I use multiple machines, and I use shared data and files (1Password database, Lightroom catalogs, tax returns, etc.) on those machines. Nothing has been as useful as Dropbox for making that a completely painless way to live.

Until Dropbox decided to suck.


  1. After claiming “no one can access your data, not even us!” and “all your data is encrypted” it was discovered that the data is only encrypted once it arrives on Dropbox servers and employees have access to the encryption key for your data – the only thing preventing them accessing your private data is an internal policy against that. After that cute little deception, I can’t trust a policy to protect my data.
  2. They made a coding mistake that allowed any password to work on any account, and left the mistake public for over four hours. Every account on the system was open to the world. When it was discovered, they fixed it but said nothing.
  3. Their idea of “press releases” for important news like the password debacle amounts to a blog post on their obscure blog that nobody reads.
  4. They changed their Terms to claim almost every legal right known to mankind on every file you put in Dropbox. That’s when I closed my account.


Dropbox can be used for:


  • Backup
  • Syncronizing files between multiple machines
  • Sharing files publicly


The Dropbox people (now filthy stinking rich bastards who will likely care even less about their customers thanks to huge VC funding they mostly pocketed rather than increasing the security of their product) seem to focus on the ‘sharing files publicly’ use case. This is reflected in their attitude in the forums, their product design of data de-duplication and no user-controlled encryption, and in their recent Terms changes. My use of Dropbox, sync’ing private files between machines, has nothing to do with sharing anything publicly and really needs more security.

Here’s the rub. Still, nothing works as well. I picked Wuala because it is more secure and I could get more storage space for free. But it’s slow as hell and I think it just corrupted my Lightroom catalog file. F*#K!! I can’t believe I’m considering using Dropbox again. I despise the Dropbox people don’t agree with how the people behind Dropbox run their company and their product, but I love the Dropbox product. It’s my nemesis. It could be so much better, too, but they don’t care.

I hope and pray that iCloud solves this before I cave in and go crawling back to Dropbox.


Round-trip Editing

Many Photoshop plugins either also work directly in Lightroom or have a version specifically for Lightroom. For example, Nik Software, OnOne Software, and Topaz Labs all do this in one fashion or another.

Let’s say I use a noise reduction plugin, then a sharpening plugin, then a color effects / HDR plugin, then a black & white plugin, and finally a framing plugin, and all this completes the look of my image. It may seem a bit contrived, but it’s not that uncommon.

So, if I do this in Lightroom, a new TIFF file is added to my catalog as a result of each plugin use. To use the next plugin, I should use the TIFF from the previous plugin as my starting point for the next plugin. Plugin, TIFF file, plugin, TIFF file, and so on. If I use five plugins, I’ll have six files for one image, including the original RAW file.

What a waste.

If I choose to Edit in Photoshop from Lightroom, I can use a hundred plugins and still only have one new file added to Lightroom. And, if I do it right with Smart Objects and use PSD as my Photoshop round-trip file format, I can even re-edit the image and the plugin settings after saving the file. Sure, I don’t have to keep all the intermediate files that the Lightroom round-trip plugin usage creates, so disk space isn’t the root problem. The workflow is clumsy and time-consuming.

Perhaps I’m missing something, but it seems that Lightroom’s round-trip editing behavior is a pain in the neck. I love Lightroom and use it 95% of the time, but I don’t mess with Lightroom round-trip plugins for the other 5%. Am I just realizing this long after everyone else?

Stop messing with pixels, go out and SHOOT!

Ken Rockwell – Hobbyists vs. Photography

Amateurs built the ark, professionals built the titanic. That pretty much sums it up.

As much as it pains me to say it(1), he has a good point here. Today, when I shoot I’m trying my best to get the shot right in camera. I think that’s as good as can be expected with digital photography, because the bits and bytes of the file must be run through a computer in order to make a print. Certainly, those times where I miraculously do get a shot right with no processing required, that feels infinitely more rewarding than knowing another trick in Photoshop. Photography should be more like that, and less like calculating Space Shuttle trajectories.

(1) He has a sizable Leica collection, tons of very expensive Nikon gear, nice European cars, shoots only with the really expensive stuff when it really matters, yet we’re all supposed to stick with the D40 forever. Amateurs should stay amateurs, don’t crowd his business, and buy all our gear through his affiliate links to further pad his wallet. It’s not a “he’s rich, I’m jealous” thing, it’s a hypocrisy thing. If the D40 were all anyone needs, that should apply to him as well, but the truth is far from it. And, his images look awful. Over-saturated is putting it mildly. That said, even he can make a good point sometimes.

Thoughts on a killer Moose shot

I just saw this post by Moose Peterson and noticed an unexpected sentiment expressed in it. I don’t mean to second-guess Moose or question his tastes, but I thought I would offer my thoughts as feedback.

The image I’m referring to is the last one, the HDR of the “Lady Jo” plane with the orange background light. Moose says, “Then once it did, I switched to the other side and did the 5 frame HDR. While a valid technique, I’m tired of it. I’m on the hunt for a better solution, it will probably take some time. In this application, the shadow detail which shouldn’t be present is. I just need that solid black. Gotta play with that.”.

I’m not sure what he’s going for here. I would imagine that one of the 5 exposures has a great sky and no detail at all on the plane, so if that is what’s desired, just use that image? I’m totally guessing here, so it’s not a rhetorical question. Also, I think the detail is perfectly valid. There could be a hint of Joe McNally strobe light on the side of the plane providing detail, or the plane could be just outside a hangar which is reflecting just a bit of the sunrise light. Both options are just as valid as the HDR in my mind.

It’s probably just not what Moose was going for, but I think it’s an awesome shot! Keep going, I love seeing the great shots and not-so-great shots, since they’re usually all better than mine. 🙂

The Mystery of the Slow Shutter

I shot a wedding a few weeks ago, using on-camera bounce flash, and I really struggled with too slow shutter speeds. I was on Aperture Priority, as usual, and I was trying to use fast apertures for shallow depth of field. I kept getting 1/15th, even though my aperture was 2.8 and my ISO was 800 – this is with flash helping out! I was shooting for my friend Jack, who has the same camera but a slower 18-200mm lens. He was getting 1/60th, f/5.6 at ISO 200!

I’ve tried everything I can think of. Active D lighting on? No. Minimum flash sync speed (setting f2 in the D300) too low? Well, yes, it was, but that didn’t solve the problem. Lens aperture sticking closed? No. Matrix metering – check. Auto ISO? Off. Auto ISO on and set to 1/60th minimum shutter speed? No effect.

I had just about given up. Actually, I gave up.

I was just testing using the SB-800 as my master (instead of the pop-up) and noticed that I was still having that problem. I fiddled around with settings here and there, and suddenly, it was fixed!


By turning off Rear Curtain Sync, my shutter speed would no longer dip below the “f2” setting I specified.