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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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I've had my eye on the Canon EF-S 15-85mm Zoom Lens for the Rebel T1i that I carry for casual assignments. It seems like a substantial upgrade to the kit 17-55mm lens, but at a price: about $725 US. Before making such an investment, I want to know all the ins and outs of this handsome chunk of glass.

Camera Labs Canon 15-85mm Lens Review

Fortunately, the good folks over at have posted an excellent video review of this zoom, accompanied by a full written report about its performance.

If you've been considering this zoom for your Canon 7D, 50D, or Rebel, you might want to take a look at the CameraLabs report. They give it a very favorable review, with some helpful insights about its hands-on usage.

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A Little New York in Vegas

I walked outside of the MGM Grand for a little fresh air tonight, and noticed this terrific angle on "New York New York" across the street. I had my Canon PowerShot S90 in my pocket, so I decided to capture this "oh so Las Vegas" night scene. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

New York New York on Las Vegas Blvd

I set the ISO to 80, turned on the self-timer, and found a steady place on the railing to take the shot. After a few frames, I noticed this car to my right with a girl hanging out of the passenger window taking photos. Ah, the perfect foreground element!

I then processed the Raw file in Aperture 3, using the brush tools to lighten and darken a few specific areas. I exported this Jpeg and opened it in Photoshop CS4 to add a bit more metadata and to do the final sharpening.

"New York in Vegas" by Derrick Story. Canon S90 at 1/10 sec, f/2.0, 28mm.

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Olympus E-PL1 Micro Four Thirds Camera

Micro Four Thirds cameras by Olympus and Panasonic are having an impact on digital photography. These "mirrorless" DSLRs provide high quality images and interchangable lenses, like regular SLRs, but are more compact. In this podcast I talk about Micro Four Thirds, what it is, and what's unique about these devices.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (29 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App from the Apple App Store.

Monthly Photo Assignment

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

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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