My February 2019 Photo of the Month is HW4, taken at Oahu’s Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden. Continue reading
My December 2018 Photo of the Month is MNP1, a photograph taken in Mojave National Preserve. Continue reading
Adobe Lightroom CC (Or Lightroom 6) Is Here
As usual, the rumors proved to be true, a new version of Adobe Lightroom is here. The perpetual (pay as you go) version is called Lightroom 6, while Adobe Creative Cloud users are getting Adobe Lightroom CC. Both are the same software.
Victoria Bampton’s always excellent Lightroom Queen blog has all of the minute details you need about every feature that Adobe has added. If you want to see it all, it is an excellent read.
Previously, I detailed the features I hoped would be included in the 6th version of this amazing software. It is important to realize that this version is an evolutionary upgrade. There is very little that is obvious.
Below are some of my immediate observations:
- The software is much faster. I am running a 2013 27″ iMac on OSX Yosemite (10.10). Despite maxing out my RAM at 32GB, some processor-intensive tasks took time. With the GPU boost, things like image previews feel much quicker. This version of Lightroom is rock solid.
- The People addition is potentially a time-saver. One of my good friends has always given me a tough time because he wants me to send all the images I have taken of him over the years, and I have never wanted to go through my entire Lightroom catalog looking. I am not diligent at keyboarding, so this is potentially great.
- The new Adobe Lightroom HDR and Panoramic features have promise. I rarely need to resort to HDR techniques because my main camera body captures so much dynamic range, but it will be interesting to use. The HDR function may be useful for other composites like fireworks and lunar eclipse images. The Panoramic feature will help a lot of people, although my process is to take a single shot that I crop to the traditional 6 x 17 format.
- The Adobe Lightroom modules still need work. The Library and Develop modules in Lightroom are almost everything you need. The Map module is still potentially interesting, and I use Nikon’s GP-1A GPS adapter, but I struggle to come up with a real use for it. The Book module is another good idea begging to be further implemented. I still don’t know anybody who has ever used the Slideshow, Print, or Web modules. I know the Web module has some Responsive Templates, but wouldn’t an artist prefer to use WordPress, SmugMug, or Squarespace instead?
- It appears that you can up the Lightroom image cache beyond 50GB, which helps with extremely large image sets (events, weddings, composites, etc.).
- We are still using the Adobe Lightroom 2012 image process. I still think there is improvement to be made in noise reduction, dynamic range, and color retouching that doesn’t result in overuse of the Vibrance and Saturation sliders.
- There has been no change to the way filters/plugins are used and applied. I don’t like that I still have to create a separate TIF file to edit RAW files in Nik Software, MacPhun, Noiseware, etc. I still wish the “layer and layer mask” functionality in Photoshop would find it’s way to Adobe Lightroom. I suppose there is always Version 7.
- There is still no automatic dust detection. Let’s face it, between our sensors and our glass, dust is a fact of life. Yes, I can individually select each dust spot, and yes, I do appreciate the contrast view that allows me to see them easier, but I would rather Lightroom just did 99% of that work for me.
- I still want better batch editing tools in the Develop module. I can save a little bit of time with the Previous button, but edit one thing and you are essentially starting over.
I need some more time Adobe Lightroom CC, but I will post a follow-up soon with additional feedback. If you aren’t already a subscribed to the Adobe Creative Cloud Photographer’s bundle, you are definitely missing out.
In the meantime, I would love to know what you think about the software and how it is improving your photography and artistic workflow.
The Photographer’s Guide To Joshua Tree National Park will be coming out next month! It is a delight to be able to create a Joshua Tree Photo Guide for the public to use. On behalf of my co-author, Jeremy Long, I am very excited for the first edition release. The Guide will be available in multiple formats, Ibooks, Kindle, Nook, and a PDF edition. All should be readable on the device of your choice. Continue reading
This past weekend, I journeyed to Yosemite National Park with long-time friend, colleague, and fellow photographer, Jeremy Long. We were looking to make an image showing Upper Cathedral Lake at sunset, with reflection from beautiful Cathedral Peak.
On paper, the hike did not look imposing. My map indicated it was about 3.5 miles each way. Despite not having ideal weather (the forecast called for clear skies), we were excited to make the journey and add a new image to our respective portfolios. This looked like a simple, single-day hike.
As we learn, time and again, it rarely works that way. The hike up the John Muir Trail (the reverse of how most people travel from Happy Isles to Tuolomne Meadows) was tougher than we thought. This was especially true for me, carrying much more equipment in my backpack than I needed.
I also found that the hike was quite a bit longer than written on paper. My GPS noted the distance to the correct side of Upper Cathedral Lake at 5.3 miles. The paper mileage was 50% wrong! In addition, we quickly realized that the proper image was taken way up on the dome outcropping to the south. Only, after Jeremy and I scoured separate sections of rock, we did not find the best spot. The reflection of Cathedral Peak was either obscured by the shoreline, or we were lined up correctly but there were trees in the way.
Eventually, we both found a large outcropping that appeared to be in the right spot. The bouldering appeared to be tough, and the light was growing dim. However, with sunset growing close, and an additional 5+ miles back to Tuolomne Meadows, it wasn’t ideal to take more chances.
Learning Through Scouting Locations
We hiked back that evening tired, beat up, and sore. As always, one must remember to never trust the map. Besides the mileage, the hike was tougher than appeared on paper, and failed to take into account the extra work we needed to make the best image possible. We didn’t have the high clouds we dreamed of either, so in this case, we counted it as strictly a scouting trip.
The next time we go, we will be more prepared from this experience. And that is the whole point of scouting out locations. We know what to expect and will plan for an entire weekend and camp at the lake. We will be there earlier, with more time to scale the rock outcroppings to reach our best location. And we will give ourselves that much more chance to make the image we are dreaming of.
The lesson is to never discount the work it takes to make an image, long before the perfect scene reveals itself to you. If your trip doesn’t go perfect, remember the value in the experience and the knowledge you have gained. It will give you an edge the next time you are ready to make that photography.
While Pashadelic did not reply to my inquiry about why they were using my 500px images without authorization, I am happy to report that they did delete the “profile” I did not sign up for. I only found this out by manually looking for it and getting a 404 error. It would have been nice had they replied to let me know they had removed the images. Heck, it would have been even better had they not scraped my images from 500px to begin with.
This is no commentary on the value or usefulness of their website, which I have not used. It may very well be a valuable tool to some photographers, but I am disappointed at the way they chose to build their user base.
This type of image scraping (and occasionally, outright image theft) is very serious business on the internet. My good friend Jeremy Long still has several images being used by other websites without credit or attribution. It is important to regularly search the internet on your name and user names to see who is using your work.
Lenstag has a new service that will crowdsource image theft via a Chrome browser extension. In the future, that may be effective. Unfortunately, a more robust service like Digimarc is more expensive than most people can afford. Reverse image searches can also be effective, but seeing your work passed around on sites like Tumblr don’t leave much you can do.
It is important to make this part of your normal creative workflow without being too obsessive about it. Pashadelic’s initial actions frustrated me, but they did do the right thing in the end.
In about six months, I am planning to co-author my first book, the
Photographer’s Guide To Joshua Tree National Park. My co-author and lifelong friend, Jeremy Long are extremely excited to bring this project to fruition.
Speaking for myself, I can’t wait to finish this guide for artists and photographers everywhere to enjoy. I am also quite nervous. Good artists are endlessly creative, but good artists who are smart also know how to bring a project to completion.
This goes against my perfectionist nature. Left to my own devices, I have no doubt that I would spend an eternity writing, rewriting, rearranging, redoing, starting over, and spinning in circles. Putting this guide together with a partner gives me a person who can push me to do my best work, but also work toward a defined result.
Partnering is very important. Nobody really makes it on their own. Even Ansel Adams had Alfred Stieglitz and Ed Weston. Ask any successful photographer and artist, and they will tell you that partnering and networking are crucial to being successful in their field.
This isn’t my strong suit, and I need the help. I can write pages and pages about carefully planning to shoot a scene in the best light, but thinking about networking with others and building relationships is lost on me.
This book makes me ponder my personal strengths and weaknesses. One of the keys in partnering with others is to find people who can help you with your weak points. Ideally, your strengths can then be a source of inspiration and mentorship for others as well. Don’t go it alone. Make the success of your friends and colleagues part of everything you do.
If all goes well, the Photographer’s Guide To Joshua Tree National Park will be the culmination of the efforts of two people with different expertise and strengths. We will seek to build a guide that provides the motivated photographer some tools to begin building a strong Joshua Tree portfolio. The book will not be exhaustive, because that is impossible. We are excited to bring this project to you and hope it is a welcome addition to the photography field.
My October 2006 Photo of the Month is The Long Track, a photograph made in Death Valley’s Racetrack Playa. Continue reading
Grand Canyon National Park – A Storm In August
I first visited Grand Canyon National Park in 1990 coming home from a Boy Scout summer trip to Philmont in New Mexico. I remember the anticipation of seeing this mile-deep gouge in the Earth’s surface. It rained the entire time we there, enough that the inside of our tents were completely soaked. We hiked the Bright Angel Trail from the South Rim to Phantom Ranch and back in one day. We ate a lot of pizza that night. This trip was the first to truly inspire me to love the outdoors.
I have visited the Grand Canyon many times since. One highlight was an awesome trip I made with my friend Jeremy Long to Toroweap, along the North Rim and accessible by a 60 mile dirt road. I stood on a ledge 2,500 feet above the canyon floor. In hindsight, it was pretty dangerous and people have died from falling. It was a stormy morning, and it was beautiful.
Many of my other trips have been challenging. Several of my Summer/Autumn trips have had smoke from fires fill the canyon. During a recent Thanksgiving weekend, they were even doing a controlled burn near the North Rim!
Still, I come back, because the beauty and majesty of one of the incredible canyons in the world is just hours away. I will keep coming back. I wish I had pictures from that first trip in 1990, but it wasn’t meant to be. I was only 13, I wasn’t doing photography, and it was a really wet day on what was a very long hike.
I have found the overlooks to the East to be more my style. The overlooks in the West are more crowded, and, I just want some solitude and time to reflect.