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High ISO: I Never Get Tired of It

Jiffy Pop!

We were heating up Jiffy Pop popcorn (as much fun to make as it is to eat) over a camp fire the other night, and I grabbed my Canon 60D, composed a shot, and captured the moment. It was already dark in camp, and our only real illumination were the coals and occasional flame from the fire.

I love the shot, as much for sentimental reasons, because it captures the feeling of friends and family sitting around a fire, talking about random subjects, and of course eating popcorn. I didn't even have to think about how I was going to make the photograph because I knew my camera can record excellent images up to ISO 3200, and decent ones beyond that.

So I was free to just pick up the 60D, compose, shoot, then put it down and grab a handful of hot popcorn. I never fell out of the moment. High ISO capability makes this easy.


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


When you go on a hike to take pictures, you might be thinking photography, but you're also an outdoorsman, whether you want to be or not. You still need to deal with sun exposure, dehydration, and cuts and bruises. And what about being as comfortable as possible while you work?

In this episode, I cover the "10 Essentials" that you should have in your daypack, along with your camera gear. Not only will you be prepared for mishaps, you will have a more enjoyable experience.

The 10 Essentials

  • Water (1 liter or more)
  • Food (I like Builder's Bars and nuts)
  • First Aid Kit (include large gauze pads)
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Matches/Bic Lighter
  • Knife
  • Map/Compass
  • 1/4 roll of TP
  • (Solar Blanket)
  • Extra Layer (usually wind breaker with hood)
  • Lip Balm
  • Flashlight (LED's are compact and bright)
  • Bandana
  • Whistle

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (30 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

Smoke is the July 2011 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is July 31, 2011.

TDS Nov. Aperture Workshop

I'm considering adding an Aperture Workshop on Nov. 12th and 13th. If you want your name on the reserve list, or just more information, drop me a line.

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.

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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Sometimes You Do Need a Tripod

Waterfall, 4 sec exposure

High ISO performance, sophisticated noise reduction, fast lenses... who needs a tripod for outdoor photography? Well, we all do -- at least some of the time. This waterfall shot at Sugar Loaf State Park required a 4-second exposure at ISO 100. Plus, I had to work from a slightly precarious spot. The only way to steady the camera in that particular location was with a tripod.

I'm the first to admit that this isn't my favorite photo accessory. But when I suspect there might be an opportunity for a dramatic depth-of-field composition, or a long exposure water shot, I'll buckle up a set of sticks.

Having a rig that won't break your back makes this decision a bit easier. For this shot, I used a Giottos VGR9255 that weighs only 3 lbs and a Photo Sport 200 AW that's very comfortable, even with a tripod attached.

Derrick_Photo_Sport_200.jpg

For the shot itself, I used a Canon 60D with a EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS zoom. I added a polarizer to allow me more flexibility when stopping down the shutter (because of its 2-stop density), and relied on the self-timer to trip the shutter (so I wouldn't jar the camera). I work in Aperture Priority mode for these types of shots, but Shutter Priority is great too. What you really need to do is get out of Program mode.The shot was processed in Aperture 3.

There were only a handful of other photos recorded with a tripod on this trip. But, I wouldn't have been able to create the images I wanted in those instances otherwise.

Top Photo: Sugar Loaf Waterfall by Derrick Story. Bottom Photo: Lowepro Photo Sport 200 AW by Pat Scheetz. Click on images for larger versions. More images are published on the TDS Flickr site.


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One of the first questions I fielded when I published the article, Personal Cloud Storage for Photographers, was, "Can I access the contents of the Buffalo Cloudstor from my iPad?" Thanks to Buffalo's partnership with Pogoplug, you can. They have free iOS apps for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.

Pogoplug for the iPad The Pogoplug iPad and iPhone app makes it easy to see the contents on my Buffalo Cloudstor personal server that's back at the studio. Click on image to enlarge.

There is good news and bad with this app. The good is that it provides easy access via my iPad to the Cloudstor data. I could be anywhere in the world, and as long as I have an Internet connection, I can see my stuff. The interface is well organized and clean. And for document viewing, such as this PDF of my model release, it looks great.

Not So Good for Photographers

But photos suffer a different fate. For some reason, Jpegs that I upload to the Cloudstor are sampled-down when served-up through the iOS apps. For example, a 2048x1362 Jpeg appears as a 640x425 image on my iPad, and it doesn't look good at all. The original photo is intact on the Cloudstor at its higher resolution. This sampling down seems to be the function of the iOS app. For the life of me, I could not find a setting to fix that problem.

Raw files weren't easy to deal with either. Again, they are there on my Cloudstor server and listed in the Pogoplug app. I can download the files to the iPad, but once they are there, Pogoplug gives me an option of opening the file in a different application. The handoff did not work with Photogene. But I was successful with Filterstorm. I could edit the Raw file I downloaded from the Buffalo Cloudstor, then save it to my photo library on the iPad. The problem is, you don't have any previews in Photoplug. So you have to download the entire Raw file and open it in Filterstorm before you can see the image. The bright spot here is that I then had a 3121x2081 file to work with on the iPad.

Bottom Line

The free Pogoplug app for iOS devices allows you to see all of the content on your Buffalo Cloudstor personal network server (or any computer that has the Pogoplug app loaded). It seems to handle documents well, such as PDFs, but isn't really calibrated for photographers. If your main goal is to use this combination as a remote photo server/viewer, then you'll probably be more frustrated than it's worth.

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


With our August Sonoma Coast Workshop just around the corner, I'm thrilled that Alicia Miller will be there too, posing for our attendees. Alicia joins our existing group of excellent models (just ask anyone who has attended a TDS workshop.)

Alicia Miller - Model

Alicia Miller photographed by Derrick Story in Petaluma, CA.
Click on image for larger size.

Our approach to model shoots is different in that, not only do you get to work with attractive subjects, you learn how to manage these projects from first contact all the way through to the final shot. There's much more to working with models than figuring out lighting, and our attendees experience this process from the inside out.

You'll be seeing more of Alicia in the coming months, in addition to Morgan, Michaela, and Stephanie.

To learn more about the TDS Photography Workshop Series, just send me an email. I'll get back to you asap.


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


There are a variety of cloud services available these days, including Apple's new iCloud. But what if you wanted to create your own cloud? I've been testing the Iomega Personal Cloud, the Segate BlackArmor network drive, and the Buffalo Cloudstor (which I didn't have working when I recorded the podcast, but I do now and like it a lot). In this week's episode, I explore the idea of creating your own storage cloud online, and share some of my initial experiences doing so.

I also have published a follow up article about the Buffalo Cloudstor. When I recorded the podcast, the Cloudstor wasn't online yet, in part because of a change I made to the drive configuration. Now that I have it working, I like it the best of the three drives I cover in this episode. So after you listen the the podcast, you may want to read Personal Cloud Storage for Photographers.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (29 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

Smoke is the July 2011 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is July 31, 2011.

TDS Oct. Photography Workshop and Nov. Aperture Workshop

I'm considering adding an Aperture Workshop in Nov. or Dec. If you want your name on the reserve list, or just more information, drop me a line.

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.

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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Buffalo Cloudstor

I've been testing the Buffalo Cloudstor with an eye toward it helping me better manage my photography content, both in the studio and while on the road. I have good news and bad in this regard. We'll start with a brief overview of the Buffalo network drive and the good.

What Is the Buffalo Cloudstor?

For testing, I purchased a Buffalo Technology CloudStor 2-Bay (1 x 1 TB) Gigabit Ethernet Network Storage CS-WX1.0 for $129. I thought was a great price for a unit that provides Raid 1 mirroring between the drives, network connectivity, and software to make cloud access a snap. To get set up, all I had to do was connect the drive to my Airport base station via the supplied Ethernet cable and turn on the drive. I then registered with PogoPlug (Buffalo's online partner), downloaded the desktop app for my Mac, and spent about a half an hour configuring the set up.

The only problem I had during this process turned out to be my own fault. When I first got the Buffalo, I swapped out the 1 TB drives for a couple of 2 TB drives that I already had. The Cloudstor didn't like them for some reason. But I didn't know that at first. I thought I was having connectivity problems, but in reality, it was the swapped out drives. When I finally figured out to put the original 1 TB drives back in, every thing worked great. Go figure.

Access to My Master Raw Files While on the Road

Even though the Buffalo can perform a variety of cool tasks, such as serving up your iTunes library from afar, I was basically interested in two things. First, I wanted it to store my master Raw files so I would have access to them from anywhere in my studio, and while on the road.

My workflow is that I work with a referenced Aperture library on my MacBook Air while traveling. So I have a hefty library full of thousands of Jpeg previews with me. But every now and then I need the original Raw file, and having those available via the cloud would be handy. Since my Projects in the Aperture library are organized the same way as the referenced file folders on my external drives, finding a master image is a snap.

On average, it took the Buffalo Cloudstor about a minute and a half to download a 27 MB Raw file from a remote location. Not blazing fast, but workable for those times I need a couple masters while on the road. In the studio on the local area network, it was faster.

Using the Cloudstor as a Raw File Backup While on the Road

The second task I was interested in was using the Cloudstor as an image backup device while I'm working on location. Wouldn't it be nice to upload a day's shoot from the hotel and know that all of your Raw files are safe and sound back home? Unfortunately for Raw shooters, the technology just isn't there yet.

I tried a sample shoot of 79 Raw files that totaled about 2 GBs of storage, and uploaded them off the card via my MacBook Air to the Buffalo Couldstor about 6 miles away at my studio.

Copy Job to Cloudstor A 2 GB upload required 2 hours to complete via the cloud.

Even with really good cable Internet access on both ends, the upload took 2 hours. On a normal day's shoot, I rack up between 300 and 600 Raw files, and the Internet connection on the road often isn't nearly as good as what I tested at home. So it's conceivable that the upload would not be finished by the time I got up the next morning, or that the Internet connection would timeout before completion.

The Bottom Line

The Buffalo Cloudstor network drive is a terrific value considering that you get TBs of storage, easy to use software, and all of this capability at a great price. You can use it to share files on your local area network, and better yet, remotely via the Internet.

You can preload it with your master image files by connecting a separate hard drive via the Cloudstor's USB port on the back of the unit, then access those files from anywhere you have an Internet connection. It's not the fastest server on the planet, but it's fine for small batch downloads.

It can also serve as a back-up for traveling photographers, but it's not practical for large batches of big Raw files. If you shoot Jpegs, you'll most likely have a good experience as long as you have good bandwidth.


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David Gary Henry

For the May '11 Photo Assignment, TDS shooters got their Eco on to create this gallery titled Shades of Green. Monotoned? No way. A visual tour through one of our favorite colors? Yes! And which one will be the SizzlPix Pick of the Month?

The July 2011 assignment is "Smoke." Start working on your contribution now. Details can be found on the Member Participation page. Submit your photo assignment picture 800 pixels in the widest direction. Deadline is July 31, 2011.

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: July 2011." 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.


Photo by David Gary Henry. (Click on it to see enlarged version.) You can read more about how David captured this shot, plus see all of the other great images on the May 2011 Gallery page.


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


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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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Here's the problem when you click the new Olympus 12mm f/2.0 prime lens into place on the redesigned E-P3 body: You never want to take it off. Seriously.

Olympus E-P3 with 12mm & Kit Lens

I've been testing this combination for a few weeks, and every time I considered switching to the new 14-42mm zoom (which is very nice, btw), I found a reason to keep the 12mm mounted. Actually, there are a number of reasons:

  • The 12mm f/2.0 looks amazing against the matte black body of the E-P3. The feel of the machined metal, design of the barrel, and that big objective glass in the front is addicting.
  • It focuses fast. Olympus has overhauled the focusing system in the E-P3, and combined with the 12mm lens, the speed is blazing. (Also great with new 14-42mm, once I actually tried it.)
  • Sharp. Edge to edge sharpness.
  • Wide field of view. The 12mm prime is a 24mm equivalent on a full frame camera. (You double the focal length on micro four-thirds bodies.)
  • Snap Focus. The focus ring can be pulled back toward the body allowing you to manually focus the camera with a dampened feel that harkens back to the day of great prime lenses. I'm also thinking of what I can do with this when recording full HD movies with the E-P3.

Olympus E-P3 with 12mm f/2.0

When I work with the E-P3 and 12mm prime, in all honesty, I feel like I have that top of the line German camera I always wanted, but could never afford. That doesn't mean this combination is cheap, but it's within my range.

The new Olympus PEN E-P3 with the redesigned 14-42mm zoom is $899 US. The 12mm f/2.0 prime lens is $799 US. For about $1,700, you get a solid, state-of-the-art digital body, a zoom, and a fast prime lens. (As shown in the top photograph.) That's nice.

I'll be writing more about the E-P3 itself. You can read the basic overview of the camera here. And here's more information on the 12mm f/2.0 prime lens. I've published a set of images on Flickr that show you different views of the camera and some photos captured with the 12mm lens.

More to come on all of this!


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"This image was taken while strolling through Central Park in Manhattan," writes Kevin Miller. "The John Lennon memorial, 'Strawberry Fields,' was dedicated on what would have been his 45th birthday, October 9, 1985, by New York Mayor Ed Koch and Lennon's widow Yoko Ono."

John Lennon Memorial by Kevin Miller

"Mayor of Strawberry Fields" by Kevin Miller. Click on image for larger size.

"About 18 years ago, Gary dos Santos started hanging around the memorial and eventually became the self-assigned curator -- decorating the mosaic memorial and giving his Lennon spiel to fans. About 10 years ago, Gary was visited in a dream by the Brother (John Lennon), who told him to keep up his daily efforts at the memorial and that he should be the appointed Mayor of Strawberry Fields."

"This image captures Gary in the middle of his memorial decorating service. Note the title 'Mayor' on his jacket."

Taken with Canon S95, ISO 400, f4.5, 1/125th second, 13mm lens setting based on range of 6mm-22.5mm.

This is our 216th Grab Shot! Wow. If you want to review the collection that began back in 2006, go to our Grab Shots page.

If you have a candid you'd like to share, take a look at our Submissions page, then send us your Grab Shot. We'll try to get it published for you on The Digital Story.

And you can view more images from our virtual camera club in the Member Photo Gallery.


The Digital Story Podcast App is the best way to stream or download weekly TDS podcast episodes. No more syncing your iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, or even your Android phone just to get a podcast. And the best part is, The Digital Story Podcast App is your way to help support this show. Download it today!


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