Photography – Library Organization

Having written about my struggles as an undisciplined photographer, first outgrowing iPhoto, finding a safe harbor with Apple’s “pro” application, Aperture until they orphaned it, and then casting around for a solution.

I tried Adobe Lightroom, and it was reasonable, but being geared for professionals, it was a bit overkill.

A friend recommended another Adobe product, “Bridge”, as a good, lightweight solution. It is included for free with Photoshop (and possibly other Adobe products), and it has long lain idle.

Hummingbird street artWith that recommendation, I took a serious look at Bridge, and began using it for my ungainly photo collection. Here are my observations:

  1. It is quite snappy at creating indexed thumbnails. When you open a folder, even with more than 1,000 images in it, it quickly lets you work with it, while it is creating the thumbnails. If you set the preferences to (when possible) push the index file to the local directory. This makes it really easy to reorganize or move (via a remote drive) to another computer.
  2. The UI is very flexible. It is intuitive to navigate, and you can set it up to facilitate your workflow. Sure, Lightroom has more bells and whistles, but with that is a heavier overhead to learn and build familiarity with. But, it doesn’t prevent you from accessing all the meta data and other tags.
  3. Batch rename. Best. Feature. Ever. I had one folder with over 1000 images, where I mixed photos from my wife’s point and shoot Canon, with my EOS 20D. This meant that I have a lot of low res images mixed with the good stuff, and it was painful. The “Advanced” find option, looking for the camera ID tag, and then use the Batch Rename option to separate the intermixed images.It also makes it easy to rename files, to insert mnemonic flags in the filename, and date/index coding. Really helpful.
  4. Rating/Flagging of images. The ability to assign a rating to each image is nice, and expected. Also, the ability to use the delete key to “reject” an image. This is helpful for sorting/ranking images. Alas, I am not disciplined enough to use this consistently. Maybe one day (who am I kidding…)
  5. Minibridge. This is a tight integration with Photoshop, that give you a way to traverse your collection easily from within the photoshop interface. Handy if you are in the think of working with your collection, relieving you from switching between programs.

Additionally, as it is part of the “Creative Solutions” ecosystem, it helps you index and organize all media files. Images, videos, even mixed media files, all with aplomb. It really helped me organize a huge collection of memes I snagged from the internet.

It is not all Unicorns and Roses though…

The photo import tool is pretty sucky. At least on the Mac. It is pretty spartan, and while it can do some rudimentary file renaming, it is pretty pathetic. Of course, the Apple Photos app is less flexible.

Also, it is unable to preview before importing RAW files, so you are pretty blind when importing. Not too useful if you have multiple sessions of photos on the memory card.

Sure, I can just import bulk from the card and mess with it later, but that is sub optimal.

Summary

For a free-as-in-beer program, Adobe Bridge is remarkably feature rich. It is lightweight, yet usable. It integrates very well with Photoshop, and since it isn’t a monolithic library (like the Apple products), it is really easy to move/organize your library around.

And it really is free. Don’t have Photoshop or any of the other CS products? No problemo, get an Adobe ID, and you can download it gratis.

Still, I need to find a better photo import option.

 

Next up, I will talk about some fabulous filters for Photoshop…

NCIS at 13

A week or so ago, the magic icon on Netflix appeared, “New Episodes” for NCIS. Cool. Season 12 left with a cliff hangar of Agent Gibbs being shot by a child member of “The Calling” and I needed closure.

So, we tucked into some binge watching of the latest season of NCIS, re-watching the final episode of season 12 to get in the groove.

What a disappointment. It was a pretty weak closure of the cliff hangar (di Nozzo shoots the master mind in China), and then it got into the absurd. Seriously, they are called in to a massacre on a quasi “Doctors without Boarders” camp in South Sudan, and find out that the missing doctor is the husband of Jean Benoit? Are you fucking kidding me? How cheesy is that plot twist.

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What I learnt from Forza Motorsports 6

Pretty much the saving grace of the XBoxOne is Forza Motorsports 6 (ok, the latest Doom is pretty cool too.)  I splurged for my birthday, and bought the 6th version of this, and I was not disappointed.

VW Corrado from ForzaI began playing back on my old Xbox360, with Forza 2, and was hooked. The cars, the tracks, the physics were what made the game. Each major release upping the ante, making it more realistic, and thus more enjoyable. Ah, the modded VW Corrado I had in Forza 3, a joy.

Of course, it isn’t perfect, even when I bought a steering wheel it was a bit arcade like (and when I moves from Tucson, I sold that at a Garage sale). It is an Arcade game, but it still has enough realism to make it fun.

The 6th version brings the best rendering of the cars. Tracks that are both gorgeous and accurate. It adds weather and even night racing (the Nordschliffe at Nurburgring at night is haunting), and tacing in the rain makes all tracks challenging.

Things I have learnt:

  • Audi’s with their 4 wheel drive make navigating the courses enjoyable. As expected, the all wheel drivetrain gives a benefit in handling, all else being equal.
  • A race spec Honda S2000 is a monster, and hard to control. While in street trim it is a pleasure to drive, it is not for the faint of heart in race trim, getting squirrelly easy.
  • Hypercars are fun. I have (I won it in a spin) a Bugatti Veryon, and hooboy that is a fun car to drive. One day, I must buy (in Forza) a Koenigsegg, or Pagani. A Ferrari seems so mundane next to one of those hand built beauties.
  • The ‘Drivatars‘ (avatars of other racers that provide AI to the competitors) are fun. You see some really bad driving. Then you realize that you drive just as bad. I am sure that the drivatar based on my driving is as much of an asshole as I am racing directly.
  • While the simulation and physics are good, you still are given a lot of latitude to screw up and recover. Things that in real life would be race ending or even life threatening. Nothing like diving under a pack of cars in a tight apex turn and using them as bumpers to get around the corner (and pick up a bunch of places).
  • I should have bought the Porsche add-on package. It seemed expensive at $20, but as I see their catalog when buying cars for races, I am wistful. Sigh.
  • American heavy metal muscle cars are shitty to drive fast on the track. GT500 or Shelby Mustangs are just awful at going around corners.
  • I think I would really like to drive a WTCC Honda Civic. About $300K but it is an amazing piece of kit on the track.

Summary

Ok, I guess I shouldn’t be so harsh on the Xbox One. But the truth is I do mostly play Forza 6 on it. I am also able to play some of my old Xbox 360 games (the Namco Arcade Classics are fun on it too).

Photo Chaos – Taming the Beast

adobe_bridge_cs6

As a long time photography hobbyist, I am in an unenviable position. My collection of images is, how should I put this, a chaotic mess.

If I was a professional, I would have long ago adopted a workflow, with a definite process for handling images, sorting, grading, and culling that would have some consistency across the decades. Alas, I am a duffer, and just keep adding without any rhyme or reason for processing. Hence my current hand wringing.

Sure, for big vacations, I do some “workflow-like” things, but in general I import, fix blemishes, and occasionally process in Photoshop to share.

I wrote about my trials and tribulations here highlighting how the Apple iPhoto app at first was great, but became overwhelmed, and then my attempts to improve beyond that.

Of course, at that time I was considering/playing with Adobe’s Lightroom. Alas, as a hobbyist without a workflow discipline, I was flailing. Sure, it had great tools, and capabilities, but like with Aperture, I was barely using the capabilities. It felt “heavy”.

I have come to the realization that I am not a ‘Pro’ and I am not ever going to be as disciplined as a pro. I need to find a solution that works for my situation.

Thus I fell back into the Apple Photos paradigm. Here I am a year later, and in misery. As I have used Photos, while they got rid of the concept of “Photostream” they replaced it with this undergirding of “Moments” that you have captured. Thus when I exported my pictures of the last year to break free of this jail, I had about 300 folders of “moments”. Some tagged by date, some by GPS location (from my iPhone).

Now it is time for a clean break. Fortunately, I have discovered a pretty simple, “lite” tool, and even better, it is bundled with Photoshop (and free as in beer) tool called Adobe Bridge.

Instead of being a database driven tool, like Lightroom, it really is a browser and tool to categorize your images (and other files too besides images). It can import, it can bulk rename, it can alter IPTC tags, and the meta-data associated with your files. It handles RAW files, and can even do some “developing” when importing.

It works on the file structure in your computer or storage device, and it is pretty snappy to boot.

A shout out to my longtime friend Inge Fernau who recommended it. I had seen it, and ignored it, jumping straight to the heavier solutions (Lightroom, Aperture), or using the bundled solution (iPhoto, Photos).

My current state is that I have all my images in a directory structure, mirrored on a couple of HD’s (for backup), and am cleaning up a lot of cruft. Alas, iPhoto/Aperture/Photos have some hinky ways of managing albums that change and lead to a large number of duplicate image files.

I will keep Photos, primarily since I take a lot of pictures with my iPhone (the best camera is the one you have with you, and I always have my iPhone). But I will clear out the old images and reduce the amount of storage in the iCloud, probably falling back to the free tier – Yay, one less paid cloud storage service!

(Image at the top – Mont Blanc from the Telepheriqué in Chamonix – a three shot panorama, stitched in Photostitcher, and processed with Topaz Labs B&W Effects filter)

Hated Things: Whole Foods Market

As we were running out of the probiotic that we use for our greyhound (Jarodophilus brand) I needed to procure some more. When we lived in Arizona, there were several purveyors that I could go to that had it on the shelf.

Not so since we moved to California. The only market that seems to have it consistently is Whole Foods.

Groan. I cringe every time I have to venture a foot into that place. Perhaps it is the pretentiousness, the “we are better” atmosphere? Or perhaps it is the emphasis on organic produce and how much better it is (except it isn’t, and in fact the “approved” pesticides that they use are pretty awful. Or it is the row after row of homeopathy and naturopathy woo that they peddle to the new age fools that shop there.

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