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A slight shift in weight or change in angle can make a big difference in the final portrait. Since many of the subjects we photograph aren't professional models, they look to us to help them pose.

Leah Tall

I just read an article that covers the basic tips that every photographer should have in mind during a portrait session. In 7 Killer Portrait Tips by Dustin Olsen, he illustrates how to position the subject to render more flattering outcomes. It's a good read, and certainly a post you'll want to bookmark.

In this portrait that I captured of model Leah Gerber, she demonstrates a few of these basic reminders. She's angled her torso for a more pleasing body line, and the hands are partially hidden. Her chin is at a good angle. I've softened the light using photo umbrellas on light stand. The strobes themselves are simple Sunpak flashes with a connecting cord that I often use in the studio.

A final tip that I would add is, that once you've covered the basic elements in a portrait, take a few more minutes to play. Try a different angle, experiment with another lens, and change the composition. You have nothing to lose because you already have the "safe" portraits, but lots to gain if you find that magical pose.


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It's the question many filmmakers want answered: Is the Canon 5D Mark III or Nikon D800 best for high-end movie making? The answer, according to Dan Chung in his detailed comparison titled, Video Shootout: Nikon D800 vs Canon 5D Mark III, is: depends on your priorities.

Live View Switch

Dan cites more image detail with the D800, but better moire control with the 5D Mark III. And for his filmmaking, moire control is more important.

If you are debating these two cameras, you should definitely check out Dan's report. He covers everything that you'd want to know.


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Like a bear that emerges from hibernation, photographers north of the equator are getting ready to venture outdoors and capture the glory of Spring. The problem is, weather does't always cooperate.

I just read a terrific article on Photo Naturalist titled, A Fun Way To Improve Your Wildflower Photography where author Vic Berardi talks about practicing your close-up technique indoors now to prepare for that next beautiful day outdoors.

I love the idea.

I have a glass window box at the studio that is a terrific stage for plant photography even when the weather is miserable. Vic used a variety of different locations within his house to capture some absolutely beautiful flower shots.

By practicing your technique on potted plants, then reviewing your work on the computer, you can help eliminate unfortunate surprises when working in the field.

Take a look at Vic's article, then consider putting together your own Spring training program.


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I rarely get rid of old equipment if it's still serviceable. A perfect case in point is when I needed a few graduated filters for an assignment. I dug out my Cokin Graduated Neutral Grey Filterand filter holder with adapter ringsdiscovering they work great with my digital camera.

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Yes, you can achieve the same effect in post processing with Lightroom. But on this day, I was more in a pre-processing mood.


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Cropped sensor cameras aren't getting as much attention these days as they should. Recent full frame announcements such as the Canon 5D Mark III and the Nikon D800 have many shooters thinking that it's full frame or bust. Not too fast there cowboy! Cropped sensor cameras such as the Canon 7D, Nikon D7000, and upcoming Olympus OM-D offer many advantages. And I cover five of those benefits in this week's podcast.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (26 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.

Cropped Sensor Comparison Cropped sensors can provide a more satisfying experience for macro photography. Image on the left captured with a Canon 5D Mark II while the image on the right with a cropped sensor Canon 60D.


Enter to Win a Nikon 1 with 10-30mm zoom lens by "Liking" Red River Paper Facebook Fan Page.


Monthly Photo Assignment

Macro is the April 2012 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is April 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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For the Feb. 2012 Photo Assignment, TDS shooters got back to basics and worked with the Rule of Thirds for their compositions. But even within these guidelines, the shots are as unique as the shooters themselves. See for yourself in our gallery, Rule of Thirds. And which one will be the SizzlPix Pick of the Month?

Brandon Doran

Photo by Brandon Doran. "For this shot I wanted to contrast the immensity of the architecture vs. the smallness of a person. It worked out that I could center 3 columns and get the scale I wanted. My vision was to capture a person walking directly in front of the rightmost column so that the person would be in the lower right third of the frame." To see all of the other terrific shots from Feb., visit the Rule of Thirds gallery page.


Participate in This Month's Assignment

The April 2012 assignment is "Macro." Details can be found on the Member Participation page. Deadline is April 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: April 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 April assignment, and congratulations to all of the fine contributors for February.

SizzlPix Pick of the Month for the Jan. Photo Assignment

Congratulations to Ram Gurung for his Mobile Phone image of NY Times Square. Ram will receive a SizzlPix for his winning image, selected by the good folks at SizzlPix.


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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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There has been lots of discussion about the changes inside the Canon 5D Mark III, but I've noticed plenty of differences on the outside too. Here are 10 physical changes that caught my eye right away.

Canon 5D Mark III

Repositioned On/Off Switch

On Off Switch

The On/Off switch on the 5D Mark III moves to the upper left beside the mode dial.

Repositioned Menu and Info Buttons

Menu and Info Buttons

The Menu and Info button are now in the upper left right below the On/Off switch.

Dedicated Magnify Button

New Magnify Button

Staying on the left side of the camera, there's now a dedicated zoom button for reviewing your images.

Improved Live View Switch

Live View Switch

One of the biggest physical improvements is the new Live View switch with a Start/Stop button for movie recording.

Dedicated Q Button

Q Button

Another nice improvement is the dedicated Q button to the right of the LCD.

Redesigned Lock Switch

Improved Lock Button

With the 5D Mark III, the Lock switch and the On/Off switch are separated, with the Lock switch by itself at the bottom of the right side.

Dual Memory Card Slots

Dual Memory Card Slots

Love that the 5D Mark III has both CF and SD card slots. The 5D Mark II has only the CF slot. Also in this view, a good look at the improved "thumb grip" channel on the back.

Repositioned Depth of Field Button

Depth of Field Button

The Depth of Field button has moved to the right side and is easy to activate using the ring finger.

Back Thumb Grip and Shutter Release Button

The last two things that I noticed was there is a very comfortable thumb rest area in the back of the camera. More comfy than the 5D Mark II. Also, the shutter release on the 5D Mark III feels more sensitive than the release on the 5D Mark II, which is stiffer and less sensitive.

Final Thoughts

No question the Canon 5D Mark III is improved under the hood. But I think the physical changes illustrated in this post also contribute to its overall refinement. And that's without revisiting the enhanced menu system. Maybe in another post...

Author's Note

So, did I give in and buy the new 5D Mark III? I did not. A fellow photographer lent it to me for the weekend (nice guy!) And sadly, I have to give it back to him on Monday. Clearly the 5D Mark III is a wonderful machine. But my current Mark II still feels good and will remain my best friend while I watch what happens to Canon pricing and/or the possibility of the 5D X. I'll keep you posted.


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If I had the disposable income for it, I'd love to try the $799 Canon G1 Xlarge sensor compact. It's handsome on the outside and packs a 14MP 1.5" CMOS sensor on the inside. According to a current review in DP Review, "At high sensitivities the G1 X sets a new benchmark for compact cameras."

But they also caution that this isn't a camera for everyone. The AF is slow, burst rate is 1.9 fps, and the maximum aperture at the telephoto end of the zoom is a sluggish f/5.8. It's not designed to push the photographic envelope, but would be a great camera for the traveler who wants excellent image quality in a relatively compact package.

If you're interested in this camera and want a closer look, read the what DP Review has to say. I think they have a good handle on its pros and cons.

As for me personally, I'm going to wait for the Olympus OM-D release next month. More on that when it's available.


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Basic Poses for Female Portraits

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In portrait photography, one of the toughest challenges for subject and photographer alike is posing. This is especially true when one or both don't have a lot of experience in this area.

I just found a terrific post on Digital Photography School titled 21 Sample Poses to Get You Started With Photographing Female Subjects. The author presents you with a series of line drawings that illustrate the poses discussed in the article.

Even if you're an experienced shooter, this article could be a useful tool before the session for brainstorming about possible poses. I'd definitely bookmark it.


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Lowepro asked me to shoot a Nimble Photographer movie using their Event Messenger 150 Bag($59 US), which I really like anyway. And since iPhoto for iOS had just been released, it seemed like a great time to make another video.

The setting was old town Petaluma, and there's a fun coffee shop there called The Apple Box Cafe - seemed like a perfect stop for the Nimble Photographer. I shot the scene with the Canon EOS 60Dbecause I can turn its flip-out LCD around to see the composition while filming.

Once set up, I recorded a few minutes of ambient sound to use as a background track. For the dialog however, I opted for voiceover because the coffee shop was a bit too happening for live audio, even with a lapel mic. I pulled all the pieces together using Final Cut Pro X.

The movie storyline is very simple. Packing little more than a digital camera and an iPad 2, I can street shoot, then duck into a coffee shot to edit and upload the images to my online sites. The goal is to show people just how darn easy this is.

Thanks to the good folks at the The Apple Box Cafe for letting me take up a corner of the room for this project. If you're ever in downtown Petaluma (maybe visiting Leo Laporte), be sure to visit and have a coffee or something sweet. And don't forget your iPad.


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