“Corporations are evil”, is what we hear around us often enough. I have often thought that this was at best an exaggeration, but now I am not so sure: Adobe is doing a good job of appearing to be as evil as possible.

I am talking about Adobe Lightroom, the application that I, my students, and most professional photographers use to run their business. Lightroom rocks. Or rather, it used to rock.

There are now three versions:

  1. The almost-impossible-to-find standalone version. This version is now at 6.13 and, even though it is already missing features, will not be updated anymore. So if you run this, do upgrade, but expect nothing new, now or ever.
  2. Lightroom CC. This is a dumbed-down version for web- and portable-based use. It is missing many essential features: it is basically a toy for people who are unable to learn file management and similar sophisticated features. CC means Creative Cloud: meaning you get to pay Adobe US$10 (which will go up, no doubt) each and every month for the rest of your life (yeah, do the math). Worse, it will need regular permission from Adobe to run. Who on earth would allow their business to be held hostage by some US mega-corporation in this way? Your payment does not reach them, or the login server malfunctions, or Adobe goes broke (you can always hope), or your Internet connection is down when it is most needed – and wham, you are not given permission by Adobe to see your own work.
  3. Lightroom Classic CC. This is basically the existing Lightroom, but with upgrades, and alas, also with the same huge “CC” drawbacks.

Both versions 2 and 3 do everything they can to drive you to the web and to mobile devices. From my perspective, this is dumb, dumb, dumb. Mobile devices are limited, and the last thing a pro needs is “limited”. Why would I handcuff myself? I’ll edit on my Mac, thanks.

And web-based: right. I have 8 TB of photos. which would take about 8 months to upload, with my Internet connection pinned at full capacity for all of those eight months. Not gonna happen. Also, with the top version of the app you get 1 TB of capacity, not 8.

My strategy is simple.

  1. Continue to use 6.13 for as long as I can.
  2. Wait desperately for a competitor (and many companies are working on it)
  3. Change from a Pro-Lightroom evangelist into an Anti-Adobe evangelist.

The Adobe support person who just confirmed all this to me said “if I were you I would feel the same way”. Who knows, if enough of us refuse to move to CC, Adobe may yet reverse their decision. But I am not holding my breath.



I spent Sunday night shooting pictures at a wedding—photo booth pictures, to be precise. And while some photographers think of this as a low-end endeavour, I love it, and I recommend it to all.

“Photo booth” means photos of people using props and funny poser, and printing images on site.

This needs a computer and special software:


And a tethered camera with a studio-type lighting setup:


And, ofcorse, props…:


And finally, technical knowledge as well as people skills.


The printouts people are handed look like this:


Look, by the way, at that last picture. How do you fit around 15 people in front of a backdrop meant for two? Here’s how!


And that’s why I love booths: all my varied photography knowledge comes together for this single purpose.

The result: as the bride told me: “They will remember this wedding because of the booth photos”. If that isn’t the best compliment ever, I don’t know what is.






Apologies to all my faithful readers for the slow posts these months. But they will return to the usual frequency soon.

Meanwhile: my second ZL1 (“Zee El One”) on top of my first ZL1…:


That is a cropped and rotated and adjusted version of this:


A little attention to detail goes a long way, no?


The simplest…

Sometimes, when you are immersed in a profession, you forget that not everyone is even familiar with the language used in that profession, let alone with some of its principles and practices. As an engineer who teaches, I try never to fall victim to that thinking. But sometimes even I do. So in the next series of blog posts, I will briefly define some of the basics. Just in case.

Starting, today, with flash modes.

Your small, camera mounted, flash has a “mode” button. That button gives you access to some of the following modes:

  • TTL (also, “E-TTL”, or “TTL-BL”, etc). This means “automatic flash power”. The camera and the flash together sort out how much power is needed for every photo. They do that with a mechanism that I explain in my courses, books, and workshops. That mechanism is called “TTL”. You do not have to worry about your subject’s brightness, at least in theory: the camera and flash sort it out.
  • MANUAL (Also called “M” or “MAN).  In that mode, you set the flash power. You can, for instance, set it to 1/1, or 100% power: the brightest power level. Or 1/2 (half power), 1/4 (one quarter of its top power), 1/8, and so on. On some cameras, you can go as low as 1/128 power, a very low flash level. So in this mode, if your flash is too bright, you would turn it down to a lower level (or move back from what you are lighting); if it is too dim, you would turn it up (or move closer).
  • Repeating flash, or stroboscopic flash. In this mode, the flash will flash not once, but a defined number of times, with a defined interval. You need to define the number of flashes, the interval, and the power level. (E.g. “5 flashes, at a frequency of 10 flashes per second, at 1/16 power”). That allows you to make photos of, say, a runner against a dark background, where you see not one, but ten images of that runner as she moves through your photo.

There may even be modes additional to this. Depending on the flash you use, there may also be a setting that tells the flash that it is a remote flash, and there may be a setting that allows the flash to be used at fast shutter speeds, but at a reduced power level (“High Speed Flash”, or “FP Flash”). There could be other settings as well, like a “dumb slave setting” (Nikon calls this the “SU-4” setting).

All those additional settings are not modes, but they are what I called them: additional settings. I know, that may be confusing to you (“what is a mode and what is an additional setting?”), but if so, don’t worry about it. It’s what the engineers decided to do. The reasons for not calling these settings “modes” are not important right now.

So there you have it. Some flash “basic basics”.

In my flash courses, I explain al this in detail, of course.

Want to learn more: buy the pro flash manual, and if you are in Toronto, sign up right now for the 25 March portrait and model lighting workshop.  See you there?