Mothership & Scout

As the plane clears 10,000 feet, I open up my MacBook Air and launch Aperture 3. We bank to the north and I look out the window at the lights over Las Vegas. Just a few hours earlier, I was finishing off the last day of a multiday bicycling event where I captured more than 5,000 images at a series of bicycle races and a bike ride called the Mobile Social.

David Schloss prefers the ultraportable MacBook Air to the MacBook Pro when he’s on the road. Its solid-state components have plenty of power for managing an on-location photo project, and the size is a help with modern travel restrictions.

While I’ve already uploaded some of my selects, it’s time to get into heavy editing. I plug in the hard drive with my photos—the backup drive is in my luggage—and I’m already deep in my work by the time the drink cart rolls by. I’m a longtime Apple Aperture user, but many of the principles in this article apply to software like Adobe Lightroom, as well.

Before I land, I’ll have keyworded, captioned, rated and organized my images. When I get home, I’ll move the Library over to my desktop and its RAID, make some adjustments on the larger (and calibrated) screen of my Mac Pro, and then I’ll be done. I close my eyes, sit back, relax and enjoy the rest of my three-hour flight.

The Digital Camera Bag

With the right software and computer hardware, it’s possible to shoot, edit and submit photos—all while still on location. And back in the studio, it’s just a few clicks until shots are transferred and archived.

In the field, I start with a MacBook Air, a choice that has gotten me a few looks among photographers who prefer the more powerful MacBook Pro. Always looking to optimize the ratio between power and portability, the MacBook Air is my companion on most shoots largely because it’s so light, and as of the last few iterations, blazingly fast. It also boasts a 12-hour battery life, SSD (solid-state-drive) storage and a Thunderbolt port. Aperture makes use of the SSD’s speed, and Thunderbolt operates at speeds that make FireWire and USB look pokey. Combine these two technologies, and I have a blazing system (Fig. 1).

My portable drive option is LaCie’s Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt, which includes both the Thunderbolt connector and a high-speed USB 3.0 port, enabling it to connect to just about any modern computer at high speed. It’s encased in a large rubber bumper that has saved many of my drives from failure as they have fallen off tables as I work on location.

Back in the studio, I connect my MacBook Air to my desktop Mac and RAID by either Ethernet or Thunderbolt (depending on how much data I need to transfer) and move my data over, syncing it with Aperture and starting a backup.

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