Adobe makes a fleet of fine software programs including Photoshop and Lightroom. Beginning with version 1 in 1990, Photoshop let the photographer walk out of the wet chem darkroom and on to the easy chair at the computer.
This week Adobe readjusted their pricing model from purchase to lease and it has understandably caused a firestorm of protest mostly from users who only occasionally upgraded their software versions. The new pricing model mandates paying for an annual subscription which, with allowances for prior users, runs about $50 per month. The programs will no longer be offered on straight purchase except for Lightroom and Elements.
As much as we’re taking pot shots at this little shift in the financial goal posts, let’s not overlook that Adobe has enabled a great deal of our creativity, making the digital darkroom a reality (a comfort for many whose backs suffered in the wet chem days) and freeing us from a need to preserve stacks of negs and trannies. There are many opportunities to move away from PS/LR if you’re worried about the uncertainty of digital preservation but we mustn’t cast this tempest in some sort of absolutist light. After all, before there was Adobe, we managed just fine but, too, we all fell for Photoshop when V1 appeared in 1990. Adobe, by the way, does listen witness beta versions of LR and I expect Tom Hogarty (main Lightroom guy) and his minders have ears twitching daily.
The Grand Canyon is a huge photographic studio offering a cornucopia of geology and light from vantage points all along its miles of rim roads. You can shoot with the sun or without, early or late or both, into the sun or down light; it all depends on what’s charging your engine.
My taste runs to early light, the minutes just before and after the sun breaks the horizon. The long, deep shadows of the canyons highlighted by shafts of sun striking known landmarks such as Vishnu Temple and Mt. Hayden, as my friend Chuck says, “rocks my world.”
Additionally, with this vast studio, you can experiment with all sorts of effects and points of view while shooting from either the North or South Rim. On a recent visit with a private student, we raced to beat the sunrise at this vantage point about eight miles east of the Village along the South Rim Road. The warm light lasted about three minutes before morphing into a cooler blue haze.
It was a great day to be a photographer, most days are, even if they’re measured in minutes.
Lightroom just keeps getting better with the release of Version 5. This is a major update from Version 4.4: the Spot Healing Tool now works in a brush fashion, the Upright tool corrects for misalignments, and best of all, the Smart Preview function creates jpegs that can be used in lieu of the underlying camera original. Here’s a video by Adobe Lightroom guru, Terry White, explaining it all:
Version 5 is in Beta release which is a test mode enabling all users to provide feedback to Adobe. As is usual with Adobe, the final release should appear on shelves in June or July. Price for upgrades TBA.
(Update, 4-26-2013) Several of you have downloaded the LR5 Beta only to find that it won’t load your LR4 catalog. This is a good thing because it means that the pointy heads at Adobe are still working on it and it’s best if V5 doesn’t corrupt your current catalog.
The solution is to go out and take some new photos. Import these into V5 and have fun exploring all the new features. This way you won’t jeopardize your LR4 Catalog.
Memory cards are the lifeline between your camera and computer. They record and store image file data. Like all storage devices, they fail which is why you should always carry more than one with you. Most often, a failed memory card will still contain your valuable data and there are many software packages that can recover the data.
The one I use is RescuePro made by Sandisk. The two times I needed it, it performed perfectly and all my image data was recovered.
Large capacity memory cards are getting less and less expensive. Here’s a great deal on 16Gig SD which eventually will be the only size needed for all cameras. NikonCanon still use CF cards but I reckon their days are numbered.
Here also is some very important information regarding the difference between erasing and formatting your card (after securely uploading to your computer hard drive). It’s from the great Michael Johnston at The Online Photographer:
When you select “erase,” the data (e.g. an image) is still there. What is being deleted is the location of the photo stored in the File Allocation Table. “Erase All” deletes every single location in the File Allocation Table. Although the information in the FAT table has been erased, there can still be “residue” from the file. What can happen is the next time something is written in that spot, the controller on the card may decide to skip that spot or write a partial piece of data to it, while the rest of the data is stored elsewhere. This is called fragmentation. Similar to a hard-disk drive, fragmentation can cause performance issues. A “reformat” deletes the entire table and then creates a new one for the next use, meaning that as new information is written to the card, it is done sequentially in the FAT table.
Bottom line, learn how to reformat your memory card and do so after every upload.
The simplicity of this image hits several pleasure buttons in my visual cortex. It’s from a recent trip into the White Mountains of Arizona part of the Mogollon Rim which is the southern border of the Colorado Plateau.
Roadside scenes like this can be little devils, some never as good as the glance out the window would have you believe. But this setting was thrilling and I spent an hour or so exploring the possibilities. In the end, this simple frame spoke to me best, especially the counterpoint of the sinuous creek form against the linear form of the fence. The winter grasses poking through were nice little dividends.
Taken with my Canon G9 at f/5.6, 1/250 at ISO 80. This computes to a deliberate overexposure of the snow which always needs it; just shy of two full stops. If you’re using priority modes, just use exposure compensation at +2.
The White Mountains are a wonderland and if you’re looking for relief from the infinite landscapes of the Sonoran Desert, they are a very pleasant diversion.
I’ve been looking at compact cameras lately to replace my very capable Canon G9. The G9 has been a solid performer, witness my recent photomerge of the Golden Gate (see Home Page), but it’s now six generations removed from Canon’s latest version, the G15. With improvements in sensor size and quality, it’s time to upgrade.
The successor is the Sony RX-100 which is truly a revolutionary camera; small, almost too small but it has a full 1″ sensor, RAW format ability, and a fast Zeiss lens. Mine will arrive shortly but using a friend’s last week proved its value to me. It ticks off some of my boxes for sure. The image quality is superb, colors are rich and deep. For hiking/backpacking, it’s nearly ideal.
The only drawback is the lack of an optical viewfinder which works against my shooting style. I do take photos outside, in bright sunlight, and I do not like LCD screens that I can’t see. To Sony’s credit, they’ve invented something called WhiteMagic which enables a better LCD-viewing experience. It’s a real good solution to the screen viewing problem.
I’ll have a fuller review later. Meanwhile, here’s a link to the RX-100 at Amazon. As always, if you buy it through this link, I’ll get a small referral fee: http://amzn.to/XMjB4R
January’s calandar page, and all my good intentions for more blogging and less procrastination, has been carefully flipped for February which is also speeding along el rapido. I’ve been away here and there looking for images and talking to smart people about this and that. Nothing of reportable consequence but thought those of you who read these mots might like to know.
Photography equipment has gotten really interesting with the Nikon Ds, 600 & 800 as well as the Canon 6D which may fit into my plans. I’ve had a Canon 5D for nearly six years and while it serves me well in all respects, the capabilities of the 6D including wifi, 24 megapixels and live view are very attractive. One thing about the digital age seems manifest and that’s the high rate of innovation; closing in on Moore’s law, there’s little or no chance to being a T-Rex clinging steadfastly to old gear. I’m going to wait a few months before buying the 6D hoping for a price break.
On a recent trip to the Bay Area and a memorable lunch in Sausalito with a boyhood friend unseen for 52 years, I wandered back to the Golden Gate Bridge approach and took the cut off up into the Marin Headlands. There are several view laybys and memory served me well that the higher vantage points afford grander scenics. I had only my small Canon G9 with me but it’s more than adequate for casual snaps. This image is a merged panoramic of seven sequential images that Photoshop’s Photomerge function combined effortlessly. The reason for sharing it is to show that even the middle of the day with all its blue cast can often deliver good shots. It didn’t hurt that the fog was so abundant and ethereal. My decorator missus has requested a five foot print for our family room, so it’ll go off to the lab for printing on Monday. If you want one of your own, LMK.
A billion pixel image of Mt. Everest! Assembled by alpinist and glacier expert David Breashears, this image is a collation of 400 separate images both recent and archived. Click on the image to access all its incredible detail.
The image is fascinating, permitting extended periods of zooming and panning that reveal routes taken, various camps and climbers themselves wending up to what is known as the South Col. The remainder of the climb to the summit is not seen; it’s behind the ridge of Everest on the upper left. But clearly seen is the South Summit and the Hillary Step, famous waypoints enroute to the top. The measured altitude of Mt. Everest has been changed over the years from 29,028 (1954) to a recent measurement of 29,035 (1998). The Chinese claim 29, 015 not allowing for the snowcap.
The image is somewhat disingenuous since it appears to be an ideal day in the Himalayas. You might get the impression that climbing Everest is a walk in the park. Hardly. It’s considered one of the truest tests of alpine skill (and luck). Everest is notorious for bad weather. In fact, the climbing season (May) is predicated on spring’s favorable conditions. It’s still not always great but far better than other seasons.
This is armchair climbing at its best (my acute acrophobia instills sweaty palms just viewing steep trails and climbers hanging from rock walls). If you zoom well into the image past the top of the (Khumbu) icefield, there is a vast expanse of snowfield called the Western Cwm (pronounced “coom” and a well-known Scrabble word) and climbers at this stage are heading for Camp 3 set on the flank of Lhotse which is the farthest mountain in the distance (Everest is on its left). From there climbers start using supplementary bottled oxygen and begin the ascent to the South Col and the summit.
For a detailed story about a recent climb, here is a link to Alan Arnette’s 2011 climb:
http://www.alanarnette.com/everest/everestsouthroutes.php His photos illustrate the climb from Base Camp and also show in detail the route from the South Col to the summit. Compelling reading for sure as is Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, a recounting of the 1996 Everest climbing disaster when several prominent climbers died on the mountain.
I’ve emailed Breashears asking for more information regarding the technical details of collating and merging 400 separate files. So, keep checking in for more on this story.
My old friend, Eric Meola, who I met way back in my film school days in New York has just returned from a trip to South America including the Puna and Atacana regions of Chile, Argentina and Bolivia. His very striking and original images show the creative vision of a great photographer. Hope you all click on this link to view Eric’s terrific imagery: http://www.ericmeola.com/portfolio/photography/atacama