The past few years I have been taking personal trips that take me away from friends, family and everyday life. I’ve taken single days, weeks and even months but length really doesn’t matter. Solitude is the key… this is not just a vacation with a spouse or a get-a-way with a friend… it’s a very deliberate time to find isolation from the oh-so-many distractions we face in our world. There’s something magical about being completely alone… just me and my thoughts and beautiful Creation.
For me, I find the most tranquility camping in the wilderness. I awake in the morning and I see His Light as the sun breaks over the horizon, I feel His warmth as the dew melts off the grass, I hear His power in the roar of a distant waterfall. With nowhere to be and nothing to do, I rest and watch as a new day dawns. It’s in these times I feel most alive, it’s in this stillness where I can cease striving and know that He is God (Ps 46:10) and it’s in these days I feel a physical connection & spiritual harmony with my Maker like no other.
As I go on these trips alone to recharge, people have always looked at me and said “oh he is introverted, of course he needs that” and I honestly always thought they were right. But as I’ve encouraged those around me to take time off and truly be “alone” I’ve learned this time pays off for introverts and extroverts alike. Finding a place to embrace solitude with literally no goal except to think, rest and absorb the beauty in Creation and just praise God for who He is yields a unique prize regardless of who you are.
The idea of being alone may be a bit scary but embracing that fear is rewarding. Look at David who spent hours on end writing the Psalms beneath a tree. Think about Jesus who retreated to the mountains time and time again. These were men living in a significantly slower society with barely any distractions compared to the society we live in today yet they fought to get away into isolation. Don’t be afraid of spending time without a close friend or peers… it might surprise you what comes of it.
It’s easy to think “I’m too busy” or “there’s just so much going on, I could never get away.” Consider Bill Gates… even as CEO of Microsoft, he was finding time for two “think weeks” a year! I’m sure he had more on his plate than you and me combined yet he saw enough value in the power of seclusion to make it happen…and not just once, he did this over and over.
Sure, I’ve gone on 5-week adventures camping solo… not everyone needs such a long trip. But I’m encouraging you to take some alone time somewhere, somehow. It may just be camping at a nearby lake for a night, a week at a log cabin nestled away in the mountains or a month sailing through the Arctic solo.
A get-a-way like this with no schedule or plans will inspire you to create and challenge you to new aspirations. It will give you direction, rest & rejuvenation that you just can’t find elsewhere…but most importantly you’ll find it creates room for the Spirit to feed the deepest cravings of your soul.
Wheverever, however, whenever you do it, you need to do it. Find a place, schedule a time, make it happen… something amazing will come out of it.
A new iPhone release is always fun but as a travel photographer the most exciting aspect is new & improved abilities of the new camera. The 4S was a pretty big upgrade from the 4 and the iPhone 5 has been expected to be an even bigger jump.
We had our hands on iPhone 5s just minutes after their release on Friday… hours later, we were on a flight to Iceland (where we are now) to test out it’s widely-hyped camera upgrades, including it’s all-new panorama feature, low light capability and unbeknownst to us even it’s “dropability.”
After about 48 hours shooting here in Iceland… I can definitely say, it’s a pretty incredible upgrade.
I’ve found the panorama feature works insanely well… almost too good. Panoramic images are going to be the next thing and I predict an Instagram-esque service/app that can features iPhone panoramas will explode. It makes it so fun and easy. As you can see in the image from the plane above, it hands close proximity environments very well but of course any time there are moving objects in your frame there’s going to be trouble (aka people’s faces look morphed.)
It settings like the one below, it works beautifully. This panorama was shot in about 15 seconds, just panning the camera across the landscape as if I was shooting video. The result is a surprisingly sharp, 28 megapixel image.
Holding the iPhone 5 is a tad bit unwieldy to any previous iPhone user… For starters, it’s lighter and just feels like a toy but secondly the taller proportion just feels strange and takes awhile to get used to (haven’t yet.) When shooting the panoramas, the on-screen arrow makes it super easy to stay level and it shows you a live preview of your pano as you create it… a feature I have yet to see in any dSLR. I did find that holding the phone with cold, wet hands it was very difficult to keep images sharp.
Probably the most impressive aspect of the new phone is it’s low light performance. It’s a drastic improvement from it’s predecessor, the 4S. Noise-level are much more subtle and w/ it’s much faster lens it’s ability to focus in near dark is really wonderful.
I did find that the though the panorama feature was able to stitch together an image well in low light, the grain was significantly higher and the image all around darker than a single frame.
Fast Shutter Fire
Shooting speed has SIGNIFICANTLY increased… One of the big bummer with the iPhone 4S was the ability to shoot frames in rapid succession was very limited. With the iPhone 5 I’ve found I can hit the shutter about as fast as possible and it keeps up pretty well. See the series of images shot very quickly below:
Late September in Iceland is not a friendly place for any electronics… this is a time that puts your gear to the test whether you like it or not. Just in the last 2 days of shooting here, I’ve had my iPhone 5 covered in water from shooting near a waterfall and Jordan has dropped his directly in the mud. Both seem to be working fine.
One huge bonus of traveling and shooting with the 5 is it’s “world phone” capabilities… meaning it comes carrier unlocked. We were at Nova shop (major wireless provider here in Iceland) shortly after landing getting new SIM cards. After the staff “ooed and awed” over seeing their first iPhone 5, we had data an voice rockin’ in no time. One minor issue is the iPhone 5’s new Nano SIM but it was nothing a pair of scissors couldn’t fix. After we received our Micro SIM from the carrier, we were able to successfully cut down the Micro and fit it into the Nano SIM slot with no problems.
You might wonder why I even mention this in a review primarily geared toward the camera but I see them as one-and-the-same. The truth is that most images from many photographers, professionals and hobbyists alike, are being seen somewhere on the web minutes after being created. The ability to easily connect your device in a foreign land is huge. It not only means easily posting images to Instagram but also staying in contact with people on the ground and navigating your course of exploration!
I used Snapseed almost exclusively for my iPhone editing. It’s super capable, easy-to-use and fun. On the iPhone 5 I found the Snapseed edits are super fast but a little unstable… not sure if it’s an iOS6 thing or something related to the iPhone 5 itself. Whatever it is, NIK needs to push out a software update pretty quick… some of the glitches are just annoying and others apply weird pixel patterns to images when you save them rendering them unusable.
The era in which people specify “shot on iPhone” is coming to end. It doesn’t matter any more… you can no longer say “look what I did with this crippled device!”… because, well, it’s no longer crippled. In fact, it does things your big fancy SLR can’t. Apple hasn’t let us down with the capabilities of the 5 and I can’t wait to see the images you all create on this thing this next year.
twitter & instagram: @austinmann
travel blog: austinmann.com/trek
video & tons of help from: jor.by
Last night I was leaving WELD around 3AM and felt cool air wafting through the garage… I looked up at the sky to see the clouds were movin super fast as a cold front blew in. I excitedly grabbed my camera and spent about 30 minutes shooting this little piece.
Half an hour seems like a long time do spend on a piece like this especially since it will probably never be used… but as artists we have to keep creating, we have to push ourselves to take that extra bit of time in the middle of the night and make something of our inspiration. Of course this pushes us and keeps us on our creative edge for jobs but more importantly these times can be a great time to reflect on life, acknowledge Beauty and thank God for who He has made us and for the blessings He has given us.
One year ago today, my sister & her husband Brian had a baby named Boone. Thankfully I was able to get up to Kansas just a couple hours prior to the delivery. This was a really special time for our family as we gathered around to pray, share stories and dream about his life to be. I had just recently picked up the Fuji X100 and decided to capture the evening with it. The images… and where it really shined this night was it’s ability to capture in silence (unlike any SLR.) Here’s a few shots from that night, exactly a year ago today!
Waiting…waiting…waiting. Thankful for iOS devices during this time.
Hours later… listening intently for a baby’s cry…
Yahoo there’s that cry!
We were all so thankful.
A very happy father.
There he is!
His face instantly broadcast around the world!
Abby, Boone’s aunt, couldn’t be there this night… but thanks to FaceTime she was with us just moments after the birth.
So thankful for my nephew Boone… the life in his cry, the joy in his smile and for the incredible man we hope and pray he will be. He represents the first new life in our family in many years and this night opened up my eyes to the supernatural marvel and really the divine miracle a little baby boy like Boone truly is.
One year later!
(sorry it’s taken me so long to get this out… I’ve had it written for quite a while but ran into some WordPress formatting issues that Matt at digitonik helped me out with.)
I’ve been using Mountain Lion for about a week now and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I’ve been using a Mac 15+ years and have traditionally upgraded to the new OS right away. The biggest jump was from 9.1 to OS X. Any of you that were around during those days no doubt remember the struggles and challenges. Since then, upgrades have been relatively smooth except for Snow Leopard to Lion.
I was on Lion, the release before Mountain Lion, on Day 1 and immediately found that I couldn’t connect to WiFi (biggest problem) among a bunch of other small problems… Apple fixed most of these issues in the coming days and it eventually stabilized and has been a great OS. That being said, I was a bit nervous to jump from Lion to Mountain Lion but I’ve been pleasantly surprised.
Every time Apple rolls out a new OS, they always boast 200+ new features… that’s usually a bit daunting and who is nerdy enough to actually sit down and read about them all? Well I do, every time, so I thought I might pick out a few things that I think matter…
Upgrading is easy, just go to > App Store > Click on Mountain Lion. It will take awhile to download the file and then reboot and install itself.
Stuff I Like…
AirPlay Mirroring to AppleTV
In my opinion, this is one of the most awesome additions in Mountain Lion. We’ve had the ability to wirelessly mirror our iPhones & iPads to HD TVs via AppleTV forever now, but the ability to mirror a Mac has only been possible with the help of a great little 3rd party app called AirParrot. Fortunately, Mountain Lion has this feature built-in and it works really well. Simply select the AirPlay icon in the top menu bar and select the AppleTV you wish to mirror too (must be on the same WiFi network) and boom, your Mac screen is live on your TV.
This is great for sharing pictures, presentations, websites or whatever with friends and family but be warned, it’s not ideal for streaming HD movies for entertainment… it works really well but if you are looking to watch an action packed Hollywood film, I think you’ll find the quality is not quite up to par.
The new Mail is a great improvement. I’ve noticeed in Mountain Lion it being significantly more stable & faster. Search is way better. Up til now, my experience with Mail search has always been subpar in that it’s been slow, inconsistent and sometimes just useless. However, in Mountain Lion it seems to work beautifully. I get the results that I know are there, it searches across all the boxes when I ask too, and I never find myself being forced to manually hunt down messages cause Mail search doesn’t find them (used to happen all the time in previous OS’s.)
In addition to general improvements, they’ve also added a few cool features. VIPs are a major highlight… you can now select certain users and nominate them as a VIP. After doing this, any email sent from this person will be sorted into a VIP list in your sidebar. This helps sort through all the fluff and help you focus on the things you need to see first. I love it. Mail integrates with Notification Center too, so if you want to see an email as soon as it pops up, that’s no problem.
You can also click the top title bar of the messages list to scroll to top (just like on iPhone.)
In Lion, they changed the Mail layout a good bit and I don’t like it… I like the original layout. Fortunately, we can go back by choosing Mail > Preferences > Viewing > Use Classic Layout.
New in Mountain Lion is individual progress bars on each folder… nice because you can see what is taking up the time, and also cancel items individually, instead of canceling an entire transfer in the transfer dialog box.
I love that you can sign-in to most of your social apps in one place in System Preferences > Mail, Contacts & Calendars. Here you can sign-in to Twitter, Vimeo, Flickr, Gmail, iChat and more… once and for all, so you don’t have to do it all the time in different browsers and applications. This also is used by the Share buttons that have been put everywhere in the OS. You can now tweet content from just about everywhere on the Mac using these buttons.
Apple has replaced it’s iChat with Messages. It’s basically just like iChat with a few great little changes, one of which is the ability to communicate over the iMessage protocol… which means you can send messages to iPhones and iPads, from your Mac. It’s great for when you having a text conversation with someone and you are sitting at your desk… instead picking up your phone everytime they send you a message, you can just reply in using Messages.
It’s also great for travelers outside of US coverage because it enables text-message style conversations without paying per message for roaming.
Safari has some super cool updates too. They’ve adopted the Chrome method of one text entry field for URL and search instead of a field for web address and a separate one for search … it’s now clean and fast and makes sense.
Another very cool thing is you can sync your open Safari tabs with you iPhone & iPad and additional Macs. First you need to go to > System Preferences > iCloud > Safari. After enabling that checkbox, a cloud icon will pop up in your browser and allow you to see the tabs you have open across multiple devices. They’ve also re-vamped the way the predictive search list works and it’s much better than before.
Power Nap is a super cool new feature that unfortunately only works on the newest MacBook Pros and recent MacBook Airs. It basically allows your mac to receive new messages, sync photos, backup Time Machine and more while the computer is sleeping. You have to activate it and download the latest SMC update to make it work, but you should definitely check it out if you are on one of the latest edition Macs.
More info here: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5394
Mountain Lion also integrates voice dictation everywhere. You simply double tap the function button and begin speaking. It actually works really well in fact to demonstrate works I used it to type this entire paragraph!
Although it’s much more seamlessly integrated, I still can’t say I think it’s going to be widely used… yet. It definitely is a significant improvement to the past and I think it will only grow more and more popular until voice is widely used for text entry, navigation and more.
iCal is no longer iCal, it’s now Calendar. They’ve added a few things that should have always been there… for instance, when adding a new event and selecting the date in the pop-up, there’s a mini-calendar to pick it the event date on a calendar instead of typing in the date. Also, search works a lot better it has great result suggestions and has token support.
Stuff I Don’t Like…
Hidden Status Bar
Remember the sweet little bar at the bottom of Finder windows that had the slider to adjust the size of icons & also number of items in the folder & remaining available disk space? This is something that was actually changed with the release of Lion, and I’ve heard from many people that they really wish it was still there. I was curious if they’d bring it back in Mountain Lion by default but they haven’t.
The good news is, it’s there, just hiding. To turn it back on, in the Finder choose the menu View > Show Status Bar… or simply hit Command-/ to toggle it on and off.
This was actually changed in Lion… Apple has really been working to mesh the iOS for mobile devices and the Mac OS… In some instances that works great, in others it just isn’t right. iOS is great because it offers corrective spelling for the common typos… but it’s just not right on Mac yet. It seems to be a bit over aggressive for use on a Mac and it changes things so quickly you might not even notice.
To turn it off, go to > System Preferences > Language & Text > Text and then uncheck Correct Spelling Automatically.
Pretty cool. I like the idea of being able to tweet embedded in the OS, though I’ll never us it. Notification Center is a lot like Growl but more integrated and streamlined in the OS.
You can Option-Click the Notification Center icon in the top right and it turns off all pop ups (ie: for a keynote presentation or any time you don’t want to be interrupted.)
I really wish you could turn it off all together though. I’m in the habit of throwing my mouse into the top right corner to Spotlight search… but now when I aimlessly throw my mouse up there it lands on the Notification Center instead.
The two alternatives:
1) Use a keystroke to trigger Spotlight. By default, Command-Space pulls up Spotlight…but any keyboard using creative uses Command-Space for Zoom in Photoshop. I reprogram it in System Preferences > Keyboard & Mouse > Keyboard shortcuts and I use “Option-Z” to pull up Spotlight.
2) Disable notification center all together using Terminal. This is what I did cause I am pleased with Growl and I don’t like something new commandeering my corner.
To do this, switch to finder and choose menu Go > Utilities and then select Terminal. Then paste in
sudo launchctl remove com.apple.notificationcenterui.agent launchctl remove com.apple.notificationcenterui.agent
Then hit Enter.
This will completely remove and disable notification center. To restore, paste in:
sudo launchctl submit -l com.apple.notificationcenterui.agent -p /System/Library/CoreServices/NotificationCenter.app/Contents/MacOS/NotificationCenter
Then hit Enter.
Additional details about the process here: http://www.chrisnovoa.com/os-x-mountain-lion-disable-notification-center/
So…is it worth it?
Absolutely. Increased stability, improved UX and all around more reliability are exactly what I wanted and what I got. If you use Mail, you’ll find Mail is a great upgrade, not because of anything significant but because of a few little things that just make it better.
Everything in Mountain Lion seems to work like you always wished they did in Lion… and frankly, they work the way they SHOULD have in Lion. At $20, it’s small price to pay for the increased ease-of-use and all around peace of mind that your operating on a stable machine.
PS: Regardless of the OS your on, you might find this little Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapter super useful, especially if you’re using one of the new MBPs or MacBook Airs: http://www.macnn.com/news/106564
Around the time that we were opening WELD, I met Kyle Steed (kylesteed.com) and started collaborating right away on this project. We needed some art in our entry way that encompassed the idea of collaboration and artists across different mediums…
This quick timelapse shows the process from concept to paper to digital to projector to execution in final form! We are all really happy with the final product… Enjoy.