Saturday, April 30, 2016

Look after those SD cards

SD cards have become ubiquitous with digital cameras and microSD cards with smart phones. They are relatively cheap and generally robust. However they can be damaged and can very occasionally fail. My experience up till last week was that failure does happen but was very unlikely. I had one bad experience several years ago where a card came apart in my camera and jammed the card socket. With patients, a magnifying glass, a torch and the tweezers from a swiss army knife I did get all the pieces of plastic and gold foil contacts out of the card slot and no damaged was done. Luckily!

Example corrupt RAW fileAnother card last year just gave errors on two test photos when I loaded them. Picasa loaded in the photos ok but Lightroom reported corrupt RAW files. Surprising the paired jpegs were fine. At first I suspected the camera but I took some more photos using an older SD card and no problems. This was a cheaper brand card and I could see no obvious damage. I just  reformatted the card in my camera, and it worked fine. But I did buy a replacement card the next day. It is serving out its retirement in a relative’s photo frame and apparently enjoying life and behaving.

Problem with Write Protection Lock sliderTwo days in a row this week I had two cards develop problems with the little plastic slider on the side that provides write protection. I don’t normally touch this slider. The first problem was I managed to push the slider up inside the card and on top the contacts. I felt the card being blocked when I inserted into into the card reader. I could read the photos the card stuck again as I tried to removed it from the reader. I carefully applied more pressure and the card came out. Close inspection showed the slider had moved and was jammed (see picture above). The SD was immediately thrown out. Unfortunately the next day, same camera another same brand SD card, read the photos ok but when I put it back in the camera it reported the write protection lock was on and when I checked the card the write protect tab was missing. I carefully checked both the camera slot and card reader but that little bit of plastic was totally missing. Another card for the bin. Three new cards from a different manufacturer purchased.

By this stage I was worried either the camera or the card reader was damaging the cards. So an intensive investigation of cards and cameras and card readers followed, including testing the write protection sliders. No problems found and I breathed a long sigh of relief.

So What might have causes the failures?

Then I realised I had changed how I was using the cards on my recent trips. I was using a new card each day and not clearing it off. After being loaded I would put it back in an elasticized pocket in the camera bag. There were only three such pockets and six cards so there was doubling up and I remember a few cards slipped out and floated around in a mesh compartment which also house a few other accessories. I now suspect that is where the little plastic slide switches got damaged.

So I have gone back to my old practice of re-using the same card in the same camera and clearing off the photos after they are loaded. Only a singe SD card is stored in each pocket, as spares in the field. Old Style SD Card PackAny other spare cards are kept in those older little slide boxes, that SD cards used to come in before that where just bubble packed. They are robust but kept back at base with my backup USB drive, not floating around in my camera bag.

Before I try the rotating card process again I’m need to find a suitable protective wallet for the cards and take better care of them.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Introducing another Mistressess

angle nikMy photo software harem keeps expanding, despite all the advice to choose just one package, This monogamy is actually good advice because the major packages do have their own little foibles, and cross incompatibility, or just straight out refusing to play nicely with each other. What seems even worse is it is yet another bit of well loved software that google are abandoning. My latest addition, and she is an angel, is Nik’s software add-ins for such programs as lightroom and Adobe photoshots elements. With the re-instatement of lightroom on my HP spectre. mainly because she is behaving and is now fast, I am finding these wonderful little tools easy to evoke and bringing a little more welcome power when I am post processing RAW files.

The black and white conversion of Nik’s Silver Effect Pro is really well loved and many keen black and white devotes have long sung its praises. However it is the colour tools I am learning to love, The reproduction of old film formats can be easily set up with Analog Efex Pro, The slide film effects work in the gorgeous colours that well exposed slides could reproduce much better than any lightroom presets I have seen. The real jewel for me is Viveza, which brings advanced color control. One of the magical tools shared across the modules is control points. which is almost like a mixture of layers and luminosity masks, only it is a method of local selection of those parts of the photo with similar tone, texture and colour, once selected all the sliders from the module can be individually changed. My preference is to use this feature sparingly and it is at its most beautiful when adjusting just one colour as the center of interest or to highlight a subject. The other bit of magic is the slider called structure. It will take an entire image or just a control point selection from highly detailed to very smoothed. Its a little like the clarity slider in lightroom on steroids and across all tones not just the mid-tones. I actually prefer the dynamic contrast filter in OnOne effects because that can be separated in short, mid and long ranges textures. Like colour in Viveza this also works best when only bring in extra detail to a few carefully selected control points,

Google are now offering the entire NIK suite for free download. If you don’t already have them and  have lightroom (or photoshop elements) and process RAW files then definitely go and get the free downloads. If nothing else just learn to use control points and fall in love with the structure slider, I’m sure you will find this collection of angels brings some beauty and inspiration back into your post processing.

PS She is well behaved.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Yet another Google favourite stumbles

It seems to have been at least two week since the last dissapointment with google. perhaps a recent record (actaully it was only 7 days I had to turn off the thumbnails in popular post on thr righthamd column of this blog) Ok it just seemed longer. Today I am woking in my studio which does use an old computer which is still running vista (and running a little slow but doesn’t give me the heartaches of the theoretically upgaded windows 10 machines). Its slow and stately, never misbehaves and fine for what I need.

bad googleHowever today I got the message that google will not be supporting chrome on Vista. This is a pity because using chrome across a range of computers and opeating systems was nice. What do I expect for free, obviously the confidence I once had in google is now almost none.

My only solution is to keep using the software tools google once brilliantly championed but now has lost interest in and hope there as no legacy, compatibilty or upgrade consequences to come.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

My First 3D Picture

I do like trying out new things, and since my new computer comes with an Intel “Real Sense” 3D camera I though I should try it out. Trouble is the Camera app that comes with Windows 10 is not 3D aware. A little looking around and I found itSeez3D, which can make 3D scans of people (it must start by recognize a face). Most importantly there was a Windows 10 app that recognises the Intel real sense, that I could download. There is also an IOS app (for iPads with R200 cameras)


The standard windows app is free, but there is also a business version (for commercial use). However the only interesting extra feature I saw was being able to print your 3D models. Unfortunately I see being able to make small 3D plastic “selfies” as a toy application rather than something I would need at the moment. You can do the 3D render locally on the tablet, this took me less than a minute but was pretty crude or once you have an account with itSeez3D (Simple enough but it took a while and a verification email step), you can upload to the cloud (that took a few minutes) and have a much more detail (final) model produced on the cloud (I had to wait about 10 minutes). The result was really impressive you can interactively rotate and scale your 3D photo/model on the screen. For me the next step is figuring out how I can use the 3D models to create unique art. That’s going to take some time, which I have, but I do like the potential of  technology and will be looking for a way to scan non humanoid objects soon and perhaps then make some virtually amazing sculptures.

I then went looking for a way to embed a 3D viewer in this blog posts.Try out Sketchfab below, click on the 3D arrow to manipulate the image. Unfortunately the 3D view highlights a couple of places I didn’t get adequate coverage. However for a first attempt I’m pleased.

My Clay Sculpture by imageo on Sketchfab

Monday, April 25, 2016

PhotoFriday :: Bold


Beach towels drying in the sun on a windy day through a glass wall.


For PhotoFriday‘s topic Bold

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Are we really Shadowless?

Today I visited a new exhibition at mga on Australian Exotica, which presents the views some contemporary Australian photographers that is a different and erotic place. On the way back to the car park I walked the path on the right below and loved the shadows. However compare that with the photo of typical open forest (below left) I had taken earlier a short distance away. Different style of shadows but not really exotica.

Typical Australia Open Forest European Style Garden

“The trees  [in NSW] nearly all belong to one family, and mostly have their leaves placed in a vertical, instead of as in Europe, in a nearly horizontal position: the foliage is scanty, and of a peculiar pale green tint, without any gloss. Hence the woods appear light and shadowless: this, although a loss of comfort to the traveller under the scorching rays of summer…”

…Charles Darwin (notes on trip from Sydney to Bathurst 1836, From Chapter 19, The Voyage of the Beagle)