My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

A look back, a fresh start

Well, I did it, I went out and purchased the 27 inch display iMac that I had written about in my last post. All I can say so far is wow!

While I was at the Apple store, I looked at my blog (and the photos) and was blown away by how much better things looked on a better computer than my old Gateway. That’s been reinforced since I’ve been playing with the new computer since I’m getting it set-up. I may have to tone down some of my camera settings, I think that the color saturation was set too high for one thing. But, I’ll hold off until I get a chance to view more of my photos.

I’ve formatted the 4 Tb drive to Mac to hold just my photos. I moved my old photos from the old 1 Tb drive to the larger drive, then formatted the old drive to be used as a system back-up. Of course this hasn’t been easy, I’ve never used a Mac before, and I was dead tired last night as I was getting started.

I’ve installed Lightroom, and created two catalogs, I think. Since I’m also new to Lightroom, I can see why there are so many tutorials on how to use it floating around online. I could have gotten by with just one catalog, but I want to mark the point in time when I made the switch to Mac, and I’m beginning to use Lightroom. I’m working on learning Lightroom, it certainly has a lot to offer.

I’ve also installed the Mac version of Photomatix to do HDR images, and set it up to function as a plug-in to Lightroom.

Anyway, that takes me back to the computer for a bit, it’s faster than a speeding bullet! This new Mac can process a HDR image in just a few seconds, rather than the ten minutes or so that it required on my old computer. That’s with it running with Lightroom also running, I couldn’t use Photomatix at the same time that I had the Canon editing program running. I’d have to pick the photos in the Canon software, then exit it to do the HDR image, and then restart it after having closed Photomatix.

And, I’m so glad that I went with the larger display, I would have been happy with the smaller version, but this huge 27 inch display is the bee’s knees for working in multiple applications at the same time. That, and having the computer power to do so. I have Lightroom working on a task in the background right now as I’m typing this, and things are going along so quickly that it’s already hard to remember having to wait all the time on the old computer.

Seems as if I’ve created three catalogs, oh well, better safe than sorry. I can always go back and delete the extra one, once I’m sure that the other two are safe and contain the images that I wanted.

Okay then, let’s see if I can add a photo here that I just shot, and used Lightroom to convert it to jpeg.

My new iMac!

My new iMac!

Hey, it worked!

Now then, you’d think that I would have spruced that one up a bit since I have Lightroom up and running, but a snapshot of my computer isn’t really worth playing with, other than to see if I could get Lightroom to do what I wanted, convert the RAW image to jpeg, reduce the size and quality for online use, and even add a watermark to my image. Yup, it worked.

I have been playing with a few of my older images in Lightroom, you may find this funny, but so far, what I’ve played with most has been fixing the perspective distortions caused by my lenses. What I mean by that, is especially with wider lenses, vertical subjects get distorted, leaning ย in towards the top in most images. One of the many features of Lightroom is that it will automatically fix those distortions. So, I’ve been going through some of my old photos of lighthouses, and fixing the distortion, so that the towers of the lighthouses don’t lean, and are vertical the way that they should be. Here’s the before…

White River Lighthouse before

White River Lighthouse before

…and, after.

White River Lighthouse after

White River Lighthouse after

That may not be the best example, but it gives you an idea of what I mean.

Back to the computer, I played with the trackpad a little more while at the store, and decided to go with just the mouse for now. Apple calls it the magic mouse, and it is, as it also functions much the same as a trackpad. I can scroll both up and down and side to side by swiping across the top of the mouse, it’s a really cool feature!

If I seem to be jumping all over the place here, there are several reasons for that. One, my sleep patterns were destroyed by my work schedule last week. Then, I was up for over 24 hours yesterday, after working 15 hours, I picked up the computer, and played until I had to get some sleep. Being as excited as a kid at Christmas, I was up way too early to begin playing again the morning. I feel a nap coming on, and it’s only 9:30 AM. ๐Ÿ˜‰ So, I’ll get a short nap in, then go back to learning more about Lightroom and my new Mac!

I’m back, I had a nap, did some more set-up work on the new Mac, and played with Lightroom a little more. Both the Mac and Lightroom have so many capabilities, it’s hard keeping track of what they can do. Even though I have watched an online tutorial on using Lightroom several times, I was finding it difficult to find all the little icons and other tricks in Lightroom to allow me to access the controls I was looking for.

So, I watched the video again, this time with Lightroom up and running, so I could play at the same time that I watched.

By the way, that brings up a pet peeve of mine, I received zero documentation with either Lightroom or the new Mac. I know my way around a computer, so figuring out the Mac isn’t too bad, but I’d be lost in Lightroom without the videos.

Anyway, for some reason, I can’t bring myself to work on a relatively good photo yet, so I played with some that should have been deleted. You may remember this HDR image that I shot a few weeks ago.

Snow covered evergreens

Snow covered evergreens

That’s one that I played with, just to see what the adjustments in Lightroom do. I may have gotten carried away, but here’s the new version.

Snow covered evergreens 2

Snow covered evergreens 2

You’d think that I would play more with the exposure, however I find that exposure isn’t that hard to get correct in the first place. Also the software that came with my camera did quite well and adjusting the exposure. So, I have been playing with the other features of Lightroom in order to learn them.

A side bar, I have set up the new Mac to use the voice dictation to work on this post. It isn’t foolproof by any means however it does work much better than an earlier version that I used on a Windows machine. In fact this doesn’t work bad at all. If I can just speak into the computer and create my posts that way, blogging will be a lot easier.

Any way one of the other bad photos that I’ve played with is this one that I shot as a record of the weather that day.

Gloomy day

Gloomy day

As you can see the sound barrier wall on the left hand side of the image leans in towards the top, so I used Lightroom to correct the lean. Since it seemed like a good candidate to do more playing with I kept plugging away at it, removing the noise and correcting the exposure to get this.

Gloomy day 2

Gloomy day 2

On the same day that photo was shot I found this mourning dove, so I tweaked this photo a little to see how well Lightroom worked.

Mourning dove

Mourning dove

I know that none of theseย are great photos, like I said, I’m just trying to learn the software now.

I’m finding it difficult to work on my old photos and I’m not sure why that is. Part of it is just getting used to Lightroom and learning my way around it. But another part of it is that I want to make a fresh start using new photos that I shoot from this moment on. Although I did go back to my trip up north first weekend of October and do a new HDR image from the photos that I had shot in RAW then. I also tweaked this one a little in Lightroom after using Photomatix to create the HDR.

Just a test

Just a test

I’m finding that Lightroom does not do well on jpegs, at the least not as good as it does on RAW images. I didn’t begin shooting RAW all the time up until the past few weeks. Therefore, I don’t have that many images to play with yet. I hope to remedy that as soon as the weather gets nicer. It’s so cold outside right now that I wouldn’t want to subject my camera gear to this cold.

So, I’ve got a lot of learning ahead of me, a whole lot of learning! While I can navigate the Mac fairly well already, I still have much to learn about it. But, I do know that the purchase was worth it, this thing screams! I can be running Lightroom, Photomatix, and several other programs all at the same time, and Photomatix takes just a few seconds to process a HDR image. According to the activity monitor, I’m barely using any ofย the processing power that this Mac has available, which is a good thing. As quickly as it can process a HDR image now, I see no reason to rush out and add more ram for the time being. I haven’t tried converting a batch of RAW images to jpeg yet, I’ve been doing them one at a time so far. But, I don’t think that it matters, as I can let the batch conversion go on in the background as I do something else.

Lightroom is a different story though, not that it doesn’t run fast on this Mac, but that there’s so much to it that it’s going to take me a while to master it. I will catch on though, it will just take me a while to learn what adjustments do what, and how much of a difference that they can make. We’ll see, heres a snowy owl that I tweaked slightly.

Snowy owl landing

Snowy owl landing

I know that I could make more improvements to that image, but I still haven’t learned how yet. That will come with time and experience.

Earlier I mentioned a fresh start, so to go with that, I have an announcement of sorts about my blog. This didn’t start out being all nature all the time, I used to occasionally do posts on other subjects. I love photography, always have, and I’d like to expand my subject matter to more than just nature. Not to worry, it will still be nature most of the time. However, I read other people’s blogs and see the photos that they have of historic buildings and other things as well.

We don’t have many historic buildings around here, but there are a few, especially some of the old churches in downtown Grand Rapids that I would like to photograph. I would also like to do more landscape photography as well, when I get the chance. If next weekend is anywhere near as cold as this weekend, I may go to the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo, Michigan to photograph the World War II era planes that they have there. I had planned to go there last winter but never made it, as the weather started to improve aboutย the time that I decided to give it a try.

Last winter was bad enough we got a lot of snow and it was cold but this winter is shaping up to be even colder. The windchill outside right now is -25 degrees Fahrenheit (-32 C) and that’s just too darn cold to go outside and try to photograph something.

There’s also the Fredrick Meijer Gardens as a source for photos. I already missed the orchid show this year, but I did do a post on that several years ago. They have added a lot of artwork since the last time I was there and they have also begun work on a Japanese garden which I would like to see.

Well, that’s about all for this one, as I have a lot of studying to do trying to learn Lightroom. I may need another nap before I go grocery shopping too.

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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26 responses

  1. I’m so glad the new computer is running well for you. I can really understand your excitement at being able to view your pictures on a much better screen. I have a cheap laptop with a poor screen and am often disappointed by how dull my pictures are. Then I look at them on someone else’s nice big desktop screen and realise that they are better than I thought. It can make editing them a little annoying as I may want to increase the contrast or brighten the colours slightly because they seem blurry or drained of colour when I don’t actually need to. Then they probably look overdone on good screens!
    Nature shots are lovely but I’ve also enjoyed your landscapes (lighthouses and buildings) and if you enjoy taking these shots then I am sure we your readers will enjoy them. I really like looking at the architecture from other countries. It’s even very interesting how vastly different things like barns/sheds are in the US to Australia. So I look forward to seeing what you come up with. It’s always nice to keep doing new things.
    I can relate to excitement leading to sleep deprivation. Work combined with other things had me needing to sleep most of Saturday. Have fun playing with your new toy and the software. ๐Ÿ™‚

    February 14, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    • Thank you very much Jane. The new computer is amazing, both in its performance and the display. I can’t get over how much more detail there is in my old photos as seen on the new screen.

      I will be branching out again and shooting more than just straight nature photos once the weather improves enough for me to do so. Most will be of a historical theme, but you never know what will catch my fancy. I’d love to try some moonscapes again, that is, photos taken under a full moon. I used to shoot those, but it wasn’t easy in the days of film. I’m hoping that with a digital camera, they will be easier.

      I’ve caught up on my sleep, and I’d love to get out and shoot some photos today, but it’s too cold outside to venture out. Besides, many roads are closed due to the snow drifts from yesterday. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

      February 15, 2015 at 7:19 am

  2. The pre/post Lightroom differences are startling. Love the post-processed images, although to my untrained eye, the slight straightening of the church tower is not significant.

    What you have learned in one day is impressive. I struggle so much with WordPress+ photos. Hope I can learn something from you here.

    February 14, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    • Thank you Judy! Maybe it’s because I know that structures aren’t supposed to lean that it bothers me when they do in my photos.

      Yes, I learned a great deal in one day, especially since I was going on no sleep. I hope that I did things right. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      February 14, 2015 at 9:43 pm

  3. Jack

    Hi Jerry,

    I had almost as much fun reading your post as I did when I bought my own iMac. I hope that you don’t have to drive in this weather and that you find time to dig into Lightroom.

    February 14, 2015 at 11:15 pm

    • Thanks Jack!

      The new iMac is amazing, I love it! Also, thank you for the advice to go with the model with more “real estate”, as it comes in handier than I thought that it would.

      Being a truck driver, I have no choice but to drive in this weather, but the good thing is that I have this weekend off, and don’t have to go back to work until Monday PM. By then, the roads should be in good shape for a while. Until the next storms hit.

      February 15, 2015 at 7:11 am

  4. You are so clever coping with all that new knowledge to be gained. I loved your before and after pictures – good luck for the future, I look forward to reading your posts.

    February 15, 2015 at 3:08 am

    • Thank you Susan! I didn’t feel very clever as I hunted for the switch to turn on my new computer for almost half an hour. ๐Ÿ˜‰ However, once I did get it fired up, it has performed well, and Apple products are generally user friendly, which helps.

      February 15, 2015 at 6:58 am

  5. Thank you for the great photos, especially the “snowy owl landing”, which is really fantastic ! I just said to my wife, look, how many birds they have in Michigan ! We have birds, too, she said. But actually I don’t see a single one outside ๐Ÿ™‚
    Have a great week.
    Cheers,
    Michel ๐Ÿ™‚

    February 15, 2015 at 6:36 am

    • Thank you Michel! I’m sure that you have birds there, the difference is that I go out looking for them. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I hope that you have a great week as well!

      February 15, 2015 at 7:45 am

  6. I’m so pleased for you now you have your new computer. I got a new lap-top a few months ago to replace my net-book and the difference in speed between the two and the look of my photos is amazing. I’m sorry the weather is preventing you from going out to get new shots but I’m sure you’ll spend the time usefully learning more about Lightroom etc. I agree with Jane – anything you want to post will be absolutely fine with me.

    February 15, 2015 at 4:48 pm

    • Thank you Clare! The difference in the way that my photos appear on this new computer is amazing! Turns out that I have a pretty good camera and lenses. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      February 15, 2015 at 9:51 pm

      • You’re probably right!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

        February 16, 2015 at 5:49 am

  7. Don’t burst your brain with working too hard on the new Mac. We can wait a week or two!

    February 15, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    • Thanks Tom! However, you don’t have to worry about me bursting my brain trying to learn the Mac, Apple computers are much easier to use than a Windows machine, because Apple did it right in the beginning, and Microsoft has been trying to copy Apple ever since.

      February 15, 2015 at 9:55 pm

  8. Jerry, I am just sooooo happy for you! Your excitement over your new computer is contagious! I was smiling through this entire post! I’m so thrilled for you and I enjoyed your sharing all your discoveries about your new “toy”. You really are like a kid on Christmas morning, and that’s how it should be!! It always feels good to get something you really want and something you worked hard and saved for!

    Have fun!! And like you said, there will be plenty of time in the next week or two to learn all the ins and outs of your new Mac and Lightroom!! Enjoy!

    February 15, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    • Thank you Amy! Learning the Mac is fairly easy, all you have to do is think how a computer should work compared to a Windows machine, and that’s the way the Mac works. Lightroom isn’t too bad, other than that it can do so much, it’s hard to remember all the controls at first. It help that I picked this frigid weekend to hibernate inside with my new toy, plenty of time to play. ๐Ÿ™‚

      February 16, 2015 at 12:11 am

  9. Yay!!! And I love that snowy owl pic! Perfect timing!!!

    February 16, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    • Thank you Lori!

      February 17, 2015 at 7:08 am

  10. I can definitely tell you’re like a kid at Christmas, Jerry, love it! ๐Ÿ™‚ Love to snowy owl too!

    February 16, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    • Thank you Donna! I was indeed like a kid at Christmas, not able to sleep after being up for 24 hours.

      February 17, 2015 at 7:09 am

  11. Pingback: The real learning begins | Quiet Solo Pursuits

  12. I check this blog twice a day so i don’t know how I missed this post! Your latest post led me back to it and I’m glad it did or I would have missed the unveiling.
    There’s nothing better than a fast computer and it sure sounds like you have one now! I know what you mean about the learning curve with Lightroom-I’ve had it for over a year and I’m still finding things that I didn’t know about.
    I can’t wait to see some newer shots after you’ve put them through the paces!

    February 19, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    • Thanks Allen! I almost made the switch to a Mac when I bought my last computer, I wish now that I had. Everything that you hear about them is true, they’re faster and much easier to use than a Windows machine! I’m sure glad that I went with the larger display, I’ll have several things running at the same time, each of which would have crashed the old computer.

      Funny thing about Lightroom, as I’m playing with my images, I see in Lightroom how I could have improved them in the first place. So, not only will Lightroom help out the images that need it, but it will also make me a better photographer to begin with.

      February 19, 2015 at 4:53 pm

  13. You’re bringing back fond memories of when I switched to Mac (2000?) and then got LR (2011?) There’s no going back at this point, as I’m sure you realize. Lucky for my old brain I didn’t have to learn both the Mac OS and LR at the same time.Things seep in rather gradually around here.

    BTW… LR doesn’t deal well with jpg because jpg doesn’t preserve all the details that RAW does, so there’s much less info to play with. I’ve found that same frustration with images I took before the photo workshop I attended in Jan 2012. I remember some folks jumping on me for going over to the “dark side” of photo processing back then. It’s rather reassuring to see that you’ve discovered the advantages. ๐Ÿ™‚

    February 24, 2015 at 2:20 am

    • Thanks Gunta! I’ll never go back to a Windows machine, not after having a Mac!

      Maybe it’s because I explained why I was going to begin post-processing, and showed before and after images, I have not received a single negative comment about my switch. Even the few people who were reserving judgement when I mentioned it in advance have been supportive of my decision so far. But then, I haven’t gone nuts in Lightroom yet, well I have, but those images never see the light of day. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      February 24, 2015 at 5:22 am