Getting Inside My Head – Learning New Things When Older

PhotoshopI’ve set myself a goal for the next year to become more proficient at Photoshop.  I use a variety of editing tools now, most of which are slider-based.  You move a slider and watch what happens on the screen.  The sliders in most applications are laid out in a nice orderly fashion, and you can literally move from top to bottom and achieve a well-edited well-presented image.

Photoshop is not remotely like that.  It’s like making pizza with every ingredient possible available to you in small containers on the kitchen counter.  There is some semblance of order (Camera Raw, basic exposure adjustments, image cleanup) but once past this, the choices become ridiculously complex, with the opportunity to create whole new “flavours” of pizza by taking previously used flavours and combining them in whole new ways.  No cookbooks, just imagination and an ability to reason how things might go together.

shutterstock_262945148Add to that the challenge of learning something new as an older adult.  We don’t absorb information the same way as we did as a child.  We don’t necessarily retain it even when learned.  Memory declines in uneven ways too – with muscle memory and the memory of physically doing things changing at rates different from the memory of reciting things or recollection.  So I’m not only setting a goal but trying to find the best method to accomplish it. Continue reading “Getting Inside My Head – Learning New Things When Older”

We Can Fix That

Support TicketI’m becoming more puzzled and concerned about new products released by hardware and software companies that invariably get poor reviews and need to be “fixed”.  We’ve seen that lately in the Apple 15 inch MacBook Pro (which has been “fixed” by the 16 inch released Nov 15/19).  We’ve seen that in Skylum’s Luminar 3 (which as of this writing, has been “fixed” by Luminar 4, released Nov 19/19).  We’ve also seen that very recently in Adobe’s Photoshop for iPad, which as of this writing, has not yet been “fixed”, after having been essentially trashed on its release in Oct.  First-release mirrorless cameras from Canon and Nikon both needed firmware “updates” (i.e. fixes).  And lastly, ON1’s Photo Raw 2020, released in October, seems to have a bug that causes it to do what should be background file management tasks in the middle of a photo edit, preventing any meaningful work from getting done.  As of this writing, that has not been “fixed”.

There seem to be four main factors contributing to these problems. Continue reading “We Can Fix That”

What Camera Mode When?

Fuji Automatic SettingsModern digital cameras, particularly “prosumer” quality and above, include several different modes or ways of interacting with the camera settings.  Although labelled differently for different manufacturers, all good cameras have modes that range from fully manual (where the photographer picks all of the settings) to fully automatic (where the camera evaluates the scene and picks the settings).

I recently found myself in a situation where the camera appeared to be picking settings for me and I couldn’t override them.  It turns out that the most modern cameras don’t pick settings unless you tell them to, and will give you more and more information to help you make an informed decision about those settings.  You can specify which decisions the camera should make, and which information you should receive so that you can make your own decisions.  I had simply picked the wrong mode for the situation.  Lesson learned. Continue reading “What Camera Mode When?”

Fall is About Renewal

LeavesNot quite what you expected?  In the northern hemisphere, Fall is typically about shutting down, about returning to routines that don’t include time at a vacation home or sunlit walks in shorts and a floppy hat.  We begin to cocoon, bringing in our lives indoors, at least more so when it gets dark 4 hours earlier.

But Fall is also about renewal of the craft of photography.  Myriad trade shows, new gear releases, new software releases – everything to tantalize the tastebuds for next season.  I’m less caught up in this than I used to be, but still find some of the new developments fascinating. Continue reading “Fall is About Renewal”

Blend Modes – Learning to Love Them

No matter what editing software you use today, it will likely include layers, masking and blend modes (also known as blending modes).  Everybody’s doing it now – Photoshop and Lightroom, of course, but also ON1, Luminar, Topaz, etc.

orange-translate-buttonAnd the more software that includes blend modes, the more frustrated I get at their lack of ability to explain in plain English exactly what they are.  I’ve read countless blogs, gone to workshops partly to understand them, watched countless YouTube videos looking to make sense of them, and more often than not, the recommendation of the instructor is simply to try them and see what happens.  My brain needs more.  I want to be able to explain them.  This post will try to do that.

Before you run screaming from the room, I’m not going to give you the item by item breakdown of all of the blend modes available in any software.  My intent is to help you understand what a blend mode does generally and how to make a choice among the ones you have available in your software. Continue reading “Blend Modes – Learning to Love Them”

How Important are Megapixels?

Whenever I look at a new camera (purely for interest these days), the first stat I normally read is the megapixel count.  There seems to be a lot riding on this one number, as though it somehow conveys the quality of the images you will obtain and the performance of the camera in different conditions.  We’re also taught generally that bigger is better.

Sony

Sony recently announced its 61 megapixel flagship.  61 megapixels is surely “better” than the 24 megapixels of my Fuji or the 20 megapixels of my aging but trusty Canon.  On all counts, nothing could be further from the truth.  Here’s why. Continue reading “How Important are Megapixels?”

The Changing Face of Photo Editing

A bit late with this post.  It is summer, after all, here in Canada.

A couple of new announcements in July caught my attention because I use both products but also because they are clear examples of the changing face of photo editing.

Attention - Hot NewsSkylum announced the upcoming release of Luminar 4, scheduled for sometime in the fall.  Originally released in 2017, the company and the product have gone through some interesting evolutions.

Topaz Labs released the next version of its Studio software, completely redesigning the interface, and redefining its associated pricing model.

Both products are standalone photo editors.  Both products also provide plugin options for Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.  But that’s not what makes them interesting. Continue reading “The Changing Face of Photo Editing”