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Outdoor Portrait Shoot Photo shoot during the TDS Sonoma Coast Workshop.

Portraits indoors and out require a mix of craftsmanship and artistry. After two days of shooting during the TDS Sonoma Coast Workshop, I have a few tips to share that we covered during the sessions.

  • Make sure the eyes are sharp. And if the subject's head is rotated left or right, focus on the eye closest to the camera.
  • Reflectors are just as useful on overcast days as when the skies are clear. They are particularly helpful for brightening up the eyes.
  • Fill flash, when used properly, can help you when you don't have an extra set of hands for reflectors. But practice with your settings before the shoot, or it can become an exercise in frustration.
  • Learn to see the color of light as well as its intensity. Adjusting your white balance during the shoot renders better skin tones on the LCD screen, and back at the computer.
  • Communicate with your subject. Keep talking during the shoot. Be encouraging. Share images from the camera's LCD to build confidence during the session.

And if you've promised to share images with the subject after the shoot, deliver the goods in a timely manner. It's the professional thing to do.

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"Oh My!"


I love this photo by Katherine Crosbie of Ashley Tuttle captured at the ongoing TDS Sonoma Coast Workshop in Santa Rosa, CA.

Katherine is one of eight attendees who will be heading to the coast today for our focus on landscape work and environmental portrait. Great shot, Katherine!

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Organizing and Archiving Digital Photos is live in the online library. It's about the concepts and techniques behind efficient photo management and backup. This training is Mac and Windows friendly. I worked on a Mac for Aperture stuff, Windows for Lightroom stuff, and there's plenty of roll-your-own tech too. There are also five free movies you can watch right now.

The course begins by showing how to transfer and organize photos "by hand" -- that is, by copying them from a memory card to a hard drive without using software. In the second portion of the course, I explain how to take advantage of the photo-management features provided by programs such as Lightroom and Aperture, by assigning descriptive keywords, by giving photos ratings and color-coded labels, and how smart album features can automatically collect photos that meet certain criteria.

I also get into the new generation of user-friendly RAID hard drives, cloud computing, and lots of other good stuff.

More on Organizing and Archiving Digital Photos

Organizing and Archiving Overview Movie

Choosing the Right Hard Drive for Your Photo Backup

Roundtripping from Lightroom to Photoshop

"Organizing and Archiving Your Photos" - Digital Photography Podcast 290

Quick Keywording Tips in Lightroom 3

Backing Up Aperture 3 Via My Local Network

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Lowepro Fastpack 100

How easy is this? All you have to do is "Like" the TDS Facebook Fan Page, or... follow me on Twitter, or... add me to a circle in Google+, and you could win a Lowepro Fastpack 100 filled with goodies. If you're on more than one of these social networks, then you can have as many as three entries.

What Are the Goodies?

I'm not going to tell you all of them, but how about a few? One item will be an Expo Disc for super accurate white balance (worth $100). Another will be a signed copy of The Digital Photography Companion. And then there's the Lowepro Fastpack 100, perfect for that day outing with your DSLR.

The Rules

Deadline for participation is Tuesday, Aug. 30, 11:00 pm PST. Participation is void where prohibited. The winner will have to provide email address, shipping address, and phone number to receive the prize package. Winner will be announced on The Digital Story on Wed., Aug. 31, 2011.

The Printing Room

The Printing Room

Here's a look inside the Printing Room at the TDS Studio in Santa Rosa, CA. This image was captured after a 3-day marathon session while I was assembling a new portfolio. (If you want to hear the process I use for that, check out the Clever Portfolio podcast.)

For the color work, I'm using the Epson R2000 13" printer ($349) with Epson Premium Luster paper and Red River Arctic Polar Luster 75 lb.. I connect to the R2000 using WiFi from the MacBook Pro located on the right side of the photograph. I always use Epson original ink for all my Epson printers.

B&W images are created with the Epson R2400 13" printer, mainly because I love the way the K3 ink set renders the images. I've been printing the B&W on Red River Aurora Art White stock, and the images look, and feel, fantastic. In fact, the image you see coming out of the R2400 is on that particular paper. For these images, I use the "Advanced B&W" setting on the R2400. It is connected to the MacBook Pro via a USB cable.

I make all of my prints using Aperture 3. I have presets for the different types of output, and that saves me a lot of time. During these marathon sessions, I bring my MacBook Air up to the printing room so I can work while the devices do their thing.

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Creating a portfolio, electronic or print, helps you focus your work and develop a style. The process is almost as important as the final product. In this week's podcast, I discuss options for creating your own "collection of best shots," and discuss tools for displaying on an iPad, for printing, and how to combine the two worlds.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (27 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

Reflection is the August 2011 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is August 30, 2011.

TDS Nov. Aperture Workshop

I've an Aperture Workshop on Nov. 12th and 13th. If you want your name on the reserve list, or just more information, drop me a line. BTW: We include a professional model shoot as part of this workshop. Just saying...

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 -- The $7.99 Sample Kit is back! And with free shipping.

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 saven 20% at check out.

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How many times have you said, "There's got to be a better way to present my work on the iPad?" I have. Many times.

So I finally got serious and searched for a simple, flexible presentation/portfolio app, and I've decided that Minimal Folio is the best for me. Why?

  • Flexible - I can arrange images, PDFs, and videos in a sequential presentation, or as topic columns. When working in columns, I can follow one column down, but move sideways to related images. It's very simple to set up, but can be very impressive during the presentation.


  • App Controls Via "Settings" - Once you get your presentation the way you want, you go to the Settings App for the iPad to lock it down. This allows you to hand your iPad to the client or viewer to let them enjoy the portfolio, but without worrying that they will accidentally alter it.
  • Dropbox Syncing - You can upload images via iTunes to Minimal Folio, but I prefer Dropbox syncing. Point Minimal Folio to your Dropbox, and it creates a new folder in your Dropbox. Within that folder there is another titled "Minimal Folio." Your images have to go inside that nested folder. Once they are there, they are synced with the iPad. Very flexible.

There are a handful of other useful features, such as copy and paste, import from your Photos app, display on an external output device, and share via email.

Minimal Folio is only $2.99 in the App Store. It's a terrific utility for photographers or anyone who wants to make presentations on their iPads.

More App Reviews for the iPad

The Digital Story Podcast App for the iPad

Photographers Contract Maker

PhotoToaster for the iPad

Nik Software Brings Its Magic to the iPad with Snapseed

M.I.C. CF Card Reader for the iPad: Does it Work?

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After a recent assignment shoot, I pulled a Lexar 8GB Pro SD card from my Canon 60D and inserted it into the MacBook Air, ready to process the Raw images in Aperture. I waited. I waited some more. No import dialog box.

I check the desktop and the card had not mounted. So I pulled it out and tried again. Still no pictures.

This is when you start to get that awful feeling in the pit of your stomach.

I took a closer look at the card and noticed that a crack had formed up by the gold contacts. The casing was compromised. Now I really began to worry. I was in the field and needed to process and post these images right away.

Since I had just finished reviewing the shots in the camera before ejecting the card, I thought that maybe the 60D could still access those files. I gently inserted the Lexar back into my DSLR and fired it up. I got a warning that the card was locked. The little white tab had fallen out when the casing cracked. But... the camera could still read the pictures that were on it!

I then did something that I had not done in years. I dug around in my Lowepro bag and found the USB cable that came with the 60D. I connected it to the MacBook Air, launched Aperture again, and crossed my fingers.

The thumbnails started rolling across my computer screen. Relief.

Even though I much prefer using card readers, in this case I was so happy that I still had the original USB cable with me. On this day, it saved the job.

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Model Shoot with the Olympus E-P3

We know that the Olympus E-P3 is capable in the field (see the latest DP Review test). That's the first environment that most think of when considering a micro four-thirds system camera. But what about in the studio? Could you use an E-P3 with the kit 14-42mm zoom (f/3.5 - 5.6) for a model shoot? I decided to find out.

ashley_full_portrait.jpg Ashley Tuttle photographed by Derrick Story using an Olympus E-P3 with stock 14-42mm zoom. Click on image for larger size.

The Set Up

I set an appointment with Ashley Tuttle, who will be one of the models for the TDS Sonoma Coast Workshop on Aug. 25th, to test the E-P3. I set a Olympus FL-50R flash in a softbox as the main light, then added an Olympus FL-36R as a fill light using a Rogue FlashBender to help shape the environment. I controlled both flashes wirelessly using the E-P3 - no additional lighting accessories were needed.

I added the Olympus Electronic Viewfinder VF-2 to the E-P3 during the shoot so I wouldn't have to use the LCD to compose. Quite honestly I did this for two reasons: 1) it's easier to compose during live action, and 2) it looks more professional than holding the camera like a regular point and shoot. What I liked about the viewfinder was the ability to really concentrate on the subject. What I didn't like was that the image was artificial looking in terms of exposure and color, especially for review. So I would switch to the wonderful 614,000 dot, 3" LCD to gauge the quality of the shots.

The autofocus was extremely fast during the shoot. The E-P3 had no problem keeping pace with Ashley and me. The flash system also worked quite well, and the FL-50R fired consistently, even when in the softbox.

Camera Settings

I set ISO to 640, and had a typical speed/aperture setting of 1/15th at f/5. I would have liked to push the ISO a bit higher to give me more speed. But since this was a portrait, I wanted to maintain as much image quality as possible. I used Jpeg/Fine mode, mainly because my imaging software doesn't support RAW yet from the E-P3. The picture size was 4032 × 3024 (12.2 MP).

The Image Results

I processed the Jpeg as I normally would in Aperture 3. As expected, the color balance and exposure from the E-P3 was consistently good. At 100 percent (as shown below), I did notice some smearing of detail in the hair and on the skin. There was also some slight ghosting on the finger nails and other edges. I attribute the ghosting to the kit lens, and the detail to having to use Jpeg mode instead of Raw.

ashley_zoom_100.jpg 100 percent enlargement of portrait. Click on image for full view.

The Bottom Line

For a casual portrait, I thought the E-P3 with stock zoom performed OK. The autofocus speed was terrific, off-camera flash system was reliable, and overall exposure and color was quite good.

But this is not a set up that you would want to use for professional portraits, at least without a few modifications. I would switch to one of the prime lenses (12mm, 17mm or 45mm) to give me a faster aperture and more detail. I think RAW would also be essential to retain as much detail and image quality as possible, especially at the higher ISOs.

The Olympus E-P3 is what I carry in my backpack when I'm traveling light, but still need the versatility of a system camera. And it's nice to know that in a pinch I can also use it for portraits with controlled lighting. I want to get my hands on the new 45mm f/1.8 prime. I'm also looking forward to RAW support in both Aperture and Lightroom. There's a lot of potential here.

More on the Olympus E-P3

New 14-42mm Kit Lens

Pricing and Availability Announced for Olympus E-PL3

Touchscreen Photography Moves Beyond iPhone with Olympus E-P3

Olympus PEN E-P3 with 12mm f/2.0 Prime Lens

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I've been testing the Epson Stylus Photo R2000 inkjet printer, using it for a variety of images from saturated color compositions on glossy stock to B&W on matte surfaces. It's a printer that I like a lot because it combines high quality with convenience. But I've noticed that it has different strengths than the Epson R2400 that I've been using since 2006.

The R2000 uses Epson UltraChrome Hi-Gloss 2 ink ( 8 cartridges: photo black, matte black, cyan, magenta, yellow, red, orange, and gloss optimizer) while the R2400 uses the UltraChrome K3 ink (8 cartridges: cyan, magenta, yellow, light cyan, light magenta, photo (or matte) black, light black, and light light black). It's interesting how these two ink combinations play out when viewing prints over the course of weeks. (You can read more about these Epson inks here.) Since I know the R2400 so well, I became curious about UltraChrome Hi-Gloss as I watched how the R2000 performed in comparison.

In short, the R2000 color output on luster and gloss surfaces is impressive. The gloss optimizer is an excellent finishing touch that appears to increase saturation while helping to protect the image during handling. The R2400 produces better B&W output, and I like how matte prints look emerging from this printer.

Both ink sets have excellent archival rating. The UltraChrome Hi-Gloss 2 color prints should hold up for 80 years if treated well. UltraChrome K3 ink output is rated over 100 years for color, and under the right conditions, up to 200 years for B&W. (I'm using commonly accepted statistics that are based upon Wilhelm Imaging Research.)

Bottom line for me is this: For color printing on gloss or luster surfaces, I like the convenience and appearance of prints from the Epson R2000 that uses the UltraChrome Hi-Gloss 2 Ink set. You might be interested to know that the gloss optimizer is the first cartridge to run dry because it's used on every print. That's probably why Epson puts two of those cartridges in a box while only single cartridges for the color inks. (For extra credit, guess which cartridge ran dry next? It was the cyan, followed by the yellow.)

I'll continue to use the R2400 with the UltraChrome K3 Ink for my B&W work, mostly on matte surfaces. I love the way fine art paper feels, and I really hate changing the photo black/matte black cartridges in the R2400. So I'm sticking with matte for most of my B&W prints.

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