Transformation. Mobile Photos.

My wife and I went on vacation to Japan this year! Whenever I travel anywhere, part of my packing process is figuring out what photography gear I am going to bring to capture our adventures. This vacation’s packing process started out no different. As I started packing up lenses, charging batteries, and gathering memory cards, I started to wonder if I _really_ needed all this stuff.

I tweeted as I was packing:
“Do I really need this many cameras for one trip??”

The amount of stuff I thought I was going to bring was ridiculous! It consisted of the following:
– Sony A7 Body + 4 Batteries
– 50MM f/1.8 Lens
– 35MM f/2.8 Lens
– Sony RX100 III + 2 Batteries
– Small Tripod
– iPhone 6S

As I was getting all this gathered up, I FINALLY figured out that I am going on vacation to enjoy myself, not be a documentary photographer! That is when I decided to cut the above list drastically. And by drastically, I mean the list became this:
– iPhone 6S

That’s it?! Yep! That is the only camera I was going to bring on the big Japan trip.

Every photo that I took was done using my iPhone 6S and no other accessories other than my hands. I have to say, it was a very freeing experience. No lugging around a ton of camera gear, and no pressure to “get the shot”. Using my phone as my only camera made my shooting very versatile as well. When you are using a big camera and lens, it can be intimidating to people, regardless of what you are photographing. When you are using your phone, it is seen as no big deal and no one cares what you are taking photos of.

With all the tech that is inside of your phone, you get some great bonuses on the software side as well:
– Geotagging
– Multiple Photo Modes
– Immediate Review and Edits
– Automatic Backup (iCloud Photo Library)
– Uploading / Sharing Anytime

These benefits continued to pay off once I got home. One thing that didn’t change was that fact that I had a ton of photos to go through once we got back. But, because I took all pictures with my phone and they automatically uploaded to iCloud Photo Library, there was no transferring of images from SD cards. I simply picked up my iPad Pro, opened Photos, and all my photos and videos were waiting for me. This really felt like the future in terms of photography “workflow”. Side note: these photos were already on my iMac as well, due to iCloud Photo Library. To add to the awesomeness, any edits I did on my iPad automatically synced to the iMac, and the opposite was true as well. This means that anything I did, on my iPhone, iPad, or iMac everything was the same and I could manipulate any of my photos anytime, anywhere. To me, this kind of versatility is way more powerful that having a big “pro” app that is dedicated to a single machine.

iCloud Photo Library also allows me to have access to every photo I have ever taken. This means I can search for any photo throughout time and have access to it. That is huge! I have 30,000+ images and can view any of them on my iPhone, iPad, or iMac at anytime.

One final item that confirmed my decision to only use my iPhone was geotagging. The majority of big cameras don’t yet have geotagging capability. When you use your phone, it is a free bonus. Historically, I didn’t really care about geotagging, but I have seen the light on this one. Being able to look at a virtual globe and pick out places you have taken photos is really cool and useful. Also, every picture is going to be tagged exactly where you took it. With big cameras you have to go through some process of adding geotag data, and you might get rough estimates for batches of them, but it’s a pain. This process has gotten much better in recent years, but still requires either special hardware, manual work, or some combination of the two.

So, am I happy with how things turned out? Absolutely!

Do I wish I had brought my other cameras? Nope. (In fact, this trip caused me to sell my Sony RX100 III.)

I got some great memories captured, and quite honestly, probably more than I would have with a larger camera. Most importantly, I was able to experience the whole trip. I spent no time trying to frame shots, setup gear, or charge clunky batteries. The pressure was off to enjoy the experiences with my wife. I am sure she was happy as well to not have to deal with all this camera crap, or holding one lens while I swapped to another.

This was a transformative trip for me in many ways, and one of those ways was how I think about capturing memories with one of these things we call a camera.

If you would like to check out the photos from the trip, head over to my Flickr Album.

MacBook Air to iPad Air

After upgrading from my older Mac Pro to a crazy powerful new 27" iMac, it was time to look at the rest of my computing workflow and see where I could streamline. After moving from the Mac Pro, I was still using a Desktop, Laptop, Tablet, and Phone. This was a lot of devices to manage and there were a lot of overlaps between them all. I decided to go the route of three devices total. One desktop computer, one tablet, and a phone. Having used and preferred laptops since I can remember there being good laptops, this was a pretty big step.

For the desktop, since it would be the work horse, I went with a maxed out 27" late 2013 iMac. At the time of this decision I was using a first generation iPad mini. I knew I would need to upgrade this since it would ultimately be replacing my maxed out 11" MacBook Air and would be my mobile computer going forward. For this job I enlisted the iPad Air with WiFi and 32GB of storage. The only reason I didn’t go with the 4G version is because I already have a 4G hotspot that I like and can be shared with multiple devices so there was no need to duplicate functions. And finally, my phone remained the same 32GB iPhone 5S.

Hardware Additions to the iPad Air

Key Pieces of Software

  • Evernote. I keep everything in evernote and having it sync across all three devices is fantastic.
  • Dropbox. This is basically my “filesystem” since there isn’t a conventional one on iOS.
  • Penultimate. An advantage of using an iPad over a MacBook is the ability to input handwriting.
  • Writeroom. A great text editor. This is where I capture most of my text, including this blog post.
  • iWork suite (Pages, Numbers, Keynote). Great for interfacing with documents from my desktop.
  • Games. More than I can list. A lot more than you might have on OS X. This could be bad or good. 🙂
  • Video Chat (FaceTime, Skype). Great for video chatting with any other client.
  • Remotix. Really awesome Remote Desktop client. For those times when you absolutely need to do something on a Desktop, or you simply need to access something on your Desktop.
  • Screens. Another really good Remote Desktop client. This has the ability to traverse firewalls and lets you access from anywhere you have a network connection.
  • Prompt. Really really good ssh command line tool.
  • Codeanywhere. Could be a really good solution for coding on the go for quick fixes.

There are a ton of other great iOS apps that I use both on the iPhone and the iPad, but I tried to just focus on some of the ones that make the experience of using an iPad in place of a MacBook just as good, if not better.

This new setup I have has been going strong for about 6 weeks. Not once have I thought I made a mistake. The iPad Air has been the iPad I have always wanted. Great size and weight, and tons of power. I think anyone that may be in a similar position as me, wondering if this can work for them, should give it a shot! It will take some getting used to, and maybe a little research to figure out how you access certain thing. If I tried to do this even a year ago, I think this post would be ending differently, but I think you will find iOS has matured quite a lot over the last couple years and it is quite capable. Best of all, it will only continue to get better and more advanced!