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Are Digital Filters Real Photography?

We see them everywhere. Digital filters for Instagram, Flickr, the iPhone, and even your compact and micro four thirds cameras. When applied during capture, we're able to instantly add an effect to our images - even if we're not completely certain on how that image will render.

And that's the issue, isn't it?

Hegenberger Ave, Oakland, CA "Hegenberger Road, Oakland, CA" Captured with a Canon PowerShot N in Creative Mode.

If you leave part of the creative process up to the camera, is that real photography? Well, let's look at what you are doing when you take a photo:

  • Finding the location
  • Composing the image
  • Timing the capture
  • Deciding what's good
  • Sharing your choice

So in other words, you've baked the cake. The creative frosting is the icing that sweetens it further.

In my photography workshops, I encourage participants to try new things on their cameras. Last weekend we played with Art Filters on the Olympus OM-D. I have shooters capture in RAW+Jpeg so they'll get both the original "untainted" RAW file and the filtered Jpeg. In all honesty, we got some amazing results.

My feeling is to first learn photography basics so you know what you're doing. Practice those basics to improve your skills. And when you feel like shaking things up a bit, play with filters. It's fun, it often spurs a new approach, and it doesn't hurt anyone.

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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.

The "Bag Within a Bag" Concept

You want to travel light. But at the same time, you probably don't want your gear bouncing around unprotected. The approach I use in these situations is called "bag within a bag." In fact, I'll be traveling with this setup tonight while attending an NBA game.

Bag Within a Bag

It works like this. You start with a lightweight shoulder bag that's comfortable, not too big, and looks good. In my case, I'm using the Walking Man Shoulder Bag. One of the reasons why I like this carrying solution is that it's so versatile. I can pack an iPad mini and a camera in it tonight, then switch to a water bottle and lunch tomorrow for an afternoon picnic.

The key to protecting my gear when I'm carrying photo equipment is to use protective pouches for the individual items. For example, my Olympus OM-D E-M5 with a 17mm f/1.8 lens will fit nicely in a Lowepro Dashpoint 30 pouch (shown on the right in gray).

Not only will the Dashpoint protect the OM-D in the shoulder bag, but it has its own strap and attachment system. So I can use it in a variety of configurations outside of this scenario. I'll also put an extra lens or two in a pouch, drop in my iPad mini, and I'm ready to have a great time.

By using "bag within a bag," I can travel light, look discreet, and have what I need for the moment. For instance, I'll have the Walking Man Shoulder Bag on my person all night tonight because it's so light. That means that it won't be stolen, spilled on, or crushed.

If I'm on assignment, then I have to take more serious gear and carrying solutions. But when my goal is to have a good time, yet be able to capture great images, I like to use this type of rig.


Nimble Photographer Logo

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

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olympus-stylus-1-front-square.jpg

If you're curious about how the new Olympus Stylus 1 performs with in-studio testing, then you might want to take a look at a recent post from Imaging-Resource.com, Olympus Stylus 1 First Shots posted: How do images taken with this high-end, long-zoom camera stack up?

Test images range from ISO 100 to ISO 12800, with both Jpegs and RAWs available. All of the metadata is intact, so you can get a very good idea of how this camera captures with a variety of settings.

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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.

This week on The Digital Story photography podcast: Is the iPad mini Retina worthy for photographers? On the Nimbleosity Report - A week with the Lollipod ultralight accessory stand.; From the Photo Help Desk - Are soft backgrounds possible with micro four thirds cameras? All of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Story #1 - Is the new iPad mini worthy for photographers? The much anticipated Retina display mini is now available. It sports a brand new display weighing in at 2048x1536 resolution at 326ppi. But it seems to generating its share doubts from the photography community. Starting with reports of possible burn-in on some models, to criticism about its more narrow color gamut.

I've tested a brand new iPad mini with Retina display against the original iPad mini, an iPad 3, and iPhone 5S. Here's the way things stack up.

  • The new iPad mini screen is brighter, sharper, and has better contrast than the original iPad mini.
  • Compared to the iPad 3 and the iPhone 5S, the new mini has less saturated colors, especially the reds and purples.
  • The color temperature for the new iPad mini is more pleasing to my eye than the original iPad mini, and to a small degree, the iPad 3.

I haven't been able to test the new iPad mini against the iPad Air. Reports are that the color gamut displayed by the Air is better than the new iPad mini. I would tend to believe this because the iPad 3 has a broader gamut too.

iPad Color Gamut Comparison Upper Left: iPad mini with Retina Display; Upper Right: iPad mini; Lower Left: iPad 3 with Retina Display; Lower Right: iPhone 5S with Retina Display.

So, is the iPad mini with Retina Display a worthwhile investment for photographers? I delve into the details in the first segment of today's show.

Lollipop with flash

Story #2 - The Nimbleosity Report: A week with the Lollipod ultralight accessory stand. In short, I really like this little guy. I've used it for a variety of tasks including camera stabilization, wireless flash, and even as a microphone stand. And, it only weighs 320 grams total weight and is 320 mm long when folded (12.5")

Story #3 - Are soft backgrounds possible with micro four thirds cameras? In short, yes . And I explain how in the third segment of today's show.

Photo Assignment for November is Critters.

SizzlPix! Holiday Special!

For The Digital Story Virtual Camera Club members ... If you'd like additional copies of for gifts, or SizzlPix! of any other of your images to make spectacular, amazing holiday gifts, order any two SizzlPix! to be shipped together, and we'll give you 25 percent off on the second one! Order any size up to a mind-boggling 48 by 72" Imagine -- six feet! and no sacrifice in resolution, luminance, and impact. Just put "TDS" in the comments space on the sizzlpix.com order page. Of course, you may apply the discount to any number of pairs. And free shipping to any US mainland address.

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 (31 minutes). You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

Monthly Photo Assignment

The November 2013 photo assignment is "Critters."

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.


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.

Podcast Sponsors

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

Make Your Photos Sizzle with Color! -- SizzlPix is like High Definition TV for your photography.

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

screen-retention-test.jpg

Among the early adopters for the latest iPad mini (now with Retina display), there have been a few reports of "screen burn in."

Essentially, this means that the screen will temporarily retain faint outlines of strong graphical elements even after you move on. In all honesty, the effect is very subtle and probably would not be noticed unless you were on the lookout for it (or had read about it online).

That being said, if you want to test your new iPad mini, here's a link to Marco Arment's image retention test. Interestingly enough, my excellent MacBook Pro 15" with Retina Display retained the squares for a good 20 seconds after I ran the test on my computer. Just saying...

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The Super Light, Nimble Water Bottle

Nimble Water Bottle in Backpack

Crafted by Wenger, this handsome 26-ounce water Nimble Water Bottle is perfect for an afternoon hike, bike ride, or as a companion while running errands in the car.

It measures 11" tall by 2.75" in diameter. The rugged screw top cap features a soft gasket to prevent water leakage when tightened. Even though the bottle is very light, it's resistant to dings and dents. Kit includes D-Ring attachment.

The Walking Man logo is printed on the front in black, and Wenger is printed on the back. The matte finish for the bottle is charcoal gray.

The Nimble Water Bottle fits long ways inside the Walking Man Shoulder bag.


The Nimble Water Bottle

This Stainless Steel Water Bottle has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

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Accurate color is particularly important in product photography. And it's easier to achieve spot-on hues than you may think. I show you how using Aperture 3.

This tutorial is from my Enhancing Product Photography with Aperture training on lynda.com. I provide tips on creating your own white balance target, then using that tool in post production.

More Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn more about Aperture, take a look at Aperture 3.3 Essential Training (2012), Using iPhoto and Aperture Together, and the latest, Portrait Retouching with Aperture. Also, visit our Aperture 3 Learning Center. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.

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Is the Lollipod Really Useful?

Lollipod with OM-D

Lolliod Fully Extended

When I saw the specs for the Lollipod portable stand -- 320 grams total weight and 320 mm folded (12.5"), I wondered if this 3-legged support would be useful in my everyday camera kit. So I ponied up the $56 to have one sent from the UK.

The big question with this nimble wonder hovers around its maximum load capacity: 420 grams, and its stability. Can it reasonably stabilize a camera, or is it just an accessory stand? After some testing, I have answers to that question.

Because of how the legs fold out, the Lollipod looks like a traditional light stand -- except lighter and far more colorful. Once you spread the legs, you can extend the device to its maximum height of 1130 mm (44") by pulling out its four telescoping sections. There are no locking levers. Everything stays in place using friction. It works very well, and the only question for me is how will the Lollipod fare after extended use.

These sections allow you to set the Lollipod in five measurable height positions. And I think understanding the five positions is the key to determining if this accessory is right for you.

Fully extended, in the 5th position, the Lollipod can be used as a light stand with a strobe or some other lighting accessory. I don't feel that its sturdy enough for photography, even with cameras weighing less than the recommended 420 grams. It's just not steady enough.

However, when moving the Lollipod down to the 4th position, the sway is reduced and it's stable enough for an iPhone (you'll need your own accessory iPhone mount). In the 3rd position, I felt comfortable using the Fujifilm X20 compact camera on the Lollipod. In the 2nd position (about 23" high), the OM-D E-M5 with a prime lens could be used. And in the 1st position, the lowest height (about 13.5" tall), I could stabilize the OM-D E-M1 with a small zoom lens.

Folded Lollipod

The head rotates on one axis approximately 100 degrees. It's the flip design that we've seen on other portable tripods. If you want to switch from landscape to portrait position, you attach the camera facing one way. And if you want to angle up and down, mount the camera accordingly. It's quite simple, but it works. And I like it because it's light.

So Is the Lollipod Useful?

In the 1st position with a working height of 13.5", you can mount most mirrorless cameras, compact cameras, and smart phones. The Lollipod is very stable in the 1st position, and it's far lighter than my Joby Gorillapod Focus.

As you extend the sections, the Lollipod becomes more of an accessory stand for portable strobes, LED lights, microphones, and other ancillary devices. Personally, I wouldn't use a camera on the stand beyond the 3rd position, about 31" tall.

Since I haven't found a versatile stand for my everyday camera kit that includes the OM-D E-M5, Fujifilm X20, off-camera flash, and microphone, I'm adopting my mint green Lollipod. It's super light (seriously), quite versatile, has an attractive design, and is reasonably priced.

As long as you don't push it beyond its design limits, I think most light-footed shooters will like the Lollipod and use it often. Recommended for nimble photographers.


Nimble Photographer Logo

This product 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.

This week on The Digital Story photography podcast: Camera battle: iPad Air vs. iPhone 5S; On the Nimbleosity Report - New Goodies to delight you; From the Photo Help Desk - Taking control of exposure. All of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Story #1 - Camera Battle: The iPad Air vs iPhone 5S - Apple's latest full sized tablet is a technological marvel. Among its many features, it includes a built-in iSight camera. How does it compare to the iPhone 5S? Before answering that, let's take a look at its feature highlights:

  • Weighs in at just one pound (28 percent lighter)
  • Super thin - Can apparently hide behind a pencil
  • 9.7 inch display with 2048-by-1536 resolution and over 3.1 million pixels
  • A7 chip featuring 64-bit architecture with an M7 coprocessor (M standing for motion)
  • 10-hour battery life
  • Improved WiFi with two antennas and MIMO (multiple-input multiple-output) technology
  • Dual microphones
  • 5-megapixel iSight camera

So, now, what about that 5 MP camera? How does it compare to the 8 MP version in the iPhone 5S. I cover that in the first story. (Thanks to Allyson Kazmucha at iMore for publishing the article, iPad Air vs iPhone 5s: iSight and FaceTime camera shootout!. It helped me with my research for this post.)

Story #2 - The Nimbleosity Report: Have you been enjoying the daily Journal entries?

Nimble Gift Set - Port

Plus, I've added a new hat to the store featuring beautiful Port and Beigh colors. But the real gems are the new Gift Sets: The Gift Set in Port features the new cap, Walking Man Shoulder Bag, two fine art Holiday greeting cards, and gift bag. All you have to do is sign one of the holiday cards, and you have an excellent gift for the Nimble Photographer or traveler in your life. And the best part is... the price is only $49.95. (We also have a Navy Gift Set with the original Walking Man cap.)

Story #3 - From the Photo Help Desk: what tips to you have to help me take more control over exposure?

  • Exposure lock
  • Exposure compensation
  • Manual exposure

I cover all three in today's third story.

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.

Monthly Photo Assignment

The November 2013 photo assignment is "Critters."

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.


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.

Podcast Sponsors

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

Make Your Photos Sizzle with Color! -- SizzlPix is like High Definition TV for your photography.

Want to Comment on this Post?

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

Be Your Own Second Shooter

One of the best jobs in the photo business is the second shooter. You don't have the "shot list pressure" that the primary photographer has, you can roam more freely, and the odds of capturing the big shot are much greater. I used to watch my second shooters with envy when I was a wedding photographer.

Now, I shoot alone mostly. But I've learned to be my own second shooter. Here's what I mean.

Catching Up to Dad "Catching Up to Dad," photo by Derrick Story.

I recorded this image after a paid assignment was completed. I was hired to photograph a family portrait for their holiday greeting card. We got the shot we needed, then let the kids run around for a bit in the park.

That's when I went into second shooter mode. I stayed down on the ground (actually on my belly in the wet grass) and photographed the boys as they burned off some excess energy. When it was time to go, I saw this image of the oldest trying to catch up to his dad.

I could have packed away my gear after the group shot. But instead, I went into second shooter mode. And by doing so, I often get shots that I would have otherwise missed.


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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