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A comment I heard repeatedly touted the "quality" of PhotoPlus Expo in NYC. I have to agree. This event has become one of my favorite photography expos.

As you walk the floor passing by Canon, Nikon, Epson, HP, Sony, Lowepro, Adobe, Apple, O'Reilly, Lynda.com, and on and on, you get a real sense of businesses that have their trade show act together. There's not a lot of junk or blaring noise. The booths are well-designed and professionally staffed. You can learn about new products at PhotoPlus and actually have conversations with staff about them.

The Javits Convention Center, pictured here, contributes to this atomosphere. It is bright, airy, and supports lots of services including an excellent food court. And it's easy to navigate. The morning light is particularly beautiful as it streams in through the giant glass walls.

In terms of announcements, the bulk of the activity was on the hardware side. New Lensbaby 3GPL, SanDisk 8GB Extreme III SDHC card, Sony PictureStation, Olympus lenses, Canon telephotos, Nikon wireless accessories, Epson Exhibition Firer Paper, and a new T-Max 400 BW film from Kodak, were just a few of the releases. However, software-wise, I did spend some time with DxO Labs and their new DxO Optics Pro application for Raw processing. I'll follow up with more information on that after testing. You can get a nice overview of the show announcements on the CameraTown PR page.

The booth demos were also impressive. Apple was showing off Aperture, Adobe both Lightroom and Photoshop CS3, Nikon and their NX software -- just to cite a few big names. But every stop seemed to have something interesting to offer.

PhotoPlus Expo might be an event you'll want add to your calendar for 2008. It's a great place to research products and get back in touch with the East Coast photography community. Smart people to talk to, lots to see and do.

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Interesting post on John Nack's weblog that's based on a survey of 1,026 pro shooters by InfoTrends stating that 2/3rds of them are using Photoshop over Lightroom and Aperture.

Colleen Wheeler followed up with more anecdotal information in her post Yes, We Still Love ACR. Regardless of how much you trust the actual InfoTrends data, or believe the anecdotal, this is interesting.

My take on it... photographers are creatures of habit. They're already buying Photoshop CS3 because they need it. ACR and Bridge are better than ever. I'm not surprised that they are sticking with what they know.

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Mixed lighting is one of the most difficult situations I encounter for my reportage. During a recent portrait of Mark Dahm, I wanted to use fill flash for the subject, yet capture the intriguing hallways of Adobe's headquarters in San Jose.

I used Face Detection on a Canon PowerShot G9 to get a great exposure of Mark, but the hallway on my right went extremely yellow due to the artificial lighting... so much so that I found it distracting.

I've been using a nice trick in Adobe Camera Raw 4 (ACR is part of Photoshop CS3) to quickly adjust the image. I click on the HSL/Grayscale icon, click on the Saturation tab, find the offending color (Yellows in this case) and pull down its saturation a bit. This adjustment helps correct the lighting without affecting the other aspects of the shot. This technique works on some shots better than others, but I've had great luck with it.

One other note, ACR 4 can now handle Jpegs and Tiffs, so you can use this technique even if you're not shooting Raw. Give it a try!

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Flickr Tips Article for Photogs

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"It’s little wonder that Flickr has become the photo-sharing Web site of choice for so many digital photographers. In a matter of minutes, you can set up a free account, upload photos, and invite friends and family to view your masterpieces. Add tags (descriptive keywords) to those photos, and anyone can find and enjoy your images. Guests can add comments, offer suggestions for improving your shots, and even include you in their contacts list, creating a social network of like-minded users."

"But if you think you’ve seen all Flickr can do, you may be in for a surprise. An abundance of Flickr add-ons and related Web sites make the photo-sharing experience faster, nimbler, and more fun."

Those are the opening salvos from my latest article for Macworld Magazine titled, Great Flickr add-ons. Nothing too deep here, but I do cover adding photos to Flickr via email, online photo editing, streaming Flickr images into your web site, and some handy uploading tools. It's fun and it's free.

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Heading to NY for PhotoPlus Expo

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At this year's PhotoPlus Expo, I'll be working in the O'Reilly Media booth interviewing top photographers such as Rick Sammon and Photoshop experts including Katrin Eismann. I'll also be gathering information and podcast interviews for The Digital Story. It will be a busy few days.

Our friend, Scott Sheppard from Inside Media Networks will be there too as the official broadcast partner for the Expo.

In reference to Scott's presence: "We're pleased to bring our exhibitors and attendees the excitement of live radio and video coverage right from the show floor" states, Jeff McQuilkin, Show Director, PDN PhotoPlus Expo. "This is the hottest photography event of the year and we're delighted that our partnership with Inside Digital Photo will allow people all over the world to get in on all the excitement."

(Inside Digital Photo TV has a branded channel on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/InsideDigitalPhoto and on iTunes at Inside Digital Photo Radio - http://www.itunes.com/podcast?id=203423898 and Inside Digital Photo TV - http://www.itunes.com/podcast?id=260614588.)

It goes without saying that if you're going to attend PhotoPlus Expo, check out my booth schedule and come by and introduce yourself. I'd like to meet you.

Event Calendar

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


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iPhoto 08 to iDVD - My Favorite Method

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There are many ways to share the images stored in iPhoto, and thanks to the power of the entire iLife suite, photo DVDs are a beautiful option. But I don't care for the Share > Send to iDVD command in iPhoto. I think it brings you into iDVD in an awkward place. Instead, I like to open iDVD separately, then use the "Magic iDVD" approach. Here are the steps:

  1. In iPhoto, create an album and put the pictures in it that you want to use in your DVD slideshow. You can create several albums and put multiple slideshows on one DVD.
  2. Open iDVD and click on the Magic iDVD button.
  3. Choose your theme and type the title for your DVD in the title field.
  4. Go to the Media Browser, click on the Photos tab, and find the iPhoto albums that you want to include on the DVD.
  5. Drop the images from an album into an open Photo window in iDVD. This creates one slideshow. Repeat this process for each additional slideshow.
  6. Click on the Burn button and insert a blank DVD.

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It's that easy. If you want to dress up your DVD or slideshow with music, custom transitions, and other goodies, just click on the Create Project button, then once you're finished with the enhancements, click on Burn.

You can learn more iPhoto 08 tips by listening to my podcast, iPhoto 08.

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"In August 2007, Nikon invited technology journalists from around the globe - including us - to take part in the D3 and D300 launch announcements in Tokyo, as well as tour the company's Sendai, Japan manufacturing facility where the D3 is being built," writes Rob Galbraith. "While at Sendai Nikon, no pictures were allowed to be taken inside factory buildings, but Nikon has now supplied us with photos showing some of the manufacturing activities we saw when there, including the D3 being assembled."

Rob then displays a series of images from inside the factory that I find fascinating. If you've ever wondered what it looks like inside the facility where top of the line Nikon bodies are assembled, then you should take a look at this article.

Image of a Nikon D3 Image Sensor Unit provided by Nikon USA.

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The first thing I noticed when I held the Canon PowerShot G9 was how compact it truly was. I hadn't owned a "G" series camera since the G2, and my, how things have changed.

I was drawn back to Canon's top of the line compact series for a few reasons. First, the G9 supports Raw (.CR2) format. This is a deal breaker for me. No Raw, no dice. In my opinion, every shot I take has potential to end up in a magazine or book, and I have to be able to squeeze every ounce of quality from the image. So even my point and shoot needs to support Raw. The G9 wisely does so.

Next, I very much like the control layout of the G9. The mode dial is on the top right and has all the usual options (P, AV, M, etc.), plus C1, and C2. These are custom configurations that I can set, and they are a godsend. I have C1 set to Raw+Jpeg and C2 set to 16:9 Jpeg. I can switch entire configurations with just a twist of the dial. Wonderful.

On the left top is the ISO dial, that's right, you get a knobby wheel for your ISO, and in the middle is a hotshoe with dedicated contacts. As the saying goes, you had me at C1. This is an amazing top deck.

Best of Current Technology

Inside the camera there is Face Technology, Optical Image Stabilization, FlexiZone AF focusing, customizable self-timer, and independent audio recording saving to .wav format. It's true, you can use the built-in sound recorder to capture at 44.100 kHz, 22.050 kHz, or 11.025 kHz. Quality is still limited by the microphone positioned on top of the camera, but this is a very handy addition to the camera that I've already used a number of times.

And just a note about Face Technology, it really works. It's perfect for a compact camera that's often used for candids. Just compose the scene, and the technology finds the faces in it, sets the focus, and even adjusts the exposure, including flash. You have to try it to believe how well it works. I'm missing fewer shots as a result of this technology.

On the Back

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On the back of the G9, you have an amazing LCD screen. At first I was disappointed that it didn't swivel like the one on my G2. But I discovered that it doesn't have to. You can hold it over your head or beneath your knees, and still see the picture. This is a serious LCD. Plus, it's a gigantic 3" in size. I added a transparent protection sheet to mine because it's so big I have a hard time not brushing it up against the abrasive world.

Another notable feature on the back is the silver "image review" button positioned at the top right of the LCD. Any time you want to peek at the pictures on your memory card, just push the button. It doesn't matter if the camera is powered up or not, the review button works. This is a great convenience that I wish all cameras had.

And What About Those Pictures?

If you have the latest version of Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom, you can process Canon's G9 .CR2 Raw files. My guess is that Apple will follow with support for Aperture, iPhoto, and Preview soon. Below is a full frame image shot at ISO 100 in Raw, and then a 100 percent detail section from that image so you can examine noise and sharpness.

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The first thing you'll notice is that image noise is more apparent at ISO 100 that you're used to seeing from DSLR images. My feeling is that the 12 megapixel sensor that is smaller (1/1.7) than an APS sensor (found on Digital Rebels, 40Ds, etc.) is responsible for the noise (along with the accompanying electronics). At ISO 400, the noise increases more, and at 800 and 1600 it's too obtrusive for my tastes. Prints made from files captured between 80 and 400 look terrific. Detail, color balance, and dynamic range are excellent.

I would have preferred less resolution, maybe 8 megapixels or 10, as a tradeoff for less noise, if that equation even applies. Either way, as long as I keep the ISO at 400 or less, I've been happy with the prints. Beyond 400, you're taking your chances.

Final Thoughts

Each day I use the PowerShot G9, I like it more. I wish it had better noise control and 16:9 movies at high definition. But that's about it for the wish list. This camera is a joy to shoot with, is very customizable, renders both good movies and stills, and is beautiful to look at.

The PowerShot G9 is not a substitute for a DSLR. But, in my opinion, it is a capable complement. When I walk out the door with the G9 in my pocket, I feel prepared to capture what the world throws my way.

The PowerShot G9 is available for $476 US. And don't forget to spring for the LA-DC58H adapter that allows you to add conversion lenses and 58mm filters. It's only another $22. If you want more detail about the camera itself, here are the full specifications.

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Want to learn new photography tips and tricks firsthand? This is your opportunity to discover shooting techniques that professionals have been using for years.

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Digital Photography Made Amazing is a four-hour exploration of how to make your camera record beautiful images just like those you see in magazines and books.

If you can't make this Saturday's workshop, I've also created an Events Calendar so you can peek ahead, especially if you're planning a trip to Northern California.

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.

If you are around the Santa Rosa area this weekend, you can sign up online.

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When Face Detection became the big buzz technology at PMA earlier this year, I, like many photographers, was skeptical. But I've been using the new Canon PowerShot G9 that includes Canon's latest version of this technology, and I'm impressed with how well it works for both focusing and exposure.

I like it because when shooting people candids; it's faster than my previous method of focusing on a person, holding down the shutter button halfway to lock the exposure, then recomposing. That method worked, but I lost good shots because it took a few seconds to execute. Face Detection is quicker, and using it enabled me to get more into the flow of the shoot.

What's really nice is that Face Detection also calculates exposure. This is particularly helpful for flash shots of people in low light. Typically cameras would overexpose the subject unless you used flash exposure lock (again time consuming). Face Detection knows what's most important in the scene and calculates the flash exposure accordingly.

Along with good image stabilization, I'm now updating my recommendatlon to include Face Detection as a "must have" feature on your next compact camera. It's the real deal.

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