Macro fun

Canada’s silver dollar used to carry the “Voyageur” design on the obverse side. This year, a special 150 year anniversary edition, with the same design in the centre:

The original looked like this:

Those are simple iPhone shots. But proper shots of coins are taken with a macro (or as Nikon calls it, a Micro)  lens, i.e. a close up lens.

And once I do that, I see something amusing. Look at the native person in the front of the canoe.

In the original, he is traveling nude:

In the re-issued coin, he is wearing a loincloth!

I can just imagine the meetings that must have happened on this subject at the Royal Mint of Canada. Though I do wonder about the political correctness aspect: why is nudity so bad?

In any case: it is only the macro lens, in my case the 100mm f/2.8, that allowed us to see this design change. Who knew?

 

 

 

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.