Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm — 1/125 sec, f/4, ISO 3600 — map & image data — nearby photos
Me, with my son, his mom, her dad, and his mom
(though not in that order!)
When I started to take photography somewhat seriously (circa January 2006 when I got a Nikon D200), a long-time friend who happened to work at Apple extolled the virtues of Apple Aperture, which had just been released. It was, he said, still a bit buggy, but even so was so much better than working with files one by one in Photoshop. He had a hard time constraining his excitement of the new workflow paradigm, even if the current implementation still needed the kinks worked out.
Unfortunately, I neglected to notice that Apple's photo-workflow application couldn't even be installed on my new MacBook.... to run Aperture, you needed a MacBook Pro. Arrrrrgh! It's my own stupid fault for not noticing the system requirements, but come on, Apple's software couldn't even run on their latest hardware? So, I was out of luck.
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/1000 sec, f/4.5, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
Photo by 7-year-old Anthony Friedl
me, while sledding with Anthony last weekend
Or so I thought. It turns out that somewhere along the line Adobe had put out a free public beta for a similar application they called “Lightroom” and it could actually run on my new Apple computer, so even though I was traveling (in The States at the time), I gave it a try. And wow, it didn't take long before I was as excited about the new workflow paradigm as my friend had been. It was an amazing productivity boost measured in orders of magnitude. The boost here was not Lightroom-specific, but due to the new workflow paradigm being invented by Lightroom and Aperture, so I'm sure that if I had actually been able to try Aperture, I would have been just as excited.
To make it even better, Lightroom could also run on Windows. I detest Windows, but my main workstation at home was a Windows box, so I'd be able to use my more-beefy desktop hardware once I got home from the trip. (Apple eventually came out with a version of Aperture that could run on my MacBook — which I still have and am using at the moment — but by that time I was deep into Lightroom and wasn't about to abandon my mental investment in it.)
Prior to Lightroom, I didn't know much one way or the other about Adobe except they were the PDF and Photoshop company, and that back in the mid 1990s, the guy who in put me on the road to writing my first book was a long-time Adobe employee, and when I later moved to Silicon Valley, I would visit his office at Adobe and partake in their great on-site lunch service. (His little boy was the first person to call me “Uncle Jeff”, and that he's now in college makes me feel very old.)
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 — 1/320 sec, f/2, ISO 640 — map & image data — nearby photos
but most things just get old
Anyway, I apparently started twiddling with Lightroom under the hood early on. I see that in July 2006 I posted “Accessing Lightroom's SQLite DB Directly” on my blog, while still on my travels. Some time later — and as far as I can tell, based upon just that one post — I was quietly invited by Adobe to give feedback on their in-progress prototype for the next public release. Moi? Sure, cool! I got a free copy of Lightroom, but more importantly, I could more-directly help shape the future of a tool I so heavily relied upon. It was enough to make a photo/tech geek's heart go pitter-pat.
Even while doing that, the software-geek in me was still twiddling on my own. Just after Lightroom 1 was released in early 2007, I released two web tools I'd been working on on my own, a metadata-viewer preset builder (now superseded by my plugin that does the same thing), and a Lightroom Configuration Manager that allows one to customize some extra things about Lightroom.
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/4000 sec, f/8, ISO 1600 — map & image data — nearby photos
why no, this is exactly what the Awaji Flower Review looks like
Apparently recognizing my geeky nature, Adobe eventually hired me (for real money, woo-hoo!) on a temporary basis to consult intensively on a plugin infrastructure they were developing for what would become Lightroom 1.3. Working with it day in and day out, I developed a good understanding of the plugin system, so it seemed only natural that I put that to use for the world, and in short order after Lightroom 1.3 was released, I put out upload plugins for Zenfolio, SmugMug, Flickr, and PicasaWeb. I didn't actually use any of these services myself, but lots of Lightroom users did, so it felt good to build something that people liked and used.
That “it felt good” feeling is what drives a lot of engineers much more than money, and is certainly the case for me. I ended up developing a lot of plugins for Lightroom, but only a few of which I actually wanted for myself (I desperately wanted geoencoding in Lightroom, and I use the Metadata Wrangler as part of my normal image export). The rest I did because I thought people would enjoy them. Read the comments left by users on the page for my plugin that allows one to extract images from Lightroom's preview cache in an emergency, for a sense of where this engineer derives “pay” for what he does.
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/1000 sec, f/4, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
like playing with your kid, some things have value way beyond money
As nice as all the “thanks!” are, I was spending inordinate amounts of time on these plugins, and was getting burnt out with a never-ending onslaught of feature and support requests. I seemed to have found a niche in life and wanted to find a way to continue, so I created a way to make it easy for a grateful user to say thanks with a few bucks, and to encourage them to do so. I still made it so that people could use my stuff without giving me anything (I'm adamant that any gift be a gift, which means given freely for nothing in return), and indeed, the vast majority of users don't, but some do, which is nice.
Another downside to the plugin development has been that it's taken time away from diving into some other photo-related tech things as much as I'd like. Prior to doing plugin stuff, I was dabbling in all kinds of things, such as write-ups like my primer on digital-image color spaces, digging into a qualitative analysis of NEF compression, developing a kick-ass auto-focus test chart, conducting tripod stability tests, developing a Photoshop script to generate calendars, etc.
But, it seems the plugin thing has taken hold, so that's where I spend my free time.
So last fall Adobe put out a free public beta for Lightroom 3, and it includes a whole new way to export, “Publish”, and so for this they brought me on again to consult on the plugin infrastructure. I had actually reached out to them and volunteered to do it for free, just to improve the product (which then improves the tool I have to work with), but they felt better to make it official, so I it comes with a small stipend (or will, if I ever get the paperwork done). I'm sure I'll get a free copy of Lightroom as well.... I've never actually paid for the copy I use, though I have paid full retail when buying Lightroom as a gift for others.
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/80 sec, f/5.6, ISO 3600 — full exif
or something like that
So what's up in Lightroom's future? I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.
What's up in my future? I have no idea... I'm not doing any of this with a plan... just trying to enjoy myself and go along for the ride. I've often wondered whether I might some day write a book on photography (because most of them suck), but now the only sucking is what plugin development and consulting does to my free time. But mostly, I enjoy it.
I don't know what the future holds (it could very well be nothing), but I'm excited to find out.
Nikon D700 + Zeiss 100mm f/2 — 1/200 sec, f/2, ISO 2200 — map & image data — nearby photos
it lies ahead, silly
(a different take, during a different year, on these stepping stones)
Some other random photos I prepared for this post, but ended up not using...
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 — 1/320 sec, f/2, ISO 800 — map & image data — nearby photos
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 17 mm — 1/60 sec, f/4, ISO 640 — map & image data — nearby photos
graffiti on the wall of an abandoned house a friend had just bought
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 55 mm — 1/40 sec, f/2.8, ISO 640 — full exif
( not particularly related to anything, just a bit cute )
Nikon D200 + 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 @ 18 mm — 1/800 sec, f/3.5, ISO 320 — full exif
while people threw beans to drive out demons
Photo by Britto
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm — 1/640 sec, f/3.5, ISO 200 — map & image data — nearby photos
not sure where this leads, but
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 55 mm — 1/125 sec, f/5, ISO 250 — map & image data — nearby photos
flowers are pretty
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 120 mm — 1/400 sec, f/2.8, ISO 900 — map & image data — nearby photos