Had the pleasure of photographing James Dempsey and the Breakpoints at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). This year’s performance was held at The Ritz in San Jose, which was a smaller venue than at the City National Civic in 2017. While it made for a more intimate venue, there was far less space to roam around as a photographer; and, The Ritz was dark! Still, I think I managed to get some decent photos from the concert, a few of which you can see below.
The blisteringly fast Sony A9 camera supports both FTP and FTPS file transfers from its built-in Ethernet port. From the product specifications section:
“Using a new terminal for wired LAN connection, you can conveniently transfer still image files to a specified FTP server for viewing and management as needed. A wired LAN connection gives you the highest possible transfer speeds for large image files — an ideal solution for studio photography. Moreover, since FTPS (File Transfer Protocol over SSL/TLS) is supported, image files can be encrypted with SSL or TLS while being transferred, assuring a higher level of security.”
This makes the Sony A9 the third camera and the first non-Canon, that I know of that supports FTP Secure file transfers. It’s unclear whether FTP and FTPS transfers can occur over the built-in Wi-Fi. If not, photographers can purchase a small router like the GLI Inet travel routers that I have been using to securely transfer photos from the camera.
Just one day after writing about powering the secure, automated, wireless workflow, I experienced the one thing that can throw the whole system into disarray. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, we’re experiencing a strong seasonal storm, and this morning, a power outage hit our neighborhood. While my primary computer is backed by an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), my Mac Mini server is not (yet). So, when the power went out, access to my server from the outside world was also severed. Power was restored in a little over an hour, and the Mac Mini turned back on since I had the checkbox Start up automatically after a power failure checked in System Preferences > Energy Saver.
If for some reason, I needed to re-enable the secure, automated, wireless photography workflow during an outage, I have some options. First, I would have to put both the Airport and the Mac Mini on backup power. Next, provided cell phone service has not been interrupted, I could tether my iPhone to the GL-ARM300M mini travel router and connect the router to the WAN port on the Airport Extreme base station. Now, instead of getting internet through Comcast Xfinity, my iPhone would be providing network access. On the Mac Mini, my dynamic DNS provider would update the server’s new (but temporary) IP address. The graphic below shows this alternate workflow in action:
Another option that I mentioned in my workflow article is to colocate the Mac Mini server at a hosting provider like MacMiniColo. That would completely avoid the power problem and give my server access to a far faster network than what I have at home.
I would be remiss in mentioning an annoyance about power outages and the Internet of Things. Many IoT devices, like Philips Hue lights, require you to have them turned on at all times. Continuous power allows the lights to communicate with the Philips Hue Bridge, which controls whether they are on or off. Now, when the power comes back on after a power outage, all of the Hue lights in the house turn back on. This is fine if we’re at home when this happens, but if we’re traveling, I don’t currently have a way to be notified except via our neighbors. As a result, I’m going to have to write a script that:
- Detects the power outage (maybe via the UPS’ ability to send an email)
- Sends the All Off signal to the lights
Fortunately, we don’t get a lot of power service interruptions where we live. How are you prepared to handle them within your household? Is something like a Tesla Powerwall (coupled with solar panels on the roof) in your future?
My secure, wireless, and automated photography workflow relies heavily on power-hungry devices, from a portable Wi-Fi travel router, a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR, and an iPhone 6S Plus. I have a definite need for supplemental power for each critical component in this workflow.
I’ve been down this path before. In 2009, months before the introduction of the first MiFi device from Novatel, I was using a USB EVDO modem attached to a Cradlepoint Router and an external battery pack to provide hotspot access while traveling to promote my documentary film Autumn Gem. Additionally, my Canon EOS 5D Mark II was equipped with a prototype CF-SD card adapter, which I tried to use with an Eyefi card (I recall having some connectivity and interference problems and it not working as well as I had hoped).
In 2017, USB is the standard for powering portable devices, and there are battery banks and solar chargers that fit everyone’s needs. We’ve certainly come a long way since 2002 when I was testing a solar-powered battery charger for the original Canon EOS 1D DSLR. As you can see from the photo, that arrangement was not practical size-wise nor was it particularly speedy at charging the NP-E3 batteries.
Today, I have two battery setups. One handles casual use and the other covers a intensive day of photography.
Imagine you’re at Disneyland with the family. You’ve decided to tote around your DSLR or mirrorless camera with you on the trip. You’re happily taking photos of your little ones as they experience their first time on Dumbo the Flying Elephant, It’s a Small World, Haunted House, Pirates of the Caribbean and other rides that you loved as a kid. You just captured this wonderful photo of your child and Tow Mater at Radiator Springs, and you absolutely have got to share this with your friends and family on Facebook.
- Fumble around in your camera bag for a cable and dongle to connect your camera to your smartphone?
- Turn on Wi-Fi on your camera (if available), connect to it from your smartphone, launch the camera connect app, wait for the connection to be established, select the photo, and download it to your phone?
- Tap your smartphone to your camera if they both support NFC, wait for the connection to be established, select the photo, and download it to your phone?
- Hope your wireless SD card (Eyefi, FlashAir, etc.) is working properly and your phone is connected to it to receive photos?
- Wait until you get home before downloading the image (and let that social moment pass you by)?
- Take another photo with your smartphone and share that image on Facebook instead of the one from your bigger camera?
- Say forget it, and keep the photographic proof to yourself?
There’s no reason why getting a photo from a dedicated camera to the smartphone or tablet should take so many steps and be so cumbersome, yet that’s the reality many photographers face today. Some argue this is precisely why sales of point-and-shoot, mirrorless, and DSLR digital cameras have fallen so much in recent years. Smartphones’ ability to share good enough photos trumps the boost in image quality from a dedicated camera for many people.
For the past several weeks, I have been developing a workflow that addresses this problem for me. It currently requires a certain kind of camera, namely the new Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, and some additional hardware and software. This workflow transforms my camera into a fantastic tool that marries the sharing convenience of the smartphone with the impressive image quality of a DSLR. Photos taken with this setup are automatically, securely, and conveniently transferred to the smartphone and cloud photo services of my choosing, including iCloud Photo Library, Google Photos, and Dropbox.
My solution requires some initial setup, but once implemented, it’s awesome! Perhaps it can inspire camera manufacturers and software companies to provide a better experience for dedicated digital cameras in the future.
The monsoon-colored Icebreaker Anatomica t-shirt that I have been using for the past year has developed several more holes. There’s three in the back and one near each of the armholes. As a result, I am retiring it from daily use and transitioning it for use during my runs. The merino wool used by Icebreaker in this shirt is great for temperature regulation, odor resistance, and fit, but durability has not been one of its strong suits.
A few months ago, Icebreaker revised the Anatomica shirt. The old version was made from 96% merino wool and 4% Lycra, and the new one is made from 83% merino wool, 12% nylon, and 5% Lycra. Icebreaker says the updated fit is more comfortable and durable. I wonder how the added nylon will affect its odor resistance after repeated wearings. While the new Anatomica retails for $70, you can still find the old version at 40-60% off if you shop around. REI, for instance, has been trying to clear out its stock of Aegean Blue and Lucky Green for months now and is currently selling them for $31 (54% off). Stocks of those are bound to dry up soon, so get them while they are still available if you like the available colors.
When my current shirts have worn out in one to two years, I may take a look at the new Anatomica or try out the wool t-shirts from Wool & Prince and Outlier. Until then, I have four more of these shirts in my minimalist closet, three short sleeves (red, heather gray, and black) and one long sleeve (monsoon), that I’m rotating through. Pictured above is the black v-neck, which if given the choice, I would standardize on as my default t-shirt color.
I’ve been on a keyboard buying spree lately after cancelling my WayTools TextBlade order two weeks ago. While I like the iPad’s software keyboard, I can still type faster on a physical keyboard. Writing code on iOS devices prior to the iPad Pro has been a torturous exercise, with constant tapping and re-tapping of the 123 and #+= keys to access commonly used programming characters. An external keyboard makes this all so much easier.
With the money that was credited back to my account from WayTools, I now have three working keyboards that I can use with my iOS devices or Mac computers:
- iPad Keyboard Dock (iOS only)
- Logitech K811 Easy-Switch Keyboard
- Microsoft Universal Foldable Keyboard (MFK)
These are in addition to my venerable Logitech K760 solar-powered keyboard which I’ve been happily using for the past four years.