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One of the most common questions I hear when teaching digital photography has to do with people wanting to serve their iPhoto libraries on the Internet. Now, thanks to Fastball Software, you can serve both iPhoto 6 and Aperture 1.5 albums on the web using the built-in Apache server in Mac OS X.

WebGem 1.1.3 is a nifty tool that you can download for free and serve up to 200 iPhoto and/or Aperture images. If you want unlimited photo serving, the registered version cost only $15.

Setup couldn't be easier. Download WebGem, add it to your Applications folder, launch it, open the Preferences to determine which iPhoto and Aperture albums you want to serve, set the limits on maximum image size you're going to make available, and click the Start Server button. WebGem uses your built-in Apache server and makes your albums available through port 9999. If you don't know what your IP address is, go to the Sharing Preference pane, click on the Services tab, click on Personal Web Sharing, and read your IP address at the bottom of the pane. It should be something like 172:18:1:4. All you have to do is add :9999 to that address, and you can view the shared albums on any Mac, Windows, or Linux computer. (That address is what you send to those you want to make these pages available to. For example, it could be http://172:18:1:4:9999).

If you want to make the full size version of the image available to viewers, such as clients for your photography, check the "Allow full size downloads" box in WebGem's preferences. A "Download Full Size Photo" link will be added to each photo page than enables viewers to grab the high resolution version.

Aperture 1.5 users can serve their images too, right along side the iPhoto albums. The key is to use the previews function in Aperture 1.5. Once you generate previews for the albums you want to serve, they are available through WebGem.

I recommend that you also turn on Mac OS X's Firewall if you're going to serve images from your personal computer via WebGem. To make sure others can access the photos (but not the rest of the information on your Mac), add Port 9999 to the "Allow" menu. Go to the Sharing Preference pane, click on the Firewall tab, click on the New button, add Port 9999, then turn on the Firewall. You can now safely serve photos from your Mac.

WebGem provides search (via keywords) and organization via your published albums. Users do have to use the browser back button to go from enlarged images back to thumbnails, but aside from that minor inconvenience, this application works great.

I think WebGem is one of those truly handy shareware applications for Mac OS X photographers. Who would have thought that photo enthusiasts would be able to set up an Apache server with a photo database backend in just minutes? It's a beautiful thing...

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If you have plans to attend PhotoPlus Expo and would like to add a fun dimension to your trip, I'm looking for a podcaster who can interview a handful of scheduled photographers.

I won't be able to attend PPE this year because I'll be teaching photography in the Eastern Caribbean that week. (I'll have lots to report from there, so stay tuned!)

So there's a real opportunity for someone who is handy with the mic and enjoys talking shop with other photographers. (We can provide you with the recording equipment.) If you're interested and want to learn more, please contact me ASAP by writing to derrick(at)thedigitalstory(dot com). You can always find the link on our Submissions page. In the subject line, put "PhotoPlus Expo - Your Name."

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Adobe announced a minor update to its current beta version of Lightroom. This update, available now, includes the following:

- Resolves external editor conflict
- Corrects export orientation for constrained portrait images
- Resolves missing image error with large web galleries
- Provides Photo Binder platform compatibility on optical media

You can download beta 4.1 at the Adobe Labs site. It is available for both Mac and Windows users. This build expires on Feb. 28, 2007.

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Mod Your Flash with a Cardboard Grid

Gut Mann's Cardboard Grid

One of the problems with location flash photography is that you often only want to light part of the scene (the subject) and downplay (but not eliminate) the area surrounding the person. There are lots of expensive accessories to achieve this effect. But I just read a post on the Strobist (scroll down the page until you get to the post titled "Free and So Easy: DIY Grid Spots for Your Flash"), where contributor Gut Mann designed a nifty grid for your flash head out of corrugated cardboard. Using this DIY attachment, you can create professional looking environmental portraits that emphasizes the subject, yet downplays the environment. Complete assembly instructions are detailed on the site.

You can get a rough feel for the effect by looking at an assignment shoot with a snoot by the Strobist. If you're a location portrait shooter, this is definitely a trick you want in your camera bag.

Photo from the Strobist website.

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iPhoto 6

I've been doing a lot of iPhoto talks lately, and I've noticed that a lot of people don't know how to preview the images on their memory card using iPhoto 6. I first read about this trick on MacOSXhints, and it's pretty handy.

When you have your camera or card reader connected to your Mac with iPhoto open, hit the Return key twice in succession. iPhoto 6 will allow you to preview the images on your memory card. You can even drag specific pictures to the Source pane.

Once you've finished previewing your pictures, all you have to do is click on the Library folder (or anywhere else really), then back to your Camera Icon in the Source pane, to upload your pictures the normal way.

It's really a handy way to see what's on your memory card before adding the whole enchilada to your iPhoto library.

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Canon Rebel XTi

Canon "played it safe" with the latest version of the Canon Digital Rebel 400D (XTi), according to a recent review in Digital Photography Review. But playing it safe isn't always a bad thing, because the latest Rebel earned a Highly Recommended rating.

So what do you get for your hard earned money? The new Rebel features a 10.1 megapixel CMOS sensor with improved microlens array, excellent dynamic range, nine point auto focus sensor, large, bright, 2.5" LCD monitor with 160° viewing angles, three settings for long exposure noise reduction, and a new dust reduction system.

Pretty good stuff for a camera that is $100 less than its predesessor -- $849 on Amazon with 18-55mm lens. If you want to shoot RAW, this is a camera to consider.

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Looking for Aperture Bloggers

Aperture 1.1

Are you a profession or serious amateur photographer using Aperture? Would you like to be part of a high profile weblog that focuses on Aperture and digital photography? If the answer is yes to both of these questions, send an email to derrick(at)thedigitalstory(dotcom). Put "Aperture Blogger - Your Name" in the subject line, and describe why you'd like to join this blogging community in the body of the email. If you have any links that I should see, include those too.

Deadline for this "Call for Aperture Bloggers" is Wed. Oct. 18. So if you're interested, don't procrastinate. Send that email today.

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2

This is a camera that many serious photographers want to buy, but may be leery of because of the image processing shortcomings in the first model, the LX1.

The latest release, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2, once again tempts our willpower. It has a 4X Leica zoom with image stabilizer (that is 28mm on the wide end), true 16:9 format option, 10 megapixels of resolution, 2.8 inch LCD monitor, beautiful metal body, RAW mode, ISO range up to 1600, and a brand new Venus III image processing engine.

The bottom line with this beautiful machine seems to be this... if you shoot at ISO 100, or even 200, you're going to be pretty happy with the results. But once you start pushing it to ISO 400 and higher, you're going to have some image noise to deal with. For more details about this, take a look at the review on photographyblog. If grappling with the noise at higher ISOs isn't a deal breaker for you, this is a gorgeous camera with a Leica lens that you can buy for around $500.

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iView Media Pro

iView Multimedia has released an update to its flagship digital asset management program, iView MediaPro. In today's press release, iView says that it's increased performance for both Mac and Windows versions. This is heartening, since this is the first update to the popular application since the Microsoft acquisition. Many had feared that Microsoft would eliminate Mac support for the product. This release is a good sign for Mac users of iView Media Pro.

Download iView MediaPro 3.1.2 at www.iview-multimedia.com/downloads/index.php. This update is free for registered users of MediaPro 3.x. This update works best with the latest version of QuickTime (7.1.3) from Apple, which is strongly recommended to both Windows and Macintosh users.

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Epson R2400

One of the biggest challenges in digital photography is producing clean, accurate prints using your desktop printer. How do you tackle color management, screen calibration, printing resolution, and all the other variables that befuddles most photographers between capture and output?

Fortunately for us, Ben Long has published a four part printing tutorial on creativepro.com. In this series, Ben covers:

  • Part 1: Selecting a photo printer.
  • Part 2: Color management, soft proofing, make your first print.
  • Part 3: Paper profiling.
  • Part 4: Paper profiles, RIPs.

This is a series I highly recommend.

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