My Darkroom's Blog

Few words about photography, Apple and Leica World. 

Toronto Revisited

Toronto is no doubt one of my favourite cities for street photography: it is alive, interesting, and full of energy. Added to that, it is safe and for the most part people are not reluctant to be photographed. I only had a few hours to get out and take some shots. Great Fall weather and I walked like a maniac trying to get back to the hotel and head to the airport. Click on the photograph below to see the full set of photographs. 

Bearpaw and his owner.

Bearpaw and his owner.

Philadelphia 2014

Philadelphia is a great place for Street Photography! I found most people friendly and very receptive.

My 15,000 steps walk started at the Italian Market. From there I went to the Pensylvania Hospital, which was the first Hospital in the US. The self guided tour was a treat, specially the original library and the surgery amphitheatre. Headed to see the Liberty Bell, then Chinatown and my favourite place, the Redding Terminal. Light rain got me while I was walking back home through the Rittenhouse Square

Finished the day enjoying a nice Pale Ale at the local Pub. Good times.

Check the full Gallery. Post a comment if you like it!


Just posted a new gallery: Brasilia

A Monochrome paradise!

We had just a couple of hours in Brasilia. Beautiful hot sunny winter day! Deep shadows and white buildings, a monochrome paradise! It was just a taste of it since we were on a tour bus (a "gringo bus") and I could not stop or spend the time I wanted photographing. Well worth a second trip for sure.

Print, Print, Print

Don't let your photograph disappear on your hard disk. No mater how many "likes" or "favourites" you get, printing your image makes it real, not just a series of "0s" and "1s" in your computer. Sharing a print can also be very rewarding, specially in Street Photography.

Yesterday I had a chance to return to the Central Market in Campinas, Brazil. It was so nice to meet this store owner and give her the photograph I took last November. She was so happy and thankful. It really touched me. It gives your photograph a different dimension.

I am learning that street photography may not be all about taking a good shot, but also giving it.


Nik Analog Efex 2 crashing Aperture - FIX

Nik Collections' automatic update introduced Analog Efex 2. Unfortunately when launching it from Aperture it would make it crash. All the other plug-ins were still working fine. Reports from the net confirmed that this was happening with others Aperture users (but not for LR).

Even after editing the Analog Efex 2 preference file as directed by this support document, the plugin was still causing a crash. Then I looked into the Nik Collection folder inside the Application folder and noted that the Analog Efex 2 app itself was not installed. Downloaded the trial from Google and re-installed the Collection. Now it works!

Bottom line: it seems that the automatic update did not install the Analog Efex 2 app, causing Aperture to crash. I would still recommend changing the preference file as per Nik support page (when I changed it back, it causes Aperture to crash again). 

Merging Aperture Libraries - A Second Caveat

I really like my current workflow: photos are imported into a "portable library" located on my MacBook Pro. I then work on the metadata and do some editing, share with SmugMug, then merge that portable library to my main library located on a Mac Pro. A few months ago I wrote a post about a little caveat when merging/synching libraries. Well, I just found out another caveat. It is actually kind of obvious but i think it's worth mentioning.

After merging the portable library, I noticed that the trash was full (around 700 photos). Inspecting the trash I realized that several projects were deleted. Before blaming my wife (she has done that before), I first made sure to rescue those photos/projects out of the trash: right-clicked on the projects and clicked "put back". 

Then I realized the big mistake I made (no, she did not delete anything!): as opposed to start a new library on my MacBook Pro, I just deleted the projects I had already imported/merged. Then I started importing new photos to the now empty library. Well, Aperture kept track of  the deleted projects and this time it actually deleted the images and projects in the main library (as it is supposed to do) when I merged it again!

Bottom line: always create a new portable library, don't delete the photos/projects to start an empty library, otherwise all those deleted projects will be deleted when you synch/merge the library again. 


The Contact Sheet

I always liked contact sheets. Peeking with the magnifying glass to see the tiny little prints straight form the negatives before deciding which ones to enlarge. In addition to that, I find the contact sheet a great learning tool. When you see a great shot, you don't know exactly what lead to that shot, how many photographs were taken, the different approaches the photographer used. Luckily there are a few books that presents some famous photos and their respective contact sheets. Magnum Contact Sheets is a book by the renowned  photography agency Magnum and Kristen Lubben, Needless to say, its a great learning tool and I highly recommend. After looking at that book, I learned that the "lucky shot" is something rare. One really have to work on the technique, trust the intuition and keep shooting. It's hard work!

Mangum Contact Sheets

Mangum Contact Sheets

In the digital era, contact sheet is not something you see very often. However, even when I shoot with my digital camera, I still try to look at my photos and analyze what went wrong or right in the context of the other photographs. In Aperture, I use the Split View or Browse viewing modes with only the images I want to analyze. 

Aperture in Split View mode

 Far from trying to compare me to any of those Masters, I post a quick lesson from a recent shoot. I had a chance to meet this very pleasant young couple from Australia. I took a few shots and as we had a little chat, they became more comfortable with the camera and the expressions became more relaxed and natural. The first two images you can tell there is a tension and didn't really worked well. The last three are my favourite.



Thoughts on Aperture Library Organization

I could never imagined I would have so many photographs in my computer when I got my first digital camera. I am not a professional photographer but nine years down the road, my library holds almost 100K images. It’s a big mix of family photos, personal projects with travel, landscape, street photography themes along with new and old scanned negatives. For the first few years, iPhoto was enough for my needs but soon I graduated to Aperture and have been using it since it was released in 2005.

Migrating from iPhoto was easy back then: not so many pictures and all organized into Events which turned into Projects. Aperture was the first program to bring non-destructive editing and the analogy was very clear to me: Projects = box of negatives (back then called Masters, now Originals) and Albums = collection of prints (Version). A negative (Original) can only be stored in one box (Project) but you can have several prints (Versions) and they can be distributed in as many Albums as you want.

Over the years my Aperture library got bigger and bigger (helped by the birth of my two kids and some new cameras). The long list of Projects had to be better organized. It made sense to me back then to make folders for each year. As I started to take more and more photographs, the "year folder" was getting crowded and needed subdivision. Initially I had it subdivided by season but eventually made a folder for each month. (Picture 1). This made each folder with a smaller number of projects inside but cumbersome in the way that I have to drill down the folders to find a specific project, not to mention that I have to remember which month that specific project I am looking for is in.

Old library structure organization

Old library structure organization

Finding a photograph you want in a huge library can be quite frustrating sometimes. Aperture has excellent organization tools and most importantly, very powerful search capabilities. However, you start with an empty canvas and it’s up to you to figure out how you will organize your photos. It's a double-edged sword. For one side it can be confusing and challenging to start, on the other hand it allows Aperture to fit so many different needs and workflows. It even allows you to change your mind completely on how you organize your photos, like I did.

To keep your photo library organized is not just a task, it’s a lifetime commitment (as big as your commitment to your photography can be), it requires patience, determination, discipline and most importantly: a plan.

There are good resources out there. Joseph Linashke, from published a three-part article on Photofocus not too long ago (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) and just last week Derrick Story posted "5 tips for organizing your photos in Aperture" on the blog. Most books out there also deal with the organizational structure one can implement in Aperture.

Both Derrick and Joseph have a folder for each year on the stop level. The subdivision is different; while Joseph continues with chronological subdivisions, Derrick subdivides by subject or category. A very different method is described by Kirby Krieger over the Apple Aperture support forum. Kirby’s approach is very elaborate and the projects move to different folders according to the stage they are in his workflow. It is worth reading this post (as is any of his post on that forum) but I would have a hard time having a similar workflow. He has a valid argument for not dividing by date though: Aperture does that automatically - “date organization is hard-coded into Aperture at both the Project and the Image level”. This is very true when you use the Projects View. Here you can sort all your projects by date and grouped by year if you want to. You can also sort by folder or manually. I particularly like to use this in full screen mode. The Project View mode always start with your entire library but you can click on the year or folder, to browse only Projects contained there. It is a nice way to explore your library, I just wish I could get to this view easily from any folder in my library (without having to load the entire library on Projects View and then selecting that specific folder).

Browsing using Projects view

Browsing using Projects view

Browsing a specific year using Projects View

Browsing a specific year using Projects View

When planning how to organize your library, you may even elect to have multiple libraries. For professional photographers sometimes several libraries is the way to go. Sara France, a renowned wedding photographer and Aperture educator, recently mentioned in webinar that she uses a separate Library for each wedding she shoots. That makes sense, keeping each library small(er) at the same time it’s easy for her to find a wedding she did: just find the library. Same can be accomplished for Pros that cover sport events etc. I know a number of people who have a library for each year in order to keep speed performance. However, it's important for me that all photographs reside in a single library. This allows me to quickly search and find a photo without switching library (and having to recall exactly which library contain which project/photo). 

At some point I had one library for family shots and another one for my projects (landscape, street etc). However it is not uncommon to have a street or landscape shot taken during a family trip. Some photos fit very well on both libraries. I decided not to duplicate them so I ended up merging the libraries into one. The only other library I have is one with medical images. I really don’t need to see a bleeding gastric ulcer just beside my daughter’s birthday cake!

I am currently re-structuring my library. I am moving away from the Year/Month/Projects structure to something in the lines of what Derrick describes in his article. Still at the top level I have one folder for each year, then subdivided to Events, Travel and Projects. It would be nice to have presets that I could switch my Library organization in one click (Manual, Chronological, Folders, etc). But the bottom line is, no matter how you organize your library, as it gets big and the projects multiply, you will need to rely on the search capabilities of Aperture to find that photo you want.

New structure of my library

New structure of my library

My next post is exactly on Searching your Aperture Library!

Old Meteor Niagara

Wikipedia: Meteor was a brand of automobiles offered by Ford in Canada from 1949 to 1976. The brand was retired for the 1962 and 1963 model years, when the name was used for the Mercury Meteor sold in the United States. It succeeded the Mercury 114, a Canadian-market Mercury based on the Ford, the "114" name being taken from the car's wheelbase.