Dogwood 52 2019 Week 3

Going strong into the third week of the Dogwood 52 2019, well at least I’m sticking to it. For the first time since our first born graced us, my wife and I had a chance to spend a “working” weekend away from the kiddos. Any previous time away was limited to just a date night. This is uncharacteristic and a first in six years sans children and we couldn’t have done it without our wonderful mothers and my sister helping out in 24 hours shifts. Thanks so much! I will admit that there were more than a few instances where we thought of heading home early or even just having my going alone, but we did it!

For this challenge, I brought my Sony A7Rii camera with us to Reno, Nevada and Tahoe but found myself trying really hard to capture what I would think would look good in black and white. That ended up with a kind of photography’s block so I barely shot anything at all! Quite disappointing really. With so much nature and wilderness, I could only think of industrial like settings (of course I could have easily just though of the amazing Ansel Adams but hindsight is indeed 20/20) so here we have it; our Southwest plane blurred in the background with rain sprinkling on the window. For the last 14 years, my life has been about riding standby and this trip was successful thanks in part to the awesome friends at Southwest.

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📷: Week 3Inspiration: Black and White // Your inspiration this week is to simply take an amazing Black and White photograph of any subject you want.

Here is the original color photo (which was just edited in Photoshop Express on my iPad Pro) and also an awesome photo of Turbo the airport companion dog. Check out those freaking paws! I really wish that I had the new Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM Wife-angle Zoom Lens (SEL1635GM) with me for some awesome landscape shots, but then again, I hardly pulled out my Sony A7Rii. =(

Journaling in 2019

It's the new year so let's all start journaling or planning! If you care to use some of the best in writing utensils, there is none other better that the Uni-Ball Signo DX 0.38. I like blue because of the pop but what do you prefer?

Talking about planners and journals, have you heard of Karst Stone Paper? Do you prefer the Full Focus Planner (which is on sale right now for $29.99 -- down from $39.99) or Bullet Journels, Panda Planners or the traditional Moleskin? There are so many choices and yes, there are blogs that are dedicated to helping you decide which one best suits you. For now, I'm torn between the Full Focus Planner and trying out the Karst Stone just because IT'S MADE OF STONE!!!

We never leave home without this stone paper notebook. Its waterproof cover and pages keep it pristine through rushed early-morning coffee runs. The smooth texture of the pages and flat-lay binding provide ample comfort and writing space for your notes and ideas. This is the perfect low-tech companion to your high-tech devices.

Full Focus Planner

Full Focus Planner

Karst Stone Paper Planner

Karst Stone Paper Planner

Did I mention that the pages are made out of stone?!?!?! AND they even plant a tree for every notebook you buy? Tell me what you think.

Dogwood 52 2019 Week 2

Here is my 2nd entry for the Dogwood 52 2019 Week 2. I have to admit that while I’m off at home, I’m consummed with taking care of the children along with house chores that the few times I am able to go out and shoot, it’s not with that much thought. Granted, this was a great morning that consisted of having breakfast with my dad at the new breakfast spot in Del Mar called Ranch 45 (website/Yelp). 

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📷: Week 2: Composition: Rule of Thirds Motion // You already know what the rule of thirds is, now is the time to use it. Use Rule of Thirds to show motion in your picture.

While sitting outside enjoying the chorizo breakfast bowl with my father, I knew that the road nearby would instantly give me the chance to accomplish the motion in thirds. I imported this photo onto my iPad Pro and then edited in Snapseed. I’m not too happy with it, but being Sunday at 23:50, it’ll have to do. I hope to revisit this sometime but onto Week 3! 

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Here’s a picture of my father enjoying the journey in finding the best Steak and Eggs in San Diego along with my Joby Gorillapod that I’ve been bringing along with me on this 52 week challenge. After thinking about it a little bit more as well as watching many youtube videos and querying some amazing talented photographers on twitter, I think that I’m going with the Sony - FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM Wide-angle Zoom Lens (SEL1635GM).

Dogwood 52 Week Photography Challenge 2019

So here it is. My first entry into the Dogwood 52 Week Photography Challenge 2019. It's easier to post directly to my Instagram first but I'll do my best to make sure that I make it onto here as well. If anything, follow me: @elijahnicolas.

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In my hotel room looking up the weather for my redeye flight to JFK prior to getting in the van to PHX Sky Harbor.

📷: Week 1 : Story Telling: Self-Portrait // Take a picture that tells us who you are, without actually showing your face.

In composing this shot, I mounted my Sony A7Rii w/ Zeiss 55 f1.8 to my Joby Gorillapod then placed it on desk in the room. Because it was already past 11pm, I decided to close the curtain and turn on all the available lights in the room. I initially took a picture with the curtains opened but I felt that closing them would create a better shot because my dark hair blended into the night sky. You tell me. I also had to swap out my Nike Apple Watch Sport Band with the MoKo Stainless Steel Band so that it “looked” more professional while in my uniform. As the assignment was, I am a commercial airline pilot but that comes after son, husband, father, and life enthusiast. I love aviation but I also love everything!

I used the Sony Play Memories iOS App to trigger the shutter with a 2-second delay while the camera was on Auto. I’m looking forward to exploring and going more manual while I’m away on my trips and at home with this 52 Week Challenge. Maybe even I can turn this into some type of monetary stream to purchase my next lens… Sony E-mount FE 24mm F1.4 GM Full Frame Wide-angle Prime Lens (SEL24F14GM).

Free Energy

One of the most fascinating articles I’ve read in a while pertaining to Karl Friston and his idea of “Free Energy.” Also pretty awesome that there is a Twitter parody account called @FarlKriston which essentially lives to mock the opacity if the theory. Heck, I’ve been so intrigued I really want to read his papers! Can anyone lead me in the right direction?

Free energy is the difference between the states you expect to be in and the states your sensors tell you that you are in. Or, to put it another way, when you are minimizing free energy, you are minimizing surprise.

According to Friston, any biological system that resists a tendency to disorder and dissolution will adhere to the free energy principle—whether it’s a protozoan or a pro basketball team.

Late 2018 MacBook Pro Vega Benchmarks

The benchmarks that we have all been waiting for (at least me) have finally been popping up and Macrumors.

The machine, which includes a 2.6GHz Core i7 Intel processor, a Radeon Pro Vega 20 graphics card, 16GB RAM, and a 1TB SSD, earned an OpenCL score of 72799. Additional benchmarks found on Geekbench with a similar machine using an upgraded Core i9 processor demonstrated OpenCL scores of 75817, 76017, and 80002.

In a separate benchmark uploaded to Geekbench, the new high-end MacBook Pro with Core i9 processor also earned a Metal score of 73953.

Comparatively, machines with similar specs and Radeon Pro 560X graphics cards on Geekbench earned maximum OpenCL scores of right around 65000 and Metal scores of approximately 57000, suggesting much higher graphics performance with the new Radeon Pro Vega 20 card.

So in Metal, we are seeing a 25% in performance in Metal and around 20% boost in OpenCL. These numbers are far from the 60% that was touted on Apple's website, but then again, maybe we haven't seen a true software tweak / update that utilizes the full potential of these new dedicated graphics cards or maybe throttling is once again part of the issue. Looking to pull the trigger in January so stay tuned!

6000 Words on Camping for Beginners

My family and I are very fortunite to have an amazing group of friends that we go camping with and with their guidance along with a few of my other friends, we've been rather successful.

With that, Ms. Rachel from Hobby Help posted this MASSIVE 6000 word guide on Camping for Beginners and I thought I'd post it here for your enjoyment. The first five tips are:

  1. If possible, go camping with a friend or relative who has experience
  2. Try out car camping first
  3. Practice pitching your tent in advance
  4. Stick to basic and necessary gear for now
  5. That said, invest in high-quality basics if you can

She expands into the where, which includes car camping and backcountry camping, what to pack, footwear, equipment, COOKING, hydrating, navigating around, staying safe, animals, fire and even river crossings. It's an awesome guide so be sure to check it out! I sure as heck learned quick a few things!

MacBook Pro 15” Now with Vega dGPU

Vega GPU options are now available today via selecting the most expensive 15-inch MacBook Pro configuration which starts at $2,799 with a Radeon Pro 560X! If you want to upgrade to the Vega 16, it’ll cost you another $250, while the Vega 20 is $350 more expensive than the base model.

If you opt out of either option, there is the new Blackmagic Pro eGPU for $1,199 which comes with the Vega 56 which can be found on the iMac Pro. I’m interested to see what the benchmarks of all these are although I wish there was an Nvidia compatible eGPU.

Also, I don’t remember the MacBook Pros coming with the 8th generation Intel processors but now they do. Cheers!

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Coffee and the Body

A few years ago, I linked to a NY Times article about coffee. Here is an amazing and very thorough write-up with embedded videos on coffee and how it affects our body. In short:

Coffee can increase your ability to work and study, and therefore can improve that aspect of intelligence. It’s important, however, to remember the negative effects of caffeine and make sure that it’s drunk in moderation.

Working late into the night with a cup of coffee might seem like a great idea at the time, but in reality it might be best to have a sleep or a quick nap. That way you will wake up refreshed and ready to tackle any task.

iPad Pro 2018 Benchmarks

We all know now that the benchmarks are more than impressive in respects to Apple’s A12X but we also know that the new 2018 iPad Pro in the 1TB configuration has an extra 2GB of RAM. For multitasking purposes, this is going to be the jam but the price sets it around the realm of MacBook Pro pricing. So, if you’re comfortable with iOS as the sole computer, this maybe just be the thing.

If you’re asking me, I’ve been contemplating it for over two years but still find myself on the MacBook Air from time to time. I’m also waiting to see what the pricing structure will be for the new MacBook Pro’s with the Radeon Vega GPU Chipset set to debut sometime this week. 60% faster than the Radeon 560 which is currently in the latest highest spec’d MacBook Pro is a tremendous update.

Geekbench scores for iPad Pro (top), MacBook Pro (bottom)

Geekbench scores for iPad Pro (top), MacBook Pro (bottom)

The biggest takeaways are:

That means the highest-spec iPad Pro's single-core performance is 92.8 percent that of the top end MacBook Pro.

Geekbench's scores for multi-core operations are not quite as close, though. For multi-core performance, the benchmark rates the iPad Pro as 17995 and the MacBook Pro as 21251. That puts the iOS device at 85.68 percent of the laptop.

Of course, John Gruber also summarizes it quickly in reference to the 13” MacBook Pro:

It’s not clear at all who the MacBook Pro without Touch Bar is for today, though. In principle, it’s for people who want higher performance than the MacBook Air provides. In practice, it’s not much faster — about the same in single-core, and about 15 percent faster in multi-core. It weighs more, costs more, and yet doesn’t have Touch ID.

Ideally, maybe a the new 2018 MacBook Air with the BlackMagic eGPU Vega 56 would be the key especially if the performance of that box for $1,199 is much better than the built in Vega in the upcoming MacBook Pro. I just want to start editing the videos of my kids faster and while on the road and carry the least possible.

Vega 16 or Vega 20 built in 

Vega 16 or Vega 20 built in 

Hydrow Campaign Has Started!

Don't get me wrong, I've always wanted a Peloton bike and enjoy their services when I'm at various hotels but rowing has always been up there as my go to if an ergometer is available. I rowed for a year at UCSD but it was some of the funnest times and the most awesome competitive sport that I have been a part of. Hydrow looks to grow the company with their Indiegogo campaign and seems to me an easy acquisition target for Peloton.

update: They are almost up to $1M in funds raised! Let’s get them over that hump!