“The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best but legendary.”
- Sam Walton

I could have also titled this: “Why I don’t love Adobe anymore” or “Loosing my religion”. Heck, I could come with a bunch of them.

Content

  1. The problem
  2. Suggested solutions (Part 2 … to come)
  3. Alternatives to Lightroom  (Part 3 … to come)

The problem 

When Lightroom 4.0 came out I didn’t think it twice and upgraded from LR 3.6. Why wouldn’t I? Lightroom 4.0 had a lot to offer: an improved process version, soft-proofing, maps integration and a variety of other improvements. What I didn’t know was that all that came at a (high) price: A very poor performance that would increase my workflow and editing time by more than 10 times! But what is wrong with Lightroom 4.0? (or 4.1 or 4.2RC for what matters)

I have listed below a short list of some of the problems I have found with LR 4.x so far:

  • Sluggish sliders (Develop Module)
  • Non-responsive program message at different times
  • Very slow reaction of the Spot Removal tool
  • Difficult operation of the Grad Filter
  • Slow reaction of the Crop tool
  • Incredible long times importing and exporting photos
  • Poor performance when using two monitors

For more details on what other users are experiencing, you can check Adobe’s longest thread in the Lightroom forum: “Experiencing performance related issues in Lightroom 4.x“. Throught the 33 pages of comments here (at the time of writing this blog), users report their problems, are asked to report what system they have and are entertained with (mostly) useless causes of why it is not performing well. Don’t get me wrong, some of the proposed solutions have solved some (or even all!) the problems that a small group of photographers have experienced but it distracts users with the same problem and people thinking in buying/upgrading to LR 4 from the main problem: Lightroom 4.0 has big issues that Adobe need to solve and that months after (prematurely IMO) released LR 4.0 are still standing. Users that report encountering these problems own PC’s, Mac’s, old computers, new and powerful computers. The image below shows what my perception on what’s going on on Adobe’s forums is:

Lightroom 4 is very slow

But why won’t I buy Lightroom 5.0? All softwares have problems and bugs, right?  Yes, that is true. It is the lack of transparency, the lack of response from Adobe and the way this particular issue has been handled that will make me think twice, or even wait on upgrading to Lightroom 5.0 when it comes out. That is if I didn’t change my workflow by then and didn’t leave out LR then. Because, if Adobe doesn’t fix this problems until the next big version of LR, I won’t have another choice than moving to one of the Lightroom alternatives.

But wait… Maybe I am just ranting and LR is not really working slowly right? Find below a video of part of a wedding editing session. Let me know if this is an acceptable behaviour of a professional-level software.

Lightroom 4 is very slow! from Unveiled Photography on Vimeo.

I like starting all my blog posts with a quote relative to what I want to discuss so I did a quick search on “customer service quote” and click on the first link I got. These, together with the one at the beginning of the post, are my top 10. In my opinion, Adobe should read them all and do something about it. At this point they fail at every single one of them.

  1. “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
    Bill Gates
  2. “It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages.”
    Henry Ford
  3. “Well done is better than well said.”
    Benjamin Franklin
  4. “Spend a lot of time talking to customers face to face. You’d be amazed how many companies don’t listen to their customers.”
    Ross Perot
  5. “If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.”
    Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon.com
  6. “In the end, the customer doesn’t know, or care, if you are small or large as an organization. She or he only focuses on the garment hanging on the rail in the store.”
    Giorgio Armani
  7. “The customer experience is the next competitive battleground.”
    Jerry Gregoire, CIO, Dell Computers
  8. “Customer satisfaction is worthless. Customer loyalty is priceless.”
    Jeffrey Gitomer
  9. “Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it.”
    Peter Drucker

In part 2 I will summarize the proposed solutions as well as give a general guidance to keep lightroom running as good as possible. Of course, these solutions only help taking away from the equation our part on Lightroom performance. Still Adobe needs to solve a problem that has been outstanding for half a year already! Many people are suggesting the issues with LR 4.0 won’t get solved until the next big release (5.0) meaning that loyal Adobe customers will be punished for, well… being loyal! They will have to pay for a non-working release of Lightroom + a new release where Adobe (maybe) fixed what should have been fine from the beginning.

(to be continued…)

We had a small goal for the beginning of this year and that was to go to a live dance show. We had many options in Amsterdam but there was also the Holland Dance Festival in Den Hague. We had a couple of favorites but our busy schedule sort of decided what we were watching. And we got our tickets.

The Holland Dance Festival is the biggest dance festival in The Netherlands. The dance was “The Oracle” by choreographer Maryl Tankard and danced by one of the best Australian dancers today: Paul White. It goes for about 50 minutes although he does not dance the full 50 minutes. The piece starts with a small video that serves as appetizer and sets the stage for the main dish. I have to say that I felt the intro was a little bit too long, since I just wanted to see this guy in action. Just when I started to get impatient, Paul showed up and wowed everybody present.

Regrets? The fact that no camera’s where allowed. That (the dance) was fantastic! Now, if you are waiting for me to give proper and “educate” criticism about his performance, well, I’ll have to disappoint you. I enjoy the story I’m told and the magnificence of the story teller (dancer+choreographer).

Recommendations: If you get a chance to see this in the future, please do. You won’t regret it.  Also, if you have the opportunity (unfortunately we won’t), don’t miss the performance of DanzAbierta. It’s getting great reviews (MalSon)

Oh, and yes, today it was not about photography.

Random thing I thought when it was over. “Man, this guy would be an amazing climber”

I’m looking forward to the next one (“Generations”, February  20).

Newborn sessions are one of my favorite photo sessions. To me it is simply an incredible experience. But newborn sessions differ in many ways from other types of sessions. Having a beautiful baby, and caring family and cozy home are not enough to guarantee a successful photo session. Despite the look that we (parents and photographers) are after for the shoot, there are several steps that can improve our chances of having beautiful portraits created.

The following tips apply regardless of the kind of session you want for your baby; i.e.: lot’s of props, no props, just natural family photos, studio like photos…

The first thing we can do to achieve those amazing shots is to schedule the session within 10 days of the delivery of your baby. I have found that between day 4th and 10th is more common especially with first-time parents since you will need some time to get use to having a baby around in the house and understanding his/her needs. This doesn’t mean that a newborn session cannot be done after 10 days, it is just that some of the unique photos that you can achieve during the first 10 days won’t be possible or will be hard to capture.

One of the things that make this type of sessions unique is the fact that we cannot tell your baby what to do. If your baby is hungry, he/she won’t care that we are in the middle of a paid photo session. What I mean is, we need to make everything in our hands to get the baby comfortable and get to do what we want him/her to do. There are several things that we can do to increase the chances of having an amazing newborn session. Things I consider of importance are:

  • Preparing your home
  • Preparing yourself
  • Preparing your baby

Preparing your home

Selecting a location for a newborn session is primordial. There are basically two approaches: Having the session at home or having the session at a studio. There are pro’s and con’s to both approaches.

I prefer to have the sessions done at your home. After giving birth many things change in your life/lifestyle and having you come to a studio or photographer’s selected place could be a tad stressful for some parents. Staying at home on the other hand will let you relax a bit more since you’ll have everything you need at hand.

It is very important, especially in those countries where winters are colder than 20 degrees (Celsius) to keep a warm home. Bearing in mind that just a few days ago your baby was comfy in mommy’s belly at mommy’s body temperature, and all of the sudden is out here at our room temperature. Well, 20 degrees is cold for them. Having a warm room of at least 25 degrees, or preferably higher (27, 28 for example) is ideal and clearly needed for many of the photos we will be making. Rule of thumb: If we (parents and photographers) are too warm, if we are sweating, then your baby is happy!

Now, you don’t need the whole house this warm, just the room(s) where we might be shooting, especially in those shoots where your baby will have little to no clothes.

Then, we need to select the best room for the session. I usually suggest the parent’s bedroom because it (usually) is the biggest room with a big and comfortable bed and (hopefully) big windows. Having a feeding pillow (full body pillow ) and a watertight sheet… “accidents” happen! It is good to have ready some baby wipes, some extra diapers, and some burp rags.

Preparing yourself

Preparing yourself for the shoot is perhaps the easiest part of it. The first and foremost thing that you can do to make of this an amazing session is relax. Babies can sense stress, so even if the shoot is not going according to plan, we all need to stay calm. Then, getting into the more practical things, care for your hands (both mom’s and dad’s). If you have dry skin or it is very dry, having some lotion applied will help and contribute to nicer photos. As for clothing, it can be personally discussed depending on your wishes but I would like you to have completely black tops (for both parents) as well as some light tops and cotton knit tops. They could be short or long sleeve. For those moms that like putting make up, it is best to put none or very little.

Did I mention that you should be relaxed?

Preparing your baby

And finally lets get into preparing your baby.

There are some things we can do to get your baby to cooperate. Since we don’t want the baby to be grumpy, it would be great to plan the shoot around the feeding time of the baby and at the time that they will want to have a nap. So ideally you would feed your baby about half an hour before the session so he/she is nicely sleepy when we start our session.

Another thing you can do to make it easier for your baby is to not use tight clothes when dressing your baby. It is a bit easier to undress him/her and we won’t see any marks on the skin from the clothing.

Final notes

Taking care of these things can really improve our chances of getting great timeless and personal images of your newborn. However, babies are not completely predictable and taking all these steps are not a guarantee that everything will be perfect. This is why a newborn session is usually longer than a regular portrait session and it is common to go for around 2 to 2.5 hours.

Hopefully this helps a bit parents getting ready for a newborn sessions!

Let me know if you have another tip or recommendation.

 

When preparing for a portrait session, it is important to keep in mind what the needs of your clients are and what they want to portrait. There are always opportunities to steer away from classic poses and introduce some themes into the photo session itself. Sometimes it can be completely staged and sometimes you can simply introduce  some elements/objects that are of importance to your subject. That will make a photo more personal and memorable.

Sport photography has the possibility of bringing out the personality of your subject and the tensions of the moment photographed. In the past I have done some speed skating and climbing portraits, but this was the first time doing some a portrait of an extreme sports biker. I have here a few final photos from a session with Tahir, a young man with many stories to tell that happens to be an extreme sports biker (and actor!). All the photos were made in a 2-hour session in Vondelpark, Amsterdam.

Portrait was made using natural light and one or two off-camera flashes.

 

  • Contact info

    Alejandro Peralta
    alejandro@unveiledphotography.com
    info@unveiledphotography.com
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