Early Augmented Reality

There’s lots of chatter about Augmented Reality these days.

Here’s a Sports Illustrated article from 10 years ago, talking about an AR innovation from 25 years ago – the birth of the yellow first-down line in football broadcasts, first seen in 1998.

That was probably the first Augmented Reality thing most people saw and enjoyed, and it took a 48-foot truck full of equipment to make it work.

Fox had introduced FoxTrax, the glowing hockey puck, in their NHL broadcasts two years earlier in 1996, but everybody hated that and it didn’t last. The idea of sensors in the puck is still around though.

The first-down-line on a football broadcast seems so normal now, it’s almost jarring to go to a live football game and NOT see it. Or to wonder on a broadcast “How come the guy didn’t run a bit further? Why did he step out of bounds there? Didn’t he see the line?”

Interestingly, the same guy, Stan Honey, appears in both of those stories.

Imagine where we’ll be 25 years from now.

First Down Yellow Line

Fox's Glowing Puck

May 23 2023 – 30 Years At Apple

My Apple badge says that my start date at Apple was May 20, 1993, so yesterday was officially my 30th anniversary here.


Apple sends you a beautiful block of something every 10 years, and you can see my 10th, 20th (with reflection of me) and 30th awards in the photo above. They get increasingly shiny and increasingly hard to photograph.

When they announced the 10/20/30 year awards, I think I was on year 24, and they retroactively sent the 20th one. I made a mental note to stick around long enough to see what the 30 year award looked like – and now I know. And I also know there is a 40 year award, but I’m pretty sure I won’t make it to that one. One colleague has been here 42 years and told me she’s hanging around for the mythical 50 year brick.

It’s been an amazing journey. The team I work on has pretty much turned over several times, but I keep getting to work with new, talented, funny and creative people, and I hope I can do it for a while longer. I kind of stumbled into this job but it’s unfolded brilliantly – I’ve been able to travel; I’ve given talks at over 300 universities and in over 14 countries and, I hope, inspired a few people to try writing their own iPhone apps. Apps for a device that didn’t even exist when I started here.

So what was I actually doing on May 24, 1993, my supposed start date at Apple?

I honestly don’t remember. I worked for NeXT, which Apple famously acquired, but NeXT laid me off for a year and then re-hired me later. Apple includes your time at an acquired company when computing these start dates, but somehow they decided May 20, 1993 was my actual start date even though at the time I was self employed, fumbling along as “Steve Hayman and Associates” (note: there were no associates) in between my shifts at NeXT. I started at NeXT in September of 1991. That feels more like my actual anniversary.

Speaking of the 30 year mark, I have a child rapidly approaching that milestone. Now THAT makes me feel old.

the World Championship of (gridiron) Football

Every year after the US football season concludes, I make some variant on the same joke on social media

Congratulations to the Kansas City Chiefs!
Good luck next week in the World Championship vs. the well-rested Toronto Argonauts.

the Argos are, of course, the Grey Cup champions (which they won 17 weeks ago, hence “well-rested”), and the Chiefs won the Super Bowl (yesterday) and in my imagination I like to picture a battle for supremacy, even though the rules of each league are different. You’d have to compromise

  • a 105 yard field
  • Three and a half downs
  • Eleven and a half players
  • No ‘fair catch’, because it would be great fun to see the US players signalling for one and then getting pummelled immediately by Canadian defenders

The 11.5 players would be a little tricky. Perhaps you’d have to average 11.5, so you could run 11 on this play, 12 on the next, or 19 and then 4, or (as my brother or my son or someone once suggested) two players should have their adjacent legs tied together as in a three-legged race.

This is obviously never going to happen. When I posted this idea on a Facebook Toronto Argos fan group, some people laughed as expected but others got all indignant about how Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs would thrive on the wider Canadian field and the CFL players are second-tier and would get obliterated ad how stupid are you for even suggesting this, blah blah blah. (If you think that way, why are you hanging out in an Argos fan group then?)

Hear me out, though.

a challenge

What if the Toronto Argonauts issued a challenge to the Kansas City Chiefs? We dare you to play us next week for the World Championship.

I suspect the Chiefs, having everything to lose in this scenario, would just ignore the challenge, but you might get some fun publicity out of it. Social media taunting back-and-forth. Or if the Chiefs just ignore the challenge, then the Argos can declare themselves World Champions.

Wouldn’t that be kind of fun? I think so. Couldn’t you get some neat publicity out of that? Couldn’t you get people talking?

And also the Grey Cup is obviously a MUCH better looking trophy than the Super Bowl’s Vince Lombardi trophy, so the CFL champ has a built in advantage.

Grey Cup
Vince Lombardi Trophy

The Grey Cup is magnificent, historic, and something you could actually drink out of or baptize a baby in; the Lombardi trophy is just a football on a stick and looks like it was dreamed up in three minutes by an intern.

but what if they actually played

What if you COULD figure the rules out and had a top Canadian Football team play a top US Football team?

It happens. Almost every year, the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds play the (NCAA, but in Canada, for some weird reason) Simon Fraser Red Leafs (formerly the Clan, good name change there) in some hybrid format.

And it’s happened before.

waterloo vs wilmington

I recall a 1986 road trip with the University of Waterloo Warriors Band to Wilmington, Ohio to see our Warriors play the Wilmington College Fighting Canaries (my memory a little vague on what they were actually called … wait … here it is, they were the Quakers.) I don’t remember the score other than that Waterloo got clobbered, due to some misunderstanding of the rules and every play the Warriors ran resulted immediately in a penalty.

OK, the score, if you must: Wilmington 46, Waterloo 6. Waterloo did not try that again. The Wilmingtonians did enjoy having the band there, though. Check out this high precision ensemble. Ohio State, if you need ideas, let me know.

Warriors Band in Wilmington, Ohio, 1986

canadian troops vs american troops

During the Second World War, a game called the “Tea Bowl” featured Canadian vs US armed forces members playing at Wembley Stadium in London, in front of tens of thousands. One half by Canadian rules, one half by US rules. A US marching band played at halftime followed by an even larger Canadian pipe band – and although the US took the lead under their rules, the Canadian team stormed back to win.

(why, why WHY, has this not been made into a movie yet?)

I may have some of the minor details wrong, but this DID happen. A couple of times.


And not only that in the 50s and 60s, the CFL and the NFL occasionally played interlocking exhibition games. In 1959 the Argos played the Chicago Cardinals at Exhibition Stadium (and lost 55-26). There were a few more games like this over the years, including the Alouettes vs. the Chicago Bears (Chicago 34, Montreal 16). The American team always won.

But – in 1961, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats hosted the Buffalo Bills. (Buffalo was in the AFL at the time, which eventually merged into the NFL.) An obvious matchup. Nearby cities.

Final Score: Hamilton 38, Buffalo 21. The CFL triumphs!

Needless to say, the moment the CFL won one of these games, that was the end of THIS idea, the NFL wanted no more of THAT.

so why not?

It seems to me that the Hamilton Tiger-Cats should seize this result, and claim their position as World Football Champions at least until some time as another game happens.

And that’s why the Argos should issue the challenge. We can’t let Hamilton claim this title forever!

wrong answer

Somehow we were discussing life insurance.

Spouse says “Well, if you died, I’d sell the house and move into a smaller place. What would you do if I died?”

me: “Well I could finally get the model train layout going.”

Raptors 905!

We had a moderately fun time at the Raptors 905 vs Capital City Go-Go game last night (won by Raptors 905, 122-119.) Thanks to the Argos for the tickets! (Season ticket holders were given a free ticket to either this, or the Marlies, and I’ve seen the Marlies a few times and you might even remember that Argonotes was the Marlies Band during one epic playoff run.)

Cathy and me at the Paramount Centre for the Raptors 905 game

I have a couple of notes though.

1) I still don’t quite get how the “NBA G-League” works – Raptors 905 are a farm team for the Toronto Raptors, of course – but there sure are an interesting assortment of teams, including the “Capitanes de Ciudad de México“, which explains the Mexican flag hanging alongside the Canadian and US ones.

1a) I eventually figured out that the Capital City Go-go are
* from Washington, DC, hence the ‘Capital City’ part, and
* named after the Go-go funk music genre that originated in DC.

As I mentioned to Cathy, I was never a big Go-go fan, but I did like The Bangle.

2) The game was at Mississauga’s “Paramount Fine Foods Centre” (which I still think of as the “Hershey Centre”) and with a name like that, I wish there had been more Fine Foods on the menu than chicken fingers, hot dogs or poutine.

3) Free Parking! OMG I cannot remember the last time I went to a professional sporting event that had free parking.

4) The team’s called “Raptors 905” in homage to the local area code for the suburbs around Toronto, which is of course area code 416, and they were kind of rubbing in the whole “technically we are in Mississauga” angle, urging people to make an “M” gesture with their fingers, the spirit squad was the “Sauga Crew” or something, and some of the graphic imagery had a stylized map of Mississauga and I don’t know if how many people actually recognize the shape of Mississauga itself; I for one saw the graphic and thought “why are they showing a map of Washington state?”

4a) we made an “O” instead of an “M” gesture. Oakville 905, represent.

5) I picked out what I thought was a good seat ahead of time – on the aisle – but it turned out that Section 19 Row F Seat 1 is possibly the WORST aisle seat I have ever occupied. (At least until we moved a row back.)

See seat below, highlighted in red. Notice any problem?

if you’re sitting there, every single person who’s heading to the lower area on the left is going to walk right in front of you, and there is absolutely no room for them to get by between you and the railing ahead of you. That is just a dumb spot for a seat. They should remove Seat 1 and Seat 2 in that row.

Fortunately there were about 5,000 other empty seats so we just moved back a row.

Section 19 Row F Seat 1

Memories of Cableshare and Videopress – 40 years of touch screens

I’ve been writing software for touch screens for a long time. iPhone and iPad today, of course – but 40 years ago, I helped build Videopress – a system from London, Ontario’s Cableshare that installed colour graphic touch screen systems in kiosks in shopping malls.


For a moment, shopping malls in London, Ontario were the center of the touch screen information universe.

It feels like all the information about this pioneering system has been lost in the sands of time. Although it only lasted a couple of years in the early 1980s, it was pretty amazing for its day. Let me write up something here for the benefit of future historians.

I gotta tell you, when I visit shopping malls today, I sometimes see touch screens and mall information systems and I think fondly of what we were doing way back then, and then I think “These systems today are not really 40 years better than what we were doing back then.”

plus I have a few stories.


My first job after graduating in 1981. I wanted to work for Cableshare – a small software company in London that was affiliated with the local Cable TV provider for two main reasons

  • it was in London, and I could live at home
  • maybe I would get free Cable TV.

(Don’t try to Telex me, I don’t think it still works.)

It worked out GREAT. I got to learn C, I got to build some cool stuff – at first, code for a cable tv monitoring system that detected fires or something in your house and called 911 – and eventually got in to graphics and touch screens, but most importantly, yes, I did get free Cable TV.

One day the boss showed me a touch screen fitted to a VT100 terminal, and one of these Telidon graphic decoder terminals, and asked me to fool around with it. Videopress was the result. I built some page creation software, the team built a booth and a distributed network to make it all work.

Cableshare’s Videopress – a big deal in 1982

The picture at the top is one of our first booths. I think this is at White Oaks Mall in London, Ontario. Or possibly Westmount Mall.


Anybody could come up and use the touch screens to search for mall information, check out the news and weather, and shop through an interactive gift guide (about which, more later.) Only hobbyists had home computers back then, and certainly nobody had a cell phone, so the idea that you could just touch a screen to find something out was revolutionary.

Especially because we all grew up with our mothers saying “Don’t touch the TV screen! You’ll get an electric shock!”

I remember bringing my grandmother out to the mall to use the Videopress booth. My grandmother! Nanny! Using a touch screen! Using software I wrote! Inconceivable.

So anyway,

technical stuff

The booth featured 4 terminals from Electrohome (and later Microtel) running a graphics standard called Telidon that had been promoted heavily by the Canadian government. Telidon defined a series of commands that you could send to a decoder – send a particular sequence of bytes, and a Telidon decoder would interpret those commmands and draw, say, a blue rectangle of a certain size, or text at a certain location. Slowly. It was a very clever, resolution-independent protocol where coordinates were all expressed as numbers between 0 and 1, so everything would fit on a terminal of any resolution. (I remember getting laughed at when I asked if we could get a 1024×1024 terminal. What are we, NASA? We don’t need some super thing like that, come on.)

Cableshare had fitted Elographics touch screens on top of these monitors. Another Telidon decoder showed a loop of graphics that you can see behind the booth attendant in the photo above. It all operated over serial lines, connected via an absurdly expensive Datapac network connection to … my memory is hazy here, but I think a Vax/VMS system back at headquarters. Initially this was all run from a tremendously underpowered CP/M computer buried in the booth, with a whopping 64K of memory to keep it all running.

Picture Painter

Artists back at headquarters would create all the content using an app I wrote called the Picture Painter. Perhaps you read this glowing review of Picture Painter in PC Magazine in 1984 –

Picture Painter is not as easy to learn as it should be. It takes a lot of nerve to charge $3,000 for software and then an extra $50 for inadequate documentation.

Tough, but fair.

Here’s a historic photo of a dorky looking guy showing off the Picture Painter app he created – and in case she ever goes searching for her own name, I’d like to say hello to my Cableshare colleague Debbie Shelton, who hasn’t seen me in 40 years either.

Picture Painter

That’d be a Summagraphics tablet, with a custom overlay where you could draw and a grid of buttons across the bottom to trigger editing functions, and a Microtel Telidon terminal displaying the results.

I saved one of the overlays –


Telidon graphics were interesting in that they built up as the picture commands came in. it’d draw a circle, and a rectangle, and then it’d wait for more data to come in, and draw some text, and pause again and … It’s hard to believe how slow this was in retrospect but the effect of the pictures gradually appearing was kind of interesting.

so what did you see on the screen at the mall?

I really wish I’d taken some more pictures of what it all looked like. You’d have a menu you could touch through, for mall information, maps to the stores, the latest news and sports scores, and more. It was a clumsy menuing interface because the touch screens of 1982 were pretty limited. The first ones we used had something like twelve specific zones you could touch – and that was it. Twelve little nondynamic islands, and you had to create your content so that the touchable things were under the specific zones.

The Eaton Centre

Our first two installs were at White Oaks and Westmount Malls, in London. Cableshare had partnered with the local newspaper, the London Free Press, to build a joint venture called Videopress and they’d put Russ Demchuk in charge of the project and I’d just like to drop his name again as someone I haven’t heard from in ages.

while I’m at it a few more names of Cableshare people. This team taught me a lot. Frank Mandarino! Tom Martin! Tom McGill! Chris Reinkeleurs! Al Dinelt! Rick McNorgan! Herb Woods! Terry Pocock, rest in peace, company president who really spearheaded the whole thing. And Joe I Forget Your Last Name But You Were Very Nice To Me And I’m Sorry I Complained About One Of Your Functions Delivering Unsorted Data When I Really Wanted Sorted!

anyway. We honestly thought every shopping mall in the world would want some of these kiosks. Many of them came to London to see it in action, and the owners of the Eaton Centre – Canada’s largest mall, in downtown Toronto – decided to dive in, in partnership with the Toronto Sun.

It was all-hands-on-deck to get ready for that huge install. There was going to be a large Videopress booth smack in the middle of the mall. Our team of artists started using Picture Painter to draw – tediously – walking maps from the booth’s location to every store. 300 individual maps. I think they had animated dotted lines showing the route. Fancy stuff for 1982.

Except when the booth was installed, it turned out to be on the opposite side that we were expecting, and all the maps were upside down and had to be redrawn. Oops.

Today when I visit the Eaton Centre, I walk past the spot where the booth used to be, and I get pretty nostalgic….

Sports Scores

One piece of content I remember is a fancy graphic showing Wayne Gretzky’s quest for 100 goals. He was on a tear that season and it really looked like he might score 100; the team built an impressive page with a thermometer of sorts showing his progress, and every night it’d be updated, and there was going to be some spectacular thing happening when he hit 100.

Wayne finished the season with 92 goals. sigh.

The Gift Guide

The sales people were signing up vendors in the mall to participate in the Gift Guide. We had a coupon printer in the booth – using that ancient greasy ATM paper you’ve probably forgotten – and somebody had the idea that we should print special discount coupons that would direct people to participating retailers.

Somehow this morphed into the Christmas Gift Guide. A database driven thing, you’d answer a few questions on the touch screen …

Welcome to the Gift Guide!

  • Who are you shopping for?
  • My dad.

  • What are they interested in?
  • Photography.

  • What’s your budget?
  • $75.

and the interactive database would search through the huge list of participating merchants, and recommend something and print a coupon.

Except … The sales people had difficulty filling all the slots. Most of the time, the gift guide came up with a useless recommendation like Nothing for that combination. Try again.


One day my manager Bruce Grayson came to me and said “Steve, this doesn’t look good you’ve got to make it return something every time.”

We thought about it for a moment, looked over the list of participating vendors, and decided we were going with Shoes. The perfect Christmas gift! Your dad is interested in photography? Why not buy him some shoes? Have you ever seen a photographer that didn’t have shoes?

I don’t think the Gift Guide lasted too long.


the inuit circumpolar conference

Cableshare got government money somehow to install a few systems at the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, which I believe was in Iqaluit, and I am still annoyed that I didn’t get to go. But I did manage to use Telidon’s custom font capability to design an Inuktitut font so content could be presented properly. I remember buying a sheet of Letraset dry-transfer letters that were in that font – all magical circles and triangles – and tediously creating a digital font variant. I hope people liked that.


We modified the system so that it could display video from an attached laserdisc player, and somebody somehow got Buick interested in this as a kiosk for car dealerships. I remember going to see the first install at Buick HQ in Michigan. A standalone touch screen system was there to tell you about the new 1984 cars – but nobody was touching it. Nobody knew that you could actually TOUCH a SCREEN.

Someone had the bright idea to put a helpful sign next to the screen. Touch Here to learn about Our New Cars!, it said.

You can imagine where this is going. I remember seeing somebody touch the SIGN, four or five increasingly frustrated times, and of course nothing was happening. He got mad, and actually hit the real touch screen with his fist while walking away. Stupid thing. Doesn’t work.

Then, of course, the touch screen noticed an actual touch, and beeped, and started playing videos from the laserdisc player. I think the customer came back for a look.

the finger painter

Also I managed to put together a touch-screen based program that let you create graphics without the need for a keyboard or a graphics tablet! We called it the Finger Painter. It was a fun little experiment, and somebody at the Ontario Science Centre thought it was pretty cool and to my great delight, they installed it there and anybody could walk up and doodle a little picture with their finger. Or maybe it was Ontario Place. Or the Ontario Science Centre at Ontario Place. For a few months there, it was all the rage, even though (I can’t believe this memory is coming back) we kept having issues with flow control on the RS-232 line between the computer and the decode.


This was huge in 1982 and 1983. Huge! Nobody had seen anything like it. Interactive touch screen information systems that anybody could use. Anybody! Just come to the mall and try it out!

I really wish I’d taken more pictures – here are a few that I do have.


Russ Demchuk and Bruce Grayson check out the first install.

Frank Mandarino and Bruce Grayson try to use the Gift Guide, as seen from inside the terminal


Frank, and Tom Martin, in the lab back at Cableshare

and maybe my favourite


the Cableshare Marching Band, from the 1982 Christmas party.

In 1983 I went back to grad school at Waterloo, and Cableshare eventually pivoted to doing some sort of interactive thing over cable and phone lines and got acquired by another telco, and the booths faded away.

But it was a pretty amazing couple of years.


I recently stumbled across this CBC video report from 1985 on Cableshare’s pivot to “Touch-n-Shop”, a system for shopping on your TV, controlling it via your touch-tone phone. This used the same Telidon graphics and Picture Painter software I’d built, but reorganized to run on your home TV. Cableshare was convinced they were on to something with this shopping-at-home idea, and JC Penney swooped in.

It’s great to see my former boss, Cableshare president Terry Pocock, in this. He took some big chances. I was only there a couple of years, but I learned a ton, and I have some great memories. Thank you, Terry.

Watch here:


Canada 4, USSR 1, September 4, 1972. Hey, I was there!

fifty years ago today

Canada vs Russia Sign

The older I get, the more nostalgic I get about things that happened on This Day In The Past. Especially if I can remember them! Or even better, if I was involved! That means I must not be getting older.

On September 4, 1972, Team Canada played the USSR at Maple Leaf Gardens, in Game 2 of the classic Summit Series – the first ever tournament between the best Canadian NHLers and the perennial Olympic champions from the USSR.

It’s hard to imagine today just how big a deal this series was. By game 8 in Moscow, the entire country was glued to their TVs (in my case, glued to the TV in my Grade 9 English class at London Central.) We saw Paul Henderson score for Canada, and Canada edged the USSR with 4 wins, 3 losses and 1 tie.

But that was by no means what we THOUGHT was going to happen on September 4, 1972. Admittedly, up until a few days earlier, most people thought Canada would win all 8 games. Or that the Russians might squeak out a tie.

game 1

Then game 1 happened in Montreal on September 2. USSR 7, Canada 3. We watched this one at the cottage, and I knew it was special because we NEVER watched TV at the cottage.

Canada had lost, big, to the Soviets. What did it mean? Was this a fluke? Were they really that much better than us? Oh, wow, what if this keeps happening for all 8 games?

game 2

Game 2 was in Toronto at Maple Leaf Gardens. There had been a lottery of sorts to get tickets. You wrote a letter,with a stamp and everything, and you were entered for the chance to buy seats.

I sent in 10 entries. Because Bobby Hull hadn’t been added to the team, I wrote To Russia With Hull! on each one in a minor bit of activism.

Somehow I won, and I persuaded Dad to come up with the $50 it would take to get the two seats.

Can you imagine that? We had really great tickets, on the goal line about 10 rows back, and they were only $25? If that series were played today, those tickets would cost thousands.

So we went to the game. We drove from London to Toronto, along with my friend Richard Collyer and his father who’d also obtained (not nearly as good) tickets.

Dad actually filmed the trip on his (silent) Super-8 camera, and 10 years ago my brother had the presence of mind to upload that to Youtube. I promise I’ll come up with a higher quality render, but here’s our home movie:

our glorious Super 8 film

It starts out slowly as we drive to Toronto and take the subway to Maple Leaf Gardens, but here are a few timestamps of interest

  • 0:24 Richard Collyer and his father and me on the subway
  • 0:46 USSR takes the ice
  • 3:27 I try to speak to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau
  • 3:42 Margaret Trudeau says to me “He’s pretty busy, isn’t he”
  • 4:00 a sign, “We’ll settle for 7 out of 8”
  • 4:06 Taking my seat. Note, nobody in the crowd wears a jersey, few if any flags. A different era for sure.

Canada wins, 4-1 behind a strong goaltending performance from the legendary Tony Esposito.

the book


For Christmas I think I got a copy of the book Death of a Legend, by Henk W. Hoppener, a retrospective of the whole series.

Amazingly, you can see Dad and me in a picture from that book!

Book Excerpt

I vaguely recall that Time Magazine also had a picture from the game that showed us. I’ll have to find that.

the aftermath

Canada won, 4-1, and the series was tied at one game each. I believe that if the Russians had clobbered Canada again, it would have been all over, and Canada would have entered a decade of darkness, punctuated by Royal Commissions on What’s Wrong with Canadian Hockey.

I think this was also the time we used the term Team Canada to refer to our national team in any sport.

So where does this game rank? If you ask me, these are the great Team Canada mens hockey matches played here in Canada.

  • 1972 Summit Series. Canada 4, USSR 1
  • 1976 Canada Cup. Canada 5, Czechoslovakia 4 on a beauty overtime goal by Darryl Sittler
  • 1987 Canada Cup. Canada 6, USSR 5; Gretzky to Lemieux … hey I was at this one too! the 35th Anniversary is coming up September 15th…. but that’s another blog post.
  • 2010 Olympics. Canada 3, USA 2. Sidney Crosby with the Golden Goal.

Which one was the most important victory? As Ken Dryden has said,

The Golden Age of hockey is “whoever was playing when you were 12 years old.”

For me, that 1972 game was the greatest. And not just because I was 12, but because of the huge hype around the series and the way a vastly overconfident Canada had been soundly thrashed two nights before.

50 years later

Well I was very lucky to see that game, so today, September 4 2022, for the 50th Anniversary, I’m breaking out the 1972 Jersey (which I bought for the 40th Anniversary.)

Me and my Team Canada 1972 Jersey

Thanks, Team Canada. I think we’ll be hearing more about this series this month. Ken Dryden’s written a new book, too. Gotta go get that – and see what he says about letting in 7 goals in Game 1.

and thank you Team Canada Women!

Today our womens national team beat the USA to claim the world championship! September 4. A great day for Canadian hockey.

Taking neat photos of moving water with your iPhone

We’re in Alaska and were near a lovely babbling creek in Ketchican today. One of my favourite iPhone tricks is using long exposures when shooting a waterfall or babbling brook – the effect you get in the water is pretty cool. Here’s how! It’s easy, just a couple of taps.

First, the end result. Here’s Creek Street in Ketchican today.


How do you get that neat silky blurry moving water effect? Easy!

The trick is to turn on the camera’s Live Photo feature, which captures about a 2 second clip every time you take a picture. Then you can use Long Exposure to average all 2 seconds of that clip into a single frame – which blurs the moving water really nicely.

And as a nice side effect, if there are people walking around during the 2 second exposure, it might average them right out of the picture!

So here’s what you do.

  • Approach waterfall or babbling brook

  • Open the camera app – and tap the Live Photo button at the top. That nested circle thing in the top right. If it’s on, the app will briefly display LIVE as seen here.

Live Photo button

  • Take picture. Hold still! It’s actually taking a 2 second exposure, but just showing you a single photo.

  • If satisfied, great! If not, let’s blur the water.

  • Find the photo in the Photos app (or tap the icon in the lower left of Camera, if you just snapped it now.) You’ll see this “LIVE” indicator in the top left, if you’re looking at a LIVE photo.

LIVE indicator

That LIVE thing is actually a popup button, which lets you choose from several different effects that can be applied to a live photo. Tap it for a menu, like this

LIVE menu

These are your choices –

  • Live – a photo that plays a 2 second movie when you long-press
  • Loop – Turn the 2 second photo into a little movie that loops continuously.
  • Bounce – like Loop, but the movie goes back and forth and back and forth
  • Long Exposure – this is the magic one we want! It averages all the frames together, and the effect looks great on moving water

All these effects are quick and easy and non-destructive, so you can try it and see if you like it.

  • Tap Long Exposure and marvel at how cool the water in the lower left looks now — and in this case, a little harder to see but the people walking on the bridge on the left side have been averaged right out of sight! You can use this to remove crowds!

Before –


After –


Note that the averaging also crops your photo a little bit because, I dunno, algorithmic handwaving image stabilization reasons.

Pretty cool, huh. Try it on your next photo of a waterfall. Here’s one I took in the Azores a couple of years ago, using the same trick.

Waterfall  1

Sending off Dad

I promise I’m going to blog about something positive and happy soon – our son’s wedding is coming up next month. That will be great! Especially after 2.5 pandemic years of goodbyes to those we love. Including yesterday …

burying Dad

Mom and Dad's headstone

It was an emotional day yesterday as we gathered to bury Dad. (Yes, he passed away in March, but you might not have heard that supply chain issues mean it can take months to order a monument, and we wanted to wait until everything was in place. We ordered one shortly after Mom passed away last summer and it took most of a year for it to be ready. Fortunately it turned out very nicely.)

It was a beautiful day at Woodland Cemetery and I hope Dad and Mom would be pleased. We tossed in a little sand from the beach at Point View that Michael had harvested earlier in the day, and even a nice skipping stone. Dad was a champion Lake Huron stone skipper and claimed he could make any stone skip, whether it had a flat surface or not. (Sometimes we’d hand him a spherical rock as a challenge and he’d make it skip – maybe only once, but still, that counts.)

Point View sand

I was particularly moved to tears when Nick brought along Dad’s ukulele and sang a song – he’d learned Dream a Little Dream Of Me for the occasion. Not an easy tune! Lots of weird chords, but he did a great job, and my first reaction was – wait, when did you learn to play the ukulele? But Dad and Mom loved it, I’m sure. Dad’s baritone ukulele was a constant feature of so many family gatherings. Thank you, Nick.

We also took time to visit my grandparents, and my great grandparents, and even my great-great-grandparents who are all also resting at Woodland. And Uncle George, who’s interred right next to Dad and Mom and our brother Tim.

John Hayman

HLH Monument

Henry, Mary and William Hayman
The sun was shining and it really was a beautiful day. We even saw a few deer enjoying the scenery. Dad, you picked out a very nice spot and I’m happy you and Mom and Tim are together again.

Many thanks to Rev. Stephen McClatchie and funeral director Steve Harris, and you know you’re in good hands when Steves are taking care of you.

IMG 2756

Naturally we honoured Mom and Dad afterwards with ice cream at Merla Mae, Dad’s favourite spot and a North London institution since before I was born.

Merla Mae