How to find images in Lightroom Classic - Excire Search Pro

A dull question but hopefully an interesting answer will ensue.

We all have lots of images in our Lightroom Catalogues. I have other 60,000 images in mine. And I often am faced with the challenge of how to find images in Lightroom Classic – now I have a new plug-in called Excire Search Pro which helps me with this.

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What is Excire Search?

Excire Search is a Lightroom plug-in which searches the images in a Lightroom catalogue using the content of the images – that is the point – Excire Search uses the content of the images in the Lightroom Catalogue, and searches using an example image to find similar images with similar content.

Is Excire Search going to help you find images in your Lightroom Catalogue? Read on and you will find out.

By way of a spoiler the answer is yes, it will help. Quite a lot.


Before I go on, full disclosure

I was approached by Excire Search to trial this product, and I am an affiliate member, so if you click on my affiliate link here and buy Excire Search I get a commission.

Of course, I have an incentive to write good things about this plug-in. What you will find in this blog post though is my honest opinions on Lightroom and Excire, and their relative search capabilities.

This is not an advert for Excire Search, this is me writing about a tool that, now I have it, I will use regularly in my photography work.

OK now that is out of the way back to the subject in question.

What are the different versions of Lightroom?

I need to give you a bit of background to Lightroom to start with.

There are three versions of Lightroom. Lightroom CC, Lightroom Mobile and the one I use, Lightroom Classic.

What is the difference between Lightroom Classic, Lightroom CC and Lightroom Mobile?

Lightroom Classic

Lightroom Classic is the version of Lightroom where the photos are stored locally on a hard drive (of one sort or another). Lightroom Classic is the current evolution of what was Lightroom. This is what the standalone version starting with Lightroom 1.0 released in 2007 has evolved into, which is now obtained through the Creative Cloud and a monthly subscription.

Lightroom CC

Lightroom CC is the newer cloud-based version of Lightroom. Photos are stored on the cloud. This is not the full version of Lightroom but has features which you will not find in Lightroom Classic.

Lightroom CC was released in 2017

Lightroom Mobile

Lightroom Mobile is the version of Lightroom that is used on mobile devices. Photos are accessed from Lightroom through collections which are synced via the internet.

Lightroom Mobile is free but you need actual Lightroom Classic or CC to get the photos into collections.

For completeness there is also a web based Lightroom, which you can access at this link.


Which version of Lightroom do I use?

I use Lightroom Classic – the original full version now available through the Creative Cloud.

I do not use Lightroom CC as this is the cloud-based version, where your photos are stored by Adobe in the cloud.

I have no doubt that at some point in the future I will move over, as we all will.

That is why this article is about advanced searches in Lightroom Classic.

What are the search capabilities of Lightroom Classic, Lightroom CC and Lightroom Mobile?

Lightroom Classic

There are various search tools and filters in Lightroom Classic that I use all the time.

I use the following

  • Star rating

  • Picks and rejects filters

  • Other metadata in the tool bar

Having said that my images are organised in a very logical, comprehensive but simple file structure meaning that I know where most of my images are.

Lightroom Classic has face recognition technology, but to be honest I do not use this as I do not photograph people, only buildings and nice places.

Read on for the good bit.

Lightroom CC - has Adobe Sensei technology.

I don’t have Lightroom CC, so not being at all familiar with it I decided to let Adobe explain Sensei search technology. This is what Adobe say on their website on their excellent help pages

https://helpx.adobe.com/uk/lightroom-cc/using/whats-new.html

 “Start typing in the search bar, and Lightroom CC automatically offers suggestions to help you quickly find what you need. Search for cameras, locations, and other metadata with ease. Also, your enabled filters are kept neatly organized in the search box. You can even search for a filter using its name (try 'camera:').

But does Sensei analyse the content of an image?

No.

It does carry out some form of auto tagging, but it is mainly intelligent search functionality.

Why do I not have Lightroom CC?

I should explain this. I have evolved from Lightroom 1.0 – yes, I was there at the very beginning in 2007 – to the Lightroom Classic that we have now.

I have heard that there are potential conflicts if you have Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic installed.

Now I do not know if this is true, but I am not going to risk it. I don’t want Lightroom CC at the moment as I do not want to pay for cloud storage. I don’t actually want or indeed need this as I have my own arrangements in place.

So, I, like most photographers so I believe, use Lightroom Classic.

Lightroom Mobile

I nearly forgot about Lightroom Mobile. I use this on my iPad and iPhone. All the images are organised into collections, so searching for images is not something that I do – it is done before things are added to Lightroom Mobile.

I use Lightroom mobile as my mobile working folders.

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What is Excire Search then?

Excire Search is a plug-in for Lightroom Classic. It provides advanced search capabilities using a content-based image retrieval engine.

Or to put it another way it searches using the content of images in my Lightroom Catalogue.

Why is Excire Search different from the search capabilities built into Lightroom Classic?

Basically, Excire Search uses the content of an image. I know.

I thought this was just another clever piece of software with no practical use but just think about this for a second.

How does Excire Search work?

Once you have installed Excire Search you have to initialise it. This is basically the process by which the software analyses all the images in your Lightroom Catalogue.

This took two overnight sessions to analyse the more than 60,000 images in my Lightroom Catalogue.

I wondered why it took so long. But I was soon to find out.

What does Excire Search do?

The plug-in analyses the content of images. Yes, I know.

Let me jump straight into some examples which demonstrate the point wonderfully well.

 

Example 1 – The blue domed church roofs of Santorini

This is one of the things I am working on at the moment – a collection of architectural travel photography images.

I want to get a set of similar images, and my starting point is one of those famous blue domed church roofs you find on the wonderful Greek Island of Santorini.

If you want to see more of my work about my photos of Santorini check out my website called, erm Photos of Santorini.

Sorry had to get that plug in.

This is the example image that I use as the basis for the search.

Blue domed church roof, Santorini, Greece

Blue domed church roof, Santorini, Greece

And this is the results of the first 50 images that Excire found in my Lightroom Catalogue.

50 photos of blue domed cgurch roofs

50 photos of blue domed cgurch roofs

Not bad. Now the search did produce a couple of shots of the domed roof of the church in Altea, Spain, and also one house on the Greek Island of Rhodes which has part of the roof with a sort of dome, but other than that pretty good search results.

Lets try something else

Example 2 – The white buildings of Santorini

Next, I am going to use the famous white buildings of Santorini – another theme that I am working with at the moment.

This is the example image

White buildings and blue church roofs on the Greek Island of San

And this is the results of the first 50 images that Excire found in my Lightroom Catalogue

50 white buildings screenshot

50 white buildings screenshot

Example 3 – The interiors of churches and cathedrals

This is the example image

The spectacular ceiling of San Sebastian Cathedral

The spectacular ceiling of San Sebastian Cathedral

And this is the results of the first 50 images that Excire found in my Lightroom Catalogue

50 church ceilings

50 church ceilings

Example 4 – Buildings with scaffolding

This is the example image

HORNDEAN 003 230315.jpg

 And this is the results of the first 50 images that Excire found in my Lightroom Catalogue

50 scaffolding photos

50 scaffolding photos

Example 5 - Sunrise with boats

This is the example image

Poole Quay and boats at sunrise by Poole Photographer Rick McEvo

 And this is the results of the first 50 images that Excire found in my Lightroom Catalogue

50 sunrises with boats

50 sunrises with boats

That should do for now. You should get the idea. Pretty cool eh?

I know that the search results included a few oddities but that is always going to be the way. I have to say that these are typical of the searches that I will use Excire Search Pro for in my daily work.

Well I will now that I have the excellent search tool to use.

What about keywords?

This is the one that I needed to spend some time and work out. Check back to my photography blog in a few months to see how I get on with this feature.

Me and keywords

I am not a great one at keywording images. I add keywords to images when I export them anywhere outside of my hard drive. This is always the last thing I do before exporting images out of Lightroom.

I was always going to keyword images on import, but it never happened.

And now that I have over 60,000 keywords I think that ship has sailed.

Or has it?

What does Excire Search Pro do with keywords?

It adds keywords to every image during the initialisation process.

Yes – it does this based on the image content.

And that is how I keyword images prior to exporting – as well as adding some essential data I add keywords that describe the image.

This sounds to good to be true.

By the way as I am writing this, I am following a video tutorial on the Excire website and checking Lightroom to see what is going on.

Where does Excire Search Pro put the keywords?

In a separate place. They are not in the Lightroom Catalogue.

Excire Search Pro can assign up to 535 keywords to images in your Lightroom catalogue. The non-pro version 120.

I tried this quickly but need more time before committing to adding the keywords Excire Search Pro has assigned to my images.

I have spent a long time assembling my Lightroom Catalogue and this is not something to rush into.

And there are also the Dominant colours

During the initialisation process Excire Search also identifies the dominant colours in an image – this is another thing that I am definitely interested in.

 

How do I get Excire Search?

You can get Excire Search from this link here – this is my affiliate link, so if you buy the software from this link I get a commission. You don’t pay any more that going direct to the website.

You can also get a 30-day free trial here.

 

How much does Excire Search cost?

99 Euros for the Search Pro version, and 49 Euros for the Search version. I have used the Euro prices for now – we have not left yet after all!!

When I write an update post I might be showing the price in £s though.

This is a one-off purchase and the software is installed on your Mac or PC hard drive.

Oh yes, you don’t need the internet to run this software.

The price includes bug fixes and minor updates and improvements, but not version upgrades and major additions.

 

And the other features

I have not tried out all the features of Excire Search Pro. I need to look more at

  • Keywords

  • Search by dominant colour

Actually – here is a screenshot of the options available in Lightroom

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Summary

I was approached by Sol at Excire Search to work with them on the promotion of their new plug-in.

At first it sounded like one of those things that was very clever but would be of little use to me, but I agreed to work with Excire, and committed to write about the plug-in on my blog and also on the Improve Photography website. I am a freelance writer for Improve Photography, producing fortnightly articles on all things photography.

Little did I know that I would find the ability to search my entire Lightroom Catalogue by an example photo so useful – this is something that I have used a lot in the two weeks since I installed Excire Search.

I am interested to see if I use Excire Search in the future once the novelty has worn off. I think I will, it has a place in my workflow for certain specific work that I do.

You can read my introduction to Excire Search on Improve Photography. I have scheduled a review article on Improve Photography for Feb/ March 2019. I will write an in-depth update on my blog in the spring where I will describe how much I am using it, what I use it for and what benefits this search tool has given me and my photography business.

Basically, if you need the things I need when searching for images in my Lightroom Catalogue then Excire Search Pro is an excellent choice. If you don’t need these search capabilities then fine – it is not for you!

Rick McEvoy ABIPP - Photographer, blogger, writer

 

Excire Search Pro – a great Black Friday deal for Lightroom users

Excire Search Pro Black Friday special offer

Yes it’s Black Friday. Don’t worry it will soon be over.

Are you a Lightroom user?

Fed up not being able to find images in your Lightroom Catalogue?

Excire Search Pro Black Friday special offer

Are you looking for advanced search capabilites in Lightroom?

Then you are in the right place. Today you can get Excire Search Pro at a discounted price of €55. Excire Search is €33 today.

Normal prices are €99 and €49.

If you want to read more about Excire Search pro check out my article on Improve Photography.

And yes I use this excellent Lightoom plug-in to find things like this in my Lightroom Catalogue!

Excire blue domed roof results 20112018.PNG

Rick McEvoy Photography - Photographer, writer, blogger

Advanced searching in Lightroom Classic with Excire Search

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Yesterday on Improve Photography I wrote an article titled Advanced searching in Lightroom Classic with Excire Search.

This article introduces a new Lightroom Classic plug-in called Excire Search, which I have juust started using.

I used this very clever plug-in to search for photos with a blue dome, by adding an example photo.

Blue domed roof in Santorini by Rick McEvoy.jpg

Blue domed roof in Santorini by Rick McEvoy.jpg

Next I asked Excire Search to search my Lightroom Catalogue using this image as the example image.

Excire blue domed roof example photo 20112018.PNG

Excire blue domed roof example photo 20112018.PNG

And this is what Excire Search came up with.

Excire Search results

Excire Search results

Not bad. And all in less than 10 seconds.

I know.

That is quick!!

More on this next week.

Rick McEvoy ABIPP

How to take great product photos at home on a budget

I photograph buildings and places. I specialise in architectural, landscape and travel photography. Sometime I am asked to photograph other things.

Product photography by Rick McEvoy

Product photography by Rick McEvoy

I have already photographed a table for a client. The other week I had to photograph some different coloured corner caps for this table. How do I take great product photos at home on a budget? With a fantastic piece of kit that I bought for £10 on Amazon (delivered courtesy of Prime two days after order).

That is how. Read on to find out all about how I got shots like this one at home spending £10.

Here is one of the photos

Product photography by Rick Mcevoy

Want to know more? Then read on.

What was the job?

I have photographed this table previously for Mike Fabb – here is a link to his website.

FABB TABLE 2 001 VERSION 2 290717-Edit.jpg

This is a new enterprise that Mike is working on with a new website which has recently been created.

The job was to provide photos of the 10 different coloured corner caps which you can get with the table to suit the décor of the room intended to house this lovely piece of modern bespoke furniture.

What equipment did I use?

My usual camera gear - List all with Amazon Affiliate links

Canon 6D

Canon 24-105mm F4 L lens

Manfrotto 190 Go tripod

Manfrotto XPRO geared head

2 cups of coffee (Alta Rica)

Blu Tack (don’t worry I will explain)

And this bit of kit, which was the studio and lighting

Photo Studio Tent. Or to give it it’s full title from Amazon

Photo Studio Tent, Mini Foldable Photography Studio Portable Light Box Kit with LED Light, LED Light Tent (22.6cmx23x24cm)+ Two Backgrounds (White and Black), Shoot Amazing Pictures Like a Pro

What photos did I need to produce?

There were 10 different coloured caps, so that is 10 photos which were identical bar the colour of the actual corner cap itself – same composition, lighting, brightness, colour etc etc.

That was the brief.

So that what was I set off doing.

How did I take the shots?

First thing was to assemble the Photo Studio Tent, which took me a couple of minutes. It comes with LED lights built-in which is pretty cool.

Once assembled and the lights plugged in and working nicely I put together my camera gear and placed one of the caps inside the tent.

IMAGE.JPG

First thing was to change from my Canon 17-40mm lens to my Canon 24-105mm lens – I needed the longer focal length as I wanted to zoom in as much as I could, but keep all of the cap in focus.

It took a lot of fiddling around to get everything set up, and then I took the first set of photos.

IMAGE.JPG

 I imported this first set of images into Lightroom, and noticed straight away that the brightness varied considerably. I took the first set using AV Mode on my Canon 6D.

And I also needed to adjust the view to be a bit higher for the effect I was after.

I went back to do the same thing with my camera in manual mode, and metered for an average brightness cap.

One problem was getting all the caps into exactly the same place – to do this I made a sort of frame that I could push the caps back into using Blu Tac.

This was a bit hit and miss, but I persisted.

I made another set of images, and imported these into Lightroom.

They weren’t all aligned properly, so I had to do a third take.

This time I had an idea. The way the caps appeared in the viewfinder of my Canon 6D I could locate each cap using the focus points – this worked a treat.

That was the composition of the 10 images sorted, so I took those photos and then played around with stacks and combinations.

This is how I actually took the shots

  1. Place corner cap within the tent.

  2. Move the cap so the four corners of the caps coincided with four of the 11 focus points of my Canon 6D.

  3. Tilt my camera forward using the geared mechanism on my tripod so the front corner was in the main focussing point.

  4. Focus on this point using back button focus

  5. Tilt the camera back up to the original position

  6. Take the photo using the self-timer.

  7. Change caps and repeat

The exposure was already set in manual mode so I did not have to worry about that.

Product photography by Rick Mcevoy

I took another five images, making 15 in total. Some of these additional images were taken with my camera lower down, at the same level as the products themselves.


Product photography by Rick Mcevoy

What camera settings did I use to take the photos?

Once I had got everything sorted these are the settings I went with.

  • Manual Mode.

  • Back button focus

  • F16

  • 1/15th second

  • ISO400

  • Lighting via the tent

  • 10-second self-timer

Lens choice

I used the Canon 24-105mm lens – this worked a treat and is my favourite lens.

Aperture

F16 is the smallest aperture I am happy to use for this kind of photography – it gives me the largest depth of field without any of the problems F22 can bring.

Manual Mode

Using AV Mode was a mistake. That is what I use all the time, but taking the test shots and reviewing them on my screen told me that and meant I could fix the issue.

Blu Tack

I tried using Blu Tack to make a former to place the caps in, but the Blu Tac did not stick properly. I found a way round this – sometimes it is all about trying things and seeing what works.

Focussing points to frame

This was one of those happy coincidences – the four corners lined up perfectly with four of the 11 focussing points on my Canon 6D.

Tripod and head

I used my architectural photography tripod and head, as I get precise movements with the geared head, which I find essential for such close-up detail work.

Curtains closed

Sounds obvious but easy to forget – one light source is all you want and indeed need for work like this.

What about processing?

I started off importing the photos into Lightroom, using my usual import pre-sets

I needed to get accurate colours. The colours were obviously key to this.

This could be simple or complicated – time will tell.

I used the Passport Colour Checker for this. The first photo I took was the colour checker placed exactly where I was going to take the photos.

Passport Colour Checker

Passport Colour Checker


Now granted I haven’t installed the software to do this properly. Instead I tried using custom white balance in Lightroom. If that worked I could park the software installation to another time.

I know - I need to do this.

So all I did was select the eyedropper tool from the white balance bit of the Basic panel in Lightroom, and clicked on one of the grey squares. The numbers were all the same, so I was good to go.

I know I need to install the software, this is a job for over the Christmas Holidays I think.

Just saying….

Having got the white balance bang on, I copied this from the colour checker photo and pasted it to all the other photos.

Next thing was to sort out the image, which was a bit flat.

These are the develop settings that I used.

Lightroom settings 16112018.PNG


Once I had one image sorted I pasted the settings to all the other photos – an excellent feature of Lightroom.

I had to tweak the brightness of some of the images, and also the whites and blacks, but that was processing done.

Finishing off in Photoshop

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There was some stuff that needed to be tidied up, which was straightforward to do in Photoshop. The corners of the tent which were visible, and some large dust sensor spots. All removed using spot healing, clone stamp and patch tools.

And there were numerous marks and scratches on the caps themselves.

How long did this take?

I tried doing colour swapping using Photoshop but this did not work too well. I could not replicate the textures of the caps by changing the colours.

That was an hour of fiddling about taking photos of the coloured caps and Photoshop.

We agreed that this did not work so it was on to plan B.

3 hours start to finish.

That includes setting up, unwrapping all the corner caps, taking the photos, importing them into Lightroom on my PC, editing and dispatch via electronic transfer.

3 hours start to finish is not too bad.

That to be fair is three constant non-stop hours working.

Which was four chargeable hours in total.

And here is a selection of the images that I took.

First the bright green cap

Product photography by Rick Mcevoy

Next the red cap

Product photography by Rick Mcevoy


And here is one of the shots of all the coloured caps

Product photography by Rick Mcevoy


And I have to say that I love the finished photos – I think they look excellent. So good they look like someone else took them.

Imposter syndrome

Seriously, when I looked at these photos my first thought was – did I really take them? They look like a real photographer took them!

Seriously that is what I thought.

I no longer think like this about photos of buildings or of my travel photography work, I have got over that.

But it did take a long old time.

No these photos are not something I normally photograph. And I have never taken photos in a tent like this one, with built-in LED lights.

So there was a steep learning curve.

Well sort of.

I have technical image capture sorted, so this was all about applying what I know in a different situation, photographing a different thing.

The basic principles of image capture and processing are the same for most situations, they just need tweaking to the particular thing you are photographing.

And what has photographing something different done for me?

I seriously love these images – they are of coloured corner caps for a table. But I genuinely love these images.

And I enjoyed taking photographs of something different. It was good to challenge myself photographing something completely different.

A quick word about lighting

I do not use flash, or any other artificial lighting. The extent of my use of lighting is to turn the lights on in a room to make it feel more homely.

So using these lights was a complete revelation for me, and has inspired me to do more with lights in 2019.

Lets get back to the point of this post - How to take great product photos at home on a budget

I have proved here that you do not have to spend a lot of money to be able to do work such as product photography in your home.

I have of course completely ignored the fact that I am using circa £3000 worth of gear that I already own, and focussing on the £10 bit of kit from Amazon.

This is though a fair assumption – anyone taking photos for money must have a base level of kit that can deliver professional results.

The point of this post was about that £10 tent which I bought from Amazon, which did an excellent job, and is there for the next time.

And the other point I would like to reiterate here is that it is good to try new things out. I spend my life photographing buildings and nice places, and this is the work that I market.

This does not however exclude me from other genres of photography – there are basic competencies that can be applied across most genres of photography.

Problem solving

Photography is all about problem solving. Some of the things we have to do just have to be worked out, and experience helps here enormously.

Summary

It is nice to take some different photos, and also nice to write abut such a positive and pleasurable experience.

Product photography is a photographic specialism. But there is one significant difference about product photography that has just come to me.

Buy a folding tent like the one I bought. And guess what  - you can practice at home to your hearts content using whatever you want to photograph.

Now this makes this kind of product photography unique – the only cost is getting really good at this discipline is £10 for the tent – the rest is just time investment to provide another string to your photographic bow.

Rick McEvoy Photography - product photographer in Dorset

Installing Excire Search plugin for Lightroom

I am currently initialising the Excire Search plugin for Lightroom.

Excire search for Lightroom 13112018.PNG

Whilst I am excited to try out this cool looking software I have to wait for the software to get acquainted with all the images in my Lightroom Catalogue.

As there are over 60,00 images this may take some time. Which is fair enough.

Excire initialisation screen 13112018.PNG

When you get Excire please remember that after the slick installation there is a process called initialisation that you have to go through, as I am now.

Rick McEvoy Photography - Photographer, blogger, writer, website creator

How to choose your next camera – 31 features that I want

A few weeks ago I wrote about my old faithful Canon 6D, and asked if I was ready to replace it, and if so what with? I spent lots of time talking about the Canon 6D in that article.

And I got to thinking about things that I would like in a new camera. My Canon 6D is a few years old now, and whilst it performs fantastically well as my working camera a lot has changed since it was released. So - how to choose your next camera? To answer this, I have listed down 31 features that I want in a new camera. This is the nice to haves and the esssentials which I have listed as the start of the process to choose my next camera. I am going to refine this list down to the essential items that I need, which will determine what my next camera should be.

A new camera is a significant purchase in many ways, so time spent identifying the features required will ensure that the correct choice of new camera is made.

By the way these are all features that will help me to take better photos, which is my number one priority.

Why am I writing this list now?

This list started off when I was writing a previous blog post about my Canon 6D, and brought together thoughts I have been having for some time. The starting point really was what would I do if I broke my Canon 6D – this is an entirely likely scenario as I am

  • Intrinsically clumsy, and

  • Take photos on live construction sites

  • Like putting my camera very close to the bit of land where the waves and land meet.

  • Take my camera with me absolutely everywhere

  • Seriously I am really clumsy

What has made me think about changing my camera?

So once that thought process had been initiated, the cogs started whirring slowly.

The 3 primary reasons/ concerns/ potential issues

1 – My dodgy old mince pies (like the rather too early Yuletide reference?)

Head torch 09092018.PNG

My eyesight is getting worse as I get older. Well we are all getting older of course but I have a bit of a head start when it comes to age – I am already 51.

It is my eyes that are the issue. I have been short sighted for donkeys’ years now. But in the last 5 years my near vision has got worse and worse.

Add short-sighted to losing your near vision and it is a royal pain in the X! Try seeing all those small lights and dials on a camera, and then switch your vision to distance – not easy.

2 – A different way of working

Yes – I am working in a different way now. My Canon 6D is still doing an excellent job with my architectural photography work, but there are other things that I am doing now, travel photography and vlogging. My Canon 6D is not fitting the bill as well for these areas of my work.

Photos of Santorini web page extract 19102018.PNG


3 – I just want something shiny and new

Shock confession. I want a new camera. There – I have said it now. I think that this has become one of those self-fulfilling prophecies. I started writing about not replacing my Canon 6D and find myself here writing this post with much too much enthusiasm!

To be fair to me my cameras tend to last me five years so I am due for something that will take me into the year 2024 – imagine what technology will be doing for us by then!!

Back to the subject in hand - here are the 31 features that I want in my next camera.

These 31 things are in no particular order, and are a list of the things that came to me when I sat down to capture the headings for this article. 31 just happens to be the number of things I came up with – there is no significance to this number!!

1 - Smaller and lighter than my Canon 6D with lenses attached.

I found myself using my iPhone more and more on holiday. I basically couldn’t be bothered getting my Canon 6D out all the time, and really enjoyed the ease of using an iPhone.

I know – its not Canons fault I’m lazy!

I used my Canon 6D for sunrise shots, where it was just me and the sunrise, no on else around and just me to think about. I used my Canon 6D on my travel tripod, the Manfrotto 190 Go.

I would really like something much smaller and lighter that I can take on trips and not be burdened with.

My 6D is not that big to be fair – it is just the collection of stuff together that bugs me. And I know there is smaller stuff out there.

Talking of tripods I also use a Platypod and a very small tripod called the Manfrotto Pixi. If I had a much smaller camera, I would have more options in terms of tripods and other supports which is rather exciting.

2 - In camera HDR

I am going to refer to my Canon 6D as my camera from now on. OK?

My camera has built-in HDR, but this is only to Jpeg files. I shoot in RAW only, so this feature is of no use to me.

Or is it?

Is there a different way of looking at this? Has the technology of cameras, sensors, image capture and image processing progressed to the point where there is no real difference between Jpeg and RAW?

Is there a camera that makes this differentiation irrelevant?

And is there a camera that makes HDR irrelevant as well?

Well it’s a thought.

Can a single image capture be enough?

Or a single image capture processed using something like Aurora HDR.

3 – GPS

GPS is a must for not only my travel photography, but also my commercial photography and the stuff I do on the way to and from shoots.

I have GPS on my Canon 6D which I always use, which I find incredibly useful.

I use the Map Module in Lightroom a lot, especially when I am writing about my photographs on my various websites, blog and also on the Improve Photography website.

View from Oia Lightroom Map 19102018.PNG

GPS is pretty much an essential tool for me.

4 - Wi-fi

I use Wi-Fi to remotely control my camera using the Canon Connect App. I have used this to activate my camera from the top of my painters’ pole in a couple of situations.

Me using the Wi-Fi on my Canon 6D

Me using the Wi-Fi on my Canon 6D

This photo was taken in a pretty harsh environment, a gravel loading facility next to a live rail siding. I had to photograph the gravel being unloaded by the 360 machine from the train into the gravel bays.

And when these guys are unloading from a train on a live rail network they get on with it!

No time to wait on this shoot with my Canon 6D

No time to wait on this shoot with my Canon 6D

The other example is where I want to take a photograph of a building from higher than ground level, like the photo above. Getting to first floor level, which is only circa 3m gives a completely different perspective, and also means that my camera is at first floor level, eliminating the need to correct verticals.

Architectural photography in Hampshire using a painters’ pole

Architectural photography in Hampshire using a painters’ pole

5 - Connectivity as good as an iPhone

In the year 2018 why do cameras not have the same functionality and connectivity that we all enjoy with our phones?

My Canon 6D is an older camera now granted but cameras in general seem to lack way behind phones.

Why can’t I take a photo and share it with a client immediately? I can with my phone.

6 - The functionality of an iPhone

Same point relay but rather than connectivity functionality.

7 - Connectivity to my iPhone (thinking about it)

improving that in a clever way could negate the need for the two points above.

8 - In camera image processing

What do I mean by this? I guess I am talking about Jpeg image capture with more processing, meaning I can use images straight from camera (with the connectivity mentioned above).

9 - Fully articulated screen

I put my camera on a painters’ pole. I also put my camera on the ground, on a Platypod or Manfrotto Pixi tripod. I hold my camera out of windows.

I hold my camera out in front of me to get over things.

For all of these situations a fully articulating screen would be a huge bonus to me – this would genuinely help me taking photos.

10 - A screen I can actually see in normal light and also in direct Greek sunshine

I am getting old. I am (rather tragically) over 50. And my eyes are not what they were.

The screens on my Canon 6D are an issue. The tiny numbers in the viewfinder are also an issue to me.

Photographing the sunrise on Santorini

Photographing the sunrise on Santorini

I have been getting away with these shortcomings mainly by the way I take my photos. I pre-set most of my camera settings so most of the time all I am changing is the aperture and the point of focus.

When I want to deviate from that in any way the problems begin.

And I have noticed recently that all things that I do with my Canon 6D are becoming more difficult. Not just my Canon 6D of course – all things that I do that involve close focus.

And the distance stuff isn’t that great either.

Oh the woes of getting old…….

A large bright screen will help I have no doubt. Going from my iPhone 7 Plus to my Canon 6D screen is like going from my iPhone back to one of the old Nokia phones with the little screen – remember them??

11 - Touch screen with full functionality

This ties in with points raised before, putting all these bits together to get something approaching iPhone touch screen functionality.

The thought of a touch screen that is as user friendly as that on an iPhone or iPad is rather exciting to me.

12 - Ergonomics that make it a pleasure to use

My Canon 6D works for me ergonomically. I have handled some smaller cameras and am not sure how they handle ergonomically – that is a very good reason for going to an actual camera shop and actually holding an actual camera rather then reading reviews online.

The internet will never replace a shop for the experience of actually holding something and getting that tactile experience – that is one reason why it is so important that we all go to shops and buy things, or there will be no shops and nowhere that you can go to hold an actual camera.

13 - Simple logical menu system

Not a lot more to say really – I have heard that other camera manufacturers systems are not as good as Canons, which I am used to. And to be honest I change so little, maybe because there is so little to change, that this is not currently an issue.

This may be an issue if I had a camera with more variables to play with. One to think about,

14 - 4K video with high quality audio recording

I currently do 99% of videos with my iPhone. Now I do have a DJI Osmo Mobile that I need to make better use of but I would like to do more 4K video with an actual camera – my Canon 6D does not do 4K video of course.

My videos are not the best, but on the plus side check out this lovely 6 minutes of sunrise tranqulity on the wonderful Greek Island of Paxos.

15 - Excellent Vlogging/ recording capabilities

I am finding the need to produce more videos, some for my own promotional purposes, some for clients I am working for. At the moment all I am doing is holding my iPhone up in front of me and talking into it using the built-in mic. Whilst the picture quality is adequate the sound is not good enough.

16 - Smaller cheaper lenses offering similar quality

This ties in with my desire to have smaller camera gear especially for travel photography. I have found in recent trips that I have been using my iPhone more and more for day to day shooting, using my Canon 6D for sunrises and stuff like that.

Whilst the iPhone has a remarkably capable camera it just does not compare with my Canon 6D and Canon L lenses, and nor should it to be fair.

17 – High quality sensor

I love the sensor on my Canon 6D, and love the images it captures. This is a 20 MP sensor, and I will not accept a lesser performing sensor.

Another intangible here is how the sensor on another camera will perform, and what will the look be of the images?

18 - Excellent low light performance

My Canon 6D has excellent low light performance. Well I think it does. Again performance needs to be better than that I currently enjoy.

19 - Stuff like time lapse, long exposure and other good stuff etc built in

I want some toys and things that I can play with and have some fun! And I want to be able to use the latest technological developments in my photography. I know it is all about the composition but I have worked hard on that over the last year, and will continue to do so going forwards.

I just want some fun when I am taking my photos and some new things to try out.

20 - A sensor that doesn’t need cleaning

I hate removing sensor dust spots. Hate it.

So a sensor that doesn’t need cleaning will be good. Not an essential but a nice to have.

I do not know if this is even a thing – one of the problems with mirrorless cameras is that the sensor is closer to the bit where you mount the lens as there is no mirror there. On an SLR there is a mirror in-between the rear lens mount and the sensor which must provide some protection.

21 - Interchangeable lenses

Now this is an essential. I want to be able to change lenses, I want to be able to expand the range of lenses that I have in the future as and when needed.

And I want the lenses to be of a similar quality to my current Canon L series lenses.

22 - Tilt shift capability

I have a tilt-shift lens that I rarely use. The truth is I do not like it. It is manual focus, and I have managed for so long without it that I am in two minds whether to get rid of it or not.

Canon 24mm tilit shift lens

Canon 24mm tilit shift lens


I have been planning on using my tilt-shift lens for a prolonged period of time but have never got around to this.

I think that this may be because don’t really want to – I feel like I am forcing myself (potentially) to use a piece of kit just because others say I should.

It is unlike me to do such a thing so lets just park this and say that it will never happen.

That’s tilt shift lenses done then!

23 – Ultra-wide angle lens

This might be an issue with crop factors. At the moment I have a Canon 17-40mm lens on my full frame Canon 6D. If anything I want the ability to go wider than 17mm if at all possible, but without the size and expense of the canon 11-24mm lens – an awesome lens for sure but not what I am looking for at the moment.

This could be a deal breaker for me.

24 - Bespoke programming – Custom Function that works!

I have never got on with the custom functions on my Canon 6D. I think this is my own fault, a definite display of petulance and a lack of time studying this feature.

But to be able to have pre-sets that I can switch to automatically to mix things up is very appealing to me.

25 - RAW Capture

I shoot in RAW, process in RAW and output in Jpeg. But with the new technologies out there is this still a thing? Or has the in-camera elastic trickery made this a thing of the past?

26 – EVF

I have tried various EVFs in shops, and also at Gatwick Airports’ Dixons World Duty Free. The main thing that I do with my airport downtime is look at cameras and marvel at EVFs.

I love the way that you get live exposure simulation in the EVF – such an awesome thing to be able to see.

The EVF however needs to provide the same optical experience as the viewfinder on my Canon 6D though – field of view here is a consideration together with brightness and realism.

And the size of the stuff in the EVF.

27 – Computational photography

I know very little about this, but the advances in technology must be being included in image capture?

I am sure that with the power of processing things like sensor size, mega pixels, noise and stuff like that the gap between high end and lower end cameras is closing.

28 - Focussing in the dark

My Canon 6D is pretty good at this. I have written about this on my blog and also on the Improve Photography website.

And to be honest people have been surprised that I find the Canon 6Ds low light focussing capabilities.

I am sure that newer cameras will have better low light focussing capabilities than my Canon 6D so I expect to see benefit in this area with a new camera.

29 – Weather-sealing

I need a weather-sealed camera. All my photography is done outdoors. And I don’t stop for the rain.

And I work on live construction site which are wet, dusty inhospitable and noisy places. Not that noise is relevant here.

30 - And the ability to output straight from the camera.

Straight from the camera onto the internet. This is a new business need which I will expand on in the summary.

If I could take a photograph with image processing pre-sets that I knew would give me the initial level of processing that I wanted that would be a start. There is of course the question of the metadata, filename, title and description. But I guess they could be added after the event?

I need to be able to add high quality metadata to my images – this is something I am quite fastidious about.

It is the ability to be able to get processed images out of the camera and onto my websites that I am keen to have.

31 – Shiny new loveliness

I have often written that there is too much talk about gear, which I still maintain is true. But this does not mean that I do not want some shiny new techie loveliness now!

And when I get a camera I do tend to use it for a number of years.

But there is a genuine worry here

What if I jump ship to another manufacturer and don’t like it? If I were to get a Canon EOS R, which is a strong contender, I would be staying in the Canon ecosystem. I would know what I was getting, but with lots and lots of bells and whistles in addition.

But what if I went elsewhere and just did not like it – that does worry me.

I need to narrow things down

I need to provide a bullet point list of essentials – I will do this and post it next week, along with any feedback from this post and the one that I published on Improve Photography titled.

Or do I have two camera systems?

Canon 6D

Canon 6D

I might have missed a trick here. My Canon 6D works just fine, and still captures great images. What if I got something super small for travel?

Maybe I need two shortlists – one for a replacement to my Canon 6D (and all the other related products) and one for an addition to my Canon 6D.

I think that I have just cracked this particular conundrum – to systems.

Keeping my Canon 6D for my architectural work opens up more possibilities for my other work.

Summary

There is a serious point to this. I have embarked on some new products, one of which I have recently completed.

I have written about this before on my photography blog, but it is wholly relevant here.

I am talking about my new photography website Photos of Santorini. And more significantly the websites I have planned for the future. I want to be able to work in a different way for the next websites I am producing, including having the ability to add photos direct to website pages to speed up production of these websites.

I want to publish images straight from the camera with no further processing required.

This will also allow me to produce new websites whilst out on location which will be massive for me.

If I can add the images I can add the text using my iPad to a prepared website – now that would be really cool and transform the way I work.

So there is a serious point to this.

That and the fact that my eyes are getting old and less useful!

OK I’m done now

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this post, and please if you are able to point me in the right direction for my next camera please do so.

Rick McEvoy ABIPP – Photographer, blogger, website creator extraordinaire

My new website Photos of Santorini is now finished

It has taken a while, and longer than anticipated, but Photos of Santorini is now complete.

Sunrise with clouds below viewed from Kasimatis Suites in Santor

This website has been built entirely by me using the Wordpress platform. All the words and images are my own.

I have never done this before.

And it took me about a year and a half longer than I anticiapted to actually do something with the photos I took when I visited the wonderful Greek Island of Santorini.

I didn’t expect to be creating a brand new website, but this is what I have done!

So for now, I am going to sit back and have a break before getting on with my next website Paxos Travel Guide!

Rick McEvoy ABIPP - website creator

Slugs, and snippets done for Photos of Santorini

Sound like a a gardening theme this one! Anyway another job done on my website Photos of Santorini.

I have to say that I have found creating a Wordpress website a complete revelation - this last piece of work was an absolute doddle.

All I needed to do was go to the Snippet Preview at the bottom of the page and type in the text - the boxes went to green when there was the right amount of text, and if I put too much text then the bar went red!

This is what it looks like.

IMG_1420.PNG

 And with that I am done for now. Photos of Santorini is complete. My intention was to get this done asap and for it to not be a polished website.

So with that I am going to reminded the pages of the website, take advice on the ideal theme for this website and moe on to the next thing. 

Paxos Travel Guide

Following my experiences with this website I do not expect to complete my next website this side of Christmas, as this is following the Project 24 format strictly. 

I will get back to this next week, leaving me a bit of time to sort some other stuff. 

Rick McEvoy - Photos of Santorini

Remember when I deleted the Google Analytics App?

I was checking my Analytics too often. It was distracting me, and was basically a complete waste of my time! So I did the only thing and deleted the Google Analytics App from my phone, leaving it on my iPad only.

01ED17BE-EC4B-4F0F-AEFF-FBEB4503F4BA.JPG

 

I did the same with the Squarespace Analytics App.

2FB40A68-97FC-400C-AEDE-E2ECD8EB3259.JPG

And also YouTube studio.

9BAA040A-4FFF-40AB-A9DB-1060AA59F0FC.JPG

 Why did I do this? 

Simple - I was obsessed with checking the number of visitors to my website. I was checking much too often.

If I want to check any of these stats now I have to use my iPad. I have left these excellent Apps on my iPad. The logic is that to check my stats I have to use my iPad, which is much less available to me than my phone.

And this worked for a time. 

But, disappointingly, I found a way round this. Web based Google Analytics. Yes I managed to get this page on my iPhone, and all I need to do is refresh the page and there are the stats I want. 

I have removed that page now to stop this. I do not need to check analaytics as often as I do. I know that. 

To further compound the problem I now have three websites, this one which you are on now, and my new websites.

Photos of Santorini

is now pretty much complete

and

Paxos Travel Guide

which I am back working on.

All the more reason to check my analytics? Yes, but I will endeavour to not do.

Rick McEvoy Photography - photographer, photoblogger, writer, website creator

 

 

Santorini images gallery – how is mine coming along?

Why did I come up with this title for this blog post?

Google of course. Santorini images gallery is a much better search term, and my website is after all just that so I thought why not? Let’s try to use the power of Google here to help me get this blog posts about my website Photos of Santorini ranked.

OK now that is out of the way where am I up to with my new website Photos of Santorini?

This is finally done. I have completed my new website. This is not surprisingly about my photos of Santorini, along with lots of photography advice. I have tried something different and niche.

When I say completed, I mean nearly completed.

  • Almost.

  • I am getting there.

  • And there is a fully populated website live on the internet. But there is still more to do.

What have I done since last week?

I have completed the editing of my photos of Santorini

My Big Greek Photo Gallery

I have completed editing the 99 images which you will find on my Big Greek Photo Gallery.

That took longer than I had realised it would – I had to pick up on editing images from over a year ago and make sure that they all looked like they were from a cohesive set of images.

But that is done, and I am leaving this for now. I have questioned some of my image choices but have to just leave the selection I have – I can always come back to these images in the New Year. Actually, that would be a nice thing to do – add another 10 – 20 images which will give a bit of a refresh. I have scheduled this in for February 2019.

Image metadata

This was a biggy. I had to rename all the file names and add a description and keywords. And this is on an individual basis to 99 images.

This had to be done so the images become searchable items in Google.

This was a complete pain to do but very important.

I carried this out in Lightroom, meaning that every time I do something with any of these images that base metadata will be with that file.

Whilst this might have been a pain, writing bespoke text for each image gave me an added bonus I had not thought of – there are 3245 words on the image gallery page, all text relevant to each image and therefore valuable in search engine terms.

Time very well spent.

Index in Google

I have indexed all the pages in Google, using the Yoast SEO plugin on my WordPress website.

This tells Google that the pages are all there, in case Google hadn’t noticed, which Google had…

Long post

I had a very long post, 7000 words. This was going to be like an anchor post – a long weighty meaty post that would smash the opposition on the internet. 7000 words however was too long, so I have split this down into two parts

Santorini photography tips – what I have learned – Part 1

Santorini photography tips – what I have learned – Part 2

Makes sense to me!

What is to be done?

Titles and descriptions

I need to add titles and descriptions to every page so it all looks shiny, interesting and appealing on a Google search. To be honest I am not sure what to put in these fields, having done some of the pages already I have had a bit of a rethink.

I am going to have a think about this – once I get this clear in my head it will be a case of adding the text to a spreadsheet and then pasting into the fields in WordPress – an important job but not one that will take long to do.

Snippets

I need snippets. And I don’t know how to do them. So, I will look into this and report back. This really is a never-ending learning journey!

For those of you who don’t know me I am a photographer and construction project manager – I am NOT a web developer!

Links

I need to make sure that I have appropriate links on each and every page to other pages to make the thing work together. Internal links to relevant pages is something Google likes too, which is good.

Affiliate Links

I need to add the affiliate links with commercial partners that I have, and Amazon Associate links for the gear that I use.

Resolve my page URL

I want the search bar to read

https://photosofsantorini.com

At the moment it reads

https://www.photosofsantorini.com

I thought I had sorted this with Google, but this is still not displaying as I would like it to.

Check all the keywords are on my App

I have an App called SEO Edge. Here is a screenshot of it.

What I want to do is make sure that the keyword for each blog post is on this App, so I can see if that page is working.

This is part of my checking my Analytics too often issue I know, but it is important to know that all the pages are working, and also I need to know if some of the pages need changing so they are working to their maximum.

I will not know this for another 4 months though, but it is good to monitor this on a weekly basis.

Check keywords are all included in text

Yep – dull but important. I spent a lot of time researching keywords, and want to make sure that they are subtly applied within the text of each page for maximum SEO benefits. But in a natural way that works with the text.

This is why I wrote the text without the keywords in mind, to make the text natural and sound like it is coming out of my mouth.

Proof read

The final job. Read every page. Every line of every page.

I am sort of looking forward to this, and at the same time dreading it. Having lived and breathed this website for too long now I want to be able to leave it to grow, so a final read is the last main job.

There are over 45,000 words on this website, which is quite remarkable. I had no idea it would end up being such a large task, but I am so happy that it is nearly complete.

Website backup

Another important thing – I have over 45,000 words on this website, and don’t want to lose them. This is a job for Bluehost to help me with, which I will do this week using their excellent online help.

Videos onto YouTube

I have managed to get all the photos and videos from my iPhone over to my PC. I have used quite a lot of the images and videos in blog posts but want to check the rest and see if there is some stuff that needs to be put onto YouTube – no point these things sitting on my hard drive if they can be working for me somewhere online.

Theme

I am new to WordPress and websites and have gone with a free theme called Pixagraphy. I need to look into this, and now that I have all the content on my website is the time to do this, and see if I can quickly (and at no expense) find a theme that will make my website look more appealing and more professional.

Swap over the images

I nearly forgot this – I need to update the images now that I have added all the metadata – the images uploaded before I did this work obviously won’t have this info on them.

Quickly

Yes quickly. This is meant to be a quick website, done without overanalysing everything and with no intention of aiming for perfection.

It turns out that this took much longer than I expected it to, and my next website will take longer than I had planned, but once this is done that is it – job done.

And this is the template for future websites.

So, all of this in done in a bit of a hurry as I just want to get this out online as quickly as possible and see how it performs.

  • Publicise my website

  • Once it is done, I will promote my website on the following

  • My own website – more posts like this one

  • Google

  • Instagram

  • Pinterest

  • LinkedIn

  • Twitter

And anywhere else I can think of

Wait

Yes, the last job is to wait and see what happens. Will this be the beginning of a life of passive income from travel photography websites?

I certainly hope so, but genuinely have no idea if this will be the case or not. Time will tell.

6 – 8 months’ time that is. Which was part of the urgency – I wanted to get this done and published to start the clock ticking, which I have now done minor tweaks apart.

Summary

Blimey. There is so much to do! But I am nearly there, which is all rather exciting. I have really enjoyed creating something all of my own and publishing it on the internet.

All I can do now (after sorting the bits I mentioned in this post) is wait and see what happens.

Oh, sorry there is one more thing that I can do.

Get on with the next website - Paxos travel guide.

Rick McEvoy ABIPP – Photographer, photoblogger, writer, website creator

Why are some excellent Lightroom tools not replicated in Photoshop?

I am sat here editing my photos of Santorini. Nearly done which is good. I have been going into Photoshop to remove primarily sensor dust spots, but also stuff creeping into the edge of a shot, and also stuff I want removing.

Take this photo of Fira for example - there are all sorts of bits that need consigning to the shadows as they don’t add to the image - they just distract.

This is the final image.

Fira sunset snippet after 01112018.PNG

I do this work in Photoshop and then save the image back into Lightroom.

I then have to go back to the Spot Removal Tool in Lightroom to check to see if there are any bits left that I have not done - there is an excellent feature called Visualise Spos bottom left after you select the (much improved) Spot Removal Tool.

Fira sunset Visualise close up 01112018.PNG

This is the spots that required removal after the work I have done in Photoshop - quite surprising!

Fira sunset snippet Lightroom visualise after 01112018.PNG

The small circle are spots that I have removed.

The question is this - why is the excellent Visualise Spots feature not available in Photoshop?

And while I am on the subject why cannot I not use the Page Down key to navigate through an image like I can in Lightroom?

There are some execllent features in Lightroom thaht would make Photoshop so much easier to use.

Rick McEvoy Photography - Photos of Santorini