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A Quick Primer on Geotagging

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In a recent interview on Inside Digital Photo, I chat with Scott Sheppard about geotagging your photos, both from the hardware side and using software. During the interview I talk about the Jobo photoGPS, Eye-Fi Explore card, iPhoto '09 Places, Houdah’s HoudahGeo, and more.

My interview starts about a minute into the show. You can listen by using the player button on the web page.

See My Other Posts on Geotagging

"Introduction to Geotagging" - Digital Photography Podcast 165

Testing the Eye-Fi Explore Card at Home

Geotagging a Journey with photoGPS, iPhoto, and Flickr

iPhoto '09 as Your Geotagging Tool?

First Look at Jobo photoGPS Device and Software

Update to Geotagging Workflow, Including Jobo photoGPS

Finding a Reasonable Geotagging Workflow


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Panorama 2.1 for the iPhone

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The iPhone built-in camera can provide surprisingly good results. But since it's a fixed focal length lens, capturing the breath of big scenes can be difficult. Panorama stitching software can solve the problem by enabling you to take a series of images, either vertically or horizontally, then stitch them together to make one big picture. I've been testing Panorama by the iFone Guys, and does a great job of extending the capability of my 1st generation iPhone camera.

When you first fire up the application, you're asked if you want to capture in landscape or portrait mode. This is a newish feature by the iFone Guys, and one that I much appreciate. I often like to capture in portrait mode because I feel the final images often look more realistic and less "pano."

Once you choose your mode, you take a picture. Start at one end of the scene (Panorama will let you add photos in either direction). You get a preview of the image and are asked if you want to keep it. If yes, then you're provided with another screen that asks if you want to take another shot, and if so, in which direction. You're presented with a live camera again, but this time with a 1/3 overlay from the previous shot. Line it up with the next shot, and take another picture. Keep repeating this process until you have all of the images you need for your panorama.

Then click the Finish button. You're presented with three output options. If you're shooting in Portrait mode, the options will be something like this for a 2-shot pano: 675x570, 900x760, or 1350x1140 -- add more pictures for more resolution. Tap the option you want, and Panorama builds your final image and saves it to your photo album. At this point, you can click the Done button, or go back and start another panorama.

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The stitching is phenomenal with this application. The above shot from a Santa Barbara shopping center is composed of 4 images captured in portrait mode using Panorama. You can see the full resolution version of it on my Flickr page. Click the "All Sizes" button and view the original size (1600 pixels wide). There's only one stitching flaw that I can see, and that happened because someone moved the chair during the sequence.

You can also read more about Panorama on the iFone Guys web site. It is the most expensive iPhone application I've purchased at $9.99. But it works as advertised, and it has really extended my picture taking ability with the iPhone built-in camera.

Other iPhone App Reviews

FotoTimer Provides Self-Timer for the iPhone

HP iPrint App Makes Printing Easy from iPhone or iPod touch

True Photo App for iPhone: CameraBag

"Exposure" (Now "Darkslide") Puts Flickr on Your iPhone


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There were a handful of new announcements at PMA that made an impression on me, such as the Underwater Case for New Olympus E-620 DSLR and the Sony DSC-HX1 with its sweep panorama mode. But my favorite new device is the Panasonic DMC-GH1 compact, interchangeable lens camera.

Compatible with the Micro Four Thirds System standard, the new LUMIX GH1 features advanced video photography functions, such as the ability to record High Definition (HD) AVCHD 1080p/24p video.* In addition, the new LUMIX GH1 comes with a newly developed long-zoom interchangeable lens - the LUMIX G VARIO HD 14-140mm/F4.0-5.8 ASPH./MEGA O.I.S. This lens was specifically designed to support HD movie recording and features a silent motor and continuous auto focusing (AF) capability; two features which distinguish the LUMIX GH1 from DSLRs that offer HD video recording capabilities.

This camera is super compact, supports Raw capture, feels great in the hands, has a swing out 3" LCD, includes a microphone jack, provides 12.1 megapixel resolution, supports multiple aspect ratios (4:3, 3:2 or 16:9), face recognition, includes O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilization) to help reduce blurring from hand-shake; Intelligent ISO Control to help limit motion blur by adjusting the ISO sensitivity, and Intelligent Scene Selector which automatically detects the five most common shooting situations - Portrait, Night Portrait, Scenery, Night Scenery and Close-up - then switches to the appropriate Scene mode.

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When you're recording video, you can use the stereo mics on top of the camera (as shown in the image above), or connect an external microphone via the minijack and mount it in the hot shoe.

There's also a lens adapter that lets you use any four-thirds lens on this camera. So if you're an Olympus shooter for example, all of your lenses will work on the GH1, some at full functionality, others at partial.

I shot with the camera in the Panasonic booth at PMA, and was impressed with its fit and finish. The video capture displayed on an HDTV was crisp and vibrant. It was difficult to set the camera back down.

The Lumix GH1 should be available by summer. No price has been announced yet. You can read more about it on DPP via their hands on review of the GH1. There were some strong contenders at this year's show, but I think the Lumix GH1 takes the prize.


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The Sneak Peek at PMA was bustling with journalists from the minute the doors opened at noon. Oh sure, lots of food and drink had something to do with it. But lots of vendors displaying their best products with folks to answer questions was also a big draw. My favorite (in my dreams) innovation of the day was the latest edition to the Leica S System, the new Leica S2 Digital SLR.

Beautifully crafted, this camera sports a 37.5 megapixel, 30 x 45 mm sensor built into a body that wasn't much bigger than a Canon 5D Mark ll. (See image below for the side by side comparison.)

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The Leica S2 features a dual shutter system with focal-plane for fast lenses and in-lens leaf shutter for high flash sync speeds, DNG capture that can be processed with Photoshop, precision autofocus system, and four interchangeable lenses.

Bottom line, it feels like a digital SLR but produces medium format images. If you feel yourself getting excited about the prospects of owning one for yourself, this might cool you off a bit. Rumor is that the body will sell for around $40,000 when released later this year. Oh well, at least I got to hold it.


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Tell a Story in 10 Frames - "Josh & Alex"

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Can you tell a story in just 10 frames? My bet is that you can. For me, most slideshows go on too long. So I gave myself the assignment to create a series of movies that told a story in only 10 frames. I've published the first entry, Josh & Alex Wedding in 10 Frames.

I created this movie in iPhoto '09, then exported it as a QuickTime file. I then posted it to The Digital Story Flickr page, where I'll be adding more to this series soon.

Take a look and let me know what you think.

Special thanks to Danielle for her contributions to this project!


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Adobe has released a free update to Photoshop CS4 for both Mac and Windows. Here's the official word on what it contains:

The Photoshop 11.0.1 update addresses key issues reported by customers that may impact performance. The update also includes the following enhancements: the ability to correctly recognize 3D textures edited by plug-ins; improved quality of Auto-Blend Layers (Stack Images); and fixes for issues that can be caused by corrupt fonts or when pasting formatted text.

The Photoshop 11.0.1 update is available as a free download for existing Photoshop CS4 customers at http://www.adobe.com/downloads/updates/ or through the Adobe updater via the application itself.

Direct links to the downloads are here:

Mac - http://www.adobe.com/support/downloads/detail.jsp?ftpID=4291

Win - http://www.adobe.com/support/downloads/detail.jsp?ftpID=4292

Other Articles on Photoshop CS4

30 Days of Free Photoshop CS4 - Here's What to Explore

"Top 10 Photoshop CS4 Features" - Digital Photography Podcast 144


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Learn what photographers need to know to organize and edit their images with Photoshop CS4. Take a look at The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers. It fits in your laptop bag and is very easy on your wallet.


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Macworld has just published my review of the Olympus E-30 DSLR. I think this is one of the best digital cameras Olympus has produced to date. It feels solid and professional, but isn't too heavy or bulky to stash in your backpack when on the go.

The PROS are: Real-time focusing in Live View mode; support for multiple aspect ratios; image stabilization in camera body; unique features such as Multiple Exposure and Digital Leveler; 98 percent field of view through optical viewfinder; exposure bracketing in three or five frames. As for the CONS, I only had two: No movie mode; battery charger requires cord instead of plugging directly into wall outlet. I gave it rating of 4.5 mice.

You can read the complete review of the Olympus E-30 here.


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Lots of talk today about the new compact Olympus E-620 DSLR, and for good reason. This affordable, full featured camera is small enough to go just about anywhere. But what I think is also exciting is that Olympus announced an underwater case designed specifically for the E-620.

Because of Live View mode, underwater shooters now have a bright, 2.7" LCD they can use for composing shots underwater. This is much easier than previous methods (of guessing the composition). The new Olympus housing is rated down to 40 meters underwater. It has five interchangeable lens ports available, so you can use your favorite lens underwater too. And it accepts an Olympus flash bracket.

I think for many photographers, this rig is going to change their approach to underwater shooting.


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Testing the Eye-Fi Explore Card at Home

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The Eye-Fi Explore provides a geotagging alternative that doesn't depend on GPS. Instead, it taps the Skyhook Wireless database that contains thousands of WiFi hotspots and their location data. These hotspots have been surveyed by Skyhook and are constantly updated by users.

The Eye-Fi Explore Workflow

The Eye-Fi Explore system is straightforward. You insert the SD card into your camera's memory slot. It provides you with 2 GBs of storage plus WiFi connectivity. You use the Eye-Fi Manager software to set everything up. When you configure the card, you make it aware of your home network. That way it can automatically access it (even if it's password protected) and upload images as they are captured. During this process, Eye-Fi consults the Skyhook database, retrieves the geodata, then adds that information to the Jpegs it is transferring.

I have the card set up to transfer files to both my MacBook and to my Flickr account. The images that go to Flickr are kept private until I approve them for public viewing. Both versions of the image contain geodata that can pinpoint where I took the shot on a map.

I tested the Eye-Fi Explore card at my studio using a Canon G9 in Raw+Jpeg mode. When I took a picture, the Jpeg version was uploaded wirelessly to my MacBook and to Flickr. The Raw version of the image was left alone. To verify this process, I took the card out of the camera, inserted it into the Eye-Fi card reader, and looked at it on my computer. Both the Raw and Jpeg versions were on the SD card, and neither were tagged with geodata.

So, if you want to location data added, keep in mind that you can only do so if you use the wireless upload, and that it only affects the Jpegs. Raw files are not part of this workflow.

A Few Quirks

Hang on to the card reader that comes with the Eye-Fi Explore. For some reason the Eye-Fi card wasn't recognized by my regular card reader, so I'm now using its bundled mate instead.

Concerning accuracy of the geodata... that depends a lot on the accuracy of the Skyhook database. I noticed that the images shot at my studio were mistagged. The location was about a block away. The reason for this is that I had moved during the summer, and Skyhook still had the location for my AirPort Extreme at the old studio. So I went to the Skyhook Submit WiFi AP page and updated the database. I'm still waiting for update confirmation, even though I submitted the information a week ago.

And finally, you don't really have any control over the upload process. What you shoot gets uploaded and that's that. So for a lot of people, this process might not be a good fit.

The Bottom Line

The Eye-Fi Explore is selling for $105 on Amazon. It works as advertised, and it is a reasonable geotagging solution for urban settings and other areas that have WiFi access points. If the Skyhook database is accurate, so will be your geodata. You can shoot Raw+Jpeg with the card, have your Jpegs tagged and uploaded, then deal with your Raws later using your normal workflow.

Shooting around my studio, I liked the card. In my next installment, I'll take it out into the field and see how it works with Wayport hotspots.

See My Other Posts on Geotagging

Geotagging a Journey with photoGPS, iPhoto, and Flickr

iPhoto '09 as Your Geotagging Tool?

First Look at Jobo photoGPS Device and Software

Update to Geotagging Workflow, Including Jobo photoGPS

Finding a Reasonable Geotagging Workflow


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Canon announced that their zoomerific PowerShot SX1 IS will be Raw enabled this spring. They will release a firmware update that will unlock this capability giving shooters the added benefit of Raw capture on this compact camera. By doing so, Canon has provided a nice alternative for those who want the 28mm to 560mm zooming range of the SX1, but aren't interested in lugging around a DSLR and telephoto lens.

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The Canon SX1 has many interesting features for the photographer on the go. It uses AA batteries that are easy to find anywhere in the world. It can record HD video (1920 x 1080) and high resolution Raw (3648 x 2736), and it accepts a Mini-HDMI to HDMI cable so you can plug it directly into an HD television for movie or slideshow playback. (You can read a good review of this camera on photographyBLOG).

If you want to shoot 10 megapixel Raw on a compact camera with a powerful zoom and HD video capture, then take a look at the Canon PowerShot SX1 IS. You should be able to download the Raw firmware update next month.


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