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This week on The Digital Story: Photography Mashup, "Tools or Toys," joined by the hosts from Improve Photography and the Digital Photo Experience.

This week I lead the conversation with Jim and Dustin from Improve Photography and Rick and Juan from Digital Photo Experience for a podcast mashup where we tackle the burning question: Are these tools or toys that we desire?

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (48 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

Monthly Photo Assignment

The May 2013 photo assignment is "Food".

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

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.

Need a New Photo Bag? Check out the Lowepro Specialty Store on The Digital Story and use discount code LP20 to save 20% at check out.

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

Wouldn't it be great to clean up your iPhoto library so that you have all the good stuff, but none of the cruft? Well, with the help of Aperture, you can. (This approach works for tidying an Aperture library too!)

In this 3-minute movie that I created for my latest lynda.com title, Using iPhoto and Aperture Together, I demonstrate how to use the organizational tools in Aperture to clean an iPhoto or Aperture library. And it's not difficult (the movie is only 3 minutes...)

Take a look, then tidy up your photo workspace.

More Aperture/iPhoto Tips and Techniques

To learn more about using Aperture and iPhoto together, visit my Using iPhoto and Aperture Together 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.

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Waka Waka Solar Powered Lamp and Mobile Phone Charger

The Waka Waka Solar Charger combines two functions I often need when working in the field: unlimited portable light and the ability to recharge my iPhone.

Even though it's only about 4" long, the Waka Waka houses 8 high efficiency solar cells, a battery, two LED lights, USB charging out, and mini USB charging in (for when you don't have solar available). The dual lamps have three brightness settings: 100 percent output that runs for 20 hours off a full charge, 50 percent for 40 hours, and 25 percent brightness that's good for 100 hours. Even at 25 percent output, you can read a book. Impressive.

Waka Waka Folded The Waka Waka is very compact and extremely light.

The light can be positioned using the built-in stand, mounted on a bottle for elevated light, or hung via a string. I've used it in my tent and on a camping table. And thanks to the multi-positionable stand, I can angle the light exactly how I need it.

To fully charge the Waka Waka via solar takes about 8 hours. But most of the time I only depleted 25 or 50 percent, requiring just a few hours to charge it back up. There are four green LEDs on the top of the unit that display its current amount of charge.

Waka Waka Charging Recharging the Waka Waka. The solar cells are on its back side.

I devised a holder for my backpack that's made of mesh and allows me to charge the Waka Waka during the day while I'm hiking. Depending on the brightness and angle of the sun, I've replenished up to 50 percent while on the trail.

Waka Waka on Backpack
I can charge the Waka Waka while hiking by using this DIY mesh pouch.

I've also recharged my iPad mini and iPhone using this device. It drains the battery faster than using the lights, but adding 50 percent more service to my iPhone while backpacking is wonderful! In fact, I recommend carrying two units: one for lighting and the other for recharging mobile devices. The Waka Wakas are available in two colors: black and yellow. I have one of each, which makes it easy to tell them apart.

iPhone Chaging Charging my iPhone with the Waka Waka.

The devices cost $79 each with free shipping in the US. They fit easily in a camera bag, backpack, or glovebox. The solar cells are surprisingly efficient, and the output is impressive. If you're looking for nimble solar power station, I would definitely investigate the Waka Waka. I never leave home without mine.

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Panorama photography is more popular than ever. The ability to sweep your mobile phone or compact camera and capture 180 degrees of a scene is both easy and compelling.

Golden State Warriors Win Round 1 Oracle Arena Warriors win Game 6 of the first round of the NBA playoffs at Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA. Photo by Derrick Story. Click on image for larger version.

Panoramas do an excellent job of showing us more of a location, but don't underestimate their storytelling power either. In the case of this image, captured at Oracle Arena right after the Golden State Warriors won Game 6 of the NBA round 1 playoffs, you're able to join participants in the stands and see what they were experiencing.

I often shoot panoramas with my iPhone 4S, but I used the Fujifilm X-20 camera for this shot. It also has an excellent panorama mode in the ADV menu.

Regardless of which device you have, keep in mind that panoramas aren't just for vacation scenics. They can capture the energy of human drama too.


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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The thing about compact cameras is that they don't attract attention. I'm hanging out in the club at Oracle Arena before the Warriors game with the Fujifilm X-20 taking pictures and enjoying the atmosphere. For this shot, I used the Pro Focus setting in the Adv mode to create the soft background. We once needed DSLRs to create this effect.

Budweiser Club, Oracle Arena

OK, time to get back to the business at hand...

For the March 2013 Photo Assignment, TDS shooters saw the world through monochrome glasses. See for yourself in our gallery, Black & White. And which one will be the SizzlPix Photo Assignment Pick of the Month?

Oliver Rutherfurd

"Here's a photo of my daughter running through a culvert pipe at an orchard playground, " wrote Oliver Rutherfurd. "I went head-on with the shot as that was most practical. Plus, that was the feeling feeling I was looking for -- front and center, coming out of the tunnel, surrounded by the pattern of circles." See all of the great images from this month's assignment by visiting the B&W gallery page.


Participate in This Month's Assignment

The May 2013 assignment is "Food." Details can be found on the Member Participation page. Deadline is May 31, 2013. 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 2013." 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 2013 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.

In Camera Raw Processing Olympus OM-D

Photographers who shoot Raw often don't realize their camera might have a powerful image processing function that creates Jpeg variations of those Raw files in camera. There are many advantages to this capability.

For mobile shooters, it eliminates the need to capture in Raw + Jpeg. You can shoot in Raw, convert the images you like to Jpeg in-camera, then send those pictures to your iPad or iPhone for sharing. This approach saves space on the memory card and allows the camera to empty the buffer faster.

Creative photographers have lots to play with here too. Most cameras that support Raw processing (such as the Olympus OM-D and Fuji X20) allow you to add effects during conversion. The sample image in this article is a Raw file converted to Jpeg in an Olympus OM-D using the Key Line Art Filter. I still have the original Raw that I can process normally on my Mac at a later date.

The trick is to learn how your camera handles Raw processing. It's usually an option in the Playback menu. On the OM-D, for example, you press the OK button while viewing a photo. An option appears labeled JPEG Edit. Press OK again and the camera will convert the Raw file to Jpeg and add it to your memory card.

The secret with the OM-D is understanding that the file will be processed with the current camera settings. So if you want to apply an Art Filter, for example, then set that up before you process the Raw file. The result will be a Jpeg with the Art Filter settings applied.

On the Fujifilm X20, the options are presented to you when you choose Raw Conversion from the Playback menu. You have options for Film Simulation (my favorite!), color, exposure, noise reduction, and even push/pull processing. Check your camera's manual for its approach to Raw processing.

Once I convert the Raw file to Jpeg, I can send it directly to my iPad via the Toshiba Flash Air Card using Olympus Image Share iOS app that ignores Raw files on the card and shows me only the Jpegs.

Bottom line, if you love to shoot Raw, but sometimes need Jpegs, in-camera Raw processing might be the perfect workflow for you.


iPad for Digital Photographers

This is the kind of stuff I write about in iPad for Digital Photographers-- now available in print, Kindle, and iBooks format.

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

Female Portrait Sigma 35mm Lens

This week on The Digital Story: The gorgeous Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art lens, creating a Frankenzoom, release of iPad for Digital Photographers, and SizzlPix winners!

Story #1 - The Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Lens - I've been testing this beautiful chunk of glass on the Canon 5D Mark II, and I have to say, I love this lens. It's sharp and soft, all at the same time. What do I mean? Well, where you put the focus the image is crisp, but when shooting wide open the tail-off to softness is just beautiful. Take a look at the Lady Victoria portrait captured with the Sigma 35mm at f/1.4 on the Canon 5D Mark II, and see for yourself.

Story #2 - Frankenzoom - By now, you know that I hang on to optics, even if the camera they are designed for no longer works. When I needed to extend the optical reach of the zoom lens on the Fujifilm X20 compact camera for a recent NBA game (as a spectator), I found a 1.5X Canon teleconverter and mounted it on the X20. By doing so, I was able to extend the zoom from 112mm at f/2.8 to 168mm with no light loss.

Story #3 - iPad for Digital Photographers is now shipping. I just received my print copy today, and it looks great. Please help support our virtual camera club and order yours today. It's $14.73 on Amazon.com. It makes a great gift too!

Story #4 - SizzlPix Pick of the Month! Congratulations to Mark Steven Houser, Kevin Ned Miller, and Phil Fisher, our recent SizzlPix Pick of the Month for Long Exposure, Self Timer, and Furry Friends Photo Assignment. Please send me mail, and we'll get your SizzlPix in the works.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (26 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

Monthly Photo Assignment

The April 2013 photo assignment is Architecture.

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

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. SizzlPix Spring Sale - 25% Discount! Offer good on orders placed by April 30. Again, "TDS" or "The Digital Story" in the comments space. Of course, they will honor the discount for all TDS listeners and readers, including those who've received SizzlPix samples.

Need a New Photo Bag? Check out the Lowepro Specialty Store on The Digital Story and use discount code LP20 to save 20% at check out.

Want to Comment on this Post?

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

Fujifilm X20 Tele Extender

My goal at game 3 of the Warriors vs Nuggets NBA playoff was to have a good time. (And boy did I!) But I also wanted to capture a few memories from the event with my compact camera. And I knew I was going to need a bit more reach than the 112mm zoom the Fjuifilm X20 provided. So I created a Frankenzoom

The key components were a Fujifilm adapter/lens hood for the X20 and an old Canon 1.5X tele extender that I had for my G2. I used gaffer's tape to connect the lens hood to the tele extender, then screwed the device into the front of the camera.

Fujifilm X20 Tele Extender

I was able to extend my reach from 112mm at f/2.8 to 168mm with virtually no light loss. This made it much easier to capture candids during the exciting game, and even capture a shot or two of the action on the floor.

protect-defend-battle-unite.jpg

I rarely let go of old glass, even if I'm not using the camera anymore. Because when I go into my lab filled with optics, adapters, and gaffer's tape, I never know exactly what's going to emerge.


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.

Want to Comment on this Post?

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

iPad for Digital Photographers Book

Photographers: Do you really want to lug your computer everywhere? My camera bag has become so much lighter since I started carrying an iPad when I travel. And yes, you can organize, edit, and share your pictures, just as easily, if not easier, than before.

In my new book, iPad for Digital Photographers ($13.45),I explain the workflows I've developed to upload, organize, edit, and share images while working virtually anywhere in the world.

Using inexpensive, but powerful software on the iPad, plus the latest in wireless technology and cloud services, you can create and publish beautiful images. And it doesn't stop there. I explain how to run your entire photography business using the iPad.

iPhoto for iOS

And yes, you can integrate all of these accomplishments with your Mac or Windows computer. Nothing will ever get lost or out of place. You'll have a workflow that streams from camera to iPad to your computer back home.

Sound too good to be true? It isn't. The tools are here now.

iPad for Digital Photographers is available as a paperback book or Kindle Edition from Amazon, or in the iBooks Bookstore for the iPad.

Get more out of your iPad than you ever imagined possible.

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