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A terrific workflow improvement with Aperture 3.3.1 and iPhoto 9.3 is the "unified library." This means that regardless of which application creates the library, it can be opened with either app.

I decided to see how one of my Aperture libraries would look in iPhoto on a MacBook Pro 15" Retina Display. To test, I held down the Option key and launched iPhoto 9.3. I was greeted with a dialog box listing available iPhoto and Aperture libraries. I chose the "Canon 40mm" library, which I had created previously in Aperture.

As you can see from the following screenshots, Apple has done a pretty good job of not only unifying the library structure, but also the user interfaces for both applications. So as you switch from one program to the other, the experience is relatively consistent.

Aperture 3.3 user interface


iPhoto 9.3 user interface


My star ratings, flags, keywords, and albums that were created in Aperture appeared in iPhoto. I then applied an image edit, added a keyword, and wrote a description in iPhoto. And yes, when I opened the library in Aperture, all of the changes from iPhoto appeared there.

aperture_edit.jpg My info and image edit changes from iPhoto appeared in Aperture. All screen captures are from a MacBook Pro 15" Retina Display. Photos by Derrick Story.

Overall, I had very few hiccups as I switched between the two apps. I did have one instance where my Aperture albums did not show up in iPhoto at first. So I created another album in iPhoto, then opened the library in Aperture. The new album was there, as it should. When I went back to iPhoto, now all the albums were then visible. I'm guessing this is a glitch that will be ironed out in an update.

Keep in mind that you can only have a given library open in either in Aperture or iPhoto, but not both apps at the same time.

A Few Feature Notes to Keep in Mind

I much prefer Aperture's importing process to iPhoto's, especially for Raw files. Aperture is a magnitude faster. Also, you can switch between libraries on the fly in Aperture. With iPhoto, the app has to relaunch.

Pictures marked as "Hidden" in iPhoto will not be visible in Aperture. In a similar vein, images marked as "Rejected" in Aperture can't be seen in iPhoto. So if you're sharing a library between apps with others, you do have some control over what appears in each.

Smart Albums can only be modified in the app in which they were created, but they are visible in both Aperture and iPhoto.

Just like in many marriages, a name change is involved as part of the union. A few terms have been modified in Aperture. "Masters" is now originals, "metadata" has become info, and "presets" are effects.

And finally, if you have created a multitude of iPhoto libraries over the years, and you'd like to consolidate them, you can. First open the library in iPhoto to update it to 9.3. Then you can use Aperture's Import Library command to merge it with another updated library. You can do this as many times as you need until all of your iPhoto libraries are neatly organized in one unified library.

Aperture Tips and Techniques

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

My next open Aperture Workshop is scheduled for Nov. 2012, in Santa Rosa, CA. You can get on the pre-registration list, plus learn about all the other photography workshops offered this season by visiting the TDS Workshops page.

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

If you like world class BBQ, music, beer, wine, great setting, and of course photography, come hang out with the TDS crew at this year's Wine Country Big Q in Santa Rosa, CA on Saturday, July 14, 1-5 pm.

Guy Fieri on Stage with Pete Guy Fieri and Pete Stringfellow on stage at the Big-Q BBQ event.

Our workshop team is covering this Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) nationally sanctioned competition. We'll be capturing the images then publishing a story about the event the following day. We'd love to join you for some brisket and a beer, or maybe some "melt in your mouth" chicken and a glass of wine? Each TDS workshop member will have an official "Event Photographer" badge, so you won't be able to miss us. The DSLRs in hand might be a hint too.

Your paid admission provides you with event access plus food and beverage tickets for more BBQ than you can probably eat, plus great Sonoma County wines and beers to wash it down. (For those of us covering the BBQ, this is just one of the challenges we'll have to endure.) Parking is free. So one price covers everything for the day.

Complete details and a photo gallery from last year's competition are available on Wine Country Big Q site. Hope to see you there.

Going Manual, Focus that Is


Even though I would love to buy the Olympus 75mm f1.8 lensfor my OM-D, it's just not in the budget right now. But I do have a beautiful manual focus Carl Zeiss 85mm f/2.8 lens from the days when I shot film with Contax SLRs.

So I decided to take this challenge: Do I still have the chops to shoot basketball with a manual focus lens?

I used a Rayqual micro four thirds adapter to mount the 85mm Zeiss on the OM-D. The first thing that struck me was how beautiful the combination of old and new looked together. In part, I think the retro styling of the OM-D lends itself to these types of lenses. So I quickly assembled the rig, and got into position to shoot.

Jump Ball

And with the jump ball, we were off. The gym lighting was marginal at best, as is often the case in high school facilities. But by capturing the action at its peak, I was able to get a sharp shot with a 1/80 shutter speed at f/2.8. ISO was set to 1600.

Free Throw

I decided to push the OM-D a bit further, and raised the ISO to 3200. An open door in the gym provided some rim lighting, which added elegance to the shot. Now my shutter speed was up to 1/250th.

I actually enjoyed using manual focus. I would prefocus on an area and capture the action as it flowed in that direction. At 9 fps, I was able to begin the sequences early and shoot all the way through. For the static shots, such as the "time out" below, I liked twisting the focusing ring back and forth to get just the look I wanted.

Time Out

Bottom line: this combination is a keeper. I've made the 85mm Zeiss a permanent member of my micro four thirds camera bag. This manual focusing thing isn't so bad after all.

You can find more photo tips and "photography how tos" on my Pinterest page.


Triggertrap is an ambitious app that enables you to control your iPhone camera, and with accessory dongle and connecting cable, your DSLR. Its functions range from the expected (cable release, sound trigger, and time lapse) to the impressive (eased time lapse and distance-lapse). It sells for $9.99 in the iTunes App Store, so expectations are high for its performance (as reflected in the user reviews on iTunes).

I tested Triggertrap on an iPhone 4S, and with a Pentax K-5 and Canon 60D. After my recent review of ioShutter, my expectations were "plug and play" for Triggertrap. But I quickly learned that this app is a bit more complex.


Triggertrap is an accessory for photographers who like to fiddle, experiment, fail, then ultimately succeed. You can do amazing things with it, like having the GPS in your iPhone measure your movement, and program the camera to release the shutter at a specified distance. That way, if you're documenting a road trip via time lapse, you don't burn a ton of useless frames while sitting in traffic.

But simple functions, such as using your iPhone as a cable release, have a degree of difficulty too. Suddenly I found myself reading the mobile manual trying to figure out delay settings and pulse lengths. If you like this stuff, you'll love the control that Triggertrap allows; if not, you'll feel the app is unnecessarily complicated.

There were some performance inconsistencies too, especially when controlling the DSLRs via the cable. Sometimes one tap would equal a single exposure, other times multiple. I double-checked my camera settings to make sure I was in single frame mode, but it didn't seem to make a difference.

For some functions, such as time lapse, this wasn't an issue. Everything worked great. But the sound trigger (Bang) and simple cable release were sometimes more of an adventure than I expected.

trigger_trap_dongle.jpg Triggertrap accessory dongle and connecting cable. Check the Triggertrap site to get the correct cable for your camera.

Bottom Line

If you're looking to create something out of the ordinary with your DSLR, take a look at the Triggertrap functions. For a $30 investment ($10 for the app and $20 for the cables), you can use your camera in ways you might not have imagined.

But, you if want a simple remote release with a handful of expected functions that doesn't require any fussing, Triggertrap probably isn't for you. It requires engagement, experimentation, and sometimes frustration before providing you with the rewards you're seeking.

I'm planning a project with it where I'll use the eased time lapse function with the StarLapse motor mount to create a new time lapse movie. I'll keep you posted on the results.

You can find more photo tips and "photography how tos" on my Pinterest page.

To 40mm or not? Canon's $199 40mm f/2.8 pancake lens seemed like a no-brainer to me. But some in our audience weren't impressed. I start out the show explaining why I think this little prime is just flat out fun.

Metadata-Smetadata: despite the adolescent title, I think adding IPTC information to your photos before releasing them into the wild is important. And I say why in the second segment.

SizzlPix 20" test from an iPhone 4S photo. I sent in an iPhone picture and got back a 20x15 inch SizzlPix. How did it look? All of this and more in this week's episode.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (27 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

Hot is the July 2012 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is July 31, 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

Red River Paper -- The $7.99 Sample Kit is back! And with free shipping.

Make Your Photos Sizzle with Color! -- SizzlPix is like High Definition TV for your photography. Get a 20% discount during July by adding "TDS" in the comment field of your order.

Need a New Photo Bag? Check out the Lowepro Specialty Store on The Digital Story and use discount code LP20 to saven 20% at check out.

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Canon 40mm Lens: Flat Out Fun

After a week of shooting with the Canon 40mm EF f/2.8 STM lens,I have to say this is one enjoyable little prime. At half the size of the 50mm f/1.8, it focuses quieter, is built sturdier, and is ever bit as sharp.

Canon 40mm Lens Canon 40mm prime mounted on a EOS 60D. Photo by Derrick Story.

The 40mm will focus as close as 1 foot. It's not macro (even though Canon says that on the side of the lens), but it is close enough for interesting compositions.

Bougainvillea Flowers Close up of Bougainvillea flowers captured with the Canon 40mm wide open on a Rebel T1i. Photo by Derrick Story. Click on image for larger size.

The pancake lens also performed well in the studio. I used it to take a series of product shots.

olympus_with_sigma.jpg Olympus E-M5 with Sigma 30mm f/2.8 lens captured with the Canon 40mm f/2.8 pancake on a Canon 60D. Photo by Derrick Story.

And finally, with the 40mm twisted into a Canon Rebel T1i, I crashed the Lowepro Summer picnic for some candid work. I also passed the camera around to see how others liked it. In the process, they took a photo of me.

derrick_story_picnic.jpg Photo of Derrick Story captured at the Lowepro summer picnic.

I like to call this lens the "optical body cap" because it virtually adds no thickness to my 60D when packed in the camera bag. I know this type of lens isn't for everyone. But I'm having a blast with it. Currently they're available for $199 US.

You can find more photo tips and "photography how tos" on my Pinterest page.

For the May 2012 Photo Assignment, TDS shooters fired up their motor drives and captured the world moving around them. See for yourself in our gallery, Action. And which one will be the SizzlPix Pick of the Month?


Photo by Ron Boyd. "When I heard the assignment 'action,' the first thing I thought about was this photo captured at Bosque Del Apache. I really like the contrast of the two engaged in intense competition while the other birds are seemingly unaware." To see all of the other terrific shots from May, visit the Action gallery page.

Participate in This Month's Assignment

The July 2012 assignment is "Hot." Details can be found on the Member Participation page. Deadline is July 31, 2012.

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: July 2012." 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.

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

SizzlPix Pick of the Month for March and April Photo Assignments

Congratulations to Brian Reynolds for his "Eyes" photograph, and to Ruth Cooper for "Macro." Each will receive a SizzlPix for his winning image, selected by the good folks at SizzlPix.

twitter.jpg Follow me on Twitter


Now Available! The Digital Photography Companion. The official guide for The Digital Story Virtual Camera Club.

  • 25 handy and informative tables for quick reference.
  • Metadata listings for every photo in the book
  • Dedicated chapter on making printing easy.
  • Photo management software guide.
  • Many, many inside tips gleaned from years of experience.
  • Comprehensive (214 pages), yet fits easily in camera bag.

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I Knew MobileMe Well

Like many other MobileMe users, I spent part of Saturday pulling content off my little corner of the Apple universe and saving it to the computer. As of today, it's goodbye MobileMe, hello iCloud.

mobile_me_discontinued.jpg I was greeted with this message when opening Aperture.

Just One More Thing...

This morning, however, when I opened my Aperture library to work on the TDS Photo Assignment (to be published soon), there was this parting message: "Click OK to move albums you have published to the MobileMe gallery to the Albums section of your library to preserve them." Aww shucks! Apple will relocate my MobileMe galleries to Aperture.

By the looks of the progress bar underway now, this will take a while. But, what a considerate eulogy for an old friend.

How versatile is the iPhone 4S? Nick Fancher, an Ohio based photographer, posted a "behind the scenes" video of a fashion shoot he did with just an iPhone 4S and a reflector as a fill light. He edited the images with Photoshop Express and Snapseed. Take a look!

Weekly Photography Podcast

You'll find The Digital Story in the new Apple Podcasts app. Subscribe (for free) today.

Podcasts are now out of iTunes and reside in their own app called Podcasts, which is available for free in the App Store. At first it may seem a little confusing to find and listen to your favorite episodes. So here's a quick walk through.

Step 1 - Search

To find a show, tap on the "Catalog" button and go to the "Search" field. In this case, I entered "Digital Photography." On the iPad, the results will be displayed as "Podcast Episodes" and "Podcasts." Browse both areas until you find something you want. (On the iPhone you'll only get the "Podcasts" listing.)

01_podcast_search.png Entering text in the Search field.

Step 2 - Select

One you find a podcast or episode you want to try, tap on it to reveal more information.

02_search_results.png Viewing search results.

Step 3 - Listen and Subscribe

You'll be presented with the most recent episodes for that podcast. You can listen to any of the selections by tapping on their title (streaming). If you want to download it for listening at another time, tap the "download arrow." You can also subscribe to the show by tapping the big "Subscribe" button.

03_subscribe.png Listen (tap on title), Download (tap on download arrow), or Subscribe.

Step 4 - Manage Your Podcast

Once you've subscribed to a show, it appears in your Library. You can see it by tapping on the "Library" button. At this point you can fine-tune some of the settings. On the iPad, click on the "gear" icon in the upper right corner to reveal the settings panel. On the iPhone, tap the arrow bracket > in the upper right.

04_settings.png Fine-tune the settings.

You can also share this podcast with a friend by tapping the "Share" button in the upper right and choosing one of three options: Email, Tweet, or Message.

Step 5 - Remove Episodes from Device

For individual episodes that you've downloaded and have already listened to, you can delete them if you wish to free up space on your device. Simply "swipe to the right" on the downloaded episode to reveal the "Delete" button.

05_deleting.png Delete to remove downloaded shows from device.

The Podcasts app seems well designed, and it's free. You might want to give it a try on your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad.

You can find more photo tips and "photography how tos" on my Pinterest page.