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Ben Long Publishes Rebel XSi Companion

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My friend Ben Long has just released the second book in O'Reilly's new Companion Series, The Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi/450D Companion. "Through a series of easy-to-follow lessons, The Canon Digital Rebel XSi Companion gives you a complete class on digital photography, tailored specifically for people who use this camera. This is not a typical camera guide: rather than just showing you what all the buttons do, this unique book teaches you how to use various Digital Rebel features to make great photographs.

I've taught with Ben, and I can tell you that you'll get a lot more out of this book than a tour of buttons and dials.

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I've been using Shutterfly Pro Gallery for more than a year now, primarily for weddings. The system is fairly straightforward.

I prepare the images on my computer, upload the Jpegs to Shutterfly, set the pricing for the various sizes, publish, then send the link to the client. I can password protect each area for each client, or leave it open to the public. If I want to watermark the proofs, I have a handful of different options that Shutterfly will apply for me.

The client can then browse the gallery. When they place an order, Shutterfly handles the transaction, delivers the prints, takes a percentage of the gross, and puts the balance in my account. You know exactly how much you're going to make on each print because Shutterfly lists the profit when you set the price. So, for example, Shutterfly Pro charges 40 cents a print for a 4x6 (matt or glossy). If I set the price at $2.40 a print, Shutterfly displays $1.70 as profit. The client does not see this information, only you when you set up their account. The client only sees the price you've set.

They also offer note cards, mugs, mouse pads, magnets, playing cards, puzzles, keepsake boxes, and desk organizers that can be personalized with images from the gallery. You set the price on everything. One missing product from the lineup is their hard bound book. You can build one for yourself on the site. (They are quite nice!) But Shutterfly doesn't provide the ability for the client to build one with your pictures for a price you've set. This would be a tremendous service that I think they should figure out how to offer.

The annual fee for Shutterfly Pro is $99 a year for the basic service. They also have a Premier Plan for $199 a year. It includes unlimited hosting space for heavy users.

The main reason I use Shutterfly Pro is so my wedding clients don't have to hassle with providing prints to members of the wedding party or attendees. They can simply direct them to the Shutterfly Pro Gallery, let them peruse the images, and if they see something they want, they can order it themselves for a reasonable price. Some photographers use this method to deliver prints to the clients too. Personally, I don't. I like to review all of the images the client receives. But, it's a reasonable business model in some situations. What is nice, however, is that it's an easy way for you to publish a gallery quickly so the clients can see their wedding while you're working on their prints. I try to get the gallery up by the time they return from their honeymoon.

You can see a sample gallery here if you want to get a feel for the experience clients will have.

Overall, I give Shutterfly Pro a thumbs up. They do a good job of handling the business side of online photography so you don't have to worry about credit card transactions and sales tax. You can always check your account online, and once you publish the images, it's fun to see some money coming in the door. They also do a good job of the printing itself, which is important since the prints are going directly to the client. I do wish they offered a few more products, such as the hard cover books. We'll see if they continue to improve the service as competition stiffens.

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Do you remember a podcast from my past called the iLife Zone? If so, you know that Chris Breen and I used to chat about all things Mac. Well, we got together again this week on the MacWorld Podcast to talk about my trip to Beijing and working in the Main Press Center. It's a good conversation, and it was terrific to be working with Chris again.


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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The Nikon folks have their thinking caps in high gear. It's about time someone put movie mode on a DSLR. Think about it - Live View LCDs, big image sensors, and great glass. And you get all of that on the new Nikon D90.

They start with a new 12.9 MP CMOS sensor. Add a 3" LCD screen with Live View. Then add movie capture at 720p (1280x720) at 24fps with mono sound.

I am so impressed with the innovation coming out of Nikon right now. Canon, what is your response?

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When the Canon 5D was released in Aug. 2005, the 20D was its APS-sized cousin. Then we saw the 30D, 40D, and now the 50D. Yet, in the affordable full-sized sensor arena, we still have the venerable 5D. That's why I was hoping that the pre-Photokina press release would be about the new Canon 5D. But alas, no.

The good news is (for other people), is that the 50D looks like a great camera. It sports a 15.1 APS sized CMOS sensor, 6.3 fps continuous mode, DIGIC 4 processor, 3" LCD with Live View and Face Detection, improved high ISO performance, and HDMI connectivity for HiDef playback. But my main camera is the 5D, and I really don't want to buy an APS body right now if an updated full-sensor shooter is around the corner. Who knows, maybe we'll see it at PMA next Winter.

Event Calendar

Events! See the TDS Event Calendar for photography workshops, speaking engagements, and trade show appearances.


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I wrote a post on Inside Aperture titled, Plug-Ins Same as External Editor? I Don't Think So, where I disagreed with some folks on the web who say that Aperture's plug-in architecture is no different than using an external editor in Lightroom. Personally, I think there are differences, and pointed to an article by Micah Walter that does a good job of listing them. But some readers disagreed. And what followed in the comments is an interesting debate about Aperture, Lightroom, and sometimes even Photoshop. I thought you might want to take a look and decide for yourself.

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Big Beijing Photos on Deke.com

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My friend Deke McCelland wrangled nine new photos out of me, 1200 pixels wide, and published them on deke.com. Some fun stuff here if you like to see 'em big.

Photo of Olympic Opening Ceremonies at the Bird's Nest by Derrick Story, Canon 5D, Sigma 50mm lens.


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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Rob Galbraith posted a piece that explains how photographer Kari Kuukka (photo credit for this screenshot) captured a 360 degree pano inside the Bird's Nest in Beijing 30 minutes before the start of the men's 100m final.

There's a link in the piece so you can load up the panorama yourself and enjoy its magnificent breadth. BTW: I have one of those beige photographer's vests that you see in the shot.

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I just read DP Review's test report of the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 lens, and they back up what I've been saying about this beautiful glass. I used the Sigma often during my Beijing trip, and considered it my "go to" glass when working indoors.

But, if you need test results, DP Review now has them. The major drawback, from their perspective, is the $499 US price tag. I agree. It is expensive. And I thought twice before putting down my hard-earned money for it. But after depending on it for two weeks in China, I have to say the price doesn't seem quite as steep now.

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Photo of tired photographer captured inside the Main Press Center in Beijing by Derrick Story using the Sigma 50mm lens mounted on a Canon 5D.


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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Many things went right during a recent trip to the Beijing Olympics, and one of my most important assets was my little white MacBook.

When I'm working on the road, I can't always wait until it's convenient to process my pictures. I may not see a hotel room for 20 or more hours. So I need to get things done on buses, airplanes, in stadium stands, workrooms, restaurants, and even sitting on a bench in the park. This is where the MacBook shines. It's light, durable, powerful, and fits in my camera bag. I carry an extra battery, so I can work for hours just about anywhere.

I load it up with 4 GBs of RAM. By doing so, I can run Aperture, Photoshop, Mail, and Safari all at once. If there's WiFi available, I grab it and post to my blog using MarsEdit. I can quickly share galleries of images using the "Aperture to MobileMe" tandem. And because I set up managed libraries in Aperture on the road, once I finish processing a shoot, I back up my work using Aperture's Vault and a portable FireWire drive. That way I can erase my memory cards with confidence.

Once I return home, I export the Aperture Projects to my main library. Everything is intact, including my masters, image processing, metadata, slideshows, and anything else I created. I then clean off the MacBook, and it's ready for the next trip.

The MacBook is a tough road warrior. Without it, I would not have been able to publish daily on the road, nor arrive home organized and ready for my next assignment, which in my case was shooting a wedding the day after I arrived home from Beijing.

Photo of Forbidden City by Derrick Story, captured with a Canon 5D, processed in Aperture, designed into a slide title in Aperture, and incorporated into my current presentation on Beijing.

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