On Thursday I visited the Jacob Javits Convention Center for the 2009 edition of the PhotoPlus Expo, an annual photographer’s trade show that I’ve visited every year since 2001. One good sign for the economy was that the expo hall was completely packed with visitors. Every aisle was jammed and many booths were stuffed with people. (Other anecdotal evidence of a rebounding economy: very crowded shopping centers here in central New Jersey last weekend.)
On the other hand, there were two notable absences from this year’s show. Adobe, which always has a major presence in the front of the expo hall, was amazingly missing this year. They are one of the big draws with a booth that includes demonstrations and tutorials about using Adobe software, with a focus on Photoshop techniques for photographers (though in recent years there’s been too much time spent on Lightroom, a piece of software that I regret buying and which I found completely unusable). In the past, the first thing I would do at Javits is check out the Adobe booth, look at the schedule for interesting seminars, and make sure my butt was planted in a seat ahead of time. No Adobe, though, in 2009, presumably because they’re saving money and because they have no new products to promote at this time.
The other obvious, and perplexing, absence was Panasonic, whose cameras receive rave reviews but which always seem to be in short supply. With major presences from Canon and Nikon, it seems curious that Panasonic wouldn’t be here to get their cameras into the hands of the people most likely to spread word of mouth. I don’t recall if Panasonic had been at past shows, though, so I don’t know if this was a new development or par for the course for Panasonic.
As for the show itself, I didn’t sign up for any seminars this year and stuck to the expo hall, which was the same as usual. Perhaps less new stuff to drool over than in the past (though perhaps that’s because I’m pretty happy with my current equipment right now); a lot of online photo labs pushing their photobooks and other press products; many of the same software products from past years. One booth that looked interesting was Metal Mural, a company which prints photographs onto aluminum panels. I plan to give them a try with some reproductions of my paintings. Also, if you were willing to wait in a maddeningly slow line (I was), you could get a free sample pack of some of Epson’s newest inkjet paper which looks quite promising for artistic purposes, such as Epson Hot Press Bright Paper (they also have a “natural” paper without optical brightening agents, as well as a cold press paper in bright and natural forms as well). Can’t wait to give those samples a try!
I picked up a book from one of the several book publishers present, Practical HDR: A complete guide to creating High Dynamic Range images with your Digital SLR. It’s a great looking book that contains some useful information about HDR photography (and some very nice HDR images), but I will admit that I pretty much read the whole book on the 56 minute train ride home from New York and found that you could probably summarize most of the useful information in a couple of pages (or even a few bullet points). The most useful part was the explanation of how to obtain the proper range of exposures for best results, though afterward you realize it’s not particularly complicated or mysterious. But I am now inspired to do some HDR photography and see how it turns out.