Format Archives: Aside

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Notes: An Update

It’s been a while since I posted, so I wanted to take a few minutes to give a small update.

First, as you can see with the previous post, I am starting a new interview series called The Photogs in which I shoot a few questions to a photographer about a wide range of stuff. These won’t be long interviews; they are intended simply to introduce you to other good photographers who you may not be aware of.

Next, there is a reason for my slowed output with photo posts. Unfortunately I can’t quite say what that is yet, but I will share the reason soon enough. In the meantime, I will do my best to post more.

Finally, I have a big announcement coming next[1]… Stay tuned.

Edit: He’s up, and there goes my writing time. But I’m almost finished with the post. I’ll try to find time to finish it tonight (Japan time), so look for it in a few hours.


  1. Next being hopefully within the hour, assuming my son doesn’t wake up from his nap screaming before I’m finished… Fingers crossed ^^  ↩

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How to Pronounce Japanese

Have you ever come across an unfamilar Japanese word and wondered how to pronounce it? Japan has worked its way into popular culture and we are surrounded by Japanese words. Words such as: Pokemon, Matcha, Sakura, Geisha, Samurai, Karaoke, Manga, and so on. When these words come into English, we nearly always retain the Japanese pronouncation, and this can be quite different than you may expect if you are strictly going by English rules. With this in mind, let’s take a few minutes to learn how to pronounce Japanese correctly.

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The July Newsletter is out!

If you aren’t signed up for the newsletter, here is a link to the July issue that just went out a few days ago:

July Newsletter

Enjoy!

(oh, and if you liked that, be sure to sign up for the newsletter so you can get the next one delivered straight to your mail inbox)

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Happy Birthday to me!

It’s my birthday! A fact I actually wasn’t aware of until my wife and Facebook reminded me. I must be getting old and forgetful to not realize the day on my own.

Anyway.

As celebration, I am discounting all photo prints in my store by 50%. If you’ve been waiting to order any prints, now is the time to do so!

Simply use the coupon code “DavesBirthday” (without the quotes) at checkout for 50% off. The code will be good from today (July 6) to July 12th.

Here is a link to the store: http://japandave.smugmug.com

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RIP Aperture

It’s official: Apple has finally killed Aperture. The writing has been on the wall for a while, so we shouldn’t be surprised. Nevertheless, it’s sad news.

I’ve used Aperture since the beginning. I switched primarily to Lightroom with LR version 4 due to the superior editing and the fact that Adobe seemed much more committed to it than Apple was to Aperture, but I still kept using Aperture.

Huh? You used both?’

Yes, and I still do. I use Lightroom for my main photo catalogue, to edit the photos, to apply tags, and to rate them. The best photos are then copied to my Aperture library where I sort them based on where I share them online (Flickr, this website, Facebook, etc), where I publish them offline, where I sell them (as stock or as higher priced exclusives), and so on.

It is a slight variation on Trey Ratcliff’s system. His system uses Lightroom and iPhoto. I have never liked iPhoto and love the organization of Aperture, so I go with that instead.

Besides the wonderful Aperture UI which, in my opinion, is much better than Lightroom, the biggest win of Aperture is their support of custom metadata.

What do I mean by that?

Metadata, as I’m sure most of you know, is data about data. Wikipedia gives the example of the card catalogue at the library. The card catalogue contains information about other information, a book’s title, author, and so on. Digital photos also have metadata attached to the files. There are a number of standard things recorded, ranging from camera settings such as Aperture size, shutter speed, ISO, and so on, all the way to more descriptive things such as photo title, caption, GPS coordinates.

Both Aperture and Lightroom and many other photo apps support all this standard metadata. What sets Aperture apart is the ability to define and store custom metadata. I use the heck out of this! I have fields for online addresses for various places I share photos, places I’ve sold photos to, and so on.

What makes this even more powerful is that I can access all of these settings via Applescript so I can do all kinds of things with this custom metadata very, very quickly.

Example

A number of the custom metadata fields I have are for smugmug information. A few of these are automatically filled when I upload to Smugmug (using this great plugin). I have an Applescript that automatically takes this data and uses it to fill in other custom fields with more useful Smugmug URLs, such as a direct link to a large size of the photo, a link to buy the photo, a link to the photo in a gallery, and so on. I have another Applescript which will grab all these URLs and paste them into a template for posting to this site.

This is just a small sample.

Don’t be too impressed. I am hardly a programmer and generally find coding to be akin to ripping out hangnails. I built this system and these scripts up over several years, copying bits and pieces of them from various articles I’ve read and modifying them to my needs by fiddling with the code until it does what I want, even when I don’t really understand how it’s working.

Starting Over

To my knowledge Lightroom doesn’t support custom metadata. I’ve never been able to find settings for it. Due to this, I am pretty reliant on Aperture and you might understand why I’ve very sad to hear Apple is pulling the plug on it.

Apple only said they are stoping development, so I have some hope that they will maintain what is there so that it keeps working on future versions of OSX. I am doubtful they will continue supporting it for long, however, because they also have announced a new Photos app. The story I linked to at the top also talks about this new app.

The new Photos app does look interesting and it seems to have some professional level features. I wonder, though, if it will have the same support for custom metadata as Aperture. If so, I may eventually move my system to it, but if not… I will hold on to Aperture for as long as possible (or at least until Lightroom supports custom metadata and Applescript).

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Issues

There seem to be some issues at Smugmug right now, so photos on this site may be up and down for the time being. I’ve sent them a note asking for news, but haven’t heard back yet. Since sending the email, photos have gone up, down, up, and down again. This would seem to say to me that they are having server trouble.

Hopefully by the time you read this, all will be ok. But if you do see any broken images, this is why.

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Merry Christmas!

From me and my family here in Japan, best wishes to you and yours. Thank you so much for being japandave readers, for sharing the stories with your friends, for all your kind emails, and for giving me comments on Facebook and Twitter. I couldn’t do this website without all of you reading it. Thank you!

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Photo Stream and Dropbox

When transfering photos among your Apple devices, use Dropbox, not Photo Stream. Or else!

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The Battle of Okehazama

If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.

~Shakespeare Henry V, King Henry to his men before the Battle of Agrinin in which the English forces were outnumbered 5 to 1.

In 1560 Oda Nobunaga led a group of 2,000 against Imagawa Yoshimoto’s much larger army of 40,000, in what we today call The Battle of Okehazama (桶狭間の戦い). And what a battle it was!

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Haiku, Tanka, and Japanese Poetry

Although for much of my high school and college years, I listened to The Writer’s Almanac on NPR and enjoyed Garrison Keillor’s poetry readings, I can’t say I was ever really drawn to the form. I can appreciate a good poem when someone tells it to me, but with few exceptions, I never really sought them out. However, when I came to Japan and started reading haiku and later tanka, I was really drawn to the forms and enjoyed what I read. I’ve since bought and enjoyed several books.

Lately I’ve been posting some of them to lead off photo posts. What do you guys think of this? Enjoyable or weird? Let me know your thoughts.

If you are looking to get into Japanese poetry, try →here to read a few from a master.