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At the last TDS Photography Workshop I was introduced to the Neewer Black Metal Quick Release L-Plate Bracket Grip ($28) by one of the participants, Kevin Miller. He was sporting one on his black E-M10.

The integrated Arca-Swiss mounting plate that comprised the bottom and side of the grip was just what I was looking for. I have a similar rig for my E-M5 Mark II, but unlike that accessory that cost me $149, the Neewer is only $28. And it's terrific.

P8170259.jpg Neewer grip with side plate attached. Photos by Derrick Story.

The side plate is removable, so if you don't need a quick release for the vertical position, you can unscrew it, as I normally do. (See top photo for without, and above image for with.) Regardless of what you do on the left side, the right side grip is very comfortable, especially for larger hands that like a little extra real estate to hold on to. Smaller hands, however, might not like having to reach back a bit with the index finger to press the shutter button. You'll have to try it to determine for yourself.

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The bottom features an opening that allows you to change battery and memory card with the grip attached. There's also a tripod socket for those situations when you're not using Arca-Swiss. And a nice touch is the mounting screw that accepts both an allen wrench (included) or a slot for coin tightening. So if you misplace your allen wrench, then you can still attach and remove the accessory.

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The grip's design works well with the E-M10. And the aluminum material is light and durable. And to tell you the truth, after having the grip on and shooting with it, the camera feels a bit awkward without it.


Nimble Photographer Logo

The Neewer Black Metal Quick Release L-Plate Bracket Grip has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

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When Adobe introduced Photo Merge to Lightroom CC, it improved my high dynamic workflow. Even though I like the occasional over-the-top HDR image, generally speaking, I'm just looking to make a better photograph. If that's your intent also, here's a simple workflow that you can put into practice today.

Identify the HDR Candidate. This isn't something you want to do with every image. Practice spotting scenes where expanding the dynamic range will improve the photograph. My favorite is a twilight sky with foreground that's a bit to dark.

las-vegas-no-hdr-web.jpg Las Vegas at Twilight - Here's a perfect HDR candidate. Nice sky, but foreground is backlit and too dark. Wouldn't it be nice to have both properly exposed? Photos by Derrick Story.

Enable auto-bracketing on your camera with a -2, 0, +2 sequence. You only need 3 frames for Lightroom's Photo Merge. If two stops are too extreme for you, you can use -1.5, 0, +1.5. I recommend that you shoot in RAW. I have my Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II programmed so I can turn this off an on with the HDR button on the top deck.

Process the 3 Frames in Lightroom. Load the files into Lightroom CC, select the 3 you want to process, then choose Photo > Photo Merge > HDR. Lightroom will preprocess the images for you. I usually check the boxes next to Auto Align and Auto Tone. For most of my sequences, Low deghosting works just fine.

las-vegas-lr-hdr-web.jpg Improved scene created by combining 3 frames using Photo Merge in Lightroom CC.

Adding Finishing Touches in the Develop Module. Now that you have a high resolution RAW merge, finish off the shot in Lightroom's develop module. The file should respond well to your exposure adjustments.

That's all there is to it! If you want to learn more about this process, download my free eBook, HDR & Panoramas with Photo Merge in Lightroom CC, available at the Rocky Nook site.

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I've heard people say over and over that they don't know what to do with their hands during a portrait shoot. I don't want them to worry, yet that's a concern for photographers too. Natural hand gestures are an important finishing touch for these compositions.

D_Story IMG_3706.jpg Photo by Derrick Story.

This topic was addressed beautifully today in Roberto Valenzuela's Masterful and Graceful Posing session at Photoshop World in Las Vegas. I have three tips to pass along from that class.

First, to get a natural hand gesture, have the subject make a fist, hold it for a few seconds, then relax the grip. As the fingers unfold, reposition the hand to the desired position for the portrait. The hand will look more elegant.

Second, remember to keep the fingers aligned in the same direction. If the hands are spread wide with digits pointing every which way, that will cause a distraction in the composition. The thumb doesn't have to follow exactly, but keep an eye on it so it appears relaxed.

And finally, keep those elbows pointing down or away from the camera. Too often photographers let an elbow aim directly at the lens. This will be unsettling to the viewer.

You can read more about Roberto's posing tips in the latest issue of c't Digital Photography Magazine. His article, Perfect Posing is featured on the cover.

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BW Sunrise Las Vegas

The world looks much different in Black & White, especially the normally colorful Las Vegas landscape. Here's a morning shot from 21 stories high, with the airport and mountain range in the background.

sunrise-vegas-bw-web-crop.jpg Captured with an Olympus OM-D E-M10, 17mm f/1.8 lens. Photo by Derrick Story.

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This week on The Digital Story Photography Podcast: Golden Age of Cameras, Senior Portraits at Taco Bell, Perfect Browse 9.5, Sigma 24mm f/1.4 prime - all of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Weekly Update - "This app is the nightmare of wedding photographers brought to life". Imaging Resource reports: "Wedding photographers might want to look away. A new app called Ceremony is looking to crowdsource wedding photography using guests and their smartphones. Available for download on iOS and Android, Ceremony allows couples to set up a dedicated event in the app and invite guests to join via an email or custom URL."

In other news, PetaPixel reports: "Photographer Shoots High Schooler's Senior Portraits at Taco Bell - Missouri-based photographer Brendan Batchelor recently received a strange photo shoot request: a high school senior named Brittany Nicole Creech wanted to shoot senior portraits at a local Taco Bell. In addition to being published across the Web and being shared thousands of times on social media, Creech also succeeded in getting Taco Bell's attention. If Creech does end up with a successful career in modeling or acting, she has photographer Brendan Batchelor and a set of Taco Bell senior portraits to thank!

Story #1 - "The Golden Age of Cameras" -

I just read a fun post at The Online Photographer titled, I Love Today's Cameras. I thought the author, Mike Johnston, made some terrific points. And in a lot of ways, I agree with him. So, are we in the golden age of cameras? I talk about that in today's first segment.

Story #2 - Perfect Browse 9.5 by OnOne Software

We worked with Perfect Browse at our Moving from Aperture workshop. It's fantastic as a front end to Lightroom, or just about any photo editing app. Here's why we liked it so much.

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Story #3 - The Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Prime (for Canon, Nikon, and Sigma)

Sigma continues its appealing hot streak in the Art lens category with the 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM ($849). This hefty hunk of glass weighs in at 1.46 pounds and is 3.55″ long. Mounts are available for Canon, Nikon, and Sigma. We tested the Canon version on a full frame 5D Mark II.

Aside from its remarkable f/1.4 maximum aperture (no easy feat with a 24mm), the Sigma features 9 aperture blades, fast autofocusing, 15 elements in 11 groups, and a 77mm front filter thread. The build is solid with a well-damped manual focusing ring, which has real-time override. The AF/MF switch is on the left side of the barrel. Kit includes deluxe case, lens hood, and front and back caps. I talk about my first impressions in the second story of today's podcast.

Story #4 - From the Screening Room - Video for Photographers 01: Filmmaking Essentials with Eduardo Angel.

You can watch Eduardo in action by visiting the TDS Screening Room at lynda.com. While you're there, you can start your 7 day free trial to watch all of Eduardo movies, plus every other title in the library.

Virtual Camera Club News

Update from SizzlPix - Our product improvement to 5k Ultra High Definition SizzlPix has brought on cost increases requiring our raising prices for the first time since launching SizzlPix over 5 years ago.

TDS listeners can avoid the new prices by selecting favorite images and ordering over the next few weeks, ahead of the announcement. All the benefits and warranties remain, including free mini samples on request, no payment requested until their image is approved by our engineers for 5k Ultra High Definition SizzlPix quality, and even no payment at all until February 2016 with PayPal credit, plus our full guarantee of satisfaction.

Fall Color with Safari West: October 23-25, 2015 - Sonoma County has rolling hills covered in vineyards, beautiful trees, and gorgeous blue skies. What a prefect place to shoot Fall color and bolster your landscape library. But there's more. We include environmental portraiture with a professional model, and an exclusive African wildlife photo adventure at Safari West, led by a professional photographer, plus a few surprises. This is our longest running workshop of the season, and for good reason. Two full days plus pre-workshop reception, breakfast and lunch, excellent swag, professional model, private Safari West adventure with a pro photographer guide - all included for just $599.

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 - MP3 Version

In addition to subscribing in iTunes, you can also download the podcast file here (33 minutes - MP3 version). 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.

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Whether you're a Lightroom user tired of waiting for your images to load, or you're just trying to pull together thousands of photos on an external drive, OnOne's Perfect Browse 9.5 can peer into any folder of pictures, then add star ratings, color labels, and metadata that can be read by most photo management applications.

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Its highlight feature is speed. Point the application to a folder of pictures and they pop on to the screen. No task bar to meter how long before you see the shots.

Once there, star ratings are easy to apply by pressing the corresponding number key, then pressing an arrow key to move to the next thumbnail. Want a bigger view? Press the spacebar. Once you've gone through the pictures once, use the filter tool to narrow the field. You can then send the best shots to Lightroom (or anywhere else) for management and editing, or put them in an album with in the app itself. Lots of flexibility; lots of speed.

You can purchase Perfect Browse 9.5 as a standalone app or part of Perfect Photo Suite, which is currently a good deal at $99.95. It's fast, friendly, and a great tool to help you get a handle on things.

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I've been testing the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM ($849) for a Hands On Review just posted on ct-digiphoto.com. If you want to know who I think this optic is designed for, you might want to hop over there for a quick read.

Or, you could just take a look at these half dozen images that I captured with the lens mounted on a Canon 5D Mark II. I started shooting at 6:42 pm and finished at 8:59 pm.

IMG_1246.jpg Sigma 24mm, f/5, ISO 100, 6:42 pm. Photos by Derrick Story

IMG_1251.jpg Sigma 24mm, f/1.4, ISO 800, 7:52 pm.

IMG_1258.jpg Sigma 24mm, f/1.4, ISO 500, 8:47 pm.

IMG_1289.jpg Sigma 24mm, f/1.4, ISO 2000, 8:56 pm.

IMG_1292.jpg Sigma 24mm, f/1.4, ISO 3200, 8:57 pm.

IMG_1305.jpg Sigma 24mm, f/1.4, ISO 500, 8:59 pm.

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Carousel is a primary reason why I've been using Dropbox to help manage my photography. The app works on computers and mobile devices. I have it on my home screen for both the iPhone and iPad.

Essentially what Carousel does is provide a photographer-friendly window to the images I store on Dropbox. All of my mobile shots, plus bucket-loads of pictures that I publish online are organized in chronological order in a scrolling display.

Plus, I can create albums, share groups of photos with others, and even tap Flashback to see what I was shooting on this day in years past. Carousel's performance is quite good, and I have plenty of options for caching and backup, helping me customize the best photo management system for me.

In this movie, I take you on a tour of Carousel on an iPhone. This will give you a good feel for its design and performance.

The Carousel app is free, and it works with both paid and free Dropbox subscriptions. Not only does it back up every image I capture with my mobile devices, it allows me to easily find them and share with others.

More Dropbox Tips and Techniques

If you want to dig into Dropbox, take a look at my lynda.com training, Dropbox for Photographers. For those who want to learn more about Photos for OS X, I also have the title, Up and Running with Photos for OS X.

Previous articles on The Digital Story about Dropbox include:

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This week on The Digital Story Photography Podcast: Arca Swiss Love, Olympus Air First Impressions, Ringo Starr Publishes a Book of Photos - all of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Weekly Update - "Seeing the unseeable: Fujifilm releases infrared version of its flagship X-T1 camera". Imaging Resource reports: "Fujifilm has thrown the photography world a curveball. Today, the Japanese photography company introduced an infrared version of its flagship X-T1 mirrorless camera, the X-T1 IR.

Similar in every other regard to its sibling, the X-T1 IR's sensor captures different light from the electromagnetic spectrum, including ultraviolet, infrared, and visible. Specifically, Fujifilm states it captures between 380nm to 1,000nm, much more than the human eye (approximately 390 and 700nm) or other sensors are capable of capturing.

In other news... "Ringo Starr Talks to Conan About His Photos During the Beatles Years" PetaPixel reports: "Earlier this year, former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr made an appearance on Conan O'Brien's late night talk show. One of the subjects discussed during the interview was Starr's new photo book, titled Photograph, which contains rare and unseen photos captured by Ringo during his childhood, his years in The Beatles, and beyond. In the 2.5-minute clip above, Ringo shares about a few of the photos in the book, which will be released on September 21st for $35."

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Story #1 - "Arca Swiss Love" -

I now have Arca Swiss compatible heads on all of my tripods. For my sticks that didn't originally ship with these plates, I've replaced the heads with Joby Ballhead X ($59) that has panning adjustment in addition to the bullhead itself. My latest tripod, the Induro Grand Turismo ships with an Arca Swiss compatible head that's absolutely wonderful.

Then, for added convenience, many of my cameras have Arca plate type grips, so I don't even have to attach a QR plate to mount the camera. For my DSLRs, I use the Joby UltraFit Hand Strap with UltraPlate ($35), so I can slide the camera into the tripod mount at any time. For the Olympus E-M5 Mark II, I use the Olympus External Metal Grip ECG-2 ($149) that is totally Arca Swiss compatible. I explain the details of this approach in today's first feature story.

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Story #2 - The Olympus Air A01 First Impressions - I've just spent the afternoon playing with the new Olympus Air 16MP MFT smartphone camera. And I have to say, it's a blast. Highlight features include:

  • Terrific image quality
  • Accepts the entire MFT lens catalog
  • Up to 1/16,000 second shutter speed at 10 frames per second
  • Fast connectivity and good realtime performance with my iPhone 5S
  • Excellent mounting system, very comfortable to hold
  • Tripod socket and wrist strap included
  • Nice selection of iOS apps available with lots of features
  • Feels like a real camera
  • Reasonable $299 price tag

There are a few compromises because of the super compact size. There's no sensor based stabilization, but you can use optical stabilization with Panasonic lenses. And you don't get the state of the art electronic sensor cleaning that you do with other Olympus cameras.

But I have to say, those compromises seem small compared to what you do get with this incredible little camera. More on this in the second feature of today's show.

Story #3 - From the Screening Room - Photoshop CC Essential Training (2015) with Julieanne Kost.

You can watch Julieanne in action by visiting the TDS Screening Room at lynda.com. While you're there, you can start your 7 day free trial to watch all of Julieanne's movies, plus every other title in the library.

Virtual Camera Club News

Fall Color with Safari West: October 23-25, 2015 - Sonoma County has rolling hills covered in vineyards, beautiful trees, and gorgeous blue skies. What a prefect place to shoot Fall color and bolster your landscape library. But there's more. We include environmental portraiture with a professional model, and an exclusive African wildlife photo adventure at Safari West, led by a professional photographer, plus a few surprises. This is our longest running workshop of the season, and for good reason. Two full days plus pre-workshop reception, breakfast and lunch, excellent swag, professional model, private Safari West adventure with a pro photographer guide - all included for just $599.

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 - MP3 Version

In addition to subscribing in iTunes, you can also download the podcast file here (35 minutes - MP3 version). 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.

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

Emulsion is a $49 photo management and processing application for the Mac that I've really enjoyed testing. It will be one of the recommendations for my upcoming Moving from Aperture workshop, and it will be featured in a "software for photographers" eBook that I'm working on.

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Aside from its pleasing user interface and helpful set of photo management and editing tools, I'm thrilled that I can use my existing Aperture plugins with Emulsion. I depend on Color Efex Pro and DxO Film Pack for my work, and they perform seamlessly with this software.

Other notable features include:

  • Choice or Referenced or Managed Catalog (Library)
  • Can Edit EXIF Metadata
  • Uses Apple's RAW Support
  • Equipment Database for Your Gear
  • Create Your Own Editing Adjustment Sets
  • Uses the Version Metaphor for Non-Destructive Editing
  • Decent Photo Browser
  • Albums and Smart Albums

Since it's a young app, just released in June 2015, it also has a few rough edges. Printing depends solely on your existing print drivers without an application interface, the export function could use more options, and they will probably have to improve their caching scheme to boost performance.

That being said, if you're not a fan of Photos for OS X or Lightroom, and you want a nice home to manage and edit your images, Emulsion is worth a look. I have a good feeling that this application is going to evolve into a niche that resides above Photos for OS X and below Lightroom and Capture One Pro.

Emulsion is available from the Mac App Store, or directly from the Escapers web site for $49. They offer a 30 day free trial too.

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