Lightroom 4 Beta Soon?

 

Lightroom 4 Beta to be released soon?

Lightroom 4 Beta

I was recently on a Photo workshop with a well known Lightroom 4 beta tester who also writes books on a particular aspect of Lightroom. He let slip his new revised book on Lightroom 4 is set to be delivered to his publisher in February 2012 and that we should seeing a Beta version of Lightroom 4 released very soon. He also intimated that there may be a few surprises in store especially with the Lightroom user interface, but he was pretty tight-lipped about exactly what those surprises would be.

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How to Remove Microsoft’s IE9

Software Help

IE9XIf like me you haven’t taken to Microsoft’s latest incarnation (some may say abomination) of Windows Internet Explorer, the new Version 9 (IE9), then this is how I managed to remove it and restore Version 8 (IE8) to my system. Please bear in mind I’m using s Windows 7 64-bit system and what follows worked for me.

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Yet Another Microsoft Blunder .. IE9

Browser Upgrade?

I’ve vented my frustration at Microsoft’s upgrades in the past and I should have know better but a couple of days ago I fell into the “Critical Update” bucket and before I realised what I’d done Windows 7 had launched itself into an upgrade of Internet Explorer from version 8 to to 9. I did think about halting it in mid installation, but rather stupidly thought I could simply uninstall it later if I don’t like. What a fool!

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My First impressions – Mac OS X compared to Windows 7

The Great OS debate

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For quite some time now many of my friends and work associates have been telling me to get a Mac. It seems those who switch from Windows never look back. I’ve been a staunch user of Windows since version 3.1 however (I grew up with DOS … remember that?), but if you’ve read some of my earlier blogs you’ll know that I’ve often vented my frustration with the way Microsoft has been heading in recent times and the terrible debacle of Windows Vista still leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
Windows 7 is a vast improvement on the pitiful Vista but inherent Vista bugs still lurk behind the scenes in Windows 7. If you run a vast array of different software like me, then crashes, dead screens and locked keyboards are still a far too common an occurrence for an OS in it’s 7th generation. It’s precisely Windows poor performance at dealing with ‘rogue software’ and inability to provide the user a speedy recover that probably annoys me the most.
Well I’ve finally swayed to the dark side and have been in possession of a shiny new 15-inch, Core i7, MacBook Pro for several months now; probably just enough to get familiar with the new operation system and acquainted with the MAC world. There’s no doubting the MacBook Pro is a sleek, ultra attractive, and highly desirable piece of kit, which on looks alone beats the competition hands down. But what about under the hood, can the Mac OS X persuade me to leave the Windows camp?

These are some of my first impressions:

Boot-up Time

Well the Mac OS X wins hands down on this one and has a significantly speedier start than Windows 7, even when compared to a brand new Windows 7 install. This is how a PC should start up. The more software you have installed on a Windows PC, the longer the start up seems to take, to the point you may as well go and have a cup of tea. I know this is largely due to installed programs loading memory resident (and largely un-necessary) utilities, which often check-in with the mother ship online first, before releasing your PC back to you. If you have a lot of software installed, these really start to build up and slow your machine. You can of course turn them off, but this is cumbersome and a major flaw in Windows efficiency. One to Mac.

Looks and Appearance

I can’t really pick a winner here. If we went back a few OS generations then the Mac OS was clearly better looking than Windows, but now Windows 7 looks as sleek as anything that Mac has to offer, and to be honest I think I prefer it (slightly) too. The MAC certainly has a certain style, which MAC applications tend to follow, but it works for some but not others.

Taskbar & Start Menu versus the Dock

I’m sorry Mac fans, the Dock is just awful and my opinion the single most detrimental feature of the Mac OS X. I know some of you may love the Dock but to me it just looks plain childish. The Windows taskbar is just streets ahead and the single biggest function that missing on the Mac OS. If there were a taskbar application for the Mac OS that emulated the Windows one it would go a long way persuading me to jump for good, but as it’s stands no. The Dock is just about acceptable with a few icons, but once you start acquiring many more they soon gets too small to use. The Dock divider looks a tad naff, and the way your downloads folder arch’s out into the screen is just plain odd. The Taskbar is neater, far more customizable, and just so much easier to use. Sorry MAC fans.

Explorer versus Finder

Another hands down win for Windows 7 here I’m afraid. I’m just not won over by Finder. The Explorer for me is far more functional and easier to use than Finder. Sure the fancy scroll view is nice and the link to Preview is very good, but copying, moving and transferring files is just so much easier within Explorer. The feature I really miss I really miss the folder tree view pane. I just can’t imagine why Apple didn’t include this. I also find files lists much easier to read in Explorer; the font combined with the alternated banding I just find harder to read, but that may just be me. I’m sure there’s a way to alter this, I just haven’t found it.

Aero Peek Versus Exposé

I’m not a huge fan of Windows 7 Aero Peek. This gives you a quick view of your desktop if you hover over the (unlabelled & un-iconized) Peek button at the far right of the taskbar (you can also achieve this by holding down the Windows key + spacebar). It leaves the outlines of any un-maximised windows on the desktop preview but quite why you would want to see these is is beyond me. If I want to see the desktop I’ll simple click the dam button and minimise everything. The Aero transparency I view as just a gimmick and turn it off as it needlessly uses up extra processing power. The old Alt+Tab key still allows you to cycle through the open windows (taskbar buttons), but the ‘procession’ graphics version via Windows Key + Tab, whilst looking flashy, I find I don’t use at all. Mac on the other hand has Exposé which performs a similar function but shrinks all the open windows on the desktop you you can see what’s running. Exposé is invoked by the F3 key. What’s nice about Exposé however is that you can assign different functions to hotspots at the four corners of the screen which are then invoke by simply hovering the mouse cursor over hotspots. These can be further enhanced by using Spaces which gives you several virtual desktops in which you can already have a number of programs open and ready to use. Mac defiantly has the edge here in usability and I gather in the next OS X upgrade the functionally of Spaces and Exposé are going to be combined into one.

Internet Explorer vs Safari

I guess it’s a little unfair to compare these as Safari is available to both platforms, although in browsers circles it doesn’t really get that many plaudits. However, I’m reasonably impressed with Safari. It’s responsive, displays the content well enough and I particularly like the way you can add bookmarks and favourites in horizontal menu fashion just below the URL bar which is pretty neat. However, whilst I tend to use Safari on my Mac, I find I still migrate back to Internet Explorer when on my windows desktop even though Safar is installed. A score draw here.

System Stability & Crash Recovery

So far the MacBook Pro has performed admirably, although I have manage to crash it several times, however on all these occasions it’s just a simple off, then back on and the system recovers very quickly without any adverse affects. How I wish I could say the same about windows 7 but sadly that’s not the case. I will admit, I use far more software on my Windows system than I do on my Mac, so it is a rather unfair comparison, but I get totally fed up of crashes and then being forced to boot up in safe mode, and then re-boot again. It can often take 20-30 minutes to get back to where you were.
Windows system updates drive me mad too, and many has been the time my system has crashed after a System update has been installed and I’ve been forced to go back and initiate a system restore point. With the Mac it’s never had a problem doing an update. A windows seem to issue huge quantities of updates, can’t they just get it right in the first place?
Sleep mode: on the MacBook pro this works flawlessly; I can even just close the lid and it will restart exactly where I left off when the lid is opened in just a few seconds. With windows it’s hit and miss whether your PC is going to restart at all. Most of the time the sleep mode works fine, but is slow to resume, but sometimes it just locks me out all together and only a hard re-boot can restart things but then it’s the whole rigmarole of going into safe-mode and a further reboot. Microsoft still haven’t cracked this one yet. A resounding win for the Mac on this front.

Operating system Cost

If it’s by Apple, it’s going to be expensive right? Well not in the operating system stakes apparently. I’m still smarting over the £170 I had to pay to get Windows 7 Professional 64-bit for my desktop, whereas those Apple uses who upgraded from Leopard to Snow Leopard only had to pay £25. Alright I know this is a tad unfair comparison, but even so you can buy a boxed set of Mac OS X Snow leopard complete with iLife and iWorks for £95 on Amazon. Who’d have ever though Apple would win on cost.

Bug BearS

My bug-bears with Windows are already well publicised but there are also e a few things with the MAC that drive me nuts too. The most annoying thing for me is not having proper functioning delete key on the MacBook Pro keyboard (well at least I haven’t found one yet). The DEL key operates like a Backspace key and deletes the character to the left of the cursor rather than the character at the cursor, duh! You can get it to function like a DEL key by holding down the Fn key first, but this is so annoying. Looking at the reams of stuff on this very topic online, I’m not the only one who finds this annoying. Another annoyance is that certain Windows do not maximise to full screen even when you click the green circle and I find I have to drag the margins manually. Why is this?
iTunes, Safari and Mail, all of which are Apple programs and probably some of the most frequently used by Mac OS X users. So why do they all looks so different? It would be nice to see some consistency of style adhered to.
And lastly, boy is it difficult to rename files. In Windows it’s a simple right-click and select Rename (or F2) and you’re in the edit mode, but in OS X you have to click with the mouse, very precisely in fact, otherwise you will end up opening the file … ugh!

The Round-up

Please remember that these are only MY opinions I have expressed as I know some of you may vehemently disagree with many of them (if not all?), but hey, debate is good isn’t it? It seems people who have grown up in the MAC camp will never like Windows, and many won’t even contemplate anything to do with Windows at all, whereas those who have lived with Windows, like me, in recent times have been tempted to switch due to Microsoft’s well publicised short comings. What’s usually the consensus is that you are either fully for the Mac or a full Windows aficionado; seldom do people sit on the fence.

I must be a strange fish, but I can honestly say at the moment, I’m neither swayed one way or the other. Both current systems have their strong points, and both have their failures. In some respects I’m probably never going to escape Windows as it’s the system of choice for most of the large corporations, especially within my field of work. Windows software is more prevalent, more accessible, provides far more choice and is, in general, much cheaper than equivalent Mac software, although all these things may change with time and Apple’s increasing popularity.
One thing I will state though, if it hadn’t been for Apple switching to Intel processors and providing the ability to run Windows on a Mac, then I probably wouldn’t have even contemplated giving a Mac a go.

I have Parallels installed on my new MacBook Pro and I must admit it’s a pretty dam impressive piece of software. It allows me to run Windows quite seamlessly within Mac OS X and enjoy the best of both worlds. I think I remain, at the moment though, firmly having a boot in both camps. Whether I will begin to lean one way or the other only time can tell.

If you’re thinking of switching OS or have done so recently, I’d be most interested to hear your reasons why and what you thought of the switch?

Nik Software Announce Silver Efex Pro 2

Software Release

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Yesterday Nik Software, the makers of several well known Photoshop plug-ins announced the impending release of version 2 of their highly popular black & white conversion software Silver Efex Pro. For those of you who don’t know Silver Efex Pro offers an All-In-One workflow to convert your RAW images to monochrome. The program can be run from Adobe Photoshop or accessed from within Apple Aperture or Adobe Lightroom RAW images processors. Not only does it provide superb B&W conversion, but offers a multitude of accurate film emulations, toning, grain, vignettes, burning and the ability to add local adjustments via Nik’s rather clever U-point patented technology.

Version 2 promises to be just as popular, and whilst improving on many current features with new improved algorithms, many new features have been added such as a History Browser, new Fine Structure, Soft Contrast, Dynamic Brightness, and Selective Colour, and it can now add Natural Image Borders. There’s also support for full 64-bit processing.

You can pre-order Version 2 from the Nik Software website which is currently offering a 10% discount. Version 2 is to be released on the 11th February, but if you purchase version 1 now your upgrade is free.

The full price is to remain at $199, which is pretty expensive for just a plug-in. However, if you’re looking for a one-stop quick monochrome conversion facility with realist film emulation and more, you be hard pressed to better Nik’s offering. The u-point local adjustments work very well, but the interface in version one was a tad clunky in parts. You can download a 15 day trial of version one from here. Lets hope the version 2 delivers the refinements Nik promises.

Resources

An Overview of Lightroom 3 Video Tutorials

Video Tutorials Review

With Adobe Lightroom 3 having been out on the market for a while now several of the big names have released commercial packages of Lightroom 3 Video tutorials. These range from view online flash videos, downloadable video files to DVD’s you can buy. So what is available and what do you get for your money?

The Luminous Landscape Guide to Lightroom 3

If you’ve never visited The Luminous Landscape web site then you’ve really missed out since it’s one of the premier photography sites on the net. It’s the brainchild of Canadian and Toronto based photographer Michael Reichmann but accommodates contributions from many other renowned photographers and contains a wealth of resources to interest any photographer. If you think I’m a fan then I have to say quite lr3graphic unashamedly that I am. I’m a frequent visitor to the Luminous Landscape web site and subscribe to Michaels’ video journals which offer truly unique insight into many aspects of photography which you can’t really find elsewhere.
For this Guide to Lightroom R3 Michael once again teams up with Jeff Schewe, one of the co-founders of PixelGenius, and a chap who seems to hold significant influence with the Lightroom development team and whom certainly possesses a strong technically knowledge on the inner workings of Lightroom. Michael is a seasoned presenter, and guides the tutorials along and makes sure that all the typical user questions are addressed. Together they make a formidable team.

The tutorials comprise almost 9 hours of video split into 52 individual video files which can be purchased online for the sum of $49. These can be downloaded to your hard drive so are then available for you to view at your leisure and can of course, be watched time and time again without the need for an internet connection or a subscription. The files are in Quicktime (*.mov) format which unfortunately is not supported on the iPad (although you could convert the files in 3rd party software). If you purchased their Guide to LR2 they are still currently offering a 10% discount online. Michael and Jeff have produced similar tutorials for Lightroom 1 and 2, but this is by far the longest to date and just about covers every Lightroom topic imaginable. They work well together, and have a pleasant rapport with a rather relaxed and casual, style of presenting. This personal presentation style may not suite all viewers, and there is significantly more joviality than on previous LR tutorials, but I find it quite entertaining as well as being very informative. Michael and Jeff are just so familiar with the Lightroom product however, that in parts they do tend to make some assumptions that I thought may confuse the absolute beginner. If you possess some familiarity with Lightroom or are an intermediate user than these tutorials will be a excellent resource to improve your workflow, and even though I consider myself a competent and experienced Lightroom user I still found out many new things. You can test drive a sample video here. Highly recommended.
Pros:

  • Downloadable video files that you can take anywhere and watch at your leisure.
  • Huge content, 52 video files containing almost 9 hours of video.
  • In depth coverage of just about everything you need to know about LR3.
  • Detailed technical information of how many of the Lightroom processes work.
  • Good value compared to others available.

Cons:

  • There are a few parts that may confuse an absolute beginner.
  • The presentation style may not be to everyone’s liking.
  • No iPad support.

Adobe Lightroom 3 Video Workshop by George Jardine

George Jardine is name probably familiar to Lightroom users who have been using Lightroom from release 1. George was one of the original Adobe Lightroom team members and the former Adobe Pro Photography Evangelist. He produced several excellent online tutorials on the original Lightroom release for Adobe, a task which is currently fullfilled by Julieanne Kost. image He continued with an excellent series of podcasts which many may remember, which were available for download on iTunes and via his blog. George left Adobe in 2008 go his own way and now, amongst other things, runs Lightroom Workshops. In July 2010 George announced a Lightroom 3 Video Workshop comprising 16 online video tutorials on Library Workflow and Digital Photo Library Management which can be viewed by purchased a subscription. The online videos are Flash driven so can’t be viewed on the iPhone or iPad, however George will provide a link to downloadable iPad versions once a subscription has been purchased. In October 2010 a further 15 videos which cover the Lightroom Develop Module, but as yet there are no plans to provide any other series to cover the Web, Print and Slideshow Modules.
George’s indomitable style of presentation is much to be admired. You find no face shots here, nor will you detected and ‘umms’, ‘errs’ or pauses in diction. With George it’s straight down to a very business like delivery, full of concise and detailed instructions and he succeeds including an extraordinary amount of information into each of these videos. Watch them over and over again and you notice more facts you failed to retain on earlier viewings; they are that good. These tutorials are excellent for users of all standards and ideal for the beginner too.
The first series of 16 videos can be accessed by purchasing a subscription for $29.95 via George’s Blog here and if you want to view a sample movie on Virtual Copies check out this link. The second series of videos on the Develop Module is also available as an online subscription for $24.95. No iPad/iPhone versions of the second series are available (yet?) for download but they can be acquired on DVD from Amazon.com for the sum of $34.95.

Pros:

  • High on content, yet concise, well produced and very informative.
  • Suitable for all levels from beginners to advanced.
  • Very professional and well presented.

Cons:

  • Not all is downloadable.
  • Requires a live web connection and subscription to view.
  • Doesn’t cover all aspects of Lightroom just yet.
  • Only the Develop Module videos are available on DVD and at $35.00 is expensive.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Power Session WITH Matt Kloskowski

I’m sure almost every Lightroom user must have come across the excellent Lightroom Killer Tips web site hosted by Matt Kloskowski. It’s just about top of every Lightroom search on Google and has been since Lightroom was released. LR3PSMatt is part of Scott Kelby’s KelbyTraining.com team and has release at DVD entitled Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Power Session. It’s priced at $69.99 but if your a member of NAPP ( National Association of Photoshop Professionals) you can get get for $54.99. You can find out more information about Matt’s DVD here, but there is no sample video to watch or DVD contents listed.
A perhaps more preferable option to access the Matt’s Lightroom Power Session Tutorials may be to purchase a subscription to Kelby Training online. This gives you access to hundreds of online video tutorials, and not just Photoshop and Lightroom, but many other design, video and creative applications. It also contains a section on Photography which has something of interest for just about every type of photographic genre. Unfortunately you can only watch the videos online and can not download copies to watch later. Subscription is not cheap and currently runs at $24.96 per month. If you are a member of NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals) your subscription is reduced to $19.99 a month, but as membership to NAPP costs $99 per year it’s not really a saving at all, although with NAPP membership you do get a years subscription to the Photoshop User Magazine. If you think this all smacks a wee bit of rather clever American marketing by the astute Mr. Kelby, then I’d have to agree, however much of the online content I’ve sampled thus so far has been extremely good. I just wish I could get the content on my iPad.
If you purchase the Lightroom 3 Power Session DVD you get access to 19 instructional video files ranging from 1:31 to 6:45 minutes in length, plus a brief introduction and conclusion, totalling just under 75 minutes. The videos are just as slick and informative as Matt’s online video’s and indeed Matt has a pleasant and relaxed style that is a joy to watch. The DVD videos are rather terse however, and lack the depth and detail of the Lumimous Landscape offerings. However, if you purchase a subscription to Kelbytraining.com you get access to 3 further courses of tutorials by Matt entitled Lightroom 3 In Depth, which cover the Library module (Part 1), Develop module (part 2) and Printing, Slideshow and Web modules (part 3) in some considerable depth. These cover aspects of Lightroom 3 such as integration with Photoshop, creating HDR and Panorama stitching, and 3rd party plug-ins. Currently there are also video course on Lightroom for the Web one of the other Kelby Instructors and video tutorials on culling and selecting photos from a fashion shoot and beauty retouching from Scott Kelby himself.

Pros:

  • Abundant online content.
  • Well produced and lots of choice.
  • Content for all levels from beginners to advanced.
  • Professional and well presented.

Cons:

  • DVD represent poor value compared the Luminous Landscape downloads.
  • Subscription content requires a live web connection for access.
  • Online subscription can work out to be quite expensive.
  • Unable to download subscription videos copies to your hard drive.
  • No support for the iPad unless you buy the DVD.

Photoshop Lightroom 3 Essential Training from Lynda.com

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Lynda.com is a huge online resource that provides video tutorials for just about every graphics package, web design and photo-manipulation software you can think of, and many more to boot. It even contains tutorials on Home Computing, iPhones, Business packages, Animation, and has recently been adding videos on Photography. It boasts at having the largest access to online training courses available, and looking at the list they certainly seem to be the granddaddy of the online video tutorial world. It’s an odd name for a web site but that’s down to it’s founder Lynda Weinman. You can access just about anything, but it’s not cheap, ranging from $25.0 (basic) to $37.50 (premium) per month to $250-$375 for a full yearly subscription. The basic subscription covers access to all videos, the Premium subscription provides access to Instructor’s exercise files. The courses however, can only be watched online and thus require a live internet connection, and can not be downloaded to your hard drive.

For LR3 users they have a course entitled Photoshop Lightroom 3 Essential Training presented by photographer and designer Chris Orwig. Comprehensive details, video transcripts, course contents and 24 sample videos can be viewed and accessed here. The course details are very comprehensive and list over 13 hours of videos in 30 sections and contain over 200 individual video files covering techniques such as importing, processing, and organizing images in the Library, correcting and adjusting images in the Develop module, creating slideshows, web galleries, and print picture packages. The course is rich with creative tips and expert advice on photographic workflow and also includes exercise files to accompany the course if you have plumbed for a premium subscription.

The whole course can also be purchased on DVD for $99.95 which you can then watch at your leisure. The online subscriptions however, give you access the a multitude of other courses, so if you additional Photoshop tuition is in your remit, this could be the way to go.
Pros:

  • High on content, thorough and very informative.
  • Very professional and well presented.
  • Covers all aspects of Lightroom.
  • Online subscription covers many other software packages

Cons:

  • Unable to download copies to your hard drive.
  • Requires a live web connection and subscription to view.
  • Could work out quite costly for a long subscription.
  • DVD price expensive compared to others.
  • No support for the iPad unless you buy the DVD’s

Free Lightroom 3 Video Resources

Of course you don’t have to part with good money to get Lightroom 3 video instruction as there are plenty of free resources on the web, many of which are linked in the side panels of this web page. I’ll try and cover some of those in another post.

Summary

It’s too difficult to select a clear winner here as each cater for slightly different audiences and provide differing levels of accessibility. If you’re experienced user, you may find Luminous Landscape Guide to Lightroom 3 more to your taste, whereas beginners may be best suited to Lynda.com’s offerings, Matt’s DVD or George Jardine’s videos. If you’re looking for wider base tuition then the online subscription offer much more. Personally I prefer to have downloadable content that I can watch at my own choosing, irrespective of whether you have an internet connection or where I am. If value for money is an issue then I’d have to say Luminous Landscape takes first prize. The good news is, no matter what you choose you won’t be disappointed; they are all very good. Do try out the sample videos first and see what appeals to you. The choice is yours.

Resources

When New is Not always Better – Windows Liver Writer 2011

Software Review

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Don’t you just hate it when you upgrade a piece of software only to find that it doesn’t work as it did before. It’s just so dam infuriating. I really don’t understand what goes through developers heads when they do this. They just don’t seem to realise just how pissed off it makes the users feel. Perhaps they just don’t care.

My rant this time is about Microsoft (yes, that company again!), and Windows Live Writer 2011. And before you get all picky with me for berating Microsoft, yes I do realise that this is free software, but that still doesn’t give them a reason to go and spoil it.

I’ve used Live Writer to write just about every blog I’ve written and until the 2011 version I’ve be pretty satisfied with it’s functionality and ability to do the job. It was just about the best blogging tool out there … until the 2011 version that is. Unfortunately I foolishly agreed to one of those persistent and most irritating messages from Microsoft instructing me to install an ‘important update’ and before I realised what I’d done, my Live Writer had been ‘updated’ (read destroyed).

I didn’t realise the consequences of what I done until I next opened Live Writer only to be greeted with that Microsoft abomination, the dreaded Ribbon. Gone were my easy-to-use tool bars, icons and menu and suddenly I can’t use the program like I did before. Now I have to hunt to find where everything has gone. Thanks a lot Microsoft. Is there any option to restore the old interface (that err, worked rather well), nope, not a chance. But wait, how do I open an old blog to edit? You can’t, not unless it’s one of the last 9. Excuse me Mr. Microsoft, which one of your idiots thought of that idea? And how do I specify the size of a picture when opened up in a new window … this was easy in 2010, but I haven’t find out how just yet.

OK, OK, I hear you say, give it a chance. Well I have, I’ve tried for a while, I really have, but I still can’t do things I used to do so easily in the last version. It has genuinely hampered my productivity and I’m at the ‘grumpy old man’ stage in life where I’m just not prepared to accept change for change sake.

Now, does anyone know how to get the old version back, ‘cos I for the life of me can’t see how? If that’s not possible, can someone please recommend a some good blog writer software?

Recommendations, advice and assistance gratefully received.

(written begrudgingly in Liver Writer 2011)

Adobe Release Lightroom 3.3

Software

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Today Adobe have finally released version 3.3 of Lightroom; this has been released in conjunction with version 6.3 of Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) for Photoshop. The update has been available for some while as a beta version for filed testing, but is now in its commercial version for general consumption. This release contains the usual additional support for a bevy of new cameras and some bug fixes. Perhaps the most interesting addition for existing Lightroom user are the addition of many new lens profiles. This includes 15 additional Canon lenses, 26 Nikon lenses, 14 Pentax lenses as well as a few Sigma, Tamron, Ricoh and Samsung lenses.

Lens profiles were one of the great new features added in Lightroom 3.0 and it’s a feature that I find particularly useful. If you shoot a lot of seascapes and landscapes with wide-angle lenses then you’ll know unless your camera is perfectly vertical on your tripod and the horizon is smack bang in the middle of your frame, it’s going to appeared curved. I used to have to flip out to Photoshop and use PTlens to correct my shots but now this can be all handled within LR. It’s great for correcting verticals when shooting architecture too and can also be used as a creative tool.

You can download your copy of Photoshop Lightroom 3.3 Release Candidate from Adobe Labs here, find out full specifications of the Lightroom 3.3 release and a list of all the new lens profiles here.

Lightroom 4 Wish List

Software EDITORIAL

Lightroom4

Now that Lightroom 3 has been out for a while and is already in it’s second iteration (the current version being 6.2) it would seem that some of the regular pundits have been turning their thoughts towards what may be included with Lightroom 4. Scott Kelby recently posted a rather interesting blog on features he would like to see in version 4 and that got me thinking what would be in my top ten wish list. Scott’s article was pretty thorough and I thought and covered most of the bases. Plus, being in a position he is within the industry, it would seem that Adobe are already taking note. His article also provoked quite a response. You can read the original here and the follow up Wish List Comments here.

I of course, have absolutely no clout with Adobe what-so-ever. So apart from posting my wishes here in the vain hope that someone from Adobe may, by complete chance, happen to stumble upon them, I think getting my wishes fulfilled are pretty dam remote! Nevertheless, here are my top ten in order of preference:

  1. Soft Proofing: if it’s one thing I still have major difficulty with it’s getting my prints ‘just right’. If you read the web posts I’m not the only one, there are thousands of others out there who, even after profiling monitors and papers, still find achieving the perfect print a bit of a dark art. This one’s a no-brainer and way out in front for me.
  2. GPS Support: as a landscape photographer I’d love this feature. Pretty soon all DSLR’s will have GPS built-in. I currently use Jeffrey Friedl’s Geoencoding Plug-in for Lightroom which, even by his own admission, is a tad clumsy due to the current LR plug-in architecture, but does work quite well. This enables locations to be imported from a GPS device or simply tag locations from Google Earth, but requires a bit of juggling to get this data back into the LR catalog.
  3. Key Word Manager: I haven’t seen many requests for this and I don’t really know why. Key-wording is one of those necessary evils. We all know it should be done, but managing long lists and hierarchical keywords in a little side panel is a clumsy affair. They made the new import dialog into a huge pop-out module (which wasn’t really a critical feature in my opinion), so why can’t we have something similar for managing key words?
  4. Improved Local Adjustment Tools: these currently contain Exposure, Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, Clarity, Sharpness and Colour. But why not Fill Light, Recovery and Vibrance, or even go the whole hog and give us a local Tone Curve adjustment too.
  5. Improved Slide Show: I currently use a third party product (ProShow Director) for my AV requirements, and whilst I don’t expect Lightroom to provide that level of sophistication, the Slide Show module as it stands is a little basic. More layout capability, with multiple pictures per slides, different backgrounds, more text features, Ken Burns zooming and panning and a few different transitions are an absolute must. Syncing to music would be nice too plus the ability to use several music tracks in sequence.
  6. Photo Book Services: Scott Kelby mentions this is the sole feature he uses Aperture 3. But I certainly don’t want to be tied to a photo book publishing feature that ties the user to one service like Apple does. To me this is an ideal feature to be added to the Publish Services feature, so hopefully we’ll see services like Blurb, fotobook and many others added here.
  7. Face Recognition: enough said, it’s already in Aperture and we’d all use this for sure. Surely adobe couldn’t afford to leave this out…could they?
  8. Improved Spot Removal Tool & Clone Stamp: these are some of the few features that still require me to leave Lightroom. I’d really like to see the Spot Removal tool developed into a proper healing brush, so annoying wires and TV aerials can be cloned out without a round trip to Photoshop.
  9. Photo Stitching: the ability to make panoramas and stitch photographs within Lightroom.
  10. Improved Interface: I like the Lightroom interface very much, but it needs to be a little more adaptable. Some of the side panel features are too small when restricted to a narrow panel. A pop-out/expand mode feature may suffice. And please, please, Mr Adobe, do something about the dreaded little triangle in the far left and right margins. I’m forever clicking in there by mistake thinking it’s the scroll bar and hiding my panel. Scroll bars should be on the Outside!

Well that’s my wish list for now. Now tell me yours!

A Non Mac-man’s View of the iPAD (and loss of faith in Microsoft?)

Editorial

You’ll probably wondering what an article an about the Apple iPad is doing in my photography blog. Well, so am I, really. But hey it’s my blog and it may just have some relevance in a rather convoluted way. You’ll notice I’ve stated View and not Review as I don’t intend to review the capabilities and functionality of the iPad. There are far too many reviews out there already from better qualified people, so I couldn’t really do it justice in that department. But I will however, present some of my opinions on why I may just be heading down Apple Way.

Steve Jobs Presents the iPad

I’ve been contemplating trying (buying) a Macbook pro for quite some time now (thus comes the relevance). If you have ever read my review of Windows 7, you’ll know why, but to put it in a nutshell I’m pissed off with Microsoft. For years I was a huge devotee and happily enjoyed each stage of Windows evolution, and by Windows XP SP2 felt pretty comfortable with a then stable OS system. Through work requirements, although never a huge fan, I grew to become a competent user of Microsoft Office, particularly Word and Excel, although Outlook has always left a sour taste in my mouth. Like similar persons of ‘my age’, my first serious foray into word processing was via the text-based WordPerfect and later the windows version, which at the time, was light years ahead of any thing Word could produce.

For spreadsheets it was Lotus 1-2-3, and then the fabulous Quattro from Borland, but eventually, by a process of attrition, Microsoft’s world dominance and client demands, I found myself having to use MS Word. Word is quirky, a tad clunky, and sometimes not the most intuitive program to use, however, through some not inconsiderable time, I’ve become accustomed to all it’s quirkiness and would happily describe myself as a competent and experienced user. That was until, the dreadful Office 2007 and the hideous Ribbon!

MS Ribbon Horror

Having spent a considerable number of years using Microsoft products and so many hours of my life invested in becoming an experienced user, Microsoft, in it’s infinite wisdom, suddenly decided that the toolbar style and menu style interface that we all were perfectly at home with was no longer valid, and turned to some school teacher to design the ‘Ribbon’ interface. This, I’m afraid, simply awful implementation of a UI is so obviously designed for school children. But can we have our grown-up toolbars and menus back? No way! Microsoft has decided we can’t. I’m afraid this is where MS have simply become far too big for their boots. I’ve tried Office 2007, several times, but have simply given up since I just don’t have the time nor inclination to relearn what I know works in Office 2003. For Microsoft to not give users a choice of UI is absolutely unforgivable and a monumental mistake. Nobody likes being imposed upon.

Say No to Vista

And now we come to Vista. A defining moment in Microsoft’s history without doubt. Quite simply the biggest OS flop, period, and the best bit of advertising that Apple has ever had..and for free too! Vista looked flash for sure, when it worked that is. But was (still is?) the most unstable, and certainly the most annoying modern OS ever released. Unfortunately for me, a defunct desktop, meant a replacement with Vista. I also plumbed for a system supposedly tailor-made for photo-processing comprising an over-clocked quad core processor, 8GB ram and wait for it…..Vista 64 bit OS. Huge mistake!

Not only did half my hardware not work because there were no 64 bit drivers around, you also had to get used to daily crashes, the green line of death (a change from the BOD but just as deadly), and the incredibly pedantic and most annoying implementation of UAC (User Account Control) there ever could be. Vista just wasn’t stable, and would drive me up the wall.

The Great Windows 7 Ripoff

Herald the arrival of Windows 7. It got great reviews, and I had just about reached a point where I was sorely tempted to remove Vista and down grade (or perhaps that should be upgrade) to Windows XP 64 bit. More fool me… I waited and eventually decided to give MS just one more chance. I’ll say it again, one more chance!

Windows 7 is certainly more stable for sure, it’s workable, but it still crashes, and it’s 95% Vista code with the same Vista bugs. But hey, haven’t I already paid for Vista? Yes. Then 95% of what I’ve paid for I already have? Yes. And that didn’t work too well either? No. And you paid how much? 175 quid! Boy have I been ripped off. Yes the great MS rip-off has conned millions, myself included, big time. Windows 7 is really only a Vista Service Pack in disguise, putting right the things that didn’t work. But SP upgrades were free in the past weren’t they? Yes. But not this one.

When first installed Windows 7 uses a default task bar designed with huge icons for a touch screen PC. Who the hell has one of those? I think the first thing everyone does, is re-configure the taskbar back to the previous incarnation.

What I find so annoying with Microsoft is that they are imposing things upon us and not giving their seasoned users the choice anymore. I know many people love the Office 2007 ribbon, I don’t, I hate it. I want the choice to choose which interface I use. Will they listen? I don’t think so.

The Apple iPad

And so at last to the iPad. When they first came out I just couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. A large iPhone duh! But whilst eyeing up a 15-inch MacBook Pro at my local Apple store in Sheffield, I and my two kids listened in on a quite knowledgeable young sales girl demoing the iPad to a potential customer. Well I was quite taken, so were the kids. This I thought, was the ideal device form my wife and what with her birthday coming up, and having no idea what to buy the woman who already has everything (sorry darling). How about an iPad?

My wife (I hope she won’t mind me saying), is a complete computer numpty. She has many talents, but operating a simple PC is just not her thing. Other guys in my industry who work away from home like me, receive regular emails, pictures, skypes and videos from their other halves. Me, well I’m lucky if I get 2 or 3 in a year. However, with an iPad maybe there’s hope. It’s so beautifully simple.

That was a couple of months ago and I judge the iPads success by how many emails I have received from my wife whilst I’ve been away overseas. In that case it’s a barnstorming success. I’ve had more emails in the last month than the previous 3 years put together. And guess what, she’s even using Skype now too. The iPad has been great for that and the kids can join in too since the built-in microphone is good enough for conference calls. It works a treat. I know for many of you this is pretty basic fodder, but for us it’s a huge leap forward.

My wife now happy browses the internet, buys stuff on Amazon, checks out the school site, communicates with her friends and many more things. She’s using the scheduler, notebook and contacts list, and playing Sudoku and the kids have been downloading games.

One thing Apple have really cracked is the touch screen keyboard. I’ve always hated such things but this one just works perfectly. The iPad is elegant, simplistic and a joy to use and probably the most convenient tool I’ve seen to browse the web with to date.

It’s been a huge hit in our house all round. The kids are now fighting over it and Dad has had to say it’s Mum’s device hands off.

I’ve enjoyed using it too. It’s great for browsing whilst sat in bed so I can envisage a ‘his’ and ‘hers’ iPad in the not too distant future.

Apple have a real hit here, and once again have set a new standard in the computer industry. I had though at one stage of buying the wife a netbook. The netbook is dead.

One the down side, there are some limitations, and things I miss. Having to do every thing through iTunes is a real pain. Not having the ability to connect an external USB HD or memory stick to download all your favourite photos, documents, music or videos directly is a huge oversight as is not having a USB port. And Apple still insist in not supporting flash, a technology embedded in over 70% of all websites. I really don’t understand that one.

I used to thing Apple goods were for snobs. Not not any more. Microsoft has had enough of my money. My next laptop is going to be an Apple, but that will be another story…

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