Category Archives: Software

This Is Also Hong Kong

When I posted this photo to my timeline on Facebook, one of the comments I got was from someone who said, “What a shame, it’s probably been re-developed by now.” And that means this photo was successful, in my opinion, because it was shot just two weeks ago but I was hoping it would appear timeless. (By the way, this is just a 5 minute walk from my home.)




And here’s another shot, I zoomed in a bit when the farmer turned around and saw me.


Another thing about these pictures is that they were shot with my Sony RX100 (Mark 1). Back when I bought the Sony RX10 I was tempted to sell this camera off and I’m so glad I didn’t.  I don’t think there are many cameras out there that can fit into my jeans pockets that have full manual controls, RAW and can take such nicely detailed shots.  These photos were shot RAW and processed in both Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro.

I love the wide range of adjustments for monochrome that you can do so easily in SEP, both through the various presets/filters and the sliders. Ansel Adams was once quoted saying, roughly, that when someone looks at one of his photos, he wants them to feel what he felt at the moment he took it. That’s a very inspirational thought to me, and when I do go down to monochrome for an image, Silver Efex Pro helps me to easily get the image to match the one I have in my head.

I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the photographic possibilities in my neighborhood because I’ve mostly been concentrating on studio shoots and band shoots, but I’m going to mix things up a bit more as time goes by.


Adobe Creative Cloud for the Cost of 2 Large Starbucks Coffees

Adobe’s about to release a new package for their Creative Cloud. You will get Photoshop CC, Bridge CC, Lightroom 5 and 20 gig of online storage for US$10 a month.  That’s $120 a year, less than the cost of the boxed version of Lightroom alone.

In order to get this price, you have to be a current Adobe customer (Photoshop version 3 or higher) and you have to sign up before the end of the year. The launch date in the U.S. is September 17th; no word on international availability.

I’m currently paying US$20 per month for Photoshop CC and some other stuff (Lightroom isn’t included in my subscription). I am glad I never upgraded to Lightroom 5 and I’ll switch to this package as soon as I can.


Fuji X-Pro1 iPad App

Fuji has released an iPad app dedicated to the Fuji X-Pro1.  It’s free and you can download all 417 megabytes of it from the iTunes store.

It’s basically a 90-something page eBook, very nicely laid out and of course featuring gorgeous photos.  The app has very few interactive features (mostly you can tap spots on the screen to see more details about a particular photo you’re looking at).  Most of it is a far nicer user guide to the camera than the manual that comes with the camera originally.  There’s also a nice interview (with lots of photos of course) with a Japanese photographer in “Macao”, a guide to accessories for the camera and an “appendix” featuring a guide to Fuji’s Silkypix software.

Given that this is free, it’s not just for Fuji X-Pro1 owners – it’s also a great reference for people who are considering buying the camera.



Adobe Creative Cloud? Not in Hong Kong

Adobe’s been making quite a splash with their new Creative Cloud product.

Adobe® Creative Cloud™ is a digital hub that gives you access to every Adobe Creative Suite® 6 desktop application, plus online services and other new apps as they’re released, giving you the freedom to create anything you can imagine. The vision of Adobe Creative Cloud is to turn previously difficult, disparate workflows into one intuitive, natural experience, allowing you to create freely and deliver ideas on any desktop, tablet, or handheld device.

This is a big deal for people who use Adobe products.  You can buy just a single month of this for US $75 and then for one month have legal access to just about every Adobe product on multiple platforms, plus 20 gigs of online storage and hosted web sites.   You can get a one year subscription that works out to US$50 a month – or US$30 a month for one year if you’re upgrading to this from a previous version of certain Adobe products.  This is a huge savings over buying the regular versions of their stuff.

One reason this is of interest to me is that I’m someone who uses both Windows and Mac.  With Adobe Lightroom, if you buy it once, you can download both Windows and OS-X versions.  But not with Photoshop.  So I’d need to buy it twice, once for my desktop and once for my laptop.  Or I could have a single subscription to the Creative Cloud and get it everywhere for one price.

However, if you live in Hong Kong, Creative Cloud is nothing but a pipe dream, at least for now.

Adobe intends to make Creative Cloud membership as widely available as possible. Currently, it is not available in your region. However, Creative Suite 6 software is available, and you can purchase software licenses for individual products or Creative Suite editions — just as you have always done.

When you think about it, this makes zero sense because Hong Kong is a major global city when it comes to photography, design, marketing, publishing and so on.  Hong Kong is also an area that is traditionally big on software piracy.  Creative Cloud is a great way to combat piracy and not making it available from day one in Hong Kong is just plain stupid.

Fortunately I have a U.S. credit card with a U.S. billing address.  But what about the other 99% of people here?

By the way, here’s another way that Adobe says “fuck you” to Hong Kong.  If you’re in the U.S., you can buy CS6 from Amazon for US$620.88 (list price $699).   If you’re in Hong Kong, CS6 will cost you HK$6,530 – that’s US$850.  There’s simply no excuse for this disparity in pricing.





Noise Ninja

Anyone out there tried a piece of software called Noise Ninja?  It’s from a company called PictureCode.  Here’s what they have to say about their product:

Noise Ninja is the most effective and productive solution for removing noise and grain from digital photographs and scanned film images. It is a must-have tool for anyone shooting in low-light or fast-action situations — including news, sports, wedding, and event coverage — where high ISO photography is required and the resulting noise compromises the image.

Noise Ninja often yields a two-stop improvement in effective image quality, while preserving important image detail. In addition, it can produce cleaner, smoother enlargements from low-ISO images.

It runs from US$35 to US$80 depending on which bundle you buy – everything from a standalone app to a Photoshop plugin.  Since I’m currently using it with Lightroom, I have to use the standalone version – which will only work on TIFF and JPEG files, not on RAW or DNG.   I’m using the free trial version, which watermarks your finished photos with a grid.  It looks like you have to spend some time with it to use it properly but I got some interesting results after playing with it for just a few minutes.

Here’s my original processed photo (which I just posted in the previous post):

And here’s the same photo after running it through Noise Ninja.

As you can see, it removed a hell of a lot of grain.  But it did some other stuff too – the color has changed on the Shangri-La sign and I lost a lot of the color on the Cheung Kong building.  But again, that’s after just playing with the software for a few minutes.  There are more detailed controls for color that I need to spend some time with.

I’m thinking this is interesting enough that I might buy it.  I know I don’t get that many commenters here but if any of you out there reading this have some thoughts on this software, I’d appreciate hearing about it.

I’ve read that some people think more highly of DxO Optics Pro.  However that software costs US$199-$299 (I think that for the D800 I’d need the more expensive version).  It’s more expensive than Lightroom and offers a lot of functionality that I might not need.  Any DxO software users out there? What do you think of it?