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Adobe Lightroom Beta 4

So I’ve been using the Adobe Lightroom beta for a couple of weeks now and I really like it. It’s shaping up to be a very nice application and it’s clear that the designers have put a lot of thought into managing a workflow that involves a lot of photographs.

I was using Raw Shooter Premium (RSP) to process my RAW files but I’ve made the switch completely to Lightroom even though it is still in beta. For one, RSP isn’t being updated anymore. It was acquired by Adobe and they’ve promised RSP users a free upgrade to Lightroom 1.0 when it becomes available. Second, even now it provides a lot more fine-grained control over image adjustment than RSP does. The Develop panel looks like a 747 cockpit. But importantly, every one of those controls does something meaningful and there are no less than two basic adjustment panels you can use instead. Plus you can save as many presets as you like.

It’s certainly slower than RSP. You’ll need a semi-modern machine to run it properly. But if your computer has the horsepower, Lightroom is a lot of fun to use.

One of my favorite things about it though is that it consolidates my workflow for RAW and JPG files. Lightroom provides the same UI for management and development regardless of the file type. I shoot a lot of RAW images but I shoot a lot more JPG. Now I don’t have to have two separate workflows for dealing with those files.

I recommend trying it out if you haven’t already.

REVIEW: Photostockplus.com

I had the opportunity a couple of weeks ago to try out Photostockplus.com, a unique site that allows photographers to not only sell stock licensing rights to photos (like iStockPhoto) but also to sell event prints at prices you set through a turnkey, customizable e-commerce system. The combination makes it a one-stop solution for selling event photos and also the “left overs” from events that could be used as stock.

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A Girl Named George

So I was watching Bonanza this morning.

What does a 60s western have to do with photography? The episode “A Girl Named George” is about a murder trial where the outcome hinges on a piece of photographic evidence. The murderer produces a photograph as an alibi—it’s a group photo that everyone posed for at the time of the murder and he’s in it. Funny thing though: no one remembers him actually being there.

At first, everyone believes it. The judge and jury dismiss the case (because photos don’t lie). But suspicions are raised when a particularly clever cowboy (dressed in what appeared to be a red shirt and a cheap, plastic, blue vest) notices that the shadows are wrong. It turns out that he paid the photographer to make a double exposure with a second photo taken of the murderer by himself at a later time.

But the best part might be the ending. Inevitably the murderer has to kill the photographer so he won’t talk. But the photographer was out in the desert with his camera (setting up for some landscapes he hoped to sell to a magazine) and managed to capture his own murder on film! When he was shot, his hand reflexively squeezed the bulb for a perfect exposure. Now that’s talent.

REVIEW: Tokina 12-24mm f/4

I rented this little beauty from Ziplens.com and I’ve been shooting with it all week. It’s a fun lens if a bit of a specialty item. There are a lot of very technical and in-depth reviews of this lens on the internet (here’s a good one that compares all of the wide-angle offerings) so I’ll stick to my impressions rather than delving into charts and graphs.

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Amy asks, “Are studio photographs of your kids worth it?”

Her answer is a qualified “yes.” It’s obviously a personal choice—and nothing against photographers who do this style of work or folks who use them—but for me, I find that the everyday snaps I make of my family doing what they do are a much more cherished documentary of our lives than any posed studio portrait. Kids running down the hall, out of focus hands and faces grabbing for the lens, asleep in bed, cooking dinner—these are the moments life is made of.

Studio portraits are really, really nice mug shots. They can be beautiful. I even shoot photos like this myself. But nothing beats a large collection of everyday shots of people doing everyday things to tell a real story about a life—regardless of any perceived difference in quality.

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