Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Does it frustrate you that the Photos program on your Mac tries to import images every time you insert a memory card? If so, you need to read this!

For the last couple of months I have been frustrated every time I insert a memory card into my Mac. It doesn't matter whether I was using my MacbookPro or MacPro desktop machine. Every time I would insert a memory card, the darned Apple Photos program would pop up and ask me if I want to import the photos. Argghhh!!!!

As many of you know, I don't use the Photos program since it is not designed for professional use. I rely on Photo Mechanic for all my downloading and culling and then Photoshop CC for my retouching. It was driving me crazy having the Apple program interrupting my workflow and costing me valuable time. With the Summer Olympics less than 6 weeks away, and having really tight deadlines, I absolutely HAD to find a way to solve this problem.

Previous Internet searches found had a bunch of recommendations(like unchecking the "Open Photos" box and quitting the application), but none of them had worked.

But, after a lot of searching, I found the solution!

A photographer in Australia found a simple solution, and it works!

Here is what you do:

* Open the Terminal program on your Mac. If you don't know where this is located, just go to Spotlight (which is the magnifying glass at the top right of your menu bar) and type in "Terminal"

You will then see this:

Double click on the Terminal application to launch it. You will see this:

Copy this string of text:

defaults -currentHost write com.apple.ImageCapture disableHotPlug -bool YES
At the Terminal window, paste in that string of text and hit return. Voila - the problem in solved!

You will not see anything in the Terminal window that confirms the change, but it will be fixed from that point on.

If you ever want to reverse this change and go back to the default settings, you can paste this string into the Terminal window:

defaults -currentHost write com.apple.ImageCapture disableHotPlug -bool NO
I hope this helps all of you as much as it helped me!

Thanks to Ben Fon for finding this fix and PetaPixel for posting this online.

Feel free to share this with all of your Mac photo friends.


If you are interested in purchasing any camera equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.

And also, remember that you and your friends can enter your email address at the top right of this blog to get an email any time I write a new blog post or send my monthly newsletter.


Thursday, June 16, 2016

San Francisco - The Painted Ladies, The Haight, and The Golden Gate Bridge

Funny that I am sitting here in New York City writing a blog about my home town of San Francisco, but I have so many photos and stories to share with you all that I am running behind. My cousin and his family were visiting San Francisco a couple of months ago, and their daughter, Sydney, wanted to learn more about photography, so I spent the day with them up in the city. It was a great time, shooting and hanging out with them.

While I was teaching Sydney, I was also taking my own photos, so this gives me a chance to share the images with all of you.

I picked them up from the Ritz Carlton, where they were slumming it for the weekend, and drove straight over to the Painted Ladies. These are a famous group of victorian homes that many of you have seen on the TV show "Full House". The weather was overcast, which actually helped to make a better photo in this case. No harsh shadows to deal with.

Along with taking the "standard shot" that everyone takes, I was using my Canon 5D Mark III, and zoomed my Canon 28-300mm lens all the way to 300mm to get this photo of City Hall peaking out from behind a couple of the victorians.

And then we were off to the Haight Ashbury district to take photos of the graffiti and surroundings.

You can't go to Haight Ashbury without taking a photo of the street signs!

I love the art painted on the side of the local businesses.

...and then...there were some of the characters there...

I saw these guys and asked them if I could take their photos. They were totally cool with that, so I took some quick portraits.

After getting some lunch in the Haight, I drove them over to Fort Point, located at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I was teaching Sydney about composition and framing. I took this first photo standing straight up to show her the perspective. But the shot is lacking a strong foreground.

For this second shot, I got down low and included the rusty chain as a foreground element. Notice how the curve of the chain helps to frame the bridge?

I was also showing Sydney how zooming into a shot changes everything. As luck would have it, the fog was slowly rolling in, constantly changing as it passed by the North Tower of the bridge.

I waited for this sailboat to get close to the bridge and took this photo. I wanted to show Sydney how the boat would "finish" this shot. And...as it turned out, the top of the North Tower also popped out from the fog just a little bit as the sailboat approached. A perfect moment.

Note: I posted this photo on my Facebook page, thinking that it was a decent photo, but not expecting much feedback. As it turned out, this photo had more than 1000 likes and a ton of comments. I was pleasantly surprised by this reaction. It just reinforced that photography is subjective, and even I can not predict what will be widely admired or disliked.

Here are a couple more photos of the bridge, fog and sailboat.

After shooting all these photos, I wanted to show Sydney that there is always a way to push further and get a shot that most people do not have.

I was talking to her when I saw the bridge reflecting in her sunglasses. Perfect!!! I had her turn at just the right angle to get the bridge reflection in both lenses and took this shot. I love how the dark blue glasses make the scene look totally different from the grey skies that were reality.

We had a great time catching up after not seeing each other for a couple of years, hopefully Sydney learned something about her camera and photography, and we got some fun photos too. That makes for a great day!


If you are interested in purchasing any camera equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.

And also, remember that you and your friends can enter your email address at the top right of this blog to get an email any time I write a new blog post or send my monthly newsletter.


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A review of the new DJI Phantom 4 - Flying over San Francisco, the new Apple Campus 2 and more

If you have been following the blog for a while, you know that I love all types of photography. But I have to say that using drones to get aerial photos is one of my favorite things to do. And, although I have never claimed to be a videographer, it is the rare time that I love shooting and editing video.

A little while back, I got my hands on the new DJI Phantom 4 aerial camera (also known as a drone) and been taking it on some day trips to capture photos and videos from unique perspectives.

My first flight with the Phantom 4 was a flight by the Bay Bridge in San Francisco. Even though it was a fairly windy day, you would never know that from the steadiness of P4 gimbal. The 4K video looks stunning directly from the camera.

Here is that video:

Click on the image to watch the video
My second flight was over the California Coastline. And on this day, it was INCREDIBLY windy. So much so, that I had to launch the Phantom 4 from behind my car so that I could get it in the air without blowing over. Even in this blustering wind, I was able to maneuver the drone exactly where I wanted it. Compared to the Phantom 2 and Phantom 3, this new version seems to be easier to fly and the battery lasts noticeably longer.

Here is the video of a big wave crash, as I followed the wave in towards the beach:

Click on the image to watch the video
For my third flight, I was back in San Francisco to speak at the Canon Learning Center. I drove up to the city early so that I would have time to fly the drone. I ended up at the Ferry Building and thought that this would be the perfect place to try some of the new features of the Phantom 4 and accompanying software.  The updated software has a host of new features, one of which can automatically follow any object or person. More on that later. The one new feature that I was most excited to try out was the auto circling feature. And wow - this worked out beautifully!

Check out this video flying over the Ferry Building:

Click on the image to watch the video
As you can see, I was able to fly a perfect circle around the Ferry Building. In the past, I have tried this countless times, but have always found myself either over or under rotating. But now I can set a center point in the software (on my iPad), fly the Phantom 4 out to the distance I desire, set the speed and direction and fly perfectly around that point. Here is what I did for this video. I flew the P4 directly over the clock tower of the Ferry Building, set that as the center point, and then let the software do the rest. I am now in love with this new feature!

I mentioned the auto tracking feature. but I had never actually tried it. I took a break from writing this blog and went outside to give it a try. My wife was going to walk the dog, so I launched the P4 about 15 feet over them, trained the camera on them, tapped the iPad screen to identify them as my subjects, and hit "Go" on the screen. Here is what the Phantom captured. A nice smooth following of them. Pretty cool!

Click on the image to watch the video

You may remember that in March of 2015 I flew my Phantom 3 over the construction site of the massive new Apple Campus that they are building in Cupertino, CA.

Here is that video:

Click on the image to watch the video
Below is a new video taken last weekend, using the Phantom 4. You can see that they have made quite a bit of progress on the building. And DJI has made a lot of progress on their drones. Not only is the newer drone easier to fly, but you will also see that the still and video quality is significantly sharper than before.

Click on the image to watch the video
Along with capturing video, I also made sure to grab some still photos as well. I love that the Phantom 4 lets me shoot both RAW and JPEG images. 

Whenever people see me flying the Phantom, they alway come up and ask me the same two questions. The first question is: How hard is it to learn to fly these things?  For the which the answer is, It is really easy. The drone has GPS built-in, and the controls are incredibly easy to work, so it is actually simple. The second most common question is: How long does the battery last? The battery on the Phantom 4 seems to last about 25 minutes, which is really very adequate for most of what I shoot. I do recommend buying a second battery to give more flying time.

There are a couple of other upgrades to the Phantom 4 that I am very happy about:

* The camera gimbal are built MUCH better than on previous models. This makes them much less vulnerable to damage in event of a crash.

* I love that the battery has a new charing port which can attach to the charging cable much easier than in the past. And the cable can be inserted in either direction, and still charge the battery.

* The new more powerful motors allow for the Phantom 4 to move at speeds up to 40mph (in Sport mode).

* The Phantom 4 does have a front facing obstacle avoidance system, which is really comforting to know. I actually tried this out, flying the Phantom directly towards my house. As it got within 4 or 5 feet, I heard an audible alert on my iPad and the drone halted it's forward progress.

* I like the smooth plastic finish which seems easier to keep clean.

At $1399 the Phantom 4 is not an inexpensive piece of equipment, but for what it does, I think that this is a bargain. I pay this type of money for a good lens, and the Phantom 4 includes the drone itself, camera, lens, gimbal and remote. The only thing that is not included is a tablet or phone, which is necessary to fly. But most of us have one of these anyways. I love how these devices make it possible for me to easily capture awesome quality video and still images to share with you all.

I should also mention that, even though the content captured is super cool, they are just plain fun to fly. I know, I know...I am just a big kid. :)


If you are interested in purchasing any camera equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.

And also, remember that you and your friends can enter your email address at the top right of this blog to get an email any time I write a new blog post or send my monthly newsletter.


Thursday, June 2, 2016

A rare view inside the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO

Last week I made the trip to Colorado Springs to meet up with my friends at the US Olympic Committee and to get an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the US Olympic Training Center. They do give tours of the training center, but this tour does not include much of what I was able to see in my visit. Today's blog post is my chance to share some of the photos and stories with all of you, giving you a chance to see how our athletes train to prepare for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Come along on my virtual tour of the facility.

I entered via the athlete and employee entrance and this is the view from that parking lot. This is the Ted Stevens Sports Center, which is a really impressive building, housing the main workout facilities and much more.  The US Olympic Training Center (USOTC) consists of 37,000 square feet of training space. It has sport venues and support facilities for fencing, gymnastics, judo, modern pentathlon, shooting, swimming, taekwondo, weightlifting, and wrestling.

This is a view inside the building, with an impressive array of weights, machines and other workout equipment.

After arriving at the facility, I walked around and photographed many of the elements. There are 19,201 pounds of barbells, dumbbells and bumper plates on the premises.

I loved that each of the weights had the Olympic Rings on them.

After photographing at ground level, I went upstairs to get some shots from overhead.

Sports are categorized into one of four "sportfolios": endurance, strength and power, acrobat and combat, and team and technical. And many of the 555 US Summer Olympic athletes will spend time here at one point.

It was really impressive to see the athletes working out. Everyone is in such amazing shape!

Here, Dartanyon Crockett, shows his athletic ability and leg strength.

And a short iPhone video for you

This is a 300 pound tire that he is picking up and moving. No easy task. The USOTC has 4 Bridgestone tires ranging from 200 to 600 pounds.

Back upstairs, I was given a demonstration of the technology used to train the athletes. Being a technical person, this was fun to watch.

They had two boxers, Nico Hernandez and Shakur Stevenson, who were being outfitted with wearable technology on each of their wrists. Prior to entering the ring, the boxers put on these small sensors containing 3-D accelerometers and 3-D gyroscopes that measure frequency, force and effort exerted with each punch.

Shakur and Nico competed in an informal head-to-head competition, with Nico winning.

I love Shakur's reaction to seeing the data on the screen. When asked about his big smile, he said that even in a friendly competition, he hates to lose. These guys are competitive for sure!

Continuing on with the tour of the USOTC technology, here is Desiree Linden running in a special High Altitude Training Center. This room helps the athlete simulate the environment of wherever their next event might be. In this case, the room was set to 90 degrees F, 73 percent humidity and a 350 foot altitude to simulate the same conditions in Rio De Janeiro. The USOC is currently working with the athletes in a "Living high / Training low" method. They live in high altitude, adjusting to the lower oxygen levels, but train at the equivalent of lower altitudes.

Another iPhone video for you

What is even more interesting is that, earlier in the morning, she had swallowed a sensor that helps to monitor many of her body functions during this test. Amazing!

Desiree ran for more than an hour at a race pace. This heat / humidity training is designed to measure her sweat rate / loss, sweat composition (electrolytes), body core temperature (via the ingestible pill thermometer), running mechanics and heart rate. With all the data collected, the USOC physiologists and nutritionists can determine the optimal fluid composition and intake, as well as pacing strategies for her 2016 Olympic marathon.

My next stop was into the training kitchen. This is a kitchen area designed for teaching the athletes how to prepare the best food for their strength and conditioning. The USOC employs five full-time dietitians who help the athletes reach their optimal performance. There will be 12 USOC chefs and five sport dietitians heading to Rio to make sure that our athletes are properly fed at the Games. And I also learned that peanuts (or peanut butter) will not be allowed in the Olympic grounds, since the organizing committee does not want to affect those with severe allergies.

After learning about how the athletes are fueling their bodies, I met with the sports psychology team. The USOC employs 6 full-time sports psychologists  who work with the athletes to develop the mental skills to perform a their best. This photo shows three athletes and one of the sports psychologists as they describe their regiment. It was really interesting when Peter Haberl, the sports psychologist, explained how important concentration and focusing was to the athletes. He asked one person to stand in front of him and threw him a ball. He repeated this a couple of times. No stress there! Then he switched from the ball to a raw egg (which you see in front of him). The person catching the raw egg took this more seriously and had much more attention on the task. With all the stress of the Olympics and Paralympics, you can bet the mental part of the sport is as important as the physical. In many of the competitions, the physical and mental difference of 1% can be the difference between winning a gold medal or not medal at all.

Here is Mike Tagliapietra, from the Paralympic Shooting team in one of the sports psychology labs. Sensors are placed on Mike to measure his brain wave, heart rate, breathing, sweat and muscle activity in real time. Then they use different video game types of videos to increase or decrease his brain and body responses. This practice allows him to build his concentration and enhance his recovery times.

The USOTC is the only one-stop comprehensive sports medicine assessment facility in the US, with physicians, chiropractors, physical therapists, athletic trainers, and massage therapists. They also have state-of-the-art technology, including ultrasound, X-ray, MRI and more. They were performing an ultrasound on Elena Pirozhkova (USA wrestling) when I walked in.

Here is Erin Jones, USA Triathlete,  running on a Noraxon instrumented treadmill, which allows for high-speed video, 3-D motion analysis, and force / pressure reading while she is running. The USOC uses these metrics to analyze symmetry in an athlete's gait. It measures data such as ground contact time, side-to-side force output, side-to-side foot strike comparison, and joint range of motion. It is really amazing to see how much science goes into these sports.

This is the only photo I took of the USOTC swimming pool, and I had to take it through the window from outside. Even with this exclusive behind-the-scenes tour, there were limits. If there were certain teams or athletes practicing (can you say Michael Phelps?), we were not allowed to be in that area. If you are wondering what the large yellow containers are for, you are not alone. Those are weights that can be attached to the swimmers to put additional drag on them as they swim. They also have another set of weights which are in reverse, which means that they can pull the athlete even faster than they normally swim. This helps them realize the speeds that they could attain and how the water reacts in those situations. Pretty impressive!

The USOTC has between 12,000 to 15,000 athletes come through each year, with approximately 500 at a time. Many of them live on the premises during their stay. They have a total of 242 rooms with 512 beds. The building on the left is one of the living halls, with the circular building being the cafeteria.

I had a chance to eat in the cafeteria, with many of the athletes, and the food was outstanding. Needless to say, with all the hard-bodied athletes surrounding me, I mostly ate salad. :)

This is the area where the US Weight Lifting team trains. It isn't the most lavish room in the complex, but it gets the job done. If you see some of these rooms and wonder why they look old, the USOTC was originally the home of ENT Air Force Base and the North American Defense Command. It officially became the home of the USOC in 1978.

This is one of the walkways on the grounds of the USOTC, which provides an amazing view out to Pikes Peak.

My next stop was the Olympic Shooting Center, which is one of the largest indoor shooting ranges in the US.

This is a view of one of the two shooting ranges in the building. There is another range in the basement, below this level.

Here is one of the rooms where the US Gymnastics teams practice. There are numerous manufacturers of the floor mats, and the USOC always makes sure to have the same brand as the upcoming Olympics, since the surface varies from brand to brand.

And here is another room. As you can see from the foam pit, this is where the athletes can practice their maneuvers minimizing the chances of getting hurt.

A couple of the gymnasts working out in the afternoon...

I was invited to watch the US Boxers practice and, as it turns out, one of the basketball courts is in the same building as the boxing rings. I stopped and watched as the US Paralympic Basketball team warmed up.

And from up above, by the boxing rings, I could look down and watch the team scrimmage. It was pretty inspiring to watch these guys play. I have never had the time to photograph the Paralympics (since I am already gone for a month to cover the Olympics, and the Paralympics don't start until 2 weeks after the Olympics), but I would love to do that some day.

My second to last stop was the boxing rings to watch some of the Olympic hopefuls practice.

I stood right next to the ring and tried to determine the best angle of view. Having never photographed boxing before, it was a little bit of trial and error.

I decided that the best lens of choice would be a wide zoom, so I attached my Canon 24-105mm lens to my Canon 5D Mark III and had some fun.

The action was fast, so I ended up cranking up the ISO of my camera to 3200 to get a relatively fast shutter speed (1/800 sec).

Another iPhone video for you.

After photographing these practice rounds and seeing the action that I was capturing, I am now looking forward to shooting more boxing when I get to the Summer Games in Rio.

This last shot was taken further down the path, on my way towards the brand new visitors center. Unfortunately, the new visitor center is still under construction and weeks away from the grand opening. But I did get a chance to walk in and see what they are creating and it is going to be really spectacular.

What was my last stop? To the store of course, to purchase some Team USA shirts for the family! Right now the store is crammed into a couple little rooms, but soon this will be incorporated into the new visitor center. I guess I will have to make another trip back to the USOTC to see the new building once it is completed.

As I made the 90 minute drive to the Denver International Airport, it gave me time to reflect on what I had just seen. The one thing that really stood out for me, was how much work the athletes, and everyone supporting them, put into the preparations for these competitions. We see these people perform on national television, but very few of us realize the day-to-day routines that these people go through to get to that point. And even though I have been to the Olympics 4 times, and had a chance to get to know many of the athletes, I still had no idea the extent to which they "lived" the sport. They exercise their bodies and minds, eat specifically for their workouts and recoveries, and use the latest in technology to try and get that 1% more, the difference between a competitor and a winner. Being an Olympic athlete is an incredible honor, but takes amazing dedication from this whole team. I know that when I get to Rio and start photographing the events there, I will have even more appreciation for what these men and women are accomplishing.

And yes - after years of preparation, we are now only 2 months away from the 2016 Summer Olympics, where I will be blogging behind-the-scenes photos and stories every day as well as the sports I photographed and how I shot the photos.


If you are interested in purchasing any camera equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.

And also, remember that you and your friends can enter your email address at the top right of this blog to get an email any time I write a new blog post or send my monthly newsletter.