Apple introduced a new commercial during the Oscars that touts the iPad as a video capture and editing platform. A voiceover by Martin Scorcese talks about being creative in a practical, this-is-work way.

I never like the inspirational value of that phrase. Dreaming is a way of trivializing the process, the obsession that carries you through the failure as well as the successes which could be harder to get through…

Painters, dancers, writers, filmmakers, it’s the same for all of you, all of us. Every step is a first step, every brush stroke is a test, every scene is a lesson, every shot is a school. So, let the learning continue.

According to Mashable, the ad was also shot using an iPad Air 2. The students in the commercial employ a lot of other gear such as dollies and mounts, but all the footage is captured using the iPad.

People mock the iPad as a photography tool (I had this conversation with some friends just yesterday, in fact), but more and more people are ignoring that bias and using them for photos and video. The large screen of an iPad is a great viewfinder for capturing video, and the latest iPad can record 30 fps 1080p HD video.

Even if the students eventually graduate up to much more expensive RED cameras or other gear, they’re still cutting their teeth using iPads and iPhones. We might look back at this era and see the iPad as the equivalent to 16mm handheld cameras used a generation ago to hone the talents of filmmakers like Scorsese, Spielberg, Lucas, and countless others.

iPad and iPhone Video(Interested in iOS filmmaking? I go into plenty of detail about how to shoot and edit video using Apple devices in my book iPad and iPhone Video: Film, Edit, and Share the Apple Way!)

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Acf intro top

I’ve mentioned my latest book in a few earlier posts, but allow me to formally introduce it: The Connected Apple Family: Discover the Rich Apple Ecosystem of the Mac, iPhone, iPad, and AppleTV, coauthored with Dan Moren, is available now in print and as an ebook! Click here to order the book for as low as $22 for the print edition. If you order through Peachpit directly, use the discount code APPLEHOME to get 35% off (applies to print and ebook versions, even a bundle that includes both).

Despite the long search-engine-friendly subtitle, just what is The Connected Apple Family? It’s an acknowledgment that our Apple devices no longer exist as separate entities, and a guide to making them work together in the best ways.

With the releases of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite last year, Apple has brought Macs, iPhones, and iPads closer together. The new Continuity features like Handoff and the ability to take phone calls on any device make them part of an ecosystem (or geekosystem as one friend pointed out) that are stronger when used together.

Caf security ch4

For example, the book contains an entire chapter about security that isn’t just a rehash of the oft-ignored advice to “choose a good password.” Using iCloud Keychain, you can create secure passwords that are automatically copied to your other devices; the next time you log in to a secure Web site, your iPhone already knows your password, even though you set it up on your Mac.

Caf interior security

We also go into detail about the utility 1Password, which adds more security and convenience to the mix. (Did you know you can safely share groups of passwords with other users? It’s in the book.)

The “family” in the title is partly inspired by Apple’s new Family Sharing features, where you can create a group of Apple IDs that share the same music, videos, and apps library and offer parental features like requiring approval before a child purchases an app or song. (“Family,” of course applies to any shared group, and not necessarily a traditional nuclear family.) We also detail how to share essential information such as calendars and contacts among people and devices.

Caf interior ch2 open

Dan and I use Apple technologies almost as much as we breathe, so know that you’re getting top-tier advice from experts. (And let me also add that Dan is a fantastic writer and co-author, if you’re looking for someone for projects.)

The book’s 204 pages are illustrated with lots of full-color photos and screenshots to make everything clear. To get a better sense, feel free to download a sample chapter as a PDF. You can also read the chapter online in a Web browser, if you prefer.

Or, how about getting a free copy? To celebrate the release, I’m giving away an ebook copy to two readers of my free low-volume newsletter! Sign up here. I’ll choose two names at random on Monday, February 23 from the list of subscribers—if you already get the newsletter, you’re already eligible.

[Update: The names have been randomly selected, and I’ve sent emails to the two lucky subscribers!]

Remember, you can buy it from Peachpit directly at 35% off if you use the discount code APPLEHOME. It’s also a great guide to give as a gift to someone who wants to better use their connected devices. We hope you check it out and enjoy the book!

Photos osx 04 editing

Do you use iPhoto or Aperture to manage your photos on a Mac? In my latest article for, I look at what you need to start considering as Apple shifts to the new Photos for OS X application (currently available as a preview version for developers). I talk about the iCloud aspect of the photo ecosystem and bring up conversion issues to keep in mind when the app ships in the spring.

Read it here: Photos for OS X: What You Need to Know. articles don’t include comments, but you can post them to Facebook here or comment below if you have questions or feedback for me.

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Hiremodel 01 smg model wall sm

One of the model walls at SMG (Seattle Models Guild)

One of the best things about being a freelance writer and photographer is being able to get paid to track down answers to my own questions. Recently I wondered what’s involved in hiring a model for a photo shoot. I’ve not found myself in that situation, so I pitched the idea to my wonderful editor at

The result is my latest article for, which was fun to investigate and write. As you might expect, the steps for hiring a model depend a lot on the budget and scope of your photo shoot.

Read the article here: How to Hire a Model for a Photo Shoot. And if you feel so inclined, comment below or see the Facebook post about the article at the account.

While everyone was focused on the news of the new Photos for OS X developer preview, Adobe released a very interesting update to Lightroom mobile, its mobile companion to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

In previous versions of the app, there was a truly hidden, super powerful editing feature: not only could you copy adjustments made on the device between images, you could also copy adjustments made in the desktop Lightroom application. So, for example, if you’d applied a graduated filter on the desktop to an image and synced that image to Lightroom mobile, copying its adjustments to another photo also added the graduated filter—even though Lightroom mobile doesn’t offer a graduated filter tool. (See item #4, Copy Adjustments Between Photos, in this article of Lightroom mobile tips published at a few months ago.)

Lightroom mobile 1.3 takes that one step further by enabling copying of adjustments in a more granular way. You can choose to copy only one type of edit and paste it. And that includes settings like Lens Corrections.

Watch the following video by Adobe’s Russell Brown to see the feature in action. It’s wonderfully cool.

Adobe Lightroom Mobile 1.3.0 from Russell Brown on Vimeo.

Photos osx web title

Less than a week after scrubbing all mention of the new Photos for OS X app from its Web site, Apple has re-introduced the new software with a splash. A pre-release version is currently available to developers, bundled with a beta of OS X 10.10.3 (you need to install the system update to get the Photos app). The finished software is expected in the spring.

I haven’t had a chance to run the software yet, but several media outlets got an advanced look. I recommend starting with Chris Breen’s excellent overview at Macworld. David Pogue at Yahoo talks about switching from iPhoto and Aperture. And Wired and The Verge also have first-look articles.

[Update: Serenity Caldwell has given it a once-over and has a great FAQ at iMore.]

Some quick takeaways:

  • Switching from existing iPhoto and Aperture libraries looks to be less terrible than it could be; Photos won’t dupe your images, but will work with your existing library.
  • Photos for OS X is reportedly very fast. After iPhoto and Aperture sluggishness, I’m thrilled to hear it.
  • The new app, at least initially (?), won’t include support for star ratings or labels. Instead, there will be just a single “Favorite” button, as is found in the Photos for iOS app. As you know from my book Take Control of Your Digital Photos, I’m a big fan of using ratings to organize photos. In their place, the Photos app will convert ratings to keywords (which is one method I recommend when moving from iPhoto to Lightroom). So, that’s something, I guess.
  • You will be able to sync your photo library with iCloud, but it won’t be required. We don’t yet know if there will be a local backup option akin to Aperture’s vaults. (I’m guessing the answer is no, at least not at first.)
  • The appearance, organization, and editing tools are very similar to the Photos for iOS app.
  • Photos also supports projects like photo books and slideshows.

I’m looking forward to installing the app and throwing some libraries at it, both because I’m updating Take Control of Your Digital Photos and because I’m also working on a new book for Peachpit Press covering the Photos app and Apple’s photo ecosystem.

It’s going to be a busy winter and spring.

Branches and Rust

February 4, 2015 — 1 Comment

Branches and Rust
(Click to view the image larger at Flickr.)

This old wooden warehouse at the southeast edge of Lake Union is covered in vines and branches, currently bare for the winter. In an area where a lot of development is ongoing (a big portion of is located there now), this rustic patch is a nice surprise.

I cropped the image as a square anticipating I’d publish it to my Instagram feed (go subscribe if you don’t already), but then ended up preferring that aspect ratio for the version uploaded to Flickr, too. I’m still getting used to framing photos to fit the content, and not just sticking to the camera’s default size. It’s quite freeing, and lets me concentrate on the image itself instead of trying to shoehorn a particular dimension.

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Alone on the Top

(Click to view the image larger at Flickr.)

You wouldn’t know it from this photo, but the chimpanzee area at the Los Angeles Zoo was teeming with activity when I visited shortly before Christmas. I believe this fella was upset about something and chasing others around before he retired to this high perch. I couldn’t resist capturing this shot with the sun illuminating him against the beautiful rock face.

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While Apple was announcing its record-breaking quarterly financial results (not just breaking its own records, but earning $74.6 billion, the most revenue of any company in any quarter in history), elves at the Apple site were busy.

According to 9to5 Mac, there’s now no mention of the successor to iPhoto and Aperture on Apple’s Web site.

Has the application been delayed? Shelved? Is Apple on the verge or releasing it and we’re seeing the preparation for new information to appear? I don’t know. I’ve reached out to my PR contacts at Apple to see if they can shed light on the situation.

But I’m certainly curious.

Chris Breen at Macworld posted a useful article about how to remove duplicates and get rid of bad photos from an out of control iPhoto library. With the Photos for OS X app expected sometime this year, now’s a good a time as any to clean up before the transition.

Read it here: Cull iPhoto library of duplicates and bad photos (Macworld)