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A Night Inside Oktoberfest Munich

I spent Monday night inside the Hofbrau tent at Oktoberfest in Munich. The capacity of this facility is over 3,000 people. During the 16 days of the festival, they will serve more than 500,000 1-liter beers... just in that tent.

Oktoberfest Crowd The scene from the balcony in the Hofbrau tent. Photos by Derrick Story.

Speaking of beer, It's amazing how much more you can drink there. It's stronger, specially brewed for Oktoberfest. But it's also fresh because it's not transported. Hofbrau makes it there, and there it is consumed.

More Beer Please
"More Beer Please!" The women who bring the beer are absolutely amazing.

The festival itself is huge. There are a total of 34 beer tents, 9 of which are very large. It takes 4 months to build the Oktoberfest village and 2 months to take it down. This happens every year.

In this shot that I took from the air, you can see how the festival dominates the Munich landscape.

Oktoberfest from the Air Oktoberfest from the air.

Inside the tents, music fills the air from live bands. Thousands of chickens and giant pretzels are served to help soak up the beer. And people truly have a good time. Yes, it's noisy, and there's lots of bumping. It's a beer drinking festival. And it's a blast.

I talk more about my Oktoberfest experience in this week's TDS Podcast.

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Across Germany, One Instagram at a Time

For me, Instagram is the ultimate travel log. You can capture images with your smart phone, apply effects, write captions, and share with others -- all in real time over a cellular network. During my visit to Germany, I've used Instagram to augment my Photokina reporting for Lowepro and to document my own observations. This is the first time I've tried this (in fact I've only been using Instagram for a few weeks), and I'm having a blast.

instagrams.jpg Recent Instagrams from my travels.

You can set up the application to share your posts on other social networks too. So I'm able to keep my Twitter and Facebook friends up to date, even if they don't follow me on Instagram.

Power Lines - Setting Sun "Power Lines, Setting Sun" captured through a train window while traveling from Cologne to Munich.

What's even more interesting to me, is that I'm using an iPhone 3GS for this reporting, not my iPhone 4S. As you may recall from a podcast earlier this month, I had AT&T unlock my iPhone 3GS, then I bought a SIM card in Germany for 25 Euros with 750 MBs of data plus plenty of talk time. This allows me to post lots of content regardless of my location.

Tonight, we head to Oktoberfest. I will certainly be reporting from there. If you use Instagram, you might want to follow me at derrickstory. Otherwise, I'll be sure to post on Twitter and on TheDigitalStory on Facebook. Prost!

Good Night Photokina

By now you've probably read plenty about the announcements and discoveries at Photokina in Cologne, Germany. So, for just 90 seconds, I want to take you inside the halls and share with you what I've been experiencing over the last week.

Thanks to the entire Lowepro team for your support and outstanding effort. It's a pleasure to work with you.

Now... I board an ICE and head to Munich. Next report and podcast will be from the land of Oktoberfest.

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Spinner 360 Puts Twist on 35mm Film

Do you have a few rolls of 35mm film in the freezer that you'd love to do something fun with? Take a look at the Spinner 360 degrees by the creative folks at Lomography.

Spinner 360

All you do is load up the camera with film, find an interesting subject, pull the cord, and the camera spins, filming as it moves. It records everything around you.

Specs include: 25mm fixed focus lens, two aperture settings (f/8, f/16), 3 exposure settings (1/125 - 1/250, manual slow), and a battery-free, rubber band drive. You can get your hands on one for less than $100.

Then all you have to do is develop the film, have it scanned, and share with friends. You might want to take a look at the sample galleries to get those creative juices flowing.

Live Photokina Coverage

I'm on the floor at Photokina, in Cologne, Germany. You can follow via Twitter and Instagram. Wrap-ups will be published here on The Digital Story.

I was wandering around the lighting hall today at Photokina and noticed a lot of people positioned around a very large stage. Everything was branded Hensel Performing Light, a very big name in the lighting game. But it didn't stop there. Backstage was Manfred Baumann, a widely known celebrity and fine art photographer.

Hensel Stage - Photokina This was no standard booth talk. Hensel had an all star photographer waiting in the wings.

So I decided to hang around with a few hundred of my closest friends. On stage was a model who was being tended to by a stylist. Both had their backs to us, in part, I'm guessing, to add a bit of drama to the scene.

Then at 3pm, Manfred Baumann made his grand entrance and shared some opening remarks in German. The stage was cleared and the model shoot began.

Hensel Model Shoot The model shoot begins...

I think this was the part where everyone else knew a lot more about what was going to happen than me. The model was quite sexy, and all around me shutters were firing off as she moved from one pose to the next. Manfred was using some big time Hensel lights as he captured her in his lens. No wonder there was a crowd: sexy woman, famous photographer, and lots of gear.

Moral of the story. If there are a lot of people gathered around an empty stage at a photo trade show, there's probably a good reason why.

Live Photokina Coverage

I'm on the floor at Photokina, in Cologne, Germany. You can follow via Twitter and Instagram. Wrap-ups will be published here on The Digital Story.

The Clever Olympus 15mm Body Cap Lens

If you like pancake lenses, you're going to love this. The just-announced Olympus BCL-15mm f8.0 Body Cap Lens is literally the size of a body cap, yet transforms to become a fixed focus snapshot lens that's a blast to shoot with. The lens is just 9mm thick, and when the cover is in place (to protect the glass), it looks like a body cap for your micro four thirds camera.

In the Olympus booth, they were calling it "the cookie."

Olympus 15mm Body Cap Lens

The 15mm will be perfect those who have a back-up body. In my case, I pack the PEN mini as a second camera. With the body cap lens, the PEN will occupy even less space in my camera bag.

It's fixed-focus. So you just shoot. Don't worry about the AF locking in on the correct element in the composition. I think this will be very appealing to street shooters.

In my informal tests on the OM-D in the Olympus booth, the 15mm rendered quite nicely. If has 3 glass elements and a fixed aperture of f/8.

olympus_booth_.jpg 15mm on OM-D, ISO 1600, f/8, existing light

We can expect to see this holiday stocking stuffer around mid-November. It should retail for approximately $50 US.

Live Photokina Coverage

I'm on the floor at Photokina, in Cologne, Germany. You can follow via Twitter and Instagram. Wrap-ups will be published here on The Digital Story.

Photokina Time Lapse

The most recognized icon at Photokina is the Photo Globe. It attracts curious visitors to look at the thousands of images there, and to take pictures themselves. Here's a short time lapse movie captured with an iPhone 4S that shows this activity.

Live Photokina Coverage

I'll be on the floor at Photokina, in Cologne, Germany starting on Tuesday, Sept. 18. You can follow via Twitter and Instagram. Wrap-ups will be published here on The Digital Story.

One of my stops today at Photokina was to take a closer look at the Samsung Galaxy Camera. In case you missed the announcement, this is the first compact camera that's WiFi and cellular connected, and controlled by the Android mobile operating system.

The front looks like a Samsung camera, including a collapsable zoom lens. But the back has the appearance, feel, and functionality of an Android-powered device. Yes, that means apps too.

samsung galaxy camera Taking a picture with the Samsung Galaxy.

The screen looks great. I opened and closed various apps and had a nice geeky moment with the device (except for one thing -- more on that in a minute). But then I wanted to take a picture, and I wasn't sure how to hold the camera. There's no place on the back to rest your thumb. It's all screen. After some trial and error, I ended up holding the Galaxy by the edges like I do my iPhone.

samsung_vs_iphone Speaking of the iPhone, the Samsung Galaxy Camera is a bit larger than the iPhone 4S I always have with me.

Now, back to when I was playing with the Android apps. I wasn't sure how the hold the device then either. The zoom lens was smack in the middle of my hand.

samsung_android The zoom lens wasn't that comfy in my hand when I was in "Android mode."

All of this led me to one, big question: how the heck should I hold it? I guess these are the little things you put up with when you're very enamored with the technology.

Live Photokina Coverage

I'm on the floor at Photokina, in Cologne, Germany. You can follow via Twitter and Instagram. Wrap-ups will be published here on The Digital Story.

Canon comes through with the 6D, a more affordable full frame DSLR. I take a look at its specs and see how it stacks up the the 5D Mark III and Nikon D600. Olympus was busy also with two new PEN announcements, the E-PM2 (mini) and E-PL5. They both have the same wonderful sensor as the OM-D, but in smaller packageS. I share a few travel tales, talk about the week ahead, and even have a surprise or two. All of this on this week's TDS Podcast, recorded in Cologne, Germany.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (24 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Bokeh is the Sept. 2012 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is Sept. 30, 2012.

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

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Photokina Coverage On Track

After 24 hours of traveling, I'm in my room in Cologne making sure I stay awake until the evening hours. I want to acclimate to German time as quickly as possible. Of course, having a Kolsch is part of the acclimation process.

It was definitely a "planes, trains, and automobiles" trip, with the last leg on the high speed ICE train that clocked over 185 km per hour on some of the open stretches to Cologne.


While I was traveling, both Panasonic and Olympus made big announcements in the micro four thirds space. I'll cover those in the podcast that I'm going to record tonight from my room overlooking the old Wolkenburg building that's outside my window.

Tomorrow morning, German time, I take a local train to the Koelnmesse for the official opening of Photokina. Stay tuned for hands-on reports, Instagrams, and tweets. But first, I need to find some food. I don't really remember when my last real meal took place.

More to come...

Live Photokina Coverage

I'll be on the floor at Photokina, in Cologne, Germany starting on Tuesday, Sept. 18. You can follow via Twitter and Instagram. Wrap-ups will be published here on The Digital Story.