Author Archives: ELLIOT STERN



No Need To Spend A Lot Of Money On Professional Quality Flash Anymore.  Go Beyond Camera Manufacturers Flashes For Less….

On camera flash, over the years has evolved into virtually automatic systems providing acceptable control of light.  A whole industry has been built up around the flashes that camera manufacturers provide for the cameras.

For a while, this was the best you could get for doing your flash photography unless you were willing to go to metering your flash and setting things manually for very precise personal control.  Everything that was available was outrageous when it came to price.

Today there are Chinese companies that several years ago I would have snubbed my nose at. That is no longer the case.  One company, whose strobes I own have proven to have jumped ahead of the camera manufacturers in technology and features is Godox.  Their range of flash is extensive and for most brands can be TTL or manual and wirelessly controlled.

I spent my early years as a photographer which now seems to be so very very long ago hardly ever shooting flash with the exceptions of things like weddings. Even then I did more available light than flash.  It was not until much later when I was working for Nikon and Nikon introduced their excellent flash systems did I begin to use more and more flash.  But I became so dependent upon TTL (which is acceptable) that I no longer tried to manually control these light sources.

The article I reference in this blog may well help you change your mind and take the time to learn just how flash can change your photography.

KWANZAA – A celebration of African Heritage about Family, Community and Culture


A Celebration of Family, Community & Culture

Kwanzaa (/ˈkwɑːn.zə/) is a celebration held in the United States and in other nations of the African diaspora in the Americas and lasts a week. The celebration honors African heritage in African-American culture and is observed from December 26 to January 1, culminating in a feast and gift-giving.[1] Kwanzaa has seven core principles (Nguzo Saba). It was created by Maulana Karenga and was first celebrated in 1966–67.

History and etymology

American Black Power activist and secular humanist Maulana Karenga, also known as Ronald McKinley Everett, created Kwanzaa in 1966, as a specifically African-American holiday[2], in a spirit comparable to Juneteenth. According to Karenga, the name Kwanzaa derives from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, meaning “first fruits of the harvest”.[3] A more conventional translation would simply be “first fruits”. The choice of Swahili, an East African language, reflects its status as a symbol of Pan-Africanism, especially in the 1960s, although most of the Atlantic slave trade that brought African people to America originated in West Africa.[4][5]

First fruits festivals exist in Southern Africa, celebrated in December/January with the southern solstice, and Karenga was partly inspired by an account he read of the Zulu festival Umkhosi Wokweshwama.[6] It was decided to spell the holiday’s name with an additional “a” so that it would have a symbolic seven letters.[7]

Kwanzaa is a celebration with its roots in the black nationalist movement of the 1960s. Karenga established it to help African Americans reconnect with their African cultural and historical heritage by uniting in meditation and study of African traditions and Nguzo Saba, the “seven principles of African Heritage,” which Karenga said “is a communitarian African philosophy.” For Karenga, a major figure in the Black Power movement of the 1960s and 1970s, the creation of such holidays also underscored an essential premise “you must have a cultural revolution before the violent revolution.The cultural revolution gives identity, purpose and direction.”[8]


Principles and symbols

A 2003 Kwanzaa celebration with Kwanzaa founder Maulana Karenga at center, and others.

Kwanzaa celebrates what its founder called the seven principles of Kwanzaa, or Nguzo Saba (originally Nguzu Saba—the seven principles of African Heritage), which Karenga said “is a communitarian African philosophy,” consisting of what Karenga called “the best of African thought and practice in constant exchange with the world.” They were developed in 1965, a year before Kwanzaa itself. These seven principles comprise Kawaida, a Swahili word meaning “common”. Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa is dedicated to one of the following principles, as follows:[12]

  • Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
  • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define and name ourselves, as well as to create and speak for ourselves.
  • Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and to solve them together.
  • Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
  • Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
  • Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
  • Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

Kwanzaa celebratory symbols include a mat (Mkeka) on which other symbols are placed: a Kinara (candle holder), Mishumaa Saba (seven candles), mazao (crops), Muhindi (corn), a Kikombe cha Umoja (unity cup) for commemorating and giving shukrani (thanks) to African Ancestors, and Zawadi (gifts). Supplemental representations include a Nguzo Saba poster,[13] the black, red, and green bendera (flag), and African books and artworks – all to represent values and concepts reflective of African culture and contribution to community building and reinforcement.[14] Corn is the primary symbol for both decoration and celebratory dining.


A woman lighting kinara candles for Kwanzaa.

Families celebrating Kwanzaa decorate their households with objects of art, colorful African cloth such as kente, especially the wearing of kaftans by women, and fresh fruits that represent African idealism. It is customary to include children in Kwanzaa ceremonies and to give respect and gratitude to ancestors. Libationsare shared, generally with a common chalice, Kikombe cha Umoja, passed around to all celebrants. Non-African Americans also celebrate Kwanzaa.[15] The holiday greeting is “Joyous Kwanzaa”.[16][17][18]

A Kwanzaa ceremony may include drumming and musical selections, libations, a reading of the African Pledge and the Principles of Blackness, reflection on the Pan-African colors, a discussion of the African principle of the day or a chapter in African history, a candle-lighting ritual, artistic performance, and, finally, a feast (karamu). The greeting for each day of Kwanzaa is Habari Gani?[19] which is Swahili for “How are you?”[20]


Not About A Particular Brand – But An Overall Reasoning About All Our Gear Choices

This is a very good video from a professional photographer that is worth listening too.  Try to put aside one’s own brand loyalties and come to understand it is not what about what you own that determines how good you are as a photographer.  It is not about switching but really about what works for the photographer as opposed to what impression your gear leaves.



Luminar, produced by Skylum for Mac and PC has been making giant advances in AI technology and creative cababiliy and this month, December they are releasing an upgrade that will give some outstanding digital assess management tools which seem to leap ahead of all the competition.

Luminar video of new and existing features.

Hanukkah – What Is It All About?

To my family, to my Jewish friends, to all of my non-Jewish friends, and to those who care I want to wish all of you a very Happy Hanukkah



And always remember to follow your moral compass, understanding that we are all human and equal. Refuse to tolerate those who are racists, bigots and just plain haters of everything, even themselves.







Raw Power by Gentlemen Coders – Evolved To A Level Of Perfection

I know I write about a lot of different softwares and honestly quite a few of them are pretty darn good.  Some are not quite so good.  I can write about them because I own them or subscribe to them and I do that because I have the time to do that which a lot of other wonderful folks do not.  So while I find almost everything I use helpful in furthering the look of my raw and / or Jpeg images, every once in a while one program will stand out as exceptional.

What makes a program or app exceptional in my mind is the quality it brings to an image and how simple it works to achieve that quality.  While some programs are the perverbial kitchen sink, others are meat and potatoes and truthfully working with the down to earth meat and potatoe software and app without feeling I have to dive into all the multitude of effects and layers which usually result in less than desirable image quality or image looks.  However that does not mean I do not mean that I shall not use features of other programs once I have established a really good base image.

But for the everyday meat and potatoe processing of an image I now have one program that fits the bill.  It lets me make incredible adjustments that bring me to a finished product quickly, simply, and elegantly without spending needless hours.

That product as I am sure you can tell my the title of this blog post is Raw Power and I have watched its development for over a year now for both my Apple Macintosh and Apple IPad 10.5 and have to say that right now, today, Nik Bhatt, formerly the developer of Apple Aperture has announced the birth of version 2.0

The additions he has added to an already incredible processing engine or way beyond expectations and has now made this program one of the easiest to use, most powerful raw and other format processor at the top of the image processing game.

Just to be clear I have no business relationship with Gentlemen Coders or Nik Bhatt or for that matter even a personal relationship.  I am simply a customer of the company and have taken the time to use and watch and enjoy the development of this software.


Gentlemen Coders Logo

RAW Power 2.0 for iOS and Mac Now Available

Edit on Mac, continue on iOS. Same adjustments, same exceptional RAW processing.
On Mac, view multiple parts of your disk at the same time with the new tabbed file browser. Edit multiple images at the same time too!
Presets come to iOS, along with five new adjustments for both Mac and iOS. New space-saving design on iOS allows you to collapse and reorder adjustments to make the most of your screen.
On iOS, work with multiple images at once. Apply presets and adjustments, revert your edits, or make high quality JPEG previews for RAWs.
On Mac, you can also batch apply presets or adjustments. In addition, export multiple images with custom size and naming options.

New RAW Power 2.0:

  • Free update. iOS includes a new in-app purchase for some of the new adjustments.
  • Demo videos of the 2.0 features on YouTube
  • Tons of other improvements including:
    • Improved sharing on iOS to the Photos app
    • Additional Metadata on Mac including a map for images with GPS
    • Full Dark Look on macOS Mojave
Learn more on our website



Portrait exhibit casts light on women’s underrecognized military service – The Washington Post

Grounded by injuries, an Air Force combat photographer turns her lens on fellow veterans.
— Read on

Celebrate women every day. Remember and admire their contributions to the world we live in and learn everything you can about too many unrecognized achievements.

This Photographer Uses a Beer Helmet to Mount Flashes to His Head

Photography and Camera News, Reviews, and Inspiration
— Read on

What ever works best for you😂

One thing I can say about photographers is that there is never a lack of imagination or invention. It was quite a few years ago that I saw a photographer at a wedding using multi TTL flash controlled by a trigger. He or she, cannot remember, had a bar under the camera with two flashes facing straight ahead in their upright postion and one upside down on the underside of the bar. I remdember thinking that I would have arm fatigue in about 15 minutes of using that rig.

So now it seems someone with a strong neck has improved on that idea.

Read the article.

RAW Doesn’t Make You Better

This is a pretty spot on article about raw vs. jpeg images.  It does not say not to use raw but it does take the position that jpeg files today are a lot better than when the digital age became a part of our imaging lives.

It is an interesting read.


I read something yesterday that bothered me. A really talented photographer, who has a blog that I like to read sometimes, posted an article stating that the number one thing you can do to improve …

Source: RAW Doesn’t Make You Better

She Was A Great And Perfect Example On Fighting To Live A Life

This was Calise, our beautiful Calico Cat.  She was about 21 years old and she arrived at my wife’s parents house when she was about 6 months old on Halloween.  As candy was being handed out to the neighborhood kids she was on the front steps with them but no one claimed her so she was instantly adopted by my in-laws, who have saved cats and dogs from danger for years.  Calise immediately became the Alpha cat, taking control of the other cats and dogs.

She had medical problems like diabetes and she got insulin twice a day for years and she had debilitating arthritis in her back legs and hips but she was a trooper and a wonderful example of doing everything to live her life.  She managed to work through all of her problems with the goal of bringing happiness to all of those who were fortunate enough to engage her.  When my father in law had passed away we adopted their cats including Calise.

Just the day before she had managed to summon the strength to come out to the living room where she got into her little pink bed that had her favorite toy in it and eventually made her way back to the bedroom where she stayed.  She had a whole bedroom to herself.

We did what we could to make her last days comfortable realizing that her time was near.  She had placed herself a little bit under a bed in her room and there she stayed. Ramona covered her with a small blanket to keep her warm.  Our Jack Russel, Ginger had crawled under the bed to be with her and I laid on the floor nearby letting her know I was there.  When she passed Ginger gave out a low cry and moan and stayed with her for quite a while.

All of us, Ramona, Ginger and I will miss this superstar.  We love you Calise and now you are with Ramona’s parents and free from all your ills.

Creative Camera Tethering With The New Alien Skin X4 Software

If you have ever thought about tethering your camera to your computer and it seemed like a difficult process, especially with Adobe and other programs, then you need to look at these videos.  You may question why you would want to tether and have your images come up in your software and you may think it is only for people doing portrait shoots but that is not correct.  It makes a great tool for doing in-house product shoots, in-house artful shoots, and with Alien Skin X4 you can also shoot in several different presets at the same time so you can see what creative film look works best for your images.  It is not just for Fuji as it will work for almost all cameras.  Check it out on Alien Skins website below.


Alien Skin X4 was recently released and has a great many features that should appeal to very creative photographers and yes even those who are not so creative.  The best thing you can do is go directly to their website if you want to learn more and even download a 30-day trial.

Is it a viable alternative to the popular subscription only Lightroom CC Classic.  Yes, it is and it is not a subscription which is really nice.  It has layers, folders, collections, tons of presets and filters with what many have said and I agree, the best film presets ever produced. Tons of them.

Take so time to learn something new by downloading their trial copy. RIGHT HERE.



Halloween, The Meaning, The Tradition

What is Halloween? Here is sort of the history.

But no matter what it is a day that kids and yes even adults celebrate ghouls, ghosts and goblins buy having parties, setting decorations, and letting children and some adults go door to door soliciting all kinds of yummy goodies with the threat of TRICK OR TREAT.

All of that does not fit into the actual historical definitions but is actually more fun by not fitting into the definition. 🙂

RAW Files: Digital Manifestations of the Emperor’s New Clothes

A battle of sorts is raging throughout the photography communities. Jpeg Vs Raw files as a final step is what the battle is about.

Raw files, I think by now, are known for containing a lot more data than a Jpeg file and to extract that data special software such as Luminar, Aurora, On1 Photo Raw, Alien Skin, now X4, and of course Adobe Lightroom. The data can be manipulated into whatever vision you choose. Whatever you do to get the image you want will not hurt the data in anyway.

Jpeg files are baked in. The camera software takes care of everything needed to give us an image and in most cases a very acceptable image that can be used with virtually no manipulation. In reality you do not want to manipulate Jpeg too much because it will degrade the data in the image.

Fujifilm X cameras happen to produce exceptional Jpeg files and it can do that with a variety of alterable film simulations for a variety of different film looks. They are pretty darn good. What I like is the fact that I can load a Jpeg file into most softwares and save that Jpeg as a preset to preserve the look the camera gave it with a film simulation and then apply that preset to the normally flat Raw file. It works and really makes final processing a lot easier. My favorite software for doing that is Alien Skin and Luminar 2018, soon to be 2019.

In this unique explanation of what they are and how RAW files work, see how they are the equivalent of the Emperor’s New Clothes,
— Read on

“A Tale Of 2 Titans” Who Competed For World Dominance In The Photography Industry

Based on the attached article from LightStalking

A friend of mine who has been in the photography business for many years and who was one of the best photojournalists I had the privilege to know in my travels within Nikon circles sent me this article about Kodak corporation vs. Fujifilm corporation and one continues today as an industry giant and why one lies at the bottom of the gone forever corporate scrap heap.

While the story is pretty much spot on it misses some fine points.  Fuji for the longest time could not put a dent in the United States market which was dominated by Kodak even though they were a giant in the Asian markets where they were based.  But Fuji eventually did find a way to increase their penetration by joining with a very dominant camera supplier called Ehrenreich Photo-Optical who also happened to be the original importer of Nikon products in the United States and was the company that created the acceptance of Nikon cameras worldwide as well as many other products.  But when Fuji signed on with them, they were now with one of the best marketers of photography products and it put them in a position to enter the majority of cameras stores in the USA.

Jumping way ahead, Kodak was one of the first if not the first to produce a working digital camera.  They had the head start and they too eventually partnered with Nikon Inc to incorporate Kodak sensors into modified Nikon cameras providing the professional market with very expensive digital options.  Kodak eventually did the same with Canon cameras.  And Fuji later on coupled with Nikon to produce the Fuji DSLR which was not based on an original Nikon body design but on a whole new concept body.  It had the Nikon mount and used Nikon lenses and was really a great experience to use.  The camera was sold by both companies and eventually, conflicts between the two brought an end to the partnership and this new concept product.

But Kodak, even though successful with their pro digital products still felt that their fortunes would continue with film and that digital was not their future. Fuji, on the other hand, embraced digital as something they had to be involved with for the long-term and started to treat digital sensors with the same voracity as they did film.  Kodak who everyone thought was too big to fail suffered the same fate as other large companies buried under tons of corporate bureaucracy and competed within their own ranks for top positioning of products instead of working together.  Ultimately the importance of digital was pushed way down the priority list by the film mongers who refused to accept the change that was taking place right in front of them and by the time Kodak to shake up the status quo of their incredible levels of management it was too late and they gave away what could have been a top position in the digital concept to Nikon and Canon.

However Fuji, a rather quiet company in regards to their photo endeavors, was busy figuring out what “photographers” wanted and finally jumped in with both feet several years ago with a camera called the X100 and while not a Nikon, Canon or Sony who based their digital lives on existing camera designs, they did base their design on the esthetically wonderful old world rangefinder design and have now carved out their place in the overall digital marketplace.

Now remember this is about Kodak, a company that buried their head in the sand and about Fujifilm, a company while continuing to want to be the biggest film company in the world, embraced the digital concept.

Did others also do what Fuji did?  Of course and they actually secured their place in the digital marketplace before Fuji.  Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax, etc. but unlike them Fuji drew on historical design as well as current design of camera bodies to carve out a very special nitch which Kodak simply stayed with the management snails that ultimately brought them down.


Every year people with all sorts of cameras having waited for one of the most wonderfully colorful and crisp seasons rush out into the world to create some spectacular images. While I will more than likely do the same this year, I also wanted to take a look back at lots of images to give myself the inspiration to get my butt out there once again on the chance that there is something going to happen that I have not seen before. Today I use Fuji X camera gear but over the years I have worked with several different camera systems.  Most of the images in this gallery were taken with Fuji cameras but there are some that were shot with Nikon, Pentax and Olympus.  I have never used a camera system that I did not like.  They have all been great pieces of technology and have made my photographic endeavors very pleasurable.  Today I travel as light as possible and own a Fuji X pro 2 camera and three prime lenses. 23mm,35mm and 50m, all 2.0 lenses.  The whole system is light, compact, and weather sealed, and on any given day my total package to go out with is no more than 6 pounds total and that includes the aforementioned gear, 4 batteries, 2 extra cards, cleaning stuff, cable release.  I may throw a flash in my pocket should I need a touch more light. 🙂 and there is always a small lightweight tripod in the trunk of my car. The same goes for software.  Software today is greatly improved over what was available many years ago and while the packages offer pretty much the same basic controls there are some that provide a lot more creative control and it is not unusual for a photographer to work with several softwares to create the look they want to achieve.  For the most part I cannot tell you what was processed with what and unless I look at my Exif data I couild not tell you what camera or lens I used. Today my software includes an Adobe subscription which I may stop but maybe not.  Then there are three creative packages. One is the Skylum Luminar. Another is Alein Skin X3, and a third, but not used often is Skylum Aurora Hdr. I use Adobe subscription that includes Photoshop CC, Lightroom Classic CC, Lightroom CC Cloud based, and Lightroom Mobile CC for the Ipad Pro.  The only reason I use it is because it is the only software company that provides a complete “eco” system.  What does that mean?  It means that if I am working on my Ipad Pro and processing images, everything I do will be saved to the Adobe Creative Cloud.  Because of that I can go to my office and launch Lightroom CC or Lightroom Classic and the images will sync to those applications for further use or data collection.  Of course it also works in reverse.  Process on my computer in my office and open up my Ipad pro and launch the Lightroom Mobile app and those images will sync to my Ipad Pro.  Very convenient.  And it is possible to tell Lightroom Classic to bring down images from the Adobe cloud and have them actually store on the Ipad Pro just in case I am going to be in a place where there is zero WiFi. Whew.  It’s a lot.  You are also locked in to the Adobe library which is not my favorite data storage option.  if other software companies could provide apps and syncing capability I would probably kiss Adobe goodbye.

One of the best digital Slr Cameras I ever used – Olympus 4/3 E1


Click on the first line above:

It almost seems like I used this camera before the stone age because it was only a bit over 5 mp.  This was a professional 4/3 sensor size camera while today’s modern and smaller versions are Micro Four Thirds.  The actual sensor is the same size but in smaller more compact bodies with a smaller lens mount and smaller lenses.

The lenses for the E1 were not small.  Well perhaps smaller than Nikon or Canon but not as small as they have today.  But the lenses were beautifully made and as sharp or sharper and more contrast than any of their digital competition of the era and perhaps today.

The reason I am writing about this camera is because of the images that I produced with it.  By today’s standard, the LCD on the back was really small, maybe 1.5 inches, but everything else was truly at a pro level.  And if you should walk into my office you will see images that I shot and printed say back when with this camera and a large format Epson printer, covering, and I mean covering the walls.  And the images that catch my eye every time are the ones shot with the Olympus E1 and various Olympus Zuiko lenses both prime and zoom.

Please make note that my current system. the Fuji X mirrorless produces better images than any other camera I used both past and present, but considering that the Olympus was a 5mp camera with a smaller than APS-c sensor, it sure is holding its own next to current day images.

One important point of interest is that the sensor in the camera was not what almost every sensor starts out as today namely Sony.  It was a Kodak sensor.  And for those who do not know or are too young to care, Kodak was the premier in camera sensor of the day because Kodak was making some of the finest pro Dslr cameras at the time and they had agreed to make a 4/3 sensor for Olympus.  It was outstanding.

Anyway now you have had a part of my history in blog form.  Have a great day.

Apple Does Not Get It In Regards To The Ipad Pro Photographers

I been using  Ipad Pro 10.5 now for just about one year and have to say it has been for the most part an enjoyable experience.  I cannot think of a time since I got it that it is not with me, 24/7.


However, as a photographer, I find Apple’s requirement that all images be passed through the Apple Photo application is extremely, highly restrictive by not allowing programs like Lightroom CC mobile, Affinity Photo Mobile and all others to import images directly into their own apps.

Apple Photo relies upon the Apple Cloud for storing images and even though apps like Lightroom can save images to a variety of places the only true storage area is still the Apple Cloud.

When it came time for me to make a choice as to what device I wanted to carry with me beyond a heavy portable computer I had narrowed down the options to two devices.  One was the Ipad Pro and the other was the Microsoft Surface.  I opted for the Ipad Pro because I have been an Apple product user for many years but I think Microsoft has provided features that Apple had the chance to implement with the “pro” models but chose not to.  And I do understand that Apple relies on small apps and Microsoft uses full programs, but the apps are not the issue here.

Apple could have added a USB port but they chose not to.  Apple could have allowed other apps to bypass the Apple Photo app, but they did not.  I could go on and on about what Apple refused to do, but it all boils down to fact that they did not provide simple solutions for photographers that Microsoft did.


If I had wanted decide to use the Surface I would have had to purchase new software because everything I own is for Mac.

There are days I am sorry that I did not go with Microsoft if only for my image processing on a portable device which is what I wanted the Ipad Pro for.  I guess my dislike for Windows kept me from doing that, but now I have to wonder, what if.

Considering that my main purpose for a small and portable device was for doing image processing and culling while out and about wither device would allow me to do that.  But what Apple does not do is allow me to save images directly to a portable drive via a USB device.  It only allows me to import images via the Apple SD card dongle.  It does have a way to hook up a USB device but more often than not a message saying that the device on the Apple Ipad can not be powered and yet hooking up that same device to the Surface would not even blink.

So if you are looking for a portable device to do mainly image processing then look into all your options no matter what your current system is.  All devices will take you to your favorite social media and email options.  Perhaps the most outstanding differences is one system relies on apps and the other on programs.  Apps or less expensive and in many cases equal to programs in how they perform.

Do I love my Ipad Pro? Sure I do.  But I could probably love the Microsoft Surface just as much.


Simple sometimes is totally elusive

Yes!  It is I.  The wannabe minimalist and with both gear and post-processing.  It is I.

Sometimes and only because human nature dictates it, wanting something that will make one’s photographic life easier and simplified seems to become more and more elusive even though one thinks they are micro steps away from achieving the goal.

Because I suffer from chronic pains in a variety of places (weep) I was drawn to smaller and lighter photographic gear and that is why I use one Fuji X pro 2 camera body and three very small, compact prime lenses.  I take with me two batteries, two extra memory cards (the camera takes two) Zeiss cleaning packets and a lens cloth.  I keep a Gitzo carbon fiber tripod in the trunk of my car with a small Really Right Stuff ball head for those times when I am out and about that, I have no other option but to use it.  My camera bag is a Billingham Hadley Pro.  (I do like the Cosyspeed Sport bag for one camera and one lens at times as well.)

So it would seem that I have the camera gear and carry issue pretty well solved and that is quite true.

But of late after trying out lots of different software for “raw” files, I find myself in a quandary as to what better serves the need of a minimalist who generally shoots a pretty well-balanced image in regards to composition and exposure.  I have Adobe products such as Lightroom CC, Classic, and Mobile as well as other Adobe Mobil apps. I have Alien Skin X3 (soon to be X4) and of course Apple’s own software called Photo.

Adobe (who I am not in love with) is the only company that actually offers a true ecosystem through Creative Cloud which allows me to process on my Mac and/or Ipad Pro and transfer images via the cloud from one device to the other in a fully processed form or partially processed form.  And the tools offered are quite extensive and creative.

Alien Skin on the other hand only works on my Mac (my computer of choice) but offers, in my opinion, a much more simplified data management system for my Mac (or your pc).  The film-like presets are the best in the business and the overall controls of the program are excellent.

If I thought it would work out I would only use the Ipad Pro, store my images in the Apple Cloud and ultimately transfer them to some kind of a drive for back up, but there are simply issues that make that too convoluted way to work.  Now if Adobe could import into the Ipad directly and then allow me to store images wherever I wanted them to be, bypassing the Adobe Library which I hate then I could be one happy minimalist, but Apple won’t allow that (at least not yet and quite possibly never.)

If I truly want to be totally minimalist then the Fuji gear and the Ipad Pro 10.5 is the only way to go.  Hopefully, Apple and Adobe will put their heads together and come up with a solution that is workable for their customers.  Wouldn’t that be eventful?

So, simple is not all that simple and the perfect solution in part is still elusive.  Hey! How about Alien Skin making a mobile app just for me?

Are you using an Ipad that runs “TRUE TONE?”

What is True Tone?

True Tone is a relatively recent display feature on Ios devices that allows your iPhone or iPad’s display to adjust its color temperature based on the light of its current surroundings. Warmer light in the room leads to warmer colors on your display. 

It’s sort of great idea but not so great for folks who are processing images on the tablet and/or a computer with the anticipation that everything is going to look the same from device to device.  For months I have struggled to get images that I processed in Lightroom on the Ipad Pro, which would sync to Lightroom on my desktop or laptop via the Adobe Creative Cloud, to look the same.  Fortunately, I happened upon another photographers blog who had gone through exactly what I was going through.

The incredibly simple solution was to go into settings on the Ipad and scroll down to “Display & Brightness” settings, and under brightness shut off “True Tone.”  Now life is good and I can be looking at an image I just processed on the Ipad Pro in Lightroom Mobile CC and my 27 inch Apple Monitor hooked up to my laptop and the images are virtually identical.  And of course it works as well in the opposite direction, laptop to iPad.

By turning off “True Tone” you are effectively shutting down Auto White Balance so that there is a consistent level of color.  I know a great many photographers that shut off auto white balance in their cameras and set it to the daylight setting which provides consistent color as opposed to varying color image to image which can make editing a set of images easier.

The more I use my Ipad Pro 10.5 running the current Ios operating system, the less I am relying on my Macintosh computers.  That is not to say that the Mac or PC if that is what you use as a laptop or desktop, does not have a certain advantage.  They do!  There are software packages that simply do not and may never appear on tablets and most of them involve image processing.

But there are more than enough software packages for the mobile community of photographers to deal with any level of images they may have.  On the Ipad, I rely upon an Adobe suite of apps for processing images.  Whatever I work on is sent to the Adobe Creative Cloud and quickly synced to my Adobe Cloud on my laptops and desktop with all the changes I made to the image.  It does not mean I am an Adobe fan.  I am not.  But it works and works pretty darn good.  I still hate the Lightroom Library but a lot of folks love it.

Here is an image I quickly processed on my Ipad Pro which was on my desktop virtually immediately.

Rosetta Greek – Original – Artistic – Unique In Her Photography Work –

Rosetta Greek is a photographer who has an extremely diverse body of work.  Her approach to her photography is very different from the many artists I have encountered and I actually came upon her by accident when a group that I belong to called Alien Skin X software on Facebook had an image that she had created.

If you are wanting to see some outstanding unique and incredible artistry this is a great place to spend some time.  Take a look at her website.


Her Website

If You Thought Messages Of Hate and Distrust Were Done When He Was Ousted From The Whitehouse You Thought Wrong-BAN BANNON….

If You Thought Messages Of Hate and Distrust Were Done When He Was Ousted From The Whitehouse You Thought Wrong – His Far Right Message Has Crossed the Atlantic And Is Infecting Europe.

He continues to quietly influence the Trump family and is succeeding in spreading discord across Europe as he takes his disgusting right wing message into Great Britain, Italy, Spain, Germany and the like. And it is a message that is taking hold throughout European politics and obviously in American politics as well and will continue to do so unless the Democrats overpower both houses of congress.

But I have to wonder how we as a nation are to some extent up in arms over the Russians twisting our elections with their invasion of our social media how we can justify American citizens such as Bannon and some members of our own congress attempting to influence the political structure of our allies in ways that they mimic the Trump family visions.

It is one thing, within our own national borders to have to deal with political manipulation, but who are we to condemn other nations for sticking their ugly noses in our political structure when we allow ass holes like Steve Bannon and congressman to do the same thing to other sovereign nations in what appears to be successful, attempts and swinging the western cultures way over to the racist FAR RIGHT.

Sad but true

I have spent a good part of my three quarters of a century either working for, or working with the journalism industry. For as long as I can remember and with few exceptions, there was always truths to be told and lies exposed by all of the news agencies and getting one’s daily dose of local and world events through print and radio and later television could be relied upon for relatively truthful representation of the facts.

But I have watched all of the sources that I had come to depend upon to help shape my opinions with honesty and truthful, as well as factual information have become more and more muted by the bullshit that social media spews everyday. It is a constant pounding of misinformation, especially in regards to outlets like Facebook, Google and Twitter. We have allowed them, because they have grown so uncontrollably huge to shape how we think and what we do.

While in some ways they have allowed us to stay in contact with people we care about over long distances, they have also allowed the intrusion of people we do not even know or will more than likely never care about into our personal lives and sadly it is not just people but it is groups of people from everywhere who are trying to jam down our throats false information, while at the same time attempting to and quite often succeeding in altering what our own beliefs and values are.

While doing all of this subtle but deceitful furthering of false information they have also managed to steal away the advertising dollar that kept conventional outlets for news and truthful reporting alive. And they have done this because governments in the world or at least the western world have refused to administer rules and regulations that exist for these conventional news sources. That does not mean stifling freedom of the press anywhere or ever. It means that all news sources should be held to the same rules and regulations but because they are not, social media news sources have been allowed to run unhampered in the lies they spit out at us everyday. So it is time to bring them into the fold if only to keep them honest.

We already know that companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter have abused our personal information to the point that we get manipulated every minute of every hour of every day so they can put more and more money in their coffers.

Of course just like I can turn of Fox News or not read the Enquirer Publication I can turn off Facebook and Google as well as Twitter and I may but then their are a few personal friends I might lose some contact with,maybe. But that is what cell phones and email is for and quite honestly I would rather talk to someone than type into messenger which in reality is a cold method of communicating in the first place and truthfully just one more way for Facebook to keep one typing. And by the way, messenger is not secure either.


Let’s take a walk down memory lane.

A long time ago, at least in digital software terms, a company called NIK introduced a revolutionary set of Plug-ins that would work with Adobe products such a Photoshop, Elements, and the like.  These plug-ins would open up creative opportunities to the masses allowing for specific adjustment to parts of an image as opposed to a whole image, much like advanced Photoshop users were doing with “brushes.”  While you could by individual plug-ins in the Nik group, the overall total package was about $500.00.  To own the whole package you had to be a pretty serous image processer.  The most popular were Silver Efex for black and white work (exceptional).  Color Efex (Outstanding) and Viveza (that any real photographer could not live without).  And, some of this capability was built into Nikon Capture Softwae and Nikon called it UPOINT.

But like so many other things in the digital world and the photography world, Google, who desperately wanted another program that Nik had created called Snapseed, decided to buy the NIK company.  Once in their hands they lowered the price of NIK plugins to $150.00 but you had to buy the whole suite.  Still that price was a far cry from the original NIK price.  But before long Google lowered the price to ZERO and you guessed it, it was the end of any future development and would lead to the product being discontinued.  Another Google FU.

Then a few months ago it was announced that DXO had bought the rights to the program including the patent  to and the code and recently released a new and cleaner 64bit version of the Plug ins for $69.00.  There is a trial version which I tried and then bought it.

Go Take A Look At It Here

I have been watching some newly created live webinars and all I can say is that for all the years I used it in my work I never realized that I only partook in about 40 percent of the actual features that are available.  It is my understanding that the live webinars will be available as videos in a few weeks.  In the meantime you might want to look at some educational material on YouTube.

As many of my readers know I have been messing around (really learning) lots of different softwares over the past couple of years and have written a lot about what I liked and did not like.  My current, but not perfect program is Alien Skin X3 because it has so many creative alternatives built in and yes I can control click my way right into the Nik Plugins as well.  Other programs like Lightroom, Photoshop, Elements, Capture One, all make complete use of Nik.  But the most versatile program because of how it works with smart layers is Photoshop when it comes to using Nik.  Nik can also be used as stand alone applications.

Now, it is important to know that Nik does not recognize raw files, at least not yet.  When using host software like Adobe, the image will be sent to Nik as a Tiff file and once processed through it will go back to the host as a finished Tiff file.  If you use Nik stand alone then you need to open a saved Tiff file to work on.

I can only say that if you want to enhance your images with selective edits this is a great and simplified way to go.

Jane Lurie Photography – Jane’s Lens

Professional photographer based in San Francisco covering Travel, Landscapes, Street, Nature, Architecture, Portrait, Black and White, Photography Tutorials.
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When given the opportunity I am going to joyfully present the incredible work of other photographers.

I have been an admirer of Jane’s work since I was taken to her web site. She is a very inspiring artist with an incredible eye who is constantly providing me and others with images that tell a story in a single blink.

Please take the time to look at her work on her site.

I hope you enjoy.