5K iMac first impressions

Well, the iMac has been delivered and I have been busy carefully building up my system. I do not like to use Migration assistant, rather I freshly install whatever I really need. First: the screen is really gorgeous!! Sharp, crisp, which is clear in e.g. the Lightroom lettering. Good for my eyes. Also the color space is notably larger. I took a picture of a red tulip field I made last spring and you can see the difference on the 27″ Thunderbolt Display (now ‘old’) left and the new retina iMac right.

right the new 5K iMac

I have now all my old and new libraries on the 3 TB Fusion drive ready for use. Over time I may transfer old libraries to external storage. I just finished generating high res Previews, which really speeds up Lightroom (Other tips for speeding up LR can be found at many places).

5K iMac

My end-2009 iMac is about to retire after six years of service and so I am selecting a new one. Of course it has to be again a 27″ screen and optimized for my photography purposes.

The retina resolution will allow a much larger part of my RAW images to be visible in 1:1 mode. The iMac retina screen is 5120 x 2880 pixels and my D800 images are 7360 x 4912 pixels maximum.

I will choose the Skylake i7 4.0 GHz CPU as the engine. Graphic processor the M390 seems a good choice for processing all these pixels. The maximum power M390X chip seems for gaming and getting too expensive. This package will be over 3000,- euro.

I’ll take the 3GB Fusion Drive. This allows me to have master copies of all my image libraries directly available. Of course backups on external hard disks.

I want 32 GB RAM but not for Apple prices. I take the standard 8 GB RAM and buy 4 x 8 GB of OWC memory for about 325,- : savings: 400 euro!!!!

Add to this Apple Care and the bill will be around 3500,- euro. My most expensive computer to date, but also the most capable. I can’t wait.


Travel and storage II

In my previous post I underestimated my storage needs with at least 50%. So, I now estimate to need at least 200 GB for master and another 2 x 200 GB for two backups. Add another 3 x 50 GB for my partner. I designed a backup strategy as follows (orange coloured: to be bought)


So the system hinges on a Macbook Pro with 4 external HDDs and a card reader (and a spare card reader). This allows to have a master collection as well as 2 additional copies, of which one will be located in another suitcase. In addition, one HDD is used as a clone of the MBP, so in case of a drive failure in the laptop the system can be booted from this drive. The whole system will be tested in the field in the months coming up to the trip.

Travel and storage

Next year we are planning a trip to Iran. An important issue is sufficient card storage and backups. I want 2 backups, so 3 copies in total of each image file. I will shoot Raw originals stored on a CF card and jpg’s on the second SD card. The jpg’s are meant for quick upload to iPad to check results and show people to get a good atmosphere. I bought the Lightning- SD card cable just for that.

Assuming about 100 Raw images a day, going for about 3 weeks I need about 20 x 100 x 50 MB = about 100 GB primary storage for my D800! Making 2 separate backups means another 2 x 100 GB must be available.

For de jpg about 1/5 of this is enough, so 20 GB. So for the jpg’s I just have the 64 GB SD card. That should suffice. They will be backed up on the iPad, where I have 30 GB space available.

Ok, so now I know what I need. Next question is how I am going to organize this. I prefer 2x 32GB cards over 1 64 GB, but price is much better on 1 64 card. I always buy the Sandisk Extreme Pro cards. I also prefer to empty my card and format it in-camera before the next day. More clear working that way and faster upload to LR. Then, do I need 64 GB? One day will be about 5 GB, so that is enough for 13 days without formatting. But there might be days of 15 or 20 GB, not to mention any video (which is standard stored on the SD card). I may not be able to upload my images to laptop or HDD for a few days. So yes, better go for the 64 GB card. I have my present 16 GB CF card as spare.

Initially, I was reluctant to bring my MacBook Pro (3,5 years old) on the trip for fear of being stolen and the hassle at airports. So I checked stand alone solutions, like the Nexto ND 2901 image tank. This device has a card reader for all cards, a HDD and a USB port for attaching another drive. Perfect for my needs. However, the price for a 1 TB version is about 320 euro. That is close to second hand value of my MacBook Pro :(
It is hard to believe that there isn’t a Chinese manufacturer that can deliver for say 100 euro.

Anyway, I decided to bring my laptop with 2 external hard drives + a CC clone drive.This has the added benefit that I can do all the importing into LR already on location. I’ll start a fresh library for on the road and leave all present stuff at home. More about this later. One hard drive will be stored in the baggage of gf.

The 64 GB cards I will buy close to departure time as prices are continuously falling. I’ll bring also a spare card reader.


Yes, it’s official! I will have my first (and hopefully not last) exhibition next spring. Theme: landscapes. I will certainly include the recent b&w beach series, which I am still expanding. Below another example from that series. I am passionate about this series for 2 reasons: first it reflects memories from childhood when I spend many days at the beach with my grandmother, who lived not far from the coast. Second, it shapes my dreams about space, light, land, sea and sky: about the earth. After all, I am a geologist by training.
I’ll keep you posted on the exhibition preparations: selection, prints, frame choice, size, etc.


Black & White

I love black and white photography. I grew up with analog b&w so I guess it got firmly entrenched in my brain. The photos I made in the north of the country along the beach and dunes over there were made with b&w in mind during the shoot. Luckily my favorite print shop Profotonet just got a new fancy black and white printer with 7 grey inks promising a beautiful tonal range. I was very happy with the result. The photo fulfilled my intentions. Deep blacks, beautiful greys and whites. Judge for yourself. This photo is part of a series which you can find back on my web site www.arthurreijmer.com/holland


Aspect Ratio

Lately I have become a bit more flexible with the aspect ratio. At first I couldn’t separate myself from the 3:2 ratio, and I still like that the best, but I found that for portraits it leads often to ‘empty’ space which did not contribute to the image. I do not mean functional “negative space” but just superfluous real estate.
So I am experimenting with 1:1 and 5:4. The serie i am making now of people on the square in front of the railway station is very suitable for learning the artistic impact of different aspect ratios. This photo was cropped to 1:1, the diagonal playing an important role in the composition.


Background and foreground

One of the tell tale signs of a more experienced photographer is his choice of background. In particular with travel portraits, to get the background right greatly improves a portrait photo. I have done that wrong (trees, poles, what have you coming out of heads, etc) many times before slowly improving. The main reason is that a beginner is so caught up with the portrait itself that he or she completely forgets about the background. Yet it is crucial. Recently I made an impromptu portrait of a lady in the downtown area, where the background is always messy. I noted the dark slabs of granite used to clad the supporting columns of a skyscraper and I used that as background (see photo). The portrait now ‘pops’ .


There are many pixel-perfect landscape photographs of amazing scenery. The right moment (light) and leading lines. However, often I feel something is missing, but I didn’t know what. The answer is simple: a foreground. Many of these photos are fantastic backgrounds without a foreground. Why? Because it is so hard to get a great landscape AND a compelling foreground. So if you see such a combination, it’s a winner.


While i was working on my photos of flowering tulip fields and other typical Dutch low lands scenery, I stumbled again about the usage of the verb edit in photography. I am not a native speaker. I have the following phases when I come home with flash card(s) with photos:
        1.        storage: images are uploaden to backup(s) and imported in photo application (e.g. Lightroom); LR DNG files and catalog are also back upped,
        2.        Raw selection: the files are put in a collection and checked for total failures. These are deleted completely, not wasting unnecessary space,
        3.        Rating: I start rating = selecting by giving 1-5 stars. Lately, I abandoned a fine-grained selection and rather give 3 stars, meaning good/maybe and 4 stars meaning very good. I find this selection process difficult, I talk about that in another post.
        4.        The four star pictures are further processed in LR and sometimes PS, during which phase more photos drop out of the race.
        5.        The final images are set in a separate collection (called ‘select’) synced to mobile and distributed or uploaded elsewhere. Typically this is a ‘long list’ of 5-10% and a short list of 1% of the original set.
Which of these phases can be called editing and/or post-processing I do not know exactly.
How would you describe these activities?



What can be more Dutch than tulip fields? I feel a pity for the tourists that dream of seeing the tulip fields in full bloom: it requires either careful logistics and timing or luck. The flowers bloom ‘somewhere’ in spring for a short period, depending on the weather.Can be easily missed. Fortunately, there are the gardens specially for tourists, but nothing beats the real thing. I was lucky. Going for low-countries landscapes i found myself amidst millions of flowering tulips. Challenge: how not to photograph cliché postcard style photographs. Not having a helicopter, i choose the wide-angle option: on my knees in between the flowers, hoping to give a sense of being surrounded by flowers. I also did the more conventional pictures, all with wide angle and fairly high f stop. I started with f/8 and ended with f/16. Light was abundant.
If you really go for it, rent or borrow a ladder. I noticed that being at 1 or 2 meters high is probably the best. Next time.