Photo Software (SOOC)- Update

As I mentioned in my last post, I am looking for an easy and affordable solution to the problem of editing and adjusting photos once they are on my hard drive. I mentioned that Adobe Bridge was very good because it’s free, doesn’t use a database, and has tools for quickly labelling and rating photos. The problem was how to make adjustments to pictures if necessary. (And I hope it is rarely necessary, because I do still want to get things correct in the camera instead of messing about with software later).

I sat and looked at my D810 for a while and remember that long, long ago I used a D70. And I didn’t have Lightroom or Photoshop. What did I use, I wondered. I didn’t recall having any headaches about software. Then it came to me that I used Nikon’s photo software. Nikon View for viewing (duh) and Nikon Capture for making adjustments. Problem solved?

Maybe, but there was a new problem. Nikon View’s folders and some icons are often too small to use on a high resolution screen. A web search revealed that this is a common problem for Windows users. Damn. My hopes were dashed. Not only that, but the program was slow. But then I thought, why use Windows at all? No one seems to be complaining about Nikon software for Mac. So I got out my trusty 2011 Macbook Air and installed View NX-i and Capture NX-D. The programs don’t take up much disk space, so that’s a bonus. And . . . . they look great! Everything is the size it should be. Surprisingly, performance is about the same or better than the Windows versions. Zooming a photo to 100% takes a bit of time the first time you do it, but it’s fine after that.

So, the solution to my software woes might be to just not use Windows and use the free software supplied by Nikon on my Apple computer. Although the software is primarily designed for Nikon camera RAW files, it can also do basic edits on jpg files. Levels, curves, sharpening, colour, and so on. Nikon View has both labels and ratings that are useful for selecting keepers, and the software uses my computer’s folder structure instead of creating a database. Nikon View also comes with Nikon Transfer, which allows me to rename files and add information when I import from the camera. This is all I used Lightroom for, really, so the two Nikon programs are a viable replacement.

The only problem I see so far is that I will need to plug in an external hard drive every time I want to do anything with my photographs. The Macbook Air has a small 64BG SSD drive and that’s not enough to store photographs. I suppose this is just an inconvenience and not a problem.

(Later that day)

The above was written in my office, and when I got home I connected an empty external drive and a card reader to my Macbook Air. I transferred some photos from my camera to the external drive using Nikon View with no problems at all. And just as quickly as it would have been using Adobe Lightroom on my nearly new Windows laptop. Maybe that’s because Nikon View is a fairly simple program whereas Lightroom has to add things to a database, etc.? Anyway, I’m very happy with this new setup so far.

Although I now have a good management program and a good editing program, I hope that I won’t need to use the photo editing software very much. My goal still remains to get photographs perfect in camera. This is easier to do when the camera is on a tripod and I’m making a photo of something that’s not moving. This plant next to a clay wall, for example:

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This was Nikon’s Vivid Mode with a bit of extra clarity added in the camera settings. It’s sharp, there’s good contrast, I like the colour, and at 100% zoom the detail is astounding. Other photos made with this setting have also come out very well, so I think this is where I will leave the camera for now. Probably not for people pictures, though. Nobody wants to see their skin looking like the above wall . . . .

More updates as I learn to either love or hate my new software setup.

 

 

SOOC

I am looking for software that will allow me to get rid of my monthly Adobe subscription. It’s not too expensive, but it is an an expense that comes out of my bank account every month. I found out yesterday that Adobe Bridge is free and separate from any subscriptions, so I downloaded it and it works much better than many other free and even paid alternatives for managing a photography collection. What I especially like is that it uses my computer’s folders to access photographs and doesn’t create a database that may or may not match up with folders and files on the hard drive.

Getting something to replace the Develop module of Lightroom is a bit trickier. I tried Gimp, but it’s complicated and much more than I need. Deleted. I’m also trying the free trial version of Affinity Photo. It’s similar to Photoshop and quite cheap. It’s more than I need, though, and I wish it had simple sliders for things like Sharpen instead of Unsharp Mask. I don’t like and am not good at fiddling with complicated adjustments. I do recommend it for people who like and want Photoshop but aren’t willing to pay every month for it.

Most photo editing software seems to be either too automatic and simple (what’s it doing to my photos?) or just too much for the average photographer. Lightroom is a nice balance, but I don’t want to pay every month and I don’t like using a database. But if you don’t use a database you need to make a copy of every photo you want to edit. It’s all very painful, isn’t it?

So I thought about going back to the source. The camera. Why bother at all with adjusting contrast, clarity, levels, blah blah blah in the computer if I can just get things right when I press the shutter release button? This will have the added benefit of making me more careful when making photographs. Long ago I was a member of a Nikon photography forum and there was a very good Thai photographer who posted photographs there. People asked what settings he used. “JPG and a number of camera settings”. Scandal! WHY wouldn’t he use the RAW file format so that he could adjust everything without loss of quality, etc etc. His answer, which I will never forget, was, “I paid a month’s salary for this high-tech digital camera. Why should I have to do any work after I’ve pressed the shutter?” Grumble, grumble, but no one could argue with his results.

So today’s mission, if the weather is decent after work, is to take the digital camera somewhere pleasant, put it on a tripod, and work on getting viewable and printable results right from the camera.

(What I’ve said above applies to digital photography. Getting things scanned is another nightmare).

 

Mobile Monday – University Cat

The university has an unofficial cat commonly known as “CU”, after the convenience store where he often lies about. He sleeps anywhere, wanders the women’s dormitory, and gets attention from students all day long. One employees keeps food and water outside the entrance to one building for him and other people feed him when they have something on them. If I started napping at random spots around the campus, would students pet me and give me their leftover fried chicken and pizza? They’d probably call an exterminator . . . .

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Ektar Success

I have complained about Kodak Ektar film in the past, saying that the colours always came out weird and I couldn’t fix them in lightroom. I sent a roll to a film lab in Seoul not long ago and was delighted to see the scans I got from them a couple of days later. No weird colours and I had to do almost nothing to adjust them. If the next roll of Ektar gives good results, it’s going to be the film I use for most projects.

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You can see that this film gives the quality of digital cameras with its very fine grain and sharpness while having the colour and je ne sais quoi of film that makes it so attractive. I cropped this photo to get my shadow out.

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The colours are very strong but pleasing. I trimmed again to cut out the street on the right.

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I went to the cat shop while downtown and found this kitty staring at the door handle, maybe trying to figure out how to use it. He possibly wanted to escape, but, after some gentle nudging back into the shop, he/she settled for a head scratch.

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It’s always nap time for someone at the cat shop. Ektar handles flourescent lighting quite well. Or the lab’s scanner does. Ektar was designed to be scanned, so I suppose it’s a combination of both.

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These aren’t the colours I saw, but they are the colours I wanted.

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Some days after making a few photos down town, I visited Obong Confucian School up in the mountains. I wanted to see how traditional buildings would look on Ektar film. I love photographing traditional buildings and I wanted to use a high quality film with good colour to do it. I thought about using Velvia, but it’s more than twice the cost of most negatives films and more expensive to get developed and printed. So I tried Ektar, which is very fine-grained, colourful, easy to scan, and not too expensive. I was very pleased with the results.

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The name for this traditional painting style is dancheong, which literally means red-green.  I really like the aquamarine(?) of the doors.

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Trying to compose this photo of the gate roof with the camera pointed nearly straight up was neck-breaking. I thought about buying a right-angle viewfinder for the F6 until I saw the prices. Cheaper to get physical therapy done on my neck.

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I made a photo of doors, my backpack, and the tin of coffee I was drinking to use up the last frame on the roll. Then, while the camera was still on the tripod, I put in a roll of Fuji Provia 100F and made the same photo.

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I can’t say one is better than the other. It depends on what effect you’re after, vivid or neutral. I will probably continue to photograph with the Ektar for the time being as it produces a more cheerful version of the buildings. Unless I start getting the weird results again . . . .

Anyway, I hope that my next roll of Ektar turns out this well. I have a roll of it on the shelf but I want to use up my remaining few rolls of Provia 100F before putting it in the camera. Given the windy weather these days, that might take a while . . . .

 

 

I’ll just be a minute

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Although it looks as though this woman has dropped her bike on the pavement and is going into Homeplus to score some deals, the bicycle doesn’t belong to her. It looks like someone parked their bicycle in the middle of the sidewalk (not uncommon) and it either blew over or someone knocked it over by accident or out of badness.
The shadow of Yours Truly is in the lower left.

 

Mobile Monday

If my iPhone had wide angle, normal, and short telephoto lenses, I might very well throw away all my camera equipment and make all my photos using Hipstamatic. Phone filters are often a gimmick used to make boring photographs look interesting, but when you have a good photograph to begin with, a filter can bring out something a little extra special.

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This boat and sculling oar (?) is set on concrete blocks in the very shallow Gyeongpo Lake. You can probably see that the bottom of the boat is filled with water. It’s attached to a wharf, and tourists can carefully make their way out to one of the seats for selfies. I prefer the boat in a non-occupied state.

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Shooting buds into space.

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I made the same photo on 35mm film, but I haven’t gotten it developed yet. I think the square format was probably better for this scene, but I might be pleasantly surprised.