The Newsletter Returns!
Iíll be posting weekly every Monday. Be sure to check your inbox.
May 23, 2017
Whatís New in Equipment:
Equipment innovation surges ahead, especially in mirrorless. Sony has solidified its reputation as the go-to manufacturer with the 42 megapixel A7Rii, the newer A7Sii, and the newest A9 with a very speedy 20fps burst rate. Sports shooters will love this last entry.
Fuji and Panasonic are also embracing this tech wholeheartedly. Fujiís latest is the XT-2, a 24-megapixel camera with highly-regarded lenses. †Thereís a lot to love about the XT-2 mainly the manual control over aperture, shutter speed and ISO; no need to dive into the menu system to set these. Itís all right there in easy to read dials and rings. In addition, the exposure compensation dial is also on top which makes adjustments to exposure quick and easy.
The Lumix line from Panasonic, especially the GH8, has several innovations such as touch screen focusing, just like your smartphone. Panasonic has chosen the 4/3 sensor for development. Youíd be hard pressed to notice any qualitative differences when pixel peeping its output compared to the big Sony sensor unless you make very large prints on a regular basis.
I do like the mirrorless concept.† All of these cameras have excellent viewfinders that depict exactly what the sensor is seeing and recording. They also have viewfinder display options such as active real-time histograms that I find invaluable for assessing exposure values. The Panasonic viewfinder also tilts up making low level photos easier. †And the Sony A9, as mentioned, has a 20 frames per second burst rate that will capture sequential live action with relative ease.
The future for mirrorless is clearly arcing toward merging with video. Capturing individual frames with high pixel counts from streaming video is the path forward. It somewhat puts to shame the notion of the well-conceived singular image but there are enough of us that itíll be a longtime before the traditions of photography will be sidelined by all the videographers.† After all, Alan Ross and his fellow-travelers in large-format film photographer are still as active as ever and producing wonderful images of great personal vision.
I am a dedicated Lightroom user. Itís a powerful program that organizes your images and permits state of the art editing.† Its main value is non-destructive editing. Simply put, this means that your camera-original files are never altered while editing them in Lightroom. Lightroom manages this neat trick by creating copies of your files and automatically saving your adjustments to its database aka the catalog.
Normally you never should worry about saving your adjustments. Lightroom auto-saves each adjustment to its database and when you backup the catalog (usually on exit), the entire catalog is saved.
However, if youíd like to insure a maximum layer of safety for your changes, Lightroom has a method of embedding your changes alongside the camera-original data. Itís like adding a 53rd card to a normal 52 card deck.† The 53rd card holds all the metadata that Lightroom generates. The good news is that it doesnít affect the original image, it just gets stored with it.
The main reason for doing this is that in the event you choose to use another software program or if Adobe Lightroom ever ceases operations (remember Aperture?), all your image files will contain the changed metadata.
Hereís what to do:† Open Lightroom and at the top left of the screen, go to Lightroom (Mac) or Edit (Win) and click on Catalog Settings. Next, click on the tab that reads Metadata and check the box that reads: Automatically write changes into XMP. From then on, all image adjustments will be saved with the original file.
If youíd like to make this change to all of your Library images, go to the rightside panel in Library and click on All Photographs. Press CMD (or Ctrl) +A to select all of your photos. Then click on Metadata at the top of the screen and choose Save Metadata to Files.† Thatís it. Your image changes will now be doubly protected.
Lightroom remains my go-to program for image organization and development.† Lightroomís robust feature set is indispensable. †If youíre interested in learning my Lightroom workflow, it is available as a downloadable PDF. Click here for more.
Students and Software:
I have several students who are refugees from the film world where their carefully exposed film was often the end all and be all. The darkroom was their temple, moreover, where the alchemy of developer and fixer offered them beguiling results. They find it difficult to embrace digital photography especially having to learn Photoshop/Lightroom (having tried most of the other options such as Capture One, Iíve yet to see anything that can top Photoshop/Lightroom).
I truly understand the resistance to Adobe products. They have steep learning curves and arenít as intuitive as they could be. Recognizing this, Adobe released Photoshop Elements several years ago and itís fine as an intro program. Sooner or later though, youíre going to graduate to the package of Photoshop/Lightroom and never look back.
†I canít offer much solace to these folks but I do my best to show them how the digital process of image taking and image making has changed, in my view, for the better.† Thereís been an ongoing chat forum regarding what Ansel Adams would make of digital photography. Most agree that heíd have embraced it wholeheartedly.
The bottom line is that you have lots of choices about which tools youíre going to use for personal expression. You can still use film, develop and print it yourself. You can use digital, insert your memory card at Costco and pick up your prints a day later. Or you can become digitally adept, buy a megapixel digital camera and take courses in Photoshop and Lightroom.† Whatever means you employ, the goal remains the same: master your tools to achieve a creative personal vision.
Book Project and An Assignment:
Iím currently working on a book project and have recently finished an assignment for an Arizona based company, DMB.
The assignment was intriguing: DMB, an AZ land developer with a sterling reputation, hired me to help create new content for their website. They asked me to create panorama images that would display as banners across the top of several pages of their multi-page site. The images would consist entirely of landscapes of their properties on the eastside of Scottsdale. Taken over a two-week period last February, Iím very happy with the resulting images. Here are just a few of the keepers:
My book on White Sands continues apace. Iíve mocked up a layout in Lightroomís Book module and now feel that one last trip to New Mexico is needed. The keeper images to date total twenty and I feel certain that ten or twelve more images will make a better book.
To make this happen, Iíll be posting the preliminary book as a pdf in Patreon which is a crowdfunding site.† Youíll get an email notice about all this and hopefully some of you will subscribe to the fund. The goal is to reach $10,000 which should be enough for another trip to NM and to hire a designer and arrange offset printing. Iíll eventually place the book for sale on Amazon.† If you wish to subscribe, you will be offered a tiered set of rewards depending on the amount you subscribe. The lowest tier gets a signed copy of the book. Further up the scale will be signed prints and personal photo sessions with me. Iíll notify you of the Patreon posting shortly.
I have two new students enrolled in eSupport this year, Adam is in Boston and Stuart is in Pittsburg. For those of you unfamiliar with eSupport, it is my continuing education platform for students whoíve taken one or more of my workshops. Both Adam and Stuart have taken multiple workshops and both are now keeping in touch via email and phone.† To date, more than twenty students are active eSupport users. I really enjoy the daily communication with all of them. As I tell them, Iím here 24/7. For more about eSupport, click here.
Thatís it for this week. Coming up next week, we look at Lightroomís Book Module and Iíll show you some projects from one of my students.† His photographs are remarkable.
Hope you find this newsletter worthwhile. Please feel free to share it with your friends and neighbors and anyone who loves photography.