Tuesday, May 25, 2010

An Open Letter to Apple Regarding the iPhone

Since Day 1, I have always wanted an iPhone. However, I never wanted to be bogged down with a service contract so I never gave in. The wife and I are already on AT&T but I never wanted to pay for the monthly data plan, since most of the time I am in a wifi network. The only time that I want to have a data plan is when I travel or when the wife and I want to watch a movie and we weren't able to check the movie schedule before leaving the house, among others.

So, to cure my hunger for an iPhone, I am now on my second iPod Touch (the first one's with the wife). Combined with my Nokia E63, I am a happy camper - I only use data when I want to. But I sorely want to bring only one thing!

So, my plea is this Apple folks, Sir Steve Jobs, Sir: since you have already gone "Prepaid" with the iPad, can you also release an iPhone that, at the least, we can put in our AT&T chip (SIM card) and only pay for the data plan only on those times that we use it? Constantly paying $30 for something I won't use everyday would be such a waste, not to mention that a lot of people are getting angry with the AT&T 3G service in major cities. And I haven't even mentioned the new price for the early-termination-fee.

I said this before and I say it again: if only Apple released an unlocked iPhone, I would already be in my second or third iPhone by now...

Grocery Gadget

Weekends usually mean buying groceries with the wife. But, preparation for the weekend groceries doesn't happen only during weekends. Sometimes, we find out that we need stuff during weekdays and, worse, sometimes right after coming home from the shop. We used to make a list on Post-Its in the house. But, sometimes, we forget to bring the list and we have to recreate the list in our heads while shopping. (Side note, the wife has one really good memory - she can recreate more than 95% of what's in the list, whereas I couldn't even remember where we parked the car!)

So what is the one thing that we never forget when we leave the house? Our iPod Touches. So, I bought an app that will help us with the groceries.

I tried some free ones, even bought one which I thought was the best, but, with use, I realize that there is one that the wife and I can consider the best: Grocery Gadget.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Shy Photographer - The Website and the Book

I registered www.theshyphotographer.com domain name. It turned out that there is already a book with the same title as my blog. Written by Jock Carroll, it's a work of fiction from 1985. From the solitary review, one can tell that it is a funny book (the reviewer gave it 5 stars!). I haven't read it yet and it's worth 1 cent from several sellers.

Who knew? :)

Friday, May 21, 2010

On the iPad

I’ve been mulling about the articles regarding the iPad from theAppleBlog and gizmodo for some time now. Those two articles lead me to ponder - can I fit the iPad into my lifestyle?

Right now, I have a previous generation Macbook Pro (non-unibody), a 3rd generation iPod Touch, a Nokia E63 and a Canon Eos.

But for a long time now, I have noticed that, more and more, I am leaving my Macbook Pro parked on my desk in the house. The computer is the hub that connects together an external display, two external drives, external keyboard, mouse, and a bamboo tablet. So, my Macbook Pro is more functional with it parked on my desk than as a stand-alone computer.

As to be expected, I do all of my image processing and file management with my laptop. But, with regards to my other commitments, I rarely use my Macbook Pro anymore.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Best Camera Strap in the World

There is one thing that really irritates me: the feel of the camera strap on the back of my neck. As time goes on, during a photo shoot, I feel the weight of the camera bearing on the back of my neck and, especially if the weather's hot, the sweaty strap can get really cumbersome.

Last holiday season (2009), I read a
blog entry by Lisa Bettany which says that the best DSLR strap out there is the BlackRapids RS5. I checked this out online and, at first, I couldn't really figure out how it works. Good thing there are videos on how to use it, so, I set out to save some money for it.

Now, I am a proud owner of the BlackRapid RS5. It totally has met its promise. All you have to do is put the D-ring to the tripod socket, fasten the clasp on one end of the strap to the D-ring and you're set! (By the way, the D-ring is called
FastnR, as in "fastener". Got it?)

When properly connected, the camera hangs upside down with the camera strap running diagonally across your body much like a messenger bag. You set the length of the strap and your camera will be waiting on your side within your grasp ready for your shots. To quote Lisa, you can be like a "photo ninja".

But more than this convenience of the camera being ready all the time, the more important thing is that the weight of the camera is carried by your shoulder not your neck. The weight is distributed comfortably.

And one more advantage - I feel safer not announcing to the whole world the camera brand and model that I am using. These are normally printed on the stock strap that comes with the camera. Somehow, this makes me feel safe.

The RS5 has a pocket big enough for a smartphone, iPod Touch or an iPod Classic. There's a zippered pocket where one can put more CF cards or batteries.

However, I have one reservation with this strap: if I'm going to use a tripod, I will be forced to leave my camera "naked" - strapless - because then, I'd have to remove the FastnR from the camera tripod socket. That will send shivers down my spine... So, I've resolved that I will put the original camera strap if ever I'm gonna use a tripod.

But, this slight set back won't dissuade me from declaring the BlackRapids RS5 the best camera strap in the world! As a matter of fact, if ever I own, or win - I hope I win - another DSLR, I'd get another strap and the
couple to join them together. That'd be really sweet! :)

The RS5 can be bought
here. If you want a slimmer strap, then you can get the RS4 and RS7. The RS-W1, according to the BlackRapid website, is specifically made for women. The RS-W1 will be made available this summer.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Inspired by Moose

Last May 17, I attended a talk in Adorama Camera in New York. It was a workshop entitled "It's the Person Behind the Camera that Counts!" The speaker was Moose Peterson, a wildlife photographer. The talk he gave was very inspiring and his pictures were magnificent. His pictures, to quote Moose, pull at your heart strings. Some of the pictures, sad to say were those of endangered species and, sadder still, some were of those that are already extinct. And he said also that, there were times when he was commissioned to take pictures of certain species so as to document the "critters" before it is gone from the face of the planet.

That was really sad.

But he also showed pictures of bears, gulls, and a lot more animals that can make you go "ahh..." There were pictures that can elicit a yawn from the audience because the fox in the pictures can be seen in various poses of stretching, yawning, and just being laid back. When Moose showed a picture of grizzly bears dosing off and he said that they are the biggest couch potatoes there are, I suddenly, if only temporarily, felt free of guilt from my own couch potato trips.

His pictures left a very powerful impression in me.

After the talk, I felt as if I wanted to burst into the streets and take pictures of everything I saw!

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Eternal Quest for the Perfect Camera Bag

A DSLR bag is one thing photographers cannot get enough of.

I am in the market for a new one now for two things:

         1. my Lowepro Nova 170 AW bag can no longer accommodate the existing gear that I have and

         2. I plan to expand my gear collection sometime soon.

I have a Lowepro Flipside 300 but I am not completely happy with that bag for exactly just one thing: no easy access to my camera whenever the need arises. I love this bag and the number of stuff that I can put in but I am now looking for something which may have almost the same capacity as the Flipside but something that will provide easy access.

I am considering three bags:

1. The Lowepro Classified 200 AW - This is a very nice bag and very professional-looking. I love the way the fabric glides under my hands. It feels very sturdy, can hold up to two prosumer DSLRs and have plenty of spaces for everything else. This feels like it’s designed for the savvy professional. And, most importantly, you can just open the zipper at the top of the bag and get to your camera really quickly without exposing to the world what more you have inside.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Too Shy for Photography

Really, if there’s one thing I hate about myself, it is that I am very shy!

I am not shy when I am with old friends, but when it comes to gatherings with people who I don’t know, I’d rather spend the time alone, in a corner, all by myself.

Take, for example, when I attended a workshop in New York. I didn’t speak to anyone, I only spoke when the speaker asked me a question, and I never even gave anyone my business card! And when time came when we can photograph the model, I was photographing her from my seat, about 15 feet away! I only came closer when she noticed me and she posed for me. If she didn’t do that, I wouldn’t have any shot of her looking straight at me! (She was also posing for other photographers.)


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