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Books Digital Lifestyles Photography Reviews Software

Complete Guide To The Nikon D300 By Thom Hogan

On User Manuals, Digital Books, Travel, The Importance of eBooks and The Foresight of Thom Hogan

I like physical books.  By that I mean I like a book I can hold in my hand, feel the texture, and maybe even revel in the smell of the paper and the ink.  I like to consume well-done images that inspire or instruct.  I like books that open themselves flat and allow me to look at them without having to hold down both sides of the tight binding of a signature in the book without being afraid that the book would snap closed if I turned lose with one or both hands.

But then I have to say that there is a “but” that goes with all of that.  The bigger a book gets the less likely I am to have it along when I want it.  Big books in heavy bindings don’t fit easily into the weight requirements of modern-day air travel.  They’re, well, “big” and “big” and “ease of travel” are oxymorons.  They just don’t work interchangeably.

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Parallel Desktops

After a week with the iPhone, what’s great, what’s not

I’ve had my iPhone for a little over a week now and figure it’s a good time to settle in and talk about what I like and dislike about it. I have not really changed my calling habits too much as a result of having the iPhone; the way I use the phone in general is about the same as I’ve done in the past. Where it has changed my daily activities is in the additional stuff I can use it for outside of being a simple phone. No longer do I get stressed out about having to waste time standing in line or sitting in an airport terminal waiting for a family member’s flight to arrive. I simply whip out the iPhone and check my e-mail or hit the Newsgator mobile site to see if there are any new developments on my Washington Redskins.

I haven’t tried the full iPhone version because I’ve been so pleased with the web based model. I love the Safari web browser built into the iPhone. Other than Flash sites everything I’ve pulled up renders great and is readable easily by zooming in. If the font is reasonably sized I can sometimes pick it up without even having to zoom in. Scrolling is also a wonderful experience. The best part? Coming across a site that’s been optimized for the iPhone. This is going to be a requirement for any web products I build in the future. The 3G access in my area of Northern Virginia is excellent with 5 bars in many places, 4 in others. If I can’t tap into a good wireless spot the 3G provides a reasonable alternative. When I’m in Southern Delaware I don’t get 3G but I do get excellent Edge signal. It’s significantly slower than 3G though serviceable. Sending and receiving SMS messages with the iPhone is great.

I love the iChat style presentation since it makes carrying on a conversation much more natural. The fact that I have a real keyboard means that my text messaging conversations tend to be more human readable too. The Mail application is fantastic and works very well with my Gmail account. I love that it works with my online folders via IMAP, can quickly pull my recipients out of my Contacts and can deal with attachments so easily. Someone has a phone number in their e-mail sig and a simple tap allows me to call them. The Calendar application is a nice implementation of iCal, though I don’t like that fact that once I create an appointment I can’t seem to change it from Work to Home calendar. Since I sync my calendar through iTunes with iCal on my Mac if I make a mistake and place something on the wrong calendar I can change it there. The Contacts list is also a strong point, syncing seamlessly with my Mac Address Book.

I have found myself dropping in pictures for all of my contacts because it is so easy and I like seeing the face of the person calling me. The battery life on the iPhone has been decent for me, considering how I am using the device. I can generally get a full day out of a charge with reasonably heavy use. This is not a "I can go for 5 days before I have to charge my phone" kind of device; I plug it in at night while on the road or sync it up with iTunes on a daily basis when operating from my home office. Not quite perfect On the downside I’ve had to restart the iPhone a couple of times now after it locked up on me. There are also times that the iPhone can respond very slowly, especially in the Contacts application. If I activate it and then try to pull up a contact record or click on the alphabetical list on the right it can sometimes take about 5 seconds before I get a response. Once it starts being responsive everything is fine; it’s just that initial delay that’s an issue.

This is not a regular occurrence but it is often enough to be noticeable. If I could pick one feature that could be added to the iPhone that would be very helpful it would be a modest clipboard function for Copy/Cut/Paste. Finally the camera in the iPhone is pretty weak. If the lighting is perfect—basically outdoors on a bright day, sun at your back—it can take an excellent picture. Indoors with decent available light it can take reasonably good pictures. The lack of a flash and white balance controls makes it pretty unusable if there is any back-lighting. Want to take a picture of a person that has a window behind them? Forget about it. These little complaints aside I really am happy with the iPhone. When I consider all the things that the iPhone does brilliantly it makes the list of complaints I have seem pretty weak.

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Digital Lifestyles Hardware Photography Workflow

Musings on Washing Machines and CompactFlash cards

If you have read any of my previous articles, you will already know that as a writer I tend to ramble, and that I am a photographer and computer geek. I like cameras more than computers, but use both every day.

One personality trait I have not shared in the past is my hang-up about things working… I like objects to work the way I want, when I want, every time. Yes, I will spend more money on an object if I believe that it will perform the way I want over a lower priced version of the same object. I spent more money on a clothes washer about two years ago than I really wanted to… I got a nicer front loader that had some features I wanted, and uses far less water than top loaders.

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Photography

Whatever Happened To The “Decisive Moment”?

Photography has been evolving constantly from its birth in 1839. There have been many different kinds of photographs and processes through the years, including the daguerreotype, calotype, ambrotype, tintype, prints from sheet film, prints from roll film, and now images from digital capture. Each process had its advantages and disadvantages but most of us would agree that generally advances in technology have made life easier and better. But in this “Instantaneous, quantity over quality,  throw-away world,” have we also lost the ability to think?

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Books Photography Workflow

Seven Key Techniques For Taking Your Images From Flat To Fantastic

I used the sub-title as the title because I think it makes the subject clearer. I think that describes why Scott Kelby’s book is not just another Photoshop book even if you don’t know who Scott Kelby actually is. If you don’t know, then I suggest you crank up GOOGLE and pick a couple of dozen of the 999,000 entries it says it pinged up for your perusal when you punch in his name. I’ll give you the summation—he knows Photoshop. He knows it very well!

I secretly think he is at least a sextuple version of Superman in disguise. How else could he produce more than 40 books and be editor and publisher of Photoshop User and Layers magazines as well as be president and co-founder of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP) with its 75,000 plus members? (If you are not aware of NAAP and you are at all interested in Photoshop, then you should be a member. Check it out). He’s also president of the Kelby Media Group, which is a software training, education, and publishing firm. Oh, he does video too.

He even does a lot more than that and keep a family as well, but I’ll let you go read up on his varied life and interests elsewhere, and we’ll talk about the he’s offered to us currently.

His premise is that no matter what picture you are trying to correct, the odds are that there are only seven (or less) real steps that are involved in that correction. He breaks the steps down for you to follow in twenty-one lessons (you shouldn’t call them chapters) that you are supposed to follow through as he solves a varied series of problems. That way you understand how to use the seven steps (and their variations) in the best order for the nature of the problem you face. Do this often enough and the rote practice should brand itself into your consciousness until the procedures are a second-nature process.

Should you have a short-term memory problem and come back to your need for corrections after a lay-off of several weeks, there is a refresher lesson to bring back the tricks and procedures. In the review he goes back to lengthier explanations of the procedures again so that you will have your memory refreshed.

In order to follow along with his lessons, all the images that are needed may be downloaded from his website http:// HYPERLINK "http://www.kelbytraining" www.kelbytraining com/7pointphotos.

Here’s the workflow order as Scott Kelby sees it:

Adobe Camera Raw Processing
Curves Adjustments
Shadow/Highlight Adjustments
Painting with Light
Channels Adjustments
Layer Blend Modes & Layer Masks
Sharpening Techniques

On page 255 there is an elaboration that tells you what you should do in each of those steps through a thorough paragraph of WHAT to do, but not including the HOW to do it; for those you will have to work through each of the lessons.

I like to think that I am a very competent photographer and am equally good at post-processing my photography, but I can honesty say I am now better at both for having done the lessons. I either learned alternate ways to do things I had previously been doing, or else learned better ways. Also quite honestly, there were a couple of moments of pure epiphany when my inner self exclaimed "would you look at that!" where I had to erase old procedures in my mind and accept the much better way of solving a problem I thought I already knew how to do.

I did the twenty-one lessons over a four day period of doing other things as well and can tell you it is a bit like going to school on a Monday through Thursday schedule of two or three hour-long classes. Each lesson introduces you to a new problem and takes you through it step-by-step introducing new ideas and new sets of key commands each lesson. The idea is that through repetition you will learn the location of the particular menus and the key commands that activate them. Each lesson is intended to present a different kind of retouch problem and train the user into recognizing the best way to solve each type of problem.

As the lessons progress Scott Kelby tells you less and less HOW to do something only that you SHOULD do a specific thing. The intent is that you learn the key commands and menu positions and procedures as you go along. My only complaint or comment is that because I did the lessons over several days that I would liked to have had a summary of the menus, procedures, and key commands for the end of each lesson to be able to refresh my memory as I "came back to class" so to speak. Several times I simply had to go back a lesson or two and refresh my memory of how to do something that I knew needed doing but couldn’t remember the precise steps of how to do it.

The twenty-first lesson is a review lesson intended to use as many of the steps you have previously learned as possible.

In addition to the summary I already wished each lesson had, I also wish that there were a page or comprehensive list of all key commands or shortcuts that were introduced in the lessons because there were a number presented that I had never previously encountered in any Photoshop book and I have quite a large bookshelf of Photoshop books collected over the past few years, and yes, a large number of them are on Photoshop CS3 (version 10).

I can easily and happily recommend this volume to anyone interested in Photoshop CS3—but particularly to digital photographers—who want an excellent workflow to guide them in their post processing of images. It made me better at what I do, and it will make any user who diligently follows the lessons much better at their own digital image post processing.
 

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Commerce Digital Lifestyles Hardware Photography Workflow

The Nikon D3

I was always an F kind of guy. My first Nikon pro camera was the original F – a 1971 black body FTN. It supplemented my FM2 and I had it until just a couple of years ago when I sold it to a close friend, who bought it with the understanding that I might occasionally need to fondle it… call it conjugal visits.

A few years later I found a really nice F2 that I still have… I skipped the F3 and F4 entirely

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Digital Lifestyles Photography

EXPLORING DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY & GROUP THERAPY, TOGETHER

When I studied traditional photography over twenty years ago I did not see how much the art would shift for me in the way I executed it and what it meant for me.   I believed like many of us that the silver halide was a thing of exacting beauty that could never be replaced.

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Books Digital Lifestyles Photography Workflow

Exposure & Lighting for Digital Photographers Only

I recently encountered a relatively new book by Michael Meadhra and Charlotte K. Lowrie entitled Exposure and Lighting for Digital Photographers Only published by Wiley Press in 2007. 

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Digital Lifestyles Photography Workflow

The Nikon D300 Camera at Work

My job as a Still Photographer in the motion picture industry requires me to get the best possible images for publicity purposes. This requires me to constantly update my equipment when new and better technology is developed.

Such is the case with the Nikon D300 camera which hit the market in Dec 2007 and is now available without the waiting list that it had for several months. I had been using the Nikon D2x and the Nikon D200 cameras for several years, and a Nikon D100 and D1x prior to that.

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Hardware Photography

Camdapter by Jim Garavuso vs Nikon SLR Hand Strap

A former student of mine dropped by to show me his new Nikon D80 camera.  He stopped in because he knew my wife had the same model and he wanted some help with a couple of menu choices.

I noticed a handstrap on the right side of his camera, into which he slipped his right hand, which left his other hand free to support its long lens. This is a feature he uses frequently shooting sports and wildlife. Having just come back into the world of pro-weight cameras, and being older than I once was, I realized this might now be for me too.