Category Archives: Lightroom

Lightroom and the Innovator’s Dilemma

Adobe announced some big changes to Lightroom today, including a new cloud-native version (Lightroom CC) as well as a re-branding of the familiar desktop version (Lightroom Classic). Additionally, they have discontinued development of a “perpetual” version and all new versions will be licensed on a subscription basis. What gives?

The Innovator’s Dilemma
Clayton Christensen’s 1997 book, The Innovator’s Dilemma helps to shed some light on Adobe’s behavior. In the book, Christensen tracks the rise and fall of disruptive innovation, which includes rapid growth of successful applications, and an eventual leveling off of growth as the market becomes saturated. Eventually, changes in the market landscape allow for new competitors to arise, and the company becomes vulnerable to disruptive innovation and the loss of market dominance. If you don’t innovate on an equally aggressive basis, the company faces real danger. In this circumstance, your market dominance may prevent you from creating new software as you focus on maintaining the success of the old product.

The digital photography revolution
Lightroom was, in large part, an earlier response to the innovator’s dilemma. Photoshop was the clear leader in imaging software, but it was developed before the advent of digital cameras. Camera Raw was developed as companion application to Photoshop to deal with raw files, but ultimately the very structure of Photoshop was incompatible with the needs of busy digital photographers. It had a one-at-a-time file handling structure that was insufficient for many workflows.
Lightroom was developed in response to this new market reality. Adobe took the Camera Raw engine from Photoshop and grafted it on to a database, creating one of the most successful applications in the company’s history. Lightroom was developed by a small team working inside Adobe, essentially functioning as competition to the flagship product. If Adobe had put all their effort into shoring up Photoshop, they would be in very serious trouble right now as a preferred tool for digital photographers.

Mobile>digital
We are now at another inflection point, and this one, I believe, is even more transformational. The use of photography as a language, created on and consumed on smartphones has changed the way we communicate. One of the primary needs in this new world is continuous access and connectivity. Dependence on desktop software is incompatible with many of the important uses of photography. Often, we simply can’t wait until we get back to the home or office to send photos. And a great collection of images is frustratingly out of reach if you are away from your computer.
In order to serve the needs of mobile photographic communication, the Lightroom team has spent years working on ways to create an integrated cloud component to Lightroom. Publish Services allow the extension of Lightroom to integrate with a wide variety of other applications, including many cloud offerings. And the introduction of Lightroom Mobile, along with some integration with traditional Lightroom catalogs, offered some seamless interchange.
But the architecture of Lightroom as a desktop application simply cannot be stretched enough to create a great mobile application. The desktop flexibility that has powers such a wide array of workflows can’t be shoehorned in to full cloud compatibility. The freedom to set up your drives, files and folders as you wish makes a nightmare for seamless access. And the flexibility to create massive keyword and collection taxonomies does not work with small mobile screens. After years of experimentation, the only good answer was the creation of a new cloud native architecture. As with the creation of the original Lightroom, this was done by taking the existing Camera Raw imaging engine and bolting it on to a new chassis – this time a cloud native architecture.

Managed file storage
In order to have “my stuff everywhere” the new application has to be cloud native. The primary storage of your images and videos is now in the cloud. This allows Lightroom to have seamless access on multiple devices. And in order to allow Lightroom to push these files around, you need to give up control over the configuration of folders. By giving the control over to Lightroom, the application itself can help to manage the transfer of files between devices, using downsized versions when storage space is not adequate for full size copies. (and, yes, you can have a complete full-sized archive on your own drives, which is something I would suggest).

Computational Tagging
Lightroom has also made a major break with the metadata methods of the past, opting for a computational tagging system. Some of this is familiar – the use of date-time stamps and GPS tags to organize photos. Some is new, like the Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence tagging that can automagically find images according to content. While these tools and techniques are pretty rudimentary now, we can expect them to mature quickly and continually. (Google Photos, for instance, just announced that they can now identify photos of your pets, and, voila, the tags simply appear.)

Not the end of desktop Lightroom
Just as the advent of Lightroom did not kill Photoshop, the introduction of Lightroom CC will not kill Lightroom Classic. It’s a hugely popular program for an important part of their customer base. And creating a cloud-native version of the software, instead of trying to shoehorn the program into a workflow it did not fit, frees up resources to make Lightroom a better desktop application. The Camera Raw development team can continue to make improvements to the engine, and each of the chassis builders – Camera Raw + Bridge, Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC can focus on building workflows for their customer’s needs.
There are a number of important uses of Lightroom that are pretty far off for Lightroom CC. Many power users depend on custom keyword taxonomies and deep collection hierarchies and these may never appear in Lightroom CC. And there are lots of existing integrating of Lightroom through Publish Services that won’t be easy to migrate. There are also a ton of clever and useful Lightroom plugins that may be impossible to add to the cloud version.
For my own workflow, I’ll be sticking to Lightroom Classic as far as the eye can see. But I expect that my wife and kids will be happier with Lightroom CC.

The end of Perpetual Lightroom
There is certain to be some unhappiness with the discontinuation of the perpetual versions of Lightroom. For those who don’t want cloud connectivity or who don’t use smart phones, this change forces them into a subscription service that may be unwanted. I feel your pain.
But the world is changing, and photography is becoming a more important part of it. I’ve spent the last four months working on The DAM Book 3, writing about these tectonic changes, and I’m convinced that mobile imaging (and image consumption) is a driving force. Adobe is in a position to help us take advantage of that change and make the most of it. If they did not accept the evolution of the imaging landscape, they could be in real trouble. As it is, it will still be a challenge to maintain their leadership in such a fast-moving market.
Although Lightroom CC does introduce some black box functionality, Adobe is still a clear leader in “you own your stuff, and you can take it wth you.” I think this attitude, central to Adobe’s products since Geschke and Warnock left Xerox PARC to found the company, remains one of the strongest reasons to use their tools. Mobile and cloud computing has changed the landscape, but this attitude remains intact.
Note – If you want a more granular description of the changes to Lightroom, check out the ever-comprehensive Victoria Bampton’s post here. 

Reminder – Two upcoming presentations on scanning

I’ve got two presentations scheduled for October. The first is a free two hour seminar on scanning with a digital camera at the Click! Photo festival in Durham, NC. It takes place 10am-noon Oct 6. Here’s a link.

And I’ll be in New York at PhotoPlus, doing a tag-team presentation with Katrin Eismann called Preserving Your Photographic History. I’ll show how to scan with a digital camera, and then Katrin will demonstrate reparations and restoration techniques from her revised book on retouching. Here’s a link for that.

Use this custom landing page for a 15% discount and free show pass.

Testing Nikon D850 for Camera Scans

Nikon sent me a D850 to do some camera scan testing. My initial impression is that it it really promising, but I have not been able to get it to do exactly what I want. It does a pretty good job for most negatives, but it’s having problems on dark images.

I’ll run a number of rolls through it over the weekend and report back.  I will say that even if it’s not perfect now, I can tell this is going to be a great solution for camera scanning color negatives, particularly in conjunction with Lightroom.

Digitizing Your Photos – Just Released

We’re excited about the release of our new multimedia ebook, Digitizing Your Photos. It presents a comprehensive method for scanning photos with a digital camera, and managing the process with Lightroom.

The book is written for professional photographers, family historians, corporate collection managers, and cultural heritage institutions. We know that great collections of slides, prints and negatives are everywhere, and we want to help preserve and make use of them.

The book runs for 248 pages, and includes 90 workflow videos for a total of 9 hours of comprehensive instruction.


Here’s the first video from the book, which outlines the entire process.

And here’s the product page.

World Backup Day

Once again, it’s World Backup Day! While it’s not as fun as Talk Like a Pirate Day, it’s arguably more important. All of us have important digital stuff that we’d hate to lose. So if the lack of a solid backup plan is something that’s bothering you (even a little), take the opportunity to do something about it.  Here are some suggestions.

Send in the Clones
If all your stuff can fit on one single hard drive, then you’re in luck. You can make a clone of your drive.  A clone is simply a copy of the drive, written out to another hard drive. It’s really useful if your hard drive crashes. And a clone that lives in a separate place from your laptop will give you protection in the event of loss, damage or theft of the computer.

Clones are easy to make, and offer a high level of protection (as long as you update them regularly). I think of a clone as a disaster-recovery backup. As someone who really values my data, I like to keep an extra clone stored offsite, in case there is a fire or theft that destroys both my laptop and my main clone.

You can read about making a clone over at dpBestflow.org.

Krogh_150331_WD_Air

I’ve been using this nice little WD My Passport Air for my clone, it’s small, light and durable. It also has built-in encryption so your stuff is protected even if the drive is lost. 

Online backup
While I think everyone needs a clone for fast recovery, I’m also a big fan of Backblaze for continuous off-site backup. It’s a real set-it-and-forget-it system. It costs $50/year per computer to make a duplicate of your entire computer up to the cloud. This protects against the threat of total loss of onsite data, as well as any files that have not been backed up to offsite storage.

Backblaze is particularly valuable for family members or other who are not vigilant about backing up their stuff. I set up both my daughters before they went off to college, and, wouldn’t you know it, one of them dumped a pitcher of water on the keyboard of her laptop during freshman year.

Note that Backblaze is not really designed for large image libraries that many photographers have.

PhotoShelter or other web service
You can also use a photo-oriented service for backup. If you are a PhotoShelter customer and you use Lightroom, you can automatically publish images to the cloud. I have mine set to publish high quality JPEGs from all 4 and 5 star photos.

Publish Backup

 

 

 

 

 

Lightroom’s Publish Services can be used to backup images to the cloud mostly automatically. This can provide a current JPEG (or original file) backup that is updated as new files are added to the catalog. 

Big Drives
If you have a lot of data like photos and videos, you might want to get some big drives for backup. WD is now shipping 6 TB drives that are about $250. That’s a heck of a lot of data in a small package at a reasonable price.  There’s no excuse not to keep those photos backed up.

Krogh_150331_Toaster(Back them up twice if possible – once on-site, and once off-site, for a total of 3 copies.

Here’s a really economical way to backup files. Get a bare drive and a “toaster”. You don’t want to use the toaster for everyday use, but they are great for backup.

 


Don’t let Perfect be the enemy of Good

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the considerations that go into a perfect backup system. So don’t try to be perfect, try to be better. If you don’t have a clone, get one. If you travel a lot, then online backup may be a good addition. And if you have only onsite backup, consider adding an off-site.

Each time you make an improvement to the system, you add more protection, and reduce the chance that you’ll lose important data.

Disclosure
I’ve recently been working a bit with the folks at WD. They have sent me some equipment to evaluate, and they sponsored my last talk at PhotoPlus Expo. And a few weeks ago I went to a Product Summit in Laguna Beach. I still have to buy most of my own hard drives, and I’ll typically buy WD when I’m spending my own money.

I have also been working with PhotoShelter to create a new service for people who buy photographs. Again, I’m working with a company I really believe in, because I really believe in them.

Lightroom *never* fully expires

Buried in the recent Adobe Creative Cloud rollout was a revolutionary change to the way Lightroom licensing functions.  When the license expires, the program keeps on working.* This is a radical development. If you’ve been paying attention to the sturm und drang around the Creative Cloud licensing model (here, here, here, here) , this is a mind-blower.

First, the * part. Not all functions of Lightroom keep working. The sliders in the Develop module become inactive. Develop will still render the photo, but it won’t let you run the sliders. (You could still use Quick Develop in Library to make further adjustments if you like.)

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 9.02.28 AM

Quick Develop will still run in an expired version of Lightroom 5.5

And the Map Module will stop working. The map technology is licensed through the Google Maps API, so Adobe has to pay for each Lightroom copy that uses it. If Adobe is not getting paid, they don’t want to pay Google, so the Map Module will be disabled for non-revenue users.

But other than Develop  and Map, everything else works.  You can  make new catalogs, add new photos, add keywords, make collections, books, web galleries. prints, slideshows, exports, published copies… Basically, you have Lightroom LE.  For free, if you want it.

Yes, free.

You can download the trial version of Lightroom and, at the end of the trial period, it mostly continues to function. Free.

Hopefully, this will quiet most of the fears that people have about Adobe’s motives in moving to the Creative Cloud licensing model. In the last few years, they have dramatically reduced the price of their photo software.  Buying Photoshop Extended and Lightroom four years ago would set you back $1300. You can buy a decade of CC software and services for that price.  And now Lightroom LE is free for those who are even cheaper.


Read more about getting the most out of Lightroom


This is a bold play by Adobe. Here’s how I interpret it. Basically, they are betting that photographers will see enough value in the subscription services that they will continue to pay for Lightroom, Photoshop, Lightroom Mobile and Lightroom Web ($10/month).  Even when they can get most of Lightroom for free.

Stephen Colbert would say that a move like this takes big balls. You only do this if you are all-in on providing ongoing value to your customers. It’s the opposite of lock-in. And it illustrates the core values of the company. Your stuff belongs to you, and it’s up to Adobe to provide compelling value in order to deserve your software dollars.

There’s no guarantee that Adobe will get this right. Even though their software powers much of the creative services industry, they have not been able to hit a home run in web services.  But they understand that the future of media is squarely pegged to APIworld, and the only way to survive is to go all-in.

I’m really stoked about this decision (and I’m almost never “stoked” about anything, even those things that I’m quite enthusiastic about.) It’s gutsy, forward-thinking, bet-the-farm confidence on making some kick-ass software and services.

To those folks at Adobe who had the vision to move this forward, hats off.

Lightroom mobile now available – eBook Too!

Adobe has just released the first version of Lightroom mobile. This allows integration between a Lightroom catalog and your iPad, as well as publication to a website, as shown above.

LRM2This screenshot shows the same collection, this time on the iPad.

On the iPad, Lightroom mobile enables a two-way workflow between desktop and tablet. You can export photos to the iPad, and then make adjustments, set flags and add to collections. Changes you make on the iPad get synced back to the main catalog on your computer.

LRm1And here you can see the Develop tools at the bottom of the screen. Once you make changes on the iPad, they can be synced over to the main version of the catalog.

The Lightroom mobile release version is just a start. Adobe will add Android and iPhone platforms, as well as plenty of new functionality. At the moment, you can do some basic develop adjustments, and you can flag images and add to collections.

lrm1_350x279

Victoria Bampton, The Lightroom Queen, has published a new eBook that covers the use of Lightroom mobile. You can buy it from us for $6.50. It’s a very reasonable price for the time it will save you.

Lightroom mobile is included as part of a Creative Cloud subscription, as well as the $9.99 Photographer’s Bundle (Photoshop CC, Lightroom and Lightroom mobile). If you have bought the “perpetual” version of Lightroom, the only way to get Lrm is to move to the subscription.

 

 

Speaking at B&H Monday, March 17

140316_BHSince B&H has started carrying my books, I’ve scheduled a talk there Monday from 4-6. I’ll be outlining the strategy behind my new book, Organizing Your Photos. Registration is closed at the moment, but the website says that you can show up for the event 15-30 minutes early to get a spot.

The event should also be available online at the Event Space website sometime after the event. I’ll post more details as I have them.