The amazing team over at Origin PC custom-built me a new PC! I was soooooo excited to receive it! Here is my rather random and silly unboxing video. It’s probably the WORST unboxing video they have ever asked someone to do. But, nevertheless, I finally got it done and I absolutely love the system.
This machine is screamingly fast, and it was a great move to put my main Lightroom library on here. It’s great to have my ~800K photos all in one place with no external drives (except for backups). And the speed… the SPEED! It’s so fast that not even the sloppy programming of Adobe Lightroom can slow it down!
Here’s the 360 video of the unboxing (you can move the camera around). I’ll put the specs below!
There are over $2,500 worth of products for just $89. This year it includes two of my most awesome new video tutorials, one for total photography beginners and the other for drone newbies, who will quickly get addicted to this fun new form of photography and videography. Elsewhere in the 5DayDeal product, you’ll find courses on Lightroom, Photoshop, model photography, color grading, wedding photography and even zero gravity product photography. Seriously.
And if that isn’t enough, a portion of every sale goes to charity. Everyone wins!
Today’s photo is a good example from my new Lightroom Presets! Every night I was there, it was very rainy, so that gave me a good excuse to go out and explore. I spent most of my time in Shinjuku, mostly because of all the ambient light and Blade-Runner like signs.
Daily Photo – Another Rainy Night in Tokyo
One thing, in particular, I’ve noticed about Tokyo is their penchant for opaque umbrellas. I think this actually makes a lot of sense because the umbrella holder can see where they are going. I, myself, would also use an umbrella of this sort if I was not so busy taking photos of people using these sorts of umbrellas.
We recently added some new presets for Lightroom to our store. Get them right here. They are very fun presets that are quite cinematic. There are a ton of examples in there and more in the video below.
Daily Photo – Waiting in Shibuya for the Lights to Change
I hung out in Shibuya crossing for about 2 hours in the rain. It was great! There were so many cool outfits and interesting umbrellas to see. It was almost information overload and I could not figure out where to look next. The pauses were when people would stop at the intersection while waiting on the crosswalk. It was a lot less chaotic and it gave me a chance to find interesting subjects like this gal. I have since sent her the photo and she loves it!
Here’s a video I made showing an edit of a drone photo from Waiheke. I edited it using Aurora HDR 2018 and you can see a few little tricks in the video below!
Daily Photo – Little Girl in Okinawa
We didn’t get much beach time on Okinawa, even though the place is packed with beaches! Most of our time was spent in the inside parts of the island. Most Japanese think of the mountains and hills for vacation and not-so-much the beach. Anyway, as soon as we made it out here, I saw this cute little girl playing in the sand.
Some goodies coming up for our awesome Passport Members!
I’m back from Japan and ready to share a whale-load of videos, photos, and special behind-the-scenes stuff. If you are a Passport Member then you’ll get to see a whole new video here about my crazy workflow, juggling different photos, HDRing, Lightroom, and more. It is a bit of a frenzied process, as I am trying to crank out as many photos as possible in a compressed time. Anyway, that’s today’s Passport video below that will be automatically unlocked if you are a member!
Here’s a video of my somewhat crazy (but amazingly efficient) workflow now that I am back in the saddle of my studio. Apologies for the sound getting strange around the 10-minute mark! I think my mic is broken… or something. I just can’t figure it out. I’m using a pro Samson mic. Anyway, I’ll try to figure it out or get a new one!
As much as I don’t think any creatures should be in captivity, this was still pretty awe-inspiring. On the northern tip of Okinawa is a popular aquarium. I was asked to go take photos there even though I didn’t really want to. Sometimes in life, you gotta do stuff you don’t wanna do, right? Well, anyway, I showed up and tried to get the best photo I could. I wasn’t going to half-ass it just because I didn’t want to be there. So I put Tane and Olya up there right in front of the tank as the mighty beast swam past.
Today’s photo is brought to you courtesy of… drumrolll…. Trey’s Lightroom Presets. This is the package from last year that contains heaps of presets. I hope you have a great time with them! 🙂
Daily Photo – Day of the Dead in Arrowtown
Here are two of my friends in full regalia at Halloween. They really did it up, eh? I was going to go to this party dressed as a unicorn, but my wife told me that would be stupid because no one else would be in costume. I finally agreed, since I try not to make her mad. But then we got there and almost everyone was in costume. Oh well. Unicorn next year.
Today’s photo was a lot of (fun) work, and this time, I happened to capture everything on video. You get to see me running out from my studio from the backyard, taking the photo, AND the final screen casting as I work on the photo. And if you haven’t joined yet, please become a Passport Member to see all the goodies today!
Passport Exclusive – Epic Sunrise With the X1D
Today, not one but TWO videos… the first showing me getting the photo and the second showing the editing. Enjoy!
Of the two videos you saw above, you may recall that I was having A LOT OF TROUBLE trying to choose which one was my favorite. In the end, it was THIS one because I really like the warmth of the flowing grass fields here. Well, I kind of make up my mind then go back to other one, once again filled with self-doubt! 🙂
Pop over to the Lightroom Presets page to grab the new ones at half price… this only lasts 24 hours – it’s something special we do for everyone here on the blog! 🙂
Daily Photo – Another Epic Dinner in Dubai
I’ve eaten at some really beautiful places in Dubai… I spend half the time eating and the other half taking photos. This is a very loungey-kinda-place around a pool. The pool helps keep everything a little bit cool, so you’re not always sweating out the wazoo!
Roughly 18 months ago I partnered with the amazing team at Macphun to develop an entirely new HDR software tool called Aurora HDR. I worked closely with them to include all of the features I felt was missing from Photomatix, Lightroom and other tools in my quiver. Since it’s release over 1.5million people have downloaded it. I’m blown away! Thank you for believing in us!
Aurora HDR 2018 is now available for both Mac AND Windows! Make the switch now.
Lightroom 6 Unreview
This sensational blog post is brought to you by Trey’s Lightroom Presets, which are mega awesome and were made by Trey, the guy writing this in the third person that thinks these presets will bring you happiness and enlightenment on your deathbed.
I’m a huge fan of Lightroom, but this HDR addition is mega lame. Mega Lame Dot Com.
I’ll also talk about some of the other big additions, which everyone seems to rave about without hesitation. I’m actually fascinated by the internet and how Adobe can make the slightest little change or improvement that should have been there several years ago, and everyone goes nuts like Moses has found a third tablet with five new commandments. I think actually there may be a hidden Adobe commandment that says, “Thou shalt cripple Lightroom so more plebeians must buyeth Photoshop.”
But first, since everyone probably wants to know about the new HDR functionality, we’ll get started with that. I’ve been doing HDR stuff for about 8 years and used just about every product. Every day I put up a new image here on the blog… so that’s 365 images a year, most of which have some element of HDR in them. It all started a long time ago with the HDR Tutorial, which I continue to update.
About 3 or 4 years ago I switched from Aperture to Lightroom and I never looked back. I really do love Adobe Lightroom and even made an Organize Your Photos! video tutorial here to show how I use it.
Here’s five of my favorite HDR images so you can see the kind of work I like to do. My work is not for everyone, and if you don’t like it, what you don’t realize is that I’ve already ignored you even before you’ve thought about it.
New HDR in Lightroom
In short, here are the three things I’ve found (I expand on each one below):
The results are a bit boring (often, quite boring)
There are absolutely no options for you to adjust the intensity of the HDR image. Even more surprising is the resulting new image has many siders pre-moved (including the highlight slider completely to the left), meaning there is little or no more recovery there.
Try This Yourself and try not to type #WTFAdobeHDR
It appears that you could save time by simply taking the middle exposure, dropping the highlights, and amping up the shadows. And by save time, I mean up to several minutes. I have a fast computer and using the HDR Merge on Lightroom is is pretty slow. If you just move THREE sliders on the middle exposure, you appear to get the exact same result in 2 seconds.
Tell me if I’m crazy; tell me if I’m wrong. I mean, I’m not, and I won’t listen to you anyway, but feel free.
Here’s the new image that is created after merging in Lightroom HDR. You’ll see those three sliders on the right, each of which are automatically moved for you during the process. This took about 30 seconds on a Really Fast Computer.
Here’s one I made from the middle exposure in 2 seconds by simply moving those three sliders myself.
I’ve been scratching my head trying to figure out why they made something so underwhelming. Personally, I don’t want to have to use another tool in the process… I know the people at Adobe are smart, but I’m actually confused how such a big team can take so long to make something so uninteresting. The team at Nik made a great HDR product in a small portion of the time. The team at Photomatix made something better than Adobe many years ago (and way way faster).
It’s actually surprising to me that a big company is so far behind these small companies. Why didn’t they just buy Photomatix and get their uber-fast and much-more-interesting algorithms? I don’t own any of Photomatix, btw… but just wondering about the decision processes of Adobe. They do a lot of strange stuff, but I figure this is because many decisions are made by committee, and this is why we never see a statue of a committee.
Lackluster HDR Results
When processing the photo, there is literally ONE option to adjust the look of your photo, which is “Auto-Tone.” That is basically ZERO options. And I don’t even know why it is an option, because if it is not selected, your photo does not get HDR’ed! It’s like having a Gaussian Blur dialog with a checkbox inside that says “Gaussian Blur.”
I’ve tried about 10 different images in there. I toggle on and of the “Auto-Tone” image and I haven’t been impressed once. Again, I can get the exact same result by just moving those three sliders on the middle image.
The Before Shot
The HDR Results from LR
One of 20 different results from Photomatix
Like, why not have Presets with lots of options? Pretty much all modern filter programs out there have presets now with little thumbnails. Maybe you’ve seen the awesome MacPhun Intensify stuff for example? Honestly, it’s not that hard to do, and Adobe could have made some Very Interesting HDR Presets that could give you a lot of different looks.
For example, here’s a screenshot of Photomatix featuring some of the Vaingloriously Named Trey Ratcliff’s Photomatix Presets. These are recommended by 2 out of 3 doctors.
How presets look in Photomatix
Slow HDR Boat to China
I’m not gonna write much about this other than to say that in my 10 tests, it was always quite slow. It averages 30-80% slower than Photomatix. Maybe I’m just used to speedy Photomatix or other fast tools like MacPhun.
I have a fast Macbook Pro and I have used Lightroom to HDR merge many times. On average, for 3 RAW photos (each one 36 megapixels), it took 17 seconds to get into the dialog and then an additional 10 seconds after clicking merge. For 5 RAW images, it took 44 seconds to get into the dialog and an additional whopping 104 seconds after clicking merge.
Compare that with Photomatix (see my Photomatix Review) with the exact same photos. For 3 photos, it took 10 seconds to get into the dialog and then 4 seconds to process. For 5 photos, it took 16 seconds to get into the dialog and 5 seconds to process. That’s an amazing savings of over two minutes. TWO MINUTES DOT COM. (sorry I’ve been doing robot-voice lately).
I think one reason it is slow is because it’s converting everything to DNG first. So maybe if you’re already DNG it will be faster… personally I don’t covert to DNG. This is another topic… people ask my why I don’t convert. My short answers are: 1) It takes quite a bit longer during import. 2) In practice.I don’t really see the size savings as being material. 3) I’m not worried about my RAW photos going obsolete, and just in case they do, I can convert to DNG in 5 years or whatever when my computer is 50x faster.
Here’s another surprise (the hits keep on comin’!). After the photo has been HDR processed, you’ll notice that the sliders have been pre-slid for your pleasure.
Maybe some of you know about the Photoshop “Merge to HDR” functionality. Now, I’m not really a fan of that either. However, there is one good feature that I was SURE Lightroom would include. In Photoshop, when you drag in a bunch of images for HDR, you still get a lot more control over the shadows/highlights and this sort of thing. Yes, you can add some gradients and adjustment brushes in LR, but it’s not on the surface. Even when I do that, I’m not seeing any more recovery.
And when you compare the HDR functionality in Photoshop to Lightroom, again, there is no comparison. At least the Photoshop one gives you some options to tweak out the intensity or variety of the effect. The only options the LR version gives you is around the ghosting.
Good stuff about the New Lightroom
It seems generally faster. Their marketing speak is “up to 10 times faster” which could mean literally anything (like the Help dialog loads 10 times faster whereas the curves tool is 1.2 times faster). But I do notice one of my biggest pet peeves is way faster — the crop tool. Before, when I would make a lot of changes to a photo, it was extremely sluggish during the crop.
Also there is a panorama merge, so that is handy for quick panos or people that want to only live life in LR. I still use Autopano because it is more powerful and lets me do HDR panoramas.
There are other features that I don’t use like facial recognition and advanced video slideshows. There are also some updates to mobile, but I don’t use those much, if at all.
What I wish they had added
Even though I love Lightroom, I find Adobe to be a frustrating company. It’s so obviously that they purposefully cripple Lightroom so people will keep using Photoshop.
A really good example is the content-aware healing brush. It’s Really Amazing in PS, and the spot-removal tool in LR is just not good enough. It’s literally Very Easy to add into LR, but they don’t do it.
Another good example is layers. Layers would not be that difficult to add (especially with their team of engineers that are using their time instead by working on such killer features as “Advanced Video Slideshows”).
I’d also like to see better catalog control and organization. I have it figured out, but it’s inscrutable to many people. I can’t tell you how many people, especially beginners, are super-confused about how to manage your LR catalog, especially if you travel and you have too many photos for one computer or drive.
Obviously the thing THEY were most excited about was the HDR functionality. All their marketing material and blog posts begin with this amazing announcement. But it’s by far one of the most underwhelming features.