Of particular note, the background music is a local song called Panggayo, which Michael was kind enough to sing for me.
If you visit Ambon and dive with Maluku Divers, there’s a good chance that Michael will be the guy who picks you up at the airport…so be sure to tease him tell him what a talented singer he is!
Michael chillin’ with his guitar
He has a wonderful voice and is proficient with a number of instruments, including guitar. I’m really happy he agreed to help with the video, since finding appropriate music for a slideshow/ video is always difficult. Featuring local talent adds a nice touch to the finished product.
Enjoy the video, and visit Ambon if you get the opportunity!
It’s that time again! Time to plan next year’s schedule of trips to swim with humpback whales in Tonga.
Note: Before reading on, please take a moment to view this brief public service announcement (please refresh your browser or click here if you don’t see the video below):
Enough silliness. Here’s what my schedule looks like: Trip 1: 9 to 14 August 2011fully booked Trip 2: 21 to 30 August 2011 fully booked Trip 3: 2 to 11 September 2011 fully booked Trip 4: 13 to 18 September 2011 fully booked Trip 5: 9 to 13 August 2011 Trip 6: 16 to 20 August 2011
Please read on for trip details.
Trip 1: 9 to 14 August 2011 (arrive 8 August, depart 15 August, six days on the water), staying on Mounu Island. Six people maximum. Note: This trip will be part of the official launch of Project Whalesong (working project name for the time being), an initiative I’m kick-starting to establish a consistent, long-term humpback whale acoustics data collection program in the waters around Vava’u.
I’ve enlisted the help of Dr. John Potter (a real, live PhD!) and several whale watch operators in Vava’u, so this will be a cooperative effort that I hope will produce a lot of interesting data and insight like my calf count project has.
Humpback whale singing in the classic head-down position
I’ll spell out more details about the project in a separate post. In the meantime, please read my first post from this season for background information about the inception of this project and also about John.
To be completely clear, just because I’m kicking off an acoustics project during this trip doesn’t mean we won’t look for other whales. Far from it! We will get in the water at every reasonable opportunity, because..well…there’s no way to keep me out.
Trip 2: 21 to 30 August 2011 (arrive 20 August, depart 31 August, 10 days on the water), staying in town. Fully booked. Believe it or not, a bunch of people who travelled to Tonga with me this year have decided to come back for more. Go figure.
What this means in practicality is that if you join this trip, you are automatically in the right place at the right time to try to capture outstanding images of humpback whales to enter in the 10-day shootout associated with ODEX.
Of course, you don’t have to be interested in any of the event activities to join this trip. Our primary objectives, as always, are to have fun and learn what we can about the whales.
Trip 4: 13 to 18 September 2011 (arrive 12 September, depart 19 September, six days on the water), staying on Mounu Island. Fully booked.
Scenes like this qualify for contest category Big Stuff!
Trip 5: 9 to 13 August 2011 (board 9 August, get off the boat 13 August, four nights on the yacht) and Trip 6: 16 to 20 August 2011 (board 16 August, get off the boat 20 August, four nights on the yacht), both trips staying on board Jocara. Four people maximum per trip.
Dr John Potter will be leading these two trips aboard Jocara, the same yacht that we used this season to commence work on our acoustics project.
John will be in Vava’u to kick-off Project Whalesong (more details to come in an upcoming post), and we’ll be working together across different vessels with a variety of whale watch operators to cover as much area as possible looking for singing whales. The start of Trip 5 coincides with Trip 1 above (see how organised we are?). I’ll be on other boats during Trip 6, so we’ll be in continuous contact throughout.
John talking on Jocara (while we patiently feign interest)
To give you a quick idea of what we’re looking for, listen to the following short snippets extracted from two recordings we made this year and see if you can tell the difference between them.
Here’s the first:
And the second:
Hear the difference? Its a bit easier with headphones and the high-resolution files (these are down-sampled mp3 files), but I’ll give you a hint/ riddle: Quality is often more important than quantity, but size also matters. I’ll explain in greater detail when I write more about Project Whalesong.
In any case, if you’re interested in finding singers, recording them, photographing and/ or video-ing them, helping to listen to and analyse the recordings thereafter, or even trying to sing like them, these two trips might be for you.
John and I have decided to work from separate boats next season in order to maximise the area we can cover in a given period of time, and also to take advantage of the relative strengths of a yacht (which John will be on) and a speedboat (that I’ll be on).
John will also give a talk(s) about humpback acoustics during the trips. His two public talks at the Aquarium Cafe this season were extremely popular (there’s no accounting for taste).
To wrap up…Please contact me if you’re interested in any of the above trips. If you’d like to travel during dates that are already booked, let me know. I keep a waitlist, because life can sometimes get in the way of fun, and people occasionally need to cancel (though usually regret it later!).
During all the trips, we will continue to gather data for the calf count project, so be prepared to help me look for baby whales!
Sitting on mommy’s head is a favourite calf activity
Here is the presentation that I gave recently at TDEX on 10 and 11 July at the Queen Sirikit Convention Center in Bangkok (See…this is proof that I did more than just overeat while I was in Thailand!).
The 26.5-minute talk is entitled “The End of Photography”, and it’s a summary of my views on the implications of the switch to digital technology for photographers and other content creators.
To be clear…I’m not referring to pixel-counting, the pros/ cons of CF cards vs. SD cards, which computer to use, which processing software to use, or any other technical issue.
The primary point I’m trying to convey is that the switch from analogue to digital has far-reaching implications for all photographers, most of which we’ve collectively only begun to explore and appreciate.
I believe that the issues I set out are fundamentally reshaping the way we can (and should) conceive, plan and execute creative endeavours.
There’s one thing you’ll have to bear with if you watch/ listen to the presentation.
The plan was to have a video camera record the talk, so I could splice in some video footage to liven up the presentation video and also to highlight the occasions when I was pointing things out on my presentation slides.
As it turned out, the video camera wasn’t actually on when I gave the talk, so there are some “slow” sections during the presentation, when there’s no visual action to go along with my rambling, just a static slide.
Hopefully the content of my talk will prove so compelling and spell-binding that you won’t even notice.
After the talk, I synced the timing of the slides with the audio track by using Keynote’s built-in Record function, and then used Final Cut Studio (specifically Final Cut Pro and Soundtrack Pro) to edit the audio.
Using Soundtrack Pro made a noticeable difference in audio quality, as the presentation environment was “challenging”, i.e., open area with lots of competing ambient noise, echo, random people walking by, etc.
I’m planning to visit Papua New Guinea twice in the coming months, first in June 2011 and second in January 2012.
Note: If you’d like advance notice of trips like this in the future, please sign up for my trip e-newsletter. I won’t spam you!
June 2011 Itinerary: Port Moresby to Milne Bay to Walindi
Some time ago, I received a brief email from Craig that went something like this: “Tony, Wow! You gotta see this!” Nothing more. No response to my: “See what???!!!” email for a few days. (This is normal behaviour for Craig.)
As it turned out, he had just dived some reefs on the Papuan Barrier Reef, not too far from Port Moresby, but far enough that no one dives there, at least not on a regular basis.
Now…Craig gets easily excited at times (picture a little boy with knee-socks getting a colourful candy lollipop), so I usually have to calm him down and ask pointed questions to figure out what’s what.
Fortunately, Bob Halstead was also on the boat at the time, so I was able to get independent confirmation for Craig’s enthusiasm.
Craig had stumbled upon some amazing reefs.
Most of the time when people tell me they’ve come across “amazing” such and such, I’m sceptical. But if there’s one thing Craig knows…it’s unspoiled reefs. Bob is no slouch either.
Craig later elaborated, telling me that of the sites he’s dived/ marked, one is a deep passage with a two-stepped wall that has a stunning vista comprising row after row of very large fans. He saw lots of large mobula and eagle rays, wobbegong sharks, silver tips and grey reefs.
Another location apparently has at least 20 bommies like Suzie’s. If you haven’t dived at Suzie’s, here’s a photo to give you an idea of what it’s like:
So basically, it’s a “Wow! You gotta see this!” kind of place.
[Update 19 June: Just received another update from Craig, who's out in this area right now: "Just wanted to let you know about a new discovery. We just finished a dive...and it's awesome!!! We had a large population of female grey reef sharks, 20 plus easily, a few species of grouper, including a giant grouper, 8 or 9 eagle rays flying in formation, mobula rays, many huge dogtooth tuna, some with mackeral and other species of jacks, rainbow runners galore, fusiliers and the list goes on...Truly spectacular!!!"]
We planned the June 2011 itinerary specifically so that we start in Port Moresby and explore the “Wow! You gotta see this!” reefs first. To date, Craig has dived the reefs twice, so there’s still plenty to explore and no doubt new things to discover. If you’re an adventurer at heart, this trip is for you!
Diving along the barrier reef will naturally takes us over to Milne Bay, which is, in my experience, some of the most amazing diving anywhere…critters like you wouldn’t believe, as well as beautiful corals and big stuff too (there’s a manta cleaning station). It’s been a few years since I’ve been to the area, not because I haven’t wanted to go, but because there aren’t many dive operators there now.
Back in the day…there were several liveaboard boats and a couple of land-based operations, so Milne Bay was relatively easy to dive. These days…not so much. Quite a shame, as it’s a world-class destination.
I filmed a documentary in Milne Bay several years ago with NHK of Japan, along with Dr Eugenie Clark, Bob Halstead and Rob Vanderloos. It was an absolutely amazing experience (to say the least!) with my only regret being that I wasn’t able to spend more time in the area.
From Milne Bay, we’ll head north to Kimbe Bay, ending up at Walindi Plantation Resort. Again, there are great reefs along the way that are almost never dived (see the common theme?), with lots of unspoiled marine habitat and no other people around…absolutely perfect for photography.
Of course, that’s a lot of territory to cover, so we’re dividing the trip into three sections:
1. Port Moresby to Milne Bay (31 May to 7 June)
2. Milne Bay (8 to 14 June)
3. Milne Bay to Walindi (16 to 26 June)
Here’s a map to make it easier to get a handle on the geography (click the markers for more details):
Essentially, this makes it possible to get on or off the boat for any of the segments, or hop on board for two or even all three segments of the trip. (The international airport is in Port Moresby. Alotau airport is at Milne Bay. Hoskins airport is at Walindi. Good planning, no?)
As a bonus(?), Bob Halstead will be joining us for the trips. Bob is one of the pioneers of diving in PNG, and in particular, he knows Milne Bay like no one else. Bob is articulate, well-spoken, knowledgeable, and perpetually struggling for a half-decent comeback when I insult him. He’s quite a fish expert, and even has a couple of fish named after him (small, nondescript ones of course). Even more amazing, he still uses a film camera. Well, he knows how to push the shutter release in any case.
All kidding aside, Bob is a treasure trove of information and experience, particularly with regard to the areas we’ll be visiting. I have the greatest respect for him, and it will be a pleasure and an honour to have him with us.
Pricing for the trips is as follows: 1. Port Moresby – Milne Bay (31 May to 7 June)
Cabin 1 US$2800/ person
Cabin 2 US$2625/ person
Cabin 3 US$2450/ person
Cabin 4 US$2800/ person
Cabin 5 US$2800/ person
2. Milne Bay (8 to 14 June)
Cabin 1 US$2400/ person
Cabin 2 US$2250/ person
Cabin 3 US$2100/ person
Cabin 4 US$2400/ person
Cabin 5 US$2400/ person
3. Milne Bay to Walindi (16 to 26 June)
Cabin 1 US$4000/ person
Cabin 2 US$3750/ person
Cabin 3 US$3500/ person
Cabin 4 US$4000/ person
Cabin 5 US$4000/ person
Click here to see the cabin layout on the Golden Dawn.
Please get in touch via my contact form if you’re interested.
January 2012 Itinerary: Eastern Fields
I probably don’t need to write too much about the Eastern Fields, as I can let Craig do the talking in the video I posted.
What I can add is that the Eastern Fields atoll system, like the areas I described above, is not over-dived, is not over-fished, and is not sitting next to areas suffering from over-development.
In case you haven’t noticed, I like travelling to unspoiled places. I don’t mean “unspoiled” in the over-Photoshopped-vacation-brochure sense. I mean truly unspoiled…as in, “almost no one has ever been there” and “you definitely won’t see anyone else underwater there” unspoiled.
The plan for January 2012 is to do two trips. On the first trip, we’ll visit several of the best sites around the Eastern Fields. Depending on how the weather and water look, we may dash over to another reef system called the Ashmore’s. The exact itinerary will be a judgement call based on prevailing conditions.
The second trip will concentrate on my personal favourite dive site in the area, Carl’s Ultimate…a site named after my friend and mentor Carl Roessler.
It’s a small bommie in the middle of a channel that gets swept by nutrient-filled currents. To say the marine life is “amazing” is like saying the Great Barrier Reef is “big”. It’s a major understatement.
Devoting most of an 8-day trip to a single dive site would normally be madness, but believe me, once you see this site, you’ll want to stay.
I’m co-organising the Eastern Fields trips with Eric Cheng and Wetpixel again, so there will no doubt be lots of photographers on board!
Prices and dates are as follows:
1. 10-20 January 2012, Eastern Fields
Cabin 1 US$4320/ person
Cabin 2 US$4050/ person
Cabin 3 US$3780/ person
Cabin 4 US$4320/ person
Cabin 5 US$4320/ person
2. 22-30 January 2012, Carl’s Ultimate
Cabin 1 US$3456/ person
Cabin 2 US$3240/ person
Cabin 3 US$3024/ person
Cabin 4 US$3456/ person
Cabin 5 US$3456/ person
An overview of trip logistics from our previous excursion can be found here, and here is a trip report that Eric posted after our trip.
My trips videos from last year’s excursion are here and here.
Trips aboard Golden Dawn are always an adventure, with lots to see, terrific food, wonderful conversation and unforgettable experiences.
All of these trips will be dedicated to photography.
The waters of Papua New Guinea are teeming with marine life, and you can’t get to many of the places we’ll be visiting except on a liveaboard. Even better, at any given time, we will probably be the only people in the water!
If we find some place or thing that everyone wants to spend time on, we’ll adjust accordingly. Similarly, if we see that conditions aren’t right, we’ll move on and look for a more suitable location.
In other words, we’ll have a plan, but we’ll go with the flow to maximise fun, safety and photographic opportunities.
Let me know if you have any questions, and I look forward to sharing an adventure with you!
I shot all of the video footage and most of the photos during a month-long stay in Papua New Guinea last year aboard the MV Golden Dawn, a trip I co-organised with Eric Cheng and Wetpixel.
Of note…I captured all the video footage with DSLR cameras, using a Canon 5D Mark II underwater and a Canon 7D topside. This is also the first time I’ve edited anything with Final Cut Pro and Motion, both part of Apple’s Final Cut Studio software collection. (So cut me some slack if you see mistakes/ areas for improvement! I think I did an excellent job of making Craig look. No simple task by any means.)
In case it’s not obvious, the waters of Papua New Guinea are absolutely amazing. I’m planning a few more trips with Craig for June 2011 and January 2012. We’re still ironing out specifics, but check back soon for details!
Note: Since posting the first two parts, I’ve received a few comments and emails from people who’ve installed updates 3.0.1 and 3.0.2 and are either experiencing fewer issues or none at all. I still have most of the issues I’ve written about, but that could possibly be due to the fact that I built much of my Lembeh Library prior to the updates. In any case, please note that “performance may vary”, as the marketing slogan goes.
When Apple first announced Aperture 3, the one feature among the “over 200″ new features touted by the company that really got me excited was the potential for creating multimedia output. Here’s why.
For the past several years, I’ve been experimenting with putting together photographs, video, audio and text into slideshows, short videos, and other multimedia presentation formats, because I saw at a relatively early stage the creative potential being unlocked by rapid advances in digital technology.
Whereas print was print, video was video, and audio was audio in the analogue world many of us grew up in, the digitisation in recent years of print (via computers), photographs, video and audio has (a) democratised the availability of affordable hardware, (b) led to a boom in software development to empower all the new hardware, and (c) shifted to a great extent the barrier-to-entry for content creation away from capital ($$$) and circumstance (connections, brown-nosing) toward creativity (brains).
We’re still at the very early stages of this transformation, but this change in paradigm is the primary driver behind the difficulties many “old” media businesses (record companies, newspapers, magazines, book stores, etc.) are experiencing, and is also the impetus underpinning the boom in “new” media businesses (online retailers, social networking communities, online video, etc.).
Those who “get it” and adapt will flourish. Those who don’t will languish.
Ok, enough Darwinian analysis.
The point I’m homing in on is that going forward, content creators must be fluent in as many forms of media as possible, and that with the widespread availability of inexpensive content-creation tools becoming the norm, the storytelling element of content creation becomes more important than ever, as content quality (as opposed to hardware monopoly) becomes the dominant distinguishing factor.
To put this more simply…if you’re a content creator and can’t be original and creative, forget it. Hardware isn’t expensive and scarce enough anymore to keep everyone else down, and there are a lot of talented, driven people out there.
Yes, I realise I’m overstating the case. But I’m positive that the core argument holds, which is the reason that Apple’s announcement of Aperture 3′s ability to manage photos, video and audio, plus edit all three together into a single output…was such a big deal to me.
Up to this point, in order to create multimedia output, I had to struggle…not just with hardware, but also with a multitude of software packages and file formats…and otherwise just spend far too much time worrying about logistics instead of focusing on the quality of my content.
Aperture 3 promised to change much of that.
The problem with being at the cutting edge is that quite often, no one is willing to pay you to try new things. This is especially true in Asia, where one prevalent cultural motif is “Don’t Think Different.”, to mis-paraphrase one of my favourite grammatical errors.
I’ve been explaining the concepts I outlined above to every company I work with in Asia for years…to no avail. For the most part, the young people get it, but the older people in charge of decisions and budgets usually want nothing to do with the internet or multimedia, or they often appear to prefer sticking their heads in the sand and hoping it all just goes away and stops bothering them. Sigh.
What this means is that I have to create my own motivation and find ways to keep up with new developments, even if there’s no obvious near-term financial incentive.
So when Apple announced Aperture 3, I downloaded the update immediately and started playing. The timing was fortuitous, as I was about to head to the Lembeh Strait for several weeks. I assigned myself the goal of using Aperture 3 to create a multimedia slideshow/ video from the material I gathered during the trip.
The Big Picture
Overall, I’m absolutely delighted that Apple took this step. My understanding is that Adobe has also added the ability to work with video in the latest beta release of Lightroom (Caveat: I have not played with Lightroom at all.). This is a positive trend, kickstarted by Aperture 3.
The Slideshow (File, New, Slideshow) function in Aperture 3 definitely works. In fact, if you create a Slideshow with just photographs, it seems to work quite well. I tested the Classic and Ken Burns themes and found them pretty easy to use.
The primary learning curve is figuring out the control panel on the right side of the screen when you go into Slideshow mode. It’s not complicated though.
When you create a Slideshow, you’ll see that there’s a Default Settings tab, with which you can set the parameters for your Slideshow (you can also set these via the menu Aperture, Presets, Slideshow). You should ideally do this before bringing in your images (Quick aside: to bring in your images, all you have to do is drag-and-drop from your Project(s)), but you can always jigger your Default Settings at any point.
The parameters most important to me were Aspect Ratio, slide duration, Crop and Transition…all very easy to understand.
After you bring a photo into the Slideshow, you can edit each individual photo’s settings with the Selected Slides tab. So…you determine overall settings with Default Settings, and tailor each slide with Selected Slides. Easy and logical.
The Ken Burns Effect (which you use to pan, zoom in and out of a photo) works well, which makes it easy to add a dash of movement to still images.
If you make use of this function, be careful not to overdo it. The idea is to sprinkle in enough motion to lead the viewer’s eye where you want it to go, but not so much motion that it becomes a distraction or crosses a line to become irritating.
It’s also fairly easy to add text to your slides in Aperture 3. I used the built-in text generator for the closing credits in my Lembeh Night Safari video.
There were, however, a couple of things I found somewhat user-unfriendly.
1. Screen Layouts
Aperture has three basic screen layouts that I use. Browser:
In the course of editing my Slideshow, I cycled among these screen layouts (using the V Cycle View Mode shortcut key). Browser is the easiest for locating specific images quickly; Viewer is best for concentrating on a single slide; Split View lets you follow the flow of your Slideshow in context with what comes before and after the slide you’re looking at.
Here’s the tricky part.
When you’re working on a Slideshow, there’s another view that looks like a derivative of the Split View. It’s the screen you use to edit the actual Slideshow:
Confusingly, there doesn’t seem to be a specific name assigned to this view in the menu, so you can’t go straight to it via the menu (or if there is, I can’t figure it out).
To aggravate matters, if you don’t have background music/ sound in your Slideshow yet (the green area in the screenshot above, which I didn’t add until the end of my editing process), this un-named Slideshow editing mode looks an awful lot like the ordinary Split View.
The screenshot below is of the Slideshow screen without the green music track. Compare that to the screenshot of the Split View two images above.
The editing dialogue on the right side distinguishes this view from the Split View, but if you’re cycling through rapidly trying to select photos, re-arrange them, and then edit the Slideshow…it gets confusing.
I ended up using the little toggle buttons highlighted below to switch back-and-forth between Split View and the Slideshow editing screen…a bit of a pain…and I still can’t always get to the view/ screen I want quickly without cycling through extra screens or making a mistake and having to fumble with buttons a bit to get the correct view:
This screen ambiguity and user-unfriendly interface is by no means a fatal flaw, but it’s certainly something I hope Apple will change with an update. I’d prefer to see the screen for Slideshow editing to be assigned a name…something dead-obvious like, say, Slideshow Edit…and that it be added to the View menu, and automatically become part of the cycled-through screens when you use the V shortcut key (appearing as an active choice only when you’re working on a Slideshow).
That way, people already familiar with the Aperture shortcut keys could just stick to using the V key to change views, instead of fumbling with buttons.
2. Adding Slides
One other annoyance was the fact that it seems like you can only add photos to the end of your Slideshow.
Let’s say I have forty images lined up already in my Slideshow, and I decide that I really must add another image between photographs twelve and thirteen.
When I drag and drop a photo into the Slideshow, it goes to the end of the queue and becomes number forty-one.
This happens even if I select slide twelve before dragging and dropping a new image, or if I place the playhead/ timeline indicator at a position between slides twelve and thirteen before dragging and dropping.
So what I’d end up having to do is drag-and-drop a new photo into the Slideshow, cycle into Browser mode, move the photo manually up through the existing slides to position it between twelve and thirteen, then cycle back to the Slideshow editing screen to edit the slide.
Again, not a deal-killer, but something that could be improved. Having the ability to choose exactly where I want to drop a new slide seems like a no-brainer, must-have capability.
Video and Audio
The real test, of course, came with how Aperture 3 handled video and audio files. On a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being piss-poor and 10 being out-of-this-world, I’d give Aperture a rating of somewhere between 6 and 7, meaning better than just “ok”, but not a hit out-of-the-park.
Some explanation of the areas I think need improvement:
1. Limited Trim/ Edit Capability
Aperture 3 gives you the ability to Trim video and audio clips, which translates into being able to lop off unwanted front and back ends of clips.
This is an essential feature to have in a multimedia-management software package, but there are limitations to what you can do right now with Trim in Aperture 3.
The Trim tool is rough. You call the Trim tool up with the little gear control to the right of the playhead for your video. As you can see from the screenshot below, you can adjust the yellow highlighted area to determine which portions of your video you want to use.
Dragging the yellow area to select what you want and don’t want is easy, but you don’t really have fine control. It’s more like doing a rough cut, which, to be fair, is probably more than enough for most people and most circumstances.
The thing is, if Aperture 3 is meant to be a “professional” application, the Trim tool doesn’t provide sufficient control.
To draw a parallel with photo editing, it’d be something akin to Aperture 3 providing you with the ability to apply contrast to a photo, but not providing Curves for fine-tuning or Brushes for selective application. Probably ok for most people most of the time, but not ideal for professional users.
2. Volume Control
When you bring a video clip into the Slideshow view, the editing dialogue recognises that you have a video clip, and it provides you with options for controlling volume, as shown here:
The control for the absolute Volume level works well, though there is no visual feedback to give you an idea of whether the volume is too high or too low, so you just have to play it by ear (I know…bad joke).
The Fade In and Fade Out functions work, but leave something to be desired. You can’t directly control the audio levels, so the fading is imprecise. Fade Out, for instance, sometimes resulted in an abrupt, jarring drop of sound at the end of a clip.
To be fair to Apple, it’s the nature of working with audio. There can be sudden changes in audio levels, which a canned Fade In or Fade Out system can’t anticipate.
But again, like my comment about the Trim function above, I can’t help but feel that such a “rough cut” approach isn’t in keeping with positioning Aperture 3 as software for media professionals.
As a result of the inability to fine-tune audio, I had to export one video clip (the ending sequence with the staff of Kasawari Lembeh Resort) and edit the audio in Final Cut Express, then re-import the edited file to Aperture 3 and insert into my Slideshow timeline.
The same thought applies to the program’s Reduce volume of main track to: function, which is basically ducking (translation: temporarily reducing the volume of background music to highlight other audio, like a voiceover).
To the extent I tested this function, it worked well, but the duck-in and duck-out times and levels are fixed, so there’s no nuance control available.
I thought about layering in ambient sound recordings and possibly a bit of narration, but in the end decided that I probably wouldn’t like the lack of control over the ducking function, so I binned that idea.
3. Video Playback
A more significant problem I experienced had to do with playing back and reviewing my slideshow in real time, with all the transitions and video/ audio intact.
I think (though I’m not 100% certain) that with photos alone, there would not have been any issue.
Whenever the playhead hit a video clip, however, playback of the video clip either stalled, skipped, or…Aperture crashed.
The crashing happened so often toward the end of my Slideshow creation process that I nearly gave up. Let’s just say I was tense and emotional for a prolonged and aggravated period.
I had already installed updates 3.0.1 and 3.0.2 by that stage in my editing process. I just tested my Slideshow again now (after installing the OS X 10.6.3 update), but the issue still exists (the octopus between seconds 6 and 25):
Again, to be fair to Apple, the video clips are H.264 .mov files straight out of Canon 5D MkII and 7D cameras, which isn’t the most user-friendly format. It’s well-documented by now that you need to transcode Canon DSLR clips to a more editing friendly format to work with the video in Final Cut Pro or Final Cut Express, so it’s asking a lot of Aperture 3 to handle the clips un-transcoded.
In a way, it’s impressive that Aperture can manage such clips.
I transcoded a few clips to Apple Intermediate Codec (I don’t have ProRes because I only have Final Cut Express installed) to see what would happen, but I didn’t notice much of a difference. That could’ve been due to the un-transcoded clips remaining in the timeline though. To be honest, I didn’t have it in me to transcode everything and re-construct the slideshow to do a more thorough test.
As a result of this issue, I didn’t use the neat little function of fine-tuning image and video timing to match to the background music…”Tap out the time of your fades and cuts”, as Apple describes it.
With the video tracks skipping and stalling constantly, it just wasn’t feasible, no matter how much I wanted to try this intriguing function.
4. Background Music/ Main Audio Track
The last major thing I want to mention concerns the main audio track.
Adding a main audio track for background music is straightforward…just drag-and-drop. Working with the audio track isn’t as gratifying though.
Beyond the overall Volume control and general Fade In, Fade Out (the same controls I discussed above in the relation to volume control for video clips), you can’t tweak sound levels.
Also, it doesn’t seem like you can place the main audio track anywhere except the very beginning of your Slideshow. So for instance, if you wanted five seconds of silence before your music gradually fades in…it’s not possible (without the help of an external editing program).
Perhaps I’ve missed something, because the Help menu seems to suggest that it is possible to place the main audio track at any point you choose:
The caption says: “Drag the song or audio clip to where you want the audio to begin.”
I tried every which way I could think of, but I couldn’t get the main audio track to start anywhere but the very beginning.
Perhaps this caption applies only to secondary audio tracks (like voiceover tracks), which you can drag in and place in the body of the Slideshow (In which case, however, the illustration in the screenshot above would be misleading, as it was associated with the explanation of the main audio track).
Finally, once I added the main audio track, “Aperture quit unexpectedly” every few minutes. Testing just now, after having installed the recent OS X 10.6.3 update, Aperture seems more stable in this regard, though it’s difficult to be sure without editing an entire Slideshow from scratch.
Ok, that’s probably more than enough to give you a reasonable idea of what working with Aperture 3 was like for me the first time around, both the pros and cons.
I didn’t cover everything I liked and didn’t, but I think I got most of the important stuff.
To summarise my primary take-away points:
1. Aperture 3′s photo-editing capabilities have improved significantly over its predecessor. There are kinks to work out, but on the whole, the Aperture work flow is logical and easy to learn, and the editing tools are powerful enough to eliminate, or significantly reduce, the occasions when I need to open Photoshop.
2. There is a lot of promise in many of the new features Aperture 3 has introduced, especially the ability to manage and edit photographs, video and audio together. As I’ve noted in my three posts, there are specific points of execution to improve, but hey…we’re a lot better off now than a year ago, and I’m hopeful that progress in the right direction will continue.
3. Promise, however, requires action to back it up. I can’t help but feel dissatisfied with some aspects of my initial experience with Aperture 3. I guess the best way to describe how I feel is to say that working with Aperture 3 has been the most Windows-like experience I’ve ever had with an Apple product. I know…that’s being super-duper-harsh. But the multiple crashes, spinning beachballs, screen freezes and such just remind me of the torture often associated with working in a Windows environment.
A few of my photographer friends characterised Aperture 3 as a “beta release”. I think that’s going a bit far, but that sentiment conveys the frustration many people have experienced, particularly I think with the upgrading process from earlier versions of Aperture.
More to the point, I have to ask myself what the beta testers for Aperture 3 actually did. None of the issues I highlighted are terribly esoteric after all, so I sorta figure that any half-competent beta tester would’ve say…noticed that metadata disappears upon export? Or…picked up on the fact that video doesn’t actually play back smoothly? Or noticed that upgrading an Aperture 2 library to Aperture 3 can be a traumatic and emotionally scarring experience?
4. My final thought is that Aperture 3 feels somewhat schizophrenic. On the one hand, the improvements in many of the photo-editing functions are so good that I’m jumping up and down for joy.
On the other hand, the addition of (what are to me) unimportant functions like Faces and Places is distracting, the oddball should-be-easy-to-fix issues like metadata incompatibility and inability to search keywords properly are irritating, and the overall Slideshow interface seems decidedly non-professional.
The Slideshow interface reminds me of the iMovie ’08 release, which is when I ditched iMovie and bought FCP Express, because I viewed that version as an intolerable dumbing down of its predecessor iMovie HD.
If Aperture 3 is positioned to be software for professional and semi-professional photographers, then FCP, rather than iMovie, should be the overriding idiom for the video integration…no?
I can see why Apple might not want to cannibalise the potential customer base for FCP or FCP Express, but if Aperture really is targeted to the serious end of the photography spectrum, I can’t help but feel that Apple should incorporate aspects of a more traditional timeline for video and audio integration. The cheesy “iMove ’08-ness” should go.
Perhaps I’m asking for too much. I was, after all, able to put together a nice video with Aperture 3, despite some challenges. It’s just that I have high expectations of Apple, much higher than I have of other companies. I want Apple to deliver a software package that’s intuitive, powerful and doesn’t make me scratch my head wondering how it got past a panel of beta testers.
In the final analysis, I will continue to use Aperture and hope that Apple is listening and will respond in short order. Updates 3.0.1 and 3.0.2 came out fairly quickly, so there is hope. And I’ll definitely test with a new Library and new images to see if a completely post-3.0.1/3.0.2 experience is better.
But I’ve also downloaded the trial version of Lightroom 3 beta, so I’ll find time to take that for a spin with some non-crucial editing work and see how it goes.
OK. This is where I get to gripe a bit about some of the issues I encountered while using Aperture 3 for the first time. I’ll be as constructive as possible, and offer workarounds where I’ve been able to figure one out, and link to other resources that might help you if you encounter similar issues.
I’ll start with general issues first, and then later, discuss more specific ones related to producing a multimedia slideshow with Aperture 3. Again, not in any particular order:
1. Upgrading from Aperture 2
The first potential problem you may encounter if you’re already an Aperture user but haven’t upgraded to version 3 is upgrading your existing Library, which you have to do in order to access your data with Aperture 3.
There are some people who have had no problem with this. But there are also many who’ve experienced significant difficulties. I don’t know what the cause or proper way to refer to the issue or issues concerned is, but I call it the “Hang and Chew” problem.
Basically, it seems that when some users try to upgrade their existing Aperture Library to be compatible with Aperture 3, the software ties up excessive RAM and ends up going around and around in endless loops unable to execute the upgrade. Your computer “hangs” and Aperture “chews” through your RAM.
Before you attempt to upgrade, I’d suggest you start by reading this thread on the Apple support forum (there are other similar threads in the support forum) and also do a Google search for something like “Aperture 3 library upgrade” to see what other people have to say.
I was fortunate. I upgraded a relatively small Library that comprised only data from my Dominica trip as a test. It took a long time, during which process my new laptop was basically brain dead, and I watched significant spikes in my machine’s RAM allocation to Aperture (To monitor for yourself, use the Activity Monitor program, which you can find in the Utilities folder, which in turn should be in your Applications folder).
So, I ditched any notion of trying to convert a bigger Library with 65,000+ images and instead, I decided to Export some of my latest Projects from recent trips and Import each of them individually into a new, clean, individual Aperture 3 Library dedicated to each separate trip.
This is consistent with my “one trip, one Library” philosophy now, and it saved me the hassle of dealing with the Hang and Chew problem. It still took some time, but I didn’t experience the long hangs and failure described by other users.
The downside is that I don’t have the time or patience to do this for all my past trips, so the bulk of my images still resides in one big Aperture 2 Library. I’ve kept version 2 of Aperture on my machine so I can open/ view that Library with Aperture 2 if I need. And if I ever need a specific image or more data from that Library, I’ll Export and Import, and then work with it.
This is obviously a sub-optimal workaround for what should have been a straightforward, non-problematic process.
2. Getting Stuck
Whenever you Import images into an Aperture Library, the software generates Thumbnail images, which are the little images you use to navigate around and recognise which image is which.
[Side note: To draw a distinction, you can also, as a separate option, set Aperture to create Preview images in the Preference, Previews menu, which gives you access to jpg image previews even when your actual data is offline (i.e., when you use Referenced files). Doing this has its advantages (namely, always having handy jpgs), but I don't use Preview images at all. It takes time to generate them, and they require extra disk space (how much exactly depends on the settings you choose in the Preferences menu).]
During my Lembeh trip, Aperture 3 repeatedly got stuck generating Thumbnails. There was no apparent rhyme or reason for when this happened. In such instances, Aperture’s Activity monitor (Window, Show Activity) would show something like the screenshot below, with no apparent progress in ever generating the Thumbnails in question:
A similar, perhaps related phenomenon was the “Processing Something Forever” situation, when I would find Aperture “processing” an indeterminate item or items (sometimes in a grammatically incorrect manner, as in the screenshot below).
In both of these situations, which happened often enough to be considered a regular occurrence, I waited, and waited, and waited, and…until the only practical thing I could do was force the program to shut down (Option-Command-Escape).
This is a screenshot I took of another instance while waiting for “processing” to finish…in other words, I had plenty of time to (a) think “hey, maybe I should take a screenshot”, (b) call up my screenshot program, (c) take and save a screenshot, and (d) still have time left over to go for a dive or two. Bear in mind that I’m not the quickest person on a computer, so we’re talking about a decent chunk of time here.
To address these situations, I tried repairing the Library (hold down Option-Command while restarting Aperture) several times to no avail.
I then resorted to over-riding Aperture’s Thumbnail generation (hold down Shift while restarting Aperture). After I did this several times, the frequency with which I encountered these problems decreased.
However…I had to then live with blurry Thumbnails, which I could only view clearly if I selected the image, hit P to get out of Quick Preview mode, and then waited for Aperture to do whatever it has to do to create a viewable image…making it difficult to do quick searches to find something I wanted. Here’s an example of how blurry the images looked:
Patching with the 3.0.1 and 3.0.2 updates has not eliminated this issue. I just tested.
3. Stuck Screen
This may just be a variation of the problem discussed above, but on a few occasions, Aperture got stuck between two views when I pressed Z to get a zoomed-in perspective.
So when I wanted to see something like this:
I got this:
And again, the only way out was to force Aperture to quit, then re-open the program.
Apple received more than a handful of reports from me.
4. Seemingly Random Thumbnail Rebuild
At one point, I opened up Aperture and found that all my Thumbnails were gone. Yup, just gone. You can probably imagine how happy I was about that.
This happened when I had about 7,000 files (combined photo, video, audio) in the Library.
To get the Thumbnails back, I had to manually scroll through all the files (yes, every last one) to kickstart the Thumbnail generation process, and then wait for all the Thumbnails to re-appear.
As if that weren’t painful enough, all the Thumbnails were still blurry, which meant if I wanted to see any specific image clearly, I had to click on each one, hit P and wait.
Fortunately, this only happened once. I have no idea what the trigger could have been for this.
5. Speed (or Lack Thereof) and Crashing
Even on a brand new MacBook Pro (2.8GHz Intel Core Duo, 8GB RAM) with newly installed software, Aperture 3 can sometimes be irritatingly slow.
In Part 1, I mentioned that I really like Aperture’s substantially upgraded photo editing capabilities. I do. The drawback, however, is that sometimes, when you try to execute an edit, it takes a loooooooong time for Aperture to do it.
This occurred most frequently with the Retouch tools, which is why I alluded to the notion that you should, at least for the time being, do minor editing in Aperture and major edits in Photoshop.
For underwater photographers, the practical implication is that you should undertake substantial backscatter removal in Photoshop rather than Aperture, which is somewhat of a shame, as this negates one of the primary benefits of using an all-in-one photo management tool with non-destructive editing functionality.
The “take forever” syndrome also happened from time-to-time when trying to Export image versions.
Another irritant was the frequency with which I didn’t have to force Aperture to quit. The program did it all by itself.
I believe it wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that this happened at least once a day during the trip, sometimes more, always for no apparent reason.
6. Repetitive Import
In Part 1, I referred to the improved Import dialogue as one of the good features of Aperture 3. Overall, it is a nice improvement over Aperture 2, but there’s one major problem…the “Do not import duplicates” function doesn’t work.
This is my workflow (the same one I used with Aperture 2): Ingest and rename photos to hard disk using Photo Mechanic. My file names are by default in numerical order, so that there is absolutely no ambiguity about where the file belongs, or the order in which it should fall.
Example format: 201002_Lembeh_Underwater_0006.cr2
So let’s say I have files numbering up to 100 in my 201002_Lembeh_Underwater folder already. The next time I import new files with Photo Mechanic, the numbering commences with 101 and proceeds in numerical order.
I then Import as Referenced Files into Aperture, mapping the relevant file folder to the relevant Project in Aperture. My file folders on my hard disk and Aperture Project names correspond one-for-one, so again…no ambiguity.
Sticking to the same example, if my Aperture Project already had files 1 to 100 referenced to the file folder on the hard disk, and then I select Import and map to the same folder (with the “Do not import duplicates” box selected) into which I had ingested new files with Photo Mechanic, Aperture should recognise files 1 to 100 as pre-existing, already-imported-by-Tony-into-the-Aperture-Project files and ignore them, identifying only 101 and higher for importing.
This way, I don’t import file number 6 (as one example) every time, over and over again…in other words, I “Do not import duplicates”.
This is exactly how Aperture 2 behaved, and it’s also exactly how Aperture 3 behaved at first. Commencing some time around when I installed update 3.0.1 (the timing might be a coincidence?), checking the “Do not import duplicates” box has had no effect, except giving me a false sense of security.
Each time I Import referenced files from my hard disk to my Aperture Project, every last file in the folder comes into the dialogue box, and I have to uncheck the ones I don’t want to import. This can be really tedious with hundreds, even thousands of files.
In practice now, I use Command-A to select all the files, then uncheck them all at once, and then manually check the ones I want to import. I can think of better ways to spend my time.
One important distinction with regard to duplicate file imports: Aperture 3 failed to recognise duplicate video files from the first time I tried, so I was already facing this issue with video files. I thought that perhaps there was something unique about video files that was causing this phenomenon.
But then, this started happening with my image files too, so there’s definitely something Aperture-specific going on.
Again, there is discussion in the Apple support forums about this topic, but I haven’t trawled through to figure out the current status.
What I know is that my Import workflow worked just fine and dandy with Aperture 2, and even with Aperture 3 for the first couple of thousand files or so I imported. So, my conclusion…”Dear Apple, please fix this.”
7. A Small Quirk
This is a minor quirk.
When you’re in the Browser view (the one with all the little thumbnails), there is a scroll bar on the right side. It’s a standard scroll bar, and should behave like one.
If the position indicator is at the top of the scroll bar and you place your cursor below it, then click-and-hold on the scroll bar, the position indicator moves down and keeps doing so until you let go of your click. No surprises there.
If the position indicator is at the very bottom of the scroll bar, however, and you place your cursor above it and click-and-hold on the scroll bar, nothing happens. Actually, the position indicator tries to move up, but then drops back down to the very bottom.
It’s minor, but irritating, since I use the scroll bar.
Following is a video to make it easier to visualise. First I click repetitively on the scroll bar, which poses no problems (except hasten the onset of carpal tunnel syndrome). Then, I click-and-hold several times. You’ll see that the position indicator doesn’t want to budge when I do this.
One issue I’ve had with Aperture since the beginning is the way the program handles (or doesn’t handle) keywords.
Keywording is a big part of photography these days, and adding this type of metadata to your files makes it much easier and faster to search for specific images, ID animals, compare photographs and submit files to third parties.
Aperture 3 continues the Aperture legacy of being able to search for keywords ONLY by the first word in a string.
For instance, if you have the keyword “flamboyant cuttlefish” in your keyword list, you can only search by “flamboyant”, not by “cuttlefish”.
So what? Well, it’s a royal pain in the a** when you have thousands of keywords, such as with the invaluable Marine Life Keywords List. Having all those animal names pre-populated in your keyword dialogue box is incredibly useful, especially in a critter-rich destination like Lembeh, but much less so if Aperture doesn’t allow you to search efficiently.
I was hoping version 3 would fix this annoying (un)feature, but alas, it remains. The workaround is to keep a text file of your keywords on your computer, and then search that text file in a text editor for the term you’re seeking, find the word or words you want, copy and paste that exact phrase into Aperture’s keyword search field, and then you’ll find the keyword (along with parent categories in the keyword hierarchy) you need.
An awful lot of trouble to get around Aperture’s lack of basic search intelligence, don’t you think?
I saved the worst for last…metadata incompatibility. I’ll make this one quick, because I’m getting tired of typing.
When you export files from Aperture, the metadata (keywords, captions, copyright, etc.) you’ve added doesn’t always show up in other programs (like Photoshop!).
No need to read that again. It’s true. Metadata goes “poof!” and vanishes like Harry Potter with that invisibility cloak thing. (Actually, I think, though I’m not certain, that like young Harry, the metadata is there, but other programs can’t see it.)
So you’ll have to re-input all the metadata after you export a file from Aperture, usually by copying and pasting each and every field into the file, so that other programs can see your metadata.
A few people sent me links to explanations about why this is happening. I must confess that I lost interest after I read enough to confirm that I wasn’t losing my mind. (Just picture a nitrogen-saturated me sitting in Lembeh scratching my head thinking: “So wait. You mean Aperture hides or erases all my metadata? So wait. You mean Aperture hides or erases all my metadata? So wait. You mean Aperture hides or erases all my metadata? So wait. You mean Aperture hides or erases all my metadata?…”)
Metadata is critical to open exchange of information among people and different software packages. The inability of Aperture 3 to make nice with everyone else’s software is $%*($#(!! !#$#m 95&!@@#$@!!!!!!! ridiculous.
Note (30 Apr 2010): I just tested Photoshop CS5. Metadata associated with files exported from Aperture 3 shows up properly in CS5. So, the good thing is that this solves the metadata problem. The bad thing is you have to fork over more money in order to make full use of Aperture 3.
I Changed My Mind
I hadn’t anticipated this summary of some of the general issues I encountered to be this long.
I think it’s better if I write about considerations pertaining to putting together a multimedia slideshow with Aperture 3 separately, so I guess there will be a Part 3.
Once again, if I’ve made a blindingly stupid mistake, please let me know. And if you have anything to add, good or bad, please do.
As I mentioned at the end of my previous post, I used Aperture 3 to manage and edit the images, video and audio from my recent trip to Indonesia. I also put together my Lembeh Night Safari trip video using Aperture 3.
In this post and one to follow later (actually, it became two additional posts: Using Aperture 3: Part 2; and Using Aperture 3, Part 3), I’ll do my best to set out the key points from my experience…both the good and the not so good. In case you have no idea what Aperture 3 is and are wondering why anyone would care…it’s the most recent version of Apple’s media-management software, released not too long ago.
Let me preface my discussion of Apple’s latest version of Aperture by setting the context for my views.
1. First, I have used Aperture since version 1 of the software. In other words, I wasn’t coming into version 3 of Aperture blind. I had somewhere around 75,000 Aperture-managed images under my belt before I departed to Indonesia. I’ve also used Apple computers since my first Apple II, so I’m not a Mac newbie.
2. I only use referenced files in Aperture, meaning that I don’t import files directly into Aperture (“Managed” files in the Aperture lexicon). I use Photomechanic to import, sort and name files into a rational folder structure, and then reference those files in Aperture projects. (If this is gobbledygook to you, I apologise, but I can’t really go into more explanation about this topic here.) The reason I use Photomechanic is that it’s lightning-fast reading RAW image files. The reason I use referenced files is that I work only on a laptop, and I can’t carry around GBs (actually TBs now) of image data everywhere I go.
3. I have not been trained or coached in any substantial way on the use of Aperture, nor have I spent any significant time in discussion forums or other support groups talking about Aperture. I learn best by jumping head-first into things and then asking questions when I hit a wall, not by talking about or listening to how to do things.
4. I also don’t read manuals, though I use the Help menu a lot. I consult Google whenever I encounter a roadblock, through which process I can quickly determine whether other people have hit a similar obstacle, and more importantly, if someone better informed/ more tenacious than I am has found a solution to the conundrum in question. In many, perhaps most, cases, there are existing discussion threads in the Apple support forums with people exchanging views (i.e., b*tching) about the very same problem I’m facing.
5. Though I am not an IT expert by any means, I am certainly at the software-proficient, IT-philic end of the normal user spectrum. In other words, I spend a heckuva lot of time with my computer, and I generally figure things out (however convoluted and tortured a path I take).
6. Software is a means to an ends for me. I know what my objectives are, and I only care about the ins and outs of software to the extent that I can achieve what I want to get done. I don’t obsess or geek-out over minor details.
7. Before I installed Aperture 3, I got a brand-spanking new MacBook Pro, set up with the latest version of OS X, and with all software reinstalled. My OS and applications reside on an Intel 160GB SSD drive, and all my working data resides on a separate internal 500GB spinning drive. My machine was configured by my friend Eric Cheng, who actually knows what he’s doing…the point being that I started with a state-of-the-art, tabula rasa machine that was not plagued by any legacy software, unresolved conflicts, missing files, etc.
8. As of the beginning of this year, I started creating a separate Library in Aperture for every trip/ assignment. I amended my workflow in this manner because found that once I hit something on the order of 60,000 referenced images, Aperture got funky on me. The spinning beachball appeared with irritating regularity, and in some cases, Aperture (version 2) crashed over and over again like waves pounding a rocky coast.
I read and heard about other photographers experiencing similar issues, many of whom adopted this multiple-Library approach. Creating a separate Library for each trip reduces the workload for Aperture, and also minimises the risk associated with crashes. Database corruption can result in irrecoverable files…meaning that you’d have to recreate the relevant portions of your image Library…a pleasure most of us would prefer to live without. I don’t know enough about the software to know if a serious database problem could wipe out all data, though I suspect it’s a plausible scenario.
9. This is one of the reasons I was anxious to test Aperture 3. There was a long hiatus between the launches of version 2 and version 3 of the software, and I was hoping that the latest version would address many of the outstanding issues that the Aperture user community had identified. I was also looking forward to testing the new features, especially the ability to organise and edit video and audio files.
10. Finally, I don’t proclaim to be an Aperture expert, or to be an authority in any sense of the word. If you read what I write and find that I’ve made a mistake, or that I’ve completely overlooked something (an entirely realistic possibility), please let me know, preferably in a constructive and adult manner.
I’m also only highlighting the functions I’ve used/ tested and find useful for my workflow and needs. I’m fully aware Aperture 3 has many more functions than the ones I outline below.
The Good Stuff
So with this background information, let me start with the stuff that I really liked…listed in no particular order, just typing as things pop into my mind.
1. RAW conversion
This is a qualitative observation. At the heart of Aperture (and competing software Lightroom from Adobe) is a RAW conversion engine, which lets you “develop” and tweak RAW files. (I guess I should mention that I only shoot in RAW, and you should too if you’re at all serious about your photography.)
Each iteration of Aperture has seen a marked improvement in the RAW conversion engine, with Aperture 3′s RAW conversion being the best so far.
For underwater macro shots like most of the images I took in Lembeh, Aperture 2 (the previous Aperture iteration) performed OK, but not great, in my opinion.
After this trip, I can confidently state that Aperture 3′s handling of colours with macro images is significantly better than previous versions of the software.
How do I know this? By looking at the images.
I’m not big on conducting extensive, involved objective tests. There are many other people who do things like that really well…people who are much more patient and methodical than I am.
My opinion is based on looking at tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of digital images, and processing a good portion of them in Aperture. You’ll just have to trust my opinion on this one (or, alternatively, ignore what I say and toss it out as a bunch of bovine-hockey).
One area I wasn’t able to test extensively was how Aperture 3 handles wide-angle reef shots with colourful foregrounds, blue backgrounds and wide range of blues. Aperture 2 wasn’t great with such images, often producing dull, drab, uninspiring blues (processing such images for print was when I most often turned to Canon’s Digital Photo Professional software).
I didn’t shoot enough of this type of image in Lembeh to offer an informed opinion at this juncture on how Aperture 3 performs with wide-angle scenery.
Yes, I know this doesn’t make any sense to any normal human being, but if you have Aperture 3 installed, call up a file and press those shortcut keys. I found myself using this combination of keys a lot.
F calls up full-screen mode, which allows you to devote all your screen real estate to viewing and editing, eliminating distractions from other stuff. If you’re fortunate enough to have multiple large screens in a dedicated work area, this may be more of a “nice-to-have” rather than a crucial function. But if you work mostly or entirely on a 15-inch laptop screen like I do, it’s great to make full use of the screen.
H calls up the heads-up panel for access to all of Aperture’s editing functions.
P toggles you from preview mode to full-resolution mode, which you need to be in for editing your images.
Z gives you zoom functionality, so you can zip right in to get an up-close view of every part of your image. There is a navigation box that appears automatically, so you can use your cursor to move around the image.
The F-H-P-Z keystroke combination is my default finger behaviour whenever I want to view and edit an image. Try it. It works. Really well.
When you’re done editing a particular image, press these keys again (in whatever order you want) to get back to a default window view with preview mode turned on, so you can scroll rapidly through images.
Here’s an example:
Going hand-in-hand with the improved RAW conversion capability and full-screen editing mode of Aperture 3 are significantly improved editing functions (all of which are available via the Adjustments panel in the Inspector.
In fact, as I alluded to earlier, the editing functionality in Aperture 3 is good enough now that I rarely had to resort to Photoshop (which, I’m sure was Apple’s objective).
One of the functions I used often was Retouch…to hit backscatter and clean up minor blemishes like sensor dust. This editing function essentially encompasses the functions of clone-and-stamp (called Clone) and the healing brush (called Repair) in Photoshop (Tangent: You should take a look at the content-aware editing function coming in the next version of Photoshop!).
Assuming you are familiar with those Photoshop functions, you’ll have no problem figuring out how to use Retouch.
If you’re good with the latest MacBook Pro trackpad, use two-finger swipe right and left to increase and decrease the size of your brush respectively. It took me a few images to get used to this, but once I did, this was the quickest way to change brush sizes. Combine this with the F-H-P-Z shortcut pattern, and you have instant spot-removal/ touch-up capability.
The Retouch functions work well, with the only caveat being that it can sometimes take a while for Aperture 3 to “think through” the processing. So if you have a lot of this type of editing to do (like lots of backscatter), it may be faster to do it in Photoshop. In other words, I like Repair and Clone for minor cleaning up, but relying on these tools could be too cumbersome for involved editing.
4. Levels and Curves Levels has been around a while in Aperture, so requires no explanation. Curves is new. And it’s a fantastic addition! The Curves function works just like Curves in Photoshop, in RGB mode or by individual channel.
Here’s the thing…the combination of Levels and Curves gives you incredible control over the way your image looks. If you shoot a reasonably correct exposure, these two functions will give you the power to get you to what you want 99% of the time.
As a corollary, if your exposure is too far off, no amount of software voodoo will save it, so please don’t subscribe to the oft-repeated myth that Photoshop (or any other editing software) can make a bad image good.
5. Other Adjustment Tools
The adjustments above are the ones I used to get most of my editing done for underwater macro images. If after quick application of Levels, Curves and Retouch (with White Balance if necessary, a bit of Exposure, Recovery and Black Point adjustment) I don’t have an image I like, then I forget it.
At this stage in my photographic career, I can tell on sight whether an image will make this cut or not, but if you’re just starting out, or trying to figure out when you should save an image and when you should ditch it, this might be a good general rule of thumb to follow.
After this, everything else is a tweak…which I only do if there’s a reason to do it, and/ or if I have lots of free time (which is almost never).
The other functions I’ve tested and like in Aperture 3 are: Straighten, Crop, Chromatic Aberration (new to Aperture 3 and very useful for underwater photography), Dodge and also Burn, both available under Quick Brushes (new to Aperture 3).
I have not and probably won’t use the Preset functions, and I haven’t found the need to explore any of the other functions much.
It’s easier to shoot a good photograph and spend minimal time in post than to capture a sub-par image and spend hours trying to edit into something usable.
Oh incidentally…the Faces and Places functionality are of no interest to me. I did test Faces just for fun when I imported my Aperture 2 library from my Dominica sperm whale trip into Aperture 3. In this admittedly limited and probably unfair test, Faces found faces in the chaotic patterns in the water next to whales, while it failed to recognise actual faces in many clear, topside photos.
No…I wasn’t stupid enough to think that I should apply Faces to blue-water whale images. It was my first stress test of Aperture 3, and I wanted to see what would happen.
In any case, if I want to make sure I don’t forget someone in a photo, I type their name into the image caption field. And until such time that GPS functionality is built into every camera and is as easy to activate as selecting a menu item, it’s too much effort for too little return for what I do.
6. Multiple Libraries
I’m not sure if the online chatter among Aperture users about problems with large image libraries played a role in the introduction of this feature or not, but Aperture 3 has a new menu item under File, Switch to Library which gives you the ability to switch back-and-forth among different libraries.
This fits perfectly with my new workflow of creating new a Library for every trip. Given the introduction of this function, using multiple libraries is a no-brainer, both for convenience and risk management.
7. Import Dialogue
By way of interface changes, the new Import dialogue screen is an improvement over the same function in Aperture 2…a nice touch that makes the software more user friendly.
The layout of the dialogue box is clear and easy to understand. And particularly useful is the ability to check and uncheck the files you want (or don’t want) to import.
There were some irritating issues with import, however, which I’ll discuss in the second part of my write-up.
8. Managing Video and Audio Files
One of the big steps forward taken by this version of Aperture is the introduction of the ability to manage non-photographic media files, i.e., video and audio.
There’s no doubt in my mind that “photography” is a thing of the past. Don’t get me wrong: Beautiful photographic images will never go out of style, but making a living as a still-image photographer will be more difficult than ever (as if it weren’t difficult enough already) as working with multiple media formats gradually becomes the norm.
The introduction of video capability in DSLR format is a game-changer, one that’s been a long time coming, and one that undoubtedly has many more twists and turns ahead. But it’s a game-changer in a positive way…at least to my way of thinking.
I shoot to tell stories.
The ability for me to record high quality video and audio with minimal extra fuss and expense opens up a whole new world of possibility.
Instead of being restricted to showing a handful of photos and hammering out a bunch of text, I can now use a combination of still images, video footage, audio and narrative text to weave a more involved, richer experience for my audience.
Depending upon the circumstances, I can use all video, all stills, a bit of both, or even just audio or just text. I can literally be a magazine, newspaper, radio broadcaster and independent film-maker all in one!
Of course, pursuing this path entails much more work, time and skill, and also poses a plethora of challenges, not least of which is keeping track of all the different files.
Aperture 3 gives users the ability to import and sort through both video and audio files, which means I can review these types of files almost as easily as image files.
I can’t overstate how important a development this is.
I’ve been experimenting with mixing media formats for some time now, and one of the primary logistical challenges was keeping track of files.
Aperture 3 doesn’t solve all my problems, but it’s certainly a big step in the right direction.
Besides being able to import video and audio files, Aperture 3 gives you the ability to do simple Trim editing, which is basically lopping off the un-necessary front and tail portions of a clip, illustrated in the following screenshot of a Trim dialogue:
In keeping with the non-destructive nature of the software’s image-editing functionality, performing a Trim edit on video and audio clips doesn’t actually ditch any data. You can re-do your Trim later to shorten, lengthen, or even select an entirely different portion of the the relevant clip. Way cool, and way useful.
Of course, having lots of nice images, video and audio is great, but in order to tell a story, I need to be able to edit all my files into an attractive, engaging and meaningful product…like a video.
In fact, one of my self-assigned goals for the Lembeh trip was to produce a trip video using only Aperture 3.
Up to this point, I have been using a combination of Aperture, Photoshop, and Final Cut Express to do most of my multimedia editing work. As I departed for Lembeh, my hope was that I could use Aperture 3′s multimedia Slideshow function to reduce (or even eliminate) my need to resort to Final Cut Express, just as Aperture 3′s photo editing functions virtually eliminated the time I spent with Photoshop.
However…and this is a big however…there are limits to how well it works, and it didn’t completely remove my need to use other software.
In fact, the Slideshow function was temperamental to the point of driving me to despair. I nearly gave up several times.
This is where I’ll end Part 1 of my summary.
The only thing I should probably add is that once I managed to create my slideshow/ video, the preset settings in Aperture produced excellent results. I exported with the 720p, 1080p and iPod settings. All of the resulting files were great. Exporting can be an arcane, tedious, time-consuming, frustrating (you get the point) task, so having these built-in, dummy-proof presets is certainly helpful. For more advanced users, the dialogue box provides options for customisation.
In the second half of this summary, I’ll discuss some of the difficulties/ frustrations I experienced and how I dealt with them.
As you can tell from the video, it was a fantastic trip…great participants, the perfect venue, and lots of amazing marine life!
Diving through the night was an experiment of sorts…one that fortunately worked out really well. To cut to the chase, the night life in Lembeh was totally fascinating.
Some of the same animals we encountered in normal daylight hours were out and about at night as well, but for the most part, there were different critters and/ or activities.
Not a big surprise, but there were many more crustaceans and cephalopods around in the wee hours than in the day, and even critters we came across during normal hours seemed to be more active at night (like flounders, octopuses, frogfish, etc.)
We managed to see a bit of courtship and mating activity as well, though some of it (like the porcupine pufferfish mating I photographed) took place after everyone else left.
The biggest surprise for me was how easy and pleasant it was to dive on a night schedule.
I expected to be cold most of the time (I even brought along a wool cap, sweater and sweat pants which I never used), but actually, the water temperature and conditions were great through the night.
In addition, waking up mid- to late-morning and jumping into the water for a first dive at 17:30 or so proved to be a very civilised schedule. With much of the morning and afternoon free to chill out, sort through photos, charge batteries, check gear, etc., the night schedule was…well…easy.
Having so much time before the first dive also meant I never went in without charged batteries, lens cap still attached, CF card missing…or any of the other common flub-ups that happen when you’re in a rush or don’t have sufficient time to double-check gear before hitting the water.
I hesitate to speak for everyone on the trip, but I think we all felt this way, and several people asked to be kept informed if there’s another night trip, because they liked this one so much!
I am, in fact, running another night trip later this year in Ambon together with Eric Cheng and Wetpixel.
It’s basically the same idea…diving mostly at night…concentrating on the dive sites collectively referred to as the Twilight Zone. It’s been difficult to dive these prolific sites at night for many years now, but with the new Maluku Divers resort situated close by, we’ll have easy access to Ambon’s critter central.
I have no doubt that it’s going to be an awesome adventure. The underwater topography is similar to, but different from, that of Lembeh, and though there’s certainly an overlap in the resident critter life, Ambon’s marine community is unique…which means lots of new animals and behaviours to see and enjoy.
Finally…something of note… I did almost all the sorting, adjustments, editing and output for this video using Aperture 3.
I upgraded to Aperture 3 just before heading out to Lembeh (I’ve used Aperture since the first version), and one of my goals for the trip was to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of this latest update.
Through the process of cataloging thousands of image, video and audio files, and then editing them into the video clip above…I learned a lot(!) about Aperture 3…much of which I think will be useful to other photographers.
Give me a bit of time to recover, and over the next week or so, I’ll jot down some thoughts about what’s good and what’s not with Aperture 3.
Note: Apparently, the little frogfish that gets run over by the urchin on a rampage is an as-yet unidentified species.<strong>Correction: Just received updated information that the unfortunate frogfish is a Histrio histrio, aka sargassum frogfish, which is unusual, since it’s sitting on the bottom with no sargassum seaweed around. Apparently, there is an article being written now about this, based on observations from the Virgin Islands.
It’s been a while since I’ve updated my Upcoming Trips page, largely because I’ve been travelling so much that it’s been difficult for me to hammer out logistical details and communicate with relevant counter-parties.
The year-end quiet period has given me some time to (just barely) catch up, so here’s a long overdue update of some of my trips for the near future, set out in chronological order. (I’m doing my best to keep my Upcoming Trips page updated, so bookmark that page if you want to check back later for more trips.)
The Night Safari Lembeh (27 Feb-6 Mar): I’ll be heading to Kasawari Lembeh Resort again soon, this time for the primary purpose of checking out the night life. As far as I know, this Night Safari trip is the first-ever organised effort to focus on diving at night in the Lembeh Strait. It’ll be fascinating(!) to see what happens late at night, when most (sane) people are asleep.
In addition to David and Sanah from Scubacam, Aey and Mean from FiNS will be on this trip…and Eric Cheng will be joining as well a few days into the trip. If you’re looking for advice about photography or how to prepare your images for print, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better-informed or nicer group of people.
There are still a few spots left for this trip, so click here to drop David and Sanah an email to sign up! More details here.
Humpback Whale Acoustic Research in Tonga (29 Jul – 7 Aug): In addition to the trips I have scheduled to swim with humpback whales in August this year, I’ve been working with a marine acoustics researcher friend of mine to try to set up a long-term study of humpback whale acoustics.
By way of background, my friend Dr. John Potter is a brilliant acoustics researcher who has studied underwater acoustics and marine mammals for over 20 years, pioneering techniques and a new understanding of how marine mammals use sound and how they’re affected by man-made sound in the ocean. John is a frequent consultant to sonar companies, navies, governments and NGOs concerned about the acoustic impact on the marine environment. Basically…he knows his stuff. In fact, he was the marine acoustics expert featured in the movie The Cove.
I first met John when he was the head of the Acoustic Research Laboratory at the National University of Singapore, which he started back in 1996. Among the interesting things he shared with me was an amazing video that he and other PhD friends put together showing the source, directionality and strength of humpback singer song in Hawaiian waters…a short sample of which is below:
Though it may not be immediately obvious, this is ground-breaking stuff. By using rebreathers, video cameras, audio recorders and distance measuring devices, John and the other researchers were able to construct this real-time representation of where a humpback’s sound comes from, how strong it is (in decibels) at various distances, and also the directionality of sound.
Cool, eh? (Actually, even more cool is the fact that John et al were the ones in the water on rebreathers gathering data first-hand!)
After several years of brainstorming and planning, we’re ready to try undertaking a new project in Tonga. We won’t be using rebreathers, but we will be pursuing new insights into the characteristics and behaviour of humpback whale singers.
The basic idea is to use a cross-disciplinary approach of combining data in the form of photos, video, high-frequency (i.e., whale-safe) ranging systems, and custom-designed hydrophone arrays to measure singer size, record their songs and other social sounds, and try to discern whether there are any meaningful correlations between songs and whales.
Our intention is to consider basic but as-yet unanswered questions such as whether bigger whales sing louder than smaller ones, whether some whales have deeper voices than others, what role if any age plays in song structure and singing behaviour, etc.
In other words, John and I would like to combine my knowledge of the whales in Tonga with his acoustics expertise to achieve something meaningful.
In order to undertake this project without having to beg for funds, we’re asking for help from people who’d like to take part in this research effort by joining us for a few days on the water, aboard John’s 52ft (on deck) yacht Jocara, which is now based in Tonga (yes, he relocated his boat to Tonga in 2007 in part as preparation for this), managed and operated by our mutual friend Christy.
We’re hoping to kick off this effort with two back-to-back trips in 2010:
Trip 1: 29 Jul – 2 Aug (4 nights aboard Jocara)
Trip 2: 3 Aug – 7 Aug (4 nights aboard Jocara)
To cover operating costs, we’re looking for four people on each of the trips, with cost/ person at US$1250. This includes everything while on the boat, as well as discussions that John will lead about marine mammal acoustics, and marine mammal photography advice/ discussions about humpbacks in Tonga from me (excludes accommodation, meals, etc. off the boat, and air travel).
While this isn’t going to be as intensive a photography-oriented trip as the others I have planned, we will get into the water at every opportunity, and we will be taking photos and recording video.
If you’re interested in learning more about humpback whales and helping out with cutting-edge acoustics study of whale song, please contact me via my contact form.
To be honest, this is a departure from the type of trip I usually do, but it’s something that I believe will be worthwhile over the long-run in expanding our knowledge about these graceful marine mammals.
As with the humpback whale calf-count that I started a couple of years ago, John and I will make every effort to share via the internet any insights we gather, and we look forward to feedback and contributions from all interested parties.
Sperm Whales, Ogasawara (early-mid October): Following on the incredible success of last year’s inaugural trip to Ogasawara, I’m planning another visit to Ogasawara in October this year.
Among the highlights of last year’s trip, we photographed and video-ed a group of female sperm whales eating a giant squid and possibly teaching the calf in the group how to hunt for squid (which means this year…we’ll have to photograph a giant squid engaged in a life-or-death struggle with a sperm whale!)
While in Ogasawara, I also realised that it’s possible to ID sperm whales by markings on their lower ventral areas, and I subsequently compiled a summary of nine individual whales that we encountered. I’m hoping to build on this ID catalog over time, working with the local whale watching authorities to see if we can document repeat visits to the area by these enigmatic cetaceans.
The exact trip dates depend on the ferry schedule between Tokyo and Ogasawara. Last year, the ferry schedule was only announced in July, and the trip was from 8 to 19 October (though I had a good idea of the probable schedule a few weeks prior to the official announcement).
Also, the exact cost depends upon the class of berth aboard the ferry, the number of people on the trip, and the number of days we’re out on the water…so participation in this trip requires a measure of flexibility. A reasonable estimate is Yen 600,000-700,000/ person for 8-9 days on the water.
Yes, I realise that’s not terribly specific…but that’s the nature of the situation, and it’s totally worth the effort and pain-in-the-rear factor when you’re face-to-face with sperm whales. Just ask any of the people who were with me this year!
If you’re interested in going to Ogasawara in early- to mid-October to look for sperm whales, please contact me via my contact form.
The Night Safari Ambon (7-16 Nov): Yes, yes…I’m obsessed with night life this year. After helping to plan the Night Safari Lembeh trip, I realised that the conditions in Ambon are ideal for a Night Safari type of excursion as well.
First, Maluku Divers have just recently opened their new resort, which is located right atop the best muck dive sites in Ambon. This means access to dive sites is easy…and night diving is possible/ practical in the area for the first time in many years.
Second, the new resort was designed and built by my good friend Yos, who coincidentally designed and built Kasawari-Lembeh Resort as well. Yos is a diver himself, and he has really good taste, so I have no doubt that the accommodations and facilities at the new resort in Ambon will be as nice and photographer-friendly as at Kasawari-Lembeh Resort.
And finally, the critter life in Ambon harbour is simply amazing! Need I say more?
I’m arranging The Night Safari Ambon in conjunction with Eric Cheng and Wetpixel, so there will no doubt be lots of experienced underwater photographers on the trip with lots of stories and advice to share. If you’re interested in joining this adventure, please refer to the trip summary below:
Dates/ Diving Schedule: Arrive 7 November 2010, depart on 16 November.
The planned diving schedule comprising 21 dives is:
7 November: Arrive/ set up cameras
8 -9 November: Normal day-diving schedule
10 November: Transition schedule: 14:30; 17:30; 20:30
11-13 November: Night schedule: 17:30; 20:30; 23:30
14 November: Transition schedule: 14:30; 17:30; 20:30
15 November: Off-gas/ Optional land tour (separate cost)
16 November: Depart
Diving Style: Ambon has a combination of reef and muck diving. For this trip, we will be concentrating on muck/ critter diving, and we will devote much of the trip to diving in the evening and night. Although the resort is situated at the best critter sites, we will dive from boats. The dive sites are located inside Ambon bay, and most of the time, we will be diving in relatively shallow water.
Because we will be diving a lot at night, you will need to bring adequate lighting. A minimum of two torches (three would be better) plus lots of batteries would be a good idea.
Also, while the muck sites are sheltered and shallow, there can be strong current at times. Our night dives will be concentrated during the period between new moon and first quarter moon, so in theory, the current will not be strong.
However, you never know with Mother Nature, so we’ll need to be flexible and adapt to prevailing conditions.
Finally, the dive sites we will be diving are where the newly described Maluku frogfish (Histiophryne psychedelica) has been found. We will, of course, hope to see this elusive fish, but to date, only a handful of these animals have been spotted, so please manage your expectations accordingly.
Accommodation: Twin-share rooms at the newly completed Maluku Divers dive resort, which is located at the prime muck dive sites at Laha. All rooms have hot water and aircon, as well as two editing desks with charging stations for batteries. The resort is equipped with back-up generators, so we’ll be insulated from power outages on the island. There is no Nitrox available at this time.
Meals are Indonesian fare, primarily comprising fresh fish and seasonal vegetables. If you have any special dietary requirements, please inform us well in advance so the resort can try to accommodate. Please bear in mind that Ambon is a remote location and some things are not always readily available.
Getting There: There are regular flights to Ambon from Bali, Manado and Jakarta on Lion Air and Batavia Air. While it is possible to make reservations yourself, it’s best to let the resort handle domestic flight reservations, coordinated through Dan Baldocchi. Domestic itineraries and prices generally firm up within three months of the date concerned, so expect that final itineraries will become clear around mid-August.
It’s been about a week since I got back from photographing sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) in Ogasawara with friends Eric Cheng, Douglas and Emily Seifert, and Julia Sumerling.
There is a lot I want to write about the trip, but as a first priority, I went through my photos and tried to do something that I don’t think anyone else has done/ is doing…ID individual sperm whales using in-water photos.
(b) We were fortunate enough to see a lot of whales in the water the first few days we were in Ogasawara, and I noticed that many of the sperm whales have what appear to be unique white markings on their bodies, particularly in the lower abdominal area.
At first, I wasn’t sure if the white markings were unique to the whales in this particular area, or whether all sperm whales have these markings. I’m still not entirely certain (since there aren’t that many in-water images of sperm whales), but after checking Hal Whitehead’s book about sperm whales, a copy of which Julia brought along on the trip, I saw that a few of the images in his book showed whales in other parts of the world with similar markings.
So I decided early on in the trip to try to take as many photos of the undersides of sperm whales as possible, and catalogue our cetacean encounters once I got home.
Here is the result (the video may take a while to download, so give it time to buffer if you have a slow internet connection):
In summary, I was able to identify nine individual whales, all of which I believe to be members of a group of relatively friendly whales…the ones that had the giant squid. There were almost certainly more whales in the group.
What also seemed to emerge from the pattern of encounters is that the whale that we eventually saw with the squid in its mouth may have been the matriarch or leader of this particular group, as she showed up in a large percentage of my photos, meaning she approached us relatively often.
ID-ing sperm whales is a lot more difficult than humpbacks. Humpbacks are surface-active whales, while sperm whales dive down hundreds, even thousands of metres…and they stay down. But still, it is possible to ID them, as this short video demonstrates.
Whether these IDs will come in useful over the long-term or not…only time will tell. If I get a chance to go back, I’m hoping to continue this endeavour, with the objective of seeing if it’s possible to document a consistent population and/ or frequent visitors to the area.
The video above is small, so it’s difficult to read the text. This is a PDF document (11MB) of the slides in the presentation, and this is a bigger Quicktime video file (640×360, 79MB…Do not click this link and try to open in your browser. Right click to download the file only if you have a good internet connection.). There’s also a .mp4 file available via iTunes.
It’s taken a while (specifically…an estimated 355 hours on/ in the water, plus more than 150 hours to download, tag, sort, look through, and edit photos and notes), but I’ve finally been able to go through all our humpback whale calf images from our 2009 stay in Tonga and compile this summary document.
In total, we photo ID-ed 26 calfs in the Vava’u area this year (plus 3 more with the help of other people), compared with 14 in 2008. By all accounts, the 2009 season is a banner year for baby whales in Tonga.
The document is a work-in-progress, as I hope that other people will contribute data to augment the list of calfs that we were able to identify. If you have any images and information about additional ID-able calfs, please let me know.
What I’m looking for is (a) images, dates and locations of sightings of calfs not contained in this document, and (b) additional dates and sightings of calfs that are already in this document.
If you send information, please send low-res jpgs. I will only include additional data if I can verify the relevant calf sighting with photographs. It’s too easy to make mistakes based on memory alone.
I know, because I initially mis-identified Daruma (calf #23/ 2009) as Mei Mei (calf #22/ 2009). When you’re in the water, it’s difficult to be 100% accurate with IDs, so it was only during the photo/ video editing process that I realised my mistake.
For the first time, we carried portable GPS units this season, marking the locations of our calf sightings. Here is a map of our ID-ed calf sightings: