Picturelife

Recently I decided it was time (after three years) to backup my mobile phone photographs. I only started taking mobile photography seriously after getting my Note 3 and that enthusiasm swelled with my iPhone 6 Plus. In all I had about 1,300 photographs made since I got my iPhone — just the photographs I wanted to save, the total number of photographs is greater. And I looked around for an ideal backup and storage solution with which I could maintain my photographs.

The first option a lot of people suggested to me was Loom, but that is not available where I live. (Loom happens to be US-only.) And then there was Everpix — was — which was free and shut down as fast as it became popular. In all honesty, Everpix was an excellent solution, but faced the biggest problem with cloud storage solutions: they shut down, mostly because they run out of money trying to give storage free. Lesson: never opt for free cloud storage.

Then I tried Picturelife about three months ago and still love it for a lot of reasons. Some readers asked me to talk about my experience with the product and how I went about moving my photographs to the cloud, so this is it.

Update: After this article was published and discussed around the web, Picturelife got in touch with me and offered a generous 20GB of additional free storage for life. Thank you. And here’s to Picturelife for being one of the top cloud storage solutions for all of us.

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Switching to iPhone and iOS

When iPhone 6 Plus came out last year, I bought it without a second thought. I had an iPad, so I had experienced the new iOS 8, and when the phablet-sized device came out, my last complaint against  Apple went out the window (tiny screen sizes). iPhones are extremely capable, user-friendly devices and this means a lot coming from someone who once swore by Android until Google’s ugly material UI took over.

However, there were some things I wish I had known when I first switched to iPhone that I thought would be helpful to other new users. Not all of these may take you by surprise — some might — but all of them are definitely helpful and will improve your already stellar user experience with your shiny new phone. Continue reading

Installing gnuplot on Mac

Hardly anyone who has gone through a college mathematics or physics course is unacquainted with gnuplot. However, it turns out that installing gnuplot (or Octave, for that matter — but let us leave that for another day) on a Mac is a pain in the neck; in a time when installing games take a few clicks at best, it simply is not straightforward to install gnuplot.

After scratching my head over it for two days straight, I finally installed gcc, gnuplot, Octave and LaTeX on my new Mac (OS X 10.10.3, Yosemite) and decided to note some points/instructions down here for anyone else looking for a simple solution from start to finish contained in one place. Continue reading

Removing haze with Lightroom

Haze is a common problem those of us who make landscape photographs often face: a blurry, foggy… hazy, blanket covering vast tracts of land, intensifying as you move towards the horizon. Photograph a mountain and you will almost always notice haze blocking it.

Bumping up the contrast alone almost certainly does little to better such a photograph, and as it happens — unfortunately — there is no straightforward manner of removing haze in a photograph. For this demonstration, I will be using Lightroom, my go-to digital darkroom software, but the process should be similar in any alternative with equal capabilities (Photoshop, Aperture, Elements etc.)

To make things interesting, let us work with an example photograph — one I made a long time back, with our ever-present enemy, haze. Continue reading

Photography manifesto

Around this time last year I had presented to you my 50-point blogging manifesto. It signaled a change in my approach to blogging and almost a year later now, I am convinced it helped me and I am happy I followed it.

However, I have increasingly come to feel that my photography needs such a set of beliefs in black-and-white — hence this piece. But this is nowhere near as long as my blogging manifesto, but whether you are a photographer yourself or not — so long as art appeals to you — you might find this an interesting read. Continue reading

7 OS X Terminal commands you should know

Having been a Windows and Ubuntu user, joining the Mac tribe was extremely refreshing for me. And one of the things I noticed was that somehow, my Mac seemed to be made for me out of the box — leaving me with only a couple of minor tweaks to make.

That is not to say Macs are perfect; but they are a lot more understanding of humans than Windows. That means a majority of Mac users never explore the Terminal that comes with their computers: a lovely UNIX footprint available on the Mac.

But using the terminal, while not strictly necessary, is fun to do once-in-a-while. So whether you hope to get started or just see what the fuss is all about (and if you have a Mac) then these are seven OS X Terminal commands you should know. Continue reading

Using ICC profiles on Windows and Mac

Colours are a wonderful thing of nature, but only so far as our own eyes are concerned. When it comes to electronic devices, colours are only a range of binary digits, so a scale of some sort is required for, say, a computer, to interpret these colours.

In effect, what an International Colour Consortium (ICC) profile does is help your computer understand what colour you mean when you pass a certain electronic pulse signal.

Incompatible ICC profiles this can have a terrible effect on the work of visual artists — photographers, videographers, designers and the like — to such an effect that they may start looking like different photos or videos altogether on different machines and media. Here is how you can correct that. Continue reading

How I threw SEO out the window

Like a bane, search engine optimisation, (SEO) has long driven bloggers looking for visitors towards a meta-tag-heavy, Flesch points-restrictive style of writing. That needs to change.

When I started blogging seven years ago, I had to adopt the same practice and, while there is no doubt it worked, I always felt it hindered my style of writing. There is some sense in such optimisation, but the actual method of weighing writing is far too inhuman. Continue reading

Do not use big words, but the right ones

An impressive vocabulary is like a charming cup of tea. An exhibitionist vocabulary, on the other hand, is about as discombobulating as it is feckless. And it often works against itself, failing to make a point.

Big words

I have often noticed a trend in starting writers and — worse still — in those who have a newfound admiration for reading fat books they really could not care less about if it were not for that one peer they hope to impress.

People got out of their way to use big words: words not often used in daily life, with usually an extremely-specific meaning, and which preferably have complex pronunciations and/or spellings.

I attribute this to a sense of pride for, firstly, having come across that word; and, secondly, for assuming a lot of others do not know it. To many, however, it is usually a case of using a perfectly common word which they think is special simply because they had never heard of it before. Continue reading

How to use built-in NTFS on Mac

One of several things I learned only after buying a mac was that my hard disk drive, which I use for my photographs, and which I had used all this while either on a Windows PC or on my Ubuntu system, cannot be used effectively on a Mac.

At first this was shocking to me, but it soon became overly obvious: Windows NT File System — NTFS — of course it was a proprietary Windows mechanism in question and Mac would not read it. Continue reading

Phone and dSLR: multiple approaches for processing photographs

The debate between camera phones and dSLRs is as old as camera phones themselves, but I am not here to debate. Traveling briefly this past weekend, I decided to see how various approaches to editing a photograph made on a phone could best help it to compare with control photographs made on a dSLR.

These controls are not truly control samples in that they are photographs I made subject to my own vision. However, since I made the phone photographs subject to my vision too, any personal preference is assuredly nullified.

Read on to find out the test procedure, editing and other details followed by the results/my thoughts. Continue reading

Ideas of March

As much as I want it to be, the title you see above is not my own. It comes from Chris Shiflett, a wholly interesting person, whose blog I have been following ever since he spoke of Svbtle and Obtvse last year, which I found because of an article Daniel Howells wrote which I have no idea how I found, but I remember thinking it was worth my while.

Ideas of March

In any case, things like these are what define blogs: in essence, peepholes into people’s minds. This made me want to re-visit an article Chris Shiflett had written almost exactly three years ago, where he spoke of a “blog revival” that was needed as a result of many conversations (for good or bad) moving from blogs to Twitter.

Dustin Curtis wrote about something similar happening on his own blog as a result of Twitter. While I tweet too, I have thankfully not been drawn away entirely from my blog (for some of the reasons I will mention below). The ‘idea’, for lack of a better word, is to write a post called the “Ideas of March”, list why you like blogs, pledge to blog more and use the hashtag #IdeasofMarch elsewhere on the web.

Why do I like blogs?

There are many reasons why I like blogs. First of all, I would not be blogging if I did not like to do it. But here are some deeper thoughts:

  1. A blog is your house on the internet. You may be on Twitter, Google+, Facebook or wherever else, but none of those websites are truly ‘yours’.
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