Marvel Avenger’s S.T.A.T.I.O.N Iron Man War Machine Wallpaper

Last week I went to an exhibit in Las Vegas called the Marvel Avenger’s S.T.A.T.I.O.N. If you’re a Marvel movie geek like I am, it was a lot of fun (and I’ll post photos in a bit). While there though I took a photo of Iron Man’s War Machine armour used in the movies – the real prop – and it turned out so well I knocked out the remainder of the background and turned it into 5K (5120 x 2880 pixel) desktop wallpaper. I optimized it for macOS but it should work pretty well on any device (I have it as my lock screen wallpaper on my iPad). The photo was taken with my Sony RX-100 Mark IV, and I did a bit of Photoshop work to make the background fully black. The original doesn’t look much different than this though – the blue lighting was how the armour was shown. Enjoy!

[Click to download the left-aligned 5K War Machine armour]

[Click to download the right-aligned 5K War Machine armour] 

[Click to download the centre-aligned 5K War Machine armour] 

Aerosmith Live: Concert Photos & Video…and the story of me getting ejected from the show floor!

Here’s the story of what I was doing in Dallas last fall, and how I was able to see Aerosmith live. A couple of photos and a link to the full gallery and video are below. But did you I know I got ejected from the show floor? 😳

Continue reading Aerosmith Live: Concert Photos & Video…and the story of me getting ejected from the show floor!

How to Combine Multiple Alaska Airlines Discount Codes Into One

If you fly with Alaska Airlines long enough, and you’re like me and contact customer service when things don’t go quite right, you’ll probably end up with a handful of small credits codes on your account. Alaska typically gives out $75 discounts for future travel as a customer service gesture, which I really appreciate. ?

These credits can stack up over time and if you get enough of them they can be worth quite a bit – especially if you travel as a family and things go sideways. During the Christmas 2016 season my family and I were stuck at an airport as Alaska bumped our flight over and over again – we ended up spending an extra five hours at the airport (three cheers for iPads with fully-charged batteries!). Alaska proactively gave each member of my family a $75 credit, and through other credits I ended up with a total of $475 worth of discounts. Great right? Not so fast.

lots-of-alaska-discounts

The problem, and this won’t surprise anyone, is that Alaska’s booking system works in direct opposition to the concept of the customer service credits. You can only use one discount at a time, and discounts can’t be combined with each other or with offers such as a companion fare. On the one hand, Alaska apologizes for poor experiences with credits – but they make it extremely difficult to use them unless you travel frequently. Credits last a year, which is OK, but most people don’t travel 7+ times a year so I suspect most people lose their credits (which Alaska knows). Continue reading How to Combine Multiple Alaska Airlines Discount Codes Into One

Darius Rucker Live: Concert Photos & Video

In October 2017 I was invited to provide social media support for The Summit, an event put on by AT&T Business. Part of that event was world-class entertainment: the smaller entertainment event was a live show by Darius Rucker (yep, the “Hootie and the Blowfish Guy”) at the Glass Cactus in Texas. The larger event was none other than Aerosmith. Honestly, I was more excited to see Darius Rucker than Aerosmith because I never saw Darius perform live during his “Hootie” days! I’d seen Aerosmith in their prime during the 1990 “Pump” tour and…wait, that was 28 years ago? ? Thank you Wikipedia for reminding me I am getting old. ?

Below are my photos from the Rucker show – along with 20 minutes of live concert footage.

A few words about the video: on one hand I’m stunned at how amazing my Nikon D750 is at capturing videos when paired with a tasty f/2.8 lens (the original video looks better than what YouTube does to it). On the other hand without a tripod it was extremely hard to get a video with smooth pans and zooms – so pardon the sections where it looks like I was getting shoved – that’s just me trying to zoom in/out while freeholding a huge lens and camera. ? During the stable bits I am proud of how this turned out (along with my Final Cut Pro edits and colour tweaks). Can’t say much for the audio as that’s just the on-camera mic, but it’s passable (when it’s not clipping).

Back to Rucker: his voice is every bit as powerful as you remember, and since I actually enjoy country music now (something my 20 year-old self would be shocked at) I rocked out with his new music. It was also a great photography workout: I’d brought THE BEAST (my 70-200mm Nikkor f/2.8 lens) specifically to shoot the music concerts. I didn’t drag that heavy thing all the way across the country to not use it!

Being a former musician (I am, sadly, merely a bass owner now), I love seeing a tight band backing up a stellar vocalist. In addition to a mix of old and new music, Rucker added in some great cover songs, including She Talks to Angels and No Diggity. Genres be damned; good music is good music, right? ? Continue reading Darius Rucker Live: Concert Photos & Video

Seattle Storm 2017 Basketball Photo Shoot

I call this photo “David vs. Goliath”: that’s the Seattle Storm’s Sue Bird (5 foot 9) going up against the Mercury Phoenix’s Brittney Griner (6 foot 9). ?

I had the pleasure of attending my first WNBA basketball game in August of last year, and it was a fun experience for my whole family. And while I was pretty far from the action, having my Nikkor 70-200mm lens and Nikon D750 24 megapixels to crop from let me capture some pretty cool photos. And for being my first WNBA basketball game, I’m happy with how most of them turned out.

[View the entire gallery]

DockCase: A Clever Solution for the Port-Anemic MacBook Pro 13…Except for Power

(photo above by DockCase)

Back in September I saw a Kickstarter project that looked like it would help with one of the main complaints many buyers had with the new design of the 2016 MacBook Pros: nothing but USB-C ports. DockCase is a clever mash-up of two things most MacBook owners want: a way to protect it and a way to add more ports. Previously I’d solved the port problem by putting my MacBook in a sleeve and carrying a variety of dongles, USB-C to USB-A adaptors, SD card readers, and a USB hub (which has an SD card slot, USB ports, and HDMI port) scattered across the two bags I’d use for transporting my laptop. I’d guess I’ve spent around $200 or so on these accessories, partially out of the paranoia that I’d need a slot/port and not have it.

The DockCase offers a variety of ports: SD card + microSD card slots, three USB-A ports (supporting USB 3.0 speeds of 5 Gbps), one USB-C port (supporting USB 3.1 speeds of 5 Gbps), one USB-C PDC (power delivery charge) port, HDMI video (1080p @ 60Hz or 4K @ 30 Hz), and a gigabit Ethernet port. That’s a comprehensive list of ports and replace every port a modern non-MacBook product would have (and then some). I paid $89 when I backed the project on Kickstarter, and it shipped pretty much on time (a rarity in the crowdfunding space).

Continue reading DockCase: A Clever Solution for the Port-Anemic MacBook Pro 13…Except for Power

King, Warrior, Mentor, Friend

“A king who is not a servant is merely a tyrant.
A warrior who is not tender is only a brute.
A mentor who is not wise is just a know-it-all.
A friend who is not faithful is at best an acquaintance,
or worse, a betrayer.”

– Stu Webber

How to use Lightroom CC + Still Export Albums in Lightroom Classic CC

I’ve been using Adobe Lightroom since 1.0, and I’ve evolved a workflow that adapts to some of the limitations in both Lightroom and local storage. I use Lightroom for active photo shoots only, meaning that being able to archive my albums is critical. My workflow looks like this (what does yours look like? post in the comments):

  1. Import photos + videos off memory card into new album
  2. Edit photos in Lightroom (first pass culling + develop remaining photos + second pass culling + final development tweaks)
  3. Export photos as 80% quality JPEGS, export videos as original quality
  4. Bulk rename JPEGs + bulk timestamp change in ACDSee Photo Studio for Mac
  5. Export album as catalog + delete album from Lightroom
  6. Put catalog onto Synology NAS (which is then backed up in multiple places)

Adobe recently shook up the photography world by releasing a brand new cloud-centric version of Lightroom called Lightroom CC, and re-naming what we knew as Lightroom to Lightroom Classic CC. They added some performance enhancements to Lightroom Classic, which are greatly appreciated, but otherwise didn’t add any new features. That’s a bit frustrating given we pay a monthly fee to Adobe that we presume goes into improving the product.

The big development effort clearly went into Lightroom CC, and though it’s obviously a 1.0 product lacking in many features we’re used to in Lightroom Classic, I see a lot of potential in it. The biggest limitation in real-world use is going to be upstream bandwidth: you need to have at least 20mbps up – if not 40+ mbps – yet the average nationwide upstream bandwidth is only 8.51 mbps. That will be a massive bottleneck for most people to push all their raw files into the cloud to then use on Lightroom mobile apps. Continue reading How to use Lightroom CC + Still Export Albums in Lightroom Classic CC

How to Raise Kids Who Are Smart About Money

Parents, this is a great video about building purposeful money smarts into your kids. Mature money decisions as adults do not happen by themselves; your kids have either learned constructive (and sometimes painful) money lessons while they were young, or as adults. The older they are when they learn the harder it is to undo the damage. Every parent needs to teach their kids about money: the first paycheque your kid will get as a young adult will not come with an instruction manual about how to use the money responsibly.

There are a lot of gifts we can give our kids as we raise them: one of the most important should be preparing them to handle money the right way for the rest of their lives.

Presenting the Most Bad-Ass Macbook Pro Skin in the Western Hemisphere

One of the things I was looking forward to when getting my MacBook Pro 13 was the fact that I buying a hardware platform. By that, I mean a product that would immediately achieve such critical mass that hundreds of companies would create accessories, cases, covers, adapters, etc. for it. Apple keeps their form factors for years (sometimes too many years) and that gives hardware companies the stability they need to roll out a broad array of products. That’s a compelling advantage!

Coming from the Windows world, where often every year the new model has a new design, whenever I’d get a new laptop I’d search in vain for cases, covers, etc. Anything I’d find would be generic and generally boring. My last Windows laptop, a Dell XPS 13, was the first one I’d ever owned that was popular enough to warrant some accessories. I remember being so exited when I found this plastic shell for it.

I hadn’t bought a skin for a laptop since back in the Fujitsu P7000 days (and I was amazed I found a skin for it at all), but I decided that since I was likely going to keep this MacBook Pro for longer than any other laptop I’ve ever owned, I wanted to protect it from wear and tear more than any previous laptop. Time for some skin shopping!

The front is a Slickwraps Color Series wrap in, you guessed it, red. ? I chose to leave the vinyl in place over the Apple logo. I may prefer Apple laptops now, but I have no desire to advertise for the company.

Continue reading Presenting the Most Bad-Ass Macbook Pro Skin in the Western Hemisphere