My Photographic Future

I’m almost ready to ditch my iMac as my chief photography processing machine. On the flight back from India, I plugged my SD card into my iPad Mini 4 (via a dongle) and processed the entire collection. It was an easy and pleasant processing experience. But I’d really want a little bit more screen real estate before I gave up my iMac full time. Continue reading “My Photographic Future”

Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop

For years and years, Adobe Photoshop was amongst the most pirated pieces of software on the planet. Not surprising, really. It was, is, the best photo editor available. And it was so prohibitively expensive, the only way the average Joe could afford it was to steal it. Then along came Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, to complement the original. Another slick and essential piece of gear for the digital photographer. It was cheaper too, but still quite a financial outlay. And, as a result,  just as heavily pirated.

Last year, Adobe tried to crack down on piracy by moving their software into the cloud. Would you be surprised if I told you that cracked versions were on torrent sites within days? Perhaps hours. Invariably, despite software creators doing their darnedest to prevent it, the pirates will find a way round any protection that is put up. It’s a pointless battle.

But I’m really, really pleased to say that Adobe has found a genuinely novel, workable and real world model to help reduce piracy. They’ve made their product affordable. Really affordable, with monthly plans that make sense to even the hardest up snapper. Photoshop and Lightroom are such powerful, yet user friendly pieces of kit, that they should appeal to every enthusiastic photographer. I have signed up today for the Creative Cloud Photography Plan. Available to US citizens for $9.99. Us Brits have to pay an inflated, but still reasonable, £8.78.

I love Adobe Lightroom, which is my primary photography processing and management tool. It’s a work of digital genius. I like Photoshop, which I use less often, but it’s such a powerful tool. I love the fact that I now own them both. Two legit installations on my laptop. The latest editions, and I’ll be getting all the latest updates.  Have you given Lightroom a try yet? You’ll never go back to whatever you used before once you’ve given it a fair run on your PC.

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London Presets

I’ve been adding to my collection of photos of London, using a variety of Lightroom presets – click here to see the set. How good is Lightroom? I love to experiment with new tech. I flitter between Apple, Google and Microsoft products. I’ve swapped from MyOpera to Blogger to WordPress. I use different video editing software from time to time. But I’ve never, ever been even remotely tempted to switch away from Adobe Lightroom. Ever. It’s the most slick piece of software of any kind of the market.

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Lightroom 4 Beta

My photography workflow has remained largely unchanged for several years. Ever since I started using Adobe’s Lightroom, the first version. Lightroom is a thing of wonder. It’ll import my photos, allow me to edit them, manage my collections and export them to Flickr. If I need a bit more editing power I can open an image into Photoshop directly, and do the extra work there. When I save the image, it’s there waiting for me in Lightroom.

It has a few flaws. Nothing major, it has to be said. And only one that has ever bugged me. It edits in a non-destructively way. In other words, when you’re done editing, you can at any time, even years later, undo those edits. I actually don’t want this ‘feature’. I wish it could be turned off. If I’ve edited an image, I’ve done so for a reason, and I want the change to be permanent. This becomes an issue if you’re reinstalling Lightroom. The changes you made are all gone, and you’re left with the original ‘imperfect’ image.

Now, I know you can save the catalogue of edits and reimport them, and the edits are all back. But this is extra fuss and bother, and it doesn’t always work out. Especially when you install and start using a beta version which doesn’t recognise old edit catalogs. Which is exactly what I’ve done this week. Lightroom 4 beta is available for download, free and legally. I always export my edited photos to my hard-drive though, so my changes become permanent.

Is Lightroom 4 worth giving a try? Absolutely. Within a couple of minutes I’s set it to default – Lightroom 3 is history. The fourth version looks very similar at first glance. But there is one key difference. The Map screen. I used to geo-tag my photos in Flickr, but that had two drawbacks. Firstly, you have to geo-tag in Yahoo maps, and Yahoo maps are absolutely awful. Terrible. Compared to either Google or Bing maps, they are an abomination. The second drawback is that the geo-tagging seems to relate to the Flickr data, rather than embedding the co-ordinates into the photos exif data. So it’s not exportable. So I stopped geo-tagging my photos.

Lightroom 4 uses Google maps, and works like a dream. I’ll be geo-tagging my images again from now on. I like to have this data embedded in the photo because it can be useful when looking back at snaps, when you want to see where you were. Of course, the easiest way of doing this if to have GPS built into the camera, and the geo-tagging done automatically. Any future cameras I buy will have GPS. Any camera without it won’t make it on to my short-list.

If you’ve never used Lightroom before, now’s an excellent time to give it a whirl. I highly recommend it. It’s intuitive, slick, fast and powerful. I mentioned that I sometimes edit photos in Photoshop too. But truth be told, Lightroom’s editing tools are so comprehensive that I rarely need to. Incidentally, I don’t much recommend the built in Flickr and Facebook publishing options. Install Jeffrey Friedl’s plugins (he has one for Picasa/Google Photos too) which work much better.