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You can make your own ID badges, press passes, and nice looking name badges by visiting BigHugeLabs. They offer an easy-to-use web interface that allows you to add your pictures and customize the text to produce a variety of badges that you can print or share electronically.

I'm not saying that one of these will get you on the sidelines of a pro football game, but ID does come in handy when working in the field. It lets people know who you are and what your purpose is. Plus, these badges just look cool.

The badge shown here is a sample of the Flickr Photographr template.

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QuickTime Pro 7.2 offers new export presets for the iPhone and other mobile playback devices -- both via WiFi and cellular networks. This makes it easy for digital photographers to share the movies they capture with their compact cameras. The iPhone provides excellent video playback, and many other mobile units do quite well also. Preparing the video for these devices is a snap.

First, capture the movie with your digital camera at the highest quality settings possible. This leaves your options open for other uses up the road, such as DVD burning for TV playback. Then make sure you have the most current version of QuickTime Pro. Open the movie, choose File > Export, then select the compression preset from the Export pop-up menu.

If you're preparing your movie for high quality playback on the iPhone, choose the "Movie to iPhone" option. If you want to stream movies over a cellular network to other mobile users, choose the "Movie to iPhone (Cellular)" option. (There's also a very nice "Movie to iPod" option for video-enabled iPods.) To give you a feel for the size differences, I started with a 20 MB video, then tried the two different export presets. The higher quality "Movie to iPhone" rendered a 3.1 MB file, while the Cellular version was smaller in dimensions and file size (348 KB).

If you want to learn more about movie capture with your digital camera, listen to Podcast #3. You can also download the QuickTime 7.2 User Guide from Apple.

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Sony is as good as anyone at squeezing lots of functionality into compact devices. The new Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-G1 is an amazing example of Sony ingenuity. This compact camera includes a beautiful 3.5" LCD, 6-megapixel sensor, image stabilization, 3X optical zoom, 2 GB built in memory, WiFi connectivity, MP3 player (with headphone jack), movie recorder, ISO up to 1000, and very stylish design. All of this for about $450.

Wait... $450 for a 6-megapixel camera? Well, it's not totally without merit. The screen is absolutely beautiful... and big. The onboard memory is nice, as well as the WiFi for sharing images, although neither are really necessary as implemented in this camera. The image stabilization is very good. And that is a Zeiss lens on the front. On the down side, it is a slow reacting camera with image noise at moderate ISOs.

If you want more details, I recommend the review recently posted on PhotographyBlog.com. They do a good job of weighing the pros and cons.

This is a beautiful looking device, however. And Sony does include lots of goodies. If you've got the money, it's a tempting digicam for on the go.

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There's a nifty trick on the Flickr Tools page that enables you to upload images to your Flickr photostream via email. This can be a great boon for road warriors who have photos to share, but don't have their personal computers with them. All you need is your image and any web mail account (such as Gmail), and you're ready to publish. I've been using this technique to publish images directly from my iPhone while on the go, and it works great.

On the Flickr Tools page, look for the link "upload by email." Make sure you're logged in to your account before proceeding. Once you click on the "upload by email" link, Flickr will take you to a new page and generate a personal email address that you can use to upload your images.

Simply open a new email, attach the photo, address it, and hit the send button. You can add a title to the image by entering text in the Subject line, and add a caption by entering text in the body of the message below the photo (if your photo is displayed in the body of the message). It couldn't be easier.

People with Treos, iPhones, and other email-enabled mobile devices will find this particularly useful for uploading pictures while on the go. And don't forget to check out the The Digital Story Flickr Public Group. There's lots of great stuff going on there.

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A few of us at the Microsoft Pro Photo Summit had the opportunity to go shooting with John Shaw at the Washington Park Arboretum near Seattle, WA. During his talk in the field, John shared some of his favorite equipment tips. Among the best was the Really Right Stuff BH-55 ballhead with Arca-style quick release. John uses an L-Plate designed for his camera to enable him to shoot in the vertical position without having to dip the ballhead downward (as shown in the illustration). The L-Plate enables him to quickly mount his camera from the bottom or the side giving him maximum flexibility. It's very cool, and if the entire set-up wasn't so expensive (RRS ballhead + AS quick release + L-plate), I'd have one today.

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Photoshop Lightroom Adventure Book

Now that my photo buddy Mikkel Aaland has sent his Photoshop Lightroom Adventure book to the printer, he's had a little time to put together a terrific PDF download titled, The Lightroom 1.1 Library Revealed. It's a quick tour of the key elements of the Lightroom 1.1 Library module, including an explanation of the new "catalogs" (formerly known as libraries) concept. Very nice.

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Get Great Fireworks Photos

Fireworks

Once again Fourth of July is at our American doorstep, complete with lots of fireworks displays. If you want to capture your own fiery composition, here are a few tips.

First: turn off your flash. Yes, you're going to be shooting in a dark environment, and if your camera is set to auto flash, it's going to fire. This is the last thing you want, so turn it off.

Next, break out the tripod. You're going to be using long exposures. Use a cable or remote release if you have one. If not, just gently press the shutter button with your finger.

Resist the urge to increase your ISO setting. Keep it at 100 to help reduce image noise. You might also want to switch to manual exposure. Auto exposure will overexpose your dark skies turning them to mushy gray. Start with a manual setting of 2 seconds at F-5.6 or F-8, and see what you get. Adjust accordingly from there.

Finally, use a wide angle lens so you can capture as much of the sky as possible. If you know the display is going to peak in a certain area, you can zoom in a bit. Remember, since you're shooting at the highest resolution possible, you can always crop your image later.

Have a great time, be safe, and get some great shots.


About the Photo
Brian C Davenport went to Windsor,Canada to shoot the Freedom Festival fireworks over the Detroit skyline last year. Here's how he got the shot.

"It was a very long day but the last 30 min was outstanding," said Brian. "Getting there early in the day gave us a front row seat, right on the shoreline to set up our tripods. I shot about 200 images during the day, and the fireworks shots came out really nice. It was a little tricky as this was a show where there were very few single bursts so there was alot of light in the air most of the time. I settled on 18mm, ISO 100, f8 and 3-5 sec exposure. These settings gave some definition to the bursts without too much "blow-out" of the highlights."

Great shot Brian! Thanks for sending it in.

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Want to learn new photography tips and tricks firsthand? I have a number of teaching and speaking events lined up for 2007, and I'm going to publish monthly updates here on TDS. I've also created an Events Calendar so you can peek ahead, especially if you're planning a trip to Northern California.

July 2007 Events
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This highlight for July is the Sony/Pop Photo Digital Days coming to Sheraton Gateway Hotel, 600 Airport Blvd., Burlingame, CA 94010, (650) 340-8500. I'll be speaking on Lightroom on the 21st and CS3 on the 22nd.

In August, I have an all day workshop in Santa Rosa on Aug. 18 titled, I've Taken Great Photos, Now What?. You can sign up at the SRJC Community Ed page. I highly recommend this event. You'll have a great time and get plenty of information for your post production workflow. Sign up today!

August 2007 Events
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If you see something on the Events Calendar that you like, you can email me first to confirm the date and find out additional details. My contact information is on the Submissions page.

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I really like the iPhone and wouldn't dream of parting with mine, but believe me, my affection stems not from the built-in 2-megapixel camera. Here are a few tidbits about the iPhone capture you should know:

You can send pictures you take with the iPhone via the device's Mail application. Your image is sampled down to 640x480 and added as an attachment. You have no other wireless option for sending your pictures. That being said, email is very easy.

The iPhone does, however, communicate well with iPhoto (Mac users only). Connect your iPhone, and it shows up as a tethered camera in iPhoto's Source pane. When you download the images to iPhoto, they come in at the full 1200x1600 resolution. Unfortunately, you don't get any substantial metadata other than the f-stop. So you have no idea about shutter speed, ISO, or focal length.

Taking pictures with the iPhone couldn't be simplier, too simple in fact. You have no settings or preferences at all, so you can't adjust the white balance, ISO, or even use a self-timer. Just point the camera and click the shutter... that's it.

I certainly can appreciate Apple's efforts to keep things simple. And I'm hoping that we get more functionality up the road via software updates. But if you're a big camera phone shooter, you will probably be disappointed with this device as it ships now. We'll see what the future brings.

Shown here is a sample photo I took in the shade of a patio in the middle of the day. I'm guessing that I was too close to the subject for precise focus, and I had no focus confirmation while attempting the shot. So this is what I got.

I do like the big viewing screen for capturing and viewing photos, and if I had just a few controls, I think I could overlook its other shortcomings. In the meantime, I think I'll watch some YouTube videos.

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I've been testing the Panasonic DMC-FZ8 for a few months now, and I've just discovered a review on Camera Labs that echos many of my findings. If you're interested in the FZ8, I recommend that you go over to their site and read up on this nifty Panasonic camera.

Overall, I like the DMC-FZ8 because for about $298 US you get a 12X Leica zoom lens with a maximun aperture of f-2.8, Raw mode that can be read by Lightroom 1.1 and Adobe Camera Raw 4, 16:9 aspect ratio for both movies and stills, long battery life, very light and compact body, electronic viewfinder, manual controls, live histogram, image stabilization, intelligent ISO, and a filter ring that is perfect for attaching a polarizer.

On the downside, there is more image noise at higher ISOs (400 and up) than with a Digital SLR (such as a Canon Rebel XTi) and Panasonic's noise reduction can be a little aggressive, resulting in slight smearing visible at 100 percent on a HD screen (but I haven't noticed it in prints). Both of these nits exist in almost all of the competitive models often costing more than the FZ8 (such as Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-H9). Also, the lens only goes as wide as 36mm, but extends all the way out past 400mm on the telephoto end.

Bottom line, I love shooting with this camera at 16:9 in Raw mode using the long Leica telephoto lens. I think it's a perfect addition to your camera collection if you're looking for a compact super-telephoto that records in Raw.

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