Monthly Archives May 2008


So, Terry White and I on the phone talking about yesterday’s post, and more specifically about how software is really developed today—all software, whether it comes from Apple or Microsoft or whomever. Terry had the perfect analogy to describe how it is from our, the end users, perspective:

So you’ve been waiting for this new restaurant to open for 12 to 18 months, and when it finally opens you head right down there. They seat you and hand you a menu with all these great dishes on it, but after a few minutes, they come and take the menu out of your hands and set down your food.

You ask the waiter, “What’s this?” He says, “This is your dinner.” And you say, “But I didn’t order this,” and he says “We decided this is what you want.” So, you go ahead and taste the dinner, and some things taste pretty good, and others you don’t care for, but you eat it anyway.

Then you ask the waiter, “Why is my fork way over there?” He says, “We decided to move it because we thought it would be easier for you to use over there.” So you say, “Why didn’t you just ask me where I wanted the fork?” [Blank stare].

When the waiter comes back by again, you ask, “Can I order some of the things I want off the menu?” and he says, “Maybe when you come back next year.”

It doesn’t have to be like this, because the software industry has the power to change the way software is designed. They just have to want to change.


Here’s a few nuggets to take us into the weekend:

  • Don’t forget: This Sunday (June 1st) is Jeff Revell’s Georgetown Photo Walk (held in the Georgetown area of Washington DC), and everyone’s invited to join Jeff and company for this social shooting event. The walk lasts two hours (starting at 10:00 am), and afterward (in a fine PhotoWalk tradition), everyone meets up a local restaurant to hang out, do some chimping, and catch a yummy lunch. Check out for all the details (don’t be one of those folks who on Monday say, “Aw man—I shudda gone!”)
  • My buddy, and Photoshop User TV co-host Matt Kloskowski is teaching a free class in Philly next Tuesday, June 3rd at the Philadelphia Downtown Marriott, as part of the Creative Suite Symposium, (Sponsored by CDW and Adobe Systems). There are morning, lunch, and afternoon sessions (Matt’s teaching in the Morning session), and all the sessions are free—you just have to register in advance by clicking here.
  • Michael Clark Photography has just released their Spring, 2008 PDF Newsletter, which always has great info (and great photos), so if you’ve got a sec, you can download the FREE PDF right here.
  • This is why I use a Drobo: Terry White did a post at his popular TechBlog on the heels of my backup story earlier this week, where he tells how his backup drive went bad, and didn’t know it for 10 days, when he learned that his backup had crashed. He if had a Drobo, it would have not only told him there was a problem, but it would have protected his data using the other drives inside the Drobo automatically. Here’s the link to Terry’s story.
  • has posted a detailed article on color management, called Why your photos look lousy…or Simple Truths about Color Management . Click here to jump there.
  • Lastly, Joe McNally’s assistant (the indelibly cool Brad Moore), has launched his own blog recently (which just means that Brad will get less sleep than ever, if that’s possible), so stop by and give the Bradmeister some love. Here’s the link. Don’t worry, you can go by anytime—he’ll be up late. ;-)

Here’s hoping you have a really great weekend, and make sure you get out there and shoot something this weekend will ya? (You know I’m talking about photos, right? Just checking).


Every time a new version of Photoshop or Lightroom comes out, we (the community of users) get a number of features that make our lives more fun, or make us more productive, or sometimes both.

But, of course, every time a new version of either one comes out, there are always those cries of “Why didn’t Adobe add [fill in the blank]” or, “I can’t believe we still don’t have [fill in the blank].” Unfortunately (for me anyway), I’m usually one of the ones whining the loudest about a feature that didn’t make it, or a feature that was changed (which is why Adobe often cringes when I call).

But my buddy Terry White and I were talking recently, and Terry floated an idea that I honestly believe would change all this, and finally give us exactly what we want in the next versions of Photoshop and Lightroom, and InDesign, and so on.

There’s only one major hurdle; Adobe would have to agree to it.

The only reason I’m even posting this idea, is because if there’s a company out there today that might consider it; it would be today’s Adobe, (which is a very different company than it was just a few years ago).

This is such a major departure from how things have always been done, that it has the power to change the way software is developed from this point on, and if Adobe pulled it off, the rewards for Adobe (and their stockholders) would be off the charts. Everybody would always upgrade to the new version because we’d all finally be get exactly what we want.

Here’s the plan:

Adobe sends an email to their registered user base asking them to tell Adobe exactly what features they want to see in the next version of Photoshop (or Lightroom, etc.), and then:

Adobe’s engineers have to agree to include ALL of the Top 10 most popular features in the next release. Period.

Only after they’ve added the top 10 most-requested features, can they then look at adding any of the 11 through 20 most popular features, or any pet projects (new ideas, new concepts, etc.) that they’ve been brewing up on their own.

Now, you might be thinking, “That’s impossible,” or “It can’t be done” but everybody was saying stuff like that before Thomas Knoll wrote the first version of Photoshop (he wrote it in one weekend, by the way). It’s only impossible until somebody does it.

Now, these Top 10 Features have to be somewhat reasonable; in other words, a feature couldn’t be, “Lower the price to $49,” or “Make it only use 20 MB of drive space” but it could be something like “Make it load 25% faster.” If that wound up being the #1 thing on the list, then Adobe would have to throw enough engineering muscle behind it so it did just that, because after all, “That’s the #1 thing our customers told us they want!”

How could they go wrong? How could they not sell a record-breaking number of upgrades, because the top 10 features would ALL be included in the next version.

Also, it’s entirely possible that the #1 thing Photoshop users want is something that would incredibly simple to add. But if you don’t ask—you’ll never know.

Now, just for fun, I’m going to do my own totally un-scientific “Photoshop Feature Wishlist Survey” and I need your input. Go ahead and post the features you’d like to see in the next Photoshop, and I’ll compile them into an online survey that we’ll post here next week. Then, you can come back by, click on the feature from the list you want the most, and we’ll see what “We” wind up choosing as our Top 10 Most-Wanted features.

I’ll make sure Adobe sees it (and will take the accompanying heat that opening up a can of worms like this usually causes me), and although this is totally just for fun, at least Adobe will get an idea of what at least some of us really want. If the #1 thing isn’t on their list, maybe now it will be.

The Power of 10

I’ll get the ball rolling with a few things I’d love to see in the next Photoshop:

  • I want to see all filters get a User Interface makeover, so they’re more like the Smart Sharpen filter, with a very large preview, the ability to save your favorite settings to a pop-up menu, and basic and advanced modes to hide features most folks won’t ever use.
  • I want a “Do the last step again” keyboard shortcut, that will do whatever I just did again. If I add the Shift key, I want it to do my two last steps again. If I add the Option (Alt) key, it does my last three steps again. It’s like an instant, temporary action, built on the fly as I work.
  • I want a better color picker; one where I can click on it, and a list pops down of my favorite colors and I can choose a new color with just one click and hold; and not have to bring up a separate dialog, or keep a palette open.
  • I want to be able to build my own toolbar, with only the tools I want visible, and I want to configure the size and shape the way I want it.
  • I want a set of real painting tools like those found in Corel Painter.
  • I want some of the best “Kai’s PowerTools” filters updated and integrated into Photoshop using Photoshop’s user interface (rather than Kai’s).
  • I want the Info palette readout built right into both Curve and Levels, so I don’t have to have two palettes open to do one job.
  • I want InDesign CS2’s pop-out panel design for managing my palettes.
  • I want Before/After’s like Lightroom built into Photoshop
  • I want Adobe to buy or license a really good noise reduction plug-in from a third-party developer (like Noise Ninja, or Noiseware Professional, etc.) and replace the one in Photoshop with it.
  • I want Adobe to hire an absolute kick-butt high-end designer to go and replace every default Layer Style Preset, every default Action, every default shape, and every default brush with brand new, kick-butt, really usable ones.
  • I want Adobe to make ALL of Photoshop work like Camera Raw and Lightroom, where you never have to wait for a progress bar, and all your edits are applied at one time; when you’re done with all your edits, so you work at full speed all the time.
  • I want the last setting you used in Layer Styles to still be in place when you go back (in other words; I want them to be “Sticky.”)
  • I want better filters. I want a Clouds filter that actually looks like clouds. I want a Glass filter that makes things really look like glass. I want a Dust & Scratches filter that really removes Dust & Scratches, and I want a Fibers filter that looks like real Fibers.
  • I want a better looking startup splash screen. I know that sounds silly, but I do.

I could go on and on, but know that I would gladly and wholeheartedly give up getting any or all of these, if it’s not what the Photoshop community chose as their “Top 10 Most-Wanted” features.

So, that’s the plan: post your own ideas here; I’ll add the most popular ones to an online survey to go live next week, and then you can vote on your favorite ones, and if nothing else, at least we’ll see what we here all want. So let’s get to it! :)

Remember a few weeks ago when Matt, RC, and I got a permit to shoot with tripods (gasp!) inside Grand Central Station in New York City? Well, RC had a video camera, and we did a short video clip during the shoot about “the permit” and how getting one affected our shoot. Click on the video below to see what happened (Thanks to my buddy RC Concepcion for shooting and editing the video).

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


I’m officially nervous. Guest blog for Scott Kelby? Hmmmm. Okay, why be nervous? I’ll just go ahead and pretend I’m writing for my blog. No problem, just type away. But here’s the deal. Scott’s blog is Broadway, man; lights, limos, red carpet, strobes flashing, throngs of swells mingling by the thousands!

My blog is community theater in Piscataway. (Apologies to theater goers in Piscataway… I probably couldn’t open there, either.)

Scott’s is also a very forward looking blog. Thoughts, notions, products, gear, philosophy, approach… so much of it is about what is happening now, or about to happen, in our industry. It’s pretty cool, and it’s a must read way station for all those trying to stay afloat in the fast moving digital rapids. Scott, in short, is on top of it all.

So this is quite an honor, to be sure. It got me to thinking, here in my cave, Mac firmly gripped in my paws, looking for the “on” button, about what got me here. The simple answer is that I’ve been a photographer for 30 years. Lots of jobs, peaks, valleys, nicks, cuts and bruises, bad pictures, some good ones, crazy jobs, lousy hotels, bumpy flights, missed connections, and, like a battered suitcase, I tumbled off the baggage belt, here.

A career in photography is a journey without a destination. No idea where the road goes. But I have a notion about where it started, and from the panoramic future gazing promontory known as Photoshop Insider, I thought I’d look, like, backwards. (Threw the “like” in there. I’ve got a teenage daughter.)

Back to the work that has gone before. Not that I’m disinterested in current work. There’s a ton of great work being done, from the battlefield shooters of Iraq to the Hollywood gang filling the glossy pages of Vanity Fair. But for now, I’m talking about work that… (more…)

Friday’s post about backing up your computer really struck a chord with a lot of readers, and I got a number of comments, and emails, asking if I would share my back-up strategy (which drives I use, how and when I back-up, etc.), so….here we go!

1. Backing Up My Photos On-Location
You only have to have a memory card fail once to become a freak about backing up your photos on location, so I might sound a little overly cautious, but its only because I’ve been burned. Here’s what I do:


Once I fill a memory card (and by the way; I don’t shoot until every last shot is used because of card-corruption horror stories I’ve heard, so I stop one or two short of how many how camera says I have left), I pop the card out of my camera into an Epson P-5000 (link). This is a hard drive/photo viewer that works brilliantly, and has never once failed me, and it has a Compact Flash and Smart Card slots right on the top.

It’s not fast at backing up, but once backed up, you can see your photos on a HUGE 4″ crisp color screen. By the way, you can use an 80GB P-5000 (shown above), or the smaller 40GB P-3000; both work great. You can even use an older P-4000 or P-2000; they’re just much slower, but still do the main job, which is backing up your photos, and then displaying them on a nice big hand-held display.

After the card is copied onto the P-5000, I eject the card and put it back in my hard-shell memory card case, but I flip it over and put it in the case back back-side facing outward, so I know this card is full and has only been backed up once (I don’t feel comfortable erasing a memory card until I know it’s backed up at least twice).

2. Backing Up Once I Reach My Laptop
Once I get back to my laptop (which is sometimes in the car, or sometimes on a table in the studio, if I’m not already shooting tethered) rather than storing the images on my laptop (which has limited hard drive space) I now save my photos to two (2) OWC Mercury On-The-Go high-speed portable hard drives, which I stack one-on-top of the other, and rubberband together (see the crude snapshot below taken in my kitchen).


I connect one to my Laptop using a Firewire 800 cable, and the other using a Firewire 400 (IEEE 1394) cable, then I then eject the card from the camera and connect my memory card to my laptop (using USB 2.0) and then I import the photos into Lightroom, with the main photos going on one drive, and an automatic back-up going to the 2nd drive. (Here’s the link to those drives).

By the way; I switched to these OWC drives because everybody’s raving about their reliability, and since in the past year I’ve had two other drives die on me (one of which was unrecoverable, even by the amazing Paul Wilder, but luckily I had a backup of my backup), so I thought I’d better start looking for a more reliable solution. Once I’ve got copies on these two drives, I can reformat my memory card in my camera and start shooting with that card again, knowing I’ve got two backups.

3. At Home Backup
At home I have my main desktop computer which I use strictly for my photography (no email, no fonts, no Word documents—a totally clean machine!). I have a partitioned 1 Terabyte drive for my working photo collection, but every single photo gets backed up to my Drobo Robotic Backup drive, which I dearly love (here’s the link).


Knowing that Drobo is constantly monitoring the health of my hard drives is paramount to me, because I can’t tell you how many people I know have had to reach for a backup drive only to find out that their back-up is dead. My Drobo makes sure that doesn’t happen. Plus, last week I wanted to add more hard drive space, so I just ejected a 360 GB drive, and popped in a new 1 Terabyte drive, in 15 seconds, and Drobo managed all my data automatically. I just so dig it.

4. Off Site Backup
I got a second Drobo for my office, so my entire photo collection is backed up not just at home, but offsite at my office as well. This is handy for me, too because I can access my entire collection both at work and at home. I move photos between home and the office using the two OWC hard drives.
5. Backing Up My Laptop
I do most of my day-to-day work on an Apple MacBook Pro, and I keep my most recent photo work on there as well. When Apple introduced Mac OS X Leopard, I immediately started using the excellent Time Machine built-in back-up software, and it works really, really well, with no other input from you, except remembering to connect an external hard drive to your laptop. But that’s where my problem came in; I would go days without remembering to plug-in that darn external hard drive. One day a message came up that it had been 10-days since I backed up, and I thought, “What if I I had crashed during the week?”


That’s when I ordered Apple’s Time Capsule, (shown above; photo courtesy of Apple), which does totally wireless backup, completely automatically, every time you’re on your laptop. It’s absolutely fan-friggin’ tastic! In fact, it’s backing up as I write this, and my latest backup is less than 1 hour old, so if my hard drive froze this instant, I would only lose my last hour’s work.

I have to say, this wireless back-up is absolutely, positively brilliant, and now I couldn’t get along without it. You don’t even know it’s happening, but you’re always, always backed up. Plus, it comes with it’s own built-in wireless network, so all you have to do is connect it to a high-speed modem, and it does the rest, all without you having to do anything. Ever! My hats off to Apple on this—it works just like you always hoped one day it would. (here’s the link)

Now, if you’re wondering, “Can’t I use that for backing up all my photos?” Well, I guess you could, but since it all moves over wireless (and you can get the 1 Terabyte Time Capsule for $499, including the built-in Airport Wireless unit) it’s pretty slow compared to even USB 2.0 (well, it would be slow for backing up 8GB from a shoot, plus it only backs up while your computer is awake, so when it goes to sleep, it stops backing up).

What I do like is; all the photos on my laptop are backed up, along with everything else (all my apps, email, documentsâ”everything!), which definitely helps me sleep at night. I have both my wife’s and my laptops backed up to it, and it’s the first time in years we both have a recent backup. I can’t recommend it enough, BUT for the long time archiving of photos, I would still recommend something like a Drobo.

That’s the scoop
Now, all that being said; it’s not as complicated a strategy as it sounds. My basic strategy is this:

  • Never erase a memory card until you have two backups
  • I backup in the field to an Epson P-5000; that way I have one backup on a hard drive, and the original photos still on my memory card, which I put back in my memory card case.
  • When you import photos onto your laptop (like into Lightroom), make sure you have a backup of your photos on an external drive as well (or two drives in my case, because I don’t store all my photos on my laptop)
  • Make sure your main photo library is backed up someplace that’s 100% safe and secure, because there is no replacing those original digital negatives (for me, that place is a Drobo).
  • Don’t forget to have an offsite duplicate backup (in my case, it’s another Drobo, but it can also be just a large external drive sitting in your safe deposit box, or at work, but you have no way of knowing that, should you need that backup, it will work, which is why I have 2nd Drobo).

One last thing about Drobo; I’ve heard people ding Drobo for only having a USB 2.0 connection, and if Drobo were my main working drive, that might be an issue, but I think of the Drobo as an archival drive; a place to store my negatives (not my working files), that is constantly monitored to make sure it’s always 100% safe, and the Drobo does that for me, totally automated, without any input from me, quite brilliantly. If they add Firewire, it still won’t be my working drive, it’ll just back up a little faster. (Besides, I like singing, “Drobo-Arigato, Mr. Roboto–Drobo [Drobo]. Drobo [Drobo]”. Seriously, they should license that song for a TV spot. But I digress.

Well, there you have it. I hope this helps you in putting together a strategy for your own backups, but the most important thing isn’t the brand you use, or how many drives you use; it’s that you start doing it. Just read the horror stories my readers posted on last Friday post, and if that doesn’t scare you into backing up, then you’ll just have to wait until it happens to you.