Thursday
Jul
2008
03

Save Saturday, August 23, 2008 for me (I’ve got something really cool for us to do that day)!

by Scott Kelby  |  3 Comments

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Seriously, I have cooked up something very, very cool for us to do together, and you are SO going to want to be a part of it.

Although I can’t spill the beans until later this month, I wanted to give you a heads up now to mark your calendar to spend Saturday, August 23rd with me (Trust me; you’re gonna love it!) :)

Remember; on August 23rd—-it’s you and me—doing something you’re totally going to be into, so try and keep that day open. More details soon!

Thursday
Jul
2008
03

Thursday News Stuff

by Scott Kelby  |  0 Comments

First, a big thanks to Senior Photoshop Product Manager John Nack for his Special Guest Blog yesterday, which resounded with so many of my readers. It was an honor to have John sharing his insights and perspective, and a point of view we don’t often get to hear. Now, onto some quick news stuff:

  • Joe McNally has a great post on his blog about the new Nikon SB-900 Flash, and you’ve got to check it out (here’s the link). Also, Bob Krist does a great interview with Joe about travel photography in the June issue of Outdoor Photographer magazine (click here to read it online).
  • Two new Online Classes have gone up at KelbyTraining.com; Part III of Dan Margulis’ Picture Postcard Workflow (here’s the link), and a new class from Rick Sammon about On Location Photography (here’s that link).
  • Next week, on Photoshop User TV, we got a BIG giveaway; we’re giving some lucky viewer a complete Westcott Spiderlite “Scott Kelby Studio Kit” (including 2 TD-5 Spiderlites, two softboxes, a pop-up reversible background, and two lightstands. Watch this coming Monday’s show for details on how to enter (you can watch the show right on the site–click the Photoshop User TV link above).
  • Our buddy, and Photoshop World instructor, Deke McClelland did a very clever thing that can only be described as a Photoshop Music Video, where he packs literally 101 Photoshop keyboard shortcuts into just five minutes (and better yet—he raps). It’s classic Deke, and here’s the link.
  • The popular Mac web site, “The Mac Observer” did a review of my new book, “The Mac OS X Leopard Book,” and you can read it right here (spoiler; they gave it a five-star rating). :)
  • NAPP’s Executive Director, Larry Becker, is featured interviewed on Mac Edition Radio, and you can listen in by clicking here.

That’s it for today. Have a kick-butt Thursday, and we’ll see ya tomorrow!

Wednesday
Jul
2008
02

It’s Guest Blog Wednesday Featuring: Photoshop Senior Product Manager, John Nack

by Scott Kelby  |  3 Comments

A couple of weeks ago Scott proposed a simple, seductive idea: Why doesn’t Adobe simply let users tell us what they want, then pick the top X features from their list & agree to implement them? Seems like the most obvious thing in the world, doesn’t it?

 

“The customer is always right”–right? And yet I’m reminded of a pair of quotations:

 

  • “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.” – Wayne Gretzky
  • “If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.” – Henry Ford

 

Democracy, in product development, is not a recipe for innovation. (Think the original iMac & its missing floppy drive were the product of democracy?) Groupthink produces evolution, not revolution. It may well be a recipe for customer satisfaction, at least to some degree, and we don’t discount it. But it’s not enough.

 

If you’re using Photoshop every day for work, you’re likely concerned with getting the next job done & putting bread on the table. You know the handful of changes you’d like to see made & why they’d make a difference. That’s cool, and we care–a lot. But you’re probably much less concerned with pondering the program in the abstract, thinking about how all the pieces connect & how it could be made holistically better.

 

That’s where we come in. My job is to talk to people from across the insanely diverse range of those who use Photoshop–and some who don’t, but who we think should–and to figure out the “next next” thing.

 

Let me give you an example from Photoshop’s history. It’s hard to imagine now, but for many years Photoshop supported only a single level of undo. Customers rightly clamored for multiple undos. They didn’t ask, however, for the History palette, much less the History Brush, snapshots, and related other features. It’s possible that the PS team (of which I wasn’t a part until later) could have delivered a simple, straightforward multiple undo system sooner than they did. By looking beyond the immediate requests however–by really thinking about what we needed, not just requested–they were able to deliver real breakthroughs that remain unmatched more than 10 years later.

 

Simply doing what your customers say carries significant risks. For one thing, it tends to paint you into a corner: you add ever-tweakier refinements for the same vocal group, neglecting the customers you don’t have (but whom you need in order to grow). For another, what customers say they want and what they actually need often differ. James Surowiecki nails it: “The strange truth about feature creep is that even when you give consumers what they want they can still end up hating you for it.”

 

Our job is to strike a balance, offering a mix of sizzle (“Oh my God,” only-in-Photoshop breakthroughs) and steak (sigh-of-relief, block-and-tackle stuff) while working like hell to enable the “next next” things.

 

It’s frustrating that laying plumbing for the future often takes a number of years during which progress isn’t visible. In the meantime we’re vulnerable to the perception that “Adobe just doesn’t get it; see, they haven’t touched filter X in ages…” It’s of course not obvious that we’re toiling away behind the scenes, working on, say, a fast-as-hell filter mechanism, or on changes that will make Photoshop massively more configurable and task-based over time. These things take a while. (I’m reminded of the line, “It might look like I’m doing nothing, but at the cellular level, I’m really quite busy.”)

 

If we didn’t invest for the future, however–if we just did what people request–we’d shortchange customers in the long run. It’s worth withholding short-term fixes in order to deliver what we know people really want and need, albeit sometimes a little later.

 

Now, turning to the Top 10 list of requested features that Scott posted on Monday, I’ll toss out a few thoughts:

 

  • Points 2 & 4 (both requesting filters as adjustment layers) are seductive, but very tricky. When the CS3 public beta launched, I wrote up a detailed piece called The Secret Life of Smart Filters, in which I explain why we specifically didn’t implement what people say they want–namely, filters as adjustment layers. Short story: We try not to put big “Hurt Me” buttons into Photoshop. Read my post for more background.

 

  • Point 8 says, “Make everything ‘Smart’ by default.” Ah–another one where many devils are in the details. Kill a few brain cells reading my discussion of Simplicity vs. Power to learn about the challenges of non-destructiveness in Photoshop. In any case, though, point taken: it’s important to make “best practices” the norm, and for that we have to grind away the remaining rough edges. This is far from an overnight change, but we are working on it.

 

  • It’s interesting that faster performance didn’t rate higher on the list. On the one hand, I’d like to take this as a good sign that our work in CS3 to speed up Photoshop’s launch time, take advantage of multi-core systems, etc. has paid off & that people are happy. On the other, there’s no such thing as “too fast,” and quicker performance is the best possible feature: there’s nothing to learn. Therefore I think all the muscle we’re pouring into R&D to leverage graphics hardware acceleration & 64-bit computing will make folks happy.

 

  • Much to my eternal frustration (and probably yours), we’ll never have enough time to implement even 10% of the good ideas that come our way. That’s why I’ve championed extensibility: let’s make it radically easier to customize & build upon Photoshop. I got an earful when I talked about using Flash to extend the Photoshop UI, but that’s because people haven’t seen what it’ll enable. (I can at least tell you that Scott likes what’s planned–a lot.) I have a lot of faith that if we make it ridiculously easy to tune the application and share one’s work, we’ll unleash a new wave of innovators. Let the Photoshop Nation rock out.

 

  • Matt Kloskowski made a number of good suggestions, but I have to push back on two things. One, I think translucent interface elements generally suck: they make it harder to see both what you’re adjusting and the controls for adjusting it. (Remember the hard-to-read menus in early OS X, the maligned translucent menu bar in Leopard, or the pointlessly blurry window borders in Vista?) Note that this is different from offering in-context, on-canvas adjustment tools. Two, the answer to old & suckful dialog boxes isn’t “make the dialogs better.” Rather, it’s “kill the dialogs.” Photoshop should do more things non-modally, previewing right on the canvas, more as they’re done in Camera Raw, Lightroom, and After Effects.

 

I’ve rambled on long enough, I think, but I hope I’ve provided at least a little useful perspective. Thanks for all the suggestions, and to Scott & co. for organizing the survey and giving me a chance to post here. It’s an honor, a battle, and a pleasure to wrestle with the challenges of trying to make Photoshop into just what you want and need.

 

Thanks for listening,

J.

 

PS–Oh, and by the way, lest I forget: yes, we’re changing the default stroke color to black. Just thought you’d want to know. :-)

Tuesday
Jul
2008
01

Breaking News: Two New Mosers Have Arrived!

by Scott Kelby  |  0 Comments

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Huge news: My best buddy Dave Moser and his wife Lisa just delivered twin girls!!!!!!

I’m blogging this from the hospital waiting room, and my buddy is so thrilled, relieved, exhausted and overjoyed! The girls were four weeks early, but they’re doing GREAT!!! Thanks to everybody who sent their prayers Dave and Lisa’s way!!!

As soon as I get some photos, I’ll post ‘em here. Congrats to Dave and Lisa, and a big welcome to Katherine and Elizabeth, (who I’m sure will both soon have MacBook Airs and the Creative Suite). ;-)

Whoo Hoo!!!!

Tuesday
Jul
2008
01

New Full Frame Nikon D700 (and new SB-900 Flash) Announced!

by Scott Kelby  |  2 Comments

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Nikon just announced the Nikon D700 DSLR: a brand new, full-frame FX format 12-megapixel camera (shipping near the end of this month for around $3,000), along with a new flagship for the Nikon Creative Lighting System: the Nikon SB-900 Flash (available July 25, 2008 for around $500).

The BUZZ on the D700: The outside still looks like the D300, but supposedly the inside is said to pretty much be that of a Nikon D3 (with a CMOS sensor and extremely low noise), but with some additional features not found on the D3. Unlike the D3, it comes with a built-in pop-up flash. It seems like it’s a D3 in a modified D300 body (RobGalbraith.com wrote, Pictures shot with the D3 and D700 are expected to look the same in every respect.”)

The BUZZ on the SB-900: Faster recycle time, more powerful, better software, larger LCD window, and my favorite; a simple switch on the back for going from Master to Remote for wireless use. It automatically senses whether you’re using a DX or FX format camera, and adjusts accordingly. It’s extended zoom range auto-zooms from 18-200mm, and it features the ability to have its firmware updated via user uploads.

For the full scoop visit either:

>> Download Nikon’s 24-page Brochure on the D700 here (PDF).
>> Download Nikon’s Spec Sheet on the SB-900 Flash here (PDF)

I can’t wait to get my hands on that flash, baby!!!! :)

Tuesday
Jul
2008
01

How to Shoot Fireworks

by Scott Kelby  |  4 Comments

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Mark Allen, one of my blog readers, posted this comment yesterday:

“I’ve used your books over the years in a number of projects. One thing I’ve always wanted to learn to do was take some good photos of fireworks. I used your method in The Digital Photography Book last night and got some great ones. Wow! With the right technique, it was easy!”

So, I thought with the Fourth of July coming up this week, I’d do a quick post on how to shoot Fireworks (well, how to photograph fireworks, anyway). So today I’m posting the technique, directly from page 175 in my book. Thanks to Mark for the comment (saying nice things like that is a surefire way to get my attention, by the way), and for inspiring this post today. Here we go:

This is another one that throws a lot of people (one of my best friends, who didn’t get a single crisp fireworks shot on the Fourth of July, made me including this tip just for him, and the thousands of other digital shooter that share his pain).

For starters, you’ll need to shoot fireworks with your camera on a tripod, because you’re going to need a slow enough shutter speed to capture the falling light trails, which is what you’re really after.

Also, this is where using a cable release really pays off, because you’ll need to see the rocket’s trajectory to know when to push the shutter button—if you’re looking in the viewfinder instead, it will be more of a hit or miss proposition.

Next, use a zoom lens (ideally a 200mm or more) so you can get in tight and capture just the fireworks themselves. If you want fireworks and the background (like fireworks over Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World), then use a wider lens.

Now, I recommend shooting in full Manual mode, because you just set two settings and you’re good to go:

  1. Set the Shutter Speed to 4 seconds
  2. Set the Aperture to f/11. Fire a test shot and look at the LCD monitor on the back of your camera to see if you like the results. If it overexposes, lower the shutter speed to 3 seconds, then take another shot and check the results again.

TIP: If your camera has “Bulb” mode (where the shutter stays open as long as you hold down the shutter release button down), this works great–hold the shutter button down when the rocket bursts, then release when the light trails start to fade. (By the way; most Canon and Nikon digital SLRs have bulb mode). The rest is timing—because now you’ve got the exposure and sharpness covered.

There you have it—-hope you all get some great shots! :-)

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