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I've always used external hard drives to store my Aperture 3 Vaults. And even though I work with a referenced library these days instead of a managed library, I still use the vault to back up my image adjustments, ratings, and metadata. If my computer ever fails, I want to be able to restore my work as well as my master files.

But as I experimented more with personal cloud computing, I started thinking that it would be nice to have a copy of my vault on one of those network drives that has RAID1 mirroring. So I tried it.

On my local area network, I selected the Iomega ix2 storage drive that contained two 2TB hard drives that were set up to mirror one another. I opened Aperture and selected "Add Vault" from the gear menu at the bottom of the Library pane. In the dialog box that followed, I was able to choose the Iomega ix2 from the "Shared" drives. I initiated the process for creating a new Vault... and Aperture began backing up to it.

Even though my master Raw files are not contained in the Aperture library, the back up of my previews and work is still about 50 GBs. The building of the Vault for this went slowly, taking overnight to complete the job.

Subsequent updates to the Vault have gone much faster since Aperture uses incremental archiving -- it only backs up new data or data that has changed. It's still not as fast as a connected hard drive. But, I usually just work on other things during the few minutes it takes to refresh the Vault.

With this new set-up, I find that I'm running the Vault more often because it's more convenient. I doubt that I'll ever try this over the Cloud, but over my local area network, all seems well.

More Aperture Tips and Techniques

My next Aperture Workshop is Nov, 12-13, 2011 in Santa Rosa, CA. Write me if you're interested in attending.

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.

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

An exercise in persistence

The third gallery of TDS Member Photo of the Day images is now complete and ready for viewing. Each photo includes commentary by me discussing why I think the image is inspiring.

Each day, a new shot is featured at our community that gathers around the TDS Facebook Fan page. If you want to learn more about being a part of this terrific photography endeavor, check out the article, Why You'll Like TDS on Facebook.

Something new too... Flickr has added a Lightbox feature for viewing galleries. I highly recommend trying it for this one. You can let it autoplay, or click forward and backward manually. It's a stylish way to present these beautiful images.

Featured photo, "An exercise in persistence" by TDS Member Lynn D. Rosentrater. Click on the image to learn more about Lynn and her work.

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Apple's latest version of the MacBook Air combines good specification and excellent portability, making it an ideal machine for mobile photographers.

MacBook Air 13

One of the key new features is the Intel HD Graphics 3000 processor with 384MB of DDR3 SDRAM that's shared with main memory. Combined with the 1.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 and 4 GBS of RAM, these laptops can run Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture, and Final Cut X. I've been using all of those apps on my existing MacBook Air that's a year old, and performance has been terrific. It will be even better on the 2011 models.

Another improvement over last year's release is the backlit keyboard. I do miss having it on my existing model, and am happy that the latest version brings back that popular feature. Up the road, I'm sure Thunderbolt will be highly useful for photographers and video pros as high speed storage using this technology comes down in price. In the meantime, you still have two USB 2.0 connectors, one on each side. The MacBook Air plays friendly with external displays, so it's easy to plug into a large monitor when you return home.

As with last year's model, I still recommend the 13" model that includes the SD card slot. I find that feature extremely handy. Plus the additional screen real estate is a plus in Aperture and Final Cut Pro X. Battery life is estimated at 7 hours for the 13" vs 5 hours for the 11".

You can get the 13" with 256 GBs of Flash storage for $1,599 at the Apple Store. You'll be pleased with how well it fits in many of your camera backpacks, and the performance is solid.

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PhotoToaster for iPad


I've been impressed with image editing on the iPad. For some reason, it seems more fun than on a regular computer. This is definitely the case with my latest favorite, PhotoToaster by East Coast Pixels.

Even on my first generation iPad, the performance is snappy. You have the option of working with presets, as shown in the image below, or using adjustment sliders. I've been doing both.

You have all of the expected adjustments, plus a handful of effects, and other goodies including vignettes, blur, and even borders. There's a shuffle button that randomly chooses a preset. Maybe I'm easily entertained, but sometimes I just hit the shuffle for a while to watch all the different versions of my image. All changes are reversable, and if you want to see your original image, just tap and hold.


Once you've finished, you can save your image to Tumblr, Facebook, email, or your photo library.

PhotoToaster is on sale for $1.99 right now. Lots of fun, and quite powerful.

Epson R2000 Printer

The Epson Stylus Photo R2000 is a sophisticated photo printer that accommodates sheets up to 13" x 19", accepts roll paper, and even has a DVD print adapter. The 8-cartridge unit uses Epson UltraChrome Hi-Gloss 2 pigment ink and includes a Gloss Optimizer that produces a lovely finishing touch on luster and gloss papers. WiFi connectivity is included, and it's very easy to add this printer to your local network. And the best part is, that you can get the R2000 for $399. In this podcast, I take you on a hands-on tour of the Epson.

Our friends at Red River Paper have also published an excellent review of the R2000 that I recommend reading if you're interested in this unit.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (24 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

Smoke is the July 2011 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is July 31, 2011.

TDS Nov. Aperture Workshop

I'm considering adding 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.

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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This short video shows how two DSLRs are wired up to be controlled with a single remote. I'm not sure where the author got the stereo mini jack adapters, but it's intriguing nonetheless.

Controlling 2 Canon Cameras with one shutter release from PRD3000 on Vimeo.

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One of the joys of taking photos with an iPhone is the ability to tap the touchscreen to choose the focus, then take the photo. We're starting to see this technology migrate to more sophisticated cameras, with the latest incarnation on the Olympus E-P3.

ep3_touchscreen.jpg The 614,000 dot, 3" LCD on the Olympus E-P3 is beautiful, and it's a touchscreen to boot.

The E-P3 is a sophisticated micro four thirds interchangeable lens camera. I've enjoyed testing it with the new 12mm f/2.0 prime lens. The first day I was touring with it hanging off my neck, it began taking pictures by itself as it bounced against my chest. I thought, "What the heck?" That was my introduction to touchscreen photography on the E-P3. My next lesson was learning how to turn this control on and off via the icon on the left side of the LCD.

Touchscreen for Shooting

There are three basic controls for the touchscreen: off (which I didn't use at first), shoot, and focus control.


In shoot mode, the camera will focus on the area of the LCD that you touch, then immediately fire. This makes it easy to have the E-P3 focus precisely where you want. In rapid sequence you can select 3 or 4 different areas to focus on, then choose you favorite later.

I also like focus control mode. In this case, you tap the screen area to move the focus box, then fire the camera with the shutter button. You can zoom the area where the focus box is selected by pressing the magnify button. I found this mode extremely useful when using the silky manual focus ring on the 12mm f/2 lens.

I placed the focus indicator on the area I wanted in focus, pressed the magnify button to enlarge, manually focused, pressed the magnify button again to back out, recomposed, then shoot. This all happens in seconds, and it yields very good results.

Touchscreen for Playback

iPhone users will feel very comfortable using the E-P3's touchscreen to view images. Simply swipe to move from frame to frame. If you want to zoom in on a shot, tap the screen once to display the zoom bar, then adjust to taste. Double tap to return to full view.

You can view all of the images on the memory card by tapping the thumbnail icon in the lower right corner. Tap on the frame you want to view as an enlarged version. There's even a calendar that shows an attractive monthly view with a thumbnail on the days you have captured photos. It's not a bad calendar either.

Truly Useful Functionality

At first, you may wonder if a serious interchangeable lens camera really needs a 3" touchscreen LCD. I like using it in playback mode. It has that iPhone comfortableness to it. But for manual focusing with the new Olympus prime lenses, the touch focus control with zoom is fantastic. I get to enjoy the tactile experience to manually turning the well-damped focusing ring on the 12mm prime, yet have the confidence that my sharpness will be spot on.

Bottom line: I very much like this touchscreen.

More About the Olympus E-P3

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

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Make Time for Google+


"So, what do you think of Google+?" That's been the question over the last couple weeks that we've been asking each other. Unless you absolutely love social network sites, it probably feels like another thing to do in a day already packed to the gills.

In my online world, I have the blog to run, tweets to post, Facebook to update, Flickr to populate, and now circles to grow in Google+. The thing about it is, that I think that this new opportunity will be worth the time we invest in it. Google+ is well thought out, beautiful, and I'm anticipating that it will be a thriving photo community.

This article by Thomas Hawk, Top 10 Tips on Google+ for Photographers will help you get oriented. It's quite good, and I appreciated Google+ more after reading it.

It's worth making time for.

Find Me on Google+

One of the challenges in the studio when using off camera flash is getting the right balance between light on the background and your subject. I use the "Group" control on my Canon flash system to get the look I want.

Michaela Looking Back

"Michaela Looking Back" by Derrick Story. Click on image for larger size.

For this shot, I used four Canon flashes: two on the backdrop and two for the subject. I set the backdrop flashes to "Group B" and the subject flashes to "Group A". I then used the flash control menu on the Canon 60D to play with the ratios between the two groups. When I want a bright background, the ratio can be as extreme as 8:1. Usually I'm set around 4:1 or 2:1.

By simply changing the settings in the menu on the 60D, I can adjust my lighting scheme without ever moving from the shooting position. If you haven't experimented using Groups this way, give it a try.

More Off Camera Flash Tutorials

If you want to learn more about getting pro results from simple flash units, be sure to check out my Off Camera Flash title on I show you all sorts of helpful lighting techniques that are especially good for portraits.

Off Camera Flash - Basic Techniques for Pro Results

Light Modifiers for Off Camera Flash

Off Camera Flash - The Single Light Portrait

"More Off Camera Flash" - Digital Photography Podcast 233

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High ISO: I Never Get Tired of It

Jiffy Pop!

We were heating up Jiffy Pop popcorn (as much fun to make as it is to eat) over a camp fire the other night, and I grabbed my Canon 60D, composed a shot, and captured the moment. It was already dark in camp, and our only real illumination were the coals and occasional flame from the fire.

I love the shot, as much for sentimental reasons, because it captures the feeling of friends and family sitting around a fire, talking about random subjects, and of course eating popcorn. I didn't even have to think about how I was going to make the photograph because I knew my camera can record excellent images up to ISO 3200, and decent ones beyond that.

So I was free to just pick up the 60D, compose, shoot, then put it down and grab a handful of hot popcorn. I never fell out of the moment. High ISO capability makes this easy.

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