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Backlit portraits can be dramatic and beautiful, especially if you know how to set up your camera. In this show, I explain three sure-fire techniques for great backlit portraits.

The normal progression I go through when working outside with these types of shots is this:

  • First, I position the model with the sun shining on her hair, then take a few test shots. This helps me evaluate the lighting.
  • Then I switch to spot meter mode and take an exposure reading off her face.
  • I'll often try adding light via reflectors or using natural reflection from the surroundings.
  • If none of these techniques work the way I want, I'll then use fill flash. I might use fill flash also if I'm covering an event and have to work quickly.

The sample you see here uses the walkway to bounce light up into the model's face. She is kneeling down to be closer to the reflected surface, and to add variety to the poses we experimented with during the shoot.

Photo by Derrick Story using a Canon 5D Mark II with a 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS zoom lens.

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Monthly Photo Assignment

Simple is the Sept. 2009 Photo Assignment. My original thought was the power that comes from a simple composition, with as few elements as possible. But you might find another twist on this month's theme. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is Sept. 30, 2009.

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. It's a blast!


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A "mini" photo studio is a handy way to shoot small product shots for sale on eBay and Craig's List, documenting items for insurance records, illustrating articles and reports, and publishing pictures on web sites. One of the advantages of these micro studios is that you can leave them set up for quick shots when you need them.

They don't have to be expensive either. For example, you can get this Digital Concepts Ps-101 Portable Lighting Studio on Amazon for $27.49 that includes the diffusion box and a couple of lights. You can even build one yourself. Strobist has a great "how to" article for building a DIY $10 Macro Photo Studio.

In this podcast I give you a handful of useful tips for getting the best shots possible from your mini studio. It's a lot of fun!

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (24 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Simple is the Sept. 2009 Photo Assignment. My original thought was the power that comes from a simple composition, with as few elements as possible. But you might find another twist on this month's theme. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is Sept. 30, 2009.

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. It's a blast!


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Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6) promises better speed and stability. For the most part, I think Apple has delivered the goods. But I also sense that expectations might be a little high for this evolutionary release of the Mac operating system. In this podcast, I discuss my clean install of Snow Leopard from a photographer's point of view.

You might also want to take a look at my brief article, Snow Leopard Notes for Photographers. Other tidbits include Nikon's compatibility report for Capture NX2 users and HP's driver instructions for 10.6 users.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (21 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Simple is the Sept. 2009 Photo Assignment. My original thought was the power that comes from a simple composition, with as few elements as possible. But you might find another twist on this month's theme. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is Sept. 30, 2009.

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. It's a blast!


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If you visit www.thedigitalstory.com, you'll see lots of new features. We've been busy over the last few months upgrading both the infrastructure and the layout. In this podcast, I take you on a tour of the new Digital Story to familiarize you with all the goodies.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (31 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Transport is the August 2009 Photo Assignment. Think both literally (car, bike, bus, etc) and figuratively. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is August 31, 2009.

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. It's a blast!


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Want to create professional looking art notecards from your own images? In this podcast I explain the techniques I wrote about in the article Professional Photo Art Notecards Using Aperture and Red River Paper. These products, based on your photography, look great. I hope you give them a try.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (30 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Transport is the August 2009 Photo Assignment. Think both literally (car, bike, bus, etc) and figuratively. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is August 31, 2009.

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. It's a blast!


Sample notecard before folding. Red River paper is scored in the middle so it's easy to fold and get a professional looking card. Click to enlarge image.


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Our own Stephanie Scheetz attended the CHA Summer Convention and Tradeshow in Orlando, Florida, and sits down with Derrick to report on interesting things there for photographers and creatives looking for new opportunities. We talk about trends, specific products, and business endeavors that you might be interested in.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (25 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Transport is the August 2009 Photo Assignment. Think both literally (car, bike, bus, etc) and figuratively. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is August 31, 2009.

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. It's a blast!


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Podcast Sponsors

SiteGrinder lets you take ownership of your websites. Effortlessly output pages right from Photoshop.

Red River Paper -- Try the $7.99 Sample Kit.

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Reflectors and diffusers are perfect light modifiers for natural light portraiture. In this podcast, I talk about these accessories in general, and recommend the Photoflex Multidisc 32" that gives you five reflector surfaces and a diffuser.

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Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (31 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Transport is the August 2009 Photo Assignment. Think both literally (car, bike, bus, etc) and figuratively. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is August 31, 2009.

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. It's a blast!


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Podcast Sponsors

SiteGrinder lets you take ownership of your websites. Effortlessly output pages right from Photoshop.

Red River Paper -- Try the $7.99 Sample Kit.

Add Magic to Your Slideshows -- FotoMagico presentations are so amazing that your audience will be asking how you did it.


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It's time to start using the pictures we took before 1999. Many of us have two lives as photographers: The "slide and negative days" prior to 2000, and the digital age that followed. But what about all of those great images we captured prior to the digital age? Shouldn't we incorporate them into our Aperture, Lightroom, and iPhoto libraries? In this podcast I talk about strategies for digitizing our analog photographs.


Image from Arches National Park in Utah captured with a Contax 35mm camera using a Zeiss 85mm lens on Fuji slide film. Slide was digitized using a Canon 5D Mark II with a slide duplicator attachment. You can read about the digitizing rig in this article: Canon 5D 35mm Slide Digitizer - DIY. Photo by Derrick Story.


Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (31 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Soft Background is the July 2009 Photo Assignment. You can create the effect when you shoot with a telephoto or wide aperture lens, or take care of it in post production with Photoshop. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is July 31, 2009.

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. It's a blast!


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Podcast Sponsors

SiteGrinder lets you take ownership of your websites. Effortlessly output pages right from Photoshop.

Red River Paper -- Try the $7.99 Sample Kit.

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Field work is the greatest teacher of all. That's where your preparation, knowledge, and ability to think on your feet come together to enable you to capture once in a lifetime images. I had many such moments on the recent visit to China, South Korea, and Japan. In this podcast I share anecdotes from working in Asia.

Equipment that I used on this trip included the Canon Digital Rebel T1i, battery grip with AAs, 70-200mm f/4 L, 24-105mm f/4 L IS, 18-55mm IS, and 50mm f/1.8. No external flash, but monopod with tripod ring for the 70-200mm. I also packed the Olympus E-P1 and the Olympus Stylus Tough 8000.

Many of my students had more equipment, and sometimes more expensive gear than my rig. But I was able to carry everything in needed in a shoulder bag that was always with me, even in the hot, humid Asian afternoons. This allowed me to get shots that others missed.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (32 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Soft Background is the July 2009 Photo Assignment. You can create the effect when you shoot with a telephoto or wide aperture lens, or take care of it in post production with Photoshop. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is July 31, 2009.

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. It's a blast!

Photo by Derrick Story in South Korea with Canon Rebel T1i and 24-105 mm f/4 L Canon zoom. For more images from Asia, visit the TDS Flickr page.


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What goes in the camera bag this time? As I prepare for a return trip to Beijing, plus side visits to Japan and S. Korea, I want to travel light, yet have everything I need. I discuss the possibilities in this week's podcast.

Here's a hint for those of you who read these show notes. I'm leaning toward taking the Canon Digital Rebel T1i, battery grip with AAs, 70-200mm f/4 L, 24-105mm f/4 L IS, 18-55mm IS, and 50mm f/1.8. No external flash, but monopod with tripod ring for the 70-200mm. I'm also going to pack the Olympus E-P1 and the Olympus Stylus Tough 8000.

Interesting choices? I'll explain myself during the show.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (26 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Soft Background is the July 2009 Photo Assignment. You can create the effect when you shoot with a telephoto or wide aperture lens, or take care of it in post production with Photoshop. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is July 31, 2009.

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. It's a blast!

Photo by Derrick Story at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.


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Podcast Sponsors

SiteGrinder lets you take ownership of your websites. Effortlessly output pages right from Photoshop.

Red River Paper -- Try the $7.99 Sample Kit.

Add Magic to Your Slideshows -- FotoMagico presentations are so amazing that your audience will be asking how you did it.


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