Aperture’s Golden Hour

Aperture sunsetIt seemed fitting that I heard the news that Apple is sunsetting Aperture while I was attending a photo seminar. Aperture has been largely dormant for the past three years, and as I commented to Jackie Dove in an article at The Next Web, “I have to admit, on one level I’m a bit relieved that we finally know what’s happening with Aperture, instead of the limbo it’s been in for the last few years.” (Is it weird to quote myself on my own blog?)

What does this news mean for photographers who’ve invested countless hours and gigabytes of photos to Aperture? In short, we need to wait and see what Apple’s new Photos for OS X application will bring, but I’m not optimistic it will meet everyone’s needs, especially right away.

I explain in more detail at TidBITS in a new article: “Aperture’s Golden Hour.”

In photography, the “golden hour” is that slice of time just before and after sunset when the sun is low in the sky and the light is often bronze-hued and dramatic. It’s one of the best times of the day to capture photos, but the good light too soon rolls over into darkness.

Apple’s professional photo-management application, Aperture, has enjoyed an extended golden hour. Although Adobe Photoshop Lightroom long ago dominated the market, Aperture has held on in development limbo — working fine (but sludgy, in my experience) for those who use it, but not updated in any meaningful way. Now, its light is close to winking out: Apple announced last week that it will soon halt development of Aperture.

New Articles: Lightroom mobile 1.1 and Adobe Photoshop Mix

Coinciding with the latest announcements from Adobe, two articles of mine were published this morning.

Lightroom mobile 1.1

Mix cutout

For my first article at Lynda.com, I looked at Lightroom mobile 1.1. On the surface it appears to be an incremental update that delivers iPhone compatibility (which Adobe promised was coming when Lightroom mobile came out in April). However, it turns out that having the app on the iPhone can potentially change the way you work with mobile photos.

Right now, to get the shots you capture with the iPhone (and if you’re like me, you take a lot) into your Lightroom library, you need to connect the phone to your computer via a sync cable and import the photos like any other camera. Using the feature of Lightroom mobile 1.1 to automatically add new photos from the Camera Roll to a synced collection means your photos get zapped to your Lightroom library without any intervention.

Read more about it at: How Lightroom Mobile 1.1 May Change Your Mobile Photo Workflow.

Adobe Photoshop Mix

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Over at Macworld, I wrote a first-look article about Adobe’s new Photoshop Mix app for iPad. It’s an interesting use of the underlying Photoshop technologies that Adobe is putting into many of its apps, enabling you to perform image corrections on photos and also build compositions from different photos.

Take a look at: First Look: Adobe Photoshop Mix.

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Adobe Working on Adding Metadata Features to Lightroom mobile

Lightroom mobile has been out just a week and already there’s evidence that what we’re using now is very much a 1.0, with new features in the works. This shouldn’t be surprising: the original Lightroom started fairly bare and aggressively added new features after its release.

One of the top surprises I’ve heard from people is the lack of a way to edit metadata for photos in the app—star ratings, keywords, IPTC data, and the like. I suspect those were probably planned for the app but held back so Adobe could ship the first version on the schedule they set for themselves.

Now, it’s clear that star ratings and other probably other metadata features are being worked on, following a tweet posted by Adobe’s Tom Hogarty this morning:

Of course, Hogarty doesn’t offer a timeline, but it’s promising to see them work on features that will beef up the app.

[As a reminder—I know, I know—I've just released an ebook through Peachpit Press about the app called Adobe Lightroom mobile: Your Lightroom on the Go. It's good, and only $8!]

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At 500px: How an iPad Can Improve Your Photography

Premiere photo site 500px has just published an article of mine that takes a high level overview of what an iPad can do for photographers: How an iPad Can Improve Your Photography. Think of it as the ultra-compact version of my iPad for Photographers book, covering the options for using the iPad as a portfolio, importing photos to the iPad and reviewing them in the field, adding all-important metadata, editing the shots, sharing images, and more.

I’m actually quite excited to appear on 500px, not only because I like what the company is doing, but because the people who post and read at the site tend to be extremely talented photographers. It’s fabulous company to be in.

Rumors of an iPad companion app for Lightroom surface

Last week, 9to5Mac posted an article about a leak on Adobe’s Web site that revealed what appears to be a Lightroom app for the iPad. According to the leak, the app would be a service that costs $99 per year (or may be included in a Creative Cloud subscription).

A Lightroom app for iPad was teased by Adobe’s Tom Hogarty earlier last year when he showed a very early proof-of-concept app that could edit raw files with apparent ease (on an iPad 2, no less).

There’s no indication of whether the app is imminent or still in development (and I wonder if the subscription pricing might be an intentional test balloon to see how people would react to the pricing). But it’s definitely an exciting development.

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Using Cameras’ Built-in Wi-Fi at CES

Derrick Story has an article at Macworld about how he used the built-in Wi-Fi capabilities of the Canon 70D and Olympus OM-D E-1 and their respective iOS apps to share images during the day when he attended CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) early this month. Manufacturers are finally getting the message that built-in Wi-Fi is useful and desired by photographers.

Macworld Reviews iPhoto 2.0 for iOS

Macworld’s Jackie Dove has published her review of iPhoto 2.0 for iOS, the new version of Apple’s mobile photo editor for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. She likes it quite a bit, writing:

iPhoto 2.0 for iOS is a fantastic upgrade to Apple’s mobile consumer image editing flagship program; its streamlined, updated interface is a joy to use. Though not as cute and whimsical as last year’s debut version, its swift operation, direct controls, enhanced sharing, and no-nonsense interface make it a must-have upgrade.

Other pressing deadlines have kept me from digging into the new version in depth, but it’s still the photo editor I turn to first on my iPad. I’m looking forward to seeing how well it performs on my new iPad Air, since Jackie’s review suggests a lot of the processing is now being handled by the graphics processor.

Google Updates Snapseed with New HDR Scape Filter

Google announced improvements to its Google+ service today, with a focus on photography. One of the items mentioned was an update to Snapseed that adds a new HDR Scope filter to the versatile image editor. According to Google, this implementation uses pixel edge detection instead of relying solely on tone mapping. As soon as the iOS app update was available, I had to throw an image at it and see what the results were.

Here’s an original photo, shot with a Nikon D90 and imported to my iPad via Eye-Fi. This is the JPEG portion of the Raw+JPEG pair I shot.

Snapseed HDR before

Here’s the same shot taken into the HDR Scape filter. This is with a setting strength of +83, the default that Snapseed used.

Snapseed HDR after 83

That’s too much HDR effect for me, so I dialed the effect down to +47. Total time editing: about two minutes.

Snapseed HDR after 47

Transfer Photos Wirelessly without the Camera

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In the “learn something new” department, I ran across an interesting discovery today.

First, some setup. I woke up before dawn to catch the sunrise in the Columbia River Gorge, and for some reason my camera’s battery didn’t last very long—I think it was the combination of the cold weather, composing my shots using Live View, and transferring the images from my Eye-Fi card to my iPad. With a full day of shooting ahead, and only one extra battery available, I was in trouble.

Jump ahead a few hours, I want to transfer my newest photos to the iPad but not kill the spare battery in the camera. So, I attach my iPad Camera Connection SD adapter to copy the photos directly. The problem is that connecting the SD card to the iPad using the adapter means I need to import the raw versions of my photos in addition to the JPEGs. (I’m shooting raw+JPEG so I can edit better-quality photos on the iPad than the previews generated by the camera.) What I want to do is import into ShutterSnitch which includes an option to copy only JPEG images.

That brings me to the surprise: I opened ShutterSnitch to see if it could import directly from the adapter (it can’t; Apple blocks access to the sync port, I believe), but suddenly the photos started importing anyway. The trick is that I’m using an Eye-Fi card. And when the card is connected to the iPad using the camera adapter, the iPad is also supplying the card with power, which in turn activates the Eye-Fi’s wireless hotspot.

So even though the card is physically connected to the iPad, it’s transferring images via Wi-Fi! Pretty cool when you don’t want to tax your camera battery and bypass the Camera Roll.

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Cedar Creek Grist Mill

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I’m at a photo workshop in Oregon and putting my iPad photography skills to work in the field. As I type this, I’m sitting in a van driving down the freeway from our last shoot, the Cedar Creek Grist Mill. Despite a lot of rain, I had a blast shooting this old structure and the water that runs alongside it. (Others in the group saw a few large salmon jumping up the falls, but I never spied one.)

But as we’re traveling, I took the opportunity to import my photos from my camera’s Eye-Fi wireless card onto my iPad (using ShutterSnitch), review them, and edit a couple in Apple’s iPhoto app. I’ll do more processing on the raw files later on my computer, but this gives me a chance to not only see what I captured, but also perform some basic edits and share a couple shots with friends… and write this post.