Category Archives: Resources

Apple Does It Again

In an earlier post, I lauded an experience I had while contacting Apple. Well, it’s happened again.

Except for a brief flirtation with a MacBook Pro in 2003, I’ve strictly been a PC user until 2013, when I bought my second MacBook Pro. This time I’ve kept if for more than a few weeks. In fact, it’s been the only laptop I’ve used since I bought it. And I love it. Although my desktop computer is still a Window-based PC, I permanently retired my PC laptop I was using at the time.

Back when I bought my current MacBook Pro, I also bought the Parallels app to be able to run Windows alongside Mac OS X. I had no idea what I was doing when I first got the machine, and apparently either corrupted or maybe even deleted at least part of Parallels. Over the past couple years, I’ve tried to revive it on my own, but with no luck. Since I had configured my Mac with versions of the apps I used most often, it was never a real problem.

Recently, I’ve been wanting to do more writing on my Mac, but really missed using WordPerfect like I do on my PC desktop. A couple weeks ago, I decided I finally going to figure out how to get Parallels working, and install Windows 10 and WordPerfect on my Mac. (Yes, WordPerfect still exists, and is as great as ever. I’ve been using it since the DOS days. It just keeps getting better.)

After trying everything I could think of myself to access Parallels—which was an appallingly short list—I researched bringing the computer to either the Genius Bar at a local Apple Store or to an Apple reseller who also had a tech service department.

When none of that worked, I decided to search the Apple website for any other possible solution. In three clicks, the site suggested the best thing for me to do was to talk to a support tech. After logging in with my Apple I.D., it asked me to type with phone number would be best for them to call me, then click the link.

I did as they requested. Before I had even released the Send key, my phone rang. It was a computer voice from Apple saying they got my request, and asking if I could briefly hold for a tech. Then the voice asked if I wanted pop, classical, jazz, or silence while I was on hold! Never had those choices offered anywhere else.

A couple minutes later, Stacy came on the line. I explained my issue, and she asked if she could view my computer online. She gave me clear instructions to connect, and within seconds, she could see my computer. Interestingly, she used a red arrow cursor to point to what she wanted me to click. But the connection did not allow her to access or control anything on my computer. She could only tell me what she wanted me to do, then point to where she wanted me to click or to enter something by using her red arrow cursor. Pretty smart on Apple’s part. It completely eliminates any complaint that “Apple did something I didn’t understand and messed up my computer”. She explained what and why she wanted me to click on certain things, then I had to do the clicking or typing.

After about 25 minutes of smart, thought out, useful attempts, she agreed that it would be best for me to leave the fragments we found through Time Machine, but then buy the update (I had version 8 on my machine and Parallels is up to version 12!) She also sent me an e-mail with a summary of what was done, along with my case number and a link if I needed any follow-up. Pretty incredible service.

After we got off the phone, I upgraded my Parallels, bought Windows 10 and WordPerfect, and it has all worked flawlessly. Heartfelt thanks to Stacy P and Apple. It’s such a wonderful surprise to have such incredible service that you just have to make time to share it with others.

You can bet my next laptop will be another MacBook Pro. It goes nicely with my iPad, my iPhone 6s Plus, and my iPod. Now if Apple could only make iTunes more user-friendly….

©2016 Tom Vadnais Photography

Thom Hogan’s Nikon Complete Guides

Late summer 2001, I swapped my beloved Nikon F5 film camera for a Nikon D1x. While I had been dabbling in digital using a Nikon Coolpix 990 compact digital camera, the D1x was my first digital SLR. I had been keeping up with the Nikon DSLR developments through Thom Hogan’s website, and decided it was time to make the switch.

Of course, the fundamentals of using a camera (aperture, shutter speed, focusing, etc.) were the same between film and digital. But digital brought so many other tools and techniques to learn (white balance, instant review, histograms, blinking highlight warnings, etc.), I decided to take a workshop with Thom so I could start to master using a DSLR. It was a wise choice, as I came away from that workshop with a good working knowledge of my new camera.

Well, Thom didn’t stop with workshops. Since the earliest days of Nikon DSLRs, Thom has written a series of incomparable users manuals, which he justly calls ”Complete Guides”. I download the fully searchable PDF e-books, then read them (and refer to them) on my iPad. They thoroughly explain every button, switch, wheel, and menu item in unsurpassed detail. If that’s all they did, they would be worth the read.

But they do much more. Thom suggests specific settings, and recommends against others, based on his long-time real-world use of the cameras. But, again, he does even more than that. For each recommendation, Thom discusses how and why those settings will affect your photography. These discussions allow you to understand what each function or setting does, why it does it, and how you can best use it. If you own a Nikon DSLR, whether FX or DX, I cannot recommend Thom’s guides highly enough.

  • Even though I’ve been shooting with a pair of Nikon D810′s for over a year (and with a fairly similar D800E before that), I’ve been looking forward to his D810 book all along. Well, it’s now here. Even if you’re an experienced Nikon owner, if you own a D810 (or any other Nikon DSLR), you owe it to yourself to buy and read Thom’s Guides.

    ThomHoganNikonD810ManualCover

    Here’s a link to his D810/D810A Guide: http://www.dslrbodies.com/books/bythom-complete-guides-/nikon-d810-guide.html. Any of his guides can be accessed with the link to his home page: http://www.bythom.com/.

    ©2015 Tom Vadnais Photography

  • NANPA Field Event in the Smokies

    From April 30 through May 3, 2015, NANPA (North American Nature Photography Association) hosted a Regional Field Event in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Smokies). I helped lead the event with my great friends Willard Clay and Bill Lea. Together, we have led many Smokies workshops over many years, and had a lot of fun with a most wonderful group.

    Jakes Creek in Elkmont in the Smokies.

    Jakes Creek in Elkmont in the Smokies.

    We were based in Townsend, TN, known as The Quiet Side of the Smokies. Townsend is a wonderful little town just a 20 mile, half hour drive from the Knoxville airport. Our base, Talley Ho Inn is only about a mile from the Park entrance.

    Spring Tree in Fog in Cades Cove in the Smokies.

    Spring Tree in Fog in Cades Cove in the Smokies.

    This Field Event went from 5:00 PM Thursday evening at Talley Ho Inn and ran until the end of the optional critique session at 4:00 PM Sunday the 3rd. For more information on NANPA, including their Regional Field Events, check out this link: www.nanpa.org.

    Spring Tree in Cades Cove in the Smokies.

    Spring Tree in Cades Cove in the Smokies.

    This was a wonderful opportunity for participants to experience the most visited National Park in the country with three experienced nature photographers and teachers who have cumulatively led countless photo workshops in the Smokies over many years. All participants got to experience areas of the Park many of them had not even heard of.

    Dogwood along the Middle Prong of Little River in the Smokies.

    Dogwood along the Middle Prong of Little River in the Smokies.

    Spring is a luscious time to photograph the Smokies. Photographic opportunities include all kinds of amazing wildflowers, plenty of waterfalls and cascades, and the classic receding mountain views. Among my favorites are the vivid and varying Spring greens that are everywhere. Deer, birds, wild turkeys, and even a couple black bears were there for the wildlife and bird photographers. And while not strictly nature, the fascinating historic buildings in Cades Cove and Elkmont were outdoor photography favorites.

    Trillium and cascade along Tremont Road in the Smokies.

    Trillium and cascade along Tremont Road in the Smokies.

    Of course, Nature determined what we shot. Fortunately, She cooperated with us quite well. Areas we visited included Cades Cove, Elkmont, Tremont, and the Foothills Parkway overlooks.

    Deteriorating Elkmont Cabin in the Smokies

    Deteriorating Elkmont Cabin in the Smokies

    Throughout the Field Event, the instructors gave an overview of every place we visited, along with specific suggestions of what to shoot there. We then worked with participants in the field, assisting wherever we could.

    Spring Colors from Foothills Parkway overlook near the Smokies.

    Spring Colors from Foothills Parkway overlook near the Smokies.

    If you missed it, you really should watch the NANPA website for future events. www.nanpa.org

    ©2015 Tom Vadnais Photography. All Rights Reserved.

    Amazing Service from Apple

    This isn’t strictly photography-related, but can be for anyone using any Apple product. All customer service should be like this!

    The weekend before this past one, I upgraded to an iPhone 6. While I was in the AT&T store, I had to log into my iTunes account with my Apple ID in order to get the phone activated. When I went to do that, I was told (well, on the screen) that I had to change my Apple ID to an email address. My Apple ID had always been a series of letters, but not an email address.

    I changed it as requested, and it worked great in the store.

    When I got home, I tried to get all my apps on my new phone through iTunes. The apps copied over just fine, but I couldn’t use the ones I had bought, and none of them would update. I kept getting an error message that they were bought using a different Apple ID, so were not authorized on this phone. I checked all settings, and tried several things, but to no avail.

    After searching the Apple site for a solution, I sent a message via their site stating my problem. Within a second of clicking Send, my phone rang. It was Apple. I was shocked it was even possible for the call to have been made so quickly. The message said they had received a request for help, but there might be a delay on the phone due to call volume. Yet within a minute, I was talking to a live person! He checked a couple things, then said I would need to talk to a specialist. He said they were quite busy at night (and this was a Sunday night); it would likely be at least 45 minutes on hold. Mornings are always better. Could they call me at 8:45 in the morning? I was impressed, but still skeptical. Continue reading

    Best Photoshop Techniques workbook

    Okay, here’s finally a link to the book you’ve heard me heartily recommend all these years. It is Charlie Cramer’s Photoshop Techniques workbook.

    This is the best-written, most useful publication I’ve ever encountered regarding post-processing. Just imagine a Photoshop book that is actually fun to read, easy to understand, yet contains the essentials for getting the most out of your images. And it’s all done just using Photoshop. Don’t rely on plug-ins to make your post-processing decisions for you. Learn to use the versatile tools you’ve already paid for in Photoshop.

    Not only will you learn how to optimize your image files, you will understand what you are doing and why you are doing it. You will learn to see what your images need, and how both global and local corrections can rearrange the light to more closely match the vision you had when you made the image in the field.

    In addition to the magnificent workbook, Charlie includes a CD with the example images from the book with all the Layers included. Using that CD with the book will not only demonstrate the technique, but allows you to turn off the Layer, and try it for yourself, using the same image. You can then compare your version with Charlie’s. It’s an invaluable learning tool.

    The workbook and CD are only $40, and are currently only available directly from Charlie. Please contact him at http://charlescramer.com/contact.html, and tell him I recommended his workbook to you. He will respond with how to make the payment. Before you know it, you will see a tremendous improvement in your images.

    Make sure you check out Charlie’s work on his website at www.charlescramer.com.