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Preparing for Fall Color

Fall Color

Here in Northern California, I can already feel the approach of Autumn. The light changes. The air smells different. Fall color is around the corner.

I've noticed that I haven't updated my library with any new Autumn shots in some time. Funny how I get busy with day-to-day tasks, and as a result, miss an entire season. So this year, I'm getting ready now to have the VW Van packed so I can leave quickly when the leaves begin to turn.

If your photo library could us a little updating in this category, now's the time to make your plans. First, you need a good resource so you can track the changing of the seasons. Here, I'm using CalPhoto. Photographer Carol Leigh will be hosting the Fall Foliage Hotsheet there. So find the resource for your area and check in regularly.

Next, get your outdoor gear together. Do you have fuel for the stove? Food and cookware organized? Get this stuff ready now. It's hard enough to break away from the grind. Once you get the opportunity, be ready to go.

Create open windows in your calendar. Mine tends to fill up a month or two ahead of time. So I've saved small blocks of days here and there. I might not hit the color at its prime (we need some luck for that), but I will be able to escape. Now's also a good time to let your family know that you might be gone for a day or two in October.

I'll talk more about fall color photographically in an upcoming post. But for now, I have to make sure I have plenty of coffee packed in the kitchen kit.


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I have plenty of serious shooting on my dance card. But sometimes I just want to have fun with a camera. I wanted to take some candids at a street fair in Santa Rosa last weekend (an Oktoberfest at a local church), but what I was really after was a good time. I decided to go with an Olympus PEN and the 17mm f/2.8 lens, adding the accessory optical viewfinder.

With all of the latest innovations in micro four thirds, you don't read a lot about this combination. It was part of the original offering. And it's still one of my favorite rigs.

The optical viewfinder (VF-1 $80) pairs with the Olympus 17mm f/2.8 prime lens ($275). The effective focal length on the micro four thirds body is 34mm, perfect for most street shooting.

Now here's where the enjoyment comes in. I turn off the LCD, which is virtually useless in bright sunlight anyway, and compose through the beautiful optics of the hot shoe mounted viewfinder. The image is clear and crisp. (Ah, the joy of glass!) I can leave my sunglasses on. It's a total casual experience that yields great results.

An added benefit is that people don't pay much attention to me with that camera around my neck. I can compose quickly and get the shot, often without attracting any attention. Every so often I take a break in the shade, review the shots on the LCD to make sure I'm getting what I think I've captured, then go back to shooting.

The quality of the prime 17mm is quite good. I always shoot in Raw so I can tame the contrasty lighting later in post production. I let the camera handle the autofocusing, which it does well.

We all want to take great shots. But there are those days when I want to enjoy myself during the process. That's a good time to use this type of rig.


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The Night Before (Wine Country Big Q)

An assignment that I was looking forward to this week was covering the Wine Country Big Q. Set against the rolling hills backdrop of Sonoma County, BBQ artists from all over the country gathered to compete for prizes and bragging rights over who could prepare the most delicious pork, chicken, and brisket. If you know the world of professional BBQ, you know these events are a big deal.

The Night Before The night before the Wine Country Big Q. Click on image for larger size. All photos by Derrick Story.

Since the event officially began on Saturday at 1pm, I was there on Friday night. It's a habit I developed back in the wedding days, and it yields rewards every time. So, as the sun was setting, I was there among the chefs and smoke and anticipation. One of the event coordinators spotted me and asked, "What are you doing here tonight? It's practically dark." Yes it is!

gorilla_and_dr_bbq.jpg Dr. BBQ (Ray Lampe) and Gorilla (Rich Bacchi) took time out from their work on Friday night to pose for this slash light portrait.

One of my favorite moments was meeting the guys at Tex Wasabi's All-Stars. The title is fitting. The force behind Tex Wasabi is Food Network star, Guy Fieri. He's a local hero in Santa Rosa who brings it home on a regular basis. Also on the team was Dr. BBQ, Ray Lampe, who is a legend in this world. I photographed him on Friday night with "Gorilla," also known as Rich Bacchi. This was a good call, because these two guys, and the rest of the team, won the top award the following day.

I made prints for Ray and Rich and brought them to the event on Saturday as a thank you for letting me photograph them. I also make the digital files available in case they need them for their own promotion. This is something I try to do with celebrities. I include my name and email on the back of each print in case they need to reach me in the future.

Guy Fieri and Pete Stringfellow Guy Fieri joins musician Pete Stringfellow on stage during Pete's performance on Saturday afternoon.

Then on Saturday afternoon, it was back to work. Guy Fieri made an appearance and hung out with his crew at Tex Wasabi. He's also friends with another local star, Pete Stringfellow, who opens for Clint Black, Randy Travis, and others. Pete's band knocked it out of the park that afternoon.

The bottom line is, as a photographer, you're going to best capture an event if you immerse yourself in it. Don't be afraid to get smoke in your eyes. Respect your subjects. And get there the night before.


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As powerful as the Develop Module is, there are times when you need to take an image from Lightroom and work on it in Photoshop. We call that roundtripping. And the beauty of this process is that Photoshop sends the photo back to Lightroom and puts it in a stack next to the original. This helps you stay organized because the derivative version and the master are in the same location. Here's a 4-minute video that shows you this process.

Keeping track of your work is a focus of my latest title on lynda.com, Organizing and Archiving Digital Photos. I show you techniques for Lightroom, as illustrated here, Aperture, iPhoto, and even roll-your-own. By spending a little time with these movies, you should be able to tighten up your photo management workflow.

More on Organizing and Archiving Digital Photos

Organizing and Archiving Overview Movie

Choosing the Right Hard Drive for Your Photo Backup

"Organizing and Archiving Your Photos" - Digital Photography Podcast 290

Quick Keywording Tips in Lightroom 3

Backing Up Aperture 3 Via My Local Network


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photo_plus_expo_2011.jpg

I'm preparing for my upcoming workshop at Photo Plus Expo in New York City on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011, Developing Revenue Streams to Sustain Your Photography Business. This class is sponsored by Lowepro and focuses on how you can create multiple revenue streams that allow you to maintain a steady position in an unstable economy, while keeping your business focused on what you love most, photography.

This workshop will be part "small business basics," part "marketing tips," and part "here's what I've learned the hard way." We'll definitely cover social networking, but also will look at how you can leverage your personal strengths into a livelihood.

I'm at PhotoPlus the entire show, and will be hanging out in the Lowepro booth. So even if you can't make this workshop, be sure to come by and say hello.


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Adobe Carousel is a software system that enables you to access, manage, and adjust your pictures on a Mac and iOS devices such as the iPhone and iPad. Regardless of where you work on a picture, the images are automatically updated across all devices.

carousel_ipad_adjustments.jpg Adobe Carousel on an iPad

Carousel is offered as a subscription service. To get started, download the application from the iTunes App Store for iOS, and the Mac App Store for your computer. (You'll need Lion to use the service on a Mac.) Once you've made the connections, you have access to the images regardless of which device you're using.

Basic image editing tools are included. If you crop a picture on the iPad, for example, the edit is reflected on the iPhone and Mac too. You can share your Carousels with others (up to 5 people), even if they don't subscribe.

The app will work on iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, all versions of the iPad, and the iPod Touch 4G. To get started, Adobe is offering a 30-day complimentary subscription. After that, the introductory cost will be $5.99 a month, or $59.99 a year.

I'll report more once I've had a chance to test it.


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cookie_projector_250.jpg

I found this article on DIY Photography that explains how pro shooter Richard Hill created a background projector for his studio photography using an old film camera. (Richard photographed the two portraits on this page using this technique. Be sure to check out his blog.)

I love this idea. Even though I have various backdrops in my portrait studio, I sometimes want to create something different on the spot. By printing out any sort of pattern on a transparency, I can project it on the wall and have an new look within minutes. Once you get the basic technique perfected, I'm sure the creative possibilities will soon follow. Thanks Richard!


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Photographers should think carefully about the hard drives they choose to organize and archive their images. There are three basic aspects to consider: capacity, convenience, and protection.

In Organizing and Archiving Digital Photos, I cover a few hard drive configurations to consider for your own backup workflow: RAID1, removable drives, and personal cloud computing. I also demo their functionality by accessing my images on a local area network, and even downloading archived photos over 400 miles away on a Buffalo Cloudstor drive in my studio.

In fact, if you're considering personal cloud backup as a component for your backup strategy, take a look at my article on the Buffalo Cloudstor. It is an affordable, easy to use solution that has been working well for me.

More on Organizing and Archiving Digital Photos

Organizing and Archiving Overview Movie

Roundtripping from Lightroom to Photoshop

"Organizing and Archiving Your Photos" - Digital Photography Podcast 290

Quick Keywording Tips in Lightroom 3

Backing Up Aperture 3 Via My Local Network


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


Fujifilm has found a formula that I think is going to sell a lot of cameras in the near future. With the announcement of the FinePix X10, the follow up companion to the popular X100, Fujifilm once again combines classic styling with modern functionality to create a very tempting high end compact camera.

Fujifilm X10

They bring back the 2/3" image sensor (bigger than most compacts, but smaller than the micro four/thirds offering), premium glass, EXR image processor, manual controls, RAW capability, fast f/2.0/2.8 4X zoom lens, image stabilization, and 7 fps continuous shooting mode.

Plus, a macro mode that will focus as close as 1cm, optical zoom viewfinder, film simulation mode, auto bracketing, 49-point selectable AF points, full HD movie recording, and a lot more.

We'll learn about availability and pricing in the coming weeks. But the X10 should hit the streets by Fall.


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richard_bulda_winner.jpg

Congratulations to Richard Bulda who is the winner of the Lowepro Fastpack 100 filled with goodies.

Richard, please send me your shipping information (including phone number) and I will get your prize to you asap.

Thanks to all of my Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ friends who participated. I enjoy your comments and contributions to my corner of the world.


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