from my drive yesterday.
I have done the retouching for this image in Lightroom on my laptop. Of course the screen of the laptop is not the best, so I may have to revisit this…
This review will be broken into two parts, this one on the camera and and the article following on image quality.
I bought myself a new Nikon D600 last Thursday, and this weekend is the first time I have been able to “play” with it. There is lots to learn with this camera, the owners manual is the size of a small novel (and yes that is only the English). For these reasons, this will be an evolving review as I learn more….
Of course the first thing I did after I bought my camera was to charge the battery. I wish the charger displayed the battery level, but that is not a big deal, as the camera seems to be accurate (no I have not killed a charge yet, but I am not one for taking thousands of images on a shoot). Once I got home from work, I started reading the manual. The manual will take a couple of reads before I learn everything, but a quick browse gave me an idea of some of the things I wanted to customize. Since I am coming from a much older and simpler camera, I probably have more to learn than someone upgrading from a more recent model. I am not one for gadgets on my cameras…
Out taking photos, the camera handles well. Honestly I don’t think it feels as good as my old Fuji S2-Pro, but that might just be a familiarity thing. I know build quality is better on the D600. The viewfinder is nice and bright, and seems to show everything you really need. One feature I did not think about was live view. When shooting at an unusual angle, I did not have to contort to see through the viewfinder to compose. Again, I prefer using the viewfinder, but the live view was a help for a couple of shots.
One thing I did not like was the remote release. The cord can be plugged in backwards. It takes a very little extra effort, and I am afraid it could break some contacts or something. I will have to mark the plug somehow (I am thinking of a dot of bright red nail polish). I will also need to figure out a way to mount the release to the tripod. I tend to leave the camera on the tripod and carry it over my shoulder. If I leave the remote plugged it, it swings. In other words, it is not a well designed remote. There is available a wireless remote, but having used those in the past, I’m not a big fan…
When I got home to download the images I was in for another surprise. My Linux computer recognized the raw files fine, however my windows machine did not. A download from Nikon enabled me to see thumbnails, but that was about it. Lightroom 4 recognized the files, but Photoshop CS5 did not. Contrary to what seems like most photographers, I don’t really like Lightroom, and I don’t see a real need to update to Photoshop CS6. Thank goodness Digikam understands the files. I do miss some of the controls and ease of ACR, but I can work around that. I will have to figure out a workflow…
Back to the camera though, Image quality is amazing. I could get very good images with my old Fuji, but I felt like I was pushing it right up to, and even past, what it could provide. I often had to work pretty hard to get what I wanted. With the D600, I get the feeling I have room to spare. The image files just keep going, amazing detail, tons of dynamic range, and very malleable.
Of course the camera is new, and I have to justify the cost, but I think as I learn the D600, it will prove to be a versatile tool.
Why is software (and hardware for that matter) is such a moving target?
Years ago I did a lot of research to find a good on line gallery software. I tried a bunch and settled on Gallery2. As I learned the software, I grew to like it more and more. It was versatile, it let me do what I wanted, and it looked good. Unfortunately, software developers get bored with maintaining the same software, so they came out with Gallery3. Of course Gallery3 is not compatible with Gallery2. All the tweaks and customizations I put into my website would not work with the new system. I have been using Gallery2 anyway, but it looks like I may have to change. All the extras don’t seem to work as well as they used to, and the main integration with WordPress is not quite as easy as it once was….. Bummer….
- There was a plugin, for example, for Linux that let me upload photos directly from my desktop by right clicking on an image. Now that plugin seems to have disappeared. I can still upload photos, but it is not quite as quick and easy↵
I came across someone asking for help for his website. He has lofty goals, but I think he has bitten off a bit more than he can chew. I will come back to this in a bit…
Whenever I talk to someone who wants to start a small business, I ask a few basic questions:
1) What makes your business unique?
Too often the answer is either, “People will come to me because I am great” or “I am the only one selling this exact product”. No business is without competition, and there are good people everywhere (admittedly, there are “bad” people out there too). There may be no one selling widget “A”, but widget “B” does 99% of the same stuff, and it costs half as much.
A related answer is, “I will do it better than any competition.” This is a tough one, because you are fighting a real uphill battle. First you need to define “better” then you need to determine if enough other people will agree that this is in fact batter. Finally you need to hope that your competition, with their established customers and “business momentum” will not learn or implement your new better way.
2) What are you really selling?
This is the old sizzle and steak sales adage. Know what problem you are solving for your customers. And possibly more important, are there enough people with this problem to become potential customers.
It is surprising how many business owners don’t really know what they are selling…
This brings me back to the website I started with. This person wanted:
(Note: typos corrected)
Now I don’t want to be too hard on this person, but….
To add to the problems, the person (and no I will not add a link so I don’t embarrass the web developer more than I have to) is trying to create a site to appeal to visual people, yet he still seems to be struggling with the basic layout of his site, as evidenced by this screen shot:
Sorry, but before you can start marketing you need to get a product. If your purpose is to learn HTML and CSS, that is great, but if you want to attract people, maybe it would be worth taking a shortcut with Drupal, WordPress, or some other content management system.
EDIT: I originally found this site while at school, where the network is quite locked down. Viewing the site on a more open network looks a lot better, but it is still not really appealing to it’s target market. And of course, since the site doesn’t degrade well, if anyone were to look at it from work, or on an under powered tablet, the impression would be pretty bad…
- Yes I just made up the term “business momentum” I define it as the comfort customers have in staying with an established company, or conversely, the reluctance customers have in changing companies.↵
- Sales people will say that people don’t buy things, they buy solutions to their problems. If someone is hungry (the problem) they don’t want a slab of dead cow (the steak) they want the aroma, the flavour, and the feeling of satisfaction after eating a meal (the sizzle). Of course this analogy breaks down if you are talking to a vegetarian….;)↵
In one of the LinkedIn groups I follow, Davesh asked for help with this image taken with, I am guessing, a cell phone camera with a dirty lens:
with a couple of minutes in Photoshop (or any other retouching program)
I found the original a bit pasty an flat, in addition to the light flare from the dirty lens, so the first step was an overall contrast and saturation adjustment.
Next I tackled the faces covered with flare. I simply made another curves adjustment layer, matched the tone of the “flared” area to the unflared area, then masked off everywhere else.
Last step was to darken the background. Again I used a curves layer with a mask to control what was adjusted.
As a final last step, I was not happy with a couple of the faces, so I touched them up a bit more.
All in all, it took me much longer to write this description than to retouch the photo. Yes I could fix the photo quite a bit more. There is a lot of fine tuning I could do, but sometimes a quick “down and dirty” job is good enough…
PS. One of the responses in the above discussion mentioned that the background light is distracting. I agree, but removing it with the clone tool for example was a bit more work than I was willing to put into the image. Another poster had a better suggestion anyway, just crop off the top… makes a better composition anyway…
I have seen a question asked in a number of forms (and forums). The most common variant seems to be along the lines of, “Why does my super expensive uber-camera only record 72 DPI?”
This can get quite complicated, but I will try to keep it simple. Before we can even start, though, we need some definitions:
DPI or Dots Per Inch is an often misused printing term. For ink jets printers it refers to the number of distinct drops of a specific colour of ink placed on the paper. As a simple example imagine a 3 colour printer that has 300 holes in an inch wide print head, 100 for the cyan ink (C), 100 for the magenta (M), and 100 for the yellow (Y). This printer has 300 dots per inch. But remember that each of these dots can only be one colour (we will ignore black and other colour inks used in higher end printers, this is a cheap make-believe printer just to demonstrate a point). Additional colours can be made by mixing different numbers of dots of these inks, along with the white of the paper, in a very small area (look at a print under a magnifying glass sometime). The way a printer does this is to place a number of dots of each required colour (CMY) within a matrix.
Now, back to our original 300 dpi printer. Imagine that this print head used a 100 dot matrix to make each pixel. It takes 100 dots to make up one colour. It may take 27 cyan dots, 56 magenta dots, and 7 yellow dots while leaving the rest of the matrix white to make up the required colour . Each colour matrix represents ONE pixel. Therefore, this theoretical print head can print three (3) PIXELS per inch (PPI).
This is why some printers say they have 1200 dpi or more. This is NOT the same as 1200 PPI. The number of pixels, and the actual resolution has nothing (ok, very little) to do with the DPI. A higher dpi may mean a higher ppi, it may mean a larger range of printable colours, but it could also mean absolutely nothing!
So now we know what printed dots are, but what about resolution? Resolution is the number of pixels in an image, usually measured along the horizontal and vertical axes. 640 pixels wide by 480 pixels tall as an example.
So where does ppi come in? Let’s say we want to print an 8 inch by 10 inch picture. We know from experience that we need about 300 ppi to make a photo realistic image. We multiply 8 inches times 300 ppi for 2400 pixels and 10 times 300 for 3000 pixels. We need an image of 2400 x 3000 pixels.
A lot of the confusion comes when printing programs or graphics programs use dpi when they mean ppi. People also get confused when they are re-sizing images. If you don’t change the number of pixels in an image (which is what affects the file size) you can specify any dpi you want. An example I used in a forum was, ” Which has more resolution, a 10 ppi image, or a 1000 ppi image?” The question is unanswerable unless I also tell you either print size, in which case you can calculate pixel dimensions, or pixel dimensions directly.
So keep an eye on pixel dimensions, and make sure your software isn’t changing the pixel count when all you want to do is print your image.
Note: If you have any questions or comments, please contact me so I can incorporate them in future articles.
- The 72 number may vary. This post was inspired by someone asking about 200 DPI vs 320 DPI. Another common question is, “What dpi should I print at?” hence the title of the article↵
- It is also been used to describe the number of each red, green or blue elements on a monitor. In common usage, dpi and ppi (pixels per inch) are often used interchangeably, which leads to much of the confusion.↵
- This printer doesn’t exist of course, and most print heads have fewer holes than their DPI rating. This is accomplished by the head moving across the print surface and “firing” multiple times per inch during that pass.↵
- One of the differences between a good photo printer and a regular colour printer is the way these dots are arranged. Some laser printers put down a very regular and rectangular grid. This can be visibly distracting in a photograph.↵
- For some reason Great Britain (not sure about the rest of Europe) measures images opposite to North America. What we call 8×10 they call 10×8. I guess they think we also drive on the wrong side of the road…↵
- The ppi required (often also called resolution – see where all the confusion comes in?) is partly dependant on the printer you are using, and partly on the viewing distance. For a regular print you are going to be looking closely at, use around 300 ppi. I may write on this topic in more depth at a later date…. or maybe not….↵
- as an aside, note that this is a 7.2 megapixel image. If you are willing to go to 200 ppi, which a lot of people find more than acceptable, you can get away with a 3.2 megapixel camera. Yes you can make decent prints with your cell phone, as long as it has good quality pixels (another topic, and rare in a cell phone) and a good lens (very rare).↵
I have finally gotten off my butt to put some of my workshops on line. Well actually I have gotten ON my butt at the computer… let’s move on….
I needed to buy a new microphone so that I could do some videos explaining some of the concepts, so I went into Boomers because I had a bit of a store credit. It turns out they sold a bit more of the stuff I got when Office Depot shut down. I was able to get a much better microphone-headset for nothing.
Must be a sign…
I have been watching videos at Kahn Academy (khanacademy.org) and I started to wonder if I could put up something similar, but photography or art related. I have researched video software enough that I can start experimenting. Hopefully I can get something up soon..
I know one of my weaknesses has been accounting. That is one of many reasons I am back in school. And one of the reasons my brain has been hurting lately, however, I am trying out a few open source accounting solutions I can use if I become a consultant.
For a small business, gnucash is ok. It is more fully featured than the cheaper versions of Simply Accounting, but nowhere near the ease of use of the expensive versions. But there is the rub. For a small business, is costs over $400 to get what you need, as well as a bunch of stuff you don’t. $400 may not seem like much, but it is an expense with no return that repeats every year. If you were to take that same $400 and buy inventory that you can sell with a 25% margin, in 5 years, you will have made an extra 3 grand. (see that is some of my new accounting/financial planning knowledge) I have also been exploring LedgerSMB and FrontAccounting. These program are very powerful, can be run off a server to be accessible anywhere, and can be quite customizable.
LedgerSMB is ugly, but since it is html template based, it may be possible to make a prettier face on it. It also feels a bit dated and awkward to use. It was also much harder to install (mind you email support was very friendly and fast).
FrontAccounting is quite easy to install on any basic Linux server. It does take a bit of work to set up a complete set of books, customers, vendors, and inventory, but with a bit of patience, and a very little bit of bookkeeping knowledge it is possible. I do wish you could add things “on the fly”, such as adding a customer from within the invoice screen. Instead you have to exit the invoice, go to “add and manage customers”, add the customer, then go back to the invoice screen. Reprinting invoices is also a bit convoluted, as you have to go in through the journal entry screen.
As a techie, FrontAccounting is not bad. I am not sure if I could recommend it to a small business owner, only because it doesn’t have as much hand holding as Simply Accounting. If you have a bit of bookkeeping knowledge (I only have three courses under my belt) and are comfortable with computers, you can save your $400 per year, and I am sure that as I get more familiar with it and use it more, FrontAccounting will become easier. This software also seems to be under active development, so improvements will continue to make it better. Here’s to open source…..
As we all know, cell phones, and their built-in cameras are getting better and much more common. Since I just got a new cellphone (with camera) I have been playing with it.
First, it will never replace my “real” camera. The image quality is good, but not great. Low light leaves a bit to be desired, and the built in flash suffers from all the issues of built-in flash, however, it is very convenient to carry around. My cellphone embodies the axiom that the best camera iso the one you have with you.
My next challenge is to make an image that I can print and show off.
PS I am also typing this blog post on my cell. Again a not of a mixed blessing of convenience vs a pain on the neck…
So I got myself a new cellphone. One of the new fangled fancy ones that lets me do all kinds of neat things including writing new articles on my blog.
I guess I will have to write more stuff now.
I was visiting another photographers website, and I liked their idea of a top ten album. They had chosen their favourite 10 images for one album.
I have been thinking of how to incorporate this idea into my site. Of course I thought of automating it and making a rating system and using that to create a top rated album. The problem is that after a while I end up with a lot more than 10 images. The next step was to arrange the images so the most recent ones were first…
Another problem is that my taste changes from day to day, so what I want in my top 10 today is not necessarily the same as what I want tomorrow.
I guess I will have to keep working on it…
PS. The latest “top photos” album is here.
OK, I think I am hooked. I have been playing with my photos lately (and I have posted a few here) and you know what? It is fun. It is interesting to make something only tangentially related to the original images(s).
Photography has never really been about recording reality. The camera angle, lens, exposure, and even the choice of colour vs. black and white can all affect how we perceive the image. Much has been written on this, but you only need to look at advertising photography to see the extent to which this can be done (and remember, advertisers still have to deal with misrepresentation laws…). One of my favourite “photographers”* has made an art form of combining images.
One of the big advantages of a digital workflow, as opposed to the traditional wet darkroom of Mr. Uelsmann, is the ability to make many identical copies of the final print. These copies may be from a traditional printer, but possibly more exciting is the ability to show many, many people simultaneously through the wonder of the internet. Of course there are issues with this as well, such as not every viewers monitor is of the same calibre, and so on. And since we live in a capitalistic society, it would be nice to make some cash from these viewings, but I do believe that the ability to share information with others of like mind is one of the traits that make us human…
This post got a bit deep, but here is one of my older images made into a reflection…
Another unfortunate thing about the internet is the size of images. This image has an incredible amount of detail in the print which just doesn’t come across on the web.
Here is a 100% crop of one small area…
*Jerry Uelsmann has been combining and manipulating images long before we had the luxury of digital processes. (Back in art school I tried a number of darkroom collages, and eventually gave up in frustration.) Some people may say he is not a photographer, but more of a collage artist, but then you can look at someone as “straightforward” (yes I know I like to use quotes…) as Ansel Adams. Mr. Adams is just as famous for his darkroom prowess.
I got my computer back.
It was actually a problem with my home wiring, not the computer (I think the power supply is underpowered, but that is something else…)
So having used Win7 for about a week (OK, not a long time) I can say it is OK Operating System, but not great. My impression is that it is smoother, but harder to use than Ubuntu. Smoother, because more is done for you (and dare I say it, effects look better), Harder because you have to do things the way Microsoft deems you should. Things like the program menu are a hopeless mess, many things need way too many clicks to perform, reboots, and in general you are treated like a bit of an idiot. However my biggest pet peeve is scrolling with a mouse. I am contunually moving the mouse over a window I want to scroll and, instead of that window scrolling, the last window I was working in starts to scroll. I went into mouse preferences and tried to change mouse focus, but then, whenever I hover over a window, it jumps to the front, obscuring what I am working on… For windows users this is normal.
Ubuntu, by comparison is of course rougher and easier. It doesn’t quite have the polish of Win7, but the default way of doing things is more logical. And if you don’t like the way it does something, you can change it. And I can have one window, say a word processor, open while I scroll through a website, for example.
So what am I doing? Most of my work (and play) will be on my Ubuntu partition, but there are a few times I will go into Windows when things in Linux land are not quite so pretty…
(edit, It does look like something is wrong with my computer, and I have all but given up on Win7…)
I recently purchased a new (very cheap) computer with Microsoft Windows 7 (Home Premium edition) pre-installed. As many of you know, I have used Linux for a long time, specifically Ubuntu. I decided to jump on the bandwagon and give my comparison of the two operating systems.
First of all, the edition of windows installed on the computer (a Compaq) was full of crap. Trialware and “helpers” that only got in the way. I decided to reinstall windows from a real DVD.
The install was fairly easy and straightforward, but it was not as good as a Ubuntu install. For example, in Windows, you have to choose your time zone from a drop down menu, then later choose your local settings. This isn’t hard, but it is not as good as when installing Ubuntu. There you just click a world map where you live. (Maybe Americans would not be able to read the map… :\)
Another difference is that Windows has to reboot a number of times, whereas Ubuntu only once.
Once you are in the operating system for the first time, there are a number of other differences. In Windows, you now have to (find and) install all your programs, especially anti-virus (I use Microsoft Security Essentials) , office package (Libre Office), PDF reader (foxit or Acrobat Reader), and so on… It also seems like every time you install something the computer needs to reboot.
Next you should do any updates. Again, windows needs to reboot, but not just reboot multiple times, it waits before it shuts down, telling you it is installing updates, then it pauses before getting into windows, telling you it is installing updates… WTF
Compare this to Ubuntu. Ok, it is not quite fair, you don’t need an anti-virus (for several reasons I will not get into here…), and office, pdf reader, etc are installed by default, but I do need to install a couple of extras: Digikam, Gimp, ubuntu-restricted-extras, etc. but while these are installing I can keep using the computer (same as windows) but there is no reboot required. Then I do the updates (and as an aside note, this will also update most, if not all the software on my computer) and again, no reboot required.
With Ubuntu I do not like the default Unity interface, so I have to log out, and choose Gnome Classic (This will make sense if you are using Ubuntu). I also like to change a few defaults, such as changing double click to single click, and changing the theme. You can do some of this with Windows, but it is a lot less customizable.
I will say windows does interface with my mp3 player (Sandisk Sansa) a little better than Ubuntu, and it looks, at first glance, a little better. ( I will argue that Ununtu is better integrated, more on that later)
OK, this post is a bit longer (and a bit more of a rant than I intended) I will continue it later….
A website is never “finished”! It is a constant work in progress. I have changed the default page on this site to this blog, however you can still easily see my newest images by clicking on the “Recent Photos” button on top.
You can also go directly to any of my public galleries by clicking on an album on the right side of the screen.
A while ago, a friend suggested that I call my prints limited editions. The argument is that I always try to create new work and never go back to old images, therefore I, by default, create limited editions.
A discussion recently prompted someone to say that I cannot have limited editions unless I declare at the outset how many prints I will make of an image. I agree with this sentiment, but it made me think:
1. Do I have the right to destroy beauty?
Lets say, for argument sake, I create something that is beautiful, for some definition of beauty. Do I have the right to destroy the original (either negative or digital file)? If I created it, it would be quite selfish, but I think I should be able to delete it. In the same way that if I purchased the Mona Lisa, I do have the right to burn it. Some people might be quite pissed off, I would be depriving human culture of a great work, but I do have the right.
2. What gives me the right to artificially inflate prices by artificially limiting the number of copies of a piece?
If I create a one of a kind something like a painting, any extra copies will not be as good (or at least the same) as the original. The piece with the original brush strokes is unique. The whole argument falls apart for photography*. Each print is the same as the last. Now I know that in 20 years it will be very hard to copy the same printer settings, especially if I am printing on a newer, better printer. but for a short time I should be able to reproduce any print exactly. All I need to do is print the final file. Why should I tell someone that I just sold the last copy and I do not want to print any more? Again it is a decision on my part to not print another copy, not any limitation in the media. To me that sounds selfish. But again, I guess I do have the right to not sell a print.
Digital media has changed a lot of things. Copies are no longer expensive. The only way to create a limited market is to decide to create a limited market. Is this morally right? Is it morally wrong? I don’t know, but I think I will still produce prints from an image for a while, and then no more once I get bored with it….
*An argument could be made that a print from an analogue negative is more unique, especially if there is a lot of burning and dodging of the final print. Other photographic processes may have random uncontrollable elements as well, but I am more concerned with digital, since that is what I shoot.
I have mentioned before that I use Linux, specifically Ubuntu, as my computer operating system. This post is not intended to “convert” you. It is not to teach you how to use Linux, but just to give my impressions and reasons for using it.
Probably the biggest asset of Linux, and open source software (OSS) in general, is that it is written by users for users. A couple of posts back I linked to a pyramid of the fine art market. At the bottom level it talks about artists making art, not for money, but for the love of making the art. Open source software is somewhat like this. While there are some big companies producing OSS (IBM and Redhat among others), these companies make money almost in spite of the love/need for producing a specific software. What does this mean? There are a number of results. The software tends to be customizable to an extent that commercial software can’t even dream of. For example, in Microsoft Windows, can you move the “start” button to the right hand side of the screen if you so desire? Software also tends to improve very quickly, but it is rarely change for the sake of change. Much commercial software tends to get bigger, and more bloated. Commercial software has to justify itself so people will upgrade. Open source software tends to get better because people request features.
Of course OSS has its warts. Because the software is generally written by volunteers, it can be lacking polish, and often, especially with smaller projects, there is a feeling that parts are just “good enough”
Overall I find the workflow matches my though process. And at the end of the day, that is all that really matters… getting work done…
Well, OK you should backup your files, but as a “Fine Art” photographer I never (or rarely) go back to older work. I am a “shooter”. I love going out and making exposures. I then spend hours on the computer reviewing, tweaking, and generally “post-productionizing” the images.
I have struggled with the thought of going back to old works and reworking them with my newer skills (I am getting better, aren’t I?). A friend came up with a solution. All the prints I make are limited editions. Sounds simple. Once I am happy with an image, I will make a few prints, number them, and I can go off to the next photo. Life is good.
But I still back up my files. I still may need them sometime in the future. I may decide to do a re-release, I may land a huge poster contract. I may find one of my images used illegally and I need to prove it is mine. So it is a bit of a balancing act. If I produce a series of limited edition prints, I am promising my customers that their purchase is unique. If I can reproduce an image in the future I am potentially lying to these customers. Coming to my rescue are two facts. I don’t sell a lot of prints (yet… Hopefully this will change) and I like to rework images before I print them. This makes each series of an image somewhat unique. Of course the biggest deterrent to breaking this promise is my word. When someone buys a piece of artwork, the artist is at least as important as the image.
On a tangential note, I came across a link to an interesting visual take on selling Art:
In a comment on a recent post someone mentioned backing up files. He is right, backing up your files, whether photos or other documents is a good safety measure. I have had an occasional hard drive fail, and I have had a couple of laptops stolen. Luckily in both cases I was able to recover almost everything from backups.
The traditional backup strategy is often described as a 3-2-1. Three copies of every file, Two different media types, and one kept off site. This is very good advice made by people much smarter than me. However I am lazy and opinionated, so I have my own method…
I do actually have at least two copies of all files. As described here, I have various workflow copies of each image. I also copy my whole pictures directory chain to my NAS with RAID*. I also copy my directory to an external hard drive. Where I differ is in my opinion of CD/DVD/Blueray backups. I really don’t think they are worth it. Optical media are too fragile, too small in capacity, too hard to store, too hard to catalogue, too expensive per gigabyte….. In other words, I see no advantage over a USB drive.
*There are a number of retail Network Access Servers available, but I made my own with an old discarded computer and a bunch of drives by installing Ubuntu Server. Follow the links to learn more…. lots more….
Contrary to much (Internet) wisdom. you do not need to use a Mac to create art. You don’t need to use Microsoft or Adobe software either. I use a Linux operating system for a number of reasons I may explain in another post. (if you are interested, start on the Ubuntu page)
Let me walk through my work-flow. After a photo shoot, I download my photos to my computer with a handy program called Rapid Photo Downloader. This program automatically moves all the photos on the card to my photo directory in sub-folders based on the date of the photo (taken from the cameras EXIF information). It also renames the file to include the daymonthyear of the image. In other words, I have a directory for each year, then each month, then each day containing the photos taken that day (photos/2011/01/22/22012011-sample.raf*) This program also clears the card once all the photos are transfered. I have heard some people say they like to keep all the photos on the card until they confirm that the photos have been correctly transfered, but I have never had a problem. OK, once, when my laptop was stolen, I had to use a recovery program to retrieve photos from a card, but that was trivial (and a topic for another post…)
OK, so I have my photos on my computer. Now I use a program called Digikam to view and organize the images. Digikam, like many photo organization programs (commonly called Digital Asset Management or DAM programs…. possibly for a good reason…) allows you to rate and “tag” your photos. Without changing the location of the files, a good DAM program will let you attach various labels to your photos; Goldstream Park, Kids, Snow, etc. as well as give a rating from one to 5 stars. At this point I also delete any obvious failures, such as missed focus, accidental exposures, etc. I will admit that this is my weakest area. I am not good at tagging my photos.
When I find a photo that looks like it has potential, I open it in RawTherapee. This program has gone through quite a few changes in the last little bit, and as of this date it still needs a bit of polish, but I have found the files it produces from my RAF captures to be the best I can get. This program does most of the heavy lifting. I adjust white balance, exposure via curves, any cropping, rough colour saturation, resizing, and depending on the image, sharpening. I save a copy of the file as a png or tif in a sub-folder named “converted”.
My final step is a standard photo-manipulation program. I usually use Gimp because it integrates well into Linux. Arguably PhotoShop is a better program, but I find it is usually a bit of overkill for what I want.
In Gimp I do a final curves adjustment (Yet another subject for a post), spotting (removing dust spots on the sensor) if required, dodging and burning, and any selective area adjustments. While I am working on a file I keep a copy in Gimps native format in another subfolder called “working”. When I am done I make a print and a small jpg copy for my website.
When all is said and done, I will have 4 copies of a “good” image. The original in a dated folder. A transitional file in a converted folder (I guess I should really delete this one once I have tweaked it, but hard drive space is cheap…) and two final files, one full size and one small jpg.
This system works for me. All the software is open-source and free (RawTherapee was the last holdout) and most importantly continually improving. I have tried a number of other systems, and each has strengths and weaknesses, and I am sure each appeals to different people. My point is that you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to get great quality software. In the words of a bit of a dated cliche: software free, final print priceless!
*I shoot almost exclusively raw files. Again, a subject for another post. As of this date I shoot with an old Fuji S2 digital SLR, but I do have my eye on a new D7000…..
This morning, I was doing some maintenance on this website. I was in a bit of a rush before I had to go to work, and I screwed up somehow. My main page did not work…
I just got home and hopefully fixed it. Don’t know what happened. It must have been a partially uploaded file or something…
Live and learn…. Test, Test, and test again….
I was recently reading on the online photographer about technique, and how accomplished photographers don’t really pay attention to it. I agree, and technique also influences style. Or rephrasing: The tools one used influences the appearance of your art, and so helps define your style.
For various reasons, I use Linux (ubuntu) and (mainly) open source tools such as gimp and digikam, among others. Each of these tools, and especially my favourite RAW converter influences the way I handle my digital files. I guess the question is whether I use these tools because they give me the look I want, or if I get my look because I use these tools. I think the answer is a combination of each. I have used other software, but much of the time I get frustrated because I seem to be fighting the software rather than said software helping me achieve my vision.
Now some will say I am a sucker for punishment because I don’t use mainstream tools. Again I argue that programs like Lightroom or Bibble, while very versitile, encourage you to work in a specific manner. If this manner works for you, great, all the more power, but again, a variety of tools gives more opportunity for experimentation. Not all painters use the same brushes, not all carpenters use the same brand of hammer.
So my advice? Try using a variety of software, however don’t get caught up on using Photoshop, for example, just because “everyone else” uses it. There is something to be said for forging your own path.
It is tough to get a consolidated “web presence”. From Facebook and twitter to holsted blogs or galleries, and everything in between, it is a challenge to keep them all active.
Facebook is of course the big one. I am not a really social person, and I have said before, I am not a real writer. I have trouble getting my personality to come through my writing. (no I am not this dry in real life) I find keeping up a facebook site a chore. I also find that there is so much random noise on facebook that it is not easy to be heard.
My personal gallery (see my portfolio here) is fairly easy to keep up as I shoot a lot of photos. But here the problem is the opposite. I do not have enough traffic to my site to show my images to the world.
I guess these problems are related. Internet marketing is tough, but I will figure it out eventually I am sure…