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The World Around Us

Figure 1
Photographer - Joan Sparks, Camera Club of Los Altos

My camera club, The Camera Club of Los Altos, is having its annual exhibit “The World Around Us” in the gallery at Keeble and Shuchat from August 11th to September 14th, 2011. We will also be having a party on September 10th.

If you are in the neighborhood, please stop by for the party or just to take a look. You might be surprised at what a bunch of dedicated enthusiasts can produce!

Keeble and Shuchat is located at 290 S. California Avenue, Palo Alto, California 94306 - Google Maps.

Solitude

Solitude

"Solitude gives us the power not to win the rat race but to ignore the rat race altogether.” - Richard Foster

So true!

Plants vs. Zombies Replaced?

Ticket to Ride

It has happened. Plants vs. Zombies has been replaced as my #1 time-waster - oops I mean game - on my iPad. Its successor? Ticket to Ride.

Ticket To Ride ($6.99 - iTunes Link) is a faithful iPad adaptation by Days of Wonder of the same board game. The objective is to build railroad lines across the US (as well as other locales like Europe and Switzerland with expansion packs). You get points by completing long rail lines between destinations that you randomly receive from the deck. You need to match the lines with the color train cards in your hand. The game is simple but the strategy is difficult.

There is solo play against a pretty good AI as well as online play against other humans on a site hosted by Days of Wonder. And with the latest release, there is pass-and-play for up to 5 players. The iPad app is a little expensive at $6.99 with additional maps ranging from $0.99 to 3.99.

So if you have a yearning to be the next Dagny Taggart, then download the game and have fun! Who is Dagny Taggart? Well, that's the wrong question – it should be "Who is John Galt?"

Capturing the Essence with Your Photography

The Los Altos Camera Club’s annual photo walk is this weekend. We’re planning an early Saturday morning expedition in a town called Alviso, located at the bottom of San Francisco Bay. Alviso's best years are kind of behind it, so needless to say it makes for an interesting subject. So much so, that the special category for our monthly competition this month is "Capturing the Essence of Alviso".  Of course, the key question is how do you as a photographer capture the essence of a place?
 
It certainly is not "frame and shoot", "frame and shoot", "frame and shoot". Any essence found in that manner will be pure luck. The key to capturing the essence is to see what others don't readily see. Using the grey matter between the ears to see something that is under the nose of the regular inhabitants, but utterly ignored. 
 
It means capturing the unusual; whether it is truly unique or the everyday seen in an unusual way. However, unusual for unusual sake is not enough. The photograph needs to tell a story, a vignette about the life of that location. There must be a mood set by the photograph that captures the imagination of the viewer.
 
Subjects abound to illustrate the essence, people going about their daily life, elements of life that embody the values or activity of the location. All can translate the soul of a place. 
 
It isn't limited to a single photo.  Creating a triptych of tight, medium, and wide is an excellent way to accomplish the goal. However, the set of photographs need to not only standalone as great photos, but work together as a set.
 
Sound challenging? Photojournalism too hard? Not into street photography? In truth, any photographer regardless of their field of photography can accomplish “capturing the essence”. Why? Because in the end, "capturing the essence" is what we should be striving to achieve with all our photographs.
 


Happy Father's Day

My IOS Photography Workflow

FilterStormPro

 

Lately, I have been using my iPhone as my primary walkaround camera for casual photography. I am quite happy with the photographs that it can capture.  As I have discussed in the past, my camera application of choice is Camera+ (itunes link, $1.99).  While Camera+ has some nice post-processing capabilities for quick editing and sending to Facebook or Twitter, sometimes I want more advanced editing. That is where two additional software products become important: one for the iPad (Filterstorm Pro - above) and the other for both the iPad and iPhone (Pics - below).

 

Processing the Photo on iPad

I really like the iPad for post-processing of my phones, but the camera on the iPad is terrible and not suitable for photography. My new favorite photography program on the iPad is Filterstorm Pro (itunes link, $14.99). While a pricey app as iOS goes, Filterstorm Pro is like a combination of Lightroom and Photo Mechanic for the iPad. Obviously, it is not as feature-rich as those software programs, but it accomplishes much of the same tasks on the iPad.  

It includes various features such as batch processing of images to edit IPTC metadata and transmit multiple images to iPad photo library, FTP, Flickr, Dropbox and email. Filterstorm Pro's editing tools include the standard items like cropping, rotationing and straightening as well as curves, white point and black and white tools. You can use masking tools to apply filters to different areas of an image.

 

How do you get the image to the iPad?

You won't be taking the photos with the iPad camera. However, you can load photos through Apple's iPad Camera Connection Kit (Apple Store link - $29.99). That is great if I want to unload my photos from my Nikon, which is a discussion for a different blog.  What about if I want to get my photos from my iPhone?

Enter Pics (iTunes link - $1.99). Pics is a critical photo management app for iOS that allows you to sort you photos into different albums, protect them with a passcode and most importantly transfer them to your computer through Wifi connection AND to your companion iPad/iPhone via a peer-to-peer (P2P) connection. Now, I can take photos on my iPhone with its outstanding camera and transfer it to my iPad without having to move them to my MacBook Pro!  And the app is an universal app so you only need to pay once.

Pics

The software has a sync capability over the P2P connection; though I have not yet tested the functionality. Also, there is a Mac application called Pics Assistant (MAS link - Free), but I haven't been able to get it to consistently work effectively.

 

A Powerful iOS Photography Workflow

The combination of Camera+, Filterstorm Pro and Pics has really changed the way I handle my iPhone photography. If you are serious about yours, I suggest you check out this winning combination.

 

Lighttrac - A Must-Have iPad App for Any Outdoor Photographer

 By: Stephen Terlizzi

IMG_1000000104.PNG

Shortly after I received my new iPad 2 several weeks ago, my first activity was to search for some great iPad Photography apps.  While the cameras in the iPad 2 (unlike my iPhone 4) are eminently forgettable, it is definitely a great platform for planning your photography and reviewing the resulting photographs.   If you are an outdoor photographer, one application that is a must-have is Lighttrac by Rivolu Pte ($4.99 - iTunes Link). 

LightTrac helps you find the perfect lighting for your outdoor photos by giving your the information you need on the available light from the Sun and Moon based on the time and location anywhere in the world.  LightTrac calculates and plots the angle of Sun and Moon on top of a map, for any location and can save multiple locations and easily switch between them.

As you can see from the above picture, I can get information about any location (in this case the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco) including Sunrise/Sunset and Moonrise/Moonset as well as the angle of the Sun or Moon at a given time.  You can choose the date, time and location in advance to plan your photo shoot.  

You can save the information for later retrieval and change the map from satellite to Google Street Maps as required.  Finally, you can export to email a KML that can be used in Google Earth, Google Maps, etc.  It would be nice to have some other export options such as Dropbox. 

Also, the application is a universal app and is available on the iPhone, too.   In short, if you do outdoor photography and care about taking outstanding photos, this is a must-have application.

 

Adobe Photoshop CS5 Full 299.00.

Adobe Photoshop CS5 Full 299.00. Normally retails for 699.00.

Adobe has a great deal for Photoshop CS5. It looks like it is time to buy your first copy of Photoshop ($299) or upgrade for ($199). The deal is a full edition (Not an educational version). The offer ends April 04, 2011

You can get 30% off Lightroom 3 as well if you buy them together.

Check it out here.

Top 10 Tips to Great Storytelling

What is your "To Be" list?


My 'To be

Hamlet said, "To Be or Not To Be". I guess in his melancholy that is a vaild question, but I recently heard on a radio broadcast that real question..."What is your ' To Be' list?".

What do you want to be in your life and have you add your "To Be"s to your "To Do" list? Often, one's "To Do" list is jam packed with actions to undertake. I am a big advocate of Omnifocus GTD to manage my "To-Do"s, but have given serious thought on what transformative "To Be"s to add.

It is funny that I have often advised companies to have operational and transformative objectives; however, I never thought about my "To Do" list in that matter. So take your moleskin notebook and go to the nearest park. There, think hard on "What is your 'To Be' list?"
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