Back to Lightroom...for now

Photo: Petapixel.com

I keep trying to move my photo processing and library workflow out of Lightroom, and I keep failing. This post is just me thinking it through (again).

First, why would I want to do that? Good question. It’s popular to hate on Adobe, and some of this is justified, but sometimes it feels like bandwagoning.

For me, the urge to move away from Lightroom is mostly due to Subscription Fatigue. I would love to not have to pay $10/month for the rest of my life just to manage my photo library. It’s not the price, as $10/month for the photography package is a fine deal. It’s just that it weighs on my mind, and wouldn’t it be nice to not think about it?

Here are the things I’ve tried.

Apple Photos

This is the quick and easy option. With iCloud Photo Library I can have everything everywhere all the time. The editing features are pretty good and it can use things like Luminar as an external editor. I don’t have to import my iPhone photos separately.

But, a requirement for me is that all of my photos must be kept in a set of folders that I create and maintain. I don’t mind so much if there’s a “Library” for metadata and edits and such, but I can’t abide not having a “Show in Finder” command available. I know I should just get with the program, but I’m a little stuck in my ways here so Apple Photos is not yet the right thing for me.

Photo Mechanic and an editor

Photo Mechanic is by far the best way I’ve found to ingest, caption, and keyword photos. It’s super fast and is made for this. It works directly with the Finder so my precious folder system remains intact. There’s no library at all - it’s just a browser. Select an image, hit “E” and the image opens in whatever editor I have configured. It does the right thing with raw files. It can export/rename/upload to just about any service or format.

Photo Mechanic is the option I want to use. It’s simple, lightweight, fast and flexible. But sometimes I want a library. I want to make collections or do some fancy searching. I also kind of want to edit “in place” without sending files to a separate editor and back. I may end up back here someday, but for now the benefits don’t outweigh the effort.

Capture One

I love Capture One, and it’s the most likely alternative. Earlier this year I tried going all-in. I’ve done this before, and it almost stuck this time. Capture One does a great job with Fuji Raw files. Although it’s easy to be brainwashed by The Internet into thinking that Capture One is great with Fuji and Lightroom sucks. I don’t find that to be true any more. Lightroom does fine, and Capture One is slightly better.

The UI of Capture One takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s very customizable and quite nice once I got settled in.

It just doesn’t have the export options or plugins or ecosystem of Lightroom. I’ve tweaked my process in Lightroom over the years to the point where I can crank through image processing, filing, exporting, and sharing without thinking much about it. With Capture One it feels like I’m always swimming upstream. That would eventually pass, but why bother? Capture One costs pretty much the same as Lightroom if I pay for the upgrades each year or so.

Lightroom CC

I really wanted to like the new Lightroom CC, but I didn’t. I’ll keep an eye on it but at this point it feels like an Apple Photos workalike with the overhead of the Adobe subscription. Also, no “Show in Finder” command which I still can’t get past. It’s certainly one to watch.

Luminar

Luminar is a very cool new photo editor. There’s no library yet, and it’s a bit slow on my machines. We’ll see what happens when they introduce the library features but I’m not ready to throw all my efforts behind it yet.

Lightroom CC Classic

So here I am, back in Classic. For me, right now, the familiarity, ease, flexibility, and power that Classic gives me is unmatched by any of the other options. Even though I’m not always comfortable with Adobe, I’m comfortable with Lightroom. I’m used to it. My fingers are hardwired for using it, and I get the results I want quickly and easily.

There is a fear, probably justified, that Adobe will break their promise to keep Classic around indefinitely the way they did with the downloadable version. I worry about Adobe abandoning Classic, leaving me hanging.

But let’s say they do discontinue Classic in, say, three years. What’s the difference between being forced to move off Classic in three years and deciding to move off it now, other than it would be on my terms if I did it now? I guess I could congratulate myself for ending one more subscription but is it really worth it? Right now, for me, it’s not.

And who knows, the new CC could become just as good or better than Classic. Or one of the alternatives could be even better. Or something new could come along and sweep me off my feet.

Point is, I’m already invested in Lightroom so fighting to move to something else just in case seems like unnecessary effort, and for what? So I can be free of one of the most useful subscriptions I pay for? So that if it goes away someday I’ll be able to say “I told you so!” but only because by that time I’ll have forgotten the pain I’d already suffered through when switching?

Adobe may do things I don’t love, and no, I don’t completely trust them, but right now they offer a darn good photo management and editing solution that I’m comfortable with.

I’ll try to remember all of this next time I get the sudden urge to move to something else for one reason or another that day.

A New Home for Josie

Josie (2017)

It’s breaking my heart, but I decided I needed to find a new home for Josie.

I adopted Josie last spring from the Humane Society in Grand Rapids. I knew the minute we met that I wanted to bring her home, so I did. And I fell in love.

She is sweet, funny, playful, and affectionate. She doesn’t chew things she’s not supposed to. She doesn’t bark. She doesn’t poop in the house. She curls up next to me on the couch. She loves car rides and chewies and sticks.

Josie is 99% perfect, but she simply can’t be around other dogs.

I’d never met a dog that just never figured out how to get along with other dogs, so I just assumed I’d figure things out. It’s not that I didn’t work at it. I worked at it. I spent thousands of dollars on training and consulting. I brought her to “finishing” school, where she did pretty well in groups. This was encouraging, but whenever she was one on one with another dog she just couldn’t control herself. And even with all the training, I had trouble controlling her.

I don’t give up easily on dogs. I’ve had dogs that needed to be carried around in order to pee or get up stairs. I had dogs needing multiple surgeries and long, expensive, recovery periods. I’ve had dogs that couldn’t control their bladders and would just pee everywhere all the time. I never once considered getting rid of them.

My life involves dogs. Everyone I know has dogs. My girlfriend has two small dogs. None of us can ever be in the same place when Josie is with me. I worry that someone’s dog is going to get hurt. After nearly a year of working at it, I didn’t know what I could do to resolve all this.

So, a couple weeks ago I contacted one of Josie’s trainers and asked for advice. It turns out that his sister had recently lost a dog, lived alone with no other pets, and was interested in meeting her. She took Josie home for a week to see how they got along. She (of course) fell in love immediately and expressed an interest in keeping Josie. I said yes.

I’m told by people who know this woman that Josie will be well cared for and probably spoiled a little. I’m ok with that.

Part of the reason I’m writing this is to convince myself that I shouldn’t hate myself for failing her. Adopting a dog isn’t something to be taken lightly with just an easy “never mind” if things get inconvenient. I hope that’s not what I’ve done. I don’t think I gave up too easily. I think I’ve done the right thing, but damn it hurts.

Josie will be fine. Considering the easy access she’ll have to professional dog people, I expect her to be happy and to thrive.

Still, I miss her terribly.

Book: The Lathe of Heaven ★★★½

The Lathe of Heaven cover

I finally got around to reading Ursula K. Le Guin’s “The Lathe of Heaven” and I hate to say that I was a tad underwhelmed. It’s a novel beloved by so many that perhaps I was expecting too much. It’s short enough that I may read it again some day to see if it strikes me differently.

AlphaSmart Neo File Transfer

To transfer a file from the AlphaSmart Neo2 to my Mac, I connect it via USB and hit send. The AlphaSmart sends one character at a time to whatever app is frontmost. Terribly slow, but I get a kick out of watching it happen.

Here’s a quick capture of the Neo sending some text to Emacs on my Mac.

Design's Lost Generation - Mike Monteiro

Mike Monteiro:

…those of us currently drawing paychecks for professional design services — are design’s lost generation. We are the Family Ties era Michael J. Fox of the design lineage. Raised by hippies. Consumed by greed. Ruled by the hand of the market. And nourished by the last drops of sour milk from the withered old teat of capitalism gone rabid. Living where America ends — Silicon Valley.

Mike sometimes rubs me the wrong way, but that may be because he’s usually on to something that I’ve missed.

The Best Bon Scott AC/DC Song(s)

Chris Lynch (A Large Regular):

It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll) may be the most perfect hard rock song ever recorded. There is no way to improve on that song

His list of the greatest AC/DC songs by Bon Scott is just about right. I’d argue that “Let There Be Rock” could be a tie right at the top.

Deleting files Using Ranger on My Mac

I recently learned about Ranger and have been loving it on Linux. Ranger “is a console file manager with VI key bindings”. Turns out that it also works on macOS so I’ve been using it there too.

One thing that I wanted to change was the way ranger deleted files. I’m new here, but I think ranger deletes using rm which I find a little scary when using a new tool. What I wanted was for deleted files to be moved to the Trash instead.

I found a small command-line program called trash which does just that. All I needed to do is install it using brew install trash and add the following to ranger’s rc.conf file.

map DD shell trash %s

Now I can select one or more files and press “DD” to have them moved to the macOS Trash. The original method is still available via “dD”.

ThinkPad as iPad

ThinkPad

My experiment with Linux has been fun and sometimes frustrating so far. Using only a Tiling window manager to run things on a brand new (to me) OS is wild and wonderful. When I’m not swearing at it, I’m loving it.

The most surprising thing so far is how much I enjoy using the ThinkPad X1 Carbon. I didn’t expect that. It’s nowhere near my 2016 MacBook Pro in terms of pure asthetic or overall fit and finish, but it’s just so much fun to use. In fact, I’ve been grabbing the ThinkPad much more often than my iPad when I’m not at my desk. It feels solid and durable and I don’t worry about tossing it around.

The ThinkPad as a “satellite” device works for me because it’s small enough and light enough and I can actually do everything I need to with it. I don’t feel hamstrung by it the way I do with iOS devices. I know, I know, the iPad can do everything but it doesn’t do Emacs without jumping through hoops so nope.

I wonder how long I’ll feel this way. The novelty of Linux and the ThinkPad will surely wear off, but it feels like more than just that.

Sacrificing Convenience

Publishing a blog with WordPress is something I do, not because it’s the best option, but because it’s the most convenient. What I’d prefer is a fast, secure static site published using Hugo. I have often moved away from Hugo because it’s not convenient enough and I become fatigued.

The ease with which we sacrifice security or quality or privacy for convenience is troubling to me. The Internet of Things, Cloud storage, and using Facebook are all convenient but less secure or durable or private yet we use them anyway. A little extra effort would go a long way.

All this to say that I’m posting here at baty.net again using Hugo. It may not be the most convenient way to blog, but it’s what feels right. I’m working on making it more convenient so that there’s less reason to leave this time.

Posting From Emacs to Hugo With Easy-Hugo

When blogging with a static site renderer such as Hugo, creating new posts can be a point of friction. The default way is to call hugo new, type the name of the file, then find and open the file for editing. Not that difficult, but not simple either.

Since I use Emacs, the ideal solution would be to simply call something that would do the hard work for me right within Emacs. For a while I used a collection of lisp functions that prompted for a file, created the file with the correct frontmatter, and then opened the new file in a buffer. That worked, but for some reason I had deleted it in my config and rather than digging throught the git history I just did a quick search and found easy-hugo by Мasashí Мíyaura.

Easy-hugo is an “Emacs major mode for writing blogs made with hugo by markdown or org-mode or AsciiDoc or reStructuredText or mmark or html.”

Easy Hugo Screen

I added the package and configuration variables to my .spacemacs file and started writing this post.

Blog consolidation

The end of each year always has me thinking about simplifying things. To that end, I’m going to try consolidating my online presence. I’ll no longer be posting here at baty.net.

For blogging, I’m going to try posting everything at jack.baty.net.

Anything longer or more “important” than a tweet goes on the One True Blog™.

For shorter things, I’ll probably use Mastodon and cross-post to Twitter and via RSS to micro.blog. “But what about owning your content!?” you ask. Lately, the way I figure it if it’s not important enough for a title I don’t care if I “own** it or not.

UPDATE Feb 17, 2018 You’ll be shocked to learn that I may have changed my mind about all this. If you see new posts after this one then I probably have. Onward!

Keeping things updated is wearing me out

It seems like everything I do requires additional, mostly unnecessary work after I do it.

For example:

When I finish a book I update Goodreads, record it in my media log, and sometimes write a quick blog post about it.

After watching a movie I add it to letterboxd, also record it in my media log, and make sure it’s properly cross-posted everywhere via IFTT.

Once I’ve finished a roll of film or imported an SD card I scan, edit, caption, export, and upload to one or more of SmugMug, Flickr, my photoblog, or Instagram, and in the case of film, I make a contact print in the darkroom and carefully file away the negatives.

Sometimes I wonder if the only reason I do things is so that I can share them. That’s a depressing thought.

It’s exhausting. Can’t I just enjoy doing (and having done) the thing without spending so much time making sure there’s a public record of it?

Braintoss

I’ve been using Braintoss for only a couple of days and it has already found a place on my iPhone’s dock.

Braintoss lets me quickly write a note, capture a photo, or record a voice message and have it immediately processed and sent to my email inbox. It’s simple and effective. It’s unlikely to replace my paper pocket notebook but it’s a handy alternative.

WordPress is a Typewriter

A “Type-In” is an event during which people get together with their typewriters at a library or coffee shop. They talk typing, show interested people how typewriters work and let them try typing for themselves. I read a story about a Type-In at which there was a young boy watching over his mother’s shoulder. As soon as his mother began typing, the boy exclaimed, “The letters go right onto the paper!”

Today, this site (baty.net) is a static website managed via Hugo and deployed to a Digital Ocean VPS. I prefer statically-rendered sites. They’re simple to host, fast, secure, and portable. I like having all of my content safely stored on my computer as Markdown files. Everything is version-controlled in a git repository so I can review any change ever made to the content or layout. It’s the way I think sites should be managed.

The problem I have with publishing a static site is that creating and editing content is too far removed from the actual rendered page. This may not be an issue for people who carefully consider their writing before rendering and deploying. If content is slowly cooked and properly served, then using a static rendering option is great.

I fly pretty fast and loose with my writing. I publish things I’m interested in and am eager to share. I’m impatient. If I had to write three drafts of every post before putting it out there I’d never publish anything. This is why I like using WordPress.

Using WordPress makes me feel like that boy at the Type-In. I feel like the words are going right onto the paper. Sure, the metaphor is a little thin, but the point is that when writing with WordPress (or any CMS, really), the distance between what I’m typing and what I’m publishing is very short. The only thing closer is editing HTML directly on a live page, but that’s something only crazy people do.

On the other hand, publishing a static site is like sending a document to a printer. I have to make sure everything is connected, that there’s paper in the machine, and then wait for the job to finish before seeing the output. If something needs editing, and something always needs editing, the whole process starts over.

So I struggle with choosing publishing tools. I much prefer the idea of statically rendered websites, but in practice I’d rather use WordPress.

I’ll be right back. Gotta check the printer.

On Having Too Many Blogs

Here are the places I post at least semi-regularly:

How did this happen?

On any given Sunday morning I’ll think, “Dammit, today is the day I put everything at baty.net back into WordPress!” Then a month or so later I’ll say, “Wordpress is the devil and my site should be statically-rendered!” and the next week I’ll discover the “New Shiny Publishing Tool” and ‘round and ‘round it goes.

Lately, instead of converting my site to use whatever new platform I discovered that morning, I’ve created new blogs using said platform. I like this approach because I don’t lose content or break links in the transition. I also like it because it appeases my desire try different things without also forcing me to go all-in with every whim.

The down side of course is that my stuff is scattered all over the place. I don’t get many visitors but spreading things so thin can’t be good for those few who might be interested in what I write. I’ve been using micro.blog as sort of an aggregator but that seems wrong somehow.

Another thing I’m thinking about is my online identity. I’ve been off twitter since November 1st and don’t know when or if I’ll return, so I’d like to detach my online persona from Twitter. If someone wants to link to me they should use baty.net. The trouble is that baty.net is only part of me (see above).

I’m now considering changing the main page of baty.net into an aggregate of all of my online stuff. More of a “Here’s a little about me and here’s some of the things I’ve been sharing lately.” This way I can keep my various publishing experiments while still maintaining a canonical “home”.

Looks like I have something to do over the long holiday weekend.

Publishing a static blog with Zeit Now

I decided to use my Tinderbox-generated static blog as a real world test of https://zeit.co.

It was pretty simple. I started out with a folder full of HTML files generated by Tinderbox. Then…

  1. Install Zeit Desktop
  2. Run now from within the html folder
  3. Done. The site is now available via an auto-generated URL like notes-xxxyyyzzz.zeit.sh

I’d of course rather use a nicer, more permanent URL so I did this…

  1. Create a CNAME DNS record for notes.baty.net pointing at alias.zeit.co
  2. Run now alias notes-xxxyyyzzz.zeit.sh notes.baty.net
  3. Add the verification TXT DNS record

This made notes-xxxyyyzzz.zeit.sh available at notes.baty.net. Each time I deploy, the instance is available at a new, auto-generated URL. The nice thing about that is each deployment creates a new, permanent version of the site. It also means that the alias must be updated each time. To do that, I created a now.json file that looks like this…

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{
  "name": "notes",
  "alias": "notes.baty.net"
}

So to deploy any new changes, I export the Tinderbox document and type…

now && now alias

I’ve made this into a Tinderbox “Stamp” so that all I have to do is select “Publish” from the Stamps menu and it runs the commands for me.

This means the site is available, with automatically-configured SSL, at https://notes.baty.net/. Pretty cool.