Thursday, September 29, 2011

What might Google+ mean for your Photos?

I know I wrote earlier, back in July,  about rumours that picasa web might be rebranded as google photo as it is bought into Google+.Then I kind of ignored the Google+ phenomena, but a few day ago I noticed my name, with a plus in front of it, at the top of the black menu bar in Gmail. If you have a gmail account I am sure you will see an secret invite like this has appeared in your account now that Google+ has good live. Clicking on that took be inside the new worlds of Google+. Actually at first look it is a relatively plain looking hybrid of twitter like posts (only longer) and something like flickr or tumblr. Iimage have never seen the appeal in facebook so I will not make any comparisons to it. The three obvious enhancement are Photos (which is actually picasa web, viewed differently) Circles (a way to identify different grouping with your friend, family & colleagues and a very logical way to control your sharing with them) and Hangouts (a kind of private video/chat).

If you already have picasa, your will have a picasa web albums (and a lot of free photo space in the clouds) if you don’t it will be set up one for you. The only thing is it looks a bit different, lighter and some how cleaner in Google+ and now it has a special sub album for your phone photos.
The good news is when you upload from your phone, the photos are not shared with anyone, You have to explicitly choose to share anything. Be warned though sharing is easy.
imageYou can make and share your own Circles so it also acts a bit like groups in flickr. Photographers have found this feature and already created a very bright and active community. To join in the vibe just offer to follow (a special type of circle where you read the public post of others without sending your post to them) a couple of photographers and just watch there posts.
The fact that sharing photos is so easy and their presence does liven up a very plain layout is probably why photographers have take so quickly to Google+ and why they quickly attract so many followers
There are also Hangouts these are small group video/chat conferences (usually about a specific theme, again watch out for some of the photographic hangouts. I haven’t really played with these much yet so no comment.

The main interaction with others in Google+ is view your Stream which is at the simplest level like a long twitter message and can be up to something like a full blog post. Pictures and links are super easy to add in. The whole thing is packaged around your Google Profile.

All of this you have probably already read somewhere, so here is a little extra I think was always design to be there but has been overtaken in the Hype. Google+ was designed with mobile devices in mind (not as an add on). The real sticking power for google+ may very well lie in the Google+ apps. Suddenly all those photos on your phone can be esily & instantly uploaded to your private photo album in the clouds and only shared with whom ever you want if you want. No more cables or card swapping. So forget the social network who-ha, at the very least Google+ is a very slick private smart cameraphone photo album that is free. (ok you must pay for network access but if you use WiFi that can be dirt cheap) and gives you good controls over whom and how your share those photos with others.

This short video probably will not help you find your way in Google+ but it will give a bit of insight into all the jargon above and why it was designed the way it is.

So where are the ads in Google+? I haven’t seen any yet.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Life Reflecting Art

reflections in a puddle

original Etching by M C EscherI saw these great reflections in a puddle beside the Weaver’s Way in Norfolk and it reminded me a lot of an M C Escher print, only in full colour. It is largely an abstract composition all about linear and curved shapes, positive and negative forms

For those that like photographic screen wallpapers I have posted a landscape version, to suit a laptop screen, of my photo above into my Flickr Free Screen Wallpaper set, all of which you can easily downloaded (see the instruction down towards the bottom of the right hand column).

Saturday, September 24, 2011

What Green is That?


Whilst in England I puzzled by the difference in the English greens and how to mix them. I’d guessed it has a lot to do with the light, which is much harsher in Australia, but the types of vegetation probably has more influence. The northern hemisphere is dominated by deciduous (new world) plants whereas Australia is almost exclusively evergreen (old world) plant species. The manner in which these two plant groups mobilize their chlorophyll is probably very different and might explain some of the difference. The Australian leaf above, an evergreen, certainly contains a range of greens, pity is obviously sick.

So now here is my quiz for you. Can you tell which photos are from Spring in South Gippsland (Australia) and which are from Autumn in Norfolk (England)?

Lower Tarwin, South GippslandNorfolk Broads, EnglandNorfolk Broads, EnglandNear Dilham, Norfolk, England Afternoon Shadows, Venus Bay, Australia

Friday, September 23, 2011

The last post

Once the site of an impressive pier to a once thriving lime kiln, only a single post now remains as a reminder that time and tide wait for no man.

It is also a reminder of how soon our heritage can be lost.

A single straight thick line at right-angles to a series of horizontal line might well be termed a "brave" composition if it where in an art piece, but I think it works well enough as a photo. Sometimes it pays to break the rules
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Hello from DaisyWorld


The warmer spring weather has bought out a fresh flush of blooms in my own little DaisyWorld (the more famous daisy world is a nice mathematical model created by James Lovelock to describe his Gaia Hypothesis . If you want a quick overview of the model try this flash animation.

QED: As in the mathematical model in the colder periods, the darker (coloured daisy) predominate this first flowering (only the daisy bushes that are flowering are shown)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Not Drowning Waving

not standing waving

Strong offshore winds and late afternoon light adds a lot of drama into the progress of a wave to the shore.

Spring Cleaning

Its the first day with a really clear sky I seen in a while and a perfect time to check on the cleanliness of the sensor on my sensor. I wrote some time ago about DSLR’s dirty little secret and how to use a photo of the clear sky to detect the presence od dust on the sensor. My current Pentax D20 is a well engineered unit and includes a dust reduction, a dust detection and a dust cleaning system (it shakes the sensor, with the mirror lifted). However small dust particles always seem to be get into most cameras. So I regularly check using my blue method. Now I additionally slide the highlight and shadow bars across while zoomed in to help detect dust. Ok often its barely visible (And not seen by the Built-in dust check) but I now know it there. Generally just one or two runs of the dust removal procedure followed by another blue sky photo is enough to convince me my camera is clean.
On my Pentax dust removal involves taking the lens off holding the camera facing down and selecting the dust removal from the setup menu, the whole camera appears to shake for a couple of seconds, that's all it takes. Older SLRs, which don’t shake themselves, can be cleaned by selecting the mirror up and using clean air blasts (you can buy specialty air-pressure pack from a camera store or use an old fashion bulb blaster, just take off the brush) across the sensor area. It is important not to touch the sensor or mirror directly with anything.
WARNING some camera manufacturer/models, notably many Nikons, claim such air blast cleaning voids the warranty and you need to get a certified dealer to clean the sensor (check your camera manual)

In the shadows

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Any painter will be familiar with the contribution of (large) negative shapes to composition, and particularly as a good device to focus the veiwers attention on the center of interest. Note to photographers, strong shadows do this perfectly.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Some Dangers in GeoTagging (& How to remove them)

Whilst on my recent travels I was consciously trying to geotag every photo I took, which involved a bit of work for those taken on my DSLR (Pentax D20), but it was automatic for my new smartphone (HTC Wildfire). Almost everything I took with the phone had the location embedded in the EXIF metadata. Then I got thinking most cameraphone (eg IPhone) users would not even realize this and there are a lot of situations where they probably don’t want their location published, but this is exactly what happens if you then post one of these photos on the internet. There are two simples solutions too this

1) Turn automatic geotagging off in your camera phone (look under camera settings, it might refer to location rather than geotagging).image

2) Use Picasa to manage (and remove) geotags

To remove a geotag in Picasa, Select the geotagged photos.

  1. Click the Places button in the lower right corner of Picasa.
  2. Click the red geotag icon on the map.
  3. Click 'Erase location info.'

This both removes any longitude and latitude information from the photo's EXIF GPS metadata  and also removes your photo from the Picasa map. REMEMBER TO DO THIS BEFORE YOU UPLOAD YOUR PHOTO TO THE WEB!

If you look towards the end of the Wikipedia Geotagging Article you will find a more detailed discussion on the dangers of geotagging. Whilst I am still a big fan of geotagging photos, where appropriate, I feel it is important that everyone understands the privacy issues exposed by this technology.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Everything in just one (camera) bag

DSCF3330-1 In the past I have ended up carrying around a lot of stuff that I seldom used. I had a camera bag (well used and loved), a backpack with my notebook computer and a lot or wires and little devices, a folio of art paper and sketch books and finally one (or occasionally two) carry bags of art gear (pencils, paints, brushes, etc,,etc). There was no way I could routinely carry all this around.

So I firstly went on a search for a decent camera bag (not too expensive mind) that could also handle a laptop computer (15” screen) and have some room left over for art stuff (enough stuff for sketching and simple watercolours). There is a lot of choice in camera bags and the prices vary a lot. I ended up choosing a Lowpro Fastpack 250, although  there were bigger and more spacious backpacks available I was conscious that I would need to carry it around all day.

Next I analyzed carefully those items that I seldom used, and make sure those things that I wanted would fit. It was actually simple. I needed my camera, and separate telephoto lens, extra SD cards two phones, USB memory cards reader, IPod, battery chargers for phones, IPod and camera batteries, a couple of USB memory keys (one containing Portable apps), a western digital backup USB drive (for Backups). Also very important where a couple of power adaptors for foreign power grids. I also reduced my art gear to tubes of watercolour paints, a couple of portable plastic palettes, a small box of water-soluble crayons, pencils and brushes. Whilst I would carry one or two sketchbooks daily the rest of the paper and others sketch books. lived in my one suitcase. Also in my suitcase was a portable tripod.

The good news is I happily carried my backpack everywhere with me and I used every item I had bought (accept I only used one of the extra SD cards, and I didn’t use the card reader). More importantly I didn’t really feel there was anything extra I should have packed.

NOT SHOWN in the photo (above) are my computer (I ended up taking a smaller netbook) and the backpack Disk Drive, which I did carry on planes (and through airport security) boats and trains. However I did not carry routinely then as I wandered around. Also not shown in the photo is a water bottle and small folding umbrella which I did tended to carry on most days.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Home Sweet Home

As well as trying to keep down the amount of Photo and Art stuff I carried while travelling I also put myself on a software diet. I was travelling with a new but very small Toshiba notebook and I wanted to avoid the over installation of unused software glut, that inevitably slows down any computer (well any of my computers) eventually suffers from. So I deliberately only installed Picasa and some Pentax drivers (notably Remote III so I could tether my camera, which I never did) and a few utilities on a Portable App memory stick (I used Autostitch a lot , Picturenaut and  Noiseworks  less so). imageThe one thing I didn’t have which I might have used (and tried unsuccessfully to achieve) was creating massive panoramas and photosynths. Admittedly you can do the photosynth thing by any browser but uploading all the images could take forever on a lower bandwidth connection. You also have to download some software. So I was glad to get home, get my photos onto my stora (there archive location) and do a bit of reorganizing with Windows Live Photo Gallery (again I could have downloaded any of the windows live stuff while I was travelling, if I got desperate). Finally I was glad to get back to a dedicated flickr uploader facility, rather than wait on the web browser based upload tab with flickr. What I enjoy most of all was the wider bandwidth

Notice I haven’t loaded either Photoshop elements of Lightroom onto my desktop yet.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Time in Holt


Everywhere I looked in Holt I saw a cloak, Many more than even its trendy food stores and art galleries. Holt is close to the coast in Northern Norfolk and a well preserved Georgian rural town, with narrow roads, winding lanes and interesting architecture everywhere. Ok I’m exaggerating there are way more gourmet food shops, art galleries. not to mention plenty of craft, antique, interiors decorating and fashion shops. Unless of course there are many more public cloaks still to discover.There are several pubs, cafes and restaurants just in case you were worried.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Monday, September 05, 2011

The Daring Teddies of Honing

IMGP6479-1The whistle blows, and another valiant aeronaut leaps (or was that pushed or just drops) from the very top of the church tower. The first few float down. Now danger, as a chute only half opens. Plop, bounce and silence. Such a hard landing, the nice lady in the fluoro-yellow vest runs out and teddy is lifted onto a stretcher and whisked away.The whistle is blowing again and another teddy descends, full open chute this time and the cheeky wind pushes him off coarse and over the hedgerow. More and more teddies are drifting in their descent with the strengthening breeze. Some get caught in the cross wind and are bumped rudely down the fling wall. More stretcher bearers appear and the crowd sighs relief amongst the laughter and cheering. More and more teddies appear two at a time now. The wind is still playing tricks and one particularly little teddy is taken high and lands atop a nearby tree (one Teddy may not be getting home tonight). The winning parachutists lay patiently, silent beside the target. The wind blows harder and three whistles signal the end of the Teddy air show today.