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About Bob Vishneski

Bob Vishneski works in the media software industry and is an avid photographer. He has held management and technical positions during his career in such areas as computer manufacturing, imaging software and document management systems, enterprise systems development, and consulting. Bob rediscovered his love for photography in 2007, after picking up a Pentax K10D and realized that his background in the computer industry could prove useful in the age of digital photography. When he is not focusing on the challenges of the software development industry, he spends time traveling with his wife, Tanya, and family, golfing, and honing his photography and Photoshop skills. He is a member of the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Society of Media Photographers. Bob and his family reside in the Pittsburgh area. His work can be found at 500px.

The Bureau of Advertising Purity

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.” It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
- C. S. Lewis

One would think that with the myriad of problems facing the United States and the rest of the world, our lawmakers might be content to prioritize them, determine which are best to be solved by the private sector, the public sector, or some combinations thereof. But alas, there seem to be some that believe every problem should be solved with some form of government intervention and control. Recently, Congressional Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R -FL), with assistance from Ted Duetch (D – FL), and Lois Capps (D – CA), introduced a bill (H.R. 4341) allegedly to save our children from eating disorders and other mental problems by regulating the use of what essentially are labeled as “unrealistic Photoshop” alternations to pictures of models and others that are prominently displayed in advertising, magazine articles, etc. I was a bit surprised to find out that Ros-Lehtinen had sponsored this bill. I happen to be well-acquainted with her stances on many issues and often find myself in agreement with her.

They title the bill, “Truth in Advertising Act of 2014.” Don’t get me wrong – I am not advocating advertisers should be allowed to make blatant false representations regarding their products’ benefits. But policing every photo tied to an advertisement under the watchful eye of some government overseer seems to be fraught with it its own set of problems.

Photoshop Beauty

So how could anything go wrong with such a well-meaning piece of legislation? Read on…

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Google Drive Price Drop – A Tipping Point For Photographers

Although cloud storage prices have been continued to drop at impressive rates, they have remained out of reach for many serious amateurs and professional photographers who have accumulated years’ worth of image files. This has been particularly true for the purists among us who religiously shoot RAW and tend to create huge multi-layer Photoshop files. Improvements in DSLR sensor technology have also pushed file sizes upwards as well, with the majority of DSLRs now capable of producing 16MP to 36MP images.

I have always considered a cost effective rate for 1TB to be the juncture at which serious amateurs and professional photographers would consider backing-up their photo archives to the cloud. Google’s dramatic cloud storage price drop this week has finally reached this tipping point. As of today, storing 1TB of image files on Google Drive will cost $9.99/month. This is a huge announcement that will ripple across the photography community and cause many people to change their back-up strategy.

GoogleDrivePricing

1) The Economics of Google Drive

$120/year (rounded) for storing 1TB of your images in the cloud may sound a bit expensive compared to a one-time purchase of a 1TB back-up drive for $70-$100. But you have to consider that one good flood, fire, hurricane, burglary, or power surge may wipe out both your primary and secondary drives. As I write this, I am staring at 5 external hard drives on my desktop. While hard drive technology has been getting more reliable over the years, I have found that on average, I have one hard drive go bad per year. And although my stepsons have a great time destroying the defunct drives with sledge hammers, I rarely look forward to restoring back-ups, buying additional drives, and other related challenges that can chew up quite a bit of time.

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How To Live Forever (.com)

Throughout history, man has sought immortality, whether by the elusive Fountain of Youth, religion, the cloning process, cryogenics, and many other means too numerous to mention. Forever.com is a new business seeking to ensure that you can indeed live forever – at least the digital aspect of your persona. A friend of mine told me about Forever at a recent party. I was intrigued since the company was located in Pittsburgh and founded by a local entrepreneur, Glen Meakem. Meakem founded Free Markets, Inc., after leaving GE Information Services. Free Markets was eventually bought by Ariba.

I have to admit that when I first heard the term “Forever.com,” my mind immediately raced to that cryogenics company, Life Extension, portrayed in the futuristic psychodrama, Vanilla Sky. The concept of Forever.com is quite simple: Over the course of our lives, we will create or acquire many photos and videos from digital and non-digital sources. These documents depict our family history, relationships with friends, chronicle important moments of our lives, and capture our creative efforts, which may be associated with hobbies and professional pursuits. Why not preserve them online granting friends, family, and the public varying degrees of access, along with a transition path for management of your archive during your lifetime and long after you are gone? Forever’s vision of the future can be found in this youtube video. You can also download the iPhone application here.

Forever.com

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In The Nikon Df Crossfire – Heart vs Head

The following conversation is entirely fictitious. Any similarities to opinions expressed on this forum or elsewhere are purely coincidental.

Nikon Df - Heart vs. Head

Head: So you are pretty excited about the Nikon Df, huh?
Heart: Absolutely!
Head: Just what is it about this new DSLR that has you so enthused?
Heart: Well, the Df brings us back to what some of us call “Pure Photography.” Sadly, it has been missing for quite some time. Then again, given your analytical mindset, which is utterly devoid of human emotion, I would not expect you to understand such a concept.
Head: Perhaps thinking is a bit over-rated at times, but it does come in handy, particularly when evaluating marketing slogans and attempting to discern the value of various camera models and lens choices. So help me out here – just what have those of us using digital cameras over the past 13 years or so been engaged in – “Impure Photography?”
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Announcing The Nikon DFB – Burberry Edition

TOKYO – Following on the heels of the revolutionary Nikon DF, the Nikon Corporation is pleased to announce the fashionable DFB – the Burberry Edition, a Nikon FX digital SLR camera. The stylish DFB literally screams “Do more with less, but look sharp while doing it!” The DFB features the beloved 12.1 MP sensor from the Nikon D3 and D700. The file sizes produced by the DFB will be a welcome relief to those who demand smaller file sizes and less photographic detail, and are genuinely concerned about conserving hard drive space.

Nikon DFB - Burberry Edition

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Searching For Gold

I had the good fortune to join Nasim again this year on his annual Landscape Photography Workshop in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. While I regularly communicate with Nasim and others from Photography Life via email and phone, time and distance do not afford us with many chances to meet in person. I also appreciated the chance to spend some quality time with avid Photography Life readers, who share an appreciation of photography, camera technology, and the outdoors. Their comments, suggestions, constructive criticism, and support have helped make the Photography Life site better over time. Last year’s adventure allowed me to meet some wonderful people and share some memorable moments. I expected no less from this year’s trip.

Wilson Mesa Ranch Circle

1) San Juan Mountains

The San Juan and Uncompahgre forests offer an incredible panorama of Aspen and fir tree covered woodlands against majestic mountain peaks. Telluride, Durango, Silverton, Ouray, and Ridgway are the main towns in this scenic Southwestern Corner of Colorado. These towns have their roots in mining operations dating back to the mid-to-late 1800s, when gold, silver, copper, zinc, lead, and precious minerals were discovered in the region.

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Impact LiteTrek Monolight Kit Review

As someone said, “photography is all about the light”. And nothing gives a photographer more flexibility to craft light better than quality studio strobes. If located in a permanent studio, they provide wonderful lighting and an endless array of possibilities, particularly when used with various light modifiers. Taking them on the road, however, is a different matter. Many models are bulky, heavy, and require proximity to a power source, making them impractical for many settings. Traditional off-camera flash units are much more portable and can be used creatively in a variety of situations, as David Hobby (a.k.a. “Stobist”) and others routinely demonstrate, but lack the power of strobe lights. To meet the needs of photographers seeking the power of traditional strobe lights combined with the flexibility of off-camera flash units, Impact provides the LiteTrek 4.0 DC Two Monolight and Mini LiteTrek (LT) Battery Pack Kit, a portable lighting kit consisting of 2 flash heads and a portable battery pack.

Impact_2_Light_Kit

1) Initial Thoughts

This lightweight kit is well-designed and made. Add two lightweight light stands (not included) and it has everything you need to create a studio environment anywhere you need. I was surprised at the lightness of the 400W heads relative to their power. They were much lighter than my 550W Bowen’s studio strobes.

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Rocky Mountain High – Canadian Style – Part II

This year’s vacation choice was a simple one. Based on last year’s trip to the Canmore/Banff area, we realized there was much more to see of this beautiful region than time allowed. Many of the Photography Life readers were kind enough to suggest possible itineraries for our next trip. In particular, Cindy (a.k.a. “Alberta Girl”) gave us a detailed listing rivaling the length of my original article! Her recommendations served as the foundation for this year’s itinerary. If you are seeking to combine your love of photography with hiking, wildlife viewing, and breathtaking scenery, I would strongly urge you to consider the area around Banff National Park. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

1) Canmore – Home Away From Home

We stayed at Canmore’s Falcon Crest Lodge for our vacation last year. After we decided to return for another visit, we initially thought we might travel around the region, staying in different lodges located in Canmore, Lake Louise, Kananaskis, and Jasper every few 2-3 days. But the more we considered the areas we wished to visit, the more we liked the idea of using Canmore as our home base once again. The notion of packing up our belongings every few days and checking into a new lodge lost its appeal when we considered the logistics and time involved.

Canmore_Elk

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Photographing Cemeteries and Exploring Their Beauty

Photographers are always looking for something new to invigorate their photography. Sometimes visiting the same old haunts or taking the same types of photographs can get stale. When I mention that I love visiting historic cemeteries, I get quite a few strange looks. Some consider it a bit morbid. Others, uncomfortable with the subject of death, can’t seem to fathom going to a cemetery unless they have no choice! Suffice to say that the notion of visiting a cemetery is not usually at the top of people’s “Things I Would Most LikeTo Do This Weekend” lists!

1) Why Cemeteries?

It may be that having a cemetery just beyond my backyard fence or being within a 5 minute walk of another for much of my youth caused me to think of and look at cemeteries a bit differently than most. I never considered them spooky, haunting, or intimidating in any way. To the contrary, I was always fascinated by the older gravestones and more elaborate sculptures. I found cemeteries to be peaceful and calming – quite the opposite from how many are portrayed in television and films.

. St. Mary's Cemetery

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The Case of the Disappearing Professional Media Photographer?

Cause the good ole days weren’t always good,
And tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems.”

Keeping The Faith
- Billy Joel

The Chicago Sun-Times’ decision to lay off its staff of photographers and editors (~28 total), including a Pulitzer Prize winner, sent shock waves throughout the photography industry. Some cried foul. Some expressed disbelief. Others lamented the changing times and the commoditization of the professional media photography field. Many mocked the paper’s suggestion that it would rely on reporters to take their own photos using iPhones and DSLRs. The Sun-Times did not eliminate using professional photographers, since it plans on using some freelancers to fill some of the void created by the departure of the full-time professional crew. But the Sun-Times’ announcement was a clear indication that it believe something had fundamentally changed and it was willing to take radical action to do what it thought best for the immediate and long-term health of the business.

G20 Pittsburgh Job

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