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Photo: Rhubarb

I’ve been doing a photo project lately: I’ve been documenting my garden. I’ve been shooting plants, flowers, walls, sheds, trees, and more. I’m finding this to be very interesting, because there’s a wide variety of pictures you can shoot in a garden.

So here’s what a rhubarb plant looks like when its flowers are dying.

Link to full-size version.

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Tom Wolfe on the Great American Artist Marie Cosindas

She “got in with Polaroid” because [Ansel] Adams led her straight to Dr. Edwin Land, the inventor of Polaroid photography, then known as Polacolor. Dr. Land was looking for photographers to experiment with the novel process, and Marie Cosindas was one of 12 he chose. She turned out to be the only one who got it, i.e., how to turn Polaroid into a new art medium.

Fascinating story of the first Polaroid artist. Photographers today like to talk about “straight out of camera” shots, which aren’t Photoshopped, and Polaroid is the ultimate SOOC.

Source: Tom Wolfe on the Great American Artist Marie Cosindas

Bob Dylan: Conor McPherson on writing the musical – BBC News

Imagine you are approached by one of the world’s most famous musicians and asked to create a show using their songs.

But there is a problem. You’ve never written a musical before.

That was the challenge facing the Irish playwright Conor McPherson, when he was contacted by none other than Bob Dylan’s management company.

The writer, who is best known for his critically acclaimed play The Weir, says he was “puzzled” and has no idea why he was approached.

“And I don’t really want to know,” he adds.

I look forward to this. I have tickets for September.

Source: Bob Dylan: Conor McPherson on writing the musical – BBC News

Learn How to Work with the Cloud, in Take Control of the Cloud, Second Edition

Tc cloudTo some people, the Cloud is a hard concept to grasp; what does it mean exactly? For others, it’s the sheer complexity of the Cloud that is confusing; how to choose among the ever-increasing number of options. And for yet others, it’s the security of the Cloud that is a concern; do I need to worry that my data isn’t safe?

With Take Control of the Cloud, Second Edition, award-winning author Joe Kissell cuts through the confusion and gives his expert advice on how to make the Cloud work best for everyone, no matter their needs. From a detailed explanation of what the Cloud is, to his top picks for cloud products and services, to how to enhance privacy and security in the Cloud, Joe covers the topics that are crucial to a clear understanding of what the Cloud can (and can’t) do for you.

Cloud-related topics covered in the book include:

  • Basic concepts, like “cloud computing” and “personal cloud”
  • Storage
  • Syncing
  • Backups
  • Productivity apps
  • Entertainment apps
  • Virtual private servers
  • Computing engines
  • Privacy and security
  • Mobile devices
  • The personal cloud
  • Choosing cloud providers
  • The Internet of Things
  • Automation

As an added bonus, this new edition of the book includes a free webinar! Watch the presentation live and submit questions, or access the recording at a later date for advice and illustrations that go beyond the text of this book. (The webinar will be held twice—on July 6 and July 8, both at 10:00 AM PT.)

Get Take Control of the Cloud, Second Edition now.

Photography With Constraints

If you follow this website, you’ll see that I’ve been taking a lot of photos lately. I started shooting photos decades ago, back in the film days, then got a good digital camera a couple of years ago, and upgraded to a better camera recently (an Olympus Pen-F).

As I’ve been shooting photos with this camera – both around my home, and on a short trip we took this week – I’ve been trying to take pictures with constraints. I like black and white photos, and the camera has a number of interesting monochrome profiles, which I’ve been using. Setting a monochrome profile makes the image I see in the viewfinder black and white, which is interesting; I don’t view in color, and try to imagine how things will look later.

I’ve also taken to shooting in a square format, because having this type of constraint makes you think differently. It’s easy to shoot in the native 4:3 format – there’s plenty to crop – but if you shoot in a pre-defined format, then you have to think more about composition when you take a photo.

This morning, I chanced upon an article by photographer Eric Kim. In Why You Shouldn’t Go Into Debt For Your Photography, Kim explains how, at one point, gear was important to him, and how he went into debt (for a Leica, of course). He also mentions, later in the article, that:

… for me, the zen of one camera, one lens has helped me.

And this led me to another article on his site, 10 Reasons Why I Shoot With One Camera and One Lens, where he discusses using a fixed-lens camera with a fixed focal length. This sort of constraint is interesting. When I was shooting film, I only had one body and a few lenses, but only took one lens with me when I went most places. (And I didn’t own any zoom lenses.) Even the other day, on an overnight trip, with a stop-off at some old ruins, I only brought two lenses.

I took the above photo with my new Panasonic 20mm lens, which is really the ideal lens for walking around. It’s compact, and doesn’t get in the way. It takes sharp photos, and is fast. Since I got this lens – admittedly, after trying a few other lenses – I’ve found the one that works best for me, and I think that, in the future, I’ll be shooting most of my photos with this lens. (Note that I did crop the above photo; I shot it in square, but given that the sky was uniform gray, the top of the photo needed to be removed. And, anyway, the composition is better like this.)

I did, however, also bring my Olympus 45mm lens, which allowed me to get this picture:

There are times when you need a longer lens, and if I hadn’t had this lens, I probably wouldn’t have taken any photos of this interesting iron bridge. The sky was a uniform gray, which is incredibly boring behind something like this.

Kim’s one camera/one lens setup isn’t fancy; it’s a compact camera, the Ricoh GR II (, Amazon UK). Since he mostly does street photography, that’s a great choice, but it’s not for me. I want something that’s a bit more flexible, and especially that has a viewfinder. I can’t shoot photos looking at an LCD panel, but that’s because I learned how to shoot on an SLR.

No matter, the one camera/one lens philosophy is a great idea. As Kim points out in his article, it lets him focus on taking pictures rather than using gear. Sure, additional lenses are great for those times when you’ve planned to shoot something particular, but if you just take your camera with you on a wander to shoot, don’t weigh down your bag, or your pockets, with extra gear.

Sometimes, less choice means more freedom.

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Writings about Macs, music, and more by Kirk McElhearn