Thursday, April 23, 2015

Lightroom 6 is Here!

On April 21st Adobe released the much anticipated Lightroom 6.  Actually they released two versions of Lightroom: Lightroom 6, the stand-alone version and Lightroom CC, the version included in the subscription service Creative Cloud.  On the release date both versions are mostly feature identical, but as time moves on the CC version will receive more updates and improvements.  One major feature that was not included in Lightroom 6 were the Lightroom Mobile features.

It appears that Adobe is moving toward a subscription only based model.   In my case, the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography bundle at $9.99 per month worked out.  However, you still have a choice with Lightroom 6 although I think losing the mobile features would be a major detriment.

The major improvements in this new release included: HDR Merge, Panorama Merge, Performance improvements, Facial Recognition, Filter Brush Improvements, Adding to Collections on Import, Slideshow Improvements, CMYK now supported in soft-proofing an Pet Eye Removal.

While the performance enhancements are hidden from view they are remarkable.  In my limited use of the new product I have seen up to a 200% increase in speed on some tasks. 

You can now perform an HDR Merge from within Lightroom and it is impressive in its simplicity (as compared to third-party products) and its speed of operation.  I tested the feature with some of my HDR images and it worked great.  One of the great features of the HDR Merge is that the output is to a DNG file (in other words, it is a full dynamic range RAW file that you can adjust and enhance in Lightroom just like a regular image).

Another new feature of the new Lightroom is Panorama Merge directly from Lightroom.

With this feature you can combine multiple photos into a panoramic image to create a wide angle view when you don't have a lens that will capture the entire scene.  Again, the output is to a full RAW DNG file that can be further enhanced in Lightroom.

This is such an amazing implementation that it seems like it has very few limitations.  I saw today a post that said a photographer had created an amazing medium format, 18 photo, HDR panoramic image in Lightroom 6. This file ended up being 705 megabytes in size.  See the story at: http://resourcemagonline.com/2015/04/i-just-made-a-medium-format-18-image-hdr-panoramic-image-with-lightroom-6/51338/

The next major feature of the new Lightroom is Face Tagging or Facial Recognition.  This is an extensive feature set that allows you to identify and tag people in your photos.  It would be very helpful for those sports shooters that have to caption their images for production.

While the process to set up the facial recognition seems a little cumbersome I think it might be useful in some situations.

The remaining new features including adding a filter brush to the Graduated and Radial Filters making it easier to create a mask that fits exactly what you want.  The Performance Enhancements are probably the most important new feature, but not one that you see on the surface.  Many of the performance increases are created by passing off processing to your GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) on your graphics card.  This allows Lightroom to keep on working while the graphics card processes your task.

Other improvements were made to the Slideshow module with the ability to pan and zoom into a slide making it look even more professional and to allow extensive new music options.  You can now add to an existing collection as you are importing your images.  Those of you who take pet photos now will have a feature (in the Red Eye Removal section) to remove those glowing eyes in your pet photos.  And finally you can now do a soft proof with a CMYK color space.  

All in all this is a significant upgrade to the Lightroom brand and continues on a path to have Lightroom be able to do almost everything that you need to do as a photographer in one package. 


One strange thing happened when I first installed Lightroom CC.  It would not run!  Several people reported the same thing and it did not matter whether you were on Mac or PC.   Adobe has posted a simple fix to the problem and it worked for me:  https://forums.adobe.com/thread/1822807



Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally or believe they will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” See my detailed disclosure at: My Disclosure

Thursday, April 16, 2015

New Paintings


After a long drought of painting I have several new paintings being published this month.  All of these paintings are 16" by 20" gallery wraps with gel embellishment.  More of the techniques later in this post.  The subjects of the paintings highlight the spring time in Arizona with two related with Cactus League Spring Training,  and one scene from the Wildlife World Zoo in Litchfield Park Arizona.


Three time baseball All-Star Yu Darvish is the subject of this painterly rendition of an original photograph taken during the 2014 Spring Training season in Surprise, Arizona.  At 6' 5" and 215 lbs Darvish creates an imposing figure on the mound.  This particular composition shows what an opposing batter sees from home plate as the determined pitcher sends a 98 mph fastball down the lane.  

This painting starts with processing with several digital art software products that allow me to create impressionistic brush strokes following the lines and patterns in the original image. I simplify the detail of the photograph to capture the essence of the scene and then I intensify the colors and create brush strokes like an original painting.   

The painting is then produced as a GiclĂ©e print on a canvas medium.  I then embellish the print with a clear gel medium to exaggerate the brush strokes and impart an impasto effect to my paintings that exude a third dimension. Utilizing traditional artist's brushes and palette knives the resulting brush strokes emphasize the lines and form of the original photograph.   This method creates an original one-of-a-kind piece of art. There will be no two paintings that are alike.  Each canvas is numbered into an edition and hand signed.  


Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally or believe they will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” See my detailed disclosure at: My Disclosure

Saturday, February 7, 2015

A New Backup Plan

Along with the new year I discovered that my main disk storage for my photography was exhibiting some flaky behaviors.  I have utilized a Drobo (Generation two, USB 2.0 version) for my primary storage of my raw and processed images.
 By strange behavior I mean that it was forcing itself into a disk rebuild as if a drive had failed.  The rebuild was successful without replacing the drive, but it caused me think that I should upgrade my data storage solution sooner rather than later.

A Massive Amount of Images


Now I have a lot of images from a decade of digital photography.  I have over 121,000 images.  I organize by images into several folders based on my usage of images.  I use Adobe Lightroom for my primary photo editing platform.  After capturing an image I use Lightroom to bring it into my computer in an "Original" folder organized by date.  I load all images in the DNG format.  After bringing in the RAW files I select the images I am going to process further with Lightroom tools and then I use Lightroom's editing tools or I use Photoshop or other software to further process the images into my production photographs or art products that I print for exhibitions.

My original storage solution was a Drobo 4 bay unit with a USB 2.0 interface.  It was configured with two 1.5 Terabyte Western Digital Green Drives and two 2 TB green drives.  With a total storage capacity of 7 TB of storage Drobo's proprietary "BeyondRAID" architecture provided 4.53 TB of usable storage.  An explanation of BeyondRAID can be found on Drobo.com:

"Drobo’s BeyondRAID technology solves the fundamental issues that traditional RAID can’t. Built on the foundation of traditional RAID, BeyondRAID adds a layer of virtualization that chooses the correct protection algorithm based on data availability needs at any given moment. Since the technology works at the block level, it can write blocks of data that alternate between RAID protection levels.
If you need to add storage capacity to a Drobo, simply insert additional disk drives or replace the smallest disks with larger ones – no need to change RAID levels, purchase a new storage array, or go through the complex administration of pooling RAID groups."

A more detailed technical explanation can be found Drobo's e-book " Drobo Technical Innovation" that I have made available on my Dropbox site at Drobo e-book on Dropbox.

My Old Backup Plan

To back up that amount of data I was making a full backup of all my critical folders utilizing Acronis True Image 2014.  The backup files were stored on an Internal 2 Tb disk on my computer.  As my photo collection grew I started experiencing more and more issues with storage space.  I knew I would have to buy more disk.  The other problem with this scheme is that I had only one backup set.  If it was corrupted I didn't have any backup.


Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally or believe they will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” See my detailed disclosure at: My Disclosure

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A New Year

My last post was about lifetime learning and my unofficial New Years resolutions (even though this is almost February 2015) are centered around doing more shooting or at least adding to my photography portfolio each and every month. I also am going to be learning more about my artistic mission by repeating some of my courses on Kelby One, Lynda.com and Photoshop Artistry. I have talked about those before and they have more training than I could ever cover but certainly courses that would strengthen my skill levels. Another project I am doing is to join a group called Awake. This is Sebastien Michael's new year long endeavor to move 1,000 people from around the world into a new level of artistic creativity. This course will not necessarily be about the techniques of art and photography, but more about the reasons that successful artists succeed.

While it is still a little fuzzy to me I believe in Sebastien and know that he has the skills to portray a new way of thinking about our craft. A few words about Photoshop Artistry, the course I have been studying for the last two years. In this course I learned to work through dozens of pro-level techniques while compositing my own creations — achieving a profound expertise and absolute familiarity with the tools and methods that enable me to pursue my artistic vision without constraint. The courses covered everything from masking to blend modes to selective blurring. 

The art piece on the right shows some of those techniques where I composed two of my photographs: a butterfly from the Phoenix Botanical Gardens and a stylized part of a sculpture of reaching hands that I captured at a resort on the grounds in Sedona.  I added some textures, some words and some vector graphics and blended them into a pleasing presentation. 

The second piece of art that I created, based on Photoshop Artistry was a portrait of a dear friend from Santa Barbara that I captured one Christmas morning and proceeded to transform this beautiful young woman into a sophisticated  vision in a Europeon style background. 

These are but two of the new art projects that I created in 2014, but are indicative of many more that are to come. 

You can also join up to the Photoshop Artistry course at the link above.  Let me know and I will see if any discounts are available.




Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally or believe they will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” See my detailed disclosure at: My Disclosure

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Lifetime Learning


One of the precepts of my success in business and photography has been my attitude of "lifetime learning". Those of you that know me have observed that my life in the technology world was characterized first by knowledge and certifications about each technology that I was associated with. Most of that learning was through non-traditional means such as books, seminars and short training sessions. I had achieved much success by the time I was in my 50's. By the late 1990's I had noticed that my lack of a college degree was hampering my further rise as a technology manager. I embarked on a rather frenzied mission to get my Bachelor's degree from the University of Phoenix. I got my degree of Bachelor of Science in Information Technology in 2001. As a mediocre student in high school (back in the 1960's) I was quite surprised at how well I embraced the university environment and classes. I graduated with honors  as the top student in the IT division. I then went on and tackled my Master of Arts Degree in Public Administration in 2004 at Webster University, once again graduating with Honors and a 4.0 GPA. From that time until after I retired in 2011 I went back to learning from newly expanding internet based methodologies that would be considered more non-traditional. I continue on that path each and every day. My post-retirement career would be in the field of photography (my non-job passion for the previous 20 years). I did not choose to get a formal degree in photography (mainly because of the cost). I do think that I have carved out a good path to learn, explore, perfect and future proof my knowledge base. I continue to learn from several different Internet web technologies and am always exploring more ways to learn each week.


The first of those learning sites is Kelby One (kelbyone.com). Kelby One is an offshoot of Scott Kelby's Photoshop User magazine and a part of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals. I signed up for Kelby Training (its earlier name) when it started and was able to maintain my discounted membership from those early days. At first there were very few courses and the production values were fairly low. As time progressed and Photoshop User enterprises continued to succeed they increased the course catalog, instructors and quality into what it is today.

Kelby One has over 10,000 courses ranging in length from 20 minutes to over 4 hours. Most courses are around an hour in length.   They cover categories of Photoshop, photography, video, Lightroom, design, business and inspiration. Every week more courses are published and the course content is expanded to cover the leading edge of technology in all those categories. Kelby One is tied closely to the Adobe product line, but not exclusively and have been expanding their course offerings. You can learn more about Kelby One at: http://kelbyone.com/

Current pricing information and benefits are included in the screen shot on the right.


My next major learning portal is Lynda.com.  They are similar to Kelby One, but cover more technology disciplines including Information Technology, business software, marketing, development and audio and music.  Lynda's courses tend to be longer with many in the 3-5 hour range.  Some of the instructors are the same as those on Kelby One.

 The pricing is fairly high, but nothing like having to pay for a 4 hour seminar and you get access to the entire course catalog.  The highest price option includes project files that are used in the instructions.  I don't pay for the project files (choosing the 2nd tier product) and it does not seem to matter a whole lot.

You can browse the site at: http://www.lynda.com/member.aspx

 The production value of the videos is very high and I have been able to learn many technologies on the site.








The two web sites above are the major players in the technology learning marketplace (but not necessarily the only ones).  I also subscribe to a couple of smaller but more specialized web sites.


Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally or believe they will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” See my detailed disclosure at: My Disclosure