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Rick LePage writes in his comprehensive comparison of Lightroom and Aperture, "While both Aperture and Lightroom perform the role of image manager and photo editor admirably, each program has plenty of unique features that set it apart. To determine which program is best for you, you’ll need to assess your work style and then choose the one whose features best support that process. I’ll lead you through the most significant differences and help you decide which will benefit you most."

If you're a Windows user, I think you'll appreciate Rick's breakdown of Lightroom. For those on the Mac, the side-by-side comparison of features is truly helpful. Either way, Rick LePage's Aperture vs. Lightroom: The new digital darkroom is a must read for those considering either or both of these applications.

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You only need to know three things to get great prints from your inkjet printer. Sure, you can add many micro-steps in between to refine your output, but if you follow this workflow exactly as I list it, your prints will improve.

First, calibrate your monitor. I like the Pantone Eye-One Display LT Monitor Color Calibrator for about $163 US, but any good colorimeter will work.

Next, match your ICC profiles and printing paper. Usually the easiest way to do this is to buy paper manufactured by the same company that makes your printer. If you have an Epson, buy Epson paper. The corresponding ICC profile will be available in your printer dialog box because they are loaded on to your computer when you install the print driver. If they're not there, go to the manufacturer's web site, download them, and install them on your own.

Finally, let the application control the color management (Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture, etc.). Make sure you're using the matching ICC profile (usually called out under "Profile") for the paper that's in your printer, and you're set.

Printing can be that easy. This conversation came up (again) while chatting with photographer friend Colleen Wheeler. She had just published Beginner's Luck: Paper Matters to the Inside Lightroom web site. Her story of getting a good print for Father's Day will resonate with many of you.

Now go off and print something beautiful!

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Even though Mac OS X does a perfectly fine job of burning optical discs, there are times when I want additional software to help me with important jobs. Such was the case recently when I was on the road with my MacBook Pro and wanting to copy a DVD.

On my older PowerBook, I have a copy of Toast. It does an admirable job of copying and creating DVDs and CDs. But the upgrade price is steep, too steep, and I hadn't added it to my Intel Mac yet.

I had heard about Disco, and for less than the upgrade to Toast, I could download Disco and have every feature I needed right now. It's a Universal Binary app that is fast, beautiful, clever, and works great. I like the simple user interface that makes it easy to tap the intelligent technology beneath the hood. Its core features include:

  • Use of all Apple supported external and internal CD/DVD burners.
  • CD multi session support.
  • Support for CD/DVD-ReWritable disc burning and erasing.
  • Create CD/DVDs based on the following file systems: Hybrid, HFS+, UDF, PC Joliet, ISO 9660.
  • Create Audio CDs from non iTunes protected Quicktime supported audio.
  • Easily switch between the creation of MP3 or Audio CDs when ever you want.
  • Drag and drop changable track order.
  • Create CDs based of VIDEO_TS and AUDIO_TS folders.
  • Easily create backups with use of Spanning.
  • Automatically divides any number of files across multiple discs when the files won't fit on one single disc.

Capable yes, but a big part of Disco's enjoyment is how fun it is to use. When you're burning a disc, smoke emanates from the UI. When I accidently put a bad disc in my Mac, Disco notified me that I had just created a coaster... little things to pass the time while taking care of business.

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You can download Disco right now and burn up to 7 discs to see if you like it. My guess is that you will. Then you can buy it for $29.95 US. You'll save money now, and on the upgrades too.

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In his latest article on O'Reilly Digital Media, dekeBytes: A Taste of Vanishing Point 2.0 in Photoshop CS3, Deke McClelland says, "The Vanishing Point filter was one of the way-cool additions to Photoshop CS2. And it's gotten even better in CS3. Now you can connect non-perpendicular surfaces and wrap an image around multiple surfaces at a time."

He shows exactly how this works by melding an image around a virtual DVD case. Sample files are provided so you can follow along. It's a good tutorial if you're interested in learning how to use the Vanishing Point filter.

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Ellen Anon writes in her recent post, Memory Card Failures, that "Sooner or later it happens to almost all digital photographers - at least all those who shoot a lot. You check some of the images in camera and they look good. You load the memory card into the reader and wait for the images to appear in Aperture’s import window. But nothing happens. You push the card into the reader a little more firmly and make sure the reader is attached properly to the computer, but still there’s no sign of the card showing up on the computer."

"The first time it happens it’s hard not to panic, especially if the card contains shots that will be difficult to replicate. Plus you wonder if the card is corrupt and should be replaced, or if you can salvage it. And you wonder if it just happened out of the blue or if you somehow contributed to the failure."

What follows is some good information about handling memory cards and what to do when things go wrong. Also, check out the discussion at the bottom of the post. Some great comments by knowledgeable people round out this helpful article.

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Segway Patrol, San Francisco

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One of the most popular shots I've published on The Digital Story was Steve Wozniak arriving at an Apple event on his Segway. Well, the Segways are out in full force again.

This time, I was out enjoying the SF sites on the SF Photo Walk -- a side event at WWDC that included a few TDS members! -- and lo and behold, an entire squad of Segways approached. They were part of a tour led by a company that puts visitors on Segways, then communicates with them through a walkie talkie system that provides local information through a speaker mounted on the Segway's handlebars.

I couldn't resist this grab shot, and I have a feeling that I'm really going to get a kick out of it 20 years up the road. Ah, life in San Francisco...

Photo by Derrick Story, June 2007

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kottley started an interesting discussion about online photography classes -- such as Betterphoto.com, and the comments by TDS members so far has been helpful. But it would be nice to get more perspectives from folks who have taken online photo courses, such as NY Institute of Photography, BetterPhoto, etc.

If you have tested any of these, please chime in. And if you just want to read what others think, then wander over to the watering hole.

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Speaking Events for July 2007

Virtual is good, but in-person isn't bad either. 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. Looking ahead, 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.

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

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More on the Canon PowerShot TX1

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It's the hybrid device that you just can't get out of your head. Two new pieces of information on the TX1 to follow up my report from Feb. 07.

First, DPReview has published their comprehensive review of the "half camera - half HD video recorder" and struggled with some of the same issues that I have. When it comes to Canon's choice of video format they say: "...the use of M-JPEG for movies means that if you want to shoot even half an hour of footage you're going to need a pocketful of fast, large SD cards. And though the movie quality is excellent, you're getting nothing like the resolution you could expect from a decent dedicated DV camcorder."

However, the reviewer, Simon Joinson, was tempted too by this intriguing device: "I'd really, really recommend going to a store and trying it for yourself before committing; this is a cool, fun gadget with surprisingly good image quality, but for me it's not a camera I found easy to live with - especially not at the best part of $500."

I also had a conversation with my editor at Macworld Magazine. She had been casually using the TX1 for a couple weeks and was getting attached to the device. She addressed one of my other complaints, no option to plug in an external mic, by saying the stereo recording was quite good and better than other compact cameras she had tested. Obviously onboard-only mics have their limitations, but this was good news nonetheless.

So there you have it... more on the device that we want to buy, but wrestle with its tradeoffs and $479 price tag. Let me know what you think if you have a chance to shoot with it.

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Here's a fun list of handy photo goodies for shooters on the go: the Macworld Summer Travel Guide. As they say in the opening, "Suntans may fade, but photos and video clips will let you recapture that vacation vibe long after you’ve unpacked." Amen!

They rate the list of accessories and gadgets by cost categories (Bargain to Splurge) and by portability (Weightless to Burdensome). I wrote up one of the items in the list, the Lowepro CompuDaypack, which is one of my favorite travel bags (shown here). But there are lots of other good gear ideas too, that range from the luxurious Epson P-3000 to a free Twitter account.

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