Reading Tools

I’m a fickle reader – and read a wide variety of stuff. As a result, I like to browse a lot of books before deciding to dive in and truly reading one. I’ve come to rely on a couple of tools to help me in my quest for interesting book content.

When I come across mention of a book that sounds of interest, I will typically first search Amazon and take a look at the reviews for the book. I also frequently download the book’s sample so that I can spend a bit more time deciding whether I want to invest time and money in the book.

To quickly accomplish this, I use a Launchbar keyboard shortcut on my Mac’s which invokes an Amazon book search and opens a new browser tab directly on the book’s page. This is super fast and convenient – in a flash I can be there. Sometimes, if I’m in the middle of something, I’ll trigger the search, the tab will open, and then I’ll come back to it later. It will wait patiently for me to return.

In addition to free Kindle book samples, another Amazon feature – “Look Inside the Book” – is also helpful for reviewing the first few pages of a book.

I’ve used this approach for several years and it’s become second nature. More recently, I discovered Overdrive’s free iOS app Libby which performs a similar function for me doing a library search for a book. I have library cards for several of the area libraries and have set them all up in Libby. I can open Libby, enter a search, and see if one of my libraries has the book available in ebook format. If so, I can borrow it – or place a hold to be notified when a copy becomes available. Once I borrow it, I can request that the book be downloaded to my Kindle.

I have the Kindle app on all of my devices: Mac’s, iPhone, iPads, etc. Any book (or book sample) that I’ve downloaded to Kindle can be opened on any of those devices – depending on what’s with me.

The two tools that make this all possible are Launchbar on my Mac and the Libby app on iOS.

When Did the Majority of Americans Go Wireless-Only?

From: https://www.stlouisfed.org/open-vault/2018/june/fascinating-facts-cellphone-smartphone-usage

The latter half of 2016 was the first time that a majority of American homes had wireless telephone service but no landline. This was noted in the April issue of Page One Economics by Jeannette Bennett, a senior economic education specialist with the St. Louis Fed’s Memphis Branch.

That finding comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, which has been releasing briefs on wireless substitution trends in America since late 2006. The center’s July-December 2016 National Health Interview Survey (PDF)revealed that, for the first time, more than half of American homes did not have a landline, but did have at least one wireless telephone. This was a turning point in the long-running survey.

Using Fujifilm JPEG Film Simulations

The delights of using Fujifilm cameras include the film simulations that Fujifilm includes for application to JPEG images. I’m a big fan of Classic Chrome for color images and Acros for black and white images.

UK wedding photographer Kevin Mullins has just posted a blog post and accompanying video describing how he uses these film simulations in his wedding photography. He sets up his favorite setting using the Custom Settings feature of his Fujifilm cameras.

I enjoyed reading this post by Dan Levitan reminiscing about his 20 years at Maveron. I was fortunate to have been on the board of a Maveron company early in the firm’s life – and learned a lot from them!

Mobile Photography on Monterey Bay

I recently drove to Monterey to join my friend and painter Don Neff while he was doing plein air painting as part of the 2018 Carmel Art Festival. Don took us to one of his favorite spots along the Monterey Bay coastline – Perkins Park in Pacific Grove.

Don and I caught up on old times as he was painting a small 6×8 inch canvas for the show.

As I was sitting with Don, we watched the sun play with the fog bank – creating some beautiful and ever changing lighting on the bay. There was a single fishing boat out – seemed to be turning circles in the middle of the bay. I captured a few shots with my iPhone 8 Plus including this one:

Later, when I was home, I began playing with this image using some of the iOS photo editing apps that I’ve collected (don’t ask how many I have!). One of my favorites for landscape (or seascape!) scenes is called Distressed FX. This app is available on both the iPhone and iPad. It allows you to simply experiment adding both color and texture effects to an image. With this image, I cropped it to a square format and then, using Distressed FX, added the sky and a subtle texture overlay. The result is startling beautiful – and way different from the original! [Update 5/29/18: Here’s a good introductory tutorial about Distressed FX.]

Using Lightroom CC for a new mobile workflow while traveling

I was recently in Hong Kong for a week of street photography. While there, I used a different mobile-centric workflow for my images – and, while it wasn’t perfect, it definitely simplified things. Here’s the basic idea:

Gear: I traveled with my MacBook Pro (with LR CC), my iPhone, and my iPad Pro (both with LR Mobile). At home there’s an iMac with my master photo library managed by Lightroom CC Classic. For this to work well, your hotel (or AirBnb, etc) also needs to be “well connected” – especially in terms of upstream bandwidth.

Workflow: After a day of shooting, I used Adobe Bridge on my MacBook Pro to import images from my camera’s SD cards into a date-based folder hierarchy on the MacBook’s SSD. Separately, I used Image Capture to import photos from my iPhone – and copied those images into the same date-based folder hierarchy. (Alternatively, I could have simply opened LR Mobile on my iPhone and imported the iPhone images I wanted into LR from my Camera Roll). Each day I had a new folder with all of the images from my cameras and my iPhone.

Next I opened Lightroom CC (LRCC) on my MacBook Pro and import the new images from the folder hierarchy (e.g. the images imported using Bridge and Image Capture in step 1). LRCC will import these images and immediately begin uploading them with the cloud. For this uploading to be efficient, you’ll want to be sure you’re using hotel WiFi with decent upstream bandwidth – something that worked very well for us in our Hong Kong hotel – but which could be problematic at less well connected hotels.

As LRCC uploads the images to the cloud, several good things happen:

The images are also sync’d to LR Mobile on my iPad and iPhone. They just start showing up as the syncing completes. The images are also sync’d to Lightroom CC Classic running on my iMac back home. If Lightroom Classic isn’t open on my Mac (or if my Mac is powered off), the syncing begins when Lightroom Classic is next opened on my Mac. LR Classic will download the images from the cloud and save them to a special folder – which I’ve pointed to a folder just for this purpose in my images folder hierarchy. In LR Classic preferences, I’ve also clicked the “use date hierarchy” box so that the downloaded images will be stored in a date hierarchy folder structure within that specified download folder.

When I get back home, I can open LR Classic and move the images from the download folder into the normal date-based folders in my image library. LR will remember that these images – although they’ve been moved – are still synced to the cloud. Thus, any changes I make to an image will be sync’d everywhere – including any ratings updates, any photo edits, cropping, etc. Even deletions will be sync’d everywhere.

The net effect of this workflow is that I avoided having to do the old catalog import workflow from LR Classic on my MacBook Pro into LR Classic on my iMac when I got home.

But the BIG benefit of this LR CC-based workflow was having my images quickly available for reviewing, editing, rating, etc. on my iPhone and iPad while I was traveling in the field. In addition, any images I shot on my iPhone could be imported into LR Mobile on my iPhone and they’d automatically be sync’d into the Lightroom cloud and down to my LR Mobile on my iPad and to LR Classic my iMac back home.

I should also mention that once the images have been imported to LR CC on my MacBook Pro, they can be deleted from the folder hierarchy on the MacBook. Once the originals are sync’d to the cloud by LR CC they are no longer needed locally on the MacBook Pro. Of course, I didn’t do any deleting while traveling – as I wanted the redundancy (in addition to keeping the SD cards) – but I could have – and will at some point back home!

I just found a YouTube (10 min long) video by Ted Forbes that also describes this workflow.