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As part of my work as the Photography Evangelist for Lowepro, I'm always seeking input from photographers about their gear. Recently I asked the Lowepro community, "What does your dream bag look like?"

lowpro_bag_grab_fall2010.jpg What is the perfect bag for you?

Responses were posted on the Lowepro Facebook page, Twitter, and sent to me via email. I then posted an article on the Lowepro blog, summarizing the basic themes from the community. You might want to take a look if you like this stuff.

One of my favorite ideas was adding a second strap to sling bags, such at the SlingShot 202 AW, so you could wear it backpack style for longer treks. When you switched to shooting mode, the strap could be tucked out of the way allowing you to work sling style.

There's lots of great feedback in the post, including adding All Weather covers to the Fastpack series, what makes a great bag for student photographers, and more. It's fun to read what people share.

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My Canon 60D Review


Macworld Magazine published my formal review of the Canon EOS 60D with lab results. For those of you who heard my preliminary remarks on podcast 251, you know that I've enjoyed testing and learning about this latest DSLR from Canon.

In the Macworld review, I spend a fair amount of time covering what I call its "notable features," such as in-camera Raw processing and the articulated LCD. You might want to check out that list if you're considering the 60D. In short, however, my pros and cons are:


  • Vari Angle LCD
  • Wireless flash control built in
  • Excellent movie recording with external mic jack and audio control
  • In-camera raw processing and image resizing
  • Extensive software bundle included
  • Good battery performance
  • Excellent image quality, even at higher ISO settings


  • Poor Auto White balance performance indoors under tungsten lighting
  • Slow focusing in Live View
  • Clumsy access to Movie mode

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    Find the Right Glass with LensHero


    Looking to add a new lens to your DSLR kit? You might enjoy browsing a site called LensHero. To get started, you enter the type of camera you're using and the amount of money you have to spend (you may want to consult your spouse beforehand). Then pick the category of glass that interests you, such as macro, wide angle, telephoto, fisheye, low light, etc.

    LensHero then presents you with lenses that meet your criteria, complete with specs, pricing, user reviews, and of course, a link to buy. I enjoyed just seeing what types of lenses were available for my Canon 60D, and how much they cost. I like the low light options myself.

    So, for fun, or for serious shopping, you might want to visit LensHero.

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    Here are 10 items that I keep in a 3" plastic filter box that are invaluable when I'm working on the go. It's my photographer's survival kit.

    Photographer's Survival Kit Photographer's Survival Kit - When you're in the field, many of these small items become invaluable. Listen to the podcast to learn why.

    Note: TDS Podcast listeners (iOS and Android) have a movie waiting for them that shows me demonstrating all of the contents of this kit.

    Listen to the Podcast

    You can also download the podcast here (33 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

    Indoor Lighting is the December 2010 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is Dec. 31, 2010. Entries must be recorded with indoor lighting only.

    TDS Summer 2011 Photography Workshop

    We're making plans now for the Summer 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

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

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

    Blurb believes passionately in the joy of books - reading them, making them, sharing them, and selling them. Learn more by visiting Blurb on The Digital Story.

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    I've created a step-by-step guide for laying out fine art note cards in Aperture 3 and printing them with your inkjet printer using Red River Paper stock. A few things have changed since I published the original article for laying out cards in Aperture, so I recommend that Aperture 3 users follow the settings in this article.

    The biggest difference that I encountered using Aperture 3.1 and Mac OS X 10.6.5 with an Epson R2400 printer, was that creating a "custom paper size" befuddled the printer causing it to do nothing. To work around this problem, I designed a new template in Aperture 3 that is based on a standard Letter Size sheet (8.5" x 11"). By doing this, you should be able to print these 7" x 10" cards (folded to 5" x 7") with just about any photo printer.

    Here are the steps I used:

    1. In Aperture, create a custom theme
    2. Turn on Show Layout Options
    3. Create a photo box 5.75" x 4.25" and place it like this
    4. Add a text box for the back of the card
    5. Place your type and rotate it 180 degrees
    6. You can choose a type style
    7. Be sure to turn off page numbering
    8. Now, all you have to do is print your card

    I recommend that you turn on Aperture's Proofing Profile (View > Proofing Profile) for the type of paper you're using. It saves you from having to make test prints. Speaking of paper, there are a variety of surfaces to choose from in the Red River Card Shop. You can get high quality envelopes there too. I generally use #7163 for my card projects.

    One finishing touch to consider is creating a handsomely designed 4"x6" insert for your note card. I print these in iPhoto '11 using one of the flat card templates. They look great!

    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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    The Olympus E-PL1 is a good spectator camera for sporting events. It doesn't raise eyebrows from security officials, yet it packs a serious imaging punch. Normally, I use a prime lens, such as the Zeiss 135mm f/2.8 with adapter. But when the Miami Heat came to town to play the Golden State Warriors, I opted to try the Olympus ED 14-150mm f/4.0-5.6 zoom instead.

    Ellis Blocking Wade Monta Ellis swats away a Dwyane Wade shot during a recent visit to Oracle Arena. Photo by Derrick Story. Click on image for larger version.

    My concern was the f/5.6 maximum aperture when zoomed out to 150mm, which is an equivalent 300mm because you double the focal length on micro four-thirds cameras. But the lens is so light and compact, making it quite tempting for these casual outings.

    At ISO 1600, I was able to squeeze out a 1/250th shutter speed at f/5.6 to get shots like this during the game. The focusing was very accurate, and I got quite a few good images, even from the upper deck.

    So, I'd have to say, "Yes," you can get terrific shots with the 14-150mm. You do have to deal with the slower maximum aperture, but the lens doesn't attract attention at the security gate, and it is capable of recording clean, sharp images.

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    Why I Hold on to Older Digital Cameras


    Often when I'm cleaning up around the studio, I wonder to myself why I keep so many older digital cameras. Then I have days like yesterday, and I remember why.

    I wanted to shoot a time-lapse movie for a personal project I was working on. Nothing fancy, but time lapse was exactly what I needed. I looked at all of my current cameras that I'm using or testing, and not one had that function built-in. I would have to get some sort of accessory. We're talking about good cameras here: Canon S90, 60D, 5D Mark II, T1i, Olympus E-P1, E-PL1, E-5, E-30, and Sony T200. Not one had time lapse function built-in (that I could find anyway).

    There was one exception (other than my iPhone): my trusty Canon G9. It has a time lapse option while in movie mode. I charged its battery, put in a fresh memory card, mounted it on a tripod, and recorded a nifty time-lapse movie that was exactly what I wanted. No post production. No fooling around.

    I guess that camera won't be going anywhere, anytime soon...

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    Red River Paper

    Red River Paper is offering 10% off on any inkjet printable greeting card purchase if you use the discount code STORYCARD10 with your order before Jan. 3, 2011. These are fine art cards, scored for easy folding, with matching envelopes available. They'll look great with your photograph printed on them.

    Winners Announced

    In other news, Red River has announced the winners of the Red River Paper greeting card drawing (I hope you entered to win and to show your support):

    • Bob Reynolds won the Epson Artisan 50 printer / $100 GC
    • JannJ2 won the Canon ip4820 printer / $100 GC
    • and three others won $100 gift certificates

    "The Digital Story / Red River Paper greeting card contest was a great success," comments Drew Hendrix. "Many thanks to the Digital Story readers and listeners who signed up."

    You can still show your support by visiting Red River's Interwebs page. You'll get lots of interesting printing information in return. Also, be sure to check out the "Fan Offer" on their Facebook page.

    Red River Paper is the longest running sponsor of The Digital Story. Be sure to thank them for helping to keep our weekly podcast on the air.


    One of my favorite lenses is the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM that works great on both the 5D Mark II (full frame) and the 60D (cropped sensor). I don't use it everyday, but when I need it, nothing else will do.

    I just read A Visual tour of Canon's 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM by Dave Powell on the Digital Photography School site. He includes lots of images from this lens. It's a great way to get a feel for its capabilities.

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    I'm happy to report that the TDS Podcast App is now available in the Android Marketplace. You can download the app for $2.99, which helps support our weekly show.

    If you want to know more about the podcast app, check out my article about its inception.

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