REVIEW: Samsung T3 Portable SSD 500gb

Samsung T3 500gb Portable SSD Drive

Perfectly Portable: Samsung T3 Portable SSD

Perfectly Portable: Samsung T3 Portable SSD

As with most creative ventures, photography is resource heavy and two of the biggest that you need are speed and storage! Between my PC and my Mac, I have tens of Terabytes of storage and I am constantly shuffling around data from one place to the next, be it for a client or personal use. It can be incredibly frustrating and anything that makes it easier is a winner in my books!

The Samsung T3 500gb portable SSD certainly seems on paper like it should be good and if it’s looks are anything to go by, then it will be a quality product! The little SSD drive is small, but not so small that it feels delicate, you can easily carry it in your pocket and it doesn’t feel conspicuous. Being 'Solid State' - you don't have to worry too much about things inside being shaken loose and there are no external snag and break off. Altogether, it's a very compact and pretty sturdy little package.

Who is it aimed at?

Well, the simple answer would be anyone that needs additional, portable storage. The longer answer is that this definitely has uses that will work wonders for Photographers & Videographers in particular. Large, fast storage is a must. I tend to shoot videos and try to edit them on the same day to distribute content quickly, this commonly means exporting all that video to my MacBook Pro and editing on the run.

The trouble is, I only have 500gb of SSD storage on the Mac and that fills up quickly! So I tend to keep all of my working files on an external drive whilst editing in Final Cut Pro. After using the T3 for this very purpose on a couple of occasions, I can say with confidence that it worked a treat and it was lightening fast! I didn't feel any real lag whilst editing and even scrubbing through video footage, it seemed to work perfectly. The Type-C connection did the job and seemed to be shifting data around without trouble. This is huge for anyone dealing with large files/video and at upwards of 450mb pers second, I doubt anyone will ever have a problem with speed.

Small but Mighty...

Small but Mighty...

Specs

I was testing the 500gb model which was more than enough for my needs but the T3 range goes all the way up to a whopping two terabytes! At around £180 it's certainly not cheap but it does pack a hell of a punch so depending on your needs, the cost is more than justifiable.  At around 8cm x 6cm and a depth of around 1cm, this thing is compact! It makes it truly portable and can easily be carried in your pocket, making it a suitable alternative to a USB stick with the additional bonus of way more storage. It's the perfect option for those the travel & work on a regular basis.

For connectivity, it has a USB Type-C port which are becoming more and more commonplace but you are provided with a Type-C to Type-A cable so it will work with all current USB formats including USB 3.1. Compatibility wise, this little gem is fine with Windows 7 and beyond for PC users and for Mac users, anything above OS 10.7 will be fine and also Android 4.4 upwards. This was particularly handy for me as I use both, so moving data was no issue.

I tested the drive with Crystal Disk just to see if what Samsung are touting is actually true and was reassured to find that the disk was as quick as promised. Read speeds were up above 430MBs and write speeds a comfortable 280MBs. In real world use, it actually felt like using the internal drive on my Mac so the performance was really very impressive. This may be particularly useful if you have an older laptop and don't want to swap out the hard drive. The only consideration is that it may be slower if using USB 2.0 - but it will still be a considerable improvement over a standard mechanical drive.

One final thing to mention is that Samsung have clearly thought of everything and have added a very clever security set up. The disk has software pre-installed on the drive that allow you to set up a login and password to access the drive. This is a huge bonus if you are travelling with the drive and have any concerns about security.

Real Life Test

So normally at this point I would talk about how I tested it with a few big files and it worked OK blah, blah, blah... However, the day I received the T3, I had a major emergency which involved getting 20gb of RAW files to a client in London overnight. The only problem, it was 7pm and with the best will in the world, my broadband wasn't going to be up to the task!

My initial thoughts were 'emergency trip to London' but after thinking a little more, this was ridiculous and I had to come up with a better solution. I planned on running down to Birmingham University and using their superfast broadband, but the guild closed at 9pm so I was in a real rush!

I decided to make use of the T3 and quickly plugged it into my USB 3.0 port and started moving files! I was genuinely amazed, the 20gb just flew across! It genuinely seemed to take seconds. I grabbed my laptop, shot to the Uni and proceeded to get the files uploaded. The T3 had already saved my bacon and had worked like an absolute trooper! From here on out, it felt like it would be an unbiased review!

In the following weeks, I did the typical moving files, using the T3 for Video and generally just taking it everywhere with me. The T3 just swallowed up everything I threw at it, worked perfectly and did it all in a stylish little package! What's not to like.

Small package, big performance...

Conclusion

This is probably the best portable drive that I have seen on the market. Given the option, I would always plump for the 2TB drive as, who doesn't like extra storage. The drive looks great, has shock resistance and is easily transportable. The performance is incredible and makes working remotely so much easier as there are little to no lagging issues etc. I would highly recommend this drive if you are in the market for portable storage. A full video review will be on the way soon. 

For more information and more products, please visit Samsung

National Freelancers Day

National Freelancers Day

I recently teamed up with accounting software company QuickBooks to share my tips for National Freelancers Day on 8th June. QuickBooks have provided their range of accounting software to small businesses and self-employed people for a number of years. QuickBooks will be sharing a host of tips and interesting insights into the life of freelancers via their Resources Page - Why not claim your free thirty day trial of QuickBooks Software - HERE - Below are a few of my tips, why not share yours in the comments below.

Ross Jukes Photography – National Freelancers Day

Ross Jukes is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham. Ross has been self employed for several years and has worked with large multi-nationals such as HSBC through to small independent retailers in his home city. Ross shoots Landscape and Automotive work and carries out all aspects of running his business, from the day-to-day client work through to the Marketing, Invoicing and admin of running a business.

Tip 1) Get Creative

This is probably an obvious one coming from somebody that works in a creative field but I always try to get creative with all aspects of my business. In particular, I try to think of creative ways to market myself. Thankfully, I produce a very visual product so it is easy to think of ways to distribute imagery, but I’m also not afraid to try a few ‘old classics’ such as giveaways and competitions.

Tip 2) Think Ahead

I, like many other freelancers, always have to keep one eye on the future. I always like to keep an ‘emergency fund’ just in case things go bad or a piece of equipment breaks and needs replacing at short notice. However, ore importantly it means that you generally don’t get any nasty surprises. This is particularly true when completing Tax Returns, it always pays to have an idea of what will hit you at the end of the year so you can start saving in advance. If possible, just deduct the estimate Tax after an invoice has been paid and leave it in a separate account!

Tip 3) Get Organised

I am a really busy person and lots of clients need everything done immediately so it’s really easy to get distracted and let things slip. Therefore, it’s crucial that I stay organised. A few ways I do this is keeping on top of my calendar, generally using the Google Calendar app which is really easy to use. I also keep a Whiteboard with current and upcoming projects. I also make sure that I keep my desk space tidy and regular clean and maintain gear, including making sure everything is charged and ready to go before each job.

Tip 4) Have Fun

I am very fortunate to get paid doing something I love. So most of the time it is great, but there are still the times that everything gets a little bit crazy and you feel like the pressure is getting a little bit too much. It’s times like this that I make a conscious effort to go and and shoot for myself, just take a long walk and grab some photos or maybe plan a trip to the countryside. It may sound counter-productive to take some time to yourself but it really helps clear your head and make sure that you are still enjoying things!

Why not claim your free thirty day trial of QuickBooks Software - HERE

#BullringAfterDark - One night, One Empty Bullring and lots of Photographers!

I love receiving emails out of the blue inviting me to do something super-cool that I would never normally get the chance to do! A few weeks ago, I got one, 'Would you like to come into the Bullring and shoot it after hours while it's closed?' Well that's a big fat Yes!

Here's Bully...

Here's Bully...

I was slightly apprehensive as I wasn't sure who was going to be there, what we would shoot and to be honest, whether it would even be worth. So when we met at 11.45pm by 'the Bull' and I saw a group of my favourite photographers from Birmingham's growing community, I knew good things were in store (no pun intended!).

We were met by the guys from Bullring who were more than helpful and even went as far as to provide sweets and drinks, presumably to keep the sugar levels up for a long night ahead! We made our way around the outside of the building, taking advantage of the rare opportunity to use tripods (something normally restricted without a permit) and set to work shooting all of the iconic views in this historic part of the city.

Once we had covered every inch of the exterior, we made out way indoors. It was a strange feeling being in such a large shopping centre after hours, something I had only experienced many years ago when I worked in a shop at the Bullring. Needless to say, we all jumped at the opportunity to explore the space, looking for symmetry and shapes that you never normally have time to notice.

We slowly made our way up through the floors and round to 'Link Street' I think it is only when you see the centre closed that the space really hits you, it's cavernous! The group were all well behaved as we explored the levels, though some were a little more adventurous, lying on the floor to shoot the spectacular space above. 

The 'grand finale' was an exploration the Selfridges building. Seeing the shop empty, you really get an appreciation for the size of the place and you can take in it's spectacular balconies and cool crossed escalators. We made our way up to the bar on the top floor which offers great views back down over the West Mall - a must see if you find yourself in the store.

Thanks again to Bullring for allowing us access. Search #BullringAfterDark on social for more images from my fellow photographers...

https://www.bullring.co.uk/

Star Wars Day: May the Fourth be with you!

Who would have thought that a little Sci-Fi film would give us so much joy! If the franchise wasn't great enough, the gift that keeps on giving also birthed one of the internet's great puns. 'May the Fourth be with you' - hewn from the immortal phrase 'May the force be with you' a clever play on, well, the date has given us all an opportunity to celebrate one of the all time best film franchises and for us photographers, a great excuse to play around with Photoshop... Here are a few quick edits, I hope you enjoy them. 

All hail Darth Vader, watch out for the angry Storm Troopers as well! 

All hail Darth Vader, watch out for the angry Storm Troopers as well! 

Paradise Lost... to AT-AT...

Paradise Lost... to AT-AT...

'Tram back to Wendsbury shall I get'...

'Tram back to Wendsbury shall I get'...

'The next train from Platform 11b will be calling at Northfield, Longbridge and the Death Star'...

'The next train from Platform 11b will be calling at Northfield, Longbridge and the Death Star'...

Nobody sits at the back of the bus when R2D2 is around! 

Nobody sits at the back of the bus when R2D2 is around! 

C-3P0 & R2D2 hitting up Bambu on a Saturday night...

C-3P0 & R2D2 hitting up Bambu on a Saturday night...

Birmingham's 2025 transport system will include 'Millennium Falcon'.... 

Birmingham's 2025 transport system will include 'Millennium Falcon'.... 

These images were inspired by the awesome work of Thomas Dagg, please make sure you check out his work so you see how a real pro does it! http://www.thomasdagg.com/ - #StarWarsDay #MayTheFourth 

'I Love Jewellery Quarter' Instameet with IgersBirmingham

If there are two things I love it's the local photography community and the Jewellery Quarter. So when the two things met, well 'instameeted'(?) I knew good things would come of it. The guys from IgersBirmingham teamed up with JQ BID to arrange a special kind of instameet that would allow 100+ local photographers access to some award winning businesses. 

You can watch the highlights below but it goes without saying that it was a pleasure to see all the 'usual suspects' as well as a host of new faces who all added to what was a fantastic day! A big thank you goes to IgersBirmingham for putting on another amazing event, JQ BID for being great hosts, all of the businesses that opened their doors and Rebel Uncut for letting me steal their drone footage! 

Finding out you're not that good after all...

I love to try new things and when it comes to photography, I am happy to go out and shoot 'whatever'. So when I saw that IgersBirmingham had teamed up with Street Photography legend Kris Askey to do a talk/walk around Birmingham, I was all over it. 

For those that may not know, Street Photography is the art (and it is an art!) of capturing unique scenes in everyday life, sometimes humorous, sometimes emotional but generally, it's documenting what is happening all around us everyday. Street Photography, when done right, is amazingly captivating and gives us a real insight into 'those little moments' that are there for a split second and then gone.

Kris is an expert at capturing them and it goes without saying that you should go and check his work out. He has pretty much single-handedly started a bit of a movement of street work within our city and a quick flick through Instagram shows that there are plenty of people out there trying their hand at what, on paper, should be straight forward enough.

On the day of the meet, I was pretty excited to get out and give it a go. Having done little bits here and there, I knew it could be challenging but after a very compelling half-hour talk by Kris about his journey into Street Photography and some very useful tips on achieving great results, I was pretty certain that I was going to very quickly become the greatest Street Photographer that ever lived, ever. 

Armed with my trusty, partially broken Ricoh GR, I set to the streets and started firing at anything that moved, people on bikes 'click', people in coffee shops, 'click', old women 'click', homeless guys 'click click click'... I stopped and looked back through my shots and something wasn't right, they looked nothing like Kris' or any of the other Street Photographers I had seen, they were, well rubbish.

I quickly deleted all my shots, changed some settings and went in for round 2! Several 'clicks' later and I dared to view the images again, they were somehow worse! I felt more miserable than the weather, which I had convinced myself was ruining my shots, so I went into New Street Station in the hope of getting some gold! Click, click, click... Utter rubbish, it was clearly my camera's fault!

By now, it was time to head back to our meeting point where there would be a 'live edit' of a couple of the photos that people had shot. I sheepishly walked in and slipped my camera away and slumped into my chair as Kris asked if anyone would share their pictures... Street Photography was more difficult than I thought, this was more than just an 'off day', it was a big punch right in the ego!

I'm a little embarrassed to post my pictures as, quite frankly, they're terrible. However, this is the thing, you don't just wake up one day and become the world's best dot dot dot... To be good at anything takes time, effort and commitment. I also think some people are a little too quick to try and apply some deep & meaningful context to a shot that, realistically has none... My point? Some things are harder than they seem and you can't be good at everything, so either be honest and say it's not for you or get out there and practice! 

Kris Askey - krisaskey.com/  |  IgersBirmingham - igersbirmingham.co.uk/

10 Times Birmingham has been the most Beautiful City in the UK

OK, so I may be a little bias, but at times I honestly think that Birmingham may be the most beautiful city in the UK. I know that a lot of people will disagree but bear with me and I will prove my point! Birmingham has long been depicted as a grey, concrete mongrel of a city and in part, that is true. Birmingham owes a lot to it’s industrial past and should not be ashamed of it, in fact, it should celebrate it.

However, the huge amount of development going on it the city stands testament to it’s progressive nature. Anyway, I digress. You don’t need to be a photographer to understand that at the right time of day, in the right light, our city looks beautiful and can easily compete with any major city in the UK in terms of it’s aesthetic appeal. It may not have the beautiful Georgian streets of Bath or the ultra-modern skyscrapers of the capital, but it does have it’s own unique character and that goes a long way.

1) Bullring at Sunrise

Now this may be a little bit of an obvious choice as it was my ‘break through’ image and the one that really got me a lot of attention, but look at it, it’s a beautiful view! This shot has been done a thousand times a thousand different ways and rightly so, as it is one of the most appealing views in the city. An early morning stroll through the Bullring is a must and if you catch a good sunrise, it’s generally spectacular.

2) Gas Street Basin in Winter

Another image that you’ve probably seen before is a shot back across Gas Street Basin. Birmingham owes a lot to it’s canal network that fed it’s industrial past. These days, it plays home to many canal-side bars and restaurants (more of that later) but it is also an incredibly popular waterway and commonly plays home to dozens of canal barges that make for a pretty nice image.

3) Edgbaston Reservoir

It is hard to believe that this view is just a few minutes out of the City Centre and you would be forgiven for believing you have been transported to a beautiful countryside spot. If you are lucky enough to visit the reservoir in Winter you will normally be treated to a beautiful frosty scene and if you get a good sunrise, there are not many better places to be in the city.

4) Moor Street Station

Birmingham has it’s fair share of major train stations from the recently redeveloped New Street Station, to the ‘long over-due a facelift’ Snowhill Station, but by far the most attractive of the lot is Moor Street Station. Although it is a busy station, it has a been lovingly renovated with more than just a nod to it’s past, including beautiful signage and authentic touches throughout. It even has a disused piece of track that just adds to the nostalgic feel.

5) Brindley Place Canals

As mentioned before, Birmingham’s canals now play host to many bars and restaurants that prove hugely popular all year round. A Summer’s stroll along the canal is a treat, stopping for an icy cold cider along the way. Equally, in Winter, the mist covered canals look mesmerising and transport you back in time, but with easier access to burgers and cocktails!

6) The Big Wheel

We couldn’t talk about the beauty of the city without acknowledging the annual city centre takeover that is the Frankfurt Christmas Market. Although it is positively Marmite when it comes to dividing opinion, it is difficult to ignore it’s impact. For photographers, it’s is a veritable goldmine of potential and probably the centerpiece being the huge ‘Birmingham Wheel’. However, finding new ways of picturing it brings it’s own challenges.

7) Aston Expressway

How can Aston Expressway be beautiful? OK, even I admit this one is a stretch of the imagination but I challenge anyone to not love the occasional ‘long exposure’ shot of the traffic (actually) moving through the city. Another example of how a unique perspective on the city can prove that it is more visually appealing than first imagined.

8) Stephenson Street

Birmingham is certainly a mix of ‘the old and the new’ and rarely is that so evidential than the view along Stephenson Street. With the modern, metal clad New Street Station on the left and the historic buildings on the right, it shows the constant juxtaposition that is found all across the city. Even the freshly laid tram tracks are a huge nod to the past, albeit with it’s cool new modern trams shuffling people around the city.

9) Victoria Statue

If the City Centre does one thing well, it’s big open spaces. From Centenary Square, through to the Bullring and beyond, one thing Birmingham can not be accused of is being cramped. The centerpiece is Victoria Square where Victoria herself stands proudly. Whilst the redevelopment of Paradise Circus continues and the gaping hole left by the demolition of the Old Library, the sun sets just behind ‘old Vic’ and makes for a pleasant image of the cities main open space.

10) Skyline at Sunset

It may not be Manhattan but to millions of people, the Birmingham Skyline is iconic. The Rotunda, BT Tower and even more modern structures such as Beetham Tower and the Slefridges building are instantly recognisable.

Long gone are the days when it was easy to criticise Birmingham and yes, it is a little rough around the edges. However, I hope these images go someway to show that Birmingham can be beautiful and we should be proud of our city. After all, there is no other city out there quite like Birmingham!  

Camera or iPhone? It's all just Apples and Oranges...

You've probably noticed by now that I'm a fairly active member of Birmingham's photographic community. However, this isn't so that I can turn up and talk about myself! I genuinely use every meet up as an excuse to try something new and see if I can actually learn something. So when the wonderfully talented Kris Askey announced that he was partnering with Apple to do a photo-walk around Birmingham, I was definitely in!

The focus of the day was to capture 'Ordinary Life' in Birmingham and with Kris leading the way, that is exactly what we tried to do. After meeting at Apple's very impressive store on New Street, Kris shared some fantastic tips and advice before hitting the streets. Being an Apple event, the focus was on shooting with iPhones and being a 6s owner, I had no excuse not to! 

The weather had brightened up outside and we made our way along Corporation Street, trying to capture the ordinary. Shooting with a phone instantly set me a few challenges, not least of all was trying to look discreet! Holding a phone at head height and virtually chasing old ladies down the street was never a good approach, so I tried a little sneaky shooting instead.

The next biggest challenge was 'seeing' a shot. I love 'people watching' and this is effectively what we were doing. Kris had shared some great tips on composition and framing techniques and as we all got warmed up, it was clear that he knew what he was talking about as shots slowly started to appear. It's amazing how these little scenes play out each day and we barely even notice, learning how to 'see' them and even anticipate them is definitely a skill! 

I found myself missing my zoom lens and as Kris rightly taught us to 'zoom with our feet' - I found that I needed to be more confident in actually getting close enough to people to frame a shot the way that I wanted. Going out of your comfort zone like this is a real challenge but this is where the real 'learning' happens. We made our way around Victoria Square, down to New Street Station and back to the Apple store.

The group then had some time to edit the photos and once again, Kris and the guys from Apple were on hand to share tips and techniques. The group (around 15 of us) took turns to share our images on the big screen and discuss why we shot what we shot. The shots were incredible and also incredibly diverse, yet each one perfectly capturing one of Birmingham's little moments, never to be captured again.

Reflection-Edit.jpg

Looking back at the images, I was really impressed with the results achieved by the iPhone. I normally carry a little 'compact camera' on a day-to-day basis but looking at the results achieved by everyone, this almost becomes pointless as the phones can definitely hold their own. Looking at little closer at the final images (100% crop!) I don't think I'll be throwing my DSLR out of the window just yet, but for capturing a quick image, I will definitely be reaching for my phone more often! After all, the best camera is the one you have with you at the time!

You can find out how Kris shot the day HERE and be sure to follow him on his social channels to see more of his brilliant Street and Portrait work and in particular, his upcoming exhibition which will be a must-see!