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Quick Brushes in Aperture 3

Quick Brushes are a great addition to Aperture 3. They are located in the Adjustments popup menu, inside the Adjustments tab. Quick Brushes are exactly that, when you want to make a specific adjustment... quickly!

Some of my favorites include: Skin Smoothing, Polarize, Sharpen, and Definition. Being able to apply these types of adjustments to a specific area of the image without having to worry about creating masks is a wonderful enhancement to the post production workflow.

In this 7-minute video, I walk you through a typical Quick Brush scenario. You can see a larger version of the movie (better for this type of tutorial) by clicking through to YouTube or going to the Podcast page.

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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Sea Turtle Detail, Kauai

Sea Turtle Detail, Kauai, originally uploaded by The Digital Story.

Even when the wind comes up, you can always find something interesting to photograph -- especially if you get a friendly sea turtle swimming by.

I used a Canon G9 in a Canon underwater housing to make this photo. The image was processed on an iPad using Photogene.

"Good Dog!" - Grab Shot 200

Mayra Martinez -- Good Dog

"I saw this sign posted at the Veterans Memorial in Pensacola, FL.," writes Mayra Martinez. "It is certainly one of the most original wordings for a city ordinance!"

Mayra captured this image with her Olympus E-3, and a Zuiko 12-60 mm f/2.8-4.0 mm lens (aperture priority, aperture f/4, ISO 100). Click on the image for a larger view.

I should also note that this is our 200th Grab Shot! Wow. If you want to review the collection that began back in 2006, go to our Grab Shots page.

If you have a candid you'd like to share, take a look at our Submissions page, then send us your Grab Shot. We'll try to get it published for you on The Digital Story.

And you can view more images from our virtual camera club in the Member Photo Gallery.

The Digital Story Podcast App is the best way to stream or download weekly TDS podcast episodes. No more syncing your iPhone or iPod Touch just to get a podcast. And there's more! Tap the Extras button for free passes and discounts and the current Grab Shot by our virtual camera club members. Each podcast episode has its own Extras button, too, that contains more goodies such as pro photo tips. And the best part is, The Digital Story Podcast App is your way to help support this show.Download it today!

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One of my favorite Off Camera Flash tricks is shooting framed artwork without getting those distracting reflections. The technique is simple. Set up two equal-powered off camera flashes at 45 degree angles from the art. They will cancel out each other's reflections, but still illuminate the artwork.

In this video, recorded as part of my Off Camera Flash training title on, we review my work after putting this technique to the test.

If you like this kind of stuff, be sure to check out the rest of the title.

More Off Camera Flash Tutorials

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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The 2,400 Mile iPad Test

I'm going to do something I've never done before. I'm leaving for a week in Kauai, and I'm not taking a laptop. I have my Lowepro Fastpack 250 packed with my camera gear, lots of memory cards, iPad 3G, Bluetooth keyboard, and the Camera Connection Kit. The MacBook Pro stays home.

Why? Because I'm tired of lugging a 6.5 lb computer everywhere I go when I could save myself 5 pounds with the iPad, plus have Internet connectivity anywhere there's a cellular network.

iPad with Keyboard Going iPad and keyboard only - no laptop for this trip. Click on image for larger version.

While traveling, all of my images will stay on the memory cards. I'll upload my favorites to the iPad as backup and for enjoyment. And if everything goes right, I'll spend my free time taking pictures and enjoying Kauai, instead of working on the computer.

Stay tuned, and I'll let you know how this works...

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Mac Raw Updates Continue to Roll In


I was happy to see Digital Camera RAW Compatibility Update 3.3 posted last week, adding Aperture and iPhoto Raw support for these cameras:

  • Canon PowerShot SX1 IS
  • Olympus E-PL1
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-G10
  • Samsung NX10
  • Sony Alpha DSLR-A390
  • Sony Alpha NEX-3
  • Sony Alpha NEX-5

Another good sign is the timely support of the mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, such as the E-PL1, NX10, NEX-3, and NEX-5. This is a hot category right now, and Apple appears to be on top of it. I would have liked to seen the Panasonic DMC-LX5 on this list, but I'm hoping that it will be included in Update 3.4

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If you don't think you can edit your photos on a portable device, then you haven't worked yet with Photogene for iPad, a surprisingly powerful editor that you can buy in the iTunes store for $3.99.

San Francisco, Fort Point

This image for example, was captured with an Olympus PEN and a 17mm f/2.8 lens at Fort Point in San Francisco. I then went to a coffee shop and transferred the images to the iPad using the Camera Connection Kit. To create the cool look in the photo, I applied the "bleach" preset in Photogene, then uploaded to Flickr directly from the iPad.

In my spare moments, I've found myself playing with images in Photogene, just to get an idea of what's possible. It's a great creative process... in addition to getting your work done when you have to post a photo quickly.

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DIY LCD Magnifier for 5D Mark II

For me "do it yourself" is usually a short term solution that solves an immediate problem. Up the road, as time and finances allow, I can purchase "the real thing" if it turns out that I actually need it. In this week's show, I talk about some DIY projects that provided temporary fixes. In part, I'm able to do this because I hang on to much of my old photography gear, parts of which that can be repurposed for new projects.

We have lots of fun do it yourself ideas in the DIY Section of the Digital Story.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (27 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

Tandem is the August 2010 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is Aug. 30, 2010.

TDS Autumn 2010 Photography Workshop

The next TDS Photography Workshop will be Oct. 16-18, 2010. The event is sold out. But, you can place your name on the reserve list for the next workshop. 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!

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Podcast Sponsors

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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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Over on Blurb on The Digital Story, I just posted "How to Make a Gorgeous Photo Book" for Pro Publishing Tips. I highlighted this guide because it is brimming with professional techniques for making stunning books. The kicker is, you can win this hardcover book by participating in our Blurb Book Page of the Month feature.


Either way, if you're interested in creating, publishing, and selling your own books, you should definitely explore Blurb on The Digital Story. We'll get you headed in the right direction.

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Someday I will pay $400 for Z-Finder Pro because they are clear, secure, and adjustable. But today isn't that day. Budget is too tight at the moment. But I do need a bright, crisp LCD magnifier for some upcoming video projects. So for the time being, I'll do it myself.

LCD Magnifier for Canon 5D Mark II DIY LCD magnifier uses a 50mm f/1.7 Zeiss lens extended by using a Rayqual adapter. The mount is built around a Canon 70-200mm f/4 Tripod Collar.

Figuring Out the Optics

I went upstairs into my mad scientist lab and started playing with lenses and mounts. My magnifier is based on the old "reverse lens trick" to increase magnification. I chose a Zeiss 50mm f/1.7 lens because of its wide opening. To get the right viewing distance from the LCD screen, I needed to add a couple spacers. I used my Rayqual Micro 4/3 adapter because it also had a large diameter opening. It was close to the right distance, but just a tad short. So I took a real lens cap, cut a large diameter hold in it, and mounted it to the Rayqual adapter. Perfect!

I added a little gaffers tape to the open end as to not scratch the LCD on the Canon. On the other end, I screwed in a rubber lens hood to serve as my eyepiece. That way I can use the rig in bright light.

Designing the Mount

I wanted something solid that didn't look too cobbled together. It dawned on me that the tripod collar for my 70-200mm f/4 Canon lens might work. You can get these cheap, BTW -- $12.99 from Meritline. For the bottom plate, I repurposed a flash bracket that had two tripod screws. One for the camera and the other for the Canon ring mount. The only problem was, it sat a little high. So I found a brass spacer in my lighting bag that lined everything up nicely. It doesn't look too bad, does it?

Pros and Cons for this Set Up

Cons: The image is beautifully crisp, but it doesn't cover the entire LCD, only the central area. This isn't a problem when the camera is tripod mounted because I can set up the shot, then remove the magnifier. But for action shooting this would be a problem.

Pros: Aside from being very sharp, I can fine tune the focus via the lens focusing ring. Also, I used stuff I already had (no cash outlay!). And, when I want to use the 50mm on my Olympus PEN camera, I just remove the bottom lens cap (that has a hole in it) and mount the lens to my micro 4/3s camera. So I can get double use out of this set up. (Since the PEN doubles the focal length, that means I have a 100mm f/1.7 lens for my E-PL1. Tell me that isn't useful at times.)

Final Thoughts

At some point this DIY rig will drive me crazy. Hopefully by then I'll have the money to buy a real LCD magnifier. Until then, however, I'm in business.

If you like do it yourself gear, be sure to check out our DIY Section here on The Digital Story. Lots of great ideas there.

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