Wednesday 28 October 2009

Lightroom Archive format - TIFF or PSD ?

Having established that it would be a good idea to save the result of any editing I do in Lightroom in to an archival format, an email flooded in asking why I chose tiff format rather than psd.

Well my gut feel is that tiff is a well understood format supported by lots of vendors, whereas psd seems to be a bit more tied into Photoshop. But my guts and their feelings are not of interest to most right thinking people. So I can do no better than quote this post by Jeff Schewe:

.PSD is now a bastardized file format that is NOT a good idea to use. Even the Photoshop engineers will tell you that PSD is no longer the Photoshop "native" file format. It has no advantages and many disadvantages over TIFF.

TIFF is publicly documented, PSD is not. That makes TIFF a preferred file format for the long term conservation of digital files.

TIFF uses ZIP compression for max compression, PSD uses RLE which if you save without the Max compatibility will be a bit smaller, but at the risk of not being able to be used by apps, like Lightroom.

TIFF can save EVERYTHING a PSD can save including layers, paths, channels, transparency, annotations and can go up to 4 GIGS in file size. TIFF can save all the color spaces PSD can. The ONLY thing I can think of that PSD can save that currently TIFF can't save is if you Save out of Camera Raw a cropped PSD, you can uncrop the PSD in Photoshop CS, CS2 or 3. That's one tiny obscure thing that PSD can do that TIFF currently doesn't. How many people even knew that let alone use it?

PSD used to be the preferred file format back before Adobe bastardized it for the Creative Suite. The moment that happened, PSD ceased to be a Photoshop "native" file format. PSB is the new Photoshop "native" file format for images beyond 30,000 pixels. And , at the moment, only Photoshop can open a PSB.

Getting back to the fist point, Adobe can do anything including stopping support for PSD because it's a proprietary file format. TIFF is public, even if it's owned by Adobe (by virtue of the Aldus purchase). Even if Adobe went belly up tomorrow, TIFF would continue.

And, let me be blunt, anybody who thinks PSD is "better" than TIFF is ignorant of the facts. If Adobe would let them, the Photoshop engineers would tell you to quit using PSD. Lightroom for the first beta did NOT support PSD and Hamburg fought tooth and nail to prevent having to accept PSD. He blinked, but you still can't import a PSD without Max compat enabled-which basically makes it a TIFF with a PSD extension.

Look, I'll make it REAL simple...

TIFF = Good
PSD = Bad


If only Jeff wouldn't sit on the fence so much, we would know what he really felt about the matter!

Saturday 24 October 2009


So the winners have been announced for Landscape Photographer of the Year and there are some extremely competent and stunning images in the book and exhibition.

On a personal note I was very happy to be shortlisted for this and this - but they didn't make the final cut.

Looking at the winners I was surprised to see this image as one of the finalists:

Hermit Crab by Brian Griifiths

My initial reaction was that it owed more to Photoshop than nature. it seems that I wasn't alone in this assumption as photography forums exploded in a series of discussions about it. My favourite is the dissection by Tim Parkin on Flckr.

I am naive enough to feel that a landscape photograph should be a representation of the scene at the time and not just be the basis for freestyling in photoshop. My opinions don't really matter, but how this got to a final in a competition where one of the rules is:

The integrity of the image must be maintained and the making of physical changes to the landscape is not permitted (removing fences, moving trees, stripping in sky from another image etc). The organisers reserve the right to disqualify any image that they feel lacks authenticity due to over-manipulation.
,is beyond me!

There are an awful lot of great shots in the competition, so I hope this doesn't detract from the award and exhibition. I would love to hear your opinion, should this shot have been a winner ?

Friday 23 October 2009

Lightroom - Do I need to save my edited shots?

So, as regular readers will be aware, I am slowly moving my workflow to Lightroom. It's a fun project and has given me the opportunity to reassess the way I currently work & compare it with other photographers.

My goal, is to follow "best practice" for digital image management whilst minimising the amount of work I actually have to do in front of the computer. So I am spending a lot of time reading blogs, books & forum posts as to how others manage their workflow and working out which will be right for me.

One of the considerations a digital photographer has to take into account is how many copies of each image to store. If you are not careful it can easily become a nightmare. First you have your original raw file. Then you might have one or two tiff files associated with it as your finally developed image. Finally you end up with s numerous jpgs sized for various output mediums (web, print, magazine submissions, etc). If your not careful it could all end up looking like the tide line on a Cornish Beach:

Cornish Crap
(Click to view large)

A while back I decided that I would only keep the original raw file & the finished tiff file for each of my images. Using QImage I could print the tiff file in any size I choose, so there was no need to store versions at different print sizing. Jpgs are really just an output format, so I don't keep them as they can be recreated at any time from the tiffs.

So for a long time I have had only one version of my images (the tiff) , I kept the raw files so I can go back to the raws if I need to, and all is right with the world. But then along came Lightroom2 and it's targeted adjustments...

One of the big things that you hear about Lightroom2 is that it features "Non-destructive editing" . Unlike photoshop, your original image is safe no matter what you do to it as all that is stored is your original image and a history of the changes you made to it. In order to undo something you just go back as far a you like in that history. For people who shoot jpgs this is a major advance - your originals are safe with Lightroom. For Raw shooters it's really not such a big deal, no raw converter changes your raw files, they simply generate a tiff or a jpg.

But Lightroom's target adjustments change the rules. You can (in a lot of circumstances) just use the Lightroom tools to make the adjustments and never need to go into Photoshop. From Lightroom I can print, show it in a slide-show and even generate any jpgs I might need to send out. So now I only need Lightroom and my raw files - it's time to say goodbye to storing tiff files. This has to be a good thing...doesn't it?

Well as i see it Lightroom is storing a set of instructions on what to do with your image very much like a recipe book tells you what to do with raw ingredients. As we know with recipes, two cooks can follow the same recipe and produce 2 different results, or if the recipe is in English and the chef only speaks French you are going to have lots of problems. Does the same hold true for the recipes we have in Lightroom? Well yes I believe it does.

If our recipe for the perfect picture includes the instruction "increase vibrancy by 30", none of us outside of Adobe really know what calculations Lightroom performs on our files. In a few years time when you are running Lightroom 5.3 on Windows 11 (or OS-X Domestic Moggy or even Google Spangled Metal 3), you have no real guarantee that "increase vibrancy by 30" will produce the same look as it did back in 2009. I am sure Adobe would do their best to keep things consistent but it's not easy to guarantee that as developers try to fix bugs in the code and extend it to add more functionality.

Even more importantly, what happens if Adobe drop support for Lightroom due to it rapidly losing market share to some other new technology coming along? What if it becomes to costly to continue to support the raw format of your files? Now we are in a much, much worse position than we ever were, as now we have an archive of raw files in a proprietary format plus a set of instructions in an equally proprietary format that it may be difficult (if not impossible) to get any other software to understand.

That's why, to me, storing raw + lightroom adjustments is just not an archival format as it cannot be opened by other applications and may produce different result over time. Tiff files I created 5 years ago in Photoshop 7 still open and print just as they always did and I can use a wide variety of software to access them. It's an open and widely used standard, so I think I will be sticking with Tiff files as my format for the moment.

Am I right? why not add a comment below & let me know what you think.

Tuesday 20 October 2009

What are we doing to our home ?

It was only a few weeks back that I walked along the high tide line of a Cornish beach and was amazed at the amounts of plastic that were washed up on the shore.

Today I came across this set of images by Chris Jordan which graphically and shockingly shows what a real mess we are making of our home planet.

Midway - Message from the Gyre
by Chris Jordan

I wonder if it is too late to put things right, or are we destined to spend our days surrounded by a sea of our own filth.

Monday 19 October 2009

Can a picture be Cursed ?....Part 2

Having previously established that one of my photographs was clearly evil and did not want to leave the house. I had decided to replace it for my latest exhibition.

The strange thing is that it turned out that the new portrait image was exactly the right orientation for the display. If I had gone with the original landscape image the hanging would have looked completely wrong.

Even weirder, no sooner had I hung the new picture up than someone asked to buy it!

Clearly, it wasn't a cursed picture it was just trying to stop me doing the wrong thing.


Tree and Temple
(not an evil picture after all, just a very helpful one)

Friday 16 October 2009

Charity Exhibition

Yup it's that time of year again when I organize the Daiwa Securities Charity Photography Competition and hold an exhibition of my work.

the exhibition of the winning entries and my pictures is on display in the foyer of Daiwa Securities SMBC, 5 King William Street, London EC4N 7AX. The foyer is open from 8:00am - 6:00pm.

My pictures are on sale at specially reduced exhibition prices with the profits going to the companies' two charities War Child and Demelza House Childrens Hospice.

Remains of the Day
(really would look good on your wall)

With only 70 shopping days to Christmas, now is the time to pop down and bag yourself a bargain present whilst helping charity at the same time.

Wednesday 14 October 2009

Can a picture be cursed?

My latest exhibition opens on Thursday so, of course, there has been lots to do with pictures to frame and labels to write, etc, etc.

I have explained how I mount and frame pictures before, it;s not a particularly complicated process and each part just takes a few minutes. I printed a batch of photos at 12"x18" then left them for a few days to let those gasses out.

Framing and mounting progressed as normal: clean the glass, mount the picture, drop the picture into the frame, check it, spot some dust on the glass, clean the glass, put the picture back in the frame,check it, spot some dust on the glass, clean the glass, put the picture back in the frame,check it, spot some dust on the glass, clean the glass, put the picture back in the frame, finally decide enough is enough seal up the back of the frame.

This was how it went for all but one picture, this shot just wouldn't line up with the mount correctly. It took about 20minutes to do what should have taken a few seconds, I then put it in the frame, did the traditional glass cleaners dance and sealed up the back. I then realised I hadn't signed & numbered it. So out it came, a quick signature, drop it back into the frame, turn it over to check for dust and then turn it over only to discover the glass had broken!

By this time I am jolly miffed with this picture and I decide to leave it & come back to it later.

A week passes and I have another go at framing it. I grab a spare frame, drop the picture into it turn it over and the F*!%**ing glass has broken! I never break the glass on my frames and now 2 have gone on the same picture. A frantic phone call and trip to the glazers ensue and then I have 2 new pieces of glass.

By this time I have decide the phot is cursed and the only person who is likely to buy it is Linda Blair or Damien from the Omen. So I print a different picture, mount it & frame it with no problem at all!

Below is the picture I ended up framing - I won't show you the accursed one as it may bring down my website.

A Fern in the Dark
(click to view large)

Oh and I decided to shred the other picture for public safety reasons.

Monday 12 October 2009

Overcast days never turn me on*

What a way to spend a Sunday Morning:

Drag yourself out of bed at 5:00 A.M. (A.M. stands for "Arrrgggh Morning" )
Drive for an hour to a very overcast Shoeburyness.
Realise you have bought your wife's wellies instead of your own!
Realise a tide that was supposed to be going out was still in.
Stand on a beach waiting for a sunrise that never materialises.
Decide that the only thing worth photographing is a sewer outflow!

Posts & Pipe
(Click to view large)

Drive home & go back to bed!
Was it worth the trip? - you decide, I'm still too sleepy to care.

*From Raspberry Beret by Prince. Whatever you do, don't google the real meaning of the lyrics - you'll never listen to it in the same way again!

Thursday 8 October 2009

Doing a Ralph Loren

I do believe that we are about to see a new expression appear.:

Ralph Loren
Def: To really muck something up in Photoshop
Usage: "I think they have done a Ralph on that shot", "That magazine cover is totally Ralph Loren"

It seems that poor old Ralphs lawyers have not heard of The Streisand Effect. See Boing Boing for the full story, or just watch the story grow.

Tuesday 6 October 2009

Well done Cheryl

A big congratulations from us here at ShepherdPics to Cheryl Surry (Squirrell photographer to the stars) on winning The BBC Countryfile photography competiton. Getting first place out 30,000 entries is very impressive indeed.

Mr December
(Cheryl Surry)

Regular readers will remember Cheryl was our Photographer of the Month for October 2007. I bet winning the country file competition feels nearly as good!

Friday 2 October 2009

Backing up to the Cloud - Got there in the End!

Hopefully long term readers remember my articles on backing up to the cloud:

Backup to the cloud - Part One
Backup to the cloud - Part Two
Backup to the Cloud - Final Thoughts

Well I am sure that none of you care but I just thought I would mention that my image archive backup is now complete and safe in the web:

Safe in the Web
(Click to View Large)

My Image archive was 300gb but I decided to got through it & cull a load of images I didn't want and would never use. I know some people keep everything but I really can't see the point in keeping out of focus shots, test shots, etc.

The cull got it down to 150mb and it has since grown back up to 285gb (sheesh those 5DmkII files are big). So it has take 163 days (I lost 10 due to being away) and has averaged 1.74GB a day. That means the system can cope with around 50GB a month of images, which is easily enough for my needs.

Think we can count that as a success and I can rest easy knowing my images are safe.

Thursday 1 October 2009

Steve McCurry is photographer of the month for October

Magnum photographer Steve McCurry produces outstanding images from around the world. He rightly seems to have won huge numbers of awards, but up until now he has not managed to achieve what must be the pinnacle of anyone's career, being awarded the Shepherdpics Photographer of the Month, so it's about time we rectified that!

Japan 2007
(by Steve McCurry)

Previous Photographers of the Month