Your Mobile Digital Darkroom ? Five Tools of the Trade

While digital photography offers you the ability to review photograph instantaneously, it also offers you the added convenience of editing photos on the fly as well.

Enter the world of the mobile digital dark room. Laptops have liberated photographers from their studios and offices once and for all. For the first time this year laptops have outsold desktops according to research firm Current Analysis.

In addition to your routine photo gear, here are five must-have items you need to get your mobile darkroom up and running for your next photo assignment:

LAPTOP

Your choice of laptop is an important consideration. For the most part, a consumer-level laptop such as a Dell, Gateway, or IBM ThinkPad will suffice.

On the other hand, if you are a world traveler and you plan to venture into rugged terrain where you may regularly encounter rain, dust, and extreme temperature changes - invest in a rugged laptop. While making your decision, keep in mind the thickness and dimensions of the laptop. You will need to fit this into your photo backpack, so decide carefully. It's adviseable to purchase a backpack first and bring it with you when you're shopping for a laptop.

Ensure the processing speed and random access memory (RAM) is sufficient enough to handle the processing of large digital files. You should make sure the laptop also contains a CD burner, wireless network card, and wireless mouse. Consult your salesperson. Other additional considerations include an extended life battery and power adaptors capable of handling power connections in your auto, on airplanes, and other power sources.

COMPACT DISCS

Delkin Devices offers eFilm Archival Gold CD-R's that incorporate Phthalocyanine dye and a 24k gold reflective layer. Phthalocyanine dye helps resist harmful effects of UV light, heat, and humidity, while gold's inert characteristics prevent oxidation, which causes most CD-R failure. With volatility of computer hard drives and constant threat of virus attacks, Archival Gold CD-R's provide consumers with reliable storage medium to back up images.

CARD READER

Most card readers on the market today that meet the USB 2.0 standard are suitable.

SOFTWARE

If your laptop is capable of handling Photoshop CS/CS2 it is recommended that you install it. If space limitations don't permit their installation, then install Photoshop Elements 3.0. This obviously is your editing application, so it is advisable to install whatever application you normally use in your studio or office for a consistent digital workflow.

BACKPACK

LowePro, Tamrac, and Tenba have gotten much praise in the photo industry, however they are relatively expensive. A great alternative is the new Quantaray - Urban Gear U100 Pro Backpack available at Ritz Camera. At $79.99 for this versatile backpack is an incredible value. Not only can it handle a large SLR and array of lenses, but it has a laptop compartment, and a removable inner shell as well. Comparable backpacks are in the $200 range.

When you are ready to venture out and go mobile, do it with confidence knowing that you have all of the tools of the trade to edit your images on the road or off.

Ryan Shapiro is a freelance digital photographer based in Germantown, Maryland. His most recent clients include Optical Soceity of America, Kerrigan Media International and Harvard Graduate School of Education.

You may reach Mr. Shapiro at: http://www.digitalstockpro.com

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