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I have a new favorite travel bag. The Lowepro ProTactic 350 AW ($199) holds my 13" MacBook Air, iPad mini, Olympus OM-D, FujiFilm X20, lenses, hard drives, and accessories, yet fits neatly under the seat in front of me while flying, or easily in the overhead compartment.

Lowero ProTactic 350 AW

The real standout feature of this backpack is its versatility. Lowepro has designed access to your gear from the top, back, and both sides. Everything stays organized and easy to get to.

I've been testing the ProTactic 350 AW, and have published a detailed review with lots of photos on c't Digital Photography Magazine. If you're interested in an all-in-one carrying solution, then this backpack is worth a look.


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The ProTactic 350 AW has a solid Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

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If you haven't updated your Google Nik Collection of plugins for a while, you might be greeted with an unhappy surprise after migration to Mac OS X Yosemite.

In my case, I was asked to reregister. And when I did, the software wouldn't accept my code. What caused this is incompatibility between the new operating system and an older version of the Nik suite.

silver-efex-2pt2.jpg Everything is working fine again now that I have the latest version of Silver Efex Pro 2.

I contacted tech support and asked them to call me. Within a few minutes I learned that the most current version (2.2.x) of the Nik Collection seems to work well with Lightroom, Aperture, and Photoshop running on Yosemite. Google is working on an updated version of the suite that will ensure full compatibility. We should see that before too long.

If you haven't checked your Nik apps since upgrading to Yosemite, you might want to do so now. That way, you can get everything straightened out before you're in a time crunch.

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Frederick Van Johnson and I got together in the Panasonic booth during PhotoPlus Expo and drilled deep into the world of Nimble Photography. This is a terrific conversation that covers the foundation of "traveling light with plenty of might."

Thanks to Frederick, Tom Curley, and the entire Panasonic team for producing this informative, entertaining, video.

Frederick-and-Derrick.jpg


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

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MB-Air-2010-Yosemite.jpg

My main computer is a 15" mid-2012 MacBook Pro with Retina Display. It's a heck of a machine that's serving me well.

But I also have a late-2010 MacBook Air that I prefer for traveling. It's more nimble when working on the road. My debate with this machine was whether or not to bring it inline with my main computer and iOS 8 devices.

At first, I decided against this move. My feeling was that Mac OS X Yosemite and Adobe Creative Cloud apps would tax the machine beyond its capabilities. Given a choice, I was opting for perceived performance over compatibility with my computing ecosystem.

After a week in New York with the MB Air running Mavericks and my older software, I changed my mind. Yosemite had spoiled me on the 15" machine. Using Mavericks now seemed like a huge step backwards. I didn't like using the Air anymore. And that is not where I wanted to be. So, I decided to roll the dice.

yosemite-aperture-3pt6.jpg Aperture 3.6 running on Yosemite on a late-2010 MacBook Air.

I installed Mac OS X Yosemite, Adobe Creative Cloud, and updated Aperture, iPhoto, and the suite of iWork apps... then held my breath.

After initial testing, everything is running great. In fact, I like the new environment better. The first thing I noticed is that the screen rendering on the Air is more inline with my other computers. In other words, the pictures look better. This is particularly helpful for image editing.

Next, performance seems on par with what I was used to with this computer. My "go to" photo apps: Aperture, Lightroom, and Photoshop, all seemed fine. Certainly they were not running as fast as they do on the MacBook Pro, but I didn't expect that. What I wanted was compatibility without paying a huge performance price.

At the end of the day, that's what I got. By upgrading the 2010 MacBook Air, I extended the life of this computer. In other words, revitalize. And maybe it will hold me until Apple releases the Retina Display model (which is what I really want!).

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This week on The Digital Story Photography Podcast: In-Camera RAW Processing, Notes from New York, Photography as Meditation - All of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Snapshot - Left my hotel for dinner in NY with the X20 in my jacket pocket and just enough light in the sky. A few minutes later I experienced one of those moments I just love.

Empire State Building New York City

Weekly Update - Olympus gives us a peek at the 300mm f/4 that's coming in 2015 (PhotoPlus Expo 2014).

In other news, Epson SureColor P600 looks like a great enthusiast/pro printer. This 13" printer yields incredible blacks and vibrant colors. Shipping starts in early 2015. Estimated price is $799. (PhotoPlus Expo 2014)

And finally, How to Use Keystone Compensation with the Olympus OM-D E-M1. (Source: The Digital Story).

Story #1 - In-Camera RAW Processing: A Powerful, Yet Often Overlooked Feature. Here's a look why I think you should consider a second look at this capability.

Story #2 - PhotoPlus Expo Recap - Great week in New York. My highlight was visiting with so many members of our virtual camera club community. Here's more about it.

Story #3 - Book of the Month: Photography as Meditation - Tap the source of your creativity. Use discount code: PMED at RockyNook.com

Virtual Camera Club News

Photo Assignment for November 2014 is "Layers".

Pano Cards from Red River

Inkjet Pano Cards are guaranteed to turn heads and get friends, family, and clients to take notice of your work. Pano Cards are perfect for your your landscapes and wide angle shots. Try something new and make a tall crop for your work printing on the card vertically. Unfolded, the pre-scored sheets are 8" x 9". When folded, the Pano Card is 9" x 4". The Pano Card uses a standard #10 business envelope. Learn more at Pano Card FAQ page.

A Note from SizzlPix

They've ramped up their capacity, so we can go for volume for the holidays.

Special for TDS listeners, a 20% discount on all SizzlPix ordered, now through end of November! For orders placed by October 31, there should still be time for free mini-samples prior to production.

Using the comment space on the newly streamlined SizzlPix order page, write "TDS 20 percent discount," and if a free mini-proof is wanted prior to production, "free proof first," and your mailing address.

And Finally...

If you haven't done so already, please post a review for The Digital Story 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 (30 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! - High resolution output for your photography. You've never seen your imagery look so good. SizzlPix.com. SizzlPix! now is qualified for PayPal "Bill Me Later," No payments, No interest for up to 6 months, which means, have your SizzlPix! now, and pay nothing until January!

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I felt like it was an escape scene from a James Bond movie.

My assignment was to reach JFK Airport in time to catch my flight to California. But I had to navigate the New York Marathon that was underway and a Dalai Lama protest. My position was the New Yorker Hotel at 34th St. and 8th Ave. In the lobby, I waited on the ready with my two bags: one contained my camera and iPad, the other my clothes.

"Derrick, Derrick!" my name was called. I was whisked to a black 2014 Toyota Camry by a man in chauffeur clothing. He reached for my bags to put them in the trunk. "Not that one," I said pointing to the Lowepro Urban Reporter 150. "It goes in the car with me."

Dalai Lama Protesters Protesters chanting "Dalai Lama Stop Lying," in Manhattan on Nov. 2, 2014, claiming intolerance toward the Shugden Buddhists. Photo by Derrick Story.

The driver took a shortcut through a parking garage, and when we emerged, we were in the middle of the protest. "So, that's where the noise is coming from," I thought. Agitated participants were on both sides of the street. To my right, supporters of the Dalai Lama. Across the street were those claiming intolerance toward the Shugden Buddhists.

I pulled my Olympus OM-D E-M1 from the camera bag with one hand while powering down the window with the other. I managed to catch three frames before the driver saw an opening and punched the gas. They were in our rearview mirror in seconds.

The moral of the story for me is this: Always have your camera ready. Never let them lock it in the trunk. And, you seldom know what's around the next corner. (And yes, I had returned my settings from the previous "night shoot" back to my default set. So the camera was ready to fire.)


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I wrote about the incessant chanting on the Nimble Photographer, titled, The Pounding of the Drum. This was composed in the morning before I knew what was going on, or where, precisely, it was located.

You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

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The Olympus OM-D E-M1 mirrorless camera includes Keystone Compensation that allows photographers to correct for converging lines in-camera.

There are two ways to apply this correction: 1) while shooting using the control dials on the top deck of the camera, or 2) using the RAW/Jpeg Edit function while viewing images. Here are the steps for both methods.

Keystone Compensation While Shooting

  1. Make sure you have Firmware 2.0. You can check this by going to the Menu and navigating to the wrench icon on the left side. The Firmware option will appear on the right. Once you navigate to it, it should read "Body:2.0" or later.
  2. Enable Keystone Comp. In the Menu, go to Camera Icon 1 on the left side and navigate to Keystone Comp. at the bottom of the screen. Turn it "on."
  3. Activate the LCD for live view by pressing the "monitor" button directly to the left of the viewfinder on the back of the camera.
  4. On the LCD screen, you should see the Keystone icon at the top and two scales with a green bar, one on the bottom and the other on the right. If you don't see these, press the INFO button repeatedly until they appear.
  5. Rotate one of the top control dials, and you'll see the image adjust. On my E-M1, the control dial around the shutter button adjusts the image horizontally, and the back control dial adjusts the image vertically.
  6. Once you begin an adjustment, a green arrow appears to show you which direction you're moving. Also, the scale for the adjustment you're not using will disappear. You can bring it back by "centering" the adjustment you're currently working on.
  7. Once the image looks good, take the picture.
  8. Move the green indicator bar back to center, then turn off Keystone Compensation.
  9. To save time, you can assign one of the Function buttons, such as Fn2, to quickly enable Keystone Compensation. If you do that, it will be grayed out in the Menu screen.

Penn Station, NY, No Keystone Compensation - Photos by Derrick Story. Penn Station No Compensation

Penn Station with Keystone Compensation Applied In-Camera with the E-M1 Penn Station With Compensation

Apply KeyStone Compensation in RAW/Jpeg Edit Mode

  1. Make sure you have Firmware 2.0. You can check this by going to the Menu and navigating to the wrench icon on the left side. The Firmware option will appear on the right. Once you navigate to it, it should read "Body:2.0" or later.
  2. Press the Play button and navigate to the image you want to correct on the camera's LCD screen.
  3. Press the OK button and choose either "RAW Data Edit" or JPEG Edit." Press OK.
  4. Navigate to "Custom2." Find the Keystone Compensation on the right side of the screen and enable it.
  5. Press the INFO button to make the adjustment to the image. As you move the Control Dials, a white box will indicate the adjustment you're making. Once the image looks the way you want, press the OK button.
  6. Press the OK button again, and choose "Yes." The correction will be applied.
  7. Press the Menu button to exit the screen and view your corrected photo.

The Keystone Compensation produces a Jpeg based on your size and compression settings. The final image looks amazingly good, and all done within the camera and ready to use.

More Features with Firmware 2.0

Tethering is also available with this firmware update. To learn more about that, see my article, Tethered Shooting for Product Photography.

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Fast Memory Cards Need Fast Readers

lexar-sr1-card-reader.jpg

I had an interesting talk with the folks at Lexar today and learned about their new UHS-I and UHS-II SD memory cards.

Currently, I'm more interested in the UHS-I cards because none of my cameras are UHS-2 compatible anyway. But the Lexar UHS-II cards also have UHS-I controllers, so they match up well with my existing cameras and will perform great in the future.

I like the 32 GB Lexar Pro 1000X UHS 2 U3 SDHC ($46) and the 64 GB Lexar Pro 1000X UHS 2 U3 SDHC ($80).

Now for many of us, the most noticeable benefit of these SD cards comes when we're downloading images to our computers. A full 32 or 64 GB card can take a while to offload all those RAW files and videos. To maximize this speed (and the return on your investment), get a compatible card reader.

With these speedy memory cards, a USB cable or your computer's built-in card reader won't be as fast as a tuned unit.

A good choice is the Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader ($28) or the Lexar Professional Workflow SR1 Card Reader for SDHC/SDXC cards ($21). A matched card reader has a tuned controller that maximizes throughput from memory card to computer. A tandem like that can increase speed up to 8X compared to a USB 2 cable transfer.

One other thing. The drive in your computer is part of this recipe. If you have a fast SSD drive, then the flow of data can be quite speedy with this setup. A slower spinning hard drive does impact potential performance.

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fotodiox-edge-light.jpg

I ran a test today in the Fotodiox booth at PhotoPlus Expo. I asked Vanessa if I could take 3 pictures of her. The first with ambient expo hall lighting. Next, with a hotshoe flash mounted on the Olympus OM-D E-M1. And the third with me holding a Fotodiox Pro FlapJack LED Edge Light C-200R - 7-Inch Round light for illumination.

The Flapjacks have a glow that's excellent for portraiture, and I wanted to see how they compare to typical journalism lighting. Instead of forward-facing LEDs like in a conventional panel, the FlapJack's LEDs are mounted around the outer edge, aimed inward at layers of diffusion material. The FlapJack's bounced light produces a soft, even glow with no hotspots. All of this within a portable unit that's less than 1/2" at its thinnest point.

Thanks to its 5500k daylight color temperature rating, skin tones look great, even using auto white balance on the camera. The dimmer control provides adjustment from 10 percent to full power. The kit comes with everything you need including rechargeable battery, power supply cable, light stand mounting bracket with ball joint - all fitted neatly within a custom case. And since the battery is a standard Sony model, additional units are readily available.

So, let's take a look at that test shoot I mentioned. These shots have not been adjusted.

Existing light portrait with ambient illumination only. existing-light-vanessa.jpg

Fill flash. fill-flash-vanessa.jpg

Fotodiox Pro Flapjack 7-inch round handheld fotodiox-led-vanessa.jpg

In addition to not needing any light modifiers for the flattering glow, I'm also impressed with the excellent color balance. Portrait photographers on-the-go will appreciate the fast setup and ease of use.

The 7" Fotodiox Pro FlapJack LED Edge Light C-200R kit sells for $299.95 and the 10" model is $399.95. By using coupon code FJOL18 at checkout, you can save a whopping 18% (through the end of October.)


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

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Ramin-Hamedani-sept-2014-pa.jpg

For the September 2014 Photo Assignment, TDS shooters opened a rear window to the world. See for yourself in our gallery, Shot from Behind. And which one will be the SizzlPix Pick of the Month?


Photo by Ramin Hamedani. Ramin writes, "On a nice summer day, I decided to sit by the lake on a dock. Using my iPhone, I took this image of myself staring into the peaceful surroundings. It was quiet except with the sound of water gently hitting the rocks beneath me. I did have my DSLR as well, but the wide angle of view on iPhone was tempting, and I did not want to change the lens on the DSLR anyway." See all of the great images from this month's assignment by visiting the Shot from Behind.


Participate in This Month's Assignment

The November 2014 assignment is "Layers." Details can be found on the Member Participation page. Deadline is November 30, 2014. No limit on image size submitted.

Please follow the instructions carefully for labeling the subject line of the email for your submission. It's easy to lose these in the pile of mail if not labeled correctly. For example, the subject line for this month's assignment should be: "Photo Assignment: Nov. 2014." Also, if you can, please don't strip out the metadata. And feel free to add any IPTC data you wish (These fields in particular: Caption, Credit, Copyright, Byline), I use that for the caption info.

Gallery posting is one month behind the deadline. So I'm posting September 2014 gallery at the end of October, the October gallery will be posted at the end of November, and on and on.

Good luck with your November assignment, and congratulations to all of the fine contributors for September.


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