Birth Of An App, Part 6

The Ipad Experience

My first experience with the app on an iPad was amazing! The vision I had months earlier was actually a living, breathing, application. The diagrams, sketches and words on paper had changed into animations and transitions I could touch. I could actually play with the app and see what the experience was going to be for the users.

Now it was crunch time. Five yet-unnamed categories were needed with around 20 images and stories each. I had completed one story to date… I had a bunch of ideas scattered across scraps of paper, emails, my iPad and my laptop but they were often incomplete thoughts and in need of illustration. (more…)

The power of a single image

Our sense of vision often delivers us the first impression of a person or place; it helps us communicate as we “look for clues”; it helps direct our actions and movement.

The summer when I was 11 years old I signed up for a “summer strings” program, designed to introduce aspiring musicians to orchestral instruments. My sister was already playing the cello and given my relatively large hands it was suggested that the violin would be too small so I was steered to the viola. I spent the next couple of months squeaking out scales and the basics of this lovely instrument.

My dad was a lover of music and a musician himself, having played piano and French horn in addition to singing. Music filled our home daily from the hi-fi in the living room, with stacks of LPs playing everything from Wagner to West Side Story.

I don’t remember when Dad brought home “A Taste of Honey” by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, but one look at the image on the cover and my viola-playing days were over. I think a mix of pre-teen hormones and the jazzy beat of the music conspired and that fall I entered the band program at school with trumpet in hand.

There have been many iconic photographs through the years that have stayed with us because of their portrayal of a historical situation; their captivating perspective and content. This is one image that has stayed with me since I was a young lad. While I haven’t played a trumpet in decades, I still smile when I see the image of the lady wearing nothing but whipped cream and the influence that image had on me.


Jimmy Page and me

Does a person choose their instrument or does the instrument choose the person?

Just watched “It Might Get Loud” a cool documentary about musicians and their guitars with Jimmy Page, Edge and Jack White – three top guitarists spanning three generations with three different stories.

It seems that the guitar sort of found them rather than the other way around. Their first encounters were somewhat random occurrences or serendipitous situations that shaped their lives from then forward. Jimmy Page found an abandoned guitar in a house where his family moved. The Edge, generally curious about electronic gadgets, built his first guitar. Jack White received his first guitar as payment for helping his brother move a fridge to his brother’s thrift shop.

One message I took from the film was that we must always be open to the possibilities, to embrace and explore opportunities when they present themselves. None of the musicians set out to be guitarists; it just kind of happened and they took advantage of the opportunity.

In my case, it was not my first camera (my Mom’s Ansco Reflex II) that found me, per se, but rather the darkroom. The first time I helped my neighbor develop an image in his makeshift under-the-staircase darkroom was magical; the hook was set. Shortly afterwards, I received a very basic Sears darkroom kit and have loved the smell of fixer ever since. My neighbor – six years my senior at least (I was 10 at the time) – inviting me to help him develop some images changed my life.

I’d like to know something that came into your life unexpectedly that you embraced and how it has shaped your life. Please post a comment and share your experience.

(Oh, and my connection with Jimmy Page? I was at the MTV European Music Awards in Frankfurt in 2001. Fred Durst (Limp Bizkit) was performing “Thank You” by Led Zepplin. As he introduced the guitar soloist, Jimmy Page strolled onto stage playing the solo as only he can. I jumped out of my seat in the 17,000+ person venue and roared my approval. To myself. It was a rude awakening that I was probably the oldest person at the show as no one else seemed to know who he was…)


Looking sideways

I was in LA last week for some meetings and had time one
morning to walk around before my other activities began. Without hesitation I
set out to see the Walt Disney Concert Hall – the Frank Gehry work of art that
doubles as a concert facility.

I’d seen the building in countless images, movies and
magazines but never in the flesh. Or steel, rather. I spent the better part of
an hour just walking around the outside of the building, wonderfully
constructed to be appreciated from all sides. There’s no back alley with dumpsters
and it’s not backed up against some other building. Instead, it’s a
three-dimensional sculpture with gardens that allows one to touch the building
at all times. What a concept!

About three-quarters into my journey around the building a
staircase appeared, inviting me to take the “skywalk”. Why not? The building
had me captivated in its approachability and accessibility, so I had to climb
further up and further in.

Music - three layers
 One thing I’ve learned in photography is always to look up,
look down, look sideways and look behind. Looking ahead is natural and once one
is behind the viewfinder, the world shrinks to what the lens offers. It’s too
easy to neglect what’s around you when you’re looking ahead through the lens of
a camera. The human eye has a field of vision of about 120 degrees, which
shrinks when looking through a lens, leaving at least 2/3 of what’s around us
out of sight.

As I climbed the stairs to the skywalk, I paused and turned
around. There, behind me, down to my left was the image I have here. On my
first run through the photos from that day, this is one that jumped out at me.
It may well be the best image I got that day out of the several hundred I shot.

My nature was to continue to climb, to get to the platform
of the skywalk and see what was there. My experience told me to pause, turn
around and see what was behind me. Being one who tends to look forward rather
than backward (as a life practice and philosophy), this move did not come
naturally. Yet, because I went against my nature and listened to the voice of
experience, I caught this slice of music.

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