An Evening With Terry White – Photoshop Essentials

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I don’t get to present in front of customers as much as I used to. Also in this economy travel has become a luxury. So I was thinking how could I spend some quality time with you and it hit me: “An Evening With Terry White!” Here’s how it works: I will pick an evening and a topic and do a one hour live session on that topic over the internet. There will be no cost to the attendees, It’s on me (well actually it’s on Adobe).

The First Topic

This first evening will be on “Adobe Photoshop Essentials.” Although this is going to be kind of basic for some, I really want to gear this session towards covering the kinds of things that my friends and customers ask me all the time. Topics like: How to remove someone from a background. How to fix blemishes and other artifacts. How to fix the color of an image, etc. So this session will be made up of several mini-tutorials. I will cover as many of these as I can fit in in an hour. Also realize that in Photoshop there are usually several ways to do the same thing and I only have an hour. So I may not do it the way you would have done it or the way you were thinking. Breathe, it will be ok.

Although I’ll be using Adobe Photoshop CS4, you’re not required to have CS4 to benefit from this session. Many of the techniques I plan to cover will be applicable to users of older versions. However, if you just want to be up-to-date and all, feel free head over to the Adobe Store. You can buy your upgrade and download it on the spot :)

When and where? R.S.V.P.?

This first evening will be Tuesday, March 17 @ 7PM E.T. and it will take place via Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro. Here’s the URL: http://my.adobe.acrobat.com/eveningwithterry

Sign on as a GUEST with your real name. While there is no pre-registration required, this session will be limited to 100 attendees. So it’s first come, first served. I advise you to log in 15 minutes before the 7PM start time as I plan to start on time.

Will you be able to ask questions?

There will be a Q&A session at the end. You will be able to submit your questions throughout the presentation in the Q&A pod. I will address as many of the submitted questions as I can at the end. Although I plan to end the presentation part within one hour, I will probably be able hang out a bit afterwards to continue answering questions. This will give people that only have an hour the chance to see the entire presentation before having to leave.

What you will need to participate

If you’re reading this blog, you probably have the necessary equipment to watch this session. You will need a computer (Mac or PC) with a web browser, a high speed internet connection and the Flash Player. The audio will come through your computer’s speakers. That’s pretty much it! There is no software that you need to install. If you want to make sure that your computer and internet connection are up to par, you can run this test. Although the last part of the test checks to see if you have the “add-in”, it’s not necessary to have it for this session. Go ahead and run the test now so that you’ll be ready in time for Tuesday. Also keep in mind that if for whatever reason your connection is not up to par or it’s not going well for you, there’s nothing I can do about it on my end and please accept my apology now.

What if you can’t make it or you’re 101st person?

If all goes well, this session will be recorded and I will post the link to it the next day on my blog. So if you can’t attend or if you don’t make it into the session due to a large turnout, you will be able to enjoy it afterwards at your leisure.

Why am I doing this and what’s next?

Although I can post videos anytime I want on my Adobe Creative Suite Video Podcast, nothing beats live interaction. I like talking with customers and this will give me real-time feedback.  If this goes well I will do it again with different topics. If not, well we can’t say that I didn’t try. :) See you on Tuesday!

Apple shuffles out a 3rd generation iPod shuffle

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Hey it’s Wednesday! Apple traditionally releases new products on Tuesday so as usual no one saw this coming :)

Apple introduced the 3rd generation iPod shuffle. No I don’t have one yet. I just woke up to this news like everyone else. So I’m writing this based on what I’ve read and seen so far. The new shuffle is the smallest shuffle yet. Smaller than a AA battery. The first thing you might notice is that the controls are GONE! Well, they’re gone from the case itself. The controls are now on the earphones cord.

The shuffle now gets playlists

The shuffle never had a display which meant that you never had a way to navigate multiple playlists. So the previous shuffle models could only play songs from a single list of songs. That all changes because the new shuffle has Voice Over! Voice Over announces things like the name of the song, artist and you guessed it, playlists. This is a clever work around for not having a display and it also makes it much easier to use for sports activists because you don’t have to look down to make any changes. You can focus your attention on your run or activity.

Specs and the Bottom Line

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The shuffle has 4GB of memory and comes in Black or Silver for up to 1,000 songs. It requires iTunes 8.1, which will probably be available for download soon. While moving the controls to the earphone cord means that they can make a smaller shuffle, it will limit the number of options for using your existing 3rd party earphones/headphones. The Apple store is quoting a 3-5 day ship period. This would be a great iPod for someone who doesn’t want to spend a lot on iPod, but still wants to easily carry around their favorite music and purchases from the iTunes store. While this is probably the best shuffle Apple has delivered to date, I have no desire to get one. I’m quite content with the army of iPods and iPhone that I already have :)

The iPod shuffle goes for $79. Apple has posted this cool video guided tour to show the features.

What an honor. Thank you Westcott!

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As a photographer, I can’t think of a greater honor than to have an internationally recognized lighting equipment company come to you and say “we would like to use one of your images for our 2009 catalog!” As you can probably imagine I just about fell off my chair when I received that very email from F.J. Westcott. You’ve heard me tout Westcott Spiderlites in the past and I’m a big fan of many of their products. Just yesterday in my post about the Joby Gorillapod Focus, I used a Westcott collapsible background for that shot.

Of course my answer was YES! I’ve been on pins and needle ever since and I just got the final version of the spread. My image is the one in the lower right corner. Westcott said that they used 100% Raw Talent in this year’s catalog. I’m very honored and just flat out tickled to be a part of that talent pool.

A PDF version of the full 2009 FJ Westcott Catalog is here. I look forward to grabbing a huge supply of these babies at Photoshop World in a couple of weeks. There’s a small room in my house that needs wallpapering :)

Joby’s Gorillapod Focus for the Big Jobs

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I’ve been taking my Nikon D700 or D300 with me on all my recent trips. I’ve also started traveling with more lenses and bigger lenses. One of my favorite lenses to shoot with is the Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens. As you know I’m a fan of the Gitzo Traveler Tripod. Although as small and lightweight as it is, I don’t always have room for it in my luggage. This is what led me to using my Gorillapods more. Although I have the Gorillapod SLR, which is a great tripod for travel, it’s just not quite sturdy enough or strong enough for my bigger lenses as it only supports up to 1.75 pounds.

The Gorillapod Focus to the rescue

The Gorillapod Focus is the top of the line Gorillapod. It’s their professional model. It’s geared specifically for large cameras with large lenses. It’s rated at supporting up to 11 pounds. This puppy is solid! I could tell a difference right away when I took it out of the box and started adjusting the legs. As you can see in the above picture it has no problem supporting my Nikon D700 with the battery grip, Kirk L-Bracket and Nikkor 70-200mm lens. I’ve found it to be quite flexible in adjusting positions as long as you keep the feet pointing down. I took that shot with the Focus on my conference table and when the feet were at an angle they tended to slide on the slick surface of the table.

Although the Focus is not as small as the Gorillapod SLR, it’s smaller than the Gitzo. This means that it’s more likely to make its way into my carry on bag than any other tripod I own.

The Bottom Line

The Joby Gorillapod Focus is a nice blend between size, versatility and support. Although it is more costly than the other Gorillapod models, it’s much cheaper than the more expensive carbon fiber tripods by other manufacturers. It’s also great for video cameras. The Gorillapod Focus goes for $109.95 on the Joby site. Amazon has the Gorillapod Focus for $92.14.

Also be sure to check out my video interview with the Gorillapod product manager back at Macworld Expo.

iPhone App of the Week – Kindle for iPhone

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Although I’m not an avid book reader, it’s hard to ignore the significance of having an iPhone (iPod touch) version of the Amazon Kindle Book Reader. I never really paid much attention to the Kindle because I knew I would never buy one. If I read books a lot, I could definitely see the advantage of having a single device with a nice big crisp display that you could download your favorite books to and read on the go.

I figured this would be a natural for the iPhone. Also it would mean having one less device to have to worry about. When Amazon announced that the Kindle App for the iPhone was available, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to play with it. Although the app was a FREE download, I didn’t have any books in Kindle format. Although there are free sample chapters you can download to test, I wanted something real! Since I didn’t have any novels in mind that I wanted to purchase, I looked around my own book collection and it hit me! There was a book that I would LOVE to have with me on my iPhone. It was Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography Book. This was the perfect book for me to buy in this format. Although I’ve already read the book from cover to cover, there’s no way that I’m going to remember everything and every setting that Scott mentions. So I figured it would be great to have this book on my iPhone for reference when I’m out in the field at a photo shoot or headed to one.

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So I logged on to my Amazon.com on my computer and bought the book ($9.99). Then I went back to my iPhone and launched the Kindle App. The Kindle App started the download process. For some reason it took longer than I expected and at times acted as if it wasn’t even connected. I had to work on other things, so I quit out of the app. When I tried it again later it downloaded the book quickly. There it was on my Kindle home screen, Scott’s complete book. I tapped on it and there it was, the first page of the book.

Navigating and reading

I was amazed at how well this actually works. The text is very readable and you can adjust the font size. The pictures were in color, which is an advantage over the Kindle hardware that only has a grayscale display. You can either flick to change pages or use the slider.

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Of course you can also jump back to the table of contents which has links to each chapter. There is also a very handy bookmark feature. This allows you to add a page you’re currently on as a bookmark so that you can immediately jump back to it whenever you like. This is great for reference books. The Kindle app also keeps track of where you left off. So you don’t have to remember or advance the pages each time you launch the app.

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What’s missing?

Besides my iPhone Book LOL (it’s in the works), I was stunned that there doesn’t appear to be a keyword search. Since I’ll likely be using this app for reference books, I want the ability to search for things that I’m looking for. In the meantime I’ll used the bookmark feature.

The Bottom Line

I haven’t really experienced many book reader apps for the iPhone, but this one certainly does the things I would expect. If they were to add keyword search I’d be 100% sold. Although the experience was good and the technology worked, my main concern with doing this on the iPhone would be battery life. The iPhone 3g is already pretty tough on its battery, add an app that keeps the display on for hours (or several minutes at a time) and you might not be able to make any calls after you’ve read that book. Of course this is less of a concern for iPod touch users. The iPod touch battery seems to keep going and going. Check out the selection of Kindle Books here. Download the Kindle App for iPhone here from the App Store.

More Mac for the Same $$$

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Apple revamped its entire desktop lineup today introducing updates to the iMac, Mac mini and Mac Pro. Each new update is awesome. More speed, more RAM, more/faster ports, faster video, bigger, better, faster! Probably Apple’s best and fastest line up of desktops ever.

They also updated both the AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule wireless base station and backup devices with simultaneous dual band support (2.4GHz and 5GHz). This means that you would no longer have to setup two wireless networks to optimize for 802.11n and 802.11 b/g traffic.

This is all great news and normally my credit card would have already been out and orders placed, but the problem is that times are uncertain. This is making me hesitant to upgrade. Unfortunately that is one of the major problems with our economy right now. People that have the money to buy things are holding off buying things. This in effect is going to slow the recovery even further.

My normal buying cycle for a Mac Pro tower is every other release. I’m now 3 releases back. I’ve been making due with the Mac Pro I have. Although Apple is certainly providing more bang for the buck with better specs at the same prices, that’s not enough to move me at the moment. I didn’t upgrade last year, because I had other priorities. This year I’m just afraid to spend the money! I could always use faster rendering times, but I can also continue to make do with what I have. Should I take the plunge and help get this economy moving again or hold off?

Adobe Updates Lightroom to 2.3 and Camera RAW to 5.3

Both Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Camera RAW get updates with support for the latest and greatest cameras and bug fixes.

Lightroom 2.3 (Mac|Win)

New in Lightroom 2.3

Newly Supported RAW File Formats:

  • Nikon D3X
  • Olympus E-30
  • Plus unofficial RAW support for the recently announced Epson R-D1x camera

The goal of this release is to address bugs that were introduced in previous releases of Lightroom 2 and provide additional camera raw support. A comprehensive list of issues fixed in this release is included below:

Lightroom 2 Bugs – Fixed

  • In the Windows 64-bit version of Lightroom an sFTP upload process could cause Lightroom to crash.
  • Slideshows could return to the first image randomly during playback. (ouch, I got bit by this one during a family reunion presentation!)
  • A memory leak could cause Lightroom to crash while attempting to process files with local adjustments.
  • Canon EOS 5D Mk II sRAW files could process with artifacts in Lightroom 2.2.
  • Lightroom 2.2 could cause disc burning to fail for Windows customers.
  • Attempting to undo(CTRL-Z) a single step in Lightroom 2.2 on Windows could cause a series of previous actions to be undone.

Photoshop Camera Raw 5.3

Adobe applications must be updated with the Camera Raw 5.3 plug-in in order to ensure compatibility with Lightroom 2 develop module settings and Photoshop integration features. Photoshop CS4 users can update the Camera Raw plug-in automatically using the Update tool listed under the Help menu. The Camera Raw 5.3 plug-in can also be downloaded and installed manually by visiting the Adobe web site. Please follow the installation instructions carefully.

iV TruePower iPhone/iPod touch Backup Battery

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Although I certainly get a full day’s charge off my iPhone 3g on most days, there are times that I might not make it a full day if I’m using a lot of apps on it. If I’m near my computer or an AC outlet no problem, just plug it in. However, If I’m on the go like traveling through an airport on in the back of a cab, I don’t always have access to power to charge my iPhone 3g.

iV for iPhone, TruePower

I was introduced to the iV for iPhone at Macworld Expo this past January. Fastmac was one of the vendors showcasing iPhone and Mac accessories. Now this is not the first iPhone battery I’ve seen. However, what makes this one better is simply the versatility in the design of it. First off the iV is a cradle/case for your iPhone/iPod touch. Some batteries actually clip on to the bottom and therefore limit their use to just charging and maybe talking on the phone as long as you don’t move around much.

The iV is also Dock friendly. Because of the design of the base, you can simply Dock your iPhone into an Apple Dock (or 3rd party solution) without having to first remove the iV from your iPhone. This brings me to the next advantage and that is no third party charger required. You can either dock your iV with iPhone into a charging dock or simply connect your existing USB cable to the bottom of its 30 pin connector. The same connector on the back of your iPhone. Since the iV charges using your existing cable, that’s one less thing you’ll have to keep up with.

What kind of juice do you get?

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The iV will charge up an iPhone that is in the red. It has an on/off button on the back so that the battery is not trying to charge an iPhone that is already charged. There are even LEDs on the back to let you know how much juice is left. So effectively the iV doubles your iPhone’s battery life. It’s also not just for iPhones! There’s a standard USB jack on the bottom too. You can use this battery to charge up your other USB powered devices.

An added bonus for iPhone photographers

There’s even a light on the back that you can turn on/off as needed when you’re taking pictures with the iPhone’s built-in camera. Since the iPhone doesn’t have a flash, this light certainly can’t hurt.

The Bottom Line

If you find yourself running out of power before the end of the day on your iPhone or iPhone 3g and want an external battery, this is one of the best I’ve seen. There are a couple of downsides: the first is a basic one and that is with the iPhone in the iV Battery chances are it won’t fit in your existing case. I use a DLO Hipcase and there is no way that the iPhone and iV will fit in it. Also since there is no belt clip on the back of the iV, I’m out of luck there. The next downside is simply the price. The iV retails for $99.95. Luckily for me they were selling them at Macworld Expo for only $59. I didn’t realize how much of a deal that was until now. At $99.95 (half the cost of a new subsidized 8GB iPhone 3g), I’d really have to think twice. However, now that I have one it has become a permanent part of my bag. If you need one, Amazon has them for $99.95.

iPhone App of the Week – FlightTrack Pro

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I’m a seasoned traveler! I travel for business all the time and last year clocked over 90,000 flight miles. So needless to say I’ve had my eye out for the ultimate travel app for the iPhone. When I travel, I want an App that can keep track of my flights, reservations, and updates if anything changes. Nothing is more frustrating than to break your neck getting to the airport only to find out that your plane has been delayed for an hour anyway. I was pretty comfortable using the mobile version of Northwest Airlines (mobile.nwa.com) and putting my schedule on my calendar. I would also put the confirmation numbers in the notes of those calendar events. My frequent flyer/stay numbers go in the notes of the Contact records. Granted this is a multiple app/entry effort, but I’ve used it now for years.

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FlightTrack Pro is it!

Actually FlightTrack Pro isn’t it all by itself, FlightTrack Pro works in conjunction with the free travel website TripIt.com. It’s the integration of these two pieces that make this a near perfect solution. FlightTrack Pro by itself is an app for the iPhone/iPod touch that keeps track of your flight information. It will stay updated on any delays and gate changes. The information about your flight becomes live 3 days before your flight takes off. FlightTrack Pro also displays the ever important GATE number. It also allows you to check the weather for both your departure location and your destination as well as any airport delays.

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This is all well and good, but it wouldn’t be enough for me to pay for. Again, I pretty much fly one airline and most of the above is available for free on a cool iPhone friendly version of their site. It’s the TripIt integration that makes FlightTrack Pro worth the price.

TripIt.com is the secret sauce

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Like I said, TripIt.com is a FREE site. You can go there right now and sign up and start using it to manage your travel. What I absolutely LOVE about TripIt.com is that I don’t have to manually enter my trip information. They make it so easy! All you have to do is email/forward your itinerary to plans@tripit.com from the email address(es) that you registered with the site. The site automatically converts that email into all the right fields on the site. It takes only a few seconds once you send the email, for the site to be updated. It’s like magic. I was blown away by how well this works. When I book travel for work our travel agent sends the itinerary as a PDF attachment in an email. I was thinking, “this will never work”. However, I decided I had nothing to lose by trying it, so I forwarded the PDF itinerary and IT WORKED! I was floored that the site was able to digest the PDF.

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Once you configure FlightTrack Pro with your TripIt login info, FlightTrack Pro will then pick up your flight information automatically and instantly! You can even email your itinerary to someone (perhaps the person meeting you) directly from FlightTrack Pro. There is also a button that you can tap to take you right to the TripIt site on your iPhone if you want to see more details about your reservation such as hotel, rental car, etc.

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Mac Users: TripIt has an added bonus! It automatically generates an iCal that you (or your loved ones, colleagues, etc.) can subscribe to that contains all your travel details! This feature is outstanding and icing on the cake.

It even tracks the current progress of the flight

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This feature isn’t really that useful for the actual traveler unless you just happen to be on a flight with Wi-Fi. The reason is, in order to show your current flight status such as location on the map, altitude, MPH, etc., you have to be able to get online, which is a no no while you’re in the air on most commercial flights. Now if you enter the flight information of a loved one or someone you’re shuttling to/from the airport, it’s pretty awesome to know EXACTLY where their plane is and when it will land.

The Bottom Line

FlightTrack Pro by itself is not that exciting. FlightTrack Pro combined with TripIt.com ROCKS! While FlightTrack Pro works as advertised, I’d like to see the 2.0 version of the app or maybe a super pro version that incorporates ALL of the itinerary instead of just the flight info. This has the potential for being the ULTIMATE travel app. While the link/button to TripIt is cool, I would much rather have the native app contain ALL of the info. Imagine how cool it would be since the app would know about your entire trip? For example, it would know about your flights like it does now. Once you land it would then display your rental car info or other ground transportation info/confirmation numbers. It could use the iPhone’s GPS to track where you are and direct you to your hotel. Once you arrive at the hotel it could automatically display your hotel confirmation number. How about suggest restaurants in the area?

This app is great, but there is so much more potential! The only thing that I was slightly disappointed in is that in its current incarnation when I landed, it would have been nice for the app to display the baggage claim carousel. Granted, this info may not even be available via the database that the app uses (FlightStats™), but it would be nice! Other than that I think the app is well worth the price for anyone who travels by air on a regular basis.

FlighTrack Pro goes for $9.99 on the App Store. Even if you don’t buy the app, you should head over to TripIt.com and setup an account TODAY!

Tips for Nikon DSLR and Adobe Creative Suite 4 Users

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Nikon D-Town

There are two hot new resources I wanted to make you aware of.  First off, my buddy Scott Kelby has just released a new weekly video podcast show called “Nikon D-Town.” This show is aimed at Nikon DSLR camera users. It’s co-hosted by Matt Kloskowski and airs each Thursday starting today! Each episode will be geared towards Nikon shooters so that they can get the most out of their gear. As a Nikon shooter myself, I can’t wait to check it out! Check out Nikon D-Town right here.

“Everyday Timesavers” now on Adobe TV

Next up, the Adobe evangelists have started a series called “Everyday Timesavers”! If you’re a Adobe Creative Suite 4 (CS4) user and you want to get the most bang for your buck, then being more productive with the software is going to yield a greater ROI for you. Check out Everyday Timesavers on Adobe TV right here. New videos are due to go up every week and of course they’re free to watch.

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