Although it was a pain to leave Gentoo last year, one of the nice results is that I now have a lot more free time to devote to my photography hobby.
To get started, I’ve setup a separate blog just for my photography. It wasn’t very satisfying having the occasional photography item buried amongst all the Gentoo-related posts. I’d look at my blog (especially on Planet Gentoo Universe) and just feel that everything I did was about Gentoo. There’s a lot more to who I am than just Gentoo, but even I was getting hard-pressed to be able to tell!
I’ve also made the switch to Mac. The switch is partly for OS X, but it’s mainly for the hardware. I’m attracted to OS X because, for mainstream photography, Linux is almost nowhere. I physically cringe every time I come across an article listing F-Spot as a headline app for Linux. (You do get excellent editors such as CinePaint, mind – it’s not all doom and gloom on the Linux front). There’s just nothing on Linux that comes close to matching tools like Lightroom or Aperture. You can’t beat sitting in the coffee shop after a morning’s shoot in the museum, using Lightroom to proof and master the shots and to work out which locations you need to return to for a second attempt. Quality, capable apps sell themselves right there and then, by letting you get things done quickly and with no fuss and no frustration.
(It also helps, I guess, that OS X is seductively beautiful to look at. Both Linux and Windows XP (to a lesser extent) are ugly ducklings by comparison. The secret’s in the font rendering – one area where Linux has always been extremely poor, although switching on the TrueType ByteCode Interpreter (BCI) makes it less painful).
The hardware plays a major part in making a great photography platform. The Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro is a first-rate laptop. It really is as fast as folks say, and it’s surprisingly comfortable to use. (I had to use my wife’s Dell laptop yesterday for something, and I was just cursing and swearing at it the whole time. I’ve owned and used Dell laptops for six years now, but after just three weeks on the MBP, I’d hate to have to go back, as things stand today). The keyboard layout is still taking some getting used to (the hash key being on Alt-3 is about the worst thing that I trip up on), but the large trackpad is extremely nice to use.
But the real star is the screen. Before switching machines, I thought I did alright in the screen stakes. I don’t own a decent desktop screen, but I’ve always liked the screen on my Dell laptop, and so have other people. Now I know better 🙂 If you’re currently researching and trying to decide whether or not to make the switch, you’ll probably have seen quite a few comments about the screen being ‘painfully bright’. Well, once you’re used to it, like you’ll probably realise that it’s actually PC screens that are dismally dull. Even without the glossy screen option, colours really stand out on the MBP, and I’m already finding it much easier to adjust photos than I did on the Dell. It’s only a matter of time before I get myself an Apple Cinema display to go with the MBP.
Now all I need to do is decide between Lightroom and Aperture, and I’m all set 🙂