Jaddie Dodd Consulting & Design
Atlanta Macintosh Users Group
National Association of Photoshop Professionals
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September 13, 2007

Canon and Nikon have released a bevy of nice new digital SLRs, and Epson has announced new professional printers and a professional imaging site.

July 28, 2007

I’ve almost finished Scott Kelby’s excellent Lightroom book, and Becky posted new vacation and personal photos. The new vacation images and images from Becky’s father’s sixtieth birthday party were all created in just a few minutes using Lightroom’s Web module, specifically the new and free Lightroom plug-ins from Airtight Interactive.

June 26, 2007

Today Adobe released the much anticipated dot-one release for Photoshop Lightroom. The update provides flexible image management for multi-computer workflows, improved noise reduction and sharpening technology (à la Camera Raw 4.1), and new camera support.

May 26, 2007, Initial Eight-Core Mac Pro Observations

I probably haven’t spent ten hours with the new machine so far, at least after setting it up, but I can offer a few observations.

  1. It’s not significantly faster than our old Mac (single 733MHz processor with 1.25GB of memory) in tasks such as emailing (Entourage), Web browsing (Safari), or text or data entry (Word and Excel).
  2. Music sounds much, much better. Why? I haven’t a clue, but it’s true! Music was grand on our last Mac, but we’ve entered acoustic heaven with this new one. We have the same speakers (Klipsch ProMedia 5.1s) plugged into the new Mac Pro that were plugged into our old Mac, and this new Mac sounds significantly better than our old one. The drumbeats reverberate off of my chest just as if I were sitting in the front row at a major concert. This may sound like a relatively minor detail, but the signficance of the difference in the sound between the two machines justifies its position in this list.
  3. Editing large files (8.3 megapixels, ˜125MB after editing) in 16-bit mode in Photoshop CS3 is perhaps ten to thirty times faster than using CS2 on our old Mac. I used to be able to hit the Save command after editing an image, go downstairs, pour a tall glass of water, go back upstairs, have a seat, and still wait for a few seconds before the save operation was complete. Now, I don’t even get a progress bar!
  4. This new Mac doesn’t buckle under heavy multitasking. With our old Mac, continuing to edit large files in Photoshop CS2 sometimes would temporarily stop printing on our Epson 4800. With this new Mac, printing never pauses, no matter what else is going on. I believe the 4800 prints faster than our old Mac even if we continue to edit large images in Photoshop, play music through iTunes, check our email, and browse the Web—all this while Adobe Bridge and Lightroom are also up and running.

That’s it. That’s about all I have to say about our new Mac Pro. It’s an awesome machine and I believe we’re fortunate to have one. But, in hindsight, we could’ve waited another six months before upgrading.

Update: The word count does work in InDesign CS3. In a previous entry I stated that it didn’t work. It just takes a whole lot longer to display than CS2, at least when running on our 1GHz PowerBook G4 with 1GB of memory.

May 10, 2007

Quote of the Day:

“I wish developing great products was as easy as writing a check. If so, then Microsoft would have great products.”

Steve Jobs, today at Apple’s annual shareholders meeting, defending his decision to devote OS X development resources to iPhone development.

(For the record, I care a whole lot more about the Mac OS than I do the iPhone.)

May 3, 2007

Adobe’s new Creative Suite 3 hit our door today and I’ve just finished installing it on our old PowerBook G4 and new Mac Pro. Installation was buggy on both machines. Bridge CS3 wouldn’t install on the initial installation attempts. Uninstalling Photoshop CS3 and reinstalling it solved the problem. Bridge CS3 and perhaps some other shared components were also installed. This problem may have been the result of my having the Photoshop and Bridge CS3 betas previously installed. Before installing the official release of CS3, I followed Adobe’s advice and used the proper uninstaller to get rid of the betas.

I reckon it’s issues like these that keep me in business.

I don’t have much to say about the new software yet. First I’ll have to get my keyboard shortcuts and actions put into CS3 and get to work before I can give any advice. (Who in the world wants Command-I to be her shortcut for Select > Inverse? I certainly don’t. I prefer Command-I to trigger the Image Size dialog. I also prefer to keep the Mac OS X system shortcut, Command-H, to hide Photoshop. And I prefer to make the Save shortcut Command-Shift-S because I don’t want to save over a master file accidentally and easily; Command-S triggers Save As... in my Photoshop world.)

Actually, there is one piece of advice I can give, which is don’t bother dragging your Suitcase Fusion auto-activation plug-in from your InDesign CS2 plug-ins folder to CS3. It just doesn’t work with InDesign CS3, though I bet Extensis will offer a free download of a CS3-compatible Suitcase plug-in within thirty days.

Also, the word count in InDesign CS3 isn’t working for me. I have a 31,000-word document that I’ve been working on in CS2, and now I can’t tell how many words are in the converted CS3 document. I selected all of the text and it still didn’t work. Selecting smaller portions of text works. Hopefully, Adobe will release an update soon.

Update: the only third-party filter I have that will work with Photoshop CS3 is PhotoKit Sharpener, and that’s from a freshly available beta version of the plug-in. My nik plug-ins and LucisArt don’t work. nik and Lucis Art developers say that updates or upgrades are on the way.

I believe I upgraded and went backwards. Ah, but isn’t this almost always the case initially? I don’t know if Andy Ihnatko coined the phrase, but I first read it on his site (or maybe I heard it directly from him): “It’s the pioneers who get the flaming arrows. It’s the settlers who get the land.”

April 29, 2007

Out with the old:

Old Power Mac G4 Workstation

In with the new:

New Mac Pro Workstation

A new collage for my 13x19 portfolio:

Bailey & Piper Dellinger Collage

April 16, 2007

Today Adobe issued a press release stating that its Creative Suite 3 is now shipping. In my experience, this could mean that boxes are now en route to end users, or that boxes are en route to distribution centers, from which they’ll ship to end users and retail locations. According to my vendor, my copy, the Design Premium edition, and the Fireworks upgrade still aren’t expected to ship until Friday.

In related news, Photoshop’s product manager, John Nack, advises soon-to-be CS3 users to uninstall any public betas already installed on their systems before installing the final releases. We Mac users should use the Adobe Installer in Applications > Utilities to uninstall any pre-release builds.

If you’re a Canon shooter, then you should have a PDF of Canon’s book EF Lenswork III. (Thanks to dpreview.com forum poster Bones Cobb for sharing this information.)

I ordered the new eight-core Mac Pro yesterday. This machine will replace our six-year-old Power Mac G4. Our G4 really boggs down when working on layered 16-bit files in Photoshop, especially while iTunes is playing music. To maximize Photoshop performance I got into the habit of restarting the machine and running Photoshop as the only application. I’ll be moving from a single-core 733MHz processor with 1.25GB of memory to two quad-core 3GHz processors with 8GB of memory. This is an expensive move. I hope to see a huge performance boost, even while Safari displays a dozen tabs, iTunes plays music, Entourage checks our email, and Lightroom and Bridge are also running. I’ll keep you posted.

April 14, 2007

On Thursday Apple announced that the launch of OS X 10.5 “Leopard” would be delayed until October. Apple cited iPhone development as the reason for the delay. Apple had originally announced a spring release for Leopard. The delay is mildly disappointing to me because I’m more interested in Leopard than the iPhone.

Photoshop expert and author Scott Kelby moved his blog to a new domain. Scott posted a short video clip on Amazon.com showcasing some of the new features of Photoshop and Bridge CS3.

April 9, 2007

Today Apple announced that it has sold its 100-millionth iPod. When the iPod debuted I believed it was an inconsequential gadget. I was wrong. The iPod is now a part of the fabric of our culture.

April 4, 2007

Today Apple introduced its highly-anticipated Mac Pros sporting dual quad-core Xeon 5365 “Clovertown” processors. The new processors offer the same clock frequency as the processors they succeed, 3GHz. Each processor is equipped with 8MB of L2 cache.

How much faster is this new Mac? Well, the research isn’t in yet, but that’d depend on the system to which one is comparing the new Mac. According to Apple’s own page, the new Mac Pro is twice as fast as the 2.5GHz Power Mac G5 Quad in Cinebench 9.5’s rendering test. I’m certain Apple’s Mac Pro performance page will be updated as more benchmarks become available. Of more interest will be the benchmarks published from sites such as Barefeats, MacSpeedZone, and Anandtech.

I’m guessing the performance difference between the new eight-core 3GHz Mac Pro is a bit more dramatic when comparing it to my current main Mac—a single-core, single-processor, 733MHz Power Mac G4. Actually, in real-world performance, I don’t expect to see the same performance gain that I saw when moving from the Power Mac 7500 with a 300MHz PowerPC G3 upgrade card to the 733MHz G4. The only things that are really slow on my current workstation are editing and saving large files in Photoshop’s 16-bit mode, especially while iTunes is playing; waiting for Lightroom to render hundreds of previews from raw image files; and rendering slideshows in iDVD. I’m satisfied with my old Mac’s performance in Web browsing; email; and working in InDesign, Dreamweaver, and BBEdit.

The new Mac Pro exacts a very hefty price. The standard Mac Pro configuration, which offers two 2.66GHz dual-core Xeon chips, costs a semi-respectable US$2499. What makes the new Mac Pro new is the option of equipping it with two 3GHz quad-core Xeons, and that’ll set most customers back a hefty US$1498. My father-in-law could buy three Windows notebooks for the price of this option alone.

Apple currently quotes a three- to five-day ship time for its newest Mac.

I’m going to order this new monster Mac, but not right now. I’m going to wait to see what Apple has up its sleeve at its special event on Sunday, April 15. I’m pretty sure there won’t be anything new for the internals of Mac Pro systems, but Steve might introduce a new display (perhaps something larger than the 30" Cinema Display), free Leopard upgrades with Mac purchases, or something else. My 1GHz 15" PowerBook was introduced in November of 2001, and the 17" PowerBook was introduced just two months later. I certainly wish I had waited back then.

There are two more incentives for waiting another two to three weeks. The main incentive is that Hitachi’s new one-terabyte hard drives will hit retail channels, probably for US$399. Their performance, while not better overall than Western Digital’s 10,000-rpm Raptors, is definitely top-tier, and the drive represents a much better value per gigabyte when compared to many other high-capacity drives. Configuring two or more of these drives into RAID 0 would make for a syrupy-sweet photography workstation.

The other incentive to wait is the price of RAM. Prices for the FB-DIMMs used by the Mac Pro have continued to drop over the past few weeks and months. According to dealram.com, 2GB modules for the Mac Pro are available for as low as US$249 each. These same modules cost US$350 each back in October of last year. They tipped the scales at over US$300 each just a few weeks ago. With any luck, they’ll go down another US$20 or so within the next two to three weeks.

In related news, Apple today reduced the price of its Cinema Displays. The biggest price cut befell the 30" model; it’s down to US$1799 from US$1999. The 23" and 20" models were each cut by US$100 to US$899 and US$599, respectively.

This is a very exciting time to be a digital photographer. Adobe just blessed the world with Lightroom earlier this year and is unleashing Creative Suite 3 later this month. Now with eight-core 3GHz Macs to run the software, a photographer’s digital life should be as smooth as silk. I wish Bruce Fraser were around to enjoy all of this with us.

March 27, 2007

In a live Webcast from New York this afternoon, Adobe launched its highly-anticipated Creative Suite 3. Many of the big Mac- and design-focused sites state that the Creative Suite bundles not including video apps are supposed to ship on April 20. My vendor specified a "mid-April" ship date.

I’m looking forward to checking out the new CS3 videos on Wikivid, and, of couse, NAPP’s CS3 Learning Center.

March 17, 2007

Wedding and portrait photography legend Monte Zucker passed away on March 15 from pancreatic cancer. He will be sorely missed. Becky and I attended one of his workshops in Atlanta last year.

March 16, 2007

Panorama Of Larry's Backyard

Here’s a panorama of my Uncle Larry’s backyard.

March 12, 2007

Backyard Panorama

Here’s a panorama of our backyard. This was my first attempt to stitch together a panorama using Photoshop CS3’s Photomerge plug-in.

March 8, 2007

Adobe will offer two flavors of Photoshop CS3, regular and extended. Photoshop CS3 Extended will include additional tools for people who design in three dimensions, motion-graphics designers, and medical researchers.

I don’t know what to think of this announcement just yet. Personally, I don’t see why those of us who use Photoshop as a photography tool would need the extended edition, but I don’t like the thought of purchasing a version of Photoshop with a reduced feature set. I’m actually looking forward to spending less time in Photoshop as I increasingly use Lightroom to select, color correct, and finish my images. We’ll find out more on March 27 when Adobe formally introduces Creative Suite 3 in a live webcast.

Perhaps a more important announcement is Microsoft’s introduction of the HD Photo format. Microsoft claims that HD Photo offers compression with up to twice the efficiency of JPEG, with fewer damaging artifacts, resulting in higher-quality images that are one-half the file size. Microsoft hopes its new image format will supplant JPEG.

I’ll believe it when I see it.

March 7, 2007

Adobe is set to announce its Creative Suite 3 on Tuesday, March 27. In fact, Adobe says there’s going to be a live webcast, details of which will be made available later this week. The software will ship later this spring.

Nikon just announced a new digital SLR camera, the D40X. The camera captures ten-megapixel images for just US$799.

March 5, 2007

Adobe’s much-anticipated Creative Suite 3 will be announced formally on March 27, at least if AppleInsider is to be believed. This will be the first version of the suite optimized for Apple’s Intel-based Macs. This will also be the first version of the suite to pack some of the applications Adobe acquired from Macromedia, such as Dreamweaver, Fireworks, and Flash. According to the AppleInsider article, Adobe is billing this software launch as the biggest in the company’s twenty-five-year history.

Personally, the most important release from Adobe for me was the first OS X-native version of Photoshop, version 7. Prior to the first OS X-native version of Photoshop, we Mac users had to either run Photoshop in the Classic environment or stay in Mac OS 9, whereas Photoshop CS3 will run well on many legacy systems.

Most veteran users of Photoshop cite version 3 as the most important release because it was the first version to support layers. Version 3 shipped in 1993. My Photoshop life began in 1996 with version 3.5, so I can’t imagine using a pixel-based image editor without layer support.

March 1, 2007

Adobe Photoshop is coming to a Web browser near you within six months.

For free!

Adobe plans to use ad revenue to drive the site, and it’s not going to be the full version of Photoshop CS3. But, by golly, a free version of Photoshop for everyone is mighty cool!

Today Apple announced that it’s hosting a special event on Sunday, April 15, at the National Association of Broadcasters conference and tradeshow in Las Vegas. I believe Apple will use the event to introduce faster Mac Pros and the next major version of Final Cut Pro. I’m hoping that Apple also introduces updated HD Cinema Displays.

February 23, 2007

Canon introduced a bunch of new cameras yesterday, most notably the EOS 1D Mark III, the 10.1-megapixel, 10-frames-per-second sports camera that succeeds the EOS 1D Mark II. The new camera is expected to ship in April for US$3995.

Also notable on the new camera is a 3-inch LCD with Live Preview. This is an improvement over Canon’s previous line of DSLRs, which offer a 2.5-inch display. Compared to our 20D’s 1.8-inch LCD, the new 3-inch display would be a very welcome feature. I first missed seeing a live preview on the LCD when upgrading from the PowerShot G2 to our 20D, but now I’m not sure that live preview would be very beneficial.

Most surprising from yesterday’s announcements is what wasn’t announced. I would have wagered my last dollar that Canon would have introduced successors to the 1Ds Mark II and the 30D. I even expected the outstanding 5D to finally meet its successor.

At any rate, yesterday’s announcements from Canon put important milestones on the digital camera timeline. I appreciate Phil Askey and the staff at dpreview.com for maintaining this timeline.

February 15, 2007

Posted today is a gallery of Mary and Megan McGill. We hope to have the pleasure of working with these two sweethearts again.

February 11, 2007

The Photo Marketing Association is holding its annual convention and tradeshow in Las Vegas from March 8 until March 11. This is the biggest photography tradeshow in the US. Expect new cameras from nearly every manufacturer, but keep your eyes on Canon and Nikon, especially as the end of this month draws near. The big rumor is that Canon will introduce an all-new twenty-two-megapixel digital single-lens-reflex camera (DSLR).

Adobe’s own John Nack maintains a blog that’s as informative as it is entertaining. Nack is Photoshop’s senior product manager.

February 9, 2007

Two new galleries were posted today, Melissa and Adriana Urbina and Bailey and Piper Dellinger.

February 7, 2007

When my wife, Becky, throws a Bunco party, she goes overboard. Here’s a picture of the water bottle labels that she made for her guests. (The font is Dominique from Canada Type.)

Bunco Water Bottle Labels

February 6, 2007

This red-shouldered hawk was perched in a tree in our front yard last week. Having to quickly snatch the camera and 400mm lens and shoot handheld, these images aren’t tack-sharp, but they’re still kind of cool. (Click the thumbnails to view the full-size images in another window.)

Red-Shouldered Hawk 8289  Red-Shouldered Hawk 8319  Red-Shouldered Hawk 8322

Yesterday I pointed a studio light on these little guys while they enjoyed a well-stocked hopper feeder. The first is a female American goldfinch. The second is a Carolina wren, and the third is a house finch.

American Goldfinch (Female) Carolina Wren House Finch

February 5, 2007

Posted today are images of the impossibly adorable Christy Richardson. While Christy enjoyed a mid-morning nap during our shoot, Becky and I photographed Christy’s sister, Rennie, and their mother, Pamela. These are our best images ever.

Everything is easier on a Mac. See for yourself.