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"I was out in California visiting my mother and sister, and we rode up from Roseville into the Sierras looking for fall scenery," writes TDS member Jim Stocking. "We came back through the Carson Pass, stopping just before the summit at the Red Lake Vista. To our astonishment, a car drove up with a young female eagle that they were releasing back to the wild. Armed with my wife's Canon SD850, which she let me use for the trip, I caught the shot of the bird making its way to freedom after being tossed into the air."

As Jim mentioned, he used a Canon PowerShot SD850 IS set to ISO 100 for this wonderful shot of the eagle being set free. The shutter speed was 1/400 and the aperture was f/8.

Photo by Jim Stocking. Click on image to zoom to larger size.

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.

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Which Image is the Sharpest?

Here's a fun quiz: Which of these six images is most likely the sharpest? You'll need to click on the picture to zoom it out to see the real clue.

For those of you who have my Digital Photography Hacks book, the answer is actually one of the hacks. This is a trick that I've used for years when I have to turn around photos quickly and don't have time to examine each one of them at 100 percent magnification. Often, I'm just looking at thumbnails in Adobe Bridge, as described in my Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers, and I need to pick one quickly, process in Adobe Camera Raw, then send it on its way.

So, use this article's "Leave a Comment" to state which of these six thumbnails you think represents the sharpest image. I'll post my answer at the end of the day.

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Using only natural light for your portraits, you can produce absolutely stunning results. Or the pictures can be extremely unflattering. I have two videos, right here, that you can watch to help you prepare for this type of shoot.

The first movie is an introduction to my Natural Light Portrait Assignment on Here I set up how this, and subsequent photo assignments, are structured.

Then in this second video, we go on the computer and analyze natural light for portraiture. Here I show you the difference between "good lighting" and "bad lighting," and the effects they have on your final images. This is a very instructional movie that I think you'll find useful.

These are the first two movies in the Natural Light Portrait Assignment. In the third movie, we go out into the field for the actual model shoot using a variety of techniques. Then, in the fourth video, I go back to the studio and analyze those images. Finally, I do the "call to action" where I encourage you to go shoot your own natural light portrait and share the results on our Flickr Natural Light Portrait public group page.

I have more photo assignments coming up. I'll keep you posted.

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Bottle Video Frame

Ever wonder how those dramatic shots of water shooting up from a bottle are created? Take a look at this video by Gavin Hoey titled, How to Create Amazing Photos with Water and a Bottle. You don't need a specialized gear for this weekend project. A DSLR, a flash that can be triggered off camera, and of course, water in a bottle. When you're done, just rotate the image 180 degrees in Photoshop. It's a lot of fun.

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Is social networking valuable to photographers? Do you need Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr to be successful? That depends upon your goals. Whether you're an avid amateur shooter or an aspiring professional, you need to at least have an opinion about social networking, and the better informed you are, the more intelligent your thoughts will be on this subject.

I'm going to discuss a little bit about what's worked for me. I believe in diversity. I like to have multiple revenue streams. I think photography and its related skills can be a great source of revenue in addition to being satisfying artistically.

The danger of course with these new communication tools, is that you become absorbed with social networking and you lose sight of your original goals. I've heard photographers remark that they didn't "get any work" done today because they lost so much time online. And do you have to blog about every activity or post every shot you take? Like so many things in life, moderation is most likely the key to successful social networking.

I'll discuss all of this and more during the show.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (26 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Feet is the Oct. 2009 Photo Assignment. Shoes, bare feet, paws, manmade objects, my gosh there are so many possibilities. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is Oct. 31, 2009.

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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Photoshop LIVE Comes to Washington DC

Photoshop Live Logo

Headlined by Photoshop super instructor Michael Ninness, Photoshop LIVE is coming to Washington DC on Nov. 2, 2009. If you want to improve your Photoshop skills, and have fun doing it, you need to take a look at this affordable, two-day conference. And in fact, I can sweeten the pot even more because I have 10 conference passes to give away. More on that in a minute.

I'm teaching two courses myself: How Adobe Camera Raw Made Me Love Photoshop (which is a class I just love teaching to photographers) and Five Things Photo Hobbyists Need to Know About Photoshop CS4. And there are other great courses too. Here's just a sampling:

  • Creative Black and White and Color Effects
  • How to Retouch Like a Pro
  • Get Smart: Smart Filters and Smart Objects
  • Photoshop Power Shortcuts

And a whole lot more.

Register Now and Save Big

You can register before Oct. 23 for only $125 if you use this discount code: DSPSLMM09 (case sensitive). After Oct. 23, the price is $295 for both days. The event will be held at the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation and Naval Heritage Center, 701 Pennsylvania Ave, NW Washington, DC. I always love an excuse to visit DC, and in fact, I'm adding on a day so I can spend time as a tourist too.

The Free Passes

I have 10 free passes to give away. If you want one, all you have to do is be one of the first 10 people to post a comment to this article stating which session at the conference (mine excluded) that you're most excited about seeing. You can see the entire line-up here. Those first 10 comments (that have filled-in legitimate email addresses in the "Leave a Comment" box) will receive a code from me via email that can be used during online registration for free admission. When you see 10 comments to this article, then you know that all the passes have been given away. One free pass per person please!

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Silhouette images are an excellent way to bring simplicity with an artistic flare to your photographs. In his very helpful article, 7 Tips for Photographing Silhouettes, Steve Berardi shows you a handful of useful techniques that you might want to try on your next adventure.

I think a big part of being successful at this is training your eye to be on the lookout for potential silhouette compositions. Subjects that might be less than thrilling in midday light can be transformed into poignant images at sunset. For example, take a look at this Grab Shot by Thomas M. Loftus. During the day, it's just another bridge shot, but at sunset the colorful sky changes the entire feel.

We're always looking for ways to add drama to our photographic narrative. Silhouette compositions can help us do that.

Photo of Veteran's Memorial Bridge on the Missouri River by Thomas M. Loftus.

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"I took this at Spring 2008 Strawberry Music Festival," writes Moira Haines. "We were enjoying a short reprieve from the rainy weekend. It seems that bubbles are more captivating than religion to some, and I enjoyed watching the innocent fascination on the boy's face."

Moira used her Olympus C 770UZ digital camera to capture this captivating scene.

Photo by Moira Haines. Click on image to zoom to larger size.

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.

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As I described in a recent podcast, The Simple Photo Shoot, I love grabbing my camera, going to the park, and shooting portraits. You'd be surprised at how well these images can look if you apply a few easy techniques.

In my new training, Photo Assignment: Natural Light Portraits, I take you on a photo shoot with me (and a lovely model) to illustrate some of my favorite natural light techniques. Once the shoot is over, we go back to the computer to analyze our images. Some techniques work better than others, but you get to see them all.

Photo by Derrick Story for the Natural Light Training Video. Canon 5D Mark II and 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L lens.


Then here's the part I'm really excited about. I'm facilitating a Flickr Public Group page dedicated to sharing all of our images and ideas connected to natural light portraiture. The page just went live yesterday, and already we have lots of great stuff to look at, think about, and possible incorporate into our own bag of tricks.

This is the first of many photo assignment trainings that I'm doing for Lynda. If you want an easy way to learn new techniques, practice them, then share with others, I highly recommend both the training, and the participation on the Flickr page.

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The Canon BG-E5 Battery Grip ($117) provides comfort for larger hands, gives you two battery options, and adds a vertical shutter release button. An interesting side benefit that isn't listed in the specs is that it also makes either the Rebel T1i or XSi a bit more chunky and professional looking.

When I'm on the road in outdoor settings, I load up the battery grip with 6 Sanyo Eneloop rechargable AA batteries. That way, if I'm away from power for extended periods, I can keep shooting as long as I have AAs on hand. You can also use two LP-E5 lithium batteries instead. This configuration is much lighter than AAs. You get inserts for each of the two configurations. So switching back and forth is easy.

The built-in control buttons for vertical shooting include shutter release, AE/FE lock, main dial, and aperture/exposure. So no matter which way you turn the camera, you have maximum comfort.

Unlike with bigger cameras, when you want to travel lighter, just remove the battery grip, insert a single LP-E5 lithium battery, and you're ready to go. The bottom battery door does need to be removed to use the grip. It's easy to snap on and off. Just make sure you don't lose it when it's not in use.

Other Posts on the Canon Rebel T1i

Canon Speedlite 270EX Review - Versatile, Compact Flash

Canon Digital Rebel T1i Field Test at Bodie State Park, California

Street Shooting with Canon 500D/T1i

"Hands On Review of the Canon T1i (500D) - Digital Photography Podcast 179

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