|Somewhere over Java|
For PhotoFriday‘s topic Distant
|Pawn/fish farms and palm oil plantations are replacing mangroves and salt marsh at an unprecedented rate.|
So what is the important story it tells. I am working on a new art project I have begun to call "The Veil of Gaia", and I want to illustrate the beautiful analogy of James Lovelock of various earth systems as a force to protect life itself. He suggest rainforests are like her lungs, but we are tearing those down at a great rate, which must make it much harder for her to recover. Rivers are her circulatory system and particularly wetlands act like her renal system purifying her vital waters, but we are now slicing those apart too. This must be making her very sick indeed and her task of keeping the earth suitable for all forms of life is going to get more difficult for her.
|Photo of compost worms|
|A pleasant evening in Bandung|
A seven photo stitched panorama testing the perspective panorama feature in Lr CC.
To understand how big this pristine beach is.
Can you see the two people at the edge of the surf?
Earlier last week I might have been a bit hasty expressing disappointment at the new standalone uploadr (because I could not log in) the next day I couldn’t wait and tried again with success this time. I wasn’t aware of the 1 terabyte free storage (that’s a lot by the way) being offered. However it didn’t take me long to figure out the new desktop app was much the same as google’s autoback, its just a photo vacuum cleaner, sucking up any images on your computer is a number of default directories (including dropbox) and with no opportunity to tag or cull the collection as it disappears into the cloud, The one consolation is the pictures are loaded as private so they won’t flood your photostream but they will flood your camera roll. Perhaps worst it will create new albums to match each folder it finds. It you upload your photos into directories by date (as most software does, you will have a new camera roll item for that day and a new album to duplicate it!
Unlike google’s autobackup the new uploads are more intelligently filtered (the message I saw suggested it was doing a de-duplicating search, which is good but more importantly tags where automatically added to most photos to identify the type of subject. More surprisingly these seemed to be largely correct (I quickly avoid having my whole collection swept up so I have only uploaded a few photos but I was impressed with the tagging). I can only assume that flickr is using some form of AI image recognition. You can then use this tags to filter your collection (and possibly created new specific albums. It is somewhat reminiscent of everypix. At least it didn’t also try to autoawesome my stuff.
I was intrigued by the picture tagging so I decided to give the uploadr a diverse test Ah it did say Beta.
PS I’ve turned the new beta uploadr off, and will stick with the previous version which allows manual tagging, choosing sharing options, album and group posting and adding comments at the time of upload.
I have had a personal project for a while of trying to map the night sky, the southern half of the milky way. i have a great vanatge point at venus bay and when the night is clear and moonless I brave the cool and take a number if long exposure shoots. then my ambition is to stitch them altogether and create a map of the visiable sky (like our eye sees it rather tan through a telescope. It can be pretty damn amazing.
However I have found myself up against a numbers of technical issues. Trying to solve these will probably make interesting reading so I’ll post a little about my progress or lack of here, from time to time. The first issue is most panorama stitching software refuses to stitch stars on a black background. The exception is when I have a section of the horizon dimly lit as above which cover from due south to due east
If you are a long time web based user of flickr, you may be getting a little deja vu, “the Interface is being changed again!” However looking a bit deeper flickr is seeking to bring a “beautiful seamless experience across a range of platforms” and they have focussed on seeking an “elegant design that allows you to enjoy your images and your memories from any device, anywhere in the world”. This is a pretty high aim but will it be enough to please the faithful and perhaps even bring others back to what was once the home of photography on the net. I suspect it might.
The phone and tablet apps have been much improved, I already like the android app and it has a prominent of my camera app panel, not that I’m doing a lot of uploading from there. The addition of groups from the phone app is a big deal because groups seemed to have been forgotten for a long time on flickrm a hole community ethos withered away and probably the main reason I drifted away too.
Having first experienced the new interface on the phone I totally get the changes on the web based pages. I like the extra white space, even though its probably only there to help the “adaptive” magic as the display fits to different size and shape screens. The ability to sort by date taken versus upload order is a nice touch as is being able to view everything or just the way the public and/or your friends see the photos is also commendable. So existing users don’t panic.
I still like the old three column view, with lots of white space, so I went searching for that and it is still under the photostream view but now the first item on the more sub-menu button over on the right of the header area. The upper menu bar has been heavily simplified and some items moved down on the photostream sub-menu but I have managed to find those aspects of flickr I normally use.
So here is a challenge for exiting flickr faithful see if you can find the Magic View in the Camera Roll, its rather nice, but not yet perfect.
The wed based flickr upload doesn’t seem so different to me its real benefit is still the ability to upload and organize many photos at once, including being able to select a specific creative common style licence under user settings.
The one disappointment was when I downloaded the updated loadr app (still in beta) for my windows laptop I just got into a cycle of errors where I couldn’t log into flickr. Not a good look. So I’ll wait and check it a bit later.
I’ve only had my LG phone a short time but I already like it a lot. The nicest feature for making sure my camera is always at hand, are a couple of LG specific features, the first is called knock on, and it simply is a light double tap gesture on the phone screen to wake the phone up. Then on the lock screen you can set 4 app icons ready to go at the bottom of the screen, the camera app is on the bottom right. So to start the camera is just a third tap on this camera app, with a swipe up gesture. If you know morse codes its like tapping out IT (dot dot wait dash). Viola the camera app is up and ready to go. Compared with finding the power switch, turning on the phone unlocking it if necessary then the finding the camera app and eventually starting it. This is fast and natural.
I’ve seen plenty of reviews that claim the camera in this LG phone is ordinary and maybe it is but the IPS screen is really amazing, strong colours and contrast (while you’re inside!) which LG describe as beautiful colour reproduction and viewing clarity. Outside the screen suffers lot from glare and you have to manually increase the screen brightness (which can be a challenge when you can’t make out the screen). I can’t figure out why they haven’t made screen brightness automatically adjustable according to ambient light. (Other than the fully bright screen setting does eat battery life!). I soon learned you can adjust the brightness (even blinded by the light) by a swipe down gesture at the top of the screen (which brings down to notification draw and then taping again bit lower, on the screen brightness slider, and swiping all the way to the right). K in morse code (dash dot dash).
Oh back to the real issue here, how have I setup my digital photography work space. Its actually still a work in progress but here are the basics. I have set up a whole app panel to hold camera and photo related apps. My current setup is shown below.
I have a few old favourites which came over from my HTC wildfire, the first serious photo editor I used routinely was Photoshop Express, ok it relatively basic but it does the basics well enough and recent version allows connection to a creative cloud account, if you have one. This was largely overshadows but Autodesk’s Pixlr, which quickly became my preferred on phone photo editor. It is on of those free apps that has in app purchase options (I normally don’t like them) but they are tolerable and for other autodesk modules/tools. HDR Camera+ app is the one paid app from the wildfire and was really my favourite camera there, its had limited editing functionality (specifically tone mapping options). Finally Dropbox is a wonderfully reliable facility, I just have it working behind the scenes and synching up my photos whenever my phone connected to WiFi (ie doesn't waste my data limit on my phone) I have sister apps on all my desktop computers so recent phone photos can be accessed there (no wires or able or separate steps required.
With the new phone and upgrade to android version, I’ve reload the official flickr app. Where the old app was clunky the new version is really much nicer and does allow a seamless upload to flickr (but I have turned off the automatic upload). Flickr is quiet enough for me I’m not interested in instagram.
The real gem I discovered was Snapseed (which was incompatible with the Wildfire) and I just managed to download it the day version 2 was released. It really is a very elegant app and a great photo editor for a touchphone. I was familiar with snapseed as the photo editor for google+ photos but the phone app is in many ways nicer to use. However now for the downside. I did originally have google+ app on the wildfire but it was a resource hog so I removed it and I don’t use google+ itself as a social network place much anyway. The LG approach has been to integrate many of the google tools as standalone apps (such as GMail, Photos, Hangouts) and this initially struck me as a great approach. Whilst the LG (google) Photos app lets you access the albums on the net, but it started acting like google auto backup vacuuming up and uploading any images on your phone (so I turned that off). A real downside of this integration has been the overwhelming of the default LG gallery app with photos (not just albums) from the every increasing google+ photo mess. Haven’t figured out how to turn this off. Lightroom mobile is only on trial and I must admit I am not excited by it.
So now my phone’s photo collection is in close connection with google+ photo, flickr and I am still trying out Carousel (the original download on the wildfire was not reliable) as a connection to the rest of the world. It is basically a gallery app for dropbox, I’m even starting to favour it over the LG gallery app, particular for sharing with other services like twitter and SMS. I also like the everpix like Flashbacks.
Finally I also have autodesk’s Sketchbook. its not really a photo tool although you can edit photos (eg circle important parts, draw arrows etc.) I bought a cheap stylus and I find I use this app a lot as a graphics notebook, quick diagram maker, and good party trick (I sketch quick cartoonish portraits of folk)
My SmartPhone workspace is humble compared with the computer power available elsewhere but it is remarkably capable of getting decent photos and images out onto the wider net, into my albums on computers and into reports. When I started this blog over a decade ago If you’d have hinted at this power in my pocket I would have been sceptical.
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
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!
|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.
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. Changing 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 often 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.
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.
I 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
|View Of Melbourne Taken on LG Phone & Edited in Spapseed|
pity about the power lines
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 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.
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.
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!
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.