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"This is an HDR shot with a Canon 60D using a Canon wide-angle 10-22mm at 10mm and the ISO set to 800," writes Keith Burrows. "I used Aperture 3 and HDR Pro plugin by NIK software."

Moonrise, Palm Beach, Florida Moonrise, Palm Beach, Florida by Keith Burrows

"This section of beach was lit by giant spotlights from atop the seaside condos behind me. It almost made the water look like it had an underwater pool light illuminating it. I shot quite a few that night and will post them soon on my new photography site.

Keith is an associate Pastor at Acts 2 Worship Center A/G with a passion to capture the wonder & splendor of God's creation.

This is our 209th Grab Shot! Wow. If you want to review the collection that began back in 2006, go to our Grab Shots page.

If you have a candid you'd like to share, take a look at our Submissions page, then send us your Grab Shot. We'll try to get it published for you on The Digital Story.

And you can view more images from our virtual camera club in the Member Photo Gallery.

The Digital Story Podcast App is the best way to stream or download weekly TDS podcast episodes. No more syncing your iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, or even your Android phone just to get a podcast. And the best part is, The Digital Story Podcast App is your way to help support this show. Download it today!

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WPPI Coverage Next Week

WPPI 2011

I'll be in rocking Las Vegas next week for the WPPI Convention at the MGM Grand Hotel. In addition to helping photographers in the Lowepro booth (#124), I plan on reporting on interesting things I see and people who I meet. I'm also going to record next week's TDS podcast from the MGM Grand.

Canon has the largest booth area, followed by Nikon and Sony. But one of the things I like about WPPI is that the expo attracts lots of smaller businesses doing creative things. I hope to share some of those goodies with you next week.

If you plan on attending the event, please stop by the Lowepro booth to say hello, or send me a Tweet at Derrick_Story.

Next stop... Las Vegas!

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Soft Backgrounds with Small Cameras

As we wait for large aperture prime lenses from Zeiss and Sigma for our micro four thirds cameras, we can still create those velvety soft backgrounds right now. I've been testing adapters for my Olympus PEN E-PL2, and it's a lot of fun.

Shallow Depth of Field A Canon 50mm f/1.2 mounted on an Olympus E-PL2 to create this soft background effect. Click on image for larger version.

The process is quite simple. You get an adapter that allows you to mount a particular brand of lens on your camera. I've tested Zeiss and Canon adapters for the E-PL2. This allows me to use wide aperture primes on the petite Olympus to achieve effects I can't get with the kit lens.

Since the PEN cameras have image stabilization built-in to the body, any lens you put on the body becomes stabilized. You have to manually focus, and you don't get any aperture metadata. But what you do get is the ability to create shots at wide aperture.

If you want to create a big time look with your little camera, investigate adapters for any prime lenses you may have stashed in the closet.

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Hiding pictures in iPhoto '11 is a helpful technique when you want to keep an image in your library, but you don't want others to see it. It's easy to set up, and just as simple to turn on and off. In this short video, I use the technique to hide a picture of me taken after a week of Oktoberfest in Munich.

More Training Available

There are now two ways to learn and have more fun with iPhoto '11: my iPhoto '11 Essential Training ONLINE at, and the new iPhoto '11 Essential Training DVD that you can purchase from the Store for $49.95 US.

You also may want to watch Creating Smart Albums in iPhoto '11. It's a very handy technique.

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By using B&W in a photo, you can help focus the viewer's eye to a particular area of the composition. In this shot for example, I like how the basketball player is flying above the rim. It's amazing really. But in the full color version, the colorful crowd was distracting, making it hard to isolate the player with the ball. I like the expressions in the crowd, but I want the viewer to look at those after focusing on the main subject.

Flying Basketball Player After bouncing off a trampoline during the halftime show at Oracle Arena, this athlete soars high into the air then dunks the ball on his way down. Click on image for larger version.

To help improve things, I converted the entire image to B&W in Aperture 3, then I used an adjustment brush to restore the color to just the player. To do this, go to the gear menu in the B&W brick, and choose, "Brush B&W away." It's very easy to do.

You can also create this effect in Photoshop, but the thing I like about Aperture 3 is that I don't have to build a mask. The application does that for me. All I have to do is paint and I get the effect I want.

More Aperture Tips and Techniques

My next Aperture Workshop is May 23, 2011 in Santa Rosa, CA. write me if you're interested in attending.

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.

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The ability to push the ISO up to 3200 for indoor sports makes everything easier. I can stop down the aperture a bit to give me more depth of field, and still maintain a fast shutter speed to freeze the action.

Stephen Curry Splits the Double Warriors point guard Stephen Curry splits the defense of Durant and Green to score during the Warriors victory over Oklahoma City at Oracle Arena on Feb. 13, 2011. Click on image for larger version.

For last night's Warriors victory over Oklahoma City at Oracle Arena, I used the Canon EOS 60Dwith the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L zoom to capture these shots. The 60D works great because of its 5.3 fps burst rate and the excellent image quality at ISO 3200. This enabled me to shoot at 1/500th second at f/4 or f/5.6.

Kevin Durant Dunk Kevin Durant dunks against the Warriors at Oracle Arena. Click on image for larger version.

Being able to use the f/4 telephoto instead of the bulkier f/2.8 70-200mm makes everything easier for this type of sports photography because it is lighter and smaller. Then, to get the most out of the images, I capture in Raw, even though the memory buffer fills up a bit faster on the 60D when I do.

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The just announced Olympus SZ-10 is a compact featuring a 18x super telephoto 28-504mm lens, 3" 460K-dot LCD monitor, 720p HD video recording, 3D photo mode... and face detection for cats and dogs.


That's right, in there are two scene modes dedicated to cats and dogs, so when your favorite pet turns toward the camera, the SZ-10 locks-in focus and exposure for their adorable faces. "Say kibble!"

The Olympus SZ-10 should be available in April 2011 for $249.

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The State of Editorial Photography

I started working for a local newspaper when I was in high school, and for the next 25 years my photography was defined, in large part, by my employer. Then, in the late 1990s, the Web changed everything. For the first time I wasn't a staff shooter. As part of the evolution, I built my own web site and became a freelancer. I didn't fully realize it at the time, but my career was taking a 180 degree change toward being an independent writer and photographer.

I started thinking about all of this again after reading a good post on the web site, A Photo Editor titled, Is Editorial Photography Dead?. It's definitely worth a read. Essential, the answer is "no," but it certainly is changing. There are very few staff jobs these days, and content is being created at all levels, from "pros" to bloggers. I agree with this. In fact, I wear both hats myself.

Dorell Wright, Golden State Warriors

I have shoots that I'm hired to do that often include credentials and expense reports. Then I have activities where I have a PEN in my jacket pocket, I see a shot, capture it, and then post it on my blog. This recent shot of Dorell Wright could have easily accompanied a paid newspaper article I might have written in the past. Now it's part of my blogging today. There's no paycheck for this shot, but somehow it helps my cause. The Web is like that.

Dorell Wright, Golden State Warriors - Captured during pre-game warmups with an Olympus PEN E-PL2 with an 40-150mm lens at 150mm. ISO 1600. Click on image for larger version.

I'm as excited as ever about photography. But I've made more adjustments to my career in the last two years than I had in the 30 years that preceded it. So I would say that the state of editorial photography is: rapid change. And my advice is to move with it, and when you can, get in front of it.

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One of the most tempting combinations in the micro four thirds universe is mounting the Panasonic 7-14mm f/4.0 zoom lenson a new Olympus E-PL2 body. The effective range of the Panasonic lens is 14-28mm, providing lots of shooting opportunities that you don't get with a regular kit lens.

Liberty Hill, San Francisco Liberty Hill, San Francisco by Derrick Story. Click on image for larger size.


The Panasonic wide zoom feels like a quality optic. It's solid, smooth, and absolutely beautiful. You have to hold it to truly appreciate its machined precision. The constant f/4 maximum aperture combined with the ISO 1600 performance on the E-PL2 is a street shooter's dream come true. And the compatibility is excellent when mounted on Olympus PENs. The metadata for this shot shows all of the lens information as well as the camera data. This is one of the areas where adhering to agreed standards really pays off.

This image from the Liberty Hill area of San Francisco was shot at 14mm wide open on the E-PL2 at ISO 1600. (You can see all of the metadata by clicking on the chart to the left for an enlarged view.) The Jpeg was then processed in Aperture, exported, sampled down, then 12 percent Smart Sharpen was added in Photoshop CS5 before posting here. All through the processing workflow, the photo looked great: clean tones and good clarity. This makes post production much easier when you have a solid image to begin with.


The Panasonic 7-14mm f/4.0 zoom lenswill set you back about $850. It's not a casual purchase. I borrowed one from my photographer friend Ben Long, and have been trying to figure out how to buy my own ever since. I'm sure it's one of those "will last a lifetime" investments. And if you want to work at wide focal lengths, it's a zoom that you will most likely fall in love with.

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I was happy when I could mount sexy Panasonic lenses on my Olympus PEN. But the Micro Four Thirds party just got a bit more exciting. In the last week, Schneider-Kreuznach, Carl Zeiss, and Sigma all announced that they would be designing and manufacturing glass for the Micro Four Thirds mount.

I think this is particularly good news for Olympus PEN owners because those cameras have image stabilization built into the body. This means that any M4/3 mount should work great on any PEN, and include IS.

Personally, I'm looking forward to new prime lenses. Two of my current favorites for the PEN are the Olympus 17mm f/2.8 Lens($259) and the Panasonic LUMIX G 20mm f/1.7 ($334). Imagine having a Carl Zeiss 40mm f/1.8 (which would equal an 80mm f/1.8 because you double the focal length for M4/3) or a Sigma 50mm f/2.8 macro?

This will be a scene to keep your eyes on in 2011...