Monthly Archives: February 2007

Lightroom FAQ for RawShooter customers

A number of photographers have written in this week, asking for details about how customers of Pixmantec’s RawShooter Premium (which Adobe acquired last summer) can get a free copy of Lightroom.  Lightroom Product Mgr. Tom Hogarty posted a brief FAQ a few days ago that address these questions. For convenience I’ve reproduced it here:

Q: When will Photoshop Lightroom 1.0 be available for RawShooter Premium customers?
A: The Photoshop Lightroom offer email for RawShooter Premium customers will be distributed by February 23rd with instructions on how to obtain a free downloadable copy of Lightroom 1.0.

Q: Can RawShooter Premium customers get started with Photoshop Lightroom before receiving the offer email?
A: Yes, please download the 30-day trial version of Lightroom. The offer email will provide instructions on how to obtain the serial number that will license the trial version of Lightroom.

Q: Where can I find documentation for Photoshop Lightroom?
A: Tutorials and documentation for Photoshop Lightroom can be found in the Adobe Design Center.

Q: Who do I contact if I don’t receive an offer email by February 23rd?
A: If you are an owner of RawShooter Premium (RawShooter Essential users do not qualify for this offer) and you do not receive an offer email by February 23rd please contact Adobe Customer Service in your region for further assistance.

Q: How can I convert my RawShooter Premium settings to Lightroom or Photoshop Camera Raw compatible settings?
A: A free settings conversion tool will be posted on Adobe Labs on March 5th for use by RawShooter Premium customers.

Hope that helps,

What does Marcellus Wallace look like?

That’s the question on Sam Jackson’s mind in this little (and profane) typographic study.  See also a second, apparently independent take on the same idea. [Via]  On other typographic notes:

The 66" negative

AutoWeek has the interesting story of how photographer Rick Graves uses a modified, motorized camera back which feeds a continuous roll of film past the shutter while it’s open, creating a very wide negative (like this one; scroll it to the right):

"Each image Graves makes is from one exposure on an entire roll of film, not a composite of several different images.

"’A number of people have tried to build this type of camera,’ Graves said, likening it to the finish-line cameras used at horse races. ‘But the difference with my camera is that I have 66 inches of movement [of the film] in one second. The film is moving relative to the moving subject. I developed this camera as a better way to capture motion.’

"The secret to the system is not the camera itself—a standard 500 Series Hasselblad—but in the film back, which contains a small motor and various electronics adapted from the robotics industry. This setup gives Graves control of how fast the film moves when he opens the shutter. If he gets it right, the film is moving at the same speed as the cars, allowing for a photo with dozens of speeding cars, all razor sharp."

NASCAR sells prints that are 4 inches tall by 8 feet long.  Check out many more examples (not all automotive) in the DistaVision portfolio. One slight bummer is that because of the ubiquity of Photoshop-edited composites in the world, a lot of viewers may think these works are simply digital collages. [Via Joe Ault]

On a related note, I happened across an article on slit-scan photography that features a rather trippy photo produced using related methods. [Via]

Non-destructive JPEG: An oxymoron?

When cameras capable of shooting digital raw files started hitting the mainstream (roughly five years ago, give or take), one of the advantages of shooting raw was that editing had to be non-destructive.  That is, because the pixel data hadn’t yet been converted into traditional RGB channel data, applications like Photoshop couldn’t poke at it directly.  This in turn meant that conversion parameters had to be stored as sets of instructions, rather than as burned-in as pixel edits.

Photographers have now become familiar and comfortable with the idea of moving & storing the captured bits along with the "special sauce" used by their raw processing app of choice.  The XMP files that are (optionally) parked next to images by Adobe Camera Raw & Lightroom make this particularly easy.  The fact that the DNG format supports built-in metadata & rendered previews turns it into a kind of envelope (or "job jacket," to borrow Peter Krogh’s phrase)–a container that stores your negative, your processing instructions, and your rendered print.  As editing tools get richer–for example, with Lightroom’s ability to store multiple settings per file–the benefits of this approach grow.

But what about non-raw files?  Both Lightroom and Camera Raw now offer the ability to edit JPEG and TIFF files, so that no matter what format(s) your camera generates, you can use the same non-destructive tools.  So now a photojournalist or sports shooter, say, could shoot JPEGs, apply edits in the field (soft crops, non-destructive dust busting, tonal corrections, etc.), and upload the original files plus their processing instructions.

This poses some tricky questions, however.  Fundamentally, is it okay that Adobe is putting "special sauce" into the metadata of JPEGs, causing them to appear differently when viewed in the latest Adobe editing tools than in other apps?  Is it okay to extend the JPEG standard?  A few things to consider:

  • Adding this metadata to JPEGs doesn’t damage the files in any way, or degrade other tools’ ability to read the pixels.  The data is simply ignored by tools other than Lightroom/ACR/Photoshop/Bridge.  Adobe tools are leveraging the flexibility that’s already in the format.
  • Generating a copy of the image with the edits burned in (i.e. with the pixels changed) is a one-click task.
  • Putting the metadata into the files makes it more easily portable than requiring a sidecar file. 
  • One alternative would be to bake Lightroom/ACR edits into JPEGs immediately, thereby negating the advantage of non-destructiveness.  Another would be to force the JPEG to be converted to another format, making it clear that something had changed, but rendering those images unreadable by other tools.  Forcing either approach, however, seemed like a bad idea.

So, there are pros and cons to any approach, but the one we’re pursuing makes it possible to enjoy the portability and non-destructiveness of raw editing using non-raw files.  It’s done in a way that lets JPEGs be extended easily & without damage.  If you’re concerned about using this approach, you can convert JPEG & TIFF files to DNG (an option I’ll address separately in a bit)–but that conversion isn’t forced on anyone. 

My take is that the flexibility it opens up is more than worth the cost.  What do you think?

I got yer Web conference discounts, right here

A couple of interesting Web-centric conferences are coming up this spring, and ways to save money registering each have popped onto my radar.  I’m passing along the info in case it’s of interest:

  • Web Design World San Francisco runs March 26-28th at the Moscone Center.  I’ll be presenting a half-day workshop called Photoshop CS3 Bootcamp.   If you register by the end of day Feb. 28 (i.e., Wednesday), you’ll save $200; use code SPNAC.
  • On the other side of the country, the new DX3 Conference (Design/Deploy/Develop, organized by is due to hit Boston May 15-18. Register by March 24th to save $200, and use code
    FAL628BS to shave off another $100.

By the way, on a note, the folks there have just posted 6.5 hours of training on Lightroom, presented by Chris Orwig.

Urban grit, bright buildings, and more

BYOTR (Bring Your Own Thematic Relationship) to these photos; I can’t offer one this time. 🙂

On the personality of apps

Apropos of the "Macromedia will take Adobe clubbing" thing & the Lightroom team’s musings about the personality of applications, I was reminded of a little anecdote from a few years back (before the companies got together) that you might enjoy:

A research team asked a group of young designers to describe their software tools as if each one were at a party.  Photoshop, they said, was kind of like a gray-bearded professor, maybe an older guy in his 40’s (I know, I know)–really smart, really respected, but not someone you felt you could just start chatting up.  Illustrator was a beautiful, glamorous woman standing on the periphery–amazing, mysterious, and not so easy to approach.  And Flash, meanwhile, was the cocky young guy at the party–talking to all the girls, maybe getting a bunch of drinks thrown in his face, but going home with a handful of phone numbers.

–J. (stroking his metaphorical, not-so-gray beard, sitting among the Flash UI designers in the former Macromedia office as he types this, thinking this is the strangest life he’s ever known)

Adobe, minivans, promiscuity (?!)

Heh–if that doesn’t get your parental antennae buzzing, I don’t know what will. ;-)  I got a kick out of seeing these characterizations of Adobe, spied by John Dowdell, in a pair of articles:

  • "In the software world, if Oracle Corp. is the monster truck of corporate acquirers, showily flattening competitors as flash pots explode," writes Olaf de Senerpont Domis, "Adobe Systems Inc. is the humble minivan, patiently trundling from point A to point B."  I think there’s some truth in that.  Headquartered in unassuming San José (the minivan of cities), Adobe doesn’t do a lot of the chest-thumping I see from other companies–a modesty I’ve always appreciated.  And having (grudgingly) swapped a Miata for a minivan during college, I can tell you: respect the van.
  • "Going forward, the Gartner trio predicts, Adobe will promiscuously embed collaboration features across its product lines," reports Stephen Swoyer.  Facilitating collaboration has been a passion of mine for a long time (e.g. getting feedback tools into Photoshop’s Web gallery engine in CS1; embedding Flash in Photoshop CS3), and we’ll keep cranking away, but now it sounds so much more… salacious. 😉

When the Adobe-Macromedia deal was announced, a designer remarked, "Adobe will make Macromedia grow up, but Macromedia will take Adobe out clubbing."  So, we may be rocking a minivan here, but you know there are hydraulics under there…

Laser graffitti + chrome spheres

File under Enormousness:

  • You’ve gotta love any ingredient list that includes the phrase, "1 60mW Green Laser (super illegal in a lot of places and very dangerous)."  And you’ve really gotta love what the Graffiti Research Lab does with theirs, lighting up a Rotterdam building with all kinds of hand-drawn art.  Big style points for the dripping paint effect!
  • I’ve always really liked mosaics and particle systems, and I used to browbeat a friend in Illustrator engineering to convert their mosaic filter to create symbols (good for turning artwork into particles that could be animated, kind of like these fish).  That hasn’t happened, but in the meantime I can enjoy Danny Rozin’s shiny balls mirror (see video).  Comprised of "921 hexagonal black-anodized aluminum tube extrusions, 921 chrome-plated plastic balls, and 819 motors," the system reflects the viewer twice: once in each ball, and once in the entire piece. [Via].
    See also his earlier wooden mirror (video).  And lastly, his Time Scan Mirror reminds me of the Scanner Photography Project (the site for which is now down, unfortunately).

[Update: Speaking of mosaics, how about a cereal Seinfeld? [Via]]