My Mobile Computing

January 14, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

_MSP6749_MSP6749 Hey Everyone! Hope everyone is dealing with the cold weather better than I am.  As I get older the cold effects me more than it used to.  Anyway this blog is about my mobile computing solution.  I have two main computers both are Mac.  My iMac which has a 27inch Retna screen which is awesome and I have a 15 in Macbook Pro that is awesome!  Its an older one but I have upgraded the ram and the hard drive and its quick and works great. To replace it would be very expensive with a new model, so to have it broken or stolen and it would break my heart. And its pretty large and heavy compared to newer models.   So I wanted to get me a mobile computing device that ticked three boxes. Box 1 it had to be inexpensive so if it broke or got lost not a big deal.  Box 2 it had to be small and lightweight.  And Box 3 it had to be able to run Lightroom so I could backup files to an external hard drive.  So I went on a search for the machine that would tick those three boxes and let me tell you that was hard but I finally made a _MSP6753_MSP6753 decision and went with a machine that will work.

The machine I went with was the Lenovo Miix 320.  It is a 2 in 1 laptop/tablet with 4 gb ram and 128 SSD hard drive.  The operating system is Windows 10 64bit with a 10.1 display at 1920x1200 resolution. It has a detachable keyboard and can be used as a tablet. I got this machine refurbished off of Ebay and it looks like brand new.  I was a little nervous ordering it off of Ebay but everything worked out ok.  This little machine has ticked all of the boxes mentioned above.

Box 1 had to be inexpensive.  My goal was to try to keep the price under 300 dollars.  Which is almost impossible in itself thats why I went with refurbished.  That actually kept the price down and brought in all kinds of computers that were available.  I wanted a laptop that had a real operating system not a Crome Book that are selling for the price range that I want.  This machine came in at 199.00 !  Tick!

Box 2 Small and Lightweight.  This little 10 inch screen machine only weights 2.2 lbs . It does have a small screen but the resolution is great and sharp.  They keyboard is crunched together a bit, but it has full sized keys and doesn't take long to get used to.  Its small enough to go into a small backpack or small shoulder bag. Tick!

Box 3 Has to be able to run Lightroom and make backups to an external drive. This is probably the most important box of all.  The minimum ram requirement for Lightroom to run is 4 gb of ram which this machine does have, just does. Thats one of the reason I wanted a SSD to increase the speed.  It does run Lightroom.  I won't be processing a lot of photo's on it , but its nice to know I can without any problems. The machine comes with 2 USB 2 ports and one USB C port so transferring files via USB works fine. Tick!

_MSP6755_MSP6755 So this machine handled all of my Criteria for my mobile machine.  Would I love to have a 13 inch Macbook Air ? You bet , but they just cost way too much and if money wasn't a factor thats the way I would go.  But it isn't.  Im really surprised how well this little computer works. Browsing the internet and all other regular computer functions this little computer works great.  It runs Lightroom well enough to process photos , cull and backup with no problem although it is a little slow but not that bad. I think that this little machine will work well for what I need when I go camping or on a photo outing with out worry of theft or breakage.  Im not really promoting any brand or operating system because Im a die hard Mac guy  but for this purpose I hope this little machine will be the ticket!  Only time will tell.  Keep Shooting!


Photo File Backup Strategy

January 07, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Hey everyone! I hope the holidays were safe and full of happy memories.  Its the beginning of the year we've had our first snow of the season and its very cold out side with temps in the single digits in the mornings.  Very cold for Eastern North Carolina. So I have been taking this time to clean up photo files from last year.  Deleting the ones that I will never use and making sure the ones I keep are key worded and making sure things are backed up. Which leads me to this blog's discussion Backing up our files.  In the age of film it was a lot simpler.  You could print your photo and hide away your negatives in a box some where and there you have it.  It was backed up your photo in one place and negative in another.  Now if you had them both stored in the same place and there was a fire you were done! Lost everything.  So if you were real serious about safety you could store your negative's in another place in case of fire.  Seems simple enough but in the age of digital it seems to be a lot more confusing.

First lets talk about mobile backup.  When your  on a vacation trip or workshop that last a couple of days. How to backup files? In film days you didn't you just put your roll of film in a safe spot and hoped for the best.  With digital its good to have multiple copies of your files for safety when the storage device you are using fails, and they will fail. Here is the system that works for me and how I back up my files.  First lets say I'm on a week long workshop somewhere very remote no internet, phone service just beautiful Landscapes every where. My first backup is my SD card.  I have purchased enough of them to last a week.  SD cards are pretty cheap now you can get them where ever you see a sale and before you know it you'll have quite a few.  Before my trip I format all of my cards put them in a card case that I have labeled Day 1, 2, 3 etc... On day one I use day one card at the end of the day I back that card up to a external drive that I take with me then take the card and put it in the case and take card labeled 2 into my camera and am ready to go.  I don't format anything while Im on a trip.  Now I have two copies of my images from day 1. Pretty simple and fairly inexpensive.  When I travel I have my cards in one bag and my external drive in another.  The external drive doesn't need to be real fancy you can get one for 50 bucks give or take.  If you get a SSD external drive it will cost a little more but for speed and durability I would recommend it.  These external drives don't need to be huge they could be 250-500 gig they are only temporary until you get home to back them up again.

At home backup.  I have gone through so many different strategies for backing up files.  I have bought external drives , put files on CD and DVDs, Tried to mirror external drives and really couldn't find a system that has really been easy or efficient until now.  First of all let me say that most people save way too many images.  For example if you took 20 photo's of this spooky tree and you picked one image to process and used that one for making a canvas 5 years ago.  Why are you keeping the other 19 that you didn't like then and haven't used since? DELETE them! Save space and time and effort backing them up.  Now Im not talking about family photo's I keep all photo's of family members that are half way decent. I do.  But workshops, or just riding around cull out the ones that you know your not going to ever use again. What I usually do when I import photos into lightroom after a shoot I go through them and the ones I like I'll give them 1 Star I then will go through those and cull even more etc... At the end of the year I'll go through all my photo's and anything without a star I get rid of.  Im probably not going to use anything after a year anyway. So thats step one. Get rid of excess.

Step two has changed over the years but let me start by saying there are many ways to back up your files and my way is by no means the best for everyone just best for me so far.  The most important thing is to back up your files no mater how you do them make a back up of your art. My first backup plan was like most of your plans I had none! I put everything on my hard drive with no backup incase of drive failure.  Of course as my drive got full my computer slowed down so I had to find a way to get files off of my computer.  So I started making CD's with files on them.  I would take older folders of photo's and put them on CD's and that got them off of my computer but still didn't have a backup.  Then I got my first external drive and I would put one copy of my photo's on computer and one on external drive my first real backup. But I didn't have a backup of what was on the CD's.  So then I got another External drive and Copied all of my files from the CD's to the external drive and copied my external to the other external drive. Now for the first time I actually had a backup of all my files.  But how to keep the backup? Thats the trick it actually takes me to physically make the backups.  Which if your like me "Lazy" its hard to do.  So then I tried to import to both drives but then I had raw files on one drive and processed files on the other.  What to do?  I want a system that will be simple.  I want a backup that is safe away from my active backup (the one that I'm using in Lightroom).  

I'm on a podcast listening craze for the last couple of months and one of the podcast that I've listen to was Alpha Mirrorless with Juan Pons and Andy Williams.  Both are wildlife and Landscape photographers that travel half of the year and I've pretty much copied what Andy Williams does for his backups. You can listen to their backup episode #17 which gets into detail. So I've just started a cloud based backup system through a company called BackBlaze which can automatically back up your computer and any external drives connected to them for 50 bucks a year. There are many more companies that do this but I used this one on the advice of Andy Williams and Juan Pons.  What I like about it is I don't have to think, its simple I don't have to take the time to make the backup.  If something should happen to my system you can retrieve from the cloud or they will ship you a external drive with all your files on them.  They have been in the business for quite a while with a good safety reputation.  The only downside of this is that it takes a while for the initial download of all your files.  Im still in that process but after the initial it should be fairly quick.  Then Ill have a copy at my house and one away from my house incase of a fire theft or computer crash or whatever. And I can access from any computer anywhere to download a file.

Thats pretty much my system when I import to lightroom from my SD card or from my mobile external drive (I keep my photo's on external drive not computers hard drive) it goes to my drive and will be backed backed up by Backblaze on the cloud. I have tried to make my back up plan like my camera situation by making it simpler, smaller and more efficient.  Again this is my system use any system you want but please use a system and keep on shooting!


Lightroom Catalog Management on Laptops

December 16, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Hey everyone! Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving holiday and ate lots of Turkey!  I know I did.  This Blog is how I plan to manage my Lightroom catalog on my laptops for next year.  File management is a ongoing process for me and I change it every so often.  This year I'll be adding a small travel laptop to the mix.  Currently I have my iMac with a 27inch monitor that I love.  I also have a 15 inch Macbook pro that I have had for years and have upgraded the Memory and Hard drive to an SSD and I just love it!  But its a little on the heavy side and I want a small laptop or 2 in 1 computer to take with me when I travel. _DSC4702_DSC4702  Whether its camping in my Teardrop trailer or on photo workshops with my photography club.  The last couple of years I have kept a separate lightroom catalog on my laptop and my all photo's catalog on my iMac separate and Merged them at the end of the year its not too hard to do and it seems to work out ok.  But if I add another computer to the mix what then?  Do I work with three lightroom catalogs?  And when I have my photo's on a laptop catalog its can be difficult to look at them on my iMac if I haven't transferred them to it.  So here is the solution that I plan to try this year.  Im going to purchase a SSD external hard drive for faster operating speed. Im going to create a Lightroom catalog and put the catalog and everything on the SSD drive.  Then no matter what computer I'm using I can bring up the catalog on the SSD drive and edit my photo's on the iMac, MacBook Pro or my travel computer.  

_DSC4701_DSC4701 I haven't purchased my travel computer yet but I have a few requirements that I'm looking for.  First it should be small and portable 11-12 inch screen. It has to have the ports so I can backup photos to an external drive.  I want it to have an Solid State Drive (SSD) for optimum speed.  And as much ram that I can get at a low price (maybe 8gb)  And it must be cheep in the 300ish range.  That way if I break it loose it or it is stolen I'm not heart broken like I would be with my Macbook Pro.  I don't plan on storing anything on it so the hard drive doesn't need to be large 128gb will be fine. I really don't plan on doing a lot of editing but I want it to be capable of running Lightroom Classic so I can cull out bad photo's and maybe edit one or two photo's now and then.  Other than that it will be a web browsing email looking at computer.  Now with the price range I just gave you can figure out that my travel laptop will not be a Apple product.  I would love for it to be but I want my travel computer to be cheap.  So it will be a Windows operating system so I will have to format my drive so it will work with Windows and Mac products so I can pass the information between the two operating systems.  I currently use Adobe Creative Cloud for  Photographers which is a 10 dollar a month subscription for both Lightroom and Photoshop and you can only run 2 computers on the subscription at a time so I'll have to sign out of one of my devices and sign on to my travel Laptop for this to work.  From what I have read this should be possible Adobe even gives you instruction on how to do so.


I Jumped! Making the Switch from DSLR to Mirrorless, Nikon to Sony

November 02, 2017  •  1 Comment

AMT2016-sony-a6300-review-0423-2AMT2016-sony-a6300-review-0423-2Photographer: Anthony Thurston Well everyone I have finally made the switch I am officially a full time mirrorless shooter!  As you may know I have been shooting DSLR's in some form or fashion for many years.  I went from entry level camera's to professional grade camera's and lenses.  I used to shoot film camera's when I was younger completely manual operation from exposure to focusing.  So I have evolved from film shooting black and white developing in the bathroom to color slides to point and shoot digital to entry level DSLR's, Professional DSLR's and now to mirrorless camera's.  There was a learning curve at each step and I would like to think that my photography skills improved with each level.  So your probably wondering why switch if I have been shooting professional grade camera's?  I have many reasons.  But first let me say that the professional cameras are great!  I'm not putting them down in any way or fashion.  I learned a lot using them and am thankful that I went through the process of getting them and using them. But why switch? Let me go through how I got hooked on mirrorless cameras.

About 5 or 6 years ago my photography got me out of the house to start exploring different areas of our state.  I started _MSP9570_MSP9570 hiking all of the trails I could find at State and National Parks and wanted to do more.  Me and my son decided that we wanted to start back packing.  This entails hiking into the woods with everything you need to camp overnight Tent , Sleeping bag food ect... Well we soon found out that the packs were heavy and then carry a Full frame Camera and a couple of professional lens the weight really added up.  Camera and a couple of f2.8 lenses could weigh up to 20 lbs. Thats like 3 1 gallon jugs of Milk that you carry around with you on top of all your camping supplies.  That made the pack very heavy and it was heavy enough with just the camping stuff.  There were many pack configurations that were tried to relieve the weight of camera and lenses but nothing seemed to work.  I was working on getting lighter camping equipment but the weight of the camera was just too much.  I had to come up with a solution that would still give me good quality photo's so I started looking into micro 4/3 cameras and I set up a checklist of things that I wanted out of a little camera.  Some of them were that it had to be able to shoot in manual, it needed to be able to shoot in RAW, it needed to be able to change lenses. I actually had it down to two camera's an Olympus and Sony.  They both had great reviews but I finally picked the Sony because of the sensor size.  It had a larger ASP-C sized sensor and the Olympus had a micro 4/3's a smaller sensor.  So weight was the first thing that brought me to the Mirrorless camera's but after a big learning curve there were many other things that brought me to become a mirrorless camera user. Here are some of them.

11-sony-a630011-sony-a6300 -Sensor Quality- Sony makes a lot of sensors for many camera company's beside Sony, there is Nikon, Iphone and maybe more but those are two big ones.  The sensors are great and the quality of the photographs I was taking were just as good as my professional camera as far as I could tell.

-Customizable buttons- The Sony camera's are very Customizable the camera comes with custom buttons and all of the buttons can be customized to you and your style of photography.  For instance I love back button focus so my camera is set up for it.

-Size-Not only is it lightweight but it is small also.  A small footprint camera takes up less room in a pack or bag and you can carry more with you and still be lighter than a full size DSLR.  I think this makes you a more nimble /mobile photographer.  I think that this makes you a better photographer especially at the end of the day when the photographers have been lugging around a big camera you are still rested enough to keep looking for good shots not looking for some where to sit down. 20171102_untitled shoot_000120171102_untitled shoot_0001

-Price-Overall the price of mirrorless cameras can be cheaper especially in the ASP-C sensor sized camera. Now like everything you can spend as much as you want for mirrorless but like everything else you don't have to.  You can also adapt vintage lenses from the film days to your camera with a cheap adapter.  I use some of my Pentax and Nikon lenses on this small body and it brings me back to the days of film when everything was manual. And the size is about the same also.

-What you see is what you get-WYSIWYG when you look through the view finder or the back of the camera what you are looking at is what the sensor see's so you know before you take the photo if it is correctly exposed or in focus there really is no need to chimp and it take the guess work out of exposure and lets you concentrate on composure light and subject.  After the big learning curve there is less fiddling with the camera.

22730511_10210704932196387_7018311079726609722_n22730511_10210704932196387_7018311079726609722_n All the things above and more make the mirrorless camera's more fun to use.  Isn't that why we love photography so much its fun! That's the reason I am gearing down not up!  I have sold all of my big boy cameras and lenses and now only have one camera. I think this will make me think more about photography and less about gear.  Now when I go somewhere I carry my camera and 3 lenses and filters.  The lenses are 10-18 f4, 18-105 f4 and a 70-200 f4 full frame equivlant to 105-300. This kit is very light and I can carry very easily in a shoulder bag that I call my purse.  I used this system at our annual photography workshop couple of weeks ago and it was fantastic!  While everyone was lugging around a large camera and one lens I had my purse with 3 lenses at my disposal at the same weight or less. I know famous people like Jason Lanier and Gary Fong have made the switch but they are sponsored by Sony.  I am the only one that I know that has made the switch from DSLR to Mirrorless.  I know I'm the only one in my photography club that has made the Jump into full time mirrorless.  Some have dabbled in mirrorless but none have gone full in.  I believe I am the first of many that will eventually switch to mirrorless. For me and the photography that I do Landscape, Travel and occasional Portraits this camera works for me. I don't need the Professional camera rig this mirrorless fits me and the photography that I enjoy. So choose the gear that is right for you! Keep Shooting!


Does Gear Really Make the Photo II ,Post trip conclusions

October 28, 2017  •  1 Comment

22814418_10210727646164222_1824769434837060805_n22814418_10210727646164222_1824769434837060805_n Hey everyone hope you had a good couple of weeks. Well this is a part II to the Does Gear Really Make the Photo blog.  My camera club went on our annual trip to the mountains for a week of fun Photography.  We shot wildlife , waterfalls , cityscapes, Landscapes and  Macros.  We shot it all and had a great time.  As I stated in my last blog my experiment for this trip was to use my Crop sensor mirrorless Sony A6300 for my main camera for the whole trip.   We went to some of the same places that we went to in 2015 so I will show you similar shots that I took 2 years ago and this year and see if you can tell the difference from a 36 megapixel full frame camera compared to my 24 megapixel Crop sensor mirrorless camera that I used on this trip.  But first let me tell you about the experience I had with my little camera on this trip.

22687733_10210704932316390_5072236385493429418_n22687733_10210704932316390_5072236385493429418_n Using this camera on this trip was fantastic and I think made my photography better because I could carry so much with me without being weighed down like a pack mule.  I used a little side bag that I called my purse that held my camera 3 lenses , batteries , SD cards, Gopro, filters, sunglasses and phone.  And I had room for a sandwich also if I wanted to. LOL! The weight of this bag wasn't anymore that that of a Full frame camera and a good 24-70 f2.8 lens.  I loved having this bag with me I could change lenses on the fly and it was better than a backpack because I didn't have to take it off to access it. The three main lenses I carried was a Sony 10-18 f4, Sony 18-105 f4 and Sony 55-210mm f4.5-6.3 .  The last lens was the weakest in the set but at a range that I don't use often but I did get a few good ones out of it. This lens I will replace with a better quality one.  While on the trip I used a Canon 70-200 f4 L non IS lens with a adapter that makes it autofocus with my Sony.  It 22730511_10210704932196387_7018311079726609722_n22730511_10210704932196387_7018311079726609722_n worked great and quality was fantastic.  I will be purchasing this lens soon.  My main lens was the 18-105mm and was a great walk around lens.  Worked well on the long exposures also.  The 10-18 was a fantastic performer when I used it mostly for long exposures.  I had circular polarizers that I used often and a Lee filter kit that I used for waterfalls (long exposures) and sunrises and sunset. And all of this fit into my little purse quite well. I had the flexibility to add and remove things as I needed them all while being light weight. As I get older and less agile the weight and size of my gear makes a difference in my stamina and that will effect my photography.

Quality of my little mirrorless camera didn't surprise me it is a fantastic camera with a great sensor.  As you probably know I have been using a Sony crop sensor mirrorless for the last couple of years.  I first bought one to use hiking and slowly fell in love with it. I upgraded from a Sony A6000 to a A6300 this year and it is a great camera.  A mirrorless crop sensor has been my main camera for a couple of years now and I think Im going to take the plunge and get rid of all of my Big Boy camera and lenses and go to a mirrorless crop sensor from now on.  I have already sold a couple of lenses  and plan to sell my full frame bodies and other lenses and flashes that I have.  I'm going to gear down instead of gearing up like I usually do.  The quality of my photo's were the same or even better in my opinion.  Below are some photo's that I have taken from 2 years ago and from this trip.  I put them side by side so you could see if there was a big difference in quality of the photos.  Take time to look at them and see if you can tell which one was a Full Frame camera with F2.8 glass or my little mirrorless sony with F4 glass.

The Photo's on the left side column were taken with a Full Frame Nikon D800 with F2.8 Lenses the photo's on the Right were taken with Mirrorless Crop Sensor Sony A6300 with F4 lenses.  To me it is hard to tell the difference. Especially if they are going to be used on the internet or make prints or canvas's that I would print.  Are the Full Frame cameras great? You bet they are they are fantastic!  The Professional 2.8 glass is Awesome!  But do I really need it for the type of photography that I'm going to do?  I don't think so. The mere size and weight of theses cameras are what is really turning me and the quality of the shots that I'm getting with this small camera is some of the best I've shot.  If I were doing a lot of portraiture or weddings the larger camera would be an asset but for what I do it is not.  So now I am taking inventory and getting rid of all of my larger gear.  Will I ever buy a full frame camera again? Probably , but it will be of the mirrorless cameras that are full frame that makes them smaller.  But for now I'm going to stick with the camera that I used this year.  Any thoughts let me know and Keep Shooting!


2015-10-25-MSP-333Photo 1 D800 70-200 2.8Max Stansell Photography 20171022_GAPC FC Day 8_011320171022_GAPC FC Day 8_0113Sony A6300 70-200 f4

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