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Using Signs to Help Tell the Story

I remember hearing in class once, "If you put a sign in a picture, people will read it." Sounds obvious, right? But the point is that they will read it first before exploring other elements in the composition. And you can use this to help tell the story.

IMGP3607-mustard-1024.jpg "End" - Burned cypress trees from the Santa Rosa fires. Photo by Derrick Story.

One of my ongoing photo essays is covering the aftermath of the fires that ravaged Santa Rosa last October. There's a juxtaposition to life here right now. On one hand, the fields are green from the rain, and the skies have returned to their pretty blue. Against that backdrop, there are burned trees, trucks filled with debris, and bare foundations where houses once stood.

I've noticed how existing signs suddenly take on new meaning (like the End sign above in front of burned cypress trees), or how signs suddenly appear as a result of the event itself, as shown below.

Larkfield-Signs-1024.jpg "Larkfield Estates" - Photo by Derrick Story.

In both cases, I find them compelling elements that add more dimension to the storytelling. Signs are often interesting in themselves, but when combined with an overall composition, they can help make the picture more effective.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

One of my favorite new features in Capture One Pro 11 is redesigned layers. Now, you can access them in practically every adjustment tool, and we have plenty of powerful, yet easy to use masking tools for localized edits on each of those layers.

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If you haven't experienced them yet, I have a treat for you. Here's 5-minute movie that introduces you to the new Layers, how to use them, and the tools available within them. You'll be up and running right away.

Learn about the redesigned layer approach from Capture One Pro 11 Essential Training by Derrick Story

This video is from my new course titled, Capture One Pro 11 Essential Training on LinkedIn Learning. You can also tune in on lynda.com if you prefer your training there. Either way, I have four hours of entertaining education that will help you master this excellent photo management and editing application.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

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In a sea of smartphones, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II with the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 prime stands head and shoulders above the crowd.

This affordable kit is compact enough to accommodate arena regulations for admittance, yet can bring the action close with a fast aperture telephoto.

The kits currently sells for $449 for the camera and $349 for the lens. So for less than $800, I have a powerful, interchangeable lens camera that I can walk through security with, and in all honesty, costs less than my current iPhone.

T-Shirt Toss "T-Shirt Toss" - Warriors vs Nets, Oracle Arena. Photo by Derrick Story.

I'm able to shoot at 180mm effective focal length at f/1.8. How do I do this? I use the Jpeg SuperFine setting, Aperture Priority, and the 2X digital doubler that I set via a function button so I can switch back and forth between 90mm and 180mm. These settings also provide some softening to the background, which is difficult to achieve with a smartphone under these conditions.

Decked Out for the Game "Decked Out for the Game" - Warriors vs Nets, Oracle Arena. Photo by Derrick Story.

If I set the ISO to 1600, I can capture at 1/1000th of a second, wide open, for the play on the floor. This gives me the ability to stop action.

Dray Gets Rejected "Dray Gets Rejected" - Warriors vs Nets, Oracle Arena. Photo by Derrick Story.

The E-M10 Mark II has all the other features that I need for fan photography, such as built-in image stabilization, pop-up flash, tilting LCD screen, electronic viewfinder, HD video recording, and good battery life. I can send the images to my iPhone via the Olympus app, so publishing on the spot is easy as well.

Halftime Show "Halftime Show" - Warriors vs Nets, Oracle Arena. Photo by Derrick Story.

Smartphones are handy, but when I want the ability to get close to the action in the arena, plus soften the backgrounds a bit, I want my Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II with the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 prime. For spectator photography, it's a winner.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

This is The Digital Story Podcast #625, March 6, 2018. Today's theme is "Like to Shoot, or Shoot for Likes?" I'm Derrick Story.

Opening Monologue

Social media has revealed something about photographers that we suspected before, but have now confirmed: They are more interested in receiving likes than suggestions. Some say this is an addiction. I think it's human nature. And I explore this topic on today's TDS Photography Podcast.

Like to Shoot, or Shoot for Likes?

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I've learned a lot about photographers, and people in general, over the last decade while working online for Lowepro, Rocky Nook, ct Digital Photography, TDS, and now Skylum as well.

Generally speaking, photographers who post images online feel good about the work they're sharing, and looking forward to positive responses about it. That is about as human as it gets, but it can also turn into a trap that compromises your artistic growth.

The likes are addictive. And if we don't pay attention to our own process, we can find ourselves creating work for the casual viewing general population, instead of pushing our own creative boundaries. Here's an example that you can try.

On Instagram, post a pretty sunset shot. Make sure that it's colorful and very postcard like. Tally the likes that you receive in a 24 hour period.

The next day, at the same time, post an image that is more challenging to the viewer, but one that you took some artistic risks with. Tally those likes over a 24 hour period.

Then compare. In most instances, the colorful sunset, which requires very little photographic skill, will garner the most likes. And if you become addicted to those likes, your work is in danger of following the path of colorful sunsets.

The art of receiving and giving constructive criticism.

Knowing when not to give a damn.

Finding watering holes where experienced photographers hang out.

Coming Up: Build Your Digital Darkroom with Photos (And Get a Free Signed Copy of My New Book)

Our next Nimble Classroom is on March 10, Build Your Digital Darkroom with Photos. Every participant receives a free signed copy of The Apple Photos Book for Photographers, 2nd Edition.

Come Join me at the Skylum Photography Public Group

I'm now moderating the Skylum Photography Public Group, and I would love to have interested members from our audience join me there.

The San Francisco Street Photography Workshop Update

I've published an informative article on the San Francisco Street Photography Workshop that you may want to take a look at.

San Francisco Street Photography - April 26-28, 2018 - We'll work entirely on location in San Francisco. Our hotel in picturesque Union Square will serve as our headquarters during the event. No rental car will be necessary. We'll explore the City's hidden treasures and capture them through our lenses. As always, we're adding new shooting locations again this year, including twilight assignments. This is San Francisco like you've never seen it before. And as a bonus, Olympus Visionary Mike Boening will be joining the teaching staff and leading sessions on street shooting and night photography. Two instructors, three days, and all for just $695. (That's right, it's 3 full days in one of the most photogenic cities in the U.S.)

New! TheFilmCameraProject on Instagram

Teresa Hummel wins the Pentax camera!

I've started a new Instagram feed just for film camera lovers. It's called TheFilmCameraProject, and it's for those who appreciate the beauty of analog SLRs.

Updates and Such

I now have the dates for the Sonoma Country Hot Air Balloon and Drone Photography Workshop, June 8-10, 2018. We're combining two very fun aerial activities into one workshop. Be sure to get on the Reserve List for this one!

You can become a member of our Inner Circle by clicking on this link or by clicking on the Patreon tile that's on every page of The Digital Story.

B&H and Amazon tiles on www.thedigitalstory. If you click on them first, you're helping to support this podcast. And speaking of supporting this show, and big thanks to our Patreon Inner Circle members:

And finally, be sure to visit our friends at Red River Paper for all of your inkjet supply needs.

See you next week!

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. And from those images, I choose the TDS Member Photo of the Day.

Podcast Sponsors

Videoblocks - Go to videoblocks.com/digitalstory to get all the stock video, audio, and images that you can imagine for just $149. Save on millions of studio-quality clips, tracks, and graphics.

Red River Paper - Keep up with the world of inkjet printing, and win free paper, by liking Red River Paper on Facebook.

The Nimbleosity Report

Do you want to keep up with the best content from The Digital Story and The Nimble Photographer? Sign up for The Nimbleosity Report, and receive highlights twice-a-month in a single page newsletter. Be a part of our community!

Want to Comment on this Post?

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

The The Apple Photos Book for Photographers, 2nd Edition is now available on Amazon for $27.56.

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Apple's Photos for macOS High Sierra app was designed from the ground up to help you organize, edit, and share your pictures and videos. While the interface appears simple, finding the hidden nuances of Photos is not so straightforward. There's much more to this app than initially meets the eye.

For photographers who are more than just casual snapshooters, or who are making the transition from Aperture or iPhoto, The Apple Photos Book for Photographers, 2nd Edition shines a light on the true sophistication of this app and the ecosystem it taps into. From the point of view of a working photographer, Derrick provides everything you need to know to get the most out of the imaging tools built into this application.

Some of my favorite features covered in the book include:

  • Adding star ratings to your images and sorting them using the new Filters popup menu.
  • Roundtripping to Photoshop and other external apps using the new Edit With command.
  • Editing Live Photos captured with your iPhone and creating animated GIFs from them.
  • Tapping Photos' sophisticated search technology that makes it easier than ever to find your pictures.
  • Working with iCloud Photo Library to sync your photos across your devices (and automatically back them up as well).
  • Adding location data to your images so you can map your travels with your photos.
  • Editing your images with Photos' basic tools, and then going beyond with more advanced adjustments such as Selective Color and Curves.
  • Integrating third-party Editing Extensions into your workflow so you can build a digital darkroom tailored to your style of photography.
  • Creating projects such as books, cards, calendars, prints, and slideshows--and showing you how to create your own Fine Art Cards at home with just your Mac and an inkjet printer.
  • Working with videos as well as still photos.

If you work in the Apple ecosystem, and you haven't looked at Photos for a while, then the The Apple Photos Book for Photographers, 2nd EditionApple Photos Book for Photographers, 2md Edition is for you. And if you have been using Photos, I think you'll learn some new tricks.

Kodak-Scanner.jpg

For those who enjoy loading the occasional roll of film, or who have an archive of images from the analog days, the new KODAK SCANZA Digital Filmand Slide Scanner ($169) might be a helpful addition to the home workspace.

Features include:

  • 3.5" Tilting LCD Screen.
  • 14 Megapixel Sensor.
  • Integrated Interpolation: optional setting enhances images up to 22 megapixels (scans up to 5728 x 3824).
  • A wide variety of adapters and trays for most film types.
  • 3 Function Keys: correspond with various prompts on the screen.
  • HDMI/Video Cables: connect to a television to view your photos on the big screen.
  • USB Cable: connect to a computer, laptop or other device for image upload; can also be used to power the scanner (AC adapter included).
  • User Manual: provides complete instructions and tips for operating the scanner.
  • Color Adjustments: helps you tweak image coloring (red, green, blue, reset).
  • Brightness Adjustment: Lightens and darkens the image per your preference.
  • USB Upload: transfers images on your SD card (Not Included , supports up to 128GB) to any computer or compatible device.

I've been using the Wolverine F2D Mighty for my quick and dirty scans, so I decided to test the new Kodak Scanza against both it and professional lab scans. Here's the first comparison with no image adjustments, right out of the respective scanners.

Film Scanner Comparison From Left to Right: Professional Lab Scan - Kodak Scanza Scan - Wolverine F2D Mighty Scan - No adjustments to any of the images. Straight out of the scanners.

In this comparison, the pro lab wins, with the Scanza running second, and the Wolverine a distant third. I then made a few quick adjustments in Photoshop to the Scanza image, and here's how it stacked up to the pro lab.

Scanza vs Lab The Scanza image is on the left, with pro lab on the right. The quality gap narrowed quite a bit after adjustment.

I could easily create an adjustment profile and apply it to the images on import to my photo management software, giving me a good starting point for the film scans.

The Scanza workflow is straight forward. Choose the right adapter for your film, load the negative/positive, insert a SD card into the scanner, power it up, choose your film type, and press the capture button. You can make adjustments to the resolution, color, and brightness via the settings.

Scan-Setup-1024.jpg The Kodak Scanza (center) doesn't take up much room, yet provides solid results. By comparison the orange Wolverine scanner is on the left.

In terms of image quality, the pro scans are better. The color is more accurate and details are crisper than with the Scanza. The Kodak algorithm to control noise in the scans does produce some smearing of details, noticeable mainly if you zoom in.

But the Kodak images are overall pleasing, especially after minor adjustments. And when printing them or viewing at normal magnification, they hold up quite well.

The KODAK SCANZA Scanner is a good value at $169, especially for quick digitizing for online work and inkjet printing. The 22MP mode doesn't present any quality tradeoffs compared to scanning at 14MP, so you might as well enjoy the big 5728 x 3824 files. The color is reasonable and can be easily adjusted in post.

As for the built in adjustments in the Scanza, they weren't quite as fine as I would like. I found myself usually want half as much with any of the sliders. I felt a lot better about this after correcting in post, however.

If you're looking for a compact film scanner for your home office, the Kodak Scanza is worthy of serious consideration. I had fun using it, and I love the convenience. It's definitely replacing my old Wolverine F2D Mighty.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

Our cameras are important investments for us, and photographers who use Olympus for their work just received nice upgrades for their gear.

olympus-upgrade.jpg

Olympus just announced a series of new firmware updates that are available immediately for several of its latest interchangeable lens cameras. The firmware upgrades include Version 2.0 for the flagship Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, Version 3.0 for the Olympus PEN-F, and Version 4.0 for the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II.

All three cameras receive the new Bleach Bypass Art Filter option that was included in the OM-D E-M10 Mark III (released in September 2017). This option replicates the bleach bypass effect used to develop film creating images with a beautiful metallic sheen. And all three now support the Panasonic LEICA® DG ELMARIT 200mm/F2.8/POWER O.I.S. interchangeable lens.

From there, enhanced functionality varies by model. For example, the OM-D E-M5 Mark II now has the In-Camera Focus Stacking function, where the focus is shifted in half-pixel increments while capturing eight images, which are then composited to form a single image that is in focus from the foreground to the background. A total of eight lenses are supported (the same lenses supported by OM-D E-M1 Mark II Firmware Version 2.0).

On the PEN-F, it is now possible to save Monochrome and Color Profile Control settings in images recorded on the PEN-F to the camera via a computer. Using the latest Olympus Digital Camera Updater (Ver. 2.1), simply select the image with the profile you want to use and save the settings to the camera.

And for the OM-D E-M1 Mark II, there are a number of enhancements, including improved Pro Capture Mode functionality, Focus Stacking now supports the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm F4.0 IS PRO, small AF Target setting added to S-AF and C-AF, Continuous AF (C-AF) performance has been improved, remaining battery level icon has been fine-tuned, and a lot more.

You can review the details for your specific camera by visiting the Olympus Firmware Upgrade page, where you can also click for the appropriate software.

Download your new camera today!

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

This is The Digital Story Podcast #624, Feb. 27, 2018. Today's theme is "Canon, Fuji, and Pentax Make Big News" I'm Derrick Story.

Opening Monologue

The Canon EOS M50, Pentax K-1 Mark II, and Fujifilm X-H1 are all very different cameras. But the one thing they have in common is that they are all recent announcements. Can we speculate about where the camera industry is going by examining these? We take a closer look in today's TDS Podcast.

Canon EOS M50

The Canon EOS M50 will sell for $899 with kit lens and will be available on March 26, 2018.

3-Cameras-web.jpg

The Canon EOS M50 is an entry-level mirrorless camera that features an electronic viewfinder, fully articulating touchscreen, single control dial and a 24MP APS-C sensor - the same used by its M-series siblings. It has Canon's latest DIGIC 8 processor and offers expanded Dual Pixel AF coverage, 4K/24p video capture (1.6x crop) as well as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC.

  • 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor
  • Dual Pixel autofocus for stills and video
  • DIGIC 8 processor
  • 2.36M-dot OLED EVF
  • 1.04M-dot vari-angle LCD
  • 7.4 fps burst in AF-C (10 fps in AF-S)
  • 4K/24p UHD video (1.6 x crop)
  • 1080/60p and 720/120p HD video
  • Wi-Fi and NFC with Bluetooth
  • 235 shot-per-charge battery live (via CIPA)

Source: DP Review.

I think the biggest appeal is for photographers already shooting Canon being able to use existing lenses with an adapter.

Pentax K-1 Mark II

The Pentax K-1 Mark II will sell for $1,996 is will be available on March 11, 2018.

The K-1 II's main addition is an 'accelerator unit,' which is a pre-processor that sits between the 36MP CMOS sensor and the PRIME IV image processor. Ricoh says that this pre-processor increases the signal-to-noise ratio, thus reducing noise, which implies it's a a noise reduction process. Ricoh told us that the accelerator unit, which was found on other Pentax models like the K-70, was not ready for the K-1 when it launched.

Thus, the company has increased the top ISO to 819,200 - a big jump from 209,400 on the original model. We'd be shocked if anything near that ISO is usable, seeing how the K-1 looked at 209,400 (hint: poor, like all cameras in its class), but we'll find out soon enough.

The K-1 Mark II can, of course, still use the Pentax DA lenses designed for the company's APS-C cameras. By default the camera will use a 15MP APS-C-sized crop of the sensor if a DA lens is mounted but can be made to use its full sensor region, if you'd prefer. Ricoh has published a list of those lenses that will produce relatively useable results in full frame mode, if the aperture is stopped down.

  • 36.4MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
  • PRIME IV Image Processor
  • 3.2" Cross-Tilt LCD Monitor
  • Full HD 1080p30 Video Recording
  • SAFOX 12 33-Point AF Sensor
  • Native ISO 819200; 4.4 fps Shooting
  • Pixel Shift Resolution II
  • 5-Axis In-Body Shake Reduction
  • Built-In Wi-Fi & GPS; Dual SD Card Slots
  • Weather-Sealed Magnesium-Alloy Body

For a limited time this summer, current Pentax K-1 owners will be able to send their cameras in for service, essentially upgrading them to a Mark II. The service will include a main circuit board swap, and the 'SR' logo on the front of the camera will be replaced with a Mark II logo. The upgraded circuit board will add all of the features introduced in the Mark II, such as shooting at up to ISO 819,200 and an updated Pixel Shift mode.

The K-1 upgrade service will cost $550 US / $690 CAD and will be offered from May 21, 2018 to September 30, 2018.

The upgrade will be available for the same period in Europe at a cost of £450 in the UK and €500 across the rest of Europe.

Source: DP Review.

The Fujifilm X-H1

The Fujifilm X-H1 will sell for $1,899 and will be available on March 1, 2018.

The X-T2 offers 4K video, but the X-H1 takes things to a different level. Virtually every aspect of the X-H1's video feature set is upgraded compared to the X-T2. Thanks to its larger internal volume it can shoot 4K for longer (15 mins compared to 10), and while the two cameras both impose a modest 1.17X crop, the X-H1 boasts a maximum bitrate of 200Mbps and the option to shoot F-Log internally.

The X-H1's new 'Eterna' film simulation preset is intended to provide a quick and easy way to shoot gradeable, wide dynamic range video footage. For the first time, you can apply dynamic range 'DR' expansion settings in video mode on the X-H1, too. When combined with the DR400%, setting, Fujifilm says that footage shot using the Eterna preset should deliver a total of 12EV of dynamic range.

While it uses the same 24MP APS-C X-Trans sensor as the X-T2, the X-H1's on-sensor phase-detection autofocus system has been seriously upgraded. The most obvious improvements are to low-light sensitivity and focus tracking. The X-H1 can now focus down to -1EV (compared to the X-T2's limit of 0.5EV) and phase-detection AF should work even at effective apertures as small as F11 - i.e. when shooting at the long end of the XF100-400mm F4.5-5.6 zoom, when combined with a 2X tele-converter

Source: DP Review.

  • 24.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS III Sensor X-Processor Pro Engine
  • 5-Axis In-Body Image Stabilization
  • Internal DCI 4K Video and F-Log Gamma
  • 0.75x 3.69m-Dot Electronic Viewfinder
  • 3" 1.04m-Dot 3-Way Tilt LCD Touchscreen
  • 325-Point Intelligent Hybrid AF System
  • 1080p at 120 fps; Flicker Reduction Mode
  • 1.28" Sub-LCD Top Screen
  • Weather-Sealed Body; 2 UHS-II SD Slots/
  • Same sized battery as the X-T2

I really like the top deck LCD. I think it looks great and is truly useful.

Coming Up: Build Your Digital Darkroom with Photos (And Get a Free Signed Copy of My New Book)

Our next Nimble Classroom is on March 10, Build Your Digital Darkroom with Photos. Here's why you might want to attend.

Come Join me at the Skylum Photography Public Group

I'm now moderating the Skylum Photography Public Group, and I would love to have interested members from our audience join me there.

The San Francisco Street Photography Workshop Update

I've published an informative article on the San Francisco Street Photography Workshop that you may want to take a look at.

San Francisco Street Photography - April 26-28, 2018 - We'll work entirely on location in San Francisco. Our hotel in picturesque Union Square will serve as our headquarters during the event. No rental car will be necessary. We'll explore the City's hidden treasures and capture them through our lenses. As always, we're adding new shooting locations again this year, including twilight assignments. This is San Francisco like you've never seen it before. And as a bonus, Olympus Visionary Mike Boening will be joining the teaching staff and leading sessions on street shooting and night photography. Two instructors, three days, and all for just $695. (That's right, it's 3 full days in one of the most photogenic cities in the U.S.)

New! TheFilmCameraProject on Instagram

I've started a new Instagram feed just for film camera lovers. It's called TheFilmCameraProject, and it's for those who appreciate the beauty of analog SLRs.

And to celebrate the launch, I'm giving away one Pentax SLR and lens to one lucky follower of TheFilmCameraProject. All you have to do is follow the feed by Feb. 28, 2018. I'll then do a random drawing and announce the winner on the March 6 podcast. Join in the fun, and get to admire some really beautiful camera along the way.

Updates and Such

I now have the dates for the Sonoma Country Hot Air Balloon and Drone Photography Workshop, June 8-10, 2018. We're combining two very fun aerial activities into one workshop. Be sure to get on the Reserve List for this one!

You can become a member of our Inner Circle by clicking on this link or by clicking on the Patreon tile that's on every page of The Digital Story.

B&H and Amazon tiles on www.thedigitalstory. If you click on them first, you're helping to support this podcast. And speaking of supporting this show, and big thanks to our Patreon Inner Circle members:

And finally, be sure to visit our friends at Red River Paper for all of your inkjet supply needs.

See you next week!

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. And from those images, I choose the TDS Member Photo of the Day.

Podcast Sponsors

Videoblocks - Go to videoblocks.com/digitalstory to get all the stock video, audio, and images that you can imagine for just $149. Save on millions of studio-quality clips, tracks, and graphics.

Red River Paper - Keep up with the world of inkjet printing, and win free paper, by liking Red River Paper on Facebook.

The Nimbleosity Report

Do you want to keep up with the best content from The Digital Story and The Nimble Photographer? Sign up for The Nimbleosity Report, and receive highlights twice-a-month in a single page newsletter. Be a part of our community!

Want to Comment on this Post?

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

Take a Drive

Today's post is obvious, common sense, and anything but profound... and yet we get caught up in distractions and forget to: grab your camera and go take a drive.

take-a-drive.jpg "Sonoma Coast at Bodega Bay" - Pentax KP with HD DA 18-50mm zoom. Photo by Derrick Story.

So at the risk of stating again what we all know: take a drive, capture some pictures, then come home and play with them. The chores can wait.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

Between the outstanding editing extensions such as Luminar 2018, and the new Edit With command in Photos for macOS High Sierra, you can design a customized, powerful, and fun digital darkroom for cheap. In my upcoming online Nimble Classroom titled, Build Your Digital Darkroom with Photos (Saturday, March 10), I show you how.

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And if that isn't thrilling enough... Each member of this Nimble Classroom will received a signed copy of my new Apple Photos Book for Photographers, 2nd Edition, which is throughly updated for the current version of the app. Participants also receive all the video modules from the live class, so they can be reviewed and referred to as often as wanted.

As of this writing, there are only 4 seats left for this Nimble Classroom. If you want to participate, sign up today.

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.