Saturday, April 21, 2012

A DAM Problem with Lightroom 4

During the past ten years,  I've stored my digital photos at least a dozen ways.  Most recently, I've been using Lightroom because it would catalog the original raw files and all the adjustments.  Unlike Photoshop, it makes nondestructive adjustments.   I can make a JPEG copy today and make another identical copy 5 years later without storing the JPEG separately. This allowed me to store all my best photos in one place.  It also significantly reduced the amount of space required for storage.  Best of all, it stored all the data about the photos, including all the adjustments I made.  I use Photoshop less and less with each Lightroom upgrade.  It's become the most important piece of software I own.  

No software is perfect.  My biggest complaint with Lightroom was the number of things that could happen to my photos without my knowledge.  For example, Lightroom makes preview of the photos I import and then deletes the previews later.  Lightroom can lose track of where my photos are.  I can accidentally delete photos in Lightroom without a warning.  I've lost keywords, accidentally deleted images, and lost corrections I thought were safe.  In most instances, the disaster was my fault - but it was still a disaster.

I recently installed Lightroom 4 and was impressed by the improvements.  I'll use Photoshop even less now.  I spend most of my Lightroom time with new files so I didn't notice a potential problem until later.

Lightroom stores all the edits I make.  If I want to export the photo later, it applies the edits to the raw file and I can export a perfectly cropped and color adjusted JPEG file.  Lightroom 4 modified the way that some of the editing tools work.  This means that edits I made in version 3 don't look exactly the same in verson 4.  It tries to make them look the same - the conversion causes my version 3 thumbnails to take much longer to load.  I can ask it to convert the settings to version 4 settings, but I can't go back to the version 3 settings if I'm not happy with the results.  I have the tens of thousands of photos in Lightroom so decisions that take seconds per photo will result in hours of work.  

I have considerable experience in the analysis of software systems so it's not difficult to make an educated guess about the future.  The bottom line is that I cannot completely depend on Lightroom for Digital Asset Management.  Lightroom will change  each time a new version is released.  There is no guarantee that Lightroom 15 will be able to generate a JPEG using Lightroom 3 adjustments.  

This is a DAM (Digital Asset Management) problem that I need to solve.

I Meet a Birder

It was a beautiful morning.  It was cold enough to keep the mosquitoes at bay and warm enough for a sweatshirt.  I arrived at the Fontenelle Forest wetlands early and had the place to myself for over an hour.  I hear more birds every week as the migration progresses. 

I had the privilege of photographing a couple of wood ducks along the trail.  Once they are disturbed, they are gone for the day.

A turkey vulture spotted me before I saw him.  I'm not sure why he moved to a nearby tree to watch me.  I was concerned that he knew something about my state of health and thought perhaps waiting would be worthwhile.  He was disappointed.

Teal take off as soon as they spot movement.  I was able to approach closer than normal.  After a few photos, they were off in a flash.  Then a voice behind me made a wisecrack about whether my lens was big enough or not.  A birder had appeared.  He was nice enough and we chatted for a couple of minutes about how much he enjoys watching birds.  Then he walked ahead of me seeing how many different kinds of birds he could frighten into flight. 

I packed up and went home.

In Search of Warblers

I photographed in the Fontenelle Forest wetlands again on April 18th.  I had heard that a couple of warblers had been spotted.  I didn't see them.  The forest was filled with the sounds of spring birds.  They were a cautious lot that stayed out of camera range.  I didn't take any outstanding photos today but the warblers are coming!

I saw my first Towhee for the year.

I spotted a group of 20 White-throated sparrows.  They stayed hidden behind branches and twigs

The Canadian Geese are preparing to nest.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Steve Jobs Isn't Around to Screw Things Up Any More

I've ended my boycott of Apple Computer.

I purchased my first PC about 30 years ago.  It was an Apple II+.  I coded my first programs on it.  It was a hands on PC- you could open the top and add and remove cards at will.  My first add-on was a 16K card that brought my internal RAM up to a whopping 64K!

I was so happy with my Apple that I upgraded to the Apple IIe and then to the Apple IIGS.  My Apple IIGS was personally signed by Woz himself.  I was one of Apple's most loyal customers.

Apple was not content with success.  They introduced the Macintosh and did away with the cards.  You were expected to buy a PC that you couldn't upgrade.  The straw that broke the camel's back for me was a 10 megabyte hard drive call the Apple Sider.  While it was an unbelievable amount of storage, it had a steep price tag - $695.  For the same amount of money, I could buy a 40 megabyte hard drive that would work in an IBM PC.   The PC had horrible graphics compared to the Apple IIGS or the Macintosh.  At about this time, a guy at Apple named Steve Jobs decided to sacrifice the Apple II line to save the struggling Macintosh.  Enough was enough and I moved to a PC with 2 forty megabyte hard drives. 

I made the correct decision.  PCs improved faster than the Apple and soon the majority of software on the shelves was for the PC.  It was easy to boycott Apple because the most creative developers wrote software for the PC.  If the Apple users were lucky, the software was released later in an Apple version.

Fast forward to 2011.  I'm in a little Italian village and something about me caused a lady to realize that I'm an American.  I try to blend in, but it's difficult when you carry 30 pounds of camera gear and cannot speak a word of Italian.  The lady came over and said, "They just announced that Steve Jobs is dead."

It's 2012 and a revitalized Apple announces the iPad3.  It retains some of the worst Apple features, no user replaceable anything and you can't even plug it into a hard drive.   It reminds me of my Apple II+ which didn't have a hard drive either.  It's moved up a few letters - 64K has been replaced by 64G.  The programs for it are small and often as useless as some of the original Apple software.  It has excellent color Graphics and sound like the Apple IIGS - but better.   You can add and remove apps instead of adding a removing cards.  It's compact to continue the tradition of the Apple IIc.

I purchased the Apple iPad3 last week.  It's a born again Apple II.  It's taken over 20 years for Apple to upgrade the Apple II line.  This is a definite improvement and this time Steve Jobs isn't around to screw things up.  I wonder if I can convince Woz to sign it.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

When the Student is Ready, the Teacher will Appear

Many years ago I heard this Zen proverb for the first time - "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear".  There is an order to things that cannot be ignored.  Disaster struck the Fontenelle Forest wetlands last year.  Recovery will be a process that will follow a sequence.  As the wetlands heal, the animal and plant life will become more diverse.
Before the flood, the wetlands were a special place.  The plants and animals lived here in a habitat that was unusual in Nebraska.  Migrating birds were attracted to the area as they traveled north.  Some animals that lived here are not commonly found in any other part of Nebraska.

The animal and plant life was not so diverse because of any special attention that was paid to the area.  The opposite was true, the land wasn't very suitable for farming or human habitation so the humans were willing to leave it alone.  

The terrible flooding of 2011 altered this habitat for months.  Many of the former residents will not find it as welcoming at first.  The plants need to return before the animals that eat them will come back.  Plants that require shade may be pushed out by the grass that now will grow where the trees once stood.  Animals that eat seeds will need to wait until late summer when the plants produce seeds.  The carnivorous animals will need to wait until their prey has returned.  

Recovery will not mean that the area will be exactly the same.  For example, the Sycamores, Cottonwoods and Elms survived but other species like the ash and box elder were wiped out.  Eventually it will be very similar to other wetland areas in the Midwest because certain plants and animals thrive in this type of environment.

I visited the Fontenelle Forest lowlands before Sunrise on Saturday, April 14.  As darkness changed to light, I realized that it was too foggy for long range photos.  There were wood ducks swimming in the fog and I startled a Great Blue Heron when it saw me approach before I saw it.  There was a flock of Goldfinches high up in a tree and I could hear the honks of Canadian Geese. 

The forest staff has been hard at work.  The little bridge across the stream has been completed.  Dead branches have been removed from the trails and the board walk is nearly complete again.  

.The remains of the forest are everywhere.  Fallen trees drifted in the flood waters until they became tangled among the standing trees of the forest.  There are now piles of wood everywhere.  The forest floor started to sprout but it still doesn't provide any cover for wildlife.  


I hear many more birds than I see.  This song sparrow was one of the few birds I was able to approach closely enough to photograph.

A spider has built a web in stalks that remained from last year.

Dew covers a new growth of grass.

The shoots and leaves of this vine will soon cover their host - a tree that didn't survive the flood.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Flood on the Missouri - August 2011

The Fontenelle Forest wetlands were under up to 12 feet of water for the entire summer of 2011.  The wetlands were officially closed and the access road to them was blocked off. The entire area was off limits to boat traffic and flooded tracks forced the railroad to close.  I managed to hike down from the hills above the wetlands on trails that hadn't been used for months.

The trails to the wetlands were overgrown.  Spider webs crossed the trail every couple of feet.  I stopped to photograph a Red Spotted Purple butterfly on the side of the trail.

When I reached the railroad tracks, I found that the wetlands had become a tranquil lake.  The distant trees looked like the shore but the trees were actually standing in feet of water. 

The two story viewing stand that looked over the lake was now surrounded by it and  nearly level with the water.

The distant view was beautiful but a closer inspection showed death and destruction.  There were deer bones on the tracks.  The deer may have been a victim of the flood.

Several Turkey Vultures were on the tracks waiting for victims of the flood to float by.

A large snapping turtle lay dead in the grass along the side of the tracks.  It had apprently slipped on the grass trying to get to land and the thick grass had prevented it from turning back upright.

A Barred Owl watched me as I hiked back home.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Fontenelle Forest - April has Arrived

I was able to visit the Fontenelle Forest wetlands this April 6th afternoon.  It was a mild but windy day.

The visit started out with a welcome surprise - a Great Egret.  They are occasional visitors in the spring so it was a real treat to see it.  Egrets and herons are extremely difficult to approach in Nebraska.  I put a 1.4 extender on my 800mm lens and still needed to severely crop this photo.

A bluebird has returned.

Because of the flood and the beavers, the forest is receding and the grassy swamp areas are expanding.  Red-winged Blackbirds have been common at this point of previous springs.  I've seen a couple but not the normal numbers.  The reason may be that the flood destroyed the vegetation that they normally use for nests.