Showing posts with label Photography. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Photography. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Review from a First Time Smartphone User

Why I Finally Bought a Smartphone 


I have been using a flip phone since the 1990's. I only bought it because  I traveled on business and needed a way to communicate on the road. There weren't any smartphones then. The little phone fit easily in my purse or pocket and I used my landline whenever I was home. I only gave family members and very close friends my cell number -- and, of course, services that insisted I get two-step verification by text message. I don't really text anyone myself -- yet.

Almost everyone I know seems to have a smartphone and  many seem addicted to them. But I didn't want one. I hate typing on tiny keyboards with my arthritic fingers. I like to work on a desktop where I have it all. So I happily blogged on and resisted the smartphone. I processed my photos nicely without one and took a digital camera on my photo walks. Then came Instagram and I couldn't join the party. Unless I got a smartphone. So five days ago I finally got one.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9  Review from a First Time Smartphone User
My Galaxy Note 9 with Accessories


Why I Bought a Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Instead of an iPhone


My brother and many of my friends have iPhones and love them. My husband has a Galaxy S7. I've seen people do amazing things with smartphones and I thought they were using iPhones. One day I was at a winery with a friend and had forgotten to bring my phone. I borrowed hers and it took fantastic photos. I had seen my nephew scan a document by taking a photo with what I thought was an iPhone. I was all set to get an iPhone. But when I double checked with my nephew and my friend, I discovered they both had Galaxy phones. The camera I had borrowed was on a Galaxy Note 8 or 9

I wanted to buy the phone with the best camera. My plan was to start making more videos where I could just talk to people, so I needed a front-facing camera. I also wanted to get great nature and product photos and videos for my blogs and for making Zazzle products. And, of  course, I wanted to be able to post to my Instagram account with my own phone -- not Hubby's. I was using my PC to like and comment on posts from my friends, and I wanted to join the fun and post more. Now I can. If you like nature, books, gardening, or a simple lifestyle, you can follow me on Instagram and see the quality of what I've posted so far from my new phone. I'm barbradis on Instagram.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9  Review from a First Time Smartphone User
Cyclist in Riverbed of Salinas River in Paso Robles Taken with Galaxy Note 9


I decided on the Galaxy Note 9 because it had great cameras. Yes, the iPhone camera is also a good one, but for my purposes, the Galaxy Note 9 tops it. There is also a lesser reason. I have both a Windows PC and an iMac. Both have been sick. While my PC was really sick, I used the Apple almost exclusively, even though it was really slow. I couldn't find anything. I called our local guru to come fix it and he confirmed that Apple just hides things and you have to know the tricks to get around that. I like a clear file path. I think in Windows, not Apple. I understand Google better than Apple. I thought over the long haul I'd be happier with Android.


The Learning Curve


If I had already been a smartphone user just trading up or getting a different brand, I don't think the learning curve would have been as steep for me as it's been these last five days. I'm used to the space and options I have with a desktop. I work with forty tabs open in Chrome, four notepads to cut and paste from, and several Windows Explorer windows open at once. Although the Galaxy Note has a larger screen than many phones, it doesn't come close to the 21 inches my computer monitor has.

The Note 9 lets me open several apps at once and flip between them, but I had some trouble getting an email with a pin I needed to put in a registration form for Verizon or Samsung -- I forget which. Once the email came in through the GMail app, I couldn't get  back to the form where I was supposed to enter it. I think that would have happened on any smartphone. So most of my learning curve is just learning to use a smartphone instead of a PC -- not something unique to the Galaxy smartphone. It's a totally different way of working. It will take time to really get good at this.

The thing that bothered me most was that tiny keyboard. It's hard for me to hit only one key at once -- even though the Galaxy Note 9's keyboard is larger than most. I have two work-arounds for that. First, I use that little microphone on the keyboard and talk instead of type when I can. I also have a small wireless keyboard I bought to use with another device. It plays nicely with my Galaxy Note 9, as would just about any portable Bluetooth keyboard. So if I'm free to talk without disturbing anyone, I make my Instagram captions and hashtags with my voice and correct most of my mistakes using the keyboard. The speech recognition does confuse to with too or two. I have to speak slowly. It mistook my friend Celia's name for silly. But I can live with that as it learns to better understand my voice.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9  Review from a First Time Smartphone User
What Happens if You Hold the Volume Button Down Too Long  While Taking a Photo

What I love about the Galaxy Note 9

  • The large 6.4" screen
  • The ability to type with my voice instead of my fingers
  • The quality of the front and back cameras
  • The way the phone camera handles lighting differences -- what's in the shade shows better than it does in my Canon PowerShot photos if the photo subject is partially shaded. 
  • When I shoot videos while walking, they are less shaky than the ones I shoot with my Canon PowerShot SX410 IS. I'll show you one of my photo walks below.
  • Easy updates for software
  • Ease of installing the apps I want
  • Easy flipping between apps
  • The ability to take multiple photos in quick succession by holding down the volume button. I learned this accidentally. 
  • Clear voice reception on calls. I called my landline and my husband just to make sure.
  •  Easy contact management, but I confess that I used my little bluetooth keyboard to help enter the names and numbers.
  • Fast charging and long battery life.
  • Flaps that cover the ports for the charger and headphones to help keep them safe from water and dust during everyday use. 
  • The S-Pen with its many amazing features, only some of which I've tried so far. I can't do it all in five days. So far I've found it very handy when I have to use the keyboard since I can better control what I click. A video I watched showed many more pen features I have yet to try. The S-Pen can even control some phone features remotely. 
  • The ability to make a monitor act like a PC if you have the right cable, monitor, and the S-pen. It will work with your monitor if it has an HDMI port and you have an HDMI to USB Type C cable 
  • I can use the Do Not Disturb setting to keep away all notification sounds during the hours I sleep. While I'm trying to fall asleep I can play relaxing music for as long as I set the timer for -- all while my phone is charging.  


A Video of a Photo Walk I Made Yesterday

I made this video with the Galaxy Note 9 in the morning during a lull between rainstorms. 


Here's the Camera and Accessories I Use With It

This is my phone color. I also bought the case and screen protector to keep my investment safe. I already had a portable keyboard to use.



What I Didn't Love as Much

Much as I love my new phone, there are some things I don't love as much.


  • The phone is somewhat heavy because of its size.
  • The shape of the phone, though similar in shape to most other smartphones, is harder for my arthritic hands to hold while trying to take a photo than a camera is.
  • If I want to take a horizontal photo, it's really easy to press the button that will make the phone take multiple shots in a row as long as the button is held down. I'm learning to be careful how I hold the phone. 

Selfies

I have never yet found a camera that made selfies I liked. I'm afraid the problem is not the camera but the subject. Nevertheless, I made a selfie so I could photograph the screen for you. The weird colors are the result of the artificial lighting in the room that my Canon couldn't handle well. Flashes leave light bursts I didn't want. You do see the editing icons here. I don't normally edit photos except to crop them or add text, but I think I'll learn to use some of those available apps that remove wrinkles, etc. 

Since I haven't learned to use those apps yet, I'm hiding behind the camera. The editing icons are above the circle-shaped camera icons. The bottom row of icons are for the whole phone. The quality of this photo has nothing to do with the smartphone camera, since I didn't know how to use the Note 9 to take a photo of itself. It probably would have done a better job with the lighting. I think I  did use one filter and kept it because it changed my hair from gray to the blond I was born with.

Apps

Once I got my Note 9 smartphone, I started adding more apps. It's almost impossible not to when you see all that's available to play with. The thing that's hard is organizing those apps so you can find them again. The Note 9 gives me the Apps Edge. Most of the time it sits almost invisibly on the right edge of my screen, but I can slide it out whenever I need it. I can choose ten apps to put there, so I included what I use most. I guess they are also put in files. If I click the files icon (far left under open apps screen below) it will show me every app that's currently open and I can go back to working in it. Handy! I love both these features. Perhaps other smartphones also have them, but I only have experience on this phone.

So far my favorite free app besides Instagram is Relaxio. It gives me a choice of sixteen kinds of white noise I can listen to alone or combine with other sounds. I can choose from city traffic noises, falling rain, ocean waves, birds, crackling fire, wind, a flowing brook, night nature sounds, coffee shop, and a few other white noise sounds I haven't figured out. I love this app for falling asleep, since I can set a timer for how long it will play. I let it play beside my bed while the phone charges at night. 




Comparing Photos


This morning I decided to photograph some books in a bookcase in my office. The only light source was across the room and partially blocked with my iMac monitor. I made the shots as identical as I could except I used a flash for the shot from my Canon PowerShot SX410 IS. The phone, of course, needed no flash. I didn't guess accurately the number of books included in each shot, but I think it's close enough for you to get the idea. Except to crop and size these for Instagram and add a background color in PicMonkey, I did no photo editing to change tone, lighting or anything else. I added no effects. Here are the shots, as I will post them to Instagram later.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9  Review from a First Time Smartphone User


Samsung Galaxy Note 9  Review from a First Time Smartphone User

As you can see, I didn't edit as much extraneous stuff out of the phone shot as I did the Canon shot. I'd never tried putting backgrounds on before in PicMonkey and I wound up using FotoJet to crop the photos when I hadn't gotten the images the right size for the background. I've never used layers before and PicMonkey just added them to their app. In the end I put the wrong photo in the shot above, not the one that trimmed the lower shelf out. I think you still have a fair comparison between the Canon and the Note 9 cameras.

My Recommendation


If you need a phone with an outstanding camera, I can't think of a better one than the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. I bought it for the camera, but also love the pen and the ability to use it to  turn my phone into something very much like a PC should I ever need to. Just tonight I downloaded the Amazon Music app and discovered I also get great sound quality for the songs I love when I play them on the Note 9.

Now if my Note 9 could only take a selfie! There's probably an app for that, but I still need to find it. My advice? Get yourself or someone you love a Galaxy Note 9.


Don't miss our other contributor's reviews of electronic products on this site. 



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Thursday, November 22, 2018

Photographing Plymouth Harbor









Happy Thanksgiving from the staff of Review This.  Today's post is a bit of history and photography from the site of the first Thanksgiving.

Plymouth Massachusetts is a delightful harbor town on the shores of Cape Cod Bay. It is located 40 miles south of Boston.  I'd like to share some of my photos of the harbor with you but first let's review a bit of the history of this historic town.  

History of Plymouth

The colony of Plymouth (first called Plimouth) was established in late 1620 when the Mayflower landed in this area on the shores of Cape Cod Bay.  These early settlers from England were called Pilgrims and had embarked on the new country to escape the religious beliefs of the Church of England.  

They landed in Cape Cod in December and were not prepared to handle the harsh New England winters.  Their first year was very rough and they survived with the help of friendly Indians.  After surviving the first year they had a celebration to thank God for protecting them during the first year.  This celebration is considered the First Thanksgiving Feast.

Photograph of Plymouth Harbor Today

As I walked along this historic harbor I was struck by all the little everyday features of this small town.  Yes, there are the tourist attractions like Plymouth Rock (really only a rock engraved with 1620) and other sites of interest throughout the town, but I wanted to concentrate my photography on the features of the harbor and the docks.

Here are a few of the photos the depict the harbor on the June afternoon when I visited.  It includes a replica paddleboat for tourists along with items that represent the lobster trade that is popular today.






Zazzle Products from  my Photos





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Thursday, November 8, 2018

Visit Missouri-Augusta

On a beautiful early autumn afternoon I took a stroll through Augusta Missouri with a group of fellow photographers.  Augusta is a small town located on the Bluffs of the Missouri River about 35 miles west of St. Louis.  In this post I will review of little about Augusta and show you my photographs.

History of Augusta

Augusta was founded in 1837 by a settler that followed Daniel Boone to Missouri. (Here is a link to an article on the nearby Daniel Boone home site https://www.reviewthisreviews.com/2018/05/review-of-daniel-boone-home-site-in.html ) Leonard Harold chose the town site for the excellent river landing on the shores of the Missouri river.  When the town was incorporated in 1855 it had become a booming agricultural community.  It's main produce was grain, livestock and wine grapes.

Augusta Today

Today Augusta is a thriving community of 200 residents.  It has two wineries, Augusta Winery and Mt. Pleasant Winery and several Bed & Breakfasts.  It has become a popular stop for tourists visiting the Missouri wine country.  Augusta has several small shops for tourists to stop at when they are in town.  Here are some photos I took during our stroll through the town.
Augusta Art Gallery

Cranberry House

Downtown Streets




Augusta is host to several different festivals during the year including:

  • Plein Air Art Festival
  • Harvest Festival
  • Candlelight Christmas Walk
If you are interested in visiting Augusta stop by their website at http://www.augusta-missouri.com/


Augusta Bed and Breakfasts

Red Brick Inn
Augusta features several bed and breakfasts, such as The Red Brick Inn pictured above, which was built in 1865.  Here you can enjoy a wonderful breakfast and great hospitality from the owners Chuck and Esther.  Just click on the link below the photo for more information.  It is a great place to spent your nights while taking in the scenic views and wonderful atmosphere of the Missouri wine country.  http://redbrickinnofaugusta.com/





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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Where to See Photogenic Oak Trees in Paso Robles, California

A Review of Some Notable Oak Trees in Paso Robles


The name Paso Robles literally means Pass of the Oaks when translated from the Spanish. And, of course, Paso Robles was Spanish before it was American. I'm guessing the oak tree population was greater than the human population before the town began. Some oaks are three times higher than the homes and businesses they live beside. Photographing them can be a challenge because of their size alone.

Although you can't walk far in Paso Robles without seeing at least one oak tree, certain areas seem to have some of the oldest or most unique oaks. I'd like to show you where to find them and show you some photos. Some of these oaks are so huge and so surrounded by buildings that it's hard to get far enough away from them to get their entirety in a photo.

Downtown Paso Robles


Where to See Photogenic Oak Trees in Paso Robles, California
The Oak in the Road, 5th and Vine, Paso Robles


The Oak in the Road


All of our downtown area is not commercial. There are some residential areas only a block or two from the commercial part of downtown. One of the streets there has so many oaks they named it Oak Street. The reason why is obvious if you take a stroll along it. This residential area often has deer in its crosswalks at dusk a block from the commercial area.

It appears when they built Fifth Street,  the city fathers left the oak you see above intact. This tree was measured by Phil Dirkx in May, 2015. At that time he found the trunk was 23 feet around at five feet above the ground. He estimated it was ten feet in diameter. A photo taken in c. 1886  shows a tree that appears even larger than this one at a Paso Robles picnic. So we know these trees have been around a long time.

Here are some other photos of the Tree in the Road.

Where to See Photogenic Oak Trees in Paso Robles, California
Oak Tree on Corner of 5th and Vine, Paso Robles, Looking South

Where to See Photogenic Oak Trees in Paso Robles, California
Oak in Fifth Street. Notice Branched Trunk
The photos above  give you an idea of how huge this tree is. Compare it to the cars and the houses. You can also see how the tree has been pruned and trimmed over the years. These photos were taken in the last week of October when both leaves and acorns were dropping onto the street. There is room on both sides of the tree for cars to drive past. Think of the tree as a unique center divider as cars enter this block or leave it.

Where to See Photogenic Oak Trees in Paso Robles, California
Looking up at the Sky through the Leafy Branches of the Oak. 

In the photo  above I aimed the camera straight up to look at the sky through the tree's canopy.

Where to See Photogenic Oak Trees in Paso Robles, California
Details in the Bark of an Old Oak, Trimmed through the Years
Above you can see every detail in the bark of this old oak. It has been trimmed and pruned as needed through the years. You can see some fresh scars where smaller branches have been removed, as well as older scars where there were once large branches.

When I left to photograph these trees, I expected to also get photos of another tree in the middle of Oak Street between Fourth and Fifth Street that I have often driven around in the past. Sadly, this time there was only a stump. It appears the tree recently was removed.

Show your friends this amazing tree by sending them the postcard below. Just click on the image to get purchase information at Zazzle. Oak in the Road in Paso Robles Postcard


More Oaks Near Downtown Paso Robles


These photos were taken on 12th Street, one of the main east/west streets downtown. My dentist has an office there in one of the old homes. Both businesses and residences locate on 12th Street. I have focused on the oak trees near residences in these photos. This photo was taken in spring. I couldn't help the fact that it was trash pickup day the day I went walking after my dentist appointment.

Where to See Photogenic Oak Trees in Paso Robles, California
Tall Oak on 12th Street West of Spring Street

The sheer size of the these oak trees makes them hard to fit into one shot because there's no way you can get far enough away from them unless they are on a corner. The house above isn't.  The house below is, but it's still hard to get all those branches into the shot. Some of these oaks seem to have tentacles rather than branches and they seem to reach everywhere as their branches curve. 

This photo also presents one of the other problems with getting ideal shots of anything tall or high, such as a sunset. There are wires almost everywhere downtown. It's hard not to capture them because they always seem to be in the way.


Where to See Photogenic Oak Trees in Paso Robles, California
Oak Trees on 12th and Chestnut in Paso Robles

Oaks Right Downtown

We have oak trees right next to some of our most important city government buildings in close proximity to the shopping center of downtown. Here are some of them. I have captured many of them on my Zazzle products. Some of our most beautiful oaks are in the parking lot of the train station. I have photographed the one on Velta Circle many times. You can see some of the best in this blog post: Photos of North County Transport Center Buses.  Here's another of some different oaks in the parking lot. 

Where to See Photogenic Oak Trees in Paso Robles, California
Oak Trees in Transport Center Parking Lot in Paso Robles, © B. Radisavljevic

The tree below is also very close to the train station on Pine Street, though not in its parking lot. Below is the larger view of this unique oak tree. 

Where to See Photogenic Oak Trees in Paso Robles, California


Below you see more of the tree in a smaller size. 

Where to See Photogenic Oak Trees in Paso Robles, California
Arching Oak Near Train Station in Paso Robles, © B. Radisavljevic


The oak below lives next to the Paso Robles Library entrance. You will often see patrons reading in its shade or homeless people napping on the benches. The library building is two stories tall, so that gives you an idea as to the size of the tree. 

Where to See Photogenic Oak Trees in Paso Robles, California
Oak in Front of Paso Robles Library, © B. Radisavljevic


The Zazzle postcard below shows the courtyard in back of the Superior Courthouse building downtown. Just click on it for more information. You can see it has its share of old oaks. 




These are in an alley downtown. Sure wish they'd put those wires underground, but they can't afford to.

Where to See Photogenic Oak Trees in Paso Robles, California
Oak in Paso Robles Downtown Alley, © B. Radisavljevic

Oak Lane in East Paso Robles


Oak Lane is a rural street that's right behind the tract where I live. It is full of small farms and amazing oak trees. It is just past the intersection of South River Road and Charolais Road. It runs between South River Road and the property next to the Salinas River. It's a nice walk for those who like to see farm animals of all kinds and some gorgeous oak trees. And oaks aren't the only trees you will see -- just the most impressive. Here's one of them. As you can probably tell, this tree was taken in winter. That's my favorite season for photographing deciduous oaks. I like seeing their "bare bones."

Where to See Photogenic Oak Trees in Paso Robles, California
Oak Tree on Oak Lane as Sundown Approaches, © B. Radisavljevic


Linne Road Oak Trees


Linne Road is accessed from Sherwood Road in Paso Robles and twists a bit before continuing east toward Sculpterra Winery and other farms and vineyards. It is worth the short drive from the city for those who love oak trees. I have featured some of my photos of a damaged oak on Linne, what I call a tree with character, in this post, Looking at Deciduous Oaks in Winter. Here I will just show you one shot I took on this country road. The oak tree itself is so huge I can't get it all into the shot. It was this owl metal sculpture that made me notice it first.

Where to See Photogenic Oak Trees in Paso Robles, California


You can see the tree has already done a number on the fence. I guess the owl is keeping an eye on it. The tree extends far behind and next to the owl on the other side. Even the eye can hardly see the entire tree at once.

I did notice another oak not far from this one. It was just outside one of the farms. It appeared to be hollow. So I looked inside.

Where to See Photogenic Oak Trees in Paso Robles, California
Hollow Oak Tree on Linne Road in Paso Robles, © B. Radisavljevic

The Tree That Lives Across the Street


I hope you've enjoyed this brief tour of some of Paso Robles' most  interesting old oaks. I never get tired of discovering and photographing new ones. Of course my favorite is the one that lives across the street from me. I like to photograph it best at sunset. This was taken in winter.

Bare Oak in Winter Sunset, © B. Radisavljevic

Below it is not  so bare.

Not So Bare Oak in Summer Sunset, © B. Radisavljevic

Which tree did you like best?

Fellow contributor Mary Beth Granger also loves photography and is very good at it. I especially enjoyed her post Explore St. Louis: The Gateway Arch. 

See all reviews here related to photography. 



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Thursday, October 25, 2018

Photographing Historic Scituate Lighthouse



Scituate Lighthouse


On a trip between Boston and Cape Cod my husband and I made a small detour to see beautiful Scituate Lighthouse. This lighthouse is located on the South Shore of Boston. On this page I will review a bit about the history of this lighthouse along with sharing my photos from our visit.
 

Lighthouse History

Scituate Lighthouse is the 5th oldest lighthouse in New England and the 11th oldest in the United States.  It was activated in 1811 and is built of split granite blocks with a 1 1/2 story house attached.  While searching online for information on the lighthouse I found the interesting story listed below.  The information is from the Scituate Historical Society web page.



Captain Simeon Bates, the first keeper of Scituate Lighthouse, his wife, and nine children lived at the house. During the War of 1812 Abigail and Rebecca, young daughters of the lighthouse keeper, prevented the British from sacking the town. Noting the approach of two redcoat-filled barges from a British ship of war, the girls snatched fife and drum and hiding behind a thick cluster of cedar trees made such a din that the British mistook them for an entire regiment and made a hasty retreat. Abigail and Rebecca Bates have gone down in history as 'The American Army of Two" and their courageous act has been recorded in many textbooks and story books.    http://scituatehistoricalsociety.org/light/

I also find it fascinating that the captain and his family of 11 lived in the small house attached to the lighthouse.  Here is a photo I took of the lighthouse with the house attached.

The Lighthouse Today

Today the lighthouse is located at the  end of Lighthouse Road.  It is now an active private aid to navigation and is managed by  the Scituate Historical Society.  It is only open limited hours but we were able to walk around the grounds and I was able to capture photos from various directions.

As we left the lighthouse we pulled into the parking lot of a restaurant and I was able to photograph the lighthouse from across the bay.

Read More of Tales of New England

If you found the story of the two sisters fascinating you may  want to  read more tales from early New England or perhaps this story about a Rhode Island lighthouse keepers daughter.




Zazzle Candle from my Photo




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