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Raw files and video clips really pile up the gigabytes when I'm on the road. I've been testing hard drives that have both speed and capacity, and my latest favorite is the OWC 500GB Mercury Elite-AL Pro mini.

OWC 500GB Hard Drive

It spins at a speedy 7200 RPMs, holds 500GBs of data, allows for both FireWire 800 or USB2 connectivity (eSATA too if you need it), includes an on/off switch, and it *does not* require external power for FireWire and USB connections. It's a little bigger -- 5.5in(L) x 3.8in(W) x 1.1in(H) -- than the LaCie Rugged that it replaces. But it also feels more solid and looks beautiful. Cables and plenty of software are included with the drive.

The OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro mini isn't the lightest drive I've carried recently, but it performs well and inspires confidence. And at $149, it's a good value too.

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Once you move the flash off the camera, you might want to soften the quality of its output. Here's a brief tour of light modifiers to consider for your off camera flash work.

This movie is from my training series, Off Camera Flash. By spending just an hour with this course, you can dramatically improve your indoor portrait photography, whether you're on location or in your own environment.

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The Smash, originally uploaded by The Digital Story.

I charged the batteries for the Olympus PEN E-PL1 and headed to Palo Alto, CA to photograph the evening match between Maria Sharapova and Elena Dementieva. At the time of the match, Elena was ranked #5 and Maria #17 in women's pro tennis.

To freeze the action, I knew that I would need shutter speeds of 1/250th or higher. I prefer 1/500th if I can get it under the lights of a night event. My E-PL1 is solid up to ISO 1600, so then it was a matter of lens choice. I opted for my Zeiss 135mm f/2.8 prime lens that I used for years on my Contax 35mm bodies. Since the micro 4/3 bodies double the focal length, I was shooting with an effective 270mm f/2.8 lens - plenty of reach for the intimate tennis center at Stanford University.

I always shoot wide open for these types of events. After a few minutes, I get a feel for where the players are most comfortable on the court, then prefocus in those areas. I always bring a magnifying loupe that I place on the back LCD to get as accurate a focus as possible. You can also use the electronic viewfinder for the E-PL1 if you have it.

It was a terrific match with Maria Sharapova defeating second-seeded Elena Dementieva 6-4, 2-6, 6-3. Maria also won her Saturday semi final event and is in the Bank of the West final today.

I've posted a Sharapova photo gallery captured with this rig. It's amazing what you can do with these compact micro 4/3 cameras.

Cassie McFadden - Float

Here's a collection of images to lighten up your day. The assignment for June 2010 was "Float." Check out this soaring set of images from members of the TDS virtual camera club. And which one will be the SizzlPix Pick of the Month?

The August 2010 assignment is "Tandem." Start working on your contribution now. Details can be found on the Member Participation page. You can now submit photo assignment pictures up to 800 pixels in the widest direction.

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 next month's assignment should be: "Photo Assignment: August 2010." 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.

Photo by Cassie McFadden. (Click on it to see enlarged version.) You can read more about how Cassie captured this shot, plus see all of the other great images on the June 2010 Gallery page.

Good luck with your August assignment, and congratulations to all of the fine contributors for June. Once again, it's a great collection of images.

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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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I have a couple hard drives without enclosures that weren't being put to use. What a shame! All that disc space just sitting there. So I decided to take a chance on a $30 hard drive docking station. Now I'm putting those discs to use.

Hard Drive Docking Station

The $30 docking station isn't going to win any awards for craftsmanship or design, but it does work. Insert the drive, push the power button, format it, and start working. Since it's the drive that requires integrity, not so much the docking station, this should serve me just fine for moving my data around.

It also includes a card reader and a USB hub with two ports. Don't get your hopes up for the card reader, but the USB hub seems to work fine.

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Upload to Flickr from iPhoto

iPhoto is a terrific tool for managing your pictures on your Mac. But iPhoto 09 also lets you manage Web albums for Flickr, Facebook, and MobileMe. This helps you stay organized online as well as on your computer.

In my latest article for Macworld Magazine, Control your online albums with iPhoto, I show you how easy this process is.

Don't keep those great images all to yourself. Share them with friends, family, and even the world!

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Olympus E-PL1 "Bounce Flash"?

Olympus E-PL1 Flash

Many of us were thrilled when Olympus added a popup flash to its latest PEN, the E-PL1, but after using it for a while, it has another feature that I hadn't heard discussed as much: You can angle the flash for bounce too.

The popup flash head is attached to an ingenious "arm" mechanism that raises it above the camera body. This helps control red eye and lowers shadows a bit. But what's really cool, is that this "arm" swivels at the base. So you can angle the mechanism back on a 90 degree angle so the flash is pointing directly upward. Yes, you can bounce the built-in flash.

I used this bounce technique when I had to take a quick shot for this week's podcast, Wireless Photography. Direct flash would have caused an unwanted reflection in the glass screen of the iPad. (I was already taking a picture of another camera flashing directly at me.)

For best results, increase your ISO to 400 or 800. This will extend the range of the flash when bouncing it off white surfaces.

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iPad and S90 Wireless Photography

No wires or card readers -- you take a picture, it magically appears on your computer or iPad, then you upload it online for the world to see. In this week's podcast I explain a totally wireless photography workflow using an Eye-Fi card and an iPad loaded with ShutterSnitch and Meta Editor. It's not only fun... it's downright useful.

You can use this workflow with your laptop or netbook too, provided you get the software in order. I've been using the iPad because it only weighs 1.5 pounds, and it has both WiFi and cellular connectivity.

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

Torn is the July 2010 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is July 31, 2010.

The SizzlPix Pick of the Month for Photo Assignment 51 (Fire) is awarded to Dan Newsom for his non-literal interpretation of fire.

TDS Autumn 2010 Photography Workshop

The next TDS Photography Workshop will be Oct. 16-18, 2010. You can place your name on the reserve list now. Just drop me a line. We currently just have a couple spots open, so don't delay.

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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Blurb logo

If you want to play with page layout designs for your first photography book, you can download the free BookSmart software (Mac/Win) and experiment. It's powerful and easy to learn.

I've embedded a short 2-minute video on How to Get Started with BookSmart Software on our new "Blurb on The Digital Story" site. After just a couple minutes, you'll see how easy this process can be.

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One of the missing links in the iPad photography workflow has been the ability to add copyright and other IPTC data to your images before sending them along via the Internet. Now, thanks to a new app by Cyril Godefroy called Meta Editor, you can add tags, author name, copyright, captions, and even geodata to any image that resides on your iPad.

MetaEditor Click on image for larger size.

I've add this application to my existing iPad workflow that uses an Eye-Fi card and ShutterSnitch to wirelessly move the images from my Canon PowerShot S90 to the iPad. I will sometimes touch them up using Photogene. And if I'm going to share them online, I open the shots in Meta Editor to add my IPTC data.

In the screenshot above, you can see the Meta Editor interface and the information I added to the Roma Tomato shot. Then, in the screenshot below, you see the same data in the Information dialog box for Preview on the Mac. All the data traveled with the image.


And if you take a look at the Flickr version that was uploaded directly from the iPad, you'll see that "Tomato" was added as a Flickr tag too. Very nice!

Meta Editor is available in the App Store for $9.99. It still has a few rough edges that I'm sure will be smoothed out soon by the developer. But in the meantime, it does work well, and I haven't found anything else like it for the iPad.

I recommend Meta Editor to iPad toting photographers who need to add IPTC data to their images.

More iPad Articles

Eye-Fi Card, iPad, and ShutterSnitch for Wireless Transfer

iPad Camera Connection Kit

How to Create and Deliver Content for the iPad

Acme Made iPad Cases for Style and Protection

Will the iPad Squish my Photos?

The $2 iPad Stand

Bluetooth Keyboard and iPad - A Powerful Combination

Turn Your iPad into a Live Camera

Lowepro Classified 160 AW is Perfect Bag for iPad Toting Photographers

Coolest iPad Apps for Photogs? Keynote and CameraBag

"iPad for Photographers" - Digital Photography Podcast 219

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