I bought a New Point & Shoot Camera


I thought my days of buying point & shoot cameras were over. I've written posts here in the past where I stated that I either use my DSLR or my smartphone. I really don't see much of a need to have a point & shoot camera. Recently I discovered a need and a great way to solve it all at the same time. There are situations where you want to take the best photo that you can, but at the same time DSLR or "pro" level cameras aren't allowed in. A classic example of this is concerts. If you walk in with a nice big lens and DSLR, chances are you'll be turned right back around and told that "you can't bring that in." However, you see a sea of cellphones and point & shoot cameras going off all night long. While I have certainly taken my share of concert photos with my iPhone 4 (for my personal enjoyment), I would like something better. This lead me to seek out the smallest, most full featured point & shoot camera that I could find.


This shot of his royalness was taken with the iPhone 4 and while it came out OK, I was sitting there wishing I had something better for this moment.


The Canon PowerShot S95

The S95 is one mean little machine. Not only does it offer full manual mode, but it also shoots in RAW. Best of all it can easily slide into a pants pocket without a big bulge. Whoa! Wait a minute, did you say Canon? Yes I did. Does this mean I've switched from Nikon? No it doesn't. As a matter of fact let me answer a few questions now:


Q. Did you switch from Nikon to Canon?

A. No not at all. Actually I've owned and used cameras from both manufacturers for years. With the exception of a couple of Sony video cameras, I almost always went with Canon for my video needs (pre-DSLR video). My DSLRs have all been Nikon and most likely will continue to be. However, I've always liked the feature set of the Canon P&S cameras. So to answer your question, I use the best tool to fit my needs. Neither company has ever paid me a dime, so I don't "have to" use either one or I can use either one.


Q. Wasn't the iPhone 4 a good enough camera?

A. For my day to day P&S needs I'll most likely still reach for the camera that's on my belt and that's my smartphone. However, when I want the image to count, I do want to use a "better" camera and that means either my DSLR or now my S95. 


Q. Why didn't you go with the G12?

A. The G12 is a fine camera and probably beats the S95, the only problem I have with the G11 is that it's about twice the size and does NOT easily slide into a pants pocket. 


Q. How do you think the S95 image quality compares to other cameras.

A. This is more of an announcement post than an official review. The honest truth is that while I've had the camera for a few days now I haven't done much more than charge the battery and set it up. Sure I've taken a test shot here and there to make sure it works, but haven't even looked at the images on my computer yet. So I'll have to do another post once I have some "real" images to look at and then you can be the judge.


Q. Doesn't shooting manually defeat the purpose of a "point and shoot?"

A. Yes if all you want to do is "snap a picture". At that point my iPhone 4 is good enough. However, when the built-in scene modes and program modes aren't capturing the image I want, then I love having the ability to switch to manual and dial in my own settings.


Q. Why do you need RAW?

A. Nice try, but I'm not going to get into a RAW vs. JPG debate here. If you use one over the other great! Use what you want. :) However, I prefer to shoot in RAW for maximum image quality and not having things like white balance burned into the file. While I could have certainly lived with JPG only, having the option of going to RAW is what pushed me to the S95.


Q. What don't you like about the Nikon Point and Shoots?

A. Nikon used to offer a Point & Shoot (the P6000) that shot in RAW. However, they no longer offer that model, nor did they replace it with one that does. Otherwise, their point and shoot cameras are probably just as good. Also even if the P6000 was still around it's more on the same size/form factor as the larger Canon G12.


Q. Seems like you won't be using this camera very often?

A. You're probably right. It hasn't left the table since I unboxed it. However, I like having the option of a better camera than my iPhone if and when the opportunity presents itself. 


Stay tuned for some sample shots. I have a couple of concerts coming up soon!


You can get the Canon Powershot S95 for $399.95 here from B&H and for $393 here from Amazon (note: prices fluctuate on Amazon)

Trip Report: Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It with Scott Kelby


What do I do on my week off? I hop in my car  and drive 4 hours up to Toronto to see Scott Kelby do his "Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It Seminar".

It's not often that I get a chance to actually sit in on someone else's classes. I go to Photoshop World twice a year and I see a list of great glasses, taught by world class instructors and then I sigh because I know that either the class I want to take is happening at the exact same time as one of the classes I'm teaching or I have some other show duty that prevents me from attending.


This means that when I have an opportunity to take another instructor's class, I grab it! 


I would dare say that I've learned most of what I know about photo retouching through my buddy Scott over the years and although I'm quite comfortable doing portrait retouching I'm always eager to learn something new.


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Lightroom: Dude! Where are my car photos?



In this episode of the Adobe Creative Suite Video Podcast we'll tackle one of things that confuses most new Lightroom users and those switching from Adobe Bridge to Lightroom. The question of "where are my photos and what has Lightroom done with them?" will be answered.

See more of my Adobe Creative Suite Videos on my Adobe Creative Suite Podcast and get the App here. It features EXCLUSIVE CONTENT that no one else gets to see. This episode has a BONUS CLIP that is available only in the App:

Learn Adobe Creative Suite with Terry White - Wizzard Media


I went with CrashPlan and it’s Finally Done!


A while back I did a guest post on Scott Kelby's blog about my photography workflow. In that post I also talked about backup and offsite backup. At the time my offsite backup method was simply rotating two external hard drives to/from my safe deposit box at the bank. While this method certainly works, it does require me to actually make the trip to the bank. As much as I would have liked to do this on a weekly basis it was turning more into a monthly or bi-monthly trip. Although an old backup is better than no backup I wanted something a little more automated. It was suggested in the comment section of that post that I look at cloud backup, so I did. The first company I looked into at the time was Carbonite. However, Carbonite was a non-starter for me because of their stupid policy (at the time) of not allowing you to backup an external drive from a Mac. Really? Seriously? What difference does it make if the data is on the internal drive or an external drive? Charge for the amount of data being backed up and be done with it! I confirmed this stupid policy with their customer service and ended up going with CrashPlan instead.


CrashPlan gets it right

My initial experience with CrashPlan was excellent. I had no problem getting setup with their CrashPlan+ Family Unlimited Plan. This allows me to backup every computer I own and there are no silly limits on which drives the data has to be on. I knew going in that backing up TERABYTES of data over the internet would take a long long long time and well it did! It took MONTHS to backup my two servers. These two Macs (with Drobos attached) contain all my photos, music, movies, documents, etc. In other words, my digital life. 


How long did it really take?

I signed up for CrashPlan on January 13, 2011. I set it to backup both computers, but I did limit the bandwidth that it uses AND I set it to only run at night while I was sleeping. This way it would have no impact on my day to day internet use. By having it run only half the day and at a limited bandwidth, it took about 6.5 months to complete the backup of 1.7TB. Now I have it backing up another computer now that the main backup is done.


There are other options for the initial backup and restores

I was in no hurry for this backup to complete because I already had an offsite backup solution in place. However, if you want your initial backup to not take weeks or months then you could pay for them to send you an external hard drive. This way you could backup your data in a matter of hours instead of days,weeks or months. Once you return the drive to them they will add your data to their servers and give you instructions on how to connect your account to that data for continued backup. 


What's the advantage of cloud backup?

Now that my initial backup is done, my new/changed files are backed up every night automatically and OFFSITE. If a disaster strikes my home (flood, fire, theft, etc.) I would be able to get my important data back once I'm up and running again on a new computer/hard drive Yes they offer the ability to send you a drive with your data on it so that you can be backup and running sooner). Another advantage is having web access to ALL of my files no matter where I am in the world. If I need an import file off my server at home I could of course access my server via the internet because I have remote access setup. However, even if I didn't have remote access available I could always log into my CrashPlan account via the web and download any file that I want. 


The Bottom Line

There is no such thing as being too backed up when it comes to irreplaceable files such as digital photos. I backup my computers internally with things like Time Machine and SuperDuper!, but I also like having a backup that is offsite too. CrashPlan offered the most bang for the buck with unlimited data plans and no restrictions on where my data had to be stored in order to back it up. You can find out more about CrashPlan here.

Adobe is Offering 50% Off Premiere Pro & Production Premium CS 5.5 to FCP & Avid Users!

Ready to change your pro video editing software? Adobe is offering a 50% savings on Adobe Creative Suite CS5.5 Production Premium or Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5 for Final Cut Pro and Avid Media Composer users who are interested in making a switch. Offer is available until Sept. 30!
Learn more or take advantage of this offer here.

Review: Withings Smart, Connected Scale and Blood Pressure Monitor

If you're watching your weight chances are you have a scale somewhere in your home. If you are health conscious then chances are you get your blood pressure checked on a regular basis. The folks over at Withings are aiming to bring these rather mundane tasks to the 21st century with Smart and Connected devices. GEEK ALERT: The objects you're about to read about are cool gadgets. However, make no mistake that there is a very high geek factor at work here. After all, the last time I checked you could pick up a decent bathroom scale for around $25. You stand on it, look down and see your weight. That's pretty much it! When a company figures out a way to bring MORE technology into this and you're interested, then chances are you're a geek :) Now on to our story…


The Withings WiFi Scale

I remember way back when this product first came out and saying to myself: "Cool, but I can't bring myself to pay that much for a scale." Then I saw it on sale and I snapped one up. I already knew that the product would be cool and useful, but just a tad too pricy for most. Before we get to the sticker shock let's talk about what it does. The Withings WiFi Scale looks and acts like any other modern day digital scale on the surface. However, inside it has a WiFi chip and USB port. When you first set it up you plug it into your computer via the USB cable just long enough to associate it with your free Withings account and to configure it to connect to your WiFi network. From that point on you can put the USB cable away and place the scale where you want in your home as long as it's within range of your WiFi hotspot. Now when you or a family member steps on it it will not only display the weight (in pounds or KGs – your choice), but it will also transmit the data wirelessly over the internet to your account. You can then view your information/progress at any time via a web browser or via their FREE iOS App.


I've been working on my weight now more seriously for the past three years and I have had both successes and set backs. Any tool that can make the tracking easier is a plus for me. Prior to the WiFi scale I was using a regular scale and logging the progress into the Lose It! App. I can remember many times I'd go weigh myself, get busy doing something else and forget to log the number and of course, not remember what it was. Now I don't have to think about logging it. I don't even have to have my mobile devices turned on at the time. All I have to do is step on the WiFi scale and the numbers are automatically logged to my private account online. I look at them when I need to or feel the courage to :)

I was impressed by how the scale auto detects different family members and records their weight too. Yes that does mean that you can setup multiple users and whenever any one gets on it will log the weight of that person to the master account and by name.

It's more than just weight. The scale also keeps track of your Body Analysis providing info on Fat mass, Lean mass and BMI (Body Mass Index). 

Convenience doesn't come cheap. The only downside to this wonderful gadget is the price. At $159 you'll have to really really really want one to get one. I can't say "need one" because honestly no one "needs" one of these. Granted it does what no other scale I've seen does, but it does so at a steep price.

You can get the Withings WiFi Scale here for $159.


Still much more work to be done… Let's see how far I get by the time I see you at Photoshop World Vegas! (note: I didn't say what year ;) )


Blood Pressure Monitor

The Withings Blood Pressure Monitor is battery operated device that has a cable attached with a 30 pin iOS dock connector on the end. The idea is that when you're ready to take your blood pressure you plug it in to your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch and with their native App your iOS device becomes not only the display, but also the record keeper. Again this is pretty cool and geeky stuff. Just like with your weight you can keep track of your readings day to day and even email them to your doctor.  The App works with both devices and can display both your weight progress and blood pressure stats at the same time.

You can get the Withings Blood Pressure Monitor here for $129


The Bottom Line

They're useful albeit expensive toys. I haven't had any issues to date with either device and they work as advertised. If your budget can handle it and you like gadgets then you'll love em.



See them in Action

Continue Reading »

When is a photo no longer a photo?


One of the groups I belong to recently held a photowalk and a photo contest for the members that participated. Sadly I was out of town on business the day of the walk, but I was able to attend the meeting that showcased the photos, allowing members to vote and the awarding of the prizes. It all went well but there was a debate that happened afterwards. The debate was mostly centered around "compositing". In other words either taking two or more images from the walk and assembling them or pieces of them together or adding things to the photo that weren't there (on site) to begin with. This got me to to thinking about "when is a photo no longer a photo?"


What do you feel the rules should be if you were entering a contest?

This won't be the last of our photowalks/contests and therefore we'd like to lay down some ground rules for the next one. Yes of course I've Googled "Photo Contest Rules" and got some good advice from the results, but I was curious as to what my readers think about this topic? What's OK and What's Not OK? For example, everyone seems to think that Cropping, Exposure, & Color adjustments are OK and even HDR is acceptable. But what about removing things from the photo such as power lines, trash on the ground, people, lamp posts, etc.? If removing is OK, is duplicating OK? There was only one bird and the person cloned the bird that was actually there and made three more. Is that OK? What about a pano? If you have a wide angle lens perhaps you could get the shot, but if you didn't can you stitch two or more photos together? How much "creative" Photoshop use is acceptable?


Multiple categories

Sure we could simply say that there is a Compositing category and if you want to enter that category composite away! Problem solved. Pro vs. Amateur categories. How do you define them? Is a Pro someone who makes their living as a photographer or would a Pro also be someone who does paid work on the side? Is it the kind of camera/lens they are shooting with?


What do you think?

I'd be happy to hear your thoughts on this topic. Please share your views, comments, experiences, etc. in the comment section below. Have you seen a set of rules that you thought nailed it? Or did you feel that the rules were in some way restricting your creativity? What would be YOUR perfect set of rules for a "digital photo contest"?

Review: IPEVO Tubular Wireless Speakers


I've been watching the Bluetooth Wireless Speaker revolution from the sidelines now for several months. I've reviewed a few different sets of travel speakers in the past but they were all wired. While I have wanted to try out some of the new bluetooth wireless options such as the Jawbone Jambox, I couldn't get past the asking price of $199 retail ($179 street) for a speaker that would spend the bulk of its time in my suitcase. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure the Jambox is fantastic, sounds great and is worth the money if you plan to use it regularly. I also certainly don't have a problem spending money on something of good quality. It's just that my need for a travel speaker is for those occasions when I'm traveling and want to hear my music, videos, etc. on something better than the speakers in my laptop or iPad. 


IPEVO Tubular Doesn't Break The Bank

This is actually my second IPEVO product. You might remember my review of the IPEVO P2V webcam for doing mobile device demos. Again, it's a product that solves a specific need that I have at a reasonable price. The IPEVO Tubular Speakers are exactly what I was looking for. They are small enough to stick in a suitcase or laptop bag, yet the sound good enough to compete with most "small shelf" speakers. They are designed for travel. The two speakers connect together in a "tube" fashion when not in use. When you're ready to use them you untwist the tube to separate them out. They connect to each other via a single built-in cable. That's the only "wire" you have to deal with during normal operation. You can play your music to them via Bluetooth. iOS 4.x supports stereo bluetooth music playback. So your iPod touch, iPhone or iPad can stream music to these speakers wirelessly. I also had no problem pairing them to my MacBook Pro. They showed up immediately after pairing as a an Sound Output Device. 

There is a power button and volume control right on the speaker itself. Not to mention a small LED status indicator to let you know that they are on or in pairing mode.


How are they powered?

This is both a plus and a minus. The speakers have their own built-in rechargeable battery. There's a USB connector on the bottom of the main speaker that you can plug into any USB power source. It takes 2 hours to charge for 6 to 8 hours of playback. While it's great having a built-in battery, it also means that if you forget to charge them you can't simply pop in a set of AA's. 


Room for improvement

The speakers work and sound great. I've had zero problems with connectivity or playback. My only issue is that the cable under the speaker for connecting to the second speaker simply wraps around a circular section in the base of the speaker. I would have preferred this to be a retractable cable as it sometimes takes 2-3 tries to get it wrapped around just right so that the end of the cable fits in the holder for storage. Otherwise I have no complaints.


The Bottom Line

These speakers are a great alternative to the more expensive options out there. While they perform well, the best part is the price. The IPEVO Tubular Wireless Speakers go for a mere $59.95 (list price $79.99). That's less than half the price of other speakers in the category and they sound as good if not better than any other travel speakers I've tried.

Turn your Mac into an HD DVR with EyeTV HD

As many of you already know I’m a fan of DVRs in particular TiVo HD and Premiere boxes. However, I recognize that many of you don’t want the costs associated with TiVo, but you do want to be able to record your shows in HD and transfer them to your iOS and other mobile devices. For this Elgato has got you covered with their EyeTV HD. I’ve used Elgato products in the past to simply bring in cable TV to an iMac and have “TV” playing in a window as I worked. However, since those days a lot has changed in the world of TV. For example, Comcast in my area no longer broadcasts “basic” cable without a box. This was one of the things they cut in the move to “Digital” TV. Although there was probably no technical reason to cut it, they cut it and now in order to get cable in my area you need a set-top box to decode the digital signals they send. This also means that in order to record those shows (especially in HD) that you either need to rent their DVR (not a fan of their boxes) or buy a TiVo. With the EyeTV HD you can use your Mac as the HD DVR. You still need a cable or satellite box to decode the signals from your provider. However, with a one time purchase of an EyeTV you can connect this small box to your cable/satellite receiver and then connect it to your Mac via USB (it’s bus powered, so no power brick). Once you load their software you’ll have access to your guide and even the ability to have your Mac remote control your set-top box via the IR emitter. It even comes with it’s own wireless remote control and all the cables you’ll need. Yes it pauses live TV too.

Recording a live show in HD

Record and Watch Anywhere

Besides being able to record to your Mac’s hard drive (internal or external) you can choose to record in two different modes simultaneously. For example, you can record the HD version to watch on your TV (or Mac) when you return home AND you can have it record an iPad/iPhone version at the same time. Of course this uses more disk space, but it definitely saves time for people that want to record and then take their shows with them. That’s one of my frustations with TiVo is that while it can transfer a show to my Mac, it takes a while to transfer it and then even longer to transcode it to a mobile compatible format. With EyeTV, the mobile versions would be sitting there waiting for you as soon as the show ends.

Playing back the recorded show on my MacBook Pro

There’s an App too

While it’s great to have the ability to do dual format recordings, it’s even cooler just to be able to stream your shows from your Mac to your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch via their App. It streams over WiFi or 3G and eliminates the need for a Slingbox.

You can get the EyeTV App for $4.99 (also a bargain when compared to the $30 Slingplayer App) here from the iTunes

What’s the downside?

While this solution solves a few problems, there are some things you have to take into consideration. First of all you’ll need a Mac that is relatively close to your cable/satellite box. Also that box will need to have a free Component Out port if you want HD recording. The EyeTV uses Component video instead of HDMI to avoid Copy Protection issues. You’ll also need ample amounts of hard drive space to be able to record shows in HD. If you plan to stream your Mac will need to be awake. While the solution works, it could be expensive to “dedicate” a Mac to it. However, if you’ve got a Mac server or other Mac that just sits there it might as well get some use doubling as a DVR too. The EyeTV requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later as well as an Intel Core 2 Duo processor or better. Lastly you’ll need to connect you Mac to your TV if you want to watch the show you just recorded on the big screen as there is no direct connection from EyeTV HD back to the TV. If you have Apple TV you could stream the recordings that way.

You can buy it here for $169.89 (a bargain compared to long term DVR renting or TiVo/Slingbox buying).

Adobe Gives a Sneak Peek at its Upcoming HTML 5 Animation Tool



Have first look at Adobe Edge above.

Also be sure to check out Adobe's FREE HTML 5 Camp in San Francisco on July 22, 2011. Details here.

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