Backblaze Update 7.0 Has Just Been Released
It was just announced that the latest Backblaze version 7.0 is Catalina ready and offers new options for extended version history recovery. Instead of the usual 30-days backup that is included with a Backblaze license, you can now choose an option to recover deleted files for a year or forever. This is a major change in Backblaze strategy.
Backblaze is our choice for offline backups that complement our local Hard Drive backups. Up until now, with a standard account, Backblaze deleted missing data after 30-days. Missing data includes deleted files or data from an unconnected external hard drive. This works for the most part and we’ve not had any issues with this feature. But, it could be a problem for those who travel extensively and turn off their home or office computers.
If you’re already a subscriber, you will receive a prompt to the web download of the Backblaze update 7.0. The options to extend your version history will appear in the Backblaze Backup window of your system preferences.
To clarify what version history is: if you delete a file by mistake, or save over a file by accident, you can recover the earlier versions. That would be for either 30-days and now one year or forever with Backblaze 7.0.
Backblaze is a Lifesaver
Backblaze has been our go-to offline backup for years. For my production computer, I’m upgrading to the one year option. It’s saved me more than once on my travel laptop, where I will continue to use the standard Backblaze 30-day backup.
Pricing is very competitive as well. Backblaze is $60 annually for unlimited data backup and 30 days of versions. One terabyte or 20 terabytes is $60. To make that a full year of backed up versions, it’s $24 additional per year. Finally, there’s a “forever” option, that keeps your data online (obviously) forever. That option is about $5 per month per terabyte.
To find out more check out Backblaze.com.
Do Not Update to MacOS Catalina
Apple does this: abandons technology for the next shiny toy. In this case, 32 bit support has been replaced with 64 bit support only.
The October 9th MacRumors story, “32-Bit Apps ‘Not Optimized for Your Mac’ No Longer Working on macOS Catalina,” says “Apple warned that it (Mojave) would be the last version of macOS that would support older 32-bit apps. Apple has been phasing out 32-bit apps for the last 10 years and is now ready to take the final step, even if Mac users may not be ready to lose access to older apps.”
Lightroom has a few issues, including tethering for Nikon cameras. And, I use Lightroom’s tethering feature with my Nikons in the studio. I know a few of our clients do as well.
The most recent release of Photoshop still has 32 bit tools that require updating and will not work in Catalina. There are also file naming issues and some broken plug-ins. And, we don’t know the timetable for updates on those tools.
Adobe reports that if you’re a power user (but we think every user should use caution), “You may want to remain on your current version of macOS until these issues have been resolved.” Adobe has released a list of known compatibility issues with MacOS Catalina for Lightroom Classic and Photoshop.
Apple pushes out updates with the expectation that they will find out what’s not working as users update. We prefer to wait on these major updates for exactly that reason. Do not update to MacOS Catalina. It won’t hurt to hold off. And if you do not update to MacOS Catalina right away, you might be saving yourself some serious grief. Wait a week. You could even wait a month. And while you’re waiting, search for Catalina compatibility of all your existing programs (at least the ones you use).
You can also read more about this in the October 8th PetaPixel post, “Do not Update to macOS Catalina Yet if You Use Photoshop or Lightroom.”
So, keep an eye on the above links until an “all clear” is reported by Adobe and, do not update to MacOS Catalina.
I thought I’d seen the last of this, but Lightroom crashes suddenly on Macs. It just disappears from the screen in an instant. I used to see this more often with Lightroom 6, but I still see it happening. Usually after an update to Classic from earlier versions of Lightroom. This issue seems to be MacOS agnostic as it happens with Sierra, High Sierra and Mojave with Lightroom 6, 7 and right up to 8.4.1.
Here’s what happens:
Everything is fine in the Library. Imports, moving folders, naming files – no problem. Then a photo is opened in the Develop Module. Do some Basic developing or maybe start using an adjustment brush or a radial filter and, in a blink – Lightroom crashes. It just vanishes. Eventually an error dialog will appear, but it usually takes a while, making the crash event a mystery until it appears.
And, then a Problem Report will show up.
What is the cause of these Lightroom crashes?
The GPU. For many of our readers GPU is a meaningless acronym. So to clarify, the GPU – Graphics Processing Unit – also known as the graphics card, is a circuit board inside the computer that is necessary to render images, animations and videos to your computer screen.
In Lightroom, the GPU can be used accelerate viewing thumbnails and loupe view of images in the Library. GPUs also speed up adjusting images in the Develop Module and boost the speed of 4K and 5K monitors. You can read more about troubleshooting the GPU acceleration on the Adobe site here and how the GPU acceleration works here.
Here’s the short form: there are GPUs that don’t meet Adobe’s requirements and sometimes even those that do, aren’t stable and Lightroom crashes. Without going too deep into all the minutia, let’s look at how to stop these crashes with a simple adjustment in the Lightroom Preferences.
Turn off the GPU acceleration in the Lightroom Preferences!
It’s usually that simple. In most cases, turning off the GPU acceleration stops those crashes.
In Lightroom 8.4, choose Off.
In Earlier versions of Lightroom, uncheck “Use Graphics Processor.”
This simple adjustment to the Preferences should stop the Lightroom crashes. You’ll probably have a hit in the speed of Lightroom in the Library and Develop modules, but you’ll get back up and running without the crashes.
What’s in Your Camera Bag?
In the previous post of this series, I discussed an important way of thinking about how to approach your summer travel photography. I pointed out that cameras are just tools and it is up to us as photographers, to know when and how to use the right tool for the right job, especially when it comes to smartphones or traditional digital cameras.
In this article I want to look at what’s in your camera bag. I’ll discuss some practical issues regarding preparing your equipment for a trip, especially when using DSLR and mirrorless systems. Continuing the metaphor of the camera as a tool, when traveling you need to give additional thought to what else to put into your tool bag. In this post I’ll cover the questions of: what to bring or not bring in your camera bag.
In a later post I will cover more preparation activities, including:
- Strategies for managing memory cards,
- Strategies for geolocate your images,
- Research your destinations, and
- Reviewing photos while traveling.
What to Bring/Not Bring
This is a big category and what’s in your camera bag very much depends on the kind of traveller you are and the type of trip you are planning for. That said, these are the questions that our clients regularly ask us about.
Tripod or monopod?
Let’s face it, tripods and monopods can be a real hassle to travel with. So, consider carefully if you want or need to bring one along. Tripods are great for any type of photography where you need to hold your shutter open longer or are dealing with low light situations. Tripods are especially good for landscape photos.
Monopods are a little easier to travel with but are not stable enough for long exposures. So, if you are doing anything like a timelapse, a panorama or using shutter speeds longer than ¼ second, you really should consider getting a tripod as the monopod won’t be practical in those scenarios.
Bottom line: do your research on your destination and know what kind of photography you want to engage in to help in making your decision.
Pro-tip: Bring three CDs with you (yes, we do mean old compact discs!) to stabilize the feet of your tripod legs when standing on sand or soft ground of any kind.
Batteries and Chargers
A general rule of thumb is to have 2 batteries with you at all times: one in the camera and one in your bag. How many more batteries you want to bring really depends on where you are going. The more remote your location and the less reliable electricity is, the more batteries you will want to bring.
If you can reliably recharge all of your batteries every night then 2-3 batteries would be your minimum. Also consider purchasing a charger that allows you to charge more than one battery at a time. While 3rd party chargers are generally ok to purchase, we strongly recommend that you only use batteries from the camera manufacturer.
Bottom line: 2 batteries + a charger + international travel adapters.
Pro-tip: Bring your own power strip and extension cord. Wall sockets can be limited and/or awkward to get to. Depending on the total number of devices you need to recharge, a power strip can make all the difference in getting all your batteries recharged overnight!
Nearly every lens sold comes with a lens hood and a front and rear protective cap. A lens hood does two things: it protects the lens from physical damage and it helps to prevent lens flare.
When light strikes a lens, the light reflects around the interior of the lens, creating something we call lens flare. Lens flare can add a creative look to a photo, but it is also very very difficult to remove in post production. The hood is specially designed to help prevent light hitting at an angle and creating the effect.
For the same reasons, bringing your lens caps and camera body caps is very important. They’re key to help protect your lens and camera body from the inevitable bangs and bumps and dust and dirt that you’ll encounter on the road.
Bottom line: Those lens accessories you give little thought to become essential tools while on the road. Don’t leave them behind!
Camera bodies come and go but lenses are forever 😉 Seriously, lenses are the most important part of your investment in your system. It pays to take care of them. So, we recommend using clear or UV filters.
Most importantly, a filter will help protect the special coating on the front of the lens. Every time a lens is cleaned, small abrasions and scratches are created. Eventually all of the coating will be removed and degrade the quality of the lens. A front filter will keep dirt and dust off the actual lens so you’re never forced to touch the front element.
Additionally, filters can project a lens from physical damage. A filter can absorb an impact or scratch, saving the lens itself. Better to replace a $20 filter than a $2000 lens!
If you’re interested in a deeper discussion on the filter vs. no filter debate, I found this video to be very helpful: https://youtu.be/J8hAKgwWj9A
Bottom-line: Spend what you want on a filter but, don’t travel without something on the front of all your lenses!
Pro-tip: Newer digital lens coatings better handle lens flare and UV light, but still need protection. So either a clear or UV filter will do the job just the same for a DSLR or mirrorless camera.
As a general rule of thumb, when traveling, it is always better to only take *only* what you need. Less stuff in your travel bags means you can give your focus to being where you are and not worrying about managing all your things. However, this is easier said than done because we need to plan for unexpected circumstances!
With a little planning and forethought we can find the right balance of what’s in your camera bag. In the next part of this series we will give some more thought to …
- Strategies for managing memory cards
- Strategies for geolocate your images,
- Research your destinations, and
- Reviewing photos while traveling
Let us know in the comments below if you have any tips or tricks for how you like to prep! Or, with anything you see anything that we missed!
Summer is here and, for many of us, summer travel photography is a vital and important part of our craft. Not considering the solo traveller or the professional on assignment, travel photography can be challenging in a number of ways and this four part series intended to help you think about strategies for how to approach your summer travel photography as well as providing some practical tools and methods you can immediately start using.
In Part II of this series I’ll how to get ready before a trip. I’ll discuss everything from how many memory cards you will need to what equipment to bring/not bring with my recommendations. Part III will cover strategies and methods for while you are travelling, especially with family. And Part IV will cover how to manage your workflow once you get home, with a special focus on collecting photos from more than one camera!
The Elephant in the Room
Before we can get into the nitty gritty of summer travel photography, we need to talk about the elephant in the room: the camera everyone already has in their pocket – the smart phone!
The smart phone is doing more to shape the photo industry today than anything else since the inception of the first digital camera back in 1975. Some industry reports suggest that the mobile phone will kill the market for digital cameras all together. While this might be and overblown statement, some industry reports show sales have plummeted by as much as 84% since 2010!
While the newer class of mirrorless cameras and the more robust DSLRs might be somewhat safe from this overall trend, the market for midsize and compact cameras has been massively affected. I personally don’t carry a mid size digital any more (the Olympus STYLUS 1 was my personal go to) and I can’t think of one client who I currently work who does either!
The Traveler’s Dilemma
Why should I bring my big camera when my smart phone is just as good and easier to use? In the past few months we’ve been hearing this refrain from our clients more and more.
In the next section I’ll cover some of the pros and cons of using a mobile phone for travel photography. However, it’s important to point out here that a camera is just a tool. And it is up to you, the photographer, how to use that tool to capture your vision and express your point of view. Which hammer is best for this nail?
Some tools are better at some things than others. Part of the craft of being a photographer is choosing the right tool for your purpose. A studio portrait photographer has different needs than a sports photographer. They both use cameras but each have their own set of criteria.
For some travellers a smart phone is more than enough camera. However, anyone who is mildly serious about their craft should consider using more substantive camera (either mirrorless or a DSLR). Personally, I use both a smart phone AND the newer Nikon Z6. I’ll discuss when and where to use either or both, after reviewing some smart phone pros and cons.
Smart Phone: Pros & Cons
As with any tool we want to understand the relative strengths and weaknesses so we can know when and how to better use it. Smart phone cameras do some things very well and manufacturers are building in more features all the time. One significant advantage of smart phones is a built in processor. This will become a significant feature in coming years as manufacturers add features, such as adding multiple lenses.
First, the strengths. A smart phone is lightweight and convenient, and it is unobtrusive and ubiquitous, so perfect for street photography. Of course, it has an easy-to-use interface that you are already using for other purposes. The current models do an excellent job in a wide variety of lighting conditions, and can handle light and shadow (including HDR). The date, time and location are embedded, making documenting your trip all the easier.
Second, the weaknesses. A smart phone has a small sensor, which means there will be a limit to how much you can enlarge the photo. Most smart phones only take JPGs (or HEICs) and not Raw images, which means less creative control when editing photos later. They also lack sophisticated manual controls, putting limits on advanced techniques like creating bokeh or panning/blurring. Camera lenses on smart phones rely on digital zoom and can also never compare to that of a real lens. Finally, special effects like HDR and Pano are pretty good on mobile phones but with significant limitations.
Summer Travel Photography Strategy: Snapshots vs. Photos
So having a very good camera that fits in your pocket really challenges the notion of carrying a full size DSLR or mirrorless camera. In turn, this can lead to some confusion about when and where to use which camera. Remember, your job as the photographer is to choose the right tool for the right job. So, consider the how and then when you are taking photos.
Mobile phones are great cameras for snapshots and for street photography. DSLRs and mirrorless cameras are great for doing “photography,” when want greater creative control.
When you are out with friends and family, or happen to stop by a market that enthralls you, your mobile phone will be perfectly fine. It is great for snapshots and unobtrusive when out on the street, and taking full advantage of its features will bring quality shots.
If there is a moment when you want to get away from the group and spend an hour or two on your own creating beautiful images, then certainly take your leave from your family and friends and spend that time honing your craft. Or, when planning your day, look at what events and activities might be best for using your full-frame digital camera and take it along. We’ll take a deeper look at traveling with family in Part III.
The key here is to think about what you want and then plan and communicate accordingly. When in doubt, keep your big camera with you and don’t feel conflicted if you end up not using it.
In sum, there is nothing wrong with relying on your mobile phone while travelling. A camera is simply a tool, and as a tool, it is YOU who needs to choose how YOU will use it. And don’t create stress on your vacation seconding guessing yourself, after the fact.
In the next three summer travel photography posts in this series we will take a look at planning your trip, looking at more strategies and tricks you can use while traveling and finally to bring it all together in the end.
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