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For the Dec. 2012 Photo Assignment, TDS shooters left their shutters open. See for yourself in our gallery, Long Exposure. And which one will be the SizzlPix Photo Assignment Pick of the Month?

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"This was taken with a Canon 7D around 30 seconds with an ND 10 filter," writes photographer Mark Houser. "My friend on the rock, Chris, agreed to remain motionless for 30 seconds. I think it turned out ok. I did have to bring out the details as I had some vignetting and knock down the sky a little. This was taken in the Linville Gorge in Western North Carolina." See all of the great images from this month's assignment by visiting the Long Exposure gallery page.


Participate in This Month's Assignment

The Feb. 2013 assignment is "Furry Friends." Details can be found on the Member Participation page. Deadline is Feb. 28, 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: Feb 2013." 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.

Gallery posting is one month behind the deadline. So I'm posting Dec. 2012 at the end of Jan., the Jan. gallery will be posted at the end of Feb., and on and on.

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

Recent SizzlPix Winners

Hats off to our recent SizzlPix Pick of the Month winners.

  • September (Bokeh): Deborah Eves (golden apple)
  • October (Panorama): Nicholas Nieto (golf)
  • November (Flash): Jennifer Rhoades-Dannatt (bridal at zoo)


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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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Macworld/iWorld Worth a Visit

If you're in the Bay area, the ongoing Macworld/iWorld event is worth a trip to Moscone Center West in the heart of San Francisco. The show boasts about 300 exhibitors, tech talks, live events, music, and after-hours parties.

The Padcaster & Lenscaster Combo Floor demo of the Padcaster that turns an iPad into a broadcasting machine.

Chances are also good that your favorite Mac luminary will be hanging around the corridors. Half the fun of my day spent at Macworld was visiting with friends in the business who I don't see often these days.

Powell St., San Francisco
Powell St., San Francisco

Plus, the weather is great in San Francisco right now, and it's a wonderful place for street shooting. I grabbed plenty of shots with my iPhone and Olympus PEN while hoofing around the city.

Macworld/iWorld runs through Feb. 2. You might want to stop by if you're in the neighborhood.


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Dealing with Cranky Clients

Nine times out of ten, when a new client doesn't like the job you've delivered, it's because the images don't match what they've visualized in their mind. This is exacerbated by their assumption that what they are seeing in the proofs will be the final look of the project.

Hotel Hallway

When you encounter this, and you will if you shoot enough, try to ignore charged statements such as, "I thought I had communicated what I wanted, but clearly I did not." and get to the root of the issue as quickly as possible. Often, you'll have to do a little detective work to find out the adjustments that are needed.

Once you've figured out the direction you need to pursue, respond with an even voice addressing their concerns and assuring them that the project will still turn out well. I often have them choose their favorite image from the gallery, then apply the changes to it for review. Typically, the feedback will be more positive on the second round, allowing you to build some momentum. Once you get one image to their liking, you can apply those changes to the other selects.

You'll probably spend more time on this project than you had originally planned. But it's important to make the client happy, if possible, because it will lead to repeat business and referrals. Think of the extra time you're spending as part of your marketing.

Clients don't always realize that an image has to start somewhere, and that we have the talent and tools to take it in many different directions. Stay confident and listen closely. With a little luck, your cranky client will soon be a happy one.


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Sigma announced Art Line versions of its 19mm and 30mm prime lenses for Micro Four Thirds and Sony NEX mounts.

"All three DN lenses incorporate telecentric optical designs and a linear, auto focusing motor that ensures accurate and quiet focusing for video recording. They also boast metal exteriors and a simply shaped focus ring, with varying textures to distinguish each part of the lens. In addition, DN users can choose between a black or silver finish to match their favorite equipment. "

No word yet on price or exact release date for the new lenses. But we anticipate that it won't be long before they are available.

In the meantime, you can get a great deal on the existing versions of the 19mm and 30mm f/2.8 primes. B&H Photo is offering the pair for $199 ($99.50 per lens!). That's an affordable way to add two prime lenses to your Micro Four Thirds kit.

I have the Sigma 30mm f/2.8 prime for my Olympus camera bodies, and have enjoyed using it. It cost me $199 for just the one lens when I bought it in April 2012.


Take a look at the Olympus Micro Four Thirds Gear Guide for an overview of cameras, lenses, and accessories.

This week's stories: Using Lensbaby on Micro Four Thirds to create shallow depth of field, what's going on with Nik Software, a look at Drobo warranty and technical support, and what's coming up this week.

Story #1 - Lensbaby Composer Pro for Micro Four-Thirds cameras- One of the few drawbacks to shooting with micro four thirds cameras is that their images display a greater depth of field. For many shoots, this isn't a problem, and it's often a blessing.

But for those occasions when I want very shallow depth of field, I've experimented with the Lensbaby Composer Pro for micro four thirds. This $300 accessory has a focal length of 50mm and tilts from zero to 17.5 degrees.

You manually focus the Lensbaby using its well-dampened focusing ring, then alter the shallow depth of field effect by adjusting the metal swivel ball. Because you do have to manually focus, I recommend using the Lensbaby with an electronic viewfinder. For the first time ever, I can get radical shallow depth of field with a micro four thirds camera.

BTW: The Lensbaby Composer Pro is available in many mounts, including Canon and Nikon too.

Story #2 - What's going on with Nik Software? I noticed this week that Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 was not available for sale on B&H Photo or Amazon. Wondering is this is a result of the purchase of Nik by Google. If you know something about this, please post a comment in the Show notes.

Story #3 - Drobo Support and Warranty - The Drobo 5D comes with a 2 year warranty and 90 days of technical support. As you end the 90 day period, you can purchase Drobo Care for $169 a year. That includes 24x7 technical support, can be renewed for one year period as long as the product is still being sold, and advanced replacement - when you call, we'll send your hardware replacement same day.

If you choose not to buy Drobo Care, then you have the standard hardware replacement for 2 years (Hardware repair or exchange - when we receive your Drobo unit, we'll either repair it or send you a replacement) and no 24x7 technical support.

I haven't made a decision on what I'm going to do yet.

Story #4 - Just a reminder that I'll be at Macworld/iWorld this coming Thursday afternoon at Moscone West in SF. Best way to connect will be at the Digital Photography Panel Discussion (on main stage, I believe) led by Macworld Editor Jackie Dove at 2pm on Thursday.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (28 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

The January 2013 photo assignment is Self Timer.

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 -- 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. Special Offer! They're offering a 14% discount for Valentine's Day gifts to significant others, spouses, children ... pix of pets, etc. Valentines day is a month from now, Feb. 14. Orders received by January 30 shipped in time. Just add TDS to the comments field to receive your discount.

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.

I wanted to make a photo that captured the beauty and clean design of the Audi R8 sports car. The problem was, I didn't have access to one. So I tried this experiment instead.

Audi R8 Front

I photographed a 1/16 scale model of an R8 in my studio using the Lensbaby Composer Pro for Micro Four-Thirds camerasto create the shallow depth of field that's a challenge for smaller sensor cameras, then processed the image in Aperture 3.4 using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 software.

The combination of the Lens Baby with the Film Noir effect helped me fashion a stylized look that conveys the "feel" of the car without actually having access to one. The low camera angle contributes to the illusion also.

Audi R8 Back

What's interesting to me is that, the more I abstracted the rendering of the Audi, the closer it felt to being a real car. In the past, I haven't been a huge fan on the Lens Baby on my Canon DSLRs. I couldn't really get a feel for it. But I love using the Composer on my Olympus PENs and the OM-D. It's the first time I've been able to create that radical shallow depth of field on a micro four-thirds body.

As a side note, I'm not sure about the fate of Nik's Silver Efex Pro since its acquisition by Google. I noticed that it isn't currently available at B&H Photo or Amazon. It's one of my favorite plug-ins for Aperture 3. And once again Silver Efex helped me create an image that I had visualized in my mind.

With all of that being said... I have to close with: Is it real, or is it Silver Efex?.

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.


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


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Want to get your photo business on track? Then you might want to download the free The 2013 Photo Business Plan Workbook. Just click on the link, enter an email address, and PhotoShelter will send the PDF to you. You can easily peruse the content on your computer or iPad. The type renders too small for iPhone reading, but with GoodReader is quite serviceable on an iPad.

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The topics cover brand building, social networking, SEO, and more. Lots of good information here for the freelance photographer trying to up his game.


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Interesting WiFi Cameras

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I stumbled across this article, Best Wi-Fi Cameras by Kyle Schurman. To tell the truth, I hadn't realized there were so many models with this capability.

I was familiar with the Canon PowerShot ELPH 320 HS ($199) and of course the Canon 6D ($2,100). But there are plenty of models by Sony, Panasonic, Nikon, and Samsung too.

The WiFi camera I'm looking forward to testing is the Canon PowerShot N ($299) once it's released in April.

In the meantime, Kyle's article will give you a good feel for the WiFi landscape.


Join me on my Instagram site as I explore the world of mobile photography.

The Olympus 15mm f/8.0 Body Cap Lensthat we first saw back at Photokina is now readily available for $49. This is a great accessory for micro four thirds shooters, and at a terrific price.

olympus_body_cap_lens.jpg Body Lens Cap on an Olympus PEN mini. Be sure the lever lines up perfectly with the white dot when shooting. Improper position shown here. (Move just a bit more to the right!)

About the size of an Oreo cookie, the BCL is perfect for your backup camera because it keeps it ultra compact so you can fit it just about anywhere. If you need to take a quick shot, move the lever on the lens to the "dot position" and shoot. The image quality is remarkably good. It even has a macro mode by moving the lever all the way to the right.

When you're done shooting, slide the lever all the way to the left so it lines up with the orange marker. That slides the lens cover in place to protect the optics.

My big tip for shooting with this lens is to be sure to line up the lever with the white dot when in regular shooting mode. You'll feel a click-stop there. By doing so, your general photography shots will be in focus. If you're just a bit off in the alignment, they will be out of focus.

I really like this accessory. I doubt that I'll be using my regular body caps again. They just seem so one-dimensional compared the the BCL.


Take a look at the Olympus Micro Four Thirds Gear Guide for an overview of cameras, lenses, and accessories.

The LA Clippers visited Oracle Arena on Martin Luther King Day for a matinee game against the Golden State Warriors. Many of the Clippers stars came out for warm ups about an hour before the game. I like to get there early and watch them go through their pre-game routines.

DeAndre Jordan DeAndre Jordan refining his footwork with a Clippers coach.

To stay within photography restrictions, you have to leave the flash at home and work with short, prime lenses. Anything that extends beyond 3" isn't allowed. I use my OM-D with a Zeiss 85mm f/2.8 prime. It's legal and it's sharp.

Blake Griffin
Blake Griffin practices his free throws.

The game itself was a thriller. Warriors came back in the fourth quarter to win 106-99 over the Clippers. Both teams played well, much to the delight of the thunderous Oracle Arena crowd.

Grant Hill
Grant Hill watches a long range shot go down.

I like working on portraits before the game because it's easier to isolate the athletes than under game conditions. Plus, it's enjoyable to watch how professionals prepare for their work.


Join me on my Instagram site as I explore the world of mobile photography.