The Digital Photo Guy

I Finally “Got It” About Tablets

by on Nov.22, 2011, under Articles, gear, Lightroom, Monday Morning Tips, Photos, Photoshop CS2/4, Photoshop Elements

What Can I Say? I’m a Little Slow!

I never understood the fervor over tablets. Who the heck wants to pay $500 to play games or watch videos on a tiny screen? What advantage does a soft keyboard offer over real keyboards? How can I run Lightroom on such anemic hardware?

Nevertheless, I knew my target audience was buying them so I had to understand their appeal. When Costco reduced the Vizio VTAB1008 tablet to $189, I rolled the dice. After playing with it for a few weeks, I finally understand the tablet’s role. This is the new TV, stereo, newspaper, map, GPS, Yellow Pages and Post Office, all rolled up into one device. In other words, it’s strictly for entertainment and info lookup. Instead of looking in TV Guide, use the tablet. Instead of watching TV, watch YouTube on the ‘net. No more Yellow Pages, order take out Chinese on-line.

If you want to do serious work such as enhancing and editing photos in LR, PS or PSE, you still need a real PC. Analyzing the genetic makeup of a killer rhinovirus outbreak in Hong Kong ain’t gonna be on a tablet! The catchy phrase of the day for tablets is “information consumption.” The whole idea is to sell you more “stuff,” ie, e-books, videos, music, games, anything to entertain. Bottom line, tablets aren’t really computers.

I found the tablet useful during a recent roadtrip for checking diesel prices, reading e-mail and, in general, entertaining myself. But, when it came time to download, review, rate, enhance, optimize and store nearly 200 photos of bighorn sheep, my big honkin’ laptop was, and still is, the tool of choice. Writing even simple e-mails is a chore on a soft keyboard. Teens with overly developed thumbs, typing in pidgin Textglish, might like it but if you type in complete sentences with proper grammar, soft keyboards are abysmal.

I have, however, discovered tablets are wonderful portfolios. My print portfolio weighs about 10 pounds while the Vizio weighs 1.2 lbs. Of course, an 8″ screen doesn’t have near the impact of a 17″ x 25″ print from an Epson 3880. A tablet is essentially a toy, albeit a fun toy, and there’s no way it’s worth over $250.

Photos from Pt Loma Lighthouse

After all, this is a photography blog so here are some rcent photos. The San Diego Photography Collective had a Meetup at the Pt Loma Lighthouse during its 156th anniversary celebration. The very top of the lighthouse, which is normally closed, was open to the public. I used Topaz Labs Adjust and B&W Effects because those were prizes for a photo contest we concocted for this Meetup.


Given the age of the lighthouse and the docents in period costumes, it seemed appropriate to process these in B&W. The left photo above is Jimmy and a docent. Jimmy is from Quebec and he flew down to San Diego for this event! He had never been to California and thought it might be fun. He’s a great guy and a talented photographer. This was a first for us, no has ever flown in from a foreign country for one of our Meetups.

The middle photo is a docent and the right photo is the spiral staircase inside the lighthouse. Notice the ghost on the landing below! All three were processed in Topaz Labs B&W Effects. The first is an antique sepia preset while the middle is an opalotype preset. I don’t remember what I used for the right photo but I believe it was a classic B&W effect.


On the Snake Oil Salesman, I cranked up the grain and simulated an old daguerreotype. Topaz has a daguerreotype preset but it was too refined for my taste. I wanted this to look like one of the old west posters processed in chemicals long past their useful life. The last one of a gargoyle on the lighthouse roof was processed in Topaz Labs Adjust 5. Afte applying a preset, I pushed it over the top to create a photo appropriate for slasher movies. TA5 was just released and has over 130 presets to get you started.

If you’ve never used Topaz plug-ins, click this LINK and download the fully functional trials. Best of all, Topaz offers FREE upgrades. I bought the entire Topaz suite about 3 years ago and have upgraded most of the plug-ins at least once and some have been upgraded 2 or 3 times.


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