Archives For lights

Homekit plug light

I dipped my toes into HomeKit recently, and now I’m waist-deep into smart home technology. For my latest Practical Mac column at The Seattle Times, I look at several devices that are making my home better, as well as the effect it’s had on my family and I: Making a smart move with HomeKit smart-home devices.

Setting aside the technical considerations, what’s been most intriguing is how my family and I have responded to these little forays into living in a smart home. I was skeptical at first of the benefit of having lights that could be controlled from my phone — I do still remember how to flip a switch. But the key is in setting up schedules and scenes.

Now, many lights turn on by themselves: our porch light and living-room lights automatically come on at sunset and turn off at 1 a.m. (which is an obvious indicator if I’m still awake that I need to head to bed).

In my home office, the lights and a portable space heater turn on in the morning so my workspace is warm and welcoming when I start working. And if I leave the house on errands or to take a walk, the space heater is automatically turned off when I go past a geofence surrounding my house, so I don’t accidentally leave the heater running all day.

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Seattle Skyline, Dr Jose Rizal Bridge

Despite living in Seattle for more than 20 years, I’d never been out to photograph the Seattle skyline at Dr Jose Rizal Bridge until last night. Part of that is familiarity: did I really want to make a photo that everyone has seen (and half of everyone has shot)? And part of it is just inertia—I’d simply never done it.

Well, inertia is a pretty lame excuse, and I know better that even well-photographed spots will have different characteristics depending on the weather, the time, and the season. But mostly, it was an excuse to get out and do some shooting, which is enough. A friend-of-a-friend is in town to visit family, so he suggested we go out shooting while he’s here, so we headed up to this iconic spot, just down from Jose Rizal Park.

Initially we were going to shoot from the park, but a pair of extremely inebriated guys made that uncomfortable. I don’t want to take away anyone’s right to get lit in a park, but one of them was unintelligible as he tried to talk to me. So we wandered down to the bridge and set up.

It turned out to be a beautiful evening, even though the most promising clouds earlier in the afternoon disappeared by the time sunset began. One challenge when shooting from the bridge is vibration: several times I’d set up a long exposure and forget to look down the street, then chuckle as a bus turned my photo into a soft mess as it rumbled by. But after many tries, and some genial conversation with another photographer who was set up (it wasn’t crowded), I ended up with a few photos I like.

Lights and Hues, Seattle Sunset

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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.

Tree Lights