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ct-photography-seminar

If you love nature photography, check out this lineup for the upcoming seminar by c't Photography on Oct. 19 in Santa Monica, CA. Not one, not two, but four amazing photographers will be presenting - Ralph Clevenger, George Lepp, Tim Mathiesen, and Ian Shive. These guys know their stuff, and they will share their knowledge freely with you.

Now here's the best part, I can get you in the door for $139. That includes a full day of instruction, lunch, and a one year subscription to c't Photography (that's worth $49 alone). Here's how to get the discount, contact Devon Bell at 805-687-2208, or write her at devon@rockynook.com, and tell her that Derrick tipped you off to this deal.

Nature Photography Seminar

The event will be held at the Doubletree Suites Santa Monica, 1707 Fourth Street, Santa Monica, CA, and will run from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm on Saturday, Oct. 19. Each photographer has prepared a presentation.

  • Lighting Creatively: The Path to Seeing - Ralph Clevenger
  • In Search of Sharpness: Maximizing the Creative Power of Depth of Field - George Lepp
  • Stitching Your Way to Beautiful Panoramas - Tim Mathiesen
  • Learning to Edit Your Photographs - Ian Shive w/ JP Harrison

If you're in the Southern California area the weekend of Oct. 19, then I would definitely sign up for this event. Remember, to get the discount, you have to contact Devon directly. And if you do attend, please let me know how it went for you.


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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I've been testing the Lowepro Urban Reporter Camera Bag for over a month, and it has become my favorite shoulder bag of all time. That's high praise indeed. And for very good reasons.

Lowepro Urban Reporter 150 with Olympus OM-D E-M1 The Urban Reporter 150 accompanied me to San Francisco for a sneak peek of the Olympus OM-D EM1 in August 2013. Photo by Derrick Story.

This is a bag that you want to touch. The exterior fabric combines the feel of fine clothing with the durability of a high tech weave. It feels wonderful against the body. The experience is further enhanced with leather touch points, metal hardware and secure snap buttons. There is not one loop of velcro on the Urban Reporter itself (but the removable insert does have a bit of hook and loop - more on that later).

There are Four pockets on the exterior of the bag. The "snap open" side pockets are good for small accessories and sunglasses. You can close the snaps with one hand... well thought out indeed. The back document pocket doubles as a trolly sleeve when unzipped from the bottom. And the front zippered organizer area is perfect for headphones, business cards, filters, and cables.

Lowepro Urban Reporter Front Pocket

Inside the main compartment is a removable camera insert. This is an important feature. You can use the supplied insert for your camera gear, or remove it and design your own interior with other inserts, individual lens cases, or however you wish. I'll cover alternative packing configurations in a future post.

The Urban Reporter 150 includes a dedicated iPad sleeve inside the main compartment. And the Reporter 250 accommodates a 13" laptop in its sleeve. If you want to go big, the Reporter 350 can handle a 15" laptop. I've been using the 150 and 250 for my work. My everyday bag is the 150.

Urban Reporter Snap

So why do I like the Urban Reporter so much? It's discreet, stylish, functional, and feels great. I've very much enjoying "real hardware" - metal buttons and leather pulls.

My "go with me everywhere all the time" kit is the Reporter 150 with an iPad, OM-D E-M5, and a few lenses. I use the Reporter 250 with the Canon 70D, 3 lenses, and the MacBook Air. I'm comfortable with it at home, in the office, at Starbucks, and meeting with clients. It's a great shoulder bag for urban dwelling nimble photographers.

You can learn more about the Urban Reporter on the dedicated Lowepro features page. I've found the best price for it at Amazon.com. I'll have more to share in future posts.


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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5 Cool Things to Do with Your Old iPhone

If you decide not to take advantage of Apple's trade in program for your old iPhone, there are plenty of fun tasks for this device. After all, everything but the cellular still works. By any measurement, an iPhone 4 or 4S is still an amazing portable computer.

iPhone 4S Camera

I have an iPhone 4S, and here are some of the things I'll be using it for now to complement my new iPhone 5S.

Use an iPhone an an External Flash

By downloading the free app, External Flash, you can use the LED light on the old iPhone as a fill flash. This can be particularly handy for portraits where you hold the second iPhone up high pointing down at the subject to highlight the hair.

Set Up a Remote Surveillance Camera

I've been testing a nifty app called AirBeam ($3.99) for remote photography. Load the app on to both devices, then you can use the camera from one iPhone to remotely send video to the other. I wrote about AirBeam originally in conjunction with the Galileo robotic stand.

Use as an Audio Recording Device

The iPhone is an excellent audio recording device, especially when outfitted with a high quality mic such as the Rode iXY. You don't have to worry about draining the battery of your primary iPhone during interviews and other extended recordings. And for video, you can put the audio recorder closer to the source for better quality, then substitute the audio track in post production.

Remote Release for Your Digital Camera

I use Triggertrap as a remote release for my cameras and as a high speed trigger for my flash. The app is free, and all you have to do is purchase the appropriate dongle for your camera. In my opinion, Triggertrap is as good as a remote release as you'll find anywhere.

Unlock Your Old iPhone for Travel Abroad

Once you've upgraded to your new iPhone, your cellular carrier will allow you to unlock the previous model. In my case, I apply to AT&T via its online web form to unlock my iPhone 4S.

Once you've done this, you can purchase SIM cards in other countries while traveling, allowing you to have a local phone number and the best rates possible.

Bottom Line: Previous Model iPhones Are Very Useful Devices

If none of these applications interest you, then I would trade in your older iPhone and let someone else put it to use. But if you're like me, my iPhone 4S is going to be busy for months to come... right there in my camera bag, ready to work.


iPad for Digital Photographers

If you love mobile photography like I do, then you'll enjoy iPad for Digital Photographers-- now available in print, Kindle, and iBooks versions.

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Handy Replace Photo Command in Flickr

If you're not completely satisfied with an image you've posted on Flickr, you can use the "Replace this photo" option.

A common scenario is when you've posted a picture online directly from the camera while working on location. Then, later, once you've had a chance to refine it in your favorite image editor, you can upgrade the existing photo.

Replace This Photo in Flickr

All you have to do is browse the image you want to upgrade, then click on the three dots in the lower right corner that reveals a popup menu. Select "Replace this photo," then navigate to the location where you have the improved image. Flickr will make the substitution.

I've found that sometimes photos that look great on my iPhone don't hold up as well on my MacBook Pro with Retina display. Using the Replace this photo command allows me to quickly fix this problem.


Flickr Essential Training 2013 - I explore the entire Flickr universe, mobile and computer, in my lynda.com title, Flickr Essential Training. Stop by and take a look.

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This week on The Digital Story photography podcast: iOS 7 for Photographers, Photo Help Desk: MacBook Pro or Mac Pro?, and a helpful focusing tip - All of this and more on today's show with Derrick Story.

Story #1 - iOS 7 for Photographers. Even if you're not investing in a new iPhone 5S, you can enjoy an improved photography experience on your mobile device with iOS 7. Here are some of my favorite new features:

  • Photos app: Panoramas Album. My iPad culled all the available panoramas I had captured and placed them in a new Album titled, Panoramas.
  • Fast Sharing in iOS 7

  • Photos app: Fast sharing of images from inside the Photos app. Tap on the blue arrow icon in the lower left corner to reveal a plethora of sharing options. I've been tweeting images from inside the app.
  • Photos app: Years, Collections, Moments. The Photos app brings much improved organization by creating collections that can be viewed by year all the way down to "moments" that are photos taken within a day. And of course, those "moments" can be shared. Very helpful!
  • Photos app: Filters.In the Edit mode, you now have filters to play with. And what I like about them, is that they include B&W and faded conversions. So you can shoot in color, but make gorgeous B&Ws right in the Photos app. Plus the effects are nondestructive. So you can always revert to the original.
  • Camera app: Continuous Shooting Mode. This even works on my iPad 3. Hold down the shutter button and the app will capture in burst mode.

  • Camera app: Square format. For those of us who like to share on Instagram, having square format at capture really helps to compose the shot properly.

Story #2 - Photo Help Desk: MacBook Pro or Mac Pro for my next computer for photography?

Story #3 - Shooting Tip: Manual focus mode is helpful for a variety of shots, especially when you want one particular thing in focus, and you don't want your camera to refocus when you press the shutter button. One trick that I use is to focus on the element I want sharp, then carefully switch to manual focus so the camera doesn't refocus when I take the shot.

And don't forget, I have an Aperture Workshop coming up on Nov. 16 and 17. Write me at derrick@thedigitalstory.com for more details.

Listen to the Podcast

In addition to subscribing in iTunes, you can also download the podcast file here (34 minutes). You can support this podcast by purchasing the TDS iPhone App for only $2.99 from the Apple App Store.

Monthly Photo Assignment

The September 2013 photo assignment is Grab Shot.

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.


iPad for Digital Photographers

If you love mobile photography like I do, then you'll enjoy iPad for Digital Photographers-- now available in print, Kindle, and iBooks versions.

Podcast Sponsors

Red River Paper -- Keep up with the world of inkjet printing, and win free paper, by liking Red River Paper on Facebook.

Make Your Photos Sizzle with Color! -- SizzlPix is like High Definition TV for your photography.

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

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Triggertrap Flash Adapter - Go High Speed

I've wanted to play with high speed photography for years, but didn't want to tackle an elaborate setup. When Triggertrap released a Flash Adapter that works with their iOS and Android apps, I really didn't have an excuse any more.

Blue Cups Captured with the Triggertrap Flash Adapter "Yellow Ball and Blue Cups" captured using a Canon 70D, Sunpak 444D flash, and the Triggertrap Flash Adapter. Photo by Derrick Story

The setup couldn't be easier. I mounted a Sunpak flash to the Triggertrap Flash Adapter and attached the combo to a light stand. I then connected one end of the dongle to the adapter and the other to my iPhone and launched the Triggertrap app.

(There are two cords you use for this. One is the cord that comes with the Flash Adapter. The second is the Triggertrap Dongle that's sold separately. The dongle protects your iPhone from the flash.)

Triggertrap Flash Adapter

Next, I put the Canon 70D on a tripod and manually focused the 40mm lens on the subject. In Manual exposure mode, I set the shutter to 1 second and aperture at f/11. Since the room was darkened, the flash would serve as the main light source. Even at ISO 100, I could get away with 1/16 power on the Sunpak flash. Finally, I set the self-timer to a 2-second delay. I was now ready to shoot.

I activated the self timer. When I heard it trip the shutter, I threw the foam tennis ball at the blue cups. I had the Triggertrap app set to Sound Sensor. When my iPhone "heard" the ball hitting the cups, it fired the flash... almost instantaneously.

All I had to do was make sure the yellow ball hit the cups while the shutter was open on the Canon 70D. One second is plenty of time. As you can imagine, some shots looked great and others weren't as hot. It all had to do with where the ball stuck the cups.

If you want to experiment with this addicting type of high speed photography, you'll need the Triggertrap Flash Adapter ($31.23) and the appropriate mobile dongle ($31) for your camera. The Triggertrap app is a free download.

Once you have this setup, there are many creative applications. I'm already considering what my next project will be.

You might also be interested in these other uses for the Triggertrap app: Affordable WiFi Camera Remote Control with Triggertrap and Triggertrap for the iPhone - Remote Release and More.


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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Those shiny bright areas in our product shots can cause real headaches. Fortunately, there are some excellent retouching tools in Aperture 3 to help us tame those highlights. Applied individually, or as a group, they will enable you to restore detail in areas where you thought all hope was lost.

In this 5-minute tutorial from my latest lynda.com training, Enhancing Product Photography with Aperture, you'll see how easy it is to make your product shots shine... with detail.

In this title, I also share tips on how to set up your shots (saving on post production time), plus wrangling with color, depth of field, and more.

Lots of Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn more about Aperture in general, check out my Aperture 3.3 Essential Training (2012) on lynda.com. For people shots, try Portrait Retouching with Aperture. And for making the transition from iPhoto, I have Using iPhoto and Aperture Together.

Aperture Workshop Coming on Nov. 16 and 17, 2013

Want to learn Aperture in a hands on environment? My next Aperture workshop will be Nov. 16 and 17 in Santa Rosa, CA. We'll review all of the basics, plus work on portraiture (including a live model shoot), product photography, and more. Write me at derrick@thedigitalstory.com for more information and a reservation form.

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Megapixels and Your Smartphone Camera

Sky, Clouds, and Chimney captured with iPhone 4S

I have a 19" SizzlPix hanging in the kitchen at the TDS Studio. The image was captured with my iPhone 4S. It looks great.

I don't normally make big prints from my smartphone camera. Typically I share them on Instagram, Flickr, Facebook, and here on The Digital Story. But it's good to know that if I wanted to make a big print, I could. And at 8 megapixels or more, I can.

After 8 megapixels, the conversation turns to quality of image. That's the holy grail of digital photography: the better the quality, the more options you have.


"Clouds, Sky, and Chimney" captured with an iPhone 4S and processed in Instagram


In a terrific article over at DP Connect, How many megapixels do you need?, they break down the math that leads us to the 8 megapixel minimum for serious smartphone photography. It's an excellent post that you should read.

Those of us who shoot with iPhones are hoping that Apple's approach to the redesigned camera in the new 5S lives up to their marketing. On paper it looks good: Increase the size of the photo sites, improve the lens, beef up the processor - that's a proven formula for better image quality.

If I had to choose between better image quality and more megapixels, which would I prefer? I'm going with image quality. I don't need bigger files; I want better files. We'll know soon enough. I have my iPhone 5S ordered, and it will arrive next week.

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

Ease in to iOS 7 on Your iPad

I think the iPad is a great way to make the acquaintance of iOS 7. Generally speaking, our tablets aren't as mission critical as our phones, so there's less stress as we learn new ways to work.

iOS 7 Photo Apps on an iPad

There's been plenty of discussion about the redesigned user interface. On my iPad 3 with Retina Display, I think it looks good. I'm still learning where to find certain controls. And there are moments when it feels like someone handed me a different remote to my TV. But with the bigger iPad screen and an attitude of play instead of work, the experience has been anxiety-free so far.

The new Photos app is definitely an improvement. It feels more grown up. The organization is improved with Collections and Moments. Albums worked as before, including access to your Photo Stream. And we have new filters to play with in Edit mode.

Filters in Edit Mode for iOS 7

You might want to check out iOS 7: What Apple's new mobile operating system offers photographers on DP Connect for a few more ins and outs from a photographer's perspective.

Put yourself in position to enjoy the transition. By easing in to it on a non-mission critical device, you can get to know Apple's new iOS, identify the speed bumps, them move it to your important devices when you are ready.


iPad for Digital Photographers

This is the kind of stuff I write about in iPad for Digital Photographers-- now available in print, Kindle, and iBooks format.

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Google+ users who favor the Chrome browser have an entire set of online editing tools waiting for them. To experiment with what looks like Snapseed for the Web, I opened up this wonderful image by photographer Kitty Gallannaugh. Beautiful pictures are just more fun.

Kitty Gallannaugh image in Google+

To get started, open your image in Google+ and click on the Edit link at the top of the page. A new column appears on the right with Snapseed like icons. The tools range from basic image adjustments to frames and tilt-shift effects. The effects are shown in realtime. You can apply the look you want, or cancel and move on to another set of tools.

At the top of the window you have four additional controls: Undo, Redo, Compare, and Revert. So you're in complete control of the appearance of your photograph. Once you have the image adjusted to your liking, click the Done Editing link at the bottom of the page.

If your image has been shared with others on Google+, the changes you make will be applied to those pictures too. That's pretty wild, when you think about it.

This capability works nicely in a mobile workflow. You can get your images posted quickly in the field to the best of your ability. Then, if you decide later that you want to adjust it while reviewing on your computer, you can do so without having to upload another version. You will need Google Chrome to access the tools.

BTW: This image by Kitty Gallannaugh remains in its original state. Some things you just don't mess with.

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PhotoHelpDesk.com is a down-to-earth resource for curious minded photographers. Submit your questions, and we'll post an answer.