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A Life Lesson

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Bowdoin College Polar Bear

For three summers during high school, I participated in federal assistance program Upward Bound at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. My parents divorced when I was 13, and my then 31 year-old mother chose to raise four children alone. Jobs were scarce in Aroostook County during the early 1970s, and mom couldn’t earn enough. We were poor, by most American measures.

That circumstance and college plans qualified me to spend summers in Southern Maine and someday to attend a school like Bowdoin (I didn’t). The program has expanded such that if I were a high school student today, my UB participation would be at the University of Presque Isle branch rather than the one at Bowdoin. While closer to home (next town over), the benefits wouldn’t be as a great as getting out of the County’s confines, experiencing life on such a prestigious college campus, watching Shakespeare at the Theater at Monmouth, or traveling—even for a day—to Boston.  Read More

People Photo

Flickr a Day 142: Beloved

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Anne

To celebrate my wife’s birthday, I select a self-portrait she shot, at age 21, during the hopefully-not-forgotten fine film photography era. Ha! And youngsters today think selfies are some new thing. Annie doesn’t have a Flickr, so I—ah, hum—unexpectedly feature my own. That’s something not planned when starting this series nearly five months ago.

Annie used the Pentax K1000, which she bought for a college photography class. “It was a great camera for me”, she says. “I loved photography and really enjoyed developing photos”, although she concedes to not fully “developing my craft”.  Read More

People Photo

Flickr a Day 141: ‘Snappy Dresser at San Francisco Bev Mo’

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Funny Dresser

The only camera that matters is the one with you. So carry the right mobile, which Lynn Friedman does. She shot self-titled “Snappy Dresser at San Francisco Bev Mo” on April 14, 2015, using iPhone 5s. Vitals: f/2.2, ISO 40, 1/30 sec, 4.2mm. The photo makes the Day for title/caption, candid capture, and the subject’s attire.

Lynn is a photographer by profession, and today’s selection doesn’t remotely reflect the quality of her art—just its spontaneity and candor. From Milwaukee Wisconsin, she lives in San Francisco, Calif. Her website features three portfolio shoots that deserve your attention: Childhood,  Generations, and Roots. She joined Flickr in April 2006.

Photo Credit: Lynn Friedman

Gear Google

Nexus 9 Review

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Nexus 9 and Friend

I want to love Google-branded, HTC-manufactured Nexus 9. But ours is a contentious relationship. N9 is not a bad tablet; others offer better value and performance for the price (or less), with Apple iPad mini being high among them. That said, if pure (aka stock) Android is your thing, there is no worthy alternative. Just prepare for a few compromises, particularly if moving up from Nexus 7.

In his November 2014 review, my BetaNews colleague Brian Fagioli calls Nexus 9 “magical“. I can’t agree. During my four months using the tablet, response occasionally hesitates and WiFi too often disconnects. Last week, my N9 received the newest Android update, which somewhat resolves both problems. I purposely delayed this review, waiting for v5.1.1.  Read More

People Photo

Flickr a Day 140: Key Man

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Key Man

Today’s selection comes from Italian Fiammetta Bruni, who joined Flickr in February 2008. She’s generally a street shooter of artistic flavor whose sense of composition differs from my own. That said, she makes the Day mainly for how she composed the photo, which otherwise is interesting. What’s up with those keys? Bokeh beautifully divides the image, and she made the right choice focusing on the keys, and blurring the gentleman.

Fiammetta captured the pic on April 26, 2015, using the Nikon D60 and 50mm f/1.4 prime lens. Vitals: f/1.6, ISO 100, 1/1000 sec. I nearly chose another, which comes from her excellent album “Street Arts a Roma“. She is active elsewhere online. Start with La factory di Fia and her other WordPress blog.

Photo Credit: Fiammetta Bruni

Apple Digital Lifestyle Google Mobility Motorola

Whatever the Future, a Bigger Screen in Your Pocket isn’t It

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Phone Pocket

I love my Nexus 6. This morning, while waking to the rush of caffeine from steaming coffee, I read headlines on the device. “I’m Phed Up With Phablets: They’re too big to prevail” caught my attention. The short commentary, by Brian Rubin for ReadWrite, rails against the bigger-is-better-smartphone trend. Screen on my cellular is massive: 6 inches, and I forever promised myself to never use a phone so large—until I did and converted. Much as I enjoy using the N6, for which I can still manage many operations one-handed, smaller would be my preference. Perhaps yours, too.

Big isn’t necessarily better and reverses a longstanding trend in the other direction. Does no one recall when using a smaller phone was chic? Consider the StarTAC, which was a huge hit for Motorola going into the late 1990s. I remember when seemingly everyone used one of the diminutive cell phones. Smaller was better—and if there was real innovation in mobile device design shrinking size would be again.  Read More

Photo

Flickr a Day 139: ‘Nature Sunset’

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Trees Lake Water Reflection

Like Day 121, our selection demonstrates that iPhone 6 can be, in competent hands, a fantastic camera. Pablo Fernández captured self-titled “Nature Sunset” on April 26, 2015, in St. Albans City and District, United Kingdom. Vitals: f/2.2, ISO 32, 1/8000 sec, 4.2mm.

Reflected water shots are common enough—using dSLRs. But one this balanced and detailed is a bit more unexpected coming from a smartphone. Pablo, who joined Flickr in April 2007, is no stranger to bigger cameras. He also shoots the Nikon D80, for which he favors prime lenses; notably 50mm and 105mm.

Photo Credit: Pablo Fernández

Gear

Meet the Fujifilm X-T10

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Fujifilm X-T10

Fujifilm’s line of cameras increasingly looks like choices among toothpastes. Do you want fluoride or gingivitis protection? Oh, this one whitens teeth, cures bad breath, and eliminates body odor. Decisions, decisions. That’s kind of my reaction to today’s debut of the X-T10 digital camera, which shouldn’t be confused with Fujifilm’s X10, X100T, or X-T1. Dyslectics and the visually impaired, beware!

As a X100T owner, I’m a Fuji fan. So, please, don’t take my criticism wrongly. It’s just this lineup is quite crowded. The company’s product website lists—count `em—18 different X-Series models. Sure, some aren’t current and not all can be confused. But many of them are close enough in actual benefits to perplex potential buyers.  Read More

People Photo

Flickr a Day 138: ‘Cold Soul’

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Grizzled Gent Man

For once I am glad for a photostream with so many images licensed All Rights Reserved, which means instant disqualification. This series only features Creative Commons works. There isn’t a Hamed Parham pic I wouldn’t pick otherwise, making the selection next to impossible, if not for the small number designated CC.

Some photos command character. Hamed goes further, by way of composition and perspective revealing each subject’s character. His street portraits are classic. Iconic. They’re ripped from the present and transported into the past.  Read More

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Responsible Reporting: Section I ‘News in Context': Chapters 5 and 6

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The Google Book

The fourth installment in the serialization of my ebook Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers continues the assault on Google, which provides a necessary utility that benefits all news organizations; they sacrifice content and revenue for the privilege.

Last week, Chapters 3 and 4 focused on the broken advertising-driven model in context of Google’s greater ambitions. The previous two, and the Foreward, explain what changed since 2006 and why the Fourth Estate is in crisis.  Read More

Aspiration People Photo Storytelling

Flickr a Day 137: ‘Monks on Smartphones’

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Monks

Some selections are instant decisions. “Monks on Smartphones” makes the Day as much for the self-title as the excellent, suggestive composition. We don’t see the devices but know they are there. The choice of focal point works well, too, by drawing the eye to the vibrant robes then up the men’s necks to their heads.

Ariel Leuenberger captured the image on May 1, 2015, using Olympus E-M5 and Panasonic LUMIX G 20mm F1.7 lens, which is an excellent prime. Hey, I have used that one, too. Vitals: f/2.5, ISO 200, 1/90 sec.

The best photography tells a story. To that end, the title/caption is as important as the actual art. That’s the important point today’s pick makes. The pic is very indicative of Ariel’s style as street and travel photographer: “Searching for the beauty of everyday life, the fascinating stories of ordinary people, relationships, patterns, and new perspectives—wherever I go”.

Based in Zürich, Switzerland, Ariel joined Flickr in October 2012. Do spend time at his website, where I highly recommend post “My Journey to Photography“.

Photo Credit: Ariel Leuenberger

Aspiration People Photo Storytelling

A Hundred Smiles and My Frown

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A Hundred Smiles

How unexpected. For the second time within three days, I spotlight photography that won’t be part of my Flickr a Day series but should be. The project, which reaches No. 136 this fine Saturday, only features work licensed Creative Commons and which resolution is ideally 2048 pixels or greater. Exceptional works of as little as 1000 px slip by; none less.

Photographers Jesslee Cuizon and Paulette Waltz collaborated to, on my birthday in 2009, “capture 100 smiles in one day in central Tokyo”, according to the project’s website. “Why 100 smiles? As photographers, we choose which moments and visual images to capture. We choose to see the positivity in the world around us and challenge others to see through our lens”. They do that—not just with the fabulous street shooting series but the photography posted in the years since.

Their project couldn’t make the Day because Paulette’s pics are All Rights Reserved and Jesslee’s are 425 px. But I couldn’t let this one go: His and her 100 Smiles albums. Neither photographer is currently active on Flickr, and her website is down. But their single-day project is a lasting storytelling legacy.

Photo Credits: Jesslee Cuizon