Mike Bates on picking the right bag →

April 13, 2015 |

Last week, Ben Brooks wrote an article on how he chose the right bag for a short trip. That same day I also shared my own views on the matter, along with a simple set of rules to cover most situations. Now it’s Mike Bates’s turn to share his approach and while I focused more on traveling, he goes at it from an everyday carry perspective:

For a long time I had just one bag that I used for several years, cramming whatever gear the occasion required into, but since then I’ve made a handful of bag purchases (both good and bad) which lead me to where I am today. I’m not completely happy with my current setup, but it certainly works. Albeit with regular bag-changes and lots of moving gear in-between different packs.

What I like most about Mike’s system is that it is solid, functional and it scales very neatly from a super-minimal MacBook sleeve to a versatile 25-liter backpack.

Because he lacks an iPad-optimized bag though, Mike plans to buy the ONA Prince Street in the future. The Prince Street is an amazing bag — I’ve also been considering it for some time — and I’m sure he’s going to love it. However, I have a feeling it will render his current ONA Bowery redundant.

Of course, as far as problems go, that’s definitely a nice one to have.

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How ‘Daredevil’ is Unlike Anything Marvel Has Done So Far →

April 13, 2015 |

John Gholson, on the new Marvel TV Show that debuted on Netflix on Friday, April 10th:

Daredevil is unlike anything Marvel Studios has done. We got a look at the first five episodes of the 13-part season, and it’s nothing like the Marvel Studios films nor the spin-off shows from ABC. This is great news. This is a low-key, performance-driven crime drama, where the episodes don’t follow a tidy formula nor aim to move Daredevil kids meal toys. It’s street-level and human and it’s going to make a lot of fans of “ol hornhead” very, very happy.

Daredevil, missing the luxury of a $200 million budget like its big-screen peers, is shot like an indie crime film (or a low-budget horror movie – lots of darkened rooms with one sickly amber key light) and makes the best use of its greatest resource, a talented cast. All of the players, from Deborah Ann Woll as the complex, troubled Karen Page to Bob Gunton as the smarmy “Owl” Leland Owlsley, command the screen with the same level of interest as the title character himself.

Daredevil always struck me as one of the most interesting Marvel characters, and also one of the most underrated. Unfortunately, the completely forgettable 2003 movie starring Ben Affleck did more harm than good to the character’s popularity. Now it looks like we’re finally getting a decent show that makes the horned hero justice for a change.

If like me, you’ve been patiently waiting for the man without fear to return to the screen, it looks like this new show is everything we hoped for and more, and it “only” took 12 years. Oh well, if they don’t screw it up again, it’ll have been well worth the wait.

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Photojournalism in color →

April 13, 2015 |

Kenji Kwok makes an interesting case for photojournalists to finally leave black and white behind:

There’s a sombre mood to black and white photography that is so attractive to new photographers and preventing even seasoned photographers from progressing towards what we actually do see – colours. In an interview of renowned photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson in 1971, Sheila Turner-Seed asked what he thought about colour photography, and his reply: “It’s disgusting.”. He chose to stick with photographing in black and white because the thought of having multiple people dictating the different colouring processes (limitation of colour photography in the past) seems to complicate the simplicity of photography. But that bold pledge of allegiance to black and white photography continues to guide the digital world of photographers today, from fine art to landscape, and especially photojournalism.

I get the point Kwok is trying to make — although I disagree with him — but I have a feeling he’s misreading Cartier-Bresson’s words to create a counter-argument for his narrative. Either that or he hasn’t read the complete interview — which by the way, is fantastic.

The reason Cartier-Bresson disliked color photography was not limited to the complexity of the coloring processes or the lack of fidelity in color reproduction at the time. Those things certainly didn’t help, but Cartier-Bresson had other, more personal reasons to prefer black and white. From the same 1971 interview:

Q. If the technical problems were solved and what you saw on the page would really be what you saw with your eyes, would you still object [to color photography]?

A. Yes, because nature gives us so much. You can’t accept everything of nature. You have to select things. It’d rather do paintings, and it becomes an insoluble problem. Especially when it comes to reportage, color has no interest whatsoever except that people do it because it’s money. It’s always a money problem.

So in the end it’s about meaning, and interest. If color is of no interest to you, then having it not only fails to add significance to your images, it actually takes away from them. That’s what Cartier-Bresson believed, and that’s the reason he only shot in black and white.

Of course, you may agree with that sentiment or not. My personal beliefs lie somewhere in the middle. I love black and white and tend to edit the majority of my street images that way, and I definitely shoot with black and white film more often than with color film. However, there are certain situations where I absolutely prefer color.

At the end of the day the good news is, we don’t need to choose. Color and black and white are not two different ways to tell the same story, each one tells their own story in their own different way. We can — and probably should — shoot in both black and white and color, and shoot to our heart’s content. The only real way to find out where you stand is by experiencing both and figuring out which one is closer to the way you see the world.

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How to develop C-41 color negative film at home →

April 13, 2015 |

If you’re into film photography but can’t find a laboratory that will process color negative film for you, you may want to look into processing it yourself at home. Luckily, this article by Sam Agnew has everything you need to know. Via The Phoblographer.

It may look daunting at first but don’t be discouraged. All it takes is some basic equipment and you don’t even need a darkroom. Other than the temperature-sensitive nature of the process — all liquids must be kept at precisely 40 degrees Celsius — it really is pretty simple. And as a side benefit, it will be a lot cheaper than having a lab do it for you.

I myself did it for the first time last week, except with black and white film. There are a few differences: temperatures are lower for black and white — around 20C — and the whole process takes quite a bit longer, but in essence it’s the same thing.

I’m very happy with my results, and I fully intend to keep doing it from now on — but more on that later.

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Fleeting beauty: What Japanese culture teaches us about the cherry blossoms →

April 13, 2015 |

Lovely piece by Diane Durston for the Washington Post:

The Japanese words “wabi” and “sabi” express the rather complicated feeling we have for this kind of simple beauty; a loveliness that is all the more precious because of the realization that nothing lasts. They describe the quietly moving beauty of a handcrafted bowl that has been handed down in the family for generations—you feel the touch of the hands of everyone who has cared for it over time. It may no longer be a perfect bowl, and you understand that, like the cherry blossoms, it won’t last forever, but that is what makes it all the more exquisite. As Leonard Cohen said, “Ring the bells that still can ring / Forget your perfect offering / There is a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in.”

The cherry blossoms are a yearly event near and dear to my heart. My hometown, Plasencia, is located right in the heart of Jerte Valley, one of the world’s leading cherry producing regions.

Every year around April, when the cherry trees blossom in a spectacular coordinated display that paints the entire valley white, thousands upon thousands of tourists gather to witness this magical sight.

For a few precious days — the full bloom rarely lasts more than three days — we are reminded of how beautiful our planet can be, and how fleeting beautiful things are.

Photo credit: “A Flood of Cherry Blossoms”, by Miquel González Page.

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Josh Ginter gets down to work →

April 11, 2015 |

Fantastic, brutal and completely honest piece by Josh Ginter on how — and more importantly, why — work has been keeping him away from The Newsprint lately:

Over the past few weeks, work has equated to progress. Movement, in a forward direction. Acquisition of skills. Patience in acquiring those skills. And a work ethic I never thought I would enjoy.

Progress is addicting. Growth is addicting. Accomplishing goals is addicting. My only regret is the amount of dust collecting on my camera.

Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do and in those moments, the only way I’ve found to move forward is to keep your head down and keep pushing as hard as you can, for as long as it takes. And the thing about putting in the hours and working your ass off is, things usually get better a lot sooner than you thought they would.

Hang in there Josh, and don’t worry about your camera. It’ll be right there waiting for you — along with the rest of us.

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HBO reveals first teaser of True Detective’s Season Two →

April 10, 2015 |

It looks good. Very good:

My first impressions are twofold:

  1. I like the new cast, particularly Rachel McAdams as the female lead, and I’ve had a soft spot for Kelly Reilly ever since I first saw her in The Spanish Apartment. The male characters are also well cast in my opinion. I’m not so sure about Taylor Kitsch, but I’m a huge fan of Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughn.

  2. That’s all well and good, but we were promised a new season featuring two female leads, and in the end we got three male and one female as the lead characters — Kelly Reilly was cast in a supporting role, apparently. I’m not saying that’s necessarily bad, but I was already expecting a different type of story and to be honest, I was quite excited about it.

But like I said, it looks very good. I can’t wait.

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iMore’s ultimate guide to Photos for OS X →

April 10, 2015 |

Fantastic, informative guide by Rene Ritchie, as ever:

From magic wand, to basic color, light, and black & white tweaks, or full, granular control over exposure, saturation, intensity, and more. You can also rotate, flip, crop, and straighten, remove redeye, touch up blemishes, and more. Photos for OS X has everything you need to make your pictures look exactly how you want. What’s more, all the edits are non-destructive, so if you don’t get something perfect the first time, you can change it again whenever you like, or even go right back to the original. Combine that with the large screen, and editing photos on the Mac isn’t just easy, it’s accessible to everyone.

And if you’re also interested in the cloudy side of things, don’t forget to check out his equally impressive guide to iCloud Photo Library. Great stuff.

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Mom’s powerful photos of her daughters show ‘Strong is the New Pretty’ →

April 10, 2015 |

What a beautiful and inspiring story by Rebekah Lowin over at For years, photographer Kate T. Parker had been taking pictures of her daughters as they grew up, doing what most kids love to do, when all of a sudden a powerful idea emerged:

A mother, wife, and commercial and fine-art photographer, Parker has also been an athlete her entire life. “I grew up playing sports, and the girls I emulated were the girls that were really strong and confident,” she says. “They didn’t have the time to worry about how they looked, and so I came to understand that their worth was determined by something different, something stronger.”

That personal history might explain why “Strong is the New Pretty” feels so intensely powerful: It’s authentic. When her own girls, Ella, age 9, and Alice, age 6, started to show an interest in taking names on the soccer field and stomping around in mud puddles, Parker wanted them to understand that they, too, should value personal character and strength over any societally-established beauty norms.

As she puts it, “This kind of girl — who has dirt on her shoes and doesn’t want to put a bow in her hair — she’s beautiful, too.”

They are beautiful, and strong. So often those two go together. This is what growing up should be like for every kid.

Via Lauren Laverne.

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The new MacBook: There’s a lot hanging on that keyboard →

April 10, 2015 |

The reviews of Apple’s new MacBook are out and it seems that, predictably, its most polarizing feature is also one of the most frequently used: the keyboard.

In order to create a much shallower keyboard for their thinnest laptop yet, Apple invented a new “Butterfly mechanism” that supposedly gives keys more stability, even with off-center hits. This, however, comes with an important trade-off: much-reduced key travel.

If you’re at all picky about your keyboards, you’ll know that key travel is an incredibly important usability factor, perhaps much more important than key stability itself. Therefore, the question is, did Apple achieve the right compromise between the two in this keyboard?

Christina Warren, whose excellent review of the new MacBook is the title-link for this entry, believes that, though it definitely wasn’t love at first sight for her, it is something she could get used to:

One consequence of the keys being so close to the frame is that the low amount of travel did make the typing process a bit more… painful. I don’t suffer from carpal tunnel, but I did find that extended periods typing on the new MacBook keyboard tired my wrists a bit more than a traditional keyboard. Take breaks if you’re going to be writing on this thing all the time — at least until you “break it in.”

The thing that was harder to get used to was the size of the keys: They’re now bigger. Apple made the keys 17% larger than standard MacBook keys.

This made my first few hours typing on the keyboard a bit difficult as a touch typist because I consistently felt off by a letter. In time though, I got used to the new keyboard.

Still, if you use other keyboards — or have used the standard Apple keyboard for close to a decade (as I have), it’ll take some adjustment.

That doesn’t seem too bad but on the other hand, Jason Snell does not count himself among fans of the new keyboard in his extended commentary at Six Colors:

I go into a lot more detail about this in the review, but in the end I’ve got to say that I’m not a fan of the new keyboard. Apple played the other enhancements that the keyboard offers, such as increased stability and wider keys, as attempts to offset some of the costs of the reduced key travel. That makes me hopeful that Apple sees this keyboard as what it is—a pretty serious compromise in order to get the computer thinner—rather than some breakthrough new keyboard that will be replicated on every other Apple keyboard in the next year or two.

If you don’t type a whole lot, or very fast, you may not care about the substantially reduced key travel. And you can get used to it. But it’s just a tiny step up from typing on flat touchscreen glass. I managed to score almost 120 words per minute on TypeRacer on the MacBook keyboard, but I didn’t enjoy it. If you’re someone who notices when a keyboard feels different or weird, you will notice this keyboard. If you’ve never really understood why people write about keyboards, you probably won’t care—but why are you even reading this section?

It’s an interesting contrast, to be sure. Also, don’t forget to check out Jason’s full review of the new MacBook at Macworld.

If you were planning to buy a new MacBook but had any doubts about the keyboard whatsoever, it appears to be one of those features you should personally try before committing to purchase. So before placing your order, my advice would be to stop by your local Apple Store to see how you like it.

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