John Gruber on Tim Cook’s open letter →

September 02, 2016 |

John Gruber:

I’m with Cook on this one. It’s about what the Commission (and many observers) think the tax law should have been, not what it actually was. It’s telling that Ireland is objecting just as strenuously as Apple.

Of course Ireland is objecting just as strenuously, it was actually Ireland that the Commission found guilty of wrongdoing here, not Apple. And if Ireland was to take all that money from Apple now, they would be risking future investments in their economy not just from Apple, but every other foreign company as well. Despite the unexpected €13bn windfall, they have a lot more to lose here than Apple.

And then there’s this gem, from Tim Cook’s original open letter:

The Commission’s move is unprecedented and it has serious, wide-reaching implications. It is effectively proposing to replace Irish tax laws with a view of what the Commission thinks the law should have been. This would strike a devastating blow to the sovereignty of EU member states over their own tax matters, and to the principle of certainty of law in Europe.

What Cook argues sounds compelling, but it is in no way what happened here. As for how “the law should have been”, European state aid laws have been in place for a long time, and it is based on those laws that the Commission ruled.

I find it cute — read: hypocritical — that Tim Cook now appears to place such a high importance on the sovereignty of EU member states, when it is precisely some lack of sovereignty that made Apple’s loophole possible in the first place: by diverting profits from other member states to Ireland, something that wouldn’t have been possible without the EU’s common market, Apple is effectively making it impossible for those member states to collect taxes on sales and profits that were generated within their own borders and paid for by their own citizens. How exactly is that respectful of the sovereignty of all the other member states?

In other words, it is only because EU member states willingly gave up some of their taxation privileges in order to be a part of the common European market that Apple and other big companies could get away with doing something like this. What’s outrageous to the Commission and many European citizens — including yours truly — is that, had they stopped there, things would have been perfectly legal and Apple and Ireland would have both been in the clear. But that wasn’t enough for Apple. On top of that, they had to negotiate a ridiculous tax rate on those profits, something the Irish government was all too happy to grant them because, seriously, which government wouldn’t want Apple to set up shop in their country?

I like Tim Cook, and I like Apple. I want to believe Tim knows Apple is at least morally in the wrong here, and he’s just playing the cards he’s been dealt and fulfilling his obligations as CEO. But, in case he hasn’t noticed, Europe is going through its worst economic crisis in decades, and sovereignty isn’t what it used to be. Ask Greece, or Spain, to name just two member states that have seen their sovereignty significantly limited by the Commission’s economic oversight in recent years.

Europe is bleeding money and taxes are now more necessary than ever. To add some perspective, Ireland’s national debt is currently greater than its GDP, so it’s not like they don’t need the money. Many states have had to make huge sacrifices to preserve the idea that the Union was built upon, and now it is Ireland’s turn. If Apple wants to legally fight the Commission’s ruling they have every right to do so, but let’s not kid ourselves about who holds the moral high ground here.

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Candid, Episode #25: The Rise of Unsplash →

August 30, 2016 |

I missed this week’s episode of Candid, but friend of the show Drew Coffman was kind enough to join Marius and Josh for an in-depth discussion on one of the most interesting platforms for photographers of all kinds: Unsplash. This was easily one of the best Candid episodes to date. Absolutely recommended.

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This is what it’s like to work as an Uber bike messenger in New York City →

August 29, 2016 |

Really great piece over at The Billfold:

The most appealing aspect of working as a bike courier — on top of its power to burn calories — is the glimpse it offers you into the private worlds and habits of New Yorkers. I frequently took on the role of an armchair anthropologist, privileged with brief glimpses into the modern dwellings and workplaces of New Yorkers of all stripes.

It’s definitely not all rosy, but if there’s one city in the whole world where I wouldn’t mind trying something like this, it’s gotta be New York.

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Candid, Episode #24: Travel (Instagram) Stories →

August 18, 2016 |

With Josh unable to join us this week, Marius and I catch up on the news, and then I share some of the many things I learned during my recent trip to Lisbon, including my impressions on the Sony Zeiss FE 16-35mm F4 lens. Along the way, we also answer a listener question, chastise Zenfolio for terrible behavior, discuss photo backups for travel, and I get to make my first-ever baseball reference on the show.

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Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps: Twin Titans of the Modern Olympics →

August 13, 2016 |

Great piece by Christopher Clarey over at The New York Times:

Michael Phelps and Bolt have been an Olympic one-two punch since 2008 in Beijing, where Bolt emerged to tear up the track while Phelps was already an absolute ruler in the pool.

On Saturday they will overlap briefly once more, with Phelps, now 31, finishing up one of the most remarkable meets of his career, and with Bolt, fast approaching 30, launching his meet with the first round of the 100 meters.

What a generation of athletes. In case it wasn’t obvious, you’ll find me glued to my television both tonight and tomorrow night. If you’re coming over, please bring some cold beverages.

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Candid, Episode #23: Expose to Whatever →

August 13, 2016 |

This week we’ve got a couple of excellent listener questions to answer before delving into exposure. We go over ETTR and other techniques and compare exposure rules in digital versus analog photography. I had a lot of fun recording this one.

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Add vintage lens metadata to your pictures in Lightroom with LensTagger →

August 04, 2016 |

If you shoot with old manual lenses on your modern digital camera, as I do, you’ve probably noticed that Lightroom doesn’t show up any EXIF information for the lens when you import the images. That’s pretty obvious, since vintage lenses usually have no electronic parts in them at all. The problem is, Lightroom doesn’t allow you to add this missing information to your files later, either.

LensTagger is a Lightroom plugin that allows you to add specific lens metadata to your images without ever leaving the app. It works pretty well, and includes all lens-related information such as lens name, focal length, maximum aperture, actual aperture, and more. Best of all, you can save presets for the different lenses you shoot with, and apply the edits to multiple files with a single click. And as a nice bonus feature, you can also add film-related metadata, including film brand, stock, speed, and more.

If you like to have all your pictures nicely tagged for, say, sharing to Flickr, LensTagger is definitely a great solution.

The hidden charm of Madrid’s street markets The hidden charm of Madrid’s street markets

The images above were both shot with the venerable Canon nFD 50mm f/1.8 lens on the Sony A7 II camera. Click on them to view them on Flickr, including lens metadata.

LensTagger requires ExifTool, which is available on both Windows and OS X. It was developed by Dirk Essl and it’s donation-ware. If you enjoy using it, do send a few bucks his way.

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Candid, Episode #22: Right Place, Wrong Lens →

July 29, 2016 |

With Josh and Marius back from their respective summer trips, we’re all back together and eager to talk about the latest photo news as well as reflections on travel equipment. This was a fun one.

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Candid Conversations: Drew Coffman →

July 16, 2016 |

With Josh still away, Marius & I are joined by friend of the show Drew Coffman. We talk about Drew’s gear, including a new Leica Q, before wrapping up with a detailed discussion of iPad Pro and mobile photography workflows.

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Discovering Romania →

July 14, 2016 |

My friend and co-host Marius Masalar has been spending his summers in Romania for twenty years. This time around, he decided to share his experience and created this gorgeous photo story to give us a little insight into his beautiful — and sometimes terrible — country. Fantastic work.

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