Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sunset in New Zealand before the Blizzard

We are expecting a major blizzard coming into Queenstown tonight! We just got back from the grocery store to stock up. I’ve got all my cameras fully charged and ready to go… I’ll try to hit as many places as I can with the fresh snow… chains are ready and all is good to go! Super-excited. And, speaking of the article above, I can’t think of any of my images that could have been improved if I am using the new features in Adobe’s cloud. Sure, I subscribed to their cloud (Adobe did not gift me one, nor will they probably ever because I am so critical of them), and I am using the latest of everything… but none of these new features have really found their way into my photos yet. Comon Adobe… I know you can do better.

Is this how they usher in the Cloud era?

Today Adobe announced Photoshop CC that is only available to cloud subscribers. Adobe should not release such lame updates to Photoshop and Lightroom to convince people that the cloud-subscription software is exciting. They should make dramatic improvements – things that photograpehrs can’t live without. Can we live without “Smart Sharpen” and “Intelligent Upsampling” with Photoshop. Err, probably. The Lightroom improvements are equally underwhelming. You know that the updates are lame when one of the top bullet points is “Include video in your slideshows!” How did THAT become one of the top-most-requested features?
Here's a list of some of the features with Photoshop CC. I am not thrilled. Also, that seems like kind of a lame photo they are using to show off their product, isn't it? Maybe Photoshop has gotten to the point where it is just kind of like a pencil or a paintbrush -- they can't be improved upon. Maybe Adobe really has run out of ideas (except for ideas around new business models where you get to pay them every month). It also worries me that Adobe is running out of ideas for their photography-related products. Their “big features” are, at best, incremental improvements. They are certainly not exciting enough to drive millions to subscribe to their cloud subscriptions. Their biggest idea, sadly, seems to be cloud-based subscriptions. Business-model confusion with Adobe Adobe’s PR and marketing team has a whole list of reasons about why Cloud-based subscription is so awesome for Photoshop. They have a few good points in there, such as it is easy to do incremental updates. But mostly, the reasons are lame and not exciting to amateurs and hobbyists who can’t afford to shell out a ton of money every month. Here is the confusion: If Cloud-based subscriptions really are so awesome for Photoshop, why do they have a completely different business model for Lightroom? They tell me, well, Lightroom is more for hobbyists and casual people, and Photoshop is more for professionals. I think that sounds kind of ridiculous, don’t you? What is especially confusing for me is, “How do I explain this to people?” I get a bunch of people that come to this website or to the HDR Tutorial (new and improved, and free as always, btw!) to get advice on what kind of software to get. We get a lot of new photographers who don’t really own any software. Now I have to give confusing advice: “Well, you really need Photoshop and Lightroom. Photoshop you have to pay every month for, but Lightroom you can just buy once.” People are like, “Whhhhaaat?” Why have two business models for such complementary pieces of software? It’s completely confusing to new people, and moderately confusing to veterans. Anyway, these are the kind of confusing decisions that come out of committees. I hope they clarify things soon, and I also hope they have a business model that is less punitive to beginners, students, and hobbyists that can’t afford the high price of cloud-based subscriptions. It’s not like Netflix or World of Warcraft with their monthly fees. You pretty much have one kind of customer there. With photography, you have the full span of professionals and studios to ameteurs and hobbyists. In my judgment, it’s too punitive to have One-Pricing-Model to rule them all.

Waterways in the Hills

Here’s another photo from the beautiful course at The Hills here in New Zealand. They decided to make these beautiful waterways that weave in and out of the course. They are great for photography too because they always flow very slowly, so there is a nice clean reflection. Whenever I (rarely) get a clean reflection off water, I always feel like a lucky guy!

Wild Tokyo Streets

Here’s the wild Tokyo streets not far from Roppongi. It turns out this tiny little spot is safe to stand in. I think. Well, it probably wasn’t, but those little lines gave me some sense of safety. Either way, I took all the shots and got out of here quickly! You can see Don Quixote there on the left. It’s a very popular store in Tokyo and they have everything! They have t-shirts, shaving cream, kid toys, and adult toys. Those last two categories are quite different.

Path Through the Snow

Just today, on the way home after the Winter Festival in downtown Queenstown, I saw this scene just off the road. I jumped out of the car and got in a good spot to take a photo. There is no tripod or anything… just a handheld shot with the Sony NEX-7. I processed it in Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro. Actually, I also made a video of me processing it… the team is actually working on something cool on the backend too… a new way to bring you these videos!

In the Lama Temple

While touring one of the many temples in Beijing a few weeks ago, we went through one of them that was filled with Lamas that were busy studying. Well, most were busy studying. Others would take an occasional break, like this one who was taking a little cat nap.

Over Lake Tekapo

Here’s one of my favorite images from that day in the chopper. Shooting from a helicopter is always tough. If you watched that video, you’ll see I switched a lot between different cameras. Even though I am using the Sony NEX-7 a lot, I chose the Nikon here because of the extreme conditions. I was quite worried I would only get a few minutes to shoot, so I wanted to make sure I did not run into any buffering problems… this is why I went with the Nikon. Don’t know what buffering is? That is what happens when you take a whole bunch of photos in a row and the camera has to save them quickly. On lesser cameras, sometimes you can only take a few photos before there is a long pause while it writes the photos. The NEX-7 lets met get in about 10-13 photos before it starts going slow. The Nikon D3s lets me take about 30+ I think!