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A feature on the new Canon 60D DSLRthat intrigued me was the in-camera Raw processing. The thinking is that you can shoot Raw, then if you need a Jpeg version of any of those images, you can process the Raw file in the camera. No computer required. You'll get a new Jpeg according to your settings. I decided to put this feature to the test.

Canon 60D Raw Processing Menu In-camera Raw processing menu for the Canon 60D. Click on image for larger version.

I selected this flower image from a Christmas Cactus. I captured it originally in Raw with the Canon 60D. In playback mode, I pressed the Menu button and navigated to Raw Image Processing. The next menu, shown above, provided me with 10 settings to customize the processing of the file. Included were: Brightness, White Balance, Picture Style, Auto Lighting Optimizer, Noise Reduction, Quality and Resolution, Color Space, Peripheral Illumination Correction, Distortion Correction, and Chromatic Aberration Correction. That's a fairly nice toolbox to work with.

I played with the settings, including sampling the file down to S1 (2592x1728, 4.5 MBs), then processed the photo. Once it was finished, the 60D informed me of the file number of the processed image and the folder in the camera where it resided. The un-retouched processed picture is below.

Raw File Processed In-Camera on a Canon 60D Un-retouched Jpeg processed in-camera from a Raw file with a Canon 60D. Click on image for full sized version.

I'll let you judge for yourself, but I find this feature very convenient. The only thing that would make it better is a cropping tool. For many shooters, in-camera processing could eliminate the need to record in Raw+Jpeg. Just shoot Raw, and double the number of frames you can record in burst mode, then process the images you need to share immediately in camera.You can sample down as far as 720x480. That means with an Eye-Fi SD Card you could upload a properly resized image directly from the 60D to Flickr, even if it began as a Raw file.

Seems like a handy feature to me.

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Using Shift-Drag in Photoshop CS5 to stack two photos in a layered document...

Fortunately I had a camera with me when I came upon this colorful vineyard during the late afternoon on Saturday. I didn't have much time to "work the shot," so I made two exposures: one for the sky and the other for the foreground.

Autumn Barn, Sonoma County Photo by Derrick Story. Click on image for larger version.


Then in Photoshop, I stacked the two images to create a layered document (hold down the Shift key and drag one photo on to the other.) I then clicked on the top layer, held down the Option key, clicked on the Vector Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and created a mask. Now, with the brush tool set to white, I can reveal the areas from the top layer that I like (the sky) and combine it with the vineyard from the bottom layer.

This two-shot technique allows me to work fast in the field, then quickly composite the image in Photoshop. It's not HDR, but it works nicely.

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After just a day of testing, there seems to be many benefits to the Mac OS X 10.6.5 update, including Raw file support for 10 new cameras:

  • Canon EOS 60D
  • Canon PowerShot S95
  • Hasselblad H4D-40
  • Nikon D3100
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5
  • Sony DSLR-A290
  • Sony DSLR-A560
  • Sony DSLR-A580
  • Sony SLT-A33
  • Sony SLT-A55

You can see the complete list of supported cameras here.

Improved Export Speed in Aperture 3.1

But there's another bonus performance update that you might not have found yet. Thanks to Core Image enhancement under the hood, exporting images in Aperture 3.1 has improved also. This is welcome relief, indeed.

I tested this by editing sample "referenced" Raw files from a Canon S90 and 5D Mark II on a MacBook Pro 17" 2.5 GHz with 4 GBs Ram. I worked on one set of images with Mac OS X 10.6.4, then performed the same test on similar images (captured in burst mode) in Mac OS X 10.6.5. I applied these adjustments to all images before exporting them as full size Jpegs: Color, Levels, Crop, Vibrancy, Shadows, Recovery, Definition, and Edge Sharpen. I was very careful to make sure that all processing had completed before I initiated export. There were no other apps running during this test.

Mac OS X 10.6.4 with Aperture 3.1

Canon S90 .CR2 export to Jpeg --> 13.6 seconds
Canon 5D Mark II .CR2 export to Jpeg --> 30.2 seconds

Mac OS X 10.6.5 with Aperture 3.1

Canon S90 .CR2 export to Jpeg --> 7.3 seconds
Canon 5D Mark II .CR2 export to Jpeg --> 11.4 seconds

Since I had a number of burst mode shots in each series, I performed the test on four different images with each version of the operating system, then averaged the numbers.

So, if you run Aperture, make sure you've updated the app to 3.1 and OS X to 10.5.6. You'll get new Raw profiles plus a nice little performance boost too.

More Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn more about Aperture 3, check out my Aperture 3 Essential Training on Also, take a look at our Aperture 3 Focus Section. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.

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Built to Order MacBook Air Speed Tests


In this week's podcast I talk about using a "built to order" MacBook Air for running Aperture, Lightroom, iPhoto, and Photoshop. And given the dramatic savings in size and weight with the new Air, I didn't feel that I was compromising too much on performance.

Now we have the numbers to go along with my field experiences. Macworld Magazine has released their 2010 MacBook Air: ultimate-edition lab tests. And as I suspected, there is a performance boost in the areas that we care about between the stock models and the built to order (BTO) Airs:

"The 13-inch MacBook Air BTO configuration was 10 percent faster than its stock configuration. Individual application highlights include Aperture and our multitasking tests that were both 15 percent faster, and iPhoto was 14 percent faster."

You also get to see how the new Air compares to the 15" MacBook Pro 2.4GHz Core i5 (Mid 2010) model -- a laptop that many consider the gold standard for photographers on the go.

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Yojimbo for the Organized Photographer

I've heard good things about Yojimbo for quite some time. But when Bare Bones Software released the companion Yojimbo for the iPad app, I decided that this was something I wanted to investigate for my "staying organized" workflow.

Yojimbo on the Mac The Yojimbo interface on the Mac is clean and easy to use. Click for larger version.

Basically it works like this. While you're working on your Mac, you can copy bits of information that you want to hang on to and put it in Yojimbo. This can be all sorts of stuff: bookmarks, notes, flight numbers, hotel reservations, directions, etc. Once your data is in Yojimbo, you can tag, label, or add a comment about it. Finding the info is a breeze via search or browsing, even if you don't tag.

Here's where it gets even better for the nimble photographer. If you get the iPad app too, it syncs with your desktop version. Both devices have to be on the same network, and boom, you have your complete cache of Yojimbo data right there on the iPad. And for sensitive data, you can encrypt it on the Mac and the iPad honors that encryption.

Yojimbo for the iPad You can sync your Mac data with the iPad via Yojimbo for the iPad. Click for larger version.

This is particularly helpful when traveling. It's much easier to pull out the iPad to check hotel information than to fire-up the old laptop. I tested this duo with a MacBook Air and an iPad, and it was a joy to use.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that this is a one-way street. The data management is always on the Mac. The iPad is a display-only version of your Yojimbo data. You do have the option to move the data from the iPad via email, but that's about it.

If you're challenged by bits of information that you want better organized, take a look at Yojimbo for the Mac ($39). And if you have an iPad ($9.99), they make a good team.

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MacBook Air

The new MacBook Air represents both freedom and power for the nimble photographer. This week I talk about how to best configure the laptop and have recommendations for camera bags that will accommodate it.

I've had a chance to actually use the computer in the field. On a recent assignment to New York, I used Aperture 3.1, Photoshop CS5, Adobe Bridge, Adobe Camera Raw, iMovie, Photoshop Elements 9, Premiere Elements, and iPhoto '11 on the MacBook Air. All of my productivity apps such as the iWork suite, Transmit 4, Text Wrangler, and QuickTime also performed well.

The bottom line is that the Air is a blessing for shooters who want to use their favorite photo apps on the go.

Lowepro Bags Discussed in the Podcast

Listeners who have the TDS Podcast App also have a movie showing the Classified Sling 180 and the Versapack with the MacBook Air. Click on the Extras button.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (34 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

High ISO is the November 2010 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is Nov. 30, 2010. Entries must be recorded at ISO 800 or above.

TDS Spring 2011 Photography Workshop

We're making plans now for the Spring 2011 TDS Photography Workshop. If you want your name on the reserve list, just drop me a line.

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!

Podcast Sponsors

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Mophie Powerstation - Hands-On Test

Mophie Powerstation

I was able to get my hands on a production model of the Mophie Powerstation to see how well it performed with the iPhone and iPad. I originally wrote about the Powerstation after seeing it demoed at a Mobile Focus event. For being so light and compact (not much bigger than an iPhone), it packs quite a punch. It can fully recharge my iPhone 3GS, and partially refuel the iPad.

Here's a representative test for each device.

iPhone 3GS

My iPhone battery was down to 34 percent. I connected a fully charged Powerstation (6 LED lights showing), and 1:40 later, the phone was showing 100 percent charge. The Powerstation still had energy left also - 4 LED lights glowing. I plugged in the Powerstation to recharge it, and it took 2:30 to reenergize.

iPad 3G

Anyone who's every charged an iPad knows how much juice it takes to replenish those big batteries. I connected my iPad showing a 42 percent charge to the Powerstation, and it reached 82 percent before the Mophie ran out of gas (0 LEDs showing). This process took 2:15.

Additional Features

I like the standby switch that prevents power drainage when the Mophie is not in use. I had misunderstood earlier that it had "pass through" charging, but when I tested it, the Mophie did not have this feature. You have to charge the Powerstation and your i-device separately. The LED indicators are a nice touch and work well.

Bottom Line

The Mophie Powerstation is a 3600 mAh device that charges up to 2 amps, works great on iPods and iPhones, and it can buy you some extra time on the iPad. It's not cheap at $99 -- but it's powerful and well-designed. And if you need juice on the go, you'll be glad to have one in your backpack.

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Yes, it has some templates that you'd never consider for a moment, but iMovie '11 is a good tool for fast video production, especially for DSLR shooters who don't want to mess with transcoding (you get to edit natively in H.264).

iMovie '11 Interface iMovie '11 interface. Click on image for larger version.

I found this quick-read review of iMovie '11 on Canon 5D Tips that covers the "good" and "less good" aspects of this app. My experience mirrors this review.

I've been using iMovie '11 in the field on a MacBook Air, and have enjoyed the experience. I did hit a limitation trying to use iMovie '11 to manage my Aperture movies (read the comments that follow the article), but for fast video production, iMovie '11 has been easy to learn and includes lots of nice features. And you can't beat the price.

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Tim Tilden Grab Shot

"Several years ago I became friends with the local Hang Glider pilots here on Oahu," writes Tim Tilden. "They launch from a spot on a ridge 1100 ft above the beach. Using trucks, they drive their gliders up to the launch, and since I live nearby, I volunteer to drive the pickups down to the landing zone."

"While they fly, I take pictures. I've become a visual chronicler of many of their flights. I ended up creating a site on Smugmug to allow them to see how good they look!"

"On Halloween Sunday, I was at the Landing Zone taking pictures of their landings, and the landings of the paragliders who use the same LZ. A paraglider pilot alerted me to a parachutist, who was about to jump from a paraglider high above the LZ. Quickly changing to my long zoom, a Tokina 80-400mm, I got this shot moments after her leap from the glider. She landed safely."

Photo by Tim Tilden. Click on image for larger version (whoa!).

This is our 203rd Grab Shot! Wow. If you want to review the collection that began back in 2006, go to our Grab Shots page.

If you have a candid you'd like to share, take a look at our Submissions page, then send us your Grab Shot. We'll try to get it published for you on The Digital Story.

And you can view more images from our virtual camera club in the Member Photo Gallery.

The Digital Story Podcast App is the best way to stream or download weekly TDS podcast episodes. No more syncing your iPhone or iPod Touch just to get a podcast. And there's more! Tap the Extras button for free passes and discounts and the current Grab Shot by our virtual camera club members. Each podcast episode has its own Extras button, too, that contains more goodies such as pro photo tips. And the best part is, The Digital Story Podcast App is your way to help support this show.Download it today!

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High ISO Street Shooting

American Flag in New York City

During my last trip to New York City, I carried a Canon Rebel T1i with a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens when I went out at night to eat. I love the challenge of only having one prime lens with me.

My favorite time to shoot is at twilight. Color in the sky makes all the difference. Also having a fast lens and not being afraid to push the ISO provides lots of creative options. This shot, for example, was recorded wide open with the ISO set to 1600. I haven't done any noise reduction at all.

If you also like this stuff, consider entering this month's Photo Assignment, "High ISO." Entries must be shot at ISO 800 or higher.

"American Flag in New York City" -- Recorded with a Canon T1i and a 50mm lens at f/1.8. Thanks to ISO 1600, I was able to expose at 1/30th to give me a good rendering of the flag. Photo by Derrick Story. Click on image for larger version.

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