Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My New Best Friend...

I'm a Mac guy. Long story short I worked in the Information Technology field for over 22 years before moving to a career in Photography and during that time I spent a lot of time on personal computers running Windows. About three years ago I moved to a Mac as I say, "once you go Mac, you'll never go back".

OK, seriously, I really do love my Mac but enough said about that… for now. :)

About two weeks ago I used a built-in Mac OS X application called "Automator" for the first time. Automator is a simple yet incredibly powerful automation assistant. With it you can create workflows, scripts and even executables to manage mundane or very complex tasks. I've known about it for quite a while but never really had the inclination or need to try it out. But just a couple of weeks ago I finally had a reason to give it a try. I had a requirement to rename hundreds of digital images before uploading them to a website. Doing this task manually would have been a complete pain in the butt and likely would have been somewhat error prone. Using Automator for the first time ever it took me about three tries and 15 minutes to create a proper workflow. Awesome! I was quite impressed.

Today was the my second time using Automator and the results were equally impressive. This afternoon I had to resize a bunch of images for my website. Sure, it's something I could have done manually but why would I bother when I have this powerful ally on my side. I fired up Automator and using every bit of my 15 minutes of experience I cranked out a two step workflow in about 20 seconds. I'm not kidding. It was literally 20 seconds! After building my workflow I hit the "play" button and under 3 seconds later all my images had been shrunk to 50% of their original size. Simple, perfect and so, so easy.

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My new best friend - Automator.

Keep shooting.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Few of My Favourite Things… Part 1

Most photogs I know love gadgets. I am certainly no different. Gadgets are awesome, especially when they solve a problem or make your life a little bit easier.

One such gadget is the remote transceiver caddy from For those of us who use PocketWizard Plus, Plus II or Multimax transceivers it is a simple device designed to mount your PocketWizard securely to a light stand or directly to the flash itself. The PocketWizard has a 1/4-20 female threat mount on the back and the caddy quickly and securely screws in to that mount without tools. If you have super strong finger nails you could probably manage to attach it but a simple coin will do the trick. Of course, you could always use a screwdriver.


Once attached, an elastic cord holds the PocketWizard tightly on a light stand or flash. Before I had these little beauties I used to just hang the PocketWizard off my light stand by its strap. That worked OK but it wasn't great. It was messy, prone to falling off, generally insecure and it certainly had an unprofessional look about it. Now my PocketWizards stay exactly where I put them, even when I am relocating light stands.


I really do love these little caddies but nothing is perfect so I have a couple of minor quibbles. First, is the price - $15. Seriously? $15? That's pretty steep for a hunk of plastic! I've been shooting pictures for a while so I know all about paying too much for a hunk of plastic, yeah I'm looking at you Sto-Fen. My other minor (very minor) quibble is the screw mount. Yes, it's secure and yes it works great but when I have to change the batteries, which I admit is not often, it always seems to be at an inconvenient time and I never have a screwdriver or coin handy.


Other than two very nit picky cons I absolutely love these gadgets. They make my photographic life just a bit easier and I like that a lot.

Keep shooting.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Keep Shooting...

It was a gorgeous autumn day in Calgary, which in turn provided great opportunity to get out there and make some pictures. So that is just what I did.

Fall in Calgary can be kind of unpredictable thing. It is rare for this city to get a long, drawn out, gradual change from summer to autumn. Sometimes we are blessed with a gorgeous fall with the leaves changing colours gradually and staying on the trees for months. Sometimes we get a snap freeze and the leaves are gone rather quickly. This fall has been the former.

Today being such a lovely fall day gave me a great opportunity to capture I scene I see so often on my weekly runs. And, never knowing precisely when this lovely weather will leave us, there is no time like the present.


I tried the above shot from a couple different angles and this turned out to be my favourite. The most surprising thing was how long I would have to wait for a runner or cyclist to come by and complete the picturesque scene.

After my first shot, I gathered up my equipment and headed to another location to try and capture the sunset. Sadly, the sunset was not all that great and I think I arrived a bit too late to take advantage of other possibilities. Undeterred, I moved on to the next location.

I had spent a bit too much time chasing the sunset so I arrived at my final location a little too late to capture the fading blue sky. Nonetheless I made the most of the situation and captured a cool shot before retiring for the evening.


Keep shooting.