I tell you,dear readers, it's difficult to come up with topics for a photography blog,week after week. Especially if you don't have a lot of free time to devote to keeping up with the demands of writing. Hell, I barely call this writing. I don't write from an outline any longer, and I often don't proofread what I write, I just hit "Publish Post". Nope, typos are legion here in this space. And the topics are generally fairly casually arrived at.
But one subject I think about probably NOT as much as I should is imaging software. Yeah, software for things related to imaging. "Software is where it's at these days," is a phrase I often repeat to myself. We're on the brink of Nikon Capture NX,which is said to be capable of editing not only Nikon camera files, but also JPEG and TIF files created by cameras other than Nikons. If the upcoming shipping product is as good as the pre-release write-ups indicate, Nikon might have a real sales hit on its hands. The new Control Point concept Nikon is premiering in Capture NX looks to me to be VERY promising; so promising in fact that I think Adobe will do its best to try and come up with something very similar,as soon as they can.
The Nikon NEF file is a wonderful file format to capture to, yet Nikon owes its users a MUCH better software product than they have ever offered. Nikon Capture 4.1 to 4.4 have been slow and crash-prone and unduly buggy; sequential update requirements for the Mac OS have been rather odd from Nikon, and Mac OS support for Nikon software products is nothing short of disgraceful. The only company that has a worse record for Macintosh support is probably FujiFilm, with its Hyperutilities suite and its lamentable record for FAILURE TO INSTALL under MOST of the various versions of Mac OS X for a pretty significant chunk of real-world users. At this point, I just want to line up and pay my damned $129 and get a new,decent,stable copy of a Nikon raw conversion software application,on a CD-ROM. And did I mention the Control Points concept Nikon has invented? I see the Control Point concept as being as important as the healing brush in Photoshop was....I really think the new Nikon interface and control concepts ideveloped for NX look very,very promising.
One of the biggest advances in imaging over the past three years has been the field of raw conversion software. Adobe,as well as much smaller,third-party developers have been inventing all sorts of raw conversion software,some of which does a great job,and some of which is designed with modern digital photography workflow techniques in mind. One of my most recent discoveries is the Automator software in the newest version of Mac OS X. Thank you MSW for the introduction to Automator basics; since that time two weeks ago,I've learned how to perform all sorts of exacting,complicated,and tedious Photoshop operations using this wonderful new Automator software and a large folder full of actions for Photoshop CS-2.
Reading books and articles and web-based tutorials on Photoshop techniques is how I am now trying to move my own photography forward. I want to become better-skilled and better-informed about ways to make my pictures better. And I want to learn how to take advantage of a number of specific Photoshop skills which I do not posses at this time. I guess you could say that I am now trying to figure out ways in which I can advance my photography by better use of imaging software.
A while back I took the opportunity to run a week's worth of raw captures through three different raw conversion applications. It was an eye-opening experience to see the differnet interpretations of my raw files,as seen through the filter of the entirely different raw decoding engines,each of which yielded distinctly _different_ results. I'm convinced that software is where it's at. And I'm determined to learn how to better use software over the coming months.