Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Lightroom 5, Adjustment Brush Chaos

Last week I upgraded from Lightroom2 to Lightroom5. It's a rather large revision integer increase... but from what I've heard about the adjustment brushes being enhanced it seemed like the time to do it.

Given: My setup is not a traditional photographer's setup being that my extensive background in IT prevents me from having a "normal" setup. I simply know better than to just "let it be."

With that said, here is a list of geeky stats that mortals can feel free to skip without retribution:
AMD AthlonII X3 455 - (3.3GHz TripleCore)
GSkill 2x4GB DDR3 1600
Seagate 250GB (7200.10) for the filesystem
WD 2x500GB (620AS) (RAID1) for the DNGs, JPGs, and LR Catalog Backups
IBM LTO2 Drive for Long Term Archiving
Ubuntu 13.04 x64 HOST
Windows 7 SP1 x64 Guest (with 2cores, 4GB RAM, and 40GB HD reserved)

As most geeks can see, my system is fairly modest as far as components go. In LR2 (XP Guest) I noticed when using SyncAll and Exporting that it would take quite a while to get those functions done. I believe that this is purely due to a lack of available clock cycles and RAM. Upgrading hardware has been on my To Do list for two years, but I'm content just grabbing a bite to eat while I export photos.

Regular Folk continue reading here:
My initial review of it is that it's faster in some ways and slower in others. The interface loads faster than LR2. Exporting photos and Adjustment brushes execute about the same. What is slower is the backup of the catalog. I don't segregate my catalogs like other folks I know so everything is in one giant file going back to 2011 so this isn't a big factor for those folks.

I've tried the new sharpening algorithms and I was able to take a photo with unacceptable sharpness to acceptable. That's something that LR2 wouldn't have been able to handle: Out of Focus edges stayed out of focus and unrecoverable. So this bit is fairly impressive. Don't think that the new sharpening will save your ass when you blow it though since this isn't magic. Those of you with Canon 85/1.2 will still have blurry eyes of you're not paying attention. My tests at 35/2.4 (which is fairly forgiving) still had issues when it came to being loose with focus points and technique.

The Noise Reduction is definitely better than LR2, but again, it's not magic. My test shots at ISO800 were passable, but still not anything good enough for me to share online. More Light is Better. Good Technique when shooting saves more time with better results than the "fix it in post" mentality.

One issue that miffed me was the adjustment brush wouldn't appear in the Develop module unless I hovered over the Size and Feathering sliders.

Mouse hovering over image field (no, really... totally invisible):

Mouse hovering over Size slider:

I could still use the brushes, but obviously accuracy was in the crapper since I couldn't actually see where the brush IS...only where it HAD BEEN. This is obviously troublesome for workflow. I found an article HERE that talked about this issue, but I thought I'd walk through it briefly while I was talking about it. All that I needed to do was decrease the amount of acceleration that was being used for the video card. (Sidenote: Yes, this affected Windows7 when natively installed as well as virtual machines.)

Firstly, use the Control Panel to bring up the Display Settings, then select Advanced Settings:

 Then select the Troubleshoot Tab, then click on Change Settings:

From here, back off the Hardware Acceleration slider from Full to the Next-Best setting and click OK:

Once your back into the Adjustment Brush Tool in the Develop Module, the brush is actually visible:

Anyway, I'm looking forward to using LR5 in the coming months and I'm hoping that there aren't any additional weird stuff with the interface but we'll see. I don't upgrade software very often so I'll be sure to relate if this integer increase was actually worth it in the long run.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


I'd love to say that I've been completely inactive for the past 6 months because I'm working on some super-secret project.... but I can't.

I'd love to pretend that I'm the too-big-for-my-britches fancy-schmancy photographer that declares each project or job they've completed was a total success on facebook and other social media... but I can't.

I'd love to post 4 beautifully lit shots with a background story with this post... but I can't.

I haven't even been shooting much on my phone let alone anything proper.

I can't lie to myself and I can't lie to you: I haven't been shooting because I've been depressed... and I've been depressed because I haven't been shooting. I'm exceedingly aware of this detrimental reciprocity but I can't seem to pull out of it. It's certainly not due to a lack of trying; Plans and Shoots keep falling apart. Scheduling issues and not feeling well have been contributing to the issue as well. Grandparents have died, loved-ones are getting cancer, memories of disappointing old teachers...

So what's happening with me?
Did I define my niche' so well that the right client is as rare as triple rainbows?
Did I price myself so that I no longer lose money on each job only to discover that now no one can afford me?
Do I really suck at photography as much as the voice in my head says I do?
Did I decide to make work that's so random that it's not meant for general consumption?

It's quite the conundrum: On one hand, I'd love to be so busy with work that everyone books me for everything like I'm a brand-new photographer doing family sessions for $25 including a DVD of 1000 images... BUT... on the other hand I want my work to be paced properly and high-quality like the client just paid me $1000 for a single print on their wall. Does the price I place myself at matter as much as the work I make? Not at all, but watching social media lately it looks like everyone is suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder.

I'm beginning to see why photographers just shoot for themselves and declare to the world that they're Fine Art Photographers instead of trying to wrangle in clients that don't really "fit" their niche'... That sounds lovely right now: Paying subjects to sit down and be patient with me while I extract photos from idea precipitate, then sell huge, limited-edition prints of the work at the Artist's Market or consignment walls at the local pub to the correct client. Complete control over my process would be amazing.... Complete control over my life would be amazing.... but that's not what I have. That's not what any of us have. I have to make my time away from my family count for something and that means getting compensated in a way that's easy to calculate in US Dollars.

If you've made it this far through the post maybe you feel the same way about something in your own life. Most people keep these negative thoughts in their own head but I've been doing that for months and it hasn't been helping. I'd rather be complete honest about myself than pretend that I'm something that I'm not. "You shouldn't say that stuff because it's bad for your business!" Sure... Maybe... But if I'm lying to everyone about how awesome my life is isn't that just as bad?

Its time for a change. I'm off to schedule something awesome in hopes that it pans out.
What are you going to change in your own situation?