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Covering the West Texas Wildfires on my iPad 2

May 13 2011, 1:18pm CDT | by , in News | Tablets

Covering the West Texas Wildfires on my iPad 2

First a Volcano, and now a burning desert.

One of the downsides of working from home is that you don't really get many 'vacations'. Since I need an Internet connection at all times, I can only go where the WiFi and 3G hold out. But, occasionally, I'm able to take full break from my job. When that happens, the only thing to do is road trip.

We didn't even need to leave the state for this one. My partner in crime / driver, Magenta, and I decided to roll down to Marfa, Texas. This tiny town of 2,000 has an unusually high proportion of hipsters and 'scene' kids, due to the influence of the Donald Judd foundation. Marfa is an artist's town. And, 9 hours outside of Dallas, it is also just far enough away to feel a little like a foreign country.

I brought my iPad 2 on this trip, but I didn't feel the need to bring my camera or any other instruments of my Professional Journalistic Rig. When the fires hit, the iPad 2 was my only tool for capturing what followed.

 

Closing Thoughts: Obviously, iPad picture quality is nothing to write home about. There were plenty of times throughout the night when I wished- sorely, that we'd thought to bring a dedicated camera. The iPad 2 is not anywhere close to a camera replacement. But, in a pinch, it'll do the job.

Where this tablet really shined was in taking notes on the situation as it developed. I used the mic to record ambient bar conversations for later review. And Paper Desk LITE allowed me to stick my pictures into my notes so I could plan out my article as I lived it. Finally, the Photogene app was crucial for actually putting the whole piece together. The limited space in its word bubbles is my only complaint.

With a better camera at my disposal, I think the iPad 2 is all I'd need for photojournalism. Image editing is pleasant and simple with a touchscreen interface and the iPad 2 is just powerful enough to handle what I need to throw at it. The long battery life and instant-on make it practical for field work of undetermined duration. I look forward to working with it again- this time with a Canon in tow.

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