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In the Dark

The first 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.

I'm very impressed with the work I'm seeing, and I think you will be too.

Featured photo, "In the Dark" by TDS Member John Farnan. Click on the image to learn more about John and his work.

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Editor's Note: An account about how good things can happen with your photography by TDS Member and SizzlPix winner Ken Latman. He wrote this piece a few months back while preparing for a gallery show (mentioned in this article). The show is now live at the Millworks Gallery in Akron, Ohio (with SizzlPix on the walls!) If you're in the area, stop by and see these beautiful images for yourself. Now... on to Ken's story about how this all came to pass.

My buddy Matt (another Sizzlpix of the month winner) and I were going on a road trip this past summer to some wonderful places: Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon, Arches National Park, Zion, etc. Before we went, I set up a squarespace website in the attempt to update our travels on the road. I have been an avid listener of The Digital Story podcast, and got Matt hooked on the show during the long drives in the car to all of these places.

Overall, the trip went really well. We stayed at The View hotel at Monument Valley on July 4th. Spent an extra day at Bryce Canyon, which happened to have an Astronomy program going on at that time. Saw the world's largest Easel in Goodland Kansas.

When we got back, I wanted to share my photos with family, but more than just a 12 month calendar. Your suggestion and sponsorship by Blurb seemed the right choice. This way I could make a couple books to show my family back in CT. And if they wanted a copy, it would be available to purchase on the site. I didn't want to be stuck shipping 20 books or more. Blurb makes it pretty easy to also put a link on your site and show every page of your book as a preview if people want to see it.

I got started working on the book. We both had taken so many interesting pictures during the trip. I often commented that we saw more places in two plus weeks than a lot of people see in a lifetime. It would be really cool if we could show them in a gallery or something.

Matt works as a science teacher, and Micah Kraus is an art teacher. They knew a gallery owner. We all got to talking. Micah had gone to Glacier National Park that summer on a motorcycle with his wife and had interesting pictures too. Another friend/teacher, Greg Milo, seemed like would be a great addition to the show too, and would help fill up the gallery space (I also think it brings more confidence to us all going in as a group of four.)

So Micah talked to Akron Millworks ( and suddenly we are set for a May 7th opening. At the same time, the book was done, and I entered both your Blurb book of the month contest and Sizzlpix of the month as well with a couple of entries for the duality topic. I didn't win, but when the Fall contest came around I made it a new project. I wanted to see something well done of mine printed on metal. We stumbled upon in Moab, Tom Till's gallery (, and he had some great pictures on aluminum. I had one piece printed on aluminum by another company, and it was ok, but not as well done as I would have liked. I was trying different companies but the process is expensive for testing your prints.

ken_latman_winner.jpg SizzlPix Winner by Ken Latman

October came, and I won the Sizzlpix of the month. You placed me in contact with Don, and I sent him my image. It had been about a week and I had not received a print. I want to say Don is an extremely nice and very personable guy. Don called me on the phone to explain the delay and was very apologetic. Christmas time can be very busy for them as you can imagine.

I delayed the print to arrive until after the new year, and when it did, I was really impressed on how well they got the detail and the various tones in the print. Of three printers (them included) with images I had made, Sizzlpix was the best. I sent Don a short little thank you email, telling him of the great job they did and asked where I could link my website to the winning image on his site, in case anyone wanted to also have a copy. Don, I assumed, wanted to check to make sure my site was appropriate for his link or he was curious if I had other good stuff (I tend to think the latter.) My squarespace traffic for a couple of days was showing a lot of page hits.

Don and his group went through every gallery I had on my site. They saw the link to my Blurb book and looked at every page of that too. Instead of getting an email with a link Don, both called and emailed me to ask if I wanted to join the Famous Photographer's group of Sizzlpix. I am still floored. He asked me to submit a few more images. I was thinking only five, maybe eight, certainly no more than ten. He called back and asked why didn't I submit this image, and why not this image, etc. So I started putting in and going over more images with Don. I have about 25 images on the site now and few more waiting in the wings.

I am working with Don now to have all my prints in the upcoming show on metal [now live at Millworks Gallery]. Maybe I will sell some. Maybe not. It is just really nice to get some momentum going on my craft that has kind of remained a little dormant since leaving college. To think this all happened from a love of photography and a little podcast that I listen to weekly. Thank you so much again for your willingness to share, and please keep up tips, interviews, and encouragement in your podcast.

You can get more information about the gallery show on Ken Latman's site.

Thumbnail image for canon_60d_18-135.jpg

Auto Lighting Optimizer is one of those features that we have on our newer Canon cameras, but we might not know exactly what it does. In this article on Digital Photography School, Peter West Carey explains, What Is Canon's Auto Lighting Optimizer.

And if you shoot Nikon, you'll find this helpful too, since it's called Adaptive D-Lighting on your camera.

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

Unsupported Raw File

When you have a new camera that produces Raw files not immediately supported in Aperture (and iPhoto), how should you approach the situation? Here's the process that I go through.First, I look at Apple's track record with the camera brand. If there's a history of support, then odds are good that an update will come. I shoot primarily Canon and Olympus. I know that the Canon updates will come pretty fast, and those from Olympus will lag behind. But I have confidence that both will be supported.

Case in point: Apple just released Raw Compatibility Update 3.7 that adds support for my XZ-1 and for the E-PL2. The E-PL2 came out in January of this year, so the update didn't follow until 4 months later.


While I wait for the update, I'll shoot Raw+Jpeg in the camera, then upload the files in Aperture choosing "Both (Separate Masters)" in the Raw+Jpeg Pairs popup menu (in the Import dialog box). Once imported, the Jpegs will show (as in the illustration above) and the Raws will not. If you find this distracting, you can always stack the pairs with the Jpeg as the select, then collapse the stacks. You can do this quickly with the Auto Stack command, then Close All Stacks.

Once the update arrives, and you've installed it, the Raw file just has to be processed. Usually, you can simply click on the thumbnail with the Adjustments tab open, and Aperture will process it automatically. After that, you can either make the Raw file the "pick" for the stack, or delete the Jpegs from your library.


If Apple doesn't have a history supporting a particular line of cameras, then you're rolling the dice. You can always shoot Jpeg only. Or you can process the Raw files in Adobe Camera Raw when it's supported there.

What's the biggest difference I notice between the Raw and Jpeg versions? I'm better able to display highlight and shadow detail in the images. And for me, that benefit is worth the trouble.

More Aperture Tips and Techniques

My next Aperture Workshop is May 21, 2011 in Santa Rosa, CA. We'll probably schedule the next for Nov. 2011. write me if you're interested in attending either.

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!

You may remember Stephanie Scheetz from our Creative Output Series. She's an artist, photographer, and frequent model for TDS Workshops. We haven't worked together for a while. But when Lowepro wanted me to make a couple short movies on some new stylish bags that are perfect for female shooters, I immediately thought of Stephanie in front of the camera.

Stephanie with Lowepro Camera Bag Stephanie explaining the ins and outs of the Lowepro Compact Courier 70 in this YouTube video.

For those of you who have worked with Stephanie in the past as a model, or enjoyed her Creative Output work, I thought you'd like to see her again. You can watch the movie here.

Video was captured with a Canon 60D with the 15-85mm zoom lens. Audio recorded with the Rode VideoMic Pro Compact Shotgun Microphone.

I also have a set of stills from the movie that are fun all by themselves.

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The first consideration is color temperature. What type of lighting are you working in, and do you need to compensate for it? Then, the use of color in your composition. Often, by working with complementary colors you can add punch to your image. Or, maybe working with a specific color for a specific item. Then there is the lack of color: B&W photography. Sometimes removing color is the answer to the perfect image. I discuss all of these topics, and more, in this week's podcast.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (31 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

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

TDS Fall 2011 Photography Workshop

We're making plans now for the Fall 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. And from those images, I choose the TDS Member Photo of the Day.

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.

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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I first read about the The DIY Ring Flash Kit on the Strobist blog. And I was intrigued by the possibility of having this portable modifier for producing even light for less than $30.

As part of the bargain, the user does have to do some assembly, as demonstrated on the The DIY Lighting Kits site. But it seems simple enough. And once it's finished, you can use it on a variety of flashes including the Nikon SB28, SB80dx, SB800, SB26 and Canon 430EX, 580EXII.

If you've ever wanted to experiment with ring flash, this might be the ticket for you.

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"Don't Move!"

When Theresa got to the top of the bluff, I said, "Don't move!" because I saw this shot instantly. Even for simple day hikes in my neighborhood, I always pack a camera. (Yes, this spot is walking distance from my front door.) I had the Olympus XZ-1in my pocket this day.

Spring in Sonoma County

It was quite bright during the hike. I had my sunglasses on, which makes it even harder to compose images on the camera's LCD. Fortunately, I had the VF-2 electronic viewfinder on the XZ-1. This improved my odds of getting a good composition.

I sent the photo to Theresa at work the next day. She had it up on her computer screen when a coworker stopped by. "What a great shot!" Then another coworker viewed it, and another after that. It's now Theresa's desktop wallpaper, and she says it brings that good feeling from the hike to her hectic office environment.

I know I've said it a million times, but take your camera with you when you walk out the door. You might capture a moment that makes someone else's day too.

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We need the light for taking our pictures, but it can really work against us when it's time to review them on the camera's LCD. Hoodman to the rescue with the HoodLoupe 3.0 Professional ($79.99).

Hoodman HoodLoupe 3.0 Professional Hoodman HoodLoupe 3.0 Professional comes with a quick release neck strap and case with belt loop. Works on cameras with 3" LCD screens and smaller.

I must admit, I felt a bit like a big time Hollywood director when working with the HoodLoupe around my neck. It has a +/- 3 diopter adjustment for precision viewing. The hard rubber hood feels durable, yet won't scratch the back of your camera. I've used it on my Canon DSLRs, Olympus PENs, and even the new Olympus XZ-1. Here's a brief into video about it.

If you want to use the HoodLoupe for LiveView video recording, there are accessories for attaching to your camera.

You can order the Hoodman HoodLoupe 3.0 Profession from the good folks at Hunt's Photo & Video.

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I've used Canon flashes for a number of years, but none of them have delighted me like the new Speedlite 320EX($275 US). It's a truly useful accessory for the new breed of DSLRs, specifically, the Canon 7D, 60D, and T3i.

canon_320ex_front.jpg Canon 320EX. Notice the LED light in the body.

Feature Highlights

This 1.1 pound strobe fits easily in nearly any camera bag, yet includes:

  • Bounce and swivel head
  • LED light that can be used for video recording, as a modeling light, or just to help with focusing
  • Wireless capability with 4 channels
  • 24mm full-frame equivalent coverage at the wide end with maximum guide no. 79 ft./24m at ISO 100; and at the tele end, 50mm full-frame equivalent, max. guide no. 105 ft./32m at ISO 100
  • Remote release button to fire camera from a distance
  • Easy to operate switches and buttons
  • Up to 4 hours continuous light from LED from a set of fully charged 4 AA batteries

canon_320ex_rear.jpg No LCD on this flash. Easy to operate buttons and switches instead.

Buttons and Switches

I don't know if it was a conscious decision on Canon's behalf, or just that an LCD wouldn't fit in the limited real estate of the 320EX, but all of the controls are handled by buttons and switches on the flash itself, or via the menu on the camera. I love this!

If you're going to work wirelessly, then put the 320EX in Slave mode with the switch in the lower left. Most of the time you'll be working in Group A, Channel 1, but if you need to change those, then use the two switches above the On/Off. If you want to use the LED light, move from Auto to Manual with the switch in the lower right, then press the LED Light button. The remote trigger is a button on the side of the flash above the battery compartment. If you want to move the zoom head out to Tele position, just pull it. The TELE light on the back of the flash will illuminate to let you know.

canon320ex_side.jpg Remote flash trigger button is located above the battery compartment.

Remote Trigger

You can fire you camera remotely with the 320EX. Basically this works with any Canon that accepts the RC-1 remote controller, which is many of them. Set the camera to Self Timer in the Drive mode, then it's ready to accept commands from the 320EX. There's a 2-second delay that allows for last minute adjustments.

This is handy for off-camera flash work. You could use the LCD as a modeling light to position the 320EX just where you want it. Then use the remote trigger to take the shot. On the 60D or T3i, you could have the Vari-Angle LCD turned around so you can see the image from the remote position to decide if you need to make further adjustments. Slick!

canon320ex_led.jpg The LED throws a decent circle of light. The distance here is 28" from the wall. As I stepped back, the circle became larger, but not as bright.

LED Light

The LED light is bright enough for work within 8 feet. When you're close to the subject, the diameter of the circle is tighter, as shown in the illustration above. As you move back the diameter grows larger. This addition fits perfectly with the direction our DSLRs are going. Now, while recording video and stills together, we have a flash that can accommodate both.

Bottom Line

I think the Canon Speedlite 320EX might motivate photographers to consider off-camera flash and creative lighting more often. It's so compact that there isn't really an excuse not to bring it. Plus, it performs triple duty because it is a terrific hot shoe/wireless flash, includes an LED light for video and modeling, and serves as a remote trigger.

Highly recommended, especially for Canon 7D, 60D, and T3i users. Available for about $275from Amazon. Kit includes mini stand and case.

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