Lightroom initial review

June 11, 2007

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Been playing around with Lightroom a little more. Mainly using it to edit down a wedding I shot a couple weeks ago. By and large, it's a very good application for something that has just hit version 1.0. That said, there are a few things that still need to be worked out. My main gripe is that I run into "Out of Memory" issues from time to time. This appears to be a Windows only thing and doesn't seem to be related to the actual amount of memory in the machine. (Possible culprit is Norton's real-time anti-virus protection, but that remains to be confirmed.) These errors don't seem critical and simply shutting down and restarting the application (not the entire computer) seem to get everything humming along again. By and large, it's very quick to do cropping, color correction, keyword input and making picks and discarding rejects. Way faster than anything else I've used before. Admittedly, I've only toyed around with a few other tools, but compared to Adobe Bridge combined with Camera Raw that I had been using, it's measurably faster. Another item that Adobe needs to come up with a solution for is the ability to transport libraries between different computers. Right now, that doesn't appear to be possible. I've seen a few hacks around the net, but nothing that I would want to try for fear of royally screwing things up. I wouldn't be surprised if this improvement is close to the top of the list of things the engineers are working on. Most shooters I know use a laptop for in the field and on location, but then dump to a desktop machine as soon as they are able for heavy lifting and archive purposes. A final grip is that lack of a function in lightroom that drives a batch process in photoshop. As a specific example of where this would be nice, in the wedding images I'm processing I want to a apply a mild soft focus to each image. Lightroom doesn't have that so I created an action in Photoshop to accommodate the desired effect. Trouble is, the only way I can get the edits and selections I made in lightroom over is to export plain files from that applcatoin and then run a separate batch in Photoshop. It should be as simply as making my selection and then telling lightroom which action in photoshop I want to run with the chosen images. I'll bet that's not too far away either. All and all, it's a solid start for an application. Still have a few bugs to work out to make it as stable as I would expect and then a few improvements to add to get it on down the path to more expected functionality. Still, it's saved me a ton of time running the wedding, so money well spent.


Wireless IR to RF repeater

May 22, 2007

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I've become a decent fan of the wireless TTL that is in canon's flashes these days (assuming you have at least one expensive one that can act as a master). However, it is a very limited system. I had an assistant with me at the wedding last weekend and was trying to use a slave on a monopod that he was carrying for some shots. It was very inconsistent. Even when we were indoors and he was only a few feet away from me if everything wasn't lined up just right, his strobe wouldn't trigger. I ended up going back to a previous setup where I attach two strobes directly to my bracket. One pointing at the subject and the second one pointing up to provide a bounce off the ceiling (when appropriate). I'll post some images of the result after the bride has seen them. In the past I've used pocket wizards for this type of stuff but they don't provide the benefits of TTL. So, you either have to set them manually or run with them judging the exposure themselves. I almost always went with the latter in the film days, but with the clipping that can occur in digital I'm nervous to go that route. This lead me back to thinking about a way to run radio wireless instead of the built in IR. One way would be to try to create a hot shoe that reads the instructions from the camera and then map the IR signals and try to clone. Another way that I just thought of would be to create an RF repeater. The basic idea is to create a little RF transceiver that goes in front of the IR ports on the canon strobes. It would simply capture the IR signals then convert them to RF for transmission to the other unit where it would be received and transposed back into IR. Seems like it should be possible even if the timing and communication is a bit tricky. Of course, this could also be setup to play nice with my master wireless controller described at the bottom of this post.


Photo Workshop

May 21, 2007

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One day, I will go here.


New Lens - 24-105 - awesome

May 21, 2007

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Not too long ago, Canon introduced a new lens: the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM. I've been lusting after this lens from the day I first heard about it. When I was shooting with my old Nikon F3, I would generally carry two lenses. A 24mm and a 105mm. Now, I can have them both in a single lens. Granted, my prime lenses were of the f/2.8 variety which would have been nice, but loosing one stop in light is worth it for keeping the lens a manageable size and weight. Last Saturday, I was shooting a wedding for some friends so I decided to finally break down and get the lens before the big day. From that experience, I think the lens is just about the perfect lens for wedding photography. On the wide side, a 28mm angle of view would have been just fine, but the 105mm is just right. I've always loved the perspective. It keeps enough of the background so you can figure out what's going on, but has a narrow enough depth of field to keep it from competing. Prior to getting this lens my main lens was a 28-70 f/28. And while I love having the extra stop of light for shooting bands (main venue where I shoot the lighting generally rings in at 1/15 - f/2.8 at ISO 800) the 70mm perspective just isn't telephoto enough for what I like. Of course, I could always switch over to the 80-200, but when running and gunning this is so much of a hassle that I wouldn't do it unless the shot really needed it. Now, I don't have to worry. This is my first Image Stabalization lens and I haven't really used it yet at all. Just turned it on for a couple of test shots. It was a little disorienting since it creates a bit of a disconnect between what you feel in the camera movement in your hands and what is going on in the viewfinder. I'm sure it'll be nice to have, but it'll probably take me a while to remember it's there. My only minor gripe is the fact that the lens hood is only effective at the wide end of the range. A nice thing about the 28-70 is that it moves to wide as the front is extended. This means that the hood works well the 70mm angle of view as well. Not a huge deal most of the time, but it would be nice if the 24-105 had similar working functionality. Bottom line. After one day of shooting with it, I'm very happy with the lens.


New Hard Drive..... and the cable

April 25, 2007

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Just got a new hard drive to get some more room on my computer. This one is the first "SATA" hard drive I've bought. Only problem so far is that since it's my first one, I don't have any cables for it and I didn't remember to order any. Pesky new technology and it's cables…..


Quick E-mail Backup Hack

April 25, 2007

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I just saw something about a hack that I use and wanted to pass it on. If you have some files that you need to have backed that are way more important to you than other ones, a great way to do it is to send them to a free e-mail account like gmail. For example, if you are writing your thesis for your Ph. D. it's probably a good idea to send copies to your gmail account every now and then. In the world of backups, one of the best things you can do is have an "off-site" copy of your files. Using a web mail account, you are all set without the headache of building a server. Google or the like has already done it for you. If you hard drive crashes or your laptop gets stolen you still have the most recent copy that you sent to yourself. If you made recent changes that you hadn't e-mailed to yourself yet, you'll loose those, but that's much less bad than having to start over from the top. In the past this was a little harder to do since the limits on email account sizes was pretty small, but when they started being measured in gigabytes, it's a valid solution. I've also taken to sending copies of software that I download to myself. For example, I use an editor called UltraEdit and every time I have rebuild my computer, it takes me forever to dig up a copy since it didn't come with a CD. I've sent a copy to myself so next time all I'll have to do is search for it in my account (which is incredibly easy) and pull it back down. (There are even some hacks out there that all you to see your email account like a hard drive on your computer that I've tried before that work pretty well. But, since that's not official supported by google, I'm staying away from it.)


Shiny screens seem to be okay.

April 24, 2007

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Last few times I've been to a computer store I've noticed that more and more of the displays on laptops are of the ultra shiny sort. Looking at them in the store, I couldn't imagine that they would be good to use since the mirror like surface does a great job of reflecting light and producing glare. The laptop I was looking at for my mom that we eventually got had one of these screens. I mentioned this to her before we bought it and figured we could return it if it was a problem. Once I got it out of the store, I'm happy to report the screen was just fine to work with. Didn't have any problems with glare at all. I think this would be the case most of the time. Unless you happen to work in a place that has endless rows of overheard fluorescent light strips like an big box store.


Why don't washing machines have buzzers?

April 24, 2007

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Just about ever dryer I've seen has one, but the washing machines don't. Best thing I can come up with is "they" figure you will hear the washing machine stop after the spin cycle. More often than not, this isn't the case for me. So, my clothes sit there wadded up in the washing machine until I remember to check which is usually an hour or so after it's stopped. Occasionally, it's the following day. Guess I need to get a little timer stick to it and set each time, but this is one of those things that seems like it should have been addressed a long time ago. Weird.


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