Dave's Travel Journal

A vacation is what you take when you can't take what you've been taking. - Earl Wilson


Atlanta in December

I often forget about the weather in the other places we've lived. Just looking through my "box of pictures" (nowadays that's the iPhone album) and discovered this one from Atlanta Georgia from a few years ago.

Now I just need one from Hawaii to bring back that awesome sunshine. Nothing beats the weather on the windward site of Oahu. It's a grand place to live for sure.

...dave
It is only possible to live happily ever after on a day-to-day basis. -Margaret Bonnano

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China Stoutbeer and onion rings



Instagram post © Copyright 2012 - All Right Reserved

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Lijiang musician


Instagram post © Copyright 2012 - All Right Reserved

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Photos on the sly

This image was taken "from the hip" while walking around my neighborhood.

I've been living in China now for about a year and a half. Everywhere I go I get stares. Not just a brief glance mind you, but actual turn-the-head stares. Most people in the south of China have rarely seen a foreigner, let alone a blond hair (well, dirty blond anyway), blue-eyed guy. I'm an alien from another planet. They are just mesmerized.

People keep staring at me

Especially is this true when they see me at places most foreigners never go, for example the second hand market. The second hand market is a place that is dirty, smelly, and plain ugly but . . . I can find great prices there.

We just got back from there about an hour ago and just to give you an example of what I mean I'll tell you a brief story.

Second Hand Market

Ruth (my wife) buys her sweaters from a very kind lady there for just three dollars. They are beautiful, flowing, warm woven sweaters. You'd pay $30 to $40 for the same sweater in the states.

Anyway, as she was looking at the sweaters and I stood holding her stuff, another customer asked the owner how much the pants were. When the lady told her, she balked (often the first thing Chinese customers do). Then she noticed me. She looked at me in surprise and so I told her it was so expensive because it was the best quality pants money can buy and then I winked at the owner. Of course she was happy I was helping her hold the price.

Soon I discovered that the lady buying the pants was actually a mother of one of the kids I teach at a local school. So we began talking and joking with each other. After about 10 minutes of this I turned around and discovered about eight people standing there, staring at me in disbelief. I'd drawn a crowd.

I tell you this story to help you understand why I need to take some of these photos from the hip. I can't just walk around and snap pictures because as soon as I walk out the door I'm on display, so I have to do it surreptitiously.

In the case of the old man at the top of this post, I put my iPhone in camera mode and then used the volume button to snap the picture.

Oh, and the mother bought the pants. Maybe I helped make the sale?
...dave
You'll never leave where you are until you decide where you'd rather be. -Anonymous

Is Travel Photography without a Notebook Computer Really Possible?

I just got back from a month of travel through Korea, as well as eastern and southern China. It was truly a rewarding experience. Some of the photos you see here are the result.

But what I'd like to share with you is my new "lighter" travel photography workflow.

First, here's the equipment, hardware and software I carry:

What no MacBook? You're kidding me, right?

I have to admit I was a little anxious this time around not bringing the MacBook. I have HDR software (Photomatix) as well as watermark software that I often use on a shoot. Could I do without these tools? (Actually I really don't have to as there are many HDR and watermark solutions for the iPad.)

Anyway, I made the jump and left the MacBook and cables behind, about six pounds of stuff.

But I can truthfully say that using just the iPad and my Logitech K760 solar keyboard is the way to go. It's a big weight off my shoulders, literally.

For one thing, I never have to remove the iPad when going through security. Unlike the MacBook that always got special treatment, I just leave the iPad zipped up in the carry-on and go right on through. It's never an issue. (Your mileage may vary as some airports treat the iPad as a computer that needs to be run through the X-ray separately.)

Another advantage is that when I'm traveling back from a shoot I hook up the iPad camera connection kit, slide in my DSLR SD card, upload what I want, and start editing with Snapseed. No need to spend hours into the night back at the hotel loading the images into iPhoto on my MacBook. Besides I have hooked up all my iOS streams. So all the photos will automatically sync up when I get back home.

Of course, someone else was driving me back to the hotel which was a great luxury for me. You may not always have a private driver. However when you do, you can do editing in transit. When we got back to the hotel some 30-40 minutes later my images were already off the SD card, loaded into the iPad AND edited. It was a breeze. Now I just need to back them up.


No WIFI? No problem.

I was disappointed that the hotel didn't have WIFI. They only had a cable hook-up to the Internet. That's a drag. I had halfway considered lugging an extra router on my travels but instead came up with a better solution.

I turned on hotspot on my iPhone, connected the iPad to the hotspot and uploaded my images up to flickr.com. Chinch. Since I can do this anywhere, rather than go back to the hotel I went out to dinner. Now I can have a beer and ribs at a local restaurant during the upload. I consider this my backup strategy. (For $25 a year I have unlimited storage up at flickr.com.)

An added advantage was that I was less tired at the end of the day. Since I carry less stuff and don't have to stay up into the wee hours of the morning editing, uploading, and backing up, I have much more energy for shooting, which is what I like to do most.

I hope my "lighter" workflow makes sense to other photographers out there. After all, the objective is to shoot more and better images. Traveling lighter can make that possible.

Happy shooting.

...dave
Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler. -Albert Einstein

Confessions of an App Junkie

I have a confession. I'm an App Junkie.

I have downloaded novel writing apps for my iPad but have yet to write a novel. I have stuffed my iPad with ToDo apps, but still only use Reminders, the default app that came with my iPad. I have crammed my iPhone with tons of photo editing apps but still mostly use Snapseed. I carry over ten different iPhone camera apps, but still mostly use the default one. I've downloaded mega-magazines but never read them.

Why? Why do I download all these apps when the one I already have works perfectly well? Because, and here's my confession, I have a sickness. It's called "App Hoarding" and I think it's going to kill me. I'm now looking for a support group: Apps Anonymous.

I Need Help

As I say, I need help because I think this disease is going to kill me. Every time I turn on my device there are ten or more updates I need to download. It's taking it's toll. Too much time to update too many apps. Help.

Actually, this is the reason I haven't started my novel, I'm too busy downloading the updates to all my novel writing apps. I could get started if I just put this project into my ToDo app. But first, I have to update all my ToDo apps. After that I'll decide which ToDo app to use to start my novel writing. Of course, by then I'll need to update my writing apps again.

I'm on a Möbius strip and can't get off.

Too Many Apps

What's worse is, I've run out of space to download more apps. Now I'm at a loss as to which apps I need to delete to make more room for the new apps I need to download. I'm hyperventilating.

I should have gotten a bigger 64GB device with more space. It would eventually fill up with all the apps I keep downloading but at least I could postpone my app keeping decision. Yeah, that's it, I'll buy a bigger device.

Let me add that to my ToDo app . . . just as soon as I figure out which one I should use.

...dave
Why can't I want the things I already have? - Anonymous

Fake Friends and Fallacious Facts

An open letter to writers everywhere.

I'd guess I'm living in a very insecure society. I keep reading about you writers who manufacture quotes, interviews, and content. Are you so insecure in your craft that you have to create fiction in your non-fiction works?

Or how about you writers of fiction? You're no better. After your fictitious characters have been created and wrapped inside the covers of your books, you keep on creating fictitious people who write reviews of your books. (No wonder the five star book I downloaded was so bad that I had to delete it from my Kindle.)

Where is your conscience?

What is wrong with you people? Do you have no conscience? What happened to honest writing, honest reviews, and well, honest people?

What's worse is that, in addition to pumping up your own fictitious reviews with five star ratings, you've gone out and trashed your contemporary's books.

People! Get a grip. Get a hug from a friend and get over your insecurity. Put the book out there and let the readers decide. Stop five star inflation.

And another thing, after you're finished with the fictitious characters in your book, don't create fictitious reviewers for your book. Do I have to tell you people this is dishonest? Is your moral compass so demagnetized that you can't find true north? If you must continue to write fiction, start another book. I promise you that if your first book is good, we'll buy your second book, regardless of what the reviewers on Amazon say.

The trouble with the fictitious reviews and reviewers you've created is that we don't know they're "pretend" and that you're still writing fiction. Of course, if your book is terrible even though your fake friends gave it five stars, word will get around. If you're no good, it doesn't matter what you say, people will know.

The Challenge

I challenge you to use all your energy and time to write the best book you can. If it's good, we'll buy it. Just make sure that your fiction stays between its covers. If it isn't any good, who knows, maybe you're not ready for prime time. Keep writing, you'll get better. Eventually you'll publish.

If you are writing non-fiction, then keep it that way. The reason why the libraries and book stores separate fiction from non-fiction is that, well, we like to know what's real and what's not. It's sort of a reader's preference. You might not understand this but believe me when I tell you, if you get these things mixed up, readers will stop reading your books and articles, regardless of your association with a big magazine or publishing house.

To the writers who have not yet been caught, I say: Stop it. Come clean. Write good copy. Make it interesting, absorbing, and factual. If you're good, there will be no need to manufacture interviews, facts, or reviews. You can be secure in knowing that people will read you because you write well.

...dave
“Come, we are men of action. Lies do not become us.” – Westly (The Princes Bride)




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