#544. Photo Editing: A Fresh Start at Casa DS!

#544. Photo Editing: A Fresh Start at Casa DS!

A few weeks ago, my article (The MacBook Pro. Overpriced gimmick or World’s best laptop for photographers ?) garnered comments that where overwhelmingly … divided. Talk about entrenched camps. Interestingly, the transfuges who raised their hands seemed to be exiting the Mac world, drawn by the sirens of powerful GPU cards (Razer Blade …) and innovative thinking (Microsoft Surface Studio …).

All of which left me very undecided, until the screen hinge on my works horse XMG broke in half. Time to make up my mind.

Well, against the advice of 99% of my entourage and most of the online media, facing the scorn of my children and the disgust of my work partners, my money went to Cupertino.

Hats off to One Paul Perton for that 🙂 Paul patiently explained the upsides of Macintosh ownership, the joy of using well honed machines and the long-life and reliability he’s experienced for the past 20 years. Up to the point when, unimpressed by my inability to make up my child’s mind, he summed his advice up in a short & sweep wrapper that leaves Nike looking drab and uninspired: “Just f$&king do it! You won’t regret it”.

So, here we are, 5 weeks later, with me typing this post on an unfamiliar keyboard with the speed of an dim-witted 4 year-old, two fingers and tongue sticking out. I f$&king did it, spent twice what I wanted to and live to tell the tale.

Do I regret it? Heck no!

Not now, anyway.

Bed of roses 🌹🌺 🌸 ? Not really! Devilishly hard, rather 😤👹👿👺.

It’s an incredible amount of hidden automation we have inside ourselves. Not just the keyboard shortcuts, but the logics of file management, OS oddities, trackpad weirdness … For a life-long PC user, a Mac betters Aesop’s tongue 👅 as best and worst of all things.


The Good

Where do I start? No, that’s easy. The screen. The screen alone is 60% of why I bought the new MBP. And it is brilliant beyond anything I’ve seen on a laptop before. Colours look pure. Compared to a Samsung S7 and an S6, it is less saturated and flattering, slightly more neutral. Compared to my old screen, well, you actually can’t really compare it, it’s so in another league completely. Compared to the excellent Dell XPS 13, it’s a lot brighter and at tad more alive. Blazing mediterranean winter sun on the screen, everything remains super easy to read with the screen at 60% power, even though it is super glossy. Fantastic.

The touchbar is brilliant. It may be a small productivity boost but is mostly a very pleasant user experience. All the emoticon I have inflicted upon you are just one (silly) example of the numerous uses for this dynamic tool: as soon as I type a word, related emoticons appear on the touch bar. Example: angel 👼. And there’s a lot more: on the fly volume and brightness adjustments, tab switch, editing tools that would be hidden inside menus …

Also, standard apps are brilliant. Pareto would get a boner. Pages, Photos, Keynote,  … as far as my limited experience goes, these really are a case of doing 80% of the work at 20% of the effort. Photos is actually a superb, lightweight piece of kit. The first photo (plane in clouds) was processed in Photos, using the inbuilt Apple RAW processor.

Luminar preset

Luminar preset

Some shortcuts are really intuitive and time-saving. Multilingual auto correct on all apps is a huge time saver for me. The list goes on.


The Bad

Some shortcuts are bewildering. 3 finger dancing gets old quite quickly.

Onboarding. Seriously guys … when you’re turning an innovative star into a cash-cow behemoth as Tim Cook is doing, you really need better on boarding than this. Coming from the PC world, a Mac sends a culture shock greater than

Finder. I must be missing something, but Finder feels very uninspired.

Compatibility and drive management. Put simply,  to one of my PC backup devices work on the Mac. I have to format one from scratch then copy stuff onto it. Silver lining: it can be formatted for Mac and PC (which is probably not easy from the PC side of the pond, so I shouldn’t complain).

Keyboard. It’s fast and pleasant to use. But the placement of familiar symbols is just all over the place and downright painful to relearn. Why oh why is it so difficult for companies to settle on a standard keyboard …


The Ugly

Ugly and Mac are rarely found in the same sentence. This is one magnificent looking piece of kit. But this restless search for pretty does induce some pretty unpleasant behaviours. Some situations involving slightly technical manipulations (installing software for instance) are dealt with using pretty graphics and no text at all, leaving the neophyte baffled and frustrated.

Some tiny, unexplained, unprotected icons can dismount drives in a single mistake click, leaving yours-truly in a state of rage not seen since Steve Jobs demo tantrums. Generally speaking, I can’t help feel some features are pretty for the sake of being pretty, at the expense of user experience. Modern PCs feel more logical in some respects.

Processed with Luminar

But that’s pretty much it. Cold Turkey? Yeah, plenty. That beast was enormous. But no withdrawal syndrome from leaving the PC behind.

As honestly and free from choice-supportive bias as possible, I LOVE this thing !

But it didn’t come alone.


MacPhun Luminar

60% screen, 10% reliability – I’m going to want to change it after a few years, anyway 😉 – that leaves 30% in my reasons for buying pie-chart. Luminar accounts for those. After looking for alternatives to LightRoom long and hard, Luminar caught my attention and actually made me buy an expensive computer just to run it. Stupid, right?

The thing is, Luminar is excellent! Really.

The marketing positioning is this: the only photo editing app that evolves with your skills. Be that as it may, the customisable work environment is really interesting. I’ll get back into this in a more formal review, but you can start with presets to find something that suits the photograph and your tastes, move on to filters for a more refined approach then fine tune with abundant local retouching tools.

The software builds onto the excellent Photos app and feels like a Photoshop / LightRoom hybrid. All photos on this page except the first were processed using Luminar.

Happy Camper ?

You bet. The combination of a near perfect screen, fast machine, software that comes closer to single-stop (for my needs) than any other before is really all I could have hoped for. So far, I highly recommend this combo: 5 DS stars.

More, much more very soon. Questions about this setup? Fire away 🙂


Email: subscribed: 4