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I Hate Spammers
6/7/2012 10:22:49 AM

I enjoy posting an occasional item to my blog here and really appreciate comments from those who read the posts.  Unfortunately the world is full of people who want to spoil things for the rest of us.  The target of my comments are the "spammers" who have nothing better to do than to clutter our blogs, email, and web sites with trivial, worthless, and sometimes harmful posts.

For those who view my blog, please be assured that I do not use it for commercial purposes.  I don't support the supposed online sales of products from Caroline Herrera, Boss, or any other manufacturer.  I won't ask you to share any personal information nor will I ask you to click on a link to any other site without a clear and full explanation.

I have been trying to delete spam comments from my blog on a daily basis but the garbage continues to show up there each morning so I suspect it gets added throughout the day.  My apologies to anyone who finds the spam offensive as I do.

Adobe Creative Cloud
5/3/2012 10:02:23 AM
Along with the recent release, or planned release, of their new Creative Suite 6 applications and PhotoShop Lightroom 4 Adobe also announced a new product called Creative Cloud.  As the name implies, this product offering is different to Adobe’s traditional software distribution method where users purchase individual products or suites of products as either Option 1 -- boxed software or Option 2 -- a download.
At the same time, Creative Cloud doesn’t fall into the category of most “cloud” applications that are seen in the business world where the software runs on a remote computer with your local desktop only serving as an entry device. Instead, Creative Cloud is a subscription service that allows you to download selected software to your computer and run the application on your computer (doesn’t sound that different from option 2, above, so far).
What does Creative Cloud include?  All of the applications in Creative Suite CS6 (PhotoShop 6 Extended, Illustrator, Acrobat Pro, DreamWeaver, Premiere, Flash Pro, In Design and others), connectivity to Adobe TouchApps, and, in the future, PhotoShop Lightroom.
There are, however, some major differences. First, Creative Cloud includes 20 GB of storage that can be used to connect your traditional desktop applications like PhotoShop with Adobe’s touchpad applications like PhotoShop Touch. Second, while individuals who purchase traditional products typically wait about two years for major software upgrades or improvements, Adobe plans to release these upgrades to Creative Cloud users on an ongoing basis. The third big difference is the potential for long-term cost savings for some users.
Let’s assume that the first two differences described above are of minimal interest to you. The question then becomes can I save money by using Creative Cloud? And the answer is, “It depends.” For illustration purposes, I’m going to use the one year subscription price of $49.99 per month for Creative Cloud (if you choose a monthly subscription, you will have different results). Here are some examples:
Scenario 1 -- I only use PhotoShop CS6. I purchased PhotoShop several years ago and now I upgrade with each new version. I don’t us Adobe Illustrator, Acrobat Pro, or any other Adobe application. A subscription to Creative Cloud would cost $599.88 for one year or $1,199.76 for two years. Upgrading your current version of PhotoShop would cost $199.00 every two years. Even if you were using PhotoShop CS6 Extended, the upgrade cost would only be $399.00 every two years. So, in this case, it’s unlikely that you would have any savings.
Scenario 2 -- I plan to purchase PhotoShop CS6 and upgrade with each new version. I don’t us Adobe Illustrator, Acrobat Pro, or any other Adobe application. A subscription to Creative Cloud would cost you $599.88 for one year or $1,199.76 for two years. Purchasing the full version of PhotoShop will cost $699.00 and each upgrade will cost about $199.00. If you were purchase PhotoShop CS6 Extended, the initial cost will be $999.00 and each upgrade will be $399.00. In either case, some savings in year one but these savings do not extend into later years.
Scenario 3 – I use a number of different Adobe products regularly. I purchase and upgrade each of them individually. The two products I use most often are PhotoShop CS6 Extended and Illustrator. I would also like to use other products occasionally like DreamWeaver and Actobat Pro but have not purchased them. In this scenario, you could purchase PhotoShop CS6 Extended ($999) and Illustrator ($599) separately and upgrade them about every two years (PhotoShop $399; Illustrator $249) or you could purchase them as part of a suite (initial cost $1,899 or more, upgrade $375). Either way, you will save money immediately by subscribing to Creative Cloud. While the savings drop in subsequent years, you still get a good deal. What makes this even better is that you can now also use other products like DreamWeaver (purchase price $399; upgrade $125) and Acrobat Pro (purchase price $449; upgrade $199) at no added cost.
So the bottom line is the more Adobe products you use, the more attractive Creative Cloud becomes plus you get the benefits of more frequent upgrades, remote storage, and the flexibility to add more applications when you need them.
I Have a Smart Phone -Do I Need a Camera?
3/9/2012 11:37:56 AM
I’m sometimes asked the question, “I have a (insert smart phone name here), why do I need a camera?” There really is no easy answer to that question. For some, the smart phone with its built in camera may be all you ever need. For others, the limitations of the smart phone may make it impractical for most or all of their photography needs. (A brief apology here for the length of this post.)
When I was growing up, almost everyone had a camera in their home. Probably the most common type was the Kodak box camera that used rolls of 620 film and, as often as not, it was loaded with a consumer grade black-and-white film. “Real photographers” (those who were making money in photography) were typically equipped with a large format camera on a heavy wooden tripod or, for field use, some type of medium format camera, possibly a Hasselblad or some type of twin lens reflex camera.
As time moved forward, the Kodak box camera was replaced by smaller, lighter cameras like the Instamatic line that used a smaller film format that was in a cartridge making loading much simpler. At the same time, the 35mm single lens reflex became more popular for professional photographers although the studio cameras and medium format cameras remained.
Today, many photographers have moved to a totally digital environment, a process that may gain even more momentum with Kodak’s recent discontinuation of even more film options. In the digital world, the type of camera used seems less important while emphasis has been placed on the number of megapixels (millions of tiny dots) that can be captured on a camera’s digital sensor and transferred to the digital storage media. We still see cameras that sort of look like evolutionary descendants of Instamatics (point-and-shoot cameras) as well as those that have camera bodies and lenses like their 35mm and medium format predecessors. As the initial question points out, we also have cameras built into our smart phones.
So how do you know whether you need a camera or if your smart phone is all you need?
The first question you need to ask is “What will I do with my photos?” If you will only display your photos in relatively small sizes on the web (places like FaceBook and Flickr) or print standard size photos (3” X 5”; 4” X 6”, maybe 6” X 9”), then the camera in your smart phone may be all you need. A five or six megapixel camera can easily fill these requirements. (The iPhone 4s has an 8 megapixel camera.)
Will you be taking photos where you are close to your subject or far away? In most cases, if we are taking photos of our children we can get fairly close. In this case, the smart phone camera may be okay (see the next question). If, on the other hand, you are taking pictures of birds or dangerous wildlife where you can’t get close, then you may need a separate camera with either a built in zoom lens or interchangeable lenses.
How active is your subject? One of the problems with photographing children is that they don’t seem to be still for very long. If your smart phone introduces any delays between when you push the button and when the photo is taken then action shots are going to be much more difficult. A separate camera virtually eliminates this as a problem.
There are probably other questions that you need to ask as well but these are some basics that everyone should consider. More importantly, take those photos and preserve the memories.
Lots of New Stuff
3/1/2012 7:27:18 PM

The last week or so has been interesting to those of us who are involved with computers and photography.  I thought some of these points were worth sharing again here for those who may not have seen these things elsewhere.

The first item is actually a couple of weeks old.  On February 16, Apple announced their latest operating system for the Mac, OSX Mountain Lion.  Mountain Lion brings the Mac OS closer to the iOS used on other Apple products like the iPAD.  More information on Mountain Lion can be found at http://informationweek.com/news/hardware/mac/232601025?cid=SBX_iwk_related_mostpopular_Macintosh&itc=SBX_iwk_related_mostpopular_Macintosh

On the 26th, Adobe announced the release of the PhotoShop Touch app for the iPad2.  While not a full featured version of PhotoShop, Touch includes many of the key features of the full program and the price is right at $9.99.  The product can be downloaded now from the Apple Store.  More details are available from http://mashable.com/2012/02/26/adobe-photoshop-touch-on-ipad/ and several other sources (do a search in Google or Bing).

A third Apple related story is that Apple has scheduled a major press event for next week.  While the subject has not been announced, early indications are that Apple will officially announce the release of the iPad3.  Rumor also has it that for the first time the iPad will be available in two sizes.

There was also action in the Windows world with the availability of the Consumer Preview (think beta version) of the Windows 8 desktop operating system,  In addition, for data center managers, Microsoft also released the beta version of the Windows 8 Server operating system.  To try the new OS, start at http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/consumer-preview.  Be sure to keep in mind that this is not the final release so it may have bugs or be incompatible with your computer or software.

And, finally, Wacom released the Intuos 5 tablet earlier today.  The new tablet is a significant improvement over the Intuos 4 tablet.  It also offers a wireless option for all models which was only available on select models in the past.  The new tablet comes in at least three sizes:  small, medium, and large (no kidding) ranging in price from $229 to $469 (without the wireless option) from B & H Photo-Video.  Details at http://www.wacom.com/en/Products/Intuos.aspx,

NRAO - Very Large Array
1/30/2012 9:06:03 PM

These photos are from a trip to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory Very Large Array site west of Socorro, New Mexico, a few years ago.  Some general information from the NRAO website (http://www.nrao.edu/):

The Very Large Array, one of the world's premier astronomical radio observatories, consists of 27 radio antennas in a Y-shaped configuration on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, New Mexico. Each antenna is 25 meters (82 feet) in diameter.  The antennas in the Very Large Array are used like the zoom lens in a camera. When they are in the A configuration, the telescopes extend over the 21 kilometer (13 mile) length of each arm. This simulates a single dish that is 36 kilometers (22 miles) in diameter. In this configuration, we have the most magnification and can see the greatest detail. The size of the array gradually decreases with the B and C configurations until, in the D configuration, the telescopes are all placed within .6 kilometer (.4 mile) of the center.

During my visit the antennas were in one of the smaller configurations which made photography a bit easier.  Since then, the array has been upgraded and is now known as the Expanded Very Large Array (EVLA) although to the casual observer the appearance is the same.  Almost all of the photos here are black and white although I used a PhotoShop Find Edges filter on one image that I didn't like otherwise and I have included a color photo of the transporter that is used to relocate the antennas.

In some of the photos you may have noticed that each antenna sits above two parallel sets of what appear to be railroad tracks.  The "Y" configuration used for locating the antennas consists of two sets of parallel tracks like these with perpendicular rails to each antenna location.  The antennas are moved using a special transporter which lifts the antennas and moves them.  Rather than turning on curves like a traditional railroad, the transporte moves down the legs of the "Y" and then when it reaches a selected telescope location, it lifts itself up and the wheels are rotated to move down the perpendicular rails.  This is one of the two transporters at the VLA site.

And this is a photo of the array using PhotoShop's Find Edges filter.  I elected to use it with this photo because the whites were so blown out on the orignal image that all detail was lost on the distant telescopes.

Photography "As We May Think"
1/4/2011 8:14:32 PM
In July 1945, Director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development, Dr. Vannevar Bush, wrote a rather lengthy article titled As We May Think for the Atlantic Magazine. This article is quoted, even today, for the forward looking thoughts on technology that it provides. Often overlooked, however, are Dr. Bush’s thoughts on photography. Excerpts of his article are included below. One could easily associate some of his thoughts with today’s digital photography but even Dr. Bush couldn’t predict the rapid growth of digital photography and the way it has become a method of choice for sharing photographs today. (By the way, if you want to read the entire article, it is available on line in the Atlantic Magazine archives)

"Today we make the record conventionally by writing and photography, followed by printing; but we also record on film, on wax disks, and on magnetic wires…progress in photography is not going to stop. Faster material and lenses, more automatic cameras, finer-grained sensitive compounds to allow an extension of the minicamera idea, are all imminent...

The camera hound of the future wears on his forehead a lump a little larger than a walnut. It takes pictures 3 millimeters square, later to be projected or enlarged, which after all involves only a factor of 10 beyond present practice. The lens is of universal focus, down to any distance accommodated by the unaided eye, simply because it is of short focal length. There is a built-in photocell on the walnut such as we now have on at least one camera, which automatically adjusts exposure for a wide range of illumination. There is film in the walnut for a hundred exposures, and the spring for operating its shutter and shifting its film is wound once for all when the film clip is inserted. It produces its result in full color. It may well be stereoscopic, and record with two spaced glass eyes, for striking improvements in stereoscopic technique are just around the corner…Is this all fantastic? The only fantastic thing about it is the idea of making as many pictures as would result from its use…

When Brady made his Civil War pictures, the plate had to be wet at the time of exposure. Now it has to be wet during development instead. In the future perhaps it need not be wetted at all… Often it would be advantageous to be able to snap the camera and to look at the picture immediately…
A scene itself can be just as well looked over line by line by the photocell in this way as can a photograph of the scene. This whole apparatus constitutes a camera, with the added feature, which can be dispensed…
It would be a brave man who would predict that such a process will always remain clumsy, slow, and faulty in detail…
...Like dry photography, microphotography still has a long way to go. The basic scheme of reducing the size of the record, and examining it by projection rather than directly, has possibilities too great to be ignored…"
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