Chamberlain Finally Delivers a HomeKit Compatible Garage Door Opener

When I had my house built last year the one one thing that I was excited about was being able to take advantage of all the cool smarthome options out there. When it came time to buy garage door openers the main thing I wanted was ones with a battery backup. I wanted to be able to still open my garage door in the event of a power outage. When I looked I was pleasantly surprised to find the Chamberlain model that not only had a battery backup, but it was also WiFi and smartphone enabled. Chamberlain has their own app “MyQ” and it works fine, but it’s yet another single purpose app. It would have been nice to be able to also control my openers in the Apple iOS Home App. They kept promising that HomeKit compatibility was coming and they were even featured on the slides in Apple’s keynote address on more than one occasion.

Well it’s been a little over a year since I bought my openers.

Chamberlain Keeps their Promise and Delivers a HomeKit Solution Continue Reading »

How to Photograph The Solar Eclipse 2017

Solar Eclipse

Yesterday I did a live stream on the Adobe Creative Cloud Facebook page outlining what you’d need to successfully photograph or simply enjoy the Solar Eclipse happening Monday, August 21, 2017. Here’s the replay in case you missed it:

There were a lot of good comments and questions during the stream and I thought I’d recap some of the things I talked about here.

What you need to capture the solar eclipse

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I Absolutely Knew Better!

data loss

I have been telling photographers for years to always have at least three copies of your images/videos. This also applies to traveling photographers. I have also said for many years that “there are two types of computer users: those who have lost data and those who will.” With this in mind you would probably think that I’d be one of the last people to lose some of my precious images/video, but that’s exactly what happened. I didn’t follow my own advice and it’s no one’s fault but my own. I can’t blame the hardware. I can’t blame anyone else. It was all me. I knew better!

I’m telling you my sad story so that hopefully it won’t happen to you.

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How to Create a 360° Panorama from your DJI Drone

I really love capturing video and stills with my DJI Mavic Pro drone. I’m surprised by what I can get in regards of sharpness and rich colors. I’m also quite pleased with the 4K video. Posting stills and video to social media is nice, but the one thing that takes it up a notch is being above to post fully immersive 360° panoramas to Facebook (like the one above that you can click on and experience). Facebook has native support for 360° stills and video. On the ground I shot 360’s with my Ricoh Theta S or Insta360 nano. When it comes to aerial photography I’d rather not strap one of these cameras to my drone. The Mavic Pro already has a 12MP camera that shoots Raw.

I remember seeing someone post a drone 360° and I about fell out of my chair trying to figure out how they did it? So I asked and he was kind enough to turn me on the necessary apps. I thank him for that, but knowing which apps were used was only half the battle. I still had to figure out the process. Every time I post one someone asks me the same thing and rather than just point them to the apps they need, I’d rather have this post to refer them to so that they get the full process.

Here’s what you’ll need…

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Iceland 2017 – The gritty details!

Iceland 2017 Load out

Hey everyone! I’m back from Iceland and as usual I learned a lot and had a blast. With that said there are a lot of questions that come up when ever I do a photographic excursion and this trip was no different. The questions started even before I left about the equipment I was taking and in some cases why I wasn’t taking more? As promised here is the list of gear I took based on the load out pic above.

  1. Targus laptop rolling backpack. I initially bought this for Photoshop World so that I would have to carry my heavy backpack back and forth. For the Iceland trip it served as a secondary equipment bag.
  2. Thinktank Streetwalker Backpack. I love this camera bag because it not only holds my camera gear, but also my iPad Pro and MacBook Pro.
  3. Klear micro fiber cleaning cloths.
  4. WD My Passport Wireless 2TB HD. This drive is a lifesaver as it allows you to backup your SD cards without having to use a computer. It has a lithium ION rechargeable battery and you can just plug your SD cards in and they automatically copy to the drive.
  5. Klear wet pack screen cleaning pads.
  6. SkyRoam contract free WiFi Hotspot
  7. Platypod Max camera tripod without being a tripod.
  8. Rode SmartLav+ microphone for doing live streaming and interviews.
  9. Arkon Smartphone Tripod for capturing 360° and iPhone videos in general
  10. Gitzo Traveler Carbon Fiber Tripod
  11. Nikon cable release for capturing long exposures without having to touch the camera.
  12. DxO ONE 24MP DSLR quality camera for iPhone.
  13. Mevo Live Streaming 4K Camera.
  14. Insta360 nano 360° still, video camera and live streaming camera.
  15. Ricoh Theta S 360° still and video camera.
  16. FlatHat Drone collapsable landing pad.
  17. Nikon 14-24mm Wide Angle Lens
  18. Nikon D810 DSLR 36MP full frame camera
  19. Nikon 28-300mm Zoom lens
  20.  DJI Mavic Pro 4K Drone
  21. Anker Solar 15W USB charger.
  22. Monster 4 port AC travel power strip
  23. OREI 2 in 1 USA to Europe Adapter Plug
  24. Anker backup batteries for charing USB devices.
  25. Vovomay Hardshell Shoulder Waterproof Suitcase Bag For DJI Mavic Pro
  26. iPad Pro 12.9″ 256GB WiFi-4G Gold
  27. Apple Pencil for iPad Pro and case.
  28. MacBook Pro 15″ Retina 2014 with custom Gelaskin.
  29. PlugBug USB port for Apple wall charger.
  30. iPod touch 32GB
  31. Apple AirPods, but my Blackpods arrived the day I left.
  32. Coast Head Light dual color.
  33. Anker PowerLine+ Lightning cables.
  34. Camera Rain Protection.
  35. di-GPS for my Nikon DSLR

See the whole story below…

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5 Ways to Keep Your Mobile Devices Charged When You Travel

As I head out this week on another Iceland adventure I started to layout the gear that I plan on taking. I’m excited to document this trip with my new DJI Mavic Pro drone, but as usual I will have my iPhone 7 Plus, iPad Pro and 360° cameras. All of these devices need to be charged. For the Mavic it’s not much of an issue as I have multiple batteries, but for the smaller devices with built-in batteries I need to be able to charge them when I’m not near an outlet. That’s why I’ve standardized on Anker batteries (and cables). I put this short video together highlighting my three favorite batteries:

5 Ways to Keep Your Mobile Devices Charged When You Travel

I use the Anker PowerCore 20100 as the battery that’s always in my bag. This ultra high capacity battery can charge my smartphone and tablet multiple times before needing to be recharged. I can usually get a few days of use out of it before needing to recharge the battery itself. So if I forget to charge it at night it’s not the end of the world. Next up…

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A Great Speaker for your Amazon Echo Dot

Echo Dot

Amazon sells four (five if you count the new “Look”)  versions of the Amazon Echo. Three of them, the Echo, the Echo Tap and the Echo Dot are really geared towards obeying your voice commands and playing music. The Echo and Tap have decent built-in speakers, but the Echo Dot is really an Echo with a much smaller speaker. Of course this means that Dot can be sold at a much more attractive $49 price point (currently on sale for $39) and that makes it a no brainer for people look to add Alexa to other rooms. Yes the Dot does have a speaker, but this speaker is really not great for music playback. While you can attach any speaker via the AUX out jack or Bluetooth, it means that it will take up more space having two devices instead of one. Luckily there is a really good speaker that has been designed to be a perfect match for the Echo Dot.

The VAUX is a perfect match to your Echo Dot

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The Whole House Music System I Always Wanted – Bose SoundTouch

Have you ever bought something with one use in mind and then later you realized that you could use it for another purpose too? That’s exactly what happened to me when I bought my Bose SoundTouch 300 Soundbar. I was looking for a 5.1 WIRELESS surround sound system. I’m a fan of Bose gear and when my neighbor told me that Bose had just the system I was looking for I ordered it on the spot. Yes there are other wireless systems out there and I even had one. I had a Vizio soundbar with wireless subwoofer. However, with the Vizio soundbar the satellite speakers plugged into the subwoofer. In my family room I don’t have a back wall to run wires. Therefore the Vizio system presented a wiring challenge. The Bose SoundTouch 300 is actually sold piece by piece or you can buy the whole setup. You can just buy the soundbar. You can add on the wireless subwoofer (Acoustimass). You can add on the rear speakers. They are all wireless. Each speaker needs to be plugged into an AC outlet for power, but they don’t need to be wired to the soundbar or any central point. This was exactly what I was looking for. I am completely happy with the performance of the Bose SoundTouch 300.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that you could add additional SoundTouch speakers for music in every room

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Awesome NEW Backlit Keyboard for Lightroom Users

I finally got a chance to put my new Lightroom USB Backlit Keyboard to use. Editors Keys has been making dedicated application keyboards and keyboard covers for years. I typically go for the keyboard covers for my MacBook Pro, but when I’m at my desk I had been using a full size Apple USB keyboard. The Apple keyboard is not backlit. I use Lightroom everyday. So if there was a application keyboard to choose for me it would be Lightroom (or Photoshop).

You have to see the Lightroom keyboard in action!

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