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Tips on creating a pro-caliber mobile photography workflow

Every photographer wants to go lighter, and almost all of us have a smartphone with us all the time. So, as phone cameras continue to improve, it’s worth checking in once in a while to see what’s possible with a minimal amount of gear. I did that recently, working with a Google Pixel 2, Pixelbook, and filling in with my lightweight as needed. The most recent version of Lightroom Mobile was also a key component. I .

How to create and share 360-degree panoramas with your drone

What I love most about drone panoramas is that they combine a unique way to show a location with being dead simple to shoot once you have a good workflow. Now that they are natively-supported by Facebook and purpose-built sites like, friends can get a sense of where you’ve been more easily than ever. There are a variety of approaches that will work, and I’ve outlined some of them, along with tips and my workflow in a .

Setting up your own private photo sharing cloud

While most people are perfectly happy letting their smartphone photos get backed up to Google Photos or iCloud, more serious photographers typically want to have more control than the free, automated, syncing, provides. This is especially true for those of us with large libraries of images and videos captured using standalone cameras that don’t automatically sync to the cloud. There is no shortage of public cloud services you can purchase, typically for about $100 per Terabyte per year. These include Adobe’s and Google’s Clouds, and Amazon Drive. Personally I like the deal I get with Amazon, as I can purchase 1TB of space, but my 10TB of photos don’t count towards that. However, it doesn’t have the photo-friendly editing and display tools of Google Photos or the Adobe Cloud. But what if you don’t want to trust your image library to someone else? You can set up your own, private, photo-sharing cloud fairly easily, especially if you have or are willing to purchase a Network Server (NAS). We’ve outlined some of the options in a .

Sony's mirrorless Alpha a7 III is a great reason to consider dumping your DSLR

Sony Alpha a7 III Mirrorless Digital Camera (Body Only)Sony’s latest full-frame mirrorless, the , continues to up the pressure on traditional DSLRs. Not only does it do everything you’d expect in an equivalent DSLR – fast AF, 4K video, 10 fps, 24MP, etc., but it does some things better. Access to the augmented information available on it Electronic Viewfinder, super-high-performance phase detect AF that works even when shooting video, and 5-way image stabilization. All in a 1.5 pound package. For action shooters who can find the right Sony-mount lenses to pair with it, the $2K price should be well worth it. ! For now I’m sticking with my as my primary camera, but if I didn’t have such a large collection of Nikon lenses, I’d be pretty close to making a switch.

Adobe bumps Lightroom's multi-core performance, adds a few new features

Adobe continues to release incremental improvements to its various versions of Lightroom. Those of us who prefer the Classic version will be happy to see improved performance. The ability to quickly create collections from folders will also make managing collections across mobile devices easier. “New CC” gets some bug fixes, and the Android version adds Google Assistant integration, which should prove interesting, as well as perspective correction. Adobe’s complete list of updates to Lightroom and XD:

Zephyr: A drone simulator for fun and for learning

Whether you are learning to improve your drone flying to qualify for a commercial opportunity or simply to have more fun, it can be an expensive process involving trial, error, and crashes. It’s also hard to quantify your progress. Zephyr is an impressive drone simulation environment for the PC that lets you advance your flying skills from the comfort of your armchair. Using a controller that closely mimics the controller for your drone, you can fly through a wide variety of training lessons or just free fly in any of several nicely-crafted landscapes.

DxOMark looks back at how far smartphone cameras have come in only a few years

Industry camera benchmarking site DxOMark has published an interesting white paper chronicling the progress it has seen in 6 years of testing smartphone image quality. The progress in both hardware and software behind the improvement in results is fascinating and impressive. I’ve , along with charts from the paper and a link to the original.

Photographers take note: VR180 is worth keeping an eye on

Action cameras and VR have been two of the most hyped new categories of photo and video over the last few years. Action cams, typified by GoPro, have definitely taken the world by storm, but sales have become sluggish as the market has gotten fairly saturated. VR and 360, in contrast, have been slow to take off. Now, Google’s YouTube, along with several consumer electronics companies, are trying to combine elements of both into something they hope will extend the role of action photography and help make something happen in the VR space. Like consumer 360-degree cameras the VR180 units have two cameras, but instead of having one face in each direction to create a 360-degree 2D image, they face the same direction and produce a 180-degree 3D image. That makes them more suitable for VR viewing – and since most VR setups don’t really allow or promote full 360-degree motion, 180-degrees is easier and more practical. You can read more about the technology and the first VR180 cameras in .

Adobe adds some nice goodies to Photoshop CC: Including High-DPI monitors and Masking

Adobe continues to keep a steady trickle of Photoshop improvements coming. Today it announced improved support for high-DPI monitors, with the Photoshop UI now adapting the native Windows scaling of between 100% and 400%. That will be particularly well received for those (like me) with 4K laptops and less-than-super-human vision. There is also a new slider for Masking off Selections that tries to calibrate how precise you want it to be. Presumably this builds on its “Sensei” machine learning technology for improved results over previous systems.

DJI's new Mavic Air gives you more reasons not to put off buying a drone

DJI Mavic Air (Arctic White)If you’ve been stalling on getting into the fun hobby of drone photography, DJI has come up with another reason not to. Its new Mavic Air combines some of the very best features of the amazingly-popular Mavic Pro with the diminutive Spark. I’ve written up our . For serious photographers, I think the Mavic Pro still offers some big advantages, like more flight time, faster lens, and possibly more support for advanced video modes like D-Log (although the Air might also support those). Most of the fancy photography features of the new Air will help you get started quickly, but won’t do much for those of us who already shoot RAW and use Litchi for our panoramas. The 32MP built-in panorama mode certainly isn’t a match for custom panos like the one below I built out of 46 RAW images using Photoshop and Hugin.

New Hasselblad camera uses multi-shot to capture 400MP images

For those applications where you just can’t have too much resolution, the new Hasselblad H6D-400C MS may be just the thing. It uses the company’s 100MP sensor coupled with a body that can shift the sensor and lens mount tiny amounts to improve image quality and create a super-resolution image of 400MP. You can read more about it in the , where I contrast it to Phase One's new Trichromatic technology.

Holiday Savings on our 2018 Alaska Bear and African Wildlife Photo Safaris!

Happy Holidays and best wishes for the New Year to all of our readers and clients. We’d like to help you celebrate with a special offer for savings on the last few openings we have for our wildlife photo safari to Botswana and South Africa in May, and our Alaskan Bear photo safaris in July. If you sign up by January 5th, we’ll give you 10% off – the largest discount we’ve ever offered – on either trip. Lorrie and I hope you can join us.

All trips feature small groups, personalized instruction, excellent accommodations, photographer-friendly transportation arrangements, and some of the very best wildlife photography you’ll find anywhere on the planet!

You can .

For more .

For more-effective Action photography, keep these settings at your fingertips

When photographers discuss the pros and cons of various format cameras, the focus is often on image quality and optics. But especially for shooting any type of action – whether it is sports, people, or ceremonial events – ergonomics can be just as important. In particular, by having a properly set up DSLR or mirrorless (I use Nikon models like my and , but you can do the same with Canon or Sony) I can keep these key functions literally at my finger tips:

Lenovo X1 Yoga (2nd gen) with OLED display: A Dream Ultrabook for Photographers

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga and Yoga 920 side by sideRegular readers will know that I’m partial to Dell’s XPS 15 as the Windows power laptop of choice. But it is 4.5 pounds and not going to fit into most messenger bags or lightweight daypacks. If you don’t absolutely need its discrete GPU, quad-core CPU, or 15+-inch screen, I can highly recommend the 3 pound Lenovo X1 Yoga (2nd gen), especially if you can afford the OLED display. I’ve been using one as my primary laptop for several weeks, and it did everything I needed, and did it effectively. That included not just processing RAW images from my , but running my 4K Video from my Mavic Pro through Premiere Pro and a set of color and noise reduction plugins.

If you pile on every option (high-end dual-core i7, high-resolution OLED display, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD), it is pricey at $2800 (currently discounted to just under $2600), but you’ll be getting an amazing machine. You can , along with my thoughts on it, its sister machine the Lenovo Yoga 920, and other .

Best practices for backing up your photos and videos

When lightning strikes -- David CardinalI get asked a lot about how I backup my images (and videos, now that I’m shooting more of them). So I finally wrote it down, along with alternatives that might better suit you, as your circumstances are likely to differ from mine in some way. It’s all . The essential element to whatever system you choose is to make sure it protects you against all, or at least most, of the issues that can arise. That includes disk “bit rot,” disk failure, controller or computer failure, human error, buggy backup software, and ultimately even major disasters that affect everything on premises.