Review: WD My Passport Wireless Hard Drive

WdfMP Wireless

Ever since I started writing the first edition of The iPad for Photographers, one aspect of the process has been a sticking point: image backup. I know, that sounds like the most boring part of being a photographer, but it’s also vitally important.

Importing photos onto the iPad for review is one option, but it takes up valuable storage (and digital camera files aren’t getting any smaller). That also means you have just one set of image files, unless you use the SD memory cards you originally captured the photos onto as backup (which is also a good idea).

A number of companies have made hard disks that incorporate Wi-Fi radios, primarily as a means of storing lots of media (movies, mostly) and stream them to the iPad and not take up the device’s storage. The Seagate Wireless Plus also added the ability to copy photos from the iPad to the drive, but its implementation is pretty basic and time-consuming: You need to import photos to the iPad, and then copy them to the drive.

All this is lead-up to a new product that makes the whole problem less thorny. The WD My Passport Wireless is a portable, battery-powered hard disk that adds one crucial element: an SD card reader. With this addition, you can dump the contents of a memory card while you’re shooting with another card, then connect to the drive on your iPad and review your work.

The drive is available in two configurations: 1 TB for $175 and 2 TB for $219. (Those are the current prices at Amazon as I write this; clicking either link earns me an affiliate percentage and helps support the work I do.)

My full review at Lynda.com is here: Review: My Passport Wireless for the Traveling Photographer.

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iStick Hampered by Poor Software

When the iStick was introduced earlier this year, it promised something not previously available for the iPad or iPhone: copy files via the Lightning connector. Apple built iOS with the limitation that the connector not be used as a generic USB file transfer mechanism. That meant companies needed to get clever, resulting in methods such as having a portable hard drive create its own Wi-Fi connection to stream media to the device.

I don’t know how the iStick gets around that limitation, but according to Derrick Story, it works. Unfortunately, the software to run it is so basic that it’s almost unusable. Sure, you can copy images from an iPad to the iStick as a backup… but you won’t be able to view thumbnails until you get back to a computer. Currently, it sounds like a fine solution to bring media like movies and music along so it’s not stored on the iPad itself. But that’s about it.

Lightroom mobile – Iceland

Adobe’s Russell Brown sent a group of photographers to Iceland to shoot a promotional video for Lightroom mobile, and boy is it wonderful. The visuals are just gorgeous, but the clip also does a great job of explaining some of the editing tools and presets available in Lightroom mobile.

(A reminder: I wrote a Fuel ebook that covers Lightroom mobile: Adobe Lightroom mobile: Your Lightroom on the Go, only $8!)

After you’ve watched the video a couple of times, be sure to take a look at the behind-the-scenes video, especially if you lust after photo drones.

Part 3 of iPad Photography in the Field: Rate, Tag, and Export Photos

iPad field3 bikes

The third and last article in my iPad Photography in the Field series at Lynda.com is now up! It’s an extra long entry that covers how to use the iPad to sort your good photos from the not-so-good ones. It also explains how to apply essential metadata like keywords and IPTC information to your photos so you don’t need to do it later when you’re back at the computer, saving a ton of time.

Read the article here: iPad Photography in the Field: Rate, Tag, and Export Photos.

If you like the work I do, please consider signing up for my low-volume newsletter that I use to announce new projects, items, and giveaways that I think my readers would be interested in.

Free Web Presentation July 15, Ebook Deal of the Week

iPad for Photographers Third EditionThis Tuesday, July 15, join me online for a free Peachpit Photo Club Web presentation about The iPad for Photographers. The video event kicks off at 5 p.m. PST (8 p.m. EST), when I’ll be talking about options for using the iPad in the field, and working with Lightroom mobile, Photosmith, and other apps. Although the video should be available later, I encourage you to watch it live if possible so you can ask questions

Coinciding with the presentation, Peachpit has named the new, iPad for Photographers Third Edition its Ebook of the Week, pricing it at just $9.99 (50% off)! That includes PDF, EPUB, and Mobi (Kindle) formats—perfect to have as a reference on your iPad during photo excursions.

Not sure if the book is for you (or for someone who’d enjoy it as a gift)? Peachpit also put up a free chapter to sample.

Aperture’s Golden Hour

Aperture sunsetIt seemed fitting that I heard the news that Apple is sunsetting Aperture while I was attending a photo seminar. Aperture has been largely dormant for the past three years, and as I commented to Jackie Dove in an article at The Next Web, “I have to admit, on one level I’m a bit relieved that we finally know what’s happening with Aperture, instead of the limbo it’s been in for the last few years.” (Is it weird to quote myself on my own blog?)

What does this news mean for photographers who’ve invested countless hours and gigabytes of photos to Aperture? In short, we need to wait and see what Apple’s new Photos for OS X application will bring, but I’m not optimistic it will meet everyone’s needs, especially right away.

I explain in more detail at TidBITS in a new article: “Aperture’s Golden Hour.”

In photography, the “golden hour” is that slice of time just before and after sunset when the sun is low in the sky and the light is often bronze-hued and dramatic. It’s one of the best times of the day to capture photos, but the good light too soon rolls over into darkness.

Apple’s professional photo-management application, Aperture, has enjoyed an extended golden hour. Although Adobe Photoshop Lightroom long ago dominated the market, Aperture has held on in development limbo — working fine (but sludgy, in my experience) for those who use it, but not updated in any meaningful way. Now, its light is close to winking out: Apple announced last week that it will soon halt development of Aperture.

At 500px: How an iPad Can Improve Your Photography

Premiere photo site 500px has just published an article of mine that takes a high level overview of what an iPad can do for photographers: How an iPad Can Improve Your Photography. Think of it as the ultra-compact version of my iPad for Photographers book, covering the options for using the iPad as a portfolio, importing photos to the iPad and reviewing them in the field, adding all-important metadata, editing the shots, sharing images, and more.

I’m actually quite excited to appear on 500px, not only because I like what the company is doing, but because the people who post and read at the site tend to be extremely talented photographers. It’s fabulous company to be in.

Lightroom mobile Sync Over Wi-Fi Changed in 1.0.1

Adobe has already pushed out a version 1.0.1 of Lightroom mobile, fixing little bugs but also changing one behavior that could be costly if you own a Wi-Fi + cellular iPad. Initially, the default was to sync photos and adjustments only over Wi-Fi connections. You could turn that off if you wanted to allow syncing over a cellular connection if Wi-Fi wasn’t an option.

Now, Sync Only Over WiFi is disabled by default. If you set up a collection to sync but didn’t launch Lightroom mobile while on Wi-Fi, those images are sent over the cellular connection, eating up your monthly bandwidth allocation. Depending on your cellular plan and the amount of photos you’re syncing, that change may not be an problem. But it seems like an odd change to me.

To sync only via Wi-Fi, open Lightroom mobile, tap your name in the top-left corner, and move the Sync Only Over WiFi switch to the On position (to the right).

LRM wifi switch

LRmobile 108px[Learn all about Lightroom mobile in my new ebook, Adobe Lightroom mobile: Your Lightroom on the Go, available now for just $8!]

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iOS 7.1 Now Out, Causes Photosmith Hiccup

Apple released iOS 7.1 today, finally conquering the dreaded crashing bug that would force the device into what appeared to be a restart (actually it was the app that lists the applications, internally called Springboard, that was crashing and bringing up the Apple logo screen). Macworld runs down some of the other changes, but as far as I can tell nothing else directly applies to photographers using iPads. The only camera-related improvement is a new Auto HDR setting, but it applies only to the iPhone 5s, not the iPad.

However, the folks over at C2 Enterprises note that iOS 7.1 introduced a bug that crashes Photosmith when importing images from the Camera Roll. The crash doesn’t affect the images you import—everything completes successfully—but you’re kicked back to the applications screen. They write:

This app crash isn’t as catastrophic as it appears – It’s a display-only bug, and your photos and metadata are perfectly safe. No data loss will result from this crash. Restarting Photosmith after the import crash will show all your previously imported photos in Photosmith’s catalog (including the photos imported just prior to the crash). You may continue working as your normally would in Photosmith.

More importantly, Photosmith will continue functioning as it did prior to updating to iOS 7.1. Importing photos via Eye-Fi, FTP, iTunes, or when syncing with Lightroom, isn’t impacted by this issue. This is an issue specific with how we’re handing the import dialog window after the import is completed. Instead of closing the import window and displaying the normal Photosmith interface, the entire Photosmith app shuts down.

Part of the issue is that Apple didn’t release a “final” build to developers before releasing iOS 7.1; the devs discovered the bug in the shipping version.

Nonetheless, iOS 7.1 has been in the works for a while, and I’m glad it’s here.