Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A busy month...

It's a busy month; not even enough time to write a proper blog.  Will have to use sentence fragments and bullet points instead. 

* Meet Kenni Palmer, the #2 CrossFit athlete in all of England.  Took shots using 2 flashes with 2 Lumodi beauty dishes.

The lights were actually placed behind  the subject, illuminating only the periphery.  Zooming out a little yields the very basic setup:

* Poor man's wireless flash -- use a bare lightbulb.  All the drama of off-camera light; none of the expense.

* Spent a busy and successful week in Copenhagen, giving a weekend seminar, 3 lectures during the week, and a field workshop the following Saturday.  Absolutely wonderful.  One lecture was at Sony regional HQ and I gave a technical talk about the SLT architecture and its tradeoffs.  Another night I spoke about my NASA days.  Can't believe people would pay to hear that. :-)

The Copenhagen Seminar (minus one attendee).  Thanks for helping to orchestrate this, Peter Hollbaum-Hansen!
Me speaking at the Sony event.  (Image copyright Tatiana Divakova)
* Then Carol and I took a road trip up to Stockholm.  Stayed at some beautiful B&B’s along the way.  No time to edit & tweak pictures (other than the one sweep panorama below).  My wife hates the indignities of flying coach class.

Mauritzberg Slott, a 400-year-old "castle" in Sweden.

* A77 back from Sony repair.  They said the camera was "found to be operating to factory specifications".  NEX-7 demonstrating the same problems.  Good news is the A57’s flash is reported to work well.  Will know more next month.

* A happy accident: One evening I switched my camera to "Shadow" white balance when it started getting dark.  Forgot to switch back the next day.  Gave family shots a nice warm feel!

I could have corrected for this even though it was shot in .jpg.  Decided against it. 

* The NEX-7 book is on track for the end of June.  And am up to the challenge of pushing out books for the A37/A57 and NEX F3 and rumored F5.

* Progress on the cable TV show I pitched a few months ago:  Thanks to a well-connected reader, I met with the head of a production company who showed great interest.  Tony Phillips and I are developing the show and will be producing a 5-minute “sizzle reel” (mini-pilot) this summer.  We’ll see. 

* Seminar in Santa Monica, California is closed; but there’s still some room for the Field Workshop on June 16th.  Sign up here.

* Seminar in Durango, Colorado is moving full steam ahead.  A technical lecture, a 2-day seminar, and a 2-day field workshop the following weekend. Sign up here.

* Seminar in England will be taking place in September in Brighton.  I thought Brighton would be nicer, more affordable, and attendees would be able to find parking compared to London.  (Let me know if that was a bad assumption.)  Right now it’s looking like the weekend of September 15-16th.  Am negotiating with hotels now.  Let me know if you're thinking of attending (or if you think it should be in London instead of Brighton.  What the hell do I know?  I'm a bloody yank.).

* Things I don’t like about Lightroom:
  1. You only have two sliders for color balance, not three.  (I often want to add red to the entire image.  Lightroom just lets me enhance only the reds that are there.)
  2. It only reads less than 10% of the EXIF info.  I want to sort on which images used MFNR or which used HHT.
  3. Can’t reassign all keys.  (But you can download PADDY which can help).
  4. Why the hell do I have to import everything first?  Doing a "quick edit" takes 5 times longer.
  5. Putting keywords in your catalog is only useful if you use the same catalog forever.  Most pros recommend you start with a new catalog every year otherwise the program slows down.  So after 10 years you’ll have 10 catalogs.  Now how do you search for keywords across 10 catalogs?
(I’m sure I’ll get a ton of hate mail for saying that in public.)

 * A65 still for sale.

Until next time...
Yours Truly, Gary Friedman

Want to learn more about the basics of wireless flash?  Check out my downloadable video which gives you a non-intimidating introduction!


  1. Did you try Corel Aftershot Pro (ex-Bibble) ?

    1 - it has various methods for color corrections (including R/G/B), applicable to global picture or layers
    2 - I didn't check that, but it has extensive metadata fields selection and it has customizable profiles to choose what you want to display
    3 - I don't know if ALL keys are reassignable, a lot of them are...
    4 - you don't have to import something in the catalog(s) to process it
    5 - you can search across multiple catalogs

    I just installed LR, I still have to try it, but my first impression is not good : it installs itself as the default removable media handler, and every time I insert a memory card, my PC is completely hangs for several seconds and then displays the LR dialog box. Just that makes me want to remove it from my PC.

    That said, most reviews I read say that LR gives better image quality, so I am going to try it.

    1. Solution for lightroom "poping up".
      Uncheck "show import dialog box when detecting memory card"
      That's all

    2. I have that dialog box unchecked LR still "pops up" when my memory card is detected.

    3. Try checking your windows default settings to see if it's enabled on the card reader

  2. Gary,
    I'm given to understand that Teachers always learn more from their students. In the seminar you gave, what did you learn that we'll all benefit from in the future?

    Sounds like you had a great trip and accomplished a great deal.

    1. Well, the one thing that sticks in my mind is that the great Socialist state of Denmark has professional homeless beggars on the streets. (They are bussed in from a neighboring country daily.)

  3. Perhaps Bridge should index the multiple lightroom catalogs?
    Also I found a bug, you cant drag/move a video file from one folder to another when its being (pre)viewed (but not necessarily played). If it is the only file in the folder its very hard to move it. A quick edit-in would be handy though.

  4. Re inconsistent flash on the A77. My camera too is all over the place and was particularly haphazard whilst covering an awards ceremony recently. I have found that if you limit the ISO range or indeed set it at a fixed value eg. 200 or 400, you get more consistent results when using flash (either integral or supplementary albeit still with a tendency to slightly over-expose. My $0.02 worth.

  5. * Poor man's wireless flash -- use a bare lightbulb. All the drama of off-camera light; none of the expense.

    So how many readers do you think are scratching their heads, trying to figure out how you triggered the bare lightbulb?

  6. 2 questions - what was wrong w/ A77?

    Lightroom vs Photoshop. I could care less for the PS5 graphic arts capability - more want a photographer's toy (print photos, not posters). Will LR do that?

    How do I trigger an off-camera lightbulb?

    1. That's 3 questions. You're disqualified.

      (Anyway, I can't answer your LR question based on your too-brief description of your needs.)

  7. Adobe offers a free 30 day trial of Lightroom 4. You can try it to see if it meets your needs. That's what I am doing now. I got tired of the Bibble random crashes.

  8. I'm puzzled by the comment that most pros suggest that you use a new LR catalog every year to avoid the program slowing down. The stuff I've seen from pros says a single catalog has been no problem, with some of those comments coming from people with 400,000+ images. I don't spend a lot of time on the web, so I may have missed the negative comments.

    My own catalog is much smaller (~20,000 files), so I cannot speak from experience with a really large catalog, but I have not noticed any real change going from 2,000 files to 20,00 files - with one exception. I'm a fanatic about creating a backup catalog at frequent intervals, and I chose the option to optimize the catalog during backup. The optimization portion of the backup does seem to take a bit longer with the increase in catalog size - but nothing unreasonable. FWIW, my PC is about four years old with 4GB of memory, so it's hardly cutting edge speed.

  9. My catalog has 93,153 files in it and it's fast enough even on a relatively old computer and using USB 2 external drives. I'm still using V3 because I haven't taken the time to transition all of my software toys to my new Window 7 system, but searches are surprisingly fast on this old system.

    But I too would like searching across catalogs because I don't necessarily want everything in one catalog. I'm not sure how they would display the results...

  10. So Mr. Friedman what do you like about LR or did I miss it?

    1. It's great when you have a large batch of images to edit and tweak (like 500 or so). It was clearly made for wedding photographers. :-) It offers the fewest mouse clicks per operation, a metric which few programmers pay attention to. It has some innovative tweaks (I especially like the image rotation feature, and the adjustment brush). I love the spraypaint feature where you can take tweaks made to one image and apply them to a whole bunch at once. Real timesaver when doing large batches. But like everything else it's not perfect, and I felt like balancing out some of the religious ferver I sometimes see by offering a dissenting view.

    2. I hear you about the religious ferver, amen. I guess I feel that way because I don't use PS or CS. I can't justify the cost of those programs. Besides, I am not into image manipulation. I had been using Breezebrowser but I succumbed to the pressure and hype and finally bought it (LR). It is ok but feel it could be better if it had a better search engine but Breezebrowser doesn't have any search engine at least the version I have doesn't. LR doesn't help me anymore than any other program when it comes to naming files and deciding how to store my images. I keep flip flopping from using a year based folder system to a subject folder system. They both have their advantages and disadvantages and it depends on what the image is as to what is best. I have almost decided that 2 systems is best. One for people and one for other stuff. I know using keywords would help when searching but I don't always have time to keyword my pictures and I don't have an assistant. If you don't mind saying what do you use for digital asset management?

  11. Hi Gary,

    I subscribe to your newsletter, bought the e-books etc. However by chance I was using google to try and find a decent review of the Lumodi beauty dishes and your page came up. There doesn't seem to be too much info on them out there. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on them. I'm interested in what size you're using. I was thinking about getting the 18", but wondering whether the 14" will be better...

    Cheers - Craig

  12. I have both, and which one I use depends on the subject I'm shooting and how far away they are. If you look carefully at the illustration above one of the Lumodi dishes is larger than the other. At this distance the illumination is so similar that I can mix these light sources.

    I like the product a lot - they're simple, lightweight, and made to fit a speedlight / accessory flash. Highly recommended. Now if only someone can figure out how to make one of these fit in my camera bag...

  13. Awesome, thanks Gary. I thought I could see a slight size difference, but wasn't sure if that was just because one was closer than the other.

    I can help with fitting those in your camera bag - they just might now work when you pull them out again... :)


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