Over the past few days I have been trying to take some more photos just to get back in the routine. They have been images of mundane things around the house but I have been trying some new (to me) editing techniques to hopefully make them into something kind of compelling.

Abstract banana

Abstract banana

Knot 1

Knot 1

Knot 2

Knot 2

Scout's Ball

Scout's Ball

Afternoon Clouds

Afternoon Clouds

Sawdust and Dog Hair

This past week I was on vacation and the child was on a cruise with her grandparents. Erin and I took the opportunity to repair our nine-year-old, not-at-all-properly-cared-for deck. I "think" we sealed it once, maybe seven years ago but I can't remember. Anyway, it was in pretty bad shape. Boards splitting, turning gray, etc. We decided it was time to strip it to the bare structure and replace everything else.

Over the course of five days we replaced all of the decking and the steps, all of the railings and pickets, and a few other pieces here and there. Basically, if it wasn't a structural component we replaced it.

And, being us, we took lots of pictures to document our progress. Here is a (roughly) chronological look at the process. And, of course, you can see how helpful Scout was during the project...

Addendum: Erin was a total badass tearing apart the deck. Seriously.

Playing Around with Lightroom HDR

I've never been a fan of HDR (high dynamic range) photography. Basically it's combining multiple exposures in the computer to increase the dynamic range of an image. I have shied away from HDR because I have seen too many photos that end up looking like this.

But in the latest version of Lightroom there is a new photo merge feature that does HDR the right way. Instead of making an unrealistic image with crazy dynamics the Lightroom HDR uses multiple exposures to turn the five or six stops of dynamic range with digital photos into the eight to ten stops that film has.

With the photos below I set up the tripod and took five exposures of each photo. One at the "correct" exposure, and one each at two stops below, one stop below, one stop over, and two stops over. Then it's just a matter of importing them into Lightroom, selecting the set of exposures and selecting Photo Merge > HDR... Lightroom then gives you a preview so you can decide whether or not to keep the merged photo.

The merged photo is a fully-editable DNG file so you can make any adjustments you would make on any other raw image file. In the case of these two photos I just cropped them, increased the contrast a bit, and then edited them in Exposure. All I did in Exposure was to convert them to the Ilford Delta 100 black and white emulator. Then back to Lightroom to export them.

And there you go. Black and white digital photos with comparable dynamic range to film.

Apple Music is coming...

Apple Music is coming tomorrow. There are a couple of hoops you’re going to have to jump through to listen in.


Apple is going to push iOS 8.4 to iPhones and iPads at 8:00 AM PDT (11:00 AM on the East Coast) on June 30 (tomorrow). That will update the Music app to support Apple Music. The Beats app is getting an update (though not necessarily at the same time) that will let it export your Library and Playlists over to the updated Apple Music app.

If you use Spotify, Rdio, etc., you can use the Beats Importer (info here) to move your stuff to Beats and then from there into Apple Music.


You’re going to have to pay for most of the features of Apple Music. It’s $9.99/month for one user, $14.99/month for up to six users connected through iCloud Family Sharing. But, in my opinion it’s worth it. For that you get unlimited skips on Apple Music radio stations except on Beats1, which is live and doesn’t have skips, unlimited listening to everything in the Apple Music catalog, all of your own music added through iTunes Match, and access to the curated playlists and recommendations in Apple Music. You will also get offline listening for those times when you’re driving to Snowshoe and cell service sucks.

There is a three month free trial period for everyone but if you decide not to pay after that you’ll lose access to any content from the catalog you’ve added and you’ll be skip-limited on all radio stations.

Where to Listen

Initially you’ll get to enjoy Apple Music on any iOS device, any Mac or PC running the latest iTunes, and the Apple Watch. Apple TV support and an Android app are coming later this year.

So, Should I Try It?

Yeah. If you use the Music app now for iTunes Match and/or iTunes Radio then you’ll be using it anyway. And iTunes Radio is being killed off in favor of Apple Music so you’ve got no choice there. If you use Beats then you’re eventually going to be migrated over to Apple Music (probably) so you might as well start that process now.

If you’re using one of the other streaming services and really, really love it, then I dunno. Maybe just try Apple Music for a bit since it’s free for three months and decide then.

But, I want to know more…

Then you should check out Serenity Caldwell’s Apple Music FAQ: Everything you need to know on iMore. It has, literally, everything you need to know.

Happy listening…