Friday, May 31, 2013

Reassigning a drive letter

For the past couple of months I have been using two 1.5 terabyte USB drives, that contain my photo library, one is the master the other is a backup. I just keep the active months photos on my computer hard drive but the full photo library on theses external drives and carry them between computers when working on or searching for older photos. All was going well until somehow the drive letters became exchanged. Lightroom started to do weird things, which looked like my photos where being deleted, other times it appeared to be duplicating some photos. Picasa just ignore files even when they where present. Eventually I twigged it was a problem with the drive letters being allocated. I suspect it was a couple of background synching utilities, I am experimenting with that where creating the duplicate files and it was probably moving the USB drive between computer that created the drive letter changes in the first place. How then to get out of this mess?


Its easy just reassigned the drive letters, the steps are straight forward, on a windows machine you need to find Computer Management Utility, which is under control panel/[system and security]/Administrative Tools. Once in that window select Disk Management, and wait for it to find what's on your system then select the USB drive and right click to bring up the Change Drive Letter and Path Dialogue (shown above). imageClick change and set the letter you wish. Remember some drive letters may not be available as other devices are already using them. When you click ok you will be warned some programs rely on a specific drive letter to run correct. Thanks I understand that now, but that message would have been nicer a lot sooner!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What's in a megapixel?

I found this table buried deep in a Pentax manual but it does give you a good idea of the size of image you can expect to create with a given camera megapixel resolution. I've added the couple of lines to add context of common screen displays & web sites.
Megapixels Size Print/Display
14.6 4672×3104 A2 paper 14"×17"
10 3872×2592 A3 paper 10"×12"
6 3008×2000 A4 paper 8"×10"
3.1 2048x1536
Google+ (free)
LR5b smart preview
2 1824×1216 A5 paper 5"×7"
0.5 800x600 Web Pages Older computer screen

For those that like there information graphically, Design 215 has a great megapixels chart. (also shown below)

Finally here is a great little megapixel calculator that will back calculate a lot of useful information, given your image size in pixels. It will calculate such measures as aspect ratio, file size in various formats,  approx. number of photos that will fit on your memory card at that resolution and suitable print sizes. It is worth noting that the 300dpi requirement so often claimed by otherwise knowledgeable photo sites, is a little misleading. The dpi (dots per inch) is actually a measure that dates back to traditional printing whereas modern ink jet are more truly measured in ppi (pixels per inch). Each pixel normally being produced using 4 tiny dots of CMYK colour, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black, in a 2 by 2 dot pattern. Frequently these dots overlaps on purpose. So at the simplest level 300ppi is equivalent to 150dpi. A lot of common ink jet "photo" printers normally only have a standard print density equivalent to 120 or 190 dpi, but with good results. Some of the more expensive ones may offer a High Res, setting that will be equivalent to 200-300dpi. So if you are a keen home printer you might be able to "push" the maximum size a little.
Remember that megapixels are not a measure of the true picture quality, which relies on a number of other factors, exposure, focus, composition, points of interests, colour balance etc. Megapixel is purely just a measure of size.

The new flickr in fits and starts

clip_image001I must admit I haven't been on the revised flickr a lot, but I have noticed that I am watching the two colour flickr spinners a lot, ... while I wait ...and wait, for a photo not to be displayed, The "seamless" photo mosaic display seems to be ok but individual photo page and slideshow displays, are definitely tediously slow now.

My solution, at the moment, is to use the lightbox view, which seems to respond immediately. To start the lightbox view just click on the small double diagonal arrow icon beside the three dots on the right hand side of the photo screen. To get out of lightbox mode click on the big X in the upper left.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Harvest Moon

Photo, originally uploaded by imageo.
A reminder that winter is coming.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The frustrations of intermittent lens problems

2013-05-27 10.29.58

It would seem that the dreaded "Error 01: Communication between the lens and body has failed" errors on my canon EOS 1100D camera when using my EFS 18-55 lens, is not such a unique problem, nor is the frustration. Seems a lot of other have found changing lenses and removing batteries give temporary respite on a variety of other canon models and lenses, with different error numbers but similar cause, or should I say lack of obvious cause. My manual suggest cleaning the contact, with a soft lint free cloth, but I have found this never seems to fix anything.

The various photography forums are full of request for advice and most have the same recommendations, remove lens, remove the memory card and remove battery, wait a while and then restored the items in the reserve order. This occasionally works for me and never when I really need it to get a decent image. My investigation seem indicate I need to remove the lens switch to manual and set the f-stop lower than f4, and then remount the lens and I just might get a shot of two more.

If all else fails … you can always read the notes on the canon USA site offering some explanation and understanding! For the very important advice don't use an eraser to clean the contacts! Ok cannon might have a communication issue with their cameras owners as well. So that just leaves joining the queue of frustrated camera owners and use a different lens.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Blimey, …they do that? ..aka(time for a manifesto).

I had heard the story about a new law, known as the instagram act, in the UK making “orphaned” photos free from normal copyright restrictions on republishing. So how does a photo become orphaned? Most jpegs, the most common format for posting photos on the web, have important detail about which camera, its setting and who took.owns the photos embedded in the photo itself, These are the EXIF and IPTC metadata and because they are embedded within the photo they travle with it when it is copied. Whilst some older programs may not handle them correctly, programs like picasa and lightroom and many others help you expand the details stored here. However then when I started to investigate some of the recent social photo sites I came face to face with the fact that most of the social sites where stripping out the metadata. In fact of the sites I have used only google+ is not altering the metadata. I must admit I was pretty shocked that Flickr was one of the worst offenders.
Right at the moment, posting your photos on social web sites, may not protect your rights much despite anything they might suggest in their terms of service. Add to this this “overlooking” of creative commons licencing on google+ and the web has become a less secure place to “share” your creations. Fortunately there is some good guidance being prepared.
IPTC Photo Metadata Working Group have prepared five guiding principles as our "Embedded Metadata Manifesto":
  1. Metadata is essential to describe, identify and track digital media and should be applied to all media items which are exchanged as files or by other means such as data streams.
  2. Media file formats should provide the means to embed metadata in ways that can be read and handled by different software systems.
  3. Metadata fields, their semantics (including labels on the user interface) and values, should not be changed across metadata formats.
  4. Copyright management information metadata must never be removed from the files.
  5. Other metadata should only be removed from files by agreement with their copyright holders.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Is Flickr "awesome again,"?

Marissa Mayer has stated one of her first task at Yahoo, is to make flickr awesome again. On Monday Yahoo! announced a take over of tumblr and also a significant makeover of the flickr service. She seems to be on her way, but I reserve judgement on whether the awesomeness has returned.The changes are in fact Biggr than I expected and the format so overwhelmingly different you might just think you are in the wrong place when you first arrive.
  • Biggr. Your terabyte of free space is massive, and includes extending the limit on video to 3 minutes of HD video. My old photos dating back to 2005 are back on-line again. This is Big.there is no doubt about that, it dwarfs my post last week about all the free cloud photo storage. Essentially you are getting a free external “cloud” harddrive (albeit with some very real bandwidth limitations) and for a lot of mobile photo snappers that probably more than they will ever want.
  • Spectaculr. This presumably refers to bigger photo displays (on a desktops, with access to good internet bandwidth!) and a cleaner "seamless" collage-like view that replaces the thumbnails for your photostream, looks good but makes for a very tedious scroll “endlessly” for anything older. It could easily be google+ photo's album page with fewer photos on the screen, so its not new to me. The new slideshow actually would not start for me, I just watched the spinning balls for a few minutes and gave up. I wonder if calling these changes spectacular in the light of other photo sharing sites is a bit of over hyping the new appearance but I have to admit my photos do look better now. (ie all that white space and text were a distraction).
  • Wherevr. Is about mobile and the iphone & andoid apps. Unfortunately the new android app is flagged incompatible with my older Telstra/HTC Wildfire, sad but such is life. I suspect flickr are aiming to become "the photo sharing site" of choice from mobile, by being easy to use, massive storage capacity and full resolution display but instagram and others are a long way ahead already in terms of an established userbase.
The flickr blog has a few more details
alvin & lila on flickrThe one item I haven't been able to figure out just yet is what has happened to the PRO accounts? I assume it is now called an adfree account, and the only difference to the free account is no ads?

If you loved flickr the way it was, don't stress too much all the old features and functions are still there, you may just have to look around for them. However there doesn't seem to be anyway to go back to the oldclip_image001 user interface. So far I have found the edit button on your photostream will get you back to a three column thumbnail display a little like the previous photostream. The film strip view in Organizr, under the three dots on the right hand side of your photostream view, will still let you scan through your images quickly enough. The details of each photo are there, still on a white background, but cleverly hidden under the fold, so just scroll down when you have a single picture displayed. So we will just need to get used to it. I'm not ecstatic but happy enough to give it a try but first it appears I'll have to recreated a bigger better Buddy Icon.

Monday, May 20, 2013

PhotoFriday :: Metropolis

Posted by Picasa revisting an old photo taken last year but bought into perspective with Lr5b Upright feature

For PhotoFriday‘s topic Metropolis

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Using Lr Publishing Services straight into DropBox

Probably about 6 months ago I had the idea of creating a “private place” on the net that would act as my own on-line gallery where I could show some of my works (both finished and in progress) only to those I choose to show it rather that everyone on the net. I won't go into my reasons just yet but I started to search through the TOS (terms of service) of many online albums and photo sharing sites and looking at what tools and apps where around to do this. In fact I got quiet distracted by adobe’s Create Cloud and after a lot of frustration and false starts I put this project aside. When I looked around last week at the cloud storage offering for photos I noticed that four had the TOS and tools I was after.So here is by first experiment using Lightroom’s Publishing services to load and “manage”  photos directly into DropBox.
I always liked the idea of publishing serves directly from lightroom but, perhaps like many I never really used any other than the flickr service. The flickr service, which I still use very occasionally, is pretty simple and doesn’t really do a lot. The only reason I see to use it is to stop double handling (ie exporting a jpeg just for upload then changing to another application to actually do the upload and perhaps add some tags and  retype the title etc, you know the tedium I’m sure. The Publish service to hard disk struck me just as a duplication of the export feature. However I figured if I used it to publish to a synched folder, it would then automatically be uploaded to drop box. Such a service is very simple to set up. The imprtant steps are to first identify the directory on your computer that is the one that dropbox has been set to synchronize. Note if you want to use a subdirectory of that it can not be changed once the service is set up, so instead I suggestimage you created a folder set underneath the published service. Thus allows you to control the folders from within light room.. There are a few other items that can help customize the export to suit web display, such as use the sRGB colour space I also wanted to keep the file size just large enough to get a good screen viewing and added the standards sharpening for screen display. The big advantage of the publish serevice is it will keep track of changes you maked and next time you select the Publish now it makes the appropriate changes into the DorpBox.
I’m also exploiting the new photo sharing & previewing feature in dropbox, You need to download and install the small applet, that syncs a folder from your computer with your box. Once that is set up anything published from lightroom will arrive in the appropriate location in your dropbox storage. In the photo view of your files on dropbox you see a timeline style view with “square” thumbnails of your photos, clicking on a specific photo takes you to dark “lighbox” style view. In addition the drop box owner (and collaborators) have the ability to create albums of the photos in the dropbox collection that are independent of the actual folders. The albums are a virtual organization view and you can have one image in several albums if you desire. I haven’t figured out a way to sync the dropbox albums with the lightroom collection but that doesn’t really matter here. Sharing just the album’s then gives you a lot of control over what you show others. So here is an album of my art for public view.
imageSad smiledrop box promptThere were however two disappointments with dropbox photo feature, like so many other downloaded applications it tries to assume control of you photo imports (jumping in as soon as you insert a SD card, USB Key, camera or smart phone and tries to upload everything to dropbox. This is a nice option if that’s what you want to do BUT lucking there is a don’t ask me again option down the bottom (once turned off however I can’t see how to turn it back on). The second disappointment is less forgivable. Whilst the files with in dropbox are exactly as you uploaded them, if some one else downloads them from the photo view, then the metadata (and your copyright message etc) are stripped out. Which really make dropbox useless for my application

the oaks

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, May 18, 2013

PhotoProject :: Photographing Art & Lr5b Upright

One of the biggest issues when photographing art is getting rid of the lens distortions.This barrel morphing of the edges and keystoning, (that trapezoidal effect you see when a projector is at a slant to the screen) means that the frames will not align with the edges. There are some steps you can take when you are taking the photo, like using a prime lens , rather than a wide angle, or especially a wide angle zoom and photographing the work straight on and avoiding strong direct light.


Perspective correction in Photoshop can be used to fix these effect, albeit with a bit of a learning curve. The new upright feature in Lightroom 5 beta is a very easy to use alternative, and ideal for “Fine Tune” straightening up the edges. The above snaps where taken of my art works hanging in private homes, taken hand held in place they hung on the wall, so I was not always able to take a distortion free set up.In Lightroom 5b before I do any other editing I go down to the Lens Correction/Basic Tab and then use either the Auto (which tries to fix the main distorts or the Full (which I probably prefer) which attempts to align both vertical and horizontal strong lines, like the picture frame. I then crop to the art work and do any other exposure adjustments. Remember it is important to get the white balance right but avoid over post processing so you keep the colours real,  It’s that easy!


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Photos in the clouds

This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, just a starting point, prompted by the recent upgrades to skydrive & google+. The following services all offer free cloud storage, have a decent TOS (terms of service) that mean you still own the copyright to your files (unlike other  Social Net service like Facebook & Instagram who assume they own the copyright to anything you upload, others strip out your metadata) . They have private/public sharing options that you control.. All can be used from a variety of computers and mobile devices (apps are available for most devices) and all have the ability to mirror the cloud storage across your own computer device (desktops, laptops, phones, tablets). In other words all offer a decent service.

Drop Box 2GB Drop Box capacity
Box 5GB Box capacity
GMail, Google Drive
Picasa/Google+ Photo
15GB* Google+ Photo capacity
SkyDrive/Outlook/(Hotmail) 25GB* Sky Drive capacity
* Shared space

Cleary Forty Seven gigabytes of space is a lot. How does that relate to how many photos you can save, its approximately twenty four thousand  (or more) jpeg files of the size taken by compact cameras and smart phones, Around three thousand three hundred full sized RAW files, as taken by recent high megapixel model DSLR cameras or four hundred & seventy five-ish HD movie clips (30second to 2minues) or eleven and three quarter eight gigabyte SD cards. So if your an occasional IPhone snapper that’s probably a life time of memories but for a professional photographer it could be just.a few days or a weeks worth of their photographic work. The rest of us will fit somewhere in between and I suspect it will be bandwidth that arbitrates how quickly our photos fill the clouds, but I’m now sure they will.

Jpeg Format Phhotos   DSLR RAW format PhotosHD .mov clipssd memory card

new layout in google+ (photo) & some enhancements

I also just noticed a significant change in the UI (user interface) for google+ and the layout of google+ photo (the old picasa album format is still there, and perhaps a bit easier to find, look for  the album menu item). The layout is definitely even clean and makes better use of space. One item that seems to have drawn less discussion on the net is that the size of the free account space has been increased to 15GB (for photos greater than 2048 pixels, smaller than that you have an unlimited capacity) however this is now shared across gmail, google drive and google+. It is still a BIG increase.image

Fullscreen capture 16052013 20331 PMOne “new” feature you should try out immediately is the auto enhance, found under more actions menu item on the lightbox display for a single photo. Picasa has always had the I feel luck button as a kind of auto enhance but this a whole lot better. Google is prompting the highlight feature which supposedly “automatically” chooses the best photos from a collection for a new album. Its good but I’m not totally convinced it’s for me. See a little about these features in the google promotion video below. I haven’t had a chance to play with other new Mix, HDR, Smile, Motion or Pano features as yet.

fungai collage

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

New features for photo display on SkyDrive

I have been struggling a little trying to use adobe’s creative cloud, to provide a “private” place in its cloud to collaboratively share some collections of art and photos, with a very select group of my colleagues. Of course keeping anything “private” (by which I mean only share with those I want) on the net is not a trivial issue. Some the complexity may or may not be “user” related (ie me not understanding). However the issues have been incredibly frustrating because this is exactly what creativity in the cloud is all about. Perhaps I’ll post more on this sad journey later. For now I just gave up and went looking for a better way to share a select collection of my work to just a few people, and there are plenty of options, drop box, google drive and even flickr. As part of this I had a relook at skydrive (after abandoning it for a while). What a surpise, not only is the UI neater and crisper, there are two new display formats that microsoft have snuck into skydrive!

Sky Drive Timeline style display  Sky Drive Filmstrip style format
The first is an All Phones option under the main menu on the left hand side. This shows all the photos on your skydrive (as an alternative to looking at each folder into which they are loaded). Organized as a date base timeline (not unlike the default way picasa organises your photos on your computer). Once you select an image there is a new, filmstrip dark style, a cross between lightroom and google+ lighbox view. Both these views are very neat and give you a better on-line experience with your photo collection.  The free 25GB of storage should be another encouragement to use SkyDive as your cloud based photo place.

Example of the Share Dialogue in Sky DriveThe big advantage of going sky drive for your “private” place in the clouds is the number of ways that can you can share (or not) your folders. This is not a new feature, you have always been able to control access at the folder level, now you can also just give access to selected photos via email, or selected social networks such as facebook & twitter (but then the photo will no longer be “private”!)