Tag Archives: Shoot

Why I won’t be buying the Galaxy S8 (or any Samsung product…)

I see tons of ads for the new Samsung Galaxy S8 phone. In the ads, it looks like a great piece of technology, but I will not be buying it. Why? It’s not because I don’t like it, it’s more a matter of I don’t trust Samsung as a company and as a customer, I feel like they did their Note customer 7 customers wrong. Let me explain…

I haven’t been a fan of Samsung phones. I had bought a Note 5 and it was clunky, and bogged down with Samsung’s version of Android. Something else I hated was that talking on the phone for any length of time caused it to get hot enough to be uncomfortable to hold to your face. About 3 months after getting it, I lost my Note 5. It didn’t bother me, because I just did not like the phone so I looked around for a replacement. I bought a Nexus and liked the phone. The S6 came out and my wife got one, but I wasn’t impressed with it, other than it’s camera. Then the Note 7 came out and it was very impressive looking. Enough so that it caught my interest. Samsung appeared to have fixed their GUI and got rid of everything that I hated about it. I really liked the phone, except for the $900 price tag. In the end, I decided to get it, still not liking spending that much on a phone but as a pre-order, I got a free Gear Fit 2 smart watch so that somewhat made up for that? (That’s another story that did not end well) After a few days with the Note 7, I loved the phone. Honestly, its probably the first smartphone that I really liked and would actually tell others how great it was. I loved the iris scanner since it was quick and easy to use. It had none of the faults of the Note 5. It never got hot when talking on it, or even when on the charger. The phone had a great camera, which is something as a photographer, was very appealing. Even the S-pen, which I never found useful on the Note 5, seemed to be much better implemented on the Note 7.

Battery Failure (an omen?)

About a month after I got the Note 7, my wife went on a business trip to NY. There were some mix ups with her rental car or luggage or something like that and she called me severely stressed out. She had called while she was trying to straighten it out and during the call she mentioned that after turning her phone on after the flight, it had been very hot. Shortly after, the call dropped and when I called her back she picked up but none one appeared to be on the line. I retried and finally there was a voice on the other end. She said the phone had flashed a message about “over temperature and then shut down. When I called her back she could hear me, but for some reason, I couldn’t hear her. Since the phone was hot, she tried the speaker phone and that worked. A few minutes later, the call again dropped, this time for good. My wife had to find a pay phone to call me back. The S6 shut down and would not turn back on, even when plugged into a charger. My wife was in a strange city, with a non-working phone and so couldn’t use it as GPS or to find the nearest ATT store. When my wife finally managed to find an AT&T store, they told her the phone was obviously fried, but they did not have any S6’s. Because the S7 was out they didn’t keep the S6 and the best they could do was to get her a refurbished phone in a week. Being without a phone was out of the question so we decided that she could just buy the S7 and we would get the S6 repaired and sell it. Months later when I was forced into returning my Note 7, I took the S6 to be repaired. At the time the S6 failed it was out of warranty by a couple of weeks so Samsung would not do anything. The repair shop replaced the charge controller and battery (it had melted down) but the screen and digitizer had apparently been damaged by the overheated battery. I guess she was lucky that her phone died a less violent death and I shutter to think about what could have happened if it had caught fire while she was holding the hot phone to her face.

It wasn’t long after my wife’s S6 burned out that someone reported that their Note 7 caught fire and the world panicked. Never mind that there have been countless stories about iPhones blowing up for YEARS! In fact, the same weak that the report of a Samsung blowing up, an iPhone blew up in a young mans pocket and injured him, yet there was no march to recall it. So, after owning the phone slightly more than a month, I was told that I had to return it for replacement. I purchased the phone as a pre-order from Best Buy so I went to return it and found there was a very long line to return it. I made several attempts and decided to wait for things to cool down a bit since standing in line for 2 hours to return it was not something I was willing to do. I kept using my Note 7 and loving it. It still continued to work fine and hadn’t hurt or maimed anyone (as far as I knew). During this time, Samsung was extremely apologetic to their customers but the Internet had started to turn on them and those who had Note 7’s. Suddenly, there was a case of someones Note 7 getting hot on an airliner and the next thing you know pressure was put on the airlines and the FAA to ban Note 7’s. At this point, it had been almost 3 weeks since the Note 7 replacements had started to ship. I finally decide to just bite the bullet and get my phone replaced. I go to Best Buy where I’m told that I need to first reserve a replacement phone. So I waited 45 minutes for someone to take down my information. They put me on a list while in the mean time, I hope I don’t have to fly! A few days later, Best Buy called me to tell me my replacement was in. After waiting 45 minutes to get help and another 45 minutes of them trying to figure out how to switch everything over to the new phone (because I had bought my phone outright it caused issues with ATT), I was out of there with a phone that the sole difference seemed to be a different color battery icon so the airlines could see that my phone wasn’t a lethal bomb. Of course a couple of weeks later, someone with a Note 7 with a green battery icon reported that their phone exploded and the world went crazy.

Why the hysteria around the Note 7 fire reports? Google “S6 catches fire” you will find a huge number of S6’s caught fire.l. Do the same for the S7 and S5. Guess what? There are multiple reports of ALL of the last 3 generations of Samsung phones catching fire. The reality is that lithium based batteries are prone to fire. They have made the phones thinner and thinner so that when these phones are dropped there is no buffer room in the phones and the batteries receive some of the impact. Samsung says they never replicated a fire in controlled conditions. I believe them because taking a phone and bench testing it will never reproduce the issue. They aren’t putting the phones through an actual day in their lives. The Note 7 was insanely popular so when there were reports of fires, even though other Samsung phones were doing so too, the Note 7 was a magnet for the stories. Although Samsung phones had been catching fire for years, the stories never really blew up and went viral. I think Samsung realized that the more attention that was put on the Note 7, the more likely it was that it would spread to their other Galaxy models. If they did not get the Note 7 out of the public eye, they would soon be dealing with a MUCH larger issue. Shortly after just a couple of reports of 2nd generation Note 7’s having battery issues, Samsung issued a statement basically telling users to return their Note 7’s to the carrier. Although recalling the Note 7 would be a large financial loss, Samsung banked on Note 7 users replacing their Note 7’s with other Samsung phones. They were right in fact, and most Note 7 users replaced their phones with the S7 Edge. I held on to my Note 7 as long as possible. Why? I did not want an S7 or an S7 edge. If I had wanted either of those phones I would have bought them when they came out. I wanted the Note 7, but after Samsung badgered me daily with harassing text messages and threatened Note 7 owners with bricking their phones, I finally returned mine. I needed a phone, but there was nothing I liked. The Samsung rep convinced me that the S7 Edge was “just a Note 7 without the S-pen). Realizing it was the least bad option available, I reluctantly traded my Note 7 for an S7 Edge.

Life after the Note 7
I tried to give the S7 Edge a chance, I really did, I promise. The GUI is like the Note 7’s, but in my experience it just isn’t an S7. First, there is no iris scanner so I don’t lock my phone. The finger print scanner isn’t reliable for me so I just don’t lock my phone. I don’t want to have to enter a code every time, it’s a hassle. Obviously, it doesn’t have an S-pen. It has the rounded screen like the Note 7, but on this phone I hate it. The “edge” screen makes the phone difficult to use without a case on it. I always have a case on my phone, except when I need to use it on my Mavic Pro drone. It won’t fit in the screen bracket with a case. For some reason without a case, the screen doesn’t work well because my big hands are apparently touching the “edge” surface and so it ignores my inputs. Unlike my Note 7, the S7 Edge gets extremely warm when I’m using it to talk. Lastly, despite having a case on it, the screen broke when I dropped it getting out of the car one day. I’ve never broken a phone’s glass until that day. Because of the “edge” and shape of the phone case to make it usable, the case can’t protect the edges of the screen adequately and it broke. Also because of the edge screen getting it repaired costs almost $400. So I now have a $700 phone with a broken screen that is not worth repairing. One other thing…I purchased the unlocked version of the S7 edge. I wanted to avoid any chance of carrier bloatware and having seen how long ATT usually waits to send out Android updates, the Samsung rep at Best Buy assured me that the unlocked/unbranded phone would get updates much faster than the carrier branded phones. This was a blatant lie. Not only did the unbranded phone not get the updates faster, the Samsung hasn’t gotten them at all. ATT pushed out Android 7 to their S7’s over a month ago and not only has Samsung not released it for their phones, no one at the company can even answer when or if they will push it out to the unlocked version. My old Nexus 6P got the update months ago!

Samsung Wins the Trust of the Public at the Expense of Its Customers Trust
The real tragedy here is the way Samsung handled the whole fiasco and in the end, how they screwed over their loyal customers. The Note 7 did not catch fire any more than any other Samsung phone, it’s just that the Note 7 was the new, darling phone so the reports of battery fires, exploded in the media – pun intended. I and many, many millions of other users had Note 7 phones that worked perfectly and never hurt anyone. At some point anyone that held onto a Note 7 became a “very bad person”. Samsung quickly turned on their loyal customers by reporting to the media that they were having trouble with “Holdout customers that were stubbornly endangering the public”. How? Samsung happily gave updates on how many people weren’t turning their Note 7’s for the recall. The media and the Internet were quick to label anyone who was holding onto a Note 7 as someone that didn’t care about public safety. Samsung was happy to climb on that dog pile. Instead of doing something for those customers who were actually loyal to their product they instead treated them as criminals and threatened to essentially bricking their phone after crippling it’s battery life. If there is a physical problem with the battery, limiting it’s capacity isn’t going to reduce the risk of fire. Since a majority of fires were with phones on the charger, you have now put those customers in a situation of having to put their phones on the charger TWICE AS MUCH! This was not done for customer safety. Someone at Samsung realized the easiest way to minimize their losses were to force their customers out of their Note 7’s as quickly as possible so that their only real Android alternative was another Samsung phone. Most of Samsung’s Note 7 customers that had turned in their Note 7’s replaced them with the Samsung S7 Edge since it was the “next best thing”. Cell phone generations are extremely short, so it was important for Samsung to get customers out of the Note before the next generation phones released from the competition. Most of the holdout Note 7 users were hoping a suitable replacement would come out so they could replace the Note 7 with something they were happy about owning. If Samsung really cared about those loyal customers they would have offered those loyal customers some sort of loyalty reward towards the Note 8 when it came out. Samsung already had a Note 8 in the design stage and knew it would release around April/May. They even falsely stated that they didn’t know if they would continue the Note because they did not want anyone holding out for it. Afterall, Note 7 customers were likely power users who they assumed would upgrade to the Note 8 from the S7 Edge replacement as soon as it was released. It gave them the opportunity to recoup extra revenue by hitting them twice.Samsung was focused not on it’s customers but on minimizing the damage to it’s bottom line. It worked because while we got stuck with something we didn’t want, they were rewarded with the most profitable quarter in 3 years.

So What Happens When the Note 8 and S8 Fire Reports Begin
Like I mentioned earlier, there are a disturbing number of reports of other Samsung Galaxy models catching fire and exploding. All of the recent models seem to do it. So Samsung what happens when those S8’s start burning? I hope that when it happens (not if) the public hold them accountable and the last 3 generations of Galaxy phones are investigated for the fires that began long before the Note 7.

The single best piece of gear I’ve purchased in years.

UPDATE 2: Someone from Palette responded and had obviously not read my original message and basically told me to try the things that I explained in my email that I had already tried. First Strike.

UPDATE:Yesterday, March 14, I was prompted to install an update and update the firmware on the Palette core module. After the process completed, the software will no longer see the Palette hardware and it is completely non-funtional aside from lighting up. I’ve contacted Palette Support but being the weekend, they are likely not available. And I have 2200 airshow images to cull, sort and edit. Sigh!

I’m a gear junkie. I see new stuff all the time that I think I absolutely must have. Most of the time, I find that things aren’t as useful as I thought they would be. Recently, I purchased a piece of gear that just really changed the game. Whether it is shooting sports, an airshow, an event, or even a wedding. I usually end up with a ton of shots that I then later have to cull through and then edit. In most cases, it’s hundreds of hours of tedious editing, tweaking and then re-tweaking. Then I’ll view images full-screen and tweak them more. Shooting an offroad race, I may have over 2500 shots to cull through and get the number to between 300-500 images. Palette Gear makes editing so much easier every step of the process. What is it?

Palette Gear Professional Kit

Palette is a series of modules consisting of buttons, dials and sliders that connect together using magnets so they can be arranged in whatever order and layout you want. Once you lay them out the way you like, then you can assign functions in whatever software you are using to the controls in your Palette Gear. So instead of clicking on a slider on the Lightroom interface to adjust Explosure, I’d instead assign one of my Palette modules to Exposure and instead just turn a dial or slide a slider to modify exposure. So you might ask how many control modules there are because Lightroom has a LOT of sliders. There are three levels of kits – Starter, Expert and Professional. The starter kit comes with 2 buttons, a slider and a dual function dial. The Expert has 2 buttons, 3 dials and 2 sliders. Lastly, the Pro has 4 Buttons, 4 slides and 6 dials. Each kit also has the core module which has an LCD display that gives you info about your controls. So even if you have the Pro kit, you can only use a total of 14 Lightroom controls, right? No, the Palette software allows you to have multiple configurations for a given application. So you can have a configuration for adjusting basic image controls such as Exposure, Highlights, Shadows, etc, then another color and then another for sharpness, detail and noise. So you can toggle between multiple Profiles/Configurations cover all of the controls. Even better you can assign one of your controls to toggle through the profiles for that app. This means that I can have one profile just for culling images. Button 1, Flags the imaga as good, Button 2 rejects it, Button 3 goes to the next image. So instead of clicking through images and then clicking the little flag to accept or reject. I can slap one button to Flag the photo as a keeper, then slap another button to move to the next image, all the while in full screen mode where I’m looking at the best possible copy for review. It cut my culling time to about 1/4 of what it was before and basically made it like playing an old arcade game.

The actual editing works much the same way. I start the actual editing in my Basic configuration which has controls for Exposure, Shadows, Clarity, Tint, Color Temp, Whites, Blacks, Hightlights, Saturation and Dehaze. I slap the Next Profile button and go to the Detail profile where I adjust sharpness and noise. Next is my Tone curve config and lastis Grain, Balance, Lens Vignetting, etc. I can do all of this while the Lightroom interface is hidden and I’m in Full size mode with the image taking up 100% of the screen. Turning a dial I see how it impacts the full sized image in real time. It sped up my imaging time immensely and even better, gave welcome relief to my hands and wrists not having to use a mouse for hours at a time. All of the controls feel to be very good quality and feel solid. The dials seem to be the most versatile by also having a push and turn mode that when you push the dial in and simultaneously turn the dial, doubles the amount the turn changes the effect. All controls also have an LED border around the module that you can assign to be one of 6 or so colors for easier identification.

The product is fairly pricey with the Professional kit being around $500, but if you calculate how much it cuts cost based on the amount of time it saves you, it quickly pays for itself. You can also purchase the starter kit and then buy additional modules for around $49 each and slowly piece together exactly the controls you want. If I had an award to give for product of the year, Palette would be it. For more information, check out PaletteGear.com

2016 Colorado Adventure Day 3 – First full day in Ridgway

Day three of our trip, I woke up having bad back pain. Just getting up and walking really hurt. So I should probably add that I injured my neck rather badly about 10 years ago in a mountain biking accident. My spinal cord was compromised and required eventual surgery to fuse my cervical vertebrae. Over the years it’s gotten worse and the day before left, my doctor called and advised against taking our trip to Colorado as it would take me out of emergency range of a major neurosurgery center. But, me being me, I decided I was fine enough to go.

Anyway, I decided to relax at the house while the others explored the area shops. I had some work to still do on the Jeep (putting the rear Bushwacker flares on) so decided to tackle that. The Bushwacker flares are a royal pain in the ass to install, especially with numb fingers. I think I spent more time dropping and finding screws than I did actually bolting the things on. I managed to get one on in the 2-3 hours everyone was gone. I realized soon after that, even despite my best efforts to shade myself, I had underestimated the power of the sun at 8,000 feet. When Rach got back she offered to help so i let her do the last flare on her own with me just giving guidance. She did it quicker than me and her’s looked better.  Showoff! In the end though, we were both rather sunburned by the end of the day. I didn’t realize how badly that was going to make the next few days suck…

Later, we hung out at the house and I decided to send up my Phantom 4 drone and explore the area. After my flight (check it out below – best viewed full screen in HD), I spent the rest of the day relaxing and we cooked at the house.


Recon Flight Ridgway from Bob Lionel on Vimeo.

Dirt Riot Nationals – Bridgeport Sept. 26


Update: Photos are up at Dirt Riot Nationals photos

Well, it was a fun (and tiring weekend).  I’m culling images and working on post processing everything. The 3006 car of Rowdy Racing took a bit of a spill in qualifying. I was there with a long lens and put together a little animaged gif of the tumble. I should have the race images uploaded by tomorrow afternoon. I’ll update this post and Offcamber Photography Facebook page as well.

Offcamber Photography on Facebook

3006 Rowdy Racing catches a rut in qualifying and takes a bit of a tumble. - Copyright 2015 Bob Lione/Offcamber Photography
3006 Rowdy Racing catches a rut in qualifying and takes a bit of a tumble. – Copyright 2015 Bob Lione/Offcamber Photography
Drivers gather post-qualifying at Rock City Burger in Bridgeport

Dirt Riot – Hidden Falls Adventure Park – May 30, 2015

We headed out around 3AM Saturday morning. After a week of heavy storms and flooding here in Dallas, i was looking forward to getting away and inhaling some race dust. I woke to an alarm two hours after I had set it.  I gathered my gear and loaded the Jeep. A last minute check of the weather, showed that the route we’d chosen – down Highway 281, would take us right into an extremely long, squall line. We decided to take I-35 down in the hopes that it would keep us in front of the storms. Since I left before Al, I decided to stop and grab some food and drinks and give Al time to catch up. As I pulled out of the QuickTrip I saw a text from Al that he’d passed Spring Valley 2  minutes before. I was now behind him and pulled out onto 75 to catch up. I figured I’d catch him on I-35 and exited onto Woodall Rogers to merge onto 35. The recent flooding had other plans. I quickly found that all of the entrances to I35 South were closed. Every option I tried, resulted in me turning around at barricades. After a half hour, I decided to just go back onto Woodall Rogers and take 45 to 20 then to 35. That worked but left me over a half hour behind Al. All the way to Waco, I watched constant lightning creep closer on the western side. I caught up with Al outside of Waco at a fuel stop. As we got ready to leave, the sky looked like Armageddon.  Aside from some brief rain, we escaped the weather and made it to Hidden Falls Adventure park around 8:45am.

Stormy Skies outside Waco
Stormy Skies outside Waco


Nice Weather on the way home:

shot with my Sony A6000 while driving home tonight doing 70-75 u

I should have the shots up shortly. Here are a few:

Finished shots will be uploaded to: