In a forum I visit, a photographer just asked:

Hey friends! I’ve got an external hard drive which is giving me some problems and I can’t seem to pull files from it. My computer recognizes it, but doesn’t let me access the files. There are about 200 that i don’t have backed up elsewhere and I would love to figure out how to get them. Does anyone know any file recovery service which may help?

I am so sorry for her, but on the other hand I wonder why there are still people without backups. EVERY hard drive will fail. It’s not IF—it’s WHEN.

A student in my new Sheridan College course, which started tonight, a student told me she had previously lost two years of her young son’s life in pictures. We have all had this thing happen: please, please learn from these experiences of others, and

  1. Go get a new backup drive or two. Now.
  2. Make backups, perhaps using simple scripts like the one I have described here.
  3. Keep one backup off-site.
  4. Print as many photos as you can.

Then you can sleep, as well as enjoy your photos!


Lightroom: Upgrade to 5?

Yes. Yes you should upgrade to LR5, and I mean now. For the vignette tool, but also for the healing tool, and especially for the lens correction tool. Corrections are “one click” now: both lens as well as architecture correction. Look: original on the left; corrected with simple click on the right

My 16mm lens is perfect, except of course it does introduce a little barrel/pincushion distortion: barrel on the left. One click and it’s gone. Those clicks are here:

“Enable profile corrections” checks if it knows your camera/lens combo, and corrects for vignetting and distortion. “Auto” corrects for the perspective distortion that exists when you aim the camera slightly up or down. Two clicks and perfect: that alone is worth Lightroom. That way I get verticals that are vertical, im images like this:

Any idea how much time that saves me? 100 times the 2 minutes (if I am very quick) that it would otherwise take me in Photoshop, os that is three hours saved on just this one aspect of my photos. Lightroom 5 is the way to go.



As you all know, Apple Aperture is end-of-life. And with that, end-of-competition: Lightroom is the only game in town.

And with that, Adobe is flexing its muscle; it is trying to get everyone to use their “Cloud” subscription model. That way, they get a fee (like $9.99) every month, instead of one payment of $150 for Lightroom forever. Clearly, they are interested in this.

Clearly, I am not interested.

  • First, I would pay much more (In five years I’d pay $600, as opposed to $150 for the app, and even with upgrades perhaps double that over that period).
  • Second, I want nothing with auto upgrades. This is mission critical. I am still using CS3 (very occasionally). If it ain’t broke…
  • The price is $9.99 per product per month, I think. But that is today’s price… subject to change.
  • Third, I want nothing to do with a product that has to go online occasionally to check if I am allowed to use it. No way. What if I lose my password? What if their authentication system fails? What if my Internet connectivity fails, e.g. because I am travelling? No, that just will not do. This is company critical: I need an app that is mine to run without authentication, permission, whatever.

Adobe is making it almost impossible to buy Lightroom today. But the key is “almost”. After a long while online with support, I was today given the “BUY AS A PRODUCT” links:

Normal Users: https://www.adobe.com/products/catalog/software._sl_id-contentfilter_sl_catalog_sl_software_sl_mostpopular.html?promoid=KLXMI

Educational Users: https://store1.adobe.com/cfusion/store/html/index.cfm?store=OLS-EDU&event=displayProduct&categoryPath=/Applications/PhotoshopLightroomSTE

For as long as possible, I shall go on using Lightroom as  a normal license rather than a monthly subscription, and you all may want to do the same.


About EXIF data

You have read before that I use a utility called EXIFTOOL to read EXIF data embedded in files. And there is much more embedded than you think. One important piece of data: file creation date. Take this, of a funnel cloud over Oakville  few years ago:

Apple INFO thinks;

2009, cool.

But EXIFTOOL gives me the real creation date:

Now in this case, Lightroom would have also given me the right date. But there are many more pieces of information in the EXIF data than Lightroom tells you. Go install EXIFTOOL (search for it) and have fun seeing what hidden gems of information your pictures contain.





Simple is good

And that can also apply to black and white photos. These recent business photos prove the point, it seems to me:

Both work very well in B/W:

  • The colour is not distracting (a yellow hallway. a green kitchemn)
  • I can make skin lighter or darker by dragging “Orange” in the B/W slider (HSL section) up or down.
  • I cam make other items lighter and darker too, this separating subject from b/g.

That is why I always send b/w versions of my photos to clients. Properly finished B/W versions, that is.