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The Mac App Store has released its Best of 2012 list with five entries in the Photo category. Leading the way is CameraBag 2, which is runner up for App of the Year (behind Day One).

"Redesigned from the ground up, CameraBag 2's Analog Engine pairs a full suite of photographic tools with the high quality filters and vintage simulations we're known for. Its key innovation is a stunningly straightforward approach to layering, rearranging, and endlessly tweaking all of these effects in realtime. The 100+ fully-adjustable filters and 25+ professional controls CameraBag 2 ships with are only the beginning, forming the palette from which you can find, and create, your own styles." CameraBag is available for $14.99.

Four other notable photography mentions included Snapheal and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4, which now features Retina Display support in the Develop module. Rounding out the list of top photo apps were Snapseed for the Desktop and Diptic.

Even though I listed URLs here for the software, I recommend that you purchase through the Mac App Store where updates are handled quite elegantly.

Congratulations to each of these excellent imaging applications for their recognition on the Mac platform.


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New Flickr App for iPhone a Real Gem

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You might fall in love with Flickr all over again. The latest release of Flickr for iPhone app (version 2.0) brings back the joy to the venerable photo sharing app in a very modern way.

You can capture images, apply filters, share on Flickr and other sites, monitor your contacts, explore the world of photography, and keep track of your groups... on your iPhone or iPod Touch. The interface is well-designed and easy to use.

The camera mode works well on my iPhone 4S, and once I've captured the image, I have 16 filters to choose from, if I so wish. The image quality seems quite good, and original size is preserved. Sharing to Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr is a cinch - as is adding title, description, and all of the normal Flickr controls.

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On the social side of things, monitoring activity with my Photo Stream and keeping track of what others are doing is actually easier on the iPhone than the web page. If you see a photo that you really like, all you have to do is tap on it twice to mark it as a favorite. The presentation of your contacts' photos is top notch and a great way to pass the time during a coffee break or when standing in a long line.

Turn the iPhone sideways, and you go into lightbox mode where you can swipe from image to image. Great way to enjoy pure photography without interface clutter (of which there is very little with this app anyway.)

And if you want to see the big world of photography, tap on the globe icon to see great imagery worldwide and near you locally.

The Flickr 2.0 for iPhone is very well done. And as a result, I've become even more engaged with The Digital Story Flickr account.

Flickr Training

I have a lynda.com title, Flickr Essential Training that provides all the ins and outs you need to master Flickr. Stop by and learn how to get the most from this terrific photo sharing environment.

Previously on The Digital Story

Exploring Interesting Places Via Flickr

Become Your Own Museum Curator with "Galleries" on Flickr

Using Google to Search Within Flickr

Flickr Keyboard Shortcuts

Flickr Updates Share Tools for Facebook, Twitter

Introduction to Flickr Essential Training

5 Personal Myths About the iPad mini

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I've had the iPad mini since day 1 of its release. And how I'm using it is much different than I would have anticipated. Here are 5 personal iPad mini myths that have been debunked over time.


I loved reading The Daily on the iPad mini, and I'm going to dearly miss that publication.


Myth 1 - I'll use the camera more: I thought because the iPad mini was smaller that I would be more prone to using its built-in camera. Nope. I still reach for my iPhone 4S for mobile photography. I can send the image to the iPad in a matter of seconds using PhotoSync. The iPhone is a better image capture device. The iPad is a superior viewing device.

Myth 2 - I won't use it as a mobile portfolio because it doesn't have a Retina display: Wrong again. Even though I much prefer the Retina display on my iPad 3, my photos still look terrific on the mini. I use it all the time as a mobile portfolio. And it's much lighter to carry around and hand to a client.

Myth 3 - I'll use the mini for image editing just like I do my iPad 3: Wrongo in the Congo. I'm much more comfortable using Snapseed, iPhoto for iOS, and Photogene on the full size iPad. I will use the mini in a pinch. But I much prefer the iPad 3 for image editing. In an odd sort of way, the iPad 3 had become more of a computer to me since having the mini.

Myth 4 - I'll still use the iPad 3 for periodical and magazine reading: Sorry, but that hasn't panned out at all. I love reading the San Francisco Chronicle, USA Today and other periodicals on the mini. And I'm really going to miss The Daily (shown above), which I have been a subscriber to since its launch. The mini is far more comfortable to hold for reading than a full-sized iPad. And as a result, I'm reading more than ever on an iPad. I would go so far as to predict that the mini is really going to help us make the transition to digital periodicals.

Myth 5 - The mini will never become my favorite iPad: Hmmm, the jury is still out on this one. No way I would ever want to give up the beautiful iPad 3. But around the house, 3 times out of 4, I'm picking up the mini. And that surprises me the most.


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This week stories: A Bargain Canon Super Zoom, The Return of Drobo Part 2, and the Olympus TG-1 camera giveaway.

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Story Number One: - The Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS II lens, Standard street price for the zoom is $299. But I've see it going regularly for $249, and I even scored one brand-new in the box with warranty for $195. This is not a fancy lens. But it certainly takes good pictures. What I like about it is that it has four-stop image stabilization, and that it is light and relatively compact for a zoom with an effective range from 88mm to 400mm. More on this lens in the first segment of the show.

Story Number Two: - The Return of Drobo - Part 2. Let's go under the hood and look at some of the specifications for the set up that I'm testing.

I have all five bays of the 5D filled with drives. That includes three 1-TB drives and two 3-TB drives that occupy the five slots. In the bottom slot (on the bottom of the unit), I have one mSATA SSD Accelerator Drive installed. This is a solid-state chip with 64 GBs of memory that improves performance. With a total of 9 TB of disk space installed, I have access to 5.4 TB of space. 2.77 TB of the 9 TBs is used for protection. More on how this all works out in the second segment of the show.

Story Number Three: -The Olympus Tough TG-1 iHS Digital Camera Giveaway. To celebrate the holiday season, I want to give away an Olympus Tough TG-1 iHS Digital Camera. It's one of my favorite compact cameras, and I think someone else should enjoy one too. I go over the details in this segment of the show.


The Gift Guide for Photographers features 12 tempting goodies for the photographer in your life. Each item includes a background article about it and a direct link for the best price.


Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (34 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

Long Exposure is the Dec. 2012 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is Dec. 31, 2012.

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 this month, order one SizzlPix and get the second one for 50 percent. Buy just one SizzlPix and get a 25 percent discount. Put "TDS" in the comments field of your order.

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.




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At $255 (or less), the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS II lenscombines powerful magnification (88mm-400mm), terrific image quality, four-stop stabilization, and impressive close-up performance in a compact, lightweight design. I've been testing the lens, and here is my hands-on review.

A Consumer Lens by Design

Don't get me wrong, as much as I like this zoom, it's a consumer design through and through. The lens mount is plastic, not metal. The autofocus motor is not the silent USM variety. And the front lens barrel rotates when focusing. But after that, the news is pretty darn good.

Medium Shot with Canon 50-250mm Zoom Medium shot with the Canon 55-250mm zoom set to 70mm (f/4, 1/25th, ISO 100, hand held). All images captured in RAW with normal post-processing in Aperture 3.4. Photos by Derrick Story.

Close Ups as Well as Scenics

I mounted the zoom on my Canon 60D and shot a variety of images, from very close up to full distance. The autofocusing was snappy and accurate. Image quality was high. Flare was well controlled, as was chromatic aberration.

Close Focusing with Canon 50-250mm Zoom Move the zoom setting to 250mm to take advantage of the lens close focusing ability - magnification 0.31x at 250mm. (f/6.7, 1/350th, ISO 1000, hand held)

The lens is also compatible with the Canon Extension Tube EF 12 II and EF 25 II for increased magnification. I have the EF 12 II and tested it with the 55-250 zoom. In all honesty, I had a blast with it.

Extension Tube 12 Canon 50-250mm Zoom African Daisy photographed with the EF-S 55-250mm zoom and Extension Tube EF 12 II on a Canon 60D - magnification 0.60x at 250mm (f/16, 1/45th, ISO 1600, hand held).

As for scenics and long shots, I was able to get separation between the subject and the background, even though the maximum aperture is f/5.6 at 250mm. This composition had strong backlighting, but I can't detect any noticeable flare.

Autumn Color with Canon 50-250mm Zoom Autumn color, captured at a distance with the zoom fully extended (f/5.6, 1/350th, ISO 125, hand held).

Who Is this Lens For?

I think the Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS II lensis best suited for travel and outdoor photography. By adding the Extension Tube EF 12 II, you have a super light 88-400mm zoom that's also capable of engaging close-up photography. Autofocusing is snappy, image quality is great, and it has a terrific 4-stop IS system.

The f/5.6 maximum aperture nixes this zoom for sports and indoor action. But if you want a feather-light companion for your outdoor adventures, you can't beat the value of this lens at less than $300. I particularly like it with the Canon 60D. I bet it feels pretty good on the Rebels too.


The Gift Guide for Photographers features 12 tempting goodies for the photographer in your life. Each item includes a background article about it and a direct link for the best price.

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To celebrate the holiday season, I want to give away an Olympus Tough TG-1 iHS Digital Camera. It's one of my favorite compact cameras, and I think someone else should enjoy one too.

The TG-1 is what I used for my last trip to Maui to photograph the beauty both topside and underwater. It's fast f/2.0 lens combined with rugged performance makes it the perfect camera to slide into a pocket of your board shorts or day pack. Plus, I love the built-in GPS that geotags my photos on the spot. Check out some of my underwater images from the TG-1.

How to Participate

Participation is open from Dec. 9 to Dec. 16, 2012, PST. First, follow me on Instagram (http://instagram.com/derrickstory). You'll have to set up a free account. Instagram is an app that you can download from the iTunes App Store. My Instagram handle is: derrickstory

Then post a photo of your favorite camera. Add hashtags #FavoriteCamera and #DerrickStory to the post. (I'm going to try to follow you back too!)

Personal note: My goal has been to post a photo a day on Instagram, and as a result I feel like I've added a new facet to my photography. It's a great outlet for pure creativity.

On the week of Dec. 17, I'm going to publish some of my favorite images from this event here on The Digital Story. The camera recipient will be randomly selected from participants who published Instagram photos that follow the criteria outlined in this post. The Olympus TG-1 will be shipped the week of Dec. 17, 2012.

Short Version of How to Participate

This is for fun! So I hope you join in the spirit that's intended. So, in short, here's a review of how to participate:

  • Participation is open from Dec. 9 to Dec. 16, 2012, PST.
  • Follow me on Instagram (http://instagram.com/derrickstory). If you already follow me, you can skip this step :-)
  • Post a photo of your favorite camera on Instagram.
  • Add hashtags #FavoriteCamera and #DerrickStory to the post.
  • The recipient of the camera will be randomly selected from participants who meet the criteria outlined in this blog post.
  • The TG-1 giveaway is void where prohibited.

I can't wait to see the images you post...


You can find more photo tips and "photography how tos" on my Pinterest page.


Google was busy yesterday, releasing new versions of both Gmail for iOS and Snapseed. The most noticeable change in Snapseed, other than the white background replacing the black for its logo, is in the Share menu. Google+ is now at the top of the list, and Instagram has been removed. (You can still get to Instagram using the Open In command.)

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I know some photographers were concerned when Google acquired Nik Software. But this is a harmless change. And if you use Google+, it's really easy to post from Snapseed to your account.

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I like that you have control over the Circles you post to right within Snapseed. So you can choose the picture, write the caption, and pick the Circles without ever leaving the app. In my test, everything worked great.

Google also added a "Paste" option to the Open Image menu, which is now a camera icon instead of a button in the upper left corner. There's also a new Retrolux filter: "Use one of the newly created film styles, combined with a range of different scratches and textures as well as light leaks to create a truly retro look for your photos." As far as I could tell, everything else was pretty much the same and worked as smoothly as always.

Oh, and just one more thing: Snapseed is now free in the App Store. That's a pretty good change!


The Gift Guide for Photographers features 12 tempting goodies for the photographer in your life. Each item includes a background article about it and a direct link for the best price.

The Color brick is one of the most powerful tools in Aperture 3. Not only can you adjust colors, you can change them all together. By way of example, I'm going to change this blue Rolls-Royce to a red model.

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In the Adjustments inspector, add a Color brick by going to the Add Adjustment popup menu, then choosing Color. Once the Color brick is loaded, click on the eye dropper icon in the brick, then click on the color in the photograph you want to play with. Move the Hue slider back and forth to get as close to the new color as possible.

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Since the Hue slider is constrained to neighboring colors, you sometimes can't get the exact color you want. In this case, I could go from blue to purple. But I want red.

So here's the trick, you can add a second Color brick and continue adjusting. To do so, click on the gear icon in the Color brick, and choose "Add New Color adjustment" from the popup menu. You now have two Color bricks.

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Repeat the process you used before: click on the eye dropper, click on the color you want to change, then adjust the Hue slider. Once the color is close, you can fine tune it with the Saturation, Luminance, and Range sliders. You can turn off and on the adjustment via the checkbox in the upper left corner of the brick. (Notice how I don't have either Color bricks activated in the first illustration, then one Color brick in the second, and finally both bricks active in the third illustration.)

I now have a red Rolls-Royce!

The colors you want aren't always available using this simple technique. But it comes in very handy for adjusting clothing the clashes with the background, or an offending color in an otherwise good composition. You can also use this technique with the brushing tool to apply color changes to a specific area of the photograph.

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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After weeks of testing, I learned that the Olympus 60mm Macro f/2.8 Lensis a surprisingly versatile lens. Yes, it is excellent for 1:1 macro photography. But I've also been reaching for it to shoot sporting events and portrait assignments. And in all of these conditions, the 60mm performed exceedingly well.


For a closer look at any of these images, click on them for an enlarged view. This will allow you to examine the details of the photos more closely. All pictures by Derrick Story.


Getting Close

On the side of the lens barrel is a four-position switch that allows you to set the focusing range for the type of work you're doing. The lens will focus closely regardless of where you have the switch set, but it will do so faster if you have it set for the range you plan on working.

Flower Close Up

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For super close 1:1 photography, move the switch to the 1:1 position. It won't stay there; it's a spring switch that prepares the lens for this distance. After you focus, you can see the actual magnification you're using via the scale on the top of the lens barrel. It's easy to use and only took me a few minutes to get the hang of it.

Because the Olympus OM-D E-M5has excellent 5-axis image stabilization built in to the body. I was able to hand-hold these flower shots, even at high magnification. The 60mm does not have built-in image stabilization. It relies on the IS in every Olympus micro four thirds body.

Portraits

As much as I like close-up photography, I love shooting portraits. And the Olympus 60mm is my new favorite lens for this work.

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For this shot of Lovely LadyJ, I used the 60mm in the studio, shooting wide open at f/2.8. The images were extremely sharp. I didn't retouch this shot so you could see how the the model is rendered with the lens wide open. You can always soften an image in post, but you can't add detail that wasn't originally recorded. This lens gives you everything you need at capture. You take it from there.

As a side note, we shot a series in the rain too. Lovely LadyJ asked me if I was worried about using the camera under those conditions (as she looked at it covered in rain drops). Both the 60mm and the OM-D body are weather sealed. The rain did not bother either at all.

Sports

Covering basketball was a good test for the autofocusing capability of the 60mm lens. For this series of shots, I set the focusing limiter switch to 0.4m - Infinity. I was pleasantly surprised by the focusing speed and accuracy of the lens on the OM-D body. So much so, that I began reaching for it repeatedly for indoor sports assignments.

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On the down side, maximum aperture is f/2.8 (compared to f/1.8 for my 45mm Olympus prime). But the extra reach was noticeable in the viewfinder. So I increased the ISO from my normal 1600 to 3200 when shooting with this lens. This shot was captured at f/2.8, 1/200th, in JPEG mode, in a fairly dark gym.

Final Thoughts

I rarely shot with this lens at the "default" 0.19m - Infinity setting that is highlighted in silver on the side of the barrel. I was either working close at 0.19m - 0.4m, or shooting portraits and sports at the 0.4m - Infinity setting. By working this way, I enjoyed fast autofocusing throughout the shoot. If you want to focus manually, the wide, well-dampened focusing ring is a joy to operate. In fact, it works so well in combination with the electronic viewfinder on the OM-D, that it's actually pleasurable to turn off the autofocus and work manually. I love lenses that give me this option.

At $499,the Olympus 60mm f/2.8 lens is a good value. Its quiet, precise operation makes it highly suitable for a variety of assignments, including macro, sports, portraits, and movie making. It is now an absolute "must have" lens for my OM-D kit.


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

Congratulations to Dean Ray who won the Lowepro Pro Messenger 160 AW bag and wrote: "My day to day my bag needs change. So in turn, I need lots of bags. I need a bag for a full day of shooting in the parks and at the resorts. I also need a bag that looks good while at a wedding. Disney weddings can be so formal, and I need a bag to fit in that world as well as my needs as a photographer. Help a shooter out, Lowepro..."

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Well, luck of the draw smiled upon you, Dean. Please send your shipping information with phone number (for shipper only) to derrick [at] thedigitalstory [dotcom] and I will get that Pro Messenger in your hands.

As for those who didn't get lucky this week... stay tuned. I have even a bigger give away coming up. You won't want to miss out on this.


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