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The Affordable, Dramatic Grid Modifier

Many portrait photographers strive to create very soft, diffused lighting for their female subjects. And most of the time, this is a good call. But I've discovered that a strong directional light from a grid modifier can produce dramatic effects that diffusers cannot.

grid-modifier.jpg Rogue Grid Modifier was placed to the photographer's left to create the dramatic lighting. Photo by Derrick Story.

And you can do so without spending a lot of money. For example, the The RogueGrid2 Flash Grid 3-in-1 Stacking System for electronic flashes is $39, includes stacking grids and color gels. I used this system with a speedlight to create the portrait above.

The grid was placed to the photographer's left creating a harsh, directional light. A diffused panel was positioned on the right to serve as a fill to soften the shadows and balance the overall effect.

For a weekend project, you can make your own DIY grid modifier. The article, How to Make a DIY Grid Spot Out of Straws With Tape Instead of Glue, shows you step by step how to design a grid for your flash, and for just a few dollars.

You might also be interested in a free eBook from Rocky Nook titled, Rocky Nook's Guide to Flash Terminology. It explains 43 practical flash terms, including Grid, Bounce Flash, Brolly, Cold Shoe, Forced Flash, Gobo, Hot Shoe, Ring Light, and many more. You can keep it as a reference resource on your smartphone or tablet.

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Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO Lens is Sweet

olympus-7-14mm.jpg

One of the benefits of workshops is learning about other photographer's gear. This last weekend I spent some quality time with the Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO Lens mounted on my OM-D E-M5 Mark II. After a few shots, I was reluctant to unmount this beautiful zoom. Here are the basic specs:

  • 14-28mm (35mm Equivalent)
  • Aperture Range: f/2.8 to f/22
  • 3 Aspherical, 1 DSA, 4 ED, 2 HR Elements
  • Anti-Reflection ZERO Coating
  • High-Speed Imager AF with MSC
  • Manual Focus Mechanism (Snap)
  • L-Fn Button for Settings Control
  • Dust, Splash, and Freezeproof Design
  • Rounded 7-Blade Diaphragm

In terms of handling, the 7-14mm PRO is smooth, quiet, and fast. It has a nice heft that balanced wonderfully on the E-M5 II. And the images were terrific.

workshop-lab-sunleaf.jpg Workshop Lab - Captured with the Olympus 7-14mm at f/2.8, 14mm, on an E-M5 Mark II.

The one missing gap I have in my transition to serious Micro Four Thirds photography is pro level super wide zoom. Looks like I better start saving...


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The Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO Lens has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

On today's The Digital Story Photography Podcast: Favorite Hardware from PPE, Interview with Simone Wilson and John Hershey, TDS Fall Photography Workshop Wrap-up - all of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Weekly Update - c't Digital Photography reports: Noteworthy Announcements from PhotoPlus Expo:

Canon has done their part with the G5X (Oct. 13) and a new mirrorless model. They also had a solid printer announcement (Oct. 21). Sony dropped the RX1R II with 42MP sensor and EVF (Oct. 14), and then Leica's cool SL system with Type 601 full-frame mirrorless camera and lenses (Oct. 20) was a great surprise. Sigma piled on with the 20mm f/1.4 (Oct. 16), And I love Fujifilm's unveiling of the weather-sealed 35mm F2 lens and 1.4x teleconverter (Oct. 21).

In other news, "How to make a dead simple DIY speedlight grid" Imaging-Resource reports: "If you're looking for a fun, simple DIY project this week, photographer Isiah Xiong has you covered. In his latest video, shared on YouTube, he shows off a simple way to make a speedlight grid with nothing more than straws, tape, scissors and thick construction paper."

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Story #1 - "Interview with Simone Wilson and John Hershey"

Simone Wilson has authored the beautiful, informative Sonoma Coast book featuring images by herself and TDS member John Hershey. I sit down with Simone and John at the TDS Studio to discuss what it takes to conceive, author, and publish a book.

Story #2 - Wrap-up from the TDS Fall Photography Workshop

We covered everything from color temperature for portraits, to wildlife photography, to shooting landscapes. Here's a brief wrap-up of the just-concluded TDS workshop in Sonoma County.

Story #3 - From the Screening Room - Up and Running with FotoMagico with Richard Harrington. Slideshows are a great way to showcase your favorite photos. FotoMagico is an easy-to-use Mac application for exporting high-quality slideshows in variety of formats, including movies, DVDs, and even standalone iOS apps. FotoMagico lets you combine photos and music as well as add narration, movies, transitions, and movement. In this course, Rich Harrington shows how to set up a new slideshow; customize the display and playback options; enhance the slideshow with layers, graphics, and watermarks; and publish it as a self-contained movie, an iOS app, and as a reel for posting on YouTube or Vimeo.

You can watch Richard in action by visiting lynda.com. And you can sign up for your 7-day free trial by visiting the TDS Screening Room.

Virtual Camera Club News

TDS Workshops 2016

We've had a change at the top spot for week two of the Reserve list with Fall Color in the Eastern Sierra garnering the most reservations. If you're looking for a satisfying photo adventure, take a look at the TDS Workshops Page for more information.

Holiday Note from SizzlPix

5k Ultra High Definition SizzlPix orders received over the next few weeks can be guaranteed to beat the rush and be delivered for the holidays. (a surprise for that person who "has everything.")

For The Digital Story Virtual Camera Club members ... if you'd like additional copies of for gifts, or 5k Ultra High Definition SizzlPix of any other of your images to make spectacular, amazing holiday gifts, order any two SizzlPix to be shipped together, and we'll give you 20% off on the second one! Order any sizes from 18-inches up to a mind-boggling 48 by 72". Imagine -- six feet! and no sacrifice in resolution, luminance, and impact. You can walk up to even the biggest 5k Ultra High Definition SizzlPix as close as you can focus your eyes, and every detail will be there, without grain, noise nor distortion, just as you see it on your phone or pad! Yes, it is like retina display for your wall.

Note from Kevin Miller about Red River Paper - Kevin did some price comparisons with Epson stock, and here's what he found for 10 mil thickness and luster/satin surface:
Epson Ultra Premium Luster 13x19 (from Epson site), #50, $115 or $2.30 per sheet. Thickness 10 mil.
Epson Ultra Premium Luster 13x19 (from B&H Photo), #50, $77.50 or $1.55 per sheet. Thickness 10 mil.
Red River Arctic Polar Satin 13x19, #50, $64.76 or $1.30 per sheet. Thickness 10.5 mil.

Thanks to everyone who recently reviewed the TDS Podcast in iTunes!

BTW: If you're ordering through B&H or Amazon, please click on the respective ad tile under the Products header in the box half way down the 2nd column on thedigitalstory.com. That helps support the site.

Download the Show

In addition to subscribing in iTunes, you can also download the podcast file here (41 minutes). You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. And from those images, I choose the TDS Member Photo of the Day.

Podcast Sponsors

lynda.com - Learn lighting, portraiture, Photoshop skills, and more from expert-taught videos at lynda.com/thedigitalstory.

Red River Paper -- Keep up with the world of inkjet printing, and win free paper, by liking Red River Paper on Facebook.

SizzlPix! - New 5k Ultra High Definition SizzlPix output for your photography. You've never seen your imagery look so good. SizzlPix.com.

Zenfolio If you want your site to look as good as your photos, visit www.zenfolio.com today.

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You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

My passion for photography is renewed every time we gather together for a TDS workshop. The climax of the event is the class slideshow on the final day. Here are some of our favorite images from that presentation.

Heather Kimber - Safari West

Heather-Safari-West.jpg Canon Rebel XS with Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom.

Derrick Story - Safari West

Derrick-Story-Safari-West Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II with Olympus PRO 40-150mm f/2.8 zoom.

Jennifer Hobbs - Lambert Bridge, Dry Creek Sonoma County

Jenni-Lambert-Bridge Canon 7D with 28-75mm zoom, converted to B&W in Lightroom.

Larry Borreson - Safari West

Larry-Borreson-Safari-West OM-D E-M5 with Olympus M.75-300mm F4.8-6.7 II.

Philip Swenson - Dry Creek, Sonoma County

Phil-Swenson-Dry-Creek Nikon D7200 with Tokina 100mm f/2.8 prime.

Larry Borreson - Workshop Group Shot

Larry-workshop-group-shot.jpg Panasonic GH4 with Lumix Vario 12-35mm F/2.8 zoom on a tripod.

Join Us in 2016

We have a terrific season lined up for 2016. You can join us by visiting the TDS Workshops page, then use the Send Me Info form to get on the Reserve List for your favorite event. Spending time with your peers and capturing great images will energize your photography too.

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Highlights from PhotoPlus Expo

photoplus-expo.png

The announcements have been steady from PhotoPlus Expo, but no real blockbusters. This seems a bit odd considering this is a non-Photokina year. But what we do have is rather interesting.

Canon has done their part with the G5X (Oct. 13) and a new mirrorless model. They also had a solid printer announcement (Oct. 21). Sony dropped the RX1R II with 42MP sensor and EVF (Oct. 14), and then Leica's cool SL system with Type 601 full-frame mirrorless camera and lenses (Oct. 20) was a great surprise. Sigma piled on with the 20mm f/1.4 (Oct. 16), And I love Fujifilm's unveiling of the weather-sealed 35mm F2 lens and 1.4x teleconverter (Oct. 21).

So even though we haven't seen the screaming headlines like notable other years, there seems to be a little something for everyone. Wish I was there to see it in person.

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Do you have a favorite announcement from PPE? You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

Our first podcast was in the Fall of 2005. Now over 500 Episodes Later, we're more dedicated than ever. You can help support our independent online publishing in a few ways.

support-online-pub-horz-rec.jpg

Pledge Through Patreon

Patreon is the easiest way to support The Digital Story, The Nimble Photographer, and theAnalogstory, all with just one click of a button, and for as little as $5 a month. Visit our page at patreon.com/thedigitalstory and click on Become a Patron. It's that easy. And as a thank you for your support, you will have access to the exclusive The Nimble Photographer Podcast - Season 1. These shows will be available only to Patreon members in 2016. We think you will enjoy them.

Become an Independent Online Supporter - Single Contribution

As an individual who believes in small business publishing, you can contribute by Becoming an Independent Online Supporter. The Digital Story, The Nimble Photographer, and theAnalogstory are solely owned and operated by Derrick Story. This is his day job. Contributing only takes a minute, but helps provide toward a year's worth of content, not only for the current publishing, but to bring to life the new ideas in the hopper.

Podcast Sponsorship

Sponsors of the weekly podcast receive much more than the typical canned ad spots. The Digital Story gets behind its sponsors and explains to listeners the benefits and uniqueness of their product or service. Sponsorship includes informative story spots on the podcast, ad tiles on the TheDigitalStory.com, and short blurbs on social media sites.

Our goal is to do this in a way that does not alienate the listener. Product mentions contain useful information. They are published in the second half of the show so the audience first hears the top stories of the week, not ad placements. And we feature sponsors who have products and services that we believe are interesting and helpful to our audience.

Sponsors can sign up for a single show, but we recommend a bundle of four that includes a discount. You can learn more about becoming a sponsor by writing Derrick at: derrick@thedigitalstory.com.

Our Thank You

By becoming a supporter of The Nimble Photographer, The Digital Story, and theAnalogstory, you're helping to ensure the steady flow of quality content. Our endeavor is independent, honest, and focused on the enjoyment of photography and storytelling. We ask that you renew your support each year, and we thank you for your faith in our efforts.

No self-respecting shooter wants to be caught carrying a selfie stick. But the new Manfrotto Compact Xtreme 2-in-1 Monopod and Pole ($45) just might be the respectable solution that we've been waiting for.

manfrotto-pole.jpg

The Compact Xtreme is a combination of a Manfrotto monopod and what the company calls a "pole." This dual personality adapts to a variety of situations, and works in both modes for mirrorless, compact, and action cameras.

Essentially, what they've done is create a lightweight, compact monopod that retracts to a minimum of 17.34", but can be extended to a maximum of 53.19". It weighs in at 0.62 pounds.

The real trick is that they put a universal 1/4" thread at both ends (with protective covers). So you can attach a camera to either end and extend the pole. Since it's lightweight, you can hold it with one arm when it's in "pole mode," or steady it with the ground when it's a monopod.

The kit includes a small aluminum ball head and GoPro adapter. And when collapsed, the Xtreme should fit in many camera bags or easily attach to the outside. The Manfrotto Compact Xtreme looks like a nifty solution for photographers on the go who disdain the traditional selfie stick.


Nimble Photographer Logo

The Manfrotto Compact Xtreme has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

Today on The Digital Story Photography Podcast - Interview with Sony Artisan Brian Matiash, Adjustable Color Temperature LED Lighting, and Drone Registration - all of this and more with Derrick Story.

Weekly Update - DP Review reports: FAA reportedly developing mandatory drone registration system: The U.S. government may soon require most drones to be registered, according to the Associated Press. Sources speaking on the matter state the FAA is working with unspecified industry and government officials to create a registration system. While the exact requirements aren't known, it is believed small and toy drones will not require registration.

The registration requirement would help officials track operators who do not follow the appropriate regulations. The FAA reportedly wants the registration requirement implemented before Christmas, as it is anticipated hundreds of thousands of drones will be sold. The FAA is less concerned with lightweight drones that can't fly above a few hundred feet, as they're not as risky as heavier and more powerful drones.

In other news, "Live GIF app easily turns your iPhone's Live Photos into GIFs and videos" Imaging-Resource reports: "Rather than relying on the support of a few social networks, Live GIF lets you easily turn your photo/video hybrid into an animated GIF or video to share with the world across social media.

The process is simple. Open Live GIF, select the Live Photo you want to convert, choose whether you want it as a GIF or video file, and you're done. Saving and sharing is done via iOS' baked-in share sheet."

dracast-led-panel-front.jpg

Story #1 - "Adjustable Color Temperature LED Lighting"

I've been testing the Dracast LED500 Pro Bi-Color LED Light and have found it amazing for my location photo shoot assignments because of its variable color setting from 3200K to 5600K. Here's how it works.

Story #2 - Interview with Sony Artisan Brian Matiash

Brian is an accomplished photographer who now uses Sony mirrorless cameras for his work. In this discussion, we talk about the switch to mirrorless, Sony cameras, and the ever-changing photo industry.

Story #3 - Uploading Directly from Lightroom to Zenfolio

There are two plug-ins available to connect your Lightroom workflow to Zenfolio. The first is ZExport-to-Zenfolio by Jeffrey Friedl and the other is Photo Upload Zenfolio by New P Products, which allows you to upload your photos from either Lightroom's publish services or from the Export window.

There are also connectors for Eye-Fi, Photo Mechanic, and Windows Live Photo Gallery. You can find out more at the Uploading Photos page on zenfolio.com.

Virtual Camera Club News

TDS Workshops 2016

The Reserve List is off to a great start, with the Pt. Reyes National Seashore event garnering the most entries the first week. The August 2016 workshop will be our first visit to this location. If you're looking for a satisfying summer adventure, take a look at the TDS Workshops Page for more information.

Holiday Note from SizzlPix

5k Ultra High Definition SizzlPix orders received over the next few weeks can be guaranteed to beat the rush and be delivered for the holidays. (a surprise for that person who "has everything.")

For The Digital Story Virtual Camera Club members ... if you'd like additional copies of for gifts, or 5k Ultra High Definition SizzlPix of any other of your images to make spectacular, amazing holiday gifts, order any two SizzlPix to be shipped together, and we'll give you 20% off on the second one! Order any sizes from 18-inches up to a mind-boggling 48 by 72". Imagine -- six feet! and no sacrifice in resolution, luminance, and impact. You can walk up to even the biggest 5k Ultra High Definition SizzlPix as close as you can focus your eyes, and every detail will be there, without grain, noise nor distortion, just as you see it on your phone or pad! Yes, it is like retina display for your wall.

Note from Red River Paper - Red River Paper will be exhibiting at the PDN PhotoPlus International Conference + Expo, October 22-24, at the Javits Center in New York City, and we want to see you there! Stop by booth 1158 to be the first to see their two new paper additions for 2016!

New Title Coming from lynda.com

I'm in the middle of recording Photos for Mac OS X Essential Training, and I think you're going to really like this title. It will be out before the end of 2015. Apple's latest photo management app has more than initially meets the eye. In the meantime, I have Up and Running with Photos for OS X to get you going while I finish the essential training title.

Thanks to everyone who recently reviewed the TDS Podcast in iTunes!

BTW: If you're ordering through B&H or Amazon, please click on the respective ad tile under the Products header in the box half way down the 2nd column on thedigitalstory.com. That helps support the site.

Download the Show

In addition to subscribing in iTunes, you can also download the podcast file here (49 minutes). You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

More Ways to Participate

Want to share photos and talk with other members in our virtual camera club? Check out our Flickr Public Group. And from those images, I choose the TDS Member Photo of the Day.

Podcast Sponsors

lynda.com - Learn lighting, portraiture, Photoshop skills, and more from expert-taught videos at lynda.com/thedigitalstory.

Red River Paper -- Keep up with the world of inkjet printing, and win free paper, by liking Red River Paper on Facebook.

SizzlPix! - New 5k Ultra High Definition SizzlPix output for your photography. You've never seen your imagery look so good. SizzlPix.com.

Zenfolio If you want your site to look as good as your photos, visit www.zenfolio.com today.

Want to Comment on this Post?

You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.

I Hate Leaving Stuff in the Car

I'm getting ready to head out the door for a "day into evening" trip to Oakland, CA. As I'm doing so, I'm reminded once again why I'm so dedicated to nimble photography: I hate leaving stuff in the car.

PA150354.jpg This kit comes with me and has everything I need for the day. Photo by Derrick Story.

As far as I'm concerned, nothing good can come from leaving electronics in a parked automobile. First, there's the heat. In California, that's an issue. We're still "enjoying" weather that tops 80 degrees, which means considerably higher temps in a locked-up car - not really ideal conditions for your electronics.

Even more importantly, possible theft is an issue. I have a sizable investment in my Apple and camera hardware that's stuffed into my daily Lowepro backpack. Leaving it unprotected in an automobile is not good for my business nor peace of mind. Traveling with a much lighter kit just makes more sense.

And finally, I enjoy traveling light. Having everything I need for the day packed neatly in a small, nondescript bag that doesn't attract attention and gives me a real sense of freedom.

Take today as an example. I have a meeting in Oakland this afternoon. Then I'll probably enjoy a little street shooting, finished off by attending the Warriors game at Oracle Arena. In between those events, I'll find a Starbucks for a caffeine pick-me-up and the opportunity to answer email and check what's going on with my sites.

To ensure that nothing gets left behind in the car, I have to pack to the lowest dominator, which is bag size allowed into Oracle Arena (14" x 14" x 6"). At first this may seem daunting, but my city kit is actually smaller than the arena requirements. Here's what I pack:

  • Vanguard Havana 21 shoulder bag - 11" x 7" x 5" (I also use the Nimble Shoulder Bag about half the time, depending on the gear inside).
  • Olympus OM-D E-M10 camera with 14-42mm compact zoom and 45mm f/1.8 telephoto
  • iPad mini with Bluetooth keyboard
  • DxO ONE camera (that connects to my iPhone 6S or iPad mini)
  • Accessories including earbuds, spare battery, SD card, mini tripod, microfiber cloth, nimble stylus pen, business cards, and an USB cable.

I keep a power adapter in the car if I need to charge anything during transit. I get a ton of work done with this kit, and never have a problem with venue access. And the only time it's in the car is when I'm there too.


Nimble Photographer Logo

This kit has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

I don't understand why anyone would build a $600, 18-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor camera, and market it for selfies. We have a selfie camera. It's called our smartphone.

Unlike the co-announced Canon G5X, which looks like a truly interesting and capable camera, the M10 is a watered-down mirrorless body aimed at consumers who seem quite happy with their iPhones.

canon-mirrorless-selfie-web.jpg The Canon EOS M10 in selfie mode.

If you're going to compete in the mirrorless space that's dominated by Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, and Samsung, you have to come in stronger than, "puts imaging power and convenience in the hands of the social media generation." Then go on to make it worse, "...sharp images that are sure to draw 'Likes'." This would be like me saying "that's dope" to my 18-year-old son. You just don't do it.

I own many Canon cameras that I like and am truly tempted by the G5X. But I can tell you that the EOS M10 will not be embraced by the social media generation.

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You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.