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Robert Barone Oct 2011 Photo Assignment

For the Oct. '11 Photo Assignment, TDS shooters worked the angles while exploring the theme Side Lighting. The imagery in this gallery is quite beautiful. And which one will be the SizzlPix Pick of the Month? (These will look great Sizzled!)

Photo by Robert Barone. For more information about this image, plus all of the other terrific shots from Oct., visit the Side Lighting gallery page.

Participate in This Month's Assignment

The Dec. 2011 assignment is "Family." Start working on your contribution now. Details can be found on the Member Participation page. Deadline is Dec. 31, 2011.

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: Dec. 2011." 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.

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

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Now Available! The Digital Photography Companion. The official guide for The Digital Story Virtual Camera Club.

  • 25 handy and informative tables for quick reference.
  • Metadata listings for every photo in the book
  • Dedicated chapter on making printing easy.
  • Photo management software guide.
  • Many, many inside tips gleaned from years of experience.
  • Comprehensive (214 pages), yet fits easily in camera bag.

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Your Apple ear buds with remote can also serve as a cable release for the iPhone. I've just tested this with my iPhone 4S, and it works great.

iPhone 4S Cable Release Your Apple ear buds can also be used as a cable release for the iPhone. Photo by Derrick Story. Click on image for larger version.

Plug your ear buds into the iPhone, launch the camera app, steady the shot using your favorite stand or tripod, then squeeze the remote button on the ear buds. Your iPhone will take shot, steady as a rock. And the best part is, the cable release comes included in the box.

This tip is great for long exposures, HDR, etc. Give it a try!

Thanks so much to TDS Member, William St. John, for alerting me to this ultra cool tip.

More Articles About the iPhone 4S

Maximum HDR with iPhone 4S Camera

Gymbl Tripod for iPhone 4S - Hands on Review

Time Lapse Boogie with iPhone 4S

Glif Tripod Mount and Stand for iPhone 4

"iPhone 4S Camera, Ready for Prime Time?" - Digital Photography Podcast 296

iPhone 4S Camera Pros and Cons

iPhone 4S Camera Exceeds My Expectations

The Digital Story on Facebook -- discussion, outstanding images from the TDS community, and inside information. Join our celebration of great photography!

In these early days of iCloud, the Photo Stream component is far from perfect. But the concept is good. So it's really a matter of fine tuning on Apple's part.

But I think Photo Stream can still be used in the meantime. In my Macworld Magazine article, Control Photo Stream with iPhoto and Aperture, I explain a workflow that uses iPhoto as a holding tank for your Photo Stream, then tapping the images you want via the iPhoto Photo Browser function in Aperture.

Using this method, you get the backup benefits of Photo Stream, but you don't have a bunch of crud flowing into your photo management environment. Take a look at the article and see what you think.

Beth Wald has fulfilled national and international assignments for editorial clients that include National Geographic, Smithsonian, The New York Times, National Geographic Adventure, Outside, Men's Journal,and many others. So you can imagine how pleased I was to meet her for lunch yesterday at Lowepro, then go for a hike in the Petaluma hills.

Beth Wald - International Photographer Beth Wald working in the field. Photo by Derrick Story. Click on image for larger version.


Imagine going on a hike with a woman who can scale a giant slab of granite, pull out a camera, then shoot down at her subject. I loved watching her work. One of the reminders that crossed my mind during the afternoon was the importance of knowing your equipment inside and out. Beth knew exactly where every lens and memory card was located in her bag. The fluid, natural way she would set her camera, compose a shot, then change angles made it clear that her equipment was an extension of her vision.

Rock climbing photo by Beth Wald

Since I was shooting both stills and video with Beth, I went with the Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS because of its hybrid image stabilization system. That allowed me to work handheld the entire time, and keep up with Beth on the trail.

Beth is a Nikon shooter and worked with her 24-70mm and the 70-200mm zooms, both excellent lenses. She was carrying the Lowepro Outback 300 AW, a bag she's trusted her gear with all over the world (shown in the top image). I noticed that the Outback is on sale on the Lowepro site for $72.50 (half price). Actually, I should probably let Beth know about that too...

The Digital Story on Facebook -- discussion, outstanding images from the TDS community, and inside information. Join our celebration of great photography!

Photography is a balancing act. You give a little here and get a bit there. One of the areas this comes in to play is with mobility vs quality. How much equipment do you want to carry, and how long do you want to spend setting up a shot? Do you want to travel light and work quickly? Or are you fine with the methodical approach? The trick is, the answer may not be the same for every situation. In this week's podcast, we explore the options you have, and how to apply them to your work.

I have a wonderful verbal typo in the opening monologue: "The Florida Birding Show in Texas." Sweet! Who's buried in Grant's Tomb, right?

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (32 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

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

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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Francesco Marzoli

If you want to improve your image editing skills in Adobe Camera Raw 6, download the free PDF guide (2.6 MB) authored by Francesco Marzoli.

The 36-page document contains some good tips on sharpening and color management. And Lightroom users should be interested in this offering also, since the Develop module essentially mirrors ACR in terms of functionality.

Even if you use ACR or Lightroom on a regular basis, you'll probably discover a new tip or two in this PDF.

The Digital Story on Facebook -- discussion, outstanding images from the TDS community, and inside information. Join our celebration of great photography!

Canon 100mm f-2.8 IS Macro

Is it possible to explore the world of macro photography without a tripod? And when it's time to make a movie, could you frame a tight shot by just holding the camera in your hands?

I've been field testing the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens that is the first Canon lens to incorporate Hybrid Image Stabilization that compensates for both angular and shift camera shake during close-up shooting. It's like having a built-in gyro for your camera. Other features include silent focusing USM, maximum aperture f/2.8, wide manual focusing ring, lens hood, and soft carrying pouch. This is a lens you can use for 1:1 macro photography, portrait work, sports, and handheld movie making.

Flower Open

I began by going for an afternoon stroll with just camera and lens, no tripod, to shoot close-ups. It was a freeing experience. My success rate was about the same as when lugging sticks with me. I couldn't stop-down the aperture as far as when using a tripod, but I was truly impressed that by steadying myself and using good shooting technique, I could get artistic close-ups with this lens. And did I mention that I was not carrying a tripod?

Next stop, handheld movie making from the stands at Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, CA. I was there more to enjoy the dolphins putting on a show, than to make a video, so I left the monopod at home. Even with constant panning to follow the action, the Hybrid IS system compensated for camera shake and provided steady shots for movie footage as well as stills.

I also learned that the manual focus override for filmmaking is the way to go with this lens. I could snap the image into a crisp composition much quicker manually than waiting for the autofocus to catch up. If you shoot movies with this lens, I recommend that you use the manual focusing as much as possible. It's easy and very effective.

Backlit Giraffe

This is also an excellent portrait lens. Notice the detail on the Giraffe eyes, and the soft, pleasing background. This image was shot at f/4, which is about as much as I stop down the 100mm for portrait work.

Bottom Line

The Canon 100mm L Hybrid IS Macro is a versatile, well-designed prime lens that's perfect for close-up photography, portraits, and movie making. It's very sharp, has a relatively fast 2.8 maximum aperture, and features an amazing image stabilization system. Its only weakness is ocassional slow auto focusing. You can partially compensate for this by using the 3-position "focusing distance range selection" switch on the side of the lens. I also discovered, however, that manual focusing is so easy with the 100mm, that I would use that to snap the composition into view, then finish off with auto-focus. After about an hour with the Canon 100mm IS Macro, I was working naturally with it. And quite honestly, I did not want to take it off the camera.

The lens is currently on special for $886 at B&H Photo until Jan. 7, 2012. That is the best price I've seen to date. And if you need a professional quality, technologically advanced 100mm macro, I would give this lens a very close look.

The Digital Story on Facebook -- discussion, outstanding images from the TDS community, and inside information. Join our celebration of great photography!


When I've worked events with a Gary Fong Lightsphere mounted over my flash, I've had people ask me if that was Tupperware on my camera. Well, over at, they tested real tupperware against the $50 modifier in the article titled, Gary Fong Lightsphere vs Tupperware.

And the conclusion? "After my testing, I found that there was absolutely no difference in my opinion in the quality of the light produced by the tupperware in comparison to the quality of light produced by the Lightsphere."

If you go on to read the article comments, however, many readers say that the convenience of the Lightsphere compared to a DIY rig makes up for the price. I can see that.

I mention the Lightsphere in the free movie "Understanding light modifier types and their use" in my title, Off Camera Flash. I think it's a convenient modifier in fast-paced situations such as wedding receptions. I look odd enough with the Lightsphere. Imagine if I showed up in my suit and tie with a hunk of Tupperware attached to my camera.

But I love the point that ImprovePhotography makes. It's a fun read if you have a moment.

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A Good List of Photo Apps for the iPad

iPad 2

There's a good list of 16 photography apps for the iPad on photography I like many of these selections. Serious shooters should consider the upgrade to Filterstorm Pro that has better organization features and Raw processing, compared to the basic app included on the list.

Another app on the list, PhotoSync is really useful for moving pictures between devices, even in the age of Photo Stream.

One important omission, in my opinion, is Minimal Folio that is a terrific tool for organizing and displaying a portfolio of your best work.

The bottom line is, there are many good applications for photographers available these days. Peruse this list and see if something sings to you.

The Digital Story on Facebook -- discussion, outstanding images from the TDS community, and inside information. Join our celebration of great photography!


There are good deals... and then there's free. Over on the Lowepro Facebook fan page they are conducting a special Free Bag Friday where the winner will get to choose one item from the Lowepro Gift Guide. To participate, all you have to do is post a comment on the Gift Guide about which bag you prefer and why. You have until midnight PST, Sunday Nov. 27 to participate. As with all give-aways, void where prohibited.

If you're feeling lucky, head over to the Lowepro Facebook fan page and join in the fun.

PS: If you didn't already know, I work with Lowepro and love their products.