Saturday, April 28, 2012

A slow death (or lessons in archving)

IMG_1941I have been using a 1TB My Book USB (backpack) hard drive as my principle archive location for my photo collection for several years now and it has worked very well. It is connect to PC being used as a media center so it is always on and has a wide screen LCD TV to view the photo directly on that computer (from the comfort of a couch, not quiet but close to the old 35mm slide show feel). The TV screen is a HD flat screen Sony Bravia, connected via a HDMI cable, so the photos are crisp, clean and at a good resolution, I had observed that that drive was getting slower and slower since I also put my itunes library on that disK. Terminally slow! Then quite by accident I noticed that I could not read a couple of photos, then another and others where so slow to respond. I decided it was time to copy everything to a newer backpack drive. Half a terra byte of photos and videos takes a fair while to copy (off a drive that is slowing anyway) and in that process I discovered a dozen files that I could not read. It was easy to find good copy in the two sets of CD/DVDs I make each month as backup. So no data was lost but it has forced me to rethink the strategy of only one archive on-line (ie on a constantly spinning hard disk).
A single library of photos is much easier to maintain. I’ll have to report soon on another experiment I had tried where I used different software on different computers to test their management capabilities. While the programs all worked well using a range of system was a confusing disaster, So I like the idea of a single “central” archive BUT that means the risk of only having a single copy. Using a raid system with mirror backup is one good option, and I do have a netgear stora for my business and thus has worked perfectly however it doesn’t really have the room. Another option is to use an online back service (i’m trying out iBackup, but there are many others). The third option is to use have two backpack drives and have your own scheduled SYNC process that routinely copies files to a second location ( I'm going to start with the reformatted my book on my home network for this.)
So which option have I choosen?
Despite the hard lesson learnt about using multiple photo management packages being a disaster. I will be using, or at least trying out, all three options, I’m splitting my collection into three 1. family & events (using a daily backup schedule to a secured private net location) privavy is important here.  2. video, the most rapidly expanding aspect of my collection (synced to the My Book, because the media center is where I’m most likely to view and work on video) and 3. everything else (mirrored on my stora).
Finally I’ve decided that my archive is not an archive at all, its my original collection, the “backup” CD/DVDs are really an archive and the the second live copy is my true backup.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Some Simple Street Art

2-IMG_18393-IMG_1842 1-IMG_1840-001
Somethimes just the simple things make the best street art. I particularly like the sea gulls fighting over a cup of chips.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Devil in the Detail


Normally I shy away from using photo manipulation, I’m not a fan of the many over tweaked images (you know the ones with the contrast & saturation sliders moved over fully to the right) that are so popular on social networks now. However I have had some fun with “filter” effects apps of my android camera phone and I was pleasantly surprised by my extreme astronomy to art results. So I was inspired to further investigate some of the new filters in Picasa (there are even more effects (aka most of Picnik’s filters) in the Creative Kit in Google+ Photo, but you have go on-line to use these).

Picasa's advance filter screenI do take a lot of photos of interesting textures in nature, to use in my photoimpression process. Most never get published (a few become screen wallpapers). I took some interesting rocks on the beach early this week and the intricate “carvings” looked ideal to experiment with. Rather than just use the filters as one offs, I like the idea of combined a few approaches so in this case of a ironstone I first used the Neon Filter in picasa, which really enhanced the line work and gave some nice punchy earth colouring. Then I tried out a number of alternatives to reprocess that image, both within picasa and also in The image above with the demonic face(s) was simply two images (one the mirror image of the other) put together in the picasa collage/grid tool. So you see the Devil IS in the Detail!

How many faces (within faces) can you see?

Friday, April 20, 2012

PhotoFriday :: Crimson

This shot of a Crimson Rosella [Platycercus elegans] was used for my one of my PhotoImpressions of Parrots on Redbubble
For PhotoFriday's topic Crimson

Extreme Astronomy Turns into Art

Last night I tried taking some time lapse images of the stars. The moon wasn’t up yet and the sky was incredibly dark, So I had to use longer and longer exposures just to get any light registering. Normally I just could the seconds as I have my camera in B (bulb) Mode and hold my remote control button tight while I count 1 second, 2 seconds, 3 seconds ….etc. Clunky but it works. Well I was getting several minute times required to I thought I’d use songs on my IPod to keep the time. the method worked well but the photos were very disappointing, with different colour cast and very noisy and hazy (all as expected given the long exposure times.
Above to the East - Timed to Feist's Gatekeeper 2:17Due South - Timed to Feist's Secret HeartTo The South West - Timed to Feist's When I Was A young Girl 3:08
I quiet liked the colour casts I got looking in different directions, the blue is the nigh sky itself the yellow is a incandescant lamp inside (with the blinds drawn) and the orangy-red is a street light (a long way away). So I first removed as much noise as I could (using noiseware) increased the saturation to make the colours punchier and finally used the Dents filter in to overlay an interesting texture. The final collage below was made in picasa,

These are also available as screen wallpapers, from my free to download flickr screen wallpaper set.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Not the only one

With all the whoha! about the purchase of instagram by Facebook, you might get the impression that it is the only photo sharing option for mobile phones. That is not true there are plenty other and many of them give you even more features & options. Instagram is however clearly popular, and especially so on iPhones (there is an android version, see grey button here). The beauty of the system is its simplicity, once you have taken your photo you choose and “filters” to modify it (rather than having to learn new editing tools, you scroll across a set of pictures,with strange names, and pick the images that looks like the edit you want to do), you can add a caption and then finally you “share it”, either by email or to one of Twitter, Flickr or Facebook.

Maybe I’m wanting to be too creative but unlike flickr (which still shows heaps of originality and clever use of photographic methods). the instagram site is very much a “me-too” copy copy place where everything looks the same and the fashion for the latest look and filter last just a day or so. I did download Instagram and tested it out but soon removed it to make room for different photo apps on my wildfire, which isn’t over endowed with spare memory.. Obviously a lot of people want to be part of the hottest newest thing, but please don’t stop there. Here are a few more web & phone apps that might just make you mobile phone photos just as nice or even nicer and be equally as simple to use as instagram.

The best place to start , now that there is no longer any place to Picnik. is Aviary. Aviary is well established as a series of web base photo editing tools. Its big power is that Aviary editors are embeddable, and can be added to any website or mobile app with just a few lines of code. Flickr have switched their popular picnic action over to Aviary without a hitch. Its auto Enhance filter is truely amazing and will add punch to almost any mobile phone snap. It also supports facebook uploads and direct edits. The downside is there is currently no instagram like app to download to your phone, but plenty of other apps have aviary editing functionality already, expect more.

Yes i am actually recommending a photoshop application!. This one is free on android phones and is just as easy to use as Instagram, ok it doesn’t have as many filters, but its simple editing tools (crop,,exposure, tint, contrast, saturation & brightness) are really nice finger controlled sliders. There are some fancier features, like soft focus, special “effect” filters and borders. The sharing is just via email Facebook & TwitPic, and the ability to upload to a personal photo library at

If you want to play on the more fun and perhaps cheesy side then have a look at these.

Photofunia, is an app from a popular web based service that allows you to do some amazing photo montages, with particular emphasis on the funny face approach, getting your head on a billboard, stamp or art work. It magically finds any face and seamlessly inserts it is many many, templates. This is a FUN app, but it does take time to upload your photo to be processed on-line.

These last couple of apps actually do the special effect “live” so you can see the effect on the screen before you create the final effect when you press the shutter.

Camera Fun Free, there is also Pro version, was probably one early “live” photo phone applications, and I certainly have had a lot of fun with mine. An Alternative is  Cartoon Camera, there is also an ad free Pro version, which is perhaps a little cooler (it describes itself this way) and more cartoonish, drawing and sketching like.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

PhotoFriday :: Soft Light

This is actually a photo taken looking directly into harsh very contrasty light at the entrance to this cave. BUT it does look like lovely filtered soft light.
For PhotoFriday :: Topic soft light

Monday, April 09, 2012

It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and I had just dropped a grape into my iced soda, when It became "alive" and dances in the moment. I was so fascinating to watch I grabbed my new little Canon EOS 1100D, which takes HD movies by the way. My main difficulty is the movies it takes are in .MOV format and not having an Apple Mac I find the movies a little hard to view (the free Quicktime, which is always very slow to load and seems to  leave the movie clips very jerky, Lightroom and Picasa are worse). However I have discovered, by accident, that the Windows Live Movie Maker does a good job, but you need to wait while it "prepares" the video (I assume this is some sort of necessary CODEC conversion). Saving the movie (in .WMV format) lets me use Picasa, my DVD creator and even upload to You Tube.

I'm not suggesting I am a fan of one format over another, its just that .MOV format can be a bit of a hassle if you have a modern PC.