My First WordCamp Experience

My-First-WordCamp-ExperienceWordCamp NYC 2014 at the Brooklyn Marriott was my first WordCamp experience. I have been a WordPress user for a very long time, but never had the opportunity to attend.

Prior to coming on board at Photocrati I was never working in the WordPress industry, so previous employers didn’t see the need to send me. To top that off, WordCamp NYC in the past landed on my birthday weekend. So between the two, it just never worked out.

But now that I am an employee at Photocrati I am determined to attend as many WordCamps that come my way. This plan started with WordCamp NYC 2014. I also plan on working with a friend at Webdev Studios to create a WordCamp NJ.

So today I wanted to share a bit about my first experience at WordCamp. I had no clue what to expect, aside from a day filled with everything WordPress. Typically WordCamps start with a get-together on a Friday night, a general day of presentations and beginner workshops on a Saturday and then a developer specific day on a Sunday.

I only attended the Saturday event due to other family stuff going on. Being that it’s the general day, it also made the most sense. Although I can understand a lot of the developer specific stuff in WordPress, I’m not a developer, so I figured I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the discussions.

I got to the hotel around 9:15, right when the first session I wanted to attend started. I immediately picked up my registration badge, grabbed some breakfast (coffee and mini bagel) and made my way into the room where Syed Balkhi was presenting on “Tools to Better Manage and Grow Your Blog”. WordCamp presentations are all recorded for so non-attendees can experience the presentations later on. After the presentations, there is time for Q&A as well.

When Syed finished I met Chris Lema on his way out of the room, and also Syed – both of which I have interacted with on social media over the past few years. It was nice meeting both of them after all these years.

After Syed’s presentation I stayed in the room for the next one. “Follow The Yellow Brick Road: Avoiding Dangerous and Low-Quality Plugins and Themes” was presented next, and unfortunately wasn’t as good as I would have hoped.

The next session I wanted to see also happened to be in the same room, so I stayed for “Leveling Up: From Bashful Beginner to WordPress Warrior” where Beth Soderberg and Courtney O’Callaghan talked about how they were both not technical and made their own path into the WordPress industry by way of website design and creation. It’s seriously amazing how WordPress can create jobs for people.

Next up was another session in the same room. “From housewife to hero: giving back and moving up” was given by Andrea Rennick who is a Support Hero at Copyblogger. Andrea talked about her path from housewife to a full-time support person at Copyblogger – providing awesome customer service for all the Copyblogger products including their SEO software, Scribe SEO. Andrea went from being hired as a customer service person to becoming the manager of all customer service at Copyblogger.

Beth, Courtney and Andreas’s sessions also inspired me to create a presentation of my own about my road into the WordPress industry.

Lunch was ready at noon and everyone was directed in a circle around the hotel, “pick up your lunch box and make your way into the lounge.” Lunches consisted of a turkey or ham sandwich, apple, chips, pasta and various drinks. Vegan and gluten free lunches were available upon request during registration.

Of course stuff happens…

I’m sure the vegans were unhappy about this, but I’m hoping the hotel made it all better.

After lunch came one of my favorite parts of the day. Boone Gorges, Lead Developer of BuddyPress, gave the big keynote and the topic was so interesting. Boone’s topic was “Free Software, Free Labor, and the Freelancer: The Economics of Contributing” where he talked about how he includes the ability to distribute his client’s custom plugins via the WordPress directory. An example of this, is a plugin he created for CUNY. Check out Boone’s article based on the keynote.

After the keynote I sat in on Mary Beth Coudal’s session called “Blogging Basics (Dangerous Writing)” which started out making this ambivert lean more towards the extrovert side. Mary Beth had each person speak to someone near them, asking specific questions. She then had everyone stand up and introduce the person they just met. I met and introduced in the same room later in the day.

My next session was “6 Ways to Up Your Theme Game” with Tracy Levesque where she walked through some of the basic things to do with a simple theme. This was a fun one as it gave me some ideas for future Photocrati updates.

I missed the 3:30 session because I stumbled upon Carl Hancock of Rocketgenius, developers of Gravity Forms. Carl is also a hobbyist photographer (he loves his Fuji) so we chatted about photography and then baseball. Then he had to leave for a soccer game.

Near the end of my chat with Carl, Pippin Williamson finished up with something he was doing and I had a chance to meet him as well. Pippin is the developer behind many plugins, including Easy Digital Downloads (which I personally use for selling ebooks and presets) and AffiliateWP which is an amazing affiliate plugin. Pippin and I chatted about potential opportunities for the future.

Then came the last session of the day. I was debating between “Advanced Topics for WordPress Development” with Andrew Nacin and “Supporting Your Themes While Staying Sane” with Kathryn Presner. In the end I went with Kathryn’s session and learned about different ways to approach theme and plugin support.

When the sessions were finished I headed back home. But WordCamps don’t end after the last sessions. There is typically an after party following the Saturday events. For my first WordCamp I felt I was already in overload of awesomeness. So the during the ride back to New Jersey my brain was going 1,000 miles an hour.

So many ideas, so many things I learned and experienced.

Some of the other highlights included meeting Ashley from iThemes who handles their social media and some of the WP Engine team, who host this website.

Thank you to all who organized WordCamp NYC and to the WordPress community for being so amazing to begin with.

Here’s to the next WordCamp!


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GPS4cam & Pebble Smartwatch Sitting On A Wrist

gps4cam-pebble-integrationGPS4cam is software for your Android or iPhone which allows photographers to easily log GPS locations for their photographs. Using Adobe Lightroom or gps4cam’s desktop software, photographs can easily be geotagged thanks to the data captured via gps4cam.

Now photographers do not need a GPS device as long as they have a smartphone. Photographers do not need to find that new camera with GPS built-in because your gps4cam can handle the task for you.

To get started with gps4cam, open the app on your phone, choose a mode and start a new trip before you start shooting using your camera.

When you are done, simply end the trip and generate a QR code that you need to take a picture of with your camera in either RAW or JPG. The advantage of the QR code is that you don’t have to manually sync your phone’s time with your camera’s time

When you get to your computer, simply run your photos plus the QR code through the gps4cam desktop software. This latter will geotag all your photos with the appropriate GPS locations.

As you can see here, the photos have been geotagged. When you add these photos to a photo management software such as iPhoto, Aperture or Lightroom you can see them on a map.

For Lightroom users, you can use a different workflow if you want to. Instead of generating a QR code, you can use a GPX file to geotag your photos added to Lightroom. You can email the GPX file to yourself or simply store it in your dropbox.

gps4cam pro has a new integration with the pebble smartwatch allowing the users to capture GPS locations or switch modes directly from the watch and lots of other features.

GPS4Cam & Pebble

Previously I have reviewed gps4cam and shared how simple and awesome it is to Geotag photographs from any camera.

At the time I was using it with the Leica M9, which I no longer have. My Nikon D800 has the Eco Pro-F but whenever I use a camera without a GPS, gps4cam is my solution.

When the team at gps4cam reached out to me about their new Pebble integration I was intrigued as I’m sure you are since you are reading this.

For those who do not know what a Pebble is – basically it’s a smartwatch which was originally born through a very successful Kickstarter campaign. The watch uses its own operating system and is compatible with both iPhones and Androids. The operating system is light weight and designed for anyone to create watch faces and apps for it.  Please note that the pro version doesn’t exist yet on android at the time of this review.

When I received my Pebble I quickly installed gps4cam on it and started playing even though I wasn’t shooting anywhere. I wanted to get a feel for what the watch interface could do which would benefit me while out shooting.

Turns out that it’s quite useful in helping to stop looking at the phone to set markers and also to share coordinates with others if needed.

When you first launch the app on the watch it tells you to start the app on the phone. So my first thought was that I wish the app on the watch could start the tracking. Turns out that it’s against policies for developers to do that. Here is an explanation from gps4cam.

“It’s a requirement from Pebble in order to have a fair sharing between apps using Bluetooth to connect to the Pebble smartwatch. If an app uses constantly the Bluetooth connection between the iPhone and Pebble, other potential apps won’t be able to interact with the Pebble”

So that makes sense – although I still wish it was an option. Even if it wasn’t the default option.

While the GPS is going, the watch shows the time which is convenient since the Pebble in the end is still a watch.

If you name the trip (on your phone) then the name of the trip will also show on the watch. Otherwise will show the default unnamed trip titled.

One of my favorite things about the interface on the watch is that I can change the accuracy of the GPS. So instead of reaching for my phone while shooting, I can quickly click a couple buttons on my wrist and go from precision to energy saver if I notice my battery getting too low. Or vice versa if I need precision.

Going along with that – the watch app also shows the accuracy of the GPS so I know how close the coordinents actually are.


The watch shows elapsed time within 2 seconds of what the phone says after starting the tracking. That is actually the time from the last marker point or “geotag” done on the watch.

By default the “search” or “where I am” part of the watch interface will show the UTM, x and y zones and it defaults to kilometers with no way to adjust for miles. Now, I personally do not use UTM nor do I understand it fully. However, that search screen can be changed to longitude and latitude. After talking with gps4cam about this part of my review, they decided to change the default search screen to longitude and latitude which is far more common for photographers when geotagging photographs.

It’s also worth noting that the search screen also shows altitude with can be useful for hiking.

The Pebble’s middle button is used as a shot marker, or a way to set a geotag point manually. It’s a useful feature to help the gps4cam desktop software sync up the photographs. I use it whenever my location changes enough to warrant a marker. For example, if I am photographing the east side of New York City and my next photograph is on the west side of New York City, I will set a new marker. Using the watch instead of the phone will save the battery life of your phone.

As mentioned my only gripe with the interface is not being able to start or pause tracking from the watch. It’s not gps4cam’s fault for this, though, as they are following the rules set by Pebble. But man that feature would be useful!

Since my initial review of gps4cam, Adobe Lightroom has come out with a feature to import GPS data directly to your images. gps4cam is also now compatible with that, so sync up your Dropbox and import the GPX file(s) to Lightroom and watch the magic happen.

gps4cam instructions

I highly recommend that if you are a gps4cam user to pick up a Pebble watch. In fact, inside of gps4cam Pro is the ability to get a discount on the Pebble watch.  Why? Because your typical camera GPS isn’t also a watch.  Wearable technology can be a beautiful thing.

Thanks for reading and happy shooting,

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Slower Shutter – Long Exposure Photography Calculator

slower-shutterI am a big fan of simplicity in mobile apps, and Slower Shutter fits the bill perfectly.

Slower Shutter is an iOS developed by Mike Wong (formerly of onOne Software and now The app has a very basic purpose which is to calculate the exposure time, with up to 16 stops of light reduction while using neutral density filters.

If you’ve been to my website before then you likely know that I wrote an eBook on long exposure photography.  In the eBook I mention a couple neutral density filter calculators.  One of the calculators is actually a part of a larger app, called PhotoPills.  One of my favorite apps, but why open that app only for neutral density timing.  That’s where Slower Shutter comes in.  It’s simple, elegant and does the job well.

Mike started his adventure at Untitled Apps with the goal of creating Slower Shutter (rumor has it a game is next), and he used the education provided at to learn how to develop the app.

In the video below I want I will share how to use the app to calculate your long exposures.

As you can see, Mike made it super easy to use. To get started, pick the shutter speed of your camera (before a neutral density filter), then pick the amount of stops for light reduction from the neutral density filters. When you are happy with the new shutter speed displayed, click Set Timer. Once you’re ready push the timer to start the timer.

It is that simple.

I hope you check it out as the app is only $0.99 in the iTunes app store.

Once you have the app downloaded, check the the long exposure photography tips page on the Untitled Apps site. I offered Mike a variety of tweetable tips for him to share with the app users. I hope you’ll utilize and share some of those!

Thanks for reading and happy shooting,

Subscribe to my newsletter for something special.  I will be sending out a bunch of redemption codes for Slower Shutter, so you could download it for free!  Only a few redemption codes are remaining.

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