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Who cares if the weather outside is terrible? This month TDS shooters prove that you can stay inside and still get great shots. Check out the Indoor Lighting gallery from members of our virtual camera club. And which one will be the SizzlPix Pick of the Month?

Wayne Lorimer

The Feb. 2011 assignment is "Loved One." Start working on your contribution now. Details can be found on the Member Participation page. You can now submit photo assignment pictures up to 800 pixels in the widest direction.

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 next month's assignment should be: "Photo Assignment: Feb. 2011." 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.


Photo by Wayne Lorimer. (Click on it to see enlarged version.) You can read more about how Wayne captured this shot, plus see all of the other great images on the December 2010 Gallery page.


Good luck with your February assignment, and congratulations to all of the fine contributors for December. Very impressive!


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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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Rain Clouds, Interstate 5

When the sky is unsettled, it pays to have your camera next to you on the front seat of the car. As I headed down the heart of California on Interstate 5, I had one hand on my Canon 60Dand the other on the steering wheel.

Rain Clouds Interstate 5 Rain clouds on Interstate 5 captured with a Canon 60D and the kit 18-55mm zoom. ISO 100. Click on image for larger version. Photo by Derrick Story.

When this picture presented itself to me, I couldn't resist rolling down the window and capturing it. I recommend viewing the larger version (by clicking on the image) so you can better appreciate the power-line towers that add a nice linear element to the composition.


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Staying Inspired - Visit a Museum

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During my teaching at Macworld SF, I was able to sneak away to SF MOMA to view the Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibit. Cartier-Bresson is credited with the concept of the "decisive moment" in photography.

What I liked about this exhibit, and so many others that I've seen, is that I place myself behind the camera with the artist and think about what he was seeing and reacting to. On thing that I noticed with many of Cartier-Bresson's shots of groups of people, was that there was always one individual that your eye could go to first, as if he were building the composition around this subject. The other people then supported the "main character." It's something that I'm going to keep in the back of my mind as I shoot.

Staying inspired is important to me. And whenever I can, I seek out the work of the masters to help me see the world with fresh eyes.


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default_title_slide.jpg

Building movies in Aperture 3 that combine still images and video snippets is a great way to improve your presentations. There are two simple ways to add a title slide to the video.

The first is the default method where you simply check the box next to "Show title" in the Default tab. Aperture will use the name you've given to the slideshow project and overlay it on the first image. If you want to adjust the font or color, click on the buttons to the right of the check box.

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A second method, and the one I prefer, is to go to the gear menu and choose, "Insert Blank Slide With Text." Again you have font and color options, but now you're making your adjustments in the Selected Slides tab.

You can create as many title slides as you want, and drag them to any point in the presentation. They're a handy tool for adding that professional touch to your work.

More Aperture Tips and Techniques

My next Aperture Workshop is May 23, 2011 in Santa Rosa, CA. write me if you're interested in attending.

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.



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Creating Smart Albums in iPhoto '11

Smart folders are intelligent ways to pull together virtual collections of your images. The great thing is that smart folders are living creatures that continue to populate automatically as the images you add to your library meet the conditions you've set up.

Here's a short video on how to set up smart folders in your iPhoto library.


More Training Available

There are now two ways to learn and have more fun with iPhoto '11: my iPhoto '11 Essential Training ONLINE at Lynda.com, and the new iPhoto '11 Essential Training DVD that you can purchase from the Lynda.com Store for $49.95 US.



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iPad as a Photo Softbox

The iPad is great for viewing pictures, but it can help you take them too. I've been playing with an app called SoftBox Pro ($1.99) that makes it easy to use your iPad as a light source for small product photography.

audi_keyring.jpg iPad "softbox" was used to illuminate this image of an Audi key. Click on image for larger version.

I captured this shot of an Audi key by positioning the iPad as the sole light source. I set the ISO to 800 on a Canon S90 with auto white balance. The shutter speed was 1/30th with an aperture of f/2. Exposure compensation was -1/3.

SoftBox Pro also has a variety of grids and patterns allowing you to use it as an illuminated surface to put objects on as well as a light source. It could come in handy in a pinch!


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One of the most creative tools I use in Aperture isn't in the Adjustments panel. It's Versions. I make virtual copies of a selected image, then I play with the different looks until I end up with something I like.

Versions in Aperture Original image on far left, then using versions to work toward final image on far right. Click on image for larger view.

The process is simple. Click on an image, then go to Photos > Duplicate Version. Even though the new image looks and behaves like a full copy of the original, it's only bits of metadata. You're adding virtually no file space to your hard drive.

At this point, I like to put my versions in a Stack by selecting them and choosing Stack > Stacks or CMD-K. I think they are easier to manage this way. Then after some image play, I might create another version and do something else with it.

Michaela B&W Final version of the photo using the Black and White adjustment brick in Aperture 3. Click on image for larger view.

Once you have a version the way you like, you can move it to the top of the Stack (Stacks > Pick), then close the Stack by clicking on the little number icon in the upper right corner. You can open the Stack at any time for more play by clicking on the number icon again.

More Aperture Tips and Techniques

My next Aperture Workshop is May 23, 2011 in Santa Rosa, CA. write me if you're interested in attending.

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.



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I love traveling light, yet still having all the tools I need to capture, process, and upload images. It's what I call "The Nimble Photographer."

DP Review has just published an excellent group test of the Canon S95, Panasonic LX5, and the Nikon P7000 -- three excellent choices for the shooter on the go.

Along with the micro four/thirds options, such as the new Olympus E-PL2, any of these capture devices can round out your travel kit nicely. But how do they stack up against each other?

Well DP Review has done a lot of leg work for us on the compact side. Their S95 - LX5 - P7000 roundup is excellent. My favorite of the bunch is the Canon S95, followed by the LX5.

If you want interchangeable lenses, I'm really liking the Olympus E-PL2 because of its ergonomic body, great lens options, and cool variety of accessories. I'm working on a full review of the E-PL2 now, and should have more published about it soon.


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iPhoto '11 Essential Training

There are now two ways to learn and have more fun with iPhoto '11: my iPhoto '11 Essential Training ONLINE at Lynda.com, and the new iPhoto '11 Essential Training DVD that you can purchase from the Lynda.com Store for $49.95 US.

Either way, you'll have at your fingertips more than 4 hours of tips, techniques, and pure, unadulterated iPhoto pleasure. I show you how to organize, edit, share, and do amazing things with your digital camera pictures. That means that you can finally take control of every image you capture.

You can see a video introduction to this title here. Oh, and one more thing: I'll have a handful of these DVDs to give away at my upcoming talks at Macworld 2011, Jan. 26-29 in San Francisco, CA.


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There are a lot of nifty tools stashed away in Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 (Win/Mac)that can help you improve your final output. I've been playing with Photomerge Exposure to draw the best tonal values from a set of bracketed images. It's so easy to use, and the results have been quite good.

Photomerge Exposure in Photoshop Elements 9 Choosing Photomerge Exposure in Photoshop Elements 9. Click on image for full screen version.

I usually start with a set of Raw files at varying exposures. I then use the Open command in Photoshop Elements 9. This first takes me to Adobe Camera Raw for initial processing. After that, the images move into the Project Bin in Elements. I select all three in the Project Bin, then go to File > New > Photomerge Exposure.

Smart Blending Using Smart Blending in Photoshop Elements 9. Click on image for full screen version.

I use Smart Blending in the Automatic tab to adjust highlights, shadows, and saturation. Then click Done, and the application does all of the exposure merging for me. The result is a Photoshop file that I can further play with if I want.

Final Output Final output from using Photomerge Exposure in Photoshop Elements 9. Click on image for full screen version.

There are a total of six photomerging technologies in Photoshop Elements 9. All of this, plus standard image editing tools and Adobe Camera Raw support, in a package that sells for $79on Amazon. Not bad!


Image captured with a Canon 60D with a 24-105mm f/4 L zoom. ISO 1600 and custom white balance using an ExpoDisc.



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