Pro Photo Tips & Saving Money

What better combination right? Know what the pros know and save a little money too. I’m going to reveal the first and best tip I ever received from a working professional photographer and then give you an example you can put to use.

I learned this from a working photographer back in the days when it was film only and photography was an expensive hobby. Just like today there was always gear to buy and dream about; to cover all the photographic situations. So here’s the tip: You don’t have to buy the most expensive piece of gear with the latest specifications. You simply need the right tool for the job. Having a telephoto lens on the camera when a good 50 mm lens is what you need —this is the application we are talking about. It’s obvious but you can’t stop and change the lens if you don’t have the lens to change to. If you need a tripod, it’s best to have one even if it isn’t the top of the line from “Really Right Stuff” with a BH55 ballhead.

Camera lenses are a good example but the principal works with any piece of gear. Here’s how you can save on buying an 85mm 1.4 lens if you are a Nikon or Canon shooter [check for other camera compatibility] This is the Rokinon 85M N85 F1.4 lens, just under 300.00 dollars. Yes it’s not auto focus and it won’t have the same specs as the Nikkor or the Canon EF lens but it’s also not 2000.00 dollars either.

Thanks to Jeff Clow on Flickr for the Rokinon tip and Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot at FreeDigitalphotos.net

The Next Mac

I started out with my nose pressed to the digital window in 1977. In those days we fiddled and dreamed. I was an unpaid, unknown champion for Apple when it was a tiny company selling a dream. In 1984 I stood behind a guy at the local computer shop and watched him work with a program called MacPaint. I got it, both the concept and the computer. It was a zillion dollars and not a great productivity tool. I bought the dream.

The Mac was the real beginning of the personal computer as we know it. Everything that Apple has done and Microsoft copied is based on core concepts contained in that first 128K Mac. True, some of the science had come from Alan Kay and others at Xerox PARC but Apple actually made it all work and then shipped it. The next “Mac Idea” will take some doing but will be based on making the complex simple and accessible to a wider number of people. The goal is to harness the computer, making knowledge more accessible and meaningful. At the same time the goal should be understanding the importance of values, without which, advancement is only adding layers of complexity to a world that needs more simplification.

Thanks to Patrick Rhone ( on Twitter @patrickrhone ) for posting this linked story below. You can also follow Patrick at minimalmac where he sorts out the tension between complex systems and minimalist ideology.

We heard more about Alan Kay back when Apple was taking off with the Mac and its siblings. The article is the best thing I’ve read on the subject of technology in years. The place where ideas can be examined at the machine level to use a programmer metaphor.

Did Steve Jobs Steal The iPad? Genius Inventor Alan Kay Reveals All

Note: This post was based on inspiration which for me, started in the fourth grade. Publishing should be because of the knowledge, wit, art contained within. Marketing can kill a good story quicker than anything. What if it doesn’t make money? That wasn’t the purpose of the knowledge, wit or art in the first place.

Four Pillars of Your Digital Desktop

Simplenote, DropBox, Notational Velocity, Instapaper

Much has been written about these apps/services recently, with the move to simplicity in just about everything. Full reviews of these can be found elsewhere but we want to focus on how you experience them as a suite of tools.

If you’re not familiar with these apps, lets get aquainted.

Simplenote – Allows you to create, well… Notes. Free form, hit the plus button to create a new note and start typing. No formating to set up, saves your notes to the cloud as you type. Add tags, support for versions is there if you need it. There is also a mobile app for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Indications are that other devices are also under development. For a complete list of desktop apps that work with simplenote, click on the downloads link on their website.

Notational Velocity also will let you create notes simply and effectively as Simplenote does with a few extra features one might find useful, especially if you post to the web. You can sync your notes with Simplenote and other iOS apps so that anything you have created on the Mac/iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch, can be accessed and worked on in Simplenote from any computer with internet access.

Dropbox is a powerful service that allows you to throw anything in a folder which resides in the cloud and then can be accessed from anywhere without the need to carry those files with you.

Instapaper Last and certainly not least is Instapaper. Let me describe; find something on the web, want to read it later? Hit the read leader bookmarklet and it’s saved in your Instapaper account where you can read later without all the distracting ads and stuff. You can also archive, favorite and put them in folders.

So, as my kids would say, what’s the big deal about that? Simply this; all of these tools, simple as they are make a powerful suite of tools for the blogger, researcher, student, collector etc.

My initial reaction to this “software” was it’s too simple, I kept looking for the bells and whistles… they aren’t there. You must start using them as a “workflow” to finally “get it” which is, they work well and don’t get in your way. These four pillars help this “big picture” guy focus on what is really going on. The ability to focus is what makes the internet and all it’s vastness manageable. Sort of like scooping from the pile and putting it in another container. The beauty is that the container can be accessed from anywhere you have a internet connection, either by WiFi or 3/4G Cellular service. Remember too, that this is essentially free if you don’t count the cost of the hardware.

Start using them and you will begin enjoying the benefits of this amazing technology.

Colophon: Typed and edited in Notational Velocity


Fear Of The Unknown

It has been often said, we fear what we do not understand. While this may be true you can still fear something even if you understand it. The reason is simple. Fear takes us to a uncomfortable emotional place. It is the experiencing of these things that we don’t like. 


Why we have these feelings is too complicated to figure out and influenced by a zillion factors that make up who we are. Figuring it out wouldn’t help anyway. 


The truth is our emotions play a much larger role in governing our behavior beyond the extremes of emotion such as fear, anger and love. We tend to base our decisions on what will give us a sense of well being. Isn’t it more complicated than that? Probably, but how we “feel” is a pretty big deal.

Apple’s Net Book Strategy

In the weeks and months prior to the announcement of the iPad there were all sorts of “wish lists” floating around and many of them were hoping for some sort of “tablet computer” to eclipse the netbook product line. Steve Jobs basically panned this idea, saying that netbooks were slow etc. etc. Apple’s answer was of course a tablet but not necessarily a computer tablet; no hard drive or physical keyboard unless you are using the dock. It was a mixed bag when it comes to fulfilling anyone’s wish list.

Now we are at iPad 2 and everything has changed and Steve has proved his concept was spot on. Imagine that. The iPad succeeds because it doesn’t compete exactly but creates a whole new way of interacting with our stuff, just like the iPod did.

But what about those die hard fans who really wanted a netbook. Well Apple actually has created one, it’s called the MacBook Air. One might argue the 11″ Air is still a tad bigger than some netbooks but you would be hard pressed to find a slimmer, more trim netbook anywhere. So what is the difference? The MacBook Air is a much healthier system, with flash memory that boots faster than you can sip a Latté and of course it costs a lot more. The moral of this story being that if you want speed, reliability in a compact form and you want it to “just work” then you buy from Apple and pay the price for all that speed, reliability and convenience.

You may be thinking, that’s not fair and this guy is nuts but the lesson in all of this is that Apple tells us as much by what they don’t say or call things. If you want to know what Apple’s priorities are; go to their website and look at the tabs. They are in the content delivery business. Yes, they can do spreadsheets and vertical market stuff and a million other things but they have done something that few other companies have. They’ve made it simple. Maybe not in the way You wished but simple none the less.

George Eastman said “we will make photography as simple as the pencil” Apple has taken the computer and delivered on that promise.

I must confess to a bit of tongue in cheek with this but this kind of thinking takes over while I’m driving.

What they don’t tell you about Success

Many of the admonitions, tips and tricks that lead to a successful outcome are true; notice I said many and not all. There is one element that is overlooked and although it may not sound great it really is one of the most important assets you can have.

It is simply this.

People who are really successful are a combination of many traits, experiences and situations that are too complex for anyone to orchestrate. You are who you are. Finding out what works for you is the key to your success; not being able to mimic the habits of people who are living out a life that is quite different from your own.

Yes you can use those tips and tricks but only in a way that is consistent with your goals and desires. My career in design was a result of my observations in the fourth grade. I had no idea at the time what was taking place but a few skills I learned from one of my fellow students was the catalyst for a future I could never have imagined.