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Las Vegas Here I Come - PMA 07


I'm off to Las Vegas to cover this year's PMA show. If you've been following the industry news, you know that already lots of pre-show announcements have been released, such as the Nikon D40x. But there will be more, and I will be there in person to figure it out and relay the information to you.

I have meetings set up with Adobe, Nikon, HP, Pentax, Panasonic, and more. I'll do my best to get you the inside scoop, and hopefully an interview for our weekly podcasts. And if there's anything interesting on the show floor, I'll send along a snapshot or two.

Next stop... Vegas!

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If you create slideshows with your photos and burn them to DVD for playback in set-top players, you might want to enhance your packaging with a nice album cover and liner notes.

You can make these easily using iTunes. Just create a new playlist, add a QuickTime version of your slideshow to the playlist, then enter the title and author data by using the Get Info (File > Get Info). Now all you have to do is select the playlist and choose Print (File > Print). You have a handful of themes to choose from, pick the one you like, click Print, and out of your printer pops a beautiful DVD insert. It's that easy.

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Apple's Preview application is a terrific all-purpose imaging program that comes loaded free on every Mac. It's perfect for reading PDFs, but I've talked before about its many photographer-friendly features, such as in The Simplest of All Raw Converters.

I have more of these tricks up my sleeve, and one that I want to show you today is how to use this application as a quick previewer of how an image will print on various ink/paper stock combinations.

All you have to do is drag your photo onto Preview to open it, go to Tools > Assign Profile, and pick the printer/paper combination you want to preview (obviously you will have to have ICC profiles loaded on your Mac). You can toggle back and forth between the original shot and the adjusted profile shot using the CMD-Z / SHIFT CMD-Z keystroke combinations.

Keep in mind that your monitor has to be calibrated in order for this exercise to be valuable. But it's a great way to take a quick look at how an image should print (more or less) with a certain printer and paper, even if you're not hooked up to that printer at the time.

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Lightroom Adventure Slideshow


To help celebrate the 1.0 release of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, the Lightroom Adventure Team has released a beautiful 800x600 slideshow with soundtrack. The 4:40 presentation includes photos from a variety of Adventure photographers, complete with piano music by Kevin MacLeod. This presentation is a healthy 16 MBs, so you might have to wait a minute or two for the download to complete. (I initially had "fast start" enabled, but it broke when I added the ID3 tags.)

Speaking of preparing the movie, it was actually a bit of a challenge for Mikkel Aaland and me to create using Lightroom. The problem was that you can only export slideshows to PDF out of Lightroom, so we had to overcome that in order to create this presentation. Mikkel has just blogged an interesting write up about how we accomplished this in his post titled, A Lightroom QuickTime Slideshow. Yes, QuickTime!. If you're using Lightroom, you might want to take a peek at what he has to say.

You can download the Lightroom Adventure Slideshow here.

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The latest version of iView Media Pro continues Mac support (Universal Binary even) and adds Vista compatibility. Features and fixes include updated Nikon libraries for compatibility with Nikon D80/D40 camera files, corrected issues with some .XMP sidecars not being recognized (Win), and fixed a problem where preferences might not be displayed correctly (Mac). You can read the version history (PDF) for more details.

I think Microsoft is doing a good job of moving the application forward for both Mac and Windows users. If you're looking for a solid Digital Asset Manager (DAM) for photos and other media, this application is definitely worth investigating. You can download a 21-day trial if you want to take a peek.

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I Messed Up, and Raw + Aperture Saved Me


I was driving by the Sebastopol Lagoon the other morning right after the rain had stopped. I've always had a soft spot for how the big puffy clouds reflect in the still pools of the Lagoon, accented by stately trees and a variety of vibrant green plant life.

I found a good vista point and captured about 30 frames. I was thinking that one of these might make a nice 13 x 19 inch enlargement. Unfortunately, I made a bonehead mistake by shooting the series with the white balance set on “custom” from the night before. Fortunately, I record in Raw, so I was able to correct the blunder quickly during post production in Aperture.

I began my path to redemption by selecting the “Daylight” white balance preset that I had created previously in the Adjustments HUD, then applied it to the first image in the series. With the photo still selected, I used Shift-CMD-C to copy my adjustment. Then I selected the other images in the series and used Shift-CMD-V to add the Daylight white balance setting to them.

Within just minutes, I had corrected an otherwise disasterous mistake that would have ruined my day back in the “Jpeg/destructive editing” dark years. Now I'm off to the printer to see how these shots look on paper.

PS: You can learn more about Aperture by checking out the training video I authored with Scott Bourne titled, Aperture 1.5: Beyond the Basics.

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You'd think that I'd be crazy-excited about a new compact camera that has 7 megapixel resolution, a 10X optical lens, and high definition video capture. And to some degree, I am impressed with the just-announced Canon PowerShot TX1.

This device fits in your shirt pocket, yet can record full-motion video (to an SD card) and shoot 7 megapixel still shots. And like a dedicated video recorder, you can zoom the lens during capture -- something that many still cameras don't allow you to do in movie mode. And how about that 39-390mm optical zoom in a camera the size of a deck of cards? Wow. That is impressive. The TX1 is also Vista certified right out of the box, in addition to being Mac OS X 10.4 compatible.

But it has two major shortcomings that will keep me from purchasing it. First, if you can record stunning high-definition video (1280 x 720 @ 30fps), but have to use an onboard microphone for the audio, what are you really gaining? The image is only half of the equation in movie making, and until camera manufacturers provide us with a microphone jack so we can record equally impressive audio, we can't use these devices instead of a camcorder.

Also, I'm totally mystified by Canon's insistence on using the AVI Motion JPEG WAVE format for video instead of some flavor of MPEG. Using the AVI format, you get a whopping 13 minutes of continuous movie recording at 1280x720 resolution on a 4GB memory card. If Canon were to switch to an advanced MPEG format, they could quadruple capture time for the same amount of storage space.

So, I have to view the new PowerShot TX1 as a potentially impressive still camera (10x optical with 7 megapixel resolution) that also records movies. But as a state of the art hybrid, it comes up short for me.

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Want to hear the latest about digital photography software from Scott Bourne, Alex Lindsay, Colleen Wheeler, and Derrick Story? Then tune-in to the latest episode of the iLifeZone. Find out Derrick's top three features for Lightroom and Aperture, discover why Colleen still uses Adobe Bridge, and learn which of these interfaces Scott likes the best. It's all there in another lively episode of the iLifeZone.

You can subscribe to the iLifeZone via iTunes Music Store.

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Sometimes people don't install great software, such as the new Adobe Camera Raw Plug-In 3.7, because they're not exactly sure how. Even though you know you could look it up, other tasks seem to come first.

When Adobe released the 1.0 version of Photoshop Lightroom, they also posted Camera Raw Update 3.7. If you haven't done so already, this is an important plug-in for your to add to Photoshop. By doing so, you get an improved Camera Raw workspace, the latest camera support including the Nikon D40 and Pentax K10D, plus compatibility with Lightroom.

There are two ways you can update Camera Raw. Open Photoshop CS and use the Update Tool in the Help menu. Or you can download it and place it in the File Formats folder yourself. The file path is:

Hard Disc > Library > Application Support > Adobe > Plug-Ins > CS2 > File Formats

Regardless of which method you use, I highly recommend this update for Raw shooters. You can find out more by opening the Read Me file. And if you have Photoshop CS loaded on a Windows machine, you can download that version here.

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In Podcast 69, I talked about what's in my camera bag. One of the things I mentioned during the show was that I wanted to know what you're packing these days when you go out for a shoot. Virtual camera club member, Anthony Watson, took me up on the offer, and here's what he has to say.

"I like your idea of having 'application specific' photo bags," says Anthony. "Some day I will do that. In the meantime, I have most everything in one bag as follows:"

  • Nikon D70 body
  • Sigma 50/2.8 macro lens (from my N70)
  • Sigma 24-70/2.8 (also from my N70, now you know why I chose a D70)
  • Sigma 70-300/4-5.6 (again, from my N70)
  • Vivitar ring flash (for the macro lens)
  • Nikon SB800 flash (my favorite purchase so far)
  • Cokin filter system
  • Cokin circular polarizer
  • Cokin 2 stop hard gradient filter
  • Lens pen
  • Rocket blaster (thanks for the suggestion on one of your early podcasts!)
  • Batteries, batteries, and more batteries
  • 2 SanDisk 2GB CF cards

"This setup seems to cover just about all of my needs. I wish I had a macro lens somewhere between 85 and 135 - hopefully someday."

Tell us what you have in your camera bag. Just write a few words about your packing philosophy and add the contents list. Go to the Submissions page for contact information.

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