Wispy Shilshole Sunset

While shooting the sunset the other night, I tried out the fairly-new HDR capture mode in Lightroom mobile on my iPhone 7. Consider me impressed! The app snaps three photos and merges them together right there, creating a DNG (Adobe’s “digital negative” format) with lots of image information for editing. I’m generally wary of in-camera HDR processing, because with most cameras you end up with just a JPEG that doesn’t give you as much editing capability later.

The initial shot looked great, and I tweaked it slightly, also in Lightroom mobile on my iPhone. In fact, the only time the image went beyond the phone was when I checked it using the large screen of my MacBook Pro; since I saved the capture to a synced collection, the photo was waiting for me in Lightroom. Be sure to click the photo to view it larger at Flickr.

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Shilshole Evening

After many days of rain, this weekend the sun reappeared and presented an opportunity for me to shoot a sunset. I also had some camera testing to do (more on that later), so I grabbed a coffee and headed down to Shilshole Marina for some sailboats and sky photography. The temperature dropped quickly once the sun dipped, turning my flat white to an iced coffee, but it turned out to be a nice evening out. This is an HDR made in Lightroom from three brackets. (Click the photo to view it larger at Flickr.)

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Do you find that you’re the “photo guy” or “photo gal” in many group situations because you happen to be the one taking the most pictures? (Spoiler: I do.) In my latest Practical Mac column for The Seattle Times, I go over the ways to share those photos with other people, from iCloud Shared Libraries to uploading to Dropbox or Adobe Creative Cloud.

As a bonus, I also pass along a pointer to Kirk McElhearn’s excellent advice for preventing videos from auto-playing in Web browsers.

Read the Seattle Times column here: 4 ways to share groups of photos on the Mac and iOS.

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Tom Negrino

Do you have any friends that live impossible distances away, that you interact with maybe a couple of times a year, and yet when you do get together it’s as if you’d seen them just the other day? I hope you do.

My long-distance friend Tom Negrino is choosing to die this week after a long, cancerous slide past the point where living has any meaning. And I don’t say that lightly or glibly, as if the misfortune of illness is reason enough to chuck it all in. For all the time I’ve known him, he’s walked with a cane, but I learned only a few years ago that it’s because he was born with spina bifida. As his wife Dori Smith said in an article about Tom’s choice, “When he was born, in the 1950s, only one out of 10 people born with spina bifida lived and of those, only one out of 10 ever walked. Tom was in the 1 percent who lived and walked.”

So imagine an entire life of physical pain and difficulty, and then top it with kidney cancer that was removed in 2010 and that reappeared everywhere in 2014. I honestly cannot imagine it.

I got to know Tom as a fellow technology book writer for Peachpit Press and frequent Macworld magazine contributor. We shared the best book editor in the world, Nancy Davis, and lamented when she was promoted out of a position where she was personally editing titles (although she’d sometimes make time to edit our books for a short while).

Most of our time spent together in person was at Macworld Expo, where at parties we’d nestle into a booth at an invariably-too-loud-for-conversation venue, and talk about business, personal stuff, whatever. Occasionally he’d call me out of the blue to talk about rates and contract items and other miscellaneous topics that working writers share. And I still remember a sunny lunch with Tom and Dori in their home town of Healdsburg when he spilled the beans that two other friends in the area, who I knew had known each other for years, had begun dating (hi Toby and Jim!).

The last time I saw Tom and Dori was at the final Macworld conference in 2014. Not having that type of large nexus for like-minded geeks to coalesce has been unfortunate, but I’m sure that if Tom wasn’t ill and we ran into each other today, our conversation would be just like picking up on the previous ones.

Peace and good rest, Tom.

[For other tributes and rememberances of Tom, please take the time to read those by Adam Engst, Andy Ihnatko, John Moltz, and Jason Snell.]

Talking about the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar on the MacJury podcast last week brought up battery life and how initially the new machines suffered from a problem where the discrete graphics processor (GPU) was running when it shouldn’t. A system update fixed that problem, but sometimes an application might be forcing the GPU into use, even in the background.

For TidBITS this week, I wrote a short article explaining how to determine which applications are using significant energy, and how to tell whether the discrete GPU is in use instead of the power-saving integrated graphics. This advice applies to any Mac laptop with a secondary GPU, not just the Touch Bar models.

Read it here: How to Identify High-Performance GPU Apps on the MacBook Pro

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I had great fun talking about the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar on Chuck Joiner’s MacJury podcast. Together with Jeff Gamet and Dr. Robert Carter, we discussed which aspects we liked about Apple’s latest laptop—more than I expected—and which things still warrant attention. One thing I learned was how great the Touch Bar can be for people with limited vision who use VoiceOver. Be sure to tune in at 36:30 to learn how Robert takes advantage of it!

MacVoices #17077: The MacJury Goes In Depth on the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

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Jeff carlson berryessa v02

A decade ago, I captured the photo above at the Lake Berryessa Spillway, also known as the “Glory Hole.” The spillway is designed to direct overflow water beyond Monticello Dam, and unlike most, this one is a giant funnel that creates a hole in the lake. Seeing it in person is quite interesting, like you’re viewing a special effect in a movie.

When I took this shot, the sun was out, the sky was blue, and the spillway’s opening reflected the surrounding rocks. A print of this photo hung at the Art Wolfe Gallery in 2006 as a winning image in the Environmental Photography Invitational, and it was published in a magazine that featured works from that show. (I also met Art Wolfe, who was gracious and encouraging, even in the few minutes that we shook hands; Nathan Myhrvold, former Microsoftian and now gastropreneur, also had a photo selected for the exhibition.) At one point the image was also licensed for a visitor center display, I think at the Dufer Point Visitor Center, although I’d need to dig up some old records to be sure. I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never made it out there to see it! It may no longer be there.

In the intervening 10 years, California suffered through a horrible drought, which dropped the lake levels far below the spillway opening—in fact, far below the rock on which the opening is mounted! Take a look at this photo from September 2015 (courtesy of Flickr user torroid via Creative Commons license):

Now, following an extremely wet winter, Lake Berryessa has recovered its volume and then some (photo by Flickr user Doug Letterman via Creative Commons license).

Morning glory spillway

According to this article in The New York Times, the lake holds about 521 billion gallons of water before it begins pouring down the spillway. Be sure to watch the drone video to see it from multiple angles.

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10 Years of Lightroom

February 19, 2017 — Leave a comment

Lightroom 10 years

Ten years, man! Ten! Years!

Thanks to Victoria “The Lightroom Queen” Brampton’s newsletter, I learned that my photo organizer and editor of choice turned 10 this weekend. Unlike Victoria, I joined the Lightroom party late after starting off with Aperture, but it’s been the heart of my photo library for probably eight of those ten years. In a new blog post, Victoria runs down the history of Lightroom from the beginning, from the early betas to the latest mobile incarnations. It’s a good read if you’ve been using Lightroom for a while.

Speaking of Lightroom, the application features heavily into my own book, Take Control of Your Digital Photos on a Mac. I’m almost done updating the manuscript for a new revision. Look for that soon!

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Mbp touchbar

When I was working on ideas for my latest Practical Mac column for The Seattle Times, I wanted to talk about my new MacBook Pro, but felt as if I’d already beat the subject into the ground. Turns out I hadn’t actually written about it since I received mine. (Maybe the readers are tired of it anyway.) So this week, I share some observations about actually using the new Touch Bar-equipped MacBook Pro on a daily basis. I also reflect on a couple of utilities—TextExpander and SoundSource—that have served me well running older versions, but which I’ve finally updated for good reasons.

Of particular note with the MacBook Pro, I’ve seen vastly improved battery life since updating to macOS Sierra 10.12.3, which fixed a bug that wasn’t allowing the graphics processors to switch the way they were supposed to. (In short: most of the time, the machine uses the Integrated graphics that are part of the main Intel Core i7 processor, which is highly battery efficient. Some apps, like Photoshop, take advantage of the discrete GPU for better and faster graphics processing, which burns through battery power faster. Instead of kicking back to the Integrated graphics when no longer using one of those apps, Sierra would continue to use the GPU.) This change has almost doubled my battery life in some cases.

Read it here: A new MacBook Pro, and dragging old applications into the future

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Rails

Looking through the monorail tracks to the Westin Hotel, downtown Seattle. (Click for larger view.)

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