Insights and Ideas / Photography

Why I Use a Mac

If you have ever seen the amount of equipment a production photographer needs, you’ll understand why I love my Mac and, for that matter, Apple in general. Every time I shot I would load up my Pelican case and grab my computer “bag”. This bag consisted of my 17-inch wide PC laptop, and everything it needed to run — cables, hard drives, etc. It was over ten pounds with the battery, over two inches thick, and then there was the weight of all the other stuff. It was so heavy I went through several different bags until I finally broke down and bought one of those galactic airport trolley style bags. It was so big and heavy that I could barely get it up a curb. Now, with my new setup, all I need to do is slip my one-inch thick MacBook Pro into my inch-and-a-half neoprene case, throw it onto the seat next to me, and I am off to shoot. And that is just the start of my life with a Mac.

“It blows my mind — working with the Mac system has been the best thing so far for my career.”

The other night, I was working on a very layer-intense Photoshop project while at the same time I had a video playing in the corner of my screen. I also had Safari opened to my website, which was being worked on at the time by my web developer, and I had another web page opened to Canon’s website as I was looking to purchase one of their new cameras. Mail was also open as I was waiting for an important e-mail from a client. I was able to have all these completely different programs running and yet be able to focus on them one at a time. Even with all these many things going on, I was still able to access Dashboard widgets — Google, dictionaries, stock quotes, sports scores, etc. — without skipping a beat.

In almost ten years of working on PCs I had to restore every single computer I had multiple times, and most of the time I resorted to accessing the internet on a separate PC to keep my main one safe. It blows my mind — working with the Mac system has been the best thing so far for my career.

I work primarily with post production photography software so that was a huge focus in my new system. I was first introduced to Aperture at an event in Salt Lake City, Utah. I compared my existing hardware and software to the units they had on display and was instantly taken by how visually pleasing the Macontosh systems seemed, even during rigorous photo rendering processes. They blew away my PC and looked a million times better while doing it. Apple has allowed me to focus on my projects. In Aperture and with many other programs in Mac OS X, I never feel that I am closed in. With the Mac's transparent menus, even when I have six different things all over my photo I can see right through to my work. We all want less clutter, less stuff to try and focus on. We want life to be as simple as possible.

Growing up, I had my own drawing table. It was white and spacious, but even with its size I always wanted it to be clear of clutter. If I had any of my drawing tools, paints, rulers, etc., on the table, they were pushed to the far corners, out of my field of view, allowing me to stay focused on my project. The Mac reminds me of that drawing table. It allows me to focus on my current project without having the clutter of currently unused tools crowding my space. Full-screen mode allows you to work eye-to-eye with your model or subject, and by simply clicking buttons on your keyboard you can access any artistic tool you need. I like to move things around, reorganize, push, pull, twist, turn, and flip, basically do whatever I need to make the creation process as simple as possible.

Aperture has opened my eyes to digital workflow. One of the biggest features I like about Aperture is working in full-screen mode. I feel like I am sitting in a studio with a big print in front of me, and I’ve got my strip of proofs and I can just sift through them using the toggle feature. I love being able to toggle back and forth at high speeds and low speeds, all in full-screen mode. With bigger monitors, it’s mind-blowing to be able to move full-size 4 x 6s, 5 x 7s, and even 8 x 10s from one screen to another using Light Table. You can really concentrate on your layout and compared photos. It feels like I’m using my hands to move these prints all over the table until it is just right.

Something else that amazes me about Aperture is its blazing speed and its ability to fully take advantage of all of your system's capabilities. The Loop tool is something that instantly caught my eye. I am able to, with 100-percent accuracy, see the full potential, quality, and detail of each photograph I have taken. I don’t care if you work with 35mm, medium, or large format; in the darkroom there was always the question, “Is it sharp?” Our eyes can only see so much detail. Digital photography in general, and now especially aided by Aperture, has enabled me to see beyond the natural limitations of our eyesight. I can bend the limits of photography and create photographs with unbelievable dynamic range and detail — that simply would have been impossible before.

I used to wonder what Mac users saw in their computers, and now I understand — I see it too. Power, speed, efficiency, and user-friendliness are all characteristics of the Mac. If I need something only a PC offers, I can work in Parallels and literally drag what I need from Windows back into my comfort zone in Mac OS X. The funny thing is, though, I haven’t even installed Parallels or Boot Camp. I can’t imagine my workflow without the Apple system now.


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