As an enthusiast amateur photographer and customer, I welcome the changes at the photo-sharing service Flickr. They are past due.
The service, owned by Yahoo, long ago lost its edge to Google+ and other image-sharing sites innovating the online presentation of pictures.
Flickr’s makeover, instituted earlier this week, places a greater emphasis on the pictures by filling the page with large over-size thumbnails when you open your account.
All users get more storage space — a free terabyte, there’s a new place for a customizable header picture, and double-clicking on a selected image launches a neat full-screen slide-show. These and other changes are designed to promote full-resolution image sharing and make Flickr a preferred destination for photographers again.
There are tradeoffs, however. The free space comes with advertising. The 25-USD Pro subscription is replaced by a 50-USD annual subscription sans advertising. That’s caused a lot of bellyaching from current users of the Pro service. But it’s my understanding those of us who have been paid subscribers to Flickr Pro will be grandfathered in for the one terabyte of space if we do nothing. We also have the option of switching to the free service.
New to Flickr’s offering is what the company calls Doublr. It’s aimed at the tiny segment of professional photographers needing space for extremely large still images and videos. That’s a whopping 1TB to 2TB for $499.99. Although the price seems high, it’s cheaper than a comparable amount of storage from Google+.
I doubt the change at Flickr will pull in any of the point-and-shoot amateur crowd, however — especially younger people. Their choice for picture sharing is Facebook. I recently shot some pictures at a family gathering and quickly assembled a few images that I put on FB. Lots of reaction. But the full set of better quality images uploaded to Flickr and shared with the group has not been accessed.
Pre-release customer demand is apparently high for Blue Microphone’s much-acclaimed Nessie model. The winner of Mac World’s Best of the Show 2013 award early this year had been scheduled to go on sale this spring. B&H Photo initially listed availability for this month, but a couple of weeks ago, that date for the adaptive USB mic was moved to June and B&H is now showing shipping availability as June 30.
In answer to my email query, Michael Huckler , Vice President of Professional Sales for Blue Microphones, told me on May 20 there are thousands of the mics on order, and the Nessie just started rolling off the production lines “this past week or so.” Mr. Huckler said it generally takes from 4-6 weeks to get a product to market.
At 99 USD, the Nessie appears to be a dream tool for desktop podcaster and voiceover production and entry-level music tracking. This cardioid-pattern condenser microphone utilizes digital processing to automatically adapt to the sound source for optimal-quality audio. It features a built-in pop filter, internal shock mount, real-time headphone monitor output with volume control, and instant mute on the mic.
I’m sure there are a lot of webcasters out there anxiously awaiting the arrival of their Nessie.
I have just published my latest video in a series aimed at English-speaking photographers seeking an alternative external editor to use with Adobe Lightroom. My recommendation is PhotoLine, a powerful editor that costs about 59 Euros.
Adobe’s announcement of Photoshop’s movement to subscription on the cloud has a lot of photographers looking for an alternative.
PhotoLine is powerful, 64-bit and multi-platform. It handles layers and blends, records, plays actions and is compatible with virtually all modern 8b3 plugins.
PhotoLine was designed and is maintained by two German brothers. They are brilliant engineers but this two-person shop doesn’t have the time to deal with the marketing side. Thus tThe interface is clunky and looks obsolete, and the English-language manual and help file are error-riddled. But its price and potential make it worth the extra effort to master the application.
I hope these videos will help folks in their evaluation of PhotoLine.
A 30-day free trial copy can be downloaded from http://www.pl32.com/.
Adobe’s announcement about the future of the various versions of Photoshop has the digital photography world buzzing.
No more boxed versions of Photoshop. Following the lead of other big players like Microsoft, future Photoshop will be a cloud-based application available by subscription. The change does not apply to Photoshop Elements nor Lightroom. But many photographers using CS6 are extremely upset.
These negative responses are mostly emotional. However, Adobe’s justification is rational — this change must be made to accommodate the move to mobile computing. There’s an excellent discussion of the issues involved on The Grid.
While the move to CC may be logical for the professional photographer who can pass along monthly software subscription charges through customer billing, it’s not common sense for the enthusiast amateur.
Most of us are shooting in raw, and if we’re not already using Lightroom, we soon will be. With Lightroom we can develop, organize, publish and non-destructively edit our photos. The beta of Lightroom 5 adds heal and clone capabilities to the non-destructive list. The major plugins we use now come in Lightroom versions or with apps that allow them to be used in Lightroom.
We do need an external editor for those occasions when corrections using layers are needed. But it’s not worth spending 50 US dollars or 20 US dollars per month for the full Photoshop package or simple Photoshop.
Our two best alternatives available as 64-bit applications for either the Windows or Mac platforms are PhotoLine 17.5, sold for $77 US dollars or Photoshop Elements 11 currently available from Amazon for 60 US dollars.
PhotoLine’s significant advantage over Elements is the ability to record, not just run, actions and it works in 16-bit, not just 8-bit. Both of these applications will be adding users from the former Photoshop users rank.
I just uploaded the latest in my series of videos designed to assist English-speaking photographers learn about PhotoLine, the German-published photo editor.
PhotoLine is a cheaper, yet powerful, alternative to Photoshop for external editing in Adobe Lightroom. If you don’t want to spend big bucks on CS6, consider an evaluation of PhotoLine. PL lacks the snazzy look of Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. But it has layer/blend power, records and runs actions, and contains just about all of the features you’ll need from an external editor for Lightroom.
Meanwhile, the beta version of Lr 5 continues to impress me. In the Develop module, the new Radial Filter and and automatic alignment of vertical and horizontal lines are significant improvements. Both of those, of course, work on the raw file with instructions stored in the image metadata. If Adobe continues to advance this product, the day may come when we’ll never need an external editor.
When Lr5 is released, Adobe could capture an even larger slice of the raw image development and organization market.
There’s no doubt Lightroom is already the big dog on the block. Capture 1 is almost exclusively high-end camera market. Photo Ninja, a new and excellent raw converter, appears to be heading for a niche share. The 1.1 beta includes a Photoshop plugin. All the other contenders for your raw-processing needs are far behind or have dropped out of the race.
The four dunderhead Republicans who occupy the highest elected offices in Texas have done it again.
First, John Cornyn, the state’s senior senator in the United States Senate, and our very junior — junior high would be more appropriate — senator, Ted Cruz, voted with the majority to kill an effort to require more thorough background checks for persons buying guns.
Never mind there have been 1,280 gun deaths in the United States since Sandy Hook. Never mind there were 32,132 deaths in the U.S. due to guns in 2011. Never mind guns are used in most suicides in the U.S. Never mind guns are used in most homicides in the U.S. Never mind guns take innocent lives. Never mind guns are typically used in mass killings like Sandy Hook. Never mind that the states with the most gun laws have the fewest deaths due to guns.
Cornyn and Cruz chose to ignore the facts and vote for the arms industry in this country and its public relations arm the National Rifle Association. Cornyn and Cruz chose to join the side using fear, smear and lies to scare voters and intimidate senators up for reelection next year. Eventually voters will get fed up with their tactics.
Back home in Texas, Governor Rick Perry took time off from his efforts to attract gun manufacturers to Texas to appear at a news conference with other state officials responding to the explosion of the fertilizer facility in West, Texas, just north of Waco on IH35. There were an unknown number of people killed and perhaps hundreds of people injured. Among the victims were members of the West Volunteer Fire Department who responded initially to a fire at the plant.
Perry, who will likely make another run for the Republican presidential nomination, made a statement, but let representatives from various Texas agencies take questions about lack of inspections and regulation of the facility. There was no information on why the state fails to maintain standards of training to deal with chemical fires and explosions like this tone. The news conference was timed to make the 6 p.m. newscasts in the state’s television markets.
Meantime, the man who hopes to replace Perry as governor, Attorney General Greg Abbott, was on the scene in West for a news conference, part of which was carried live by the Austin TV stations’ 6 p.m. newscasts. Abbott described what he saw in a helicopter ride over the area a little earlier in the afternoon. Abbott’s description was very bad and added absolutely nothing new to what viewers had already seen in video shot by the news media.
General Abbott’s official duties have nothing to do with response to a public disaster like this one. He was there for one reason — public exposure. The attorney general should apologize to Texans for attempting to use tragedy for political gain.
Shooters of raw images want their conversion program to render pictures with little or no required manual manipulation before export. For professional turning out lots of images for a client, it’s imperative. To enthusiasts, the artistic interpretation of images at the next stage takes enough time without the added burden of fixing initial renderings.
Lightroom does a good out-of-the-box job for some camera/lens combinations, but other camera brands require the addition of presets or the time-consuming task of producing custom profiles to get the best automatic effort from Lightroom.
That’s why some photographers choose another developing program before sending the image to Lightroom.
For owners of the Olympus OM-5 E-M5, here’s a comparison of automatic rendering of that camera’s raw files by three excellent external raw converters — DxO Optics Pro 8.1.5, Photo Ninja 1.10 Beta 3 and Olympus’ own Viewer 3. These are the default renderings to TIFs, no other adjustments applied, converted to 800×600 jpegs. Click on the image to see the full size.
First is a close-up of poppies of a somewhat subdued red color.
With that image, there appears to be little appreciable difference among the three products.
Next is a set of close-ups of a bulbine flower, featuring yellows, oranges and reds.
In this case, there is little or no difference between the renderings of DxO Optics Pro and Photo Ninja, but the Olympus Viewer 3 produces more intense colors.
The third image is a yellow aster.
Here, each product renders the colors differently. DxO provides more detail than the others, but is darker. The Oly developer renders a flower color that is warmer and more intense. A brighter yellow for the aster flower is rendered by Photo Ninja.
Finally, a close-up of Red Drummond phlox flowers.
In this matchup, there are definite differences among the three developers and a clear winner in rendering. DxO Optics Pro is the only one of the applications to mute the red blowout enough to render details in the flower pedals. Surprisingly, the default rendering of Olympus own product is unacceptable. The worst effort comes from Photo Ninja.
It should be remembered that all three of these raw converters are very good and can produce essentially the same rendering with manual adjustment.
Photo Ninja is a brand new product that has already gained significant respect for its ability to recover blown-out highlights, and perhaps soon the problem handling reds from Oly raw files will be resolved.
Viewer — free to owners of Olympus cameras — is just out in version 3. It’s clunky, but usually spot-on in its rendering of ORF files. Maybe there will be a patch to fix the red intensity problem.
DxO Optics Pro provides excellent automatic corrections, not only for light, shadow and color, but for lens/camera combinations, too.
A preference of one of these three is usually a photographer’s personal taste.