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Don't Forget the Little Things

Beer Service

It's easy to get caught up with the "big shots": grand architecture and beautiful landscapes. But don't forget to mix in the little things too -- items such as the dinner presentation, interesting signs, and in this case, a style of beer service that I had never seen before.

I really like the straight cylinder glasses that beer is often served in here in Cologne, Germany. So when I spotted this waitperson navigating a crowd with 11 full glasses, I just had to ask for a shot (and then a beer, of course!). Maybe it was the intoxicating goodness of the delicious brew, but this turned out to be one of my favorite images of the night.


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Photokina: For the Love of Photography

There's a lot of emphasis on equipment leading up to photokina in Cologne. And for good reason; many new announcements are made here. But what really impressed me after day one was the passion for photography that I witnessed.

Loving Photography Photo by Derrick Story. Click on image for larger version.

People here just love this medium. It's both the picture and the camera. The tools and the art. Many of my discussions were framed by the desire to create better imagery. That doesn't mean we don't appreciate a finely designed camera. It's just that the conversation doesn't stop there.

I will certainly be talking about some of the new equipment that catches my eye. But first, I want to acknowledge the aesthetic eye, and that the goal is still to create photos that stir the emotions.


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Oktoberfest Panorama from the Bandstand

Munich, Germany -- They call them "beer tents." But they are actually huge structures that hold thousands of beer drinking customers. In the center is an elevated bandstand that fuels the party, sometimes to a fevered pitch.

Oktoberfest Panorama from the Bandstand View in the HB tent from the elevated bandstand during Oktoberfest. Click on image for larger version.

I was already in a daze when I arrived on Sunday evening. Having left San Francisco early Saturday morning and flown to Munich by way of Philadelphia, I hadn't slept for over 24 hours as I wandered into the HB beer tent. I had never seen so many people drinking at once. Ever.

My friend, Oliver, who lives and works in Munich, knew the manager. When we said hello, he asked if I wanted a better view. "Of course!" I said. He then led us though locked doors to stairs that took us up to the bandstand. There we were. On top of the world looking down at thousands or party-goers, immersed in the band and Oktoberfest itself.

I knew my time there would be short. I began shooting with the Canon PowerShot S90 I had in my pocket. I remembered to record a string of frames that I hoped I could stitch together for a panorama. Here's the result. A view of Oktoberfest that very few ever see. Minutes later I was waved off the bandstand by the conductor. He had had enough of me. But I had my shots, and one heck of a view that I will never forget.


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Off Camera Flash Portrait

When you move the flash off the camera, it's easy to create natural-looking outdoor portraits. I like this technique because it lets me use the sun for rim lighting while I get to control the illumination of the face with my strobe.

In this example, I used a Canon Speedlite 580EX on a light stand triggered by a Canon STE2 Speedlite Transmitter that was mounted in the hotshoe of a Canon EOS 5D Mark II with a 70-200mm f/2.8 L zoom. I dialed the flash exposure back to -1.5 and the ambient exposure to -1.


Senior portrait shot on location using only the sun and a single off-camera flash for lighting. Click on image for larger version. Photo by Derrick Story.

I didn't use any diffusers on the flash itself, although I do angle it slightly upward and pull up the bounce flash card to slightly modify the light. I kept the 5D Mark II on a tripod so I could interact easily with my subject. The great thing about this set up is that I can work the shoot by myself without requiring assistants to hold reflectors, etc.

If you want to learn more about getting pro results from a single flash, be sure to check out my Off Camera Flash title on Lynda.com. I show you all sorts of helpful lighting techniques that are especially good for portraits.

More Off Camera Flash Tutorials

Off Camera Flash - Basic Techniques for Pro Results

Light Modifiers for Off Camera Flash

Off Camera Flash - The Single Light Portrait

"More Off Camera Flash" - Digital Photography Podcast 233

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Nikon D7000

The Nikon D7000 is a camera that should have appeal to freelancers, photo journalists, and budding professionals. It combines durability ("protected by magnesium alloy top and rear covers and has durable sealing against dust and moisture") with 16.2 MPs and full HD video. Other goodies that I like include dual SD card slots, 6 fps burst mode, and an external microphone jack. And the best part is, all of these features are reasonably priced at $1,499 US.

If you're a Nikon shooter and ready to move up to a more robust DSLR body, take a look at the dpreview preview and the Chase Jarvis road test. I think Nikon found a sweet spot with the D7000.


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Canon PowerShot G12 is Nice, but...

Score one for Nikon. In a week where the two heavy hitters announced their premium compact cameras -- Nikon Coolpix P7000and the Canon PowerShot G12 -- Nikon upped Canon in one critical area: audio recording.

How ironic, right? These are cameras. They capture pictures. Yes, but they also record HD video (720p at 24 fps). And for many of us, having a device that doubles as a video recorder is a big deal. And everyone knows, except for Canon, maybe, that audio is half of video. So what am I talking about? Nikon included an external audio jack on the P7000 and Canon did not on the G12. If you want to use these devices to record video for publishing, one of them is going to give you a more professional product (Nikon P7000).

Canon PowerShot G12

That doesn't mean that Canon slacked on the G12. The specs look great. But without external audio, I might as well stick with the Canon PowerShot S95 and save myself a few bucks, not to mention size and weight. I'll keep recording video with the 5D Mark II... for now, anyway.


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In terms of photo assignment preparation, Germany is not a sunny beach on the Hawaiian Islands. At photokina, I have copious amounts of photos to shoot, gigabytes of video to record, hours or audio to capture, and lots of publishing. As much as I love my Canon S90 and iPad, I need the big guns for this trip. And I need to pack all that equipment wisely so I can move it from California, to Munich, to Cologne. This week I talk about DSLRs, fast lenses, and the Lowepro Pro Trekker 300 AWbackpack. I'm going to pack tight and fly right. Tune-in to find out how.

I've also published an article about bringing your gear on a plane, Make Sure Your Carry-On Gear Gets Onboard, if you want more information.

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

Saturation is the September 2010 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is Sept. 30, 2010.

TDS Autumn 2010 Photography Workshop

The next TDS Photography Workshop will be Oct. 16-18, 2010. The event is sold out. But, you can place your name on the reserve list for the next workshop. Just 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. It's a blast!

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lastolite_bracket

Wireless off-camera flash is terrific for location portraits and shooting on the go. But sometimes a single flash just doesn't have enough output. A simple solution is the Lastolite Triflash Bracket for $65. The bracket works with your existing light stands and umbrellas. But it allows you to mount up to three flashes on a single stand. There's the pop you're looking for.

I also read about a new version of this device called the Lastolite TriFlash Sync. It "features a built in sync system allowing the photographer to fire up to three flash guns from one triggering device. Featuring a built-in slave cell, the Lastolite TriFlash Sync can be adjusted to allow for none, 1, 2 or 3 pre flashes if required." But I haven't been able to find a dealer for this device yet. Will keep you posted if I do.

If you like this kind of stuff, be sure to check out my Off Camera Flash title on Lynda.com. I show you all sorts of helpful lighting techniques that are especially good for portraits.

More Off Camera Flash Tutorials

Off Camera Flash - Basic Techniques for Pro Results

Light Modifiers for Off Camera Flash

Off Camera Flash - The Single Light Portrait

"More Off Camera Flash" - Digital Photography Podcast 233


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Make Sure Your Carry-On Gear Gets Onboard

Successful air travel requires preparation. One of the most important details is your carry-on luggage. All of your camera gear must go onboard with you. A little preflight research will ensure that you and your lenses stay together.

Start by looking up the carry-one requirements for your airline. Take these numbers seriously because they represent the maximum size allowed onboard. If you have a big assignment, such as my upcoming trip to photokina in Germany, you'll need more gear than for a casual vacation in the Hawaiian islands.

Carry On Rules I checked the US Airways site for carry-on requirements, then compared them to my camera bag dimensions. Don't forget about the weight limit either!

Next, physically measure the bag you want to bring onboard. You can use the online specifications as a starting point, but not as the final word. I'll give you an example.

I'm taking a Lowepro Pro Trekker 300 AW to Germany because it's going to be a long, rugged trip, and I have to be prepared for a variety of assignments. On the product page, the dimensions are listed as 15.4 W x 14.2 D x 18.5 T inches. But, I removed the padded belly band and my physical measurements are 16 W x 9 D x 19 T. The big difference is the depth. Carry-on rules say 9", which I meet according to my measurements. So get our that ruler and confirm the dimensions.

Even with all of this preparation, you'll want to have a backup plan. Mine is to wear an empty photo vest onboard the plane. If nothing goes wrong, I simply fold it up and put it in the overhead compartment. But, if somehow I'm told I have to "check" my camera bag, I can pull out my most valuable gear and put it in my vest before I hand over the Pro Trekker 300. I also outfit my bag with TSA approved combination locks. They might prove just enough deterrent to the casual thief that my contents will still be there when I retrieve the bag off the luggage carousel.

My second carry-on is a slim laptop bag with a trolly sleeve that slides over the handle on my roller suitcase. My computer, hard drives, and cables go in here. I don't worry about this bag since I can slide it under the seat in front of me if necessary.

You can never prevent things going wrong while traveling by air. But with preparation, you can give yourself the best odds possible.

While we're waiting for iOS 4 for the iPad to bring us native WiFi printing, there's a handy free app available right now for folks who use HP printers. HP iPrint Photo 3 enables you to print photos in a variety of sizes -- from snapshots all the way up to A4. The software also includes easy wireless document sharing between your Mac and the iPad. Then, if you want, you can print those PDFs or text files directly from the iPad. Nifty stuff.

HP iPrint for iPad Wireless document sharing from my Mac to the iPad was a pleasant surprise with HP iPrint. All I had to do was drag my files to the server icon on my Desktop, and they instantly appeared on my mobile device for reading, storing, and printing.

I tested this application on my HP C6380 "All in One" and on the HP C8100, and it worked smoothly on both. I could print any photo on my iPad, or save PDF and text files from my Mac to the iPad for printing later. Once I have the documents stored in HP iPrint, I can output them to any compatible HP printer, regardless of where I happen to be at the moment. The first items I added were model releases, just in case I have to output extras on the road.

If you're curious about your printer and this app, here's the official list of compatible devices. If you have an HP e-All-in-One device, you can also scan documents and photos wirelessly from the device to your iPad.

There are a few basic editing tools too. If, for example, your photo isn't sitting on the paper the way you want, you can use the two-finger pinch, expand, or rotate to reposition the image. This is particularly handy for shots that have different dimensions than the paper you want to print them on. If you get stuck, there's a terrific Help menu available in the upper right corner of the application.


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