Category Archives: Photography Software

Adobe Lightroom 3 will Contain Distortion Correction!

Of all the new features of Adobe Lightroom 3, this one just may make the biggest impact to workflow.  Up to now, if corrections were needed due to lens distortions, it was necessary to open Photoshop.  It now seems that Adobe is putting these features into the new Camera Raw 6, Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom 3!  Check out this video with Tom Hogarty — the Lightroom and Camera Raw product manager.

Camera Raw 6 and Lightroom 3 Lens Correction Feature Preview

It appears that Adobe will ship with a standard set of camera / lens profiles.  They also state in the video that they will make the profile generator available to the public!

MacBook Pro 2010 – A Photographer’s Dream?

After almost 10 months of waiting, Apple announced the latest upgrades to their MacBook Pro line of computers.  And while many seem disappointed with Apple’s latest product release, I’m thinking that this may represent the new standard for photographers and other media professionals.

For those who haven’t been following the release closely, the latest generation of 15″ and 17″ MacBook Pro models have been upgraded to use Intel’s latest Core i5 and i7 processors.  (For those curious, the 13″ line of MacBook Pros has stayed with the Intel Core 2 Duo line of processors, but did see a speed bump as well as more RAM standard.)

In addition to the upgraded processors, the other hot news is the change in graphics cards.  All 15″ models now come with a discrete graphics card – an NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M.  Models are available with either 256MB of graphics memory or, for the higher end model, 512MB.

For a full review of all the latest options, I suggest reading the Engaget’s description of the updates, or their Review of the MacBook Pro Core i7.

So what does all of this mean to photographers?

Processing Power

Pure processing power has always been on the list of necessary features for a photographer’s laptop choice.  Converting RAW images, running programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom or Apple Aperture and storing / cataloging the hundreds of images taken every day is simply a processor intensive task.  And while the previous MacBook Pro machines were indeed powerful, over the course of the last 10 months, a lot of upgrades have come about in mobile processors.

In an effort to stay competitive, Apple made a smart decision to include the latest Core i5 and i7 processors in this generation of MacBook Pros.  Early benchmarks of these Intel processors has shown very favorable results and these should prove to provide an even better user experience to anyone doing complex computing.  While there have been many complaining about the lack of a quad core option, Apple has always been conservative with their laptop specs.  I guess, in this case, I’d rather have a rock solid laptop with slightly slower processor than the latest and greatest processor at the sacrifice of stability and build quality.  However, I’m sure many would not agree.

Screen Resolution

While the upgraded processor is a huge draw for running Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom, the other huge news is the ability to add a higher resolution screen to the 15″ product line.  For me, this alone makes these a huge step above the previous generation MacBook Pro for any sort of photographic tasks.  And while the 17″ does have an even higher resolution, many mobile professionals can’t justify the additional bulk.  In fact, most professional photographers I’ve conversed with feel that the 15″ is the best option with regards to bulk and horsepower.

While some may argue that there is really very little gain from the new higher resolution screen, let’s do some quick math.  The 13″ screen has a standard (non-upgradable) resolution of 1280×800 or 1,024,000 pixels.  The standard 15″ resolution of 1440×900 pixels equals a total pixel count of 1,296,000 (for those doing the math, that’s only a 26.5% increase over the 13″).  And while this does indeed make a difference, if you’re anything like me, the more pixels the better — especially for a program like Adobe Lightroom.  Enter the new upgrade option from Apple.  For only $100 more (for glossy, $150 for a matte option), the latest 15″ can be ordered with a 1680×1050 pixel resolution for a total pixel count of 1,764,000.  This is a 36% increase over the standard 15″ configuration and a whopping 72% increase over the 13″ model!  That’s huge!  I’m sure we’ll see many people upgrading for that feature alone.

Graphics Processing

The NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M has received its fair share of criticism in the last week.  However, since this chip was manufactured exclusively for Apple, and has only been released for a week, I really feel it’s too early to pass a harsh judgment.  In fact, early reports show it being more than adequate for most users.  Also, according to many (including the above Engadget review), the latest version of Photoshop (CS5) will take full advantage of the upgraded GPU.  I can only hope that Lightroom 3 (when released) will also follow suit as rendering a couple GB of images can currently take a noticeable amount of time.  Only time will tell how well this graphics option will perform.

Conclusion

Personally, one of the biggest reasons I’ve stuck with my 3+ year old MacBook was the fact that the MacBook Pro line simply didn’t offer enough incentive to upgrade for my uses.  And when Apple announced the new 13″ Pro models, I thought I’d finally found my next laptop.  However, with the discrete graphics option now standard on the entry level 15″ models, and the option to add a higher resolution screen, I really feel that the 15″ MacBook Pro is the perfect portable photographic companion!

Update:

The new MacBook Pro arrived and my Initial Impressions are posted (as well as unboxing photos).

Post Processing a Glove

The other night, my wife and I got to milk cows for our neighbors.  We always enjoy this as it gives us a chance to pretend to be farmers for a day.  Also, there’s something very rewarding about a little bit of hard work.

After we finished chores, I tried to get a few photos.  At my wife’s suggestion, I took a few of an old, well worn, pair of gloves.  While they may not be the prettiest things to look at, they really speak to the hard work that goes into any physical trade.

While I liked the original photo (shown below), I really felt that it didn’t do justice to the subject matter.  It looked a bit washed out directly out of camera (which isn’t unusual) and so I thought I’d give it a go and try my hand at some post processing in Lightroom.

NIKON D200 @ 50mm — ¹/60 sec, ƒ/2.8, ISO 160 | zoom in
Original Photo

I really wanted to accent the aged / weathered look of the glove, so I dragged the Lightroom Clarity slider to +100.  This accentuated all the cracks and other textures of the glove.

NIKON D200 @ 50mm — ¹/60 sec, ƒ/2.8, ISO 160 | zoom in
Clarity +100

This looked better, but I really wanted to make it look aged.  Usually, age yellows things.  So I changed the temperature to make the whole photo warmer and messed with the fill light and vibrance settings until I was happy.

NIKON D200 @ 50mm — ¹/60 sec, ƒ/2.8, ISO 160 | zoom in
Warmed up the colors

I intentionally made things a bit too warm and yellow.  This was done because the next step was to desaturate the photo by dragging the saturation slider to around -25.  This isn’t so much as to create a greyscale photo, but enough to make it look antique.  I also did a little cropping to straighten the photo.

NIKON D200 @ 50mm — ¹/60 sec, ƒ/2.8, ISO 160 | zoom in
Final Version

I’m happy with the outcome and used this version in my Daily Photo #60.  I never had to leave Lightroom and it took under 5 minutes!

Just as a note, the easiest way to view all the steps is to click on the first photo in this post.  Once it’s loaded in a larger format, hovering your mouse over the right and left sides will bring up next / previous buttons.

Let me know what you think!

Canon G10 – No mass storage mode??

I love the little Canon G10. It’s a great camera that is much more portable than either of my two Nikon dSLRs. However, this little issue is enough to make me incredibly aggravated!

See, I guess I’m spoiled. My old Canon Powershot S30 (really old, but still works great to this day) had a mass storage mode. So do both my Nikon bodies. So what’s up Canon? What could possibly motivate you to remove such a helpful feature from your camera? And looking around online, I’m not the only one! In fact, it appears that many of the Canon dSLR bodies don’t have a mass storage mode either!

So let’s back up a step. With most cameras I’ve used, I shoot photos, they get saved to a flash memory device (either Compact Flash or Secure Digital) and I put the aforementioned card into a card reader. This works good for me. I don’t have to get out a cable and open the side of my cameras to attach the USB cable, and most card readers boast faster transfer speeds than the camera itself. So why, you ask don’t I just do this for the Canon G10? Good question!

When I bought my Nikon D50 which uses SD cards, I purchased a few 2GB SD cards for shooting. These worked well and were all I really needed. I got plenty of photos on each card (6 megapixel images) and I don’t like to store all my “eggs in one basked” so to speak. With the purchase of the Canon Powershot G10, I found that the 15 megapixel RAW files were so large that a 2GB card simply wasn’t enough. I found a good deal on a 4GB SDHC card and went for it. Little did I know that my SD card reader didn’t support the “HC” (high capacity) format of the cards. Bummer for me.

After a weekend of shooting in RAW I decided to copy the images off the card, run my custom renaming script on them and import them into Lightroom. Finding that my card reader wasn’t going to cut it, I simply pulled out a USB cable and plugged the camera directly into my MacBook. But wait! No icon appeared on my desktop. I tried my wife’s computer. No dice. Strange. I opened up Lightroom and behold, it recognized the camera. But wait! I can only import the photos into the Lightroom catalog. I don’t want to do this yet! I want to rename them first!

See, Canon, in all their infinite wisdom, decided that their cameras were too good for a Mass Storage mode which allows them to look like an external hard drive. Why? Well, that you’ll have to take up with the fine folks at Canon.

In the end, i worked around the problem by importing the files into Lightroom, deleting them from Lightroom (but leaving them on the hard drive), running my renaming script and then re-importing them into Lightroom. Phew! And then I went to bed. Needless to say, I’ll be posting some of the images I took soon, as well as investing in a newer SDHC card reader.

SmugMug Downtime

After some recent troubles with SmugMug over the past week, it appears the SmugMug team has decided to just schedule two downtime windows to get things sorted out.

They published this article detailing the recent problems and their proposed solution.

What does this mean to me?

They claim that there will be two windows. One tomorrow (August 11, 2009) and one Thursday (August 13, 2009). They don’t list exact times of these outages so I really don’t know what to expect.

However, they do claim that there will be a new feature coming soon — as early as this week. This is good timing for me as I am planning on trying out Zenfolio again. But more on that later!