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Dragonfly in Flight

During our afternoon shoot at the TDS Photography Workshop in Sonoma County, a curious Dragonfly became interested in me. He would buzz by, hover for just a second, dash off, then come back for another look.

Dragonfly During TDS Workshop Dragonfly captured with a 70-200 mm f/2.8 Canon Zoom with 1.4X tele extender. Click on image for larger version.

I added the 1.4X tele extender to my Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom (on a 5D Mark II) and did my best to photograph the speedy Dragonfly. The afternoon light was strong and reflective, so I added a polarizer to cut down on glare. I do, however like the water reflections and boca in the background.

Speaking of the Workshop, we had a great day yesterday, combining classroom work with a model shoot and landscape photography at a vineyard. More on that later.

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On Friday night, at the debut of the TDS Photography Workshop, I'm introducing the Lowepro Bag Grab. It's simple, but fun. I pile up a heap of Lowepro bags, as shown below, then each workshop participant puts their name in hat. I draw a name, and that person gets to take any Lowepro bag in the heap. I draw a second name, and on down the line until every participant has picked a bag. I have extra gear so there's a good variety and plenty of options for everyone.

Lowepro Bag Grab

It's all just part of the fun on orientation night. Tomorrow, class starts, and we venture out into wine country for some shooting... and tasting.

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Have you ever wanted to photograph California Wine Country in the Fall? If so, save these dates on your calendar: October 16-18, 2010. The second Digital Story Photography Workshop will feature two half-day classroom training sessions at the Digital Story Headquarters in Santa Rosa, CA, plus two location shoots. Class size is limited to 8 people on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration fee for the workshop is $495, and it includes lots of goodies, such as delicious lunches and a very nice Lowepro camera bag.

You can put your name on the reserve list by sending me email with the Subject Line: "Fall TDS Workshop 2010," and in the body include your name, email address, phone number, and state where you live. Contact information can be found in the Member Participation section of the site.

TDS Workshops, Sonoma County

I'll have more to report about TDS workshops soon, including some video from this week's event in Sonoma County. TDS members on are their way right now for the workshop this weekend. Stay tuned!

Places on iPhone 3GS

Apple's iOS 4 adds a handful of interesting photography-related features to my iPhone 3GS. One of the most basic, but an improvement that I like a lot, is being able to change the background of the Home Screen with one of my photos. I'm using a blue sky shot with just a wispy cloud, and it looks great. Nice use of those artsy images I'm prone to collecting.

Digital Zoom

On compact cameras, digital zoom is something that I always disable because those devices have optical zooms that are higher quality. But on my prime lens only iPhone, I'm happy to have the 5X zoom. To enable it, just tap the screen and a slider appears that allows you to get a little closer to your subject. It actually works fairly well. Keep the camera steady during exposure by holding your finger on the shutter button, then lightly lift it off to take the photo.


I haven't had time to test the new Faces feature, but Places is automatically enabled since the iPhone geotags images. When in the Photos app, just tap the Places tab at the bottom, and you'll see a map with red drop pins. Tap on a drop pin and a label appears telling you how many photos are at that location. Tap the blue arrow, and you're taken to an album that has both photos and videos from that general area. You can fine tune the area by pinch-zooming in on the map. One pin can become several as you get closer. Very handy. Works great.

Tap to Focus Video

Another handy feature is the ability to focus the camera during video recording. So if you're shooting a distant shot, then move in close, you can tell the iPhone exactly want you want in focus by tapping the screen. What isn't discussed as much, but just as important, is that exposure is also adjusted by tapping. This really helps when dealing with a backlit subject that would otherwise be dramatically underexposed.

Final Thoughts

I just love free software, and the new iOS 4 includes features that I find useful. You don't have to buy a new iPhone to take advantage of many of these. Just connect your iPhone 3G or 3GS to iTunes, and grab your update now.

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You can actually "bake" your images onto a sheet of polished aluminum to create artwork that has amazing depth, durability, and detail. That's the process that SizzlPix uses, and we sit down with Don Sherman, the guy who started it all, to learn the ins and outs of this unique type of photo printing.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (26 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App from the Apple App Store.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Float is the June 2010 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is June 30, 2010.

JD Felton was the "SizzlPix Pick of the Month" for Photo Assignment 50. Who will be the winner for Photo Assignment 51? The prize is an 11"x14" SizzlPix of the winning photograph.

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!

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Podcast Sponsors

Red River Paper -- Try the $7.99 Sample Kit.

Make Your Photos Sizzle with Color! -- SizzlPix is like High Definition TV for your photography.

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Turning on "highlight hot and cold areas" can help you fine tune exposure adjustments when putting the finishing touches on your pictures. In this 2 minute video, I show you how to use this technique effectively.

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 Learning Center. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.

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"This butterfly kept fluttering around us as we walked in Sugar Loaf Ridge State Park, Northern California," writes Christine Barry. "It landed, and I snapped a quick shot which I love."

Christine used her Nikon D5000 set to ISO 200. Exposure was 1.125 at f/5.6

Butterfly in Hand

Photo by Christine Barry. Click on image for larger version.

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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Andy Katz just released his latest photography book, Sonoma. I caught up with him in Healdsburg, CA (in the heart of Sonoma County Wine Country), and asked him to reveal what he was toting in his Lowepro Classified 250 AW bag. This is what he had to say.

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I just read this great post on Digital Photography School titled, How to Get Your Camera Back When You Lose It. Shooter Andrew McDonald publishes a series of shots that you can leave on your memory card. If the curious person who finds your camera looks at its images, they will be treated to a fun visual story... complete with information on how to return the gear to its rightful owner. Definitely worth a look.

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Eye-Fi Control on Sony NEX-5

On of the pieces of good news about the Sony Alpha NEX-5 is that it accepts SDHC cards in addition to Memory Sticks. I wasn't aware of that at first, but I am so happy that Sony is giving us this option. In addition to general convenience, it allows us to use Eye-Fi cards in the NEX-5 so we can transport images directly from the camera to a computer or online photo site. (I just tested this capability with the Eye-Fi Pro X2 8GB SDHC Card.)

In fact, if you scroll down to the bottom of the Setup menu on the NEX-5, you'll see that you have an on/off switch for the Eye-Fi card.

Eye-Fi Control on Sony NEX-5 You can turn on and off the wireless function on the Eye-Fi card via a menu setting on the Sony NEX-5.

Now I have complete control over the Eye-Fi card. Plus, when it's uploading, there's an icon on the Sony LCD that lets me know the status of the card: sending images, idle, or off.

I love this integration and would like to see it on more cameras.

More on the Sony NEX-5

Sweep Panorama Is Impressive on Sony NEX-5

"Sony NEX-5: Where Does it Fit?" - Digital Photography Podcast 228

Viewing Sony's NEX-5 AVCHD Movies on a Mac

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