DJI is now a camera company, and we should probably pay attention: Digital Photography Review

 

It seems that not a day goes by that there is something new and newer happening in the world of photography.  DJI joins the “camera” world.  Not surprised at all.

This week in Hollywood, DJI introduced its new Zenmuse X7 camera, a Super 35 format cinema camera of its own design that can also capture 24MP still images in APS-C format. Is it time to start thinking of DJI as a camera company?

Source: DJI is now a camera company, and we should probably pay attention: Digital Photography Review

Yashica launches Y35 digiFilm camera that uses digital ‘film’ cartriges: Digital Photography Review

I have no idea if this will ever get funded.  I hope it does.

Maybe I am just sitting in an alternate universe where people take pictures and mess around with them a little bit, a very little bit to sort of make them look okay.  Maybe in this universe, the absolute perfect picture isn’t a necessity but one that takes you on a trip through the photographer’s eye.

Maybe in this universe, the absolute perfect picture isn’t a necessity but one that takes you on a trip through the photographer’s eye.

This sounds like a picture taking device for the Lomography folks and beyond who just simply want to have fun and maybe be just a little bit different.  Okay maybe a lot different.

I know what you know. That is not much.  I do not know what the images look like, and truthfully do not care.  I like the idea of it just being a memory maker and because it says Yashica I am going to assume based on what I owned when I was too young to fret over lens quality and features that it is going to make okay pictures.

 

I guess we’ll find out if it ever gets funded and I shall say it again, I hope it does. 🙂

 

 

And yes when I was very very young I owned a Yashica 35 that his new camera is based on.

 

Click here for the Yashica web site.

 

 

 

Yashica’s interesting new Y35 retro-camera uses digital “film” cartridges to adjust ISO, color and filter settings.

Source: Yashica launches Y35 digiFilm camera that uses digital ‘film’ cartriges: Digital Photography Review

PICKTORIAL SOFTWARE FOR EDITING IMAGES ON A MAC COMPUTER – QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FROM THEIR WEB SITE

Everything below is taken directly from the Picktorial question and answer in the turorial section for the software.

We are thrilled with all the excitement around Picktorial from people in the photography community! We’ve gotten amazing response to Picktorial’s intuitive workflow and editing capabilities, and we’re pleased to offer a lot of value to those of you seeking for a photo editor that is easy to learn, fun to use, and provides a lot of options for creativity. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about Picktorial.

What does Picktorial do that other RAW processors don’t?

There are many differences, but here are the main three:
First, Picktorial’s retouching capabilities are much more powerful than basic adjustments like tone and color. Picktorial handles advanced layering systems behind the scenes, to simplify tasks like lens blur, skin smoothing (based on Frequency Separation), two-scale sharpening and more – all in a non-destructive manner – so you can always refine your very first edits without undoing the latest ones.

Secondly, importing photos is super easy. Instead of referencing individual image files, you reference folders – which makes organization a lot easier, as Picktorial automatically monitors changes in referenced folders.

Picktorial also stores and syncs adjustments, keywords, ratings, and all other relevant information in the files themselves (XMP sidecars for RAW files). This means that working on multiple computers is a breeze: files can be placed on an external drive, or on a cloud folder (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc), and adjustments and metadata changes are natively accessible from wherever the original files are. This also makes backup easy, as it’s much simpler to backup individual files than backing up a dynamic and huge database file.

Third, Picktorial takes advantage of compatible graphic hardware to accelerate the entire processing pipeline: from the initial RAW development settings, to local adjustments and layers. Thus Picktorial provides the fastest RAW processing experience, with immediate response for all operations.

Can I use Picktorial as an extension for OS X Photos?

Yes! Picktorial 1.1 makes all editing tools available as a single extension for Photos. It is now available in the new Beta version. Try it!

How does Picktorial handle colors and profiles?

Picktorial uses camera profiles in DCP format, which is compatible with Adobe Lightroom and DNG. Picktorial comes with two profiles for each camera (Standard and Neutral), and you can create your own color profiles that match your scenes’ lighting with tools like X-Rite, or download creative profiles from providers like PSKiss.

Internally, Picktorial uses ProPhoto RGB which is the industry standard color profile for editing purposes.

What processing engine powers Picktorial?

Picktorial is powered by a proprietary processing engine designed in-house, and is engineered to take advantage of modern graphics hardware. It drives the entire pipeline from RAW processing to local adjustments and overlay layers. It’s blazing fast and enables us to add more and more features overtime.

What cameras are supported?

We started with over 500 cameras, and we continue to add more cameras as time goes on, with priority given to cameras requested by users. Picktorial also provides great support for DNG files, so RAW files from unsupported cameras can be used by converting them to DNG format. The full, growing list of cameras can be found here. If your camera isn’t listed, let us know.

How does files management work? Does Picktorial use keywords and ratings to manage photos?

Picktorial’s workflow is based on referenced folders that reflect the actual folders on your file system – so no need to organize your folders twice! You can label photos with keywords and search for photos by keywords, rating, camera model and so on. We also plan to add smart collections for saving searches you create.

Where does Picktorial store metadata and non-destructive edits?

Picktorial stores non-destructive edits and other metadata in XMP format. These are embedded into JPEG and DNG files, or saved in a sidecar file for RAW format. Saving adjustments into files makes them available anywhere with the original file, so you never lose track of your edits, even if you store your photos on an external drive or a Dropbox-like folder. This also makes it easy to backup your adjustments, with Time-Machine or any other backup solution.

I’m coming from Aperture, does Picktorial provide a migration tool for me?

No need for a migration tool! Picktorial can natively read your Aperture libraries, and even multiple libraries at the same time. Simply drag them to Picktorial library and they will be available there right away. Picktorial can’t modify Aperture edits but you can choose between viewing the original file or the preview, and make new edits to the original file or additional edits on top of the preview file. Alternatively, you can use OS X Photos migration tool from Aperture and use Picktorial as an extension for OS X Photos.

Does Picktorial support local adjustments and retouching tools?

This is one of the parts of Picktorial that we are the most proud of. Local adjustments in Picktorial go far beyond light and color. Picktorial currently offers 5 different local tools (under the Retouch section):
Tone: Adjust light and color locally.
Patch: Remove spots or distracting objects.
Smooth: Allows you to independently adjust smoothness of skin texture and surface. The Smooth tool is especially unique and makes professional portrait editing faster. It’s based on a Frequency Separation technique and gives full control to adjust parameters for achieving professional, natural-looking results.
Sharpen: Allows user to independently adjust sharpness in two scales.
Defocus: Simulate depth-of-focus by blurring out parts of the image.

How local adjustments regions are defined?

The Tone, Smooth, Sharpen and Defocus adjustments are applied on masks that you can define using brushes, linear gradients, or radial gradients. You can brush over or erase from a layer? defined by a linear or a radial gradient.

Can I create custom presets?

You can easily create custom presets, by simply saving your current adjustments as a preset. You can also copy adjustments between photos while specifying which editing sections are not affected when pasting adjustments or applying presets.

What about a mobile version?

An iOS version is planned for the future. Sign up below for our newsletter to stay in the loop.

PICKTORIAL SOFTWARE IS INCREDIBLE FOR ALL MAC USERS BUT FOR FUJI USERS IT IS EXCEPTIONAL Check out these SIMULATION add on tutorials and reviews.

 

PICKTORIAL SOFTWARE IS INCREDIBLE FOR ALL MAC USERS BUT FOR FUJI USERS IT IS EXCEPTIONAL Check out these simulations add-on tutorials and reviews.

I have been using Picktorial 3.0 software for quite some time and Picktorial 2.0 before that and I have watched it evolve into the finest piece of software I have ever used to process my personal images.  It’s simplicity of operation and intuitive interface have made my image processing life an incredible pleasure.  Now if they would just make a version for the Ipad Pro I would be doing handstands and tumbling all over the place and that is at the age of 74.  🙂

As incredible and outstanding this software is and has been, it is now even better for Fuji X users because of the additional add-on of perfect Fuji X film simulations for raw files.

 

 

Picktorial Software, get it, use it.

 

Spekular is the light that does it all for photographers – DIY Photography

If you are doing any kind of studio work you will want to look all of this information over.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lg8y4LSpgFw Spekular is spectacular! Hmmm – a little over the top? Not really. I recently had the opportunity to put this new LED lighting system from Spiffy Gear to the test. Spiffy Gear are the folks that brought us the Light Blaster (buy link). Spekular is a modular lighting system that can take on all kinds of shapes depending on your needs and this can save you money and the time needed to pack and set-up light modifiers especially when you are working on location. Spekular comes as a kit of 4 LED sections. Each section is built with aluminum and

Source: Spekular is the light that does it all for photographers – DIY Photography

The 7 Commandments of Great Photo Walks: Digital Photography Review

This is a well-done article and video that has some great advice to follow.  It sure wouldn’t hurt to put his advice into practice.

A few years ago when I was running Blue Ridge Workshops one the most successful workshops and the most fun was in  Annapolis Maryland.  Students were only allowed one camera and one lens.  Primes were preferable but if the student only had a zoom then the zoom selector was taped with gaffer tape to one zoom point.  in the end,  the students had produced some incredible images by applying the one camera and one lens “rule.”

I have preached the minimalist concept for quite some time and I would be the first to admit that I struggle over and over again when it comes to decisions as to what gear to take.  For me, it is pretty simple.  I only have one main camera and three prime lenses.  I do not have any zooms.  Therefore between my Fuji X Pro 2, 23mm, 35mm, 50mm (35mm, 50mm, and 75mm in full frame terms) my overall package of gear is small and light.  However, I find more often than not I only shoot with the lens I first put on the camera, all day long.

My control point is simple as well.  Only allow yourself a small bag to carry and protect the camera and lens together with a couple of extra batteries and memory cards.  The bag I carry for that control and I have to admit amazing comfort is the Cosyspeed Streetwalker Plus (+).

 

 

Seven simple rules to make sure you get the most out of your next photography outing.

Source: The 7 Commandments of Great Photo Walks: Digital Photography Review

Review: Affinity Photo 1.5.2 for desktop: Digital Photography Review

Affinity Photo from Serif has been around for a while now, but for it has simply been one more program out of many that have been introduced to compete with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom.

Affinity Photo in many ways has come of age by combining the best of Lightroom and Photoshop into one application and this article details the PHOTO EDITING  capability.

It should be known that Affinity Photo has also recently made this program for Windows users and has also made a very complete program for the Apple Ipad and Ipad pro.

Again, it is one more option that provides an excellent piece of software to compete with Adobe.  Many have found a pure dislike for Adobe’s subscription method which is the only way one can use the programs.  Affinity offers a standard method of buying the program and offers extensive time periods when it comes to free upgrading.

Affinity Photo is a $50 photo editing software with no subscriptions. That’s it – pay for it once and you’re done. And we think it’s actually pretty darn good.

Source: Review: Affinity Photo 1.5.2 for desktop: Digital Photography Review

I LIKE HER WORK – JANE LURIE

I have spent so much time teaching and judging photography over my many years and I have been privileged to meet and admire a great many photographer’s images.  There have been times that a photographer has crossed my path and there was just something that made his or her work stand out above all the others.

I have never met Ms. Lurie but recently had the good fortune to view her personal website and her Smugmug websites and I was truly taken by the quality and the diversity of her images.

In way too many cases, even though a photographer may have incredible images it is important to note that all of the images are of the same type subjects.  It may be landscape  It may be wildlife or street photography, macro photography and so on but it all of the same genres.

What impressed me with  Ms. Lurie is how diverse her work is, spanning the full spectrum of subject matter.  Beyond that, her compositions and the ability to tell a story with her images only adds to the experience of viewing her work.

JANE LURIE PHOTOGRAPHY – JANE’S LENS

JANE’S SMUGMUG

Don’t Fear Photo Post-Processing – Shooting is Only the First Part of the Image Creation Process

In my opinion, this article by Holly Higbee – Jansen provides a simple and honest reasoning as to why any of us should consider post-processing our images.

While she only refers to Adobe Lightroom for dealing with the post-processing of raw images it is important that you are aware of the fact that besides Lightroom there are quite a few other very capable programs for doing the same thing.  Right now one of the big differences is that Lightroom is a total solution which not only offers excellent image processing but a fully comprehensive digital asset management capability. But for basic processing here are a few of the others.

Picktorial 3.0 (Mac Only) (By linking to Mac’s Photo program you can manage assets) (Very creative controls for adjusting images in a very simplified manner)(Inexpensive)

On1 Photo Raw (This program does offer digital asset management)(Very creative controls for adjusting images, however )(Reasonably priced)

Luminar (No management at all) (Extensive creative controls – actually too much going on with too many options)(Inexpensive)

Capture One (This program does offer digital asset management)(Expensive)(Lots of control)

Adobe Lightroom (Full management of assets)(Very creative controls)(Available only as a subscription for as little as $9.99 a month and includes both Photoshop and Lighroom cc programs.)

 

 

You have just bought your new bright shiny camera and you are sure that it is just the thing that will help you create better images. You’re shooting JPG with the camera’s automatic program modes, but you’re not getting the results you wanted. You keep upgrading your cameras thinking that will do the trick, only to find that the quality of your imagery isn’t getting any better. What’s going on?Lightroom Banner - Don’t Fear Photo Editing - Shooting is Only the First Part of the Image Creation Process

You may be missing an important part of digital photography, post-processing, with a state of the art processing program like Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop.

Source: Don’t Fear Photo Post-Processing – Shooting is Only the First Part of the Image Creation Process

The Last Portrait: A moving tribute to a friend and neighbor: Digital Photography Review

 

 

When photographer Jared Polin’s friend Arty was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Jared asked if he could tell his story in pictures. This is Arty’s photo story.

 

This is quite incredible. The photography, the video and the narration make for a true to life out standing story that many, too many have gone through. The photography skill and story telling talent shine throughout this video and I appreciate that Jared Polin shared.

I know how important it is to have as many photos as possible that speak to your life and the lives of those around you.  If anything Jared’s story in pictures and words should serve as an example of just how important the images of life are not only in a digital form but in a printed form to be viewed for many years and remind us of things that have gone by.  Memories should be preserved forever.

Source: The Last Portrait: A moving tribute to a friend and neighbor: Digital Photography Review

The Many Types of Photographers

This was forwarded to me from my cousin, a fellow photographer, who like me has had a varied experience with too many brands although we have settled on what is more than likely our final brand resting place.

This article is funny and sad at the same time because it speaks many truths and also lets us laugh at ourselves.

 

It is a well-known fact that there are some rather serious diseases that plague photographers out there. While we have all heard of the Gear Acquisition Syndrome and other photography addictions, it is time to expand the photography jargon to include the many types of photographers we deal with today. Some of these have been around for years, while others have been recently bred in the darkest corners of the Internet. Without further ado, let’s get down to it!

Source: The Many Types of Photographers

‘Jews will not replace us’: Why white supremacists go after Jews – The Washington Post

I find it impossible to understand how the president of the United States can support the racist groups that are across this wonderful country.  He started all of this and gave these groups a thumbs up during his campaign for president and has slowly allowed and supported the growth of these hate groups.  Shame on him.

His daughter converted to Judaism when she married.  Her husband and she are part of this presidents (not my president) white house and are supposed to have influence over his moronic twitter fingers, and his ignorant totally untruthful mouth, but they have been totally silent.  Of course the puppet vice president completely supported everything the idiot POTUS tweeted and spoke.

Not my America.

 

Are Jews white? Not according to the neo-Nazis rallying in Charlottesville.

Source: ‘Jews will not replace us’: Why white supremacists go after Jews – The Washington Post

 

the march of hate in Charlottesville va as these freaks tried to intimidate Jews worshiping in their temple.

Picktorial 3 – NEW Fujifilm X Pack Film Presets Are Here and reviewed by Middle Earth

If you have been paying attention to my blog then you know just how much I like Picktorial 3.0 Software.  But just to be sure you know I am going to say (shouting in caps) I    L  O  V  E     I  T………

I’ll jump back a bit and say I own a lot of software for image processing.  The main reason is always the hope of finding the software that will truly allow me to process my images the way I like to see them.  By searching all the possibilities it also give me the chance to be able to explain the pros and cons of different software.  The only products I have dumped off my machines is Adobe products. I’ll leave it at that.  The ones that I still have and own are On1 Photo Raw, Alien Skin, Affinity, Pictorial 3.0, and a variety of other point and shoot type programs.

My go to is Picktorial and if you want to know the reasons why then do a search on my blog site and you will find a number of articles explaining all of that.  Let’s just say that the software is the simplest, most creative, most accurate software I have found and the help from the company itself is unlike any other in the industry.  Their responses and solutions are simply the best.

Many months ago I sent them tonnage of images with different film simulations from both the Fuji XT1 and Xpro2 and a variety of lenses for the purpose of their research and development in support of Fuji X users.

Several weeks ago they provided me with a beta copy of the simulations to work with and made me promise not to share them with anyone or write about them until they were ready to release them.  And now they are ready.

Middle Earth who I have a lot of respect for is a very accomplished photographer and reviewer and he has just reviewed the simulations for Fuji X raw files.  That is what I have linked you to at the bottom of this article and while he stresses the fact that his use for simulations in general are very limited he does give high compliments to these simulations as being quite accurate in regards to what Fuji can produce in camera with Jpeg files.

I like simulations which help me achieve a quick image for posting in an article or on Facebook and the like but more important than that is that a really good film simulation, which these are gives me a perfect starting point to get to the color and texture I like in an image.  Then I can make changes to enhance that simulation to get to my final result.

With these simulations I can now stay right within my Picktorial raw process, have  incredible extensive controls within the software to create the look I want to achieve and get to the film look that Fuji X provides.

Photography NEWS! A Happy Day For Fuji Users… Picktorial just released a new set of camera profiles called The Picktorial X-Pack of film simulations for

Source: Picktorial 3 – NEW Fujifilm X Pack Film Presets! | Finding Middle Earth

How to shoot the solar eclipse: a list of resources for photographers: Digital Photography Review

If you are going to shoot the eclipse from where ever you happen to be the main thing to remember IS TO PROTECT YOUR EYES.

That said, DPREVIEW has published a nice listing of different articles right here in this one article on how to photograph the eclipse.

Good luck, be careful and have a blast.

A sizable swath of the United States will be treated to a total eclipse of the heart – er, sun – in just under a week. Here are a few excellent guides to help you photograph this rare occasion.

Source: How to shoot the solar eclipse: a list of resources for photographers: Digital Photography Review

THIS IS DONALD TRUMPS WAY OF MAKING AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.  HE FAILED TO DENOUNCE THE NEO NAZI, KKK, WHITE NATIONALIST ANTI SEMITIC, ANTI BLACK, ANTI ANYONE IS NOT A PURE WHITE Christian          One dead as car strikes crowds amid protests of white nationalist gathering in Charlottesville; two police die in helicopter crash – The Washington Post

One driver was taken into custody after the crash. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said he had a message for the white nationalists: ‘Go home.’

Source: One dead as car strikes crowds amid protests of white nationalist gathering in Charlottesville; two police die in helicopter crash – The Washington Post

First Look at Picktorial 3.0 RAW Processor for Fuji X Trans Files: “Lightening Fast Editing Speed” – Fuji Rumors

They work!!!!!  Thanks Pictorial for the accurate film simulations

 

The more, the merrier they say, right? Well, then, as announced yesterday here, there is a new player in the RAW converter game: Picktorial 3.0. It uses a unique X-Trans demosaicing… but it is any good? Luckily the FujiRumors community…

Source: First Look at Picktorial 3.0 RAW Processor for Fuji X Trans Files: “Lightening Fast Editing Speed” – Fuji Rumors

It’s All About Tones: Black and White Landscapes | Nature Visions Photo Expo

The one thing but not the only thing I learned about attending Northern Virginia Nature Vision show is that it is smart to sign up for lectures EARLY.  Early means today, not tomorrow.

This particular lecture is being given by my old partner in photography education, Brian Zwit and I can tell you one thing for sure.  It will be the best $30.00 you will put towards learning the ins and outs of black and white image processing.

Sign up today for Brian’s lecture It’s All About Tones: Black and White Landscapes | Nature Visions Photo Expo

And sign up for the one and only major photo show in Northern Va. – Nature Visions

 

Regardless of genre, black and white photography is about the basic building blocks of any photograph: tones, lines, textures, shapes, and forms. Join Brian to learn how you can advance your black and white landscape photography.

Source: It’s All About Tones: Black and White Landscapes | Nature Visions Photo Expo

Why Have You Stopped Taking Pictures

Lately I have been speaking with people from all walks of life who used to love photography and making pictures but for reasons that are not really clear, just stopped doing it. 

What started the conversation was my little Cosyspeed Streetomatic Plus camera bag with a Manfrotto Pixi Evo table top tripod sticking up out of a side pocket.  When I explained my passion  for going minimalist they wanted to see what that meant.  Then they began to talk about the photography they used to do.

Men, women, young, older than young told me that at one time they owned a camera and lenses, still owned a camera, film or digital and some even had spent time in darkroom or at desk top computers with their photography.  Most said they had their phones, but really did not feel that a phone camera provided what a system camera like Olympus, Fuji, Sony, Nikon or Canon did.  The one common denominator was that at one time they loved, loved their photography.

When I questioned why they had stopped most really weren’t sure but felt perhaps that other priorities in life such as career building became a dominant factor and certain things had to be side lined in order to grow in other areas.

On a personal note and I told them that I felt that it was sad that they had stopped recording the important moments of their lives, abandoned something they loved to do instead of trying to incorporate it not only in their lives but the lives of their friends, their families.

Not only was all of that left behind but too was a chance to expand, to grow their artistic capabilities and to share those capabilities with others.

I have spent a lifetime involved in many aspects of photography having started in my dad’s darkroom right up to today. My love for photography as a hobby and a profession spans a lot of years and I consider myself fortunate that my personal love of photography was enhanced and expanded by working in world of photography which fortunately did not diminish my personal photography endeavors.

As I told the folks who I have met, if you have side lined photography, for whatever the reason and have interest in coming back at any level, I am here to help or guide you along that path.  So if I can be of any help please be sure to contact me. 

(45) Photography Composition :: Simplification and Negative Space – YouTube

Sometimes we create our own styles, but more often than not we start off by looking at other great photographers and teachers have done, apply their teaching to our vast warehouse of learning and hopefully have our own style or styles evolve from all of this.

One of my favorite ways of shooting for as long as I can remember was using negative space and using simplification to make a photograph with more impact by having less in it.

This excellent video talk directly to that I thought I would share it through my blog.

I hope you find this useful in your creative endeavors.

The site that this came from is here  where there are short articles and superb examples covering composition.

 

PROTECT YOUR EYES – MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT GLASSES AND OR FILTERSAAS’s Advice for Safe Solar-Eclipse Viewing – Sky & Telescope

 

My good friend Joe Lee shared this with me.

Due to alarming reports of potentially unsafe eclipse viewers as eclipse day approaches, the American Astronomical Society has revised its safety advice.

Source: AAS’s Advice for Safe Solar-Eclipse Viewing – Sky & Telescope

My Friend Bill – Last Year He Left The Room And Broke My Heart – But He Is In My Thoughts A Lot And I Miss Him

My Friend Bill – Last Year He Left The Room And Broke My Heart – But He Is In My Thoughts A Lot And I Miss Him – I am not totally sure why I am writing this blog now but I am sure there is some great emotional need for me to talk about him once again.

Bill, like myself had a passion for everything photography and his love for Nikon Camera gear was surpassed even by people like me who worked for Nikon for so many years.

He loved to join me on Nikon in store demonstrations and Nikon schools as he just loved to talk to others who either shot Nikon or who he wanted desperately to convert to Nikon shooters.  He was unrelenting in his passion for the brand and at times to his detriment. (I say that smiling)-

He would find no greater pleasure than sitting down with folks who he either knew or would come to know him forever and tell his tales of his life and his experiences and share is knowledge and wisdom about video and still photography  with old friends and new ones as well as those who would be friends. He considered himself Nikon representative.  And yes, that sometimes created confusion because I was the Nikon rep and after me there were a couple of other Nikon reps and to their benefit he was determined to help with his knowledge and enthusiasm.  It made him happy and after all he was more of a loyalist to Nikon than most people I had ever known.

When I say he lived and breathed Nikon it’s not even close to an exaggeration.  It is a truth beyond all truths and because he was that way I have to say that on the day his family and friends and co workers came together to celebrate his life, in a last good-bye, something was missing.

What was missing were all of the Nikon corporate people who knew Bill so extremely well and who Bill had helped in oh so many ways were sadly absent.  Not only were they absent but not one acknowledged that Bill had left the room.  Not a sigh, not a whimper, not a high-five as a thank you.  NOTHING.

That saddens me and I just felt that I had to say something.  Giving name, rank and social security number would not make a difference and after all the mindless, uncaring, self-absorbed son of bitches more than likely know who they are.

It is not that Bill and I always agreed and there were ups and downs but we were really true friends and cared for each other and in the end I only choose to remember the ups and what a dear friend and wonderful human being Bill was and is as he lives in my heart and mind.

I love you Bill.

On1 Photo Raw – A Sad and Final Decision Concerning The Flushing Of Software From Toilet To The Treatment Plant

Making a decision about what camera system and what lenses within that system are going to be my go to image creation tools can be so very difficult because there are just so many incredible gear choices.

The same can be said for software.  There are so many options besides Adobe Lightroom CC and in many cases they are actually better and free of the proprietary library.  There is nothing wrong with Lightroom but it could be faster and finally Adobe has admitted to somehow fixing that but so many other programs have moved ahead with features, filing systems and speed that they for the first time are having to play catch up.

Here is what I have been dabbling in and with:

  • On1 Photo Raw, Mac and Windows
  • Alien Skin x2 Layers, Mac and Windows
  • Luminar for Mac and now Windows
  • Iridient Raw Developer
  • Picktorial 3.0 Mac only

And here is what I have decided are the most stable and creative and yes correct in what they do:

  • Picktorial 3.0
  • Alien Skin x2

And after working with all of these programs here is what I have found:

  • On1 Photo Raw – Very creative program but since the day it was introduced it has been plagued with bugs and up to the date I am writing this blog I still have too many intermittent crashes on three different Mac computers.
  • Luminar – Lots of creative features but does not utilize any system that enables one to see a folder of files all at one time with the ability to cull those files and rate those files.  It takes up to 50 or more seconds to load an image from a 24mp camera and some of the creative options such as noise reduction takes way to long to complete.  So the program is slow not only on my three older machines but also on brand new Macbook Pro 15 inch loaded computers as well.  It is just to turtle slow and maybe overloaded with to much stuff that most people will never need to get a got post processed image.  If anything it has too many options.
  • Iridient – This is an incredible piece of software and the owner of the company has endeavored to produce one of the best processing engines around, but it is pretty basic in what it does but what it does is excellent.  While I own it, I needed a program that was more versatile but for a simple processing system you could not go wrong.

And my winners are:

  • Picktorial 3.0 – This raw processor is very fast, uses the Macintosh system filing system, enables me to see a whole folder of images at one time and allows me to rate them and cull them as needed.  It has all of the global adjustments one needs for processing and has the most accurate colors and file rendering I have ever seen and worked with.  Besides the global adjustments I can use local adjustments with brushes and  gradients for a full range of creative control over the most minute areas and at the same time let you visualize your masks and blending modes including an incredible Luminosity feature and skin retouching feature.  It also has some pretty darn good presets if you are into those.  Sometimes presets just make it easy to have a starting point. This is an inexpensive, highly creative program with the most precise tools I have ever used.
  • Alien Skin X2 is my go to for special creative controls.  It has a tremendous assortment of tools and its film presets are just outstanding.  I can achieve my own personal look and style.

So what has made its way to the digital toilet. 

  • On1 Photo Raw
  • Luminar

What Happens When Your Camera Is The Same As Every Other Camera? An opinion piece!

 

What Happens When Your Camera Is The Same As Every Other Camera?  An opinion piece

I have used a lot of different camera brands and overall they all produced very nice images.  But the system that I finally wound up with after all my years of shooting with different cameras is the Fuji X system.  If I was to look at images from my current Fuji X camera, the X pro 2, and other camera systems all intermixed in the same folder and dumped into the same software I would have a very hard time knowing what camera produced what images in that folder.

So what does that leave me with?  It leaves me with a mirrorless camera system called “X” which is aesthetically very pleasing to look at and very comfortable to use having all kinds of dials and buttons for doing creative photographic stuff.  But it also leaves me with the feeling that the images that came from the first X cameras like the X100, X10 and X Pro 1 were much more AESTHETICALLY (film like) (smooth) (sort of pastel) pleasing which was why I bought into newer generations of the X brand.  It was not only the Jpeg files which are processed in camera but it was also the raw files.

This does not mean that the images out of the X’s today are not excellent because they are.  It means that a certain quality that Fuji seemed to have master with their first X bodies has been replaced by something that any dSLR can produce.

So that leaves me with the aesthetic look and feel of the body and the prime lenses I use.  And that will have to be enough I guess because at this stage of the game I have to admit that I am not disappointed in the image quality when it comes to resolution and dynamic range which is on a par with other cameras.  But I am disappointed with the overall look of the images from an emotional point of view.

I have to ask how and why this has happened?  I was led to believe that it was the different design of the Fuji sensor that made the difference in color and texture in the images but I guess that turns out not to be the case.

It’s not a deal breaker only because I no longer have the desire to break in a new system that for all practical purposes will give me the same image quality I am currently getting.  But I do miss that aesthetic look of the images from the first early X cameras.

DISTRICT CAMERA, VIRGINIA AND WASHINGTON DC GET THE TOP VOTES AS THE BEST ON LINE PHOTO DEALER

THE BEST OF THE BEST

DIR’s 2017 E-tailer of the Year

District Camera and Imaging

 
2017-E-tailer-of-Year-Banner
The staff at the Washington, DC, store, located at 1225 Eye Street NW, Suite 110, (L-R): Saed, Ahmed, Bob, Paul, Deon, Julee and Devin

The Father–Son Team of Saed and Eldar Tariverdi Grew a Humble Store into a Leading Online Powerhouse

We can’t be considered DIR’s E-tailer of the Year. We have so much more to accomplish before we’re where we want to be.” Eldar Tariverdi’s humble response explains District Camera and Imaging’s successful growth.

In the last five years, their employee roster has tripled and their stores are physically bursting at the seams. Low key and focused on long-term gains, Saed and Eldar Tariverdi, a father and son team, will never be “where we want to be” as their horizons continue to grow and expand.

Saed-Eldar-Tariverdi
District Camera and Imaging’s father–son team of Saed and Eldar Tariverdi

Let’s start at the beginning.

Damn the Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead . . . What’s in a Name?

The company opened in 1978 as Photo Craft in Washington, DC. When they went online during the Internet’s early years that name was already taken, so they added an “e.” Back then it seemed like a good idea to use http://www.ePhotoCraft.com. For the next decade, their URL didn’t match their company name. It was cumbersome to say the least.

Photo Craft bought Embassy Camera in 2005, thereafter operating two stores with two different names. By 2014, the confusion was too much. Eldar felt they had to dump the old names, despite their history and goodwill. ” agreed and their company name—and URL—changed to District Camera. It was one of many indicators they were very serious about being a leading online presence. Eldar now believes he should have changed names earlier.

District-Staff1
The District Camera team at Burke, Virginia, (L-R): Ramona, Allan, Craig, Jeff, Eldar, Jack, Steve and J.J.

Saed is philosophical about the aging of many photo retailers. “You come to a crossroads where you must either invest or withdraw. If you don’t continue to invest and update, you reach an end point where you liquidate and shut down.” He sees potential ahead and is happy to reinvest in expanding their business.

Manufacturers Are Retailers’ Partners

Eldar isn’t a whiner or complainer. He’s a realist. He isn’t overjoyed his “partners” sell against him online, but he never mentions it.

Instead he confides: “When the customer is at the counter, the manufacturer and District Camera are partnering to assist that customer in getting the best pictures possible. Manufacturers and retailers have common goals. They’re natural partners where the customer is involved. Nothing else matters except working together to exceed customer expectations so they’ll return to buy more.

“Every product we sell today is very good. Bad cameras aren’t being sold anymore. All cameras take great pictures. We can sell every brand with confidence.”

Eldar projects that those who complain about the status quo won’t change it by complaining. “In reality, manufacturers can best work with stocking dealers. Should manufacturers deliver more product faster to their supportive retailers? Yes, they should.

Canon-Nikon
Nikon and Canon are heavily supported, right down to the lenses.

Meanwhile, we have to step up and stock as much as we can. Retailers have to be cost effective to do business with and provide significant volume for their respective online marketplaces.”

Eldar has no easy answer to how a retailer can be more significant to a manufacturer, other than sales volume. Moreover, he’s appreciative of manufacturers’ efforts to drive traffic to his stores and website.

“Canon and Nikon are ask-for brands we heavily support with inventory, promotion and training,” he notes. “In return, they help us drive traffic. Treating your vendors with respect and courtesy can partially make up for lower volumes, but in the end, it’s still a volume game.” District Camera also has had solid growth with Sony. Likewise, Sony’s focus on brick-and-mortar stores has had enormous impact on Sony’s success.

Deep Inventory

Inventory
The Tariverdis stock a deep inventory, particularly when it comes to accessories

District Camera isn’t afraid to inventory merchandise. “We’re a PRO member and do very well with ProMaster accessories. We should have joined PRO earlier than we did, but I’m glad we didn’t wait any longer. Selling hardware helps sell accessories. We look at the entire transaction and the long-term customer relationship when we evaluate the profitability of the vendor relationship. Without the higher margin accessory sales, we wouldn’t be able to afford to sell hardware.”

Eldar believes in looking at the entire in-store and online ecosystem of sales and repeat relationships when making inventory and promotional decisions. Inventory is always a delicate balance. District Camera invested in their software so they could determine which store should ship which online order. They don’t move goods from store to store. They immediately ship from whichever store has the best inventory position.

Saed adds, “I have faith the vendors realize there must be a level playing field for the survival of the retailers who’ll grow camera sales. Individual entrepreneurial owners want to succeed and will be motivated when they see there’s a more level chance of success. When individual retailers succeed, the industry will grow long term.”

Catching Up with E-commerce Technology

When they started getting serious about e-commerce, the Tariverdis had to play catch up. Companies like B&H, Adorama and Amazon had a head start, having built the technical infrastructure that resulted in satisfied users.

District Camera wanted to play in the same league. They hired a team of three offshore engineers who wrote custom routines within a purchased ERP software. Today, when a consumer orders from DistrictCamera.com, they feel like they’re ordering from a major e-commerce player. They get an instant order confirmation and a notice when the order ships that includes a hot link for up-to-date carrier tracking. A week later, they receive a follow-up e-mail asking how else the store can help.

Pinterest-Facebook
District Camera has active Pinterest & Facebook followings.

Eldar explains, “This was a significant investment starting out, but it was critical to seem like a big company and build confidence in customers a thousand miles away.”

Eldar is constantly looking to improve their online platform. He heard his first “too many e-mails” complaint from a new District Camera customer who’s a veteran Amazon Prime shopper. She felt she should be able to look up her order status on District Camera’s website rather than have her inbox “cluttered with notification e-mails.” Eldar takes all customer comments to heart. He’s now investigating a preference box so the customer can indicate how they want to interact with District Photo.

“I’m often asked by other retailers if they should get serious about e-commerce,” Eldar notes. “Sure! E-commerce entry barriers are different but just as complex as barriers to building a new brick-and-mortar location. They’re just different. You wouldn’t open a store with only three walls, so don’t start your e-commerce site until you’re sure it’s credible and functions flawlessly. For camera stores, the days of creeping into e-commerce are over. Consumers demand quality interactions.”

Operating in Multiple Marketplaces

“We’re in multiple marketplaces and are constantly approached by new marketplaces,” says Eldar. “Their pitch is it doesn’t cost anything until they sell something. Then we pay a commission. That’s not totally accurate. You have to look at the costs to integrate your system with that marketplace’s system. The testing and security issues, along with management’s time, are a real cost. We don’t jump on every offer, only those we think will pay off for us.”

Rental
Always expanding their online presence, District Camera promotes its rental program.

Facebook’s ability to target as well as control the budget has made a dynamite medium for District Camera, which has had great success with Facebook ads.

Conventional wisdom says local advertising for a brick-and-mortar store isn’t promoting e-commerce. Not so, according to Eldar. Their Washington, DC, area radio, direct mail, e-blasts, etc., have generated web orders. “We didn’t have a box to click for in-store pickup, but customers indicated they wanted to pick up their purchase personally. We’re adding a ‘pickup in-store’ button to resolve that issue.”

The Online Bundle

District Camera offers bundles with their online camera purchases. Unlike most online camera sellers, the products in the store’s bundle aren’t the cheapest. Eldar believes selling inexpensive “junk” to make it look like “a deal” is very shortsighted. Other retailers give 17 pieces of junk. When the customer opens the package, five of them won’t even fit their camera. That’s not a smart way to deal with the customer.

Used-
District is a significant online player in buying and selling used equipment. Even in-store, the selling of used gear is healthy

“We want to give them three quality pieces they would come into the store and buy,” Eldar explains. “We may take advantage of a manufacturer’s closeouts, but only if they’re high quality. Our regular bundle products are from ProMaster. For better cameras, we put in ProMaster Velocity memory cards rather than the cheapest memory card. We respect our customers’ intelligence, and we’re proud of the value our bundles represent to the customer. We want repeat business. No junk is allowed.”

Moreover, in addition to new product, District Camera does a healthy business in used equipment. They buy used cameras online and sell used gear on the Internet and in-store. The online buying site has simple, easy instructions for selling gear. This shows a bit of District Camera’s unique humanistic personality. Their online database feeds directly from their POS system onto their website. With their various marketplace offerings, it makes them a significant player in buying and selling used equipment.

E-tailer Security Issues: Physical & Cyber

Before 2016 Saed and Eldar had very few burglary threats or attempts. Then on Christmas Day, an old-fashioned smash-and-grab happened. Reviewing the videotapes showed the motion detector in the front of the store was inoperative. The thief even returned for a second load!

This jolted District Camera into action. Today each motion detector is checked at closing time. It’s a simple process and a lesson well learned from an unfortunate event.

Alerted to the national series of camera store break-ins through the PRO group’s online forum, the District Camera team became much more proactive in monitoring their security. They noticed some “customers” were too curious about their security cameras and motion detectors. Eldar reviewed the videotapes of those store visits, including the attention paid to the front door construction and exterior walls. Thinking trouble might be coming, he alerted the local police. District Camera’s proactive attitude protected them while a less vigilant camera store was hit an hour south of them.

Cyber Security

Conversely, regarding cyber security issues, there is no question an e-tailer will have fraud. It’s only a question of how often and how much. Eldar’s team is well versed in sniffing out fraud. District Camera subscribes to various services that help them confirm addresses, phone numbers, identities and other anchor points to ensure an order is legitimate. If salespeople have a question, they call the customer. If the customer’s unreachable, a team member e-mails saying there’s a question about the order and please call.

District-Staff2
Saed and Eldar believe in their staff (L-R): Eldar, Steve, Craig, Jeff, Ramona, Allan, Jack and J.J.

Eldar doesn’t stop there when it comes to District Photo’s online security concerns. Brett S. Johnson, a former U.S. Most Wanted referred to by the Secret Service as the “Original Internet Godfather,” was hired by the PRO group as a speaker at their September 2017 Orlando convention. Having served his sentence, Johnson now helps credit card merchants avoid people like him. According to PRO’s policy, all speakers have to interview PRO members and give their draft presentation outlines to PRO before the convention. Eldar was one of the people to coach the infamous Brett “Gollumfun” Johnson.

“Brett was very helpful in confirming and also updating some of our processes. Cybercrime is morphing, and we need to keep updating our processes and protocols to stay in front of the bad guys. Brett told me about a database site (emailage.com) that shows how old an e-mail address is. I checked their website immediately. We have to have every available tool to minimize fraud.”

Friendly Fraud

Johnson mentioned “friendly fraud” where customers try to scam the retailer through the return process. He suggested whenever someone claims credit card fraud or that a package didn’t arrive, they should be asked for a copy of the police report and the badge number of the officer who took the report.

At the PRO convention, Eldar plans to sit down with Brett Johnson to fine-tune District Camera’s security concerns. “It’s a real benefit to be able to meet with a resource like Brett and pick his brain. He’s willing to do that, and I’m willing to take him up on it.” One area they’ll discuss is grading the likelihood of fraud by the credit card’s issuing bank.

The Reroute Con

In another area of cyber fraud, UPS My Choice presents a potential problem when it allows customers to reroute packages. Many credit card companies won’t honor rerouted shipments, but the shipper doesn’t know it was rerouted until too late. Johnson is also helping Eldar to research ways to avoid these costly reroutings.

“Some marketplaces are more challenging than others, because they favor the consumer and give fraud and dishonesty a pass at the retailer’s expense. So for now, we’ve altered our strategy—depending on our experiences with their handling of abuse and fraud.”
District-Camera-Logo

Eldar continues: “You have problems on all fronts, but it’s less with Amazon. Amazon’s mediation process is fairer than those of other marketplaces. A customer who bought a $3,500 lens from us on Amazon clearly was committing fraud. He knew how the system worked and that the Post Office proof of delivery only shows the zip code where it was delivered—no street address. Amazon and eBay only see zip codes. This particular thief knew how to game the system. He shipped a box to our zip code, but it wasn’t delivered to us. In my gut, I knew that.

“I went to the Post Office and discovered they take a picture of every label that goes through there. We were able to pull out the exact label. It was addressed to a Walmart in our zip code. We went to Amazon with that information and won the mediation.”

Proactive Measures

You can’t eliminate all online fraud, but District Camera has learned how to minimize it by using various software to establish where the order came from, IP addresses, etc. They incorporate Whitepages data to match the phone number and address, and then do some basic investigative work. They call the phone numbers, research on Google and figure out if the person actually lives in that area.

When they ask why the person is buying from their store, it can give marketing information while sniffing out a person who may have placed 50 fraudulent orders worldwide that day.

“We have real people who know photography taking orders on the phone,” Eldar says. “We can ask what kind of pictures customers are going to take and what other equipment they own. An experienced order-desk person can sniff out customers who don’t know photography. If someone is buying a D3X or 5D Mark III but doesn’t know anything about photography, you’re pretty sure it’s a fraudster.”

Since a lot of crooks have basic location information on hand, District Camera salespeople ask potential customers what county they are in. Crooks can’t answer that one from a stolen identity. It catches them off guard. Eldar says it’s his best “stumper question.”

Customer Service: In-Store & Online

Saed believes customer service sets District Camera apart from the competition.

District-Staff3
All team members, like Jack, excel in customer service.

Eldar ponders that a moment and adds: “It’s really our people who make us special. It’s our team that delivers the outstanding customer service that sets us apart from the other faceless online organizations out there. Our surprising number of referral customers from across the country often volunteer that a friend told them to buy from us. That’s because our team cares for our customers.”
District-Staff4

District Camera is proud of their great reviews on Facebook and Google, along with good comments from online forums. Smaller, less heavily posted groups—like Fujifilm or Sony forums—give them a chance to stick out.

District-Staff5
Romo, District Camera’s store mascot

“We read every one of them and respond when appropriate,” says Eldar. “When we askfirst-time shoppers why they chose District Camera, we frequently hear that our reviews tipped the customer in our favor.

“We try our best to make our customers happy, with service as well as price. We guarantee our low prices, and we also make sure our sales staff treats customers well and respectfully, giving them the best service.”

Competitive Pricing

District Camera will match almost any price. In-store or online, they ask if customers know their price is competitive. They believe everyone shops for price. The salesperson needs to know what customers are thinking. Some like to haggle. Many don’t. By asking them the price question, consumers have an opportunity to disclose they found a better price. Being upfront about the price helps customers understand District is on their side, making them receptive to suggested accessories.

District-Staff6
Craig, manning shipping and receiving

“We have team meetings often. Throughout the workweek, I scribble notes on what I feel is going well and what’s not. We discuss those at the meetings and make sure the whole team is aware,” Eldar said.

“The telephone is an extremely important part of our business. It’s the first point of contact for most customers. We discuss that a lot at our meetings. I use the example of a customer calling two or three local or out-of-state stores to ask if item ‘A’ is in stock. The answer is yes or no. The ‘What’s the price?’ answer is usually a number. That’s the incorrect way of doing it.

“Instead, start a conversation. We want to get to that second or third level, so when we bring up our low-price guarantee or say, ‘Yes, our price is $596.95, but this is what we’re including . . . ,’ customers often respond, ‘I didn’t know that. Tell me about the memory card and the filter.’ When we can get that conversation started, we’re ahead of the competition.”

Some products aren’t an easy sell in an online environment. A ProMaster HGX filter is a bigger investment than the average filter. However, customers find it worth the price when they hear the benefits. This is much easier to do on the phone or face to face.

Looking Forward

Saed sees the future as “similar to the last few years, I hope. If we keep growing as we have and keep working hard there is good potential.”

Eldar concurs. “We’ve grown because of our team. We couldn’t have done it without them. We feel the impact of our growth in volume as well as increased inventory, along with more staff and customers crammed into the same physical space. Merchandise is stacked 15 feet up the walls, and we’re out of wall space. Resolving our storage and efficient operational space are top of our agenda.”

Merchandise
Merchandise is stacked 15 feet up the walls; if a customer asks for it, they have it.

Eldar has a wide ranging to-do list. “At the PRO show I listen to the successful retailers who are renting camera gear. We need to boost our camera and lens rental program, including the online reservation systems leading retailers have.”

District Camera has been approached by photographers who love the store. They have their own following on their blogs and classes and would like to have an affiliate program from which they could get a small referral fee. That idea is also under consideration.

Sony’s consumer program, “12 months Same As Cash,” has been very successful at retail. During the PRO convention, Eldar hopes to meet with the same finance company Sony uses to see how to expand that concept to District Camera’s entire web product line. If that type of financing appeals to consumers in-store, why wouldn’t it appeal to consumers ordering from home?

Saed says the company’s roots are in photofinishing. Eldar believes they can double down on services while still growing e-commerce and traditional in-store product sales. With a superb lab team and good equipment in place, Eldar is exploring how IPI’s MSP program can grow sales. He’s never been to an IPI – Member Network conference and is trying to schedule it.

Dynamic Duo to Watch

Space constraints are causing District Camera to be less efficient than it must be to keep the rapid order shipments flowing. But growth is a good problem to have—certainly better than the alternative.

With the passion, dedication and power of working together, the Saed–Eldar Tariverdi father and son team will drive District Camera further. This dynamic duo is a powerhouse to watch and learn from. They are leading the future of our industry in e-commerce.

 

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