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I have two boys graduating from high school today. Like every other dad, I can't believe it's here already. And in a few hours, we'll all head to the ceremony at the school football field.

We've talked about how we're going to take pictures. Last night, for example, we had a short pow-wow and decided to meet near the goal posts once the ceremony had concluded. We'll take a few portraits, have a few hugs, then send them off to their grad night celebration.

I'm writing this post now because I'm trying to figure out what to pack. And my feeling is, that I'm a dad first today, and a photographer second. I want my attention focused on them, not on my camera's mode dial.

nba-finals-gm-1.jpg Derrick and Max at Game 1 of the NBA Finals, where the Warriors defeated the Cavs in overtime. It was our first finals game.

I'm actually OK with relatively average family snapshots. A good example is a photo from last night, at Game 1 of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. It was our first finals ever, and now I have a photo to always look back on. (In case you were wondering, Max's brother, Zach, goes with me on Sunday to Game 2.)

At that moment, I was a dad, not a photographer. I handed the camera to a fellow fan, asked him to get the scoreboard in the shot, and just let go. I didn't even review it until later. Max and I turned our attention back to the festivities at hand. (BTW: I thought his composition was pretty darn good. Thanks fellow Warriors fan.)

I'm going to stick with this frame of mind today. I'll pack a mirrorless camera in my Havana 21 shoulder bag, a couple of lenses, and plenty of sunscreen.

I'm sure I'll get some shots. They might not be perfect. But I'm betting they will be good enough. And for darn sure, I'm not going to miss a moment of this once in a lifetime event.


Nimble Photographer Logo

My bag today will have a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

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I love reflectors for portraits, but they don't work very well in the shade. In those situations, I pull out the flash, position it off-camera, and reduce its output for a natural look.

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I snapped this image as we were preparing for a commercial shoot. I often have one of the clients sit-in for testing while the subject is getting ready. They do their prep; I do mine.

I used a Canon 5D Mark II with the Yongnuo 35mm f/2.0 and a Canon Speedlite on a dedicated flash cord.

In Aperture Priority mode, the f/stop was set to f/5, shutter speed 1/200th, ISO 640, EV +1.0, and flash exposure compensation was -0.67. By using a fill light for the subject with reduced output, I was able to create a natural look. And that's the key to fill flash... don't use it full tilt.

When our model was ready, so was I. (And thanks to Crystal for sitting in for the test shot. You look great!)

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This week on The Digital Story Photography Podcast: Canon 50mm STM Hands-On Review, Google Photos Hits the Streets, 5 Reasons Why You Should Buy a Collapsable Reflector, Father's Day Gift Ideas - all of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Weekly Update - "Google Photos Offers Free and Unlimited Storage and Sharing of Your Memories". PetaPixel reports: "The new Photos service lets you store unlimited, high-quality photos and videos for free. The free storage covers photos of up to 16MP in original resolution and videos of up to 1080p HD. Google will store higher-resolution files as well, but they'll count toward your Google account's 15GB of free storage."

In other news... "Mary Ellen Mark, a legend among photographers, sadly passed away on May 25th, 2015 at the age of 75." A nice write up about here on DIY Photography. I met Mary Ellen at the LOOK3 festival in 2011. I had been a fan of hers ever since I first saw her book Streetwise, which is one of my all time favorite photo books. She worked a lot for LIFE magazine, which was the dream job for me as a kid. Her passing is a great loss for the photography world.

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Story #1 - "Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM Hands On Review" - This is a fun $125 prime optic from Canon. In this segment of the show, I cover its pros and cons after field testing. Those include:

Pros

  • Terrific STM motor that's definitely more quiet than its predecessor. Performed well for movie recording, focused fast and quietly.
  • Updated design looks good on current Canon DSLRs.
  • Metal lens mount nice update from previous plastic model.
  • Improved manual focusing ring. Manual focusing only works when camera is on, however, thanks to the STM system. In fact, if you want to retract the lens barrel all the way in, you need to turn on the camera to do so.
  • Manual focus override when half pressing the shutter.
  • Seven aperture blades for smoother bokeh (compared to 5 blades before).
  • Reasonable minimal focusing for close up photography.
  • Optional bayonet mount lens hood available (and yes, it does reverse.)

Cons

  • Confusing metadata listing: "Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 or Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II"
  • Green chromatic aberration visible at wide apertures. Canon 70D says: "Correction data not available, cannot correct."
  • Lens not super sharp, but does capture a pleasing rendering of scenes.
  • Wish it performed just a little better wide open. I found myself stopping down to f/2.2 or f/2.5 to better control CA.
  • Along those lines, it tends to underexpose at f/1.8.
  • No image stabilization. I think it would have been a real coup to add IS to this lens, even if it increased the price a few dollars to do so.

The bottom line is that this is a good lens for the price, and it yields pleasing images with terrific autofocusing.

Story #2 - "5 Reasons Why You Should Buy a Collapsable Reflector"

  • Reflectors don't require batteries or power cords. They're always on.
  • They collapse into very compact packages that are easy to tote. Plus, when they're in their round carrying cases, they make a great place to sit on the ground while waiting for the model to finish her hair.
  • 5-in-1 reflectors provide you with a variety of lighting options, from cool fill light to super-coppertone-bronze. No messy lotions required.
  • Reflectors a great for budding friendships. You can ask a nice person to lend a helping hand during the shoot, thereby creating a captive audience for your delightful banter.
  • Reflectors are super inexpensive. You might not be able to afford a new dedicated flash, but everyone can scrape together the scratch for a reflector.

Story #3 - "Safari West Truck Confirmed for the TDS Fall Workshop," Oct. 23-25, 2015. Here's why Safari West our way is so much fun... If you want a reservation form, visit TDS Workshops Page and use the Send Me Info form. This workshop is listed in the popup menu.

Story #4 - "5 Father's Day Gift Ideas"

Virtual Camera Club News

The SizzlPix Challenge

For a sensational surprise gift, or for yourself, pick out your favorite image, and order the spectacular new 5k Ultra High Definition SizzlPix at the same prices, unchanged in 5 years. If you don't agree, it's better than any print you've ever had, return it for a full refund.

They'll send Digital Story listeners and readers a free mini-proof before production; just put "proof first, TDS" in the comment space on the SizzlPix order page.

Bargain Page for Paper

Did you know that Red River Paper has a Discounts and Clearance page? Ink, paper, greeting card stock, all at big savings.

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 (30 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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For a lot of us, myself included, it's that time of year when we celebrate a scholastic achievement by attending a graduation ceremony for a loved one. If you want to capture the event for posterity, I have three tips.

Graduation 2014 - Friday 25 July Photo by Leeds Beckett University on Flickr. Example of a horizontal shot that can be easily integrated with video footage.

  • Think video and still photography. Because most ceremonies are big affairs, chances are slim that you'll get close to the stage. Plus, catching the decisive moment during diploma handoff is even tougher. I recommend that you record short video clips during the ceremony, allowing you to capture audio and ambiance. Then switch to stills afterward for the portraits (where you'll have more control).
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  • Take portraits directly after the ceremony. There's always lots of excitement once the formal part of the event concludes, and this is a great time to take individual portraits and small group shots. Be ready to work quickly. Don't forget candids, they'll come in handy later. Fill flash will help you tame harsh light.
  • Shoot horizontal portraits. We tend to compose vertically for individual portraits, but remind yourself to shoot horizontally too. Why? Well, because you have video capture from the ceremony. In post production, you can combine the video, audio, and horizontal images into a memorable, shareable movie. Don't be afraid to use a little Ken Burns effect for those stills.

Follow these tips, enjoy the event, and honor the achievements of those are graduating... and you'll have a great day and some lovely memories.

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Line art by Liz Aragon.

Apple has provided a migration path to Photos for OS X for Aperture and iPhoto users. The path does have a twist or two. In this movie from my lynda.com title, Up and Running with Photos for OS X, I show you a few of the options for making the move from your existing photo management app to the latest option for those running Yosemite on their Macs.


Get Up and Running with Photos for OS X

Want to learn the ins and outs of Apple's latest photo management application? Then take a look at my latest online video training, Up and Running with Photos for OS X. Soon, both you, and your pictures, will be comfortable in their new home.

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Previous Articles on Photos for OS X

How to Switch to RAW Files in Photos for OS X.

How to Open an Aperture or iPhoto Library in Photos for OS X.

Want to learn the ins and outs of Apple's latest photo management software, then take a look at my Up and Running with Photos for OS X title, just released by lynda.com.

I provide tips and techniques for image editing, exporting, sharing, cloud storage, and making the transition from Aperture or iPhoto. In just a short time, you (and your pictures) will be comfortable in their new home.

image-edit-photos.jpg Lean how to use all of the image editing tools in Photos for OS X.

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Half Off Subscription Offer

There are only a few days left to celebrate National Photo Month, which means that the special offer for c't Digital Photography Magazine ends soon.

As part of the celebration, c't Digital Photography is offering its biggest discount of the year - 50 percent off newsstand price (through Sunday, May 31). This is the lowest price ever for the best enthusiast photography magazine.

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Plus, by taking advantage of this offer, you'll receive the new Summer Edition well before it arrives on the newsstands. With in-depth articles on perfect posing, RAW converters (that are better than Lightroom), mirrorless and happy, and much more, you might even feel a little guilty about saving all that money.

Since the early days of physically putting a graduated neutral density filter over my camera lens, I've liked the concept. To balance the intensity of a bright sky with a subtle toned foreground is exactly what I wanted for my landscape photography. The problem was those pesky objects pushing up past the horizon line into the sky. They too were "graduated."

hero-filter-brush.jpg I wanted the effect of a graduated filter on this lovely sky, but certainly not on the castle. I used the Filter Brush to exclude the castle from the graduated screen. Photo by Derrick Story.

Adobe has solved this problem for us with the new Filter Brush that's part of the Lightroom CC and Lightroom 6 release. Now we can pull down a graduated screen on the sky, then exclude objects affected by it with the brush.

show-selected-mask.jpg

If you haven't played with this new tool yet, I've written a brief tutorial titled, Lightroom's Filter Brush over at c't Digital Photography Magazine. Take a look!


A note from the publisher of c't Digital Photography Magazine: May is National Photo Month, and to celebrate c't Digital Photography is offering its biggest discount of the year - 50 percent off newsstand price (for a limited time).


This week on The Digital Story Photography Podcast: Dropbox and Carousel for Photographers, Wrist Strap vs. Neck Strap, Do You Have DSL-ARM? Epson P600 Review - all of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Weekly Update - "Fight DSL-ARM with a New Olympus Micro Four Thirds Body". Intense research and product development have led to the cure for DSL-ARM - the OM-D E-M5 Mark II. Capture amazing images without the bulk and weight of a DSLR. Don't you think you've suffered long enough? You can combat DSL-ARM and enter to win a new Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II by visiting the DSL-ARM Symptoms page.

In other news... "Adobe Calling It Quits on Photoshop Touch" Petapixel reports: "After a three year run, Adobe is retiring Photoshop Touch, its current horse in the mobile photo editing race. The company announced today that the iOS and Android app will be removed from app stores on May 28th. The software will still be usable on your device if you've downloaded it already, of course, but there will be no further updates." That doesn't mean that Adobe is bowing out of this space. They're working on a new, more focused app that we should hear about before the end of the year.

Story #1 - "Dropbox's Carousel Is Coming of Age" - Dropbox has steadily been improving its tools for photographers. The $99 annual plan with 1TB of space is far more useful than the free storage that Flickr is giving away. In part, you can do so much more with Dropbox, and its integration into your workflow across devices is exceptional. And now that its photographer-friendly interface, Carousel, is maturing, Dropbox presents a compelling argument to photographers seeking cloud backup and sharing.

Story #2 - "Wrist Strap vs Neck Strap" - Mirrorless photography has changed so many things for me. But one area where it has introduced a dilemma is the choice between using a neck strap or a wrist strap. I explain in the second story on today's show.

Story #3 - "Dates Set for the Moving from Aperture to Photos or Lightroom" - The 2-day workshop begins Friday, August 7 and ends on Saturday August 8, 2015. If you want a reservation form, visit TDS Workshops Page and use the Send Me Info form. This workshop is listed in the popup menu.

Story #4 - From the Screening Room - Portrait Project: Fixing a Distracting Background with Chris Orwig. Chris loves portrait photography. And as such, he's encounter just about every challenge imaginable, including distracting backgrounds. He draws from his experiences in this terrific lynda.com title.

You can watch Chris 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 Chris' movies, plus every other title in the library (including over 20 by yours truly).

Virtual Camera Club News

epson-p600-printer.jpg

Red River Paper Reviews the New Epson SureColor P600. My favorite reviewers of inkjet printers have spent some time with Epson's latest photo printer. They've posted their review, in large part comparing it to the excellent Epson R3000. If you're in the market for a new 13" photo printer, you've got to check this out.

News from SizzlPix! Last week for the TDS exclusive 5K Ultra High Definition SizzlPix. Only TDS listeners and readers can get the new 5k in time for June weddings, anniversaries, Fathers Day, graduations and birthdays. Just write TDS or The Digital Story in the comments field, and your order will be upgraded for free.

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 (31 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! - High resolution output for your photography. You've never seen your imagery look so good. SizzlPix.com.

Want to Comment on this Post?

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

moving-from-aperture_Fotor.jpg

Still trying to figure out how to migrate from Aperture? We can help.

On August 7 and 8, I'm leading the "Moving from Aperture to Lightroom or Photos" Workshop at the TDS Studio in Santa Rosa, CA. Over the course of two days, we'll explore the best options for your photo management workflow. Here's the preliminary schedule.

Fri. August 7
8:00 am - Doors open at TDS Studio
8:30 am - Opening remarks and introductions
9:30 am - The State of Aperture
10:00 am - Introduction to Photos for OS X
12:00 am - Lunch at TDS Studio
12:30 pm - Using Photos with Other Image Apps
1:30 pm - Afternoon Break
2:00 pm - Introduction to Lightroom CC
5:00 pm - Dinner and relaxation

Sat., August 8
8:00 am - Doors open at TDS Studio
8:30 am - Other software to consider
9:30 am - Migrating from Aperture to Photos for OS X
11:30 am - Lunch at Nearby Restaurant
1:00 pm - Migrating from Aperture to Lightroom CC
3:30 pm - Afternoon Break
4:00 pm - Backup and Archiving Strategies, Cloud Services
5:00 pm - Workshop closes

If you'd like to attend, use the Send Me Info form on the TDS Workshops page. I'll send you a registration form with all of the details.

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