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A good night's sleep is just as important on location as at home. Regardless if you're camping outdoors or crashing on a friend's living room floor, the REI Self Inflating Camp Bed is so comfortable that you'll forget you're on the road.

REI Camp Bed

Self-inflating truly works. No pumps or compressors are required. Simply unroll the mat, open both air valves, and watch as the mattress expands to over 3" in thickness. It seems like magic. But it works thanks to the foam inside the 150-denier polyester shell expanding and drawing in air. And unless you need a very firm sleeping surface and blow additional air in through the valves, the Camp Bed does all the work. Another advantage with the foam interior is increased insulation from the cold ground. This mattress has an R-Value of 7, which is excellent protection. Combined with cloth-like top cover, you'll feel at home just about anywhere.

The downside? The Camp Bed weighs-in a tad over 6.5 lbs. That's too heavy for backpacking, but excellent for car camping. And because of the foam interior, it doesn't roll up as compactly as less luxurious mats. The regular size (72" long by 25" wide) sells for $99 at REI. The X-Large version, which is the model I tested, is 78" long by 29" wide. It sells for $109.

And how comfortable is the REI Camp Bed? Let me put it this way: I can sleep on my side and not feel the ground on my hips or shoulders. When's the last time you could do that camping?

More tips and gear reviews in our new Outdoor Life section

If you enjoy working and playing in nature, take a look at our new Outdoor Life section on The Digital Story. And if you forget the link, just click on Outdoor Life in the top navigation bar on the site. You can also contribute your own reviews of gear by sending them to me.



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More than 20 articles and instructional videos are available in the new Aperture 3 Learning Center. And there's plenty more to come.

If you're looking to upgrade to Aperture 3, or you just want to brush up on your skills, you can watch videos on portrait retouching, slideshow authoring, and how to use the new Curves adjustment (and lots more). There are helpful articles on topics such as reconnecting your master files in Aperture 3 or maximizing your workspace by enabling full screen mode.

You can click on this link to visit the Aperture 3 Learning Center, or find it under the Photography section on The Digital Story.

And to really dig into Aperture 3, check out my Aperture 3 Essential Training on Lynda.com. There's more than 8 hours of video instruction waiting for you.



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The Samsung NX10 is a mirror-less DSLR featuring a 14.6 MP APS-C CMOS sensor, 3" LCD, electronic viewfinder, Raw capability, 720p HD movie recording, and just about every control a serious photographer would want. All of this packed into a body that is smaller than your traditional SLR.

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In this podcast, I walk through the performance and handling of this $650 camera by Samsung, plus talk about how its Raw files stack up against the in-camera processed Jpegs.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (27 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App from the Apple App Store.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Float is the June 2010 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is June 30, 2010.

Simone Brogini was the "Sizzlpix Pick of the Month" for Photo Assignment 49. Who will be the winner for Photo Assignment 50? We'll know very soon. The prize is an 11"x14" Sizzlpix of the winning photograph.

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. It's a blast!


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Podcast Sponsors

Red River Paper -- Try the $7.99 Sample Kit.

Make Your Photos Sizzle with Color! -- SizzlPix is like High Definition TV for your photography.


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This gallery will definitely bend your mind. The assignment for April 2010 was "Curve." Check out this outstanding collection of images from members of the TDS virtual camera club. And I mean this is an excellent collection of photographs. It's going to be tough to choose the SizzlPix Pick of the Month from this effort.

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The June 2010 assignment is "Float." 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: May 2010." 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 David L. Crooks. (Click on it to see enlarged version.) You can read more about how David captured this shot, plus see all of the other great images on the April 2010 Gallery page.


Good luck with your June assignment, and congratulations to all of the fine contributors for April. It's a great collection of images.


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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 the few weeks I've been using the iPad Camera Connection Kit, I've found it to be a highly useful accessory. Macworld just posted my official review of the Camera Connection Kit, and it's worth a read if you want to get a fast start to using the accessory.

The highlights for this pair of dock connectors that allow you to directly import images from your camera to the iPad are:

  • It's fast. I was very impressed with how snappy everything worked. Not at all like the old days of uploading photos to an iPod.
  • Maintains the integrity of your images. If you upload Raw files, then connect the iPad to your Mac to transfer the images, you get Raw files coming out too. Same goes for Jpegs and movies.
  • Able to connect iPhones and iPods too. Nice way to move a favorite image from your iPhone to the iPad.
  • Small on size; affordable price. They don't take up much room, which is important for iPad users, and the kit costs $29.99.

Now I can carry any camera I want with the iPad, take photos, go to a local coffee shop, play with the images, and have them on my Flickr account before my cup of French Roast gets cold. Good times!


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What do you do when your referenced masters need to be moved to a different hard drive to maintain the functionality of your Aperture 3 library? At first this may seem like a daunting task, but with a little luck, the process will be easy and painless. I'll explain in this article.

Reconnecting Masters in Aperture 3 Click on image for enlarged view.

I could tell something was amiss with my LaCie Rugged hard drive that contained the master Raw files for my Aperture library. Suddenly it started auto-disconnecting from the computer, even though the cable was intact. I switch from FireWire to USB (Ruggeds have triple interfaces), and at first that seemed to make it happy. But soon the odd behavior resumed. As I've learned in the past, when a hard drive begins to act up, you must move quickly.

I began the process of moving my nicely organized master files for my Aperture 3 library to a fresh drive. This took a few days to accomplish because the beleaguered drive keep conking out before I could finish the transition. But finally they were all there. Even though the file structure on the new drive, including the name for the drive itself, was identical to the ailing hard drive it was replacing, Aperture showed "missing masters" for all of my referenced files.

Fortunately, I could use the "Locate Referenced Files" command (under the File menu) to reestablish those connections. The process is simple:

Steps to Reconnect Master Files

  • Click on the Photos icon in the Library tab of the Aperture Inspector.

  • Click on one thumbnail, then choose Select All from the Edit menu.
  • Go to Locate Referenced Files under the File menu.
  • Establish one photo match between the top and bottom pane of the interface (as shown in the illustration). The top pane is your Aperture library. The bottom pane is the new hard drive with the master files.
  • Click on the Reconnect All button.
  • Take a short coffee break

When you return, all of your referenced master files will have been reunited with their counterparts in the Aperture library. At this point, I would also create a new Vault and back up your work.

More 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 Focus Section. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.


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"Sunset Bar" - Grab Shot 197

Sunset Bar Grab Shot 197

"It was the last day of the 7-day cruise between New York City and Bermuda, known to us as MacMania10," writes Randal Schwartz. "Derrick taught some very good classes on this cruise, but it was ending, and I was worn out. I had just finished shooting the last party of the day, and wandered from the private area for our group over to the bar proper around the corner. I didn't have a tripod with me, but I noticed that my Canon 7D sat nicely on the bar, pointed at the shiny surfaces of what normally passes for a dance floor in the 'Crow's Nest.'"

"I thought it would be interesting to try a nice long exposure here, although not so long that I would get a super-deep depth-of-field from a tiny aperture, so I settled on 2 seconds at ISO 200, which resulted in a f/5.0 aperture. Yes, it was very dark, almost so dark that I couldn't see most of image that this picture revealed."

"I carefully placed the camera on the bar, using the "live view" feature to adjust the frame and focal length. Ever so gently pressing the shutter, I got my 2 second exposure without movement (it took three tries :). I was really pleased with the variety of shapes and colors on the screen, but when I got it back into Aperture the next morning, I was amazed at the depth and range of colors! I was also quite pleased that the sunset in the windows had the perfect brightness level to enhance the picture. The range of colors and amorphous shapes -- even the out-of-focus reflection on the bar right next to the camera -- all add interesting elements to this picture."

Photo by Randal Schwartz. Click on image for larger version.

If you have a candid you'd like to share, take a look at our Submissions page, then send us your Grab Shot. We'll try to get it published for you on The Digital Story.

And you can view more images from our virtual camera club in the Member Photo Gallery.


The Digital Story Podcast App is the best way to stream or download weekly TDS podcast episodes. No more syncing your iPhone or iPod Touch just to get a podcast. And there's more! Tap the Extras button for free passes and discounts and the current Grab Shot by our virtual camera club members. Each podcast episode has its own Extras button, too, that contains more goodies such as pro photo tips. And the best part is, The Digital Story Podcast App is your way to help support this show.Download it today!


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Essential gear for photographers is lighter and more powerful than ever. But how light can you go and still have everything you need? How does 5.5 pounds sound? Yes, that's total weight that includes camera, computer (with full keyboard), tripod, bag, extra battery, extra memory, glasses, cables, iPod, and a few personal items. All of this for less than 6 pounds.

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With this set up, I can shoot Raw+Jpeg, transfer photos from camera to computer, upload them to my website, answer email, write notes, edit my pictures, and just about any other task I need. I can use a local WiFi network or tap a cellular connection.

In this week's podcast, I list every item in my Nimble Photographer kit. Plus I include links to these items here in the show notes. You can certainly substitute items as needed, but this lineup will get you headed in the right direction.

Listen to the Podcast

Watch the Movie

In this video, I show you all of the gear that I use for the Nimble Photographer kit.

Parts List for Nimble Photographer

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 from the Apple App Store.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Fire is the May 2010 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is May 31, 2010.

Simone Brogini was the "Sizzlpix Pick of the Month" for Photo Assignment 49. The prize is an 11"x14" Sizzlpix of the winning photograph. Congratulations Simone! (BTW: it's pronounced "Si Mon Ne" regardless of how badly I pronounce it on the show.)

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. It's a blast!


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Podcast Sponsors

Red River Paper -- Try the $7.99 Sample Kit.

Make Your Photos Sizzle with Color! -- SizzlPix is like High Definition TV for your photography.


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I've always felt that shopping for camera batteries is about as exciting as buying tires for a station wagon. Yes, you need them both, but they cost more than you want to spend and are less than thrilling to use.

Since the manufacturer's batteries are pricy, it's tempting to save a few bucks using batteries made by other folks. So I decided to put this to the test with my Canon PowerShot S90 compact camera. When I purchased the second battery, I opted for the ProMaster NB6L Lithium at $24.95 instead of the Canon NB-6L Li-Ion Battery at $41.75.

The specs for both batteries are the same. And after a few months of alternating back and forth between the two, I haven't noticed any performance differences.

So my initial conclusion is: as long as the third party battery is of good quality, I don't see a reason to pay more for the manufacturer's brand. If you've tested this with other cameras, please post a comment with your findings.

The one accessory you never want to forget when traveling to sunny, colorful locals is the polarizing filter. This item alone will separate your images from those around you.

I recently explored the streets of St. George, Bermuda, and the Royal Naval Dockyard with my Canon 5D Mark II with 24-105mm zoom and a circular polarizer. Even though it's only a 2 hour flight from the Atlantic Coast of the US, St. George feels another world away. I was able to better show the texture and color of this town using the polarizing filter on a sunny day.

Later, in class, many of my students asked why my shots looked so much different than theirs. I cited the pola might be a factor, then asked how many remembered to pack one. No one did. Don't let this happen to you!



Rusty beams during a stop over at the Royal Na val Dockyard in Bermuda. Captured with a Canon 5D Mark II, 24-105mm f/4 zoom with a circular polarizer. Click on image for larger version. Visit the TDS Flickr Gallery for more images from Bermuda shot this way.



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To see the entire collection, visit the TDS Flickr Gallery.



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