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Spring is in the air and outdoor portraits are just around the corner. If you don't have the space or the budget to set up a dedicated photo studio, you can capture remarkable images outdoors with just a few affordable accessories.

For this podcast, I grabbed my Photoflex Lite Discs and headed to the park with photographer friend Ben Long and Joanna who agreed to be our subject. We recorded hundreds of images in bright light and shade using a variety of techniques. For the shot featured here, I used rim lighting on the hair (by turning the model's back to the sun) and my Canon 580 EX flash for fill. The camera was a Canon 5D with a 300mm lens.

In this podcast I talk about the variety of techniques we used that day for our outdoor portrait shoot. I'm sure there are a few tips in there that are perfect for you.

Monthly Photo Assignment

I also discuss this month's photo assignment, Self Portrait. I think it's time we get out from behind our camera and get in front of it. As with all of our assignments, I hope you add a creative twist to your approach. You can read more about how to submit on our Submissions page.

Listen to the Podcast

Now that I've piqued your curiosity, it's time to listen to today's audio show titled, "Outdoor Portraits." You can download the podcast here (28 minutes).

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The show floor at PMA 2007 was a feast for photographers. All the major camera manufacturers were present in full color displaying their latest wares. But this show isn't just about the majors. Everything from high-tech plastic bags for underwater photography to gigantic printing machines were showcased.

In this podcast, I interview Kelly Turner, senior features editor for Macworld Magazine. Kelly has been one of the major proponents for bringing digital photography to the publication, and she is a very knowledgeable editor in this arena. She and I take a few minutes on the trade show floor to discuss the items that caught our eyes as we recap PMA 2007. It's a fun conversation that I'm sure you'll enjoy.

Monthly Photo Assignment

I also discuss this month's photo assignment, Self Portrait. I think it's time we get out from behind our camera and get in front of it. As with all of our assignments, I hope you add a creative twist to your approach. You can read more about how to submit on our Submissions page.

Listen to the Podcast

Now that I've piqued your curiosity, it's time to listen to today's audio show titled, "Las Vegas Wrap Up." You can download the podcast here (22 minutes).

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Sponsor Notes...

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

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Online services can relieve much of the administrative burden of providing prints to customers. I've been using Shutterfly Pro for a while now, and as a result, I'm spending more time taking pictures while using less effort to get them in people's hands.

In this podcast, I talk about these services so you may consider trying one yourself. I also think they're a great way to help you get established in the community. You can cover local events, post them on a pro service, and let people browse the galleries and hopefully buy some images too.

Monthly Photo Assignment

I also discuss this month's photo assignment, Self Portrait. I think it's time we get out from behind our camera and get in front of it. As with all of our assignments, I hope you add a creative twist to your approach. You can read more about how to submit on our Submissions page.

Listen to the Podcast

Now that I've piqued your curiosity, it's time to listen to today's audio show titled, "Online Photo Servvices." You can download the podcast here (29 minutes).

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Sponsor Notes...

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

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How many megapixels do you really need to make big enlargements? You'd be surprised how much you can do with your 6-8 megapixel camera if you learn how to intelligently "sample up." It's a process you can use in Photoshop CS where you let PS add pixels to your image to increase resolution.

My photographer friend, Ben Long, recently tested different methods for "sampling up," and we both agree after looking at lots of prints, that Photoshop's "Bicubic Smoother" produces the most photographic results.

In this episode, I discuss how to sample up using the "Image Size" dialog box in Photoshop, and explain how you're existing camera can probably produce much bigger results that you'd initially expect.

Listen to the Podcast

Now that I've piqued your curiosity, it's time to listen to today's audio show titled, "Sample Up." You can download the podcast here (20 minutes).

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Sponsor Notes...

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

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There are as many ways to convert a color image to B&W as there are to capture the picture in the first place. In this podcast, I explain two of my favorite methods using Photoshop CS or Elements.

You may wonder why I pick these two "traditional" methods of B&W conversion when there are new tools available in Adobe Lightroom, Apple Aperture, and the beta version of Photoshop CS3. Well, quite honestly, many photographers aren't using those new applications yet, but almost everyone has some version of Photoshop. So, we'll start with the basics, then revisit this topic again with new techniques up the road. Today, let's start with one of my favorite methods using adjustment layers.

Black & White photo of Derrick Story taken by George Jardine in Iceland.

Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layers

If you've never worked with Layers before in Photoshop, this will be a terrific introduction to their power. I like this method for B&W conversion, because once you have it set up, all you have to do is move a slider back and forth until you get just the right tonal look. It's really cool. This method works both in Photoshop CS and Elements. Here are the steps.

  1. Open the image you want to convert, and display the Layers palette (Window > Layers).
  2. Create a new Hue/ Saturation Adjustment Layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation). Name it "Hue" and select "Normal" from the Mode popup menu.
  3. Create another new Hue/ Saturation Adjustment Layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation). Name it "Saturation" and select "Color" from the Mode popup menu.
  4. In the Saturation menu, move the "Saturation" slider all the way to -100. Click "OK."

  5. Now, go back to your Layers palette and click once on the "Hue" layer to select it, then double-click on the adjustment icon to open its dialog box. Move the "Hue" slider back and forth until you get eactly the right look you want. Click "OK."

  6. If you want to make any final tonal adjustments, click once on the background layer to select it, then open the "Levels" dialog box for final highlight, shadow, and midtone correction.
  7. Select "Save As" and give your file a new name, and save as a Photoshop file with Layers perserved. That way you can always come back and readjust the image.

  8. If you want to make a Jpeg copy of your B&W converted photo, choose "Save As" again, select "Jpeg" from the Format popup menu, and give your file another unique name. Photoshop will flatten your layers for you and convert the image to Jpeg. You're set!

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Layers Window in Photoshop Elements for above technique: Make sure the "Saturation" layer is on top of the "Hue" layer for this technique to work properly.

Monochrome Mixer

The second method works in Photoshop CS using the Channel Mixer. This method is a bit simplier. All you have to do is open the Channel Mixer (Image > Adjustments > Channel Mixer...). Then click the "Monochrome" box. Set the sliders to Red=30, Green=60, Blue=10 as your starting point. Adjust to taste from there, keeping in mind that you want the total of your sliders to add up to 100. Then finish off your adjustments using "Levels," and Save As a B&W version of the image. Simple!

Feb. Photo Assignment

I also mention the February 2007 photo assignment, "Texture." Deadline for submission is Feb. 28. You can read the details on our Submissions page.

Listen to the Podcast

Now that I've piqued your curiosity, it's time to listen to today's audio show titled, "Convert to B&W." You can download the podcast here (28 minutes).

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Sponsor Notes...

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

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There's no greater satisfaction than having packed the perfect camera kit for the assignment at hand. In this podcast, I discuss what was in my camera bag as I ventured out to shoot an indoor basketball game. After covering all the items in the picture above, I then solicit readers for what's in their camera bags.

Feb. Photo Assignment

I also mention the February 2007 photo assignment, "Texture." Deadline for submission is Feb. 28. You can read the details on our Submissions page.

Listen to the Podcast

Now that I've piqued your curiosity, it's time to listen to today's audio show titled, "What's in my Camera Bag." You can download the podcast here (28 minutes).

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Sponsor Notes...

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

ExpoDisc Custom White Balance -- Simply Better Color. Simply Better Pictures. Visit www.expodisc.com

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Many photographers hate the flash because they haven't learned how to tame it. But you can employ your strobe to create interesting, and yes even natural looking images... if you know just a few secrets.

Modifiers that redistribute the light have some value, such as the Gary Fong Lightsphere. But there's much you can do with just your flash and good technique. In this podcast I review some of my favorite flash tips to help you get more natural looking pictures.

Feb. Photo Assignment

I also mention the February 2007 photo assignment, "Texture." Deadline for submission is Feb. 28. You can read the details on our Submissions page.

Listen to the Podcast

Now that I've piqued your curiosity, it's time to listen to today's audio show titled, "More Flash Techniques." You can download the podcast here (29 minutes).

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Sponsor Note...

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

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After more than half million downloads of the beta version, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is complete and ready for action. In this podcast, I cover some of the details of the upcoming launch in February, plus I look at a few of my favorite features of this new photo management tool.

The 1.0 version of Lightroom will be available on Feb. 19, 2007 for both Windows and Macintosh platforms. Early adopters who purchase the application before April 30 can do so for $199 US. After April 30, Lightroom will cost you $299. Adobe is also providing a free trial download of the 1.0 version on Feb. 19. Current users of the beta version of Lightroom will have to decide what to do by Feb. 28, because that's when the current beta expires.

Feb. Photo Assignment

I also mention the February 2007 photo assignment, "Texture." Deadline for submission is Feb. 28. You can read the details on our Submissions page.

Listen to the Podcast

Now that I've piqued your curiosity, it's time to listen to today's audio show titled, "Lightroom 1.0." You can download the podcast here (28 minutes).

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Sponsor Note...

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

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Cameras don't see the world as we do. Our eyes can pick out the shadow detail of a shaded tree trunk and the subtleties in a bright sky at the same time. A camera can't. At the root of this discrepancy is something called dynamic range, the ratio of the lightest point in the scene to the darkest. On a bright day, most people can easily see 50,000 subtle variations in tone. A typical 8-bit photo captured by a digital camera picks up a mere 256 variations.

In Photoshop CS2, Adobe added a Merge To HDR (High Dynamic Range) command that automates the process of combining pictures with different exposures. The result is closer to what you see with your eyes. In this podcast I explain how HDR works, how to capture your images for proper processing, and what to do with them once they're on the computer.

You might also be interested my article, Extend your dynamic range that I wrote for Macworld Magazine.

Jan. Photo Assignment

I also mention the January 2007 photo assignment, "Glimmer." You can use this theme literally -- shine faintly with a wavering of light... such as glimmer off water. Or you can go figuratively such as a glimmer of hope. There's lots to work with here. Deadline for submission is Jan. 31. You can read the details on our Submissions page.

Listen to the Podcast

Now that I've piqued your curiosity, it's time to listen to today's audio show titled, "High Dynamic Range." You can download the podcast here (26 minutes).

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Sponsor Note...

ExpoDisc Custom White Balance -- Simply Better Color. Simply Better Pictures. Visit www.expodisc.com

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Have you ever wondered about signing a book deal? If so, I have the interview for you. I sat down with the incredible Colleen Wheeler to discuss her work as an editor for O'Reilly Media. Colleen gives us an inside look at the publishing world and tells us a little bit about her projects with famous photographers such as Stephen Johnson, Mikkel Aaland, Eddie Tapp and more. It's a terrific conversation that I'm sure you'll enjoy. She also has some pointers for those thinking about trying to get a publishing contract.

Photo caption: Colleen Wheeler and Mikkel Aaland taking their first peek at Mikkel's "Photoshop CS2 Raw" book at PMA 2006. Photo by Derrick Story

Jan. Photo Assignment

I also mention the January 2007 photo assignment, "Glimmer." You can use this theme literally -- shine faintly with a wavering of light... such as glimmer off water. Or you can go figuratively such as a glimmer of hope. There's lots to work with here. Deadline for submission is Jan. 31. You can read the details on our Submissions page.

Listen to the Podcast

Now that I've piqued your curiosity, it's time to listen to today's audio show titled, "Photography Book Publishing." You can download the podcast here (32 minutes).

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Sponsor Note...

ExpoDisc Custom White Balance -- Simply Better Color. Simply Better Pictures. Visit www.expodisc.com