Fires nearby our home in Modi’in [Photos]

This morning we woke to the strong smell of fire in the air. Wildfires have raged across Israel in the last few days and, this morning, there were fires nearby our home in Modi’in. I often walk to the train station for my commute to Ramat Gan. Fortunately, I had my camera with me this morning.

To say the scene was surreal is a bit of an understatement. The smoke was so thick in the air, it was all I could smell. We’re accustomed to dust storms (we are in a desert) but the combination of the dust, the smoke and strong winds made it that much worse.

At first it just looked as if the smoke had been brought in by the strong winds from nearby. There were reports that the highway to Jerusalem had been closed so I just assumed that the fires were still a way off and the wind carried this smoke across to Modi’in.

It was only really when I arrived at the train station that I realised that there were fires much closer. It turns out there were fires nearby. In fact they were on the outskirts of the city.

We also started seeing firefighter planes flying overhead, heading towards the fires. The fires weren’t close enough to see them dump their fire retardant on the flames (update: Maor Yerushlmi has a great video you should watch). Still, the sight of these planes circling and heading for the fires was a little disconcerting. It added to my worry that the fires could threaten the city itself.

The mayor of Modi’in, Haim Bibas, posted an update on Facebook to the effect that the fires nearby were relatively minor and were being brought under control. The wind was exacerbating the situation but he didn’t seem concerned that they would damage homes.

Here is more about the fires in Israel and Modi’in itself, courtesy of Rolene Marks:

It seems the threat has abated but it brought home the realisation of how much we rely on the dedicated firefighters who rushed out to protect us and how much they do for us.

כל הכבוד לכם!

Postscript:

Here is a tribute from our mayor to the emergency services teams who worked (and trained) so hard to keep the city safe:

Family photos are a generational thing

I love this video from Google Photos. It captures the generational differences when it comes to family photos perfectly!

I am definitely more on the “take-a-gazillion-photos-and-put-them-into-albums-that-some-fancy-technology-can-index-for-me-for-later” category when it comes to family photos!

Where my photos go these days

Why Flickr is better than Google Photos

My photos are typically uploaded to Flickr and Google Photos by default. I also sometimes share albums on Facebook but I don’t have complete archives there at all. I also make multiple backups of my primary photo library and RAW files because I am more than a little neurotic about losing my family photos.

At the same time, I love living in a time where we can take so many great photos and share them so easily. Having machine learning systems go through our photos and make them so accessible, despite taking 23 photos of the same sunset, is amazing.

Google Photos definitely has the edge when it comes to identifying what is in our photos. As long as I have my Flickr (and other) backups for full resolution images, I’m happy to keep sending all my photos to Google Photos too.

Smarter photo albums with Google Photos

Not sold on Apple Photos yet

I haven’t used Apple Photos much. The libraries tend to become pretty big. My current edited library is about 128GB. That is stored in Flickr in full resolution (I uploaded most of that when we arrived in Israel – a decent upload capacity and no data caps is a must) and in Amazon S3.

I don’t really see me using Apple Photos for my full library. For one thing, I don’t have the drive capacity for that on my current MacBook Air. For another, iCloud storage pricing is still relatively expensive compared to other storage options. Still, I created a small Apple Photos library to play around with the new Apple Photos app.

One of the changes that I like is that I don’t have to replicate my photos in the Apple Photos library. I can “import” photos that I have stored on different drives without actually moving or copying them. That saves a lot of space.

That said, Apple Photos still seems to take up a lot of extra space on my drive relative to the imported photos. At the same time, the library may seem to be relatively big because I activated the Photos iCloud Library and it is importing photos shared through my iPhone and iPad.

I probably need to play around with Apple Photos and use a bigger subset of my library to get a better sense of how much space it will actually use once I’ve accounted for my iCloud library.

Those old family slides

Old memories with my Dad
Old memories with my Dad

My current mission is to have about 150-200 slides from my childhood scanned and added to my digital library. The big challenge with older generations’ photos is that there either aren’t many or they are in physical formats that will only degrade over time.

The slides are mostly in pretty good shape and there are a lot of amazing memories in there. So much I have forgotten from my childhood.

My Grand Plan is actually to co-ordinate with my brother and sister to have all the slides they have from my mother digitised and shared as a collected family archive.

When I look at photos of my parents’ childhoods, I’m struck by how few I have access to and just how few there are altogether. It isn’t quite as bad as the great grandfather in the Google Photos video with just two photos in his whole life but there really aren’t many photos going back a couple generations.

If anything, our kids will have too many photos of our lives and theirs but, hopefully, machine learning will keep developing and the (likely) terabytes of family photos we leave for them when we eventually leave this life will become a rich and valued archive of memories.

My favourite photos from our office Purim party

We had our office Purim party yesterday and I was basically the designated photographer. It was a lot of fun and the team really outdid themselves with their costumes. I shot a lot of photos and I thought I’d share some of my favourite photos from the full album with you.

Liron and her team did an amazing job organising the whole thing. Here are Liron, Liran and Shiri. Missing from this photo is Doran who is also in Liron’s team:

Scenes from the imonomy Purim party

Tom arrived as Thug Life Care Bear (although I’m pretty sure this particular Care Bear isn’t officially part of the line-up). I have some fun shots of him.

Scenes from the imonomy Purim party

Sometimes Ohad needs a little incentive. Here is Yonatan’s solution.

Scenes from the imonomy Purim party

Here are Liron and Doran (Doran started as Zorro and graduated to something more Classical).

Scenes from the imonomy Purim party

The crepes looked amazing although I could only admire through my camera:

Scenes from the imonomy Purim party

A little Nutella for the fans …

Scenes from the imonomy Purim party

Yaniv had one of the best costumes and Hila was a lot of fun.

Scenes from the imonomy Purim party

This photo of Tom and Lior is awesome. My first thought is “bromance”.

Avi really pulled off his Samuel L Jackson look (Pulp Fiction edition) brilliantly.

Scenes from the imonomy Purim party

This photo of Adi is probably my favourite from the day and it was a complete fluke. I was walking past her, held my camera at waist height, pointed in her direction, and pushed the button.

Scenes from the imonomy Purim party

Here is another group shot:

Scenes from the imonomy Purim party

If you were wondering whether I was really there, here is proof:

Scenes from the imonomy Purim party

If you’d like to go through the full album, you can start here:

Office Purim party photos
Click to view the full album

A peek inside imonomy’s new Tel Aviv offices

We recently moved to new offices in Tel Aviv and I thought I’d share what it looks like inside imonomy’s new offices. It is the 2nd time imonomy has moved in the year or so that I’ve been with the company (we’ve grown that much). I start work pretty early these days so I spent a little time taking photos of details that stood out for me one morning. Here is a quick look inside imonomy:

I like the (fake) plants all around the office, usually in windows. They add a natural feel to what is otherwise a pretty industrial look.

These jars are also scattered throughout the office and add a nice touch of colour to a predominantly white work space.

These items add an “old” feel to the space too. They little nuggets that add something different to meeting spaces, primarily. Just enough to break what could be design monotony.

This Space Invaders-style artwork is mostly where the tech teams sit and I love it. It adds some geeky fun to an environment which tends to emphasise the business side.

The reception area has a very clean look that manages to balance the relatively industrial feel of the structure as a whole with fairly simple comforts. I really like the horse sculpture.

Here is a little peek of the marketing department with me, Sinead and Tom.
Here is a little peek of the marketing department with me, Sinead and Tom.

You can find my complete album here. I like the space and it’s great to have so much space to grow. I can see imonomy being there for at least a year.

 

Colours and contrasts with flowers

I went for a walk the other day with my camera in my neighbourhood and came across some beautiful subject matter. I’m not sure whether I really ever do subject matter like this justice when I shoot it but I feel compelled to capture it as best I can regardless.

Two things stood out for me while I was taking these photos and when I edited them afterwards. For starters, the photos I take with my iPhone 5 (edited with the VSCO Cam app – my favourite after the standard photo app which does a better job with HDR for the most part) are pretty comparable to the photos I take with my DSLR for the most part. The iPhone certainly takes great looking photos and each phone takes better images than the previous model. Here are some examples:

The second thing that stood out for me was just how much clean black and white images appeal to me in contrast to a common grainy effect you get when you apply many black and white presets to images. There are times when the grainy effect can add to the image but I tend to prefer minimal grain with stark contrasts in my black and white images if I can achieve that.

Little pink flowers - black and white

I like how most of these images came out. I used a combination of the No. 1 VSCO Film preset collection I have (I’m lusting for No. 4 – slide film) as well as more stylised presets I picked up along the way. I go through phases when I prefer the VSCO Film presets because they are much closer to actual colours and times when the stylised stuff just seems to work better. On a related note I notice that images published on 500px tend to emphasise the heavily edited and stylised images and they look beautiful. I’m just not sure whether I like that approach as a general rule although it is a matter of degrees once you started editing your images beyond some sort of quick auto-tone correction.

Here are some of my highlights from my photoset:

Getting started

Starting something new can be oddly complicated and this time is no different. This post is my little introduction to this new project before you now. You may know me as a digital lawyer and occasional blogger. I have been an amateur photographer, on and off, for about 25 years since my parents bought me my first SLR camera, a Minolta 5000.

My Old camera-2
My old Minolta 5000

Photography is one of the ways I express myself most, after my writing. I am still evolving my personal style and its primarily been a hobby until this next photo (or one of the set) prompted my wife to remind me I should take my photography more seriously and perhaps even grow a business out of it.

Spring Day blossoms-35

 

So, that was the genesis of this new project. I have been shooting some pretty interesting stuff lately and I’ll share more of that here. I’m also going to add options for you to buy limited prints of my photos so let me know if you see anything you like. There is a lot more where this one came from and loads more in the pipeline.

Bean There memories

One of the things I enjoy about putting my presentation slides for talks and workshops together is using my growing library of photos. I’ve pretty much stopped using other stock photos for my talks (well, 99% stopped). This afternoon I came across this great little set of photos I took at one of my few visits to Bean There in 44 Stanley.