Are you F$#& kidding Adobe?

I posted this on Facebook a few minutes ago but then realized I absolutely needed to post it here as well. Call this a quick rant or a follow-up.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned I had ditched my Adobe subscription and wrote a post about how they tried to bully me into keeping it (telling me I COULDN'T unsubscribe, of all things). But of course they had no choice and since then Lightroom had reverted to "reduced mode"—meaning I could access my libraries and export files but I couldn't edit or make changes. Which was fine.

A few moments ago I launched Lightroom because I needed to do just that. But guess what? I’m now locked out. I’m told the product cannot be activated and my only choice is apparently to...wait for it... subscribe again. So what's going on here? Was reduced mode on a timer? And If it ISN’T on a timer…WTF?

So again: thank you Adobe. I thought I’d keep you around, just in case, even with reduced functions. I thought if EVER I needed you again you’d be there. And maybe this is a bug of some sort…maybe I could get in touch and get this resolved. But you know what? To hell with you. I’m purging my Mac of ANY trace of your software. I’ll launch the terminal if I have to, until there isn’t a single file that begins with the name Adobe.

What an absolute sh%$ of a business you are.

/>end rant

P.S It's also a gorgeous day and stepped out to take a few pics this morning—with the X100F and Instax Wide. Haven't had time to process anything yet—tomorrow maybe.

P.PS Holy shit it gets better...here's what I get from the uninstaller—even though there are NO visible apps running anywhere

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​Adobe: Gone.

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UPDATE: Right. So as John helpfully points out in the comments, this is still May. Not June. May. Boy...this probably has to do with the fact that my brain is focused on nothing but June these days. So Adobe did in fact give me a month's notice and my indignation is..err...less than rightful? But: it doesn't change the fact that I was first told point blank I couldn't cancel my membership. And it actually makes it even stranger, given I was well within the window to do so. Mea Culpa...but I'm still fine with the decision.

...

I’ve made no secret of my distaste for Adobe. Lightroom served me quite well for several years (following Aperture’s demise) but the company itself...I was never a fan. So after a few fits and starts, I finally moved to Capture One and had every intention of canceling my Photography Plan, once its time was up. Then of course I got this one job where I turned to Lightroom—because it was there. And I thought oh well...may as well keep this around just in case...it’s a business expense yada yada yada.

Long story short: my renewal was due this morning, June 18th, and I’d decided to basically stay put. Until I received an email—this morning, June 18th—informing me that my “...annual membership will renew automatically on 18-June-2018 (PT). The terms are outlined below...”. Oh and it included a price hike as well. With every other service I subscribe to (and there are many), a renewal notice will come days or even weeks ahead of a deadline, as a courtesy. As a way of saying hey, we hope you’ll stick around but here’s a heads up before we take your money, in case you’ve changed your mind . Not so here. At the very least Adobe could’ve respected my intelligence and sent an email informing me that my membership had ALREADY been renewed. Which was...you know...the actual reality. I read the message and I thought: ok...enough.

 

...

So I log into my account, go to my Plans, click on Manage Plans (as it says on their help page), look for the Cancel button (as it says on their help page)...but it isn’t there. I’m on my iPad so I figure it might be an issue with mobile, so off I go to my Mac—same deal. Then I notice my CC info isn’t up to date (I switched cards recently) so I update the info just in case...and I get a thank you for your payment! message. Great. Time to chat with support. Here’s how it goes:

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Did you get that last paragraph? I’ve hidden the agent’s name because this is clearly company policy at work and I don’t fault her/him at all. But needless to say I’m a little taken aback at this point. Here’s the rest of our exchange:

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Offering discounts when a customer wants to walk away probably dates back to Babylonian times. Every company/seller does it. Perfectly fine. But telling me I CANNOT cancel? Telling me I HAVE to buy their product when I don’t want it? Obviously the company didn’t have a leg to stand on and the agent knew this. But the tactic says a lot about Adobe and how much they care about their customers. It’s called bullying and you know what? There’s enough of that going around these days.

Good. Riddance.
Now Phase One: can you just bite the bullet and support my GFX already? Pretty please?

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Happier news: we’re heading into a long weekend in Canada—sort of the official kickoff to “summer”. Héloïse has 3 ballet recitals lined up so we’ll be busy. And if you’re looking for inspiration/reading: our new KAGE issue is out.

Have a great one all :)

​Data Bracelets

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In September 2016 I wrote the following about the state of physical media:

“It's crazy how much our reality has changed over the last few years: faster internet connections, higher or even unlimited data caps (at least in Canada) combined with most of our lives moving to the digital realm...all these factors have contributed to less and less reliance on physical media. In fact I have trouble remembering when I sent files to a client through anything other than WeTransfer, Mail Drop, Box or similar services.”

The paragraph was part of a post entitled Like Candy—and I was writing about personalized USB flash drives I’d received from a US-based company called USB Memory Direct. If anything the situation has intensified since then: last week I sent almost 30GB of raw images though WeTransfer Plus for the last job I shot. The idea of using a physical drive, wrapping it up, sending it to another country through postal or courrier services, waiting for the package to reach its destination on time, hoping nothing goes wrong along the way...none of it makes sense at this point. So while I still love those walnut flash drives from 2016, when the company reached out again a couple of months ago my first instinct was to thank them, but ultimately let them know I didn’t actually need anything. I’ll never feel right about accepting products I don’t intent to use.

But then I noticed the wrist drives...

I’ve always worn bracelets—leather, metal...leather AND metal...whatever. I also own an Apple Watch. All of this to say I’m basically used to wearing stuff on my wrists. So when I saw the USB Wristbands on the company’s website I thought huh...that might be fun. The drives come in either USB 2.0 or USB 3.0, with capacities ranging from 64MB to 128GB, depending on the speed you choose. The material is described as soft rubberized plastic, which feels pretty close to the fluoroelastomer Apple uses on its Apple Watch Sports band. There’s no clasp: the USB connector just slips into the opposite end of the wristband. Tough to do the first time around but you get the hang of it after awhile. And once they’re in they hold tight—I’ve had no issues at all with the wristband loosening up and coming apart.

I decided to keep things simple and go with white, but there’s a variety of colours to choose from. And of course, like all of the company’s products, these can be personalized with logo, text or whatever else strikes your fancy (I added a tag line to mine). The process is absolutely painless too: I downloaded the specs from the website, sent in a PNG and received a proof in less than an hour. Then right before shipping they sent me a picture of the actual product, just to confirm we were good to go. Class act.

I intend to keep one of these for myself and use the others for giveaways. With 8GB I’ll probably include the 1EYE series along with a PDF or ePub portfolio. Heck, maybe These Kings while I’m at it. Now, as to the question on everyone’s mind: yes, it IS a little weird to wear something with your name on it...but fortunately, it’s pretty discreet ;)

Many thanks to Taylor for making this possible. You can find more info about the product at USBMemoryDirect.com.

Machine to Companion: One year with the GFX 50S

Ever since my very first X100, I’ve made distinctions between cameras. Some quickly become a part of me, not just extensions—a threshold most fine tools eventually cross—but something more intimate. Others I consider machines, precise instruments that don’t necessarily pull at my heartstrings but are perfectly suited to the work I need to do. The X-T1 was like that. The X-Pro1 was too...at first. Because sometimes, somewhere along the way, that relationship can change.

I purchased the GFX 50S as a tool. A machine. And over the course of the past year I’ve used it constantly on various jobs, often alongside X series cameras. But just like the X-Pro1 all those years ago...it’s become more than it initially was.

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The pull of medium format

Everything I’ve ever said about the X series remains true to this day. I still love the footprint, the stealth, the psychological impact of these cameras on subjects—either aware or unaware of a shot being taken. I’ll never travel with the GFX 50S and it’ll never become my 1EYE camera. But those files...they’re incredibly hard to dismiss. After all this time I’m still struggling to express the pull they have over me, but it remains impossible to brush off: I get a visceral reaction to the images I shoot with it. If the role of our tools is to inspire, then the goal of this camera has been met, tenfold. No question. The result of course, is that I’ve been willing to compromise on stealth: I’ll now reach for the GFX in situations where I usually would’ve chosen an X-Pro or X100. Which may seem like a serious  shift...until you factor in the beat.

Rhythms

The GFX 50S isn’t slow—especially for a medium-format camera. But it IS slower than its APS-C siblings. It uses contrast detection, for one. The files are also much larger which, regardless of storage prices, is definitely something floating in the back of my mind as I’m shooting; in raw especially. All of this, combined with the camera itself, affects the rhythm somehow. But this is not a negative in my mind. In many ways it brings me back to my early days with the X series, the way the system made me much more aware of each moment, more deliberate in my approach to photography. It’s amazing how much evolution we’ve seen in such a short period of time—how far we’ve come from that X100. But it’s also easy to fall back into that “performance-driven” groove, to forget about slowing down when the cameras don’t force us to do so. Medium-format photography nudges me back into that softer flow. Yes, the footprint is larger...but the intent is familiar. For me, the lineage is clear and very much welcome.

 

Another detail I’ve mentioned in passing a couple of times: the addition of the EVF Tilt-Adapter, which was an important turning point in my relationship with the GFX. This is the small revolving plate that fits between the camera and the —brilliantly designed—removable viewfinder. I first used it on the shoot we did in Toronto for the Lexus+GFX video. Before this I’d only spent a few minutes with it and never while actually working. This small change—being able to look down into the viewfinder for instance—suddenly transformed the camera into a very different tool. Different from my other cameras that is. It gave me a new point of view and ADDED an element to my photography workflow, beyond the bigger sensor. Needless to say it’s stayed glued to the GFX ever since. The only times I remove it is for packing.

Expansion

Ok, enter the rabbit hole. With this camera taking on an ever increasing role in my work, I’ve looked at expanding my visual options. So the initial GF 63mm f2.8 has since been joined by the GF 120mm f/4 Macro, a Pentax 50mm f/1.7 (through a Fotodiox adapter), and recently the superb GF 110mm f/2.

 Family picture

Family picture

The 120 and 110 may seem redundant—they are. I first chose the 120 for its macro abilities on this system which, physics being inescapable, is much less accommodating in terms of minimal focusing distance. And I’m glad I did. It’s both superb and handy. But I now believe the 110 is (so far) the GF line’s magic lens ...much like the 56 f/1.2 or 35 f/1.4 on the X series. Don’t ask me to explain why, I just feel it. Yes, shallow DOF but more importantly character, imprint...something.

What I’m “missing” in this system is a super-wide zoom along the lines of the XF 10-24mm. But I’m using quotation marks because...I do have the XF 10-24mm don’t I? I know. I told you this was a rabbit hole.

 Fun with the electronic shutter...

Fun with the electronic shutter...

Conclusion

A few years ago I spoke of the possibility of a medium-format camera as a companion to the X series—how, in my mind at least, there was a logic to using both systems in tandem. A philosophical kinship if you will. Today I know this to be absolutely true: apart from a size and ergonomic shock when shooting systems side by side (which will be less obvious once the X-H1 arrives), both make sense as a pair. Both complete one another.

Now in some cases, I admit, the GFX 50S has added a layer of uncertainty—I need to think for a second or two before choosing which camera to pick up. But then, every new piece of gear usually has a similar effect, taking away from simplicity. It’s called the paradox of choice and, well...such is life. I consider myself very lucky to even have these choices.

And man, one year in...I don’t regret a single moment.
I've found the soul in the machine.

Understated: a SIMPLR Strap

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I have this red metal box on a shelf—and it’s full of nylon straps. You know, the ones that come with our cameras. Some of them have been slightly used but anything from the past 2-3 years is still rolled up, untouched, like new. A few aren’t necessarily bad—the GFX strap is pretty good—but I’ve always preferred organic material...leather, typically. Because it breathes and changes over time, becomes worn and imperfect. I have a soft spot for imperfection.

When I first unpacked the SIMPLR strap my reaction could best be described as...neutral. It didn’t do much for me. I was gazing at this object, the typical black nylon strap—the stuff of backpacks, camping gear etc. On second look however, my impression shifted slightly: the weave was much finer and softer. There’s was no fraying, no hard edges and more importantly none of the stiffness I was accustomed to from nylon. This one was different.

Full disclosure: this kit was a very kind gift from Jason—the owner and craftsman behind SIMPLR—who told me he absolutely did not expect a review and just wanted me to try these out, knowing my usual preferences. We had a nice back and forth conversation before and after I received his package, I gave him some personal feedback and I decided to go ahead with a quick review. Now for another disclosure: this post was ready to publish a few days ago, based on the black M1a (neck) and M1w (wrist) straps. Here’s an excerpt of that initial draft:

Now, to be perfectly honest with you, I still prefer leather straps...something to do with my guitar-wielding days I imagine. But the M1a is on my brand new Instax Wide 300 and it’s not going anywhere. It’s actually perfect. The M1w is headed to my X100F with those QD loops allowing me to switch back to my old Maru strap whenever I feel like it. In fact I’ll probably carry both in my bag at all times, especially when shooting street.

That was my takeaway. Then I got home one afternoon and—following up on our conversation—Jason had sent me additional samples, this time in Castor Gray and Camo Green. And colour—as it usually does—changed everything.

A quick overview: in terms of hardware there’s no metal to be seen here, it’s all nylon and plastic—very nice, military-grade nylon and plastic. And this is by design: to keep the clean look but also to prevent bumps and scratches. All the straps use the Op/Tech USA Mini QD Loops quick release system—very handy for shooting on a tripod or occasionally switching to a wrist strap. Their tensile strength is rated at 20kg (44lbs) which is...good enough for just about anything. Basically, these are products that don’t flash or glitter, that don’t call attention to themselves at all. Everything about them is understated and subtle. But they’re beautifully crafted and ready-made for mirrorless systems.

So how did colour affect my opinion? Dramatically. I’m now using SIMPLR on the GFX, the X100F, the WIDE 300 and I’ve put the wrist strap on the NEO 90. I have another one reserved for the X-H1 (coming in a couple of weeks...more on that later). As much as I still love the feel of my leather straps, I can’t dismiss how much lighter and easier to work with these are. Just quickly being able to vary the length with little friction, to remove them altogether if they’re in the way...it all adds up. The black (and this is very personal) lacked visual punch to my eye, but these colour versions brought it back for me. They feel designed. Some of you may think it silly to focus on this sort of thing, but I like objects and I like beautiful tools. Suddenly—in a way the black versions didn’t—these checked all the right boxes.

I’m still rocking leather on the X-Pro2—but that’s my old pair of sneakers at this point. Baby steps.
For more info check out the SIMPLR website.

P.S All images shot with the GFX 50S and GF 120mm f/4 OIS LM R WR.