My Blog

AI AI, Oh

I suspect we will see a release shortly of Luminar AI, one of the most revolutionary photo editors to emerge in recent years.  There is a special event scheduled for December 10.  So I thought it appropriate to offer a commentary on the controversy surrounding AI in this week’s post.  Controversy, you say?  Read on. 

It seems that everyone is weighing in on the move toward more and more machine-powered editing choices, also known as artificial intelligence or AI-based editing.  What surprises me most is the number of commentaries where the writer admits to never having seen the capabilities being criticized, but the mere thought of machine-powered functionality must invariably mean both loss of control for the artist and cookie-cutter results. 

I am not in that category.  I have watched with glee and eager anticipation as companies such as Adobe and Skylum and ON1 embed more and more intelligence in their products.  I have concluded early that there is no loss of control at all:  nothing could be further from the truth. Continue reading “AI AI, Oh”

What You See is Not What You Get

I seem to be on a weird and wacky schedule these days – I routinely forget what day of the week or what month it is.  But I am also getting busier, with online clubs and activities now going strong, in-person family visits a regular thing (which means driving) and solo outings wrapping up for the fall (somewhat desperately before the next lockdown comes).  I don’t really feel like I am in control, although in reality, control is exactly what I do have.

Seamless pattern with film and digital photographic or photo cameras on light backgroundBut I digress, so back to photography.  Have you ever stopped to consider the magical process that allows us to go from camera to screen to print?  With all of us staring at screens so much more these days, I started to wonder about the specifics.  I guess I have time on my hands and I am a nerd.  So here’s what I found out…

Continue reading “What You See is Not What You Get”

On the Road Again

shutterstock_93355207It’s been a trying year to say the least.  Lockdowns, restrictions, cancellations, disappointments, even changes to things as simple as ordering food.  I went to a local take-out place recently, only to be told that no more than 2 could be inside the take-out order area and that once my order was placed, I had to wait in a pre-marked parking area, in my car.  Businesses and people are adapting.  I have to admire how well we are adapting.  But it still sucks.  And on top of it all, my blog host, WordPress.com, decided to completely replace the blog editor I was familar with.  Hence no posts for the last two cycles.  An old dog can learn new tricks, but it sure takes a lot longer.  I decided recently that I needed a break from it all, and with restrictions in place, took a trip north to two parks. Continue reading “On the Road Again”

Crossroads

Well ain’t this grand.  I logged into my WordPress account today to begin to write my next post and found a completely new editor.  I was warned that it was coming, but I ignored it.  Far from being “easy” and “versatile” and “quick”, it requires that I select “blocks” of content types, arrange them on a page, fill in the content of each block and test the layout for views on computers, tablets and phones.  I’ve never been good with puzzle pieces, and I won’t use more than half of the block types available, so the change was a less than stellar one for me.

I didn’t intend this to be the topic of my post, but somehow it is fitting.  Being forced to change my paradigm is a good thing right now.  Everybody needs a restart or a refresh from time to time.  But my first reaction was admittedly “WTF”.  I’ve had more of those moments this week too.

Ok, so the initial shock has worn off and I’m now getting used to selecting and dropping in content blocks.  Even images drop in seamlessly.  But I have to change the way I think about my post.  I typically write the text, then drop in content.  Not any more.  Content placement first, then writing the text.  Getting there.  But on to something more important.

Continue reading “Crossroads”

What Have We Become?

On August 12, 2020, I took a tentative step back to reality.  I made some appointments, looked up the transit schedule and ventured into the big city as a commuter for the first time since March.

It wasn’t an easy decision.  Luckily, the need to see one of my medical doctors meant I could not postpone it any longer.  Luckily?  Since when is seeing a doctor lucky?

shutterstock_93355207Back in May, I wrote about quarantine fatigue and the trials we were all experiencing with lockdown.  I’m now admitting that the difficulties for me were more than I was willing to acknowledge before today.  Through May, June and July, my personal anxiety levels climbed dramatically, to the point of frequent panic attacks.  More than once, I had to stop an activity and find something calming to look at.  Sometimes that took an hour.  On many nights, I woke up in the middle of the night, convinced I could not breathe, convinced that lying down meant I wouldn’t wake up in the morning.  So I stayed up all night.

All of this was complicated by the terminal illness of a pet who ultimately lost her battle with cancer in early July.  And there was other horrible news as well about a family member of a friend, who is also now battling cancer.

My blood pressure skyrocketed, my interest in life in general plummeted.  I didn’t talk to anyone verbally for weeks, except for the grocery store clerks.  Family did check in regularly but I didn’t show much of anything on the surface.  I was really good at hiding what I was going through.  “How are you?” was met with “Fine, under the circumstances” and a verbal laugh or electronic emoji.  Nobody knew what those circumstances were.

The few commitments I did have were not handled well.  I would be more abrupt than usual and far less patient.  I would want to just get on with it.  I’m a pretty low key person, so going off the deep end was still a pretty subtle event.  But I knew I was there.

shutterstock_71443765Then I started hearing that other people were experiencing similar issues.  Mild depression, inability to sit still, inability to focus, no enjoyment in things previously enjoyed.  It wasn’t just me.  I looked into it further.  It was a real thing.  That broke the gates open.

Suffice it to say, I got some help.  The details are not important, only that I did get help.  Some jurisdictions are funding access to professional help for free and are encouraging people to call.  I did.  It has made a world of difference.

By the way, I read today that one calming influence for many people has been watching reruns of classic shows on TV.  Playback counts of shows from the 50’s-70’s have skyrocketed.  In my case, watching reruns of the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson has helped give me my sanity back.  I like to laugh again.

So the trip into the city this week was an interesting one.  Had to make sure I packed extra masks and sanitizer.  Commuter parking lots normally packed to the brim were almost empty.  I got a nice parking spot in the shade right near the entrance.  I was immediately aware of anyone and everyone around me, which was thankfully not many.  The ride into the city was uneventful, and I waited for everyone else to leave before I left the train.

Navigating the streets was more challenging, although almost everyone was as cautious as me.  A few, dare I say it, young people and mostly young males, skipped the requirement for masks and paid no attention to who was around them.  I don’t understand why they didn’t care, except to say I was young and foolish once too.

I visited a family member who lives in the city and it felt so good talking to them in person.  It was hard to leave.

shutterstock_161830289On to my other appointments.  All required screening before entering and more hand sanitizer.  All required masks.  Even my doctor came fully outfitted and unrecognizable, except for her characteristic multi-coloured shoes.  We laughed about that and had a relaxed, much more fun visit than usual.  I guess we both needed it.

Coming home was more crowded, but everyone behaving.  I’ve decided to get tested just to make sure I’m ok.  Luckily (that word again), I live in a country where we get that for free.  Health is a human right, people.  We also have an app to alert us if we have had contact with anyone who tests positive.  Some have complained about privacy, but for the peace of mind it brings, the government can know from me whatever it wants.

shutterstock_121309360I’m so glad I am where I am now, so glad that life is opening up again, so glad that we did the right things in our province and country to allow that to happen.  While I still worry about the Fall, about kids in school, about the flu season, about being indoors all winter, I can now do it with the appropriate level of worry.

If you are struggling, talk to someone, call your local health agency, call your doctor.  Talk to family.  There’s no better feeling than finding out it’s ok, and it’s going to be ok.

Competition is Bad?

There was an article this week from a Japanese market analyst who argued that competition in the camera industry is leading to the decline of the camera industry.  He cited the announcement of Olympus recently who have shut down/sold off their consumer camera business.

I have only one reaction to the story.  Duh! Continue reading “Competition is Bad?”

Jumping into the Deep End

I can’t resist commenting on the release this week of Canon’s new mirrorless flagship cameras, the EOS R5 and EOS R6.  There are lots of technical commentaries out there; instead, I want to document how I felt listening to the details of the release. Continue reading “Jumping into the Deep End”

ON1 360 Released

I don’t usually spend time on product reviews or the hype around new products, but this one caught my eye – the release of ON1’s latest software and a new service called ON1 360.

On1 360 Released

One of the most frustrating aspects of photography for me has been the inability to manage and edit photographs on a variety of platforms, when and where it was convenient for me.

Desktops are becoming more and more powerful, but who wants to sit in front of one for the day.  In this age of needing minor pleasures, it would be awesome to be able to manage and edit my photographs on my patio, with a cold drink beside me.  My iPad has more than enough capability to do that – it just needed the tools. Continue reading “ON1 360 Released”

Putting Your Best Face Forward

As someone who does the odd presentation (and I don’t mean my presentations are odd) to camera clubs and other special events, I’ve become more used to public speaking each time I do it.  It took me a long time to feel comfortable with it, and even still, I usually don’t eat on the day of a major event.  I worry about pulling it off.  I replay the event over and over in my head.  What I worry about most is the audience reaction.

AudienceThere are tips for audience engagement, not the least of which is the notion of turning your delivery into a conversation, away from a monologue.  People respond best when they feel you are speaking directly to them and pausing for them to react.

Whether in small or large groups, the ability to wander, to look people in the eye, to see their facial expressions and to anticipate their reactions is what can make or break an event.  It’s easy to do in small groups, harder in large halls with dim lights.  But how the heck do you replicate that in a video conference?

Continue reading “Putting Your Best Face Forward”

Up and At ‘Em

I took my camera out of its bag a couple days ago.  Lovingly brushed it off and attached a favourite focal length lens – my 24-105 f/4.  I use this lens for much of my walking around shooting.  But as we all know, there hasn’t been much walking around to be had lately.

As I turned knobs and adjusted settings, more and more came back to me about why I love photography.  The choices available and decisions made around capturing a photograph give a sense of control and accomplishment to my day.  While they can also be a source of frustration, for the most part, they are positive.

Proceed with CautionThis week, our provincial authority once again allowed visits to local parks and recreation areas.  Day trips only, no camping, no lounging.  We can walk through, stop for a few minutes to see the sights, and move on, all the way staying wary of the need for social distancing and self-protection.  Retail and many service businesses are also opening with restrictions.

There have been such a wide variety of plans released by all levels of government to give us our lives back.  Frankly, some don’t make sense to me, but I give full credit to politicians for doing their best to navigate the complexity of sanity, economy and safety. Continue reading “Up and At ‘Em”