James Duncan Davidson

James Duncan Davidson

Photographer (TED), developer, writer

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Who are you, and what do you do?

James Duncan Davidson. I'm a photographer, software developer, and writer. I co-own a company that sells camera straps and I'm the staff photographer for TED Conferences. I travel a lot. In what seems like a previous life, I worked at Sun on Java stuff including Tomcat and Ant. I've worked on big Rails-based websites, and I've written several books for O'Reilly. Photography, however, is my main focus these days.

What hardware do you use?

On the road, I'm currently using a 13" MacBook Air and I love it until it chokes processing too many photographs or working with huge video files. My primary storage for projects in the field is a Thunderbolt LaCie Little Big Drive. At home, I have a big early 2008 Mac Pro with 14GB of RAM, 24" Cinema display, an Epson 3880 printer, an HP Z3200 printer, a Fujitsu Scansnap S1500M scanner, a Epson V500 flatbed scanner, a Wacom Intuos 4 tablet, and gobs of external storage, well over 30TB at this point with backups.

Of course I use an iPad and iPhone everywhere I go. They've become so essential to my daily computing experience that I do everything possible to make sure I can access data networks wherever I go in the world. I'm actually writing this on my iPad with a local Vodafone SIM in it while in a cafe in Qatar.

For photography and video, my primary cameras are the Nikon D3S and D800. I love my Fuji X100, but it's a quirky beast and I don't recommend it unless you really want what it can do. I also have a set of Panasonic Micro Four Thirds cameras that I used to use a lot, but have been using less of these days.

And what software?

For media work: Aperture, Lightroom, Photoshop, Final Cut Pro X, Compressor, Acorn, and PhotoMechanic. For software development: BBEdit and Xcode. I used to be an emacs guy, but I've moved on to save my pinkies. Everything flows through git and GitHub. I install open source software using homebrew. For writing, iA Writer and Byword. For everything else, 1Password, Safari, Dropbox, Mail, iCal, Numbers, Pages, Keynote, and OmniFocus.

On my iOS devices, I'm a huge fan of Instagram, TweetBot, Instapaper, Flipboard, iBooks, and the TED app. And of course, OmniFocus, iA Writer, and Byword get a lot of use on iOS as well.

What would be your dream setup?

I'll likely be upgrading my field system to the latest and greatest 15" MacBook Pro when the next one arrives so that I can better work with huge media files on the road, but I'll keep the 13" MacBook Air for lighter duties and café hacking. On the desktop front, I'm anxiously awaiting a new MacPro with multiple Thunderbolt connections so that I can migrate my home storage setup to a group of Thunderbolt arrays, like the Promise Pegasus.