Thoughts on Lightroom Mobile

Adobe released a new Lightroom for iPad app called Lightroom Mobile. I haven't tried it because I don't use Lightroom (the last one I purchased was version 2). But from what I've read so far it seems Adobe missed the mark.

Let me start by saying I commend Adobe for beating Apple to it. I've wished for an Aperture for iPad for a long time and I'm still waiting. Over the years there have been third party apps like Pixelsync (now dead) and Photoscope that have tried to fill the gap. But an official Aperture for iPad from Apple has long been missing. Kudos to Adobe for getting Lightroom Mobile out there.

Having said that, I don't think Lightroom Mobile is a winner.

Here are my thoughts on it, but take them with a grain of salt. My opinion is based on what I envision an iPad version of Aperture being and on reading the feature set of Lightroom Mobile.

First, the app is free... with a catch. You need to be a Creative Cloud subscriber to really make use of all the features. This means at a minimum you'll have to pay US$10 a month (for Lightroom and Photoshop only) and up to US$600 a year for the complete plan.

This is a weird move since Adobe still sells Lightroom as a stand alone product. I guess I does make sense from Adobe's perspective as a way to get LR owners into the monthly payment plans of Creative Cloud. But from a customer's perspective is just annoying. I would be really pissed off if I was a Lightroom user.

Second, developing (to use Lightroom's parlance) is limited to the adjustments in the Basics panel only. You can adjust things like exposure, contrast, and vibrance but you don't get advanced tools like localised adjustments, lens correction, vignettes and surprisingly, curves. How the hell did curves not make it? There are hundreds of apps out there that do curves on iOS, so it's not like the device isn't powerful enough.

This, of course, means you can't use presets in Lightroom for Mobile. I'm not sure what happens with photographs that have presets applied in the desktop. If you sync them to the iPad do you only push the unedited version? Not sure how that works.

Finally, it looks like editing metadata is also limited. You can assign picks and rejects, but no star ratings for example. I've read different thoughts on this one, so I'm not sure how limited it is. But if anything, full metadata editing is one of the key things I'd like to see in a mobile version of my photo management software.

As I said, if I was a Lightroom user I'd be disappointed at the features and angry at the pricing model.

Here's hoping Apple releases Aperture for iPad soon with the right features and price.

Weeks 14 & 15: Lightroom Mobile, Fonts, and another wallet

Life got extremely busy recently and I didn't have time to write much outside of my day job. I've neglected this site and I apologise. Thankfully, things are under control again and regular posting should resume this week. However, I did miss 2 weekly roundups so I'm combining them into a single post.

These are some of the cool things I came across during my hiatus.

Adobe released Lightroom Mobile

If you read this site regularly, you've heard the news about the new Lightroom for iPad called Lightroom Mobile. I've been reading up on it and frankly, I'm disappointed.

On one hand it pisses me off that Adobe beat Apple to it. I've said before that I want an Aperture for iPad, and I've complained when Apple infers it works with iOS in any way. So kudos to Adobe for releasing it.

But on the other hand, Lightroom Mobile isn't what I wished an iPad version would be. It's limited in functionality and worse, requires a paid subscription to Creative Cloud. What a joke. I'll have more thoughts on it soon. UPDATE: Couldn't help myself and I just wrote my thoughts on Lightroom Mobile.

Font Men: Jonathan Hoe­fler and Tobias Frere-Jones

If you know who Hoefler and Frere-Jones are, watch this video. It's before their recent breakup. 

Comic Neue

Everyone that loves typography loves to hate Comic Sans. It's an awful typeface that's often overused in frightening ways.

Well, Australian designer Craig Rozynski decided to make a better version called Comic Neue. It's a brave effort and it does look much better. He's made it free to download.

Vinco Paper Wallets

Yes, another wallet. This one is kind of fun though. It's a paper wallet called Vinco and the creator has a Kickstarter campaign at the moment. If you pledge you get a wallet plus a guide to make your own later on. It's a fun idea.

Week 13: Nikon Df, OmniFocus 2, and Flo Fox

Photographer Mick Rock on the Nikon Df

When the Nikon Df was first announced I was really excited. Then I saw the photographs and my excitement quickly turned into disappointment. The camera looked like they had just bolted on analog-looking knobs and dials on top of a modern body. At least in the pictures, it looks hideous. The specs are a weird choice as well, but the price is what really killed it for me. It's just plain ridiculous.

I had completely ignored the Df since then, but today, Rob Boyer wrote an article in which he shares his impressions after having held one. It seems it's not as bad as it looks in pictures, but that's about it. 

Rob also shared the Nikon sponsored video below where Mick Rock, an acclaimed rock music photographer, shares his thoughts on the Df.

I like the video and his philosophy about photography. I found particularly funny that they bleeped when he said bastard, in the following quote:

I know when I've got the shot. Do I know the exact frame? Sometimes I'm moving too fast to be that sure. But I know what it smells like when you've nailed the bastard.

I love that quote. I ended up spending some time going through his work. Good stuff.

OmniFocus 2 for Mac is back

OmniFocus 2 has been redesigned, a new beta is available for download (if you registered way back when), and it's scheduled to ship in June. This is great news. You can read about it at the Omni site. I just downloaded it and will be playing with it over the weekend. First impression is that it looks much better than the previous beta, but still too... plain. I have to use it to get a real feel for it, but it does look a bit boring.

Flo Fox by Riley Hooper

Two videos in the same weekly roundup? Yep. I can't not share this one. Truly inspirational. What a woman. If I ever complain again about something petty please somebody whack me in the head. Just watch it now.

Learn more about Flo Fox at her website. Then read this article on NYMag. Then go out and create something.

Week 12: GeoTagr, another wallet, and Pinboard

GeoTagr Updated

GeoTagr is an iPhone and iPad app for geotagging your photographs. I've used it for years and it works perfectly. As you can read in my review, I love it.

The only feature I wished it had was to be able to import and export the GPX files via iTunes sharing for those occasions when you don't have access to Wi-Fi. Although that doesn't happen often, when travelling overseas sometimes you just don't get a change to connect all your devices to the same Wi-Fi network. It happened to me a few times and I was excited to get my photos into Aperture and geotag them.

Well, a few days ago GeoTagr got updated and this feature is now available. In addition, they've added other things like:

  • Support for geotagging of photos stored in the iPhone photo library
  • Folder selection when geotagging Dropbox photos
  • Download the GPX file of any recorded track via a browser
  • Interval based recording modes also work in the background
  • Better Dropbox authorisation flow
  • Save a track map to the Camera Roll
  • UI improvements
  • New app icon

If you're at all interested in geotagging your photographs, GeoTagr is the way to go.

The Liquid Wallet

If you've read this site for a while you know that I have a thing for small wallets. I reviewed and used the Supr Slim and the Snapback Slim. The latter has been my main wallet for about 6 months now.

Although there have been a bunch of similar minimalistic wallets since, I haven't seen one that interests me enough. But the Liquid Wallet has changed that. It looks pretty cool and it's a clever design. They have a Kickstarter running with 43 hours to go, but they've already doubled the amount pledged. And it's also designed in Australia, so there's that.

Federico Viticci on how he uses Pinboard

Pinboard is a great service and Federico did a great write up on how he uses it. It's full of information and a great read. Yes, it's geeky, but so am I.

Week 11: All about photography

This week has been hectic. I wanted to post the weekly roundup on Friday as I regularly do, but just didn't get to it. But, better late than never, so here it is. This time it's all about photography

Beauty Recovery Room by Ji Yeo

I came across the work of Ji Yeo through an article in Wired. I was particularly attracted to her series titled Beauty Recovery Room, which is the topic of the article.

This is how she explains it in her statement:

Beauty Recovery Room series uses the wounded faces and bodies of women who have recently undergone plastic surgery to show the physical cost of adhering to social pressure in Korea. Plastic surgery has become an integral part of Korea’s current culture, often regarded as a integral step in the in self improvement process. Going under the knife, enduring bruises, scars, and being under general anesthetic several times are no longer considered risky or extravagant. They have all had multiple procedures and have plans for future augmentation. The photos were taken directly after their operation while they were resting and waiting to be healed.

Fascinating work. It is NSFW and some might find the images unsettling, so be mindful of that before you go check them out.

/Body/Parts/ by Ino Zeljak

Another interesting project with a clever idea. /Body/Parts/ shows, as its name suggests, only parts of people's bodies on a table. I think I just made it sound gruesome. It's not. It's actually beautiful work and I clearly can't explain it intelligently, so just click on the link and enjoy.

Five things for every creative person by Chase Jarvis

Back in 2012 I read this post by Chase Jarvis titled Your New Hit List: 5 Things That Every Creative Person Should Get (and Give) and I saved it in OmniFocus with a reminder to read it every 6 months (I have a few of those). It popped up this week and I thought I'd share it here.

Apple Aperture 4 Wish List (2014)

Aperture 4 Wish List

Like pretty much everybody else that uses Apple's Aperture, I've been waiting and hoping for the release of Aperture 4 for way too long.

Unlike most of the Internet though, I don't think Apple has abandoned it. In fact, I feel pretty confident we'll see Aperture 4 (or X or Pro X or whatever) sometime in the next few months. Of course, this is just speculation on my part. I have zero inside knowledge. However, there are a few things that hint at Aperture still being alive: Apple features Aperture in their website and advertising, they have been hiring people for the Aperture team, and of course there are the book leaks.

Most importantly though, I think Aperture 4 is around the corner because I believe a few pieces needed to fall into place before they could release a new version. Some are done and some are not here yet, but close:

  1. iCloud and Photo Streams - These are key for the next version of Aperture and I don't think they're finished. They need to add back some of the features of MobileMe Gallery and figure out how to support video. They also need to sort out how keywords are treated in Photo Streams.
  2. Unified iPhoto & Aperture Library - This not only provides a seamless upgrade path for iPhoto users, but makes it much easier to build new features and integration across the OS off a common base.
  3. New Mac Pro - A key Mac to promote and use Aperture.
  4. Retina iMac and Displays - Or at least 4k. It looks like this is coming soon.
  5. Powerful iPad and iPhone - I believe Aperture 4 will come with a companion iOS version and the previous gen iOS devices weren't powerful enough. iOS 7 being 64 bit might have something to do with this as well.

Again, I don't know, but I sure hope I'm right.

On the other hand, if I think about it, I don't really need and Aperture 4. Yes, there are a lot of things I'd like to see improved and a few features I'd like added, but non of them is a deal breaker.

Aperture does most of what I need and it does it well. It's still a pleasure to use and I like the fact that I haven't had to relearn new things or pay for upgrades.

The photographer in me is perfectly content with Aperture, but the geek in me wants a shiny new version. Now.

My Aperture 4 Wish List

Over the years I've kept a list of things I'd like to see in Aperture 4. Some are features, some are improvements, some are changes in the way things currently work.

In no particular order, here's my wish list for Aperture 4:

  • Fix Keywords: The way keywords work in Aperture is seriously infuriating. It's a long topic for another post, but if you use Aperture you know what I mean. (BTW, here's how to batch remove a keyword).
  • Pixelmator Compatibility: Aperture cannot read Pixelmator files (pxm) so there's no way to roundtrip a photograph.
  • Ability to assign multiple external editors with different settings.
  • Ability to assign export format for each plugin independently: onOne is happy with PSD files, but with the Nik plugins, some can't work with PSD so you need to use TIFFs. The problem is that Aperture will send files to plugins in whatever filetype you've chosen for the external editor, so you need to go back and forth.
  • Non-destructive plugins: Something like Smart Filters in Photoshop would be great.
  • Project and Image level restore from Vaults: At the moment it's an all or nothing backup.
  • Grouping and naming of adjustments bricks: I'd like to be able to give names to the bricks. Once you have 3 curves you need to open each and look at them to remember what exactly they're doing.
  • Ability to save masks and copy across different bricks: Scott Davenport has a script for that, it's called Aperture Adjustment Brush Mask Lift & Stamp AppleScript. That's awesome, but this should just be built in.
  • Ability to save groups of adjustments as brushes: Imagine you did multiple adjustments to the sky in a photograph and brushed them all in. Wouldn't it be great to save that as a brush so you could just paint in once to another photograph and apply all adjustments at once?
  • Save custom crop sizes: It's incredible that you can't to this. Every single time I have to type in the dimensions for a custom size that I use regularly.
  • Brush flow and pressure sensitivity with Wacom tablets
  • Output sharpening: Sometimes you need a little more sharpening than you can get out of Edge Sharpen.
  • Lens corrections: Adobe really cracked this one and I'd be happy with a similar implementation. Just make it automatic depending on the camera/lens. GoPro lens correction would be awesome. At least add manual perspective correction.
  • Noise reduction: Again, Adobe cracked it. Just copy them.
  • Sync settings across computers with iCloud: It's really annoying when a keyboard shortcut doesn't work because it's a custom one you created on one Mac and not in the other one.
  • Integration with other services: Forget about Flickr (the new version is horrible), give me 500px. And Squarespace somehow.
  • Stitching for panoramas: If the iPhone can do it, why can't Aperture?
  • HDR: I don't want to have to use an external plugin for this.
  • Graduated filters: Another one that Lightroom does great.
  • Film grain emulation: For those of us that like grain so we don't have to rely on plugins or hack it (like my Grain Preset).
  • Adjustment History
  • Ability to add borders on export
  • Watermarks that don't require Photoshop or using a bunch of applications.
  • Larger previews for effects (presets): If you have a big screen, there's no reason to have such a tiny preview.
  • Blending Modes
  • Content Aware Fill: I've never really had the need for this, but it could be useful.
  • Nik's u-point technology or something similar: Most of the time this would work better and faster than brushing. It's genius.
  • Camera Profiles
  • Aperture for iPad: Ideally, I'd like to move entire projects to the iPad to work on while away from my main computer and have them sync seamlessly back to the main library. At the very least, I'd like to be able to do editing on the road (ratings, keywords, flags, labels, albums, etc.) and creating and adding to Photo Streams.

That's my wish list for Aperture 4. I'm not sure these warrant a new version though. Many seem to me like incremental improvements and Apple has added new features in point updates. Still, this is what I hope for the new version.

Did I miss anything?

Week 10: Bitcoin, SCUBA diving, and another running app

Newsweek's The Face Behind Bitcoin

I find Bitcoin fascinating. I don't know or understand it enough to make any intelligent comments about it, but I am admittedly captivated the the whole thing. It'll make an awesome movie in a few years.

This article from Newsweek about Satoshi Nakamoto, the man supposedly behind Bitcoin, is a good read. I don't think anybody knows if he's really the one that created Bitcoin, but he sure sounds like he has a great backstory:

Descended from Samurai and the son of a Buddhist priest, Nakamoto was born in July 1949 in the city of Beppu, Japan, where he was brought up poor in the Buddhist tradition by his mother, Akiko. In 1959, after a divorce and remarriage, she immigrated to California, taking her three sons with her. Now age 93, she lives with Nakamoto in Temple City.

The movie is going to be great.

SCUBA divers rescue dolphin

This is from earlier in the year, but I just saw it this week and need to share it. If you read my blog you might know I like SCUBA diving. In this beautiful video a group of divers rescue a Bottlenose Dolphin from entanglement during a dive. Just amazing.

More info at at the Manta Rays Hawaii website. I've bookmarked the site and it's in my list of places to go SCUBA diving.

Rundercover

And if you're a regular reader, you will also know that I'm a runner and have reviewed a few running apps in the past (Zombies, Run!, TrailMix Pro). Well, a few guys got together and want to create a new one called Rundercover. They explain it as a "thrilling interactive audio-game that makes your outdoor exercises more fun and more rewarding".

They have a kickstarter page where they're trying to get funding and an official website.

Rundercover sounds a lot like Zombies, Run! but they're planning on using the motion sensor in the iPhone 5s and GPS to do clever things. It sounds interesting, but it also sounds like it'll be filled with in-app purchases to buy random stuff like guns and tools that you presumably need to complete the missions. It's not really clear to me from the description, but if that's the case I think it'll ruin the experience.

Zombies, Run! does have in-app purchases, but it's only for new missions. That makes sense. Creating a new mission costs a lot of money (writers, voice actors, studio time, editing, development), but buying "stuff" is a totally different thing. It would be awful if it turns out to use the same business model as this little gem.

How to batch remove keywords in Aperture 3

As much as I love Aperture, I'll be the first to admit that the way keywords are implemented is confusing and often infuriating.

Once you get the hang of it you can make them work well, but it's not at all intuitive. I'm not sure what they were thinking when they designed keywords but it has caused me a lot of grief over the years.

One of these grievances is removing a keyword from multiple photographs. It took me a while to figure this one out. It's certainly not obvious, but there's a very simple way of doing it using the Keyword Controls in the Control Bar.

Here's a quick 25 second video showing it in action:

If you're not familiar with the Control Bar, you can bring it up by selecting Window > Show Control Bar or pressing 'D' on the keyboard. 

The Control Bar has 2 views:

Control Bar with Navigation & Ratings buttons

Control Bar with Navigation & Ratings buttons

Control Bar with Keyword Controls

Control Bar with Keyword Controls

To toggle between the two, press Shift-D

With Keyword Controls you can apply keywords by pressing the buttons or searching for existing keywords via the Add Keyword text box. You can also create your own custom button sets for quick access to your most used keywords for each type of photography or subject/topic. And of course, you can also remove keywords.

To remove an individual keyword from multiple photographs at the same time, do the following:

  1. Select all the photographs you want to remove the keyword from.
  2. In the Control Bar, type the keyword you want to remove into the Add Keyword field.
  3. Press Shift-Return.

If there's already a button for that particular keyword in the set, you can just Shift-click on it to remove it from all photographs.

In the example in the video, I applied "black and white" to all the images in a project. I had scanned a lot of negatives and imported them all into one project. I thought they were all scans from black & white film, so I applied the keyword to all. After looking at the project in detail during my rating process I realised some were in colour.

Of course, I didn't want to remove the keyword from each photograph one at a time. I needed to batch remove the keyword. So I opened the Control Bar, selected the colour photographs, typed in "black and white" into the Add Keyword field, and hit Shift-Return.

Poof. The keyword was removed from all photographs in one go.

Week 9: Printing, Dropbox and Task Management

To print or not to print

Greg Needham wrote a great article titled Print More over on Medium where he explains why he committed to printing more of his photographs in 2014. He says:

When we view photographs on the web, there’s always another photo right below the one we are looking at. Or there is a thumbnail gallery to the right, beckoning you to come click, see another, move on through the line. Consuming is fast and quick.

This is painfully true. The way I perceive a photograph in a book or a print in my hand is so different than looking at it online.

I recently noticed this while searching for John Loengard's work. I own a beautiful book of his called Pictures Under Discussion that I was reading a few weeks ago. After a while, I jumped online to see if I could find more of his photographs and I quickly noticed that while reading the book I stopped at every photograph for several minutes. I took it all in. I read the accompanying story. I immersed myself in his work. But online each picture got no more than a few seconds of my attention.

I'm going to join Greg and print more of my photographs this year. I want to create a few books as well.

Dropbox Terms of Service changes

Dropbox announced a change in their TOS last week. I'm not a lawyer and honestly don't understand exactly what it means to me. And since I'm in Australia it's even more confusing. I find these things extremely boring but people who's opinion I value have made negative comments about this change.

Here's how Sam Glover at The Lawyerist explains it in simple terms (in the comments):

Unless you opt out, you cannot sue Dropbox in court. Instead, you have to go to arbitration. Arbitration on its own is not necessarily horrible. But forcing every dispute into arbitration, where the arbitrators are mostly paid by the corporation, is generally regarded as anti-consumer.

Forcing you to waive class actions means that consumers will have no recourse as a group against Dropbox. Dropbox obviously likes this because, given the relatively low fees it charges, individual actions are not likely to be financially viable. Class actions are probably the only way consumers would be able to go after Dropbox.

You'll have to make your own mind about what it means to you, but if you want to opt out of the arbitration process you can do so here.

The Beginners Guide to Task Management

Very good article by Michael Hyatt on task management. I use a combination of OmniFocus and Evernote for this, whereas Michael uses Nozbe. But the principles he explains are applicable no matter what software you use.

Speaking of task management software, I've used OmniFocus for years and it's worked well for me. But I'm not sure what happened with version 2. A beta version was shown over a year ago when they did an event during Macworld but they put it on hold or changed direction shortly after that. I don't know what's going on and this article from Michael has me looking at Nozbe. It looks good so far. I've created a free account (up to 5 projects) to test it out.

Michelle Majuru from Zimbabwe for People of the Globe

Michelle Majuru from Zimbabwe for People of the Globe

Michelle Majuru from Zimbabwe for People of the Globe

Michelle is originally from Zimbabwe, but has been living in Sydney, Australia for several years. I had the chance to make these portraits of her for People of the Globe back in September of 2012 and I'm very happy with the results.

We met in an area called The Rocks in the centre of Sydney to do these photographs. It was around 7:30pm when we started and already dark, so all photos were done with a flash to get some light.

Every time I photograph someone for this project I realise how little I know about other cultures and countries. I love travelling and have been to quite a few places, but I've never been to Africa. It's high on my list and hopefully I'll make it there sometime soon.

Zimbabwe is one of those places that I knew almost nothing about. Since we did this series I've read up a lot about it and, like every other place, it has a fascinating history and beautiful scenery. Just do a Google search for images of Zimbabwe and you'll be amazed.

That's one of the best parts of doing a photography project like People of the Globe. I get to know people from all over and learn about their culture and the history of their countries.