Just Because…..Ziggy

David Bowie RIP

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Bamboo

A Jack, a Bowl, a Song and Bamboo Bam!

So I’ve been putting together an all file based audio system. I’ve been searching the internet for interesting tweaks and stuff and came across this post and thought WHAT! So while I await my Ikea cutting boards, I stuck a bamboo cutting board from Bed, Bath and Beyond that I’ve had for years under my external g-technology HD that my digital audio files are streaming from. It’s attached to my MacBook Pro (running OSX 10.10.3, circa 2008) with an Audioquest Forest Firewire 800 cable) and holy crap it changed the sound of the system! Everything seemed more focused with more space between instruments. One of my favorite reference songs is “Sleepy Time Time” from Cream’s Royal Albert Hall concert. It was ripped using the excellent XLD. For the first time I could distincly hear Ginger Baker clearly hitting the bass drum on his kit and Clapton’s higher overtones on his guitar solo. Do yourself a favor and stop by Ikea and for $14 pick up this cutting board and go crazy gypsy….Your ears will be very happy you did.

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Heads Up!

Too many metaphors and too little time ;)! Those of you who have taken classes with Rick Sammon know that he’s a font of photographic knowledge and a great resource for tips and tricks. One of my favorite is “ see the light”, it’s so fundamental and key to making great pictures, but I’d like to add to it with a “heads up”. My daughter grabs me and say’s “have you seen the sky?” I go outside on my porch and look up and there’s a storm a brewing….took this quick shot of the church tower across the street with the stormy sky.

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Shot with my iPhone at ISO 100 at f/2.4 and 1/120th of a second.

I then hopped in the car and went down to the Hudson river for a much wider view. The light was cool and the scene very much stormy which was perfect.

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Shot with my iPhone at ISO 50 at f/2.4 and 1/6944 of a second.

But the next interesting photo opportunity to incorporate Rick’s “see the light” and my “heads up” occurred at a Demi Lovato concert I took my daughter and her friend to the concert in Philly, Pa. I dreaded it! But it turned out much better then I thought, Demi was quite good. 20,000 screaming teenage girls stood the whole 2 hours Demi was on stage. So…..from my seat when sitting down I noticed how great the lights were and then loved how the girls in front of me were being silhouetted by the stage lights.

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I just knew if I waited and watched both the lights and the girls I would get the perfect shot I was looking for. Sure enough with enough patience and a watchful eye, I got it! I just love seeing the girls face, her two friends being both lighted and backlighted at the same time.

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Went to a New York Mets game this week and tried out a really cool app called Frameographer that allows you to easily shoot both stop motion and time lapse on your iPhone. It’s made by Studio Neat which also sells a great holder for your iPhone for almost any tripod called the Glif. The Glif works great on either a full scale tripod or on the little Joby tripods. See the time lapse video of the grounds crew getting the infield ready before the game at Citi Field. Again I used my iPhone using Frameographer and just resting the iPhone against the railing in front of our seats. Next, I’m waiting for a wedding at the church across the street and try the time lapse again….should be fun.


Just Because: Pete Townshed and Jack White doing the classic Who song, “the Seeker” in 2006.

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It’s Always a Matter of Perspective, Isn’t it!

Mountain Lion rocks the house! If you haven’t already and your machine meets the minimum requirements, Mountain Lion is a must have upgrade. I’ve included a bunch of links to reference material to help you get the most out of the OSX upgrade. Remember to back up first! Backing up is easy and cheap. Do it. Right now.

David Pogue’s OSX Mountain Lion Missing Manual
Take Control of Upgrading to Mountain Lion eBooks
Hello Tips, Tricks & Secrets
Vimeo Video Sharing in OS X Mountain Lion

Went to see the Allman Brothers and Santana up in Saratoga Springs at SPAC last weekend with my fellows. Fantastic shows. The performing arts center seats 25,000 concert goers both in the indoor open air stage and on the lawn. We sat on the lawn and I shot the below video from my beach chair on my iPhone and used the new Mountain Lion “share to Vimeo” function to upload to show you guys. ABB from the cheap seats!

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Shot with Pano and my iPhone.

On my daily walks I pass by this bush that at this point in the summer is over growing the sidewalk and I need to duck it to walk by. Grabbed a shot this morning at my eye level before ducking. Whatever your perspective, there’s always a shot to be had!

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And finally check out Dan Chung’s iPhone Photo Blog from the London Olympics……pretty cool.


Just Because: CSNY and Tom Jones! What? Enjoy and see you next time…..dl

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Aperture Priority

Is printing dead? I thought so until this week. Two things changed my mind:

  1. As is my teenager’s way, she left two graduation presents to the day before her friends high school graduation party. Now teenagers rarely print anything anymore, heck they rarely post to Facebook either. For both my 14 and 18 year old girls and their friends (boys and girls) it’s Instagram all the way! So imagine my surprise when my daughter asked me to print out a bunch of 5×7’s of her and her friends over the last 7 years. She was going to make a collage in a frame to give them to take to college. So I fired up my Aperture (Rick’s the Photoshop Lightroom expert!), found every possible combination of my daughter and her two friends, made an album and called her to pick the ones she wanted. Once identified by her I dusted off my favorite Canon Pro 9000 Mark ll and printed out the requested photos after some cropping and adjustments (all within Aperture of course). My daughter put the presents together in a 13”x19” picture frame, wrapped them up and went off to the party. Her friends were so happy to have for their new dorm rooms an “old school” photo frame full of memories……go figure in the age of iPhone and Instagram!
  2. So my dad has Alzheimer’s and is in a facility that has 10 other Alzheimer patients on his floor. I went to see him a few days ago (up in Elmira, NY) and while walking the hallway on his wing I noticed that every room that someone lived in had a bulletin board outside their door. Some were packed with photos some not so much. What was a common thread was how those photos defined who these people and their lives were before they started to fade away with Alzheimer’s. There were old faded b/w photographs from when they were young, work photos and photographs with family and friends throughout their lives. While quite sad to see it was very powerful in helping define the person inside. Of course outside my Dad’s room are photographs I printed over the years using camera’s from a Nikon F2 to my Canon 7D to my iPhone.

I’m working with Final Cut Pro X in the coming weeks putting together a video of one of our “International” dinners that I do with eight other families every two months. It’s like a cook club of sorts but it’s a good excuse to get to get together for really good eats and drink. This time we roasted a pig. There’s a great farm nearby in Yorktown that raises all the animals. As fresh as fresh can be. I hauled out my trusty Canon 7D with my Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens and shot some stills and of course all the video. I’ll post some video snip-its soon. In the meantime here’s a sneak peek. That’s Pedro guarding the pig ;).

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Just Because: Couldn’t let the Rolling Stones 50th anniversary slide by without a little video. Check out this performance with Muddy Waters at Buddy Guy’s blues club in Chicago in 1981.

Also, having seen the ravishes of Alzheimer’s with my dad it saddens me to hear that Glen Campbell is not able to finish his last tour. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease last year. Here’s a wonderful video for the song “ Better Place”. Filled with photographs.

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Old School

For the past 4 years I have run a golf outing for the Croton-Harmon Booster Club. It’s one of our best fundraisers we do all year. All monies raised go towards scholarships and sport camps for our High School athletes. To both run and market the event there are a few old school apps that I continue to use on my desktop setup.

Filemaker Pro/Filemaker Go: In order to keep track of the entry forms for the outing, to track golfers, create foursomes, on course prizes and gather email addresses I use the venerable Filemaker Pro. Simple, direct, syncs to Filemaker Go on my iPad and generates a great paper sign-in form for the volunteers.

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Pixelmator, Illustrator and Photoshop: The posters that publicize the event from the 13”x19” in store posters to the 4’x6’ banners were created and changed in these programs.

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Freeway: Create the simple website for the outing

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Pages: Create and generate the sign-up and sponsorship forms.

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Mac OSX: With it’s built-in .pdf generator. Hit the print command like your going to create a document and instead of printing, hit the save as pdf drop down menu. Viola! You’ve created a .pdf document.

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Dropbox: I store all the files in my Dropbox account so that whether on my iPhone, iPad or laptop I have access to the         most up-to-date files.

That’s it…..the one thing that technology nor software can help me to is improve my golf game! ;-). Well not entirely true, Rick and I have an iPhone and iPad Golf Lesson app. Check it out and you can learn the famous “Skip Chip”!


Just Because: Happy Birthday Paul McCartney! by Fiona Apple and the Roots and Paul Weller

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Hit Me With Your Best Shot!

Let’s start it off right and tie it right into the theme of this weeks surgery with Nikki Bluhm and the Gramblers.

Camera apps:
When I first started out in photography, I learned to shoot black and white first. It forced me to look not just at composition but the contrast and brightness of a shot. Film of choice was Tri-X by Kodak.

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I came across this great iPhone camera app called “Hueless”. Open the app and everything you shoot is in black and white just like if you loaded your old SLR with Tri-X. There are controls to help focus and set contrast and brightness but there is no color so it’s a fun way to see the photographic world this way and helps you look at tonal gradations once again.

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Shot using Hueless.app                                                Shot using iPhone Camera

I had forgotten all about one of the earliest iPhone camera apps and the first one I bought when I got my iPhone 3G, Pano. If I had swung by the Hudson River it might have remained in the “I can’t delete it, but never use it anymore, cause you never know” app on my iPhone. I forgot how much fun a panorama can be. Check it out and go crazy on panoramas!

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Hudson River sunset in Croton on Hudson, NY, copyright 2012 David Leveen.

Social app:
The current hot one is called Thumb. In the “old days” the way information about likes and dislikes, what looks good, what tastes good and do you like this shirt/blouse good came about around the water cooler, or on the school bus or out with friends. Now you can do it wherever, whenever and even when alone. Watch the video on their website to see how it works. Create your own groups (your own inner circle so to speak) or use the whole world at large and get instant opinions from real people.

Productivity app:
Holy tomatoes there are so many “to-do” list and “note” apps that have come on and off my iPhone since I had it. But right now, thanks to my friend John Gruber I discovered lta, a quick list app. It’s simple, quick and looks great. Works on both the iPhone and iPad and uses iCloud to keep both in sync. Speaking of iCloud………….

Where oh where has Mobile Me gone?:
Yup it’s going bye-bye and has been creating angst, uncertainty and fear among users. It’s really quite simple to make the transition from Mobile Me to iCloud but BACK-UP, BACKUP AND BACK-UP all you devices. Backup your main machine, sync your iPhone, iTouch and iPad!!!! If you go to http://icloud.com and log-in with your .me email address it will step you through the transition. A BIG CAVEAT! if you have multiple devices that are currently syncing with Mobile Me, you need to make sure that you use the Mobile Me username and password from the device with the most up-to-date contact and calendar info when you first go to http://icloud.com. Then……all the rest of your devices need to have the same username and password in the iCloud setting preference panel if you want them to remain in sync moving forward with iCloud. One more thing to make sure of……if you switch all your devices to use iCloud to sync Calendar and Contacts to your devices, make sure you’re not also syncing those devices Calendar and Contacts in iTunes but letting iCloud do the syncing for those apps.


Just Because: We love Jimmy Fallon!

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Technology Takes a Holiday.

It’s May and it’s our annual Myrtle Beach golf trip. Eric, Jim, Tim and I started this 6 years ago. 72 holes in 3 days of drinking, playing, eating and snoring! What I learned and what to share from this year.

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Grande Dunes 7AM. Copyright 2012 David Leveen

  1. iPads: Three out of the four of us brought iPads instead of laptops this year. All the condo’s at Legends where we stay have cable modems, but not wireless. I brought my Airport Express which I set up using my iPad and Apple’s Airport Utility for the iPad. Now the iPads and the lone laptop (a Windows machine) were able to get on the internet. I also learned that you can leave your iPad in your carry on and not pull it out when you go through security.
  2. Maps app and Contacts on the iPhone: Because we’ve been before and we have our favorite courses and restaurants their addresses are in my contacts app on my iPhone. That way if we want to go from Legends in Myrtle Beach, SC where we are staying to Oyster Bay Golf Links in Sunset Beach, N.C. maps quickly gives us to and from directions. My navi-guessor Eric handled the direction chores in our rental Town and Country man van!

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  1. Eating: Avoid the chains look for local restaurants run by the locals they’re usually the most fun and have the best food. Yelp and Chowhound.com are great for finding the best local places. We love Crab Catchers on the Waterfront Little River, S.C. and Thai Cuisine in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
  2. Golf: If you never use your 4 iron, leave it home. As the attendant at Oyster Bay said as he pulled Eric’s bag out of the man van, “ hey….I think there are some clubs missing!” Have fun, get the domestic six pack specials and by all means get the Bloody Mary’s at Grande Dunes! Remember you can’t call golf a sport if you can smoke cubans and drink while playing. Also, watch out for the alligators they are big!

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Our favorite Par 3 at Grande Dunes. A pond and the Inter-Coastal Waterway. All four of us where on the green in 1. Copyright 2012 David Leveen

  1. Take a Deep Breath and Turn the Phone off: After playing 27 holes the first day at Oyster Bay we stopped for drinks and dinner at Crab Catchers on the Water. We stayed four hours and had a blast. There was never a lull or phone call during those four hours. Drinks, appetizers , dinner, bald eagles, Croton characters, a weird professor, kids and a guessing game about how old our server was. We didn’t want to out right ask so we asked 20 questions during those four hours. We came close, she was in her mid 40s and from Hartford, Ct. We spend so much of our time with and in front of gadgets and computers that we forget how relaxing talking and taking in your surroundings can be. Try it!

Just Because: Jagger rocking SNL!

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It’s All in the Pocket

So every May I go away to Myrtle Beach, SC with my golf buddies for 3 days. This morning as I went for my daily walk, my favorite in-ear headphones died, kaput! Cleaned the ear wax out, yuk, and they still didn’t work! I now have to get new ones as I’m leaving tomorrow for Myrtle. I didn’t have enough time to order them online so I rocket down to the nearest Apple store in The Westchester in White Plains, NY. I picked the Apple store because I wanted to try using my iPhone to buy an accessory and check out. No cash register, no paper receipt. As long as you have an iTunes account with a credit card attached, you’re good to go. Scan the bar code on any accessory, log-in to your iTunes account, a receipt is displayed on your iPhone and you’re out the door. The below screen shot is what it looks like and is part of the you can download and put on your phone. It does tons of other stuff, like pre-ordering, in-store pickup or to book some Genius time.

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This of course leads me into talking about what apps I use regularly on my iPhone. I really use it instead of carrying a computer with me while visiting clients or traveling. All the below Apps sync and work for both my iPhone, iPad and Laptop.

  • Billings Touch: I use it to track client time and create invoices
  • Filemaker Pro/FileMaker Go: To keep track of the golfers that are playing in our Booster Club Golf Classic Fund-raiser.
  • Simplenote: Track all sorts of notes and miscellaneous info I gather day to day
  • iWork Suite: Pages, Numbers and Keynote
  • 1Password: track all my passwords and notes securely
  • DSLR FilmmakerToolkit: Slate, Shot Log, Daylight Times, etc. for shooting video projects
  • Mactracker: Looking up all Apple products for specifications and tech info. Goes all the way back to Macintosh 128k.
  • Apple’s Airport Utility: For configuring wireless and wired Airport Networks.
  • Skip Marini Golf Lessons: Last but not least, Rick Sammon takes golf lessons with Pro Skip Marini. I did start with a golf theme after all…;-)

Just Because: Live From Darryl’s House……rocking and sometimes cooking! Also via John Gruber’s Daring Fireball blog a great read about the web.

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Ramps and SloPro

I was going to write about SmugMug’s great app “Camera Awesome” and their excellent photo/video service, but I got my favorite springtime phone call. My good friend Tim called and said, “let’s go ramping”! We’re fortunate that we live in Northern Westchester County which is heavily wooded with tons of streams and ponds which is ideal for finding ramps. So with shovel in hand and bags to fill up with our bounty and of course my iPhone in my pocket off we went. I work with technology all day long whether it’s consulting, editing, listening to music or photography. Sometimes one needs to remember that life isn’t all technology and we all need the proverbial “stop and smell the roses” occasionally or in this case the ramps! Tim and I were gone over 2 hours, walked deep into the woods, found tons of ramps and will be cooking them up over the next few days. While trekking through the woods near the croton reservoir we came across the below weird site. Perfectly carved gigantic rocks in the middle of the woods? Remnants of when the Croton Dam was built and left behind, dropped by a UFO or a little StoneHedge type thing…..is that Spinal Tap I hear? So get out, slow down and put the technology away for a few hours and bring the camera just in case 😉

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StoneHedge?

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Ramps cleaned and ready to go.

Here come’s a bad segue once again…..slow down to SloPro. My new favorite iPhone app. Did you ever think you could make beautiful slow motion video on your iPhone? Check out the below video I shot yesterday at the dam it’ll give you a good idea of what’s possible. I’m going to explore more with it and report back in a few weeks with some more samples.

Check out this SloPro Video


Just Because: New Music for Old People written by my friend Al Kooper. Great music both new and old.

I saw the Band and Levon Helm at last 20 times over the years, but one of my favorite shows was with Ringo Starr…..You’ll be missed Levon. Also…..”You have to fight for your right to paaarrrrrrtttty!” May have not been on your favorite playlist, but it just rocked the house and helped launch MTV. Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys who made that record died a few days ago of cancer. I came across a quote reflecting on Adam’s death and it reminded me so much of Tommy V’s philosophy of “You’re here for a good time not a long time” that I needed to share it. It’s by Bob Lesetz who signed off his email blast with this final quote about Adam……”Death is final. It creeps you out. Be sure to live while you’re still alive.”

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