Adobe post seatimes

My latest column for the Seattle Times looks at two iOS apps that bring creativity to anyone. Adobe Post combines text and photos in a way that doesn’t require knowing how to use Photoshop or any other image editor, and is tailored for social sharing on networks like Instagram and Facebook (the image at the top of this post is an example from Post). I also look at Apple’s new Music Memos app, which is designed for musicians to capture their ideas in a surprisingly sophisticated way—but can also be useful for non-musicians like me.

Apple’s oldest guiding principle has been that its products can be used by anyone. Even the earliest kits Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak sold out of that fabled garage were designed to make it easier for hobbyists to assemble their own computers without having to solder every part.

That spirit continues in many ways throughout the Apple ecosystem today. A couple of recent iOS apps have caught my eye for the way they make complicated tasks easy for everyday folks.

Read it here: Photo, music creativity in reach with new apps.

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The ever-gracious Chuck Joiner and I sat down to talk about Apple Watch: A Take Control Crash Course v1.2 recently, covering topics such as the strengths and weaknesses of the Apple Watch almost a year in, which important changes are in watchOS 2, and why I updated the book. Watch or listen to it here: MacVoices #16059: Jeff Carlson Updates His Apple Watch Crash Course.

Seattle Stadium Reflection

CenturyLink Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Sounders, is reflected in a new glass building with cool, funky architecture. Smith Tower, which at one point was the tallest building west of the Mississippi, is at left.

Best viewed large. Captured using a Fujifilm X-T1. Processed in Lightroom and Aurora HDR.

(I wrote the book on Aurora HDR! See Photoversity.com.)

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I’m excited to announce that Take Control Books has just published my update to Apple Watch: A Take Control Crash Course. Version 1.2 is now fully updated to cover watchOS 2 and the various improvements rolled into the watch’s operating system (see below).

Although the book required a fairly substantial refresh, we’re offering it as a free update for current owners: click the Ebook Extras button on the cover to view the title on the Web and download the updated version in the column at left.

If you don’t yet own it, the book is just $10. When you buy it, you get PDF, EPUB, and Mobi (Kindle) versions so you can read it on any electronic device you own.

Watch cc sample1 
Watch cc sample2

And here’s a little behind-the-scenes fun: When we published the 1.0 version of the book, the Apple Watch had only been announced, which meant I had to use screenshots from Apple’s Web site and from video of the introduction event in sections of the book. Because of that, Apple rejected the title when we submitted it to the iBooks Store. In this new edition, I’ve removed all of those images and recreated new ones in their places, such as the photos in the example pages above. There’s nothing like convincing your wonderful but very sleepy wife to pretend she’s going out for a jog at 11:00 PM and turn your living room into an impromptu photo studio.

I hope you enjoy this update. I wear my Apple Watch every day and find it extremely useful, and I’m eager to share my enthusiasm.

Here’s what’s new in version 1.2 (from the book):

The Apple Watch has received its first major software update, watchOS 2, with improvements in many areas. I’ve updated the book to include new information:

  • Native apps: Under watchOS 2, developers can write apps that run natively on the watch itself, which in some (but not all) cases translates to faster load times and additional features.
  • Look ahead: You can now see the future as you turn the Digital Crown and view the complications on your watch face. I talk about this in Look Ahead with Time Travel.
  • New faces: Choose from a selection of time-lapse animations or use your own photos as the backdrop. See Personalize the Apple Watch Face.
  • Wake up: Your watch can now behave more like a bedside clock with Nightstand Mode.
  • Digital Touch colors: Send your digital touch drawings using multiple colors in Connect with Friends Using Digital Touch.
  • More friends: You can now have more than one screen of friends available through the Friends button. I describe how to add friends, and move friends from screen to screen in Edit the Friends Screen.
  • Transit on the map: If you happen to be in a city that Apple provides public transportation directions for, you can overlay that transit information over the Map app. See Viewing a Transit Overlay.
  • Foiling thieves: A new feature in watchOS 2, Activation Lock, allows you to disable your watch if, for instance, it has been stolen, making it impossible for anyone to use it unless they know your Apple ID credentials. To find out how this works, read Before the Watch Is Lost or Stolen.
  • Face time: In addition to having the screen remain on for 15 seconds after you raise your wrist, you can now specify that the screen remain active for 75 seconds. This will use more battery, but may make your watch more fun to use, especially if you often demo it. For configuration steps, read Wake Screen on Wrist Raise. Also see Stay Awake Longer.
  • Wallet: The Passbook app is now called Wallet. It still works in the same way, making it convenient to show any barcoded ticket or loyalty card from your wrist. It’s convenient to pay for coffee, get in to a movie or concert, or board a plane with a quick scan of your wrist. See Use Apple Pay and Wallet.
  • Editorial adjustments: Now that the Apple Watch is readily available, I’ve removed the chapter about competing watches. However, the information about activity trackers is now in Exercise with the Apple Watch. I’ve also split the former, lengthy “Communicate with Friends” chapter into two shorter chapters, Communicate with Friends and Communicate Using Mail.

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Believe.

Realizing that we haven’t explored enough of our city, my family and I decided to spend our Saturday afternoon in the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle. It’s an older section of the city, with mixed industrial and residential areas, and lots of architectural character. One stretch features a renaissance of restaurants and shops, including a parking lot that includes the Georgetown Trailer Park Mall.

As I was photographing the Airstream trailer in the background, I was initially annoyed that someone’s umbrella had pushed into my frame. But when I looked up I realized a better scene had presented itself. I stepped back a few steps (I was shooting with a fixed 50mm lens), refocused, and grabbed a few shots while this man warmed up next to the burning barrel. Thank you, dear sir, for making a static image much more interesting. And for reminding me to not get so locked into making one photo that I miss spontaneous opportunities.

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Tc 1password 2ed

One of my favorite and most-used Mac utilities received a major update this week. I rely on 1Password practically every day on my Mac, iPhone, and iPad to securely store all of my passwords, credit card details, and other essential information. Even better, 1Password 6 for Mac is a free update for owners of versions 4 and 5.

The best part, though, is that Joe Kissell has updated his ebook, Take Control of 1Password, Second Edition. Want to know how to make the most of the new 1Password for Teams feature, understand how to use vaults, or just learn how to create, store, and sync strong passwords? Joe’s book delivers. Buy it today for $15. If you already own the previous edition, click the Check for Updates link for details on upgrading.

If history is a guide, Apple won’t start announcing new products for a couple of months, so in the meantime, I’ve offered a host of tips for Mac, iPhone/iPad, Apple TV, and Apple Watch in my latest Practical Mac column for the Seattle Times: Start the year with these Apple polishing tips.

IPad Pro with SD Adapter top

The iPad Pro has a lot going for it, so I took a look specifically in terms of how it can be used by photographers for a new article at Macworld: How the iPad Pro Stacks Up as a Photographer’s Tool.

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Imore ahd excerpt

The good folks at iMore have just published an excerpt from my book, Aurora HDR and Aurora HDR Professional: A Photoversity Guide! If you’re looking for a good overview of the software, and a more in-depth taste of what the ebook offers, go read it now: How to create HDR photos with Aurora HDR [book excerpt].

Included in the article is information on importing brackets (multiple exposures), having fun with presets, and using layers and masks.

Aurora07

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My last Practical Mac column for 2015 is up at The Seattle Times, where I wrap up the flurry of software and accessory releases that Apple pushed out this month. Then, I look ahead to some relaxing time over the holidays by recommending some games—on the iPad, iPhone, and Apple TV—that I’ve enjoyed.

Read it here: Key Apple updates to note, then it’s time to play games!