Lightroom 4 Beta Update

I really want to download and install the beta testing version of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4. For those not in the know, a beta release is not the official finished version of a piece of software, rather it's a test copy released while the programmers are still working to perfect the final version. This way they can get it into the hands of users who will provide valuable feedback, but it can also be a good way to get users hooked on your software so that they eventually purchase it, because once the final version is released the beta copies stop working. Anyway, I love testing new software especially when it's something I use everyday—and I definitely use Lightroom every day. But I can't bring myself to download this beta copy because I can't risk using a program that's going to crash, or one that has who knows how many bugs yet to be worked out. (Sure, I could download it and use it just for fun alongside the fully functional version of Lightroom 3 I rely on, but the reality is I simply wouldn't.) I want to use one program, and I really want it to work. So that puts me impatiently on the sidelines waiting for the full version's eventual release. Until then, though, my curiosity is piqued and I'm dying to know what sorts of features and improvements are waiting for me. Thankfully Peter West Carey just wrote about his experiences testing Lightroom 4 at the DPS web site. He's framed it with a simple premise: will it have enough improvements to justify upgrading? His verdict is yes, but for the breakdown of the features that are pretty nice improvements, I'll refer you to Peter's story directly.

http://www.digital-photography-school.com/will-lightroom-4-be-worth-the-upgrade-cost
DPMag
I really want to download and install the beta testing version of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4. For those not in the know, a beta release is not the official finished version of a piece of software, rather it's a test copy released while the programmers are still working to perfect…

Kodak's Quiet Bankruptcy

I wasn't going to write about Kodak's bankruptcy because I decided it had been well-covered, and so I didn't think I had anything particular to add to the story. But then it occurred to me: that a photography writer writing for a photography blog of a photography magazine might consider the bankruptcy of the ultimate titan of the photographic industry, a name synonymous in many ways with the very act of taking pictures, not worth writing about… Well this is, in fact, a noteworthy story in itself. And maybe that's why Kodak has suffered so much in recent years. Irrelevant is certainly a strong word for such an icon, but maybe that's the best word for the company's presence in the photo world of late. Unless you're a film photographer—in which case, quite obviously, the big yellow box is still very relevant—Kodak simply isn't as omnipresent in the minds of photographers today the way it was just a short decade ago. The Canons and Nikons of the world have certainly garnered their share of well-deserved attention for the last few decades, but it's telling that in the digital era names like Epson and Adobe and Lexar have largely replaced Kodak on the tips of most photographers' tongues. I sincerely hope that Kodak can continue to operate through its bankruptcy reorganization, and come back stronger, and more relevant, than ever. Because I think all of us would agree that the photographic landscape is simply much better with Kodak in it. And I think that's for way more than sentimental reasons.

http://www.robgalbraith.com/bins/content_page.asp?cid=7-11673-12278
DPMag
I wasn't going to write about Kodak's bankruptcy because I decided it had been well-covered, and so I didn't think I had anything particular to add to the story. But then it occurred to me: that a photography writer writing for a photography blog of a photography magazine might consider…

SOPA And Photographers' Rights

All the discussion about SOPA last week (you know, the protests of the Stop Online Piracy Act that blacked out a lot of sites for 24 hours in order to give us an idea of what the internet might be like if we stopped the free flow of content) was sort of uncomfortable for me. On the one hand, I love the Internet just the way it is, but on the other—and this is big—as a commercial photographer my livelihood depends on my ability to create content (mostly photographs, some words) and to be paid for its usage. And that's the crux of the conflict: on the one hand are the content creators (mostly movie studios and record labels and media conglomerates) and on the other is "the internet," or at least the most popular places on the Internet where we like to gather, because that's where the good content is. So as a photographer, I've felt more than a little conflicted. But the bottom line is that SOPA as it's currently written is simply overkill; as Rob Haggert writes at A Photo Editor, "it's like banning cars because bank robbers use them to get away." Read more on Rob's take at his web site, and rest assured that in its current iteration SOPA is not, in fact, going to help you as a content creator, so it's okay to oppose it. That said, Rob also points out a crucial component in all of this organized online outrage: don't forget that the folks screaming loudest (Facebook, Google, et al) aren't in this to keep freedom free—they just want to make sure they can "keep control of the copyrighted material you produce." The comments offer interesting insights too—which is no easy feat. Taken together, it's something we should be thinking about as we creep further down the rabbit hole with every passing day.

http://www.aphotoeditor.com/2012/01/19/sopa-and-photography
DPMag
All the discussion about SOPA last week (you know, the protests of the Stop Online Piracy Act that blacked out a lot of sites for 24 hours in order to give us an idea of what the internet might be like if we stopped the free flow of content) was…

Watching Photographers Work

I just discovered a treasure trove of photographic documentaries. It's called "the internet." Heard of it? Seriously, name a photographer and somewhere out there on the web (YouTube isn't a bad place to start) there's probably an in-depth interview with them. Occasionally I stumble across a little place online where several of these videos have gotten together to hang out. One such great place to find lots of videos about photographers is the American Suburb X blog. The site is perhaps the best place online to read in-depth interviews with the greatest art photographers of the last 50 years, but it's also a compendium of video interviews and documentaries as well. The one that prompted me to mention it here is an hour-long 1981 documentary about street photographer Joel Meyerowitz. It's a wonderful video that provides tremendous context for Mr. Meyerowitz's work through audio and video, and it does what I most love about motion pictures—you can literally watch master photographers at work. So if this is the sort of thing that floats your boat, start with the Meyerowitz video, then stick around to check out videos that include the likes of Sally Mann, William Eggleston and Harry Callahan.

http://www.americansuburbx.com/2011/11/asx-tv-joel-meyerowitz-street-photography-1981.html
DPMag
I just discovered a treasure trove of photographic documentaries. It's called "the internet." Heard of it? Seriously, name a photographer and somewhere out there on the web (YouTube isn't a bad place to start) there's probably an in-depth interview with them. Occasionally I stumble across a little place online where…

A Year Of Photo Project Ideas

Continuing with my theme of photographic self-improvement from yesterday, today I've got a link to a blog with some practical help to get your creative juices flowing. As I've said many times right here on this blog, I am just no good at photo-a-day projects. So while I may not be the perfect guy to emulate when it comes to this stuff, at least I know who to point you to when you want to model good behavior! The Pixiq blog is a great place to look for insight and inspiration in general, but today especially because of a great post by Haje Jan Kamps that can help you develop some great photo projects for yourself in 2012. And don't get me wrong: these don't all require the commitment of "photo-a-day" projects. Some of them are simple projects that you can do for a month, or over the course of a weekend, or even just in a single day. The point is, giving yourself photo assignments really is invaluable. It will make you a better photographer, hands down. So if you don't know where to look, start here at Pixiq and pick a project that sounds like fun. Or, at the risk of sounding entirely too self-serving, check out a recent Tip of the Week article I wrote here at the Digital Photo web site. It's all about setting some photographic goals for the new year in order to improve your photography over the long run. Whereever you start, it all comes down to some really tremendous, really simple advice: Just do it.

http://www.pixiq.com/article/ten-cool-photography-projects
http://www.dpmag.com/how-to/tip-of-the-week/five-new-years-photo-resolutions-you-can-keep-01-02-12.html
DPMag
Continuing with my theme of photographic self-improvement from yesterday, today I've got a link to a blog with some practical help to get your creative juices flowing. As I've said many times right here on this blog, I am just no good at photo-a-day projects. So while I may not…

Self-Portraits Done Right

I've never been much for self-portraits. I remember an assignment once in college in which where we were charged with recreating a famous portrait but in self-portrait form. I chose a Bruce Weber brooding black and white portrait of actor Girard Depardieu. It worked, but not nearly as well as Mr. Weber's. Maybe because I'm not as pretty as Gerard. But I'm digressing, because the point isn't that I'm not much of a self-portrait photographer, it's that when I see great examples of them I'm insanely envious of those who can do them well. This is the same feeling I have about "picture a day" projects; I appreciate them, but I just can't seem to bring myself to invest in the commitment of taking a picture every day. Silly, I know. Anyway, the point is that I just discovered an awesome combination of the two. There's no better self-portrait project, and no better picture-a-day project, than Jeff Harris' ongoing adventure. He's up to 4,748 pictures in his "self-portrait every day" project (there they are, all laid out side by side in the picture above), which means he hasn't missed a day in nearly 15 years. You might think these images wouldn't be particularly interesting (how engaging can self-portraits be?) but it turns out they can be downright awesome, and Mr. Harris is clearly quite a talented photographer with a great sense of color and composition. Check out a fun video at the A Photo Editor blog for a glimpse into the portraits that made me a believer, then head over to Mr. Harris' own web site at www.jeffharris.org to see more. As he told A Photo Editor, Mr. Harris is just being pragmatic: "I see no reason to not make a self-portrait each day. I'm always around and always free. It's kind of like going to the gym—it flexes your muscles and keeps you in shape."

http://www.aphotoeditor.com/2012/01/09/jeff-harris-4748-self-portraits-and-counting
DPMag
I've never been much for self-portraits. I remember an assignment once in college in which where we were charged with recreating a famous portrait but in self-portrait form. I chose a Bruce Weber brooding black and white portrait of actor Girard Depardieu. It worked, but not nearly as well as…
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