The beta version of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 has been released for public testing and feedback. I don't partake in the beta testing, but I was happy to get a peak at the new features.
I won't get into a bell-by-whistle rundown of the new version, because that's already been done and overdone all over the web. However, I will mention my favorites of the new features, the aspects of Lightroom 4 that I'm pretty excited about.
The one feature that will really improve my post-production life: FINALLY, we'll be able to manually geotag images. Until now you had to live with the coordinates (or lack of them) embedded in the RAW file, or do some convoluted data manipulation in third-party programs to map things right. Now Adobe has not only enabled manual editing of the location, but has even added the ability to simply drag a marker onto a map. In other words, you don't even need to know the coordinates for a photo location — you just need to know where it is on the map. Or, if you use a GPS receiver to record coordinates and generate a tracklog, you can now sync that data right in Lightroom, rather than use third-party software.
Other than that, the other features I find interesting are more minor:
We'll now be able to move more than one folder at a time within the library. This will relieve the tediousness involved in occasional reorganizing and cleanup.
A lot of photographers are excited about the new soft-proofing features. I'm not all that concerned, because I don't make a lot of prints from home. But what I do like is the ability to make live adjustments with soft-proofing turned on.
I only dabble in video, so I don't need a lot of software capability for it. But I do appreciate having a little, which is exactly what LR4 brings. Now we'll be able to playback right in the program and even do some very basic editing.
The ability to burn images to disc directly from Lightroom is not new, but it hasn't previously worked on 64-bit computer systems. Now it does. Cool time-saving feature.
Before, emailing a photo from within Lightroom required an extension. This process, too, is now built-in, and it is also a cool time-saving feature.
Four words: Auto chromatic aberration correction. Booya!
Lastly, there's a change in user interface that will actually alter suggested workflow in editing images: The Brightness control is now enveloped in with Exposure. Interesting.
Lightroom 4 comes with many other changes, too, but the remainder don't affect me as much. Either way, these new and improved features alone are enough to make the upgrade valuable.
The official release of 4.0 will come sometime later in the year; my guess is spring. In the mean time, if you'd like to play with the public beta version, you can download it at the Adobe Labs website.
Early word has leaked about Nikon's new and long-awaited flagship, the D4.
Features include the capability for using XQD Compact Flash memory cards, an improved RGB metering sensor and a high-end ISO of 204,800. All for a suggested retail price of about $6,000 — which means that the D3 will finally become affordable.
Photographing rainbows involves some knowledge of technique, but even more-so involves predicting when and where they'll occur. Photographing rare double rainbows increases the challenge more than exponentially.
Science just made that (a little) easier. Researchers studying the physics of rainbows narrowed down the ingredients for a double: a combination of round and flat water droplets.
CNN.com ran a spot this week about Monowi, Nebraska, a town with as small a population as possible. Its one resident, Elsie Eiler, is mayor, owner/cook of the town's restaurant, and founder/librarian of the town's library.
The segment reminded me of Lost Springs, Wyoming, a one-person town I photographed in 2006 on my last road trip with film. (While, incidentally, eating the best breakfast sandwich I've ever had — eggs and cheese with a thick slab of fresh-cut bacon — purchased from a nearby truck-stop diner.)
In response to about ten years' worth of stories of photographers being harassed by law enforcement when taking photos in public places, the ACLU has authored a guide to the First-Amendment and property rights of photographers.
Issues covered include what photographers may legally make images of, what law enforcement may legally prohibit photographic access to, how both should go about their business, and how a camera is not a license to trespass.
Being that just about everyone owns a camera, this is recommended reading for all America citizens.
I read an article this week about the camel problem in the Australian Outback. I researched this issue a bit when I was in Australia in 2001 working on photo and writing projects, and now it appears the situation is becoming troublesome (from an environmental and Aboriginal-culture perspective).
Though camels are indigenous only to Asia and Africa, herds totaling over a million roam the Outback. The entire population has grown from animals abandoned by rail workers about a century ago after the trans-Australian railroad was built. I wrote a bit about this in my photo essay "Driving Australia's Nullarbor Plain."
What the article doesn't mention is that I was fortunate enough to be able to recover my best photos from the tournament. How? Because the then-art director of USTA Magazine had saved the discs I'd given her. (Ironically enough, that same AD, Kirsten Navin, designed the cover of my upcoming book, Photographing Tennis.)
An article I wrote has been published on the website ObituariesHelp.org. In addition to the obvious, the website also helps visitors create family trees, specifically ones of a more artistic level than traditionally seen.
Tonight's full moon will be the largest and brightest in two decades.
Why? Because the moon is at its closest point to Earth in its 18-year elliptical orbit cycle. That translates to a moon about 15 percent brighter than average, which is great for photographers shooting moonlit landscapes.