Dave Trott on making fear your friend

Dave Trott on making fear your friend:

Why did Steve Jobs think he had to avert a crisis?

Well precisely because things were looking good.

The previous day, Steve Jobs had seen the new Nokia mobile phone.

No big deal, just another mobile phone: It had the usual range of trivial features.

One of the gimmicks was you could download six tunes onto it.

Not very useful, no one cared.

But something at the back of Steve’s mind nagged away at him.

And he woke up in the middle of the night thinking “If they can download six tunes what happens if they can download sixty tunes? Or six hundred tunes? That’s the end of the iPod – that’s fifty percent of our business gone – It’ll be too late to worry then, we won’t have a company.”

It's a great example and hopfully it'll tempt you to go read the whole thing. I'm a fan of Dave Trott.

The Sweet Setup picks Runkeeper as their favourite running app

If you've been around this site for a while, you'll know I'm a runner. I've had a bit of an obsession with running apps for a while. I regularly try out new ones and while there are a few I use semi-frequently, the one that's stuck through the years is Runkeeper.

I started using Runkeeper back in 2009 (I think), and have used it on every run since 2011. I even signed up for the Elite membership because I like the advanced reports. Also because I want Runkeeper to stick around.

The guys at The Sweet Setup picked Runkeeper as their favourite run tracking app. It's a very thorough article and worth a read.

VSCO Cam introduces Copy + Paste

VSCO Cam is one of my favourite photography apps for iOS. Today they released an update that includes a very welcome new feature: Copy + Paste.

This was, at least for me, the key missing feature in VSCO Cam. I ran into a scenario where I'd spent some time editing a photograph to get it exactly how I wanted it and then to work on the other ones in the same series I'd had to either recreate every single step again (assuming I remembered them) or just give up and only work on one. More often than not I chose to give up. With Copy + Paste, this issue goes away as you can see in the image above. I'm loving it.

Now the only feature that's missing is to be able to Save your work as a new filter/preset.

Aperture... so long and thanks for all the fish.

I just got the below email from Apple regarding Aperture. Like every other Aperture user out there, I've known about this since it was announced last year. That doesn't make it any less annoying.

I'm disappointed in Apple and upset about this.

Apple has a history of ditching technologies for something they consider better. Remember floppy disks, CD-ROMs, Firewire ports, Adobe Flash, iTools? They even did it with their own operating system when they moved away from OS 9 into OS X. Almost every time, they’ve been right. What came after was better than what we had before.

They did it with Final Cut. But they jumped the gun and shipped the new version to early. We all complained that it was missing features and, for many, the new version just didn’t cut it. Apple realised the mistake and put the previous version up for sale again and acknowledged the problem. They said Final Cut X would get new features soon. Eventually Final Cut X matured and it’s now a great app.

At first, I hoped they wouldn’t make the same mistake with Aperture. Then they announced Photos for Mac and I thought oh no, here we go again. Then I used the beta of Photos for Mac and thought shit, there’s no way this can mature into an app that can replace Aperture.

And that’s where I’m at now. Photos for Mac is pretty and I’m sure my mom will love it. After all, iPhoto is confusing and has only gotten worse over time, so Photos for Mac will be a welcome change.

For Aperture users however, Photos for Mac is both a disappointment and a joke.

What I don’t get is how they thought this was a good idea. It’s one thing to change technologies where the impact is that we have to buy new hardware, but this is messing with peoples photographs.

In moving on from Aperture we will loose data. And that’s just not cool. Shame on Apple for leaving it’s customers in such a predicament.

Apple is wrong this time.

Affinity Photo in Beta

There's been talk of a "Photoshop killer" for ages, but nobody has managed to pull it off.

I think mostly because Photoshop is so many things to so many different people. If you're a photographer, you use and rely on certain features of the application while many others you just ignore or, more often than not, put up with because of the power of the features you do use. Same goes for graphic designers, web designers, illustrators, etc. And that's part of the "problem" with Photoshop. It's become bloated with features for everybody. Not to mention the subscription model.

Pixelmator was heading on the right direction at one point focusing primarily on photographers. Unfortunately it seems in the last couple of versions the new features have been for illustrators/designers or gimmicky Instagram-like filters. It’s an awesome piece of software, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t seem to be the ultimate photographer app (if there can be such a thing).

Acorn is also a great application. It’s just not focused on photographers either.

Affinity Photo seems to want to be that “Photoshop killer” (and I put that in quotes because just writing it makes me cringe, but you get the point). At least going by the video and what I’ve read so far, it looks promising. What’s encouraging is that Serif, the company behind it, already has a vector art and illustration software out there called Affinity Designer, so hopefully there’s no incentive to cram non-photography features into the new app.

I’m downloading the beta now and will give it a go.

FlixelPix ebooks 50% Black Friday Offer

David Cleland from FlixelPix has 2 ebooks that I purchased a while ago and enjoyed. One is about shooting with shallow depth of field, titled Shooting Shallow and the other one (my favourite) is on Long Exposure Photography.

I've mentioned both ebooks here several times because I really like them. And every time they're on offer I like to promote them. This time, to celebrate Black Friday 2014, he's running a 50% off discount on the Photography ebook bundle that includes both.

The deal expires on Saturday 29th November 2014.

To get the 50% discount just use the code 'blackfriday' at checkout.

You can get the Photography ebook bundle here and below is a short description of each. They're worth the price and with the 50% off it's a no brainer.

Shooting Shallow

‘Shooting Shallow’ is a guide to understanding the concept of depth of field. The ebook is a 38 page guide to understanding the application of a shallow Depth of Field.

The aim of the guide is to equip photographers with the skills to maximize their ability to create bokeh rich images but at the same time ensure your subject is as sharp as possible.

Mastering the ability to control the out of focus areas, and create attractive bokeh, puts you in control of your image, and such techniques offer the opportunity for plenty of creative photography.

The book covers : the theory of depth-of-field, ‘Know your equipment : the camera & lens considerations‘ and also ‘the practical application’ of shooting with a shallow depth of field.

The Long Exposure eBook

Long exposure photography is about capturing space and silence, like visually holding your breath; it is about capturing the beauty and calmness of a scene.

The aim of this e-book is to offer an introduction to the process of capturing long exposure photographs. It documents the simple steps I employ each time I embark on a long exposure photo shoot.

The eBook covers everything from the equipment you will need right through to post- production processing in Adobe’s brilliant Lightroom. This guide has been written with the beginner to the long exposure process in mind; however, the enthusiast and professional alike may find something of relevance also.

This ebook also features six long exposure Lightroom Presets.

Week 27: Before and After, Photos app, and Presentations

Before & After by Esther Honig

What a fascinating experiment. Esther Hoing used Fiverr to get people from more than 25 countries to do some post processing of a photograph of her face. This is how she explains it:

In the U.S. Photoshop has become a symbol of our society's unobtainable standards for beauty. My project, Before & After, examines how these standards vary across cultures on a global level ... 
With a cost ranging from five to thirty dollars, and the hope that each designer will pull from their personal and cultural constructs of beauty to enhance my unaltered image, all I request is that they ‘make me beautiful’ ... 
Photoshop allows us to achieve our unobtainable standards of beauty, but when we compare those standards on a global scale, achieving the ideal remains all the more elusive.

Check out her project on her website. (Via a link someone sent me from Buzzfeed, go figure!)

A Closer Look at the Photos Adjustment Bar

Joseph over at ApertureExpert.com takes an in depth look at the official screenshot of Apple's Photos app from the announcement of the death of Aperture. Interesting. As I said, I have high hopes for the new Photos app.

Presentations: The new MacSparky Field Guide

I'm looking forward to this one and have already preordered. David Sparks produces really great books using iBooks Author that truly take advantage of the medium. You can find out more here and preorder from the App Store.

What I think Apple stopping development of Aperture means

A few hours ago Apple announced that it would stop development of Aperture (and iPhoto) in favour of the new Photos app they introduced at WWDC earlier this month.

This is what Apple said:

With the introduction of the new Photos app and iCloud Photo Library, enabling you to safely store all of your photos in iCloud and access them from anywhere, there will be no new development of Aperture,” said Apple in a statement provided to The Loop. “When Photos for OS X ships next year, users will be able to migrate their existing Aperture libraries to Photos for OS X.

Apple also said there will be at least one final update to Aperture to make it fully compatible with Mac OS X Yosemite, so at the very least we have a little over a year before we have to find an alternative.

As you might expect, I’m a bit torn about this news. Not too long ago, I was hopeful when I wrote my thoughts and wish list for the next version of Aperture. Then, after the WWDC Keynote, I wasn’t so sure and I wrote:

After seeing what they showed developers outside of the keynote, I don't think Aperture is dead. OK, maybe the Aperture we know and love is, but what comes after could be even better. I have no idea what it is, maybe a pro version of the Photos app, maybe it is Aperture 4, maybe something else. As long as it maintains backwards compatibility and doesn't loose any of the asset management power Aperture has, I think it could be good.

Clearly the upcoming Photos app is not Aperture 4.

But I do believe it will be pretty slick. If it does maintain backwards compatibility, then it just might be the evolution of a photography application. Scratch that, it might be the evolution of a photography ecosystem where a single applcation is no longer the right approach.

According to The Verge, Photos will be backwards compatible:

The company also confirmed that when users transition to the new Photos for OS X app, all their albums, folders, keywords and captions will be preserved. Apple also noted that any edits applied to photos will be retained non-destructively, so hopefully the transition won't be too difficult.

The truth is that I have no idea what’s coming. I can only speculate. But think of the history of Aperture and why it exists in the first place. When Apple introduced it, there was nothing like it. We used to manage our photographs in folders on hard drives and maybe used Adobe Bridge to bring some sense to them other than the one dimensional hierarchy the Finder allowed. There were no albums and metadata was limited. And any adjustment we wanted to make needed a destructive trip to Photoshop or similar.

Apple realised this was a problem that needed a solution and they built one. Then Adobe quickly jumped on the train with Lightroom. Today, if you have a sizeable library, you’d be insane to manage you photographs the “old way”.

Fast forward almost 10 years. Today we have multiple devices and we’re used to them being in sync, the cloud is a thing, we take a lot of photos with our iPhones.

Frankly, it’s a mess again.

It makes sense that Apple knows this and is coming up with a solution. In doing so, some things necessarily have to be left behind.

After all, this is the company that decided floppy disks and DVD drives were obsolete before any of us wanted them to be. The one that decided Ethernet and Firewire ports were no longer needed. The one that introduced a brand new product (iPhone) knowing it would canibalise a very profitable product (iPod). The one that decided video editing needed a complete reinvention. Every time, they didn’t look back.

My guess (hope) is that this is what’s happening with digital photography.

To be honest, managing the photos I take with my iPhone has been a headache. Getting them into Aperture is a pain. Photo stream works, but it messes with keywords and I have to manually reorganise them. If I don’t do it often enough I miss some photos and who knows which ones I missed. My Aperture library is so big that it doesn’t fit in my MacBook Pro, so I’ve had to split it in two and merge then regularly. My main library is still in a separate hard drive. It’s not fun and every time I'm dealing with this I think there has to be a better way.

Maybe the new Photos approach is the solution.

So what am I planning to do?

For now, I’ll stick with Aperture until I see what the new Photos is all about. I may eventually end up moving to Lightroom if I’m wrong, but I’m not going to rush into it or make any rash decisions.

UPDATE: Joseph Linaschke at ApertureExpert.com wrote a great article with similar thoughts. He did a much better job at it than I did. Go check it out.