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Control your Canon or Nikon DSLR remotely with your iPhone.

I knew there would be a good reason to hang on to my 1st gen iPhone after I had upgraded to the 3GS. Among other handy tasks, it is now my remote control for both the Canon 5D Mark II and a Canon Rebel T1i.

Using DSLR Camera Remote by onOne software, I can literally see through my camera lens on the iPhone with its Live View function and fire the shutter at any time. Plus, I can change the ISO, white balance, file format, and exposure compensation directly from my iPhone. I don't even have to be in the same room as the camera to control it. All I need is a WiFi network that my iPhone can log on to, and a Mac computer with the Canon connected via its USB cable. The entire setup takes about 15 minutes.

I like to use this rig for bird watching. I have a makeshift birdbath on my back patio. The birds love it, but they are shy and don't like it when I stand at the sliding glass door with my camera. So I plugged a DSLR into a MacBook running the DSLR Remote Server software (that's a free download from the onOne site), and monitor the bird activity on my old iPhone 1st gen while working away at my desk -- far away from the slider. When I see something I like, I hit the "Fire" button on my iPhone, and the DSLR takes a picture. I still have my new iPhone to take calls and use for other activity.

There are two versions of the iPhone app: Pro ($19.99) and Lite ($1.99). The Lite version allows you to trip the shutter and see a preview of the shot you've just captured. Very basic, but also very handy for only a couple bucks. The Pro version enables all of the functions I mentioned above, plus it includes an intervalometer, auto bracketing, and burst mode controls.

I tested DSLR Camera Remote with both the 5D Mark II and the T1i. It worked flawlessly with both cameras. I highly recommend it.

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"Embrace" can be an expression of affection, or as you'll see in this excellent gallery, a number of other things too. Check out the Dec. 09 Photo Assignment and see just how creative embracing can be.

The Feb. 2010 assignment is "Red." Start working on your contribution now. Details can be found on the Member Participation page. You can submit photo assignment pictures up to 600 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: February 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 Brian Reynolds. You can read more about how Brian captured this shot, plus see all of the other great images on the Dec. 09 Gallery page.

Good luck with your February assignment, and congratulations to all of the fine contributors for December. 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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The folks over at have created a green screen kit for only $69.50 US that simplifies the process to three steps: shoot, upload, and create. With any digital camera, you shoot a subject against the included 5'x7' green screen background, then upload the image to your Mac or Windows computer, and finally, apply any of the 100 included digital backgrounds (such as the one shown here), or one of your own. The software takes over from there, merging your subject and background.

I discovered while exploring the exhibit hall at the CHA Show in Anaheim, CA. They had a sample green screen set up, as shown here, with a variety of props. You could have your picture taken, choose the backdrop, and they would show you how the process worked. Here you can see Marketing Specialist Amber McCoy holding the green screen kit in front of the backdrop (click image to enlarge). She used a MacPro to meld the images, and it literally only took seconds.

The $69.50 kit includes the 5'x7' green background, 2 background hooks, PhotoKey 2 Lite Software (Mac or Windows), and 100 digital backgrounds. But the real power is that it lets you use your images for backgrounds too.

The Mac version requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later, but works on Intel or PowerPC computers. The PC version only requires Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (or later). The software supports JPG, PNG and TIF file formats for importing and saving. You do have some adjustments to fine tune the image, and you can output to digital or print.

I chose this image of the woman with red hair to illustrate how well the software works without any additional touch up. I see just a little green peeking through around the hair, which I could fix in about 2 minutes. Most shots that I looked at required no touch up at all.

If you want to dig into the details, you can download an instructional PDF. If you're ready to buy, just hop over to B&H Photo where it's available for $69.50.

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Have you ever used your sunglasses as a polarizer for a compact camera? This is just one of the many photography techniques that I cover in my new title, Getting Pro Results from a Compact Camera. I mention the sunglasses technique here because it's a free video that you can watch right now.

But there's plenty more. For example, I explain how to:

  • Shoot amazing close-up shots easily
  • Create super-wide-angle panoramas by stitching images together
  • Understand ISO, exposure, exposure compensation, and all that stuff
  • Master the flash in a variety of lighting conditions
  • Get the most out of scene modes
    • Not only do you join me in the field for the actual shooting techniques, we then go to the computer and review how those very shots turned out. And the best part is, you can absorb all of these great techniques in only an hour, then revisit them as often as you want. I hope you give Getting Pro Results from a Compact Camera a look, and share it with your friends.

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Adobe Photoshop: The First 10 Years


As we near the 20 year anniversary of Photoshop on Feb. 18, 2010, I have a special treat to add to the festivities. Ten years ago, with the help of Erin McCabe and Glenn Knoll, I published an article titled, From Darkroom to Desktop -- How Photoshop Came to Light.

To celebrate two decades of greatness, you can download the PDF of that original article that includes some terrific old Photoshop toolbars, application icons, history of Photoshop timeline, and photos of the Knoll brothers shot by Jeff Schewe.

One of my favorite passages in the article tells how the foundation was poured for what would become photography's killer application:

The story of one of the original "killer apps" begins in Ann Arbor, Michigan with a college professor named Glenn Knoll. Glenn was a photo enthusiast who maintained a darkroom in the family basement. He was also a technology aficionado intrigued by the emergence of the personal computer. His two sons, Thomas and John, inherited their father's inquisitive nature. And the vision for future greatness began with their exposure to Glenn's basement darkroom and with the Apple II Plus that he brought home for research projects.

The rest, as they say, is history.

The journey is as important as the destination. Are you missing opportunities for good photographs during your travels? Do you have a camera with you when riding in a cab? Have you ever been in a glass elevator? And please tell me you've taken cloud shots through an airplane window!

This week we're talking about taking photographs through car windows and other crazy places that normally we don't think to pull out the camera. Once you get in this frame of mind, you'd be surprised at how many good images you get.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (20 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

Monthly Photo Assignment

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

TDS Workshops Update

The TDS Hot Air Balloon Photography Workshop in June 2010 is sold out. If you'd like to get on the waiting list for upcoming workshops, please send me email with the subject line: "TDS Workshops." Those virtual camera club members who are on the waiting list get first opportunity to register for newly announced workshops. Attendance is limited to 6 for each TDS Workshop to ensure a personalized experience.

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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I just read a good, short piece on George Eastman and the first Kodak camera. It's a slice of history that has an impact for all of today's photographers. The article, Eastman, Kodak, and Roll Film: A history of revolution and evolution in photography is also a good reminder of how good we have it today as shooters.

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What are you doing on Saturday, Feb. 27? If you're going to be in Northern California, please join me for an all day workshop titled, Digital Photography from Start to Finish. This event is hosted by the Diablo Valley Mac Users Group, and will take place at Meadow Homes School, 1372 Detroit Ave., Concord, CA. The workshop begins at 9am and concludes at 4pm.

The day begins with a series of easy-to-master pro tips for both compact and DSLR photographers. Then we'll cover how to make great portraits, how to tame those unwieldy group shots, and fire up iPhoto to explore the powerful tools available to improve our images even more. You will learn how to:

  • Capture professional looking portraits
  • Master your flash
  • Shoot in low light
  • Take great shots of kids, pets, and sports
  • Create digicam movies
  • Edit images in iPhoto
  • And much more!

There will be plenty of Question & Answer time throughout the day, too.

The workshop is only $75, so this is a real bargain for an all day event. You can attend by downloading the PDF registration form and mailing it in. You can also call (925) 689-1155 for more information. Register today!

Free eBook on Wildflower Photography


For those of us in North America, it's not too early to start thinking about the Spring wildflower season. I've just downloaded and perused a free eBook titled, 13 tips for better wildflower photography, and it contains lots of helpful information and some terrific shots. If you want to improve your flower pictures this Spring, you might want to download a copy for yourself.

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Cool Gadget: Flipbac Angle Viewfinder

flipbac_finder.png The Flipbac Angle Viewfinder protects your 3" camera LCD and makes it easier to compose shots at high and low angles. It opens to more than 180 degrees in both landscape and portrait positions, and reflects the LCD image on its mirror-like surface. When you're done shooting, the flipbac folds up and protects the surface of the LCD. It fits most cameras with 3" screens, and is available for $18.95 US.

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