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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

Editing

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?

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Fuzzy water

A benefit of the Internet is the easy distribution of knowledge. This applies strongly to photography, as this is truly an international activity. This benefit has its flip side. Take the technique to make moving or falling water look smooth and soft by choosing a long shutter speed and small aperture. This ‘trick’ made it to all the “tips and tricks” lists (click bait) and now it seems that every beginning photographer thinks this is a ‘rule’. But more often than not, it ruins an otherwise fine photograph and instead of a ‘pro’ quality it gives the picture a cheap “Bob Ross” quality. In my view, the movement of waves, drops or streaming water or a waterfall gives the picture a dynamic character: nature (and physics) in action! There must be a clear vision or intent to blur this dynamism and give it a soft, painterly atmosphere. For instance, for a model shoot it may work well as it is in line with the softer, rounder shape of a model. I vote for the return of crystal clear waves, droplets, waterfalls.

Photos

And I do not mean photographs, but Apple’s new photo management software. Since half a year I work in Lightroom + PS. I wanted to change for quite a while, since Aperture was clearly left to die. I liked Aperture and was comfortable using it, but lack of upgrades, lens correction and other functionality made me eye for LR. So when Apple announced Photos to replace Aperture last year I made the changeover to LR. I did not massively transferred all my old stuff to LR libraries or catalogs. No use in doing so. I took only the best photographs to import into LR and left 3 large Aperture libraries (700, 200 and 150 GB) and 1 iPhoto waiting for the new Photos app. Obviously the Photos app is not for professionals or prosumers, but it is fast, clean and optimized for new hardware and software. I created one small active library for casual pictures, family and friends shots and the like. I do not want that sort of pics to clutter my LR collection. As a bonus, it is directly copied to the cloud. Photos calls this the system library. The other 4 libraries I converted to Photos without a hitch. I renamed them and made a copy of each as backup, making sure that there are always two copies on two different hard drives. An improvement for the future is to have also a copy in the cloud. I removed all old Aperture and iPhoto libraries. On my laptop, where my main LR activity takes place with a few external drives, I removed also iPhoto and Aperture to free up as much space as possible on my limited SSD of 250 GB. I have still Photos of course.
That completed my transfer. I expect Photos to become better in functionality in the future, but since I work with LR now, I am not bothered. Back to photography!

The flood of photography information

The daily amount of information on photography on the Internet is astonishing. Almost 200 years of photography combined with practically the whole world population making pictures generates an enormous amount of information on gear, tips, tricks, etc. A beginning enthusiast photographer can easily drown in so much information, it can become a full time job reading online articles and you never touch a camera. Rigorous selection is required. If you just bought a nice camera there is no need to keep on reading every camera review. If you are ambitious, focus on the most difficult aspect of photography: seeing the shot, expressing your view on the world, being creative. Be aware that most, if not all, “10 tips for xxxx photos” or “how to make xxxx photos like a pro” are simply click bait. You do not really believe yourself that what a dedicated professional costs many years to accomplish you will learn by just reading tips and tricks. So, being selective and knowing what you want are important presets for successful absorption of other people’s experience. Next time more how I try to build a sustainable learning loop.