December 28th, 1830
Like most of you I firmly believe A&E made the decision to take Mr. Robertson off the air, and put him back on, based on the estimated effect of their bottom line. And while free speech had zilch to do with A&E’s decision which was all about their profit, I do believe the perceived effect on free speech is what drove the masses who called and wrote in demanding Mr. Robertson be reinstated. In truth though our 1st Amendment is about protection from our Government, not private or even corporate interests. A&E had every right to suspend Mr. Robertson, but as they (and Cracker Barrel and other sponsors guilty of knee jerk reactions) quickly learned and with zero doubt, the people are sick and tired of special interest groups like GLAAD rewarding our citizens good will and desire to do the right thing, by turning around and using their good will to silence their views. Greed running amuck on A&E’s side, and the worst type of disingenuous manipulating on the part of GLAAD.
December 24th, 1245
MERRY CHRISTMAS to all my readers, my friends, my clients, and my Thailand family who have always done so much to make me feel welcome during the holidays. Those of you who have invited me into your homes to share the holiday, and those I've invited in mine,, thank you. Just knowing you're still there fills a void I often feel this time of year. I wish all of you the best Christmas possible, happy holidays, and with such bright prospects for the New Year I'm sure there's enough good cheer to spead around everywhere. Merry Christmas and thank you friends..
December 20th, 1330
In a perfect world we would have something called the 1st Amendment where people could say what they think and feel without being targeted by militant groups or organizations willing to do anything to silence the individual. But since we don’t we must stick our finger up in the wind before speaking to read the current political climate lest the powers to be remove us from our place of employment, strip us of our assets, and slander us in the public eye. Without our voices, without the ability to speak out on controversial topics, without freedom from retribution.. are we truly citizens? Or are we subjects..
December 17th, 1200
I've posted a new computer review titled "Mac Mini Quad-Core 2.5g i7, Screaming Fast!" that I think many of you will find useful. The trend for some time has been to move from Desktops to Notebooks, but powerful notebooks can still run in the thousands of dollars. When you consider than a four hundred dollar Netbook or even a thousand dollar Ultrabook while perhaps nice for a few days on vacation, will quickly drive you nuts as an image processing computer. What you need is a decent amount of RAM, a moderm quad core CPU in a small size that competes with notebooks for about half the price of a like power notebook. The Mac Mini Quad Core fills thisi niche nicely. If all you have is $1000 to spent on your next imaging workstastion you'll really want to read this review.
If you're looking to build a custom full fledged with a ton of power good for even video rendering them check back with me soon. We've built several of the new Haswells and I finally talked myself into a new workstation for here at Bangkok Images.. so check back for a full review, parts list, and a very special surprise.. you can have your cake and eat it too!
November 14th, 1130
You might have seen this over at Stick's site but I don't think we can see it enough. Bigger Than Ourselves explores what happens when expats lose track of their real purpose on this earth from arrival to their last flight of the Pattaya Flying Club, something we've all heard and maybe joked about, but is indeed an all too common ocurance. Read on and please comment if you've anything that will benefit the afflicted.
November 10, 0700
Dana sent in this new essay on photography and his thoughts hit home like Thor's Hammer. This academic piece is a must read. Dana like you've never seen him before. This is one submission I'll treasure forever. Thank you Dana.
October 2, 1030
Ozone gaming has asked Bangkok Images to review several of their products and last I heard a shipment of their products is heading our way. Ozone gaming makes leading edge gaming keyboards, mice, mousepads and more. They've asked that instead of returning the products to them, that I give them away to our viewers however we see fit. Because I don't know what's coming in I can't tell you exactly what you will win, but if you are in the winning mood I can tell you what the first contest will be so you can get started now! The first prize will go to whoever turns in the best Thailand Photo Story. Write a short story (at least 800 words) about how a camera affected your life in some meaningful way, make sure there is at least one picture included. So dust off your keyboard and get busy writing your submission and maybe you'll win a great prize. The prizes will be awarded immediatately following their official product review.
September 9, 1345
Are you considering the new Adobe CC subscription offfer? If so my new article titled " Betcha Adobe Didn’t Think of That.. Photoshop CC :Subscription Model" might be of interest to you. Even if not you might find it fun. Give it a read.
August 16th, 0621
For the last th ree months my son and I have been up to our elbows in BMW's. It started with an innocent trip to California for a rust free version of a 1991 318is, a type of two door special lightweight sports coupe. The day before flying out I slipped on an ice cube that melted on my kitchen floor and went down hard not sure if I broke my ankle or just badly sprained it. I kept it on ice all night and my son picked me up a pair of crutches at the local CVS Drug Store. It turn sout the TSA guys love to poke and prod the handicapped din a big way! It wasn't a pleasant flight. Without ice by the time I arived my ankle and foot were a delightful palette of rainbow colors and swollen to three times its size. I had to cut my shoelaces off when I finally arrived at my hotel and it wasn't until 8-10 days later where I could walk even short distances without crutches. We are more careful about picking up ice cubes the refrigerator spits out of it's door.
The ride back with my son was fun despite the ankle. Imagine being stopped 6-7 times by overly enthusiastic cops thinking this lowered bright red BMW with basket weave wheels and California plates fit the profile of drug runners. They were nice enough to not issue us tickets for having a bright red lowered BMW.. bless their hearts.
By the time we arrived back in Illinois I was impressed with BMW. Not the 318is.. it was noisy, the seats were terrible, the modified muffler lsounded like a Cessna 110 at full throttle, and the AC was barely working during the summers single heat wave. But I was impressed with the engineering. Every BMW comes with a toolkit. Not because they think you'll need it, but because BMW's are designed to be worked on. Even simple sub-assemblies are rebuildable and not throw-aways. I'm very familiar with American cars and even some British cars and everyone knows Japanese cars. But BMW's when it comes to engineering and electronics are in a class of their own.
This is important because I needed a second car (actually a 6th car but that's for another day) to drive in the winter on the snowy salty roads. Roads I'd never drive my main car on because it would soon be rusty like all the other cars in the area. Considering my recent experience with my sons BMW and because I needed a summer project to work on, I started looking at used BMW's. A month later I found the perfect car. An original owner 1994 530i. A four door sedan in great condition other than a lot or lapsed maintenance and things like oil leaks and a non-working AC deemed too expensive to fix. Not bad for a cheap car otherwise heading to a junkyard.
With a healthy number of evening and weekend garage sessions throughout the summer we finally finished. 100% of the systems work as they should. The car passed smog. The leather was rejuvenated and is once again the color it should be and even the walnut burl is shining. The A/C blows ice cubes, and I recently discovered the sport mode where the computer kicks up the performance of the engine, speeds up the transmission, and the car really flies! Mileage hovers around 32mpg on the highway, not bad for a 3.0 liter V8. No leaks either. I'd be comfortable driving the car anywhere. Total cash outlay including cost for the car and all parts and supplies: $2750. I figure it will go another 100,000 with ease.
I can't help but think this is part of my personality. I really enjoy making old things work, and work well. Including cameras. Someday I'll share my antique camera collection with you and we'll go shoot some film with them that will rival the newest digital cameras. Maybe this winter. Because I got this car from the original owner he turned over al the paperwork including the original window sticker and bill of sale. In 1994 he paid $44,580.00 for this car plus taxes and license. Today that would be closer to $75,000. This type of car is in another league that you'll immediately notice compared to your Ford or Chevy or even "luxury Japanese" car. I'll drive one for the next 7-8 years minimum for $2750.00.
I paid $8000.00 for a brand new Canon EOS 1ds Mark II. It's earned its cost 100x over since and it's still an active camera today. Imagine being the owner of an $8000 DSLR.. all you need to do is go to Ebay and you'll find many to choose from $700, some with only 1000 shutter actuations. Even at 50,000 or 100,000 shutter actuations the camera still has 50,000 actuations of life left.. for the average hobbyist that would be 10-20 years worth. Need a new camera? Think about experiencing an $8000 DSLR and learning why pros (and many amateurs) were so happy to plunk down $8000 2004 dollars. What fun it will be to take both of them out this weekend, my old bimmer and my old 1ds2..
August 3rd, 0200
Lightroom has released their latest version 5.2RC. I've installed thison both Windows and Mac machines and all is fine. If the installation appears to 'hang for a bit just let it be and soon it will move on again. There are too many new features to list and more than a few new supported cameras. You can get both the Windows and Mac Versions Here. Adobe has also released released Camera Raw 8.2 and you can get the Windows and Mac versions here.
July 26th, 1150
I've often said we live in great times where technology is concerned. We have more electronics available to us than ever before and of course cameras are a big part of that. Talking with a friend the other day it was brought up that I haven't pgraded my personal workstation in nearly 3.5 years, and this despite building custom workstations for many clients, especially lately. Don't I want the latest and greatest I recommend for my clients? Sure, are you going to give it to me? I already have a computer that easily tends to my workload. It's a quality computer with quality components so it works just as good today as the day I built it. There is absolutely zero practical need for me to upgrade. My clients on the other hand either are coming from a notebook where a desktop workstation makes a big difference in workflow and performance, or a really old machine. Sure, I also biuld the newest workstations for those who just want the latest and fastest machines.
So do I really 'need' a new computer? No. But I do see a need to change the footprint structure of my hardware and I'll get to that in future articles. Cameras are very similar. Almost daliy a newer and "better" camera is released. I read the reviews with interest and of course the technical side of me wants the latest and greatest. But these days I ask myself "would my business benefit from this camera, or would my photography benefit significantly. For nearly two years that answer has been NO. And before I bought ( and I still love ) my Fuji x100 it was 2-3 years before that. The last DSLR I bought was the Canon 5d Mark 2 and I still regularly use my now ancient Canon 1ds Mark II. Yet, my images loook as good as those of my peers. A client has never come back and said "Steve, I need more pixels in my image, or less noise, or.. so far no one is asking for more.
What matters folks is what's always matters. Lighting and composition. And to effectively use lighting and composition you first need to have complete control of your camera and lenses. This is why we rarely need to upgrade perfectly good gear. There's no real benefit two weeks after the novelty of having new gear wears off. Instead, take a workshop. Look up an instructor in your home town and tell him/her what you want to learn. Do you still need a better grasp of your camera mechanics and to know what settings to choose? IIf you're goot to go on that let's get into the real stuff, tell them you want to learn more about lighting and composition.
On that note I'm currently planning a trip back to Thailand for 30-60 days to hold workshops. I haven't set the dates yet but I hope to arrive the last week of December 2013 and will stay from 30-60 days depending on demand. Shoot me an email at Steve@bangkokimages.com and let's discuss your workshop needs and schedule.
July 23rd, 0220
In the last 4-5 years computers have changed in more ways and more signficanty than ever before. We started with our Intel 920-950 CPU's pulling 135 watts. With quad cores, falling RAM prices, and inexpensive video ard optons we can easily fit a nice powerful system in a mid-tower case and expect real longevity. 4-5 yeasrs minimum. Then came Sandy Bridge with 90 watt desktop CPU's, and Ivy Bridge with 77 watt deskttop CPU's, almost half of our prized 920-950 quad cores from a few years before. And the Haswells are filling the shelves as we speak. You notice I'm looking at the watts, or power requirements and not the computational power? Each generation has steadiy beceome 10-20% more powerful while consuming less and less power. And it's the lower power requirements which have captured my imagination.
Think about it, computational power wise we've had more power than most still photographers need since the 920-950 seres of quad core CPU's. My professional workstation and many other pros I know are still using this series of CPu's because they've already got them and the extra power afforded by the newer CPU's doesn't mean much if you don't need it. But with the newer chips and lower power requirements of the CPU's, it follows that ALL the components will have reduced architecture size, also requiring less power. VIdeo cards, RAM, SSD's, all of the system now requires hundreds of watts less than just a few years ago.
What does all this mean? It means really powerful computers can now weigh less, come in much smaller packages, and have more computational power than ever before. How small? Before going there let's look at two more things. First, SSD's have given us more of an effective speed increase in our workflow than CPU's have given us during the same time frame. Absolutely true. Everyone knows the major bottleneck and at any CPU specification was the hard disk drive. Replace that HDD with a super fast SSD and that bottleneck largely disappears.
Next is internal storage: We're now long past the era where we'd buy a large tower case with 16 3.5" HDD slots to get the storage we need as photographers. During the same few years that have given us bottleneck shattering SSD's and record setting CPU's, we've also be given the fastest and least expensive Network Attached Storage devices available to home users. NAS's of this speed and reliability have previously only been available at 10 times the price and still not been as good. So now we can get by with only a fast SSD ONBOARD our computer, or maybe second SSD to use as a scratch and work disk, but nwo your NAS can take the place of even your internal RAID's and do it much faster. My Synology 1813+ transfers roughly 120-130mbps, over my gigalan, to EVERY computer on my home network at the same time, which is faster than a WD Black can transfer. SSD's and NAS's rock. And as a result we no longer need huge tower or even mid or mini towers.
What do we need? A machine just big enough to hold 16-32gb of RAM, a fast quad core CPU, and two fast 2.5 inch SSD's. I'll bet you could fit all that in a stone cold and quiet 7.7x7.7x1.5 INCH attractive aluminum slab.. complete with 4 USB3.0 ports, a Displayport output, HDMI output, gigalan port, audio ports and if that isn't enough a Thunderbolt magic port you can use for any purpose AND daisychain. Sounds familiar.. did BkkSteve really do that? But he said he'd never.. he promised. Did he buy a a a a..
Tune in next week to see BkkSteve's latest toy and what he thinks of it and most importantly, how does it stack up to his famous purpose build tower workstations?
July 21st, 0400
My life has been full of changes lately so it follows some of my equipment and workflow has changed as well. One item that made a huge impact on both my workflow and my hardware configuration has been my new Network Attached Storage (NAS) from Synology, the 1813+. With it's eight bays populated with 4t drives you have a 32terabyte capacity, and with the expansion bays up to a scalale 72 terabytes! They're about as big as a breadbox and draws under 12 watts on standby and less than 75 under load. It's very quiet and runs at room temperature to the touch. Build quality is very high, a piece of hardware I can see being with me 10-15 years n the future. The Disk Management System (DSM) is the best in the business and I wont' even try to list all it's capabilities here. From FTP's to CCTV's there's not much this NAS can't do. Over a properly configured gigalan transfer speeds easily exceed 100mbps and faster. Faster than most internal HDD's would provide. I've been using this for several months now and continue to be impressed with high easy it is to bring feature after feature on-line. More on this sweet piece of techology later.
July 20th, 1240
That Feeling.. A short Thailand Photo Story I'm sure many of you can relate to. A new era is begining at Bangkok Images and as I ready next months fully column I encourage you to send in any pictures, stories, features, or anything at all you want to share. Once again accepting questions! And yes, a full explanation for my absence will be forthcoming.