tools

Jimmy Diresta’s Drill Tips

Jimmy Diresta is a character, that’s for sure and he’s a great explainer of all sorts of things. This video is about using electric drills and it may seem uninteresting on the surface but I highly recommend watching it, even if you don’t have or use electric drills, just to enjoy his style and enthusiasm.

He has a great YouTube channel with lots of great stuff on it: Jimmy Diresta.

Spike the cat is his straight man (straight cat?). Great stuff.

[via Core77]

Lightroom 6

Adobe has released a new version of its photo editing and cataloging software, Lightroom.

Version 6 adds a few capabilities, fixes bugs, but most importantly it uses the GPU chips in modern computers more than previous versions which increases its speed dramatically in processor-intensive tasks. Check out the chart in this review: Lightroom 6 arrives with performance improvements and new tools.

Personally, I’m no fan of Adobe. While I think Lightroom is the best tool available there are UI and UX design issues that have persisted in it since it was born and as you will see below, Adobe just does not get user experience at all and treats users like thieves.

I was hoping that Apple’s new Photos application that has replaced both iPhoto and Aperture might be good enough for me to leave the Adobe ship once and for all, but after using Photos for a week I can say for sure that while it will no doubt improve in future versions, and I’ve moved my entire iPhoto library into it and thrown out iPhoto, Photos is not a replacement for Lightroom or Aperture for serious work with images.

Lightroom remains the best image editing and organizing tool out there for my photographic process and I upgraded to Lightroom 6 yesterday.

How to buy and/or upgrade

Adobe would like you to subscribe to their “Creative Cloud” which, for $9.99 a month gives you access to Lightroom and Photoshop and apps that run on mobile devices and a small amount of cloud space to store images to sync to multiple devices. I was concerned that this was the only way they were selling Lightroom and as a long time user I’m only interested in having the software running on my computer, not my iPad or iPhone.

If you’re not logged into the Adobe site and you scroll to the bottom of this page you’ll see 5 rectangles, the one in the bottom right says: Lightroom 6: For desktop only. Mobile capabilities not included, Buy Now. It pisses me off that Adobe buries the stand-alone application and they really want us all to subscribe so they’re pushing one over the other. I was logged into the Adobe site when I first went looking for this and it was not to be found. If you don’t see it, make sure you’re logged out (you can log back in later in the process).

Once you hit “Buy Now” and are looking at your cart, you’ll see Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6 in your basket. Now comes the incredibly unintuitive part.

I was concerned that there was no upgrade path for users of earlier versions of Lightroom but in fact, there is but Adobe in all of it’s infinite wisdom (not) chose to bury it, again trying to force you to pay full price again. Ugh.

Click the “Edit” button on the right and you’ll notice that things will change on the left.

Where is says: “I want to buy: Full” note that “Full” is now a pulldown menu. Pull it down and choose “Upgrade.”

The next line is: “I own:” and a pulldown menu for the version of Lightroom you own. I own Lightroom 5.X so I chose it.

Lastly the click the orange “Save Changes” button at the bottom. The price will change from the full $149 price to the $79 upgrade price.

The orange button is now “Checkout” and once you click there you can pay for the upgrade and a screen or two later, download the Mac or Win version.

The rest is Adobe’s convoluted serial number entering process which, if you use their products you’ll be painfully familiar with.

Note: A big thank you to my good friend Edward for help with this. I had no clue it was possible to upgrade until he showed me the steps above.

Is it worth it?

In a word, yes. After opening my 8000 image library up (a mixture of Canon 5D RAWs, Ricoh GR RAWs and Sony RX100 RAWs) and moving through it I can say that on my mid-2014 Retina MacBook Pro (2.8 GHz Core i7, 16 GB memory, Intel Iris Pro 1536, 1TB SSD this upgrade of Lightroom is significantly faster at almost everything.

At some point this summer I plan to buy a Retina iMac for image editing and book creation and I was concerned that the rumors of Lightroom being slow on the huge, high resolution screen would be an issue. I’m pretty sure Adobe took care of that with this version which makes better use of the GPU to render images much faster.

All of my presets, both in the Develop module and the Print module are there and the application just feels snappier which is very nice considering I’m using it on a very fast computer.

For me and the kind of work I do this upgrade is worth it. $79 every two years might seem like a lot of money in this time where we buy apps from the Mac app store for $5 and they upgrade automatically for free, but in fact, Lightroom is a different animal and while I wish Adobe would put it in the app store with automatic .X upgrades, I don’t resent paying this kind of money for it as it’s a serious, industrial-strength application that does what it does well.

If you’re a desktop computer Lightroom user this upgrade is well worth doing.

Flashlight fetish

Flashlight Fanatic Pics and even more Flashlight Fanatic Pics

I thought I had a flashlight fetish: I have a bunch of “low end” Surefire G2 flashlights in the house and in the cars as well as a Surefire headlamp for hiking and some Streamlights in various sizes and shapes. The collections shown at core77 and at the CandlePower Forums show just how far people get into this stuff.

Flashlights are interesting objects, they have utility but they also have an aesthetic which has many aspects: fine machined steel or aluminum or plastic, the design of the switch, power (lumens), battery type and life, and lastly, how cop-like or weapony or “tactical” they are.

In the old days this was the territory of Maglite but now with LED illumination, Surefire has taken over as the popular US manufacturer of tactical flashlights.

Surefire flashlights are expensive but they’re made in the USA (like Maglites) and Streamlight, Fenix and many others are made in China. An interesting site to check many out is Optics Planet.

Oh, on my keychain I carry a Photon Micro-Light and I have to say, it’s fantastic, one of my most used flashlights. I also have one of these lights in my camera bag and another in my carry-on bag I take on planes. Not “tactical” but very “practical.”

Changing the octane rating of the gas we buy

I’ve been having problems with the fuel systems in both of my chainsaws and while I have them serviced regularly every now and then one of them needs its carburetor cleaned.

Unfortunately both of my saws were in the shop when the big storm hit us so I borrowed a neighbor’s saw to do a bit of the cutting I had to do and then got my big saw back for the bulk of it.

When I picked up my saw the mechanic who fixed it asked me what kind of gas I used in it and I told him regular (87 octane) with the 40:1 mix gas:oil. He recommended that I try 89 octane, the mid grade of gas at most stations.

So, I dumped my 87 octane gas (and some old mix) into my truck and went to the station and filled the truck up with 89 octane and filled my gas cans up too. Anne filled her Jetta up with 89 octane too.

My report is that it makes a significant difference: the saws are running better and the truck and VW are running a lot better.

I’ve run nothing but regular through every car I’ve ever had except my first car which was a Triumph TR4A and it took premium. Today I stepped up to 89 octane and I feel better already.

Seriously, I’m concerned about my power tools working well and not needing carb work all the time and I may have found a piece of the reason they’ve been tough to start at times. A season or two will tell.

PTLens and image correction

I’m experimenting with an application called PTLens which corrects pincushion/barrel distortion, vignetting, chromatic aberration, and perspective.

In this case, the 24mm end of the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L causes distortion in the perspective on buildings left and right of center.

Lower Manhattan and the Staten Island Ferry Terminal

Before (above)

Lower Manhattan and the Staten Island Ferry Terminal (corrected)

After (above)

The image would need to be cropped to remove the black areas left and right of bottom center.

I heard about this application from one of my favorite photobloggers, Sam Javanrouh who no doubt uses it a lot on his wide angle urban landscape images.

Blower

Blower

Warren, Connecticut. Every morning a different set of things is left out on my work table and every morning the sun makes an ever-changing pattern of shadows as it shines on them. Sometimes I just sit here, watching the patterns change while sipping coffee and listening to Morning Edition, I’m so mesmerized I don’t think to fire up the camera.

I left one of my blowers out to remind me to clean my 5D’s sensor today so it’s the lucky object. Even the most mundane things can be interesting when they cast a shadow and taking pictures is a lot more fun than sensor cleaning.

The most popular blower around is the apt named Rocket Blower.