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As we roll into Fall and Winter, it's a good idea to have a little extra protection for your camera bag. If yours doesn't include an All Weather cover, you can easily convert a Reusable Shopping Tote into an emergency rain cover.

I prefer the reusable totes to other solutions for a few reasons:

  • They look good. Yes, I could tie a plastic grocery bag over my gear, but that's not really the way I want to walk around the city.
  • chico-bag.jpg

  • They stuff into a compact pouch that's easily stored in my camera bag, or hook to the outside with a D-ring.
  • They're multifunctional. Yes, if I find myself in a store and need a good looking shopping bag, I have one.
  • They're affordable. I can buy a 4-pack for $20 and have spares for more photo gear or bigger shopping trips. (Or in the case of the one shown, a free give-away at a conference.)

I carry a few office clips (also handy for other uses) and stretch the reusable tote over the top of the camera bag, clipping it at the bottom on both sides. This protects the main compartment of the bag from the top, front, and back. I can attach it quickly, then stuff it back into its pouch when no longer needed.

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The reusable tote has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting

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It feels like refined canvas, but wears better. The Nimble Messenger Bag is fully lined with a zippered flap pocket that accommodates an iPad mini and incidentals, as well as an interior pocket that can secure a full-size iPad. And if you want, you can also carry a sleeved 15" MacBook Pro inside.

iPad Pocket Inside the Nimble Messenger Bag The iPad pocket inside the Nimble Messenger Bag.

We've been working on a larger urban bag to complement the smaller Walking Man Shoulder Bag, and what we created was a refined, canvas-textured carrying solution that will make an impression at business meetings, but won't attract too much attention on urban streets.

Closed Nimble Messenger Bag Stylish design, yes. But the Nimble Messenger Bag won't attract too much attention outside the board room.

Included with the Nimble Messenger is a set of Whisper Strips. They allow you to control access to the interior of the bag. Put the Whisper Strips on the top flap, and you have perfectly silent operation - ideal for weddings and meetings. Apply the Whisper Strips to the Walking Man Pocket, and the bag is partially secured, making a bit of sound when opened. Remove the Whisper Strips all-together, and go for the full velcro-on-velcro experience with high security.

Whisper Strips on Top Flap of Bag Whisper Strips applied to the top flap of the bag for perfectly silent access.

During the testing phase, the Nimble Messenger Bag accompanied me on three business meetings. At each meeting, I received an unsolicited complement on the bag. I couldn't believe it.

iPad mini in flap pocket An iPad mini stashed in the flap pocket for quick access.

To learn more about the Nimble Messenger Bag ($69.95), visit the Nimble Photographer Store.

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The Nimble Messenger Bag has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting

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The 2015 TDS Photography Workshop Lineup features an Eastern Sierra adventure to Bodie silver mining town, street shooting in San Francisco, and Fall Color in Sonoma County.

bodie-eastern-sierra.jpg A new 3-day adventure workshop to the Eastern Sierra has been added to the 2015 schedule.

Plus, a software workshop will be offered in February for Aperture users who want to explore migration to the new Photos App or to Lightroom.

All of the events feature TDS hospitality: small groups of 8 or less, hands-on instruction, photography lab, class presentation, swag, food, and total immersion in your craft.

You can learn more about these events and place your name on the reserve list (putting you at the front of the line) by visiting the 2015 TDS Photography Workshop page.

Join me on my Instagram site as I explore the world of mobile photography. And now Instagram features 15-second movies too.

For the August 2014 Photo Assignment, TDS shooters got up close and personal with their subjects. See for yourself in our gallery, My Favorite Close Up. And which one will be the SizzlPix Pick of the Month?


Photo by Gerry Legere. Gerry writes, "This is a ship anchor chain closeup." See all of the great images from this month's assignment by visiting the My Favorite Close Up.

Participate in This Month's Assignment

The October 2014 assignment is "Water." Details can be found on the Member Participation page. Deadline is October 31, 2014. 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: Oct. 2014." 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 August 2014 gallery at the end of September, the September gallery will be posted at the end of October, and on and on.

Good luck with your October assignment, and congratulations to all of the fine contributors for August.

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Setting Up Your Locking Lens Safe


As we travel lighter, we're leaving more gear at home. Spare camera bodies and extra lenses that may not be needed for the work at hand, may be essential for next week's assignment. So it's not a bad idea to keep them safe... in a safe.

The plan is simple. Purchase a moderately priced, ample storage container, such as the Exacme Steel Digital Electronic Safe ($109), secure it in a cabinet, or to the floor or a shelf in a closet, and store your gear inside.

I like the Exacme model because it measures 20"x14"x12", has an easy-to-use electronic lock passcode, and includes an override key (just in case) plus bolting hardware.

I use old camera bags to organize my equipment inside the safe. One kit includes spare mirrorless gear, and the othe other is for DSLRs. When I'm preparing for a shoot, I open the safe, grab the lenses I need, lock up, and hit the road.

There are plenty of other safes on the market that also provide fire protection and more advanced locking systems. But the way I look at it, any safe is an improvement over having my lenses displayed on the office desk.

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After posting my review of the excellent Nissin i40 flash on c't Digital Photography, and talking about it on this week's podcast, I still have a few pictures leftover. So I thought I'd put together this brief visual tour for you.

Looking Good from the Front

nissin-140-em1-v3.jpg This size of the flash seems to be a perfect match for many Micro Four Thirds bodies, such as the Olympus OM-D E-M1.

Gotta Love Those Dials

i40-manual-setting.jpg The flash is controlled by the Mode dial on the left, and Power dial on the right. So easy!

Built-In Diffuser and Bounce Card

i40-flash-diffuser.jpg Go to 16mm focal length coverage with the diffuser and bounce away with the built-in card.

Nice Kit!

nissin-i40-kit.jpg Kit includes flash, case, stand, and diffuser cap to soften shadows.

Available Now...

The Nissin i40 Compact Flash for Four Thirds Cameras is available for $269.

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The Nissin i40 flash has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting

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This week on The Digital Story Photography Podcast: The Best Flash for Micro Four Thirds Cameras, My Favorite iPhone Camera App, Guide for Improving Your Photography - All of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.


Story #1 - Manual: Custom Exposure Camera App for iOS 8 - I finally have the control I want for my iPhone camera. I've used this app to capture some tough shots, and it works like no other. (Source: The Digital Story).

In other news, Fotodiox FlapJack LED Edgelight Series - "Rather than using forward-facing LEDs common in conventional panels, the FlapJacks' LEDs are mounted around their outer edge, aimed inward at layers of diffusion material to produce bounced light." Prices run from $249-$399. (Source:

And finally, Rumor: Samsung Working on a Black-and-White Only NX Achromatic. "...the camera will be a special-edition version of the NX300 called the NX Achromatic, and it will sport the same 20MP sensor as the standard NX300 only without a bayer array or low pass filter." (Source:


Story #2 - The Nissin i40 Compact Flash for Four Thirds Cameras ($269). This hotshoe strobe has it all: TTL, wireless, manual, and LED continuous. Plus, thanks to its twin control dials on the back, it's super easy to use. I discuss this gem in the second segment of today's show. And you can read my review of the i40 on c't Digital Photography Magazine.

Story #3 - Book Review: Learning to Photograph, Vol. 2 (eBook, 256 pages, $31.99) by Cora Banek / Georg Banek. Topics include:


  • Visual perception
  • Composition, shapes, and lines
  • Managing light
  • Color and its effects
  • Sharpness, blur, and movement
  • The interplay of visual design elements
  • Image analysis and evaluation

Terrific guide to improve your images, plus provide inspiration when feeling stuck. Use coupon code LP14 for a 35% discount (making it only $20.79 saving you $11.20). And if you forget the code, there's a tile in the far right column of The Digital Story.

Virtual Camera Club News

Visit the Red River Paper Card Shop. You can peruse top selling cards, order the card sample kit, and read tutorials on card printing. Save on Ground Shipping for Red River Paper. Use coupon code ground50c to receive a 50 percent discount on UPS ground shipping for Red River Paper. No minimum purchase required.

Photo Assignment for September 2014 is "Shot from Behind".

If you haven't done so already, please post a review for The Digital Story Podcast in iTunes.

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 That helps support the site.

Download the Show

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 - Learn lighting, portraiture, Photoshop skills, and more from expert-taught videos at

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! 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 March!

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WD My Passport Wireless HD Review


The WD My Passport Wireless HD ($179) is a compact, spinning platter hard drive with built-in WiFi and a DNLA server. It wirelessly connects computers, tables, and smartphones, and includes USB 3.0 for hard wire access. Its built-in battery and SD card reader round out an impressive feature set for mobile photographers.

After 2 weeks of testing, it has earned a permanent home in my everyday camera bag and will be accompanying me to PhotoPlus Expo on assignment. The WD Wireless isn't perfect, but it is impressive.

Wireless Options

You have three wireless connectivity options, each useful depending on your situation: Direct Connection, Hotspot, and Home Network.

Direct Connection establishes a link between you and the My Passport via its WiFi server. The advantage is fast bandwidth. The disadvantage is that the Internet is not available using this method.

Hotspot leverages an existing network allowing both communication with the My Passport and online activity. Others on the network do not have access to your hard drive. You most likely give up a little performance, but gain Internet access. This is the method I use most often.

Home Network also leverages an external network, but makes the drive visible to all who have access to it. Great for sharing work among users in an office or around the house.

Seeing Drive Content via iOS

wd-dashboard.jpg WD Dashboard as shown in Safari on an iPad Mini.

Once you've connected to the My Passport via Settings, you can use the WD My Cloud app to customize the hard drive and access its content. Plus you can monitor battery life, drive capacity, and other vital signs.

I also log-in to its server as an admin via the browser on my iPad for even more configuration options. The dashboard is well designed and easy to use.

Backing Up Photos

I have the My Passport set up to automatically backup the photos from any SD card I insert into its reader. All of the content is copied to the hard drive and organized in folders using this hierarchy: SD Card Imports > SDCard_XXXXX > DCIM > 100OLYMP > images.

images-from-memory-card.jpg Images copied to the My Passport drive via its SD card reader and viewed on an iPad.

The WD My Cloud app can display the Jpegs, but not the RAW files. However, the RAW files are there for when you return from your trip. The simplest method is to shoot RAW+Jpeg, use the Jpegs while on the road, and tap the RAWs at home.

You can copy an image to your device's Camera Roll by selecting it, then tapping the Download icon. Other sharing options include Email, Print, and Open In.

Being able to backup photos from the camera's memory card, then view them on your mobile device is the killer feature I've been waiting for.

More Functions Than I Can List


In addition to the photographer-friendly goodies, you can stream music and video via the drive's built-in DNLA media server. I also store work documents that I can securely read while on the road, even if I don't have cloud services available. And, now while on the plane, I have dozens of movies to choose from instead of just the one or two my iPad could accommodate.

And if you wish, you can use other apps, such as MoliPlayer HD to view your content. Any software that is DLNA compliant will work.

The battery life is good, about 4-5 hours. The WiFi access point remains active, even when not being used, as long as the device is booted up. The My Passport is also easy to recharge. I've used its compact wall plug as well as my solar Waka Waka charger with great success. WD did a good job with the battery technology for this unit.

A Few Quirks

The drive ships with a dummy SD card in the reader slot. Remove it to activate WiFi. Otherwise the drive will try to read the dummy card. And you don't get an indication of when the drive has finished backing up an SD card when in Automatic mode. I've been leaving it in the reader for about 5 minutes, just to be safe. In the future, I could test the actual copy time using the WD My Cloud app in manual copy mode.

The user interface is robust, but it is a bit odd at times. For example, you can create new folders to organize your work using the iOS app. But in order to put files in the new folder, you have to select > copy > paste. I wasn't used to copy/paste for moving files around. But once I figured it out, it was easy to remember.

You can also back up images from your iOS device to the My Passport drive. To do so, select Add Photo, navigate to the image in your Camera Roll, and tap Upload. The file will be copied to the drive at root level.

To move it to the desired folder, tap Select > Cut > (navigate to the directory) Paste. It's a bit weird, but it works.

Bottom Line

The WD My Passport Wireless HD allows me to travel with just my iPad and iPhone, leaving the laptop behind. Yet, when I return home, it connects to my MacBook Pro via USB 3.0 or wireless... my choice. I'm impressed with its feature set, design, and battery life. Quite honestly, it's the best new gadget I've tested in a while.

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The WD My Passport Wireless HD has a very high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting

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Tech Hand-Me-Downs

New gear is everywhere. And for those who give in to temptation, decisions must be made about the items being replaced.

One route is to sell you old iPhone, digital camera, iPad, or computer on the used market. And in a lot of situations, I think that makes sense. I know I've made a lot of people happy with a good price for a gently used item.

But I hang on to a surprising amount of equipment too. I bought this stuff when it was new, I know it's been well-maintained, and I have uses for it. What might those be? Well, let's take a tour around my studio.


The Original iPad

Even though it won't run iOS 8, my original iPad looks and operates exceedingly well. I currently have it serving as a digital picture frame. Plus, it works great with those iHome speakers you see in the illustration as a music player for my studio.

It's running iOS 5.1.1, and that's where it tops out. So as long as I use it for my basic environment enhancement, I'm fine. BTW: the battery is still fantastic and has amazing life.


2008 MacBook Pro 17" Laptop

I bought this 17" in early 2008 because of its exceptional screen with matte finish. I still love the way images look on it. A few years ago, I installed an SSD drive to replace its spinning platter. This move definitely added new life to the aging, but otherwise fine laptop.

Currently the MBP is running Mac OS X Mavericks, and it can handle the Yosemite upgrade later this year. So it's a full-fledged member of my Apple ecosystem.

Today, I use the 2008 MacBook Pro to record my weekly podcasts. I'll also be using this classic machine to record an upcoming title for


iPhone 4S Unlocked

There's still plenty of life in my iPhone 4S, and I've found a variety of uses for it.

My current favorite is keeping a SIMsmart card in it for travel abroad. Since phones out of contract can be unlocked, I maintain a European phone number with the 4S.

It's also my podcast player during my morning commute and on business trips. Everything works just as well as originally, and it will accept the iOS 8 upgrade when I'm ready.

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iPhone photography is about to get a bit more interesting for serious enthusiasts. A new app for iOS 8 called, Manual - Custom exposure camera ($1.99), lets you set ISO, shutter speed, white balance, and focus. Plus you get geeky goodies such as live histogram and an EXIF viewer.

I took Manual for a test run around the studio with my iPhone 5S, and found it easier to use than I anticipated. In large part, the ease resulted from having a live view of your settings. If I increased the shutter speed, for example, the scene on my iPhone became darker in real time.

If you decide you want to work in auto mode, you can by setting ISO and shutter speed to green "auto." You stil have exposure compensation available, so it's auto with some control.

Overall, Manual is fun to shoot with, and it's particularly handy in situations where you want to create a low key or high key look. By using it, you can become quite the sophisticated shooter with your iPhone.

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Manual for iOS 8 has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting

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