Full-on ‘Dark Mode’ brings creativity into focus [Setups] | Cult of Mac

Full-on ‘Dark Mode’ brings creativity into focus [Setups]

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The setup proper in
The setup proper in "Dark Mode." Atmospheric, eh? It's a space dedicated to creativity, but it also helps with focus.
Photo: Chris Denbow

Photographer and writer Chris Denbow puts an interesting twist on his computer setup. He credits its “Dark Mode” — which is obvious in the photographs of the desk and the room, but extends to the machines and the software he uses — for boosting his focus and creativity. He said the dark theme gives him a “space dedicated to creativity.”

“Introducing ‘Dark Mode,’ a minimal, monochromatic home office/workspace that helps eliminate distractions, [and] allows focus and productivity,” Denbow told Cult of Mac.

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Photographer and writer extends ‘Dark Mode’ from setup to office

Denbow, who lives and works in Tulsa, Oklahoma, said he doesn’t pick a favorite between his two main machines, or even use one more than the other. They’re a 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro and a 12.9-inch iPad Pro with a Magic Keyboard.

“I oscillate between the MacBook and iPad based on needs and portability, so they are both my main driver,” he said.

His main tool for photography is the formidable Sony A7III mirrorless camera. You can see more of his photography and read his blog posts at his website.

“Apple really does need to make a dedicated camera separate from iPhone,” Denbow noted.

Denbow’s chosen apps

He was good enough to list out the software and apps he runs on his machines for all he does, “everything dark-themed of course.”

In his words:

  • IA Writer – blog writing
  • Ulysses – novel writing
  • Drafts – everything else
  • Obsidian – my pensieve and second brain
  • Bear Notes – way better aesthetic than Apple Notes
  • Mind Node – great for plot outlining and development
  • Affinity Publisher- crucial to making photo e-zines
  • Goodlinks – the best R-I-L tool for me
  • Reeder – the best RSS, Twitter, YT feed reader for me
  • Adobe Lightroom – photo archive organization
  • Pixelmator Pro – for post-photo production
  • Apple Music

Minimal peripherals

As you can see from the photographs, Denbow doesn’t rely on an external monitor with his laptop or iPad. He simply uses the MacBook Pro or the iPad, to which he added a Magic Keyboard. He adds input through a Magic Mouse, but no Magic Trackpad or any sort of shortcuts-generator, like a stream deck.

For audio, Denbow favors paired HomePod minis for in-room sound along with a black, fifth-gen iPod with an 80GB drive. You can read his homage to iPod in the form of a blog post.

He also enjoys his iPhone 13 Pro Max and an Apple Watch Series 7.

Here's a "dark mode" shot of the office.
Here’s a “dark mode” shot of the office at large.
Photo: Chris Denbow

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If you would like to see your setup featured on Cult of Mac, send some high-res pictures to info+setups@cultofmac.com. Please provide a detailed list of your equipment. Tell us what you like or dislike about your setup, and fill us in on any special touches or challenges.