Photo Graph

Discussions in Photography


It’s Not Just About The Money

It has been almost a week now since Adobe announced that they were going to be taking the Creative Suite and rebranding it as Creative Cloud and changing their business model to one exclusively subscription based.  Prices have been give of $50 per month to be able to download and use any of the applications of the Creative Cloud.  A $20 per month Photoshop only subscription was also advanced as an option.  The real catch to the announcement is that once you drop your subscription the program from Adobe that are downloaded to you computer will cease to work.  This is a big change from the buying a perpetual license for software where there was no further payment made to Adobe unless you wanted to purchase an upgrade to the next version.  It has also kept me up nights.

It took me several days to actually get to the bottom of why I felt betrayed, bamboozled, and basically had the rug pulled out from under me.  It is not about the price, I was  pretty much resigned willing to paying about that much every year for the continued upgrades to the one part of the Creative Suite I use, Photoshop.  And I can see some really good reasons for subscribing to the Creative Cloud if I were a business with employees who would be using the software most of their work day.  If I had graphic designer who I was paying $60k or $80k a year to produce art (using the term loosely) an investment of $600 per year for the latest software would be cheap. Less than 1% of the employee costs per year. If I no longer need the employee for some reason, lack of work, employee changes jobs, etc. I just cancel the subscription and I have no further issues.

As far as subscriptions go Photoshop for $240 a year probably is a good deal, I pay more than that to Kelby Training each year for my NAPP membership and my Kebly Training subscription.  And that is where the rub is.  I like my Kelby Training subscription, it gives me access to some wonderful training by some of the best instructors in the business including the likes of Jay Maisel and Joe McNally.  I really want to continue with those subscriptions, especially the Kelby Training one because it is about a lot more than how to move pixels in Photoshop. But I am not giving Kelby Training $279.00 a year for instructions I can only use at Kelby Training.

My issue is that while I’ve spent probably $1500 dollars for Photoshop from Version 7 (I think) through the CS series, I probably have invested twice four or six times that amount in books and instruction on Photoshop and now Lightroom.  I’ve spent $3K just on going to PhotoshopWord three times. Then there is the large number of hours of my time spent reading and practicing the instructions from the books and videos. I don’t begrudge any of those hours or any of the dollars because I loved to learn and I love to apply what I’ve learned. Problem is that now I don’t feel it would be worth my while to learn anymore about Photoshop if what I learn can’t continue to be applied  down the road if time and travel prevents me from keeping up on my payments to Adobe.

I really don’t want to write a check each month for $20.00 to Adobe (forget about the first year discount). And all I have for all that check writing is, well nothing.  On the same note I’m sure that Adobe’s Board of Directors and shareholders would like to make a profit. I’ve tried my best to come up with a solution that is fair to Adobe as well as me.  Personally I wouldn’t mind paying out a yearly upgrade subscription if I was assured that at the end I would still have a perpetual license for Photoshop that I could still use after I no longer desire upgrades.  And I would give even a bit more, say a one time upgrade fee from CS6 to CC.  So in my mind a one time fee of $200 for a perpetual upgrade to Photoshop CC plus maybe a once a year $199 subscription would be something I could accept and manage.  This gives me the next version of Photoshop plus it gives me 1 year to see if Adobe is really ready and willing to give us continuous improvements to the program. After that year I can make a decision if the subscription for updates is of further worth.



Portfolio Presentation

I’ve been thinking about how to best present a portfolio of your images. Once upon a time you would make prints of your best work put it in some sort of binder and present it to potential clients with the hope of someone purchasing your time or images. Today I think we have a multitude of options on putting together a portfolio presentation.

The iPad seems to me to be one of the best ways to show off you images.  The device size and resolution give your images a chance to shine.  Of course your not going to be leaving your iPad with a potential client so your images may only be held in the clients mind for so long.

Putting your images in a PDF file or some other document that you can email is one possibility another might be to make a movie of your images.  I’ve done a little experiment with loading a number of images into iMovie to make a movie you can host on your website, host on another website or even email to a client. This seems to be an interesting way to present your portfolio.  I’ve whipped up a quick “Epcot” portfolio as a test case to see what I can determine the best way to show images in movie format.

Epcot Portfolio from Jim Roberts on Vimeo.


After playing with the settings in iMovie I’ve come to a couple of thoughts on the way to present your images.

  • I would turn off any Ken Burns effects.  While they are super hip and such you’re presenting your images as a whole. You don’t need your viewer to miss the overall balance of the image. You went to all that trouble to get the rule of thirds right so you need to show a full image.
  • Make sure the images stay on screen long enough.  While the viewer can pause the movie at any point you still want the viewer to have time to view the image.
  • Make sure the images don’t stay on screen too long. Viewers get bored easily.
  • I would not suggest a narrative other than maybe at the beginning and end of the movie. If you have to say “this is a picture of a dog” you probably aren’t doing stuff right.
  • Movies are landscape mode.  Images you shot in portrait mode are going to take up less of the screen with white/black space on either side and be smaller.
  • I’m not sure at this point if adding music to the movie is a good or not.

These are just a few ideas about presenting your work as a movie. Of course the hard part is alway which images to include. Like everything else experiment with the format and make it your own.


Photographer Self Portraits on a 57 Chevy.

You know those shots where you accidentally included your shadow or your refection, well it’s hard not to include yourself when you are shooting the chrome on a 1957 Chevy. Best to say I meant to do it that way. Counted about five or six self portraits.

Photographer Self Portraits in a 57 Chevy


Why Photography

I developed my first roll of film somewhere around 1971. I seem to recall purchasing or procuring and Ansco development kit that had an adjustable tank for developing film and a small (about 2” square) contract printer thingie. I was a small metal box with a small amber light and a larger white bulb. The box had a clear glass panel on top with a door that would close to hold a sandwich of a negative and a small sheet of photo paper. You would put the negative on the glass, then place the photo paper, and finally close the little door to keep the film from moving. You would press a momentary switch on the side of the box that would turn on the light exposing the photo paper. You would then process your image in the usual developer, stop bath and rinse. In several minutes you would have an image. I used a Kodak Brownie something or other and exposed, developed and processed some pictures. The first one I remember was a picture of number one daughter in a stroller. It was pretty magic stuff.

This was a time when there wasn’t such a thing as a personal computer so other than ham radio there wasn’t a lot of things to keep a tech geek occupied. I fell in love with photography. As I do with just about anything, I immersed myself in all things photograph. I read every book that the library had on photography and photographers. I still have a complete set of the Time Life series on Photography. I learned about the technical side of making pictures. I somehow found the money for a Nikon Nikkormat camera and a couple of lenses. I cobbled together what I could for a dark room. Developing film in the bath room in the dark hoping that no one would turn on a tap some where and change the temperature of the water I was using to keep the chemicals at the right temperature.

It was a lot of work. It was more work because before each session I had to build a darkroom and then dismantle it into the bathroom, bedroom, or laundry room it was supposed to be. So for a long time I stopped doing photograpy. But I never stopped being interested in photography and the photographic process.

Around about 1999 I received a Kodak digital camera as a gift. I found a 256mb compact flash card so I’m pretty sure it was for that first digital camera. I could create 640×480 jpegs and process them with PC software into something that was a photograph. I was back. When Nikon came out with the D100 I was again (with many hints) gifted with a “real’ digital camera.

Since that time I’ve been back into photography with both feet. It is not what I do for a living but it what I do a living for.

I love looking at photographs. I love the feel of the photographic print. I love the look of an image presented well in a monograph, or as a print, or more likely as a book. I study the images, decide why I like them and why I don’t. And finally I am building a vocabulary that I hope I can use to discuss photographs in and intelligent way.

I’ve been spending a lot more of my photography time learning from video’s from well know, and some not as well know photographers. I’ve been learning their vocabulary. Now I can begin to take photos that I can judge for my self as good, still waiting, and can hold a conversation about photography good or bad.

I love that you can, through process, create an image of technical excellence and emotional value. I love that you can take that image and produce exact copies again and again. I love photography. Now all I have to do is learn photography.


Photo Graph

Today I changed the name of the place to Photo Graph. Not sure if it will stay that way but for now it is a two word title. I’ve been thinking about the changes that have taken place in photography since the advent of the digital image.  Thinking back to the challenges of film, the precision necessary to develop film, to the amount of time between opening the shutter to the contact print and I am glad I’m doing things digital.  I once had darkroom equipment, never really had a dark room just a bathroom with a towel under the door.  I would shoot mostly tri-x  as black and white was a whole lot easier to self develop than color film. And if I was lucky I would get one or two images that might be worth printing.

Now  you can look at time image instantly and go back for a second shot if you are out of focus or any of a million reasons why the last shot wasn’t good.  The cost of taking the shot is almost nothing.  Then there was a fixed cost each time you pulled the trigger.  And then there was an additional cost if you wanted to show your images to anyone at all. Now you make one copy of an image and send it electronically to any of number of sites and the one copy can be scene by twenty, fifty or even hundreds of people.


There still is the challenge of taking the good shot, of creating images the evoke emotion in the viewer. I love looking at the old images of photographers who were up to the challenge of creating emotional images and I’m excited by the challenge of creating a few emotional images of my own.