Monday, September 16, 2013

Report from Las Vegas Photoshop World 2013

As we enter the third decade of the ‘digital revolution’ of photography we don’t have time to lament the loss of Kodachrome to the CMOS sensor, or cameras that have morphed into little more than computers with lenses, or the smelly mystery of the chemical darkroom; we’re too busy shooting cel-phone ‘selfies’ and downloading the latest ‘junk-shot’ from Carlos Danger.  Photography has been forever changed.  One of the most profound changes in the digitalization of photography is the replacement of the darkroom by the computer.  When it comes to ‘development’ of pictures all roads lead to the ubiquitous program known as Adobe Photoshop™.  So dominant has Photoshop become that there are numerous annual conventions, workshops, schools and trade shows devoted to it.  One of the big ones is Photoshop World, held every September at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Each year I attend Photoshop World because it’s an opportunity to see the latest gadgets and keep abreast of current trends and technologies.  It’s also a good excuse to go to Vegas where I can observe humans of every shape, color and configuration gather for forced fun and hopeful debauchery.  The ones carrying cameras were headed off to Photoshop World so I tagged along with Nicky Nikon, Maggie Megabyte and Otto Focus, got my badge, and entered the exalted hall of The Trade Show.

Photoshop World also offers workshops and lectures, where alleged great photographers, wannabes and has-beens will show you their digital ‘secrets’ for a fee, but I don’t attend that stuff.  My interest lies with the pure consumerism of new gadgetry so I attend the (free) trade show only.

This year it was packed.  Oh look, there’s Johnny Jpeg, who always ‘wears’ his Nikon over his photographer/fly-fishing vest.  And he’s heading towards the Nikon booth, his 500mm lens pointing the way perched like a lighthouse on the tip of his beer gut.  Why do these guys (and it’s always guys) feel the need to carry extreme telephoto lenses in a crowded room where no one needs a long lens?  In this context the ten-grand lens isn’t useful for anything more than a penis-extender.  Big glass?

It’s always ironic to chat up the rep in the booth and then decide to buy the thing he’s showing.  As soon as I say, “I’ll buy it,” he tells me, “I’m just the lens-cap rep, that guy over there will take care of the transaction.”  Of course “that guy over there” is busy with a line of fifteen people waiting for him.  I’ll come back later and get the thing.  I don’t.

The Canon printer rep went off on a rant about how bad Epson printers are and then later when I talked to the Epson printer rep he said the exact same thing about Canon printers!  I laugh and tell them it’s simply their jobs to trash the competition; when I asked about HP printers they really got going –and so did I, right outta their booths.

I was hoping to get my hands on some of the new LED studio lights but all the vendors were still pushing 90’s style florescent lights.  They did have two sets lit with umbrellas, soft boxes and other light-modifiers with huge crowds.  Why the crowds?  Because on one set they had an actual girl, a pretty model, and fifty guys (including Johnny Jpeg with that silly 500mm lens) were vying for that ‘fashion model’ shot for their portfolios.  Can’t fail with pre-set-up lighting, right guys?

Inkjet printing on aluminum sheets is pretty neat.  I checked out the sample prints and I think I should do this for some of my work.  If I sell prints on aluminum and someone later decides they don’t like the picture, they can always re-purpose the print as building material.

I noticed a woman holding an iPad way over her head.  I felt sorry for her, being so farsighted she had to hold the tablet that far away, but she was actually taking a picture.  Urgh, photography without using an actual camera.  I hope she visits the booth showing strap-on auxiliary lenses for tablets and cel-phones.

After dropping a couple hundred bucks on a few gadgets and a new RAW conversion program I was about to leave when I found the most interesting booth at the Trade Show.  It was the only non-profit group there and they weren’t selling anything photographic.  This was Shelter Me Photography and it’s an outfit that photographs and publishes photos of shelter dogs.  I saw a collection of good photos of good dogs and when they shared those photos online, the dogs got adopted.  Some dogs were less than 24 hours away from being euthanized and the shared photo saved the dogs’ lives!  How wonderful!

It was a good show this year and I’ll be at the 2014 Photoshop World.  If you don’t find me at the Trade Show, I’ll be at the bar in the Luxor laughing at Nicky Nikon while he tries to figure out just exactly what that sexy woman meant when she asked, “Do you want to party?”