The 2009 Earthbound Light Top Ten List
As the number of shots remaining on the compact flash card that is 2009 counts down and the aperture scale of 2009 approaches f/32 (OK, enough with the photographic analogies), I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what I've published over the past year and how it has been received. Presented herewith is the top ten list of PhotoTip articles for the past year. When you add things up, the Earthbound Light web server logs tallied up how many times each article got read, so thanks to all of you who indirectly voted with your browsing habits. It's been a great year.
#10: Choices, Choices: Photoshop CS4 Standard versus Extended versus the Creative Suite Options
Every time Adobe releases a new version of their Creative Suite, users are asked to choose which version best meets their needs. For some, this may be easy, but for me and many photographers I know, it never is. You see, even though the product is in fact named "Photo Shop" there is no Creative Suite version targeted for photographers. The tenth most popular article on Earthbound Light this year deals this odd marketing decision by Adobe. For instance, why they haven't yet made a Creative Suite option that includes Lightroom is a puzzler indeed.
#9: Ken Burns' "National Parks" is a Good Idea Indeed
I really enjoyed Ken Burns' National Parks documentary since it touched on one of the main things that got me interested in photography in the first place. The parks aren't just places that exist, they are places that real people recognized the value of and took steps to preserve for future generations. After watching it, I wrote the article that became this year's number nine so it must have touched something in many of you as well. That's good indeed.
#8: The Photoshop CS4 Masks Panel: Another Great Innovation
One of my prime rules for the digital darkroom is that non-destructive editing rules. It has long been possible to use adjustment layers and other techniques to non-destructively optimize the appearance of an image. Now with Photoshop CS4, layer masks gain a degree of flexibility without actually changing mask pixels. The new Masks Panel is the subject of the eighth most popular article this year and one of the coolest new features in CS4.
#7: The Intimate Landscape
It generally holds true that you can get better images of an area if you are more familiar with it. Often, the character of a place isn't so much in the grand vistas as it is in the small details, the "intimate landscape." An exploration of this idea is number seven on this year's top ten list. When you go somewhere, don't just set up your tripod and start shooting, sit down, and get to know your surroundings. Listen to the sounds. Feel the wind through the trees. Find out what really interests you, not just what makes the best selling post card.
#6: Color Management Changes in Photoshop CS4
Frequent readers here will know that I'm a big proponent of color management. It really is the only way to get out of the cycle of edit — print — get frustrated — repeat. With each new release of Photoshop, Adobe makes the process more streamlined and thus incrementally easier for new users to understand. Article number six covers the changes in the new Photoshop CS4 that deal with color management. There's nothing earth shattering, but plenty worth knowing about.
#5: Really Smart Sharpening
Number five for the year is a fairly recent article on a method of sharpening that I dubbed "really smart" sharpening. The name fits because the technique makes use of Smart Sharpening applied as a Smart Filter on a Smart Object. And it produces excellent results, which is smart in its own right. Some of this works in older versions, but you need Photoshop CS4 to make full use of the technique.
#4: What is the Best Aperture to Use?
Coming in at number four on this year's top ten is a somewhat philosophical look at what constitutes the "best" aperture. I get asked from time to time what the best aperture to use is and decided I'd get my thoughts down in writing. It's gratifying that it struck a chord with many readers. There are many meanings of the word "best."
#3: Getting a Nikon Scanner to Run on 64-bit Vista
As the photography world moved from film to digital, manufacturers have all but abandoned support for film even though most photographers who have been at this any period of time still have plenty of slides in their files. Nikon doesn't officially provide driver support for their line of Coolscan scanners under 64-bit Windows Vista and Windows 7. Fortunately, there's an easy answer and it is this that is the topic of the third most popular Phototip article this year. You really don't need to throw your scanner away. I get emails from readers all the time on this article.
#2: Photoshop CS4 64-bit Versus 32-bit
The first version of Photoshop to provide support for a 64-bit operating system is the Windows version of Photoshop CS4. Adobe promises more support in the future but for now, it's a mixed bag. You get both 32-bit and 64-bit versions with a default install so you can compare, but many users will likely want to stick with 32-bit for now, at least if they rely on any third-party plug-ins. In their quest to understand what works and what doesn't, Earthbound Light readers have made this the second most popular article of the year.
#1: New Nikon D4.1 Digital SLR to be Announced This Week
No, there really is no such thing as the Nikon D4.1. Earlier this year though I started thinking about how eager people often are to find rumors of new Nikon products on the internet and how eager some sites are to exploit that interest. Well, one thing led to another and an internet April Fools sensation was born. This article has proven to be the most popular one I've ever published. Some readers found it hilarious while others complained that I had tricked them. As if it wasn't obvious enough by the time one got to the end of the article, and even with a follow up article the next week publicly revealing the hoax I still find some people falling for it. Ah, the internet.
Well, that's it for this year. Here's wishing all of you a great year in 2010.