Too many hobbies – Music

I like many people have too many hobbies. Not only that but they all some to want all my free cash. If I had one hobby life would be much easier. My main daybjob is an IT Engineer; that’s my main income, but messing around with computers is also a hobby. My second job and second income is that of a Photographer; Portraits, Portfolios, Weddings and commercial business portraits but its also a hobby.

I love travelling to lovely areas to take landscape photographs, using a mix of equipment including film, small, medium and large format.

I also have a small watch collection, mid tier pieces like SINN, unique pieces like British watchmaker FEARs; with my love of tech there is also an Apple Watch.

Watch Macro with Profoto A10

I have a fountain pen collection from low end Kaweco and TWSBI to higher end Pelikan and Montblanc and my love of coffee could also be called a hobby, I have brewers from Kalita, Chemex and Aeropress and a mid range espresso machine, and believe me once you get into espresso at home it really does become a crazy hobby, and you start buying custom, distribution tools, porta filters etc.

Lastly my love of music, I used to play the guitar, and now play banjo and piano (badly), but enjoy it. I also love listening to music. From popular opera, Beethoven, and Mozart, to pop like the recent Taylor Swift like her Evermore Album, Lana Del Rey, and most 1980’s pop, like the Communards, Duran Duran, Eurythmics and country and folk like Edwina Hayes, Ashley McBryde and even Sheryl Crow.

How do I listen to my music. Well when on the go, its an iPhone and Apple EarPods, its not hifi but its good enough. Sat at my desk in the company office, I may use a higher in ear sennheiser headphones, sometimes with an external battery DAC like the Cord Mojo. I have detailed how I listen in my office at home, A usb out of my desktop Mac, to a Schiit DAC and pre-amp then either to a pair of higher end Meze over ear headphones or my Ruark active speakers.

In the lounge I have may main hifi.

Its a low-end system I have had since my student days, with for now a days a basic Denon amp and a pair of Celestion DL4 stand mount speakers.

Its now fronted by a decent CD player, and a DAC being fed by an old iPad acting as a Roon Ready end point to stream to.

At some point I want to upgrade all of this starting with a dedicated streamer/dac and new speakers. If I was being sensible I should get something like a pair of Kev LS50 Meta’s, but part of me wants a nice set of floor standers but would they be too much for that room.

As always things will have to wait, I have a new studio flash to buy but I keep looking and investigating. As I said at the start – too many hobbies and they all seem to cost too much money.

Ripping CD’s

If you are like me and still have a large vinyl and cd collection you may sometimes want to stream them. A lot of my older stuff is not on the major streaming services. So you will want to rip those CD’s to a hard drive so you can still stream around your home or to what ever device you want. Welcome to the world of music formats or shall we say containers.

Now the majority of music is all encoded to PCM 16-bit/44.1kHz audio. While there is a growing library of high resolution music, few music services offer it or broadcast/stream it.

So for the majority of listeners things like 24-bit/192kHz, MQA, DSD can all be safely ignored.

Lets get back onto the subject; you have a CD, your a Mac user with iTunes or Music as its now called and you want to simply rip it but preserve the quality.

In Music, select file, preferences and then Files, and Import Settings. From the drop down list select Apple Lossless Encoder. Its a compressed format, lossless, and can easily be converted to other open standards if necessary but just about all hardware supports apple lossless.

You might want to copy those rips to a spare hard drive, Apple products can occasionally do odd things, like delete your music files and then stream lossy versions from the cloud.

WWDC 2021

Its that time of year again when Apple fan boys get all excited. As an Apple fan boy myself, I’ll be interested and watching closely to see where Apple is going.

My iPhone is now approaching four years old so I’ll be thinking of replacing it this year or next. Also I am interested to see what Apple do with the Mac mini. I would like a new media server for the home and a Mac mini may just be the machine for the job.

I am sure the main interest for most people is were iOS and WatchOS is going, so I am sure there will be something for everyone, just no Steve Jobs, ‘One more thing’.

NSW – Reworking Old Photographs

Candy – Art Nude: Nikon D200

Its not something I do often, but with software advances, it can sometimes be interesting to take old photographs; the original raw images, and re-edit them in the latest software.

Adobe Camera RAW

Lightroom has come a long way since I last edited this black and white set of Candy, that I took at Worksop Studio back in 2007.

Most of these were processed in an early Adobe Camera RAW. Fourteen years is a long time in software development and the improvements were considerable. It was also interesting to see how I have developed as a photographer. I feel my work now is of a considerable higher standard.

Perspective Control – In Camera

Being able to correct perspective is not not new. Its been a feature in programs like Adobe’s Lightroom for a while, which I have blogged about before.

Leica are not always thought of as being the most high tech of camera companies. People forget that they invented 35mm photography, autofocus and the first full frame mirrorless professional mirrorless camera the SL (I know Sony users are going to argue that one).

The latest firmware update brought about perspective control in camera, when in live view can preview what its doing. If you shoot jpeg then its baked into the file, but RAW shooters will find the correction added into the DNG data fields that you can choose to use or not in Lightroom.

Unfortunately the original Leica M10 does not support this feature as its missing a key piece of hardware the horizontal level sensor, but if you have a M10P or the new Monochrom its available now as a firmware update.

For people like me there is always post production in Lightroom so no hardship.

The new Photoshop and Lightroom

During lockdown I have cancelled my December photoshoots and moved the November shoots to December.

In the meantime I have been trying out a few things. First up, testing my tethering, for which I have purchased a new cable. Secondly testing out a few ideas about colour temperature.

Lastly Adobe have released new version of Photoshop and Lightroom. The shot above was taken earlier in the year, but I have heavily edited it and played around with the new colour grading software.

Its a bit over the top but was a fun quick edit and has taught me quite a lot about the new functionality in these two produces.

Adobe release Lightroom V10

So this week has been Adobe Max and they have been releasing their new products.

Jasmine in Red, Nikon D800, Elinchrom Flash – edited in Lightroom V10

As is usual; I have not upgraded my main desktop yet, but have upgraded on my laptop. I have a catalogue of my recent shoots on the laptop and after backing it up and putting a copy on my desktop, just in case I need to edit V9, I had a go at editing in V10.

So far, it seems better, slightly faster, I am not seeing the blackout that used to happen for a second when switching to cropping mode, but the big change is the new colour grading section.

Jasmine, Nikon D800, Elinchrom Flash – edited in Lightroom V10 with colour grading

I use the split toning function a lot in Lightroom, and I use it in colour as well as black and white. Its in black and white where you can really notice it. Her is a simple platinum blue applied to the highlights and a warmer brown/orange tone to the shadows.

I would say its worked quite well. I’ll likely wait for a point release in Lightroom and for me to be more familiar with the new tools before I upgrade my main machine and risk upgrading my master catalogue, but things look good.

Website updates and upgrades

We have over the last few days being upgrading the backend of our website.

https://brown-family.org.uk is now available to use; yes we now have a secure site with a signed certificate.

The site now has a new backend SQL Database, now on the latest version.

bandwidth close up computer connection
Photo by panumas nikhomkhai on Pexels.com

Lastly we updated the php.

coffee writing computer blogging
Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

So we are now all bang up today.

I hope the upgrades did not affect you too much but its all done now, apart from regular patching no major updates planned for a couple of years.