I was a little surprised when Google announced a month or so ago that they had acquired Nik Software, the company that brought us the excellent Silver Efex Pro and HDR Efex Pro photo editing software.
The acquisition made sense on the level that Google had already acquired Piknik the on line editing suite aimed at entry level photographers and that Google + has been more enthusiastically taken up by photographers than perhaps any other sector, but I’m sure I was not alone in fearing for the future of the earthbound applications.
Given the general feeling of trepidation, the announcement last week that Google were making the entire suite available for $149 took everyone by surprise – and the news that they would upgrade existing customers at no cost was as welcome as it was surprising. A couple of forums reported problems with downloads and support for installation, so I waited until yesterday before e-mailing Nik Customer support to see if I was eligible. They responded within minutes, to my surprise and after I had supplied the license key for my installed version of Silver Efex Pro sent me the download link within about five minutes.
The software installs on top of existing Nik software, no complicated uninstalling required and I carried out some preliminary experiments to check that it was all working. Installed easily and seems to work just as well as it always did.
Well done to Google for this – I’d already bought Silver Efex Pro and HDR Efex Pro, now I have Color Efex Pro, Sharpener, DFine and Viveza at no extra cost. Color Efex Pro consists of a set of pre-defined adjustable filters for colour enhancement, Sharpener does what it says on the tin, very effectivley. DFine is a very effective noise reduction application that allows you to choose which areas to reduce noise in. Viveza is the flagship editing application allowing the user to control contrast, luminosity, brightness, saturation etc.
I’ll be using Sharpener and Dfine, probably more than the other extra applications, but there is something here for everyone and at this price point, it represents excellent value for money.
Pinterest, in case you hadn’t heard, is a new, fast growing, image-centric community that encourages users to curate their own collections of pictures. Its taken off like wildfire and in the manner of most overnight successes has attracted a shit load of criticism.
There are two issues that keep rearing their heads. The first is the terms and conditions of the site, particularly around copyright. Pinterest delegate the responsibility for clearing permission to use photographs to the user, whilst simultaneously asserting that any picture uploaded to their site may be resold by Pinterest. Not surprisingly this has wound people up in a way not seen since Facebook tried to assert ownership of all pictures uploaded to their site.
The second issue is perhaps more interesting. The user experience at Pinterest does not impose any checks and balances on the pinning of a picture. The user can add a “Pin it” widget to their browser and just “pin” at will, any picture from any web page they like. How many of these users have even read the terms and conditions is a moot point, by using the site, users agree to the terms and conditions. Ignorance is no defence. It can be argued that by making the experience so simple, Pinterest are encouraging the magpies amongst us to steal material to which we are not entitled. Certainly, most of the images on the site today were not created by their curators.
This second issue taps into one of the enduring features of the internet. The world wide web facilitates and encourages a rapid exchange of data. Journalists can research from their desks. The PC has become the Library of Alexandria in that aided and abetted by Google it opens the door to all human knowledge. It has become a hot house for innovation, never has the saying “standing on the shoulders of giants” rung more true. Of course where there are giants, as every follower of the brothers Grimm will know, there are also goblins. For every researcher investigating the tangled web of intrigue that surrounds News International, there is somebody downloading one of my pictures from Pinterest without asking permission or giving credit, never mind a fee.
This is where I stand on the issue. I take photographs with the intention of showing them to other people. This should not come as a surprise! I also create photographs for sale as high quality prints or for editorial use. I need as much exposure as I can get in order to be successful. I have had enquiries and sales through Deviant Art, Flickr, Eye Em and this web site in the last few months. The traffic to my web site has increased due to people following the links from Pinterest. Its another shop window. The internet has provided a fantastic boost to photography – as a result there is both opportunity and competition. I don’t care if a few people copy my low res prints from the web site, its a small price to pay for the increased exposure.
And Pinterest? They are a business and in order to be successful need to find a balance between exploiting their audience and providing a service. A good deal is one in which both sides walk away satisfied. If I felt I was being exploited than I would not be satisfied. If Pinterest were unable to make a living they would not be satisfied. At the moment, I’m a supporter.
check me out at http://pinterest.com/electricalimage/