Monthly Archives: June 2013

Navigational Apps

From traveling around New Zealand and exploring places to shoot, I’ve tried a few navigational apps. Being able to find addresses or reverse your tracks has proven to be a life-saver on many occasions. Rather than run through the ones that suck (this list is quite large), I’ll provide a list of what i actually use (most used first)…

20130623 Supermoon @ Hau Nui Windfarm

A shoot at the Hau Nui Windfarm whilst the moon was at it’s brightest.

Peridgee Moon

Automating Image Resizing

In this day and age this should be trivial an easy. But to do it right is still not widely known. Applications like Adobe Lightroom can optionally do output sharpening (which I think is a desirable feature). But since I’ve abandoned Adobe products, I’m left to my own devices. So my solution to this was a Makefile and ImageMagick. My script is based on a tutorial called Sharpening using ImageMagick.

The Ultimate Camera

The Olympus E-M5 and the E-P5 get a lot right. But they also try to be like other cameras a little too much. I would love to see Olympus make a camera that is a little more “serious”. When I say serious I mean more suited to a raw based workflow. For me this means:

  • Only the P, A, S and M modes. The others are never used, so just get rid of them so they don’t get in my way.
  • No JPEG engine, I just want raw and only raw.
  • No “art” filters or other kinds of effects.
  • Native ISO 100 to make working at high apertures easier. The high ISO battle has gone too far, a little give in the other direction would be appreciated.
  • A button or dial for each photographic parameter (aperture, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, bracketing, etc.).
  • No movie mode, I just do stills. If I want movies I’ll buy a black magic.
  • Responsive, I want it to fire the shutter at exactly the point when I hit the button.

Looking at this list, it is mostly about getting rid of the gimmicks. I want a camera to not get in the way and just capture the picture. I already know how to tell it what sensitivity, depth of field and shutter speed I want so it’s job at this point is to record the image when told.

As a second part to this wish list. Having two variants of the camera body, one colour and one monochrome, would be a cake well iced!

iPad Blogging Apps

So far, I have not been impressed with the applications available for iPad blogging. I’ve managed to get a WordPress theme working from a basic perspective. This means that now the look and feel has been taken care of, all I need to do is generate content. I’ve stumbled into this with the (vain) expectation that I could use my iPad for writing and hence be able to record ideas as they come to me. On a very basic level this works, but it has limitations.

Apps I’ve tried so far are:

Posts: the interface is clean and it is generally quite nice to work with. The pain comes when submitting posts/entries. If you are creating a new entry then all is good. But if you are updating an existing entry it will not first download your updates. This means that you’ve got duplicate work to do if you want to deal with the conflicts. I am writing this entry with Posts as I prefer it’s minimal interface when writing text. It’s useful.

Blogsy: this is possibly the most quirky interface I have seen for a while. It does get the job done but can be a little too cluttered (not enough room for writing) for my tastes. Blogsy also suffers from the same not-checking-for-updates issues as Posts. It’s ok.

WordPress: whilst this does not do queer stuff when talking to a WordPress publishing engine, it’s writing tools are painful. Clunky.

PressSync: only does posts and not pages. The editor edits raw HTML which I find rather distracting when I just want to get some ideas down. Clunky.

BlogPad Pro: the quirkiness of the interface here is rather similar to Blogsy. The editor is not predictable with line breaks and paragraph breaks. I had quite a bit of frustration trying to get paragraphs spaced consistently on the same page. But the functions of adding in other media worked really well. It’s ok.

Prose: like Posts, this has a nice and simple interface. It does seem to do the job on the surface, but I could not seem to find a way to link from one page to another existing page in the same blog (without knowing the URL). It’s ok.

My testing has not in any way been scientific. I could probably do a bit better with Blogsy and BlogPad if I read the tutorials and manuals. But I just want to get writing, so I am going to stick with Posts for the time being. In the meantime, I have some rather messy articles to clean up from this test.

Conclusion: Posts is the winner.

Lightroom 5

Lightroom 5 has now been released. But there is no word from Adobe about performance improvements. Too bad I’ve already had enough and migrated to Aperture. Most of the new features are playing “catch up” with Aperture, apart from the upright tool. But as I also own DxO this is of no advantage to me.

This is a tool I have used heavily in the past, so it saddens me that Adobe has come up with a release that is mediocre. Lightroom started life as a tool designed specifically for photographers. It has certainly made my life easier (until recent times) and became an industry “standard” as it was just as beneficial to others.

Over the years, Adobe’s desire to chase trends and cameras has meant that Lightroom has stayed rather mediocre. It has opened up a market for DxO to create an awesome raw image processing engine with lens corrections. Aperture has moved ahead by providing photographers with a better raw processor and tools that are needed (i.e. brushes on everything). Whilst Lightroom gets released with slight improvements and know performance issues.

This shouldn’t be that much of a big deal. But the reality is that you will invest more time in an application like this than you will behind the camera. Even though there are plenty of good options available, it is hard to shift an image library from one application to another.

I can only hope that Adobe can bring some customer focused sanity back to the equation and give photographers awesome tools again. But for me, I’ve settled quite well into my Adobe-free new world.