The anti-VSCO photographer →

November 03, 2014 |

Great piece by Connor McClure. It’s from back in February but it’s still pretty relevant today, particularly in light of the last entry:

Droppping $50, $90, $120 on the latest and greatest pack of presets won’t make you a better photographer any more than buying dropping an extra grand for an extra f-stop will. If you’re truly in pursuit of the “film look,” for heaven’s sake, shoot film! If you’re truly limited by your post-processing capabilities, improve them!

We, as a creative whole, need to get out of the mindset that we must have the latest and greatest tools to be good at our craft.


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First impressions of the Leica M-A →

November 03, 2014 |

Chris Gampat, The Phoblographer:

The only word that we can use to describe this camera’s build quality is beautiful. Well, that’s a lie. You can also use timeless, ruggedized, expert, fine, and nostalgic. Veteran Leica shooters will feel right at home with this little piece of art in their hands. Photographers that have shot for many years and experimented with various cameras will also be caught smitten.

Of anything that Leica has pushed out of its factories in the past years, this camera’s build quality and design is something that we’d truly state is worth its weight in gold due to it being truly timeless and purely analog.

Sounds like my kind of camera.

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Grandma the poisoner →

November 03, 2014 |

Absolutely terrifying story by John Reed for Vice:

People were always dying around Grandma—her children, her husbands, her boyfriend—so her lifelong state of grief was understandable. To see her sunken in her high and soft bed, enshrouded in the darkness of the attic, and surrounded by the skin-and-spit smell of old age, was to know that mothers don’t get what they deserve. Today, when I think back on it, I don’t wonder whether Grandma got what she deserved as a mother; I wonder whether she got what she deserved as a murderer.

Via Kottke.

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Chasing Retina

October 31, 2014

Today I read Shawn Blanc’s excellent 4,000-word review of the Retina iMac. Shawn is coming from a MacBook Air, so he’s moving from a laptop + external display rig to a desktop-only setup:

And here at my desk, it’s more than just the computer that I have going on. I use a standing desk, a clicky keyboard, and gigabit internet. There are many incentives (comforts, really) that make my home office workstation comfortable, efficient, and preferable. Honestly, I like it here.

And so I decided that I was willing to double down on my home-office setup and that my next main Mac would become a desktop machine if it meant I could get a Retina display.

Welp, that’s exactly what happened. Apple announced the new iMac with its Retina 5K Display, and I ordered one right away.

This is sound logic. If you’re spending most of your time at your desk, the Retina iMac is a no-brainer. Like Shawn, I like to use my computers for as long as I can before replacing them; I definitely recommend getting the best specs you can afford now in order to make your life easier in the future.

Unlike Shawn, however, I use an iMac + MacBook Pro setup and frankly, as much as I love my iMac and as much as I’m lusting after the Retina iMac, I just can’t see myself giving up the MacBook Pro to go desktop-only. The problem is, my iMac is already 6 and a half years old and my MacBook Pro is 4 and a half years old. Yikes. Even though both are still performing admirably for their age, it’s been long enough that upgrading either of them would clearly make a huge difference.

Having a laptop is a necessity for me, because I do most of my work away from my home office. Changing places every now and then helps me stay fresh and motivated, and I vastly prefer it to being chained to my desk at home all the time. I’m actually typing these words on my MacBook Pro while sitting in La Bicicleta Café, a Cycling Café and Workplace that I frequently use as a remote office. As a bicycle nut, this is pretty much the perfect place for me to work at.

La Bicicleta Cycling Café & Workplace

An additional consideration is that in order to fund the upgrade I must first sell part of my current setup, which means at least one of the two computers I own has to go. If going desktop-only is not an option, then what is the right way for me to go Retina? Because let’s face it, I won’t be buying a non-retina Mac ever again. I’d much rather wait until I can afford to upgrade properly, even if it takes another year.

With that in mind, I can see four distinct upgrade paths:

  • Sell both computers and get both a Retina iMac and a 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro.

  • Sell my MacBook Pro and get a 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro first, then next year sell the iMac and get a second-gen Retina iMac.

  • Sell both computers and get a 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro with an external Thunderbolt Display or a non-Apple 4K display.

  • Do nothing and stay with my current setup for another year.

The first option would be the ideal, of course. Unfortunately, I’m not swimming in cash just yet so I can’t really afford it.

Realistically, the most sensible upgrade path would be the second one. Being the one I use the most, I think I’d rather have Retina on my laptop first, and thanks to the SSD upgrade, I could live with my aging iMac for a while longer. Then, at some point in the future, I would finally upgrade my desktop and get the Retina iMac, with the added benefit of possibly getting a second-generation model. This would ensure Apple has had enough time to iron out any kinks or bugs that may affect the first-gen Retina iMac. There don’t appear to be any significant ones for now, but we’re still in the early days, so you never know.

A more aggressive upgrade path, however, would be to sell both computers and just get the top-of-the-line 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro plus an external display. Effectively, this would be the opposite of what Shawn just did. If Apple could make an external 5K Retina Display, I would do this without hesitation. Unfortunately, since that’s not the case — and won’t be for a while — I remain undecided. I currently use my iMac as a media hub for my Apple TV, and if I were to switch to a laptop-only setup, having all my external hard drives permanently connected to the display via Thunderbolt would be a great feature. That way, there would only be one cable to unplug every time I wanted to switch from desktop to laptop mode. Using a non-Apple display would eliminate this very convenient feature, which sucks.

What I’ll probably end up doing, however, is the final option. I would love to get a Retina Mac, but if I’m being completely honest with myself, now is not exactly a good time to upgrade. It’s easy enough to justify the expense because the benefits are many — and profound — but at the end of the day, the truth is both my current Macs are still perfectly capable of fulfilling my needs, and there are several other, more important things I need to figure out in my life first.

The point I’m trying to make is that there’s not a universally-agreed-upon best way to go Retina on the Mac. It all depends on your particular situation and preferences and, as cool and impressive as the Retina iMac is, it’s perfectly OK to realize that it may not be the best choice for your needs. These machines are amazing, but they’re also pretty expensive; you should probably take the time to carefully evaluate your options before deciding which one is best for you, even if that means doing nothing at all — which, ironically, is the most difficult thing to do.

It’s not purely about the money, mind you. Even if you can easily afford to upgrade, does it really make sense? Is it a reasonable purchase or just a spur-of-the-moment bout of desire? Will you get the most of what the new thing has to offer or will those features be largely wasted on you? Ultimately, is it for you? These are meaningful questions.

I honestly believe being responsible consumers is important. There’s just too much senseless buying going on around us all the time; at some point we have to start taking responsibility as individuals, and start making sensible choices in our lives. Every decision has a hidden cost. Sometimes that affects us — the same dollar can’t be spent twice — and sometimes it affects others. This shouldn’t be simply shrugged off without consideration. Upgrading just for the sake of fancy is often tempting, just not particularly smart or advisable.

That said, I also believe in investing in quality items and tools, and in their potential to enrich our lives. If you genuinely need a Retina iMac, by all means go for it, get the very best model you can afford and use it thoroughly and responsibly for as long as you can. It will surely prove to be one of the smartest buying decisions of your life.

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The Stradivarius Affair →

October 31, 2014 |

Buzz Bissinger, Vanity Fair:

It isn’t every day that a street criminal—a high-school dropout with two felony convictions—is accused of stealing a centuries-old violin worth as much as $6 million. But nothing about the heist of the Lipinski Stradivarius, which galvanized the music world last winter, was normal, or even logical.

Not all heists are planned by charming, sophisticated criminal masterminds.

Via Coudal Partners.

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Muhammad Ali, through the eyes of the photographers who know him best →

October 30, 2014 |

Jonny Weeks, The Guardian:

Ali’s iconic status – and he is surely a man befitting of that word, iconic – is inextricably married to the photographs that exist of him. While his poetic tongue and rapid wit charmed us, and his poise and ruthlessness in the ring thrilled us, the imagery of him toned our appreciation of his personality, craft and beauty. Photographs are now among the defining symbols by which we remember him.

Great pictures tell stories, and there are very few stories as fascinating as Ali’s.

Via Coudal Partners.

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Paris / New York →

October 30, 2014 |

Great commercial by Franck Matellini for British Airways:

Paris & NY, like many large cities, have a lot in common; transport, infrastructure, national monuments. I wanted to explore not only these comparisons but also the differences, in order to expose the beauty and individuality of each. What you cannot deny is the vibrancy and explosion of character each city has and I thought split-screen with timelapse would be a good way to help convey this.


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The Right Words →

October 30, 2014 |

Patrick Rhone is on fire lately:

It is moments like this that I am reminded why I am a writer. I’m in love with and in awe of the power of language. The way a single word or just the right ones strung together can capture the whole of something otherwise only imagined. An entire experience can be encapsulated, examined, and then set free for others to bear witness to, all in an instant, with just three simple words.

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Tim Cook: “I'm proud to be gay” →

October 30, 2014 |

Fantastic, inspiring article by Tim Cook on Bloomberg Businessweek:

While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now. So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.

Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day. It’s made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life. It’s been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry. It’s also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple.

Well said. Intolerance and bigotry have no place in modern society, and we should all do everything in our power to stop them. I have only the greatest respect for Mr. Cook for having the courage to speak up and hopefully inspire millions of others to do the same.

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