Monthly Archives November 2008


BIG NEWS: My favorite photography podcast, formerly known as “The Digital Photography Show” (hosted by Scott Sherman and Michael Stein) has found a new home, and a new name—it’s now called “Digital Photography Life: Make Every Shot Count” and I am totally honored that they asked me to be the first guest on their new show (which you can hear by clicking here).

The interview is pretty in-depth, and we talk about everything (and I mean everything), including a lot about Lightroom 2, so give it a listen when you get some time—I think you’ll totally dig it.

Congratulations to Scott and Michael on re-launching the show (it’s a long story, but I’m SO glad they’re back), and I wish you guys continued success!!!

I had a lot of questions and comments from the MacBook Pro review I posted last week, so I thought I’d address a few of them of them here.

Q. Why don’t you just use a mouse?
A. The reason I have a MacBook Pro at all, is because of travel (as I said in the review; I have a MacPro at home, which is my main machine for doing photography, retouching, and editing). You can’t easily use a mouse on a plane, or in a taxi, or in the airport, or in all the places I bought a MacBook Pro for in the first place, like where I’m sitting writing this right now, where my “laptop” is in my lap.

Q. How can anyone seriously use Photoshop with a trackpad?
A. I’ve been doing it for years now, and  while I’m not a trackpad fan to begin with, I was starting to get Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and was having to sleep with arm braces on all night, and take other measures. When I stopped using the mouse, and only used the trackpad or a Wacom tablet, it all went away, and I haven’t had a problem since.

Q. While I feel I should be the last person to give you advice about color correction, here goes: if you are relying on your screen to determine how your prints will look, you're doing it wrong.
A.  When I send prints to a printing press,  I go by the numbers. When my output is the Epson on my desk, or to a photo lab, I go by my screen. That’s why they make hardware calibration devices in the first place.

Q. A number of people posted really nasty comments about your review, including a number that include swearing at you, racial slurs, calling you stupid, a loser, and much worse. This stuff usually doesn’t happen on this blog—-why now?
A. It happens anytime you write something negative about Apple, no matter how minor.

Q. I also noticed that a number of PC users posted angry anti-Apple comments. Why is that?
A. It happens anytime you write something positive about Apple, no matter how minor.

Q. Where are those comments now?
A. I deleted most of them, but if you really want to see what a huge stupid loser I am, read unedited cussing, and references to my mother, (and much more), go check out the 209 comments about my review at Here’s the link (for your convenience).

Q. Don’t they know you’ve been an Apple supporter for many years?
A. It’s doesn’t matter—no one is allow to criticize Apple. Just ask Terry White (who runs MacGroup Detroit—if he posts the most minor criticism of an Apple product, he gets slammed). When I criticize Adobe, nobody gets upset, and I hope it’s because they know I’m not an Adobe-hater; I only point these things out because I want Adobe to keep improving their products, which they do. Adobe listens. When I criticize Apple, it’s for the same reasons, (In this case, I want them to give me a preference to turn off the gestures, or I want Adobe to give me a preference to turn off Rotate View”) but when you criticize Apple “All bets are off.” I’m not an Apple-hater on any level. But I’m hatin’ that trackpad. Whoops—I did it again.

Q. Have you gotten your prints back from MPIX yet, to compare screen to output?
A. Not yet (it’s a long story why), but I won’t have them back until next week. More on this then.

Q. Anything else?
A. Nope. I await your angry responses. In all caps, if possible, and don’t forget to use a fake name and anonymous email address.


Well it’s Friday (yippie!) and here’s what’s going on to take us into the weekend.

  • First, a big thanks to my buddy RC Concepcion for such a very cool guest blog post Wednesday. One thing I really loved about RC’s post is that it was so “RC.” That’s him—the Swiss Army Knife of digital imaging and design, and he totally took the guest blog in a different direction, and I think that’s really cool. Thanks RC–you rocked it, baby!
  • This weekend, Photoshop User magazine will start arriving in NAPP members mailboxes (well, at least those here in the U.S.), and in this issue is (that’s right), my 3rd Annual Gonzo Holiday Gear Guide!!!! In the past, my Gear Guide has been part of Layers magazine, but Layers Managing Editor Chris Main pointed out that so many of the things on my guide are for photographers, that maybe it was a better fit in Photoshop User magazine, and I totally agreed, so it’s found its new home in print there. However, we’ve posted the online version of my Gonzo Gear Guide over at
    Also, my buddy Terry White just posted his Holiday Gift Guide over at his tech blog (here’s that link).
  • One of my readers, James Shanks, sent me the shot you see above with this note. “I was in Poland recently visiting my wife’s family and saw [the Polish translation] of your book prominently displayed in the window at this little bookstore. I thought that was cool (it was one of the only interesting books in the store) – I thought you might get a kick out of it.” He was right—I did! Thanks, James. :-)
  • Funny story: I was in the airport a couple of days ago and I stopped into the store that sells movies, CDs, and accessories for travelers, and while I was checking out, I noticed that behind the counter they had Microsoft “Zunes” for sale. I asked the guy, “Do you guys sell any Zunes?” and he replied, “Hey, the new Zunes have some really cool features.” I said, “Yeah, but do you actually sell any?” He paused and said, “No. Everybody wants the iPods.” I cracked up.
  • I left something out of my review of the new Apple MacBook Pro; the process of changing batteries couldn’t be worse (well, I guess it could be, but you’d have to try). Now, I use two spare batteries, because I fly a lot, so if you don’t have at least a 2nd battery, this won’t matter to you one bit, but you used to be able to just turn your MacBook over, pop-up out the battery, and pop in a new one. Now, you have to turn your laptop over and remove a battery door because the battery is now inside your Mac; not outside. Once the door is off, there’s a little tab you pull, and it pops out. You slide the new battery inside, then fit the door back on, and it snaps down with a button (I’ll bet that’s fun to do on a plane). Anyway, not only does it take twice as long— the batteries themselves are twice as long (they’re now too long to fit in the battery pockets of my laptop case), and worse yet, unless I’m totally missing something (which is possible) there’s no way to tell by looking at the battery itself if it has a change or not—you have to put the battery into your Mac to check the battery gauge on the side of your Mac. Arrrrrggggh!!!!
  • Let’s wrap up this week on a high note, by checking out the amazing photography of Douglas Sonders. I just love this guy’s style, composition, and post processing (He’s “The triple threat!”) Very cool stuff—check it out right here.

That’s it for this Friday. I hope you all have a downright phenomenal weekend, and I hope you’ll join me back here on Monday.


There are things I absolutely love about my new 15″ Apple MacBook Pro (photo above courtesy of Apple), but at least 40 to 50 times a day, I want to have a friend fling it high into the air so I can use it for skeet shooting practice.

Now, before I dig into this review too far, part of the problem seems to be an Apple thing, but part of the problem may be something Adobe can fix in Photoshop CS4, because it’s there where the problem is most prevalent, and it’s there where I find myself stringing together somewhat colorful phrases I would not normally assemble.
My Worry
My main concern about the MacBook Pro was that the glossy glass screen would be too glossy for accurately editing photos in Photoshop.

My First Impression
I was pleasantly surprised at how great photos look on its crisp glossy screen. In fact, it’s so luscious, I think it makes the photos look better than they really look. Also, I was concerned about reflections, and while it is more reflective, and I keep thinking that’s going to be a problem; so far, it really hasn’t been. Surprisingly, the only time I really notice the reflections is when it dims the screen. Then, I’m much more aware of them.

The Reality
I’m still worried. Because it makes photos look so darn good, I only want people to see my photos on a glossy MacBook Pro glass screen, but of course, that’s not going to happen, as they’ll be viewed on the Web on whatever computer they have, and of course, they’ll be viewed in print. I’ve only had my MacBook Pro a few days, so I haven’t had a chance to do any serious printing in-house on my Epsons, and just last night I sent my first lab print to, so I have no idea how my on-screen color correction and edits will relate to my final images in print or on the Web. So, while I’m pleasantly surprised at how nice the screen looks, I’ll have to wait and see how the Photoshop editing process plays out. I will update you on this as soon as I know.


My Worry
I know that one of the key features in Photoshop CS4 is the new hardware accelerated graphics and that now Photoshop hands off a lot of processing directly to the graphics card, and while I could see a difference in my old MacBook Pro, I was wondering if the new NVIDIA graphics card in the new MacBook Pros would really make that big a difference.

My First Impression
It’s way better than I expected. So much so, that it actually changes your Photoshop experience. I’ve never felt like Photoshop has moved faster than it does with the new NVIDIA cards. It’s crazy fast, and zooming, moving, rotating views, etc. is just amazingly, crazily, wonderfully fast.

The Reality
My first impression was correct. So much so, that I’m going to install an NVIDIA graphics card in my MacPro tower at home, which is the machine I do most of my serious photo work on.


My Worry
Since the new MacBook Pros don’t come with a mouse button, I was afraid it would be weird not having something to click, and it would take me a long time to get used to it. Instead, the whole trackpad is a mouse button (well, most of it anyway), so wherever you are, you can just click.

My First Impression
Wow, you don’t really need a mouse button. I started working with it immediately, because your hand sits right where it always did, and when you want to click, you just click with your thumb like you always did. After five minutes, you don’t even think about it again.

The Reality
I was wrong. The trackpad is killing me, and is the main culprit behind all my MacBook Pro Pain. Apple will have to fix part of it (and if the reports I’m reading online are correct, they’ve already begun a fix), but Adobe will probably have to fix the other part.

The problem is a combination of the new trackpad finger gestures, which let you control navigation and rotation within Photoshop much in the way you work with photos on an iPhone (you can flick images around, you can pinch to zoom in, etc.. It’s actually a very cool intuitive idea). Here’s the problem; my thumb rests on the trackpad where it always rests—right where the click button used to be. But if it moves upward even 1/16 of a inch (which it often does), then the trackpad thinks I want to rotate the canvas view in Photoshop, and so it turns my canvas to a 45° angle. Sometimes, it just starts tilting my canvas back and forth while I’m trying to work. Sometimes it not only rotates my canvas, it zooms me out to less than a 1% view of my image. So, 40 to 50 times a day (maybe more), I have to go and reset my Canvas to normal, and then zoom back out to fit in view. It is driving me crazy to the point that I now find myself making finger gestures to my new Mac.

I went to the Trackpad preferences, hoping there was a way to turn off the “rotate my screen wildly and zoom in and out at random” feature, but sadly, there was not (see the capture below).


I’ve pretty much turned off whatever I can in the preferences above, and yet, still I rotate. Here’s a quick video of how this affects my day.

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Now, this problem happens to a lesser extent in my Web Browser and in my Mac Mail application, where suddenly my text zooms in, or gets really tiny. It doesn’t bother me as much there, but that’s probably because it doesn’t rotate my view, eh?




If there is one thing that I am enjoying the most out of the last few years, it’s the evolution of the Creative Professional. In the amount of time it takes us to say “Iomega Zip Disk” we’ve seen incredible strides in technology, expression and reach. There are few places in this planet that aren’t connected to the Internet, and with that – the playing field has gotten wider. Much much wider. My only job here is to hopefully inspire you to see Photoshop as a tool that is a part an entire toolbox you may -already- know how to use.

If you’re adept at Photoshop, you’d be surprised as to how much you may already know about other tools in the Creative Suite. Take Layers for example. In Photoshop, you can take layers and stack them on top of one another and create cool stuff. You can do the exact same thing in Illustrator — masks, filters, and all. Ditto for programs like InDesign and Flash, that allow you to stack stuff on top of one another. In the world of video and audio, these Layers are called Tracks, and their behavior is modified by Levels rather than Masks.

How about Styles? Photoshop uses Styles to be able to repeat a series of specific effects over and over with one click, centralizing these effects in one area (the Layers Styles palette) and giving them a name. InDesign allows you to make paragraph and textual changes using a Styles panel — keeping stuff centralized in one spot. That same technology is called Presets in Lightroom, and in the world of the web, these saved styles are placed in one sheet called a Cascading Style Sheet (CSS).

These programs, while originally designed by competing companies, have technologies and techniques that are cross-transferable. The trick here is to find the commanilities, learn those first, then double back and figure out the rest of the tool to make the next leap – adding another program to your belt.

So, why is this all important? Well.. if you’ve spent any time taking a look at the papers, or the Internet, or the TV (it’s pretty much everywhere, actually) you’ll notice that the economy is not doing so well. I’d argue that you’re probably sitting in one of two camps: “How do I keep myself competitive to keep my job” or “How can I take what I know to make more money.”

Photographers, you could capitalize on the emotional high of an event by putting your shoots online – immediately. Get them while they’re cheering, I say. If you are a smaller photography studio, make yourself look bigger than you are by creating an effective website to showcase your work. Better yet, take your pictures and make a video presentation attached to music. Now you’re a “Visual Artist” — that can totally be sold.

If you’re a graphic designer, you can either make a logo, or you can take that logo, place it on a website, develop a couple of multi page layouts, make a mini flash movie with the company’s vision, and sell the entire package. At the minimum, you’d give your client a way to ‘visualize’ your idea in different arenas — helping you close the sale, and making you look more professional for it.

A lot of time, people argue that one of the reasons a large part of the Creative Suite is not opened past Photoshop is that it’s “Too hard to get into.” Take Flash for example. Many people want a Flash gallery, but would slam a head against a wall if they knew just how much coding you’d have to learn to make it happen.

You don’t have to learn it though.. Plug-ins and Components are here to help.

I use a lot of Components from Digicrafts Components to do heavy lifting in Flash. Your clients don’t have to know that though… all they have to know is the sweat and tears it took to slave over that SWF file. Well.. not really..

So, I made a video and posted it for you guys to check out. I set my computer to record, and just started doodling around the applications. Took about 20 minutes, but in that time, I set a logo, made a business card, made a three page InDesign layout, built a website, added a Flash gallery based on XML to it. In the tutorial, I cover Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, Lightroom, Dreamweaver — editing it in Premiere, with a little Soundbooth for music. It’s long because I didn’t want it to be edited — I just wanted to work in the applications, as fast as I could.

You can click on the maximize video, and it will go to a full screen:

There is a more important thing that I wanted to do here with this video, and this is what I want to leave you with:

All of what I did through these applications, you can do with just an introductory class in the Creative Suite applications. If you spent 2 hours an application — you could do the exact same thing.

This is what I do, day in and day out at the office, and what you’ll see when you come to in the coming months. At the core, I’m still a Photographer, and I’m still a Photoshop guy. I’m just more of the background guy – not really working on the sexy portions of the program, but working on the parts that will give me the maximum amount of reach. And I encourage all of you to do the same.

–RC Concepcion


Hi Gang. It’s Tuesday–here’s what’s up:

  • Even though I provide a detailed step-by-step workbook for people who come to my Lightroom 2 Tour, a lot of folks still take their own notes, on in the case of Amanda Kern (A professor of Graphics Technology, at Valencia Community College), they create SketchNotes (like the one seen above, which Amanda created during the day). She posted a number of these SketchNotes from the day on her blog, and they’re just so clever I thought you’d get a kick out of seeing them (here’s the link). Thanks Amanda, for letting me share these ¼ber-doodles with my readers.
  • Yesterday my Photoshop User TV co-host Dave Cross posted a link to a downloads page within Adobe where you can download some of the filters and things Adobe quietly removed in Photoshop CS4 (things like Extract, Pattern Maker, and Picture Package [contact sheet II] among others). Here’s the link to Dave’s article.
  • Last night we announced the winners of our ‘iPhone Photo Contest,” and you can check out the category winners (chosen by your votes), and the Grand Prize Winning Shot (which is pretty darn amazing), by clicking right here.
  • One of my readers, Jim Geduldick, turned me onto this video of a Photoshop retouch by Aaron Nace of ARFotography, and it’s just pretty cool to check out. It doesn’t really show you how he did it; it’s more of a time-lapse thing, but it’s very short and worth checking out to see how it unfolds. Very well done. Here’s that link.
  • If you’re a photographer with either an iPhone or an iPod touch, check out this cool downloadable application for photographer’s called PhotoBuddy, which is basically a utility that, in the words of tech guru Terry White, “â¦aims to be your photo assistant.” Terry has a full review of it on his tech blog, and it’s looks pretty darn sweet. Here’s the link.

It’s kind of a quiet day, so that’s it for me today. Have a great Tuesday everybody!