Monthly Archives: September 2009

Stuff worth reading

I’ve added a couple of links over on the sidebar, to sites which I end up checking pretty much every day. They are both excellent, informative, interesting and useful, so you should take a look. They are The Online Photographer (actually the blog on the Online Photographer site), and ByThom, by photographer and Nikon expert Thom Hogan. Again, I’d rate these both in the “essential reading” category.

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Filed under links, photography

Odd weather this summer

I started noticing clouds a couple of summers ago. By “started noticing,” I mean I noticed them in a way I hadn’t noticed before. It’s not that I’d never noticed clouds, obviously, it’s that in summer of 2007 I started to notice them with a photographer’s eye. I’ve also noticed that, for instance, there are types that are much more typical for the winter, and some much more typical for the summer.

This summer, though, has not been typical. In order to illustrate this, take a look at this, which was taken in early July, 2007:

Big Puffy Cloud

Although it was an exceptionally fine specimen, that type of big, crisply-defined cumulus cloud tends to be pretty common in Wisconsin in the summer.

This summer, though, they have been almost totally absent. In fact, the dearth of regular, puffy, well-defined cumulus clouds has gotten to be pretty surprising. Oh, there are cumulus clouds pretty regularly, but instead of clear, well-defined cumulus, we’ve been getting ill-defined and markedly scraggly cumulus, as if the entire species of cloud known as “cumulus” has come down with an illness of some kind.

Some of the best cloud patterns we’ve had all summer were in early July, such as these here (this photo taken almost exactly two years after the previous one):

Some grass on the beach. :P

There were some nice clouds that day, but clearly not cumulus, and on a lot of days, there will be no clouds at all for most of the day.

Instead of clouds, we’ve had haze. Day after day the sky will be clear, and if you’re in a spot where you can see the horizon, you can clearly see a substantial amount of hazy moisture in the air. Somehow, all this moisture has been having a hard time forming into the usual cloud patterns. This means there hasn’t been much rain, either. Autumn colors have started in the past week, in spite of the lack of cold weather, and my theory is that the trees just gave up hoping for a good soak and decided to cash in their chips for the year.

Anyway, I wonder what the deal is. El Niño perhaps?

It’s not been good from a photography standpoint, because for one thing, crappy clouds make crappy pictures. Beyond that, I’ve found that the polarizer I got last spring doesn’t work nearly as well when there’s a lot of haze in the air (I should have known that already, but somehow it wasn’t apparent to me back in the film days).

Maybe now that we’re heading into autumn, things will change. Even they don’t, though, there will still be the fall colors. I have a feeling they are going to be especially nice this year.

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RAW workflow software revisited

Earlier this year, I wrote about this topic. Since then, I’ve switched over to Lightroom. When I got my new computer a couple of months ago, I didn’t even bother checking to see if my copy of Silkypix still worked (I suppose I should really try that some time–I bet it works quicker on the new one).

What occasioned the switch? Mostly, it was the realization that what I wanted from a piece of software was for it to get the hell out of my way, so I could just make some minimal tweaks, rather than screwing around for an hour on one picture. I realized that most of the pictures I’m really happy with are almost fine the way they are, straight out of the camera, and don’t really need to be altered much—perhaps a slight adjustment to a couple of settings, without going really overboard, and there it is. Done. This, compared to endless fucking around with the curves tool, often specifying separate curve profiles for luminance, red, green and blue, which was just getting ridiculous, especially on my old computer.

There was also the problem of keeping my ever-growing photo library organized. Under the old system, I was using iPhoto for organization, and Silkypix for tweaking. It was an inelegant system, mainly because iPhoto wasn’t handling the organizational side of it adequately. In fact, iPhoto was so far from doing what I needed that I don’t know if I’ll ever get caught up on organizing those older photos, even though they’ve all been moved into Lightroom now.

I guess this means I wasted however many dollars it cost me to buy Silkypix. I’m not saying it’s a bad piece of software, mind you, just that, in the end, it didn’t meet my needs as well as Lightroom does. Neither did iPhoto, although at least that came free with the computer.

The one aspect of this that I’m not happy about is the anticipation of having an additional program to buy upgrades for. Actually, I don’t know why that didn’t bother me with Silkypix, since I’m sure they also charge money for major upgrades. I suppose the point there was that the money would have been going to somewhere other than Adobe. ;)

Oh—and I’m still intending to try The Gimp sometime, especially since my copy of Photoshop Elements 2.0 doesn’t work at all on the new computer (that lack of forward compatibility is one of my big peeves about Adobe software, which is what drove me to the other stuff in the first place).

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An old fave, found anew!

(I originally posted this on my Flickr profile page a couple of months ago…but I think I’m going to just move all the updates on that profile over to here. I’ll put today’s date, since I don’t want to get into the confusion of retroactive posting.)

Update 8/15/09 – Hmmm. This profile seems to be turning into a pseudo-blog of sorts. Hopefully that’s an acceptable use under the Flickr TOS. :)

I lost a contact today. No idea who it was. I just know that this morning I had 128, now I have 127. It bothers me when contacts just randomly disappear. Were they deleted? Did they just get tired of Flickr? Have I been blocked for some unknowable reason? No way to tell, most of the time.

In better news, an old favorite photo that I thought had been removed from Flickr has, it turns out, not been removed, it was just hidden for a while. Here it is. That pic was Explored all over the place a couple of years ago, back when Explore actually meant something. It’s one of my all-time Flickr faves, which, for some unfathomable reason, I actually forgot to mark as a favorite back when I first saw it. Huh. Weird. Well, I have faved it now, so there. :)

Photography update: I am still shooting, but have gotten involved on another project that is taking quite a while to finish. I’ve been needing to do it for quite some time, but was never able to make much headway on it with my old computer, which just didn’t have the horsepower for it. Well, my new one does, so now is the time. I was originally hoping to get it done by the end of August, but now it’s looking like Labor Day or even mid-September. Anyway, it means the post-processing side of my photography equation is on hold for the time being.

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Filed under Flickr, links, photography

Lame summer

(I originally posted this on my Flickr profile page a couple of months ago…but I think it fits here too. I’ll put today’s date, since I don’t want to get into the confusion of retroactive posting.)

Update 8/5/09 – All the computer chaos really seems to have taken the wind out of my sails. Haven’t posted in a while. Depressed. This is really turning into a lame summer.

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Computer death

(I originally posted this on my Flickr profile page a couple of months ago…but I think it fits here too. I’ll put today’s date, since I don’t want to get into the confusion of retroactive posting, heh.)

Update 7/13/09 – About a week ago, my iMac started to die, so I haven’t been able to upload anything lately. In fact, the computer is so fried that I have a hard time even checking email messages–for some odd reason, email seems to really annoy whatever the problem is. My best guess is the video hardware is failing, although it could be some other problem that would have video issues as a side effect. Anyway, the effect of this is that I am not all that active lately, and I’m going through computer withdrawal. :(

A new Mac is shipping sometime this week. It’ll take a bit to get myself up to speed, especially since I have to work late Thursday night (dammit!), and especially if I run into problems getting files off the old computer (I’m pretty sure the drive is fine, but whether the computer will cooperate long enough to allow the new Mac to hoover all the files off of it is another question entirely).

Anyway, that’s what’s been happening lately. I’m not dead or anything, just having an equipment disaster.

The good part of this is that once I am up and running, my slow-computer problems should be solved. :) In the meantime, I am tired and stressed out.

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