February 2, 2008

Busy, busy, busy…

Posted in Commentary, OSX Software at 7:41 am by Michael Sweeney Media

Yep, that pretty much explains my life for the past few months. It was interesting how more complicated a third child can make one’s life. And I thought two little ones made it tough. This is not a linear progression 🙂

I have been having alot of fun with my flashes and umbrellas of late and the wife is long suffering about having tripods, light stands and backdrops up in the front room 24×7 lately. To be sure, we have gotten some very nice portraits of the girls when I can pin them down for a few moments in time.

2223522972-a109b607b8.jpg

This portrait was taken with my D80 and I used two SB800 flashes shooting into two white umbrellas. The back drop is a piece of black fleece hanging from my cheap but useful background holder I bought from B&H. I did my post processing in Lightroom and CS3. ISO was 200 at F8 and about 40mm.

I have been gathering ideas and details on how to actually get paid for photography in some manner. I joined the PPA a few months back and it’s only been now that I have been able to really see what I joined. Equipment insurance for cheap, liability insurance for cheap and nice legal forms are all part of the package. The insurance alone makes me alot more comfortable in thinking about shooting weddings which up to now I have been avoiding like the plague. I did get a few new books, one of which is by Glen Johnson called “Digital Wedding Photography – Capturing beautiful Memories”. Alot of good information and ideas and pictures. I really like this book for starting to learn about getting the wedding pictures right.

New websites are slideshowPro for Lightroom. Make a very cool flash presentation for your website with this app. Photocamel (what a name) has a very active forum and some way cool interviews posted. Another cool site is a site dedicated to shooting real estate pictures like interiors and exteriors for listings etc. The owner of the site is very active and shares his knowledge with the photography community readily. He has an eBook for 15 bucks that is worth every penny if you ever thought about taking pictures of homes professionally or even just really nice shots for yourself.

Speaking of Lightroom, I added an extra gig of ram to my iMac (3 total) and Lightroom really works well now 🙂 Go figure, like anything else, the more RAM the better I suppose. My reinstall of OSX after three upgrades and migrations worked very well in clearing away the weird problems I was having with the Lightroom export and DRM. Also with Lightroom, I have fallen in love with the print module. This is what CS3 should have but doesnt. I bought a new (read as refurbed) HP A616 5×7 printer for 40 bucks which included a real ink cartridge. I also bought the bluetooth adapter and now from Lightroom I can rip out 4×6 cards with my logo and the image really easy.

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November 24, 2007

Busy Week

Posted in Commentary, OSX Software at 1:09 pm by Michael Sweeney Media

I have been somewhat distracted in the past few weeks between Leopard arriving, shooting the red carpet at the American Music Awards and then, our fourth daughter arrived at 5:15am Friday. She had the good grace to let my wife enjoy my thanksgiving feast that I cook up each year and she did not take too long in the delivery room. All in all, a very accommodating child so far 🙂

When I got the gig to shoo the AMA red carpet and private party afterwards, I bought a new SD800 flash and rented a 18-200mm VRII Nikon lens which proved to be a lifesaver at the event. Between the reach of the 200mm zoom and the vibration reduction, I was able to get some killer shots

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My client was Johnny Rockets and I had almost full access to everything at the event. The contact sheet is just a small sample of the pictures from that shoot.

I have been using Leopard on my new MBP and I have to say, it rocks. It is quirky at times but overall it just rocks. I have not had a single crash of the OS yet. Some of my apps are twitchy but as the vendors patch them for Leopard, things have calmed down alot. Photoshop just plain screams on Leopard. I have been working on some 24×36 inch posters and it’s a joy on the MBP. My iMac is nice but I did a new install of 10.4 on a firewire drive and I see just how dogged out my current installation is for some reason. So I’m slowly building a new install on the firewire drive and I will move it over as “live” in a few weeks. I suspect since my current install was transfered from two other machines (G5 to Intel to new Intel) that something did not quite make it. With a clean install, 10.4 works much better. I have to keep 10.4 on my iMac since virtually none of my scanning apps are ready for Leopard yet and thats a problem for me.

You can see my new poster here.

The new iDVD and iPhoto are really nice. I did not have any issues on my MBP like I did on my iMac and I was able to make a DVD for JR in less that 6 hours which was uploading two flash cards, sorting the images, applying minor touchup/cropping and building the DVD complete with JR playlists for music. The rendering still takes a while but it never missed a beat and did a fine job with something like 200 images.

If you are a fan of Little Snitch, you really owe it to yourself to get the new version 2.0 and install it. They really did a nice job on improving it and making it more usable. I was able to work out the Amazon S3 servers ip subnets by using it and watching the rules that needed to be built when I used S3 services. Handy stuff.

October 26, 2007

The New Cat in Town

Posted in Commentary, OSX Software at 9:54 am by Michael Sweeney Media

I have had the last current dev copy of Leopard running now for a few weeks on a new MacBoo Pro. I have to say, it’s impressive. It’s fast and very stable. I have not had a single crash at the OS level yet.

Firefox has had some teething problems as the Cisco VPN client refuses to work. My upgrade from Tiger failed completely. I had to boot leopard, whack the drive and install from scratch so words of warning there for you. Many of my daily apps such as SOHO Notes did not work right or at all until the vendors issued the Leopard patches. Some apps dont seem to care one way or the other. Open Office never missed a beat. Yep works well as does my serial port driver for my Keyspan USB to serial adapter.

If you dig back, I ripped on Time Machine a while back as sloooooow. It’s much better now, not as fast as Superduper but very much improved and slick, oh my god, slickest app going for backups that are painless to use.

The iLife apps like iPhoto rips on Leopard and with the new screen on the MBP, I’ve died and gone to heaven. Photoshop works very well, I think better under Leopard than under Tiger. It’s faster or at least faster responding and loading.

My new Sprint EVDO RevA card kicks on Leopard, I did not have to either activate the card on windows or even load a driver. It worked just by plugging it in.

I love the new preview mode of the folders and files. I can open up a directory of PDFs and see niffty thumbnails now without having to use a 3rd party app or try and remember what that cryptic name really meant.

I have not had any issues with sharing my SImple NAS drive via SMB or mounting up shares on any of my other Macs. Leopard even worked with my Netapp SAN at the office without a single complaint. Wireless has been good, I think better than Tiger but I never kept Tiger on my MBP long enough to get a real feel for it.

I have not tried the dual boot for Windows yet, I have the partition set but not enough time. VMware works well and so far that has been good enough.

October 12, 2007

More S3

Posted in Commentary, OSX Software, OSX Technical at 10:54 pm by Michael Sweeney Media

The S3 adventure has been going great guns around here. Here are some notes from getting my Mac on two WAN connections so one is for my daily stuff and the other is for the uploads I’m always doing. This post was put up originally at pixelcorps.com where I also live for a while each day.

“”“” start of post “”“”“
I thought I should detail how I’m running dual WAN connections at my home office and why.

I have mentioned that I am using the Amazon S3 server farm to archive my critical data and not just images but key files like spreadsheets, PDFs etc. The cost is very cheap. For example, last month I archived 9 gig to the S3 servers and it cost me 98 cents.

So this type of backup is very dependent on your upload speed. My cable is 312 Kbps upstream but I was able to get DSL with an upload of 512 for twenty four bucks a month. So what I did was some research on what IP addresses Amazon was using for their S3 farm and some simple adding of routes to my Mac.

I should mention that I run OSX but Windows can do this but its a bit more effort. I added a couple of statements that look like this:

route -n add 207.171.0.0 192.168.1.254
route -n add 72.21.0.0 192.168.1.254

Now typically, I shy away from using whole ranges of IPs but in this case, AmazonS3 bounces around alot of them in a round robin which is good for load balancing but not so good for route statements. So you put in the subnet for the S3 servers and call it a day.

So now any packet destined for the 207.171.0.0 and 72.21.0.0 subnet will exit my Mac via the wireless to the DSL while my day to day stuff will continue to use my ethernet port and my cable connection.

Works well, in fact I have 500 meg or so going up right now as I type this post. Works great, lasts a long time.. assuming I put it all in a batch file or script that loads each time I boot up

So now I have a failover for my cable connection, a 2nd link for high speed uploads and a way to keep my uploads from screwing around with my downloads. All for the princely sum of 24 dollars a month in addition to my cable bill.

”“” end of post “”“

I should say that the new beta 2 of Snitch is way cool. They really made some cool improvements to the interface. Now you can get alot more detail and be more granular on the filters. The best feature is the network monitor that can be visible or not. You see the connection history and the activity on a graph or copy it to clip board with numbers.

September 21, 2007

Cheap Backups

Posted in Commentary, OSX Software, OSX Technical at 6:50 pm by Michael Sweeney Media

I was grateful the last few weeks that I had some good backups of my data and that I had it in several places. While I was at Photoshop World, I needed access to some of my PSD files for trying out some of the CS techniques in the evenings. So I went to VPN (I use Monowall as my firewall which supports PPP VPNs) into my iMac and nothing was on the other end. Hmmm says he… this is not good says I. So I had my better half be my eyes and hands and while the Mac would give the single bong, only a black screen met her eyes. So I had no access to the files on the iMac nor on the external HD attached to the iMac. But I had been testing using Amazon’s S3 servers to backup my phototshop files. I was able to get to them using Jungledisk and download several of the files I needed via my Sprint EVDO card (the stupid hotel wanted 15 bucks a day for internet).

Now the biggest issue with any online backup is performance and cost. I have been able to upload to Amazon’s S3 servers at the capped 500Kbps and my downloads have been typical of any high performance site. The cost? Well, to upload 3 gig of data and to download about 500 meg this month, cost me a grand total of 58 CENTS. Thats right, about half a buck plus cost of Jungledisk which was around twenty bucks for a licensed version. The FTP program Transmit now supports S3 servers so if I had waited just a few days, I could be piggybacked on my copy of Transmit but I’ve spent a lot more on a lot less over the years.

The same amount of data stored at GoDaddy would have cost me around $3.50 and Bingo would have cost about $4.00 so 58 cents is a deal and a half. The data on Amazon’s servers is in their normal production datacenters and it’s encrypted before it gets to the servers. So far as I know, there is not a size limit other than the pain of your wallet being emptied 🙂 A word to remember is “WebDAV” which is what all of this is based on. Also, Amazon has some fun reading materials and examples ready to go at the S3 Developers Connection.

Here is a very good piece at webpronews.com from Jeremy Zawodny, who is someone who replaced his home backup servers with Amazon’s S3

Here is Amazon’s own pricing model for S3 Storage

Storage
$0.15 per GB-Month of storage used

Data Transfer
$0.10 per GB – all data transfer in

$0.18 per GB – first 10 TB / month data transfer out
$0.16 per GB – next 40 TB / month data transfer out
$0.13 per GB – data transfer out / month over 50 TB

Data transfer “in” and “out” refers to transfer into and out of Amazon S3.
Data transferred between Amazon S3 and Amazon EC2 is free of charge

Requests
$0.01 per 1,000 PUT or LIST requests
$0.01 per 10,000 GET and all other requests*
* No charge for delete requests

Storage and bandwidth size includes all file overhead.

(Amazon S3 is sold by Amazon Web Services LLC.)

Amazon’s design behind their S3 service is very interesting in their approach. I really like the idea of lots of cheap servers with the intent they will fail frequently but they are so cheap to replace, it doesnt matter much. I know more than a few large scale networks that would do well to take some of these lessons to heart and forgo the very expensive solutions they have in place.

“Amazon S3 was built to fulfill the following design requirements:

* Scalable: Amazon S3 can scale in terms of storage, request rate, and users to support an unlimited number of web-scale applications. It uses scale as an advantage: Adding nodes to the system increases, not decreases, its availability, speed, throughput, capacity, and robustness.

* Reliable: Store data durably, with 99.99% availability. There can be no single points of failure. All failures must be tolerated or repaired by the system without any downtime.

* Fast: Amazon S3 must be fast enough to support high-performance applications. Server-side latency must be insignificant relative to Internet latency. Any performance bottlenecks can be fixed by simply adding nodes to the system.

* Inexpensive: Amazon S3 is built from inexpensive commodity hardware components. As a result, frequent node failure is the norm and must not affect the overall system. It must be hardware-agnostic, so that savings can be captured as Amazon continues to drive down infrastructure costs.

* Simple: Building highly scalable, reliable, fast, and inexpensive storage is difficult. Doing so in a way that makes it easy to use for any application anywhere is more difficult. Amazon S3 must do both. ”

September 17, 2007

Lessons of Windows

Posted in Commentary, OSX Software, OSX Technical at 6:36 pm by Michael Sweeney Media

Well, my iLife8 upgrade went much like my Windows upgrades. Half worked and the other half needed to be hacked into place . Not the typical high quality Apple style of software installation. Neither iPhoto worked right or iDVD. In fact, iDVD did not work at all.. just bounced a few times and that was it. No error message, no crash, no warning, nothing at all.

The iPhoto was more tricky since it appeared to work until I wanted to test the export function. Like it was not there at all. I mean, I could select it but zippo happened when I clicked. This one I had an idea about it and my idea was a conflict with one of the iPhoto plugins I use. This leads to a problem with Apple’s upgrade. They leave an open architecture for plugins, then they change it ALOT and never check or warn the user that the plugins need to be disabled. Most Apple users are clueless to what a plugin is or even where to go to change them. I didnt know where the iPhoto plugins are but I found a great link and blog entry on this very item at www.slivermac.com. They have some great directions there for fixing this problem. In my case, I deleted one of the new files from the upgrade by mistake so I had to use Pacifist to get the new file off the install DVD and put it back since reinstalling was not a good option.

So in about 30 minutes, I had iPhoto’s flickr plugin removed and a plugin from a FTP file archive script I had tried AND I replaced the old Apple FileExporter.iPhotoExporter plugin which conflicts with the new version called FileExporter2.iPhotoExporter plugin. Way to go Apple, this is typical of Mickysoft, not Apple.

Here is copy of the directions from silvermac.com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Just figured out another thing you can do (thanks Terence) – open Finder, go to Applications and right click on the iPhoto icon, then select Get info.

http://www.silvermac.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/08/disable.jpg

In the info window expand the plugins menu and disable the suspecting plug-in. Go one at a time, restart iPhoto and try export. Once you figured out which one is the troublemaker, select it and click Remove. Restart iPhoto and enjoy.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The iDVD was interesting, Google had a Apple support page on this right at the very top which tells me that there is whole lotta of borked iDVD apps out there. The end result was having to remove the old templates and reinstall them. I guess with the upgrade from 5 to 6 and now to 7 is too much for Apple to account for. My Mini which has only ever known version 6 upgraded just fine. My iMac which did the 5 to 6 shuffle borked on the 7 upgrade. A few minutes deleting the old templates and a few more putting them back off the DVD and life was good. Now, as a long time Windows sufferer, this was a pretty mild case of installationborking but to Apple users, more so the new switchers who have their heads filled with Apple perfection, this is not acceptable at all.

Here is a reprint of Apple’s directions to get iDVD working again.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Issue or symptom

iDVD ’08 may unexpectedly quit when opened for the first time, after installation.

Affected products:

iDVD ’08
Solution

Have your iLife ’08 installation disc nearby before performing the following steps.

Erase the following folders from your hard drive:
/Library/Application Support/iDVD/Themes/iDVD 1
/Library/Application Support/iDVD/Themes/iDVD 2
/Library/Application Support/iDVD/Themes/iDVD 3
/Library/Application Support/iDVD/Themes/iDVD 4

Erase the following folder from your home directory:
~/Library/Application Support/iDVD/Installed Themes
~/Library/Caches/com.apple.idvd
Note: The tilde (~) represents your home directory.

Reopen iDVD ’08, create a new project and wait for the Updating themes progress bar to complete before quitting the application again. You only need to do this once.
To Reinstall Themes 1-4:

Insert the iLife ’08 installation disc.
Open the iLife ’08 installer package.
In the Installation Type window, select Customize.
Expand the iDVD checkbox and make sure iDVD Extra Content is selected.
Deselect all other checkboxes and proceed with the installation.
or
Open iDVD ’08 and open a project.
Click Themes.
From the Themes drop-down menu, choose Old Themes.
Select any of the faded-out theme thumbnails.
Follow the onscreen instructions to install all of the themes originally erased by using Software Update or the iLife ’08 installation disc
~~~~~~~~~~

In my case, these directions worked perfectly and I now have a happy iDVD app again.

September 8, 2007

Home at Last

Posted in Commentary, OSX Software, OSX Technical at 10:46 pm by Michael Sweeney Media

Well, after five hours, two bottles of water, a large diet coke, one burger and one Starbucks triple shot , I’m home. The drive is not too bad unless it’s 105 in the shade and then it really sucks because some part of you will be in the sun and roasting even with the AC cranked up in the car. The good news was I missed the closing of the 91 freeway last night and the closing of the 15 today which would have really made the drive miserable.

My camera in my Razor takes better pictures than I give it credit for. I wanted some pictures of the large prints I have written about but the handlers of the George and Photoshop world were very fussy about people using their DSLR to take pictures of someone’s artwork. But the camera phone didnt seem to count as a real camera so here are some shots. Each of the prints were printed on an Epson printer using pigment inks. Each was made up from several images “stitched” together and then enlarged either using CS2/CS3 or one of the many enlarging applications such as Upsize, Genuine Factals, Blowup or Photozoom. George had an interesting slide where he compared four of the methods of enlarging next to each other. One of them was using Photoshop and not going in 10% increments but all at once. There was very little difference that we could see, very little difference. George did admit that in some circumstances, one of the aftermarket packages might work better but he is a big fan of Photoshop’s own Bicubic Smoother for upscaling an image.

large-prints1-resized.jpg

The giraffe print was made from 6 hand held shots.

large-print2.jpg

The long print in the foreground was of sunflowers and was amazing to see in person. As I said, each of these pictures were taken with my Razor camera phone. If I had an iPhone, they would have looked better but, I’m looking at getting one of those new and shiny iMacs instead.

In the same class, George made a point of the need to use profiled paper along with profiling your monitor. I happen to use a Huey which was mentioned to be adequate given the cheap price (around 100 bucks). Printer profiles are not that cheap but there are some online services that will profile any paper/ink you have for around 40 bucks.

http://www.lightflare.com

http://www.cathyprofiles.com

Are two that he mentioned by name and I personally have heard good things about cathyprofiles.com myself but I have never used them, yet.

George also went into some detail on mounting and presentation of large images. He is not a big fan of the normal frame and glass since it will cost soooo much and not always work well. He showed using a hanging method much like hanging drapes and he covered using canvas wrapped around a frame. Gatorboard was another recommendation. He also showed some techniques to add a 3D effect that looks like a cut grove in the matt around the print. Very effective at punching up the image.

Once I try it myself and get the details straight since it’s one of those things NOT in the book, I will post directions here.

A book I bought, I can not say enough good things about for anyone wanting to shoot studio style images on the cheap, very cheap even. Go get a copy of “Low Budget Shooting” and find a local kite shop supplier.

September 6, 2007

Photoshop World or My Brain is FULL

Posted in Commentary, OSX Software, OSX Technical at 4:02 pm by Michael Sweeney Media

It’s only day two of my trip to Photoshop world and my brain is completely full at this point. It’s really not fair to expect the common man (or woman) to absorb everything thrown at them over the period of three days. And even with the cool book of all the notes and slides, alot is said that never makes it into the book. I did two outstanding classes this morning. But before I go into that, I should mention that after my third round trip from the Luxor to the 2nd floor in the Mandalay Bay conference center, I’m beat. It is a long walk and the casinos are designed not to make it easier to get in and out. I have included a picture of the Luxor which is where I am staying since the next option was the MGM which is even further away. And remember, it’s 95 degrees at 10:30 pm so it’s not a real pleasant walk outside which means cutting through several casinos.

dsc-0019-luxor1.jpg

This is the registration desk for the Luxor and it gives the flavor of the place. The Bay is much nicer but also twice the price. Something to remember when you book your own visit next year.

Registration went quickly this AM given that there were so many of us. The lines opened at 7:00am and I got there at 8:30 and was out of the lines by 9. Buying the upgraded “Pro” package helped since I just had to get my nifty shoulder bag filled with goodies and leave.

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The line for us “Pros” was much shorter than the common folk 🙂

Anyways.. back to the classes. I did two classes as I mentioned, the first being taught by George Lepp and called “Pre Photoshop or Get it right from the start” What an amazing class chocked full of information. This was geared to the photographer who uses Photoshop as a tool just like the camera or a lens. George is a firm believer as I am, in getting as much right as possible in the camera and then using the best tool for the final tasks even if it’s not Photoshop. We went over shooting LARGE prints, like over 20 FEET long, panoramic, HDR and depth of field in large prints. We hit on using Photoshop Photomerge, Photomatix, Panaroma maker, different types of sensors and more. He gave a short but very lucid description on why megapixels are not created even since the sensor size is not the same across the board and why we should care. He covered how to clean a sensor without destroying it in the process and his pet peeve of people not using tripods. He demo’ed using a technique by a friend of mine, Jack Davis, which uses layers to make a cool HDR image which Jack calls “Blend If”. easy technique that took less than five minutes to make the HDR but I have to admit that Photomatix was very, very slick for making the HDR.

My second class was with Dave Cross, the crazy Canadian from Photoshop TV. He did a class called “Photoshop Finishing Touches” and was the poster child of stuff not making it into the notes since he is such a shy introvert, NOT!! He has a wicked sense of humor and is very entertaining to listen to and to watch. He can present a complicated subject in simple pieces and do without seeming to try. We covered enhancing your image with some “colour” punch (he claims the Canadians always put in a U in the word“ using LAB and not the typical RGB. Fast and effective is the best way to describe it. His quote on the idea of flattening your image is that ”flatting an image is the same as building legos with superglue“ so something close to that. And even then, it might not be his quote but he repeated in todays class. We went over how to darken edges of a print, how to make a gallery type of border with text and lines and more.

After that, I needed fuel and tried a burger and fries at the food court for 17 bucks.. I tossed the fries but the burger was not bad at all considering. Then it was off to the show. The shows are always fun and you can learn some cool stuff if you dig around. Now, these shows are NOT COMDEX or CES but small shows. Dont expect much more than a pen but you can get someone to talk your ear off about the newest Epson printer or a cool new RAID like device. I did get some great demos on the Epson R1400 which is the direct replacement for my trusty but tired 1280 and I’m seriously thinking about the R1800 which is a pigment based printer with glosser. Both are under 600, the R1400 is something like 350ish depending on where and when. Odd thing was Epson did not have much of their scanners there.

dsc-0031-show11.jpg

I did find a cool widget that looked like a RAID drive but could use any type of SATA drive in any combo. They had mixed 100 gig, 160, 250 gig drives at the same time and then ran a movie while they pulled drives, mixed in new drives and generally impressed the crowd. USB only which kinda of bites since I prefer firewire but it’s very interesting stuff. This thing or ”storage robot” is called “DROBO” and is from Data robotics, Inc in Mountain View CA. The price was about 450 minus drives but since you can buy SATA drives very cheap now days, it would be very easy to get a TB of data without the risk of spanning.

dsc-0034-raid1.jpg

Another very interesting show was called “Sitegrinder” which is a plugin for Photoshop that will let you build a website from within PS and have standards compliant code output. It looked to be very easy to use and I plan on grabbing the demo and trying it.

OnOneSoftware has some new way cool tools for Photoshop called “PhotoTools” and “PhotoTune 2” The tuning software was amazing to watch for anyone who has restored faded or color shifted images. Very fast and flexible. They also have a set of frames, 4,000 frames to be exact called “PhotoFrame 3.1” which was nice if you need frames and nowdays, frames are hot so you DO need them. Even if you dont think so yet 🙂

My friends at Lulu Press were there talking up their new site and photobook tools. They admitted to me that Blurb is driving them to expand their offerings which made sense since for the past year I personally have preferred Blurb for photobooks over Lulu even though I published my first complete book on Lulu.

And if I had the extra cash, I would run up to the Lepp Institute for some fine art printing instruction or some digital black and white. yes, the same Lepp who taught my first class today runs this school. Super teachers, very personal instruction and high quality expectations leads to building up your skills very quickly.

Anyways..; gotta run back for my 6pm class on “Printing Large” by George Lepp. Should be good a time.

September 5, 2007

Photoshop World Las Vegas Style 2007

Posted in Commentary, OSX Software, OSX Technical at 10:20 pm by Michael Sweeney Media

I made it, in spite of traffic, dismal weather and assorted ills, I made to Las Vegas to attend this years Photoshop World. I signed up for the Epson Print Academy pre-conference class and it was great. It was packed and I was talking to a PW rep who told me that the entire show had sold out which is around 4000-4500 seats total. Each class will be packed so arrive early and be prepared to sit “coach style”. The Epson class was taught by three outstanding instructors, Jeff Schewe, John Paul Caponigro and Andrew Rodney. And what a cast they are, lots of interplay and comments here and there which all add to the fun. The information came fast and furious and they had not given out the handouts we all expected. They did have most of the information on a website but I took notes anyways and I’m glad I did because of the information spoken about, was not on any hand out. Still, what is there is amazing in both quantity and quality. We did get the printed slides from all the other pre-conferences which covers layers, LAB in depth, Digital Photography Workshop, Channels and more. There were a couple of live shoot classes which I had not signed up for which is a good thing since I already had too much stuff to lug around. The rooms were nice enough as conference rooms go and many convention centers could take some lessons from the Mandalay Bay conference center. They really know how to pull these things together well. There is even a half way decent but over priced food court not too far from the classes. Of course, this all made my digs at the Luxor seem very dated and a bit worn. The Noodle House by the Casino makes an excellent Spring roll with sirloin and asparagus tips in the case you want some decent food on the way out at the end of the day.

epson-title.jpg

The class covered an amazing amount of material ranging from dealing with raw files to printing fine art. Jeff did a demo on how to optimize your print for inkjet printing and I was floored by the results and how he got them. I mean, he really fleshed out some ideas I had in my own head from my experiments and results like how much to sharpen for printing. And sharping vs. large prints vs. small prints. The demo where he sharped a print way beyond what we all thought was reasonable was a killer demo since at the end, he printed out the print and it looked spectacular. And he explanation of “why” made very good sense. Rodney covered a crash course in color management and why we should all care… alot about it. John covered fine art printing and the differences of the old skool thinking and new thinking of imagery and printing and photography. He really got you to think in a different ways if you listened with an open
mind to what he had to say. He also had an amazing action for setting up his raw images for multi-use with minimal fuss. Can we say A-R but he does make a twisted sense when you study what he says. To set up the layers grouped by global, local and printing folders so you very quickly adjust or change something is a very good idea.

The idea of using 25% zoom as the default viewing while sharpening is also a very good trick from Jeff. The demo on flipping color to B/W was very interesting since this is something I personally like to experiment with of late.

Funny thing was there was very little about Epson during all this. I mean, Jeff freely admitted that he does not buy ink and paper since Epson gives it all to him but there was very little “sales” during all the demos and lectures. So in a way it was very refreshing but I kinda wish for some hand outs on the new Epson printers and inks. I guess I can get all that tomorrow at the main show.

epson-fine-art.jpg

Sites to go to for good info are:

DigitalDog

Photoshopnews.com

Schewphoto.com

JohnPaulCaponigro.com (fine art)

August 30, 2007

It’s been a while

Posted in Commentary, OSX Software at 8:02 pm by Michael Sweeney Media

I have been neglectful of my blog but circumstances dictate this. But, we are back with a few items of interest. My PVR made from a Mini is working very well and I have included a picture of said PVR with the AppleTV.

pvr-resized.jpg

I stayed up to shoot a few images of the lunar eclipse a few days ago. I used some cool software called “FocusFixer” to clean up the images which were a bit soft even with the tripod. This software and LightZone have been my newest toys to play with and my standby of Photoshop. Here is an image of the moon with the elipse.

eclipse-2-resized-80.jpg

The only post processing was using FocusFixer and CS3 to adjust the exposure a bit. LightZone is fast becoming a favorite tool of mine to adjust my raw images. I mean, Lightroom is nice and all that but LightZone is just so easy to use and gives excellent results. Here is a picture I took inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and then adjusted using only LightZone. If you have not tried LightZone, you owe it to yourself to try it.

dsc-0120-lzn-v2-resized.jpg

AT&T made me a deal for a DSL connection that was hard to pass up. Twenty five bucks a month for 3Mbps/512Kbps using DSL. The cool part was the 2 minute install/configuration of the 2Wire modem that SUPPORTED OSX 🙂 About damn time someone decided to support Windoze and OSX. And it seems to be stable but I have not yet given up my cable modem for just DSL.

Other toys of late are 1Passwd for a secure locker of all my webpage passwords, Yojimbo for my collections of information and YEP for managing all my PDFs of which I have MANY.

I also will be at the Photoshop convention at Las Vegas next week along with a few thousand other Photoshop addicts 🙂 This has been the only thing keeping me sane these past few weeks between personal life issues and work.

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