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Archive for October, 2006

This small cliff railway in Devon is a simple but brilliant bit of engineering. The railway consists of two carriages connected by cables and is powered by the weight of water! The one at the top fills it’s tank with water and the one at the bottom empties out. The extra weight of the one of the top then makes it descent and pulls the other to the top. Then they just do it all over again. Brilliant.

Cliff Railway

Hosted on Zenfolio

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I’ve tried Lightroom and while it will probably a great product one day I don’t need it now. I’ve got a DAM, I can create slide shows, I can produce web galleries, and I have a pixel based editor. I just want to be able to process DNG format RAW files. Adobe have designed and championed the DNG format and I really want to use it. The DAM system I use supports DNG and will make use of the full size JPEG preview that is embedded in the file which speeds things up considerably. This JPEG can be used for the rating, web galleries, previews, etc, without the need to generate another file. I can create DNG files from my RAW Fuji RAF files using the free Adobe DNG converter. So all I want to do is to be able to edit the RAW image in the DNG file, save the changes to the embedded XMP, and recreate the embedded full size JPEG preview to reflect the changes.

This is exactly what Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) does now, or it would be if I could use it. I’ve got a copy of Photoshop Elements 4 which as a pixel based editor does everything I could possibly need, e.g. layers, masks, cloning, healing brush, etc, all for £50 (actually the DAM functionality of Elements is better than Lightroom at the moment). It also acts as a host for ACR but this is a crippled ACR not the full version available in Photoshop CS2. Only the first couple of ACR screens are available but this would be enough for me except for one major problem. It doesn’t allow you set preferences or to save the ACR changes back to the DNG file (or as an XMP sidecar file for RAW files). All the changes are stored to an ACR database that only ACR and Photoshop Elements can make use of. Actually that’s not quite the whole story. I can save the changes from ACR but only as a NEW DNG file. I cannot update an existing DNG file and I don’t want to create and have to manage a new version of the DNG if I just tweak the settings slightly.
So how can I run the full version of ACR? There’s only one choice, the full Photoshop CS2 package. There’s one big problem with this, it’s listed as £569 ($1073) in the Adobe UK store! Now this may be worth it if you want to use Bridge and make use of the all the other functionality of the full Photoshop but I don’t, I just want ACR and and paying out over £500 for that seems a tad excessive.

I’m sure there must be thousands of hobbyist photographers who have similar requirements to me? If Adobe are not prepared to let Photoshop Elements users access the full ACR (I’d happily pay extra for this but not £500!) how about a new standalone application that just hosts ACR or alternatively just the Develop module from Lightroom, i.e Lightroom without the fluff?

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The DAM Book

I’ve just finished reading Peter Krogh’s “The DAM Book” and I can thoroughly recommend it. While the workflow he describes is is based around DNG/Bridge/Photoshop/iView MediaPro the fundamentals can be applied to other software.

So what did I learn from the book?

  • I’m certainly going to adopt his ‘bucket’ system for storing original and derivative files. This makes archiving to DVD so much easier than creating directories for each shoot. It was worth buying the book for this tip alone.
  • Photoshop Elements is not a serious DAM solution. Once you compare the features required of a DAM you realise how limited the Elements solution is. I will continue to use Elements as an editor and to host ACR but I will be finding another DAM solution (Idimager is looking favourite).
  • Photoshop Elements is not a serious XMP/IPTC editor.
  • There is no perfect solution at the moment.

I’m still formulating my exact ‘new’ workflow but I have already started re-organising my files into buckets within Elements. I will then be ready to move to whichever DAM solution I decide to use.

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I took this one earlier in the year sitting outside a cafe in Padstow. The robins and sparrows there are not wary of humans at all and will take food off the table if you sit still.

Robin

Hosted on Zenfolio

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My current digital photo workflow is getting very disorganised. Since my problems with the Photoshop Elements database I have not been very good at adding tags and organising my photos. Aside from backing them up everything else is very hit and miss. I’m publishing pictures on my Zenfolio gallery and at the moment I have nothing to tell me, except my memory, which ones. I have the same problems with which ones I have sent to Photobox for prints. The whole system has gone to pot!

I’ve been looking at better DAM software (again!). I like the look of Idimager. I previously looked at IMatch but Idimager handles versions better and the developer seems a bit more user-friendly from what I have read in various forums. However, before I commit myself I need to organise a workflow.To help I have ordered a copy of Peter Krogh’s “The DAM Book” and I’m hoping that will point me in the right direction before things get any worse. I’ll post my thoughts on the book when I’ve read it.

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I’ve been looking back through some of my old photos which were taken with a 2 mega-pixel Finepix A204. This was a real point, shoot, and hope for the best camera, but despite the low-res and noise some of the pictures didn’t turn out to bad, so I’m going to slip the odd one in now and then.

This one is a view of the Scottish Highlands taken from somewhere on the A87 road between Invergarry and Kyle of Lochalsh. At least that’s where I think it was but if you know better please let me know!

Scottish Highlands

Hosted on Zenfolio

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This is another stitched picture using Hugin but this time it’s a vertical composition. I needed to touch up the join a bit on this one but what do you expect considering this was from handheld pictures?

The subject of the picture is an old concrete water tower that is no longer used. I’m not sure what date it was built but it was a replacement for the older brick built tower visible in the background. I’ll be posting some shots of that one on my Zenfolio gallery soon.

Water Tower

Hosted on Zenfolio

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