Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Photoshop and Lightroom

I am currently using Photoshop CS4 and perfectly happy with it's capabilities. In line with my previous practice, I had intended to skip CS5 and upgrade to CS6 when it came out, which is due shortly. Then Adobe said that that would not be possible, upgrading to 5 would have to happen first. After the online furore that this aroused, they backed down and said they would permit upgrading from 4 to 6, for this year only. In future, upgrading will only be possible with consecutive versions of the program.
With that scare behind me, I waited patiently for CS6. Adobe has just released a beta version to sample it. Unfortunately the system requirements have now made it impossible for me to take it. PSCS 6 needs a Pentium 4 powered computer to operate ( incidentally I've just discovered that CS5 did as well). My work flow dedicated computer is only a couple of years old and obviously I was too mean to buy a decent machine back then.
So Photoshop CS is no longer an option for me. That's OK as far as what it's capable of doing for me - I'm perfectly happy to keep working on my TIFFs with what i've got. But it's the RAW conversion engine that I'm interested in, or worried about. In the first place, it appears that the major improvements that are taking place in digital capture in recent years include the quality of conversion of RAW files. Apart from that, it also appears that the camera manufacturers keep bringing out new cameras with modified RAW file types, which require an updated conversion program to keep up with them. Why on earth don't they all agree to standardize by using DNG? It's very irritating. At least Adobe's RAW to DNG conversion program is updateable and free.
Adobe has just released Lightroom 4 and that started me thinking. Although I tried it before on trial and could not make head or tail of it, I have to say that I made no attempt to teach myself with all the online aids available. So I reckoned it was my own fault that I didn't like it. And Lightroom has the same RAW engine as Photoshop. Imagine my chagrin when I discovered that it, too, requires a Pentium 4 machine, and Windows 7 or Vista operating system. I am running Windows XP.
So, should I spend lots of dosh on a new computer and then spend more on an upgrade to PSCS6 or Lightroom? Not an attractive proposition for me, because really I do not produce many new images these days due to health problems with me and my nearest and dearest. I think what I might do is buy Photoshop Elements, which also has the same RAW engine as it's big brothers in the Adobe stable. Once the RAW images have been converted to TIFFs, I can work on them further in CS4. That will save me having to learn the full workings of a new program, won't it?  We will see. Watch this space for further developments........

This image can now be published. It is the first few lines of Ulysses by James Joyce. Seventy years after his death, copyright has lapsed. Before January of this year, the Joyce estate would have chased me!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Canon G1x

I have already dealt with Nikon's latest version of a pocketable camera, the V1 and J1, which are not really pocketable because they have interchangeable lenses and as soon as you add one it's a bulky machine. They, of course used small sensors, much bigger than normal compact cameras but smaller than a 4/3rds sensor.
Canon have gone in a different direction by continuing their Powershot G series with the G1x. While the thing is a brick ( 116.7 x 80.5 x 64.7 mm / 4.5 x 3.35 x 2.5 inches approx.) and not very beautiful, it still ticks many boxes. The combination of 14 megapixels, the comparatively large sensor and the absence of an anti-aliasing filter should mean extremely high resolving power. The lens, which is telescopic with a range of 28-112mm equivalent certainly covers many eventualities. It also has a zoom optical viewfinder, which has faults - only 77% of the picture is covered and it suffers from parallax. Personally, I prefer an electronic viewfinder which gives you shooting information as well but I suppose size considerations come into play. Those reviewers who have used the real thing have other criticisms as well, especially David Kilpatrick in the British Journal of Photography, but have only published a preview so far. It will be worthwhile to see their full review and sample pics. As it stands, however, the G1x is being promoted as the ideal standby camera for professionals, one they need never be without, with useability and quality levels approaching a DSLR. If it proves itself, then I think a lot of stock photographers may put aside their DSLR kit in favour of the G1x, especially when travelling, because it will inevitably appear on the approved camera list at Alamy.

Quotes from a forum:
First, from a highly qualified reviewer:    " It's better than 7D quality cropped to the same size (14 megapixels). And the lens is better than any kit zoom, actually it's better than certain L zooms - you can use it wide open at the wide end with more confidence of corner-to-corner sharpness than a full frame user with a 24-70mm can hope for."
Second, from a very busy experienced professional:     "from the few photos I took ,right off the top I could see the IQ is better than my Nikon D7000 with almost every lens I've used!"

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Pinterest Controversy

I'm sure that , by now, a lot of people would have become aware of the existence of a new social "networking" site called Pinterest. On the face of it, it seems like a good idea, a site where people could refer to the things on the interweb that interests them, by "pinning" them to an online board. Unfortunately that is a license to steal intellectual property. And, again, unfortunately, the terms and conditions of the site allow for this without any harm to themselves.
There is no point in me ranting on about this here when one of my most admired blogs has done it in a most cogent and intelligent way. Here is the Russian Photos Blog.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Sensor Size

Every so often I look up sensor sizes on the interweb. This image is from Wikipedia. It hasn't been updated to include the Canon G1X sensor, which is a new one, slightly bigger than 4/3rds.
 It is interesting that both Nikon and Canon, the two major players in the camera market, brought out two entirely different, new sensor sizes. The Nikon CX, used in their new system cameras J1 and V1, is appreciably smaller  than 4/3rds but much larger than a point and shoot camera, whereas the Canon G1X's sensor is larger than 4/3rds.
Is this going to continue? Are we, the customers, going to find a multiplicity of sensor sizes to choose from in the future? I have to say I find this irritating. Some people say it's the equivalent of choosing different films, as in the past, but that's facile. When choosing a camera, what I'm interested in is image quality, but under normal circumstances I do not have the opportunity to test a camera before purchasing ( I do my purchasing online), so therefore I have to rely on online reviews. Unfortunately these tend to spend a lot of time and effort into ascertaining how good the JPEG in-camera processing is - what sort of art filter effects there are, and it's capabilities in capturing HD video recording. Pardon me while I snort but my abiding concerns are, as I've said, image quality and ease of use for stills photography. But, I don't know if you have noticed, most online reviews will not make a judgment about image quality. So the only thing we have to go by is sensor size (relating to megapixel quantity). Therefore, I know my D700 fullframe 12 MP camera produces superb images even at high ISO, but I have no experience of the Nikon 1 system images, which by all reports, are excellent.
There is a huge difference in the sizes of the sensors involved, so I'm confused.
Anybody else feel this way?

Saturday, 10 March 2012

People in Alamy images

Alamy has just sent me an email detailing 30 images which they say are wrongly annotated, specifically that I had noted that there were no people in the images and that I had to change the annotation. Admittedly, Alamy is correct. In my defence, these all date to a period where I was not aware just how stringent this rule is, but ignorance is not a defence.
Most are like the one here where any people are insignificant details in the picture.

But here's one where the people element is just a shadow! So be aware: Any part or shadow of a human being counts as "people", and without model releases, must go as Rights Managed.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Never work with children or animals

I had intended to title this post as follows: "My new (animal) model arrives", but the shoot brought back all my previous experience of trying to photograph animals, especially in the studio. Admittedly I did not want chocolate box images - I wanted a bit of character in shots of my new puppy. What I got was chaotic movement. Something about the studio made Ben totally lose it. Ah well, I did get a few worthwhile images - I think !
 Note the artistic out-of-focused-ness of this image. Or maybe it's just mad movement. Anyway, not for Alamy, I think.

                               This one will do.


This was the kind of shot I was looking for.

Monday, 5 March 2012


In 2009, Kodak stopped manufacturing Kodachrome after 74 years. This film was the best transparency film available, at any time during the years of film photography. Because of it's complex processing, it was sold with processing charges included and once shot, it had to be posted to a Kodak laboratory. In the USA, I believe things were a little different, but those of us in the rest of the world had to wait weeks to have our slides returned.
I always thought Kodachrome was made in 35mm only but I was wrong. Medium format and even 4x5 sheet film was manufactured, and if you click here you will see absolutely magnificent images taken during the Second World War which amply illustrate the quality that attracted professionals who could afford to wait weeks for results, such as National Geographic shooters.
It is also sad but inevitable that Kodak have just announced that they are ceasing to manufacture colour reversal (transparency, slide) film.