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My Favorite Jay Maisel Quotes


I sat in a darkened ballroom last night and listened and watched as Jay Maisel took us on a tour of light, gesture, and color during his session at Photoshop World. Jay has been creating unforgettable images for decades. He is a member of the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame, was the American Society of Media Photographers' Photographer of the Year, and has been honored with the International Center of Photography's Infinity Award. (Photos by Jay Maisel)

During the session, Jay showed us visual examples of how he captures light, color, and gesture to create powerful images. As we were looking at the pictures, he would add tidbits of wisdom, and I've included some of my favorite thoughts here.

On preparing for a shoot... "Try to go out empty and let your images fill you up."

When composing a picture... "Be aware of every square millimeter of your frame."

"If you can capture the element of surprise, you're way ahead of the game."

"I don't see light as something that falls, but as a positive force."

"As people, we love pattern. But interrupted pattern is more interesting."

"Never put lettering in your photos unless you want it read."

On air quality as it impacts composition... "I'm a New Yorker. I don't believe in air unless I can see it."

When finding the right angle for a shot... "Move your ass."

If you ever have the opportunity to attend a workshop by Jay Maisel or study his work, I highly recommend it. He shared a terrific closing anecdote with me after his talk last night. I thought I'd close with it here.

"A friend of mine brought a cardboard box to one of my presentations. I asked him, why the box? He said there will be two groups of people in the audience today. Half will leave before the presentation is over because they will have to go outside and take pictures. The other half will want to leave their cameras in this box."

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You can imagine one of the keen interests among photographers here at Photoshop World is an exploration of the latest version of Adobe Bridge included in CS3. Many shooters have been using this file browser in tandem with Photoshop to manage their pictures. And for good reason. Adobe Bridge allows you to organize, preview, rate, and even process your photos working in tandem with Photoshop itself.

But the previous version of Bridge was not without its problems. For one thing, it was slow. This led many working shooters to explore speedier apps such as Photo Mechanic. Also, Bridge is not just for photography. It serves as a browser for other media apps, such as InDesign. As with Photoshop itself, serving too many masters sometimes dilutes the user experience for photographers. This is why Lightroom is getting so much attention -- it is for shooters and photo editors only.

My good friend Deke McCelland has just published an excellent introduction to Bridge 2.0 titled, Introduction to a Bridge with images provided by Pascal Genest and David Politi courtesy of iStockphoto (including the screenshot on this page). If you're wondering if you should stick with Bridge in CS3 for your photo management, you might want to read this article. It is comprehensive and informative. Deke also has some very useful videos available online from

My advice: if you're committed to Bridge and like it, I would look closely at version 2. It is much faster, more robust, and has some terrific features including its own version of Camera Raw. But if you're looking to start fresh with a new photo management application, I would seriously consider Adobe Lightroom (Mac & Windows) or Apple Aperture (Mac only). These programs are written specifically for photographers, and I think each provides a better overall experience for shooters than Adobe Bridge.

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Doors Open at Photoshop World


The doors are open and Photoshop World is in business this week at Boston's Hynes Convention Center. I'm already in town preparing for my talks in the O'Reilly booth on Adobe Lightroom, but I'll also have some time to sit on talks by great artists such as Vincent Versace and Jay Maisel. Of course I'll report the highlights here on The Digital Story. Stay tuned...

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Have you submitted your entry in the March Photo Assignment: Self Portrait?

If not, you still have this weekend to do so. Entries so far has shown good creativity, technique, and sometimes displaying an activity important to the subject. But the bottom line is, we want to see your picture! Get your self portrait in by the end of the month...

If you want to browse past entries, just visit our Photo Assignment page. See you soon!

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Now that Adobe Photoshop CS3 is official, it's probably time to start learning about its new features and interface enhancements. What better place to begin than with Deke McClelland, who is one of the best Photoshop experts in the business?

Deke will be publishing a series of CS3 tutorials on O'Reilly's Digital Media site. He's calling them dekeBytes. You can check out the first installment now, titled A Tour of Photoshop CS3's New Interface, posted by his editor, Colleen Wheeler.

In this mini-tutorial, Deke shows you what's different in the Photoshop CS3 interface and how to navigate those changes. Within minutes, you're well on your way to mastering the latest version of everyone's favorite pixel editor. The next installment will cover highlights from the new version of Bridge. Keep your eyes peeled for that next installment.

“The Goddess” photo by Aleksandra Alexis courtesy of iStockPhoto.

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Dinner Time is for Pictures


When you're on the road, daily schedules often get turned on their head. One of the benefits of this disruption is that you can be out taking pictures instead of finishing up at the office, eating dinner, or taking care of some other life chore. Dinner time is often a great time for photography.

My travel routine includes a sandwich around 4pm, then off to a location that I want to photograph. I spend the hour or so before twilight scouting the possibilities and preparing my gear. Then as the light begins to sweeten, I start shooting. On my way back to my room, usually around 9:30 pm, I'll grab a light snack to keep my hunger at bay while I upload the images and begin photo editing. By the time I go to bed, I've gone through all the photos at least once, played with a few favorites, and backed everything up to a second hard drive.

So when you have a chance to be more in control of your schedule, take the opportunity to shoot when the light is at its best. Dinner can wait...

Photo by Derrick Story. Captured atop the Stratosphere in Las Vegas. Panasonic Lumix FZ8, ISO 100, 1/160th at f-4.0, focal length 6.0 mm.

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Gary Fong's New Whale Tale at WPPI


Gary Fong has a new gizmo for your flash. The Whale Tail, shown here, will fit on most strobes, provides adjustable directional light, and includes optional color balance, warming, and cooling filters. The device will be available in April on Gary Fong's web site for about $75.

Gary attracted big crowds at WPPI as he demoed the new Whale Tale. He is part showman, part photographer, and has quite the inventive streak. Most people seemed impressed with how the Whale Tale softened strobe light and reduced shadows.

If you get one once they're available, drop me a line with how you feel it performs, and I'll post a follow up.

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Sponsor Note...

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If not your worst nightmare, it's close: you've accidently erased your memory card losing precious photographs before they've been safely uploaded to the computer. You fear you may have lost everything.

But chances are good that you can recover those photos. First, remove the memory card from the camera. Then download the latest version of PhotoRescue. You can grab a demo version initially, then buy the application once you've saved the data from your card. Launch the program and click on the "Backup card" button. PhotoRescue will copy the entire contents of your card to the destination your designate, and label the file, "card_image.cib". Your "erased" data has now been transferred to your computer.


At this point, you can buy PhotoRescue for $29 US and recover your pictures using "Quick Recovery." This function will read your card directly if it's still connected to the computer, or it can read the backup file you created earlier. Either way, you can't actually restore the images without paying the registration fee.


My advice is this: even if you're not ready to pay for PhotoRescue now, download the demo today and have it on your hard drive. That way, if you need it, and don't have Internet handy, you can backup the contents of your memory card immediately, then restore the pictures once you have a chance to go online and pay the $29 registration.

PhotoRescue works for both Mac and Windows. The Mac version is Universal Binary, and is quite speedy on an Intel Mac. In just minutes, I successfully recovered nearly 2GBs of photos from a formatted SD card that was full of images from my Canon SD700. There are also other recovery applications available that you might want to look in to. The bottom line, however, is to be prepared for an accidental erasure, so you don't lose valuable pictures.

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The nooks and crannies of The Digital Story mailbox has yielded more outstanding photos from last month's Photo Assignment: "Texture". These images are too good to languish in a stuffy old inbox, so I'm running a follow up here so you too can enjoy them.

And don't forget that this month's assignment is "Self Portrait." That's right, we're asking you to get in front of the camera and share your personalty with other members in the Digital Story virtual camera club. I guess you could call this a virtual ice breaker! If you've never entered a photo assignment before, just check the Submissions page. The deadline for "Self Portrait" is March 31.

But now, let's enjoy a few more "Texture" submissions from our members. Thanks all for contributing, and for your patience :)

More Texture

Jason Francis

Paul Leasure

Stuart Glenn

Bryan Pearson

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I've been a big fan of the Canon Rebel XT (350D) and carry it in my backpack as my point and shoot. Recently I got my hands on the Rebel XTi (400D) and have been enjoying the larger 2.5" LCD, improved user interface, automatic dust sensor cleaning, the cute little green power-on light, and of course the 10.2 megapixel sensor. This camera handles all of my Canon lenses, shoots RAW, and is quite responsive.

But I started hearing little comments such as, "Well, you know that the XTi is a lot noisier than the XT, right?" Actually, no I didn't. I ignored the first few remarks, but then had to do a little research to get to the bottom of this. Why? Well the images I was shooting looked pretty good, and I would have been hard-pressed to tell the difference between RAW files shot with the XT and the XTi. (Now compared to the 5D is another matter...)

My research led to me an interesting report published on Camera Labs. If you're interested in this sort of thing, you should read it. They did a great job of comparing noise levels between the Canon Rebel XT, XTi, Nikon D200, and Sony Alpha. Their remarks?

"In terms of its 10 Megapixel rivals, the EOS 400D / Rebel XTi delivers essentially the same results as the more expensive Nikon D200 at 200 ISO and above, while arguably enjoying a smoother image at 100 ISO. Interestingly, the Sony Alpha A100 exhibits noticeably higher noise than any of the other models here, especially at 800 ISO and above. The bottom line is Canon may have increased the resolution of the 400D / XTi, but its noise levels remain very low and usable even up to 1600 ISO."

As you continue through the report, they could find some small differences at ISO 1600 between the XT and XTi. But they don't seem like an issue in real life shooting, and they certainly don't offset the other advantages provided by the XTi.

My bottom line... the Canon Rebel XTi is my new point and shoot camera. And I really like the shots it produces.

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