Does Taking Photos Affect Your Memory?

While I remember this vacation, I don’t remember taking this photo – is there a chance I’d have a better recollection if I’d put down the lens?

With the holidays fast approaching—I stepped into a Target last week and their Christmas displays were already up!—it’s time for family visits and hours of travel. One of the top items that people pack when they head out on vacation is their camera. We want to capture all our moments: when the family gets together on Thanksgiving day, when the colors explode at sunset over the ocean and that hilarious split-second a seagull steals your kid’s ice cream cone.

Many photographers struggle to figure out which camera and lens to pack, but I was curious about whether I should pack one at all. As I take photos of all those beautiful moments I want to remember, does taking them actually help my memory? By recording the best sunrises and most delicious dinners, will I have a better recollection of all the moments I want to save?

Earlier this year, I found an amazing article by Jenny Chen on New York Magazine’s Science of Us blog entitled How Taking Photos Affects Your Memory of the Moment Later On. It’s a short look into the world of how we build memories in the digital age, with evidence on both sides of the fence. While many of the studies Chen cited promoted the idea that there’s little difference to your memory if you take photos or not, I’m definitely a firm believe in one key point; we need to spend less time with our eyes behind our phone screens and more time enjoying the view.

The “cost” of software (Lightroom redux)

I have been fascinated with the furor that has whipped up many photographers about the release of Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic. As I noted previously, I totally get the idea that people are getting weary of ‘subscribing’ for software, even if that’s really what we have all been doing for years. My friend Jeff Carlson is doing a good job of talking about this issue, and today has an interesting piece called Math is Hard, or, A Quick Look at Lightroom Pricing. In it, Jeff talks about the cost of purchasing and upgrading a product like PhaseOne’s Capture One Pro vs. the costs of using Lightroom (in either incarnation).

Jeff is spot-on in his analysis: if you are someone who is serious about your photography, and you want to remain current with the latest in features and performance, Adobe’s $120 per year for Lightroom (both versions) and Photoshop is a good deal. It is made better by the fact that Lightroom really is the best product for most photographers in the market, but if you don’t like Lightroom/Photoshop, or are upset about Adobe’s policies, there are many alternatives in the market for you to use. Read more »

Thoughts on the Lightroom announcements

It has been a crazy few days, following Adobe’s announcements about the new Lightroom(s) and the Creative Cloud. There is a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt circulating, but that will die down over the next few weeks, as photographers on Adobe’s Photography plan play around with both the updated Lightroom Classic and the new Lightroom CC. (If you want an encyclopedic overview of everything regarding the Lightroom announcements, The Lightroom Queen is the place to go, to be honest.)

If you’re a user, looking at these announcements from the outside—i.e. you’re not a software developer—it can be difficult to understand why Adobe did what they did with Lightroom. Peter Krogh, an expert on digital asset management (DAM), has a fascinating post over on his website, entitled Lightroom and the Innovator’s Dilemma.

“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.”

Peter’s post is worth reading, especially if you’re confused or upset about Adobe’s direction. You might not like what Adobe did, but they are doing what any company must do if they wish to remain relevant: juggle the current (and future) needs of their users with the changing dynamics of technology, all while still trying to maintain a stable revenue (and profit) stream. Read more »

Jeff Carlson (and others) on the “new” Lightroom

Adobe today announced a whole new ecosystem surrounding Lightroom, which includes a new desktop app, called Lightroom CC, for Mac and Windows; updated iOS and Android versions (also called Lightroom CC); Creative-Cloud-based storage of your photos; and a rebranded (and updated) version of the “old” app, now called Lightroom Classic CC.

We have quite a few thoughts on this change, and will post something soon, but the best overview of the announcement out there is from our friend Jeff Carlson, over on DPReview. He summed it up best like this:

“For people who do not yet use Lightroom, or have been told by friends that they should use it but were intimidated by it, Lightroom CC should be a welcome introduction to the Adobe ecosystem. For photographers who have used Lightroom for years… it’s complicated.”

Read more »

Overviews of Photographic History

In my last post, about the person who wanted to “take better pictures,” I mentioned Beaumont Newhall’s classic book, The History of Photography: From 1839 to Present, and Edward Steichen’s The Family of Manas two books that influenced me heavily when I was younger. While I love monographs of individual photographers, histories of photography fascinate and and delight me, and I thought it might be worthwhile to mention a few more that I have loved over the years; most of these have found their way into my permanent library. Read more »

Taking “Better Pictures” Doesn’t Mean a New Camera

I had an interesting conversation with someone the other day, one that I felt was worth recounting here. I was at a bookstore, perusing photography books for possible review here on the website. (I don’t buy many printed books these days, but the ones that I do buy are almost entirely art or photography-related.)

It was clearly a very slow day at the bookstore, and while I was at the register, the checkout dude murmured something like, “these look interesting…I’d really like to take better pictures.”

We had a short conversation about whether these books might help, and he then asked me if I was a photographer. I told him yes, but that I was really more of an editorial guy who published a website about photography.

Without missing a beat, he said, “I really need a better camera. Which one should I buy?”

To which I replied, “Which phone do you have?”

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The Black-and-White Photo Mastery of Jason M. Peterson

While color photography has been with us in one form or another since the early 1900s, black and white remains for many of us as the pinnacle of the photographic arts. Capturing a scene properly in black and white is challenging, but when it is successful, the results have a beauty and a clarity that can be breathtaking. Most of the truly great photographers of the twentieth century—at least through the 1960s—shot solely with black-and-white film, despite the rapid rise of color slide film in the late ’40s and ’50s, and the wide-scale adoption of color print film after that.

The digital camera and the smartphone have largely relegated black-and-white photography as an afterthought—often via the click of a filter in Instagram or Lightroom—and I have long felt that this is one of the sad consequences of our modern world. I see plenty of black-and-white photos across the web, but so many of them are simply snapshots with the absence of color, and they lack the gravitas of great work.

Learning to see in black and white, and how to expose and compose for the gray tones is an art that requires study, experimentation and care, and it’s rare to see contemporary photographers who focus exclusively in this world. One who does, and has stunningly beautiful work, is Jason M. Peterson.

Age of quarrel by JasonM Peterson on 500px.com
Age of quarrel by Jason M. Peterson (500px.com)


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