Pogoplug: Now This is Useful AND Cool

Pogoplug: Now This is Useful AND Cool

I just set up my Pogoplug.

I plugged it in, turned it on, set it up and went to work

Took about 2 minutes. Tops.

Wait… you may not know what a Pogoplug is.

Now this thing is cool. Think of it as a network drive / personal cloud sort of thing. With a very cool set of tools that let you actually USE the thing. Keep your photographs on there securely, and pull them up as a slideshow from your iOS or Android. Keep your music on a drive and access it to play from any device. Share files with clients and family. Automatically backup your files or photos.

Amazing.

And they have an online cloud for additional, easy storage.

The device is very small, taking nearly no space at all. And that is a big deal for me. My router is in the living room and having too many devices taking up too much room can create wifely harrassment.

The device hooks into your router, and you hook a hard drive mechanism to the device in one of many ways. In fact, you can hook multiple devices up to the Pogoplug and have different ways to store and share files.

You can see the footprint here as well as the USB drive in position next to my router and Network Drive. These things make working away from home or office a far less painful experience.

You can use a 2.5″ HD, a USB HD, a Flash Card, or any kind of memory that can hook into a device. I chose a 500GB USB Drive that I had for backing up my music. It has lots of room left, so I hooked it into my Pogoplug and started moving files around. I first set it to automatically copy over my iPhone/iPad files and images so I don’t have to even think about it.

Cool.

I then downloaded the iPad/iPhone apps and logged in. Don’t worry, they are free. The files then began downloading to my Pogoplug. I can play my music from my devices, or my laptop, or use the Pogoplug for sharing files with clients that may be too large for email.

And… it worked right out of the box, right away. Simple, easy and totally simple application. (Well done, Pogoplug guys…)

I have a couple of extra Pogoplug units for you, the readers of this blog. I haven’t decided yet how we will give them away. I am sure some sort of contest will be forthcoming, so watch for it.

I am thrilled with this thing, and some of the cool things I have already identified some important business uses for it.

You can see more at their website, and they also have a cloud storage system for those who only want to use it online. The Pogoplug device is the tool for sharing, backing up, and more.

Watch for the contest coming next week. Win one of these things and have a blast with it.


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OK, Now I’m Hungry… the Food Photography of Michele Drumm

OK, Now I’m Hungry… the Food Photography of Michele Drumm

Michele Drumm is a photographer in the Washington DC / Fredricksberg area of Virginia. Her work ranges from still life to environments, but one of her great loves is shooting food.

From meticulous studio shoots to on location editorial work, Michele brings a bit of whimsy and fun to each project she takes.

She has been a Project 52 member for two years and is now a Project 52 PRO, working on getting her book out and into the world.

We love her work and her commitment to making the image exactly as she sees it. Only problem is that every time I review her work, I gain a pound… heh.

Waygu Beef Burger

Highland Park Diner

Don

Blackened Shrimp Saute over Sweet Corn Pudding and Mache Salad

Turkey legs at the fair

Untitled | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Untitled | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Untitled | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

portabella mushroom

Untitled | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

You can see more of Michele’s work at her Flickr page. Just click on any image above and it will take you to her images.

Thanks for coming along today, but I gotta run off now. It’s lunch time!

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Instagram… it is Not the Devil (or is it?)

Instagram… it is Not the Devil (or is it?)

Instagram was a tiny app that grew at an amazing rate. Hipstagram is another app that has grown faster than most, and Snapseed was just purchased by Google.

What does that mean? Is it, as one of the articles below suggests, the end of photography? Or is it a new, and very cool little tool that will grow into something amazing and a part of the arsenal of professional photographers.

I use all three, and really enjoy their quirky twist on the image. But there are detractors as well. I thought it would be interesting to see what others think about the photo sharing tool everyone loves – and some love to hate.

“I became very, very quickly addicted,” says Reid, who works primarily as a web designer. “It’s a fascinating phenomenon, unlike anything. Something like Twitter — that’s a community, but its not such a happy community, where people are all sharing their art and talking about it, like [Instagram].”

Thousands of people like Reid have used Instagram to meet other photographers experimenting with the medium, and even selling their photos on sites like Instaprints. Reid’s own “DCEmmy” Instagram account now has almost 5500 followers, and she has exhibited her work in mobile photography shows across the country.”

Read more at Huffington Post.

David Harry Stewart has a short little rant about Instagram.

I get asked all the time if I feel threatened by this new wave of iPhone bearing Instagramming photographers. Why would I possible feel that way? I think everyone, every single person on the planet should be Instagraming and we would all be better off.

This post at Forbes shows how far reaching the formerly little app has grown; “Google Challenges Facebook And Instagram With Snapseed Buy”

“One reason we can presume Google wants to integrate Nik’s technology into its social network: the acquisition was announced by the man behind Google+ himself, Vic Gundotra, on a Google+ post. “We want to help our users create photos they absolutely love, and in our experience Nik does this better than anyone,” he wrote.

The same post also talked about the growth of Google+ users, saying the network now had more than 400 million signups, with 100 million of them “monthly active users.”

At the Guardian, there is this; “Is Instagram ‘debasing photography’?”

“It’s not just Instagram – other software produces the same effects: Hipstamatic, Snapseed and of course the big boys: Gimp, Photoshop and Lightroom.

For me, these filters spoil pictures: they get in the way of the image and they distort the story the picture is telling. It jars to see a picture taken a few seconds ago, in the summer of 2012, that looks like a picture from my childhood (I’m a 60s baby).”

Over at Bloomberg Business there was this interesting article on pro photographers using Instagram.

“Following the acquisition of Instagram by Facebook, Businessweek.com asked several prominent photographers, editors, and other photography professionals about Instagram. For many of them, the simple app has changed the way they shoot and what they choose to share with the world. Here are their replies, in their own words.”

“8 PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS FROM TOP INSTAGRAMMERS” has some gorgeous imagery and some good information.

“Rather than just snapping drunken shenanigans with pals, some Instagram users are creating mind-blowing pics with just a few taps on their iPhone. Want to know how some of the most popular users do it?”

So what is your take on Instagram?

Or for that matter, what is your take on Snapseed and the acquisition by Google?

For me it is simply a lot of fun, and a great way to amuse myself.

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Cameras Are Tools. Vision is Photography.

Cameras Are Tools. Vision is Photography.

I love this article on communication, photography and the distractions of gear and platforms.

Photographer Jon Stanmeyer hits the nail smack on the head with this post on the distraction of the medium over the substance of the image itself.

“Now here is what’s key regarding Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and whatnot; Some of these images we publish, the text we write on various social media outlets, etc, they can be pieces of a far greater, even deeper, more richly layered project which has a commodity element behind it. These images can, for a lack of a better way of putting it, be glimpses, headlines, instant breaking information of a much larger project waiting to be presented. Like seeds, images can be sent out to one or millions, dropping seeds of information into the consciousness of others, nurturing a project to grow, both in marketing and funding. The final product, brought to the consciousness via meaningful bits and pieces, is the entity to be leveraged both as information to an event, as product or as a printed photo essay, as a commodity. This is, until the next leveraging aspect of social media is attained, the greater purpose and potential.”

You absolutely must read the whole thing.

I think that there wil always be ‘cameras’ in the way we think of them, but we are a tiny, teeny sliver of the genre of “photographers” these days.

There is a lot of angst in the camera makers worlds out there. They see the handwriting on the wall.

Enter the $2000 full frame.
Enter the kit lenses that make exceptional images.
Enter automatic exposure that makes PERFECT shots under all situations.
Enter video in the camera.

This fellow is a photojournalist. His job is to get the picture.

Period.

It will most likely be fine enough at 4MP for news and web. An 8 or 12 MP image is more than enough for the reason the shot exists.

Young people coming into the digital age will never have known what a camera was ‘supposed’ to look like. And that was a HUGE influence over camera manufacturers deciding to make digital cameras look like film cameras. The damn things even have ‘film chamber’ build to them.

“Professional Photographers” would have it no other way.

Now?

Well, I gave my kid my old Rebel digital. She gave it back to me… she is totally happy with her Android phone and the P&S Canon she got for Xmas.

Just finished a nice trip to Maine. We had some very flat and boring light in mid-day. Charles would pull out his iPhone and make some simply stunning images. I like to make straight images on my iPhone, then manipulate them later in Snapseed or a myriad of other APPs I have.

There is a tendency for me to think the larger images are somehow ‘better’ or of higher ‘quality’ because they were shot on a big chip with expensive glass.

Problem is no one can tell the difference in the print.

So I start to sound like a ‘gearhead’ and I am NOT.

I am all about the image, and couldn’t care less how it was made. The traps we make when thinking about our work are more dangerous than listening to a blistering critique of your work from a ‘kitty shooter’ on some forum.

I am holding out for a Samsung Galaxy III – (October) as I have seen the images that thing produces. I have not seen a 16×20 from one, but I have seen an 11×17… argh. I don’t care what anyone says, I was totally knocked out by both the sharpness and the overall transitions in shadows.

I was just asked on twitter about what I thought of the new Nikon D600. My answer was that I don’t have anything to say about it that has any value. I don’t think much about cameras these days.

I am struggling mightily with photography, its place in my world, its power to heal or inspire or reflect or reveal or destroy.

Photography is more important now than ever before, and yet we are consistently bombarded with distractions of devices. I think it takes a toll on all of us.

And we forget what it really is about, this whole capturing a moment in time to preserve, enlighten, entertain or simply to see what it looks like captured. I don’t want to forget that in my work.

Below are a few of my shots from the trip done with Hipstagram and the default camera. I like these images for similar and disparate reasons. And some of these I also shot on the big camera, but they are far different in tone and emotional impact than these are. Different, not better or worse… different.

To me that is the power of these little cameras and the apps that are so much fun to shoot with. I get different approaches to the subjects. Kinda like having a new lens to work with. One that has its own quirks and qualities.

It was a bit foggy, a bit dark from deep overcast. I wanted to say something about the dreary, almost mysterious feeling of this entrance. I chose the Hipstagram app to enhance the emotion of the subject.

I loved the texture qualities, and the Hipstagram image supplied a slight vignette and muted tone that enhanced the feeling of the shell isolated on the rocks.

It was cold and overcast (I loved it… heh) and this straight camera shot captured a bit of the reality of that day and moment. I had already packed the cameras, but the trusty iPhone delivered the shot I wanted to get at that moment.

Sometimes an image just wants to be made and it reveals itself. I loved this little vignette of vine and old board wall. A straight shot on my Canon is not as interesting as this little Hipstagram photo. The image needs the context of the frame and the muted colors to make it really look like what I saw in my head.

Flat midday sun, and the Hipstagram delivers. The shapes and textures were so interesting, and a couple of my big camera shots make me happy… but this little vignetted, non-perfect capture that fit the mood I wanted.

This image is about the frame and the ‘space between’ – part of my vision mantra. I like the spatial play and the contrast of textures and colors. Camera phone and big camera – big camera is far different feeling than this one. Not better or worse, just different.

Light leaks and crusty edges makes the retro sign even more retro. Fun images are what the small cameras are about.

A grab shot with the iPhone and Hipstamatic reveals how I was seeing the trip we were on. I would have loved to have more time to shoot the area, but we migrated from point to point and shot what we liked… Maine through a car window – yeah, that is what it was like. Sorta.

In the end it is whether you like the image or not. And if not, no matter. Photography is not about every image communicating to every person. These are my little images. I share them here and there.

Photography is still fun for me. It still answers my desire to make something lasting. How long is that?

I dunno. I don’t care. I just want to make the images I see in my head. The iPhone and Androids seem like they offer me more tools with which to find and make those images.

This line from Jon’s article is dead on for me:

“Don’t waste your time nor mine on any bit of that dinosaur debate.”

Yes, Jon. I wholeheartedly agree.

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Workshops? A New Direction… After a Break. Maybe.

Workshops? A New Direction… After a Break. Maybe.

It’s time.

Actually it may be later than that. And that makes it all the more… more…

Well, I don’t really know how I feel about stopping the workshops. A little sad, I suppose. Possibly a tiny bit bitter (fuckit, I’m human… right?). But mostly I feel like I needed to do it and move to a different place. Doing workshops was something that was fun, but not my main source of revenue, and I need to focus a bit more on that these days.

When I started the Lighting Essentials workshops it was in response to what I was seeing here in the Phoenix area in regard to photographic lighting – or rather the lack of any attempt at it. Or the knowledge that it even existed…

We charged a few bucks and we would put 4 or 5 shooters in my little studio on Broadway and we would shoot. Setup, discuss the reasons for the setup, shoot. Setup, discuss, shoot. Repeat.

It was for one day and we would cram a ton of learning into those days, starting early and finishing late.

I turned around and we were traveling the country and then the world doing workshops based on my idea of Subject Centric Light (H/T Dean Collins for inspiration), and my 30+ years in the business.

(more…)

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Ten Things I Know About Creativity

Ten Things I Know About Creativity

Occasionally we run into the argument of whether or not ‘creativity’ can be taught, or does it have to be born within us? We read all about creativity and how important it is. We award little statuettes to really “creative” people. Creativity is blessed, cursed, chased, obsessed over, ignored, beaten down and vindicated.

It is a word so over used that we mention Stravinsky and Lady GaGa in the same breathless discussion of creativity. Schools want to nurture it (bullshit). Companies seek it (bull-bullshit). Poets have it in spades (bull… oh never mind).

But have you ever tried to simply define it? Being ‘creative’ can also be cruel, savage, inhumane and anarchistic. Creativity can mean simply doing something different… so what? If I take the garbage out with my left hand instead of my right hand, as I do every day, is that “creative”?

I rarely think about creativity, as I long ago realized something about creativity that made me wary. Creativity claims to be your buddy, your pal… your roommate along the path to making cool shit. but creativity rarely keeps up his end of the bargain. He leaves the place a mess, hits on your girlfriend, steals your money and drinks your beer.

(more…)

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