eXtensions - Wednesday 11 July 2018


eXtensions - The Wednesday File (65): 10 years of the App Store; Shifting Photography Ideas

By Graham K. Rogers


Delight here and elsewhere in the world as the Wild Boar were all rescued safely. 10 years of the iTunes App Store. Some photo notes, including a probable change in direction for workflow software here.

All 12 members of the Wild Boars football team, and their coach were finally rescued from the cave yesterday along with the coach. When they first went missing, I had doubts that they would be found alive after a week had passed. I am delighted to have been wrong. That first video when they displayed the resilience that kept them going was a tonic. The 50 foreign (7 British) and Thai divers who persevered, as well as the volunteer who died, need to be seen for the heroes that they are. Bless them all.

An Apple worker who had told his supervisor he was leaving to join a Chinese self-driving car startup was arrested at San Jose airport as he was about to board a flight and leave the country. It was found that he had plans for the Apple car on his laptop. Apple security had been pre-warned and investigations showed had accessed some designs and chips he should not have seen. The fact that he was arrested after he had entered the departure area shows that law enforcement were cooperating with Apple (Stephen Nellis, REUTER).

In January 2008 I was in San Francisco when Apple announced the MacBook Air. At the same Keynote presentation, the iPod Touch 2 was announced. An update was available through the iTunes store for $20, but those in Thailand were unable to access this: at the time the iTunes Store could not be used here.

WWDC 2008 I saw this as distinctly unfair and let my feelings be known to those at Apple whom I knew. They were sympathetic and explained, that despite certain users round the world being excluded, the management insisted on the iTunes store as delivery mechanism. In the end the device was on sale in Bangkok by the end of the next month.

At a dinner later in the week, I spoke to one of the directors, bemoaning the lack of the iTunes store which was really down to copyright problems. While many here blamed Steve Jobs and his indifference (without a shred of evidence), there was nothing to deliver as the MPAA and RIAA controlled the content; and with Phantip Plaza in full swing, there was understandable reluctance to allow anything to be sold here.

At that dinner I suggested a 2-tier store for things not under such copyright restrictions. Apple could control the distribution and have the double benefit of a massive database of user names and their credit card details. The director said he would pass this on.

10 years ago this month, the App Store appeared and this was open to users in Thailand. It was more or less what I had wanted, but I am not arrogant enough to claim it was my idea - the 6 month timeline would not allow that - but at least I was thinking along the right lines.

The App Store is one of those features that has brought about considerable change: for developers, users and for Apple; and it has had a huge influence on the popularity of iOS devices. Online there have been several looks back at the 10 years and what it has meant.

My iOS devices are musical instruments, writing tools, cameras, image editors and (occasionally) games machines. There are also downsides as social networking apps have taken over the world and it is sometines difficult to walk through the streets, malls or stations because of the total absorption of those using their devices.

Note also that this week sees the anniversary of the 3-point safety belt system that was patented by Volvo engineer, Nils Bohlen on 10 July 1962. To my mind the seatbelt is a great life-saver and when the seatbelt law was introduced to the UK in the mid-1970s, the doctors' journal, Lancet, reported that emergency rooms were empty for the first few weekends.

As a Road Traffic policeman I saw many accidents and it was clear to me how effective these were. Not long before the law was brought in I went to an accident at which a woman had driven into a narrow lane and not seen a truck coming towards her. When I got there, her face was trapped in the toughened glass screen. She ended up not only scarred for life, but lost the sight in one eye. Of course, Bangkok taxi drivers and policemen know much better.

Nikon COOLPIX P1000 On Tuesday I saw news that Nikon is about to release a new Coolpix P1000 camera with a lens that has a magnification of x125, which is an equivalent of a 3,000mm lens (Hillary Grigonis, DigitalTrends). Not that they make these of course.

The price is expected to be $1000 when it is released in September which is ridiculously low (in relative terms) for such a combination, although the sensor will not be as large as some higher end cameras. According to Nikon Rumors, pre-orders are now open. There is more information on the Nikon Global site (and my thanks to Nikon for the image).

It is a camera bonanza day today and earlier in the week I saw a note concerning a home developing kit. I am really happy with the service and output from AirLab in Sukhumvit Road, but some people may not have such easy access to such a service. I know for example when I go home to the UK, and visit the part of the country my family live in, there are no facilities for developing film. It is easier for me to bring it back to Bangkok.

The designer Thomas J Müller has looked at the problem, which includes the use of the right chemicals and the right temperatures, and come up with the Kanton DX35 which is an all-in-one device for developing 35mm or 120 film. He is looking at investment opportunities right now and if this is released as a commercial product, it will be worth a look.

I have been looking at how I use Photos on iOS and also on the Mac recently. The examination itself has caused me to look more closely at what I do, and what I need. Photos is a compromise in the absence of what I consider to be an effective workflow application that handles RAW images, that has a good file structure integrating with the Finder, and that synchronises with iCloud.

I had been perfectly happy with Aperture until recently. It still works, but my recent purchase of a Nikon D850 sealed its fate as usable software for me as it will not handle the RAW output from the camera. Photos does, so it appears that some RAW software is available for one and not the other. That had also been the case when a couple of years ago I was able to test the Hasselblad H6D-50, which produced some phenomenal output: the lens I was using also had something to do with the classy images.

When I tried Aperture with the images I had taken, it was unable to recognise the file type and I ended up installing Hasselblad's own Phocus. I am not totally at one with the interface, but it works and I can also open the D850 RAW images that I store on the SSD I use. I tried ON1 RAW recently and that worked with the D850 files as well as the Hasselblad images, but would not recognise the scanned TIFF images from my own Hasselblad film camera: something to do with colour profiling, but these are greyscale.

Apple Photos on a Mac

With any such workflow software that is not from Apple, I have to weigh the benefits of either integrating all images with Photos (or Aperture) and iCloud, or having a two-tier system: iOS images and RAW. For a professional photographer, this would not be a problem. Why would a photographer want all images on all devices? Why do I? These are not the same question.

I already run a version of a 2-tier workflow system. I import all photographs from the D850 and because of their size go through a process of deciding what to keep and what to cull. This is a normal process for anyone taking many photographs. Some of the images are awful and need to be trashed right away. Some might be usable, but after a careful look are not going to make the grade. That brings me down to a selection of 25% of which not all may truly be worthwhile. Self-criticism is essential.

Recently for example, I took over 300 photographs in one day, just walking around a town about an hour from Bangkok. In the end, I kept around 10% of the photographs, applying some careful editing to bring out what I think was the best in them. Sometimes, I would just use the tools within Photos, but for some images, more editing might be needed, which is where extensions in Photos are so useful, albeit a little slow with the larger files. With space limitations, I end up with optimised images on the Mac and iOS devices, with the ability to download the full image from iCloud when needed.

What, then, if i turned this round and edited the images with another workflow application, then exported the best images to Photos? Two roads diverge and I am at the fork not knowing which path to take.

When Apple first announced that Aperture was not being supported any more, apart from the anger many expressed, it was necessary to think of replacements. Although many expected to move to Adobe Lightroom a lot of people, including me, were not interested in this solution. I went looking and checked out several potential workflow applications, some clearly better than others. I concluded then that version 8 of Capture One Pro would do the job, but put things on hold for the moment as Aperture was still working.

It is now clear that it is no longer a viable solution and I will miss it. Photos is really a compromise for those who work seriously in RAW, so I had another look at the Phase One site and Capture One. A local user has version 9 installed and uses it regularly although does not favour the interface, which is one of the things I did like when I reviewed it in 2015. He was also unhappy with the update cycle: he bought it a few weeks before the application was updated and was not able to claim the loser update rate. He kept the same version and Phase One lost a sale.

I went back and re-readwhat I wrote then and was pleased with the way this has stood the test of time: a lot of writing on tech matters has a shelf life of weeks, if not days. Now at version 11, there are a number of options, including annual and monthly subscriptions. Although I am not in favour of subscription schemes, this has swayed me. The normal licence is €299 (11,790 baht) with a couple of higher priced options that include extra editing tools. There is also the annual subscription at €180 (7097 baht) and a monthly version at €20 (which would be €240 for the year, so the annual fee is better value).

Capture One V8
Working in Capture One - Version 8

Within minutes of me looking at the Capture One site, an advertisement for the application appeared on my Facebook feed and now pops up when I look at Facebook on the Mac or the iPhone. This is insidious and seems to be part of the type of tracking that Facebook goes in for. The EU GDPR makes much more sense and it is no wonder some people are calling for even tighter legislation.

Capture One V8
Working in Capture One - Version 8

I will probably download the trial version of Capture One first and see how it handles the Aperture libraries. With Version 8, the cataloguing was one of the more impressive features. There are also the tools which I felt at that time were able to match or better what I was using in Aperture. With the application now at Version 11, there are several more tools and features that make this really attractive.

I have found a number of videos about using Capture One on YouTube. We may criticise this, but like Wikipedia and other online sources, there is a wealth of information there to help entertain and educate. You just have to be critical when choosing what to read or what to watch. I have not made the final decision on this yet, so the screenshots are from Version 8 and you may be able to gauge why I was so taken by this. The latest version is far better.

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. After 3 years writing a column in the Life supplement, he is now no longer associated with the Bangkok Post. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)



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