Apr 112014

If you have ever wondered why Adobe chose red for the color of its logo it was to hide the blushes of embarrassment.

Yesterday, the automatic Adobe updater informed me that I needed to install two updates for Photoshop CS6. One was Camera Raw 8.4 and, since I planned to take some shots with a Fujifilm XT-1 in the afternoon, it seemed a good idea to get it installed right away.

The installation was straightforward. They usually are. It was only when I opened up Adobe Bridge that the scale of the catastrophe I had unwittingly unleashed became apparent.

First, the thumbnail dng files had lost their orientation. Second, when I clicked on a thumbnail, it remained a thumbnail in the Preview panel. When I double clicked on the thumbnail to open it up Camera Raw in Photoshop rather than the preferred Adobe Bridge.

My first reaction — Aaaaaarrrrrggggh!!!!!

Obeying the instruction to update had rendered my workflow of the past seven years redundant.

What followed was even worse. I spent three hours searching Google to see if anyone else had been affected by this update and whether a quick fix existed.

Oh I came across plenty of similar Photoshop problems regarding the display of thumbnails but they all related to earlier versions. I could find nothing relating to Photoshop CS6.

I even tried Google News to see if this Adobe-created cock-up had gone viral. Not a mention anywhere.

I kept trying different permutations of my Google searches – Camera Raw will not open in Bridge; unable to access Camera Raw preferences; I can only preview thumbnails in Adobe Bridge; thumbnails will not open in Adobe Bridge.

Each of these questions threw up links to Adobe forums but no answer to my problem was to be found.

Eventually, like I said three hours later, I stumbled across the Bridge General Discussion forum and a thread entitled: Camera Raw stops functioning in Bridge CS6 after software update. I was relieved to find other people had suffered a similar fate after installing the Camera Raw 8.4 update. Somehow a trouble shared is a trouble halved.

Scrolling down the posts it appeared quite a few people had suffered a similar fate to mine. I was not alone.

The first poster – Vexed — posted the problem on April 8, 2014, at 8.53am. In a subsequent post he detailed similar problems to those I was experiencing:

He didn’t see the ACR adjusted icon in Bridge;

He didn’t see changes made to photos in ACR in Bridge Preview;

He didn’t have the right-click option to open ACR from Bridge;

He was unable to rotate RAW files in Bridge – the commands were grayed out.

Another poster posted at 9.42am that he had contacted Adobe and engineers were aware of the situation.

A poster by the name of Ducks Design used Time Machine to replace the 8.4 plug-in with the 8.2 plug-in as a workaround and was good to go.

Some people obviously had deadlines to meet.

The last post on April 8, at 8.27pm, stated:

Is there a Red Adobe Help Box somewhere, where we can break the glass and press the red HELP button?

No posts occurred on April 9.

At 1.21 am on April 10, an Adobe staff member posted a link to fix the problem. It involved downloading the Camera Raw 8.4 plug-in and moving it into the File Formats folder.

I followed the instructions and Camera Raw functioned how it did before. I let out a sigh of relief or was it exasperation? I had spent three frustrating hours trying to sort the problem out.

My feelings were shared by another poster who stated:

If this was a known error, why should paying users spend over an hour (as I did) researching the problem?… Adobe should at least have sent out an email to users experiencing the ACR problem and giving details of the fix.

In fairness to Adobe, emails to all users is a bit over the top but the company could certainly have posted a message outlining the problem, and the fix, in a prominent position on its website.

So I was good to go to head to Wilkinson Cameras, in Southport, who kindly allowed me try out the camera everyone is talking about – the Fujifilm XT-1. My thoughts on the XT-1 will appear in another article but below is a photograph handled in Camera Raw 8.4 and subsequently processed in Viveza 2 and Silver Efex Pro 2.

Girl walking Pug dog on Eastbank Street, Southport.

Fujifilm 18-55mm f/2.8-4 and Fujifilm XT-1, courtesy of Wilkinson Cameras. ©Calvin Palmer 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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Apr 102014

Many years ago when I did press photography, I always carried a notebook and pen with me on photographic assignments. It was a requisite that the name and address of any person photographed be noted down for the purposes of the photo caption.

I carried this practice over into my photography on vacations abroad. Those notes tended to be about buildings and places rather than people.

I don’t know if it was a function of age or sheer laziness but when I moved to America, the notebook and pen rarely accompanied me on my photographic safaris.

I am fortunate that I have a good memory but with the passage of time precise details of a photograph become a little bit hazy. I do well to recall the location of a particular shot these days.

I was reminiscing on trips made during happier times the other day and leafed through the wallets of prints that recorded visits to Memphis, Vicksburg, Rosedale and Jackson, Mississippi; a trip to San Antonio and New Braunfels in Texas; a Saturday afternoon visit to Hillsboro, Texas; and a trip to New Orleans that featured a visit to a bayou and photos of gators.

Looking at some of the shots, I didn’t have a clue as to the identity of the subject but thanks to the Internet, and Google Maps, I was able to discover I had photographed, in Jackson, Mississippi,  the Lamar Life Building, the Governor’s Mansion, the State Capitol Building and Old State Capitol Building.

Now all of those buildings are landmarks and fairly easy to identify.

But what about a less grand building in the small Texas town of Hillsboro, such as the one below?

Gebhardt Bakery building on E Franklin Street, Hillsboro, Texas.

Minolta XD-7, Tamron 70-210mm f/3.8-4 Adaptall 2, Fujifilm 200 Speed. ©Calvin Palmer 2014. All Rights Reserved.

I readily admit that it is not the best shot ever taken and it did cross my mind as to why I bothered to take it. Looking closer, the building does have a Historic Marker sign and the metal lion heads that form part of the support of the verandah are quite unusual and attractive.

But what was the building?

I went into Google Maps and called up Hillsboro, Texas. I recalled that during the visit, I didn’t wander too far from the Hill County Courthouse. So I zoomed the map in that location and then went into Street View and followed a route around the courthouse.

Nothing similar to the building in the photograph appeared.

I ventured down East Franklin Street and at found what I was looking for. The building at 119 E Franklin Street turned out to be the Gebhardt Bakery, the first bakery in Hillsboro.

According to the Historic Marker:

In 1901 German native Charles Gebhardt (1874 – 1920) established Hillsboro’s first bakery. He moved his business to this building after it was completed in 1905, using the second floor as living quarters. The brick commercial structure exhibits influences of the Romanesque and Italianate styles and features arched second-story windows; decorative brickwork in the cornice, and corner turrets. The bakery building later was used for millinery and barber shops.

The photograph was taken in 2002 and before the days of Google Maps. It was interesting to discover that the tree in my shot no longer exists. I used my Minolta XD-7, known as the XD-11 in the United States, and a Tamron 70-210mm f/3.8-4 Adaptall 2 lens. The film was likely Fujifilm 200 Speed.

I find myself consulting Google Maps a lot these days when filling out the file information for images in Photoshop, often it is to get the street name but sometimes it is to identify buildings.

So yet another activity becomes reliant on the Internet and Google.

Reproducing the print for this blog also proved something of a challenge. I do not possess a scanner. I often rue the fact that I did not switch to digital photography sooner. However, with hindsight, I am glad I waited until I did given the improvements in digital camera technology that have occurred in recent years. I would have spent a lot of money on something that would now be an expensive paperweight. I am not one of those people wealthy enough to keep buying a camera as each upgrade is made. Thankfully, the technology has plateaued these past few years and unless, you absolutely must have the latest bells and whistles, the camera you bought in 2010 will still do the job.

I am still shooting with my Canon 40D, which launched in 2007. I know I am a bit behind the technological curve these days but I accept the camera’s limitations. It still produces the goods as far as I am concerned.

I used the Ricoh GR to produce the photograph above in digital form. It was hard to get the GR to focus when filling the frame with the print but I pulled back a little and the focus locked on. A little tweaking in Photoshop CS6 and the use of the Perspective Crop tool gave me a result I was pleased with.

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