I Didn't Buy an iPhone 7, but I Did Get a New Case

I've gone round and round about this. Yes, that sounds like a lot of work. But it wasn't. My internal debates happen in off-moments, such as waiting in line at the grocery store.

This weekend I reached a conclusion to one such debate. I'm not buying the iPhone 7, at least not now. I did purchase, however, two red onions, coconut water, and flour tortillas.

Like any important financial decision, and believe me, new iPhones fall in to that category, there were pros and cons. The pros centered around the new camera in the Plus model. Or should I say, new cameras - they've added another one to the back side, with a different focal length. That's tempting. Mix in some intelligent software, and there are all sorts of things we could do.

But the downsides far outweigh that benefit. I would have to get a 7 Plus - not exactly a nimble device. I would have to start over on my monthly payments (and they would probably be more than the $34 I'm ponying up for my 6S). And I don't like the missing headphone jack on the 7.

Yes I know: how backwards thinking of me. I should embrace the opportunity to keep track of a dongle adapter for all of my existing accessories, including a very cool light meter and my credit card reader.

So instead, I bought a new case for my iPhone 6S. I found a Spigen Tough Armor Heavy Duty case for less than $20. It's handsome - downright manly looking - light, and will protect my 6S investment. It's like having an entirely new device.

I'm not exaggerating about that feeling. It's funny. I had been using an Apple leather case that I bought at the time of the phone purchase in the Apple Store. Since the 6S had just come out, there weren't many case options then. It's an OK home for the device, but not nearly as cool as the Spigen. Hence, it all feels so new. I like the beveled edges on the new case.

The thing is, I'm photographer. I use other cameras besides my phone. The iPhone 6S takes great pictures. And if I need more, I'll use something else. It's not like I have a shortage of cameras around here.

Now that I've made my decision, I laugh at myself for taking so long. Honestly, there are much more important things in life to contemplate at the grocery store..


The Last Chapter

I felt a little hung over as I closed the laptop. Maybe numb is a better description. My eyes were tired.

The cat jumped off my lap and strolled over to the window. She always does that when I close the laptop. She knows I'll be standing up a few moments later. And she wants the departure to be her call, not mine.

But today I just sat for another minute. I had just finished writing a book. The world could wait.

The Apple Photos Book for Photographers is unlike anything I've written before. Those of you who have read the earlier eBook version know what I mean. Each chapter begins with an anecdote, not a technique. These openers connect to the discussion that follows. Some more tightly than others. And then I circle back to the story later on.

What I completed today is the print version. It's updated for macOS Sierra, includes two more chapters, many new pictures, and plenty of polishing. It's cool that I finished it on the very day that Sierra was officially released. I had been working with a beta version for a couple months.

What I've been doing since I returned from Maui is reading the final layout, word for word. In the past, I found this task painful. This time was different. I like this book. It entertained me. The stories are good. The technique is solid.

I finally got up from my seat and wandered around the studio for a while. I wasn't exactly sure what to do next. I had items on my ToDo list, but none of them interested me at the moment.

So I put a camera in my shoulder bag, got on my bike, and rode off to the creek. That was the right call.

We don't get to celebrate much these days. I've never been toasted at a cocktail party like Truman Capote. Yet, in the last year, I've completed 6 titles for lynda.com, written a book, launched a new web site, opened a used camera store, and have been fired from two writing jobs. 

I got off my bike and walked along the creek with a Pentax ZX-5 in hand. The water wasn't moving much. It's late in the season. But the rain will come soon. That will make the ducks happy.

A few compositions caught my eye. I love the sound of the shutter. For some folks, it's champagne and laughter. For me, today, I'm happy with my bike, a camera, and the beauty of a quiet creek on a September afternoon.

I'll get back to work tomorrow.


I Wouldn't Do it Any Other Way

The water washed across my feet, pushing them deeper into the sand. I was wearing Nike swim trunks, a white Kobe t-shirt, and a straw hat that I had bought in Cuba after misplacing my baseball cap. My Ray-Ban sunglasses were a bit salty, but I could still marvel at the blue ocean through them.

Other than the camera in my pocket, those were my worldly possessions at the moment. Well, to be honest, practically every moment.

I tugged at my summer goatee while looking out over the water. "I think I'll go for a swim early tomorrow. Maybe Airport Rock." I knew a storm was in the forecast, and I wanted to get a few more fish portraits before the churned up ocean clouded the reef.

As I thought about this endeavor, clouds gathered around Lana'i. Even though I have photographed that island a hundred times over the last decade, I pulled out my camera and captured it again. Monet would have appreciated the sentiment.

Over the past week, I have snapped nearly 500 images, some underwater, most topside while doing little else other than watching the clouds, or the tourists, pass by. About a hundred of those pictures I've gathered into an album for sharing. They are my pouch of gold. 

There are street shots from Lahaina, sea turtles from Black Rock, kids on a boat, and a morning walk with my wife back from breakfast at the Castaway Cafe. I also memorialized rainbows, egrets, trumpet fish, sunsets, and sand... lots of sand.

Not for one moment on Maui did I give a damn about my equipment. I had one indestructible camera in my pocket and that was it. That was all I needed. And the pictures that little device produced are precious.

And if I go back a hundred times, I wouldn't do it any other way. Why would I?



Oh Ye, of Little Faith

When a new product or application is introduced, reviews and discussions place much weight on what they don't do, compared to what they do.

I suppose that's human nature, looking for the deficiencies. But from a business point of view, no one has the luxury of waiting until their widget is perfect before its release. The phrase, "Real artists ship," comes to mind.

Once the new product is out there, its creator can garner feedback, prioritize improvements, and release updated versions. With good products and designers, this cycle continues indefinitely.

I'm thinking about this as I work with Photos for macOS and the DxO ONE camera. Both are produced by solid companies with track records of improvement. Neither, in my opinion, received the positive attention they deserved with their initial releases.

Photos is an innovative, extensible application that is taking real shape with version 2.0. It dares to be different, just like the DxO camera that plugs into an iPhone. And now, with its latest firmware update, can be controlled remotely via WiFi. Apple, nor DxO is charging more for the new features. And both have added many over the last year.

While writing the update to the Apple Photos Book for Photographers, I added chapters eleven and twelve. In one of them I talk about how kids react to the software. I rarely hear them complain about what it doesn't do. Instead, they learn its capabilities and mold those features to their needs. It's a wonderful process to observe. And they do it with enthusiasm.

And it makes me wonder, when the rest of us became so crotchety?

My basic philosophy for life is to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. There's a certain balance to this approach that keeps me from being both too naive or cynical.

The optimist in me loves to champion causes that have been overlooked or dismissed. I latch on to them because I see their potential. That's what I look for first, not the deficiencies. (When we observe our kids, do we judge them for what they haven't done yet?)

There are very few things in life that are minted perfect. Yet many of us continue to push ourselves toward that goal, realizing that if we even get close, it was worth the effort.



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Portland, Here We Come

My first conference in Portland, OR happened back in the O'Reilly days during the Open Source event. I was the staff photographer then, and I fell in love with the city. Now, years later, I'm going back to host my own event: The Nimble Photographer Workshop.

We debuted this series in June at the Out of Chicago Conference, and the event was a hit. Our next stop is the beautiful river city of Portland. And we have a terrific venue at the amazing, Pro Photo Supply on Northrup Street.

We gather at their event center at 8:30 AM on Nov. 5th. I'm keeping our group small, so we can really learn from each other, and to make it easy to move about the city when we go out to shoot.

Highlights over the course of the day include my sharing the techniques that I've developed during years of nimble photography, participant "What's in Your Bag" sessions, street shooting and portrait tips, hands-on session, post production discussion, gear review, photo sharing, and more. We're even including lunch.

You can reserve your spot for only $195. Seats are limited. Registration is open now. Pro Photo Supply has promised to have plenty of nimble gear on hand, and their event center, where we'll be working, is terrific.

I'm looking forward to spending the day in the beautiful Northwest. I hope you can join me.


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