It's The End Of The Year As We Know It
2017 has been an interesting year in so many ways. On this New Years Eve Day, I wanted to take the opportunity to review some of my favorite photographic happenings and announcements from the year.
Smartphone camera sales continued to grow this year. By some estimates, fully eighty-five percent of photos worldwide are now being shot with mobile phone cameras. That's a truly incredible statistic that, in part, is reflective of the simple fact that all of us have one of these things in our pocket all the time. But it's more than that. The technology of everything digital just continues to get better and better. Early smartphone cameras were useful in a utilitarian sort of way, but not much more than that. Today's mobile phones can take excellent images at resolutions rivaling many dedicated DSLR cameras.
But it doesn't mean the year didn't also continue the trend of improvements in more traditional camera formats. For my fellow Nikon shooters, the big news of course was the release of the amazing new Nikon D850 with a whopping 45.7 megapixels, full 4K UHD video, and enough other technical innovations to make even non-Nikon users privately drool at least a little. The Sony a9 full-frame mirrorless camera was probably the other big announcement in camera bodies this year. Mirrorless cameras have been slow to catch on, but this may change things. I'd look for more mirrorless news in the year. 2017 also saw the trend towards drone photography really take off, if you can pardon the pun.
On the software front, 2017 was the year that saw the final (at least for now) chapter in Adobe's efforts to move all of us Lightroom users to the Cloud. Sadly, the boxed version of Lightroom is no more, but the new Lightroom Classic Creative Cloud is far from all bad. I appreciate that Adobe continues to innovate and produce tools of such quality, and the ability to get those updates in an ongoing, and more timely, fashion is definitely welcome. Prices for the Adobe Photography Plan don't differ that radically from traditional upgrade pricing for those who depend on both Lightroom and Photoshop. Granted, not everyone sees it this way, and this year has also seen the release of potentially promising alternatives with perhaps my favorite being Luminar from Macphun. Yes, Luminar does now run on both Windows and Mac OS.
This year also saw the final demise and rebirth of the Nik Collection of plugins and imaging software. Over a period of several years, programs from Nik Software (originally Nik Multimedia) such as Color Efex Pro, Viveza, and Silver Efex Pro were staples of many digital photographers. Then in 2012, Google acquired Nik Software, and the future of the Nik Collection started becoming increasingly in doubt. This summer, those doubts turned to sorrow as Google announced that they would cease updating the Nik Collection software, eventually dooming it to die of neglect. But not long after, DxO, makers of DxO Photolab, surprised the photography world by announcing that they had acquired Nik from Google and that they were "actively working to release a new Collection in mid-2018." This should be interesting.
This year saw the publication of the final issue of Popular Photography, the venerable mainstay of photography magazines. Once the uncontested circulation leader among photography periodicals, Pop Photo ended publication after a continuous eighty year run dating back to 1937. When I first got interested in photography in the 1980's, I subscribed to Pop Photo, both for their article content, but also for the back half of the magazine filled with ads. I can see curious in today's internet world, but there once was a time when such magazine ads were an integral part of buying camera gear. When you found a competitive price, you called that company up and placed an order by phone. Quaint by modern standards, but true. As all those advertisers began moving to the web, the magazine increasingly became unsustainable.
Not all news regarding photography magazines in 2017 was bad though. This year saw the launch of League Magazine from Darwin Wiggett and the League of Landscape Photographers. With a tagline of "photography for good, not evil," the new magazine aims to "use photographic art as a tool to make us more mindful and ethical in our approach toward nature." A worthy aim, and if the first issue is any indication, a great magazine.
For me personally, the highlight of the year had to be the total solar eclipse on August 21. If you've never seen a total eclipse of the sun, words really can't do it justice. Even a partial solar eclipse doesn't compare in the least. During a partial eclipse, it's hard to tell anything at all is happening unless you have a solar filter to see the encroaching shadow of the moon eat into the sun. During the totality of the August 21 total solar eclipse, it was impossible to miss the fact that something profound was happening. The light of the sun was turned off, during the day. It was as if someone hit the dimmer switch on the sun, and the whole world faded to black. Roughly two minutes later, it seemed as if that person pushed the dimmer switch back to the "on" position. I witnessed the eclipse from along the banks of the Snake river separating Oregon from Idaho, with no one else around. When the sky turned dark, it all seemed somehow primal, as if part of some kind of science fiction doomsday blockbuster or something. Truly a remarkable and magical experience.
More happened over the year than I could possibly cover here. No doubt you have your own photographic memories of 2017, but thanks for indulging me in sharing some of mine. Here's to looking ahead to a great new year in 2018.
It's the end of the year 2017 as we know it. And I feel fine.