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Do you need to send a last-minute greeting card via email because it's too late for it to get there via regular postal mail? And of course, you want it to be spectacular!


Click on the image to open up a full screen version of Michel Bricteux's animated card. It may take a minute to load, but once it does, the lights will go on and off. Thanks Michel!


We have a technique that might save the day. TDS member Michel Bricteux sent me this wonderful animated card of Calle Alcala, Madrid, that was created using Photoshop. Here's what Michel wrote:

"Attached you'll find a 'fun' project meant to serve as animated Season's Greetings. The background picture is a HDR composite made of 9 pictures (+/- 0.3EV, Nikon D3X) using Photomatix Pro. The animation was created using Photoshop CS4's very cool and simple-to-use Animation tool."

Once you've created the individual images that comprise the animation, it's a cinch to build the final GIF in Photoshop. Here's a short tutorial on eHow. Then attach the animated file to an email and send it off. It conveys the message that you care, and it shows off your artistic talent too.


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Tips for Cold Weather Photography

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There are two rules in cold weather photography: 1) Protect you, 2) Protect your gear. Make sure you have layers of clothing that can go on and off as you work in the field. Be prepared for moisture so that you can stay dry. You never want to mix being wet and cold at the same time. It can lead to disastrous results. And be sure you have protection for your hands. Metal tripods become icy uncomfortable to hold.

As for your gear, your bags should be weather proof. If you use Lowepro bags, the "AW" models have an outer cover that's a terrific extra layer of protection. Keep spare batteries in your pocket, not your bag, so they stay warm. And finally, let your gear warm up in cases or Ziploc bags before exposing it to indoor temperatures. Otherwise condensation will form on your camera and lens.

Here's a good article by Laura Charon titled, Cold Weather Photography that provides additional insights (and some great photos!).

Photo of Boulder Creek in the Snow by Mark Castleman.


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How do you get great shots and still have fun? This week's podcast provides you with five tips for easy, beautiful party photos. I've also written an article for Macworld Magazine titled, The secrets of photographing a party that spells out everything I discuss in this podcast. If you're interested in this subject, you might want to read it.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (22 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Embrace is the Dec. 2009 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is Dec. 31, 2009.

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

SiteGrinder lets you take ownership of your websites. Effortlessly output pages right from Photoshop.

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

Add Magic to Your Slideshows -- FotoMagico presentations are so amazing that your audience will be asking how you did it.


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On a recent trip to Ventura, I had lunch with Megan O. Read, and she snapped some "polaroids" with her new Fujifilm Instax Mini 7S. The Mini 7S is a super-simple instant film camera that weighs less than a pound and is about 5" tall. It uses a fixed-focus 60mm Fujinon Lens, has a built-in electronic flash with exposure compensation, and produces 2.13" x 3.4" prints on Fujifilm Instax Mini Film.

Megan snapped a half dozen photos indoors, and they looked like what you would expect from flash shots on instant film: fun, nostalgic, but certainly not beautiful. When we were driving back from lunch, she asked me to grab the camera and shoot a picture out the car window. I did so, but when the photo developed, you could hardly see the image because it was so overexposed. I did a little research on this and found out that I wasn't the only one who experienced overexposures in bright sunlight.

So if you do decide to pony up the $100 or so for the Fujifilm Instax Mini 7S, keep in mind that this is more of an indoor party camera than an outdoor snap-shooter -- something to keep in mind because the Mini 7S costs you a buck every time you press the shutter button.


Fujifilm Instax Mini 7S photos by Megan O. Read. You can check out more of Megan's work on her Flickr page. Click on image to enlarge.


ACR 5.6 Updater

Adobe has released the final version of Adobe Camera Raw 5.6 that supports 20 new cameras including the Canon 7D, G11, S90; Nikon D3s; Olympus E-P2, and Sony A500, A550, and A850.

I think the easiest way to install the update is to use the Adobe Updater. Just open Bridge, go to Help > Updates, then choose Photoshop Camera Raw from the list. Updater will download about 50 MBs of new Raw profiles, ask you to quit Bridge, then finish the installation. It works great and is easy.

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Apple released Digital Camera RAW Compatibility Update 2.7 for Snow Leopard and Digital Camera RAW Compatibility Update 2.7 for Leopard. The release updates Raw support (Aperture, iPhoto) for these cameras, and is available via your Software Update feature (7.3 MBs):

  • Canon EOS-1D Mark IV
  • Canon EOS 7D
  • Canon PowerShot G11
  • Nikon D3S
  • Nikon D300S
  • Nikon D3000

That's the good news. And believe me, we're so glad to have this release.

But all is not cheery in Rawville. There's no support listed for the Canon S90 (will the G11 profile work for it?), the Olympus E-P1 or E-P2, or the Panasonic GF1, just to name a few. In my case, nearly a third of the photos I currently shoot is with the S90 and E-P1.

Sigh...


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If you've ever made the pilgrimage from Southern California to the northern part of the state on I-5, you know that it combines the quietness of wide open space, endurance, and if you're lucky, stunning twilight landscapes. I always have a camera on the front seat when I make this journey. When the sky lights up, I hold my lens against the window, compose out of the corner of my eye, and make photographs.

On this last trip, I used the Canon PowerShot S90, my current compact of choice. The first shot, Two Cars at Twilight was captured at ISO 400, f/4 at 1/320th of a second. The shot was composed so that the first thing you notice is the striking sunset, then after a few moments, two lonely cars become visible as they drive south on the Interstate.

The next image, Twilight Truck was recorded at ISO 800. We've had a lot of discussion about high ISO and image noise, and this shot displays plenty of grain. For some, such as myself, I think it adds another interesting element to the composition. Others might not care for it. In a way it doesn't matter because I needed the high ISO to get the 1/200th shutter speed.

The final shot, Power Lines, has that cock-eyed composition that often happens photographing landscapes while driving a car. I could have straightened the image. But for me, this better conveys the surreal sensation of driving a car down a lonely interstate as night begins to fall.

Photos by Derrick Story. Click on images to enlarge.


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Are protection filters a way to help protect your investment, or simply a compromise to image quality? This week I tell the story of my Canon 70-200 f/4 L lens and its sudden introduction to hard pavement. The photo here is what's left of my Hoya HMC Sky 1A filter that I keep on the lens. Click on the photo to see how my zoom lens looks after the crash, and with a little dusting off with the Rocket Blaster. You can probably guess how I feel about protection filters at this moment. If you want to hear more, listen to this week's podcast.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (24 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

Tips on How You Can Help Support This Podcast

In addition to our fabulous sponsors, we have affiliate agreements with Lynda.com, Amazon, and B&H Photo. If you plan on doing any shopping with these retailers, please enter their stores through the advertising boxes on this page. You'll find them in the right side columns. It doesn't cost you anything, but it can really help support this show.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Embrace is the Dec. 2009 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is Dec. 31, 2009.

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

SiteGrinder lets you take ownership of your websites. Effortlessly output pages right from Photoshop.

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

Add Magic to Your Slideshows -- FotoMagico presentations are so amazing that your audience will be asking how you did it.


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Adobe Shortcut App

Here's a nifty Adobe AIR application that provides you with lots of shortcuts for most of CS4 software, including Photoshop, InDesign, SoundBooth, Acrobat Pro, and more. I say most because the app doesn't include shortcuts for Bridge and Adobe Camera Raw. Still, for the price (free!), it's great having dozens of Photoshop shortcuts at your fingertips there on the desktop.

If you don't have Adobe AIR installed, you'll be prompted to do so. But that's easy enough. Plus there are lots of additional useful AIR apps that you may want to take advantage of. You can download the application here.


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As I've been testing the VF-2 Electronic Viewfinder for the Olympus E-P2, I've found that it excels in certain applications. My favorite so far is when I use my Zeiss manual focus lenses (from my Contax film days) on the digital Olympus. In my first round of testing with the older E-P1, the lenses certainly worked fine and gave me the different look that I wanted. The problem was, I found it difficult to manually focus the Zeiss lenses with the 230,000 LCD on the back of the E-P1, especially outdoors in daylight.

When I had a chance to try the new Olympus E-P2 that's now in stock for $1,100 with electronic viewfinder and zoom lens, I thought that the VF-2 might make it easier to work with the manual focus lenses. I was right. What a difference!


Portraits of Jenn captured with an Olympus E-P2 and Zeiss 50mm lens. These images have been processed in Photoshop. But you can see rawer versions on the TDS Flickr page. I toned some of them, but didn't do any retouching. (Click for larger images here.) Photos by Derrick Story.


I start by mounting the Rayqual CY M 4/3 adapter on the E-P2, then choosing the Zeiss lens that's best for the assignment. For this portrait shoot with Jenn, I chose the 50mm f/1.7 Planar and shot with it wide open. The lighting was overcast that afternoon in Ventura, and I wanted a dreamy effect with very soft background. In order for this to work at all, I would have to nail the focus on Jenn's eyes, then let everything go the way it wanted with the shallow depth of field. The VF-2 really helped. I didn't have to use any focusing aids at all. I just looked through the viewfinder, twisted the lens barrel to the left and right until the focus because clear. Plus, I felt more professional looking through a viewfinder rather than holding the LCD up to my face.

The character of the Zeiss lens is unique compared to my Olympus digital glass. The best way for me to describe it is, it's the difference in sound quality that you get from a vinyl LP record compared to a digital MP3. Everything seems a little warmer, less edgy. However, some photographers, especially those who look at every pixel, might not like this rendering. But for certain types of portraiture, I love it.

One thing you don't get with this scenario is complete metadata. You have to remember or note the aperture setting you used, because the camera has no way to record it. The nice thing about the E-P2, however, is that image stabilization is in the body, not the lens. So you still get IS even with these older lenses.

I'm going to do some more testing with different glass. I really like having the option to create a completely different look, yet still have all the conveniences of the digital workflow.


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