In a previous post, I made a comparison between Adobe Creative Cloud and Capture One. In this post, I came to the conclusion that Adobe is still a necessary evil. Recently, Capture One just announced a 50% price increase.
The one redeeming quality of Capture One was that the price point was slightly less than Adobe. This has now been taken away, and it’s clear that this is no longer a viable option. Let’s hope for a new challenger!
CRUMBLING AWAY IN A VERDANT state park, the ruins of the old Castlewood Canyon Dam hardly looks like the remains of a sturdy industrial water wall that released a torrential flood on the surrounding area when it finally broke. Built in 1890 and leaking for years after that, the Castlewood Canyon dam collapsed on August 3, 1933. A storm raged on that day, filling the dam’s reservoir to bursting. When the crumbling stone barrier finally failed, over a billion gallons of water were released, traveling over 40 miles of surrounding wilderness before eventually flooding Denver. Huge logs were floated through train stations, bridges were washed away, and by the end of the torrent, the whole city was sitting in four feet of water. Luckily (and tragically) only one person was killed, but the property damage of the catastrophe was immeasurable. While it was likely just age and a lack of maintenance that caused the dam to give way, some residents who still remember the disaster claim that it could have been the local muskrat population effecting the integrity of the dam. No matter the cause, the ruins of the dam remain in Castlewood Canyon State Park. Either side of the structure still remains and the track through which the water broke through is now a dry, grassy thoroughfare. Source: Atlas Obscura
One of the more constructive things I’ve done this year is learning a new language. After taking Spanish in high school years ago, I’ve started over using the free Duolingo app. The exercises are great in the way you can do as much or as little as you’d like.
At 5094 XP, that puts me in the top 8%. This is one of better accomplishments of last year.
I started at the beginning of the pandemic and haven’t missed a day. One of the cool stats they keep is your daily streak. I’m currently at 276, and it feels like I’ve learned a lot. You must complete at least one lesson daily to maintain your streak, that provides a lot of motivation.
The lessons are broken out into themes such as people, places, and family. In each lesson you are reading, listening, speaking, and writing. Once things go back to normal, I ought to be able to survive for at least a little while in a Spanish speaking country.
Tommy and I took a hike along the Chatfield Dam Trail at Chatfield State Park. Here is some trail info from the Chatfield State Park website:
Permitted uses: Foot and bike
Miles paved: 2.4
Miles non-paved: .3
Total distance: 2.7
Degree of difficulty: Easy
ADA accessible: Yes – Asphalt
Comments: Access trailhead at Dam Overlook parking lot. Connecting trail links include the Highline Canal Trail, Columbine Trail, and Centennial Trail.
Pets: Yes, on leash
The trail overlooks the Chatfield Reservoir which is located just south of the town of Littleton, CO. The reservoir was built in 1967 as a way to provide water to the Denver area, and prevent large floods. The intake structure is one of the highlights of the trail, as it is massive, and seems to be high security. The Dam and surrounding area is a great place to get pictures of the Southwest metro area and concertina wire.
Hiking with a toddler has presented itself many opportunities for portraits. I was able to get some good ones, to be posted later, and some others like this which fit the challenge described in my earlier post. You can read about part 2 here. Today’s is from the Fountain Valley hike at Roxborough State Park.
I just had the great feeling of signing off of work for the year. It has certainly been an interesting year at work, having been home for the last 9 months or so. Now that I’m off work, the first order of business was to turn off my alarms.
That will be a great feeling — sleeping in. During the break, I don’t really have any plans. No travel planned, nothing really at all planned. I might be able to get caught up on some reading, projects around the house, and a side programming project I’ve been working on.
Today is the day for the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. They will appear to be close together in the sky, the closest they’ve been in 397 years. Here are some tips to photograph it tonight (source: NASA):
Jupiter and Saturn will appear brighter than nearly every star. They can be seen easily from large cities, and dark sites.
Dark skies will allow you to see fainter stars, but Jupiter and Saturn are bright enough that you don’t necessarily need to go to a dark site to take compelling photos of them. If you have a clear view toward the southwest, you have the chance to take some great photos.
Think about composition. Jupiter and Saturn will just appear as points of light. To make your photo more interesting, try to frame the planets with something – the silhouette of a tree, an outdoor landscape, the arch of a building, or even a neon sign.
Experiment with both wide-angle and telephoto shots. In early December, the two planets will be about 2 degrees apart, and will get progressively close toward December 21. In order to show them clearly in your photos, you might use a wide-angle composition early in December, and zoom in later in the month as they get closer.
Be sure to go outside on a few different nights, and see how their separation changes.
Using a tripod will help you hold your camera steady while taking longer exposures. If you don’t have a tripod, brace your camera against something – a tree, a fence, or a car can all serve as a tripod for a several-second exposure.
These planets are visible in early evening, and you’ll have about 1-2 hours from when they are visible, to when they set. The color and intensity of the sky changes during that time. Stay out for an hour or more, and try to capture shots with both the bright colors of sunset, and the darkness of the oncoming night. A photo from the same location can look completely different just an hour later!
The crescent moon will pass near Jupiter and Saturn a few days before the conjunction. Take advantage of it in your composition!
Tips if using a cell phone camera
Jupiter and Saturn will be bright enough to detect in many cell phone cameras. You won’t see additional detail by zooming in, but you can frame Jupiter and Saturn creatively.
Some recent cell phones have a ‘night mode,’ which will automatically stabilize a long-exposure, even without using a tripod. This can be great for capturing the dark foreground of your photo. Some phones will let you use ‘night mode’ on exposures up to 30 seconds, if you also use a tripod.
Many cell phones have a wide-angle lens. Try using this to place a subject in the foreground, with Jupiter and Saturn above them.
At the time of conjunction on December 21, Jupiter and Saturn may be too close to separate clearly in your photos. Images taken a few days before or after the conjunction may show them more clearly.
Tips if using a DSLR camera
Set your focus to Infinity (Manual Focus mode), so the planets will be sharp. Set your aperture wide open, to let in the maximum amount of light.
If you have a tripod, it will help you take long exposures. If not, you can still take some great pictures with a short shutter speed (< 1/4 second). If your camera or lens has an image stabilizer, be sure it is turned on.
If your photos show that the camera is not steady, shorten your shutter speed. You can also use a photographers’ trick to get a sharp photo when hand-holding: set up your camera to take multiple exposures, then hold the shutter button to take a series of photos. While some will be blurry due to camera shake, you may find a few that are sharp.
If you use a 200 mm telephoto lens, you should be able to see Jupiter’s four bright moons in a short exposure. Saturn’s rings will usually need a longer lens or a telescope in order to resolve clearly.
To capture Jupiter and Saturn as sharp ‘points’ while using a tripod, use a shutter speed of up to a few seconds. More than this and the Earth’s rotation will smear out the planets and stars. If you are using a wide-angle lens, you can use a longer exposure.
The weather locally looks great, so I’m hoping to get out for some pictures or to at least see the event.
In an earlier post, Portraits without Faces, I talked about the 500px challenge, and how I seem to randomly get pictures of Tommy without him looking at the camera. This is another one of those from a weekend trip to Chatfield. The temperature outside was a little too cold to be hiking in… at this point, we were trying to locate where we were going. This trip was cut short due to the cold weather and incoming snow storm.
There is some debate over the right choice in photo editing software. For years, Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop as part of Adobe Creative Cloud have been the standard go-to for this sort of thing. These products have been around for years, and outside of their new pricing model, which is a monthly subscription, there has never been a need to switch. After using Capture One for the last 30 days as part of a trial — I’ll give my thoughts.
Everyone hates the subscription model for software we use daily. At $9.99/mo, that seems to be right in the area of being annoyingly expensive, and small enough to get lost in the “Subscriptions” category of your monthly budget. When Microsoft’s office products moved to the subscription model, I found alternatives. Apple’s tools are useable, and Google’s free web-based tools are even better. The nice thing about word processing, spreadsheets, and slideshows are that there are viable options to switch.
The price for Capture One varies, but there are some options where you can purchase a license to the software without subscription. This can get as low as $129 for specific camera platforms, such as Fuji. Adobe doesn’t have this option, so you’re looking at $120/yr but you have access to a constantly updating product. This can be both good and bad, since you’ll get the latest features faster, but there have been some quality issues which may not work for people that depend on a stable version.
When it comes down to features, Adobe wins in every category. The combination of Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop do everything that Capture One does, but better. Everything from sorting photos, to editing, the user interface, mobile support…. Adobe does it the same or better. Capture One allows for layers in editing, which seems to be its largest feature over Lightroom, but this feature is standard for Photoshop. It seems that the division between the two products for Adobe are gradually converging a bit. For these reasons, I can’t switch over to Capture One without losing functionality. In short, we’re still going to continue to be held hostage by Adobe and their subscription model.
500px is running a quest this month with the theme of “Portraits without Faces”. This is an interesting quest, and I just happened to have this picture available from a recent photo shoot we did in Denver. The quest brief is described as, “Not all portraits need faces! Not focusing on the face can open up a new dimension of interpretation while still allowing the view to capture the personality or mood of the subject.” The quest goes until January 8, 2021. One winner will receive a prize of $200.