Audubon Photography Awards

I admire the tenacity of wildlife photographers, especially those who shoot birds. The patience, drive, and focus required—sometimes helped with a pinch of luck—to capture great images of birds is an art form in and of itself. And, while I don’t have the desire to go out in a blind and wait with a very long lens, I appreciate those who are masters of the form. That’s why it was great to see the 2018 Audubon Photography Awards posted this week.

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2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year

National Geographic has posted the results of its Travel Photographer of the Year contest, and, as usual, there are some spectacular images to be seen. The grand prize winning image, shown below, is from Japanese photographer Reiko Takahashi, and is absolutely gorgeous on a big screen.

Source: 2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year | National Geographic

If you’re looking for a bit of photographic inspiration today, it is well worth taking a leisurely stroll through the galleries. One thing that really jumped out at me was how many of the winning images (in both the standard and people’s choice groups) were shot with a drone. The one of the crocodiles in Costa Rica, for example, is pretty terrifying, while the shot of the flamingos taking off (taken from a helicopter, not a drone) is stunningly beautiful.

One nice touch is that National Geo, and the photographers, let you download many of the winning photos for personal use as wallpaper for desktops, tablets and phones.

Photo Essay: Where the Amish Go on Vacation

This week, The New Yorker has an absolutely delightful photo essay, “Where the Amish Go on Vacation,” with photos by Dina Litovsky (and text by Alice Gregory) that capture a “place of brief leisure for people who consider work to be sacred”:

“Each winter, for close to a century now, hundreds of Amish and Mennonite families have travelled from their homes in icy quarters of the U.S. and Canada to Pinecraft, a small, sunny neighborhood in Sarasota, Florida. Arriving on chartered buses specializing in the transportation of ‘Plain people’ from areas such as Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Holmes County, Ohio, they rent modest bungalows and stay for weeks, or sometimes months, at a time. It’s vacation. For many, it’s the one time of the year that they spend with people from communities other than their own.”

Litovsky doesn’t gawk at or exploit her subjects; instead, she tells this story with respect and care, capturing her subjects as they are in this world. (My favorite photos are the shots of the volleyball game at night, but the entire piece is wonderful.)

The photographer, originally from the Ukraine, is now a resident of the U.S., and has a great eye for people in their environment. Her work has been in National Geographic, New York Magazine, The New York Times, and more. Her website is well worth perusing, especially if you are interested in telling stories through photography.

Lightroom CC, Classic updates add profile enhancements

Adobe Lightroom profiles menuAdobe released simultaneous updates this week for Lightroom CC (desktop and mobile) and Lightroom Classic, with a number of new features and enhancements. The biggest feature is an expanded set of profiles for rendering raw files with camera-specific styles and artistic effects.

At their simplest, profiles are the initial transformation of tone and color characteristics to a raw image (before editing), and Adobe historically has applied a default profile (Adobe Standard) to every raw image processed in Lightroom. If people knew about profiles—which was rare—it was most often to apply a camera-specific profile to a photo inside Lightroom. These additional profiles would correspond to the image settings you would find in your camera; my Sony A7RII, for example, has built-in profiles, with names like Deep, Clear, Portrait, Landscape, and I could apply those profiles either in-camera or in Lightroom Classic. Adobe would add those profiles to Lightroom as part of regular Camera Raw updates, and those profiles were tied to the camera used to take the photo.

Profiles have been around for some time, buried at the bottom of the Lightroom Develop panel, in the Camera Calibration pane. Read more »

On Joel Meyerowitz

Joel Meyerowitz is one of the true giants of 20th century photography. His career has moved from street photography to impressionistic landscapes to portraits to still life subjects and more. His series of images taken in and around the World Trade Center site in the wake of 9/11 was wrenching, poignant and authentic: a brutally honest collection that captured the horror and sorrow of those terrible times with compassion and respect.

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Does Taking Photos Affect Your Memory?

While I remember this vacation, I don’t remember taking this photo – is there a chance I’d have a better recollection if I’d put down the lens?

With the holidays fast approaching—I stepped into a Target last week and their Christmas displays were already up!—it’s time for family visits and hours of travel. One of the top items that people pack when they head out on vacation is their camera. We want to capture all our moments: when the family gets together on Thanksgiving day, when the colors explode at sunset over the ocean and that hilarious split-second a seagull steals your kid’s ice cream cone.

Many photographers struggle to figure out which camera and lens to pack, but I was curious about whether I should pack one at all. As I take photos of all those beautiful moments I want to remember, does taking them actually help my memory? By recording the best sunrises and most delicious dinners, will I have a better recollection of all the moments I want to save?

Earlier this year, I found an amazing article by Jenny Chen on New York Magazine’s Science of Us blog entitled How Taking Photos Affects Your Memory of the Moment Later On. It’s a short look into the world of how we build memories in the digital age, with evidence on both sides of the fence. While many of the studies Chen cited promoted the idea that there’s little difference to your memory if you take photos or not, I’m definitely a firm believe in one key point; we need to spend less time with our eyes behind our phone screens and more time enjoying the view.

The “cost” of software (Lightroom redux)

I have been fascinated with the furor that has whipped up many photographers about the release of Adobe Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic. As I noted previously, I totally get the idea that people are getting weary of ‘subscribing’ for software, even if that’s really what we have all been doing for years. My friend Jeff Carlson is doing a good job of talking about this issue, and today has an interesting piece called Math is Hard, or, A Quick Look at Lightroom Pricing. In it, Jeff talks about the cost of purchasing and upgrading a product like PhaseOne’s Capture One Pro vs. the costs of having an Adobe software subscription (in either Lightroom incarnation).

Jeff is spot-on in his analysis: if you are someone who is serious about your photography, and you want to remain current with the latest in features and performance, Adobe’s $120 per year for Lightroom (both versions) and Photoshop is a good deal. It is made better by the fact that Lightroom really is the best product for most photographers in the market, but if you don’t like Lightroom/Photoshop, or are upset about Adobe’s policies, there are many alternatives in the market for you to use. Read more »

Thoughts on the Lightroom announcements

It has been a crazy few days, following Adobe’s announcements about the new Lightroom(s) and the Creative Cloud. There is a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt circulating, but that will die down over the next few weeks, as photographers on Adobe’s Photography plan play around with both the updated Lightroom Classic and the new Lightroom CC. (If you want an encyclopedic overview of everything regarding the Lightroom announcements, The Lightroom Queen is the place to go, to be honest.)

If you’re a user, looking at these announcements from the outside—i.e. you’re not a software developer—it can be difficult to understand why Adobe did what they did with Lightroom. Peter Krogh, an expert on digital asset management (DAM), has a fascinating post over on his website, entitled Lightroom and the Innovator’s Dilemma.

“But the architecture of Lightroom as a desktop application simply cannot be stretched enough to create a great mobile application. The desktop flexibility that has powers such a wide array of workflows can’t be shoehorned in to full cloud compatibility. The freedom to set up your drives, files and folders as you wish makes a nightmare for seamless access. And the flexibility to create massive keyword and collection taxonomies does not work with small mobile screens. After years of experimentation, the only good answer was the creation of a new cloud native architecture. As with the creation of the original Lightroom, this was done by taking the existing Camera Raw imaging engine and bolting it on to a new chassis – this time a cloud native architecture.”

Peter’s post is worth reading, especially if you’re confused or upset about Adobe’s direction. You might not like what Adobe did, but they are doing what any company must do if they wish to remain relevant: juggle the current (and future) needs of their users with the changing dynamics of technology, all while still trying to maintain a stable revenue (and profit) stream. Read more »

Jeff Carlson (and others) on the “new” Lightroom

Adobe today announced a whole new ecosystem surrounding Lightroom, which includes a new desktop app, called Lightroom CC, for Mac and Windows; updated iOS and Android versions (also called Lightroom CC); Creative-Cloud-based storage of your photos; and a rebranded (and updated) version of the “old” app, now called Lightroom Classic CC.

We have quite a few thoughts on this change, and will post something soon, but the best overview of the announcement out there is from our friend Jeff Carlson, over on DPReview. He summed it up best like this:

“For people who do not yet use Lightroom, or have been told by friends that they should use it but were intimidated by it, Lightroom CC should be a welcome introduction to the Adobe ecosystem. For photographers who have used Lightroom for years… it’s complicated.”

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Bookmarks: Julieanne Kost’s Blog

There must be a million websites devoted to photography (Google says as much), ranging from gear coverage to portfolios, photo news, opinions, business, learning, and more. Given the nature of this (yet another) photo site, I have to pay attention to more than I probably should, but most of you probably have a few that you check from time to time. If you work within the Photoshop and Lightroom post-production world, I have one that you should add: Julieanne Kost’s blog over at Adobe.com. Julieanne is an evangelist for Adobe, and her 2006 book, Window Seat: The Art of Digital Photography & Creative Thinking, is a beautiful, thoughtful meditation on creativity, and one of the books I always have close to me for inspiration. It is unfortunately out of print, but you can still find used copies here and there, and, if you have an iPad (or Mac), you can purchase an ebook version for under $5. (She also recently published Passenger Seat, a tutorial-based book designed to help you develop your own photographic project.)

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