Loving the desert with Homer Liwag

Photowalking with my Las Vegas pal

I first met Homer Liwag when I interviewed the magician David Copperfield a few years ago for my USA TODAY Talking Your Tech series.

For the photo to accompany the article, I asked if Copperfield would pose for me by levitating an iPhone. I didn’t care how he did it, and would happily turn around and close my eyes while he set it up.

“Does it have to be an iPhone?” he asked. “Could it be an iPad?”

Sure. Why not.

Copperfield had one more request: could his photographer Homer Liwag take it instead of me? They needed time to set it up.

Again, of course. Just happy to get the photo.

And with that, I went on to become friends with Homer, who is the co-director of the Copperfield show. Over the years I’ve admired his amazing photos of the desert on social media, and cheered him on when Landrover decided to feature him in an online campaign about its car owners.

So it was a thrill when I recently went to re-explore Las Vegas, a city I have been visiting regularly for multiple decades, to have Homer join me on the latest Photowalk episode, S2:E3. Please take a look!

Watch the Las Vegas Photowalk

On the show, I first explore the garish Strip, where Homer works and stays away from) to show the best places to photograph the skyline, from the top of parking garage roofs (the former Hard Rock Hotel, now known as the Virgin, is the best in town) and check out the action as well from atop the Paris, Stratosphere, Linq High Roller and Waldorf-Astoria Sky Bar.

Then we meet up with Homer and his companion Hudson in the funky new Arts District, where we check out some cool photo spots and then head over to Red Rock Canyon (“My secret spot,” he says) for desert time. I’m with Homer on the desert. It’s one of my favorite places in the world, whether that be the Palm Springs area, the drive to Las Vegas (Hello Barstow, Victorville and the ghost town of Baker) and the outskirts of Vegas itself. The quiet, the mountains, the rocks. There’s no place like it in the world. And gosh, it’s awfully photogenic!

Homer, who did the photography for Copperfield’s soon to be released “History of Magic,” book has been described by the illusionist as a “photographer, videographer, industrial designer, concept artist, magic consultant (and general renaissance man).”

You can hear more of Homer’s back story in our podcast companion interview, or watch Copperfield posing questions in a separate chat as well.

Meanwhile, join with me in admiring Homer’s beautiful desert work.

Homer Liwag links: Website | Instagram

In other news:

Supply chain shortages: If you’re the type who starts holiday shopping on Black Friday for hopeful bargains on tech gifts, 2021 asks you to think differently. You need to start buying now, forget about deals, and just snag the hard to get gifts. Because the supply chain shortages will not only play havoc with your buying habits, it’s already made products scarce. Want to buy a new iPhone 13 Pro? Shipments are back-ordered until 11/22, per Apple. In other words, order at Thanksgiving and maybe hope to receive it in January. The new Apple Watch? Back-ordered until January 1! The Microsoft Xbox X, a hot commodity last Christmas? Not even in stock. Period.

When it comes to gifting, I believe that personal, handwritten cards are the greatest present of them all, but if you disagree with me, get shopping out of the way this weekend!

New Macs Speaking of new purchases, Apple is expected to unveil new, faster performing Mac computers Monday, and hopefully they’ll have enough of them to keep customers happy. This is an update to last year’s lineup, which brought the same power chip from the iPhone and iPad to the Mac, dramatically increasing the speed of operation and battery power.

Moscow Face ID: A seemingly cool new cashless system that lets you ride the Moscow Metro by showing your face (aligned with your bank account) and it’s touted as one of the most advanced ever. Just walk onto the Metro without having to pull out your phone or wallet? Sounds cool, until, as the Guardian points out, you realize the potential sinister ulterior motives of the Russian government. “The Moscow metro is a government institution and all the data can end up in the hands of the security services,” one critic is quoted is saying. Uh-oh!

How-to updates

This week I fell in love all over again with Flipboard, the app that looks to curate the Web in a more visual fashion, making it easier to find stuff we care about. I started making “Storyboards,” a new feature that lets us cull our favorite articles, videos, tweets and such into one place. My Smartphone How-to turned out to be really popular. Check it out:

Meet me at the pier on 11/11 or Palm Springs on 11/13

I’ve got two live Photowalks coming up next month. We’ll meet at the Manhattan Beach Pier at 4:30 on Thursday 11/1. I know it’s early, but sunset will be at 4:50 p.m. And it’s a holiday, right? Sign up here:

The Palm Springs Photowalk episode debuts 11/11, by the way, and to celebrate I’ll be back in the desert, (one of my favorite places in the world, right?), on 11/13 leading a photowalk through the historic downtown district. Sign up here.

And that’s a wrap for the weekend edition. Thanks as always for reading, watching and listening. Let me know what you think of the Las Vegas episode by clicking reply!

Jeff