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With the release of Photoshop CS4 just around the corner, my CS4 guide for photographers is ready for preorder right now. That means you should receive the book as soon as the software is released by Adobe.

There are two scenarios where I think you would want to preorder The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers. The first is if you're going to upgrade and want to start taking advantage of the new features and workflow options that were designed just for shooters. The Photoshop CS4 Companion focuses on the use of this application for photographers only. This enables you to cut to the chase and become proficient quickly.

The other scenario is if you're contemplating upgrading to CS4, but want to know if it's a good investment for you. The Photoshop CS4 Companion is available on Amazon for only $16.49 US. That's a small investing compared to buying Photoshop, and I'm confident that the book will help you make the right decision for you.

I look at this CS4 release as a complete workflow for photographers. That's why I dedicate complete chapters to each of the important tools. Photo Downloader gets one chapter, Bridge is one chapter, Adobe Camera Raw is so incredible that I dedicated two chapters to it, Photoshop also gets two chapters, plus there's a chapter that focuses on printing with Photoshop. The chapters are designed to take you through the workflow in the right sequence, similar to what Lightroom does with the modules.

What's interesting to me, is that you probably need Photoshop anyway. Its great new features such a the innovative merging technologies and the new "best practices" non-destructive editing tools are a blessing for any shooter. And, on top of that, you get an entire workflow that spans from upload to output. This is a very complete package, and I cover it step by step in this 208 page guide that fits nicely in your laptop bag. Oh, and the Photoshop CS4 Companion is for both Mac and Windows users.

You can learn more about this by listening to my podcast titled, Top Ten Photoshop CS4 Features. You'll hear why I'm so excited about this release, and why I just had to write The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers.


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ShoZu Connects Smart Phone Shooters

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I was chatting-up the value of smart phone cameras the other day, then luckily ran across an interesting application for smart phone shooters called ShoZu.

ShoZu connects your mobile phone to online sites such as flickr, YouTube, facebook, Blogger, and even photoshop.com. You can upload your images, access feeds from friends, reply to comments, add descriptions, geo-tag and more. There are versions for BlackBerry, iPhone, Motorola, Samsung, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, and many more.

The iPhone version I tried was free, and I think the others are too. It's an interesting application for those who like to interact online via their phone.


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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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If you'd like to take time to focus on your photography this weekend, then consider joining me in Santa Rosa, CA for "How I Did It" - A Short Course in High-Impact Photography.

Many high-impact photos are a combination of opportunity and technique. In this workshop, I'll show you examples of compelling photographs and explain how they were captured. By the end of the day, you will have learned many of the secrets that top shooters use to distinguish their photos from others.

You can register online, or call Santa Rosa Junior College at 707-527-4372.


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.

What's in Your Pocket?

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I was reading a story on PDN this morning titled Smart Phones for Smart Photographers that discussed how today's mobile devices have a variety of tools that are helpful for shooters -- including their built in cameras.

I had one of those "smart phone moments" this weekend while I was moving out of a storage unit (finally!) on Saturday morning. It had rained that evening, but the sky was beginning to clear. As I sat there in my VW van ready to take the first load to the house, I saw this interesting composition. I didn't have a "real" camera with me, so I pulled out my iPhone and composed this shot through the van windshield.

That night, tired from a day of moving, I pulled out my iPhone and took a peek at the images. I like the juxtaposition of sky in asphalt. It's a fun shot that I'm glad I have.

Ah, smart phones. You gotta love em! What's in your pocket? Let us know by posting a comment below.


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Bogen is hosting a webinar titled, Selling Your Products Online? Learn How to Shoot Products that Sell Themselves on Friday, Oct. 3 in the afternoon. Led by Mark Astmann and Christopher Abbiss, Lastolite Product Managers, they will discuss the Cubelite –- a quick portable lighting system perfect for taking web images, along with other lighting options and tips to achieve great images with a digital point and shoot camera. They will also demonstrate positioning and placing light on your products, along with white balancing your camera to eliminate unwanted colors to your images.

The only catch is that you must have a valid United States address and a valid email address upon registration. But it does sound kind of fun.


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If you've ever wondered if Photoshop's Smart Objects are something you should be using, you might want to listen in on this conversation with Deke McClelland. I interviewed him at Photoshop World in Orlando, and wanted to hear why he thinks Smart Objects are worth learning.

Deke does a terrific job of providing an overview to this nondestructive function in Photoshop. It's a good listen if you want to get up to speed in less than 20 minutes.


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Not Quite Getting the Sigma DP2

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I've been reading up on the just-announced Sigma DP2 compact camera, and I have to say, I don't quite get it. I do understand that it uses the same 14 megapixel (2,652×1,768×3 layers) direct image sensor as the SD14 and DP1, which is huge for a compact. But the lens is a prime only at 24.2mm (equal to 43mm on a full frame sensor) with a maximum aperture of f/2.8.

Now, I love prime lenses as much as the next guy, but this day in age, why would I spend hundreds of dollars on a camera with only a 43mm lens? And at f/2.8 to boot? If it's going to be a single-focal length only, doesn't it at least have to be fast?

I understand the potential for great image quality here with the large Foveon sensor and shooting in Raw mode. And quite possibly I'm just a little more frugal than the target market for this camera. So, if you have a compelling argument to spend big dollars on this machine, I'd like you to post a comment saying why.


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SanDisk announces their latest, the 16GB SanDisk Extreme IV CompactFlash card with transfer rates up to 45MB/s. The cards should run around $399 initially.

And I guess we're going to need 'em. Now with Raw capture at 12 MPs and well beyond, along with adding video to DSLRs, storage becomes important. But it's not just the memory card in your camera. If you're purchasing 16GB CF cards, then you better have a plan for expanding hard drive capacity on the post production side of the equation too.

My point being, as we buy new cameras, and purchase big cards to go with them, we need to think through the entire equation. My current workflow is set up for 12 MP Raw capture. If I decide to upgrade (Canon 5D Mark II), then my budget needs to include new camera, new CF cards, and more hard drives.

Hmmm. Suddenly my current 5D is not looking so bad.


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I'm Telling Ya, the 50mm Lens Is Back

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Nikon just announced their newly redesigned AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G lens among all of the hubbub at Photokina. Nikon's 50mm combines great optical design with low light performance and their Silent Wave Motor, making this optic a top choice for existing light photography.

Along with the new Sigma 50mm f/1.4 and offerings by other manufacturers, I would say that the 50mm lens is back in business. Mounting these reengineered optics on new high-resolution sensors gives photographers access to exciting, gritty image-making, and at a reasonable cost. Personally, I love it!


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Super Bargain Canon Replacement Battery?

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I was just talking to a photo buddy who had purchased four of these Ultralast UL-BP511 Canon BP-511 Equivalent Digital Camera Batteries for only $2.49 each. He said the performance was excellent, and that opinion seems to be backed-up by 54 customer reviews on Amazon.

The battery looks just like the Canon brand (that sells for about $50 US), and has good specs. Could be a great deal. The only catch seems to be that it's only available in the US.


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