Blog Archives

This is the blog for more technical topics.

Sharing Photos with Friends and Family

Nothing gets people sharing photos like a new baby’s arrival. The new parents want to share lots and lots of images with close friends and family. So what is the best way to share images? You can certainly post them on Facebook or similar social media sites, but there are serious limitations to size and ease of viewing.


Dropbox installed

One of the easiest methods – and the one I use the most – is Dropbox. Dropbox is the equivalent of having a 2Gig hard drive attached to your computer that can be attached to others’ computers anywhere on the web. The nice thing about Dropbox is that it will allow you to share folders on your hard drive with specific individuals. You can have baby photos to share with Aunt Sally in one of your Dropbox folders and in another folder have presentations to share with coworkers. Aunt Sally can’t see the presentations and your coworkers can’t see the baby photos. You set up your sharing to be precisely the way you want.

The folders are like the folders or directories on your computer. If you put a file in the folder, then everyone who is sharing that folder can see the file almost immediately. It is on their hard drive. If they take their laptop off the Internet then the image is still there. Beautiful.

[capion id=”attachment_1329″ align=”alignright” width=”400″] Dropbox installed[/caption]

Those 2Gigs of storage are free with a basic membership. When you get someone to join Dropbox then Dropbox will increase your storage. Today it is by 250 Meg for each person you introduce to Dropbox. There are other levels of membership, but you may never need to increase your capacity. The other big plus is that installing the software is the easiest install I’ve seen. It should take you minutes to be up and running.

There is one down side to Dropbox I need to mention. The shared folder works like any other folder on your system. Put something in and everyone who shares that folder sees it instantly if they are online or as soon as they come back online. Take a file and either delete it or move it from the folder and you guessed it, the file is removed from everyone else’s folder. The secret is to ensure that you copy a file (photograph, document, etc.) and place it in the folder. If there is a file that you want to keep for long term then you are best to copy it from Dropbox and paste it to a backup location on your computer. That way if someone deletes it you still have your copy.

Dropbox is a very useful utility. I use it on all of my systems: computer, iPad, iPhone. That way I can easily have access to files across all of my platforms.

We use it to share many types of files and of course baby pictures with nieces and nephews and our Rotary exchange students who are now married with kids of their own.


Reading the Manual?

Ok, I admit it. I do read the manual. There it’s out in the open for all to see. But then why wouldn’t someone read about the features that they have just laid out a lot of money to buy. That never made sense to me. Sure it was alright I suppose many years ago in the film days when cameras and equipment were non-electronic. You had a shutter, aperture ring, focus ring, depth of field and mirror lock up buttons. Each button had a function and they were simple to figure out what they did.

Manual from Canon 5D Mark II.

Canon 5D Mark II manual.

Today we are in a different time. Once electronics took over photography there are more settings and buttons and button sequences than you can keep track of without a manual. My camera has custom function settings. There are 70 different settings available. In the manual the custom function settings start on page 193. That is a lot of information before even getting to the settings section.

So why wouldn’t you read the manual? Well, one reason is that the manuals are often really hard to read. The are obviously written by a technician who is throughly entrenched in the company jargon-speak. The language and thought process is difficult to follow. In many instances the translation becomes really stilted. I never understood why companies that spend so much in producing a product falter at the last step in the communication chain. If you are a manufacturer reading this let me suggest that you spend a few dollars and have writers in the different languages rewrite your manuals to make them flow.

One alternative which I use from time to time is to buy a third party book about the equipment in question. This has two advantages: it is usually written by someone who speaks your language and it is often written by a photographer who knows his or her audience and what they are trying to do with the product in real life.

When I buy a new camera (or other piece of equipment) I usually follow this process. I read the manual starting carefully at the beginning and then picking up speed. Those features that I know I’ll never use I still skim over just to know what it will do. Unless I will be using a feature very soon I don’t bother reading the detailed step-by-step instructions. I’ll never remember the steps so why bother to take the time reading. When I need to use the feature then is the time to go back and go through it slowly. When I’m done I will often revisit the important parts and read it again in more detail.

Sometimes I will purchase a third party book about the device even before I buy the hardware. This allows me to be ready to use the equipment as soon as it’s in my hand. At other times when the manual is particularly bad I buy the book to replace the manual. When I’m selling a used piece of equipment I always include any books about it as a value added feature. This clears my book shelf for more materials.

Finally I make sure I carry all the manuals with me in the field. I carry not only my camera manual but the manual for all my lenses and other gear as well. No need being five hundred miles away and not knowing how to activate a feature. I don’t carry the paper manuals because they would weigh almost as much as the photo gear. What I do is to download the manufacturer’s manuals onto my iPad. All the manuals are kept in one collection in iBooks ready to read wherever I’m at. If you have ever tried to figure out a setting on your flash in the field you will find this an invaluable tool.

To summarize: read your manual and have at least a passing familiarity with the features on your equipment. Take the manuals with you electronically. Don’t be afraid to buy the how to use books available for your equipment since they will often teach you how to improve your photography as well.


Use Technology to Move the Sun

It doesn’t take long looking through a gallery of my photographs to realize I enjoy photographing water in motion. Waterfalls, rapids, water flowing over a rock they all appeal to me. Maybe it is because I grew up in flat Essex County where water flowing over a rock is called “rain.”

In any case, I do enjoy photographing wider in motion.

Yesterday I delivered a dozen canvas mounted photographs to Marten Art Gallery in Bayfield for a one man show entitled H2Oh! and yes, they were primarily images of water.  Judy Stephenson, the gallery curator, had suggested the show should have a central theme. I was proud of the images I had selected. It will be a good opening show for her 2013 tourist season.

Waterfalls at Rock Glen, ON, Canada.

Waterfalls at Rock Glen, ON, Canada.

On the drive back I stopped in the town of Arkona, Ontario to check out the Rack Glen Conservation Area that my close friend Mark Clemens had shown me some years earlier. Rock Glen Falls is a lovely small waterfalls. While the lightning was acceptable, I felt it would have been better coming from a different direction.

Those of you who know me will attest there is a moderate amount of geek in my bones. I do like technology and the benefits it can deliver. Now, as Paul Harvey would say, here is the rest of the story.

The Photographer's Ephemeris showing the sunrise, sunset, moonrise and moonset for Tuesday, May 14, 2013. You can ask for the details for any date.

The Photographer’s Ephemeris on my iPad showing the sunrise, sunset, moonrise and moonset for Tuesday, May 14, 2013. You can set any date. If you will be outside of cell coverage then be sure to do a screen save at home.

I’d like to go back to Rock Glen to photograph. But what would be the best time of day to get there? For that I turn to my iPad app The Photographer’s Ephemeris. You can see why they call it TPE.

This amazing app combines satellite imagery similar to Google Maps with the movement of the sun and the moon. All I had to do was to type in Arkona, ON and TPE zoomed into the town. I dragged over to the North East and found the Conservation Area zooming in on the Falls. By sliding my finger over the timeline I can see where the sun rose and set. By saving the location (see the screen capture) I will be able to predict precisely where the sun will be at any given time on any date I may return. This is a phenomenal tool for photographers. If you want to see where the sun or moon will rise or set anywhere in the world I strongly urge you to download this app. It’s $10 well spent.