Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

OMG – I love Lightroom (after)

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

OMG – I love Lightroom (after)

Originally uploaded by Elaine with Grey Cats.

Christine gave me the most incredible light meter as a Yule gift as well as a longed for monopod. The monopod was something that is nigh a necessity: i’ve used my cheap tripod as a walking stick, but continually forget its use as something i can leave a camera on and walk away from. It’s necessary to steady my hand even with the light little digital camera.

The light meter was amazing: an elegant and well crafted analog device that felt wonderful in my hand. My brain, however, was unsure when and where i would use such a device. Both cameras have digital metering that have not caused me any problems, although i fondly remember using the one i inherited from my father (i have no idea where it is now).

A gentle questioning followed: i determined that the price paid for the meter was too high to have the meter just as a novelty analog device. An exchange seemed the right way to go.

I didn’t have anything in mind that i wanted: more time to deal with the backlog of images would be my main wish. I figured a new lens would be fun though, and a lensbaby for the Maxxum 5 seemed just right. (Oh, when i said Maxxum 5 to the sales dude, he responded, “Now that’s old!” — No it’s not! The Minolta i got (used) when i was in high school: that was old. The Maxxum has auto focus for crying out loud! *cough*)

I did look at the Keeble & Shuchat Photography website to see what they had: Lensbabies would be available and in the right price range. Thought about an IR shutter trigger and flashes, but that would just be excess gadgetry. The software seemed all for Nikons.

When we got to Keeble & Shuchat Photography, though, they had Lightroom. There! That! So Christine managed the exchange, noting that she’d thought about Lightroom but, well — and i am hard to shop for, i admit.

I’ve installed and fiddled with one photo, recalling Joe Decker’s ease at managing the tool. It is so much more … well designed … to use. And, in the end, i think this is the gift of more time to work with the photos i do take.

Next stop: Lightroom Video Tutorials

Out of town and return

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

From the Mailbox: three mail art pieces. One very interesting post from Paint Rock River Valley Postal Authority with a puzzle: can one identify what butterfly would emerge from the caterpillar? Two postcards from Cascadia Artispost: Stormy Season (a bit of a tradition) and “Trenes y Vagones.”

Exposure Set: Dublin CornPhotography: I took a suite of photos at different exposures of the Dublin Corn in the Sam and Eulalia Frantz Park. [See this and this.] I don’t know what i think of “proper” exposures. Lately i’ve been stepping down. Christine says they look under exposed, and i get that, but i still like the image a little better. This seems to be a good indicator that it’s time to take a photography class.

I have heard of one answer to my frustration with exposures: playing with HDR. I found a list of software and tried FDRTools Basic. It does an interesting job of attempting to align the images and all of the adjustments, mappings, etc. I’ll give it a go sometime i’ve taken the bracketed images with a bit more precision. I tried to keep things aligned, but, oh my, what a little twist can do to making alignment impossible. I *could* use the rubber sheeting algorithms in a GIS package to align the exposures, but i’m not sure that’s a good use of time.

New tools: Mom gave me new crochet hooks from Twin Birch Products of Pittsboro, NC. I look forward to giving them a try. So far i’ve just worked with aluminum and steel hooks.

Beading: Just as i was leaving NC, i noticed the bead store close to my sister Laura’s place. She, i and W stopped there on the way to the airport so i could pick up some beads for Christine. I chose three focal beads of laminated leaves and two wooden beads for earrings. When i got back to town i had to run some errands in downtown Mountain View. I didn’t have any excuse to get more beads for Christine, but i had a string of sodalite chips and a cabochon that did not have any other beads to keep them company. So, i now have more beads, but i don’t quite feel up to the wire wrapping challenge. I don’t quite have a vision for the blue necklace, either.

Necklace for Christine: BeforeNecklace for ChristineCabochon accentsSodalite blue

In the oven: I left town for ten days before finishing my first batch of bread dough. I made a fine looking loaf when i returned, but it did seem to have gone off. I hope to make a second batch this weekend.

Artistamps recommendations: There was a long discussion about perforation practices. I am more tempted now to send sheets of stamps off to be perforated, but my general practice of cutting them out continues to satisfy me.

  • Pounce Wheels followed by use of an awl (without the awl, it seems the perforations would be slotted. I’ve a perforating wheel for my paper cutter that can do this.
  • The Olathe Poste offers pre-perfed gummed papers as well as custom perfing jobs. (1″ x 1.5″ – portrait or landscaped orientation) on 8.5″ x 11″ (or A4) papers in standard weights is $0.75 per sheet.)
  • There was some discussion about antique Rosback perforators. “The pins on a Rosback are about 1/16″ diameter. They are spaced about 14 or 16 to the inch.”

A general roundup on the topic is available at It does seem that a rotary punch could be developed for one sheet at a time. I’ll leave that for another life time, though.

This post is now plenty long: bread-baking, gardening, and crocheted toys to come.

Photo Postcards & PhotoPostos

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

I’ve found Howard Packaging’s Photo Postcards to be preferable to the PhotoPostos. The PhotoPostos seem to be about the weight of printer paper — if even that heavy. The Howard Packaging Photo Postcard product is available at Ritz Camera. While i haven’t seen them at my local store, they are available online.

Howard Packaging Make-Your-Own 4×6 Photo Postcards; 12+3 Pack
Mfr # 77215

iDVD and Christmas in July

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

I’m in the middle of a passionate love-hate relationship with iLife. I’ve just finished a 25 minute movie using stills and video clips from our trip to visit family just before Christmas in 2007. It’s been great fun to “be” with them while engaging my creative/editor self.

Ornaments on Marie & Ross Bush\'s Tree

iPhoto can make a quick slide show for you with a backing track, but if you want titles and more control, you need to go to iMovie. Your photos must be in iPhoto, though! (The new iLife ’08) iMovie is a great editor for an amateur like myself. (I had played with the earlier iMovie and never quite finished a project: the Ken Burns effect with photos wasn’t as clear to use and the transitions had an odd workflow.) At over twenty minutes, i wanted my movie to have chapter markers (imagining my young nephews particularly wanting to repeat one section; my spouse’s siblings another).

If you want chapter markers, go to GarageBand.

I’m not sure i understand this division: there is definitely a great deal of audio editing in iMovie. I think i had more power to shape the volume levels in Garageband, but as someone merely mixing in existing clips, the compositional powers were not used. I’ll thank Magnatune for their reasonable licensing rates. While i looked at CCMixer and some of’s media, i didn’t feel i could “share alike” in this project. Magnatune and Christine’s suggestions of particular works provided a great celebratory texture, despite my occasionally giving in to using some sound effects. From Garageband, to iDVD where the themes support chapter navigation and adding “extras.”

Moving between applications general meant producing the final version for that ap before going on to the next. While the applications claim to share a media library, i found it awkward to use. It’s clearly designed for the person who has all the disk space in the world, helped on by TimeMachine, no doubt. It wasn’t a barrier to my use, although i did have to use the command line to get produced movies out of the iMovie project and move them to my preferred storage location.

And now for credit and production notes, in progress:

Lessons Learned

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

RitzPix’s digital photobooks are a nice product. I found the online web layout tool to be wonderfully flexible. In one photo of a trail, i was able to put a small inset of the stone grain with a penny for size. The “flaoting frame” could be placed anywhere, with edge effects that were different than other photos. The edge effects offer some interesting flexibility and images could have their transparency adjusted. The total was around $25 for a 6×6 hardback book with twenty pages counting the inside cover and the back page. One surprise was that the pages had a white boarder — they weren’t full bleed. I note that they do have a notice to this effect on one of their pre-order pages.

Admittedly, Apple’s hardback book looks like it may be a better deal in some ways: 8.5″ x 11″ hardcover keepsake books include a suede-like cover with a foil-printed title on the cover and a customizable dust jacket. 20 pages (10 sheets) $29.99 The dustjacket is a very nice touch as most hardback books lack any sort of printing option. (Some have inset windows to see a cover image and title.) Another aspect that’s better about working through iPhoto: you don’t have to upload all the photos to a remote server before you begin your layout work. I don’t recall the layout being nearly as flexible as RitzPix’s, though.

The most remarkable difference about the RitzPix book, though, was that i was able to pick the book up from the Wolf Camera on El Camino here in Mountain View the next day. I may have even been able to pick it up in a hour. That’s a wonderful “immediate gratification” aspect that stands out.


Another lesson was RitzPix’s photo cards: one can layout images on a 8″x10″ sheet. The “card” and the high price led me to hope i was getting prints on cardstock weight paper. Nope. I’m not sure what the benefit to the purchaser is in choosing this function over the standard reprints. To duplicate what i received for $9, i could have purchased 3 different “4×6 Plus 2 Wallets Glossy” at .49 each and two 4×6 Glossy Borderless at .21 each — $1.89 (and i’d have more photos).

I risked the order because i continue to wish to make photo postcards in small quantities. The cost per card with other print on demand options (plus waiting for shipping) doesn’t appeal to me. I did find adhesive photo postcard backs for photos: 50 4 X 6 PhotoPOSTOS $13.99 (.28 back+.21 print per ~ .50 ea). There is the opportunity to commission custom backs in sets of 1000: i’m not sure that’s within my needs and means, but it is a very clever marketing ploy.


And more lessons: Our camera is bloody noisy at ISO equivalent 1600. On the other hand, i think i’ve figured out how to manually set the focus to infinity, and i think that’s better than the auto settings in my attempts at sky photography.

Grainy ISO 1600 Moon & Mercury in Conjunction

night sky, print on demand, postcards, photo books

Cedar Waxwing

Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

Cedar Waxwing

Originally uploaded by Elaine with Grey Cats.

I finally had Roll2007.06 developed. And picked up. And read the CD to my computer. It’s a very birdy roll with gold finch, sparrow and Florida ospreys. The osprey photos are neat, and i note that had i had the telephoto to zoom in on the nest, i would never have caught the images in flight. There appears to be a great deal of grain in these photos. I don’t know if i could do better scanning in the images myself.

GoldfinchHouse SparrowOsprey on Honeymoon Island, FL

Photo management thoughts

See the Flickr Image

Sunday, May 13th, 2007

It’s a different sort of digital image, but it’s still fun to work with (except when one mis-copies digits in calculations).

In other news, i finished off the lingering roll of film yesterday (Roll2007.06, i think.) with some telephoto images of a goldfinch. I should remember to use shutter speed priority when using the telephoto.

I’m loading Roll2007.07 — Kodak HD4 24 400/27° — to have ready for the next bird opportunity that comes along.

[I don't know why the post-from-Flickr failed.]

Roll2007 Film notes!

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

On our recent trip i started my first rolls of 2007 (January wrapped up the last roll of 2006).

Roll2007.01 * Kodak 400 * 2007-02-24 * Landry’s in Tampa for Grandmámá’s 90th
Roll2007.02 * Kodak 400 * 2007-02-25 * Tarpon Springs and Manatees
Roll2007.03 * Kodak BW400CN * 2007-02-25 & 26 * Tarpon Springs & Honeymoon Island
Roll2007.04 * Kodak Select Royal Gold 200 * 2007-02-26 * Honeymoon Island
Roll2007.05 * Kodak 400 * 2007-02-26 * Honeymoon Island

[I think i shot some of Roll2007.06 on this trip, Kodak 400. Only development will tell -- 2007-05-14]

Finishing Roll2006.12 … wait! Roll2006.12a

Sunday, January 28th, 2007

The 15s and 4s shots were *much* better than the autoshot. I think i like the 15s shot better as it has the night sky a little lighter and the earthshine is more prominent. The 4s shot keeps more of the crescent moon experience. 10s might have been right for the 400 speed film. Neither of the two good shots were scanned by the developer. (The charge was $4.87 for the developing & CD. I’m sure this was a mistake, but there were enough mistakes on their end, i’m calling it an even trade.)

I did note that the 2006 roll numbering is off. Since i had a practice initially of just getting rolls developed, thinking i would take the time to scan them myself. These are the numbers used in iPhoto.

Roll2006.03: duck on Stevens Creek
Roll2006.04: Yosemite, the sequoias, the unnamed creek cascading off the wall near El Capitan
Roll2006.05: Afternoon shots of Bridal Veil and El Capitan
Roll2006.06: B&W, Afternoon shots of Bridal Veil and El Capitan, tide pool
Roll2006.07: tide pool
Roll2006.08: Virgina
Roll2006.09: Virgina
Roll2006.10: Big Basin
Roll2006.11: Big Basin, Diablo
Roll2006.12: Diablo
Roll2006.12a: Return from Diablo, Comet McNaught, Venus & Moon, some of me

Finishing Roll2006.12 with the moon and venus

Saturday, January 20th, 2007

I shot the last three frames of Roll2006.12 at the late twilight view of the crescent moon, resplendent with earthshine, and Venus near by. gave this skymap for the conjunction. The shots were manually set to the infinite focus, and i think i overturned the focus for frames 23 & 24 shot at 15 s and 4 s, respectively. Shot 25 may have had better focus at 1 s. It probably doesn’t matter on the 15 s shot, where the long exposure will probably burn in the crescent so much that a sharp focus wouldn’t matter. The camera was on shutter priority and probably chose something like a 5.6 f-stop.

I’ve never been good at keeping notes on this sort of shot. Maybe if i start NOW i’ll be able to eventually reproduce a success.