Nerdery

40

  1. Film photography seems mysterious now that we all have a (relatively) high resolution digital camera in our pockets. It's not.

  2. Every year brings new kinds of soreness.

  3. I'm getting more and more frustrated with notifications coming from my phone.

  4. Losing a dog is hard. Walking your family through it is even harder.

  5. The behavior and personality of your dog says a lot about you. They're a pretty good mirror.

  6. The difference between things that last a lifetime and things that last a couple years is vast.

  7. I have no use for drama. Drama is a show, and most often is intended to manipulate someone or something.

  8. For a long time I felt like I could get by with less sleep but now I'm pretty sure I was wrong.

  9. Raising a puppy is more work than I remember. I hope I remember what worked and what was a waste of time next time around.

  10. Some people are leavers.

  11. I'm pretty sure my chicken scratch handwriting isn't going to get better. I've always been envious of people with neat handwriting. I worked on it for awhile, but it hasn't made any difference.

  12. I've noticed a pattern in my hairstyles. It changes about every ten years. This was one of those years. I went back to my style from 1985ish.

  13. It is currently popular to add features to digital photos that come from either age or wear. This feels like a lie to me.

  14. Delete all presets that include fades or light leaks.

  15. For me, healthy eating revolves around discipline at lunch. I already eat breakfast religiously, but lunch is where I lose it.

  16. I love music, but this stage in my life is one without a dedicated stereo or time to just sit and listen. It's all headphones when I run or the tinny built in speaker on my phone at work.

  17. I have a few items of clothing that are older than my kids.

  18. I love the idea of "One Lens - One Body" but I never quite get there.

  19. I regularly get into conversations with adults that are half my age and unfamiliar with my cultural references.

  20. There are a lot of musical acts based on a persona and the music feels like an afterthought.

  21. I have no use for Lady Gaga or Kanye West (See Above).

  22. Artificial Sweeteners are dead to me.

  23. So is Turkey Bacon.

  24. I'm really glad we have no food allergies in our house.

  25. I've mentioned in the past that I'm a creature of habit, but I could literally eat a couple eggs every morning and be completely happy.

  26. Good coffee made well should be consumed without additives. Mediocre coffee benefits from cream and sometimes sugar.

  27. There are two color suits you need. Charcoal and Navy.

  28. My favorite coffee mug is big, sloppy and says "Hot Coffee" on the side.

  29. I've been an adult 4 years more than I was a kid.

  30. The nature of fear changes as you get older.

  31. Being a grown-up sucks because you can't blame your kids for not doing their own laundry.

  32. I've finally stopped choosing carbonated beverages when going out to dinner.

  33. Big ice cubes are better than small ones in your booze.

  34. My favorite is Bourbon.

  35. It's amazing how well cloud based data works most of the time, but also sad how completely it fails.

  36. I'm a big fan of declaring email bankruptcy every so often...or at least zeroing out the inbox.

  37. Don't underestimate the sound you can get from a good guitar plugged directly into a good amp.

  38. With all the computers around these days, it's really cool to use a completely mechanical machine.

  39. Family is everything. I know that sounds like something a mobster says, but my wife and kids are who I am.

  40. I became who I am slowly over time and any further change will take awhile too.

Gear (aka- I Just Bought a New Camera)

 

Gear.

I'll start this with a preface- Gear doesn't make the good photos- your vision is responsible for that. By now, you have heard this plenty of times so there's your reminder and lets just leave it at that.

Another thing that I have found to be true - There is great enjoyment that comes from using great cameras, lenses, film and software.

I also believe in balance. I don't believe in hanging on to gear I don't use so any piece that I add better be efficient and hold its own.

There are so many different types of camera kits out there and I've come to a personal preference - at least for this time during my photographic journey. The way I see it, here are the types:

  • Phone camera
  • Compact Point and Shoot
  • Enthusiast Compact
  • Interchangeable Lens Mirrorless
  • Full Frame Mirrorless
  • DSLR with Pentaprism
  • Leica Rangefinder
  • Medium Format

  • Film versions of all of these

Here's what I'm using: I shoot very casually with my iPhone. My dedicated cameras over the last few months have been a Interchangeable lens Mirrorless model and a vintage film SLR. They are roughly the same size, and size is a major factor in why I've chosen them.

As of today the Sony NEX 7 and the Sony Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 is my main kit. It’s a great 35mm equivalent set up. It allows me to know that there is literally no better lens I could put on my camera and very few Crop sensors that will give better performance. In fact, 1 year ago, the only way to get better technical images was to move to a Nikon D800- or perhaps a Sony RX-1. I also regularly use the Sony 50mm f/1.8 and the Sony kit zoom lens when my 24 just isn't wide enough.

I also use a 35mm film Olympus OM-1 that -as far as I can tell- was made when I was about 4 years old. My favorite lens is a wide angle 24mm, f/2.8. On this camera the 24 has a wider field of view as it is projecting the image onto a 135mm "full frame" of film. The Sony uses a sensor that is smaller, so the image from the same focal length is smaller.

Today I have two choices that I’ve been contemplating.

Smaller

First of all, I love this focal length. For that reason, I’ve been considering the Fujifilm X100S. It has the same 35mm equivalent focal length and the same size APS-C sensor as my NEX 7. There are so many people that are absolutely in love with the Fujifilm cameras for their handling, and the rendering of the X-Trans Sensor. The X100s' fixed lens design makes it significantly smaller than my Sony combo, which makes a compelling argument for getting one. It will fit right into my daily bag or jacket pocket without the need for a case.

There is the thought that the Fuji might make my current kit sort of redundant and that one of them would get far less use.

Full Frame

I really like the Sony camera line, the feel in hand and the photo making process with my NEX. I know that the Sony A7 full frame will be a natural and familiar upgrade path and will give even greater low-light, shallow depth of field and weather proof(ish) performance. The A7 body is about $400 more than the X100s, but that doesn't include lenses that will cover the full frame sensor.

The A7 would mean a move to a new lens or set of lenses that are large enough to cover the full frame sensor. I can use my current NEX lenses with it, but they would work in crop mode, giving significantly lower resolution than on my NEX 7 and negating some of the benefits of the larger sensor. That means that even after I save up the money to purchase this body, it will work best with my older manual OM lenses until I can afford to purchase an FE prime. I could sell some or all of my current E mount lenses ( 50mm f/1.8, kit 18-55, Zeiss 24, f/1.8) to buy one of the FE Zeiss lenses or a manual focus Voigtlander Prime.

Both

Both of these cameras serve different purposes. Because I feel so strongly about Sony as a company and an innovator, I think that I’ll likely move to the A7 (or more likely its successor) kit eventually. To me, the image quality and the raw malleability and information contained in the files is astounding. It is the way of the future. Although the pocketable Fuji kit is a little redundant paired with my NEX 7, it is a good compliment to the full-frame A7. So, it really comes down to strategy.

For now, I've decided to wait on the Sony Full frame upgrade and add the Fujifilm X100S. In fact I ordered it last Saturday and it arrived 2 days ago.

 

The Internet is a Utility

Sometimes I wish I had some huge platform that would make a difference so I could scream this stuff and actually change the way things are. I don't think I can say it any clearer than Nilay Patel-

THE INTERNET IS A UTILITY, JUST LIKE WATER AND ELECTRICITY

Go ahead, say it out loud. The internet is a utility...

It’s time to just end these stupid legal word games and say what we all already know: internet access is a utility. A commodity that should get better and faster and cheaper over time. Anyone who says otherwise is lying for money.

Always With the New...

 

I'm the type of person that always wants to know about whatever is new. You could say this tendency or habit is cultural or perhaps learned, but either way, I have it. There are so many websites and industries built upon these values and I've had this growing uncomfortableness with how inevitable it all feels.

 Fig. A Spartus Alarm Clock Radio Circa 1979-84

Fig. A Spartus Alarm Clock Radio Circa 1979-84

 Fig B. Emerson Research Alarm Clock circa 2007

Fig B. Emerson Research Alarm Clock circa 2007

In some areas of life it's much easier to ignore. For instance- I have been using the same bed side clock for 6 and a half years. Before that, I had the same one for almost 25 years (Fig A.) and I've now moved it to my daughter's room. (I'd call them alarm clocks, but I haven't used the alarm since 2007 when I started using the alarm on my iPhone.) The new(er) one (Fig. B) even has some sort of fancy feature that adjusts for daylight savings time and resets itself after power outages. What's crazy is that I really don't care about the extra features as the old one was working just fine. In fact, the only reason I got a new one was because we couldn't find the old one after a move.

Contrast the above with cameras, computers and phones. There are rumor sites dedicated to leaking even the smallest of details about the newest tech right around the corner. I have, at numerous times over the past few years, found myself checking certain sites or subscribing to them even when I'm clearly not in need of anything new. So Stupid.

Lately I've been trying to really consider the usefulness of each item I own and even the wisdom in keeping things that I don't use often. I've done this a few times over the years and have paired down different areas of my life, but I'm hoping to zero in on a more long-term solution.

One particular camera review site recently took heat from a bunch of its readers over a review and it got my friend Roger and I talking about this stuff. The obvious errors made him feel like not visiting the site anymore and I commented that I found its extremely detailed reviews useful when I had bought a couple cameras over the years, but though we both acknoweldged its usefullness for this purpose, we were still going there and looking all the time.

That's the thing though. It's hard to stop looking. What if something new comes out and I'm not paying attention? What if I spend my hard earned money on a new gadget only to have a new one come out next week making mine obsolete? What if the new one is 50% faster than mine or has bettter connectivity, or a better interface? What if something new arrives on the scene and I'm not an early adopter?

Quite simply, something new being revealed doesn't make mine any less capable or my life any less full.

How many times have you heard this?

Do you actually believe it? I say that I believe it, but I still find myself inexplicably drawn to rumor sites, camera stores, and tech websites. There is always something new.

I recently read something written by Greg Storey that feels spot on-

The discovery of new things is a lot of fun, but I'm feeling the need for fewer options, fewer distractions. It's time to put less emphasis on discovery and more on appreciation and application. From here on out I'm going to look at my home, my life, like a museum values their permanent collection. Everything will be considered for how it works in the existing collection, the existing ecosystem.

Man, that sounds like a good idea.

 

On "Rate This App" Popups

 

There's been a conversation over the last few weeks, prompted by John Gruber's post suggesting that he had considered encouraging his readers to leave 1 star reviews everytime an app displays a "Rate this App" Dialogue. It sure has stirred up a ton of debate as developers say that it's a necessary evil as the ongoing profitability of their business is closely related to app store reviews.

On the most recent episode of John's podcast with guest Daniel Jalkut, they further defined the reason why these popups are so frustrating for users. They just aren't about the user. You know- the person who installed, and perhaps even paid money for the app. Love this commentary by Marco-

I’d go further than Gruber’s moderate stance on The Talk Show. I think even interrupting people once with these is too much. I’m strongly against them — to me, they’re spam, pure and simple. They’re as intrusive as a web popup ad, they betray a complete lack of respect for users, and they make their apps’ developers look greedy and desperate.

I've felt a disdain for "Rate this App" popups since the first time I saw one. I'd go leave bad reviews but I don't want to spend time doing that any more than I want to deal with the popup.

I don't know if my behavior is normal, but I just don't leave very many reviews and I don't feel like they are necessary or all that useful with a couple exceptions. I've left a couple reviews to warn people when an app is broken or doesn't do what it says it does. I don't pay much attention to piles of overly positive reviews, but I've noticed a direct correlation between a lot of negative reviews and problems with usability.

In other words, I don't use app store ratings to choose apps, I use them to give me a final yea or nay before purchasing or downloading. So, I find the argument that the incessant quest for app ratings is necessary, kind of ridiculous.

Trying to secure more reviews, in a terribly curated and poorly indexed store isn't the way. If that's what it's come to, you need a better marketing strategy. A well designed app, a good reputation and word of mouth is the way to reach clients who appreciate these things and are willing to pay for it.