All of you who bought version1.0, don't worry. The upgrade to 1.1 is free. All you need to do is go to the Adobe site: www.adobe.com. This upgrade, in my opinion, is the best deal of the year. (Depending on how large your library is it will take some computer time to migrate your old "library" to 1.1's new catalog system, but it's worth the wait. Catalogs are so much easier to deal with than a single "library" and give you a lot more flexibility.) I spent the last several months completely rewriting my book to make it 1.1 centric--and I've come to love several of the new features. (Photoshop Lightroom Adventure, by the way, goes to press Friday and should be available in a couple weeks.)Read his blog post here.
Mikkel's wonderful book titled, Photoshop Lightroom Adventure is nearing completion. What makes this effort so unique is that it combines an expert guide with gorgeous images from Iceland, all captured by the Iceland Adventure Team. It's coffee table meets workstation. Brains and beauty.
As I was digging around for some tidbits for the project, I ran across a slideshow that we used as an introduction for our talks about the Adventure. I decided to re-master the video and publish it for Inside Lightroom readers.
[Note: Mikkel couldn't get this blog entry up from Prague, so he asked me to post it for him---cw]
Cologne, Germany--I'm winding up a week at Photokina, the world's largest photographic trade show held every two years here in Cologne. I spent a good deal of the week as a guest in the Adobe booth, talking up our Adobe Lightroom Iceland Adventure and showing off some of the tips and tricks we learned on our week long adventure in Iceland this summer.
I'm amazed at how many Europeans have already downloaded Lightroom Public Beta 4, which was made available two days before the show started on Tuesday. Several of the beta testers already knew more than I did about the recent release!
After talking and listening to others talk about their experiences with Beta 4, here are some critical features that need to be implemented before the final release:
Interconnected magnification and scrolling views in the compare preview in Library. (Already available in Before/After preview in the Develop module.)
Ability to select multiple formats for Export, like Image Processor in Photoshop. (At this time you can only choose 1 format at a time to export.)
Ability to create multiple versions of the same image (black and white, high contrast, spilt tone, etc.) and maintain previews of each version in the Library. (Something like Versions in Photoshop Elements 4-5 for Windows.)
Other things I heard requested include:
Ability to make multiple sizes of different images on the same page in the Print Module. (Like Picture Package in Photoshop)
Email JPEGs command from within the application. (Like iView Pro, iPhoto and numerous other applications.)
Stacks in Library mode that can contain multiple related images. (Like the feature found in Photoshop Elements 4.0 and 5.0 for Windows and like the stacks used by Apple Aperture.)
Several users--including me--experienced performance issues with the De-Noise feature in the Develop module and Spilt Toning (also in the Develop module). Several people complained of display issues with the Windows version, but I was assured that this problem has been fixed and the current download works fine.
Not all was work at the show, of course! I had the pleasure to meet up with Adventure team member Michael Reichmann, who showed me some impressive video blogs he posted from Cologne. Michael never stops amazing me. Addy Roff was at the show and so was Peter Krogh, two other Adventure team members. One night at Cologne brewery, Peter and I and Photoshop creator Thomas Knoll launched into an hour-long Geek discussion about Lightroom. I wish I could remember all the content...it was fascinating at the time. But, even after all the beers I do remember learning Peter is actually descended from Danish royalty. At least that is what I remembered he said...
Another night I also had the pleasure of meeting Photoshop Super Stars Katrin Eismann and Martin Evening, who were also special guests of Adobe. I really liked them; they both are so dedicated and professional in what they do.
Fred Shippey, my good friend, and tech editor for my book Shooting Digital (shown with me here), stopped by the Adobe booth often and encouraged me to drink more water. He's a pro at trade shows; he worked for Kodak in the old days. Fred also wrote up a nice piece on the Adobe Lightroom Iceland Adventure for the Photokina Show Daily. Thanks Fred! Educator and fine art photographer Harris Fogel also stopped by the Adobe booth, but conflicting parties kept us from really spending time together.
I'm spending a few days with friends in Prague, then returning to San Francisco on Wednesday. Time to get to work on the Lightroom PDF Derrick Story and I are working on together. [Ahem, good idea, Mikkel!---cw, aka "Your Editor"] I certainly picked up a lot of useful tips I'm anxious to share with everyone.
Adobe announced the release of Lightroom Beta 4 today at Photokina. This version is a substantial update for both Windows and Mac users. I've been testing various builds of Beta 4 on a Mac since the Iceland Lightroom Adventure, and I can tell you from experience, that it's worth the download.
Of all the new features, and there are plenty, take a look at the Develop module in Beta 4. New tools such as Fill Light are some of the most photography-friendly and useful image processing controls I've ever used. I really like refining my pictures with Develop in Lightroom.
One word of caution however... Lightroom is still under development itself. And the team has been very candid about the fact that things will change between the betas and final release. So don't get too married to features, and keep in mind that work you do in the beta version may not carry over
That being said, whether you're on Mac or Windows, Beta 4 is a substantial move forward for Lightroom. You might want to take a look at it.
At the Photoshop World Keynote in Las Vegas yesterday, the guest Adobe representatives actually spent the bulk of their time showing the crowd new, cool features of not Photoshop but the "complementary product" designed particularly for photographers, Adobe Lightroom.
After NAPP President Scott Kelby entertained the crowd with a clever CSI send-up (featuring a nefarious act by our own Deke McClelland), he turned the podium over to Adobe's John Loiacono (Senior Vice President, Creative Solutions Business Unit) who spent a few minutes discussing how Photoshop had become a pervasive brand, community, and world experience (demonstrated with clips of referrals to Photoshop in the TV shows "The West Wing" and "Desperate Housewives.") But "Johnny L" (if you can believe Scott Kelby) fairly quickly introduced Adobe's Sr. Director of Product Development for Digital Imaging, Kevin Connor, to give a sneak peek at Lightroom.
Although Lightroom has been in public beta since January (at least for Mac users), "Kevin C" (OK, I made that one up) gave the audience a glimpse at some of the cool features of Beta 4, which is not yet available to the world. Although I was a little surprised that so much time was spent on Lightroom at Photoshop World Keynote, from a raise-of-hands poll conducted by Kevin Conner, hundreds in the audience had already downloaded the beta.
One of those key features is a flexible, customizable interface which allows photographers to choose which tools and metadata they want to see, and hide panels that they don't. But the intriguing new feature to me was a new highlight/shading feature on the Histogram and Curves displays that show you the area that you are affecting as you move a slider. Seems to me this has great feedback potential for helping users (especially new students of digital photography) really understanding how these tools work.
In order to prove that the next round would have parity across platform, he ran it in Windows. He also used some amazing photographs from the Adobe Lightroom Adventure in Iceland to demo how the new interface worked, and both Conner and Loiacono praised the value of having sent real world photographers out to test this tool for "photographers who want the best results."
If you've been following the Adobe Lightroom Adventure to Iceland, you know that we've published a dozen galleries from members of the team. Viewing them, you might realize that some of them are using the current template available in Beta 3 for the Mac, and then others are, well, using something different.
The story behind the difference is a good one, and I'm going to share what I can about it. Back in Iceland, it was my job to gather images from the photographers, photo edit them, and post the galleries on the Adventure site. About 1am one morning when I was working on the first gallery, it was clear that the Lightroom Web module was in need of love. Fortunately, George Jardine works long hours too, and he jumped in the fray.
Photo: George Jardine (left), Addy Roff, and Peter Krogh eating a staple of Iceland - their amazing hot dogs that you can find in any remote corner of the country. (I ate quite a few of them myself.)
George had hit the same wall a few weeks earlier and was working with the engineers on some new web templates. He shared one with me for the next gallery, and it was definitely a step in the right direction. Web Gallery 2 is a product of the experimental template. Gallery 1 is the old template that's available in Beta 3.
We kept the communication lines open with Adobe engineers during the week in Iceland, and continued to work on the Web template. The current incarnation was used for George's posted gallery, and work on improving the module. continues
When I chatted with George in his podcast after we returned, I remarked that the software development aspect of the trip was as exciting for me as the Icelandic landscape. I can't wait to see how the final version of the Web module turns out. But I can tell you this... it's development was field tested under working conditions. I hope this will be another success story from our Adventure.
On the first Saturday in Iceland I joined the group as they migrated north to Reykholt. This wasn't the easiest of decisions because I had a wedding waiting for me in the other direction, south of Reykjavik. But getting me back and forth would have proven difficult. I was disappointed, but figured something else would materialize.
On Sunday, a group of us set off to explore the Reykholt countryside -- our clan included Mikkel, Peter, Addy, Angela, Sonja, and Johann. We found a charming chapel next to a farm, and Johann decided to check in with the farmer to see if it was OK for us to explore. The sky was beautiful and the light was perfect for shooting.
The farmer gave us the green light, then mentioned, almost as an afterthought, "Oh, there's going to be a wedding today at 4 o'clock I believe. I don't know the couple, but you might want to come back and see if you can get some photographs." Johann knew about my missed wedding the previous day, and shared this information with me. I was excited.
In a gesture of generosity, the entire group said that I should be the one to come back and shoot the wedding. I thought that was really sweet of everyone to give this opportunity to me. Sonja said that she'd come with me to help with the communication. I was thrilled.
As it turns out, the couple getting married was visiting from Sweden. They had a family member who was going to take some pictures, but didn't have a professional photographer. I told them I would shoot their wedding and share the photos with them if they would give me a model release. Once they processed this odd turn of events, they agreed. Their names were Linus and Emelie.
From that point forward, everything began to float. The chapel was romantic beyond description, the ceremony was touching, and the couple was very much in love. All of this was unfolding in the beautiful Icelandic countryside.
I shot everything existing light -- never even pulled out my flash. Sonja, an accomplished photographer herself, asked me if I always shot weddings existing light. I said I never do. But today was different. After the ceremony and receiving line, we all wanted to keep it going. We departed for not one, but two locations with waterfalls... and continued to shoot photos. It became a free for all with everyone taking pictures of everyone else.
Linus and Emelie after their wedding in Iceland. You can see the whole gallery too.
I received a note from Linus yesterday. It very much sums up the situation for me:
How are you?
We have returned to Sweden.. and starting to work again.. we are missing the beautiful Iceland very much!! We saw your pictures on the internet... they were fantastic... I have show'n the pictures for my friends and they love them!! =) We are very happy that you are sending us your pictures!!!! )
Best regards - Linus and Emelie
I've posted a Lightroom gallery for Linus and Emelie so they can see more of the images. You can view them for yourself if you'd like to see a little of what Iceland magic looks like. I've also sent them hires versions of these shots so they can make prints.
Among my many eye-opening experiences in Iceland, I had a revelation about printing while participating in the reception at the Reykjavik Apple Store that final Friday. Instead of mounting our stacks of 13" x 19" prints and properly hanging them on the wall, we used removable Scotch tape and placed them haphazardly on the giant glass windows that illuminated the room. We also left some in stacks on counters where visitors could shuffle through them at their own pace.
These choices helped transformed what could have been a somewhat staid event into one of artistic immersion. People would pull the prints off the glass, hold them, show them to others, take them to the photographers for signing, and ultimately cart one or two home. We weren't just looking at photography, we were touching it. You could hold the image at any angle you wanted, look as closely as you dared, and feel the texture of the paper while doing so.
We had worked hard to output these snapshots of Iceland on Epson R2400s supplied by Epson as part of their generous sponsorship. But I don't think any us imagined the reaction to the images as they disappeared off the windows, through the doors, and into the Reykjavik night.
I've brought this experience home to my own studio. Now, instead of putting barriers between my images and those who view them, I'm going to leave them laying around for anyone to touch. They only cost a few dollars each to make, and I can always output more if necessary.
I learned many things in Iceland. But this one was a surprise. It seems so logical now -- letting people touch your prints brings them closer to your artwork.
San Francisco: Most of the team has packed up their gear and flown home safely from Iceland and the adventure. Many have already boarded planes and left for other destinations. John McDermott is off to Texas for a shoot. Richard Morgenstein --home for a day--then on a plane to shoot in LA. As I write John Isaac is enroute to Brazil. George Jardine is off to China. Addy Roff remains in Iceland, taking some well-deserved R & R with her family.
The Adobe Iceland adventure already seems like a dream.
But it's far from over and none of us want to let it go. We need to properly document the experience so we can share it in its full glory with others. Like the ripples that emerge after a rock splashes in the water, we will try and spread around the stories and lessons from our adventure. If we do this part right, the adventure will have a life that lives a long time and becomes an inspiration to others.
From my end, I'll start by putting together a dynamite slide show/presentation to take on the road, hopefully in time for Photokina in October. Not only will the show highlight the adventure but it will showcase the work of the individual photographers who deserve so much recognition. Derrick and I have already started on a "Hot Tips from the Adventure" PDF, which we should have ready in a month or so. And then, of course, there is the book. I envision it as a hybrid between a coffee table tome and instructional manual. It will be beautifully produced by O'Reilly and contain practical advise on using Adobe Lightroom as well.
In the meantime, we are encouraging all the photographers that came on the adventure to edit and present their work on their own web sites, and we will provide links to everyone. Martin Sundberg and Johann Gudbjargarson have already given us their links. You can go to Martin's photos here and Johann's here. And here are some of my photos as well. George Jardine's photos are here.
As this adventure continues, and the stories emerge, I'll keep you up to date. Til then...happy shooting!
Reykjavik: Friday night's wrap-up party at the Apple store was a smashing success, just like the rest of the adventure. For me, the story of Iceland's Petar Jonasson, one of the 150 or so attendee's, highlights the evening, and epitomizes the entire week.
The story goes like this: Earlier in the day, George Jardine, Adobe Lightroom's evangelist and midwife, and I walked into the Apple store to make sure everything was set for the evening event. As we checked out the stunningly beautiful facilities an older, heavy-set man walked into the store. He saw George and a smile as big as the midnight sun spread across his face. He walked up to us and grabbed George's hand and said in a very heavily accented English, "Mr Lightroom! " He'd recognized George's face from various digital photography forums on the internet.
It turns out Mr. Jonasson had an adventure of his own to relate. He had received an email invitation from Steingrimur Arnason, the store's manager and our gracious host, and immediately set out alone from his home in the Husavik, a small fishing village seven hours away by car from Reykjavik, famous for whale watching. Driving with the determination of a pilgrim, Jonasson scaled the Kinnarfjoll mountains and crossed the entire breath of Iceland, along the way battling rain and bad roads and exploding volcanoes and suicidal sheep bent on destroying his car. Ok, I'm embellishing a little...but if you've ever driven Iceland roads you know how treacherous they can be.
After hearing Jonasson's impressive story and also learning he was a serious photographer in his own right, I watched as Jonasson leaned toward George, and said solemnly, "You know, I like the thinking behind Adobe Lightroom". George, who has worked tirelessly for years on the Lightroom project (back to when it was known to only a few as Shadowland), turned misty eyed. As Jonasson walked away, vowing to see us later in the evening, George told me he wished Mark Hamburg, the visionary leader and inspiration behind the Lightroom project, had been there to hear the sincere remark.
Later that evening, as the Jonasson's story spread among the crowd, everyone from the Lightroom team handed a grateful Jonasson signed prints we'd made during the week on the Epson 2400 printers. He clutched them as if they were gold and seemed like a man who'd died and went to heaven. He extended us all an invitation to visit him in Husavik, and we all agreed that next summer would be a good time to see him again.( Husavik has a Fosshotel, one of this years sponsors, so it's a very real possibility.)
On Saturday, the team flies home. I'll post a wrap up blog shortly and Derrick will post more web gallery photos as well.
PS. The adventure opened with the drama of Michael Reichmann and Chris Sanderson's circuitous flight to Iceland. Well, it ends on more drama. Reichmann collapsed just before the Friday night party. He spent all day Saturday in a Reykjavik hospital where extensive testing determined he was ok, just exhausted and battered from a grueling week of 14 hour drives and sleepless nights. We were all relieved and wish him a speedy recovery. Personally, I'm very grateful for everything Reichmann did to make this adventure happen, and his tireless efforts while he was here.
Fosshotel Nesbud: Sometimes pushing the journey beyond the next bend in the road is what makes all the difference. At least that is what happened today. It's Thursday in Iceland and the morning threatened rain. Much of the team opted to stay indoors, working on their prints and images for Friday night's slide show. Before the storm hit, Bill Atkinson and I started out for an unnamed but highly recommended hot spring hidden deep in a nearby mountain. We were given simple directions by the hotel cook, "Turn right, then right, then right, you'll come to a parking lot. Then walk 1 hour into the mountain." Uh, ok...
Unbelievably, 45 minutes later, we made it to the parking lot and started walking. Bill wisely left his Hasselblad with a Phase One P 45 back behind and brought his Canon Powershot SD400 instead. I carried my Nikon D200 but seeing the mountain in front of us I opted for only one lens, my Nikkor 18-200 VR.
There was plenty to talk about and our hike quickly took us deep into the mountains. It was cloudy and windy but otherwise the weather was fine. I was thrilled listening to Bill talk about his early years with Apple. He was employee # 51, but came to Apple when there were only 30 people. He's the genius behind MacPaint and HyperCard and part of the Macintosh development team. Now he lives and breathes photography and he's providing invaluable help and advice to our team.
An hour into our hike we came to bubbling hot springs, and assumed we had reached our destination. Bill stuck his hand into one and quickly realized that we'd die a horrible death if we bathed here. Seeing nothing else but cooking cauldrons all around us we almost gave in and headed back. Maybe the cook at the hotel thought we asked for someplace to "cook", not "bathe". Anyway, up ahead we could see a bend in the path and even though we couldn't see what was on the other side, we decided to push on.
To say we stumbled on paradise is not much of an overstatement. Just past the bend a small stream flowed through the ravine. And in this stream, in a small pond created by a small man-made rock dam, languished a group of bathers. They were enjoying a mix of ice-cold mountain water blended with scorching hot water which entering the stream from a nearby fissure.
We hung out for a long time and then headed back down the mountain. We learned, or maybe we were just reminded, that pushing beyond the obvious is often what makes all the difference.
Web Gallery 3 represents a deeper exploration of Iceland, and of Lightroom. These 14 photographers scoured the countryside for compelling images, then processed the pictures using the Develop module in Lightroom. General discussion around the editing table is the the Develop and Print modules are the stars of the application at this point. Most of the photographers were able to handle their processing in Lightroom, with the exception of removing sensor dust, which required a quick trip to Photoshop for the cloning tool.
We've been making 13" x 19" prints with the two Epson R2400s provided by Epson for this project. The workflow involved editing the images in the Develop module, then exporting them into the DNG format. They were transferred to our printing workstation (also running Lightroom) and printed on the R2400s. We used the DNG format for transfer because it contains all of the editing information, thereby retaining the corrections made by the original photographer. The prints look spectacular. They will be on display Friday night at a special reception in Reykjavik.
We also employed the Slideshow module for a looping presentation of 150 images. First task was to create an Iceland Adventure template, then use it to present 10 images by each of the photographers. So far, the slideshow is shaping up well, although we still have some work to do on it.
On Saturday, we fly out of Iceland and head for home. I still have more to post, and I'll do my best to get stuff online as my schedule allows.
Photo of the Blue Lagoon by Maggie Hallahan. See more images from Web Gallery 3.
We are at Fosshotel Nesbud, and the weather has gone from good to fantastic. (As you can see by the photo I took this morning shown here.) All the Icelanders want us to stay a few weeks longer: they believe we've pleased the Viking gods with our visit and that explains the first good weather of the summer. I'm exaggerating a little...but we've had amazingly good luck. I'm actually hoping for a little rain tomorrow so the team will be inspired to hang out in the conference room and print with the Epson printers and prepare images for the our big Friday night bash at the Apple store in Reykjavik.
Everyone continues to get proficient with Adobe Lightroom and impressed with its capabilities as well. Most of us come from a Photoshop/Bridge background and we are tough customers. But Lightroom is satisfying us nicely and I can see most if not all of the photographers realizing the potential of this ground breaking software.
Best of all is the speed we are learning to tag and edit and print our photos. None of us want to sit around all day in front of a computer, especially here in this scenic rich country. (If I sound full of hyperbole, it's because it's midnight and I'm surrounded by a lot of photographers satiated from a superb day of shooting. Their energy is infectious.)
Not only are we freed to shoot, but the application makes sharing images so easy we are actually spending a lot time discussing and appreciating the content itself. As you can see by the posted web galleries, we are shooting a huge variety of subjects and everyone's style is distinct.
Derrick and I are gathering tips and techniques from everyone and soon we'll compile them in a PDF titled, "Hot Tips From the Adobe Iceland Adventure", or something like that. After that I'll put together all the lessons we've learned along with the stunning images into a book.
If it rains tomorrow we'll have time to post more images. Don't change the channel!
This gallery features the work of Michael Reichmann, John Isaac, Martin Sundberg, Bill Atkinson, Maggie Hallahan and more. Some of these shots just came down from the mountain, literally. Michael and Bill have traveled all across the western countryside looking for their compositions. I finally caught up with them this morning and managed to get a nice collection of images from them.
I've been shooting some with Martin, and I think you'll like what he's showing here. He's done a terrific job of getting the most out of every area he visits. It's been great to watch him work. Martin and I have also been using the ExpoDisc, which has proved very helpful for getting accurate white balance in the field. As for people shots, Maggie Hallahan has added some strong portraits to the collection. She's been on the road too, and has returned with many wonderful images. As you're probably figuring out by now, we have lots of variety to show off the different facets of Iceland.
So, take a few minutes and browse through the images in the Adventure Web Gallery 2. I think you'll enjoy what you see... and stay tuned for the next gallery post.
Photo by Michael Reichmann
Fosshotel Reykholt : The adventure is going very smoothly. Everyone on the team is filling their Sandisk cards with great photos and we are quickly getting up to speed using Adobe Lightroom to edit and process and print our images. However, there is one problem: lack of sleep in catching up with me and I'm starting to make stupid mistakes and see the glass as half empty. Derrick, legs shown here, is also suffering.
Right now, Monday night at 11 pm, most of the team is in the conference room provided by Fosshotel Reykohlt. We've set up 2 Epson 2400 printers and a Epson digital projector. (Thank you Epson!) Adobe's George Jardin and Melissa Gaul are giving instructions on how to use the output module of Lightroom and I desperately want to hear what they have to say.
Last night we ran into some snags trying to print images to share at our Friday night wrap/closing party at the Apple store in Reykjavik. We couldn't figure out how to add additional lines of descriptive text with Lightroom's Print Identity plate. George and Melissa promised to provide answers. But I'm so fried, I just want to just lay on the bed and relax and think about the day.
My group started shooting at 8 am. Derrick and I had been up most of the night trying to upload images to the site and post our blogs. Besides Derrick and me, it was Richard Morgenstein and Martin Sundberg in the van. We headed toward the fishing town of Stykkisholmur, thinking we'd grab the ferry to Flatey, an island about an hour trip away. Again, it took us forever to go a short distance and we quickly realized we wouldn't make any of the scheduled ferry trips. We stopped at every river, horse, waterfall and sheep, piling out of the van like an army on a mission.
Fatigue, however, made me clumsy and forgetful and my picture taking went badly.
Worse of all I wasn't happy at all with the photos even the ones that are ok from a technical point of view. The only shots I liked today were the ones I took of my fellow photographers. But I know this "half empty" attitude comes largely from lack of sleep, and I'm telling myself not to be so critical and get some sleep Everything will look different in the morning. I'll learn how to use the print module and my photos will look great, even the grainy, out of focus ones! Good night!
PS. Tomorrow we are packing up, leaving Reykholt, and heading to Fosshotel Nesbud where we'll stay until Friday.
This first Adventure Web Gallery represents the perspectives of nine photographers who are immersed in the culture and landscape of the Reykholt area of Iceland. Some of the artists have focused on the expansive landscape, while others examine the intimate details of the countryside.
Each photographer begins the process by capturing Raw image data, then organizing and editing the pictures in Adobe Lightroom. The output, such as this Adventure Web Gallery is created directly from the Web module. Prints are also being generated from Lightroom via Epson R2400 printers.
The next Adventure gallery will be published soon, displaying the work of more photographers on the team.
Photo by John McDermott
Reykholt, Iceland: It's 10 pm and the sky is a brilliant blue and the sun is reflecting off a few high clouds. Obviously the weather is cooperating with our adventure. Yesterday, we left Reykjavik in a blur of action. The entire team and luggage piled into 6 rental cars provided by Hertz and made the 1.5 hour drive across north west Iceland, here to the tiny town of Reykholt, surrounded by farms and near the Langjokull glacier.
We were all were aching to shoot photos and as soon as we arrived and settled everyone scattered like cats after mice. Michael Reichmann and Bill Atkinson jumped in their four wheel drive with their Hasselblad H1's and H2's and headed north, planning on driving until the light got good just before midnight, and then sleeping a few hours in the jeep and waking at 3 am in time for the rising sun and more good light.
I jumped in our van along with Derrick Story, Melissa Gaul, Richard Morgenstein and Maggie Hallahan and headed to the small town of Borgarnes only 25 kilometers away. It took us 2 hours to get there as we stopped every few kilometers to shoot the ever-changing sky and landscape. We were like kids in a candy store tempted by achingly beautiful clouds, bursts of sunlight, and, at moments, delicate drops of rain. We wanted to shove everything into our eyes and minds, and didn't know where to start, or stop.
We returned to the Fosshotel Reykoholt in time for dinner. The simple hotel is newly renovated and a cultural theme hotel based on Norse mythology. Covers of Marvel comics based on the Norse gods Loki and Thor hang in the hallway near my room. None of the other team members arrived for dinner, and the cook, eight months pregnant, was quite upset. She had personally prepared us a traditional Icelandic meal of roast lamb and potatoes and understandably didn't want to see it go to waste. I reached team member John McDermott on his cell phone and John was apologetic. He was hours away with teammate and former United Nations photographer, John Isaac, and they had completely lost track of time, taken by the great light and shooting opportunities. (McDermott is a world traveler--he just returned from shooting the World Cup soccer match--and it takes a lot to impress him, as it does to impress Isaac.) As Bill Atkinson put it the next morning at breakfast after being up most of the night, "Food and sleep are irrelevant here. We'll sleep later, when we are home."
At midnight Melissa Gaul, one of the original Adobe Lightroom team members who started back when the application was code-named Shadowland, presented the latest beta version of Lightroom. Melissa flew to Iceland from her home in Minneapolis and I quickly discovered she, like me, has a Norwegian background. We shared lutefisk and other strange food stories and I was fond of her immediately.
As Melissa gave her impromptu presentation I was taken at the new improvements to the program. I've been on the inside of the Lightroom development for nearly 2 years and I've seen it go through a lot of versions. Frankly, at moments, I felt the product was off-track and I was concerned. But listening to Melissa I was quickly totally back in the fold, and enthusiastic and excited about this new application that promises to elegantly streamline photographers workflow. We listened and questioned Melissa until around 11:30 pm when Derrick Story looked out the conference room window and dropped his jaw. The setting sun was exploding across the horizon and we all grabbed our cameras and ran outside to catch the last rays. Back in the conference room an hour later Melissa continued her demonstration and I filled pages and pages with notes, fully intending to share everything I've learned with you, the readers.
BTW, Derrick is working hard to post images from the adventure. Our Internet connection isn't great here in the countryside but we hope to have something for you to look at soon. Stay tuned!
No sooner than the Adventure team congregated in Reykjavik, it was time to head north to Reykholt where we would break into smaller groups to cover more ground. My clan explored the local area including the quiet village Borgarnes. Others traveled much farther, often staying out the entire night to capture the last glow of sunset and the first rays of morning - which were only a few hours apart.
One of the challenges of such long days is that the "photographer side" of me wants to shoot all of the time. I almost feel guilty going to sleep, even if it's only for a few hours. Then there's actual photo management, including upload, sorting, keywording, and editing. On one hand, I don't want to do it now because I want to capture. On the other hand, because I am shooting so much, I know if I don't do some organization, I'll get buried.
So I'm trying to work as efficiently as possible in Lightroom to minimize my computer time. Getting things right at capture is an important part of this equation. I'm using the ExpoDisc to help me with color balance, and it's working amazingly well. I'll write more about this accessory in a future post. As a result of accurate color and exposure capture, I'm spending very little time in the Develop module. Most of my work now is in Library.
This shot of a chapel in Reykholt was shot at 11pm just after the sun had set. I wanted to shoot it earlier in the day, but the light wasn't quite right. One of things I've noticed in Iceland, is that everything looks good after 10pm.
Reykjavik, Iceland: Everyone has safely flown in from all around the globe and the adventure has officially started! Earlier this evening, before the opening presentation by the Icelandic photographer, Sigurgeir Sigurjónsson, and before our elaborate Icelandic dinner hosted by ExpoImaging, I had the honor or welcoming the group and this is what I said:
I've been dreaming of this moment for several months now...wait a minute, I've been dreaming of this moment for several years. What a treat! Here we are in Iceland one of the most beautiful places on earth, together, on an adventure doing what we love most, making and talking photography. It doesn't get any better.
Anyway, most of you know me. Many of you have contributed images and experiences to my various digital photography books over the years. I think Maggie Hallahan goes back the longest; she helped when I wrote my first digital photography book in 1991. Bill Atkinson contributed to Photoshop for the Web in 1998. Michael Reichmann not only contributed to my book Shooting Digital but wrote the foreword to my latest book on RAW. One of John Isaac's photos graces the cover of Shooting Digital. Richard Morgenstein is featured in my last two books. Martin Sundberg and John McDermott and Peter Krogh have also been a great help to me. Derrick Story, along with Steve Weiss, Betsy Waliszewski, Sara Winge, Mark Brokering, Colleen Wheeler and others at O'Reilly media have been instrumental in making this project happen.
So in a way, this is a big thank you to you all. I just hope Michael Reichmann has used up all the glitches and it's smooth sailing from now on! (Michael was diverted from Toronto to Iceland via London and had quite the adventure getting here.)
Speaking of Michael Reichmann, accompanying him on his round-about trip to Iceland was Chris Sanderson, videographer, whose job it will be to stick his video camera into our faces for the whole week. If you have a problem with that, well...just tell him nicely. Chris is a reasonable guy and I think he has had enough excitement for the week!
This project wouldn't have been possible without the support of Adobe. And for that I want to thank Jennifer Stern who wasn't able to make the trip. It's her budget that's paying for most of us so thank you Jennifer. George Jardin and Addy Roff were critical in making this happen. Thank you! Thanks also to the other Adobe people who made the trip: Russell Brown, Melissa Gaul, and Angela Drury. I don't know you three as well, but by the end of the week I hope that changes.
This brings me to one of most exciting parts of the evening, and for me one the most exciting part of the whole adventure: Introducing our guest speaker, Sigurgeir Sigurjonsson. I first saw Sigurgeir's work in a book last year titled Lost in Iceland and I fell in love with his work. In fact, I've carried that book around to so many meetings to show it off my copy is dog-eared. Sigurgeir was born in 1948 and studied photography in Sweden and California. His background is photojournalism and portraiture and for a long time he shied away from shooting landscapes. That's not true anymore. I think he has produced some of the finest landscapes I've ever seen. In fact, talking to him last night at dinner, it occurred to me that his landscapes are really portraits. They have a personality and they speak, sometimes very loudly, always very wisely. A good portrait often says as much about the photographer as it does about the subject. In this case, I think Sigurgeir must be a very wise person indeed.
Anyway, I let him speak from here on. Thank you for coming! Enjoy the rest of the adventure!
Enroute to Iceland: Sometimes there isn't a lesson; there is just a story. In this case, it's really a worry. I'm talking about the weather, and so was everyone else I met today as I left Norway for Iceland and the start of the Adobe Lightroom Iceland Adventure.
On the train to the Oslo airport strangers bemoaned the hottest summer in 37 years. But on the plane to Keflavik it was a different story. Greta Onundardottir, one of the Icelandair flight attendants, lamented the unusually cold and wet Iceland summer. "Fall came early this year," she said. "In May." Iceland has seen 4 days of sun this summer, she explained, "and on the other days people are actually turning lights on to see."
Excuse me? No sunlight. Rain? What am I going to say to a group of photographers flying half way around the world for--as I put it a couple months ago when I sold them on the adventure-- the "wonderful Iceland summer light"? I started imaging them dropping me slowly into one of Iceland's famous active lava beds.
It was raining in Iceland when we landed, of course. It was a light rain, but rain. At the duty free shop, I bought my allotment of cognac and beer. I figured with a week of rain we'd need all the help we could get. I also tried to recall some Photoshop techniques for changing the weather in a shot. Hey, I'm the one that wrote in one of my books, "Don't look at a picture for what it is, look at it for what it can become!"
As I drove from the airport toward town a blue patch of sky suddenly appeared. I nearly crashed the rental car as I pulled quickly to the side of the road and snapped a shot. I wanted proof to show the other photographers when they arrived the next day. Proof that there is light in Iceland in the summer, and hope for me.
Anyway, it's late now. I can't tell by looking out my hotel window what tomorrow will bring. But I'm so excited to be here. I really do love Iceland. There is such an energy to the land, even when they sky is shrouded in gray. And I'm heartened by something else Greta told me on the plane..."You know, in Iceland," she said, "if you don't like the weather, just wait ten minutes, it'll change." We'll see...
P.S. Photographer Michael Reichmann and videographer Chris Sanderson get the prize for most adventure so far. I just received a call from Michael saying their Toronto > Boston leg was cancelled. (See lesson #2 about establishing good communication capabilities.) The earliest they could get to Iceland was Sunday... Well, leave it to fast thinking Reichmann. He booked a flight to London, called our man at Icelandair, Brian Sheffield, and Brian hustled and found Michael and Chris a flight from London to Iceland, arriving... Friday afternoon! So Michael and Chris be here in time for our gala dinner event hosted by ExpoImaging and featuring a slide show by the great Iceland photographer Sigurgeir Sigurjonsson. Yeah!
I've learned much in the past few weeks as I've talked to other Adventure photographers about preparing for this trip. I thought I'd pass along a few of these gems.
If you plan to use your ATM card in Iceland, and most of Europe, be sure to change you pass code to 4 digits before you leave. Otherwise there's a good chance you won't be able to use it while abroad. I think this is important because ATM machines are one of the best ways to get fair exchange rates for currency while traveling.
GSM phones, especially triband and quadband models, can be a blessing on the road. In Iceland, for example, I'm going to buy a SIM card at the duty free right when I get off the plane. That way I'll have a local number during my visit. Once I get home, I simply put my Cingular card back in the phone, and it's just like I never left.
Michael Reichman remarked that he wears his photographer's vest while boarding the plane. That way, if he's faced with the problem of having to check his carry on gear (containing his lenses and DSLRs), he can stuff his most valuable equipment in his vest and keep it with him.
Finally, as great as computers are, having a good tour book or two is valuable on a long flight. Books don't run out of power, and they're safe during takeoff and landing. It's also a great way to do some last minute planning.
About the photos in this post. The landscape shots are courtesy of Michael Reichmann. The group shot is of the San Francisco contingency, from left to right, Angela Drury, Addy Roff, Richard Morgenstein, Martin Sundberg, and Derrick Story.
Ulefoss, Norway: Sometimes we learn lessons the hard way, all by ourselves. Other times we learn by watching others. As I pack my bags and get ready to fly and meet the rest of the Adobe Iceland Adventure team I'm obsessed with what to bring and what to leave behind. I remember something that happened years ago to my good friend Rudy Burger, then director of Media Lab Europe, when he was humbled by his boss, Nicholas Negroponte.
Rudy and Nicholas (everyone calls Negroponte by his first name) were standing in the MIT reception area in Cambridge. I was standing discretely nearby. Rudy was explaining to Nicholas why he hadn't responded to emails for a few days. His laptop had crashed and his brutal travel schedule didn't allow time for repairs. Nicholas glared at Rudy for a second, and then said, very coolly, but with great heat behind the words, "That's why I always carry two laptops where ever I go."
Rudy paled and I turned away, a little embarrassed for my friend, but also impressed with the simple logic of carrying a spare laptop, especially when computers are critical to one's work. I certainly would never travel anywhere without a backup camera.
Anyway, with two laptops staring at me from my desk, and my bags nearly full, I only hesitated for second: Two laptops it is. The pair of rain boots stay behind.
One of the laptops is my shinny new Apple MacBok Pro, with a 17 inch screen. It screams along at 2.16 GHz and I bought it primarily to run Adobe Lightroom, the new imaging software we'll be testing. Lightroom is optimized for the new Intel chip and boy does it make a difference. I can run Lightroom on my other laptop, an older Apple Titanium Powerbook, but it slugs rather tediously through my numerous RAW files. (Lightroom also now runs on Windows.) The McBook Pro runs Lightroom really fast, however, when it comes to running Photoshop CS2 in Rosetta mode, I don't see much improvement in speed with the new machine.
I'm also bringing my LaCie 300 GB external hard drive. We'll be shooting RAW files everyday for a week, and it won't take long to fill my memory cards, even the 4 GB cards graciously provided to the adventure by Sandisk. (RAW files from my Nikon D200 weigh in at 15.3 MB each.)
Yes, my baggage is getting out of control. And yes, I long for the days when all my equipment will be really miniaturized and built with the strength of a tank. ... but then again, I also long for the days when we can teleport ourselves anywhere in the world (or universe) and not suffer from uncomfortable plane seats, or jet lag. Just call me a dreamer. And as my colleagues pack their bags and get ready to head to Iceland, I'm sure I'm not the only one.
Ulefoss, Norway: We take SO much for granted, until we leave home. Take communications, for example. Cell phones work, mostly. Internet connections are everywhere. Heck, in the U.S. you can even pick up an old-fashioned phone and dial anywhere in the world for song. On our Adobe Iceland Adventure, which begins in just three days, communication is critical, and if we are not prepared, it could spell disaster or at least contribute to a miserable time.
Our adventure involves 16 people, arriving in Iceland from all over North America and Europe. It also involves several local Iceland photographers and on-the-ground support. We will spread out over three locations using 6 rental cars provided by Hertz to get around. (BTW, Hertz is also providing horses. How's that for a good marketing line: "Horses and Cars by Hertz". Quick, trademark it!)
So how are we going to communicate? I've been to Iceland several times and never had good luck with my Cingular cell phone, or even my Norwegian Telenor mobile phone, which connects to the local service but tells me I can only make SOS calls only. One time, in the summer, I desperately needed to change a plane reservation but it was after 4 pm in Iceland and everything was closed. (When I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING. During the summer months most Icelanders go on vacation and those who don't get off as early in the day as possible.)
I did some fast thinking. If I could call the U.S. (EST), which is 4 hours back, I'd certainly find an operator that would help me. Only problem, the cost of a phone call from my hotel room was prohibitive. We are talking several dollars per minute... and knowing that I'd be on hold several minutes before even talking to an agent, made this not an option.
Instead, I hooked up my laptop, paid a few dollars for ½ hour internet connect time, and used Skype to make my call. It worked great, and only cost a few cents a minutes.
Last time I was in Iceland I got really smart and bought an Iceland SIM card for around $60. It easily replaced my U.S. SIM card and now I have my own local Iceland number. Hey, admit it, that's cool!
Tip: Buy your SIM card at Duty Free when you arrive at Keflavik International airport. It's cheaper. You can also get a heavily discounted calling card for "charging" your phone to make local or international calls. Just make sure your cell phone is GSM or Vodafone compatible and isn't "locked". If you don't know, check with your carrier before you depart on your trip. And if you forget to get your SIM card at the airport, gas stations also carry them, albeit a bit more expensive. Yeah, gas stations... don't ask me why.
BTW, Frommer's has a good article on using a cell phone in Iceland.
As the adventure unfolds, I'll let you know how things go... if I can get a line!
Ulefoss, Norway: In just a couple days, on July 28th, the Adobe Lightroom/Photoshop Iceland adventure officially begins. But I've already learned my first lesson and it cost me a pretty penny. Hopefully you'll learn from my mistake!
I'm writing from Europe. I came out early, leaving San Francisco and flying here to Norway to the family house with my wife and two daughters. I packed everything I could in my carry-on--two laptops (hey, computers are critical when you are testing beta software), and most of my cameras and lenses, but not all. As I approached what felt like several hundred ponds of carry-on baggage I decided to pack some of my lenses into a bag I planned to check in.
I recalled a big sign at the airport warning against locking check in bags. Homeland security, you know. So no locks for me. Just blind faith. Well, turns out that wasn't enough.
We stopped in Iceland, but one of my two checked bags never appeared. Yep, you guessed it. The one carrying my extra lenses. There is nothing worse than watching people walk away with their bags while you stand there waiting for yours. I spent the next two days in Iceland setting up the hotels, restaurants, transportation, parties, etc. for the Adobe Lightroom Iceland adventure. At the end, still no bag, no extra lenses.
Finally, a few days after we arrived in Oslo, the bag was located and returned to me. I felt something was wrong before I opened it. A vib thing. Sure enough, my Nikkor AF-S VR 24-120 lens was missing from its box. I immediately informed the airline and quickly got an apologetic email back. "We are so sorry for your loss," the email read, "However, we are not liable...check with your insurance company." Sure, I have camera insurance, but with a $500 deductible. So there you go...money down the drain.
When I told Derrick Story, another one of the Adobe Iceland Adventure team, about my loss he was sympathetic, but then he said gently, "You know you could have locked the bag."
Huh? I felt pretty stupid. "Yeah," Derrick said, "There are TSA-approved luggage locks that have both combination and key access. According to National Geographic - where I bought mine - only TSA personnel have the keys to the locks. If the locks are opened by TSA, it is indicated on the lock by a red dot. You can learn more about these here."
Thanks Derrick! Next time...
Stay tuned for more lessons from the adventure...
The team of Adventure photographers arrive in Iceland on July 28. This is an Adventure both in the sense of location photography and RAW workflow. Each shooter will be using Adobe Lightroom on a laptop in the field to process and output the images. Here's a quick overview of who is going, where they will be, and the reports from Iceland that will be coming your way.
Photographers on the Adventure team include Mikkel Aaland, Michael Reichmann, Peter Krogh, Richard Morgenstein, Maggie Hallahan, John McDermott, Bill Atkinson, Martin Sundberg, John Isaac, Chris Sanderson, Ari Magg, Sigurgeir Sigurjonsso, Christopher Lund, Derrick Story, George Jardine, Angela Drury, Melissa Gaul, and Addy Roff.
The team congregates in Reykjavik, Iceland on Friday July 28, and will be working in various locations throughout Iceland until August 5 when they depart.
Like any good story, we'll have a beginning, middle, and an end. The beginning will focus on the preparations for the adventure to Iceland. Through blog posts, podcasts, and other media, I'll give you an inside peek at how these professional shooters plan for their location assignments.
Once in Iceland, we'll upload as many images and interviews as possible. I'll also be shooting video that I might be able to post in digestible snippets. This is the exciting aspect because we really don't know what's going to happen -- you'll find out as we do.
After our return on August 5th, we'll pull together all of our content and show you different aspects of the adventure through the eyes of those who experienced it. Since we'll have some perspective, these stories should be more refined than the field reports that were uploaded as it happened.
I hope that you'll participate through this web site. As you read, listen, and look at the images, think about how you can apply this information to your next adventure. Also, take a good look at the Adobe Lightroom workflow that all of the photographers used. One of the very interesting aspects of this Adventure is that each photographer will use Lightroom in their own way, giving you the opportunity to see how versatile this photo management software is.