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Sunday, 01 June 2008

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Mike, Photoshop CS3 costs $850 - $1000 in Australia. Elements 6 costs $120 - $130 ($A=US$0.96) so there's no way I can justify CS3. I've been using Elements for years to be legal and very rarely do I feel deprived, although the lack of curves sometimes vexes me. Each new version gets better, though, and 6 is good enough for me. Except that Photokit Sharpener won't plug in to Elements. Grrr.

More vexing is Adobe's continued near doubling of the US price in Australia. They are notorious for it, in all their products. I went to buy Lightroom on the day it was released at the special US$99 including shipping price. I checked the Adobe Australia web site and it linked me through to the US site for purchase. Like a fool, I hesitated and when I went back next day, the Australian price was $349 + shipping! I tried to buy it on the US site, but it wouldn't accept an Australian address - ie the special was USA only! I had no choice, I had to buy locally and pay the inflated price.

A few weeks later, I discovered an on-line seller in Sydney, only a few suburbs away from Adobe's offices, was selling it for $289 + $10 shipping. I was not happy and Adobe gets very little business from me, now or in the future.

Peter

Mike:

Your server logs should tell you where those folks came from--if they followed a link at another site. There should be a second URL in their log entries. That's the "referrer" entry. It's where they came from.

Roger

Have to agree with Peter. Adobe's pricing in Australia is obscene, I can't justify owning PS. I have always used Elements and worked round its limitations with the use of plugins.

I'd have to say out of the number of people I know who work in the photo industry none of them has a legal version of PhotoShop. Even when I was at art school the lecturers were advising us of where to get cracked versions rather than buy the thing.

Tools are a very personal thing; what works for one is bad for another. To a fair degree, the answer to "which X is best" is "whichever you are happy and productive with".

With that said, we have the current Photoshop on one machine at home (my wife uses it and Illustrator for work), and I can play with it whenever I want. But I keep using UFRaw and Gimp, the free image processing application, on a different machine. From a feature checklist point of view, Photoshop wins. From a price point of view, Gimp does - but since we already have both that is a non-issue for me.

But for whatever reason, I just happier with Gimp. I have an easier time getting my edits looking the way I want, I get less annoyed by the user interface, and I spend more time thinking about the image and less about using the program than when I try to use Photoshop for the same thing. No doubt lots of people would make the exact opposite conclusion, and in the same vein, no doubt would a lot of people be happier with Elements than with Photoshop, just because.

Heh - helps keep things real, I think your one day spike is near my total traffic for the past 4 months. Can't imagine sites get much bigger than yours though - that's sufficiently impressive!

As for SEO, there's a couple good books on the subject, but the bottom line is "content is king". I actually had this conversation with someone very recently via email...you can optimize all you want, but if the content isn't there, it doesn't matter. Of course this is the choir boy preaching to the preacher because when it comes to content TOP is unparalleled! Truth be told, the way I understand SEO for blogs, it's in the accurate tagging and post slugs because the meta tags are already dictated. Other factors that can influence PR and thus improve your SEO include:

Domain Longevity - how long it's been active
Registration Longevity - how long before renewal
Inbound links - probably the most important and naturally the one you have the least control over - but I think TOP probably is doing pretty well in this area.
Feeds - for blogs specifically (naturally), feed readability (your XML files) are crucial because crawlers hit those too.
Your robots.txt file should allow the more common ones (google, msn, yahoo)
A sitemap also helps (but I don't have one either...)

Re. Adobe pricing, well, yes they can make the same prices everywhere. It doesn't cost them any more to ship to the local web sites. It will definitely help cut on the piracy of Adobe (If they care at all).

I would also wait for CS4, as it seems like it is right around the corner with some betas coming out.

Web site optimization is just a name for making your site more visible for search engines. Most of the useful methods are banned by the big search engines. If you search for the phrase you can easily find out what options you have.

And a question, if I use this site's link to Amazon (Not a particular book) does it still register as coming from this site ?

And a question, if I use this site's link to Amazon (Not a particular book) does it still register as coming from this site?


Erez,
Yes. Just use the URLs on this page:

http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/affiliates.html

Mike J.

One day Pixelmator will give you most of what you need. Photomerge likely isn't on the horizon, but all of the other editing, in 16 bits, will likely be there.

It's not there yet, though.

The only thing I currently do to draw traffic is just try to put up good content, with something new every day. That's all I've ever done.

Mike J.

Adobe pricing
I think they really don't care. Living where I do you can a copy by the IT mall for USD 4. A few years ago, CS2, I intended to buy the original. After a few frustrating calls to called Adobe authorized distributors, questioning me why I wanted it and quoting a price of around USD 900. At that time I think it was USD 600 on amazon. I raised this with the regional management of Adobe and got a polite answer.
Finally I managed to buy an original in Singapore which was near in price of a USA price.

A free curves tool, Smartcurves, is available as a plugin (Windows only). Works with 8- or 16-bit files. However, it cannot be applied as an adjustment layer. "It works with all versions of Photoshop (Elements and CSx) and many other image programs like Photoline, PaintShopPro or Irfanview."

Description and download here: http://www.free.pages.at/easyfilter/curves.html

More tips here:
http://www.earthboundlight.com/phototips/curves-photoshop-elements-4-5.html

Mike, normally your logs could tell you, but as you don't host this on your own server, I doubt you'll have access to those. The best you can do is add http://www.google.com/analytics/ to your site. All it takes is signing up and adding some javascript to your templates. From then on, you will have wonderful info on your visitors.

For about USD90 you can get Picture Window Pro, written by Jonathan Sachs (who wrote Lotus 123). Has curves and out performs PS, which loads like a slug. PC only. Check out the site — www.dl-c.com and be amazed. The forums are great for help when you need it.

we use statcounter.com.

it tells us where they came from, what country, how long they stayed...tons of info.

for free.

Paul Aymes wrote from Australia: "I'd have to say out of the number of people I know who work in the photo industry none of them has a legal version of PhotoShop. Even when I was at art school the lecturers were advising us of where to get cracked versions rather than buy the thing."

I'll never forget theonion.com (U.S. satirical newspaper's) fake-story front-page headline (one of those with no followup story):

"Legal Copy of Photoshop Purchased."

Call me a sucker, but I'm a legal owner of Photoshop (I'm in the U.S. so prices are a little more reasonable). Still, I have to say I resent every dollar of mine that goes to Adobe; I think that company has a much worse image than it realizes among freelance artists who don't have an employer footing the software bill (Adobe's image is not a lot better than Microsoft's image among some friends of mine!).

I tried to make a go of it with Elements, but needed some of the other features of PS to fit into my company's design department workflow. (See the section called "Consumer Market" near the bottom of the page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photoshop ). If it weren't for those larger workflow needs, I'd be plenty satisfied with Elements, which seems to have about 90% of PS's capabilities at a fraction of the price. Perhaps Adobe tossed out Elements as a bone to those who thought full-PS is overpriced, but instead the impressive capabilities of Elements - and the relatively low pricing of "academic version" PS - only make the pricing of full-PS look even more unreasonable.

One has to wonder whether at some point Adobe won't shift its business model ala the music industry, which eventually decided that it couldn't beat all of the pirating so it made more sense to price music in a way that consumers would feel made more sense. If some of the cheaper and more open-source alternatives to PS keep growing in capability - as one poster above suggests - maybe that will happen. Even periodic price discounts would help get photographers addicted to full-version PS (as opposed to Elements), but as things are now many will either never try full PS or will never see any reason to buy anything other than a pirated copy.

(OT: the Microsoft-like bully image is why I don't endorse Adobe RAW. As long as Adobe has its company name in the format name - regardless of how little control they promise to exert - I can't regard it as a potentially "universal" format.)

That Jeff Mermelstein book caught my eye too. That and the Magnum Ireland book.

Why CS3? The only reason you need CS3 is if you are integrating images with other adobe products. If you are just printing your typical photojournalistic and straight type photography Lightroom would be excellent.

Andrew,
I bought the Mermelstein book and I recommend it, although it's one of those that I feel guilty not paying full price for. It's a nicely designed and made book, with good-quality reproductions. I've only lately been turned on to Mermelstein's work (via that video we featured a while back) and although it's quite close to a style of photography I really don't like very much (I think of it as the "Zoom" style, after the European magazine), he seems to have something going on with his work that does grab me. Anyway don't hesitate to spend the ten bucks for the book, it's easily worth it.

Mike J.

Is this what i think it is!? its looks like 80's picture.

Cybasumo,
Yes, it was taken in 1982. The title is "Untitled (Zippy the Chimp at Bar Mitzvah, Long Island New York)."

Mike J.

Mike,
I stopped buying Photoshop updates at PS7. Since I try my hardest to get the shot I want in-camera, I find that Elements 6 does all of the PP I need.
BTW-I've been curious about the follow-ups on the Pentax 20D. I hope that test is still in the works.
Thanks for the great site!
Roger

I'll second Robert's comment: the way to go in terms of tracking traffic is Google Analytics. It's free and it's as good as any other Google tool you've used (which is important for you and your readers).

And it provides a wealth of data to understand your readers better. It gives you source of traffic, keywords driving search traffic, landing page, city/location of your readers, new vs. repeat visitors, average time of visit, average number of pages per visit, and much more.

I've had traffic spikes on my blog due to mentions, and the data makes it easy to identify the source. Even for the more obscure blogs that link to you without a trackback URL.

To use is, sign up on their site, and then insert a small JS snippet into your blog template so that it appears on every page.

If you have multiple sites, you can track all of them in the same Google account, where it also cross-references with other Google products such as AdWords.

Robert Noble - I'm sure I don't know the whole story about the music industry, but what makes you think they adjusted prices as a measure against piracy? As far as I've seen, prices have been about the same, or slightly rising over the last few years.

The price breaks have been on downloadable music, which doesn't have the manufacturing or shipping costs of actual CDs. The main way the industry fought piracy, I think, was agressive prosectution and lawsuits.

Yours was a general Typepad problem. I noticed the same spike in users. For a few minutes I thought I had achieved something - but then I checked in with Google Analytics and it told me the truth.

No extra visitors, just glitch from Typepad.

Cheers
Mark

Well, your page rank is a 5 out of 10 so you're doing something right (though the masked URL is a bit of a pain). Other than that, go to the source and read what Google has to say about SEO here: http://www.google.com/webmasters/
Get a webmaster tools account, build a sitemap (typepad may have a plugin for this) and submit it to Google. Then add more content (you're good at this).

Thank you Mike for the link! I'm a faithful reader on this site and was happily surprised to see you link to a shot from me. I'm shooting foveon since end 2003 and it is exactly that different feel that made me go for it. It is the closest to film in this digital era. For me it has more 3D feel. And just this feel is worth all the quirks it does have. Good luck with the site!

Mike,

Forget counters, Google Analytics is what you need... and it is free :)

http://www.google.com/analytics/

*steve

I've used full Photoshop and Elements for years and feel like Adobe Lightroom (2) now combines the best of both: localized corrections and tag-based organization. Plus, its database-driven DAM and non-destructive changes are much less awkward than using Adobe Camera Raw.

In the year since Lightroom first released, I've found that I use full Photoshop less and less--but then I seldom _add_ things to a photo, just work to wring the best exposure/print out of a shot.

Don't know if you've had a chance to play around with the Adobe Lightroom 2 beta but it's well worth a look (and $299 price). Final release probably by fall?

Unlike PS, it works as a darkroom veteran would expect things to work. (PS's photo tools still have a bolted-on quality given its long life before digital cameras changed the game.) The exposure slider controls especially are very intuitive. I rarely need to work Curves and Levels directly since the sliders offer granular control. Round-tripping between Lightroom and full PS easy as well.

Just wanted to throw it out there.

Not Roseanne Rosannadanna; Emily Littela. We're the same age, Mike. What's wrong, Bunky?

Mike,

Have you ever tried using the web browser addon called PicLens (www.piclens.com)? I thought I may have found out about this here, but I couldn't seem to find it in your blog anywhere. Anyway, I use Firefox and somewhere along the way I picked up on this addon. It has been a very helpful tool in that I can search a number of sites for photos (e.g. DP-1 photos, or for me Voigtlander 28mm f1.7 Ultron photos to see how the lens performs before purchasing it). The revelation is not the search function, but it IS in the visual interface and the way it displays the search results - it is something to be seen. If you haven't used it, you should definately check it out.

On a side note, more of a rambling really, do you ever feel like your brain is a neurological glacier of sorts, picking up odds and ends (in the form of info), and dropping them off here and there without any reference as to how they got there? That just occurred to me as I stuggled with remembering where I stumbled upon PicLens. I'll stop now.

Thanks for the fountain of odds and ends, keep up the good work.

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