31 March, 2016

Silver Efex Pro — Goodbye and thanks for all the control points

Zeiss Batis 85mm - Emma Nixon of Cloudstreet [Click image to enlarge]

Whom the Gods would destroy, they first set free.*

You have probably read that Google has decided to offer the Nik Suite of programs free of charge. As Mike Johnson (The Online Photographer) has already speculated, this appears to ring the death knell for the suite. If Google was committing to improving the suite, or even maintaining it into the future, I think Google would have told us by now.

Yes, free software is an easy investment. But with new software the real investment isn't in dollars, it's in the time necessary to master the tools. Under the circumstances I doubt the move will expand the user base in a substantial way.

In my opinion, Silver Efex is the standout program in the Suite. So, this will be a particularly heavy blow for me and the rest of Silver Efex Pro's fans.

I'm probably not as affected as some. I don't use the presets, borders, film emulations or tones, and I think Lightroom's conversion to B&W, colour channels, and split-toning are as good or better. But, I am a serious user of the control points and the structure tools.

Silver Efex's fate will probably take a while to be sealed, however. But when the end comes it will come quickly — when Silver Efex is broken by new or upgraded operating systems.

Is there a chance of a miracle cure? Google might yet take pity on us and maintain the suite. Or there might be buyer. Maybe...
*In your face, Publilius Syrus, et al.

21 March, 2016

Jason Lanier - Generous Photographer

Zeiss Batis 85mm - John Thompson of Cloudstreet at CD Launch in Brisbane [Click image to enlarge]

There are a few photographers who have taken the time and made the effort to share some of their knowledge and experience on YouTube. Over time I'll mention a few of them, but first up is Jason Lanier.

Firstly, many of Jason Lanier's videos are excerpts from his workshops. He's a working photographer and it seems clear that workshops are an important aspect of his professional work. He's also an Ambassador for Rotolight and a member of Sony's Artisan program. So his videos are also publicity, both for his work and for his sponsors.

The short version is that he's done a lot of videos and there's a lot to be learned: Behind the scenes at workshops, working with models, working with light, views on equipment, work at weddings, travel, the business of photography....

I've found his videos very helpful. Thanks, Jason.

Here's an example:

12 March, 2016

Batteries make the world go 'round

Zeiss 50mm Loxia - Gallery of Modern Art

The move from analog to digital has made batteries essential to almost everything that we do as photographers. And so, it's not just sad, but often paralysing, when batteries go flat and there are no replacements.

It is not entirely serendipity that, aside from my cameras, just about every powered device I use (light meter, wireless trigger, speedlights, LED lights, flashlight) use AA batteries.

I hate button batteries. Even when I find one at the bottom of the drawer or bag it's usually the wrong size. And when I go out to get them, I don't always find them at the first place I go.

I love AA batteries. They may be big, but there will always be some down the street at the supermarket, petrol station or the chemist. And rechargeables are an easy and economical option.

The batteries that devices use aren't the deciding factor in my equipment choices, but they are a factor. I'm not sure how long this happy arrangement will continue, but at the moment it's working.