Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Collections in Google+ ?

too many mistresses

If you are observant you may have notice a button called collections on the google+ drop down menu. They are not photos albums (like in Lightroom) they are just a way to group your google+ posts into a convenient place. they can be followed just like another google+ person. I’m guessing the benefit is helping your posts about a single theme or topic not get totally lost in the morass that is the current google+ post cycle. They do require some work for you to currate the collection, and you can only add google+ public posts, either by posting from within the collection or finding an existing post and selecting the add to coolection item now at the bottom of the edit menu for that post (providing its public).

I’m going to experiment by grouping my posts about trying to live with modern digital photography software, called too many mistresses of course. Remembers its a very personal view

Lr CC …curiouser & curiouser II

This snippet from Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is a perfect metaphor for how I feel, trying to understand why Lr CC doesn’t seem to want to play with me. All the prominent sites claiming super performance have left me bewildered and assuming it has to be my hardware! or just me!

imageWell the hardware assumption seems to be correct. The clue was under Edit/Preferences then under the Performance tab (evidently it is my graphics card is the thing that doesn’t want to play). Lr CC had ticked to use it by default and then reported that it had been disabled due to errors. OK So I started looking through the Adobe Community help and found this post regarding Issues with Lightroom CC/Lightroom 6 and AMD graphics cards. I haven’t tried reverting to an earlier version of my driver (which doesn't seem very logical advice). However just deselecting the use graphic processor box has certainly seen LR CC become better behaved. Ok its still not fast but it has stopped crashing and thrashing.

But why not just do the deselection, if Lr CC recognised errors?

Perhaps Absolem will know?

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

LR CC Seriously where is the speed?

My Trial of Lightroom CC has not lasted very long. I must preface this with I am only running the trial version on a Windows 7 machine, it is 64bit with service pack 1  and 8GB RAM and has a reasonably standard graphics card (an ATI Radeon HD 5450). Maybe its the fact that I have a conventional “spinning disk” hard drive not a SSD, solid sate drive.  Seriously I can’t see any massive performance improvements. Possibly I’ve gotten used to the snappier browsers in After Shot Pro and Perfect Photo Suite. So to be fair I set up a test against LR 4.4 on my studio computer which is an older laptop still running Windows Vista 32bit operating system, and 4 GB RAM. The test involved loading just 22 photos (in both Jpeg & RAW so 44 images imported but lightroom only displays the RAW files) from the same SD card, same card reader and processing the same two images(shown below). I had new blank catalogues in both cases and I’m not using face recognition, HDR or panorama merge. SADLY the very old studio laptop and LR4.4 are giving me better performance!



Lr 4.4

Load 22 photo from SD card



Edit 1 ( Crepe Myrtle)



Edit 2 (Moon)



Time is in Minutes:Seconds

I’m not using smart previews and I’m only doing some very simple post processing. There might be faster refresh on some action to start with but I have the feeling once I do more that three or four steps the performance dies. I was a little bit surprised at the difference in edit times, but I did start the timer from selecting the photo in the Library module and there does seem to be a distinct lag getting to the development module in Lr CC. I realise these test may not be rigorous but they are typical of things I might do and taking 10% extra time to do it does not appeal.

_IGP8889-2, Tonal adjust, Darken Sky, HSL Luminance, slight Vibrance & Clarity _IGP9015-2 Crop, Tonal Adjust, Vibrance, Detail and Noise Adjust

What was really disturbing was the performance dive on the rest of my system. These Lr CC sessions were accompanied by much disk whirring and I recognized it was virtual memory thrashing on a grand scale. lightyroom failChanging a web page took minutes, opening this blog post in window’s live writer took 10 minutes. Chrome kept crashing, and then would not reappear (I suspect it was trying to display outside my screen). Word and Excel became unusable. Whenever I saw lightroom’s “not responding" message the whole system would freeze for an extended period. I suspected that somehow lightroom was grabbing all memory and CPU resource but even task manager was bought to its knees. Don’t even get me started on the number of lightroom crashes. Something is clearly wrong here,  can I be the only one? and clearly I’m not!

Ok with that major disappointment out of the way, what about the great new features? Many of those where on the list of desirable items I posted previously, was it really 2 years ago. The really important capability missing from this release is still the ability create catalogues on network volumes, either for personal or collaborative use. Lightroom is still a one computer one user mistress, expecting to share a library of images through the creative cloud is little more than the Emperor’s New Clothes.

The two photo merging features interested me most as I routinely do both tasks, using other softer dedicated applications. I take a lot of bracketed exposures and create HDR images IMGP8949-HDR-2 click on this image and see the smoothe halo around the stem and water dropletoften so I was keen to try out The HDR option. Unfortunately it very tame, not many controls and the preview window is probably a bit small. I missed the fact that the de-ghosting over smoothed the background (see image on the right) because the preview window didn’t show that detail and you can’t zoom in. Whilst I had my camera on a tripod for this shot the wind was blowing so there as ghosting in the basic merge. However this HDR does a reasonable job for the majority of bracketed photos. It does take control, there are very few switched and no sliders but it doesn’t do the lurid tone mapping for which HDR has got such a bad name. Instead it takes the images to be merges and builds a 16bit colour space version with a much broader tonal range than any of the individual photos and this can be then processed like any RAW photo. Definitely you should be able to get an image close to what your eye sees.

I also take a lot of multi image panoramas, and Photo Merge/Pano was something else to try out. It did a good job when I only stitched 2-3 images. It refused to stitch some sets. Then I started to test with a few large sets like the 17 vertical shot of about a beach (shown below). Basically it has left out a lot of images and mismatched in a few places. it also took a long time to actually generate. Once again there are very few controls and no sliders. Ok Interesting but there are much more mature panorama stitchers around.

_IGP8226-Pano-2 The 17 image panorama that hasn't worked

Both these photo merge options create DNG files so you basically have full size RAW files that you can edit further. They can be BIG files

The Face Recognition is “another also ran” feature, for me it struggled to get more than about 70% of the face correct. It is also very slow and I soon turned it off.

Lightroom Mobile, might be ok if you want to preview your photos, say on an IPad. However on an android phone it left me struggling to find anything nice to say about it.

LR CC Import DialogueI am a great fan of using Albums (aka collections in Lightroom) to organize photos. So the inclusion of an Add to Collection tickable Item in the file handling dialogue during import is a very nice feature. Pity is I have lost confidence in lightroom keeping track of my collections.

The other nice feature is the ability to mask gradation and radial filters, so for instance you can follow and mask the filter from applying  to a strong silhouette in the foreground or strong tree lie of mountains in the background. It almost gives the feel of being able to work with layers, instead it just works selectively paint out part of  these two overlay filters.

However my desire to investigate further is killed by yet another crash.

If this was called Lightrooom CC beta I might have given her a fairer trial. Hopefully the reliability and speed issues might be easily fixed. However Adobe please rethink this release.  Its appalling!. BIG #FAIL

Sunday, May 03, 2015

On phone editors

I was planning a comparison of snapseed versus lightroom mobile as a photo editors you can run on your phone.

They both work on my LG android phone. However  there can be no legitimate comparison after that. Snapseed which comes google these days. is free and super easy to use. To use lightroom mobile you need to subscribe to adobe's creative cloud.  Whilst the edit capability covers many of the features from lightroom's well loved develop module, the look an feel of the interface is really different, even some of the terminology is not the same and I found all this somewhat confusing.  The biggest disappointment came when I tried to share an edited photo, I could not do it from the phone at all  The software claiming I didn't have enough available memory (yet I had an almost empty 16GB microSD card installed, but lightroom apparently can't see this)/ Lightroom Mobile can and does synch beautifully back to lightroom on a desktop. 

So unless you are an Adobe fan boy, have a creative cloud subscription, have lightroom on your computer and don't want to share directly from you phone then snapseeed is a much better option for editing photo on an android phone.

View Of  Melbourne Taken on LG Phone & Edited in Spapseed
pity about the power lines
This post was sent from my android phone

Friday, May 01, 2015

Lightroom CC :: Back to the future

Quiet a while ago I expressed my disappointment with the LR 5 beta, and I actually haven’t bothered updating lightroom since then. Having being a little more at ease with her now and seeing a fair bit of hype about the new version LR 6 or CC, I decided it is time to give this version a trial.

So I began at the adobe site and then the lightroom version 6 page and selected the trial option, which took me to the CC version (not the standalone version). This wasn’t really what I wanted but I could not find not the latest version?any way to download Lr 6 as a trial, it was only the Lr CC(2015) that was available as a download trial. So that will have to do. Ok its actually a three step process that involves firstly downloading the full creative cloud setup. As I already have an Adobe ID I used that rather than setting up a new one. That took quiet a while so I went and got a coffee, then a second. Next I had to logged into creative cloud again and then selected to try Lr CC (2015), the message I got seems to indicate I’m about to download Lr CC (2014) so I cancelled that and logged into creative cloud yet again with my same Adobe ID and check yes I definitely asked to try (2015) and got the same warning that I was about to download version Lr CC (2014). Ok I will give that a try, and this time I didn’t even have to re-enter by Adobe ID yet again. Now the status screen did indicate it was downloading LR CC (2015) but it sat on 0% download for a long while, more coffee,  and a very long break.

Talk about slow train to china

Now you tell meSo its two hours since I started trying to get the trial version and …..lightroom cc(2015) is just 23% downloaded.

Well I have plenty of time to write this blog post then. Another hour later and 42% downloaded I get another warning of an installation conflict. Ok that’s simple to fix I still had lightroom open because I had started then with the upgrade menu. I did remember to ask for a backup, more delays with my hard disk whirring away.

Almost there Four hours after the start finally! I can try something, No I definitely don’t want Lightroom to upgrade my catalogue! Why only 18 days on the mobile app trial? Synching to mobile phone (hey I didn’t authorize that!!) Now my phone “hung up””, Yet another wait!

At last

The feelings of being underwhelmed yet again is very strong but I will follow through.with giving Lightroom dressed in her new version a fair try in the sun.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Letting Lightroom regain her dignity

imageI have not been able to find out exactly why lightrooms started forgetting things, particularly distressing was her forgetting collections. I knew she was a high maintenance mistress and I had been routinely backing up her catalogue but it would seem the problem occurred in bits and pieces, just a few collections here, then a collection or two at another time. This hasn’t stopped me using lightroom but I am careful to use just a smaller catalogue of recent photos I wish to post process at the moment and no memory losses so far.

There where almost 100 backups so going back through everything looked like a nightmare. Transferring collections is possible (you have to export them as a catalogue) but it does involve exporting the images in the collection and the last thing I wanted was having to alter existing the folders and files, or generate a lot of duplicates. I had also got very used to using AfterShot Pro to write sidecar files as a way to transfer metadata and ratings. I had also worked out that the collections (or albums) could also be written into the metadata, using something like the ~alb (for album) prefix in your metadata. This are then easy enough to find or filter in your photo manager and can be used to “re-find” the desired collection (album).

So I haven’t tried to rebuild a full catalogue of all my archived photos, what I have done is progressively worked through the backup (with the catalogue running from an external backpack location and then use lightroom to write a suitable ~alb collection name  tag to the photos in that collection into the metadata, creating a xmp sidecar file for the photos involved.  Ok that is taking time but I think storing the collections in a way that can be shared around the software packages I use (the one that can read the metadata in xmp files) is a worthwhile step. Reloading the photos into lightroom is now just on an ad-hoc basis. It will still take me a few months of occasional work to recover all my collection organization but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

For new photos I really like the OnOne Perfect Photo Browser. version 9.5 now supports Albums and it is a simple task to transfer these into lightroom collections. More importantly I only load those photos in the collection into lightroom. Naturally I also make sure I add the ~alb codes into my metadata before doing this transfer.

The days of trusting lightroom to look after my entire collect are over but I am still glad to let her beautiful develop tools enhance my work.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Cameraphone :: One Phone 3 Cameras

Pudding Camera  HDR Camera+  A Better Camera

I have a new phone an LG Android and the review’s seem to can it as very ordinary but to me it is s reasonably decent camera to have always in my pocket. Specifically to get simple snaps and collect reference material for my sketching.

One thing that many people don’t realise you are not locked into the supplied camera app that came with your phone. There are dozen of good camera enhancements out there.

Pudding Camera gets some favourable reviews and has a simple and easy to use controls, the special feature is you can choose the style of camera you wish to use (the above left photo) is Basic Camera with a vintage look.. I’m still experiment with this one but being able to see the final effect before you take a photo is great.

HDR Camera+ was a favourite back on my HTC wildfire, it takes three exposures and then creates a HDR image, all processed on the phone and it has a range of tone mapping in the form of little filter style icons. I still like it (centre image above)

A Better Camera, is another camera app from Almalence who create HDR camera+, for a small cost you can get am impressive array of extra controls for your camera, akin to the controls available on most Bigger DSLR Cameras. They are on a pull down icon menu but easy to learn and navigate. For me its bihggest benefit is that it does produce clearer and more vivid images (see the image on the right above), with the DRO (Dynamic Range Optimization) option set. This is a propriety technique similar to tone mapping that seeks to make the camera see like the human eye!

Monday, April 27, 2015

PhotoEditingTools :: White Balance, When & Where

Colour correction, usually just called white balance these days, has been an issue since the earliest days of colour film. Some aspects even stretching back further into the martials used in the construction of black and films. Looking around current net explanations the need for colour compensation might be related to a technical limitation of colour film or modern digital sensor, actually the truth is they are pretty good at capturing the true light and they are getting better. The issue is the human eye (and yes a lot of this pre-processing is done at the back of the eye and on the way to the brain) is very good at accepting that a wide range of illumination is actually a “white” light source and reflection of it in the surroundings. This acceptance of what is supposed to be white is general subconscious and takes a very short time. Yet light sources (particularly artificial ones) can vary in strength and their colour profile, which can be measure on the Kelvin Scale (shown on the right), which actually an absolute measure, but it has been adopted in photography as a measure of colour temperature. These measure all very technical and somewhat theoretical but essentially different light sources emit light that corresponds to different hues (colours). A candle or tungsten globe seen in daylight will appear quiet yellow/orangish but in a room just illuminate by that light source our eyes will happily convey the image as if illuminated by a white light. The camera however will “correctly” capture the image a with distinct orangey bias. Objects that our eye saw a white will actually be orange and other colours will have excessive yellow and/or red tints. Thus the photo may look wrong.

Cambridge Colour  website has a great tutorial on the theory of colour compensation (aka white balance) as well as good practical advice, for those that want to investigate this deeper.

The best place to adjust white balance is in your camera, and this is an area you will need to consult your camera manual but most digital cameras, even the less expensive point & shoot ones will have a number of white balance options typically indicated by icons like those on the right. They normally cover a decent range of common lighting sources. What’s more AWB Automatic White Balance techniques have become very dependable in most modern cameras, so it is the obvious default setting. Older Camera phones might be the biggest exception here, particularly in low and/or artificial light. So it is worth looking at you camera settings on your phone. understanding the right setting and changing them as required could make a big difference to your low light photos taken with your phone

When It comes to RAW photos the white balance may not have to be set in your camera (ie just leave it on the default AWB) because there is usually enough information stored in the RAW file to allow the colour adjustment to be undertaken on the RAW image, Most RAW photo editors then allow the recalibration of the image to either a given Kelvin temperature, standard light sources or even a better estimate of the “as shoot” balance.

Having advised that AWB (Auto White Balance) is probably the best default I need to point out that there can still be situation that can confused the camera (ie an scene of dominantly warm or cool colours). Alternatively if you are always reaching for the warming slider trying setting your white balance to cloudy or shade.