates a pairing for each of my compositions - one Jpeg with one Raw.

If I want to tidy up the library, I can Close All Stacks (Stacks > Close All Stacks), and I only see one version of each pair. You even have control over which version by using the Pick command.

03-both-raws-and-jpegs.jpg Jpegs and RAWs now side by side in Stack mode.

By using this technique, I'm more willing to experiment with the interesting effects included in my camera because I will always have the RAW file too. Use this technique to explore the unique features of your camera.

Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn more about Aperture, check out my Aperture 3.3 Essential Training (2012) on lynda.com. Also, take a look at our Aperture 3 Learning Center. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.


The Digital Story on Facebook -- discussion, outstanding images from the TDS community, and inside information. Join our celebration of great photography!


leica-slide-projector.jpg

I just read a terrific article on PetaPixel about converting a slide projector into an automated digitizer. And it got me thinking... what can I do with mine?

I have a wonderful Leica P150 projector that I loved in the film days. It's still in perfect shape and projects beautiful images. But I'm not using it.

So I started thinking about this. I could use the P150 to project images in the studio for interesting composites with live subjects. I could take a whack at converting it into a slide digitizer. The projector could be an interesting light source for photo projects.

I have the Leica projector out on my workbench. So I'll keep toying around with ideas. If something comes to mind for you, please share the idea on our TDS Facebook page.

Want to Comment on this Post?

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

This week on The Digital Story photography podcast: the Panasonic GH4 tops the weekly update; The inside scoop on c't Digital Photography Magazine; From the Screening Room: David Hobby on The business of photography; and on the Nimbleosity Report: Pro HDR for iOS - All of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Story #1 - The Weekly Update: Panasonic announces 4K-capable Lumix DMC-GH4 (DP Review) Are you ready for 4K video? (4K has a horz. resolution of 4,000 pixels compared to 1,920 for HD). Speaking of Panasonic, looks like Olympus is using their sensors, not Sony's in the flagship OM-D E-M1 (Imaging-Resource). And finally, it looks like the Nikon D4s will be officially released soon. The body alone will run you about $6,000 (PetaPixel).

Story #2 - The Inside Scoop on c't Photography Magazine. It all began with a conversation in Germany in 2012. More than a year later, I'm an Associate Editor with this technical photo magazine based in Germany. (You can subscribe for $39.96 using this special URL.) Here's what I'll be doing for this terrific publication.

david-hobby-lynda.jpg

Story #3 - From the Screening Room - David Hobby: Insights on Building a Photography Business. This week's featured artist is also known as Strobist. In this movie titled, "Determining your career compass point," David talks about his own career evolution and how establishing a compass point facilitates the process.

You can watch David 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 photography titles, plus every other topic in the library.

Story #4 - Pro HDR ($1.99) for iOS. High Dynamic Range photography is fun, but it's also a fair amount of work... that is unless you're using Pro HDR on your iPad or iPhone. I explain why in this fourth segment today.

Virtual Camera Club News

Photo Assignment for February 2014 is Smartphone.

The SizzlPix! Head to Head Challenge

Order a SizzlPix! using the image from which you've already made your best print. If, when you receive your SizzlPix!, you don't feel that it's the best version of your image ever, return yours within 30 days for a full refund.

Oh, and BTW: 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!

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 (30 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.

Want to Comment on this Post?

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

Kanex iDevice Stand

The Kanex Foldable iDevice Stand is a nifty accessory for iPhone and iPad toting photographers who need a very light, foldable platform for viewing content and taking pictures. Kanex is selling a two-pack directly from their site for $19.95

I've tested the iDevice with the iPhone and iPad mini. It works great for both. (I'm not sure that I'd trust it with a full size iPad, although the manufacturer says it can handle it just fine.) The stand can be positioned at three different angles. It uses rubber non-slip feet and a bumper to keep items from sliding around, even on an airplane folding table. When not in use, it folds flat, taking up virtually no space in your carry-on or shirt pocket.

kanex-folding-stand.jpg

The stand accommodates your phone or iPad in both the horizontal and vertical positions. You'll have to use landscape mode if you want plug-in power, such as using your iPhone as an alarm clock at night. There's no way to plug in the connector when the phone is placed vertically in the stand. This is probably the only drawback to the folding design.

Overall, I'm satisfied with the Kanex stand. It's light, very clever, and something that I'll keep stashed in my camera bag. I'm sure it will save the day sometime soon.


Nimble Photographer Logo

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

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

olloclip-pro-photo-adapter.jpg

The olloclip Quick-Flip Case + Pro-Photo Adapter design has its pros and cons. On the negative side, it doesn't offer much protection against drops. The hard plastic shell is thin and feels a little slippery. And the $48 price tag seems a bit high compared to the competition.

But there is a plus side to this rig, and that's the Pro-Photo Adapter that's included with the case. As it turns out, even though I like the convenience of using olloclip lenses with the flip function of the case, it's been the tripod adapter that I've found most useful. It's actually the real reason I still have the olloclip case on my iPhone.

olloclip-flip-case.jpg

I like the Pro-Photo Adapter because it takes up very little room in my pocket or bag, is super light, has two threaded sockets to make vertical and horizontal orientations easy, includes a "cold shoe" adapter, and it mounts in seconds.

Because it has a fairly low profile, there are days when I just leave it on (especially if I plan on shooting a lot.)

The Bottom Line

If you shoot often with olloclip lenses and want an easy way to attach your iPhone to a tripod, the olloclip Quick-Flip Case + Pro-Photo Adapter is worth consideration. Personally, I think you'll also need a more robust case for when you're not in photography mode. And I do think the price is a bit high for the Quick-Flip Case.

But I do like that tripod adapter...


Nimble Photographer Logo

The olloclip Quick-Flip Case + Pro-Photo Adapter has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

Want to Comment on this Post?

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