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As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I'm not taking a DSLR on my assignment to Europe. Instead, I'm packing my micro four thirds kit and traveling light with two bodies and six lenses in a Lowepro backpack.

In preparation, I've been testing this kit in real world situations. (I might be crazy, but I'm not stupid.) Yesterday, however, was the first time I left my DSLR at home for a paid assignment.

Fun Ladies Fun Ladies. They were dying to get in a shot, so I let them. I held the OM-D high over my head and tilted the LCD screen to compose the shot. ISO 400 with no supplemental lighting. It's one of my favorites of the day. Photo by Derrick Story.

The job was to cover the Grapes to Glass event in the heart of Sonoma County's wine country. I took only one bag that held my micro four thirds kit including two flashes. Over the course of the afternoon and evening, I used two bodies, four lenses, and my lighting. I shot Raw and processed the work in Aperture 3.3.

Wine Pourers Wine Pourers. Captured with OM-D and 45mm f/1.8 lens at f/2.2. Off camera flash held over my head with my left hand. ISO 800. Photo by Derrick Story.

Bottom line: the shoot turned out beautifully. The images were sharp and colorful. I had no problem working with the Raw files in Aperture. And my back and shoulders feel great today.

Next test will be the TDS Sonoma Coast Workshop that begins on Friday. I'll keep you posted.


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


Getting Ready for Photokina

One of the biggest photography events in the western world is Photokina in Cologne, Germany, beginning Sept. 18, 2012. This amazing event happens every two years, and usually overlaps with Oktoberfest in Munich, just 5 hours away via train.

photokina_banner.jpg

I'll be on site covering the show in Cologne, then visiting Oktoberfest afterward. One of the major themes we'll see this year is mobile photography. A large amount of floor space has been dedicated to this topic, and it's on the hot list for many manufacturers.

I also anticipate major announcements from Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Sony, Samsung, and others. My sponsor, Lowepro, will be launching some terrific new products that I'm eager to discuss. I'll be posting on all of their social networks during the event, including Lowepro Facebook, Twitter and on Instagram (loweprobags). In fact, we'll be relying heavily on Instagram to share images on the other sites too.

As for my preparations, I'm traveling as light as possible. I'll be toting the MacBook Pro Retina Display for my heavy duty work (Aperture, Photoshop CS6, Final Cut X, etc.) and the new iPad for work in the field (iPhoto for iOS).

For my cameras, I'm placing my trust in the Olympus OM-D E-M5 system that will cut my gear weight by over half. I'll take five lenses and a backup PEN body. I'll also pack the new Olympus TG-1 for its tough, all weather capability and for its built-in GPS. Everything will fit easily in my Lowepro DSLR Video Fastpack 250 AWthat holds my camera gear, laptop, and iPad, yet fits easily on the plane both under the seat and in the overhead compartment.

At this point, you might be wondering why I'm getting prepared for this event a month in advance. I've learned over the years that if I start packing early, I forget much less. I'll keep you posted.


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


I get a kick out of creating landscape panoramas. When trying to photograph a beautiful vista, panoramas come closer to what I'm actually feeling while standing there.

Many cameras these days will handle the alignment and stitching for you. Some do better than others. I recently tested the Olympus TG-1 compact "tough" camera in Maui. While doing so, I tried its auto panorama scene mode. Here are the results.

Good Panorama Good Panorama

The camera performed well when I did this three-frame pano of the Maui rainforest. There are most likely flaws in the shot. But the forest hides them pretty well. This one I could show to friends.

The Bad Bad Panorama

Things got worse, however, when I tried to shoot ocean scenes with big skies. In this shot, the alignment is off, and you can see the seams in the sky where the 3 frames are adjoined.

The Ugly The Ugly.

But wait! Things can get worse. In this attempt just about everything that could go wrong, did.

Moral of the story. Handheld panoramas captured in auto stitching mode are a total crap shoot. Technology can make up for some of my laziness. But sometimes I just have to break out the tripod and shoot things the old fashioned way.

I have to admit though, these were fun to make.


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


Half the fun of image editing in a non-destructive environment is playing with different techniques. If you stumble across a look that you want to repeat in the future, you can save those settings as an Effect in Aperture. Here's how.

Mother and Child

Click on the Effects popup menu (near the top of the Adjustments panel) and choose "Save as Effect." This brings up the Effects Presets dialog where you can name your new look. At the same time, decide which image edits you want saved as part of the Effect. Some of the adjustments you might have done, such as tweaking Curves, might be specific to the photograph, but not necessarily part of the preset you're creating.

To eliminate an adjustment from the preset, just click on the "-" symbol next to its name. When you're done, click the OK button.

edit_preset_aperture.jpg

To apply the Effect to another image, go back to the Effects popup menu, and you should see your new preset in the list. Mouse over it to get a preview of how it will look. If you like it, just click and it will be applied to your image.

apply_preset_aperture.jpg

You can fine-tune the picture by using the other tools in the Adjustments panel.

Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn more about Aperture 3, check out my Aperture 3 Essential Training on Lynda.com. Also, take a look at our Aperture 3 Learning Center. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.

My next open Aperture Workshop is scheduled for Nov. 2012, in Santa Rosa, CA. You can get on the pre-registration list, plus learn about all the other photography workshops offered this season by visiting the TDS Workshops page.


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


For a week of hiking, snorkeling, and lounging around the pool in Maui, I depended on one camera - The Olympus Tough TG-1. Not only did it stand up to a week of island abuse, I got great pictures too. In this week's podcast, I talk about the Tough and how it was an integral part of my super nimble workflow.

Speaking of which, I detail the steps of getting the job done with just an iPad and the TG-1. Everything I needed to capture, organize, and publish fit in a light Lowepro Photo Hatchback bag. Don't believe it can be done???

And finally, I jumped in with both feet to Instagram while on the island. Near the end of the show, talk about the things I learned along the way. All of this and more in this week's TDS podcast.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (32 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

Street Scene is the August 2012 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is August 30, 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.

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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My Week with Instagram

I have the opposite problem with my camera phone. I'm so used to carrying a regular camera that I forget to shoot with my iPhone 4S. So even though I have an Instagram account (derrickstory), I haven't really tapped its potential. That is, until last week.

golden_gate_bridge_ds.jpg Heading out of town for a trip to Maui. Instagrams by Derrick Story.

Since I was in Nimble Photographer mode already (iPad, Olympus TG-1, tropical drink), why not take advantage of the joy of iPhone photography and share those images immediately via Instagram? It was a good call.

vw_bus_on_maui.jpg VW Bus on Maui.

Shooting Instagrams is pure "slice of life" photography. Something catches your eye, you capture it immediately, add a little spice to it, then share. The whole process can be completed in a minute... enough time to catch up to the rest of the group that kept walking as you created your masterpiece.

breakfast_at_gazebo.jpg Breakfast at Gazebo on Maui.

So now that I'm back on the mainland, am I going to keep shooting Instagrams? Yes, indeed. I think they help me slow down a bit and pay more attention to the world around me.

If you want to explore with me, you can find Instagram in the App Store.

The Olympus TG-1iHS Camera"tough" is designed to withstand shock, cold, rain, and yes even immersion to 40'. I decided to put this camera to the "snorkeling test" on a recent trip to Maui to see how it would hold up to a week of water activity. The bottom line: this camera is not only tough, it takes great pictures. Here are a few samples. I will report more on its features in upcoming articles.

Black Rock, Maui Black Rock, Maui. Photos by Derrick Story.

Sea Turtle, Maui Sea Turtle, Maui

Ornate Butterflyfish, Maui Ornate Butterflyfish

Moorish Idol Moorish Idol


Take a look at the Olympus Micro Four Thirds Gear Guide for an overview of cameras, lenses, and accessories.

Canon issued a product advisory covering a potential focusing problem with the 40mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens.

In short, if you put pressure on the front of the lens, it may stop auto focusing. If this happens, you can fix the problem by detaching, then reattaching the lens. We should see a firmware update to correct this soon.

Canon 40mm Lens Canon 40mm prime mounted on a EOS 60D.

Where Did Everyone Go?

Sometimes the fun shots are available at dinner time.

After our meal, I got up from the table to work on this shot for a few minutes. And when I came back, everyone was gone.

Tiki torches at sunset

Sometimes the photographer's life is a lonely one...

Nimble Photographer in Maui

I want the sand beneath my toes and the sun low on the horizon... and not much more during my vacation in Maui. So when it comes to gear, I'm in Nimble Photographer mode.

Maui Sunset

Here's what I'm packing during my 8 days in paradise. Over my shoulder is the versatile Lowepro Photo Hatchback 16L AW. It protects my camera gear and iPad while leaving plenty of room for personal items while exploring the island. And when it's time hike to my favorite snorkeling spot, I remove the camera box allowing enough room in the bag to carry my mask, snorkel, fins (sticking out the top) and Olympus TG-1 underwater camera (more on this beauty in an upcoming post).

After I return from my swim, I put the camera box back in the Photo Hatchback and get into photographer mode. For these adventures I'm carrying the Olympus OM-D E-M5 with the 14-42mm zoom and Power Battery Holder HLD-6. I usually leave the bottom part of the HLD-6 back in my room and just use the grip.

OM-D with New Grip

I'm also carrying the M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6 R Lens, the 17mm f/2.8 Lens, and the 45mm f/1.8 Lens. All of this fits in the Photo Hatchback camera box along with the XZ-1 10MP Compact Camera that I also carry separately at times in my board shorts.

Olympus XZ-1 with VF-2 Electronic Viewfinder Olympus XZ-1 with VF-2 Electronic Viewfinder. I often choose the XZ-1 for my compact camera because I can use the electronic viewfinder with it, which is great in bright beach conditions. More about this in the article, Olympus XZ-1 with VF-2 Electronic Viewfinder - Best of Both Worlds?.

I round out this nimble kit with a Joby Gorillapod SLR-Zoom Flexible Mini Tripod with Ballhead and the new iPad with Camera Connection Kit.

So in my Photo Hatchback that only weighs 2 lbs to begin with, I have a 16 MP CSC body, 4 lenses, compact camera with f/1.8 zoom lens, underwater camera with f/2 zoom lens, tablet computer, card reader, and still tons of room for personal items. And with these tools that nary strain my shoulder, I can handle image editing, uploading, blog posting, and keep up with my social networking... all in-between the occasional refreshing drink.


Take a look at the Olympus Micro Four Thirds Gear Guide for an overview of cameras, lenses, and accessories.