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For the June 2012 Photo Assignment, TDS shooters found wisdom, humor, and direction in the words around them. See for yourself in our gallery, Signs. And which one will be the SizzlPix Pick of the Month?

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Photo by Gerry Legere. "After driving around town looking for ideas, I first spotted two spots which looked promising very close to each other," Gerry wrote. "But then, as a bonus, the photo I decided to include also had the word Signs. This image features great colors, and a car in front, which sported a sign on its side that helped to repeat the theme." To see all of the other terrific shots from Jume, visit the Signs gallery page.


Participate in This Month's Assignment

The August 2012 assignment is "Street Scene." Details can be found on the Member Participation page. Deadline is August 30, 2012.

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 this month's assignment should be: "Photo Assignment: August 2012." 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.

Good luck with your August assignment, and congratulations to all of the fine contributors for June.

SizzlPix Pick of the Month for March and April Photo Assignments


twitter.jpg Follow me on Twitter

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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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In this Digital Photography Podcast: The Nokia 808 PureView camera phone has amazing specs, including 38 MP capture with a 28mm Zeiss lens. Then with PureView zoom, you can go up to 3.6X with the sacrifice being in megapixels, not image quality. Very interesting device, and possibly the best camera phone ever.

In the second story, I focus on a cool feature for photographers called AirPlay Mirroring. It's one of the 200 new goodies in Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. Using AirPlay Mirroring, we can easily share our photos and videos with small audiences.

And finally, do you know what those different album colors mean in iPhoto for iOS? They're actually a helpful organizational tool. All of this and more in this week's TDS podcast.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (33 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Hot is the July 2012 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is July 31, 2012.

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

Red River Paper -- The $7.99 Sample Kit is back! And with free shipping.

Make Your Photos Sizzle with Color! -- SizzlPix is like High Definition TV for your photography. Get a 20% discount during July by adding "TDS" in the comment field of your order.

Need a New Photo Bag? Check out the Lowepro Specialty Store on The Digital Story and use discount code LP20 to saven 20% at check out.




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Do you know why iPhoto for iOS adorns your library shelf with albums that are blue, tan, and gray? They are actually organizational tools to help you find your images. In my Macworld article, Mastering albums in iPhoto for iOS, I explain in detail how you can put these albums to use on your iPad.

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In the meantime, if you're curious as to what the colors actually mean, here you go:

  • Blue - Albums created by iPhoto for iOS that contain pictures from your Camera Roll for from Photo Stream.
  • Tan - Once you edit an image, or tagged it with a flag or as a favorite, iPhoto creates an Edited album and colors it tan.
  • Gray - If you create an album in the Photos app on the iPad, or sync an album via Aperture or iPhoto on Mac OS X, those images will appear in a gray album in your library.

So yes, you can organize your pictures on an iPad.


You can find more photo tips and "photography how tos" on my Pinterest page.


One of Mac OS X Mountain Lion's most tantalizing features for photographers and teachers is AirPlay Mirroring. With just one click, you can share your computer screen with any HDTV wirelessly via an Apple TV.

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I tested AirPlay Mirroring running Mountain Lion on a MacBook Pro 15" Retina display to my Panasonic LCD HDTV via a second generation Apple TV. The first thing I noticed is that there is no set up. I turned on the Panasonic, then chose Apple TV from the AirPlay icon in the top menu bar of the laptop. My computer screen instantly appeared on the HDTV.

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I fine-tuned the image by opening Display Preferences and choosing "Best for AirPlay." Now, even the typography looked decent on screen.

This feature is terrific for sharing photography. My Aperture images looked very crisp onscreen. I played an HD movie that I had created, and the transitions were remarkably smooth. Every now and then there would be a momentary stutter on long Ken Burns effects, however. Audio is also piped through the Apple TV to the HDTV. I'm not sure I would watch a full featured action movie using AirPlay Mirroring, but for teaching and presentations, this is dynamite.

Once I was done sharing, I chose "Turn Off AirPlay Mirroring," and everything went back to normal on both computer and TV. This is a feature that will make it easy for photographers to share their work with family, friends, and small groups.


You can find more photo tips and "photography how tos" on my Pinterest page.


Fast Photo Rescue with Adobe CS6

There are those images that I suspect have good potential, but require just a bit of work. My rescue tool of choice is Adobe Camera Raw 7.1 and Photoshop CS6. Typically, I can salvage a picture in just a few minutes. Here's a recent example of a 3-step photo rescue.

Step 1 - Open in ACR 7.1 and Apply the Graduated Filter

camera_raw_7-1 Using the Graduated Filter tool in Adobe Camera Raw 7.1

The big problem with this shot was that the top of the image was blown out from the setting sun. Since I shot RAW, I figured there was enough image information there, and the graduated filter seemed like the right tool to see what I have.

Step 2 - Open in Photoshop CS6 and Apply HDR Toning

hdr_toning.jpg HDR Toning in Photoshop CS6

After using the Graduated Filter in ACR, I thought I could balance the overall tonality a bit more. I used the HDR Toning tool in Photoshop CS6 (Image > Adjustments > HDR Toning).

Step 3 - Smart Sharpening and Save

Now all I had to do was apply a Smart Sharpening and save the photograph. By this point you're probably wondering what the original looked like. Here ya go.

original_train_tracks.jpg Original train tracks image before the 3-step rescue.

And here's the final image.

Train Tracks P7242542 Retina.jpg Final image after the 3-step rescue.

The entire process took about 5 minutes.


You can find more photo tips and "photography how tos" on my Pinterest page.


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If you recently purchased the MacBook Pro 15" Retina display, or another of Apple's latest offers, you probably qualify for the Up to Date Program.

It takes just a few minutes to complete the registration. Once you've been approved (usually within 24 hours), you'll receive a code that you can use in the Mac App Store to download Mountain Lion. Keep in mind that your order must be entered by August 24, 2012.


The Digital Story on Facebook -- discussion, outstanding images from the TDS community, and inside information. Join our celebration of great photography!


Sunset in Carpinteria, CA

After I finished a day of recording at the lynda.com studio in Carpinteria, CA, I headed out to the beach for a sunset walk. It was very quiet that afternoon, and I had the area to myself.

Starfish Starfish. Photos by Derrick Story

I was traveling light. In my messenger bag I had the Olympus OM-D with a couple lenses, a wind breaker, and a hat. That's all I really needed for the next few hours.

Lobster Lobster washed up on shore.

I took off my shoes so I could wade around in the surf zone. The water felt wonderfully refreshing. And by doing so, I could get to the starfish and anemone.

I used the 14-42mm and the 40-150mm Olympus zooms on the OM-D E-M5 micro four thirds body. When I returned to my hotel room, I processed the images in Aperture 3.3.1 on the MacBook Pro (with retina display).

Anemone Family Sea Anemone

I did track a little sand back to the hotel. But even the nimble photographer has to get his feet wet now and then.


The Digital Story on Facebook -- discussion, outstanding images from the TDS community, and inside information. Join our celebration of great photography!


The Canon EOS M mirrorless camera has been officially announced. We've had some discussion on TDS about "is it the next camera for you," and I cover that conversation as the top story this week.

Then we get in to the Burger King Bust. Three employees at the hamburger shack photographed themselves standing in lettuce bins used for preparation. Then published the photo online. They were tracked down via geodata and fired.

And finally, the $25 wireless flash trigger from Cowboy Studio. What a deal! All of this and more on this week's TDS podcast.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (31 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Hot is the July 2012 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is July 31, 2012.

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

Red River Paper -- The $7.99 Sample Kit is back! And with free shipping.

Make Your Photos Sizzle with Color! -- SizzlPix is like High Definition TV for your photography. Get a 20% discount during July by adding "TDS" in the comment field of your order.

Need a New Photo Bag? Check out the Lowepro Specialty Store on The Digital Story and use discount code LP20 to saven 20% at check out.




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The Micro Four Thirds system supports a variety of lenses by Olympus, Panasonic, and Sigma. But even with that wide selection, there are a few gaps. For example, I needed a fast aperture zoom for a recent assignment. Thanks to the Olympus MMF-3 4/3 Adapter($165), I was able to use one of my favorite Olympus optics, the Olympus Zuiko 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 zoom(which is the equivalent of 24-120mm).

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The MMF-3 is the latest Four Thirds to Micro Four Thirds adapter from Olympus. It's weather sealed, so when used with the 12-60mm zoom and the OM-D EM-5, the entire unit is moisture and dust resistant.

In terms of image quality, the MMF-3 combined with the 12-60mm zoom produces sharp, colorful photographs. And its wide maximum aperture combined with the OM-D's extended ISO performance provided an excellent tandem for existing light photography.

begonia_om-d_12-60.jpg Begonia photographed with the Olympus 12-60mm Four Thirds zoom mounted on an OM-D using the MMF-3 adapter. Photo by Derrick Story

The weakness with this combination is focusing speed. The 12-60mm locks-in much slower than native Micro Four Thirds zooms. Over the course of two days of event shooting, I probably missed a half dozen shots because of focus lag.

For everyday shooting -- landscapes, even portraits -- the focusing speed shouldn't be a problem. But for fast moving subjects and events, it could be frustrating.

Bottom Line

If you have a favorite Four Thirds lens that you'd like to use on the Olympus OM-D or PEN, the weather-sealed MMF-3 adapter will make the connection for you. On the lenses I tested, image quality was excellent across the board.

So if the decrease in auto-focusing speed isn't an issue for you, you can save a bundle of money with the MMF-3. In addition to the 12-60mm zoom, I'm also testing it with the Olympus 9-18mm Four Thirds lens - that's $1,600 of glass that I can mount on the OM-D for only a $165 investment.


You can find more photo tips and "photography how tos" on my Pinterest page.


Is the Canon EOS M for You?

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At last the other shoe has dropped and now Canon has their entry into the mirrorless camera derby. And it's a good one.

The Canon EOS M is a sophisticated CSC aimed at transition photographers and movie makers. Where other manufacturers included HD movie capture on their still cameras, Canon emphasized it.

With its 18.0-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and full HD movie mode with movie servo AF for continuous focus tracking of moving subjects, the EOS M is targeted directly at those for whom video is a priority. It even has an external mic jack.

In October, the body with kit EF-M 22mm f/2 STM lens will be available for $799. Canon will also have a EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens for $299 and an adapter for EF-S and EF lenses. For photographers already in the Canon DSLR camp, the adapter is a no-brainer.

Will I place my order for the new EOS M? Probably not. I'm going to wait and see what's released up the road. For the time being, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 is a better fit for me. I shoot stills first and video second. And the OM-D is a fantastic still photography camera.

But don't underestimate what Canon has done here. They have studied the market and targeted a solid camera right at the generation ready to move from point and shoot to something more sophisticated. It's going to be fun to watch how this plays out.


You can find more photo tips and "photography how tos" on my Pinterest page.