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Reykjavik Nights

Reykjavik Night

None of us have slept since Wednesday night, and it's about 1:30 am Saturday here in Reykjavik, Iceland. The sky is finally darkening. I took this image around 11:30 pm, and there was still plenty of light.

We had a great gathering tonight, beginning with an amazing slideshow presentation by master photographer Sigurgeir Sigurjonsson, followed by a three-course meal at the SAS Radission 1919 Hotel. All of the photographers had a chance to talk shop, compare travel notes, and get to know a bit more about each other.

In the morning we'll leave the city and head out to the country. But now it's time for a few hours sleep, for soon it will be light again.

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Iceland Adventure Begins

promo_iceland.gif

I'm at SFO about ready to get on a plane for Reykjavik as part of the Adobe Lightroom Adventure, and will be depending on my Canon 5D, MacBook Pro, and Adobe Lightroom to handle all of my photography needs. The days are 22 hours long, and I plan on working most of that time. (Although, I hear that the Runtur - pub crawl - in Reykjavik is must-do. And since I'm a people shooter, I think I can justify immersing myself in the experience.)

When I return, I'll have a very good idea of how well this version of Lightroom performs in the field under real shooting conditions. We'll be posting our shots, comments, and hopefully some video on the official Lightroom Adventure site. I'll also post more personal anecdotes, along with audio, here on The Digital Story. So stay tuned throughout the week for updates.

We return from the Adventure the week WWDC begins. I'm speaking at the San Francisco Apple Store on Wednesday, August 9 at 5pm. If you want to see some of what I shot, you might want to drop by. In the meantime, standby, I'm about to board the plane...

How to Make a Digital Flipbook

The Bridge flipbook

If you have QuickTime on Mac or Windows, you can make a cool digital flipbook in just minutes. "What the heck is that?" you say. Well, it's a sequence of photographs played in rapid succession and saved as a QuickTime movie. You can see for yourself with the flipbook I created called The Bridge.

First, Take the Shots

All I did was catch a ride across the Golden Gate Bridge with my Canon Digital Rebel XT pointed at the passing bicyclists. I had the camera set to burst mode so I could fire off a series of shots quickly. I took pictures from one end of the bridge to the other.

Next, Sequence the Shots

I then uploaded the shots to a folder and launched QuickTime Pro. If you don't have the Pro version of QuickTime, it's $29 from Apple and available upon purchase. It has all sorts of nifty editing and presentation tools. The function we use for this project is called Image Sequence.

Image Sequence Settings

Go to File > Open Image Sequence... and navigate to the first image in your folder of shots. Click Open, and you'll be presented with the Image Sequence Settings, as shown here. I usually select "2 frames per second" from the pop up window because I like things to move along at a good clip. But you can pick any setting that suits you.

Finally, Add a Little Audio

Click OK, and QuickTime will build your digital flipbook and open it in a 640 wide window. All you have to do now is add the audio. I usually grab a free loop out of GarageBand and make it as long as the flipbook I've just created. Once you've exported the file out of GarageBand (or whatever audio tool you use including QuickTime itself), the add it to your flipbook.

Make sure the scrub head is positioned at the beginning of the movie, then go to Edit > Add to movie... You audio is now positioned as a sound track to accompany your flipbook. Go to File > Save As, give you completed work a name, and click the radio button "save as self-contained movie." You're finished!

The version of The Bridge I posted here was exported as iPod compatible so I can include it with my other whacky projects on my iPod video.

Give it a try... it's a really quite fun.

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SE W810i

Maybe your next point and shoot won't be just a camera, but a camera phone. Until recently, no self-respecting photographer would even consider using a camera phone instead of a dedicated digicam, but times are changing.

I've been testing the Sony Ericsson W810i, that includes among other features, a 2-megapixel (1632x1224) digital camera with autofocus, f-2.8 lens, variable ISO, white balance adjustment, macro mode, assist light, self timer, burst mode, and panaroma mode. It also includes an amazingly good video capture (174×144, 10fps, .3gp, 8KHz mono). QuickTime handles the files with ease.

I can save all of this data to a Memory Stick PRO Duo memory card that comes in sizes up to 2 GBs. The W810i comes with a 512 MB Memory Stick. And the best part is, the card is easily accessible from a side slot.

You can make photo quality 5x7 prints with this device, and up to 8x10s are possible. And they look good! Plus, it's a phone, Walkman MP3 player, and FM radio... all bundled up in a package that slides easily in your top shirt pocket.

The SE W810i works great with Cingular's GSM/GPRS network. Cingular isn't offering it on their site yet, but you can buy unlocked W810i handsets on the open market, then put your Cingular phonecard in it. Going price for the W810i is around $380.

Camera phones may be coming of age...

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DIY Photo Studio for Cheap

DIY Studio

"Small flash gear is especially well suited for shooting macro shots and other small-object still life and product shots," says David on his Strobist blog. "And this little studio in a box does not even technically need a flash to work its wonders. Any bright lamp will do if you are shooting digital, because it is very easy to balance for tungsten light and get the color balance spot on."

"This is basically a light tent, albeit a very controllable one. It pretty much creates beautiful light be default. Frankly, it's very difficult to get it wrong. This is one of the most useful DIY gadgets you could make - especially when you consider the single-digit price tag."

You can find out all the details by reading, How To: DIY $10 Macro Photo Studio.

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Aperture Essential Training

Looking to get started with Aperture? I've collaborated with Scott Bourne and Lynda.com to publish, Aperture 1.1 Essential Training.

In over 6 hours of QuickTime movies that you can watch from the comfort of your computer, Scott and I walk you through all of the essential functions of Aperture 1.1. In some of the sections I teach alone, and others Scott and I work together to make sure you get a solid foundation for Apple's breakthrough photo management application.

You can try some of the movies for free or subscribe to the full training for as little as $25. I'll also have a DVD available on this site soon.

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50mm Nikkor

"My favorite lens is the Nikon 50mm f/1.8," says Matt Jorgensen. "My dad suggested that I get a 50mm lens to complement the kit lens on my Nikon D70. I took him up on it mostly because he's usually right about most things and the lens only cost $99."

"I soon found myself turning to it quite frequently for candids and low-light shots. It is fantastic for portraits of my kids when I want a shallow depth of field (see attached shot of my son Lucas).

"I also think it improves my photography because it is a fixed focal length lens. I tend to get too caught up in determining the best focal length with zoom lenses and this simple lens seems to make me think more about composition and forces me to move around more. In short, I think everyone should go out and get a low-end 50mm lens. I use mine for both digital and film (Nikon N75 - the attached shot was taken on film)."

Lucas

"For me the extra speed of an f/1.4 lens isn't worth the added cost. An f/1.8 50mm lens costs under $100, is much faster than any kit zoom lens, is small enough to bring along just about anywhere, and will definitely improve your photography."

To tell us about your favorite lens, all you have to do is send an email to derrick@thedigitalstory.com with "Your Name: My Favorite Lens" in the subject line. Provide a paragraph or two about why you like your favorite lens so much. Include the brand, focal length, maximum aperture, and camera body you mount it on. If you have an anecdote about your lens, please include it. You may also submit a picture you took with the lens to illustrate why you like it so much.

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Fuji FinePix F20

The new Fuji FinePix F20 has an incredible array of features including 6.3 MP CCD, image stabilization, 2.5" LCD, extended battery life, 30fps movie capture, 10MB internal memory, and ISO up to 2000. All of this in a compact that will slide into your shirt pocket.

Two of the features that really caught my eye were the i-Flash technology that does a much better job of identifying scenes and exposing them properly with the flash. I think this will have a great impact on party and wedding reception snapshots. I also like the Dual Shot Mode that takes two pictures with a single press of the shutter button: one with flash on and the other with natural lighting. Then you choose which one you like the best.

Add the excellent Fujinon 3x zoom and their new RP Processor II, and I think this compact will be a real winner. Fuji says it will be available in August. They haven't announced the price yet.

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Sigma Macro Lens

Sigma's new 70mm macro lens is approximately 105mm on most APS-sensor DSLRs. Since it focuses from infinity to really close up (1:1 macro), it can serve double duty for portraits too.

Initially it will be available for Canon, Nikon, and Sigma mounts (probably in August). But not long after you'll be able to get the lens for Sony and Pentax DSLRs too. It's a handsome lens with a 62mm front filter ring, super multi-layer lens coating, special low dispersion glass, and an included lens hood.

Street price for the Sigma 70mm should be around $400, which is reasonable for a high performance macro lens that can be used for portrait work also.

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Nikon Capture NX

When Nikon made a big splash at PMA 2006 with its Capture NX software, I was throughly impressed. Unlike applications we typically see from camera manufacturers, Capture NX looks and behaves like finely-crafted software made by engineers who really know what they're doing. Actually, that's the case. Nik software has teamed up with Nikon to produce a real breakthrough for Nikon shooters.

Capture NX brings nondestructive image editing to the NEF format (Nikon's RAW). You can also edit JPEGs and TIFFs with Capture NX, although to avoid compromising the quality of those pictures, you'll need to save those images under a different file name, or simply covert the files into Nikon's NEF format.

One of Capture NX's real innovations is U Point technology. Quite simply, you point to an area of the image you want to edit, then adjust sliders right there on the screen until you're satisfied with the results. This approach is very intuitive and enables you to work quickly.

Windows users need to have XP or 2000 Professional to run Capture NX. Mac users need OS X 10.3.9 or later. Capture NX is not Universal Binary, so it will not run on a Mac/Intel processor. [Update, I should have said run "natively" on a Mac/Intel processor.] As you may have guessed, you can't edit other types of RAW files with this software, although any flavor of JPEG or TIFF is welcome.

For a limited time, you can download a 30-day free trial from Nikon's Software Download page. When released later in July, Capture NX will cost $149.95 for the full package or $89.95 as an upgrade.

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