Lightroom 6 Facial Recognition Tips

First off, while Lightroom 6’s new facial recognition feature is pretty cool, you’ll be surprised at how good and how bad it is at guessing faces including seeing faces on things that are not even human! LOL. It’s got a long way to go to catch up with, say, Google’s Picasa. Anyways, enough with the bellyaching.

If you have a lot of photos, tagging names to faces may seem like a daunting herculean task and it definitely is. However, here are some tips to make the process a little easier: Read more

Upgrading from a Nikon D7000 to a D750!

I recently made a fundamental change in my whole photography mindset and switched from primarily using a zoom lens to using a fast prime lens. As I posted before, moving to a 35mm f/1.8 lens on my Nikon D7000 really did the trick of getting me better shallow depth of field; however, the move has resulted in some unexpected consequences which really had nothing to do with depth of field. Read more

Full frame versus cropped sensor…an interesting accessment

[See also my related post: Full Frame, Cropped Sensor and Depth of Field for Dummies…like me]

Since I am toying with the idea of maybe moving to a full frame camera, I found this article very insightful. It has given me great pause in the decision. Here are some of the things I gleaned:

  1. Camera technology has come so far that the real world difference between full frame and cropped sensor is not very much.
  2. Full frame is one stop better in high ISO shooting
  3. Full frame is better in low light
  4. Full frame is better if you print large images trying to squeeze every pixel of data out of a picture you can
  5. Cropped sensor has a 1.5x higher pixel density on a distant subject with the same lens

I would honestly say that I would rarely benefit from the full frame’s advantages. I guess in the end, no matter what format you use, you have to buy fast quality lens.

DX vs FX Again

Full Frame, Cropped Sensor and Depth of Field for Dummies…like me

I was ready to dump my Nikon D7000 for a full-frame Nikon D750 just so I could live the dream of shallow depth of field and creamy bokeh. Yes, I had drunk the Kool-Aid and fallen for the overly simplistic mantra that to get that effect, I had to have a full-frame camera. However, as I researched the widely discussed and hotly debated topic: depth of field, I learned some interesting things. The most important thing I learned is perhaps it’s the lens not so much the camera that matters.

Note: This post is mostly for me to document my novice understanding of this topic, but perhaps it may help others who are also bewildered by the whole discussion. I will be overly simplistic, but that is the best way to begin to understand complex things and I am, self-admittedly, only beginning. However, there will be math involved ;-) Read more

My new toy: Sony RX100 II Digital Camera

After tons of research, I finally decided on the Sony DSC-RX100 II (aka RX100M2)  for my second camera. I just got tired of not having my DSLR and getting less-than-satisfying photos from my iPhone 5, particularly in low-light. My two must-have features were: 1) pocketable; and 2) decent shallow depth of field. The RX100 II hits both those marks.

Runner-ups included the Canon S120 and the Panasonic LX7, but the Sony just seemed to be a tad better at shallow DOF. I also considered the Panasonic GM1, but the versatility of interchangeable lens was actually a negative for me.

Flickr feed for some photos taken with the Sony DSC-RX100 II

Syncing Nextgen gallery with Flicker and iPad

I used to love Flickr but got tired of their heavy-handedness and a while back decided to bring all of my photos under my own control using the NextGEN Gallery plug-in here on However, Flickr is somewhat ubiquitous and supported by various things, including AppleTV and some iPad photoframe apps, and I didn’t want to give that up.

At first I tried to manually keep the same photos on SeriouslyTrivial, Flickr and iPad. It didn’t take long for this to become an exercise in futility. If only NextGEN and Flickr could sync to each other… Well, I figured out an automated way to do it by putting my PC in the middle. Basically, the flow is as follows:

NextGEN ==> PC ==> Flickr/iPad

PC Programs

I’m using two PC programs to automate the process: AllwaysSync (free) to automatically do the FTP download and PhotoSync (paid version suggested) to sync with Flickr. Obviously, I’ll use iTunes to sync the photos with the iPad.

When you install PhotoSync, do not sign it into your Flickr account yet.

You don’t have to use AllwaysSync , it just automates the FTP download process. You could download manually or find another program that does the same thing.

Clearing out Flickr

This tutorial assumes your NextGEN gallery is the absolute source. Make sure all photos have been uploaded to NextGEN before proceeding. 

You’ll need to delete all Flickr photos so its totally empty. I deleted all mine by doing the following:

  1. Choose You > Organize
  2. Click Select all. This is at the bottom.
  3. Drag the selected photos to the edit area
  4. Choose Edit photos > Delete and follow the prompts

I suppose, alternatively, you could just create a new Flickr account. I would recommend this just in case something goes wrong.

NOTE: If you want to archive Flickr first, you should be able to use PhotoSync using the Full Synchronization mode. After it syncs and downloads all of the photos, move them out of the photoSync folder. In theory, it should then sync and delete everything in Flickr. Do this at your own risk, however. 

FTP Photos to your PC

As luck would have it, NextGEN puts the photos in folders that use the gallery name. Just what we need! Note that AllwaysSync’s interface is a little odd, but works and is free.

Now to accommodate iTunes, create a folder called iPod Photo Cache in the wp-content/gallery directory on your server (with all the gallery folders). This will be excluded from the FTP download (below) and, thus, prevent any changes from being made on the corresponding PC folder. Do not skip this step if you will be syncing with iTunes.

Here’s how to set up AllwaysSync:

  1. Click the Change link located on the double-headed arrow in the center.
  2. Click the radio button to the left of the double-headed arrow. The arrow should now be pointing to the right. We want everything going from the server to the PC only, not a two-way sync. Also enable the Proprogate deletions options so that photos deleted in NextGEN are also deleted on the PC.
  3. Choose FTP Server from the dropdown menu on the left side.
  4. Click the Configure button
  5. In the Path field, you need to enter the full path to the photo files including the protocol and server name. Something like ftp://<servername>/wp-content/gallery. This may vary depending on your installation of NextGEN.
  6. Complete the login information and click the OK button. (You may have to expand the window to make the OK button visible. It is in the lower-right corner of the panel.)
  7. On the menu go to View > Options. If you want AllwaysSync to start when Windows starts, enable the Start application in system notification area on system start-up option.
  8. Select the job profile you are working on in the left pane. It should be called something like New Job 1. Expand the options by clicking on the + to the left of the name. Then click on Inclusion  and Exclusion filters.
  9. NextGEN adds some files that you do not want. They are stored in thumbs and dynamic subdirectories under each gallery name. So in the Exclusion filters area, click the Add New button. Enter \*\thumbs\*.* in the File Name Filter box. Add three more filters for \*\dynamic\*.*,  \cache\*.*, and \iPod Photo Cache\*.*.  If there are any specific galleries or photos you don’t want synced, add exclusion filters for them as well. Click Ok when done. (NOTE: If you don’t exclude iPod Photo Cache, iTunes will always sync all photos and not just changes!)
  10. If you want to automate the upload, click Automatic Synchronization. Here I have set it to sync once a day.
  11. Click OK when you’re done setting options.
  12. Next, click on the Browse button and navigate to your photoSync folder. You’ll want to browse to get the exact path you need as it will vary depending on your version of Windows. It should be in your Windows Documents folder.
  13. Next, click the Analyze button near the lower-left corner. This will give you some information about what will be downloaded, but won’t actually download anything. Since this is the first time, you should get an See important message warning. (NOTE: You shouldn’t have to use Analyze in the future unless you want to.)
  14. The important message will appear at the top. It should tell you that there is a substantial difference… Just click the Ignore button.
  15. Scan through the list to see if it looks like the files you want will be downloaded.
  16. If everything looks ok, click the Synchronize button. This may take a while depending on how many photos you have.

That’s it! Let the job run once before proceeding.

NOTE: As I precaution, I would temporarily copy the photoSync folder somewhere. Just in case. It may save you from downloading everything all over again if something isn’t set right.

Sync the Photos to Flickr

Sign PhotoSync into your Flickr account. You should start to see it uploading all of your photos to Flickr when everything is set properly. I would recommend you start with Up synchronization only. (Later you can change it to Full Synchronization, if that suits you. The menu is accessed by right-clicking the icon in the system tray and choosing Options.)

Depending on the size of your library, this could take a really long time.

NOTE: With version photoSync Version 1.2.13, I noticed that if you delete a photo, when it syncs, it only removes it from the set. It does not actually delete the photo on Flickr. On the PC, it ends up in photoSync’s not_in_a_set folder. Until this gets fixed, you’ll need to delete them manually using the Manage ‘Not In a Set’ option accessed by right-clicking on PhotoSync’s system tray icon. This seems to only work in Full Synchronization mode for some unknown reason.  :-(

I suggest you upgrade to the paid version (only $5.95) of photoSync which allows you to set a default permission for newly uploaded photos.

Just right-click the system tray icon and choose Default Permissions.

Below I am setting all new uploads to be Public.

Sync the Photos with your iPad

Select your iPad in iTunes. Go to Photos and check the Sync Photos from option. In the pop-up menu to the right, select Choose Folder and navigate to the photoSync folder. Now just sync your iPad.

Well, there you have it. A totally automated way to sync NextGEN to Flickr and and iPad!

Nikon D7000, my new toy

I’ve been looking for a new hobby for a very long time and I don’t know why it never occurred to me, but photography is perfect; it’s just the right combination of tech and outdoors.

I wanted to get an entry-level prosumer DSLR and narrowed it down to the Canon 60D and the Nikon D7000. I really liked the 60D’s articulated screen, but in the end, the D7000 just seemed to be more professional and higher quality, albeit slightly higher in price. Choosing your first DSLR is really an important decision since it sets the path for all your future lens purchases–there, unfortunately, is no standard in the lens mounts.

I wanted a do-it-all lens to start out and splurged on the Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S ED VR II Nikkor Telephoto Zoom Lens. I was also looking at the Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM Lens, but the slightly better aperture and supposedly quickly focusing of the Nikon lens gave it the nod. I figured why skimp on the only lens I’ll have for a while. I also toyed with the idea of a used lens and even found an open-box one, but for my first set-up, I wanted everything to be new. (Yeah, I’m a bit spoiled :-)

I’m pretty excited! The last serious camera I owned was a Pentax 35mm SLR many years ago. Developing film always seemed to limit my use of that camera, so now with the digital SLR, I’ve got no excuses. I’m really looking forward to learning this beast and getting good at operating all of the features. It’s damn complicated compared to my old 35mm that’s for sure.

I also put a lot of thought into what camera bag I wanted. I wanted something light and not cumbersome. It had to hold my D7000 with zoom lens attached and also have enough space for a second lens and some extra goodies. I didn’t want a backpack because you have to take those off to get to stuff and I didn’t want just a regular shoulder type. What appealed to me was the slings. I suppose it’s partially due to their generally non-symmetrical design. I’m always attracted to things like that.

I was nearly decided on the Case Logic SLRC-205 SLR Camera Sling, but ended up going with the Lowepro Passport Sling Camera Bag. It just seemed to look less like a camera bag and had a softer less cumbersome look. The Case Logic is probably more functional, but the Lowepro is cooler and coolness counts!

So far, I’ve only skimmed though the D7000 manual and played with the features a bit. I’ve got the PDF of the manual on my iPhone and I plan to take the D7000 for a spin tomorrow out in the Hill Country!