Coins and Uncle Bob

Photographing coins is notoriously tough. They are shiny and matte; the shiny bits can be dark or light depending on how you shoot them; they need to show coin detail without showing dust detail; and above all they are three-dimensional, not flat: to do it properly takes a lot of equipment and skill.

But you can do a lot with a little: an 80-20 rule says you can get 80% of perfect with 20% of the effort.

Let’s take a look. A macro lens and a ring flash gives me the following, for a 2015 proof quality coin.

First, the ring flash is held not quite right:

A better positioning gives me consistent results like this, for the obverse (front) side:

And here’s the reverse (“back”) side:

Not bad for five minutes work, no?

Remember that 80-20 rule. Often, you can do with “good enough”. Like when selling on eBay: perfection makes people suspect that you have simply copied a commercial picture, and hence the item pictured is not your item. So this is a good compromise: pretty good, little effort.

I used:

  1. Macro lens
  2. Ring flash (or in this case, Orbis ring flash adapter)
  3. Flash set to manual, 1/4 power
  4. White balance set to flash
  5. Camera set to 200 ISO, 1/125 sec, f/11

And Bob’s your uncle!

 

Thanks, Adobe.

My distaste of Adobe’s “CC” system continues unabated.

I now understand the confusion between me and some of my students.

  • What was “Lightroom CC” is now called “Lightroom Classic CC”.
  • “Lightroom CC” is now the name for the new dumbed down version with many essential missing functions (like HSL editing), a ‘simplified’ user interface, and an emphasis on cloud storage—intended for less sophisticated users who do not understand file storage.

So yes, if you ask “Are you sure you have Lightroom CC” the answer is pretty much meaningless, since a “yes” could mean you have the previous version of the full app, or the current version of the dummy app. Same name.

Thanks, Adobe. You have proven again why the CC system is dumb. The sooner we see Lightroom competitors, the better, and that is the good news: there will surely be serious competition soon.

Oh, one more thing: when you “upgrade” from stand-alone to Classic CC, you need to upgrade your catalog file. Which in my case looks like it’s going to take a number of hours. Yet another reason to dislike the whole CC thing.

Need another? Yes, recently Adobe sent out an update that ‘accidentally’ wiped out the old version of the app for perpetual license holders (I expect this has to do with re-using the name “Lightroom CC”, see above). Ouch.

Does Adobe realize this is business critical for many photographers? My feeling is that yes, alas, they do, which is why they can engage in this behaviour; behaviour that borders on the abusive.

 

Adobye?

“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.

 

Moving to Lightroom

A question I get frequently is “how do I get my photos into Lightroom when they are currently in iPhoto (or ‘Photos’)?”

Good question. Like many Apple products, iPhoto/Photos has the annoying property that “it does it all”, meaning among other things that it takes your images and hides them, and you are not to ask where.

But we are asking. So here’s what you do:

  1. Click on your desktop, so that you are in Finder, and select the GO pulldown menu, and from that menu select HOME:

2. Now select the Pictures folder. And in there, you see the iPhoto Library and the Photos library:

3. Right-click on the one you want (iPhoto or Photos), and select “Show Package Contents”.

4. In that package, you see “Masters”. And that is where your originals live.

5. Right-click on that “Masters” folder and (assuming you have enough disk space) create a copy.

6. Now drag that copy to your desktop.

7. Start Lightroom, and select the GRID view (press “G”).

8. Now drag that copy of Masters from your desktop into that Grid.

The Import window starts up, and you can now import the masters into Lightroom. This type of “import” does not move them, it just leaves them where they are but adds a record of them into Lightroom. (Later, you can move them from the desktop to where you want them, just by dragging and dropping within Lightroom).

….Aaaand you are done. Wasn’t so bad, was it?

 

I would share, but…

Adobe Lightroom is the only game in town.

Hence, Adobe has zero incentive to fix large bugs. Like this apparent bug: slideshow export fails if both portrait and landscape mode slides are included. It is incredible that a corporation would let a huge bug like that just sit there, but I too cannot make an export of a slideshow that contains both portrait and landscape images. It just hangs at 1% or thereabouts.

On top of that, Adobe tries to force everyone to sign up for the Creative Suite, i.e. online software as a service with regular payments, and pay at least double what you would pay for a simple app.

Don’t be evil, anyone? Adobe does not even pretend to not want to be evil. The global dislike of corporations really is not a surprise, when you look at this.

Personally, I would not mind paying fair prices for Lightroom. Even high prices. But being manipulated and ignored at the same time by a huge corporation leaves a bad taste in my mouth.