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Macro Mania on a Budget

Getting close doesn't have to mean going broke. You can create professional macro images with a little ingenuity and tape... literally.

In the article, Gaffer's Tape Plus Prime Equals Magnification Boost, I explain how you can attach a reversed 50mm lens to a telephoto or macro lens for a substantial increase in magnification. It's a very easy technique, and the image quality is excellent.

50mm Attached to 100mm

In the article, Gearing Up for Macro, I show you how inexpensive accessories can enhance your capability and enjoyment when shooting close-ups.

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Gaffer's tape, LED lights, free iOS apps... all add up to big fun, not large charge balances. Take a closer look.

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Weekend Warrior, Photographer Style

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There are many athletes, who because of their busy jobs, can train only after they clock-out on Friday afternoon. They're weekend warriors. And for many photographers, the situation is similar.

A great way to unwind on Friday evening is to fill your favorite daypack with photo gear, and make plans for a short hike. It doesn't have to be all day or on a trail in an exotic location. The local park will do just fine.

What is important is getting out in nature, or the city streets if that's your preference, and taking pictures. In just a few hours, you will capture a handful of images that you can use for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Flickr, or your web site. And if you're lucky, maybe something that would make a nice print too.

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Yesterday, after I had met my work obligations. I grabbed my Lowepro bag and drove 30 minutes to Sugarloaf State Park. Patrick, my camping buddy, had already set up the site. We grilled a couple burgers for dinner, then went exploring on a twilight hike.

In just a 90-minute span of time, I photographed deer grazing in tall grass (went on Instagram and Twitter), two girls riding their bikes (TDS, Facebook), and a sunset vapor trail from a jet (probably Instagram tomorrow).

Will I win a contest with any of these images? No.

But I had a great time, got some exercise, practiced taking pictures, played with a new lens (75-300mm), and acquired fresh content that I would never have captured in front of the TV or at the grocery store.

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Athletes forced to train on the weekend would love to work out more often than that. But they realize by staying in shape, they can take advantage of any opportunities that may present themselves in the future.

For photographers, it's even better. Embracing your weekend warrior makes you a better shooter. And you're rewarded with new images right on the spot.

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Join me on my Instagram site as I explore the world of mobile photography. And now Instagram features 15-second movies too.

New Uses for Old Camera Bags

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I have camera bags dating back to the 1980s. They might not have the styling and features of my current favorites, but they certainly are functional. And some of them have been pressed back into service.

For example, this Lowepro Elite Convertible contains the flash kit I use for location portrait work. I have twin Sunpak units with CowboyStudio Wireless Flash Triggers mounted on an adjustable bracket. On location, I simply pull the entire unit from the bag and attach it to a stand. It literally takes a minute, and I'm ready to shoot.

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Having a bag that allows me to work quickly on location is a blessing as I move from site to site. Nobody likes to wait for the photographer as he fiddles with his gear for 15 minutes before he's ready for the next location.

In the front pocket, I stash all of my Rogue FlashBender light modifiers. I open the pouch and choose the appropriate accessory for the lighting I'm configuring.

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And because this is a bag from yesteryear, I can set it down anywhere and not worry. It's like having an old car to park at the airport for a week while traveling. You just don't worry about it.

Old camera bags also make excellent storage units at home. You can organize gear by brand or type, and have everything at your fingertips when needed.

Do you have an empty camera bag or two in your closet? Think about reenlisting it into your workforce. You'd be surprised at how useful your old friend can be.

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Over the years, we don't realize that one of our best picture archives is our email account. Numerous images are sent and received, and are still available... if there was only an easy way to retrieve them.

The Mac app, Lost Photos does exactly that. It's like a time machine for imagery. And the best part is that it's on $2.99.

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You can download Lost Photos from the Mac App Store for free and give it a spin. Just point it to one of your email accounts, and it will retrieve images that you've forgotten you have, and place them all in a folder.

If you go past the 100 mark, it will prompt you to upgrade to the unlimited version for $2.99. From this point on, you can merrily take a trip back in time with each of your email accounts.

After Lost Photos has gathered all of your pictures, it will move them to iPhoto if you wish. Or you can leave them in the organized folders. Either way, I'm sure you'll discover many snapshot gems that you had forgotten about.

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Join me on my Instagram site as I explore the world of mobile photography. And now Instagram features 15-second movies too.

This week on The Digital Story Photography Podcast: New Gear Rumors for Photokina, Aperture Update, Photoplus Expo - All of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Story #1 - The Weekly Update: Apple RAW Compatibility Update 5.06 Adds 10 Cameras to Aperture - Even though development of Aperture is paused, its maintenance is ongoing. We get 10 new RAW profiles including the EM-10 and the GH4. (Source: The Digital Story).

In other news, I've accepted a contract gig with Rocky Nook Publications to serve as their Photography Evangelist. Rocky Nook publishes finely crafted books on photography technique.

And finally, I'll be in New York on Oct. 29 through Nov. 2 covering PhotoPlus Expo. And I'll be visiting with attendees in the c't Digital Photography booth. (We'll have giveaways too!)

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Story #2 - My Favorite New Gear Rumors for Photokina. The list includes releases from Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Fujifilm, and more. I add my comments to a fun post published on www.camyx.com.

Story #3 - From the Screening Room - Up and Running with iPhoto with Derrick Story. The current version of iPhoto has tremendous capability. And it's going to be around for a while, and possibly even after Photos is released. This title includes the features you should know about.

You can watch me in action by visiting the TDS Screening Room at lynda.com/thedigitalstory. While you're there, you can start your 7 day free trial to watch other design, photography, and computing titles, plus every other topic in the library.

Story #4 - Winner! A Free Photo Workshop. So many great suggestions and notes to go along with them. The topic I've settled on as one of the new additions to the 2015 TDS Workshop Lineup is: "Transitioning From Aperture." We'll examine the various options for Aperture users including migrating to Photos, moving to Lightroom, establishing a long term Aperture archive, integrating with iCloud, and more. Thanks to TDS virtual camera club member, Kevin Miller for this topic idea. Kevin will be invited to this workshop, tuition free.

Virtual Camera Club News

The SizzlPix Challenge is Back! (for one month only). Each week the first 10 TheDigitalStory listeners/readers to order SizzlPix from their own favorite images will receive a mini-sample of each SizzlPix prior to production by return mail absolutely free! Just put the words "free sample first" and your mailing address in the comment space of SizzlPix's new simplified order form.

Visit the Red River Paper Card Shop. You can peruse top selling cards, order the card sample kit, and read tutorials on card printing. Save on Ground Shipping for Red River Paper. Use coupon code ground50c to receive a 50 percent discount on UPS ground shipping for Red River Paper. No minimum purchase required.

Photo Assignment for August 2014 is "My Favorite Close-up".

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 (34 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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This professional reporter's bag was co-designed by former Washington Times photographer Kevin Gilbert who covered the White House among his many assignments. B&H is now featuring the Stealth Reporter D200 AW Shoulder Bag for $59. That's a savings of $47 from its normal $106 price (with free expedited shipping).

Top features include:

  • Padded, Tricot-lined pocket offers protection for photo viewers or other digital devices
  • Removable memory card wallet protects up to 12 memory cards
  • Removable accessory pouch provides easy access to cables, adaptors and other digital accessories
  • An All Weather Cover provides protection for your gear in extreme conditions
  • Padded Tricot lined top lid (will not scratch your SLR when placed in the bag)
  • Water-resistant top zipper provides quick access to gear
  • Uses attachment loops for optional SlipLock add-on accessories
  • Luggage trolley strap quickly secures your bag to luggage handle
  • Key fob on front of case
  • Customizable stability strap distributes weight evenly when used in shoulder strap or waist applications

And the "stealth" feature is that there's an opening on the top of the bag that allows you to reach in and grab your camera without having to open the flap.

It's a very cool shoulder bag at a great price...

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At the moment, iPhoto is still the go-to picture management app for many snapshooters. And rightly so. You can organize, edit, and create cool output such as custom greeting cards featuring your own photography.

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If you haven't tried making your own foldable artwork, take a look at my tutorial, Designing a Greeting Card from my title, Up and Running with iPhoto. This training is for those using the latest version of iPhoto with Mac OS X Mavericks.

Once you design your custom card in iPhoto, you can have it professionally printed in any quantity you want. But you also have the option of saving your design as a PDF and printing it with the inkjet you have sitting idle in your office.

Another handy tip is that these designs make terrific title and chapter openers for slideshows. Simply design your "greeting card" as a title slide and save it as a digital file. Then add it to your presentation along with the other images. It's easiest if you use the "flat" style of card design.

Regardless of how you like to use iPhoto, I think you'll find some useful tips in Up and Running with iPhoto.

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Olympus OM-D E-M10

Apple released Digital Camera RAW Compatibility Update 5.06 that adds Raw support for the following cameras.

  • Nikon COOLPIX P340
  • Nikon 1 V3
  • Olympus OM-D E-M10
  • Olympus STYLUS 1
  • Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4
  • Sony Alpha ILCE-7S
  • Sony Alpha ILCE-5000
  • Sony Alpha ILCE-6000
  • Sony Alpha SLT-A77 II
  • Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III

This is great news for Aperture (and iPhoto) users shooting with one of those cameras -- in my case the Olympus OM-D E-M10. After you install Update 5.06 via the App Store, relaunch Aperture and enable the Adjustments tab.

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With the Adjustments tab enabled, you can click on each thumbnail to bring it to life. I use the arrow key to move from image to image.

Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn more about Aperture, check out my Aperture 3.3 Essential Training (2012) on lynda.com. Also, take a look at our Aperture 3 Learning Center. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.


The Digital Story on Facebook -- discussion, outstanding images from the TDS community, and inside information. Join our celebration of great photography!


For the June 2014 Photo Assignment, TDS shooters turned their back on the sun and looked for alternative light sources. See for yourself in our gallery, Any Kind of Light but Natural. And which one will be the SizzlPix Pick of the Month?

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Photo by Ashwin Chathuruthy. See all of the great images from this month's assignment by visiting the Any Kind of Light but Natural gallery page.


Participate in This Month's Assignment

The August 2014 assignment is "My Favorite Close-up." Details can be found on the Member Participation page. Deadline is August 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: August 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 June 2014 gallery at the end of July, the July gallery will be posted at the end of August, and on and on.

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


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iPad for Digital Photographers

If you love mobile photography like I do, then you'll enjoy iPad for Digital Photographers-- now available in print, Kindle, and iBooks versions.

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One of the many backup and sharing solutions that I use for my photography is Pogoplug's personal cloud software combined with a Buffalo CloudStor 2-Bay RAID hard drive ($206).

This system sets up at my studio, yet is accessible anywhere with an Internet connection via my laptop, iPad, or iPhone. The initial investment is just a couple hundred dollars, and there are no monthly fees. Plus, I have on-site RAID mirroring to protect me against hard drive failure.

In this movie produced by lynda.com, I show you how the Cloudstor system works. I demo communication with the networked RAID device located hundreds of miles away. This free movie is part of my training title, Managing Your Mobile Photos, where I cover a variety of backup solutions for both iOS and Android users.

If the embedded movie fails to play, you can watch it by clicking on this link: Taking a Look at Pogoplug.

I've been using the Pogoplug/Buffalo system for over two years, and I haven't had a single problem with it (knock on wood)!

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