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The argument of Mac vs PC is as old as the two computer systems themselves, but I’ve always ended up on the Mac side of things. As a teacher, I proselytized the virtues of Macs. I helped convert and influence whole generations of students into the cult of Mac, and many of my friends have fallen as well. And I don’t feel guilty about it – I really do believe they were better machines, with better software. But I’m not so sure anymore.

I’ve been using Macs since they first showed up in my classroom in 5th grade (that would be around 1985). I’ve always loved them. Now, don’t get me wrong – I also used and loved PCs. In fact, I have many memories of being an elementary-aged kid and working in DOS, Basic, and the like. I would use any excuse I could to play on my friend’s Commodore 64. So I’m not a straight-up Mac snob. But there was something about them – the software was special, the whole computer was just different. Even when I was 10.

Mac8500Fast forward to college in 1994 when I bought my first Mac. I dropped an insane amount of money on a PowerMac 8500. 120Mhz, 16 Megabytes of RAM, and the humongous 17″ AV CRT monitor (with speakers on the bottom). That monitor weighed about 50 pounds or maybe even more, and I thought it was the coolest thing. I had the computer that everyone wanted to borrow (and many did). And then, after many years, I started buying the Mac Pros. And iMacs and Mac Minis for the wife and kids. We were a Mac household to the max. But before you think I’m some rich guy, I’ll tell you that many of those computers were always bought used, and I always took full advantage of the educators’ discounts for my Mac Pros.

But why Apple in the first place? Well, it was simple – they were the computer for the graphics professional. The OS was far more robust when compared to Windows when I started, even though when XP came around it was pretty good. Also, their software was amazing, especially in the early 2000’s. From Shake to Final Cut Pro, Apple was bringing truly professional software to the masses. Anyone with a great desktop could do what the pros were doing in movies like The Lord of the Rings (which used Shake) or No Country for Old Men (edited on Final Cut Pro 7). So all of that, or so I argued, justified spending the extra money on a Mac.

My classroom full of the very best 27" iMacs in 2014

My classroom in 2014 – Full of the very best 27″ iMacs.  But not anymore.

Once Apple’s Aperture came around, I was truly hooked. Final Cut Pro, Motion, and Aperture were my mainstay applications. Firewire in the 90’s brought digital video to the masses by offering a cheap and high-quality way of getting digital video footage from your camera to your computer without expensive capture boards. So, as a teacher, I was able to teach students in Final Cut Pro, Motion, and Aperture, with Photoshop right beside it. My school district spent tons of money getting me the best iMacs, loaded with the best Apple software. I’ve had plenty of students graduate and go on into the professional graphics and film/video world. It’s been money well spent, as has the money I’ve spent on my own Macs for the photography work that I’ve been doing. Just ask any of my former students. Most of them will be shocked if they ever read this blog post…

But now, Apple is not really an option for me personally anymore, and I’ve also worked with my district to switch over all 56 computers that we have in the 2 Art Department labs to Windows machines. So, if you’re interested, I’ve outlined my reasons for switching below, and I wonder how many of you will agree with me, and how many will think I’m the devil incarnate?

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New Video: Selling Coffee to Save Lives

I haven’t been on my personal blog in a long time. I’ve been very busy working on several videos and many photographs from this summer and fall, as well as just the general work of being a teacher, father, husband, home-car-mechanic, etc!

Water_Well_Drilling_01Last spring (the last time I posted), I wrote that I was preparing to head off to Africa to film for a non-profit ministry called Ugandan Gold Coffee. UGC owns a coffee farm in the western rural area of Uganda outside of the city of Hoima. They use the profits from the sale of this coffee primarily to drill and repair water wells in the area, giving the people in some of the poorest areas access to clean water. It’s a great organization, and one that I have really come to appreciate and believe in. Their coffee is excellent (you should buy some!), and the people who run this organization are amazing; giving so much of their time and effort to help the people of Uganda like they do.

So, the short of it is that I was sent to Africa to shoot stills and video so that I could help them come up with more promotional material. I honestly wasn’t sure that I wanted to go. I know that sounds a bit crazy – who wouldn’t want to go to Africa, right? But I kinda didn’t. And yet I did. Let’s just say I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t afraid to go – it was just really inconvenient to go. But I did go, and I’m very glad I did. It wasn’t always easy, and I had travel problems, luggage problems, equipment problems, that sort of thing. But I met a very special group of people, and came home with a portfolio of images that I’m proud of having, and video that I hope will help Ugandan Gold Coffee sell their coffee and drill more wells so that more people in Uganda can have the basic need of clean water taken care of. It’s good, important work, and I’m blessed to be a small part of it.

For a look at my photographs, you can go to a blog I started just for my Africa trip, but below is the 2-minute video I recently finished that highlights what this awesome non-profit ministry is doing.

I’d also like to thank a few people for their help with the video, too: First off, the talented Josh Garrels and Marmoset Music for working with us on the rights to the music. Secondly, a big thanks to Paul Tracy of Envision Productions for his voice, and finally, a huge thanks to Brian Moore for allowing us to use his amazing recording equipment at Redbooth Studios!

New Adventure!

I’ve started a new blog on, which is focusing on my trip to Africa this summer! I’m going over to Africa to film and photograph water well drilling as well as all sorts of other things. If you’d like to see what I’m doing, as well as get updates from time to time, you can click the link below, or go to the “africa” link in the main menu bar up above!

I’m so excited I can hardly type!

Categories: Life No Comments

The title of the linked article below is rather misleading, but I thought that the quote from Jon Foreman, front-man of the band Switchfoot, very awesome. It really describes how a lot of people feel about this idea of “christian” and “non-christian” music.

I’ve always struggled with this… Not with whether or not I should listen to christian or non-christian bands, but rather with the people who seem to think defining such stuff is so important. I’ve found far more meaning in many “non-christian” band lyrics than most “christian” lyrics. (And I listen to both) I’ve heard “Christian” bands drop more f-bombs than many Non-Christian bands. And, in many cases, it didn’t really bother me when they did. As the fabulous quote from Jon Foreman states, “…judging from scripture I can only conclude that our God is much more interested in how I treat the poor and the broken and the hungry than the personal pronouns I use when I sing.”

Really, in the end, it’s really stupid to even argue about it all, because this is actually a commercial distinction – a distinction that runs more along demographics than anything else.
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Categories: Photography 1 Comment

In this story in The New York Times by David Gonzalez, Paolo Pellegrin, a photographer who has won some very high awards this year seems to have manipulated at least one of his images to mean something a bit more than it really should. Especially with everything going around right now concerning gun control, it certainly seems that thew photographer may have had a political agenda with this photograph. And maybe that’s not bad – at a certain time and place. But in this instance, I think maybe the photographer did not completely do his job here.

One of the most interesting things about the story is the subject’s explanation of what happened. Especially where he says, “One of the first things I thought was that’s strange, asking us to do something. I’m a student, he’s Magnum. I not going to question him.” I think this is a very important and telling statement. We must always remember that the photographer has a lot of power. The power of persuasion and the power to portray our subjects and manipulate them. How will a photographer use that power? Sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worse.

It’s one thing to move your subject(s) to a better background. It’s another to manipulate them in a way that portrays the exact opposite of what – or who – they are, which I believe has been done in this photo. There’s always a fine line a photographer must walk – the difference between making a good photograph by exaggerating certain parts of a photograph to make the truth more evident, and changing the way the subject is portrayed to change the identity and meaning of the subject completely.

For even more information, read the article linked below:

Categories: Photography No Comments

Photographer Harry Fisch won the 2012 National Geographic Photography Contents with the image above. Look carefully at both images. One of them is the raw, unprocessed photo, and the other is what Mr. Fisch submitted to Nat. Geo. Can you see it yet?

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Categories: Life,Photography 1 Comment

I just recently read an article on the New York Times website, and it made me think about something I was discussing with my students yesterday: How autofocus and automatic cameras were going to make professional photographers obsolete because everyone could rely on the camera to take sharp and well-exposed pictures. Happily, this has not done so, because the issues of content, composition, lighting, etc. that cannot be done automatically (yet!). A person still has to make creative decisions when the make a photograph, despite all the automatic features and functions that cameras have these days.

However, as is discussed in this article, by James Estrin, the idea of what makes a photograph successful has certainly changed, because of the new(ish) technology of “liking” an image, or giving an image a “+1”. By defining a “good” photograph the way we have via social media, we may have started to lose the idea of what actually constitutes a good photograph. And we certainly are not rewarding the photographers who take good pictures as much as we used to.

However, what I think this really shows is the, well, ignorance, or the carelessness of the general public as to what makes a good photograph. There’s nothing wrong with baby pictures or blurry pictures a cute child. But they’re probably not a “good” photograph. What we react to with that kind of photograph is the content, and the reaction is purely emotional, and usually does not take into account the photographer’s skill, the composition, or anything like that.

I liken it a lot to the success of certain movies that are, by all accounts, plain and simple crap, where as beautiful and thoughtful movies are resigned to small, short runs at indie art theaters and make almost no money. A perfect example are the scores of horrendous and poorly done slasher/horror films that have very little skill in them. I’m relatively young, but it’s been a long time since I saw a movie that came even close to the likes of Alien or Jaws.

Photography is no different. If we look at a photograph and simply judge what we like based upon the objects that are in the photograph, not the skill inherit in the photograph itself, we essential are, little by little, telling our society what we want; which is simple, crappy photos. We accept these images because they’re easy to make, and because our friends and relatives make them. We “like” them because of the simple emotional reaction we have to them, not thinking about whether or not they are a good photograph. The end result is that we make mundane and poorly-made photographs more popular in our media today than good photos. We don’t revere good photography like I remember as a kid, and I also think that most people don’t aspire to try and make better photographs.

It all comes down to rewards. It’s conditioning. By indiscriminately hitting the “like” button, in a vain attempt to like and be liked in our virtual society, we cheapen the entire idea of what a “good” photograph really is.

My favorite quote from the article above says it very nicely:
“A photograph is no longer predominantly a way of keeping a treasured family memory or even of learning about places or people that we would otherwise not encounter. It is now mainly a chintzy currency in a social interaction and a way of gazing even further into one’s navel.”

Enough said.

Summer Update

Categories: Life 1 Comment

Well, this summer has been very busy – vacations, and projects galore! I have several projects that are in the works right now, all of which I will share as soon as I can. The first is a video project, which consists of a series of instructional videos on CPR and AED usage. Boring, you might say, but it has been rather educational for me. I’ve learned a lot – not just about CPR and AED’s, but also about long-term projects like this, and the amount of work they are. More later, and I’ll post the videos as I finish them off.

Also, I got the chance to photograph on a movie set just south of Rochester. An old student of mine emailed me and told me they needed a photographer for some on-set shots. I wasn’t able to give them too much time, but I was able to give a little, and I’m very happy with the results. I’ll post those as soon as I’m done editing.

And lastly, I have two websites in the works – those will be coming up pretty soon. Again, I’ll post more when I get the chance. It’s kinda crazy up here in Rochester – what with all these projects, and house-work (getting ready for a new baby, and my office is about to be transformed into a nursery, so I’ve gotta carve out some space for myself!), it’s a wonder I can still stand!
Oh well. More to come – soon

Some New Photographs From Today…

Categories: Photography No Comments

I don’t get the chance to take as many photographs as I would usually like, but I’m even worse at putting them up on my blog. But here are a few that I took today. I’m trying to continue the work I started last summer: photographing the unique textures and patterns in wood. Today I saw a stump that had it’s larger branches trimmed off, and time had started to smooth them out. I looked closer, and I saw a Van Gogh painting! So cool, this world we live on… So I started shooting. I didn’t have my real macro lens, nor did I have a tripod, so this is all hand-held, at a magnification of approximately 1:4, I would guess. I’m going to have to go back with the proper equipment someday soon!

I also included a fun little shot of my son, just for kicks…

Google’s New “Privacy Policy”

Today, a new privacy setting went active for anyone who has Google accounts. I wish I had paid a bit more attention to this before it actually happened, but last night I did some investigation and learned a lot, and was able to delete my history and turn off this “data mining” that Google wants to do. So, with this post, I’m going to show you how to turn it off yourself.

But before I do that, you might ask, “Why do we need to turn this off? What’s so wrong with Google keeping track of everything? They say it will help make our Internet experience better!” Well, I guess, in all honesty, you don’t need to do this. But I think it’s wise. For multiple reasons. If Google only does what they say they’re going to be doing with this information, then maybe everything will be okay. And even if we can trust Google (which I’m not sure we can, given how they were found to be exploiting holes in certain browsers to unethically mine data when that was specifically not supposed to be allowed), the real question comes when you start to think of identity theft issues: What happens if someone get access to all this information about you? Or, even worse, what happens if someone assumes your identity online and does illegal things in your name? I can easily imagine a case, like these, where someone hacks into your network, and uses your google accounts to surf and download illegal things, and then you take the fall for it. That scares me more than just about anything, really.

(And as a side note, if you aren’t locking down your wireless internet, you at risk for serious trouble, in my opinion. For more information on encrypting your wi-fi network, this is a good article to start with. But I think it best to go even further than that, and use MAC address filtering.)

Another part of this is due process. The government is pushing hard to get access to our digital information as well. You’ve probably heard a little bit about that in the news. But it’s a big issue. Especially surrounding this idea of warrants. Does a police officer have to get a warrant to get access to your digital information, even if it’s on Twitter, which is a public digital domain? So what about the information that is on your computer? Is that private? Probably. But what about the saved information that Google is keeping that you used on your personal computer? Ahhh, now the lines are getting fuzzy…

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