My photo workflow


Friends have asked how I manage photos, so here's a breakdown of my typical process, whether that's shooting for 15 minutes in my backyard or several hours across the country, it all follows a similar pattern.

1. I set my camera on the highest burst mode, run 16Gb and 32Gb CF cards, and shoot all day (in JPGs, not RAW for speed, laziness, and disk space). For bike races especially, I'm bursting out a dozen shots a second as riders pass in the hopes one of them is in focus, capturing the light and action well. I typically shoot 300-1500 photos in a day depending on the activity. If there's a huge lull in action I sometimes review and toss out the obvious bad ones.

2. Go home (or to my laptop if traveling) and dump them all to iPhoto

3. Skim through the photos full screen in iPhoto, with the Information and Adjustments floating panels showing. Delete blurry/bad ones directly (which automatically advances to the next shot so it's quick), leave so-so photos, and mark good ones as 5-starred using the info panel.

4. I have a smart album in iPhoto set to photos taken in the last couple days that are also rated 5 stars.

5. I go through the best of photos again, weed out any that aren't up to snuff (simply clear the stars), and optimize the remaining.

6. I used to dump into Photoshop at this point to fine tune every shot, but now I'm lazy and there's so much content so I just use iPhoto's adjustment controls and often it's just hitting the auto-enhance button for most shots to get them 90% of the way there.

7. After I have my best photos all brightened up, I usually run the Flickr Uploadr and dump them to my Flickr account as a new set.

I've been working this way for the past couple years and typically it's pretty quick. Even going through a 1500 shot day, the time from when I start reviewing photos to the time I upload the best to Flickr is less than an hour. For smaller (300 or less) photos, it can be completed in about 15 minutes start to finish.

Imaginary iPad conversations with critics over the last week

Screen shot 2010-02-04 at 9.01.11 AMBut you can't program on it! It's locked down. I'd never be a programmer if this was my first computer.

There are thousands of programmers working in the world of gaming, making tomorrow's next big console hit. Heck, most every web professional knows at least one old buddy working at EA or doing texture mapping at Blizzard. 

What does a new xbox360 do these days besides simply play a disk you paid $60 for? Sure it's got some networking but doesn't come with a keyboard and you can't see the source code for any games, but you know what? The industry seems to be healthy and doing fine, and those kids that grew up playing black-box consoles with no root access still decided they wanted to make new games and found the tools and job to make that possible.

It doesn't support Flash!

A lot of ink has been spilled on this one and it baffles me. Aside from the rare times I waste some time with flash games, this is really no big deal. In 2.5 years using an iPhone, I've learned that missing out on content thanks to being in flash is a rare event and usually only found on badly designed restaurant websites (where I end up getting the info from Google instead) or advertising. I've never been stuck somewhere due to flash blocking my way to information, plus thanks to sites like YouTube, Flickr, and Vimeo adoptiong HTML5, I can even view web video directly in my iPhone. The iPad will be just fine without Flash.

The app store and OS are too closed, you can't run any program you want on it!

My first thought when seeing web browsing in the iPad demo was delight that this was more of an appliance than a computer and that it could just plain Get Shit Done. 

I have a Mac Pro as my main machine at home but I travel occasionally with a MacBook Air. I pull out the Air once every couple weeks and realize I have a whole other computer I have to manage, with multiple Software Updates to download and install, programs to keep in sync with my desktop, and applications I need to download and install to match my desktop work environment. It's a hassle that adds time to packing and preparing for trips and often I wish the Air worked more like an iPhone where everything was in sync all the time and I could just pluck it off and shelf, and head to the airport.

Also, have you ever used an unlocked iPhone? There are good reasons why closed systems like the App Store work. Unlock your iPhone for a few days and find that battery life turns to absolute shit, programs randomly crash and lock up your phone and are generally unreliable after you load more than 3 or 4, and finding new apps on the unlocked app directories is all about needles in haystacks. In the end, I gave up on unlocked iPhones when I installed a display theme that bricked my phone. Let me repeat: changing the appearance using a springboard replacement app made my phone inoperable and had to be fully restored from scratch. I began to appreciate controlled closed programming environments after that.

No support for multitasking!

Again, I have to refer to my 2.5 years on an iPhone where I've found this a problem only once or twice, where I needed to switch from an app to the web to look up info, went back to the app only to find it reset itself and lost my state. Among the tens of thousands of times I've launched and used applications on my iPhone, I've only run into this a handful of times and managed to figure workarounds out anyway. This is not a problem, especially for the kind of simple email/web/etc apps run on the iPhone/iPad.

So far, the iPad looks like the ultimate device to have on a plane (no pesky keyboard to get in the way of cramped coach seat spaces + 10hr battery life while watching movies?!), it's the ultimate web surfing device to use on the couch and around the house, it'll make toddler games with my four year old even better than an iPod Touch/iPhone, and it'll be great to have in the kitchen to look up recipes without the huge footprint of a laptop (while also being easier to read than a phone). I'm planning to get one (wifi only) and looking forward to how it'll work when traveling versus a laptop. I suspect it will be a laptop replacement for travel in almost all circumstances (photo/video editing is about the only away-from-home use case I'd need a laptop for).

Fun with Foursquare

Screen shot 2010-02-02 at 9.25.27 PM I know I'm about two years late to this, but I'm really digging Foursquare. I remember meeting the guys behind Dodgeball in NYC before it was acquired by Google, and seeing how people used the service, but it seemed like an idea that could only fly in a densely populated place like Manhattan with its plethora of choices of things to do.

Fast forward a few years and I load up the foursquare client on my phone for the hell of it and notice that most of the downtown restaurants in my little neck of the woods an hour from Portland, Oregon are all listed with mayors, tips, and everything else. As I've driven around Portland and flown down to Southern California, I've been constantly surprised at the depth of coverage and wealth of tips available in larger cities.

The app is fun and using it is very much a game, but what I'm most interested in is how it's both a useful utility, but also has personality because it's basically crowd-sourced information from regular people. Similar services like Yelp feel more like a yellow pages with comments thrown in, where Foursquare is the exact opposite: it feels like a giant community blog with some maps thrown in.

As their database fills out, I'm interested in all the ways it could be harnessed for other applications. I could totally see a Fuelly/Foursquare mashup where you both check-in at a gas station you're fuelling up at and you can add your mileage stats to Fuelly at the same time.

Anyway, I know it's been around a while and is old news to every friend in San Francisco and NYC, but the app is useful even in the 'burbs and rural places now that more people are using it. I'd say it's officially hit mainstream.

Oh also: two quick tips. Connect your profile to Twitter and Facebook, but be sure to turn off automatic status update check-ins. Those are almost always annoying to your followers. Second tip: only add friends you've dined with in real life. The app automatically exposes your mobile phone number to your friends list which is a new level of intimacy for most social software. So unless you want to get rung up by random internet strangers from every other social network you're on, keep your friends list tighter than usual.

Disneyland 2010

Fiona enjoying the teacups

Now that I have a child that can really begin to enjoy Disneyland, we've made a couple annual visits to Disneyland and this past week we went there armed with three day passes. 

I grew up about a 20 minute drive from Disneyland, and I've been to the park probably 100 times thanks to having an annual pass when I was a kid. As an adult, I went some time in 1997, once in 2004, and last year. I'd never gone for more than one consecutive visit until this trip. To be honest, even to Fiona three days in a row started to get boring and two days was probably enough (though they don't sell 2-day passes).

Toontown coaster

My daughter loved the Toontown roller coaster so much we went on it probably a dozen times. Eventually we also did the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad which she also loved (we were surprised and thought it might be too much), and she even loved Splash Mountain. She liked most every outdoor ride (dumbo and the tomorrowland rockets) but hated almost all the dark rides.

Disneyland's dark rides follow a fairly standard plot: establish a place and characters, put them on a journey, then smack them with a challenge from some evil force, and finish with sudden triumph. I don't know why even stuff like Winne the Pooh has to have some dark evil. The dark rides also suffered from cranked sound levels — if it's hurting my old deaf ears, I can't imagine what the sounds are doing to 2 year olds on the rides, but the loudness seemed mostly there to shock and awe which likely contributed to Fiona saying she never wanted to ride Mr. Toads or Roger Rabbit again.

California Adventure sucked. I'd heard it sucked before but I had no idea. They pipe in rock music from speakers every thousand feet or so for no good reason, there's a very small section designed for kid rides, and the Bug's Life show is insanely age inappropriate for small kids with stuff that would cause an adult to get nightmares. The entry was thrown in free with our passes and after barely an hour there, we skipped back to Disneyland across the sidewalk.

The highlight of the trip was going midweek in January, since it meant the crowds were just about the smallest you could ever find. We ran onto many rides and the longest wait over three days was barely 20 minutes. The weather was great too, with temps in the 65F-70F range with no rain at all.

Wishing stars app

Another highlight of the trip was using the Wishing Stars iPhone app in the park. It's basically a photo and clue-driven scavenger hunt through the park for features and locations. Most of it is pretty simple though some of the arcane history in the harder levels proved difficult. Overall, it was a blast and a fun diversion when standing in a line or walking around the same part of the park for the third time that day. 

There's something kind of amazing about being able to do something social like a scavenger hunt, but asynchronous through the use of this app. I know a few friends are working on similar types of applications (doing previous real-time social events in a new web-enabled asynchronous way) and I think it's going to become a big trend in application development.

Overall, I had a blast though next time I think two days will be quite enough.