More on the Adobe Creative Suite/Photoshop Subscription Pricing

Mike at The Online Photographer is talking about Adobe’s new subscription model and whether it’s going to be the end of the Photoshop era for him. His main concern isn’t the price so much as having the software changing constantly as new updates roll out. He wonders if that’s going to require him to continuously relearn the interface.

I think most professionals will talk about switching and how unhappy they are with the new licensing. Then they’ll keep on using Photoshop and the other Adobe apps anyway. They’ve got too much time invested learning how to use it, too many files in that format, and the need for file compatibility with colleagues and clients. In Mike’s case, learning a new version of Photoshop is still easier than learning an entirely new program. Inertia is a thing.

For people who aren’t locked into Adobe, DPReview’s 10 Photo Editing Programs That Aren’t Photoshop has some alternatives. I can vouch for two of the options.

  • For photo editing I like Adobe Lightroom better than Photoshop. There are some very technical things it can’t do, but it can do some things Photoshop can’t, and the workflow is faster and more intuitive. The price is crazy cheap for Adobe – $86 at Amazon.
  • For Photoshop on the cheap there’s Photoshop Elements. For what I do in Photoshop I haven’t noticed any major deficits for the relatively simple way that I use Photoshop. What I have noticed are small reductions in features. For instance, there aren’t as many filters and layer effects. (You can see a list of all differences here.) Price is $67 or $114 bundled with Adobe Premier Elements video editor, which is how I bought it.

If consulting turns into a full time gig at some point I’ll need the full Adobe Creative Suite 6. The Web and Design Premium Edition ($1,407) doesn’t have video editing, so I’d need the Master Collection ($2,200) so I can get Premiere and After Effects.

Expensive stuff, ain’t it? (That’s why I’m amazed by the low price of Lightroom and Elements.) If I’m taking a $200 non-credit photography class at the University of Tennessee I can get student pricing. That drops the price to $912. At that point you’d have to use the software for a year and a half before it becomes a better deal than paying $50/month for a subscription. Without the student discount it would take almost four years.

The only downside I see is that if you ever stop paying you won’t be able to access those files. Even then, if you really need to do something you could install a 30 day trial. So yeah, the subscription is looking better and better, especially since you don’t have to pay everything up front and you’re getting a newer version of the software with free updates.

Photos – Red Tomato Stakes


Focal Length
Focal Length




“There is no such thing really as professional photographers” (and “professional” vs. expert”

New Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is getting heat for this:

“…there’s no such thing as Flickr Pro, because today, with cameras as pervasive as they are, there is no such thing really as professional photographers, when there’s everything is professional photographers. Certainly there is varying levels of skills, but we didn’t want to have a Flickr Pro anymore, we wanted everyone to have professional quality photos, space, and sharing.”

Most photographers are upset because the implication is that the owning a camera makes someone a photographer. Plenty of people have that perception, but that doesn’t make it a reality. Owning a musical instrument doesn’t make someone a musician; they need knowledge, skills, and practice.

What throws people off about photography is that you can push the button and make a picture, but that has as much relation to being a photographer as pushing a gas pedal has to being a Formula 1 race car driver. Putting affordable, user-friendly tools in the hands of lots of people is a good thing, but having a smartphone in your pocket doesn’t make you Ansel Adams.

The thing I’ll add is that Mayer used the wrong word. “Professional” doesn’t mean expert. Professional means pursuing an activity as a business. Someone might be a damned good photographer, but will they show up on time at your wedding, have equipment that won’t break (and backups in case something does), persevere in the face of difficulty, get results no matter what, and complete the job with guaranteed results in a timely manner? You can’t expect to get all of that in a wedding photographer unless you’re paying them, and you can’t know if they’re capable unless someone else has paid them to do it in the past.


1. a person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field; specialist; authority: a language expert.
2. Military
a. the highest rating in rifle marksmanship, above that of marksman and sharpshooter.
b. a person who has achieved such a rating.
3. possessing special skill or knowledge; trained by practice; skillful or skilled (often followed by in or at ): an expert driver; to be expert at driving a car.
4. pertaining to, coming from, or characteristic of an expert: expert work; expert advice.
verb (used with object)
5. to act as an expert for.



1. following an occupation as a means of livelihood or for gain: a professional builder.
2. of, pertaining to, or connected with a profession: professional studies.
3. appropriate to a profession: professional objectivity.
4. engaged in one of the learned professions: A lawyer is a professional person.
5. following as a business an occupation ordinarily engaged in as a pastime: a professional golfer.
6. making a business or constant practice of something not properly to be regarded as a business: “A salesman,” he said, “is a professional optimist.”
7. undertaken or engaged in as a means of livelihood or for gain: professional baseball.
8. of or for a professional person or his or her place of business or work: a professional apartment; professional equipment.
9. done by a professional; expert: professional car repairs.
10. a person who belongs to one of the professions, especially one of the learned professions.
11. a person who earns a living in a sport or other occupation frequently engaged in by amateurs: a golf professional.
12. an expert player, as of golf or tennis, serving as a teacher, consultant, performer, or contestant; pro.
13. a person who is expert at his or her work: You can tell by her comments that this editor is a real professional.

DSLR Video – The Royal Hounds “I’m In Love With a Zombie”


I’ve been radically changing up my videos. I ditched the tripod in favor of a video monopod. Now I’m moving around, which makes the videos much more interesting. Now that I’ve got the audio and video under control I’ve jumped into video editing, whick makes the whole video an actual, like, video, instead of just video clips.

There are some other videos in the can that are better than this one (which has a couple of places where my framing wasn’t as good as I would have liked). I’m putting this one out first because it’s the title track to the band’s new album. The CD release parties are in Knoxville on May 23rd at Preservation Pub and May 25th at Wild Wings Cafe. Check ’em out.

The Royal Hounds “I’m In Love With a Zombie”

P.S. One of the challenges with the monopod is that you can go high and you can go low, but you have to use the pan/tilt head to compensate for the change. So if you start low, the camera is tilted up. As you life the monopod vertically you have to push the tiltbar up at just the right rate to level the camera. Otherwise you wind up pointing at the floor or ceiling until you get the camera levelled.

DSLR Video – Syncing a Movie with External Audio in Adobe Premiere

This guy shows how. Just what I needed. The only thing you need is Audacity, which is free and good. The video is for Premiere Elements, but the idea is the same for Premiere Pro and not that different for other non-linear video editors if you know how to run them.

UPDATE: Since I wrote this I’ve synced the audio inside Premiere. That turned out to be way easier than I expected.

P.S. I bought a licensed copy of DualEyes/PluralEyes recently. It’s supposed to automatically sync the audio track from a movie created with a DSLR like my Nikon D7000 with an audio track from a separate digital audio recorder (DAR) like my Zoom H4n. Point it to the movie file and the audio file (which can be much, much longer than the movie). The software will match the waveforms in the movie’s audio track with the audio file and splice out that section of the audio file. Then you can either use your video editor to replace the movie’s audio track or let DualEyes/PluralEyes do it for you.

Why would you want to do that? The audio track on the DAR is almost always better than what the camera recorded. That’s because the DAR is a dedicated audio recording device, while a DSLR is a dedicated still photo recorder that also happens to record video and – oh yeah – I guess we need to throw some audio circuitry in there somewhere because folks nowadays sure do love them some talkies. A $3,000 DSLR might have twenty bucks worth of audio circuitry. If you’re lucky.

The trial version of DualEyes/PluralEyes worked great. Thing is, once I got a licensed copy as part of a mic bundle I could never get it to work again. Not on three different computers and not after working with tech support. It would not could not in a box, it would not could not with a fox.

Oh, well. Maybe the long-promised new Windows version of PluralEyes will fix everything. In the meantime now that I know how to sync manually I don’t care. It’s really not a big deal to take a few minutes to manually sync with Audacity.

New Nikon 800mm Lens

Nikon 800mm Lens

And they say gun owners are trying to compensate for something.

Photography is not a crime, and can help solve crimes

Matt Blaze:

Personal photos helped solve the Boston Marathon case, so cameras will be banned at Kentucky Derby for security reasons.

Somehow after 9/11 people decided that cameras were terrorist tools, so banning them became part of the ongoing security theater – things that do nothing to make us secure, but that send a message that Something Is Being Done. It’s what John Farnam called speed bump governing. It doesn’t stop criminals, but it inconveniences and diminishes the rights of people who obey the law.

Headline of the Year

Man tries to take photo of beaver; it kills him

Happy 1st Birthday, Charlie

Happy 1st, little guy. It’s been a big year.

Minutes after you were born

Your great grandmother Geneva


Covered in sister kisses.

Conked Out

Big Man Sitting Up

First Easter

First Easter

First Halloween

First Halloween

Holding a bottle for the first time

Holding a bottle for the first time

First Christmas

First Christmas

Your mom and dad love you, kiddo.

Word of the Day – Selfie

From Urban Dictionary:

A picture taken of yourself that is planned to be uploaded to Facebook, Myspace or any other sort of social networking website. You can usually see the person’s arm holding out the camera in which case you can clearly tell that this person does not have any friends to take pictures of them so they resort to Myspace to find internet friends and post pictures of themselves, taken by themselves. A selfie is usually accompanied by a kissy face or the individual looking in a direction that is not towards the camera.

Previous WOTDSleeze

My Latest Invention – The Facebook Clip Show

You know how, when The Simpsons needs some material post haste, they piece together a clip show from pieces of previous Simpsons episodes? So what do the same thing, but with Facebook posts? And if you aren’t following me on Facebook it’s all new to you.

The Status Updates

I don’t understand the point of roller skating rinks. I could stay at home and hold on to a wall.

Wife is out with a friend for a performance of The Vagina Monologues. I wonder if she’ll buy me a t-shirt?

If I ever open a bookstore I’m going to call it Books on Paper.

The Image Macros

From the “Obama said ‘Jedi mind meld” hilarity a few weeks ago:



I made one myself.


The Video

I usually only listen to lame white boy rappers with three nipples who go on to have sucessful acting careers, but this is pretty good.

The Photos

It seems like I never post my photographs on the blog anymore, so here’s a series from Facebook:




Test of Seven 50mm Lenses for Nikon

Test of Seven 50mm Lenses for Nikon. Good stuff. The $239 Nikon AF-S 50mm/F1.8g comes out really well.

As you can see, these lenses perform very differently at each aperture. If you shoot mainly wide-open and don’t need to go faster than f/1.8, the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G is your best bet and was the sharpest of the lenses tested @ f/1.8. If you prefer a faster f/1.4 lens, the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 HSM EX DG is great, as is the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G – both are sufficiently sharp at f/1.4 and sharpen up nicely as you stop them down. If you’re a landscape photographer, you’ll be stopping down most of the time; the Nikon Ai-S 50mm f/1.2 and f/1.4 were absolutely excellent stopped down and had the best contrast as did the Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D.

Nikon D7100, Nikon Lens Rebates

The D7100, the replacement for the D7000 I’ve been using for two and a half years, has been announced. Specs and press release. It has a new 24mp sensor vs. the 16mp in the D7000. The megapixels aren’t as significant as the improvements in the sensor quality, if it’s similar to the one in the D5200. Other major changes:

  • Video supports 30 fps in 1080 mode, and 50 and 60 fps in the new “1.3x crop mode” which I confess I don’t yet understand.
  • There’s now a headphone jack for monitoring audio as it’s being recorded. This is a small feature that’s a godsend when recording video.
  • Processor upgraded from Expeed 2 to Expeed 3.
  • Another stop of ISO.
  • Slightly larger 3.2 inch LCD with 30% more pixels.
  • Works with the $60 WU-1a wireless adapter for sending pictures to cell phones and other devices over WiFi.
  • Compatible with the new WR-1 Transceiver for wireless control of the camera.
  • New Spot Balance feature for setting white balance in Live View.
  • Water and dust sealing upgraded to the professional level of the D300.
  • Price is the same as the D7000.
  • LATER – a couple more:
  • 51 point autofocus system in place of the 39 point AF in the D7000.
  • Like the D800e there’s no anti-aliasing filter, which should improve sharpness.

Seems like a mighty fine upgrade. If you passed on the D7000, the D7100 is going to be mighty tempting. If you’re like me and have a D7000 it’s a tougher decision. I was planning on skipping a generation (to a D7200) or making the move from DX to FX. Nice as the D7100 is I don’t think it changes my opinion.

Lens Rebates

Nikon has rebates on a number of lenses. Thom Hogan has some suggestions on which ones are worth buying.

So that’s why there was all that footage of the surprise Russian meteor

WiredWhy Almost Everyone in Russia Has a Dash Cam:

The sheer size of the country, combined with lax — and often corrupt — law enforcement, and a legal system that rarely favors first-hand accounts of traffic collisions has made dash cams all but a requirement for motorists.

“You can get into your car without your pants on, but never get into a car without a dash cam,” Aleksei Dozorov, a motorists’ rights activist in Russia told Radio Free Europe last year.

“Lenses: Don’t Collect the Whole Set” BlogLenses: Don’t Collect the Whole Set. Good stuff.

Here’s what I’ll add.

Buy one or two consumer zoom lenses and no more
By consumer zoom I mean a zoom lens with a variable aperture and a maximum aperture of F5.6 at the long end. If your camera came bundled with a zoom it probably falls into this category. Pro zooms are typically a constant F2.8 or F4 (smaller numbers are better). You need a zoom or two to take care of day to day stuff. Birthday parties, vacation shots, that sort of thing. I think of my 18-105mm as the family lens.

Consumer zooms are limited because of their small aperture and moderate picture quality, which isn’t as good as prime lenses or pro zooms. Some people keep buying them and then wonder why their picture quality never improves. Once you get a couple of consumer lenses you need to invest in primes, pro zooms, or some other aspect of photography.

Buy a prime lens in a useful focal length
A prime lens doesn’t zoom. You zoom with your feet, walking closer or farther away. That can be a disadvantage, though lots of people find that a prime lens improves their skills. They learn to compose instead of just turning a zoom ring. The reasons you’d give up the convenience of a zoom are image quality, small size, light weight, ruggedness, and big apertures.

The wider aperture is a big selling point. Consumer zooms are typically F5.6. Even slow primes are two stops faster at F2.8. It isn’t uncommon for even affordable primes to be as fast as 2.0 or 1.4, which gives another stop or stop of light.

That big aperture will let you get pictures in conditions that are too dark for an F5.6 zoom, It let you shoot at a much faster shutter speed, which helps freeze motion and get sharp pictures. It also lets you set a shallow depth of field when you want. Shallow DoF lets you get artsy-looking photos or throw the background out of focus to isolate the subject, turning a snapshot into something greater.

Focal lengths of 35mm to 60mm (in 35mm equivalent) are a good bet. Those are useful focal lengths that you’re probably using a lot now. They’re also at a very human scale – for people pictures you can zoom with your feet by moving forward or backwards a few steps. Primes in that focal range can be had for very little money (in DSLR terms, at least). Nikon and Canon make primes in this range for $100 to $300 that make much better pictures than consumer zooms that cost three or four times as much.

Editing software
Editing software is a way better bang for your buck than hardware. Taking the picture is part of the process. Post-processing is the other part. If you aren’t doing any editing of your photos at all, then any editing software (even free stuff) will massively improve your photos. At some point you’ll need something better than the software that came with your camera or free tools like Google’s Picasa (which I like and still use often for everyday photos).

Adobe Photoshop is the best known image editor. It has a million features, though that means the interface isn’t optimized for photography. Photoshop is great for getting an image to look its absolute best, but it isn’t oriented towards quickly reviewing and processing a large number of images. Intuitive it ain’t – you’ll need to take classes ( is supposed to have good ones online) or do some serious reading to get the full use out of it. I use it at work, but can’t justify the $500 pricetag for my home PC. There’s a cheaper version called Photoshop Elements for $75 that’s supposed to have many of the same features, but I haven’t tried it.

A few years ago I finally switched to Adobe Lightroom and took a class to learn how to use it. Lightroom is sort of a cross between Picasa in terms of workflow and Photoshop in terms of photographic tools and quality. I still use Picasa for routine photos. If I want them to really look good I edit them in Lightroom. It was $200 when I bought it, but Adobe has cut the price to $115.

Buy a flash
Built-in camera flashes are weak. You can get much more light out of a hotshoe flashes, AKA speedlights or strobes or flash guns. I use a hotshoe flash all the time and not just for indoors or at night. Even in daylight you need a flash when you get under a tree or on the north side of a building. Even in full sun the flash helps fill in shadows or expose the subject when the background is bright. For walking around I carry a Nikon SB400. The Canon equivalent is the 270EX.

The other immediate benefit of a hotshoe flash is being able to bounce. The built-in flash tends to make ugly, deer-in-the headlights pictures where the subject is too bright and the background is too dark. Almost any hotshoe flash will let you aim the head up and bounce the light off the ceiling, which instantly makes flash photos look a hundred times better. The subject will be lit softly and the area around them will be lit up evenly.

If you want to go beyond bouncing, a flash will let you get into off-camera lighting with lightstands, umbrellas, and lightboxes. If that’s what you want to do, get at least a medium-priced flash like the Canon 430EX or Nikon SB700. The flash heads on those bounce and swivel, they have manual controls that are easier to adjust, and they have features that make them more useful off-camera.

Buy a tripod, maybe
You may find a tripod useful or not, depending on what kind of photography you do. I’m still using the cheapy $70 tripod I bought years ago because I just don’t use a tripod that often. It’s more useful if you do landscape, long exposure, or macro photography, or carefully posed portraits where you want sharp images.

I really started using the tripod when I started shooting video. You may not be able to tell whether a photograph was taken with a tripod, but there’s a night and day difference between a steady tripod video and a jumpy handheld video.

Get training
People think that because they can press the shutter release and get a photo that they don’t need classes to learn how to use a DSLR. You can buy a guitar, but if you don’t know how to play it you’re a guitar owner and not a guitarist. Same thing with photography. Find classes, join a club, read books, watch YouTube videos, and read blogs. Digital Photography School has free how-tos and inspirational idea every day.