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One of the biggest challenges when you're a sports fan is getting a few memorable shots from the event and stay within the venue rules for photography equipment. Fortunately, with my compact Olympus PEN E-PL1and an old Zeiss 135mm f/2.8 lens from my Contax film days, I'm able to sit in the (not so) cheap seats and still come away with a few nice images. The E-PL1 doesn't look like a pro camera with its stock lens mounted, so I don't raise any eyebrows when passing through security.

Andrew Bynum Dunk

This shot of the Lakers center, Andrew Bynum, dunking the ball was recorded from the upper deck. Since the E-PL1 is a micro four thirds camera, it doubles the focal length of any lens I mount on it. So using an adapter, my 135mm Zeiss becomes a 270mm f/2.8 telephoto. Shooting wide open at f/2.8 with an ISO of 1600, I was able to use an action-stopping shutter speed of 1/640. (Click on image to see larger version.)

As with any sporting event, there are lots of missed shots too. But as long as I'm able to come away with a handful of keepers, and have a good time, I'm thrilled with the outcome.

More Articles About the Olympus E-PL1

Olympus E-PL1 Review: Working in iAuto

Hands On Preview of the New Olympus E-PL1 PEN

Micro Four Thirds - Digital Photography Podcast 216

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Scene modes on your compact camera are useful shortcuts for dealing with difficult lighting conditions. In this free, 4-minute video tutorial from my title: Getting Pro Results from a Compact Camera, I show you the most important scene modes and how to use them.

If you haven't seen my course, Getting Pro Results from a Compact Camera , it's a combination of studio live action (as seen here), live action in the field showing actual shooting techniques, and screencasting where we review the results on a computer and discuss how the techniques worked. I think it's one of my most effective training titles. I hope you check it out.

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Stabilizing your camera, especially if you zoom out the lens for telephoto shots, can be important on the trail. We have a couple options here for you to consider.

TrekPod GO! PRO Monopod/Tripod/Walking Stick Combination with MagMount Pro Ballhead

TDS member Ed Shields writes: "I've used a TrekPod GO PRO, which is a great concept; combination monopod, tripod, hiking stick, but at $175, it's not cheap. Also at roughly 30 oz, I find it too heavy to use as a hiking stick, and now rarely use it except on very short hikes."

"The majority of the time that I shoot with it, I use it in its tripod configuration for long duration shots (water falls and other moving water and/or hiking group shot). If I had it to do over again, I'd just use my current Leki hiking stick and go for a small, lightweight tripod that I can carry with my day pack. I hike with a Panasonic G1."

LEKI Sierra Antishock Trekking Pole

Which leads us to a second consideration. Why not use a true trekking pole that has a tripod screw built-in? The LEKI Sierra Antishock Trekking Pole is the model I've been using for recent hiking and backpacking trips.


It's light enough for all day hikes, has a removable rosewood knob on top that reveals a tripod screw with a tightening disk, and it extends to 145 cm for comfortable shooting. When on the trail, I remove the rubber cover to reveal the Carbide tip. The built-in anti-shock system is a real blessing on hard surface hiking. I also use the pole to prop up my backpack and to hang laundry while in camp. At $76, it has already provided many miles of use in the great outdoors.

If you have a favorite way to stabilize your camera when on the trail, please post a comment!

Previously in Outdoor Gear for Photographers

Sunset Portraits - Outdoor Photo Tip #1

New Series on Outdoor Gear for Photographers

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There are many reasons why I shoot full size HD video with my Canon 5D Mark II, even if the intended output is for YouTube or another web service. Just like in still photography, I like to have a high resolution master that I can go back to if another opportunity presents itself, such as making a DVD.

A second reason, and one that I don't think many photographers take advantage of, is the ability to grab a single frame from the video and use it as a still photograph. When you shoot 1080p HD video, those frame grabs are 1920x1080, or the equivalent of a 2-megapixel photograph. And they look great.

The technique is easy, depending on the software you're using. In Aperture 3, all you have to do is scrub to the frame you want. Click on the gear menu, and choose "New Jpeg from Frame."

Still Frame Grab in Aperture 3

Aperture creates the image and brings it forward in the browser. At that point, I recommend clicking on the Metadata tab in the Inspector and giving your frame grab a unique file name. Otherwise, it can be confusing while you're browsing thumbnails as to which are movies and which are stills.

These high quality photos can be used for web pages, Flickr galleries, and even 4x6 prints. And capturing the decisive moment is easy... just scrub to it!

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 Focus Section. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.

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Sunset Portrait

Don't miss the opportunity to capture sunset portraits when camping or hiking. If you have a clear horizon, the technique is very simple:

  • Turn on the flash and set it to "slow synchro" or "nighttime portrait."
  • Take a meter reading off the sky so you lock in the sunset. I usually use "exposure lock" to retain this setting while I recompose the shot.
  • Make sure you're within flash range. If the flash is too hot, dial it down to -1 with your "flash exposure compensation" setting.
  • Take the photo. If things look a little muddy or shaky, raise the ISO to 400 or 800.

These types of images make great keepsakes for members of your camping party. And they make you look like a genius photographer!

Sunset portrait captured with a Canon S90, ISO 800, Slow Synchro Flash. Click on image to enlarge.

Contribute Your Outdoor Tips and Equipment Recommendations

If you have a great outdoor tip, or favorite piece of equipment, send it along to me. I'll feature reader submitted tips on a regular basis.

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One of the great joys of photography is exploring new locations that we might not experience otherwise. If this exploration leads you to the outdoors, then I have good news for you. Over the coming months, I'll be covering outdoor gear and techniques that will help you be more comfortable and productive while working in nature.

Wildcat Camp, Pt. Reyes, CA

I'll discuss tents, stoves, shoes, accessories, camera bags, locations, tips, and just about anything relative to this type of photography. We'll begin later this week. So, if you're planning to spend more time working hiking and camping with your camera... stay tuned. We're going to have lots of fun with this.

And if you have tips and gear recommendations, please drop me a line. I want to include as many viewpoints as possible.

Wild Mustard in Wildcat Camp, Pt. Reyes, CA. Photo captured with a Canon S90. REI tents in the foreground. Click on photo to enlarge.

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We've All Been There

We've All Been There Too

During an afternoon at WPPI 2010, I spotted this young woman recharging in a lounge area on the expo hall floor. How many times during a trade show have we felt exactly the same way?

Captured with a Canon S90, ISO 800, and processed in Aperture 3. Click on image for larger version.

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Happy to see that PictureCode has updated their excellent Noise Ninja plug-in for Aperture 3 that runs in 64-bit mode.

Noise Ninja 64-bit for Aperture 3

I just downloaded and tested Noise Ninja 2.0.7, and the entire process went quickly and smoothly. Once you install it, just relaunch Aperture 3 and the new version will appear in your "Edit With" menu. Simple and works great. One down, a few more to go!

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 Focus Section. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.

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Want to see how pro shooter Matthew Jordan Smith gears up? Then watch this 3-minute video of him opening up his Lowepro Pro Roller x200 at the Sony booth during WPPI 2010.

Video by Derrick Story. Recorded with a Canon 5D Mark II and an Audio Technica lav mic.

WPPI 2010: The Hot Photography Show

I've been to many of the major photography shows over the last year, and WPPI is definitely at the top of the list for expo traffic, full classrooms, and retail sales. It has become the hot photo show.

Canon Booth, WPPI 2010

When we closed up shop today at 3pm, the expo hall was still humming with attendees who didn't seem ready to leave. There were long lines at all of the photo retailers selling on the floor, such as Midwest Photo, and everyone I talked to reported brisk activity.

I think WPPI does a great job of balancing good classroom content with an interesting trade show. Photographers just seem to like hanging out here. There's lots to see, many to connect with, and you can learn just about any thing. I remember this show in its early days. It was small, but passionate. Today it still has that great energy, but WPPI has really come of age.

Photo by Derrick Story of Hanson Fong working in the Canon booth during WPPI. Captured with a Canon S90 at ISO 800. Click on image to see larger version.

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