Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category



October 3, 2011

Topical Optical  has relocated to a new location and the transfer of RSS and EMail subscriptions is sketchy at best… so.  Please make sure you follow us:

Thank you!  We’re going to be bringing some fantastic new content (thus, the move to a new host) and don’t want you to miss any of it!

Little help, please! ->

September 29, 2011

This blog started out as a way for me to share some images and just post some random musings on the world of photography. But in the two years I have been doing it, it’s grown to a level far beyond anything I’d ever expected. It’s opened wonderful doors for me, and helped forge new relationships with people who I respect and who I admire.

But as I am humbled and (quite frankly) amazed by the traffic it is now getting, I am looking to offer options and features which are simply not available on its current host.

I am beginning the absurdly arduous task of moving it off of the centrally hosted, to a self-hosted option utilizing This is going to take some time as I don’t want to launch the new site without it being on par with this one. I have the site itself set up and hosted, and moving the posts and comments has been fairly easy (through an export XML file), but I’m unable to move other things like images and layout/UI settings. I also want to make sure that readers and search engines can find the site when it goes live at the new URL.

If anyone has been through this before and can offer some advice, please let me know by either commenting or sending me an email at

Any help would be greatly appreciated.


BETA REVIEW: 500px iPad App – Slideshow

September 29, 2011

Yet another update of the 500px BETA iPad app was released today. I’ve never seen a development team work quite this fast and yet still release a relatively bug-free software.

If you haven’t read my three previous posts which describe the app in detail and show off the screenshots for the main pages of the app, please see:

Today… The update included, among other things, the release of the very solid Slideshow feature.

This feature allows you to

  • Run a slide show beginning with the thumbnails on any given screen
  • Use any one of three transitions
  • Play music from your iPod app while the show runs (optional)
  • Slideshow Launch Menu – In the bottom left corner (also available in the upper right corner on full image pages) is the Slideshow button. From there, your options for setting the parameters of the Slideshow appear.
  • Music Selection Screen – When you select the ‘Music’ button, you may select multiple tracks from your iPod by artist, track, playlist, etc.

TIP: Any photo enthusiast worth his salt knows that Toto’s Africa makes an especially good backdrop for Landscape photos (Ed. Note: This statement is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the musical preference of 500px, although we’re pretty sure they would agree, because… honestly, who the hell doesn’t love that song?)

As for what the Slideshow actually looks like, it is the full screen version of the photos, as crystal clear as if you’d expanded the images manually, which was described in my previous posts.

More updates to come as new builds are released!



September 28, 2011

This afternoon, I was informed that the restrictions on NOT publishing any Screenshots from the new 500px BETA iPad app had been lifted.  As a result, I am pleased to finally be able to show the images below.  I’ve been asked to reinforce the fact that this is a work in progress, with changes being made daily.


If you haven’t read my two previous posts which describe the app in detail, please see:

BETA REVIEW: 500px iPad App (30 minute review) and BETA REVIEW: 500px iPad App (Part II)


  • The iPad Splash Screen – As I said before, they are holding a contest to find an image to be the permanent “front door” of the app.  I think this one’s pretty good… but hey… who knows.  You slide your finger across the bottom right corner to open the app.


  • The Main Screen of the app – This is in Portrait mode, my preferred orientation.   I have a thumbnail for a landscape view below.  You’ll notice the navigation menu on the left side of the screen with all of the options you need.  To the right of the menu, 12 crystal clear thumbnails.

Click image to see Landscape view:








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BETA REVIEW: 500px iPad App (Part II)

September 27, 2011

THIS IS A FOLLOW UP TO PART 1 (read first)

NOTE:  At the time of writing this, I was asked NOT to include Screenshots, thus there are not here.  But since then, they have lifted that restriction.  Please see THIS POST FOR SCREENSHOTS.

I received an UPDATE to the 500px BETA iPad app this afternoon and finally had a chance to sit down and play with it this evening. I wanted to just offer a couple quick updates, letting you know what’s happening with it.

Already I am growing more and more impressed with it as it seems they are taking to heart some of what I brought up in my first review. Now… I have it on good authority that these changes were already on the books to be implemented, but it is so much more pleasing for my ego to think I played some role in this.

Seriously though… Banged away on it for an hour tonight and I am noticing the following changes:

  • Fresh Gallery: Yes! The newest images. Offered from a menu on the left side along with all the other options.
  • More Export Options: For individual images, you can now ‘Open in Safari’ and ‘Export to Tumblr’

On a separate note… Something I neglected to mention in my original write up: I’d really like to see the ability to Filter by Category in all of the galleries. On the website, I am able to select (from a drop down) which type of images I want to see, i.e. Landscape, Fine Art, Macro, Portrait, etc. Maybe even a search by tag… But I don’t think i even need that much sort power, so I’ll just stick to the Filter by Category request.

Again… Still looking good. Load times and image quality still top notch. For the new Fresh functionality, increasing my rating to:

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Still waiting to see where we net out on some other points mentioned in the first post. Until next time…


BETA REVIEW: 500px iPad App (30 minute review)

September 23, 2011

I was fortunate enough to be one of the beta testers for the as-yet-to-be-released 500px iPad app, currently in beta form.  I am going to give you just my initial thoughts and then will likely do a follow up post once I have lived with it for a while longer.

NOTE:  At the time of writing this, I was asked NOT to include Screenshots, thus there are not here.  But since then, they have lifted that restriction.  Please see THIS POST FOR SCREENSHOTS.

500px is a fairly under-appreciated photo portfolio site on the internet… in my humble opinion.  There are dozens of great articles telling you about the site, what it offers and why it’s superior to most other portfolio offerings out there.   But I’ll give you my quick list, just to add some context to the iPad app.

500px has successfully prevented you from ever having to login and see a given user’s 423 vacation pictures of Disneyland.  This alone it what makes them a great home for photographers and photo-related artists.  They do this by either charging a very reasonable fee for unlimited uploads, which scares off the majority of dump-loaders (those who dump their whole memory card into the service)… or limiting the number of images that the free users may upload to 10 per week.  As a result… at least 75% of the images uploaded are worth a solid look.  It’s my absolute favorite way to find new and interesting artists… hands down.

They also have a very unique rating system that successfully gives EVERY member a shot at the spotlight on the “Popular” images page.  Over time (and by time… I mean… daily) ratings vastly change and you rarely see the same thing at the top of the Popular page.

In short… it’s not Flickr.


Okay… on to the reason you’re here.  I am going to cover mostly features and what I think (although I can never be sure) the product is going for.  Minor bugs or things that I’m positive will be worked out will be sent to the developers but don’t need to be covered ad nauseam here.

LAUNCH:  A splash page starts the software off.  500px is holding a contest to find an image to be the “cover image” for the app.  From here, you flip into the app itself.


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Zenfolio – New Features: HD Video, New Menus, Tablet Support

September 22, 2011

As a followup to my post yesterday, I thought I’d share this.  I am a big fan of sites that continue to work to add new features.

It was very reassuring to me, only days after switching, to log into Zenfolio and see a window sharing with me some new features that were coming to the site.  As I said, this was sort of my gripe with SmugMug — things were beginning to feel dated.

  • HD Video – Zenfolio will begin hosting 1080p HD video shortly.  So… no need to separate your portfolio across multiple sites when you need to include video.
  • Better Tablet Support – Along with their iPhone/iPad app they have optimized the user experience when viewing on a tablet.  The slideshows are all coded in HTML5 so they work beautifully on all devices — no Flash necessary.
  • New Menus & Themes – To keep things fresh, five new Menus and Themes have been added.

COUPON CODE – You save 10%:  Okay… read carefully.  All of my praise of Zenfolio the last few days, is totally unbiased.  I simply want the best photo hosting option.  I haven’t been paid or compensated in anyway by them or anyone else to sing this tune.  But… as with all of these sites, there are referal bonuses.  And I’m going to give you mine.  What will this do?  When you sign up for a full subscription, it will give you 10% off the price (and yes… I will get a small kickback as well).  Hey… we’re in a recession… but I’ll keep my honest thoughts coming regardless of the income.  So… if you want to sign up… use this code when prompted:  N95-WSY-REW