The Future of Photography

The future of photography – one photog’s point of view.

Photography; more specifically the camera, is one of those great technologies that I have had the privilege of watching evolve [and use] over time.  I’ve used several different types/styles over the years and have welcomed and very much enjoyed each new advancement.  There is much speculation lately as to where the camera market is headed.

JphoneThe camera phone was a real game-changer.  The first cell phone with a built-in camera was manufactured by Samsung and released in South Korea in June of 2000 ||read more||.  The game started out at .35 megapixel; today The Nokia Lumia 1020 features an impressive 41 megapixel.  Megapixel alone is not the measure to end all measures.  If you don’t already know, photography isn’t all about the megapixel despite the marketing blitzes related to recent DSLR [and now seemingly smartphones].  megapixel races…It’s plain nonsense.  You can create some amazing photography at 10-12 megapixel (or even less) and even print it.  Don’t be fooled by the hype.

Having said all that said, with a camera phone at a moderate megapixel count, the need for a DSLR or bridge camera or point and shoot is seemingly non-existent.  Seemingly; not absolutely.  This depends on your level of need/use of course.  I am referring to the general to moderate enthusiast users.  With smartphones being commonplace, is there really a need for bridge or point and shoot cameras anymore?  You can push on even further from that question and ask what role, if any, will entry-level DSLR’s play going forward?

2010entry-dslrs420px

Manufacturers of DSLR’s have loaded current models up with 1080p HD video, rotating LCD screens, high megapixel counts, and other new/interesting features, however, the entry-level DSLR market continues to decline.  Manufacturers have made great strides in regards to size and weight, but there is difficulty contending with the smarts phones of the day that can do the same job, or I suspect in some cases, an even better job and can be carried more easily.

The constant demand for faster, better, more features, smaller footprints, get things done, effortlessly and now is answered quite nicely with the smart phone.  The first photograph took 8 hours to expose – today, you can take a picture and distribute it to the entire globe in seconds.  Even though these magic machines evolved from phones, I am sufficiently convinced that they should be renamed to smart device or magic thingy or something more appropriate than smart phone – the phone role is a pretty small one these days.  More texting and other forms of communicating are happening instead of the spoken word I suspect.  Social media has no doubt played a significant role in this big picture trend.

These super-duper smart devices are not only dampening the camera market.  The personal computing (PC/Laptop) market is taking a hit as well.  I haven’t really seen how these devices are affecting tablet sales.  Where is this all going?  Smaller and lighter – I am not necessarily a fan.  Eventually; with current technology, the smaller you go the more of a performance hit you take – especially where camera sensors are concerned.  This is where I see new and great things being developed.  Take a brief moment and read all about Google Glass.

iphone-5-cameraMost everyone will have some form of these smart devices (if they do not already) in the no-so-distant future (1-3 yrs.).  I finally gave in after years of limping along with my Samsung flip phone.  I have very much enjoyed the in-device camera features of my iPhone 5S.  Pro:  Convenience is huge for many and depending on the situation; I can get on board with that notion.  Photo editing tools on these devices work surprisingly well.  Con:  I am not a fan of relinquishing the exposure control and settling for auto mode.

The only room for a point and shoot camera in my life is for instances where I don’t want to risk damaging my phone (e.g. kayaking) or have a desire to instantly share a photo with the rest of the world.  I’ve carried a DSLR while kayaking in the past…that can be risky and I’ve had a few close calls.  With phone insurances like Square Trade, I may not worry about the phone getting wet or sustaining any other damage.  You would have to deal with the hassle of getting the device replaced.  I think for the most part, the point and shoot will suffer a slow and quiet death.  It has had its place and time in history.

My personal wish for the future of the DSLR…

Dear camera manufactures,

Please quit making so many models and the addition of megapixel does not a great upgrade make!  Please focus more on the sensor technology and camera features – thanks!  Included in a minimal model offering – please make DSLR’s without video.  There are some of us that will never use it and don’t want to pay for it.

The DSLR is a tool of a trade/art.  While most are completely satisfied with their smart phone as a camera, others desire a lot more.  Exposure control and Interchangeable lenses are top of my list, although the latter is available for smart phones now and is surprisingly good (more on that later).  I like the feel of a beefy DSLR in my hands.  I like all the controls/settings at my fingertips (I very much despise digging in menus to change settings).  In my perfect DSLR world, I see entry-level models gone altogether.  I have no clue why people want to spend $500-$1000 on an entry level DSLR that has no more features than your smart phone.  Consumption is based more out of want than need for a lot of folks if I had to venture a guess.  Who hasn’t gone a bit overkill on a perceived need?  I’ve always considered myself to be very technically savvy, but that isn’t the whole picture – there is cost involved here.  The bleeding edge of technology is no place for the meek; even the cutting edge has become a titch scary for me.  My hope going forward is for a more limited offering of crop-sensor and full-frame models.  Having a higher price point, in my mind, garners more commitment from the consumer in their purchase and having less models hopefully would steer the manufacturers to being more innovative rather than just adding more megapixels.

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I recently purchased a full-frame camera and am quite happy with it.  I didn’t go to the farthest edge of current technology, but rather settled in with the tried and true.  I passed on the Nikon D800e for two reasons:  1.) price and 2.) I do not need 36 megapixels.  I went with the D700 as 12 megapixels is quite adequate and the $1200 price tag was very welcoming.

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The evolution of photography is far from over.  Change is one constant we can all be assured of.  Photography is no different from most things – there isn’t a magic button to push that will cover all needs or interests.  The diversity in camera styles and technology is what fuels the photographic creativity of the future.  I can’t wait to see what someone dreams up next.  Is mirrorless the next greatest thing?  We shall have to wait and see.

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2013: Weeks #44 Photography

Another week closer to the end…or good ol 2013.  We saw our first measurable snow this week – ick.  It wasn’t much, but just enough  for people to not utilize common sense.  Wet + <32 = ?  Huh?  I don’t geddit.  It baffles me each year at this time.  There is not atom splitting going on here.

It was entertaining to watch all of the five-O fund-raising this last week.  They have been at it for a few weeks now with a day off here and there to trick those that do not pay attention.  Yep, there are plenty of them too.  They are in the same group as those above.  Cop + speeding = ?  Huh?  I don’t geddit.

It isn’t hideously cold out yet thankfully.  There is still time for that long neglected yard work that should have been done weeks ago.  Finishing coffee and getting dressed to tackle all that super-duper fun joy joy stuff now.  Have a great weekend all.

Here are s few shot from this last week.

Photography Workflow – Part I

Part I – My Workflow…the backstory

Arrows and blocksI didn’t start out thinking about a photography workflow, but I sure wish I had.  Even if I had – change is inevitable; that is one constant you can be sure of.  Technology changes so rapidly and keeping up is almost impossible.  The more you immerse yourself, the more you learn and that initiates change as well.  Ultimately you need to find what works for you.

TAKE PHOTO –> DOWNLOAD TO COMPUTER –>SHARE/PRINT

In the beginning, my needs were pretty basic.  I downloaded the files from my camera to my PC and then shared them on facebook and/or made prints.  Things have changed considerably over that last few years.  It didn’t take long before I began to explore that vast and very expansive world of post processing magic.  Yes – magic – it is amazing what can be done with the digital negative with today’s technology and software.

TAKE PHOTO –> DOWNLOAD TO COMPUTER –>PRE-FLIGHT/RATE –>SHARE/PRINT

Early on I dabbled with High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography, played around with Nikon’s View NX2 features, and made basic adjustment in Photoshop .  I used View NX2 as a means of viewing raw files and eliminated the trash (blurry, out of focus, etc) images before I proceeded further.  I didn’t really have a method of keeping track of my photos other than the file folders I created to download my images to.  It was a very crude filing system.  It is a good thing that I have an amazing memory and it has served me well in recalling where a photo is located…for a short time.  It didn’t take long though to advance beyond my memory.  After you have amassed thousands of pictures over multiple year, things just start to run together.  At this point I had heard about workflow, but didn’t have a clue really what it all meant.

It was also during this period I decided to create a blog.  I wanted to do more than just share a photo on facebook.  Blogging allows for more story telling and reaches a more vast and diverse audience.  Navigating social media is a whole other big and potentially crazy mess to venture out into.  Perhaps a post on that is in order…we shall see.

TAKE PHOTO –> DOWNLOAD TO COMPUTER –>PRE-FLIGHT/RATE –>POST PROCESS –>SHARE/PRINT

I was eventually introduce to Adobe Lightroom around version 3.x.  I was instantly amazed with its feature set, controls and capabilities.  At the same time I discovered Nik Software plug-ins. This opened up a whole other reality in regards to photography.  I was overloaded, over-stimulated and never before did I have so many cool and interesting tools at my disposal.  I was so enthralled with all of the new things I could do that I lost sight of managing this quickly forming mess of files.

TAKE PHOTO –> DOWNLOAD TO COMPUTER –>PRE-FLIGHT/RATE –>POST PROCESS –>CATALOG –>SHARE/PRINT

As I continued to use Lightroom more I began to understand more of what it was capable of.  When I began using Lightroom, I just jumped right in.  No training, no classes, nothing – just started clicking buttons.  This only gets you so far.  YouTube is a wonderful resource for how too’s.  I wish I would have watched more, more often and earlier on.  I watched and learned just enough to get started – get started at a mess that is.  I am not saying that any particular way it right or wrong – this is just how things unfolded for me.  I began by creating a catalog for each instance of shooting.  There are pluses and minus to this.  I wasn’t even at the point of utilizing keywords and other meta data so the +’s and -‘s easily escaped me.  I stuck largely to my folder structure I had used all along.  I think during this period I acquired a pretty good working knowledge of the develop module.  There is so much more to Lightroom.

TAKE PHOTO –> DOWNLOAD TO COMPUTER –>PRE-FLIGHT/RATE –>POST PROCESS –>CATALOG/KEYWORDS –>SHARE/PRINT

Holy Crap…keywords, now that is cool.  Managing your images and having the ability to search through them all by keywords is an incredible thing – provided you thought of all that ahead of time.  I did not.  I made the decision to change my catalog utilization; it was one catalog for all my images broken down by albums named by the date and occasion/subject from here on out.  I also began to utilize keywords so I could more easily locate images of the same topic.  I began the painstaking task of going  back through all of my albums and assigning keywords to the whole album and then also to each image.  Let’s just say that project never came to fruition.  I also started a new catalog for calendar year 2013 which left behind 2011 and 2012.   The thing with catalogs in Lightroom is, the bigger they get, the slower they get – or so I am told.  Having a new catalog for each calendar year wasn’t the ultimate solution in my mind either, but that is what I did.

TAKE PHOTO –> DOWNLOAD TO COMPUTER –>PRE-FLIGHT/RATE –>POST PROCESS –>CATALOG/KEYWORDS –>SHARE/PRINT–>BACKUP

It didn’t take long after my cataloging/keyword epiphany to realized I needed to get my digital act together.  I secured online cloud storage and implemented an additional external hard drive. This whole configuration is being modified currently.  The computer that was acting as my server had 1 of the 3 drive die.  It’s o.k. though as everything was backed up on my external drive and also in the cloud.  One could say I implemented a backup solution none to soon and they would be 100% correct.

TAKE PHOTO –> DOWNLOAD TO COMPUTER –>PRE-FLIGHT/RATE –>POST PROCESS –>CATALOG/KEYWORDS –>SHARE/PRINT–>BACKUP

And here we are present day; much wiser and more adept at this photography thingy.  With Cyndie and I both using laptops (1 PC & 1 MAC) and desktops (2 PC’s) we have been considering the best option in processing, storing, cataloging and sharing the images we create.  This workflow thing can be a real bugger to wrap your head around.  Things can get complicated if you let them. I an interested in something very easy to use.  I’d rather spend more time out shooting.  Cyn and I recently spent some time with some photography friends that shoot professionally.  I was able to glean some knowledge from them and put it use.  Thanks John and Emily @ Flom Designs and Photography.

The most important thing is understanding [realistically] what your needs are first and then tackle wants as you are able.  As we all know, needs and wants are very different animals.  I’ll go into this more tomorrow with Photography Workflow – Part 2, The Revised Workflow.

Getting my digital act together

reverse_procrastination_comicOne is a very lonely number…especially if it is one copy of  your files that you cannot access.  One of anything of that sort is not sufficient; it will not protect you.  One unusable copy will land you at the realization that you have not done enough at all.  In fact, in the end, it will end up disappointing you a great deal.  It happened to me; it can happen to you as well.

Today I would like to speak to a very blah topic – backing up your files.  You can no longer be dense about this topic if you have files that are important to you.  In this day and [electronic] age, backing up your files is not an option – IT IS A NECESSITY.  Additionally, having one backup may not be adequate.

As a photographer, I have many files that are important to me.  Every shot is a masterpiece…or not, but, still there is a great deal that a want to hang onto.  I thought I had an OK system going.  I could not have been more wrong.  As a semi-IT-kind-of-person, I should know better…I did know better.  As with everything, there are several ways to accomplish your goal; half-ass should not be a consideration among your option.  How thorough you need depends on how important your data is to in general, for you business or whatever the case may be.

My file-flow was pretty simple.  (1) Take pictures, (2) download them to my PC (3) process them,  (5) Post them (6) file them and eventually (7) move them off to an external hard drive.  That seemingly simple 7 step process worked fine until the one day I needed that information back.  My PC was running like crap, I had not completely reloaded it is over 2 years (I like to at least once a year); so I pulled the pin.  I set aside some time to get it done.  It went smoothly.  I don’t utilize an imaging process like I could as installing the OS and the few application I use is easy and quick enough (creating an image of my PC is phase 2 of getting my digital act together).  When it came to restoring my data I was met with an immediate failure.  My external drive was no longer recognized by my PC.  I plugged it in and nothing.  I had thought about backing up to the cloud, but had not made that leap.  Yes, what a big giant stupid-head I was for not making that leap.  There is a plethora of cloud-based affordable backup solutions out there.  It is a pretty simple Google search to get you on your way to researching which service is best for your needs.

I have a fellow photographer and IT-savvy friend that helped me a great deal through this ordeal.  He reminded me of the 3-2-1 rule (Thanks John!)

  • [3] – You keep 3 copies of anything that is important to you (1 primary and two secondary).
  • [2] – You keep the files on two different media types (Internal HD, external HD, Cloud, DVD’s, etc.).
  • [1] – You keep 1 copy offsite (Home/Business, or in this example the cloud).

It is not so much a matter of “if,” but “when.”  Device failure is a huge threat, as are viruses, malicious malware, volume and directory glitches, transfer corruption, lightning strikes/voltage surges, theft, fire or water damage and human error.  A lot can go wrong.  I believe my issue was part volume glitch, part transfer corruption and a titch of human error.  In the end, I was able to attach my external drive to Cyndie’s MAC and transfer my files over the network (long story).  I didn’t lose anything…this time.  It was a clear wake up call to get my our digital affairs in order though.  I can now comfortably say that we are now completely backed up and I am feeling that we have our digital “stuff” secure.

Even if you did not keep an on-site backup to an external drive (or other media), backing up to the cloud will provide a great amount of comfort compared to doing nothing all.

DO NOT PROCRASTINATE!

Revisited – February 2013

Revisited – February 2013 hot out post processing.  Lots of shooting this last month – love it.  There was even an album I didn’t seem to get around to processing.  That hardly ever happens.