Friday, November 29, 2019

Equipment, Computers, and Social Media 2014-2019

This is just me whining/venting about my new laptop not behaving like my old one.
Lots of things I hate about Windows 10. A little bit of talk about Lightroom, but no pretty pictures.

Quick background: this all started with a blog post I wrote about the exhausting logistics of shooting Camp Hollywood 2014 with kind of a self review of where I'm spending my time. The conclusion of that post was basically that I'm spending way too much time working on the photos afterward to the point that I don't consider it sustainable. Since then, I've been trying to find ways to improve my workflow.

Camera Equipment

In 2014, I used my Canon 5Dmark2 for my primary camera, usually with a long lens (70-200mm), and just in case, I would use my Canon 30D with a 24-70mm lens as my secondary so I would have access to both lenses at all times. For the team division(s), I usually would swap lenses. Note that in this setup, the 30D is only a crop sensor camera and had significantly lower resolution than the 5Dmark2.

In 2017(Camp Hollywood's Year 20), I started renting a Canon 5Dmark3 for my primary camera (my 5Dmark2 now secondary). Both had more than 20 Megapixels in the image.

The biggest impact to my workflow is a feature on the 5Dmark3 that lets me assign a 1-5 star rating(saved in the metadata) while I'm reviewing on the camera back, deciding to accept or reject the photo. The 5Dmark2 only has accept/reject. Combining these 2 steps saves me about 4-5 hours, which is HUGE.

I bought 2 more memory cards(going from 6 to 8). I like 32 Gig because I can fit about 1000 shots, which for me is the right balance between frequency of changing cards and acceptable loss if the card becomes corrupt/unreadable (which so far hasn't happened to me). Knowing I have the extra space makes the on-camera rejections slightly less critical. I can spend more time dancing at the event. Overall, this just means shifting the review time, not reducing it.

One unfortunate change is: this year, I lost my flash, so it's generally too dark for me to shoot social dancing anymore. For now, I need to borrow or rent(approx $25) a flash if I want to shoot a dark event.

New Computer! And Switching from Mac to Windows

Toward the end of 2018(after Camp Hollywood), I got a new Windows 10 Dell laptop, and I've been slowly migrating from my old(2007?) OSX 10.6(Snow Leopard) Mac.

About a week before Camp Hollywood 2019, I decided I should use the new laptop to upgrade from Lightroom 4 (2012) and hopefully take advantage of any speed improvements in the last 7 years.

Data Migration

This started with the nightmare of migrating about 4 Tb of data(mostly photos, but also all my Lightroom catalogs) from HFS+ to NTFS. I really wish they would standardize on a single file system. My long-term plan is to move to network storage, like Synology. But that's likely a year or so out.

First, I looked for a Windows 10 app like the Mac's SuperDuper. I did a quick google search and read a few reviews. I considered Acronis TrueImage because I think I used it a long long time ago the last time i had a Windows computer. I didn't realize I wanted cloning, not archiving(since SuperDuper was effectively both), so TrueImage wasn't quite right. I was crunched for time so I wound up using  about a dozen rsync processes from WSL Ubuntu.

This was really coming down to the wire and I didn't have time to prepare my local directory structure to organize the photos or the corresponding albums over on smugmug, so that had to be done afterwards.

Hardware and OS Configuration

Initially, I got hung up trying to move volatile files/directories from the C: (SSD) drive to D: (hard disk) to try to save the SSD from too many writes. Unfortunately, Windows really fights this and a lot of software just assumes I want to install on C:. Without going into too much detail, I think I just wasted a lot of time trying to manipulate Windows.

It took me until the end of editing Camp Hollywood to find this, but something that drove me crazy was that the Dell's default power saving settings were to make my hard drives go to sleep after 20 minutes of non-use. But while editing, this was just super annoying because I'd frequently have to wait about 60 seconds to advance to the next photo in Lightroom.

Every month on different days, Dell and Microsoft want to restart my machine to apply patches. Sometimes, they take the liberty of doing it while Lightroom file export is happening. I can't figure out a way to really schedule updates in a meaningful way.

Finally, the touchpad doesn't feel as responsive as the old Mac's did.
  • Touchpad response was a little sticky, and if I paused when doing a drag action, it would register the action as done even though my finger was still on the pad.
  • Touchpad started with the bottom divided into LMB and RMB. In practice, my right thumb always wound up just a little bit onto the RMB side, so I wound up disabling that and making the entire lower portion a LMB.
The new computer has much more memory, so I can actually have Lightroom and Firefox up at the same time, and I don't have to keep exiting one or both to restore memory.


It was a big jump from Lightroom 4(LR4, 2012) to Lightroom Classic(LR, 2019), and for me, it was extremely frustrating. I was effectively starting over and had to redo setting up preferences and presets since my UI preferences seem to be the opposite of the defaults.
  • The "Filmstrip" didn't respond to two-finger scroll. Other parts of the UI do, but not the filmstrip. (From google, I'm not the only one frustrated by this.)
  • I think exporting photos uses all threads. On the Mac, LR4 would use one thread. As a result, the export process is a bit faster, but it locks out doing anything else on the computer, especially in Lightroom itself.
    It took a little while to adjust my workflow to this. Instead of saving several sets to export for an overnight export, I try to export as soon as a set is ready.
  • It took a while to figure out how to configure Lightroom to keep a common set of presets (including watermark presets) instead of per-catalog.
  • Initially, I think I had LR using JPGs embedded in the CR2 as the preview, which was a mistake. It seemed like in that mode, LR was trying as hard as it could to avoid, or at least delay, generating previews for the thumbnails.
  • I absolutely hate Adobe's new subscription model. I much much prefer the perpetual license model from LR6 and before.
  • I can't figure out a way to get the filters above the filmstrip to persist. I want the filters for Pick, Star Rating, and Color up all the time. I had that in LR4 on the Mac. But now in LR Classic, every time I open LR or switch catalogs, it resets to only shows the active filters.
Also, I never really learned how to take advantage of LR's in-app plugins to export directly to SmugMug or Facebook. From the Mac, I got used to LR being a memory hog, so I wanted to get out as soon as I could and separate the export and upload steps. Also, I like having a local copy of everything, and am picky about what I name my directories. (So I think I'm not a good candidate for the Creative Cloud version, which I really feel like Adobe is pushing.)

Social Media / Facebook

Part of the process is releasing the photos. Typically, I will I publish high resolution photos of all of my 3-star or higher images(For example, for Camp Hollywood 2019, there were about 3000) to my website and a smaller set of 4-star or better images(For example, Camp Hollywood 2019 had about 950) on Facebook. Practically speaking, very few people check out my website on a regular basis. The way my photos get seen is through Facebook. I think my audience grew for a while because of Facebook, but in the last 5 years, it feels like it's been less effective.I think there are a few reasons for this:
  • In the last 7 years, the Facebook experience has shifted from viewing on a computer to viewing on a phone.
    • It is impractical to view an album with more than about a dozen photos (and typically I have several albums, each with 100-200).
    • The phone app experience (at least on my Android Pixel) really sucks. It's difficult to tag and the notifications are unreliable and unmanageable.
  • Facebook itself is falling out of favor.
    • Facebook is constantly in the news for violating user privacy.
    • New users prefer Instagram and Snapchat, which discourage large albums.
    • People are trying to spend less time on their phones.
For Camp Hollywood 2016, I started using a Facebook Page (Steve Hwan's -Mostly- Dance Photos) to post photos. My idea was to make it easier for people to see my photos without forcing them to "friend" me. I think this actually backfired though.
  • On a FB Page, I feel like FB treats boosting "reach" as a product. My later posts have significantly less "reach"(100-300) than my first album(1000+). Though it's possible that my albums are just less relevant as it gets later after the event.
  • When I post photos to my profile, FB provides tons of (mostly accurate) tag suggestions. When I post from my Page, FB doesn't offer to tag anything. Also, in the mobile platform, tagging is difficult and I see less engagement. Now I usually spend a couple hours tagging for each album.
  • FB stopped including my copyright notices from the metadata. To include some usage guideline, now I need to do a second stage of exports in a separate catalog for the Facebook release, which just adds more time.
  • Especially on Pages, albums display with square cropping instead of the full aspect ratio. Sometimes, there are ways into a display of full-aspect, but they're hard to find. I put some effort into the composition, and don't like the additional crop.
Also, when FB offers to use a photo as a profile photo, it defaults to cropping the photo, usually cropping out my watermark. It doesn't even make it clear that this is happening, and it is confusing to find a way to turn it off. It is almost like FB is trying to create orphan works.

In Summary

  • The Canon 5Dmark3 on-camera rating feature was a huge time saver.
  • The touchpad was easier to use on my 2007 Mac than my newer 2018 Dell.
  • Overall, I hate Windows 10.(But I'm also unhappy with the direction Mac hardware has gone, and it's more expensive and less flexible.)
  • LR Classic is faster at exporting on the new machine than LR4 was on the Mac, and having more memory on the new machine helps a lot.
  • The time to move from image to image did not improve significantly from 2012 LR4 to 2019 LR Classic. It still had significant load time and I could see it apply adjustments. This was disappointing so editing time didn't improve too much.
  • There is a new toy(Transform) in Lightroom which helped a few photos artistically, but slightly slowed down editing.
  • It feels like it has gotten harder to share photos on Facebook, especially on a Page.

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