Why not..?

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Is it possible to update Oliver’s condition too often? Forgive me if I’m being overly zealous with his recovery pics, but I just wanted to keep you all up to date. Top pic has a touch of Instagram applied.

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*As a loyal reader, please don’t feel as though you need to leave a comment every time I make a blog post. I just want to provide a quick note about my little friend’s condition. Though he does look a little sleepy, trust me… he’s doing awesome!

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My new favorite black and white filter

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Lately I’ve been using EyeEm on my phone instead of Instagram, and I like it. Usually I’m playing with the “Earlgrey” filter which adds a warm, soft, muted tone to photographs, but when a new filter was recently added to the app, I jumped at the chance to try it out. It’s called “KCe” and with one swipe of your finger you can have a pretty nice black and white photograph. Here’s a little sample of it at work… I know it seems sacrilegious to take the golden out of the golden retriever, but I kinda like it.

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An alternative to Instagram

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I ditched Instagram a while back after they announced what I considered to be greedy changes to their terms of service. Rather than re-hash that whole debacle though, I’m moving on, and I’m sharing an alternative to what was once my favorite iPhone app.

I have to admit, I kinda like the simplistic approach that many photo-sharing apps take toward using filters and effects to process photographs. Some might argue that using these apps and their features actually “dumbs down” the artistic process, but me… I’m all for a little filtering and tilty-shifting… as long as it’s in good taste of course!

My new go-to alternative to Instagram these days is a little app called EyeEm. As with Instagram, it offers several interesting options for applying funky filters and effects to your photographs. It is also a social platform like Instagram was, but I don’t use it for that at all. Other apps I’m a fan of include Snapseed, Camera+, Wood Camera, and B&W Lab.

Here’s my workflow (really should be called playflow) using EyeEm… I make my photograph using the standard camera app that comes pre-installed as part of the iPhone iOS, though you could obviously just use the camera built right into the EyeEm app. That photograph is saved to my camera roll, and I use the EyeEm app to open it, crop it if desired, and then start experimenting with the filters. When finished, my “filtered” photograph gets saved to my camera roll alongside the original.

Anyhoo… here’s a little sampling of a photoshoot I did with my baby Oliver over the weekend. He was quite pleased to be invited onto the sofa, but I he soon realized that he’d rather be on the cooler wooden floor. This is him with a little bit of EyeEm’s “Earlgrey” filter applied… it’s quite similar to Instagram’s “Earlybird” filter. I just like how soft it makes these photographs feel.

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I’m done apologizing…

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It’s all of my own making. This blog used to be mostly about showcasing my experiences exploring the beautiful landscapes of Maine and especially Acadia National Park, but lately it has been swallowed up by photographs of Oliver – the little, but fast-growing dog.

I know that some loyal readers enjoy seeing what Oliver has been up to lately, and that it’d be quite OK if he was front and center all of the time. I do, however, feel as though I am forever apologizing for this recent change in course for the blog, so here I am throwing in the towel regarding the apology bit.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m hopeful of getting out to shoot landscapes again soon, but in the meantime… purely for my own sanity, I’m done apologizing for posting pictures of Oliver. Phew… just saying writing that feel’s like a load off!

Anyhoo… here’s a sampling from the last couple of days… all shot using the iPhone 5 with a touch of Instagram Earlybird filter applied. Though I ditched the Instagram app itself, I have the filters stored as actions in Photoshop – I kinda like the effect.

Have a great weekend!

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A landscape photograph… sort of

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So, in case you hadn’t noticed, most of my photography efforts lately have been focused pretty much on one thing… that’s right, Oliver the new family dog. I’ve been enjoying my new iPhone – and all of the camera apps I have downloaded – as I document how quickly Oliver is growing. Until recently, I haven’t had much desire to break out the “real” camera and go in search of any pretty landscape images, and I’ve been more than happy to experiment with the handy dandy little camera that is also my phone. I’m the guy you would think has never owned a camera before now… the guy shooting his food, his dog, his kids… you name it and I’m photographing it!

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Anyway, despite being tempted to visit Acadia this past weekend on a landscape photography adventure, the early start, sub-feezing temperatures, and an additional inch and a half of snow that fell somewhat dampened my enthusiasm. So, instead of spending time in Acadia, we settled for a visit to the local golf course with you know who… and that’s where I made a landscape photograph… sort of. While Oliver was doing his thing, I noticed this solitary tree standing tall in the falling snow. And since I had my iPhone/camera with me… here’s the result.

Instagramming my dog

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Sounds painful, doesn’t it? Not as painful as the most recent round of bad publicity Instagram (acquired by Facebook) has endured because of the changes they made to their Terms of Service. Uproar has ensued all across the Internet with hordes of Instagram users ditching their once favorite photo sharing app – all because of the strategies Facebook proposed using to recoup some of the gajillions of dollars it spent acquiring Instagram.

We all like things that are free, especially things that are pretty cool… like Instagram. However, I learned a long time ago that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, so in order to monetize my favorite filtering photo fun app, parent company Facebook decided that they wanted to put ads in Instagram. As a loyal Instagrammer, this might not necessarily be a deal breaker for me, especially if I could buy a $2-ish in-app purchase upgrade that wouldn’t show ads. Where it got sticky though, was when FB wanted to place those ads, “on, about, or in conjunction with” my content… my photographs. That’s not cool… I’m all for creative people making a living, but I don’t think it’s right that they would claim use of my photographs for using with their ads… for free.

News travels fast on the Interwebz, and it now appears that the company is backtracking and has removed at least that part of the TOS language which stated that they would be authorized to use my (or your) photographs in their ads for free… we’ll see how this all plays out, but methinks that with the array of photo sharing app options available these days, Instagram might just have done themselves irreparable harm. When you think about it though… is there much difference between what caused this brouhaha and the terms of service of other web entities like Flickr, Facebook, or Twitter? Heck, I’m not really sure. Reminds me of the old adage… read the manual.

Some might say that this post is just an excuse to display more photographs of my dog. To you, all I can say is “shame on you” and that I resemble that remark! Anyhoo… here’s how I Instagrammed my dog. I promise Oliver was not hurt in the writing of this blog post, nor in the making of these photographs…  just a little Lo-Fi filter applied.

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A Ninja in New York

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There goes my New York Ninja. Jack adapts to the city easily, and although not on the horizon, Lori and I often talk about how well he would do if we ever decided to live there. Though we were sad to be in the city to pack up Aunt Joan’s apartment after she moved to a Northampton assisted living facility, Lori, Jack and I did enjoy being back in the heart of Chelsea – even if it was just for a long weekend. I’ve always felt that life in the city is dynamic, exciting, and full of energy, and our recent visit, though brief, brought back all sorts of good memories from when Lori and I lived here twenty years ago. Knowing that family ties to the city are becoming more and more tenuous, throughout the weekend we felt a sense of wanting to really absorb as much of this lifestyle as possible. I know we will be able to return to the city whenever we want to, but somehow without the family connection I don’t think it will feel the same. The bond and sense of almost belonging here that we have always enjoyed will be harder to find, so I’m glad we packed so much of the city into one of our “last” visits. New York, New York… so good they named it twice.

Madison Square Park, New York City

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After visiting the top of the Empire State Building, Jack and I slowly meandered about the city as we made our way back downtown toward Aunt Joan’s apartment on 25th Street. Reaching the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Broadway at 23rd Street, we were greeted by an oasis in the city surrounded by spectacular architecture and filled with historical and impressive monuments and sculptures. Home to a kiosk housing the renowned Shake Shack restaurant, the lively and beautiful Madison Square Park is a wonderful place that Jack and I wandered into and then stayed a while. Kudos to the Madison Square Park Conservancy for all of the work they do to keep this park so vital and alive.

The bridge to Brooklyn

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Spanning the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn, this marvel of engineering provides a connection between two famous New York City boroughs. Partly constructed of giant granite blocks quarried off the Maine coast on the island of Vinalhaven, the 1595.5 foot long national historic landmark was completed in 1883. Orginally known as the “New York and Brooklyn Bridge” and also as the “East River Bridge” – this iconic symbol of the urban landscape was officially named “The Brooklyn Bridge” by the city government in 1915. We of course did the touristy thing, and with mid-November temperatures that soared to almost seventy degrees, we enjoyed the stroll from Manhattan all the way across the bridge to the East River State Park in Brooklyn.

As you can imagine, the views were incredible, as was the food we sampled at Smorgasburg, an amazing outdoor “farmer’s market” for foodies located in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge. Filled with smells and tastes to die for, there were 50+ vendors selling handmade food with origins from all over the world. As we relaxed under the Brooklyn Bridge (with the view above), we chowed on the best Falafel tacos ever, tasty Texas barbeque brisket sandwiches, the creamiest of New York cheesecake, and a gourmet peanut butter and jelly smore that was ridiculously delicious. Yum, yum…

High above the city streets

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Located on the lower west side of New York City is one of the absolutely coolest public spaces you’re ever going to find. The High Line is a unique park built on an historic but decommissioned freight rail line elevated above the streets on the lower west side of Manhattan. The idea of turning the old train tracks of what was once New York City’s “Life-Line” into a green area and public park was an innovative one, and when we first visited this amazing place a few years ago, we were intrigued by what we saw. Our return visit only reinforced our feelings of admiration for this spectacular preservation project and those who champion its cause.

The High Line was built in the 1930s, as part of a massive public-private infrastructure project called the West Side Improvement. It lifted freight traffic 30 feet in the air, removing dangerous trains from the streets of Manhattan’s largest industrial district. No trains have run on the High Line since 1980. Friends of the High Line, a community-based non-profit group, formed in 1999 when the historic structure was under threat of demolition. Construction on the park began in 2006. The first section, from Gansevoort Street to West 20th Street, opened June 9, 2009. The second section, from West 20th Street to West 30th Street, opened in spring, 2011.

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The design and layout of all of the High Line elements – everything from the railings, to the benches, and the wonderful landscaping all mesh together in a very stylish way that effectively celebrates and incorporates both the history and feel of the old train tracks. As we walked from 20th Street to Gansevoort Street near Greenwich Village, it was almost surreal to be wandering along such a beautiful pathway right above the streets of one of the busiest cities in the world. Kudos to the “Friends of The High Line” who fought so hard for the preservation and restoration of what is a wonderful addition to NYC. If you ever get the chance to wander along the High Line, take it… you won’t be disappointed.

When the lights go down in the city

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New York City exudes a different kind of energy at night. It becomes even more exciting, with what might be obvious during the daylight hours seeming much more mysterious as the shadows reach into dark doorways and alleys. A feeling of anticipation for what’s around the next corner, or further down the street, overtakes every other thought, and the artificial light trying to brighten the streets and avenues provides what I think is a more intense glimpse of city life at that moment. When the lights go down in the city… in addition to being a cool Journey song… might just be my favorite time to wander the ever busy sidewalks of New York.

A New York state of mind

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It’s been a while since I’ve been to the top of the Empire State Building in New York City, and on this visit I was determined to return (and bring Jack up there for the first time). When Lori and I lived in the city, it was one of the first landmarks we always brought visiting friends to, though I don’t remember it being so expensive back then. Jack was incredibly excited to ride the elevator which sped like lightning to the 86th floor, and when we stepped out onto the windy and cold observatory deck and saw the views, this wide-eyed eight year old was more than impressed. I could tell that he was intrigued by how high we were, especially since we had been noticing the top of the tower from just about every part of the city we had already visited, and it was cool to see him literally run from the east to west to north and south sides of the observatory in search of a different view. Methinks this is one experience he will remember for a long time. Once again… everything in this post was Instagrammed.

Two Mainers exploring New York City

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New York City is the greatest city on earth. A family obligation recently afforded us the opportunity to spend a couple of nights on the island of Manhattan, and part of my responsibility on this visit – while Lori was working – was to keep the little man entertained. So, what do two Mainers set loose in the big city do? Well, they explore… and as they explore, one of them Instagrams their adventures. In just a couple of days, Jack and I hit up some of the more famous locations… Central Park (and the zoo), Times Square, the Empire State Building, Fifth Avenue, the Brooklyn Bridge, Broadway and 42nd Street, Greenwich Village… and that’s what I’ll be documenting in the next couple of blog posts. Let’s start with Central Park and the Children’s Zoo where we saw some awesome critters (in and outside the zoo). I know it’s weird, but I can’t shake the spooky feeling I get when looking at the first couple of photographs from this post. Makes me think of The Shining… here’s Jack!

My lady on the beach

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We recently spent an awesome weekend together as a family eating burgers at Five Guys in Portland, watching Sea Dogs minor-league baseball at Hadlock Field, and then boogie-boarding and chilling on a foggy Sunday morning on the beach.

Here’s a quick photograph of my lovely lady Lori walking on the beach at Scarborough State Park. Building on my interest in using Instagram and appreciation of always having a camera with me, I snapped this iPhone photograph of Lori as we wandered along the shore.

I love being on the beach in weather other than a typical sunny day, and though winter is my favorite time to be there, a cool foggy day is hard to beat. On this particular morning, although the air wasn’t that warm, the water temperature was almost bearable as we relaxed before wrapping up what was a fabulous family weekend together.

Instagramming

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I believe that it was late May when I last lugged my camera to the shore and saw the sun rise. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to get up and take advantage of the pre-dawn light that I love, but lately I’ve been choosing to hit the snooze button rather than get up (really early) for first light. I’m not entirely sure why I haven’t been able to motivate myself to get my act in gear photographically, but whatever it is has conspired to send me into probably the most prolonged photo slump ever.

Even though I haven’t had my “real” camera out in a while, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been making photographs though. Both Sam and Lori have iPhones, and as we travel around on our family adventures, I admit to hogging Lori’s phone (camera). Just recently I found the Instagram app, and although photographs rather heavily filtered and automatically cropped to square are frowned upon by many… I’m totally hooked. Excellent landscape photographer Nate Parker seems to agree with my sentiments about it not being such a bad thing, and I got a chuckle out of reading his recent post titled: “Why Hipstamatic and Instagram are totally awesome.”

I love having the iPhone camera with me all the time. I carry it everywhere I go… to places where in all likelihood I wouldn’t bother carrying my “real” camera. Having access to a camera at all times has me looking to make photographs pretty much constantly, and it also has me making photographs of subjects that I might not otherwise try to photograph. Some work, and some (many) don’t. I love experimenting with the canned filters in Instagram, and I also love how with one touch you can make subtle (and not so subtle) adjustments to colors, style and depth of field. Transforming boring photographs into something you might have expected from a toy camera 15 years ago, I find Instagrammed images to be fun, quirky and interesting (sometimes). Here’s a quick sample of some of my first Instagrammed photographs… and since I’m in a “real photo” slump of late, I’m just happy that it at least keeps me clicking the shutter.

*I’m off to spend the night in Acadia right after I hit the publish button on this post, and I’m determined to see the sun rise tomorrow morning. Maybe I’ll finally have a new photograph to share…