Travel Thoughts

Travel has always made me reflective and last weekend was no different. I think of behaviors that need to change and to try something different.

  1. What needs to be changed?
  2. When will I say no to that unhealthy habit?
  3. What can I start today?
  4. What can I stop today?
  5. What needs more reflection?

It’s always amazing to me how travel puts your life into perspective. Do more of this.

Photography Workflow Using the iPad Pro M1

I had first published this guide in early 2019 in an effort to simplify my post-process photography workflow using the 2018 iPad. After decades of desktop and laptop processing, I wondered if the iPad was a solution for me.

Previous year articles from 2021 and 2019

Can the iPad replace the laptop for my photography post-process?

So much has changed since then that I have continued the series and decided to write a new post about it. The evolution in gear, software, and process has been a fun process to look back on and wonder how we managed to get anything done at all. But where there is a will, there are many ways. I will cover what my photography workflow looks like, but ultimately, everyone needs to choose what’s right for them. Workflows are personal and modified as needed. This topic seems to be a crowd favorite because each year these posts receive a lot of traffic and attention (thank you!)

A few months after that last post, I upgraded to the 12.9” Apple iPad M1 (5th Gen) and fine-tuned my workflow. Now, I also upgraded the laptop to the 2021 MacBook Pro M1, and it is no slouch. However, the photo workflow is different, limiting and feels almost antiquated. For now, the MacBook is a tool for me to curate my digital photo archives using Adobe Lightroom Classic, and that’s it. Here are some of the ways an iPad is more beneficial to me:

Multi-input workflow

Photography is a hands-on experience, and it is a joy to continue this on the iPad. Much like using your hands to develop your film negatives, so too are your fingers, the keyboard, and the Apple Pencil for finer control. Using a mouse to manipulate images is too impersonal for me now.

Storage

Thanks to the iPad and cloud services, there is an easier, more secure way to store images you’ve taken. This allows me to focus more on what I want to do (photography), rather than moving files around. I have 2 TB of iCloud storage waiting to receive my image uploads from either my camera or the iPhone. There is another 20 GB of storage in the Adobe cloud. Current images I am shooting are uploaded, stored and easily accessible on any of my devices.

My data transfer and storage needs to be effortless, to the point I don’t have to think about it. I mentioned the MacBook and my archives previously- that’s the only time I want to think about storage. I do organize images on the hard drive and then migrate them into the Archives stored on the 10 TB external hard drive.

Performance

The iPad has been granted a full-time job from me. It is the most powerful, fastest, and more interactive device I own. The ability to handle images in RAW format while asking for more work to do is remarkable to me. Battery life is spectacular, although it has a massive screen. Speaking of that massive screen, nothing makes me happier than reviewing my photos on such a beautiful screen. Much like the analog contact sheets, I can sort through quickly and determine which are the keepers and which get tossed into the digital bin. That M1 chip really knows how to process faster and distribute power evenly.

Mobile

Sure, the 12.9” iPad is large, and the magic keyboard that it magnetically attaches to adds weight. But it is still smaller and lighter than lugging a laptop with all the dongles, charger and cables around. Something else I am enjoying is the 5G connectivity. The ability to travel, make images, load them up into the cloud instantly is nothing short of brilliant. Want to check the forecast for the next day’s shooting? Care to watch that video tutorial of local street photographers while you travel? Start post-processing your images and have them secured until you get back home? Publish your work while on the go? It is all possible with that iPad.

Hardware & Software

Below is what I minimally use to produce a maximum photography workflow.

  1. Apple 12.9” iPad Pro (5th gen) – My mobile photo lab.
  2. Apple Pencil – Precision editing tool
  3. CharJen Mini stick- A USB-C adapter with SD card port, charging port
  4. Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro – All in one keyboard & cover
  5. Apple Photos – Store, review, edit.
  6. Adobe Lightroom – for photo post-processing, organization
  7. iCloud – for backup and syncing across devices using Photos app
  8. Adobe Creative Cloud – for backup and syncing across devices in Lightroom

Extra Tools In The Darkroom

Capture tools include Sony A7III, iPhone, iPad Pro and a collection of analog film cameras. Post-processing labs include Adobe Lightroom, Pixelmator Pro, VSCO and Hipstamatic. Portfolio and galleries that host the final images can be viewed at PhotoDenbow.com and ChrisDenbow.com

Conclusion

The iPad is a great workspace for editing your photos. It is my personal, mobile photo lab. I can process my images in bed or on a plane, or even in between photo shoots when I am out and about. This makes the iPad the perfect tool for my photography.

Changing My Attitude

Is it possible to be happy where you feel like you are stuck? Regardless of where we are, I do believe it is possible to be happy. Personally, I am bitter towards living in a small city that is land-locked and in a flyover state during a pandemic. Yes, there is always going to be a better city or country that have a better climate or opportunities, but what can we do with what we have? Personally, I’ve discovered that once I’ve found the perfect place, I am still not satisfied because there is so much more for me to explore.

After traveling extensively, I realize I want to do it more. But what of it isn’t possible during a pandemic or lockdowns? We make do with what we have, but you have to work at it. If what you want there doesn’t exist, try to improve it yourself.

From the master of micro-adventures:

“I thought that I had been paying close attention to my local area through years of micro-adventures. Then I committed to spending a year exploring only the single local map that I live on (the big fold-out paper maps hikers use, covering an area of 20km x 20km). At first I worried that after years of global adventures — cycling around the world, rowing the Atlantic, walking across southern India etc. — my one small, suburban patch outside London would be agonisingly claustrophobic, boring and limiting. But I was wrong! I have discovered places I never knew existed, and been astonished at the wildness, beauty (ugliness, too) and history I have discovered. If you find somewhere new within a few miles of home then you are exploring the world just as much as someone trekking across the Empty Quarter Desert in Arabia…”

Alastair Humphreys

Well said. Inspirational even.

Your mental and physical health is crucial in all of this. It’s time to keep your brain and your body fit. Get out and have a walk and a think. I’ll be embracing naps a lot this winter as well.

I said all that to say this: if you can’t change your latitude, then your attitude needs to change. This is easier said than done, but I am going to give it a helluva try.

Travel Photography Tips 

Like everyone else, I am tired of this damned pandemic and want to experience a different reality. So, I’ve masked up, received a vaccination and started booking flights.

Where to?

Migratory birds and pensioners have it right, so I suggest going south for the winter. New Orleans is a little slice of Europe here in the States. Guadalajara has a great blend of Europe and Mexico. Mexico City is on the list for its views. I’m always keen to go back to the Dominican Republic.

Boca Chica

When the weather turns warmer, I’d recommend San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Savannah, Charlotte, Miami, and Chicago.

Hit The Road

I’ve traveled the length of Route 66 from Chicago to LA and kicked myself for not taking the time to stop for better photographic opportunities, so this is definitely on the list again. Big Bend National park on the Texas/Mexico border has been canceled twice due to the pandemic or wildfires. Maybe this year? Pitch a tent, rent an Airbnb or rent, even better, a trailer in a west Texas nomadic hotel.

El Cosmico, Marfa Texas.
Joshua Tree National Park, California

Stealth Mode

Wearing a mask and shooting street photography from a distance can be beneficial and fun.

Minimal Clothing

One backpack filled with limited apparel and essentials. No checked bags at the airport, buy what you need when you get there.

Minimal Gear

For me, it is one camera, one lens, the iPad, external hard drive and the chargers.

Shoot Everything

Memory cards store numerous data, so fill them up. When done for the day, dump them on the iPad and then go back out to play.

Plan Ahead

Map out where you want to shoot, do your homework and take notes. Check out Atlas Obscura for unique finds, Geocaching can take you to unexpected places that aren’t in the tour guides. Refer to these often, so you don’t miss anything.

Airplane Mode

Not just a good idea when you are on a plane, but when you are on the ground and trying to focus. Leaving the phone in Airplane mode limits your distractions, to disconnect, to think, meditate on your life, to create images, you know, the whole reason you started this adventure.

Recover

I go away to get away from it all. It’s funny to me that I rarely do so. Next time, I must promise myself to be in the moment and enjoy it. Otherwise, what was the point?

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Preserve

Artistic Investments

We’ve been taught that it is wise to invest in your future, so you should save and retire comfortably. So, you save and invest in hopes of a nice return on your investment. Now that you’ve saved and invested, what happens? Wait and die without living an enjoyable life? I say invest in what makes you happy, as there are no guarantees anymore. The 401k retirement plans can be worth less than what you’ve invested. Social Security is not sustainable either. But we are still taught and encouraged to keep at it anyway. Sounds like a trap for complacent sheep.

So I’ve done all that, but have a ways to go before retiring. Now I am choosing to invest in my life through other means- by doing what makes me happy while I still can.

For me, this is photography. It is a creative passport that allows me to go anywhere, capture anything and after thirty+ years, I am vested heavily.

A lot of my free time and money go to producing, developing, processing and publishing images with little reward except it makes my soul happy.

Now that I have the tools I want to accomplish these things, I will invest more time in working with other photographers and their art. Investing money into experiences, not gear. Investing both time and money into travel experiences, workshops, and anything else that furthers my desires.

Sonya, the newest and last gear investment

It is difficult to create something in a small town, in a land-locked, flyover state, in the winter, during a pandemic. So, I invested in a trip to New Orleans next month to change my perspective. I love NOLA and feel as if I can never explore it enough. The camera comes with of course to capture those experiences. Instead of investing in all the best cameras, lenses etc. etc., I’ll put my money into travel expenses.

Investing in my own website has paid off beautifully for me these past twenty years and I encourage all artists to do so. Stop sharecropping on Zuck’s platforms and develop on your own land.

I recommend Namecheap for buying your own domain name and web hosting. After making the rounds with most of the web hosts myself, these guys are some of the most reliable. Domain name can be as low as $2 a year. Web hosting as little as $20 a year. Congrats, you have your own website, with your own email address for the cost of 3 Starbucks visits. What a great investment in yourself and your work.

Investing in photo experiences gets me out of the house and since I am currently workin from home it is a lifesaver. New experiences for the wandering misadventurer gives me fresh eyes and new perspectives to make new photos.

Investing in my life and my lifestyle is a wise choice for my time and money.

It is financially wise eating at home more than I eat out, but I haven’t been doing that. This needs to change. The money saved on dining in can go towards that next flight instead. Why didn’t I think of that sooner?

More money saved can go towards books, self-educated tools, or even investing in others through cryptocurrency to speculate on photographic works of art (NFTs.) I am slowly seeing opportunities for the blockchain to overtake “social media” photography.

Like most investors, I wish I had the wisdom to have started earlier. I want to take advantage of these new opportunities of investing in myself and earning those rewards.