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This Modern Technical World

Think about it. The computerized guts that power your digital camera far exceed the capability of the computers in NASA's Apollo spacecraft that landed man on the moon. Improving technology has changed nearly everything.

All cameras these days are computerized. Long gone are the days when fully manual cameras were the norm. Modern camera lenses themselves have inbuilt CPU chips. And once shot, we edit out images with Lightroom and Photoshop on a computer. Digital photography is all about computers. Readers who grew up on digital may not realize how much modern technology has converged the world of computers with that of photography. Computers have become indispensable tools for photographers in other ways too.

Earlier this week when I sat down to start writing this week's article, I found that my Comcast Internet connection was down. That got me thinking. At least while I'm at home, I rely on Internet access. Simple things such as email communication, Netflix and Hulu steaming, and Amazon Prime shipping just scratch the surface. The answer to nearly anything answerable is only a few minutes away via Google.

Years ago, I can remember carrying a small book with printed tide tables so I knew when to be ready to shoot low tide, and when to be getting back on dry land before the tide started coming back in again. These days, I have all that and more readily available on my smart phone. If I really want a printed copy, I can create custom tide table on my laptop for any particular place and time. Not only that, I can easily determine the best time for a given tide pool location, well in advance. I can compare sunrise and sunset times to those tide predictions with just a few more mouse clicks or taps on the screen.

These days, I can get online from most anywhere not completely isolated from civilization. In many places, I can stop at a coffee shop with free Wi-fi, but that sort of luxury isn't always available, nor is it needed. Cell phone antennas are everywhere, and if I don't have an app for something on my phone, I can tether my laptop to the mobile hotspot I do have on the phone.

Never mind a data connection though. Even the ability to get a basic cell phone signal to place a call has become ever more commonly available when travelling. I have been able to place a phone call while sitting on the top of Burroughs Mountain near Sunrise in Mt. Rainier National Park, now doubt availing myself to a signal from some line of sight cell tower far below me in Puyallup or other town on the far outskirts of Seattle. I've gotten a data connection to check email far up in the Olympic Mountains too. It's kind of freaky, really.

Technology has improved to help photographers in other ways too. I have an Android application called PeakFiner that portrays and names a panorama of surrounding mountain peaks. Hold the phone up in front of you and compare it to what you see on the horizon and you can tell what mountains you are photographing.

When I hike somewhere, I want to know where I am. Getting lost is something best avoided. It used to be, that I would carry a dedicated GPS that could tell me the longitude and latitude I could then locate on a map. The came GPS units that had crude graphic displays that themselves showed a map. Such displays increased in resolution with each new device generation. And then one day, phones started including GPS chips. That gave us beautiful displays with detailed maps, on a device we already had in our pockets.

Not everything is rosy and wonderful with modern technology though. All these gadgets require battery power. And that includes my camera of course. Thankfully, my rats nest of proprietary charger cables has mostly given way to standard and therefore interchangeable USB cables. But batter power remains a key failure point unless I keep a close eye on things.

Speaking about potential battery problems, I made the ill-fated choice to upgrade my phone back in August. I've grown to love the build quality of the Samsung Galaxy line, so you may already be able to guess what I got myself into. Yes, I bought a Galaxy Note 7. After a few of them (out of millions sold) caught fire, Samsung decided there must be something wrong. Once the US Consumer Product Safety Commission officially issued the recall, any chance that this would all just go away, itself went away. I exchanged my phone for a replacement Note 7 once they became available, but then some of those reportedly caught fire too. Plan "B" left me no better off than my initial phone upgrade choice did. While I think the chances of my Note 7 having a problem is low, it's clearly not zero. US carriers won't let me fly with this thing anyway, so I need to figure out Plan "C." Hopefully this week. For the time being, I've changed the signature line on my phone email to read "Sent from my flammable Galaxy Note 7." I need a phone I can count on. And I don't just mean one that has a calculator application. In this modern technical world, this isn't optional, at least for me.

At times, it may seem like a mixed bag, but I think I've used all this technology to aid me in being a better photographer while also more easily staying connected with family and friends. At least I hope that's true.

Yes, technology has changed things a lot of over the years. But what about you? How have you changed? Have you grown as a photographer, or merely become increasingly reliant on modern technology to handle all the difficult tasks? Something to think about.

Date posted: October 30, 2016


Copyright © 2016 Bob Johnson, Earthbound Light - all rights reserved.
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