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)

Myphotostream interface

Over the weekend I published a short review of MyPhotostream at TidBITS, a simple application on the Mac that lets you view your iCloud Photo Stream photos without having to open iPhoto or Aperture (the only official methods for viewing them on a Mac). I like the app’s approach, although it has some interface oddities. The fact that it exists in the first place is a sign that Apple’s photo situation is still currently a mess.

Read more here: View iCloud Photo Stream Photos on Your Mac with MyPhotostream.

If you like the work I do, please consider signing up for my low-volume newsletter that I use to announce new projects, items, and giveaways that I think my readers would be interested in.

Newyear better 01 paintedhills

I enjoyed writing this latest article for, which came about from a question asked by a friend. “What can I do to be a better photographer?” is something I think we all ask. The quick and easy answer is to buy a new camera, but that doesn’t necessarily make you a better photographer; it only takes better pictures. There’s a difference.

In the article, I offer some suggestions that focus more on how you see, versus which gear to buy. Read it here: How to Be a Better Photographer (Hint: It’s Not Your Camera).

Samples connected pse13

Looking for some quick, meaty information about both photo editing and security among Apple devices? Peachpit Press, the publisher for many of my books, posted excerpts from my two most recent books. These are full chapters, packed with a lot of useful information.

First up, from The Connected Apple Family (co-authored with Dan Moren), is Chapter 4, Passwords and Security. You’ll learn about using iCloud Keychain, 1Password, working with strong passwords, finding lost devices, and more.

“Security” used to refer solely to one’s physical safety, such as having good door locks and perhaps a home security system. But in our modern world of hacks and malware and phishing, security increasingly focuses on the important information stored on your computer and devices. You can take concrete steps to keep burglars out of your house, but if a malicious entity steals your credit card information—usually from a hacked retailer, not directly from you—your bank accounts could be drained without you even knowing about it.

Understand at the outset that we’re not going to sugarcoat security in this chapter. The days when you could choose a pet name as a password, or use the same password for more than one Web site or service, are long over. Security is now a fact of daily digital life.

The good news is, you’re not powerless against these threats. In fact, employing good passcodes, using the security features of iOS and OS X, and making a few smart decisions ahead of time goes a long way toward keeping you and your family members safe from technological threats.

Next, from Photoshop Elements 13: Classroom in a Book, comes Chapter 4, “Image Editing Basics for Photoshop Elements 13.” (Note that the excerpt does not include the image files for the lesson; those are available after you purchase the book.)

This lesson begins with an overview of the core concepts behind image correction, and then introduces a range of quick and easy techniques to help you get more from your photos in just a few clicks:

  • Making quick and easy edits in the Organizer
  • Batch-processing photos and using automatic fixes
  • Understanding the histogram, levels, and white balance
  • Making Quick Fix adjustments
  • Working in Guided edit mode
  • Applying editing presets selectively with the Smart Brush
  • Correcting an image using Smart Fix
  • Working with camera raw images

Both books’ chapters can also be downloaded as PDFs, so you can get a feel for what the book (or PDF ebook) looks like. Click one of the following:

Outthere 01 top

It’s the new year, are you making photography resolutions? (Besides 2048 x 1365 or similar, ha ha.) My editor at asked if I had any New Year’s article ideas and I was excited to write this one: “Want to Be a Better Photographer? Get Out There and Shoot.”

I know, I know, it sounds horribly clichéd, a point I acknowledge in the piece:

I knew that sounded like the most obvious, clichéd, bumper-sticker answer one could come up with. Just do it! Carpé diem! Seize the sunrise! All that.

But to be a better photographer, you’ve got to develop and nurture a photographer’s eye. And to do that, you need practice, which means going out and making photos.

My point, however, is that too often we limit ourselves by only waiting for the right opportunity to make photos. The camera sits unused until a vacation or photo workshop, or we don’t bother looking for interesting shots if the light isn’t just right.

Instead, we need to make photo opportunities, which can be done in our own backyards. The photos in the article were all taken either close to home (like the one above, shot during the fantastic window in the spring when the rhododendrons next to our house bloom) or in less-than-ideal conditions. This photo, for example, was made during a weekend at a beach house under gray, rainy conditions. (Oh, but that fog! I’ll endure almost anything for good fog.)

Outthere 04 grass fog

So, get past the initial skepticism of the cliché and make an image anywhere you are. The more photos you create, the better prepared you’ll be for when the great photo opportunities come up.

My latest column for the Seattle Times looks at power—specifically how I found a few gadgets useful during the holiday break for charging devices. I also mention the WD My Passport Wireless, which was quite useful for backing up the photos I captured while out of town.

Read it here: More device power and storage for 2015.

Cactus at the Getty

I’m having a great holiday outside my usual haunts, this time in sunny (but surprisingly chilly, by Southern California standards) Los Angeles. I’ve had several opportunities to capture photos, which is reinvigorating that part of my brain that’s spent far too much time this autumn and winter in front of computer screens and not enough behind a camera.

This photo was made at the Getty Museum, looking down from a terrace onto a large planted area. I could have spent an entire day at the Getty with my camera, and that doesn’t include going inside and viewing some of the artwork. I did catch a brief walk through the Josef Koudelka photo exhibit, and also browsed the impressionism room to see Monet and van Gogh. But mostly I took advantage of a beautiful day where you could look out over Century City and see downtown Los Angeles perfectly clear.

I’ll have more photos to post, certainly. I’m shooting more than I have time to review, which is a good thing. There are also work-related things I need to do (a newsletter update is long overdue, and I have new books just out), but for right now I’m recharging, spending time with immediate and extended family, and taking a long breath.

Christmas Silhouette

December 23, 2014 — Leave a comment

Teague and Austin Olympic Hotel

I spent part of today traveling to visit relatives for the holiday and part of it going over a photo shoot from last week. This photo was captured using pretty much just the light from the Christmas tree. A few small decorative garlands with lights were also set up, but this was in a big hotel ballroom, so they didn’t provide much illumination. I made the shot with a Fujifilm X-T1 at ISO 6400, using the Fujifilm XF 18-135mm lens at f/3.5.

I hope you’re enjoying the holiday as much as I am.

Carsons2After we mailed our holiday cards last year, my wife decided to order a stamp for our return address instead of printing and affixing stickers. The stamp arrived, we put it into a drawer, and forgot about it until it was time to do this year’s cards.

After we received our cards this time around, Kim stamped all the envelopes with our address, and also added postage. One day, while Ellie and I were signing the cards and putting them into the envelopes, I noticed what you’ve probably already seen in the image: Apparently we’re the “Carsons,” not the “Carlsons.”

Kim and I both remember proofing the form when we ordered the stamp, and we’re both certain it said “Carlsons.” So we suspect the manufacturer goofed, but since that was last year it’s not like we can complain.

So that left two choices: make an edit mark on all the envelopes to include the L, or send them as-is and see who notices. Of course we chose #2. As we anticipated, the most wordsmithy of our friends have been the first to notice.

Happy holidays from the “Carson-Carlsons!” Thank you for your friendship and joy.

Ellie in Snow

Carlsons xmas lights 2014 b

Macvoices family

Last week I appeared on Chuck Joiner’s excellent MacVoices podcast to talk about my latest book, co-written with Dan Moren, The Connected Apple Home: Discover the Rich Apple Ecosystem of the Mac, iPhone, iPad, and AppleTV. As always it was fun to be on Chuck’s show, and we talked about how Apple’s devices are converging with the latest releases of iOS and OS X.

I’ll have more to say about the book soon, but for a glimpse at what you’ll find, this podcast episode is a great introduction. Watch it here: MacVoices #14230: Jeff Carlson and Dan Moren Discuss The Connected Apple Family