Categories
Photography

The old Nik Collection is still free

After the sunset, edited in Silver Efex Pro 2

Nik Collection 4.0 was announced recently but comments here say that if you have a previous version it always shows an update warning that can’t be turned off.

Within a couple weeks of usage, I received the on-screen notification when launching the software below telling me to update. However, clicking on that “Install Now” button neither downloads nor installs a software update but instead, takes me back to the DxO website and prompts me to purchase brand new software.

If you’re curious, the original Nik Collection that was made free by Google in 2016 still works. You can grab it on Mac and Windows from this page at archive.org.

Categories
Tech

Google Photos ends free storage tomorrow

That photo taken today is a helicopter rotor

Google Photos will start counting your uploads against a storage limit from tomorrow. Make sure you upload anything you’ve been meaning to upload in the next few hours!

Also go into your shared albums and click the “Save photos” button if you want “local” copies of any photos shared with you.

I’m sticking with Google Photos. The ease of sharing photos and AI search make it worth while, but I will be disabling automatic upload off my phone. I take too many snapshots that I don’t care enough about to pay for them.

Categories
Photography

Pick your best photos faster

James Popsys explains how he picks the best photos from his shoots. Video is pre-pandemic. It’s refreshing to hear someone mention going out to photograph and not mention social distancing.

  • “In the field” shoot a black image if you see “the one” that works.
  • In Lightroom import your photos immediately. Do not sort and choose when you get home.

He uses stars in Lightroom. In the first round he awards up to three stars:

  • Single star – photo must be interesting and sharp (in the right places)
  • Another star – does the composition work?
  • Another star – is it exposed correctly?

For the second round, he only shows photos that have two stars or more. So that should show photos that are interesting and sharp, and either composition works or exposed correctly. In this round he changes composition by cropping and/or fixes exposure. Should have a few more three star photos.

At this point he’ll do more editing, and the best photos get another star. The very best get five stars.

I’m blogging this because I’ve had this video open in my browser tabs for months, meaning to try out this technique but I learn a process like this better if it’s written down. Hope it helps somebody!

Categories
Photography

Howto sync recent photos in Lightroom Classic

Lightroom Classic comes with 20GB of space on Adobe’s cloud service (Lightroom CC/Web/app) but did you know that you can sync photos to the cloud and then edit them on your phone without using that space?

The original photos are not synced, but a smaller cut down smart preview is which in most cases will be indistinguishable from the original.

If you create a collection all the photos in that collection can be synced with the cloud. They’ll appear as an album of the same name in the Lightroom app on your phone or iPad. They also won’t take up any of that valuable 20GB of space.

Unfortunately Adobe won’t allow you to sync smart collections, and I presume that is intentional for whatever reason. However, with the help of the Any Source plugin you can configure it to sync smart collections with the cloud. This very handy plugin syncs the smart collection with a dumb collection that can then be synchronised.

I use it to synchronise the following smart collections:

  • Published photos.
  • Unpublished photos.
  • Photos on my TODO list.
  • Recent Photos from the last 3 months.

The plugin has a free trial but is PWYW and well worth paying for!

Syncing my recent photos with the cloud is simple.

  • Create a smart collection.
  • Call it “Recent Photos”.
  • Add one rule: “Capture Date” “is in the last” 3 “months”.
  • Save.

That will create your new smart collection. Now follow the instructions to synchronise smart collections on the Any Source homepage. It might take a few minutes for the album to appear in mobile Lightroom but it will eventually.

Categories
Photography

HOWTO: Square Instagram images with white borders

I noticed that a lot of Instagram users, such as Alan Schaller to name but one, were posting images with thick white borders to make their images into the square images that Instagram favours. I like the striking look these images have in the Instagram gallery.

I wondered for some time about the best way of adding this border and from brief searches there are apps that will add the border but my workflow involves Lightroom so I wanted to integrate the border making into my export process.

I work on a Mac, and already have ImageMagick installed so I knew a little shell scripting would probably go a long way.

A couple of searches later, and I found this page describing how to use ImageMagick to create a floating image within a square canvas without changing the aspect ratio of the image.

Instagram resizes to 1080px wide so by using the following code I could make a rectangular image into a square:

convert -background white -gravity center input.jpg \
     -resize 1080x1080 -extent 1080x1080 result.jpg

Here’s an example from my street photo today. See it on Instagram here.

Once I could do that, the rest was simple. I have a Lightroom export for Instagram images that resizes them and places them in a folder where they are synced automatically with my phone using Syncthing.

Export actions have a “post processing” section where Lightroom can call an external script. I created the following script, made it executable with chmod a+x add_instagram_border.sh and added to Lightroom using “Open in Other Application”.

#!/bin/sh

# Square and add white borders to images.
# https://odd.blog/

for i in "$@"
do
    /usr/local/bin/convert -background white -gravity \
        center "$i" -resize 1080x1080 -extent 1080x1080 \
        /tmp/out.jpg
    mv /tmp/out.jpg "$i"
    open "~/Sync/Instagram"
done

The script goes through the exported images from Lightroom, adding borders to them, and then at the end opens the folder in Finder for review.

Hopefully this will be useful to someone else. If you add borders to your images, how do you do it?

Categories
Photography

No need for camera straps on the ISS

The astronauts living on the International Space Station are in a microgravity environment, so no chance a camera will fall to floor. Just leave it next to you until you need it again!

‘Course you might need velcro to keep the camera stuck to a surface for the same reason. Gravity won’t keep it down but air currents in the station will blow it around.


From the NASA live stream of the Dragon 2 capsule that has just docked with the ISS.


Selfies are easy too. 🙂
Categories
Photography

Lightroom: spot heal bug after DNG conversion

I discovered a bug in Lightroom!

If you apply the spot heal tool to an area in a RAW file (in this case, a Sony ARW one) and convert it to lossy DNG the spot heal will become a pink square. It’s easily fixed by applying the spot heal again but of course this shouldn’t happen.

While on the subject of Lightroom bugs, a long time ago I also noticed that the Transform tool acted differently on the compressed DNG version of a photo compared to the RAW (CR2) version. Hopefully that’s been fixed because that was a couple of years ago and I’m sure someone else has noticed by now ..

Categories
Photography

Sony a7iii: AEL in Manual Mode

One of the Facebook groups I’m part of is Sony a7iii/a7riii setup Tips. It’s a relatively quiet group but it’s chock full of great tips for Sony’s latest cameras.
One of those tips was posted yesterday and Daniel Ockeloen, the group administrator, made a video of it which I have embedded above.

In manual mode, the AEL button can be used to maintain the exposure while you change settings. With AEL activated changing the shutter speed will change the aperture and vice versa. In effect it’s the same as going back to Aperture or Shutter Priority modes but it does allow more flexibility since AEL can be deactivated and you get full manual control again, with the same exposure.

Do other cameras do this? My Canon 6D doesn’t. Apparently Pentax cameras have a hyper-manual mode which operates in much the same way, but others have been saying for a long time that manual mode is manual mode and you don’t need auto exposure.

Categories
Ireland

CervicalCheck Protest in Cork

More than 800 people marched through Cork on Saturday to protest the CervicalCheck scandal where 209 smear tests were misread and 18 women have died already.

Terminally ill Emma Mhic Mhathúna appeared at a protest today in Kerry.

In a poignant protest in Tralee town centre on Monday evening, the very day that she was told that her cancer has spread even further to her vertebra, Emma, in a moving and emotional speech, said that she would continue to fight for reform of the health service. 
“I am sick of being treated like nothing. Our health is the last thing that these people care about. The Dáil needs to realise that if they are going to take responsibility for our lives they better do it well or they need to be fired,” she told the crowd. 
“I promise my death won’t go unnoticed. I will make sure that they pay for what they have done to every single family in Ireland, whether you are on a waiting list too long or whether you are not being treated fair. Tell them you’re my friend and I’ll come and sort them out.”
“I can’t save my life but at least I can save yours and your children’s lives.” 

https://www.independent.ie/regionals/kerryman/news/kerry-stands-together-in-solidarity-as-emma-faces-death-sentence-36910803.html
Categories
Photography

Bye Bye Google Backup & Sync

I’m a huge fan of Google Photos. It’s an amazing service that lets me quickly share photos with particular people, creates interesting images from my photos and it’s a convenient way to bring my photo archive with me on my phone.

Evening in Cork City

However, the new “Backup & Sync” app from Google that replaced the old uploader is problematic.

As well as uploading my photos to Google Photos it would backup to Google Drive. I don’t care about this feature because I use Backblaze for backups. I didn’t really realise what this meant when I first installed the app.

Slieve Liag

I told it to sync my “2018” folder and it dutifully started backing up to Google Photos but I soon noticed that the storage used in my Google account was decreasing. Eventually I found the computers section of Google Drive. All my files were backed up there.

It appears that “Don’t sync to this computer” doesn’t mean “don’t sync this computer to Google Drive”. However it does mean that any files deleted in the synced “Computers” section of Google Drive will be deleted locally. I found this out when I tried to save some storage space by deleting files off Google Drive. Later that day I fired up Lightroom and it reported that a large number of files were unavailable. I opened the folder in Finder only to see the images magically disappear before my eyes.

It was “Backup & Sync” deleting my local files. It was syncing deletes “to this computer”. Thankfully the files were still in the Trash so I could restore them quickly.

Cork City Hall in the fog

So, instead of wasting my storage I need to upload things manually. I see two options:

  • Drag and drop files on to a Google Photos browser window.
  • Sync one temporary folder where I copy duplicates of my photos. I need to periodically delete those files off Google Drive which won’t matter locally because they’ll be duplicates that are deleted immediately after upload.
Grand Parade under construction in 2007

It’s disappointing that Google merged the backup and sync functionality. Google Photos is not a backup service unless you pay for storage and upload full size images. For that reason I can see why they did it.