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Digital Tools


The SR Digital Flash Line

Slave Trigger The most commonly heard lament by photographers using digital cameras is that most don't have external flash synch. Photographers, who are generally esthetic types, cringe at the pasty faces and inky shadows produced by on-camera flash. So one of the first things they do is tape a white card to the camera's flash to divert the blast to a direction other than straight-on, and buy a slave trigger to attach to an external strobe. When the camera's flash bounces off the ceiling (or wherever it's been directed) the external strobe (which can be positioned where it will produce the most pleasing effect) is triggered.

Pretty simple solution, huh? Well, not so simple if your particular digital camera goes through a pre-flash routine to measure white balance prior to the shutter opening. I'm not talking about red-eye reduction, this is just one weak flash followed by the real thing. You've probably already guessed that the slave, being kind of stupid, triggers the external strobe on the first flash, leaving you with a very underexposed picture.

To the rescue comes SR's digital camera smart flash line and separate slave trigger. It won't trigger until the second flash. How does it know? Trust me, it knows. You can choose from a whole line of flash units and the DSF1s ($99) can even be set to fire at one or two flashes. Order just the SA-10 slave trigger ($80) if you have your own favorite strobe. Check the SR web site for a list of cameras that go through pre-flash or just fire your own at a wall and see for yourself. If the flash appears to do a double flicker, you've got a pre-flasher.


"Photoshop In A Nutshell"

Photoshop In A Nutshell Sometimes a book comes along that's just so outstanding, you want to shout its name from the rooftops...or from the Digital PhotoCorner. When I wrote a regular column for ZoneZero I was chided by their staff for admitting (in print, no less) that I didn't work exclusively with Photoshop (contrary to what Adobe may want the world to believe, there are other good imaging programs out there).

Well, whatever the imaging program you use, you never know it all...and that's especially true of Photoshop, around which, incidentally, an entire cottage industry has evolved...books, seminars, training CDs and tapes, tee-shirts, plug-ins, and more. Adobe's made a lot of little people into millionaires...a model of trickle-down economics at its best.

Economics aside, when I do use Photoshop, I invariably come across a dialogue box that asks me something I know nothing about and which, until recently, had me scurrying to scores of Photoshop books to "suss it out," (as the English say) while wasting much time in the process. That was until "Photoshop In A Nutshell" (O'Reilly & Associates) arrived one day for review.

Authors Donnie O'Quinn and Matt LeClair list every menu and dialog box you're apt to encounter in Photoshop, concisely explain they mean, and then tell you what horrible fate might befall your image if you click on this or that. It's really a "desktop quick reference" (that's what it's called) to Photoshop...and if you're ever exiled to a desert island with only your laptop, Photoshop, and one book, this'd be the one to take along. The best part is that it only costs $20...would you believe that? It'd be a bargain at three times the price, nay, more!


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