In Search of Shadows


“So benumbed are we nowadays by electric lights that we have become utterly insensitive to the evils of excessive illumination.” 

Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, In Praise of Shadows

My most recent trip to Japan was most enjoyable personally, but it was quite challenging from a photography standpoint. It made me realize that travel photography is a special skill and an art form. And I suck at it. I am always looking for landscapes instead of finding ways to capture the delight of travel.

This photo of the Tokyo skyline (below) perfectly exemplifies my landscape photography approach. Now that some days have passed since I returned, I can revisit my photos with a more critical eye. Most of the images I made with my Leica are still on my computer’s hard drive, waiting for their moment in the sun. However, when looking at my iPhone photos, I am starting to see some narrative outlines. 

And a lot has to do with light and its interplay with shadows. The closer I look, the more I realize that this relationship between the shadows and light explains the varied contrasts of Japan. It is a country where modernity comes at you at the speed of light. The neon, the bustle, the mass of humanity, always moving.

The proverbial bright lights and big cities. Step into shadows, time slowdown, and quietly eases you in the past.  And nowhere do you experience that more often than in a traditional building, a house, a ryokan, or a temple. Screens create a wonderful framing of the outside and are accentuated by the interplay of light and shadow.

I want to recapture my journey and my thoughts in a short fine-art book — and have already started working it. If you are interested and would like to buy a copy, you can stay in touch by signing up for email updates.

All images made with iPhone 14 Pro Max

June 3, 2023. San Francisco

On my Om

03 Jun 2023 at 18:30

The Why of Apple XR Headset

man standing on lawn tennis court
Photo by Martin Sanchez on Unsplash

Janko Rottegers, a former colleague, writes a newsletter focused on the cord-cutting phenomenon. In the latest edition of the newsletter, Lowpass Janko argues that Apple’s new mixed reality glasses, rumored to be announced next week, will disappoint. And that’s okay because it’s “worth remembering that many of Apple’s best-selling products initially started out slow.”

I agree with his reasoning, but I go further in history. The rumored headset’s arrival is less Apple Watch or iPhone. Instead, it is more akin to the iPod. Just as iPod wasn’t the first nor the last, it arrived at the right time to jump-start the mainstreaming of the anywhere, anytime convenience of “digital music.” Apple’s headset could do the same for a different kind of digital content, as I point out in the latest issue of my twice-a-month newsletter (sign-up if you haven’t already

I explain why this device should exist and what will be its true killer app, which continues to elude other entrants in the “mixed reality” business. The article continues here.

On my Om

02 Jun 2023 at 16:07

Ben Smith’s Traffic


If you go to and type “Traffic,” you will find three top listings. There is a book, Traffic, by Tom Vanderbilt, about how we drive the way we do. Read it. Then there is a listing for a movie starring Michael Douglas and Benicio Del Toro. If you have not watched it, then watch it. And then there is a book about Buzzfeed and Gawker by Ben Smith. Before you read it, I suggest you peruse reviews by people who worked at Gawker or Buzzfeed. And then you must check out Bob Lefsetz’s review. And then, decide if you want to spend the $25 on the book. FWIW, I did listen to the book on my way to and back from New York.

May 30, 2023. San Francisco.

On my Om

30 May 2023 at 18:42

Reflections of New York


It has been a long time since I went back to New York. A very long time indeed. It was a work trip with some pockets of free time, so I took my camera with me — hoping to see New York differently. While those photos still sit on the camera’s memory card, waiting to be edited, I had enough time on my flight back to edit my photos made with my iPhone 14 Pro Max on my M2-powered iPad using the latest beta version of Adobe Lightroom.

The “RAW” files are rich enough in detail and allow me to apply my custom B&W presets to give the effect I want to these photos. Lightroom’s new enhanced “masking” capabilities make breathing life into the images easier by using slight contrast variations. Most of these images were composed and captured using iPhone’s telephoto lens, allowing me to isolate subjects and create a feeling of minimalism.

I have arranged photos in four categories — planes flying overhead, reflections of buildings in other buildings, skyline, and a handful of photos of tall buildings seen when taking a walk in Central Park. Image number 6 is my favorite. Which one is yours?

May 29, 2023. San Francisco

#6: Diamond’s Edge!
On my Om

29 May 2023 at 15:54

Wow, WordPress is 20


WordPress, the open-source blogging software, is twenty years old. The software’s first official release (WordPress 1.0) was made available on May 27, 2003. I had been using the software for a little longer when it was still in alpha. In 2004, I switched my old website to WordPress, becoming the first major blog to embrace the platform. Considering obsolescence is a given, nothing lasts that long in the technology industry. It might not be as nimble or as basic as it started out, but it can still do one thing — help me maintain a homestead on the Internet, not controlled or defined by a platform.

One of the upsides of WordPress has been my friendship with Matt. We both share the same passion for making publishing on the web open, simple, and easy. It has been a joy to see the evolution of software and Matt over the years. The real reason why WordPress is still around is that it is open source, supports open standards, and, more importantly, supports an ecosystem.

May 27, 2023. San Francisco

Disclosure: True Ventures, where I am a partner, is an investor in Automattic, the company offering WP as a service along with many other offerings.

On my Om

28 May 2023 at 07:59

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