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Go Take Pictures Newsletter

I'm making some changes around here and I'd love to tell you more about it.

When you have a space on the internet to call home, it makes sense to be a little particular about what you put there. I really want this to be a place that's timeless and distinctive. For this reason, I've found myself posting more photos with brief commentary and less about current events and gear. That wasn't always the case or even a concious decision, but a cursory glance through the posts of the past year doesn't feel too dated.

I've also been conscious about the stuff I link to. By definition, the links aren't mine, but this is my place on the web. If something is going to have a place here, It better have lasting value.

I write all this to let you know that I still want to share my thoughts and links about current and timely news, but I want to keep this place for my photos and my writing.

So, I'm starting a newsletter called Go Take Pictures and I'd love it if you would sign up. I'll also be posting to an accompanying site and there's also a twitter feed for those of you that like it that way. You can expect to see the newsletter arrive in your inbox on a regular basis with the same content going live on the site shortly after the newsletter is sent out. I'll be posting links to interesting things I come across that week, some of my long-form articles and I'd like to share my favorite photos from other photographers.

If this sounds like something that interests you, please do sign up!

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Surf and Adventure Photographer - Chris Burkard

Just this morning I came across a post on Brian Smith's Blog called-Masters of Photography: Adventure Photographer Chris Burkard . You've got to go visit the site and see some of Chris' work. It is some of the most beautiful imagery of nature and surfing I've ever seen. I love the color, and the way he captures the glow and power of the ocean. You can also go see a bunch more in his site- http://www.chrisburkard.com/

As I've mentioned a few times here on the site, I'm a pretty big fan of Sony E mount cameras and Chris is using pretty much the same camera bodies, but a whole ton of lenses as well.

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.

Stay Hungry

I love this paragraph from a recent post by John Carey on Fiftyfootshadows.net

Stay just hungry enough to know you love the taste of your favorite foods. Stay messy enough to know that perfection can never honestly be found. Stay cold enough to remember the comfort of being warm. Stay naive enough to feel disappointment. Stay calm enough to feel the rush of a surprise. Stay balanced, stay open to anything, and stay awake just long enough to fall back asleep.

Favorites list for 2012

It's only the second year I've written up a favorites list, but I have done it before, so I'll call it my 2nd annual danhawk.com favorites list.

1. Sony NEX 5N

If you visit my site even somewhat regularly, you already know that I use and love the Sony NEX 5N. I've owned a couple of film cameras and a couple of nice point-and-shoot camera over the years, but this is the first one that I've really loved to use. I really like the way that Sony approaches the feel and the overall direction for the NEX system. I've posted my own review and a bit about the lenses in the system. As I'm learning, a lot of the actual quality in fine photography is in the lenses, so number two has to be...

2. Sony E Mount 50mm F/1.8 OSS

I really love this lens. The Sony 50mm 1.8 more consistenly produces amazing images than any other lens I've tried. I've made it no secret that I'm strongly considering the new 35mm f/1.8, but the more I use this 50, the less I feel like giving it up.

3. iPhone 5

Looking through last year's list, I see that the 4S was on the list. It now feels like a pretty minor upgrade when compared to the jump forward in the iPhone 5. As always changes to the iPhone are incremental, but they did a couple things that were pretty big this year. Bigger Screen and thinner body. These changes make a lot of difference to me and make the iPhone 5 even nicer to use.

4. Retina iPad

There has been a lot of action this year with Retina screens, but the one that has been important to me is the New iPad (3). I've had a iPhone 4 since the day it was released and it was certainly nice, but the retina display on the New iPad is a game changer. My primary uses for it are reading and writing and the Retina display does this better than any other screen that I've seen.

5. iOS apps Darksky and Byword

As you can see from my last two favorites, I really like iOS devices. Part of what makes them so useful are the great apps that are available.

Byword

Byword is a writing app which is available on iPad, iPhone and on the Mac (which I'm using to write this post btw). One of the best features is the syncing between devices using either iCloud or Dropbox. I use Dropbox as it allows me access the files from just about anywhere. The other big thing is that it is really distraction free. It is just a screen with text. Simple. Markdown is supported which is great for drafting things that are intended for the internet.

Darksky

Living in Portland means that being aware of when it will rain is pretty important. Darksky is the perfect app if you live in the Northwest. It answers one basic question: Is it going to rain soon? I use this every day, often 4-5 times.

6. Squarespace

In August of this year I moved my site to Squarespace. It was on Wordpress.com before, but it just wasn't a great fit. Though the service was free, I had to pay to use my own domain and they started placing ads on my higher traffic posts. I decided it was time for a switch and that I was willing to pay a little to get what I wanted.

Squarespace is easy to use, looks great and they are incredibly responsive to support requests. They have a graphic system for building your site, a bunch of great templates, and their committment to keeping your site up even through acts of God is impressive.

7. Lightroom 4

I hit a spot this year with photography where iPhoto just wasn't cutting it anymore. Lightroom is the real deal. You can read more about why I use it here

8. Levi's Jeans

Last year, right at Christmas time I made a decision. Levi's are the only Jeans that I will wear going forward. They are the Gold Standard. I've had so many pairs of other jeans that have worn out in weird places, shrunk too much, lost color too quickly, or had the belt loops rip off. It's hard to go wrong with 501s, but my wife found the 569 style and they fit me perfectly. 2 pairs, and they both pretty much look brand new.

9. Reading long books with my sons

This year we read 4 Harry Potter books, The Hobbit and a couple books from the Chronicles of Narnia. Awesome! Lord of the Rings next? A lot of these have been driven by their desire to see the movies. I simply made it a rule that we had to read the book first.

10. Music and Movie

Music

John Mayer, Born & Raised- iTunes or the Actual Disc. I've been a long-time John Mayer fan. I own every album of his available and this is a really great addition. The quality songwriting, hooks and guitar work are all familiar, but there is a soul to this one that is new. It sounds like he has been studying The Eagles, and Neil Young as it has a 70's California Country vibe. My favorite track is probably A Face to Call Home. Go listen to this one end to end. I'm pretty sure you won't be disappointed.

Movie

I think I'm gonna have to go with Looper. Here is a trailer. I was just blown away by the completeness and originality of the story. There are certainly familiar storytelling elements and thematic elements that are common to time-travel based movies, but everything feels more raw. It is less sci-fi and more gangster. Less technical and more nuanced. Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are fantastic.


Of course the best things from this year are not things at all, but experiences, opportunities to grow, and of course, family. I'm a pretty lucky guy in that respect. My Kids are healthy, intelligent and happy. My wife and I are more in love than ever and it continues to surprise me how our love continues to grow and mature year after year.

I'm also thankful that so many of you follow what I'm doing here. I really love both photography and writing and when I look back over the year, I'm surprised at the growth, contemplative about what I could have done better, and proud of what I made.

Thanks for paying attention!

Gmail 2.0 for iPhone and iPad

If you are a Gmail user with an iPhone or iPad, you should download the new native Gmail 2.0 for iOS. It has a really nice visual design and does a couple things better than the native iOS Mail app.

Just like the standard web version of Gmail on the desktop, there is a dedicated Archive button right on each message. One of my biggest frustrations with Apple Mail is that when I want to archive a message (which I've already automatically tagged with a filter when it arrived), I have to choose the "move" navigation and then sort through folders to choose the folder/tag that this message already has already been given on Gmail's servers.

Threaded messages are displayed the same way they are on the Gmail web interface. I'm so used to this as it allows me to just view the whole thing in one fell swoop instead of opening each individual message separately to find the content I'm looking for.

Search is awesome. I'm not sure why the Apple mail app can't seem to actually search the Gmail server, but it can't. I easily pulled up a receipt from almost 3 years ago that I've never been able to retrieve using the native Mail app. I love this.

The push notifications are solid and I'm now using it for all my Gmail accounts.