Digital Photography & Me - Issues as of December 2017
Apple - Aperture
Apple ceased support of Aperture (Mac photo editing software) in late 2014. I recently upgraded my 2012 iMac from Yosemite to El Capitan without any apparent damage to Aperture or my libraries. Now that I've purchased a new 27" 5K iMac running High Sierra, I'll retain the 2012 21" iMac without further OS upgrades as a legacy machine for Aperture, at least until all my photographic material has been migrated to the new machine. I'll try to set up the old iMac as a 2nd display, although I've been told by "Geniuses" that it's not possible. They are however linked / shared by ethernet cable as well as AirDrop. My 2007 iMac running El Capitan (maxed out & still running) will be decommissioned & sent off for recycling.
Google - Panoramio
Google formally announced it's intention to assassinate Panoramio on 2016/11/04 after a couple of years of threats & protests. The replacement, a concoction of Google+ / Photos / Views / Maps, is not aligned with the photographic community - henceforth the sole purpose will be obtaining free information about the interior and exterior of businesses. As I write this, all Panoramio photos have finally disappeared from Google Maps. It is no longer possible to locate photos on the surface of the earth - except at predetermined "business" locations. For example, photos taken over large areas like a park can be assigned only to the park icon or name. The "Explore" strip of thumbnails across the bottom of Google Maps is a tiny selection of what used to be provided by Panoramio, and what does appear is randomized. Even when zoomed in to the maximum, it was hit and miss if any of your own shots showed up. Any remaining non-Google photos have been placed there by "Google Local Guides" who are urged to become "Yelpers" by writing reviews and taking pics of food and merchandise. I took some shots inside the Corner Store in San Pedro CA - I only just became aware that this had been done three years prior. I don't think I'll take my foray into Google Maps any further. I'll miss checking the number of "hits" on my individual Panoramio photos and looking in the same vicinity at photos by others. All this of course predicated my migration to SmugMug.
On Google Earth Pro, the little blue & brown Panoramio photo icons are still showing up and referring back to the skeletal remnants of Panoramio pages. Many contributors have already deleted their photos - I guess the rest will be removed by Google any moment now - may they RIP. Very sad - but did you ever try to find icons of your own photos in a city like Venice ? I guess all things contain the seeds of their own demise, even if it is death by over-population. On a different subject, I was having issues for a few months with certificates locking me out of Google Earth, but then they revamped everything, so now we have four versions: Maps, Earth, Earth Pro & the solely 3D version of Earth via (only) their Chrome browser, where you can't see anything outside of cities because you can't turn off the goddamn trees. At least Pro is now free and is working well - it's the version I used professionally to measure distances and areas of building sites, to obtain ground and roof elevations and download street views. It's the best thing Google ever did, along with Sketch-up models that could be placed in Google Earth, and of course "warehoused" in Google's Cloud. I came across one simple, clean example in Ipswich Massachusetts. In comparison, take a look at Moscow; low resolution non-3D aerial photos (some very old) and obviously state commissioned 3d models of major public buildings - but I was surprised by the number of 360 degree & Panoramio photos and the extent of Street Views.
What I hate about Google: I don't want my photos, emails, documents, social media, cloud storage, purchasing & search history all tied up into their "Big Data" - just hack me to death. Then we have what's going on with "rushiah" & "chinah" - the last thing I need is all my eggs in one basket. It's Google's world plan to link everything with everything else so it becomes impossible to extricate any segment of one's internet presence. Can I get a cut of their profits since they are using MY data? - sure - go buy their stock.
Time Machine - SuperDuper - Backup - Storage
Speaking of security / backup - I'm utilizing two 4Tb partitioned portable hard drives running TimeMachine & SuperDuper, the latter providing complete clones of my devices including all software & operating systems. I rotate these on & off-site every couple of months or so - this is in addition to having some redundancy with two iMacs. Average cost of this backup hardware over 10 years has been about $90/year for 2 iMacs, 1 Macbook, 1 iPad, 2 users and 2 backup applications. Total HD space used on the 3 major devices including all current photography is now around 1.8Tb. I only use iCloud for transferring family photos taken on iPhones and backing up iPhones (Free if less than 5 Gb). I mention this as a comparison with iCloud annual costs which currently run $12 for 50Gb, $36 for 200Gb & $120 for 2Tb - note that sneakily low middle tier to lure you in. Of course in addition I have unlimited photo storage in the Amazon Cloud here at SmugMug for $71.88/year (Power membership). One thing I have to do in the next year or two is to scan old family prints & slides & archive them in SmugMug. I also re-purpose my older portable HDs as dedicated archive storage - the Aperture vault for example.
Social Media - Photo & Video Sharing
I still have a FaceBook account, and I've retained Vimeo only because I have 4 videos (slideshows with music) larger than 3Gb / 20 minutes (the largest accepted by SmugMug). If the limits were to be increased, I'd probably drop Vimeo. I'm going to look into compressing those videos with the new HEVC in High Sierra. Everything else I've sampled over time has dropped away - YouTube has intrusive, obnoxious ads & strips off "pirated" music tracks from my videos, if they accept them at all. I want to stay clear of Google & and Adobe's "just" $239.88 / yearconscription plan.
Photos - Software
Which brings me back to the passing of Aperture, and the painful search for a workable and hopefully worthy replacement. Apple Photos (spawn of Aperture and iPhoto) emerged almost still-born and lifeless regarding photo editing and metadata management. BTW, that's about the dumbest name Apple has ever come up with - just try a search for "photos" & see if you can separate the chaff. It's one saving grace was a recent upgrade to accommodate third party extensions and plug-ins. My immediate plan is to check out Affinity Photo ($50.00) &/or Luminar ($69.00) on my new iMac since they are extensions to "Photos", and both will soon be incorporating DAM (Digital Asset Management). I'm really looking forward to RAW editing, HDR merging, panorama stitching, adjustment layers, effects, brushes and filters etc. Also, lens profiles with integrated perspective & aberration correction - I had been using PTLens as a plug-in for Aperture. Creating slideshows with music is an impossibility in "Photos" - iMovie is inadequate, & Final Cut Pro is expensive overkill for what I need. To my chagrin, I discovered that in Aperture, zooms and pans (Ken Burns Effect) move at a constant rate, but in iMovie, they speed up & slow down - no options available in either. I decided on FotoMagico 5 ($50.00) where it's all customizable, & sound volume is graphed below as in iMovie for easy syncing with slides (but much better) - see their demo slideshowon their home webpage.
SmugMug - Pros
I briefly considered Flickr but went with SmugMug since it was a closer match to the features I was looking for: Web-hosting & photo sharing with customizable privacy settings for different individuals or groups of people - Metadata including geolocation maps and aerial photos - Options for stripping metadata & downloading - Customizable templates for webpage design - Individual galleries can have their own links - True full screen with slideshow option - No advertisements - IOS app (not 3rd party) for mobile devices which retain gallery privacy settings (but text, links & other frills are absent) - Support by email & phone as well as chat. Now that I have SmugMug, I'll invest in Apple TV since SmugMug has their own App, and I'll be able to mirror other Apple devices to the TV screen.
SmugMug - Cons
The MapBox geolocation maps & aerials are nowhere near Google Earth standards. For example, take photos at the water's edge at low tide - it'll look like you're in the middle of the ocean on their maps. The video size limit is way too small for my larger Aperture slideshows which have music soundtracks - the biggest is 40 minutes & 6 Gb. I'm really not into true Video - it's way too blurry if you're panning at any reasonable rate, at least with low cost equipment. Many of my slideshows have shots with Ken Burns Effects - that means 1080p files 30 times a second (prior to compression) plus the music. Streaming sometimes doesn't reach full HD until halfway through. I don't have this problem with Vimeo, so its not my internet connection. The Smugmug App on ROKU is third party and the image quality and navigation are pathetic, at least on my 4 year old HDMI TV - so that's not an option. On SmugMug, videos often start really blurry despite my setting the resolution at 1080p - there appears to be next to no buffering. The video progress bar indicates something is streaming, but it doesn't indicate the streaming resolution which appears to be 720p or even less at the start. You can see the stream suddenly snap to the next highest resolution as it progresses. One can never have enough bandwidth - and the looming end of Net Neutrality (or for that matter anything else perpetrated by the WH Moron) does not bode well for the private citizen.
I just hope that tiny SmugMug (see their group photo at the bottom of their webpage) doesn't get chewed up by insatiable $550,000,000Alphabet-Google and spit out like Panoramio. April 2018 Update: Acquisition of Flickr seems to be a move in the right direction.