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The car is packed, and I'll be heading up to the Nature Photography Summit in Reno, NV. This is the start of an exciting road trip that includes the NANPA event, then head down Highway 395 past some of my favorite sites in California (Mono Lake, June Lake, Mammoth Lakes, Bishop, Lone Pine), and arriving in Anaheim for the PMA Show.

At the shows, I'll be working in the Lowepro booth, meeting photographers, talking about gear, and recording short interviews. I'll post many of these conversations, so stay tuned. It's always great to hear what other shooters have to say. And if you're attending either of these events, be sure to come by the Lowepro booth to say hi.

Then, while on the road, I'll be taking pictures and posting anecdotes about the places I see and the people I meet. I have a lot of experience traveling Highway 395, and the one thing I know for sure is that I have no idea what I'll encounter. So , we'll all find out together.

Be sure to keep an eye on my Twitter feed, here at The Digital Story, and via the Lowepro Facebook Fan page.

Switching Aperture to 32-Bit Mode

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If you have to switch to 32-bit mode in Aperture to run your plug-ins, which are all 32-bits, you can do so via the Get Info box (File > Get Info). With the application closed, check the "Open in 32-bit mode" box, then relaunch Aperture. All of your current Aperture plug-ins should be available to you then.

More Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn more about Aperture 3, check out my Aperture 3 Essential Training on Lynda.com. Also, take a look at our Aperture 3 Focus Section. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.


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Full Screen Browser in Aperture 3

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One of the pleasant surprises in Aperture 3 is the new Full Screen Browser. To access it from the normal browser view in Aperture, all you have to do is hit the F key. This lets you dedicate every inch of your monitor to your pictures. This feature is a blessing while I'm using my 17" MBP on the road.

If you want to edit one of the images, just double-click on the thumbnail in the Browser to bring it to full screen, then hit the H key to bring up the Adjustments Inspector. At this point, you can work as normal. Another nice touch is, if you hold down the Shift key while moving any of the sliders in the Adjustments Inspector, the Inspector interface disappears except for the slider you're using. Again, this lets you see more of your image with less of the interface.

When you're done editing your picture, just double click it to return to the full screen Browser. Hit the F key to return to the normal Aperture 3 interface. Very nice.

Oh, and one other thing. Those images in the illustration... they are Raw files from my Canon S90. Aperture 3 decodes them wonderfully. I've also talked with LX3 shooters, and they too can decode their Raw files in A3.

More Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn more about Aperture 3, check out my Aperture 3 Essential Training on Lynda.com. Also, take a look at our Aperture 3 Focus Section. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.


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Canon T1i Video Edited in Aperture 3

When Apple enabled video trimming in Aperture 3, my guess is they wanted to enhance the Slideshow module. And that they did. You can now combine still images, video, and separate audio tracks to create beautiful productions.

After playing with this module for a few hours, however, my message to Apple is that I would prefer even more video functionality (yeah, I know). But quite honestly, the task I often have at hand is to shoot video, cut it, then upload to YouTube -- as quickly as possible. Incorporating still images and soundtracks are fun, but not the normal project.

This short movie, "Mission St., SF" was captured with a Canon T1i, then imported directly into Aperture 3 for production and export. Click through to YouTube for the HD version.

So if you have your hopes up that there's a mini Final Cut Pro inside of Aperture, you might want to lower your expectations. The video tools are extremely basic. What you can do, however, is useful.

  • Add and manage DSLR video clips in the Aperture library. And thanks to the improved Import dialog box, you can choose which types of files you want to upload.
  • Select the video clips you want to work with, then go to New > Slideshow where you can organize their sequence, add a soundtrack, add title slides, and choose some basic parameters for your presentation.
  • Trim video clips by double clicking on them. This is very important because the one thing that all videos need is editing.
  • Export your production using one of the 5 presets or custom export settings. I used the HD 720 preset for this short movie.

I know it seems odd to use the Slideshow module for your video editing. But I think that's due to Apple's original concept for video management in Aperture. I wouldn't be surprised if up the road we see a dedicated module for handling movies. In the meantime, however, this is a huge addition to Aperture 3. And it will make my life more efficient and productive.

More Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn more about Aperture 3, check out my Aperture 3 Essential Training on Lynda.com. Also, take a look at our Aperture 3 Focus Section. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.


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Photo bags are like your cameras: you want the right tool for the job. Often this means having a couple different types of bags to meet the different situations you face as a photographer. In this podcast I help you get your bags together.

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download the podcast here (25 minutes). Or better yet, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

Monthly Photo Assignment

Red is the Feb. 2010 Photo Assignment. You can read more about how to submit on our Member Participation page. Deadline for entry is Feb. 28, 2010.

TDS Workshops Update

The TDS Hot Air Balloon Photography Workshop in June 2010 has lost its hot air. The organizers cancelled the event for this year. Ack! So I'm working on a different event in the same time slot. Stay tuned for more information. If you'd like to get on the waiting list for upcoming workshops, please send me email with the subject line: "TDS Workshops." Those virtual camera club members who are on the waiting list get first opportunity to register for newly announced workshops. Attendance is limited to 6 for each TDS Workshop to ensure a personalized experience.

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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Podcast Sponsors

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Aperture 3 Hits the Streets

Apple announces the long awaited Aperture 3 professional photo management application with 200 new features. You can read a nice overview on Macworld, then spend some time on the Apple site that does a good job of showing off the new feature set.

Over the coming weeks, we'll be delving into all the fun nooks and crannies here, including managing HD video, audio, new image editing presets, and much more. Stay tuned!

More Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn more about Aperture 3, check out my Aperture 3 Essential Training on Lynda.com. Also, take a look at our Aperture 3 Focus Section. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.


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The Lowepro Pro Runner 300 AW is a photo backpack that holds the essential gear I need while working in the field, but it has a slim profile enabling me to work less obtrusively in urban environments. Yet, the Pro Runner has all of the features I need for shooting in the rugged outdoors.

As the photography evangelist for Lowepro, I get to test a variety of bags. In my last review, I put the Lowepro Fastpack 250 through its paces. The Fastpack remains one of my favorite combination backpacks (laptop and photo gear), especially for light jobs that require air travel.

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The Pro Runner 300 AW fills a different need. It holds primarily photo gear (although the iPad may change that) and is used for more intensive photography jobs, or for situations when I can take two bags -- one for photo gear and another for computer stuff. Above all, what I really like about the Pro Runner 300 AW is its slim profile that allows me to tote it just about anywhere, even on a crowded city bus.

Right now I'm preparing for a busy month of travel in February, going to Macworld, NANPA, and PMA. I'll be shooting in a variety of conditions, from urban streets to Eastern Sierra trails. Here's what I have packed in my Pro Runner for the trip:

  • Canon 5D Mark II and Canon T1i DSLR bodies
  • 5 lenses: 70-200mm f/4, 24-105mm f/4, 17-40mm f/4, 85mm f/1.8, 18-55mm T1i kit lens and 1.4X Canon tele extender
  • Canon 270EX flash
  • Polarizing filters, ExpoDisc, batteries, and memory cards
  • 24" PhotoDisc
  • Monopod in the outside tripod holder
  • Model releases, pens, small personal items

The backpack has a sturdy handle on top making it easy to pick up or grab out of a storage compartment. The harness system is very comfortable, capable of day-long treks, but it isn't bulky. I think this is a big deal, especially when working in the city. For example, I like having the belly band when I'm hiking, but it often gets in the way for street work. With the Pro Runner 300 AW, I can stash the belly band in the bottom AW compartment so it isn't visible at all. If I need it for a longer haul, it's easy to pull out and use.

Speaking of the All Weather cover, it adds an extra level of moisture protection in rain and snow. Other Pro Runner niceties include two side mesh pockets, outside tripod harness system, and sliplock sleeves.

The backpack is available in both black and pine green with black accents. I prefer the pine green model. It's quite handsome. The Lowepro Pro Runner 300 AW is available for $149.95 US. If you need to carry a lot of gear, but want to be nimble, take a look at it.

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I'm a huge fan of Flickr. I use it to publish galleries of images to augment my articles on The Digital Story, and to share photos just for the pleasure of showing them to other people.

Discover Your Best Shot

But I've discovered another benefit too. Flickr helps me determine the best image in any given group of shots. And often, it's not the photo that I would have picked. I think this perspective is wildly helpful because as photographers, we often decide that one image or another is our best based on information that the viewer doesn't have. And therefore we don't often feature our best images, as the world sees them.

For example: just because you climb to the top of a mountain and endure hardship to get a particular shot, that doesn't mean it's your best picture from the trip. Yet, because of these factors, it might be the one that you promote.

Viewer Statistics vs Your Feelings

What Flickr does is give you actual viewing numbers for each shot in a set of images, and almost every time, one picture will rise above the rest. And for me, it's often a surprise. Keep in mind that you see the viewing numbers if you're logged in, but visitors don't. So they're not being influenced by the pack (although sometimes a site will link to a photo and that will jack up its numbers).

In my Olympus E-PL1 gallery, one image is far and away the most popular. Can you guess which one? (You can share your guess in the comments area of this article. After a few days, I'll post the answer.)

Flickr Favorites in Practical Use

I've began using this "Flickr feedback" when I decide which photos to share with clients or to publicize. By way of example, if you're going to Macworld, you'll see an image of mine from New York in the entry hall gallery. I offered that photo of The Kiss (along with others) in part based on its popularity on Flickr. Sure enough, that's what the selection committee at Macworld chose to feature.

My point here is that we're often not the best judges of our own work. Using services such as Flickr provides valuable feedback to help us see our photos though the viewers' eyes without being tainted by our own personal experiences.

Flicker Essential Training on Lynda.com

If you want to learn more about the benefits of Flickr, and how to get better at using it, take a look at my Flickr Essential Training on Lynda.com. It's easy, fun, and comprehensive.


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Right around the corner is my 2-day workshop at Macworld 2010 titled, Professional Photography Adventure with Aperture. The dates are Feb. 9 & 10 at Moscone Center in San Francisco. There's still time to sign up.

Because Aperture 2 has been around for a couple years now, we've had plenty of time to experiment with the application to see what it can do. I'm going to incorporate some of these discoveries into this year's workshop:

  • A reference library approach that allows you to point Aperture, iPhoto, Lightroom and Adobe Bridge to the same set of master images, without altering the masters in any way.
  • Tethered shooting with Canon DSLRs and iPhones. Will cover Nikon and Olympus too.
  • Custom fine art notecards using the book layout tool.
  • How to create the infrared effect using the Adjustments panel in Aperture 2.

And, as they say, lots more. So yes, we will cover the basics on the first day, but on the second day we'll delve more into these advanced techniques. And if Apple announces Aperture 3, we'll cover that too.

More Digital Photography at Macworld

On Wednesday night, Feb. 10, at 6:30 pm we head to the Apple Store in San Francisco for the talk, Expert Photo Tips from Real Experts. I'll be joined by digital photography legend, Stephen Johnson, with Mikkel Aaland and Ben Long. After our initial chat about the iPad and all things photography, we'll take lots of questions from the audience. This is a free event, so I hope to see you there.

On Thursday, Feb. 11 at 3pm, I head back to Moscone Center for the panel discussion, The State of the Art of Digital Photography. We did this last year, and it was a great hit. For the talk, I'll have lots of goodies on hand including the new Olympus E-PL1 digital camera. Olympus isn't showing at Macworld, so this will be your chance to get your hands on this very cool camera. I also have a few other state-of-the-art goodies to share. So make sure you attend this talk.


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Review of Olympus E-PL1 DSLR

How ironic that the most affordable PEN, the brand new E-PL1, is also my favorite. That never happens! Olympus just announced that its third digital PEN will retail for $599.99, that includes a 12-megapixel camera body with the 14-42mm lens. This latest PEN features:

  • Live Guide: Easily see and adjust your settings on the LCD before you take the shot. At first this doesn't sound like much. But once I used it, I felt like it was a breakthrough in camera UI. There are a series of adjustments -- saturation, color, brightness, blur background, and express motions -- that you fine tune by moving a slider up and down and seeing the results in real time on the LCD before you take the picture. Very cool.
  • Built-in flash: It's mounted atop a clever arm system that gives it some height above the lens. Yaay. I like it!
  • Faster autofocus with the new 9-18mm and 14-150mm lenses:  I tested the 9-18mm zoom, and its performance was snappy.
  • Direct Movie Button for HD Videos: It's red and you can't miss it. And if you want to shoot HD video in a hurry, it's terrific. One touch recording.
  • New Gentle Sepia Art Filter that now makes a total of six in-camera creative filters
  • Share: Just connect the camera to an HDTV with an optional HDMI cable and use your TV remote to control playback functions and navigate the camera's menus from the comfort of your chair.
  • Continuous Autofocus (C-AF) Tracking and Autofocus (AF) Target Registration locks your subject into focus and constantly adjusts focus and brightness.
  • 2.7" LCD provides a wide viewing angle of 176 degrees. Unfortunately it's still only 230,000 dots.
  • Accessory Port (like the one on the E-P2) for connecting the optional VF-2 electronic viewfinder, or the new optional SEMA-1 external microphone adapter set (which includes the EMA-1 adapter, the ME-51S stereo microphone and a cord). Works with any microphone that has a 3.5mm plug.
  • Optional PT-EP01 underwater case that has been specially customized for the Olympus E-PL1, and is waterproof to a depth of 40 meters (approximately 130 feet).

My Favorite PEN

Aside from all of its features, I think this is a beautiful camera, especially the black and silver model I've photographed for this article. I really like metal mode dial on the top deck, raised buttons, right-side hand grip, and overall solid feel.

I also appreciate getting a proven 12MP sensor, HD video recording, and accessory port for less than any of the other PENs. I really like this camera, and I'm going to hate sending it back. I will, however, have it with me at Macworld. So if you want to see it in person, be sure to look me up.

When Will It Be Available?

The Olympus E-PL1 will be available in March 2010. It includes the E-PL1 Body, M. ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 14-42mm f3.5/5.6 Zoom, USB Cable, Video Cable, Li-Ion Battery Pack (BLS-1), Li-Ion Battery Charger (BCS-1), Shoulder Strap, Olympus software CD-ROM, Manuals, and Registration card. If you like what you see, however, you can preorder the Olympus PEN E-PL1 right now on Amazon for $599.

More Olympus E-PL1 Images (click to enlarge)


Photos of the E-PL1 PEN copyright 2010 Derrick Story. For a complete set of E-PL1 images at full resolution, visit the TDS Flickr Page.