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You knew Canon would respond to the large sensor compacts and CSCs recently introduced. And to their credit, they've offered photographers yet another option: a relatively big 14MP 1.5" CMOS sensor (18.7 x 14mm) in a "jacket pocket" sized body with a fixed zoom, ranging from 28mm to 112mm (f/2.8-5.8). Add an optical viewfinder, 3" 920,000 dot articulated LCD, and 14-bit Raw, and you have the just-announced G1 X (not to be confused with Panasonic's competitor, the GX 1.)

The 1.5" CMOS sensor is larger than the sensors found in micro four thirds, Nikon 1, and FujiFilm's X10. It's a tad smaller, however, than APS-C that used in Sony's NEX line of CSCs.

Basically what Canon is saying with the G1 X is this: if you want a big sensor in a small package, but don't want to mess with interchangeable lenses, we've got the camera for you. So for the estimated street price of $799, you're done.

We'll see how the market responds to this proposition when the camera starts shipping in February.


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Off-Camera Flash Workshop - Join Us!

How would you like to sharpen your off-camera flash skills (and have a blast while doing so)? Coming this February, I'm conducting a two-day workshop (Feb. 25 & 26) that focuses on improving our lighting skills -- for both portraits and objects.

Alyssa Moods Multiple exposure portrait using a single off-camera flash.

This two-day event at TDS Headquarters flows like this.

Workshop Itinerary

Fri. Feb. 24, 7:30 pm - Orientation reception at TDS HQ with refreshments and swag for attendees. (Each participant gets a Lowepro camera bag.)

Sat, Feb. 25
8:30 am - Classroom session on off-camera technique for portraits
10:30 am - Model shoot #1
12:00 pm - Lunch served
1:00 pm - Model shoot #2
2:30 pm - Classroom session on uploading, organizing, and basic editing
3:00 pm - Lab work - participants organize and choose 6 best images
4:30 pm - Review session. Each participant shows 6 images with discussion
5:15 pm - Final Q&A

Sun, Feb. 26
8:30 am - Classroom session on off-camera technique for product photography
10:30 am - Product shoot #1
12:00 pm - Lunch served
1:00 pm - Product shoot #2
2:30 pm - Classroom session on editing product photography.
3:00 pm - Lab work - participants organize and choose 6 best images
4:30 pm - Review session. Each participant shows 6 images with discussion
5:15 pm - Final Q&A

Lunches, model fees, and instruction and included in the $495 price. The studio is a great place to work, featuring classroom area, shooting room, full kitchen, two restrooms, WiFi, and parking. Plus, you're in the heart of Sonoma Wine Country with its vibrant agriculture, rugged coastline, and towering Redwood trees.

It's Easy to Sign Up

If you want to join us for this event, just go to the Send Me Info box half way down on the TDS Workshops page. I'll get a reservation form to you right away. And if you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them too.

If you want to improve your lighting skills, spend time interacting with other photographers, and immerse in the craft that you love so much, join us in February!

Getting Serious about the CES Event

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The 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) begins on Tuesday, Jan. 10 in Las Vegas. It is one of the biggest technology events of the year, now being bolstered by photography manufacturers who have targeted this trade show as "essential."

The Photo Marketing Association (PMA) has moved its annual party over to CES, strengthening the photography ties with PMA@CES. You've probably already seen pre-show announcements from FujiFilm, and the big one from Nikon, the Nikon D4 Multi-media DSLR. The D4 is a perfect example of how CES has changed. There's nothing "consumer" about this flagship DSLR. It's pro all the way.

As a result, some of us who passed on CES in years past are now on our way to Las Vegas next week to cover the chaos. I'll be there writing and shooting for Lowepro. I'll also be posting many times a day on the Lowepro Twitter feed. You might want to follow that conversation, because I have some interesting things I'm going to do there.

If you're going to be in Las Vegas, definitely tune in, because I'll be giving away goodies on the show floor. If you're not attending, stay tuned. There's going to be lots to report. You might also want to check out the Panasonic Live page. They will be broadcasting from the PMA@CES floor for two days. It looks like a great resource.

After the event is over, I'll post a wrap-up via my weekly TDS Podcast. You'll get all the highlights in a 30-minute show.

OK, time to pack my bags and head to Vegas.


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Developing a short list of favorite portrait locations is a terrific asset in your photography arsenal, especially when a potential subject asks, "So, where should we shoot it?" I just read a helpful article at Digital Photography School titled, How to Scout for Portrait Shooting Locations that provides good food for thought.

Model at Fog City Diner
Outside Fog City Diner in San Francisco.

Based on my experience, here are a few additional tips that I've found useful:

  • Keep things close. Exotic locations might be fun conceptually, but time is always a factor to consider. I have locations that are as close as 2 minutes away, and most are within an hour's driving distance.
  • Comfort is important. Is there a place to change clothes or visit the restroom? Not every setting will have these options, but you should have a few "comfortable locations" for those subjects who need them.
  • Safety First. You're probably not going to get very good shots if your subject is concerned for his/her safety. Avoid the bad side of town.
  • Lighting, lighting, lighting. Know the light at different times of day and year at your favorite spots. Some will be great morning shoots, others best in the afternoon.

And if you really get this organized, you might want to have examples of your favorite spots on your mobile phone. That way you can show the subject what you're thinking as you're making plans.


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A New Year, and a fresh set of opportunities to improve our photography. In this week's podcast, I present six goals for 2012. Each one addresses a different aspect of our craft. Personally, I'm going to endeavor to complete all six. How many of these do you dare to try?

Listen to the Podcast

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You can also download the podcast here (31 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

Mobile Phone is the Jan. 2012 Photo Assignment. Entries must be captured with a mobile device. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is Jan. 31, 2012.

Special Offer from SizzlPix!

20% Discount for Jan. 2012 - So we can build up a gallery of SizzlPix! made from cell phone images. Any TDS listener/reader gets a 20% discount on SizzlPix!â„¢ Hi Definition Photographyâ„¢ made from pictures shot with T-Mobile My Touch Slide 4G, Samsung Galaxy S II, or Apple's iPhone 4S.

SizzlPix! may be from 18" to 60" in the longest dimension. Photographer's cropping will be honored.

Shipping will be within one week. Photographer gives us permission to publicize, with credit, their SizzlPix! made from a cell phone original in yours and our on-line galleries and blogs, Twitter, FaceBook, Google+. etc.

When you fill out your order form for the SizzlPix, add "TDS Jan Offer" to get the discount.

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 -- The $7.99 Sample Kit is back! And with free shipping.

You might also want to check out my article, Artistic Gifts You Can Make in an Hour.

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 saven 20% at check out.




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For the Nov. '11 Photo Assignment, TDS shooters got their grayscale on while exploring the theme Black & White. The imagery in this huge gallery is striking. And which one will be the SizzlPix Pick of the Month? (These will look great Sizzled! I've tried B&W with SizzlPix)

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Photo by Carl Shortt, Jr. "This image was captured on November 8, 2011 in Oklahoma City. I was on the 35th floor of what is now the second largest building in our city setting up to take head shots for a local not for profit leadership training organization. This is the view from the room opposite from my photo station. It was a cloudy evening so little outside light was coming into the room. Then, all of a sudden, the room was flooded by beautiful warm light. I turned around to see this scene. I knew that I had only moments to capture this very contrasty light so grabbed my Canon 5D Mark II, switched the dial to C1 which is set to a take a three shot bracketed exposure, pressed the lens to the glass to get rid of reflections and fired off a series of bracketed exposures. The building under construction is the new Devon Energy Tower. I understand that this is the largest building currently under construction west of the Mississippi River. Photomatix Pro was use to render the HDR image and conversion to B&W was done in Nik Silver Effects Pro 2, other adjustments on Lightroom 3." To see all of the other terrific shots from Nov., visit the B&W gallery page.


Participate in This Month's Assignment

The Jan. 2012 assignment is "Mobile Phone." To qualify, the entry image must have been captured with a mobile device. Start working on your contribution now. Details can be found on the Member Participation page. Deadline is Jan. 31, 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: Jan. 2012." 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.

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

Special Offer from SizzlPix!

20% Discount for Jan. 2012 - So we can build up a gallery of SizzlPix! made from cell phone images. Any TDS listener/reader gets a 20% discount on SizzlPix!™ Hi Definition Photography™ made from pictures shot with T-Mobile My Touch Slide 4G, Samsung Galaxy S II, or Apple's iPhone 4S.

SizzlPix! may be from 18" to 60" in the longest dimension. Photographer's cropping will be honored.

Shipping will be within one week. Photographer gives us permission to publicize, with credit, their SizzlPix! made from a cell phone original in yours and our on-line galleries and blogs, Twitter, FaceBook, Google+. etc.

When you fill out your order form for the SizzlPix, add "TDS Jan Offer" to get the discount.


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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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Top Photography Gear Stories of 2011

The past year showed us how priorities are shifting in the world of photography. New DSLR announcements were at a premium -- in part due to the flooding in Thailand, but also because of a changing market. Mobile devices and Compact System Cameras grabbed more than their fair share of the headlines. I found a comprehensive wrap-up over at photography talk.com, with their article, 15 Unforgettable 2011 Highlights of the Digital Photography World.

Glif Tripod Adapter for iPhone 4 The iPhone 4S was a big photography story in 2011, sporting improved optics and an 8MP sensor housed in a very mobile device.

From my own perspective, I thought it was interesting that the only new DSLR camera that turned my head in 2011 was the impressive Pentax K-5, which has become one of my favorite DSLRs. (And it was technically released at the end of 2010, though hard to come by then.)

Compact System Cameras were a much different story. Nikon, Olympus, Samsung, and Panasonic all had big debuts. I've been shooting with the new Olympus PEN E-PM1, and love it. I fell deeper in love when Olympus released the 45mm f/1.8 prime lens to go with it.

And last, but certainly not least, was the iPhone 4S with its great lens system and increased resolution. I've published many shots taken with the iPhone 4S, and it is truly the camera I always have with me.

We'll see what 2012 brings. I suspect we'll see more interesting stories in the DSLR category. I think 2011 was just a off-year timing-wise for those cameras. At the same time, I don't see the CSC and mobile device train slowing down.

What ever happens, I'll be on top on the news and posting the stories that I think are most interesting. Buckle up.


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The Exchange of Ideas

As 2011 comes to a close, and we begin to think about our goals for 2012, improving our photography will be on many lists. I'm about to announce next year's workshop schedule, and one of these events might fit nicely into your aspirations. In addition to the instruction itself, one of the major benefits I've observed is the exchange of ideas among the photographers themselves.

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Participants talking about a shoot they had just finished during a recent Lowepro workshop in San Francisco.

Usually, at the beginning of the workshop, folks are a bit quiet and depend on me to lead the conversation. Makes perfect sense. But then, as we begin to work, much of the conversation shifts to with each other. Any of you who have attended one of these events know exactly what I mean.

Learning begins to happen on many different levels at once -- not to mention feedback on project ideas, comments about photos, and ideas about the business side of shooting. Often these conversations extend well beyond the workshop itself.

If you've never had the experience of working with other photographers in a positive environment, consider attending one of these events in 2012. You can get on the reserve list now for the workshop that you find most appealing.


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I just watched a terrific video by Lee Morris of FStoppers about improving the audio for your DSLR videos. I was expecting a complicated setup that I wouldn't be interested in. Instead, he used an iPhone app called iTalk Premium ($1.99) by Griffin Technology. And that was it. He demonstrates the app in this movie.

Use An iPhone To Record High Quality Audio For Your Videos from FStoppers on Vimeo.

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You can transfer the audio files from your iPhone to your Mac or Windows computer using iTalk Sync, which is a free download. I've tested the audio recorder and the sync app, and they worked great.

The result is a high quality .AIFF audio file that I can import into Final Cut X to sync with the video. In the tutorial, Lee shows how to do this with Adobe Premier. The process is essentially the same with Final Cut X.

Overall, I think this is a great solution to improve our movie making. I'll be testing it soon for video I'll be recording in Las Vegas for WPPI.


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Winter Shadows

I was scouting a location yesterday afternoon, when I noticed the beautiful graphic design created by winter shadows.

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I found a high vantage point and snapped a few images with the iPhone 4S, then processed the picture in Adobe Camera Raw. The low sun this time of year makes for tough driving, but great photography.


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