Woody Allen famously called pigeons flying rats. Photographer David Stephenson calls them thoroughbreds of the sky.
He also realizes the common perception of the pigeon skews more toward Allen’s view. But Stephenson has a growing body of work that could make people reconsider the much-maligned bird.
Stephenson, aka The Pigeon Photographer, runs a website and Instagram feed where his photos attempt to show the intelligence, strength and iridescent beauty of homing pigeons, which he raises in his backyard near Lexington, Kentucky.
“When we see them circling in the air, they move so fast our eye can’t comprehend the beautiful details, the way the feathers curve, the upstroke or downstroke of the wings,” Stephenson told Cult of Mac. “I just want people to appreciate them more. They are beautiful, insanely tough and intelligent.”
It already seems like years ago that Apple unveiled its smartwatch. In this #TBT gallery, we relive the glory of last week's big event, as captured by award-winning sports photographer (and iPhoneography aficionado) Brad Mangin.
As the hands-on demo sessions wrap up, a few people linger inside Apple's mystery building.
CUPERTINO, California — I’m a sports photographer, not a tech blogger, so I felt out of place shooting Apple’s big iPhone 6 press event with my iPhone 5s.
Baseball is what I do — I’ve shot nine Sports Illustrated covers — but I swear it was easier getting field access to shoot a World Series game at Fenway Park than dealing with all the people and security at Apple’s event.
This thing was a free-for-all. It was crazy. The place was flooded with media types from all over the world, all standing in line to get into the Flint Center for the Performing Arts, where the event was held.
The big iPhones are here at last, and so – as surely as indigestion follows a burrito – are the oversize iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus cases. Also new on the scene this week: a game controller for all your iDevices, plus some sweet retro-style cameras.
A big-ass phone needs a big-ass case, and the Waterfield Spinn is both big and sits by your ass. The leather holster clips to your belt, the bottom is open for hooking up headphones and hearing the speaker, and the closing clasp doubles as a winder for unused headphone cabling. Pretty cool for a dorky holster. $59
Fujifilm’s successor to the amazing X100S changes little. You get refined buttons and dials, and more of these can be given custom functions. You get a double-resolution LCD on the back, plus Wi-Fi inside, and a sweet new hybrid viewfinder that can overlay a digital rangefinder on the pure optical view. $1,300
The Tivo Mega really is mega, with 24TB of DVR storage for 4,000 hours of HD and 26,000 hours of SD programming. At roughly 20 minutes each, that’s enough space to keep the entire series of Big Bang Theory 490 times over. It’s rack mountable, has six tuners and you can stream direct to your phone. How much? $5,000
Grovemade puts a lid on its gorgeous wooden iPhone cases with the new Maple & Leather model for the 6 and 6 Plus. It has the usual bumper-like wooden surround, but with a new leather flap on the front that doubles as a kickstand, thanks to a stiffening wooden liner. It looks gorgeous. $129
What could be a better accessory for your new iPhone 6 Plus than the Moga Rebel, a Bluetooth game controller for your iPhone or iPad that boasts an adjustable arm and clamp to hold even a giant phone? $80
Leatherman By The Numbers is a range of 10 new tools that each pack at least four tools into one lightweight little package. There are no moving parts (except on the No. 4, which has a removable screwdriver bit), and you can pick the combo that best suits your needs. From $11
Quit trying to squeeze a cylinder into your bag with your computer and books – try the book-shaped Memobottle instead. These plastic water bottles slide straight into your bag, and come in A4, A5 and U.S Letter sizes. Made from dishwasher-friendly Tritan, the only problem might be drinking from them – probably a two-handed task. From $22.
Forget full-frame digital. The way to get maximum photographic quality is medium-format film. Then you can proceed to ruin that film with the plastic-fantastic Lomo LC-A 120, a relatively tiny medium-format camera with automatic exposure, four-zone manual focus and a square format. $430
Put all your photos of eggs on a single SD card, with SanDisk's new 512GB Extreme Pro SDXC card. Pointless for photos, the super-fast UHS Speed Class 3 card is better for capturing video from your movie-making DSLR. Just $800.
The Aeroclam switches a saggy, baggy saddle bag that rattles on the rails of your racing seat for a tightly-fitted clamshell bag that stays permanently – and tightly – attached to your undercarriage. There’s space for a patch kit and maybe a multitool, but not a pump. Fits most non-Brooks saddles. NZ$50
Widget, widgets, widgets. Boy, have we got some widgets for you. And text. Plain text. Plain old text, turned into a calculator. And widgets. Did I mention those? Weather widgets. Battery widgets. And yes, text widgets.
Read all about these new widgets and other new apps in this week's App Watch.
WunderStation from Weather Underground hooks into thousands of privately owned weather stations and presents their data in an iPad app. The smoothly animated graphs are beautiful and can tell you way more than you’d ever want to know about rainfall, barometric pressure and even UV. If you have stations near you, it’s pretty rad. If not, no biggie – the app is $Free
Filthy name, great app. Droool is a “photo gallery for your social networks.” Browse pictures from Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook and more, and index pictures from iCloud and other local folders without moving or copying the files. It’s fast, simple and looks great, and it’s free with in-app purchases. $Free
Terrible name, great app. iBetterCharge monitors your iOS devices’ battery level over your Wi-Fi network, using the same connection that iTunes Wi-Fi sync would use, if you still synced your iPhone with your computer in the space year of 2014. It can pop up warnings when the battery drops to a preset level, and a click on the menu bar shows you the level of all the devices on the network. $Free
This is what the Internet is made for. Photogrammar puts 170,000 Depression-era photos in a searchable, browsable archive. Explore on an interactive map, search or get into the Labs section and browse by metadata sourced from the U.S. Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information archives. Warning: serious time-sink. $Free
PlainTextMenu takes the text on your Mac’s clipboard and transmogrifies it into something useful. It strips out formatting, so you never get big ugly Comic Sans when pasting from a colleague’s Word report, and it can turn the text to uppercase, lowercase or title case along the way. From the school of One Thing Well. $1
Web service re/spin takes Spotify playlists and transforms them into Rdio playlists. If someone’s going to share a playlist, it usually comes from Spotify, and re/spin works with published Spotify playlists. Or you can just paste in a track list copied right from the app. It also works with Last.fm. Remember when PCs couldn’t read Mac floppy disks? It’s like fixing that all over again. $Free
You know all those hard drives grafted onto your Mac? Keep a close eye on them with StorageStatus, an app that turns hard drives into traffic lights in your menu bar and changes their colors when they do something. It knows when they are sleeping, it knows when they’re awake, and it knows when they’ve been good or bad. $3
Not new, but awesome nonetheless. Calca is as close as you’ll get to a plain text calculator. Tap in complex formulas or simple sums and see the results right there in a plain text document. Set variables or just add numbers. And see all your pages synced over iCloud between Mac, iPhone and iPad versions, as well as Windows(!). I love Calca for its balance of simplicity and power. From $3
Finally, a version for the iPad. TVShow Time tracks your favorite TV shows and tells you when they’re on. Browse shows and show synopses, and get notifications when something is about to air. See the shows on a calendar, view news about your shows and read about new shows. It’s pretty comprehensive, and looks great on the big iPad screen. $3
We’ve got high hopes for Apple’s healthkit and integration with the long-awaited iWatch. But why wait to slough off the computer tan and desk serf paunch? Here are some fantastic Apple products -- some originals from Cupertino and fanciful knockoffs -- that you can buy right now on eBay to help you get in shape. Once you're there, you can show off your trim physique with this latex shirt with Apple logo, $64.
Any huffing and puffing you do will be drowned out by the "oohs" and "ahs" as the exertions from your glistening brow are mopped up with this "Magic of Apple" terrycloth headband with velcro closure. $9.99.
While we're pretty sure this didn't come straight outta Cupertino, you've got to love the idea of carrying your own sleek utensils in an Apple-logo container. If you've always got it with you, there's no excuse for shoving every repast into your gaping maw. Slow down, use a fork and knife and savor every bite with Zen-like grace. $59.99
This is another example of just how much people the world over love Apple - they'll put the beloved logo on just about anything. Every time you want to light up the idea of sullying the symbol of your favorite company will give you pause and possibly the strength to kick the habit. Or use a vape instead. $19.99
Who needs to go out outside this week? Not us: We have headphones, a home-monitoring video camera, a robot to clean the floors and a keyboard that sleeps on your desk, all ready to play with your iDevices. Determined to leave the house? Take the GoPro PowerPole with you and then offload the footage to a new wireless, battery-powered hard drive from Western Digital.
Forget fiddling with those little magnetic iPhone lenses – the Sony QX1 puts proper E-mount Sony lenses onto your iPhone or iPad. It’s actually a tiny camera that clips onto your iDevice, complete with 20.1 MP sensor and even a pop-up flash, and works in concert with the iPhone via Wi-Fi and a companion app. $400
You could buy these new B&W cans and never switch them on, they look that good. But they should sound good too, with huge drivers that “work like those in a hi-fi speaker” (whatever that means), a sweet padded headband and some shiny silver parts on the outside. The Series 2 even comes with a detachable cable with an inline mic for your iPhone. $300
Now you can buy the best paper notebook anywhere in the world – almost. The Baron Fig Confidant notebook now ships internationally, so anyone can enjoy its superior design, from the cloth-bound cover to the clever dot-grid paper to the fold-flat design that stays open on the table to the slightly wider aspect ratio for more comfy writing and sketching. And still just $16.
Dyson’s first robot vacuum cleaner uses a panoramic cyclops eye up on top of the mercifully muted body to map out your rooms to the millimeter. A full-width brush teases dust out of carpets, and the cyclone separates dirt and dust. It runs for up to half an hour before returning to its dock to recharge, and you can even remote control it from iOS and Android apps. $TBA
It’s called the PowerPole, but that’s not even the best thing about it. The PowerPole takes the useless space inside telescopic 17-30-inch GoPro mount and fills it with batteries, enough for eight continuous hours of shooting. The aluminum pole also has a pair of USB ports for charging other gear. $119
The Logitech K480 is a different take on keyboards for mobile. It sits on your desk, waiting for your devices to dock in its slot, and then performs double duty as a stand and as a Bluetooth keyboard. A twisting knob selects between three paired devices, and the K480 has keys for Windows and Mac. The slot is big enough for a tablet and a phone together and it runs on a pair of AAA batteries. $50
The only way the Shutter Button could be more minimal is if it ditched the fashion stylings and came in plain silver. It’s a Bluetooth remote shutter release for iOS and other devices, and it works by masquerading as a volume switch. Therefore, no companion app is required – any camera, even the built-in one, can work with it as long as the app allows you to take a photo using the iPhone’s own volume switch. From $29.
This 1TB/2TB USB 3.0 drive packs a Wi-Fi radio and an SD card slot, making it the most useful pocket hard drive, like, ever. It works with your Mac of course, but also your iPad and iPhone. You can connect up to eight devices, use it as an Internet-sharing Wi-Fi hub and even stream movies to your iPad. The battery lasts six hours for video (20 hours on standby) and you can back up photos direct to the drive using the SD card slot. From $180.
Withings has long been able to track your body with its smart scales and health monitors. Now it tracks your home with this Internet-connected camera. The Home records 1080p video and can alert you to movement via the iPhone app. It works as a security camera, but also as a life-cam, with a timeline mode that lets you make a video diary. It even monitors the air quality inside your home, and works as a baby monitor. If it made breakfast too, I’d marry it. $220
There aren't many consumer electronics companies that win kudos for their excellence in other realms.
Apple did just that recently when it earned an Emmy in the Creative Arts category for its commercial "Misunderstood." Apple has been named the most admired, most innovative company and the best brand too many times to count. Its leaders, designers and products have been feted more than a prize calf at the state fair.
Here are some of the other high honors and quirky tributes Apple has racked up over the years — plus one title that no one at Apple seems to merit.
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were crowned National Medal of Technology and Innovation laureates by Ronald Reagan in 1985 for "their development and introduction of the personal computer which has sparked the birth of a new industry extending the power of the computer to individual users."
It was the first year of the award; other winners included IBM and AT&T Bell Laboratories. Not bad for a pair of college dropouts.
Apple first got its hands around the winged statuette in 2001 with a Primetime Engineering Award earned for FireWire.
"Transferring data at up to 400Mbps, FireWire delivers more than 30 times the bandwidth of the popular USB peripheral standard," Apple's press release boasted at the time. "With its high data-transfer speed and 'hot plug-and-play' capability, FireWire is the interface of choice for today’s digital audio and video devices, as well as external hard drives and other high-speed peripherals."
While the fuzzy, wacky, colorful Muppets might seem aesthetically at odds with, well, everything Apple does, there's been a mutual appreciation dating back to the "Think Different" campaign, which featured Muppet maestro Jim Henson.
The Jim Henson Honors go to folks who make the world a better place by inspiring people to celebrate life.
"Steve Jobs has been a leader in the ongoing efforts to develop technologies that allow users to effortlessly express themselves," said Lisa Henson when the award was handed to Jobs in 2010.
Sir Jonathan Ive has won armfuls of honors, including the knighthood, for his groundbreaking designs. But not everyone can get a Blue Peter badge from the beloved BBC children's program of the same name.
“Ive is an inspiration to children around the world and we were ecstatic to hear his comments and design advice to our viewers who will remember such feedback for a lifetime,” said Ewan Vinnicombe, acting editor of Blue Peter.
In 2002, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences gave Apple a technical Grammy, the first ever awarded to a computer maker.
“We love music and are thrilled to play a part in how music is created and enjoyed,” said Steve Jobs. “We are honored to be receiving our industry’s first Technical Grammy and we look forward to making many more contributions in the years ahead.”
Steve Wozniak was awarded the Isaac Asimov Science Award in 2011.
"While most people would know Wozniak from his days at Apple, he continues to exhibit his ingenuity and generosity in other settings. A noted philanthropist, Wozniak is a committed advocate for science and computer education," organizers said, citing his funding of science schools in Los Gatos, California, and a summer camp for tech-minded kids.
He shares the title with Neil deGrasse Tyson, Robert Sapolsky and Eugenie Scott.
This is one of those honors you'd expect Apple to win. But alas, no. According to Walter Isaacson's biography, Steve Jobs thought he was up for consideration the year the magazine's editors decided to go with the personal computer instead of a person. Jobs gave access to the reporters for what he thought was a cover story and found the profile they wrote about him "so awful that I actually cried."
In 2012, Tim Cook was in the running, but had to settle for third runner-up status. "Like an Apple product, Cook runs smooth and fast," the magazine wrote. Just not enough to compete with Barack Obama, who edged him out for the title.
This Labor Day holiday we take things easy. Whether stargazing with Starwalk 2, taking a walk and remembering the hot spots along the way with Rego, getting a recommendation for a good read with Bookvibe, or adding so retro-style light leaks to our photos with a new set of Prolost Lightroom presets.
If you follow at least a few half-intelligent folks on Twitter, Bookvibe will help you out with recommendations for what to read next. It’s a service that monitors your Twitter feed and winkles out any mentions of books, sending an occasional list via email. Sometimes it’s tricked by a mention of something that sounds like a book, or presents a subject of Twitter ridicule (or Twittercule) as a recommendation, but overall Bookvibe is solid, and I’ve found a few titles from it. $Free
Rego bookmarks places. Add them from a map, from an address search, from your contacts or even by pulling in location data from a photo in your Camera Roll. Make collections, view your places on a map, add stars and customs map-pins, and share. A companion website pulls in Foursquare info and other details. Never forget a place again. $5
UpTime adds every keyboard shortcut you could need in an iPad browser. If you ever find yourself hitting a desktop shortcut on a keyboard hooked up to your iPad, and nothing happens, then you need UpTime, a simple iPad browser that can be driven entirely from the keyboard. Scrolling, searching, tab-switching and even Tweeting can all be done without once touching the screen, and it’s just $4
Your Eyefi card can now send photos straight from your camera to, well, to anywhere. Evernote, Flickr, Tumblr, OneNote… Even your Great Aunt Flo. Thanks to the new Eyefi IFTTT channel, any photos that’s uploaded from your Wi-Fi-capable card to the Eyefi cloud can be routed to any IFTTT destination that accepts photos. $Free
Jottacloud’s Drive web app pulls together all your cloud services into one beautifully-designed place, including Jottacloud’s own secure, secret, Norway-based version of Dropbox. Now you can take any photo from any of these services (Dropbox or Flickr, say), and edit them right there in the browser. $Free
Quotebook is a place to collect quotes and other text snippets. The Universal app integrates with your browser, your Mr. Reader RSS reader, IFTTT and even with Instapaper’s own highlights feature, and turns those snippets into searchable, organizable quotes. New in v3.0 is auto-lookup of sources (you get an icon and description for authors) and x-callback URL support to work with apps like Drafts. $5
When Lightroom Mobile accepts custom presets, there will be no need for any other photo editing app on iOS. Until then, you can switch back to the desktop to use things like Prolost’s fantastic Light Leak presets, a set of 480 different faux light leaks, 120 from each of four different vintage-camera styles. Just install, run your mouse over the list on the left of your Lightroom screen and hit the one that catches your fancy. Next up: a plugin that fakes leaving the lens cap on for the entire roll of 36 photos. $30
Perspective icons aren’t an app. They’re a bunch of icons to use in your OS X Omnifocus, but they’re so beautiful, simple and flat that you might want to use them elsewhere, too. For instance, I plan to add them to Scrivener so I don’t have to use the hideous 1990s-era stock icons included with that otherwise amazing app. Perspective icons come retina ready, and cost $10
Starwalk 1 was the app for showing off your iPad back when it first launched. Starwalk 2 adds new views and graphics to the stargazing guide. Hold your iPad up to the night sky and see a map of the stars overlaid on the sky using motion-tracking. You can now see a 3-D view of heavenly bodies from any point-of-view, and add satellites, deep-space objects and more via IAP. So put that bourbon down and use the nighttime for something more useful instead. $3
Cameras, cameras, cameras. German photographic trade show Photokina is just around the corner, and the big names are outing their latest models before the news pipes get completely clogged with the tangled hair and soap scum of new releases. So this week we have a bunch of cool new cameras and accessories, including a GoPro harness for your pooch, along with the usual mix of gadgets designed to make you want to part with your cash.
An update to the already-discontinued X20, this compact swaps the old optical viewfinder for a hi-res electronic finder, gets a bigger tilting rear LCD and adds a control wheel around the lens. It keeps the amazing X-Trans II sensor and 28-112mm (equivalent) ƒ2-2.8 zoom, and packs a new Classic Chrome film mode. I want this so hard. $600
Evernote’s Pfeiffer Collection is not – as you might hope – a range of productivity tools designed by 1980s actress and icon Michelle Pfeiffer. It is instead a set of desk tidies, made from various materials including walnut and “bright.” They’re intended to hold old-school detritus like paperclips and pens, plus modern junk like iPhones, SIM cards and even an iPad. $106
The best part of Pentax’s new mid-level K-S1 is the strip of pulsing LEDs on the hand grip. Pentax missed a chance to build the “Knight Rider of cameras” with its choice of green over red LEDs, but still. This pointless addition will flash to count down the self timer, and the light around the shutter release will turn red in video mode. $750
Bluelounge’s Soba is a cable-routing kit that will wrangle wayward wires, keeping them tidy in a “Vortex” tube and letting them exit where you need them. The kit comes with 10 feet of zip-closed tubing, a y-splitter and mounting caps (brackets). I have one here and ready to test, but it looks like there’s some effort involved in planning it all out, so maybe I’ll just have one more coffee first… $25
Of course GoPro’s dog harness is called the Fetch. Of course. The Fetch straps onto the dog’s back, secured around its shoulders, chest and belly, and the camera can be mounted up top or down below. This is probably my favorite product of the year so far, and the photo above is definitely the best product shot for 2014. If I had a dog I’d be out with one of those playing frisbee right now. $70
Olympus makes the best Micro Four Thirds bodies right now (and that’s coming from someone who owns a great Panasonic). This one’s even better, with a 180-degree flip-screen that activates “selfie mode” when fully extended (there's a shutter button on the touchscreen), built-in Wi-Fi to share that selfie to your iPhone, a 16MP sensor and a 14-42 mm (equivalent) ƒ3.5-5.6 kit lens. From $700.
Moleskine’s newest notebook has an almost-invisible dot pattern on the pages that makes it work with your Livescribe pen. The pen has a camera in its nose that tracks your every stroke and scribble and sends it all to your iPhone or iPad as editable text, creating a perfect digital copy of your paper notes. Now you can continue your Moleskine habit, but with added digitization. $30
Love: accessory iPhone lenses. Hate: Those stupid stick-on metal rings the lenses’ magnets stick to.
The answer is the new magnetic plate that now ships with every set of lenses sold by Photojojo. The plates, color-coded to your iPhone, stick over the entire glass strip at the top rear of the iPhone 5/s, so you can use these lenses and still get the iPhone in a case. Bonus – you can slide the lens out of the way when not in use. From $20.
This Schiller water bike is to the pedalo what a sweet S-Works road racer is to a recumbent bike. It’s slick, speedy and way overpriced. A Gates carbon drive turns a NuVinci transmission, which turns two propellers. You can even use the handlebars to steer the thing, and it’s only $6,500.
Apple's latest mystery is its biggest yet. Literally.
CUPERTINO, California -- What's inside the mystery building Apple is fabricating for its big September 9 event? The giant construction project is almost as big of an enigma as what the iWatch will actually look like or do.
The boxy structure, which sprang up behind the Flint Center for the Performing Arts here on the De Anza College campus, looks like a cross between an igloo and a winning confection on Cake Wars. Naturally, the enormous two-to-three story building sparked intense curiosity among the Apple faithful when pictures emerged Thursday, so we had to go take a look for ourselves.
Will it hold something as mundane as a demo area where tech journalists can fondle Apple's latest, greatest gear? Does it contain a full-size home of the future to show off amazing HomeKit implementations? Will it house a runway for an Apple wearables fashion show or a giant stage for a post-announcement Dr. Dre concert?
Whatever it holds, it is truly a massive undertaking. It's surrounded by green fences and countless security guards. We, like you, can't wait for Apple's big reveal — here's what we saw walking around the outskirts of the secretive project Thursday afternoon.
The temporary venue where Apple will hold its September 9 press event sits directly outside the 2,405-seat Flint Center, which is notable for its role in Apple history: The company has revealed some of its most important devices in the theater, which is tucked away on a quiet community college campus just a couple miles away from Apple HQ.
"There have only been two milestone products in our industry: the Apple II in 1977 and the IBM PC in 1981," Jobs said at the Flint Center in 1984. "Today, one year after Lisa, we are introducing the third industry milestone product: Macintosh."
Apple is definitely laying the groundwork for something big on September 9: Workers are running a fair amount of power from generators outside the fence that surrounds the construction site, which is set up with table saws and other tools of the building trades.
Behind the fencing and hidden from prying eyes, the workers are building something on the site. The huge, pristine structure also features a stage that could host a concert or iWatch fitness demonstration.
No one can fill a big white box quite like Apple. We can imagine the iDevice of our dreams jumping out of this one: Will it be the iPhone 6? Or how about the long-awaited iWatch? Perhaps it will be something totally new that the rumor mill hasn't even dreamed up yet.
Most of the trucks on campus appeared to be generic white rentals, but we spotted one with a sign indicating it was owned by Devcon Construction. Was the company hired to build this tantalizing structure for Apple? Devcon is known around Silicon Valley for building sleek, modern, high-tech campuses for companies including Adobe, Cisco and Yahoo!
Cult of Mac contacted Devcon's vice president of construction but did not receive a reply by press time. Workers on the super-secret Apple project know the secrecy drill, though, and were very tight-lipped about the goings-on at the construction site. Security was tight.
All photos: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac. Additional reporting by Nicole Martinelli.