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When I needed to photograph the Toshiba FlashAir card for my review on c't DigiPhoto, I used the Fotodiox FlapJack LED Edge Light ($299) for the shoot. And I have to say, this nimble, diffused light is making my job a lot easier.

What separates the Fotodiox from other LED units I've used is the built-in diffusion, eliminating the need for a softbox. The LED bulbs aren't pointed directly at the subject. Instead, they are angled inward with the light reflected through diffusion material. The result is a soft, beautiful illumination.

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For the FlashCard shoot, I put the product in a collapsable mini-studio and used the Fotodiox light for the front illumination. I added a smaller traditional LED panel pointed at the backdrop to keep it nice and bright.

The Fotodiox is battery-powered (although the kit includes an AC adapter if you want to use it). I leave the Flapjack mounted on a light stand so I can position it anywhere I need without concern about cords. The Fotodiox also includes a built-in dimmer, so I can easily balance the foreground illumination with the background to get exactly the look I want. And since the output is color-balanced for daylight, I can leave my camera in Auto White Balance mode without worrying about unsightly color casts.

All of this adds up to fast, easy, and attractive product photography. As much as I like the Fotodiox Flapjack for portrait lighting, it's even better for knocking out product shots.

Adding the Finishing Touches

Once you've captured the photo, finish it off in style. My post-production tutorial Enhancing Product Photography with Aperture is chockfull of tips and techniques that will help you make your products shine.

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RAW support for the Canon EOS 7D Mark II, Fujifilm X30, Nikon D750, and the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX100 were added to the Apple ecosystem that currently includes iPhoto, Aperture, and Preview.

Digital Camera RAW Compatibility Update 6.01 is currently available in the Mac App Store. This update requires Mac OS X Yosemite.

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.

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Adobe incorporated its Aperture/iPhoto Import Utility into Lightroom 5.7. And it works well. But a little preparation in Aperture will provide you with the best results possible.

Edited-Jpeg-and-Raw.jpg Imported Aperture files in Lightroom 5.7 - The edited RAW file is now a Jpeg displayed on the left. The unedited RAW file is on the right. Both images were imported into Lightroom using the Adobe utility. The size and quality of the image on the left was determined by the Preview Settings in Aperture prior to import into Lightroom.

Since Lightroom can't imported the adjustments to RAW files (only the RAWs themselves), it provides you with the option to import Jpeg versions of your edited RAW files, along with the master RAWs themselves. I cover how to set this up in the article, How to Import Aperture Libraries into Lightroom 5.7 published on ct-digiphoto.com.

The real key for Aperture users is to regenerate their Jpegs that are being prepared for import into Lightroom. Most of us are using Aperture previews set to a constrained size, such as 1920x1920 or 1440x1440. This makes sense in terms of managing disk space on our computers.

The problem is, if we don't regenerate these Jpegs to "Don't Limit Size" and to a higher quality setting, such as "10," then the edited files that are imported into Lightroom won't be maximum quality or resolution.

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You can correct this by regenerating your previews using these settings in Aperture's Preferences (Aperture > Preferences), Photo Preview: Don't Limit, and Photo Preview Quality: 10 (High). Click on the image on the right to see how this looks.

To generate new previews using these parameters, hold down the Option key and go to Photos > Generate Previews. Depending on how many previews you're regenerating, this can take a while. Monitor your progress via the Activity window in Aperture (Window > Show Activity).

An easy test to make sure this worked is to drag a thumbnail out of Aperture to the Desktop. Open it in Preview, and use CMD-i to bring up the General Info box. There you can see the dimensions of the current preview in Aperture.

By regenerating full size previews, the pictures you so carefully edited in Aperture will be imported into Lightroom as Jpegs at their maximum dimensions with high quality. The edited preview receives an augmented file name, such as "PB020248_Aperture_preview.jpg" to help you identify it. Plus you'll get the original RAW, if there was one.

I highly recommend that you do a test run with a small Aperture library to ensure that you've prepared properly. Once everything passes muster, you're ready for the big import.

Keep in mind, that you only have to go through this laborious task if you were planning on moving to Lightroom anyway. A much easier transition to Apple's Photos app is on the horizon. And that move will keep all of our adjusted RAW files intact, plus library structure and metadata. Stay tuned for news about that right here on The Digital Story.

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.

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I was just reading the excellent review of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100. This is a camera for which I have serious lust. And that desire was intensified by the Gold Award bestowed upon it by DP Review.

Since the LX100 is a new form factor, however, I'm also reminding myself that I need to experience it physically before dinging my credit card for $800. Why? Because good on paper doesn't always mean good in the hands.

I recently received this note from Ed, a longtime TDS virtual camera club member, and owner of a previous LX camera. He shared his experience with the LX100, a camera he knew he wanted from the moment it was announced. Ed wrote:

"I was like a kid waiting for Christmas on the day it was to be delivered. But as soon as I opened the box and picked it up I experienced immediate disappointment. It just didn't feel right in my hand; it felt awkward. I couldn't believe how 2-3mm here and 2-3mm there and only ~2-3oz more had so drastically changed my wonderful and most used LX camera. It no longer just slipped into my hip pouch, I had to consciously angle it in and it felt surprisingly heavy in my vest pocket."

Ed ultimately sent back the camera. His experience is something to keep in mind in this online world. When I upgraded from the Canon 60D to the 70D, I was pretty confident that I would like the new camera. That's a purchase I could make online right away.

But I also know that's not always the case. Trade shows, friends with gear, and physical camera stores can help me evaluate new form factors. (If you try at a camera store, BTW, they deserve the sale.) Yes, we can usually return the item if necessary.

But as with photography itself, it's best to get it right the first time.

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Tripod Too Short? Use Your Car

One of my favorite pictures of Ansel Adams is with him on the roof of his panel truck using a tripod to make a picture. When I first saw that image, I thought, "That guy is cool."

Often the tripod I have with me is of the compact variety, such as the MeFOTO DayTrip that extends only 24". In city settings, this lack of height hasn't been a problem.

bay-bridge-sf-night-web.jpg "San Francisco Skyline with Bay Bridge" captured with the OM-D E-M1 and a MeFOTO DayTrip tripod sitting on the hood of my car. Photo by Derrick Story.

In many situations, like Adams, I use my car to extend the height of my sticks. This image of the San Francisco skyline with Bay Bridge was recorded by mounting an OM-D E-M1 on the MeFOTO, and using the hood of my car as the platform. Rubber feet don't scratch the paint. (I've also used newspaper machines, street barriers, steps, walls, ledges and anything else I can find.)

I'm not sure if others around me thought I was cool. But I did get the shot.


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

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This week on The Digital Story Photography Podcast: Dealing with Drones, a chat with Storytag founder Nikki McKenna, huge savings on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 - All of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Snapshot - Pelican on Treasure Island. I try to arrive early for assignments in interesting places. Usually I'm rewarded with a few extra images. This was the case last week as I hung out with a Pelican in the marina on Treasure Island.

Weekly Update - $400 Savings on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 - Now available for $599 until inventory is depleted. The word on the street is that a replacement is coming in early 2015 - (Source: B&H Photo)

In other news, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM becomes a reality - The lens itself is slightly taller, wider and heavier than the original (circa 1998, but the move to a rotating zoom design should resolve problems associated with dust being sucked in during operation. It also offers three image stabilization modes and offers 4 stops of stabilization compared to 1.5 in the previous model. Thew new lens will automatically lock the IS elements when it detects a tripod in use. (Source: DP Review)

And finally, Rumor: Sigma's Much Anticipated 24mm f/1.4 Art Lens May Finally Arrive Q1 of 2015 (Source: PetaPixel).

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Story #1 - Dealing with Drones: One of the most controversial tools in photography right now are those flying quad-copters and their brethren. After attending the DJI Launch Party for the Inspire-1 last week, I came away more conflicted than ever about drones. I discuss this in today's first feature story.

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Story #2 - A Chat with Storytag Founder Nikki McKenna - Storytag is about helping you to tell your story, one chapter at a time. You know the richness of  conversation that happens when you flip through old pictures with your grandparents, and you spend the time to ask questions? Nikki has figured out how to provide that service to all of us, and she explains how in the second segment of today's show. 

Story #3 - First Annual Nimble Store Sale - To celebrate one year of online nimbleosity, we're in the middle of a doozie of a sale. For example, our popular Walking Man Shoulder Bag and Stainless Steel Water Bottle Kit is on sale for $29.95. That's over 30 percent off for a quality Wenger hiking bottle and the classic shoulder bag. Sale ends on Monday, Nov. 24th.

Virtual Camera Club News

Photo Assignment for November 2014 is "Layers".

Red River Paper News! - Save 10 percent off your next order of inkjet paper and greeting cards. Good one per customer. Use discount code STORY10X - Ends 1/15/15.

A Note from SizzlPix

Special for TDS listeners, a 20% discount on all SizzlPix ordered, now through end of November. Using the comment space on the newly streamlined SizzlPix order page, write "TDS 20 percent discount."

And Finally...

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 (39 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 May!

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What initially attracted me to Kenu Stance was that it did not require an adapter or special case to mount to an iPhone. Its MicroMount inserts directly into the iPhone's Lightning port. Combined with the Stance's lightweight (1.2 ounces) and compact (3.1") design, you can carry it with you anywhere.

The Stance can also be configured as a stand for watching videos on the iPhone. And its ball head allows for versatile positioning for photography.

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And if all of that wasn't good enough, the Stance includes a bottle opener. So when it's time to celebrate your great shot with a sip of your favorite microbrew, you're opener will already be in hand.

The Stance is available directly from the Kenu site for $29.95.


Nimble Photographer Logo

The Kenu Stance has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

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Considering Affiliates for Your Website

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Many of us in photography and technology maintain web sites in addition to our work on social networks. Running our own blog, for example, provides us with complete control over the presentation of the content, including any ads or promotions that we might choose to share.

We probably won't attract the likes of Ford Motor Company for our personal sites. But that doesn't mean that we can't form strategic partnerships with like-minded companies. Often the easiest way to accomplish this is through an affiliate program.

How do these work? First, find a company that you like. My most recent partnership was formed with Rocky Nook Publishing that has an excellent Affiliate Program. I'll use them as an example for this article.

You sign up, providing basic information about yourself and your site. In most cases, you're setting up an affiliate account with the company. An agreement is finalized, and you're ready for business. Now you have access to the assets they provide to their partners, usually through an affiliate area that you can log in to.

Since not every website qualifies, getting this far is a stamp of approval. You can leverage this acknowledgement by placing a promotional tile on your site. Site visitors recognize that you're serious about your publishing and those with whom you choose to associate.

All affiliate content, whether it's a tile or a link, contains your account ID. This gives you credit for any resulting transactions with your business partner. In the case of Rocky Nook, you earn 10 percent commission on purchases made through affiliate links.

This creates a passive revenue stream, which means that you didn't have to do a specific task to earn money. Instead, you've created an environment that generates revenue through everyday use. Passive revenue streams are the holy grail of independent publishers.

We are often judged by the company we keep. Be choosy about who you partner with online. In my opinion, the co-branding is at least as important as the revenue. When you look at The Digital Story home page, you'll see tiles for c't Digital Photography, Rocky Nook, Red River Paper, SizzlPix, lynda.com, B&H Photo, and Amazon. These are all companies that I like and respect. And I'm thrilled to be associated with them.

If you want to learn more about Rocky Nook's affiliate program, which I think is a good starting point, then take a look at their Affiliate FAQ page.

Carefully choosing affiliates for your online publishing can be a positive experience for both parties involved.

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Facing the Sun - Again

One of the techniques we worked on at a recent TDS Photography Workshop was shooting in to the sun. I had an other opportunity yesterday while on assignment at Treasure Island in San Francisco.

Looking-in-to-the-Sun-SF-web.jpg Looking In to the Sun - SF. Photo by Derrick Story.

Using the LCD on my Olympus OM-D E-M1 with a Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 zoom set to 12mm, I used the sun and its reflection on the water as a key part of the composition.

The ISO was 200, at f/11, and 1/640th of a second. This image was sampled down from a in-camera Jpeg in Superfine mode.


Nimble Photographer Logo

The Olympus OM-D has a high Nimbleosity Rating. What does that mean? You can learn about Nimbleosity and more by visiting TheNimblePhotographer.com.

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Have you been waiting to get your Walking Man Shoulder Bag? Or maybe step up to the stylish Nimble Messenger Bag that holds a 15" laptop? Or how about one of my favorites: the Walking Man Cap?

If that's the case, you may want to take advantage of The First Annual Nimble Store Sale. Terrific price reductions on many of your favorite items. Sale prices are good from now until November 24th. These will be the best prices of the season.

Check it out for yourself at The Nimble Photographer Store.

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