I do not write many gear related posts. In fact a brief glance at my post history will show that I have never done a gear post. This reflects a preference for crafting images accompanied by a deep fascination with all aspects of the creative process. Once I have chosen a tool I rarely change it; my tools exist only to serve purpose.
For a long time I have become somewhat dissatisfied with the direction modern computing has been taking. There are many angles and nuances to my frustrations. Here are a few observations relevant to my life & art:
1. The current enthusiasm of Apple, Windows, Adobe et el for rapid innovation & iteration of their respective OS, software and hardware platforms are not consistent with my need to have a stable production environment that serves my creative energies.
2. The continued move towards cloud storage is not consistent with my frequent travels and my need for privacy & security. Aside from the impracticality and cost of having my entire image library reside in the cloud, having vendors harvest large amounts of data, which they then monetise as they see fit, from my devices is unacceptable.
3. The encroachment of AI into my private and artistic life is not appreciated.
Not satisfied with passively abdicating my decisions rights in these matters I started having many conversations with some great minds. From these people I gained many insights, including:
1. Build a production machine. This is an off the shelf computer with a bespoke OS and software setup.
2. Do not use subscription software.
3. Build a private cloud.
4. Mobile operating systems compromise user privacy & security by design.
These broad principles would give me a set of tools that serve my purposes; not that of my vendors. I am free to change it as and when I need to, not when dictated to. I can also select the best components to build the toolset, rather than a selection of also-run mediocre offerings.
Whilst I will deal with the issue of privacy in a separate post, I can say that this will be an independent system that sit between my production machine and the internet.
This rethink entailed a significant commitment of time to retool of my equipment and workflow. Some of the changes I have made are:
1. I no longer use an iPad Pro in my workflow. At best the workflow is fiddly, introducing unwanted process steps. The typical mobile applications are underwhelming. For example: i) WordPress for iOS is a poor substitute for the power of their web tool and ii) Lightroom for iOS is a lightweight RAW editor. And then there is the poor screen resolution and lack of screen real estate. This makes for an underwhelming compromise.
2. After suffering through many years of poor performance by Adobe Lightroom, Adobe’s flagship RAW editor, I finally cancelled my subscription to all Adobe software. There are a couple of threads in this decision: i) Most importantly the poor performance of their software, ii) The recent fork in the Lightroom product that accompanied their move towards cloud storage, and iii) The introduction of AI in the editing workflow.
3. I replaced Lightroom with Capture One Pro 11. Phase One offers me the choice between a subscription or a software licence. Migrating out of Lightroom should not be undertaken lightly. I think I am 75% done, at a guess; with most of my remaining efforts focused on learning and integrating this powerful raw editor into my workflow. My initial thoughts are: Capture 1 Pro 11 is a more robust editing environment compared to Lightroom, but rather lightweight as an Digital Asset Manager (DAM). Fortunately for me OS X meets most of my DAM requirements with the built-in Spotlight search Engine.
4. Affinity Photo replaces Adobe Photoshop. Whilst I feel the loss of Photoshop at an ‘acute’ level; I know that this is, mostly, an emotional reaction. Yes I have lost many hundreds of photoshop scripts that I created over the years. The reality is that most of these scripts were assembled to deal with an analog workflow now largely replaced by the RAW editor. Even though I still love shooting film, I am unlikely to have need for them ever again.
5. My OS X operating system has been significantly hardened. It no longer represents the piece of fluff Apple gives away with their hardware.
6. All my data has been removed from the cloud and now resides in a private cloud.
I have chosen to work on this project at time coinciding with a much needed period of rest for my body. As you can imagine, this is a large project. One that I have broken down in digestible bite sized pieces. Even so, it has left me with little time for pursuing other aspects of my chosen craft.
Oh, and one more thing: A pair of reading glasses has had to enter the workflow! The better to edit fine detail and identify species with.
Have a fabulous week.