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Cruise View

I often refer to The Digital Story as a virtual camera club. Indeed, an online meeting place for the exchange of ideas is a beautiful thing, and I know many of you agree. But there are times when working face to face in an exotic location is the ultimate photography experience. I have such an opportunity coming up at the end of October, and you can join me if you wish.

I've put together a digital photography workshop with my friend Ben Long, and we're taking it on the high seas to the Western Caribbean. This Geek Cruise (Oct. 28 - Nov. 4, 2006) features stops in Key West, Florida; Belize City, Belize; Sano Tomoas De Castillo, Guatemala; and Cozumel, Mexico. The sailing begins and ends in Tampa, Florida. What's extra special about this trip is that we have a full-fledged photography workshop included in the trip. Here's a quick overview of the topics we'll cover.

  • Location Shooting Techniques
  • Introduction to Shooting RAW in the Field
  • Introduction to Adobe Bridge and Photoshop Workflow
  • Introduction to the iPhoto 6 and Photoshop Elements 4 Workflow
  • Introduction to the Aperture Workflow
  • Photography Clinic
  • Exposure Techniques for Minimum Post Production
  • Photoshop for Photographers
  • Mastering the 80%: Image Editing in iPhoto 6, Aperture, and Elements 4

We have three instructors for this week-long workshop: writer, photographer Ben Long, Macworld Magazine editor Kelly Turner, and myself, Derrick Story.

We've integrated the workshop with the days in port to provide a full-bodied photography adventure. While at sea, we get together in classrooms and learn techniques in preparation for our excursions in the Western Caribbean. Then, when we return to the ship, we compare our experiences, fine tune our techniques, and prepare for the next adventure. We'll even have open camera clinics where you can ask any question and have us help you with your equipment.

Members of the Digital Story audience will receive signed photo books by me. I'll also have a special "The Digital Story" birds of a feather session where we can get together to meet one another and talk about grab shots, photo assignments, and other virtual camera club topics. I think this will be tons of fun.

If you're interested in a late-season photo vacation this year, take a look at the Geek Cruise home page for complete information about the trip, the photo workshop, and the other sessions offered on this cruise. As a tempting teaser, you might want to peek at some of my photos from the Mexico cruise. You'll see a mix of location shots combined with the images from ship life while at sea. It's a powerful experience.

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How to Share Your Slideshow

iDisk

Once you've made your slideshow, how do you share it with others? You may want to enter it in the FotoMagico Slideshow Showcase, post it on your web site, or make it available for download. Here are a few tips for sharing your video masterpieces.

iDisk and .Mac

If you have a .Mac account, this is the easiest place to post your slideshow. In the Finder, select "iDisk" from the "Go" menu and choose "My iDisk" (Go > iDisk > My iDisk). Your iDisk will appear on your Desktop. Double-click it to open it.

You have a couple of options at this point. If you want to make it available for download, drag your slideshow into the "Public" folder. It will take a while for it to finish uploading, often 20 minutes or more, so you can go grab a cup of coffee. Now, all you have to do is tell people the name of the file and the name of your .Mac account, and they can download the movie out of your public folder. This is a legitimate way to enter your presentation in the Slideshow Showcase. I think this is the best method of all.

You can also make a movie web page to show off your work. Instead of using the "Public" folder, find the "Movies" folder and drag your slideshow into it. Once it has uploaded, you can go to the .Mac site, log in, and click on the "Homepage" tab. In the "Create a Page" section, click on "iMovie." Choose a template from the offerings. Then when the template is loaded, click on the "Choose" button. You'll see your slideshow in the list of movies. Select it, then publish the movie page. You can now send this url to friends and family, and they can watch the slideshow right there in their browsers. This is also a legitimate way to enter your presentation in the Slideshow Showcase.

File Sharing Service - Mac or Windows

There are free services that allow you to upload your slideshows to a server, then the service sends an email to your recipient with a link so that person can go download the slideshow.

In my post, Big File Transfer Winner, I list a couple of these services and how they perform. My two favorite free services are DropSend and YouSendIt. You can use any of these to enter the Slideshow Showcase.

Burn to Disk

If you don't have any bandwidth for electronic transfer, you can always burn your slideshow to disk and mail it. All you have to do send an email to questions@thedigitalstory.com, and I'll email you back with a mailing address that you can use to send your disk to.

This tip is to help you prepare your entry for the FotoMagico Slideshow Showcase. Submit your Entry Form today (to get on the books), then start working on your presentation. Deadline to submit your presentation is June 15. Don't delay!

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sony_dslr.jpg

Sony's partnership with Minolta has yielded the Alpha DSLR-A100 system -- its first Digital SLR. The new camera features a 10.2 MP CCD image sensor. Sony is offering 19 lenses, plus the camera will be compatible with Minolta-mount lenses.

Sony has brought many of its own innovations to this camera, such as its Super SteadyShot image stabilization and dynamic range optimization, combined Minolta-type brilliance including Eye Start AF and honeycomb pattern metering. The A100 accepts CF cards and Sony's Memory Stick.

The A100 captures in both JPEG and RAW formats. Because of the APS-sized sensor, the camera does have a 1.5x image magnification. The Sony DSLR will list for $899, and is expected to ship before the end of July.

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iView MediaPro 3.1

iView Multimedia has released the latest version of their robust cross-platform digital asset management application. iView MediaPro 3.1 is now Universal Binary for the Mac (runs on the new Intel-powered Macs) and runs natively on Windows computers.

This latest version features a new Notepad Tool that enables communication between a MediaPro user and his/her client. The client simply drags and drops selected catalog items onto the Notepad palette, adds comments and then e-mails the Notepad file. This Notepad file imports easily into the creative professional’s original catalog where he or she can view the client’s feedback and execute the appropriate actions.

You can download iView and try it free for 21 days.

FotoMagico Review on MyMac.com

MyMac.com says: It's here, it works, it's affordable, and it comes with timely tech support. It's easy to learn, very easy to edit and export, and really impressive in its final output. It is FotoMagico, dynamic audio slide show software that will have your family, friends, students, teachers, or business associates all saying: "Wow, that was great. Do you think I can learn how to make a show like yours?" in its review of FotoMagico 1.5.

Have you prepared your entry for the FotoMagico Slideshow Showcase? Submit your Entry Form, then start working on your presentation. Deadline is June 15. Don't delay!

And don't forget... if you wish to use FotoMagico to create your show, you can get a $10 discount off the software by entering "Digital Story" in the discount code box. Visit the order page and select FotoMagico. You'll be able to enter a coupon code at the first checkout page. The code is set to "Digital Story". Once the code is input, and the Checkout button is clicked, the $10 discount will be reflected on the final order total page.

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FotoMagico

May 30, 2006 -- For immediate release

Contact: Derrick Story
The Digital Story--New Tools for the Creative Mind
(707) 546-8322
derrick@thedigitalstory.com

Aspiring documentarists invited to enter the FotoMagico Slideshow Showcase

Final two weeks for creating eye-catching slideshows before the top entries are shared with the world.

The deadline for submitting work in the FotoMagico Slideshow Showcase is Monday, June 15. The showcase, sponsored by Boinx Software and run by The Digital Story, first helps photographers master the art of producing the perfect slideshow. Then, the best of the entries will be showcased to the world on The Digital Story beginning June 27.

"Slideshow software has really evolved, so if you haven't looked at it lately, you should," explains Derrick Story, author of numerous photography books and creator of The Digital Story. "A good example is FotoMagico by Boinx Software. The software lets you produce shows as powerful as some of Ken Burn's earlier work, but with much greater ease."

FotoMagico is available for $79USD, or on The Digital Story site for $69USD (See bottom of page for discount code).

Forms and showcase rules are available at The Digital Story. Entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. PDT, Monday June 15 to be eligible for display.

The Digital Story makes photography, music, and filmmaking more enjoyable through its regularly updated, educational blog posts, podcasts, and videos. The site is dedicated to showing visitors simple tips and techniques that help the digital camera become an extension of a person's vision and a tool for expression. The Digital Story can be contacted at questions@thedigitalstory.com.

Boinx Software is a trademark of GeBE Computer and Peripherie GmbH. Based in Munich, Germany, Boinx Software develops and publishes fun and easy-to-use applications for the creative user.

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DP Review: Canon PowerShot S3 IS

Canon S3 IS

DP Review has just published an in-depth report on the tantalizing new Canon PowerShot S3 IS. The one feature that catches everyone's eye is the 12X optical zoom... and it's a good one too. Canon has bundled image stabilization with this high magnification creating a terrific "long range" shooter in a compact body.

The swing out "tilt n swivel" screen is great for capturing at a variety of angles, and is a plus for movie mode. Another great feature, in my opinion, is that the camera is powered by 4 AA NiMH cells instead of a proprietary Lithium battery. In an emergency on the road, you can always substitute regular AAs if your NiMHs run out of gas. Canon does not, however, provide batteries with the camera, so add this to your budget.

On the downside, there's no RAW shooting mode. I'm disappointed by this omission. This is a top quality camera that could be used for assignment. The sensor provides 6 megapixels of resolution, which is plenty for most situations. The lack of a RAW mode hamstrings the S3's potential.

That complaint aside, this is an amazing camera that is bound to draw lustful glances from any serious amateur. You can purchase the S3 IS for about $460. That's a lot of camera for the money... especially in such a handsome, compact, rugged body.

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iMovie Voice Record

Voiceover adds a professional touch to slideshows. But you may not be ready to tackle new audio programs just to get a simple voiceover track. Even GarageBand seems daunting when you're in a hurry. Fear not, iMovie is a great tool for recording voiceover tracks that you can add to your slideshows created in FotoMagico or other applications. And the best part... it's really, really easy.

First, create a new project in iMovie. Then click on the "Media" button (as shown above) and choose the "Audio" tab. Press the record button (as shown above) and start talking into your Mac's microphone. You might want to play your slideshow in FotoMagico as your talk so you can time the audio to the pictures.

Once you finish recording, go to File > Export and click on the "QuickTime" icon. Choose Compress movie for "Expert Settings" from the popup menu, then click the "Share" button. You'll get another dialog box that lets you choose where you put the file (Desktop) and the export format. Choose "Movie to QuickTime Movie" from the Export popup at the bottom of the dialog box. Click the "Options" button to reveal a new settings box. Once there, uncheck "Video" as shown in the illustration. Make sure "Sound" is checked and click the Settings... button. Use these settings:

Export Settings

iMovie will place the audio file on your Desktop. Now, all you have to do is open FotoMagico and go to Slideshow > Add Audio... and choose your voiceover file. Like magic, your slideshow now has a voiceover track. This procedure might read a little complicated here, but it is truly simple and can be accomplished in minutes if you follow the steps.

This tip is to help you prepare your entry for the FotoMagico Slideshow Showcase. Submit your Entry Form today (to get on the books), then start working on your presentation. Deadline to submit Entry Forms is May 30, and your presentation itself is due by June 15. Don't delay!

And don't forget... if you wish to use FotoMagico to create your show, you can get a $10 discount off the software by entering "Digital Story" in the discount code box. Visit the order page and select FotoMagico. You'll be able to enter a coupon code at the first checkout page. The code is set to "Digital Story". Once the code is input, and the Checkout button is clicked, the $10 discount will be reflected on the final order total page.

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Preview for Raw

Many Mac OS X "Tiger" users don't realize that they have a powerful Raw converter bundled with their operating system. Every 10.4 Mac comes with a handy application called Preview that most folks think of only as a PDF viewer. Even Apple touts its PDF capabilities without going into much detail about its hidden powers. The most notable of these lesser known features is Preview's ability to decode Raw files and convert them to other formats.

It's true. You don't need Photoshop Camera Raw. You don't need Aperture. If you want to open a common Raw formatted image, just drop it on the Preview icon on your Dock. Preview will decode the Raw file and display it on screen. But wait, things get even better. Go to Tools > Image Correction and you're greeted with a handy set of adjustments that include Exposure, Gamma, Saturation, Contrast, Brightness, Sharpness, and even Sepia -- all of which you can use for manipulating your Raw file.

Would you like to read the metadata embedded in the file header? Go to Tools > Get Info and click on the Details tab. Tons of image data are revealed including dimensions, aperture, shutter speed, color space, and even the camera model used to capture the shot.

When you're ready to convert the file, go to File > Save As and choose among four different formats: Photoshop, Tiff, PNG, and PDF. With the first three options, you can choose between 8-bits or 16-bits per channel. And if you choose the PDF format, you have more options including file encryption -- that's right, you can assign a password to your image to protect it from prying eyes.

File Encryption

And yes, there's still more. You can rotate the Raw file, flip it, assign a Colorsync profile, then print the image. If you go to View > Customize Toolbar, you can add a cropping tool and even a Scale resizer. So not only can you zoom in and out with the Zoom tools, you can set the numeric amount to scale the image, such as 25 percent. Then crop it if you wish.

Preview is an amazing photo editing application that's right there under your nose. If you haven't done so already, I recommend that you add it to your Dock, and use Preview whenever you have to make quick edits to a stray Raw file, or to save it to another format. For many simple jobs, this tool is faster than Photoshop.

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FotoMagico

I used to resize all of my images to 640x480 before adding them to my slideshows, but that was before zooms and pans were easily included in these presentations. I still crop and resize many of my pictures, but now I take into consideration the resolution needed for zooming and panning. Those images have to be bigger than your finished slideshow dimensions.

For example, let's say your finished presentation is going to be 640x480. But you want to have an image where you zoom in on a portion of the frame, maybe to show some detail. That picture needs to have enough resolution to maintain top quality as you zoom in.

My rule of thumb is that I like to have at least 1280x960, but often I will go 2560x1920 if I think I'm going to zoom in tight. When choosing among candidates for zooming, examine the photo at 100 percent magnification. If the detail looks good, then the image will most likely hold up as you zoom in during the slideshow. Both iPhoto and FotoMagico enable you to create this effect in your presentation. It's not a technique that you want to overuse, but I think a few well-placed zooms or pans give your movies a real professional touch.

This tip is to help you prepare your entry for the FotoMagico Slideshow Showcase. Submit your Entry Form today (to get on the books), then start working on your presentation. Deadline to submit Entry Forms is May 30, and your presentation itself is due by June 15. Don't delay!

And don't forget... iIf you wish to use FotoMagico to create your show, you can get a $10 discount off the software by entering "Digital Story" in the discount code box. Visit the order page and select FotoMagico. You'll be able to enter a coupon code at the first checkout page. The code is set to "Digital Story". Once the code is input, and the Checkout button is clicked, the $10 discount will be reflected on the final order total page.

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