May 222014
 

Adobe recently released Lightroom Mobile, their tablet integration efforts for Lightroom desktops. In order to try the software for 30 days you need to be running Lightroom 5, going beyond that will require a Creative Cloud subscription (min version being Photoshop & Lightroom CC @ $10/month).

I was curious to see how well this would work, as Lightroom is a desktop heavy application focused on very large files & workflows. Thus far, only collections (and not smart collections) can be synchronized by selecting the Sync Collection icon which is available after signing in with an Adobe ID. After a collection has been set to synchronize, Lightroom begins to upload metadata and smaller versions of the images to their cloud. For my case I created three separate albums, and roughly 1k total RAW images in my Lightroom collection to synchronize. Once started the sync took about 30 minutes, which seems reasonable given the amount of data to upload.

After signing into the iPad app for Lightroom Mobile, it began to download the collections which had been uploaded. This seemed to go at about the same speed as the upload, and was completed roughly a half hour later.

Lightroom Mobile

After the collections have been synchronized, they are ready to be used. On first opening a collection you will see all photos available in a grid view.

Lightroom Mobile grid view

After selecting a photo, an initial low resolution version of the photo will be displayed, along with a spinning swirl to indicate the application is still working. After a variable amount of time (times seem to range from 3-10 seconds on my iPad 3) the image is displayed in a higher resolution format, and other details like ISO, f stop, and shutter are displayed. Adobe notes that older iPads such as mine have poor performance for this step compared with newer ones. The time to open files seemed to go down as it built an internal cache, so it may be one of those cases were opening an album and leaving it for a bit will improve overall performance.

Lightroom Mobile detail view

The photo can also be edited using some of the simple controls in Lightroom. Given the smaller screen and potentially questionable color representation (though Apple is better than most at this), this is probably more of a rough starting point for editing rather than a finishing touch.

Lightroom Mobile edit photo

Ultimately for me, the most useful feature of the app is swipe up and down to flag or un-flag photos for quick editing of a group of photos. Unfortunately there is not currently any ability to see or edit meta data elements like captions, tags, or other elements. This is sorely lacking. Updating meta data can be one of the more time consuming and bothersome parts of photography, and having the ability to add or edit when I have some downtime would be a nice addition. Until then, $10/m for mobile functionality (as I already own the desktop version of Lightroom) doesn’t quite make sense.

Nov 042013
 

I’ve been using a diving backplate and harness from Deep Sea Supply for my scuba diving for a number of years now. The harness I use is somewhat Hogarthian, which in simple terms means it is a single piece of webbing and does not include any pockets or weight system integration. With this configuration the best method for using weights with a backplate is to use a weight belt, since it allows for separate ditching. However, weight belts and I don’t get along well unless I use suspenders, which then interferes with the harness and introduces entanglement scenarios I’d rather avoid.

I started by using a combination of bolt on weight plates from DSS (which work great) and small weight pockets on the belt webbing near the base of the backplate. This works well but it means that I have a lot of weight on me which is not quickly ditch-able (weights can be removed from the small pockets, but not quickly). In an effort to avoid this issue I looked at a number of different options for adding ditchable weights to a backplate setup.

I settled on the DiveRite 16LB QB Weight Pocket (#AC3216) as a ditchable weight system for my backplate setup:

Backplate with DiveRite 16LB QB Weight Pocket

The first complaint I had about the system for my usage is the webbing mount point when connected horizontally (the system supports both methods). In the horizontal scenario the webbing connection to the 2″ waist belt is quite loose and will side over standard weight keepers (as seen in the photo below).

16LB QB Weight Pocket

I had to purchase plastic weight keepers with extended D rings in order to keep the pockets in place and secured up against the backplate (as seen in photo below).

16LB QB Weight Pocket attached with belt D ring

The system loads easily and feels secure. The quick release pull works with an expected level of force, but I’ve found the extra velcro stabilizer strap requires a second expenditure of force to release, which could be confusing if a third party is doing the pulling in a rescue scenario.

DSS backplate with DiveRite 16LB QB Weight Pocket

The product is priced well (nothing in diving is cheap) and feels quite well made. The manufacture says each weight pocket is able to accommodate 8 lb of weight for a total of 16lb, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you could double that. I’m using single plastic coated weights in each pocket, and it handles that with only 50% of the weight capacity used. If you are looking for a ditch-able weight system for a backplate harness (or any 2″ webbing harness system) I recommend giving this product a look.

Sep 072013
 

I’ve been using Gallery (aka Menalto) for almost a decade, starting with Gallery1, now up to Gallery3 in the current release. In the early days the work-flow for adding and providing meta data about photos wasn’t so easy. That got better with Gallery Remote, which I used for many years. However, the Gallery Remote workflow was still clumsy. If I was going to stay with Gallery in any shape it needed to be much easier.

Thankfully alloyphoto made that much easier – his Lightroom Gallery Export Plug-in works extremely well with Gallery3. It works similarly to other export plugins (Flickr, SmugMug, etc) – setup albums, photo properties, and publish to your Gallery3 site. Any content changes made in Lightroom (including image or album removal) can be published back the the Gallery3 site.

gallery3 publish services

When you first start out with the Gallery3 publish service in Lightroom it will not have any of your existing gallery3 albums or images. This can be remedied by first running the Import albums process, and then associating images in Lightroom with ones retrieved from the Gallery3 instance.

lightroom gallery3 plugin import albums

lightroom gallery3 plugin albums

Once the photos are associated with the Lightroom library, new versions of previously created gallery photos can be uploaded again. This is helpful if you have done some updating of previous image metadata or tags, added or updated exif gps data, or simply applied new image processing rules. In my case because I have so many albums and images already out on the site (and the fact that I am running a very low resource server) I chose to change the associate images options to do specific large albums one at a time before trying the entire library. I’ve found that in my case this process is quite time and resource consuming, so if you have a lot to do you may want to grab a cup of tea while you wait. I also made changes to which images are associated as I typically have both jpg and RAW versions of the same files in my library from previous exports – in my case I want to make sure I’m associating the RAW files instead of any generated jpg files.

lightroom gallery3 plugin associate images

lightroom gallery3 plugin associate images settings

One thing I really appreciate in this plugin is the ability to set the number of albums the plugin accesses at a time, and set a throttled response rate. This probably doesn’t apply to everyone – but since I run my site on a Amazon EC2 Micro instance with only bursting CPU it really helps.

gallery3 publish service server options

I enthusiastically recommend this plugin if you have Gallery3 and Lightroom. The plugin is not free, but at $15 it is more than worth it for me in the sheer amount of time it has saved me by streamlining my workflow. One of the main reasons I get so behind in publishing my photos is the large amount of work that I had to do previously – Now everything I’m working on is controlled via Lightroom and that takes all of the headache out of maintaining multiple sets of data.

Lightroom Gallery Publish Plugin home page
Gallery Plug-in at Adobe Exchange

Features

  • Supports Export operations
  • Supports Publish Services in Lightroom 3 and above
  • Supports multiple hosting servers and multiple accounts
  • Supports nested album structures
  • Supports custom sorting in published albums
  • Allows you to import the album structure from the hosting environment into your Lightroom catalog
  • Allows you to associate existing photos with photos in your Lightroom catalog
  • Supports photo keywords (tags) and comments
  • The plug-in automatically checks if a new version is available and updates itself with one click

Requirements

  • Lightroom 2 (2.4 – 2.7): Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Mac OS X
  • Lightroom 3 (3.3 – 3.6): Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Mac OS X
  • Lightroom 4 (4.0 – 4.4): Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Mac OS X
  • Lightroom 5 (5.0): Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Mac OS X
  • Gallery 3.0.1 (and above) hosting service with the following modules enabled:
    • Comments
    • Exif Data
    • Exif GPS Data (if you want your Gallery show map locations for geoencoded photos)
    • REST API
    • Tags
    • Lightroom Plugin Helper – see the download link on the side bar on the right
Oct 052010
 

Stuff breaks. Usually when I’m nowhere near a computer. These 4 apps help keep me sane:

1. Jaadu Remote Desktop (app store link). Pricey, but the best RDP client of the bunch. This plus the built in iPhone VPN client and I can access all of our Windows based servers.

2. Citrix Receiver (app store link). Only really applicable if you have significant Citrix investment (e.g. Citrix Access Gateway), but this app works great for a quick check on things in our hosted environment.

3. iSSH (app store link). Great SSH client for the iPhone. The private key import function (copy paste pem contents) is critical for using this app with Linux servers on Amazon Web Services.

4. iAWSManager (app store link). This is a fantastic app if you are heavy into Amazon Web Services. There is an amazing amount of functionality packed into it – CloudWatch monitoring graphs, EBS manipulation, security group access, etc. Given the choice, I won’t be launching new EC2 instances from the app because of the screen size, but it is amazing to have the option.

Aug 092010
 

Now that jailbreaking is painless again, I’ve started to explore some of the jailbreak specific apps. The nicest surprise I’ve found so far is LockInfo. It has a number of plugins that show appointments, RSS feeds, new mail, and weather data on the iPhone’s lock screen. I find it quite useful; definitely worth $5 and a quick jailbreak. It is mind boggling why Apple hasn’t allowed this functionality in the default OS or via 3rd party apps the App Store.

Jul 052010
 

My 3mm Henderson InstaDry gloves are mostly ratty fingerless gloves at this point. After a particularly cold dive (50 F) I decided it was time to join the warm hands crowd and get some drygloves.

Most drysuit gloves on the market attach directly to the drysuit cuff, replacing the latex seal with a compressed neoprene or dipped vinyl glove. I’ve been wary of these traditional dry gloves for several reasons:

* the glove is attached to the suit and makes working with gear very difficult after your drysuit is on.
* they are quite expensive when you consider that gloves are heavy wear items, and will need repair or replacement (especially true of the DUI zipseal gloves)
* for glove designs where the seal is replaced, a hole in the glove means a drysuit flood.

I wanted to avoid the above pitfalls, so I took my time and did some market research. The best option I found was the Glove Lock ring system from SI Tech, a Swedish company. At roughly $180, it is not the cheapest option (nothing in diving is cheap, though the system may be cheaper in the long run), but it does seem to be the best solution for me.

The Glove Lock system uses rings and a sealing system that allows it to quickly attach plain (and cheap) waterproof gloves to an existing drysuit wrist seal. Once in place, the gloves can be removed before and after the dive, making suiting up messing with gear much easier.

The Glove Lock system only includes the plastic rings and seal system. It is up to the user to find the appropriate waterproof glove to attach to the system, and an insulating glove for underneath. I value my dexterity underwater, so I chose some Atlas 620 fishing gloves to serve as the waterproof layer. Unlike the blue smurf gloves, the orange gloves are only dipped twice. This means they are thiner – easier to handle gear, but not as durable. At roughly $4 a pair, I’m not terribly worried about replacing them eventually. I am using a pair of Mnt Hardware powerstretch gloves as an insulating layer. They are not thick enough for more northern waters, but seem perfect for the low 50s I usually dive.

Because the system leaves the wrist seals in place, it means that a glove leak won’t flood the suit. However, it also means that the user has to equalize the gloves with the rest of the suit. SI Tech includes some plastic straws to go under the wrist seal, but I found I was able to equalize the gloves by keeping a bit of my insulation gloves under the wrist seal. The small air gap allows air to travel into to gloves if I briefly hold my hands higher than the drysuit bubble.

How do they work? Pretty well. Gloves are the last piece of gear I put on before jumping in, so I don’t have any issues with equipment management. Under water, the combination is dexterous enough for me to use small boltsnaps and camera controls without issue, and my hands are toasty warm. Occasionally I need a hand to unlock the seals after a dive, if my gloves and seals are still too wet, but the vast majority of the time they can be used solo. I added some extra weight to my rig to offset the new buoyancy, but I’m probably an extreme case that way – my old beat up gloves were essentially neutral.

I’ve only used them for a few dives, but so far I’m very happy with the system. I highly recommend them compared with the other options out there. The only thing that could be better about the system is cost – but cold water diving is such a low volume industry it is bit surprising they cost as much as they do.

Dec 052008
 

I popped into the newly opened Halcyon Tea in South Park yesterday evening. The shop is located just a couple doors up from what used to be Santos, and a short block from Grant’s Marketplace. They have done a nice job fixing the shop up and it looks great.

Their tea selection is pretty good, prices reasonable, and they are happy to let you stick your nose in the big metal jars to check out different teas. I picked up some of my staples and tried out a new oolong. So far, I’m a fan. I wish them the best – opening a tea shop in a recession is not for the faint of heart.

Apr 242008
 

I had heard about Sharkwater on the film festival circuit for a year, but wasn’t ever in a place where it was showing. It came out on dvd last week and I finally watched it last night. Sharkwater is really three movies in one. Part nature documentary on sharks, part educational documentary on shark finning (mostly for sharkfin soup aka fishwing), and part docu-drama. Rob Stewart has some beautiful underwater footage in the movie, and one could see how that was how the movie started out. But the hook of the film is the drama they encounter in Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Ecuador.

That drama ties into explaining the sharkfinning industry, and just how dangerous it is to the ocean – our lungs. The movie doesn’t hold back in terms of imagery. In addition to finning sharks, the viewer is shown exactly what longlines are, and just how wasteful and brutal they are for large fish species. Today, it is estimated 90% of shark populations are gone from our seas. The removal of this top predator from the oceans will have a huge impact on an already off-balance ecosystem.

Though parts of the movie are hard to watch, I think it is a very important film to get into the public consciousness. Unless laws and enforcement change, most species will be gone within a decade.

Watch the Sharkwater trailer here: