These past couple weeks have been a roller coaster for photography software. For some companies, the past couple years have been a roller coaster, too — Nik software in particular. In May of 2017, Google (which had owned Nik software since 2012) announced they were ceasing new developments on the program. No new features, bug fixes, or guaranteed support for updated operating systems. That happened just a couple months after making the software completely free. Justifiably, Google’s decision to end developments disappointed many photographers who relied on the software, and who happily would have paid for further updates. Today, though, there is some cautiously good news: DxO, the company behind DxO OpticsPro (which — also as of today — is now called DxO PhotoLab), announced that they bought Nik from Google. On top of that, they announced the development of a new version of the Nik Collection planned for mid-2018. If you use Nik software as part of your workflow, what does this mean for you?
Here’s some worrying news: Google just abandoned Nik’s software suite — the same Nik suite that it bought five years ago, and the same Nik suite that it started offering for free in March of 2016. What does this mean for the world of photography software? One discontinued product might not seem like a big deal, and you may not even be a Nik user, but this development should worry any digital photographer.
Fujifilm has just announced yet another set of “Kaizen” firmware updates that will soon be available for the Fuji X-T2 and Fuji X-Pro2 cameras. This is a major firmware upgrade release consisting of a total of 33 (!) updates and new features, which is very exciting. It is nice to be able to go back to a camera and discover new things you can do with it – almost creates a feeling of owning something entirely new. After seeing the announcement (the details of which are provided at the end of the article), I thought about other camera manufacturers and what they could learn from Fuji.
After I had a chance to test and review the JPEGmini Pro software, I realized how powerful this software is not just for exporting images and being part of a Lightroom workflow, but also for many other uses, including optimizing images that are already sitting on our large storage devices. Another use I immediately thought of, was the web server where Photography Life traffic originates from. Given how much traffic PL serves worldwide on a day-to-day basis and the fact that images alone account for roughly 5 Terabytes of traffic per month, the thought of being able to compress JPEG images using the JPEGmini engine was something that I really wanted to implement sooner than later. So I embarked on a new project – to save both traffic and money in the long run for PL, using the JPEGmini server.
Photographers Beware: this is a very technical review of software that is not related to photography. I decided to publish the review at PL, since I feel that other photography-heavy websites could hugely benefit from implementing the JPEGmini server.
Although we have already published a detailed review of the JPEGmini Pro software a while ago, a number of readers have reached out to me, asking how to effectively use the software, specifically when extracting images for clients from Lightroom. I have now been using JPEGmini for over a year and both Lola and I have been extracting images from Lightroom in a specific way to get the highest quality JPEG images to our clients, while retaining the smallest file size possible. Previously, we would extract everything at particular resolutions (typically 2048 for smaller JPEGs and full size for print) using 100% JPEG compression for the full sized images for the best possible quality, but extracting hundreds and sometimes even thousands of images turned out to be a headache when it came to storage and file transmission. With JPEGmini, we were able to continue delivering the best images to our clients, with a much smaller footprint. This resulted in both time and cost savings in the long run for us, as we did not have to deal with time-consuming uploads and large USB drives. In this article, I will show how both Lola and I we have been utilizing JPEGmini as part of our Lightroom workflow.
A strength of Photoshop is being able to perform edits non-destructively. Most edits can be performed on their own layer, preserving the original background layer. The Spot Healing Brush, Clone Stamp, and Patch tools all work this way and they can all be used to remove unwanted objects non-destructively. However, if you have ever tried to remove an object from an image using Content-Aware Fill, you will have noticed that you can’t do this on a new blank layer. This tool requires pixels to work. But if you use Content-Aware Fill on your background layer, you end up changing those pixels permanently. You could create a copy of the background and use the tool here. However, this needlessly increases the size of your document. In this short article, I want to show you an easy workaround, which will keep your original background layer intact.
Sharpening remains a particularly confusing topic among photographers, especially given the tremendous number of post-processing options available. Some post-processing software has so many options that it is hard to know where to start; others do not let you use optimal methods in the first place. If you are trying to use the best sharpening settings – including the lowest possible levels of noise and other artifacts – the ideal method is three-step sharpening.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote the article “Four Simple Tips for Better Composition”. In that article, I discussed in-camera techniques for keeping your horizons level and verticals vertical. However, even if you are careful, this is not always possible. This is especially true when trying to take pictures of tall buildings. I received several great comments mentioning that Photoshop’s powerful “Transform” tool can be used to correct the keystoning issues that arise in such a situation. I thought it would be a good idea to follow that last article up with one on post-processing methods for perspective corrections. I will go over a couple of ways to quickly fix horizons in Lightroom and how to easily improve/correct keystoning in Lightroom. I will also go over some more advanced techniques for perspective correction using Photoshop, for when the Lightroom methods don’t quite make the grade. The combination of good in-camera image creation and post-processing perspective corrections should allow you to create images that reflect how are eyes see and our brains perceive the world around us.
One of the worst feelings as a photographer is to realize that you have accidentally deleted one of your photos, and you have no way to recover it. Most photographers have horror stories about such situations — I once nearly lost all my photos from a trip to San Francisco — but it is often possible to recover deleted photos using special software. One such software is Stellar Phoenix Photo Recovery, which claims to be able to recover images from memory cards or hard drives, even after reformatting the drive or deleting an image.
Adobe has been enjoying their place in the software industry for a very long time now. It’s a monopoly, isn’t it? Despite the effort made by Corel, DxO, PhaseOne and others, the benchmark is still Photoshop and Lightroom (even if the latter does not actually lead in every area). In fact, Photoshop has actually become a synonym to the word “post-process” or “edit”. “To photoshop something”, how many times have you heard someone say it? Exactly. And all of this is well deserved, because there simply isn’t any better alternatives. But for us, the users, monopoly is not such a good thing. Lack of proper competition puts the developer in a rather lazy state. Fortunately, an alternative might be in the works, called Affinity Photo (currently in Beta stage). Unfortunately, it is only available for Mac at this time.