Archive for the ‘Imaging Workstation Technology’ Category

Mouse Input for Photoshop Lightroom

March 25th, 2015 Comments off

Lightroom_Input_Devices_MouseI’m always amazed that photographers can work with a standard mouse. Many photographers using Macs don’t even use a mouse with a right click. I’m not sure how to work without a bunch of Lightroom Shortcuts shortcuts on my mouse.

There are thousands of options for good input devices and many retouchers would say that a Wacom tablet is the only way to go. I do agree with that for actual retouching but in my day to day photography business grind, I’m simultaneously running many programs that don’t work all that well with a stylus. The main issue is flipping back and forth from typing to using the stylus. You have to set down the stylus to use two hands and pick it back up, then find the spot on the pad where you need to be. The answer is to have both a great mouse and a Wacom Tablet.

My current mischief of mice (lol-not a pack, flock or school) all have 12 thumb buttons that can be set up for different shortcuts. It takes a little while to set up the system and get used to it but once you do the productivity is gains are amazing. Below is the info on an inexpensive “Gaming Mouse”. I guess Adobe Lightroom is a game of sorts. This is a bargain copy of the Logitech models we use as well. The Logitech is pricy but the heavy weight, smooth glide and button set up make them top of the line.  This model is for PC only but many of these have software for both Mac and Win.

What really makes these glide is a good gaming mouse pad.  We prefer the hard surface models over the rubber and cloth models.

UtechSmart Venus 50 to 16400 DPI High Precision Laser MMO Gaming Mouse

Rosewill USB 3.0 Drive Enclosure

March 20th, 2015 Comments off


I’m repeatedly asked how we manage our massive archive of images and video.  The answer is complicated, but lots and lots of hard drive space is at the core of our DAM system (Digital Asset Management). We’ve been utilizing Rosewill Drive enclosures with different interfaces for many years.  I’ve tried plenty of other enclosures and have had both interface card and power supply failures but the Rosewill enclosures have yet to fail me.

The models I use have nice big cooling fans that are quite and also have fan switches, which are nice if you record audio.  They are also inexpensive (approx. $45) and look pretty slick in the studio.  The current model I use is the RX304-APU3-35B and it has both E-SATA or USB 3.0.  I’ve become a real fan of USB 3.0 and have almost completely abandoned eSATA, Firewire 800 and NAS connections for the simplicity, speed and compatibility of USB 3.0.  I do still use the eSATA from time to time but I find USB 3.0 to be sufficient for most transfers.

What to look for in an external enclosure: #1 A good controller card is essential.  #2 A cool and quite running aluminum case.  #3 a reliable power source.

You can get some more info on all of the Rosewill USB 3.0 enclosures here.


ImageNest 3.0 – Mac Print Layout Software Review

September 23rd, 2010 Comments off

Get a 10% discount on ImageNest printing software by using this the coupon code: 10dis

Image Nest 3.0 Interview with Joshua Lubbers

Mike: Hi, I’m Michael Stewart with I’m here at studio 76 in Herndon Virginia with Joshua Lubbers. Joshua has come to our photography studio to show us the newest version of Image Nest. It’s a Mac multi-image layout tool. The software is Image Nest 3.0 and it’s designed to do exactly that; nest multiple images in one layout. The program is a simple to use postscript rip that’s focused on layout for print. It is also designed to reducing paper usage. Layouts can also be saved as PDFs. Image Nest works on all printers because it utilizes the printer’s driver for output. There are five different versions of Image Nest: Desktop for 13” and smaller prints, small for 17” printers, medium for 24”printers, large and extra-large for 44” and 64” printers. Joshua is generously offering a 10% discount if you use the link from foto-tech. To take advantage of the 10% discount, use the link at foto-tech.

Joshua thanks for coming into the studio to show us Image Nest 3.0. How are you doing with Image Nest 3.0?

Josh: We are doing great Mike, you know; all the features in 3.0 are things that were specifically asked for by our user base. We are pretty dedicated to try to invite and to come up with new features and keep our people happy. The best thing about 3.0 is that it’s a free update. All of our updates are free: You won’t get that promise from a lot of developers.

Mike: You guys are really pumping out the new features and updates, so your free upgrades policy is amazing. Can you tell us why we would use Image Nest for layout instead of Photoshop or Lightroom?

Josh: Well; what Image Nest really does that is unique and different from Photoshop or Light Room or anything that is traditionally a photo editor is that it opens up to a page layout, rather than just your images; so it’s very easy and very quick to put lots of images on a page. You can size them, you can move them around, you can snap them to grid, anything you need to make a good layout,  to use all of the paper that you have, is what Image Nest is for.

Mike: I almost never print out of Photoshop because layout and workflow is so slow, but I do print out of Lightroom on my Windows machines. Lightroom’s a great tool, but all the images you want to print have to be in the same catalog and it’s missing some key features that Image Nest has. On my Mac I use Lightroom to edit but I make most of my prints using Image Nest. Image Nest saves me a lot of paper. I have more options, better softproofing and it’s a faster workflow. One major concern for me with printing from Lightroom is that in proofing files that will be delivered to a client or uploaded, I don’t want to see edits that are only in the Lightroom database and not the actual file. I also like the way Image Nest allows me to add text. Can you talk about the text features in Image Nest?

Josh: Sure, one of the things our costumers told us in version one and two is that they would really like to be able to put in a custom comment, or a file name, or the date it was made or the date it was printed. All these different things are already inside your file, so we can place them above your image, below your image, to the left or to the right. You can choose a font, you can choose a color, you can choose a background, so your creative process and what you want to do, we give you the flexibility to do.

Mike: Those caption and border options are really useful. Tell us about the color management in Image Nest.

Josh: Well, fortunately I came from a color management background before we even started programing. We took care of the color management a user consideration would need. First of all with photographers we recognize embedded profiles so if you‘ve embedded a profile in your image we recognize and use it. We also allow users to select their output profile so that they can soft proof on their screen, so they’re seeing exactly what will come out of their printer on their screen.

Mike: How do you handle multiple files with different color profiles? For example, if I want to print a S-RGB JPEG on the same page as a DNG file and a CMYK TIFF.

Josh: That’s a great question, if we have different profiles we can respect all of the profiles. Since we are independent of an input space we can map your file with Adobe 1998 to your output profile or to your CMYK SWoP v2 profile, it doesn’t matter, we can map each as individual images and they will be mapped to your output profile.

Mike: Right on, I’ve found the ability to print DNG files very useful. Most of my image archives are DNGs and Image Nest utilizes the corrected full size JPEG to make my print.

Mike: let’s look at the new features in 3.0 that we’ve been playing with today. What have you done to Image Nest for the 3.0 release?

Josh: One of the first things we’ve done is the application color management; you can color manage in your application, just like Photoshop or Light Room or aperture or any of those other image programs. So that makes it easier to do soft proofing and to get that wysiwyg feeling, what you see is what you get.

Mike: Actually, I think your color management background has helped you here. Your softproofing is easier than Photoshop and Lightroom really doesn’t softproof at all. What else have you added?

Josh: Another thing:  we have a 64bit, we were programed natively as a 64 bit program, but the problem we ran into was that so many print drivers would not work with 64 bit programs. Now that Mac 10.6 has gotten popular all the drives have been updated to 64 bit. We’re running in our native mode, which is 64 bit. Much faster, much more memory and much cleaner.

Mike: Big time speed improvement with the 64 bit processing and Image Nest uses the computers GPU as well. Modern graphics cards have lots of cores and can process images much faster than CPUs. Your programmers have really done a nice job on those graphics processors. What else is new?

Josh: New layout modes: we have a manual method; previously we automatically did everything to fit and we still do that does all your rotation, all your moving around the image on the page to squeeze every millimeter out of that piece of paper, but lots of people wanted to make just kind of collages and wanted to leave extra space and our algorithm was trying to maximize space and they didn’t want that, so we put manual mode, which allows people to move images around manually to their liking.

Um rotation, prior we automatically rotated everything and we didn’t need a rotation feature. But now that we have a manual mode we allow the user to rotate for aesthetics.

Mike: The manual layout mode is definitely the biggest new feature in my opinion. Sometimes I need to optimize my layout to save paper and Image Nest does this automatically but sometimes I want to move the images around manually until they look good. What are the other new layout features?

Josh: Image alignment grid with snap to feature. That’s a great new feature where you can custom make your own grid with vertical and horizontal. Images will align to it so it makes moving images around very easy and very very accurate.

We added in cut, copy and paste. Kind of a simple thing that was missing. Lots of users just wanted to use apple C V; put another copy of the image.

Another thing we did was overlapping. If someone wants to really to squeeze every millimeter out of it, and doesn’t mind clipping a little bit, you can place an image above or behind another image, so there is virtually no white space when using image overlapping.

New cut mark styles:  We added in new cut marks due to user requests. Some users wanted outward facing cut marks, so we added outward facing marks to align with their current cutters.

Mike: Obviously Image Nest 3.0 was a huge release for you guys. What are your developers working on now?

Josh: Well one of the things we’re working on now and expect to have out in the next two months is the ability for people to take a layout and write it out to a JPEG or a TIFF. Lots of users have asked for this because they would like to use Image Nest to do layout and then produce a JPEG or TIFF and to send to their photo lab.

Mike: It would be convenient to be able to save JPEGs and TIFFs. I save my Image Nest layouts as PDFs and convert them later if necessary. I also found I could use the PDF layouts as Web pages.

Thanks for sharing with us and thank you for giving our viewers a 10% discount on your products. Until next time, may all your prints be beautiful and bring you much joy. This is Michael Stewart for