Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Importance of Provenance

I have been watching the great ABC TV series where Edmund Capon tells the story of the Art of Australia. Given that the series is only in three parts it is not surprising that the worksMe Sculpting in Clay presented are just a snippet of what was going on, albeit a handpicked subset that tries to represent the import works that bought change. However it was watching the discussion of the intense group of artist in the Heide Circle that bought home to me one very important aspect of photography for artist, often overlooked. That is the important task of just recording what is going on, establishing provenance, where did the works come from? why where they created? or simple what is the work behind the artist’s shoulder? Not every one will be famous and have future gallery curators forensically combing through their old photo collection, perhaps it will be more like someone interested in your art checking the social web. Galleries of your works are probably not going to please them as much as a picture of you working of some important piece (especially the work they want to buy!)
Modelling Sir John Monash : Statesman in Clay
These are a couple of photos of me working on the clay pattern for one of my bas-reliefs of John Monash for my next exhibition “In Search of Sir John Monash” to be held at The Highway Gallery, Mt. Waverley, 2nd to 15th November 2013.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

who gives a TOS?

Google are about to updated their terms of service (TOS) and it is very refreshing to see an on-line service provider, firstly notify its users about the changes and also focus on those aspects that let the user control what is to be shared. However the common click to accept terms, expressed in very verbose legalese, are seldom read by most of us. we just want to join up not spend half and hour or more trying to figure out what is meant.

If you are creative type and produce original works it is really in your interest to review the TOS of all on-line services you use. Many services assume ownership of anything your uploaded into their services, Facebook and Instagram assume you given then very draconian rights over redistribution, Dropbox which one held part of the middle grade have recently changed to claim more rights over your content.  Flick/Yahoo! and google+ are generally considered better. Terms of Service are fine, and necessary, they cover such things as the services right to cancel your account if you do bad things and the fact that they may take little or no responsibility for what you upload, most don’t claim they own your content but that statement will probably be followed by a clause that you “grant them non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post”. If you are not ok with this perhaps it is best not to use that service!

If like most of us you have tried to read the fine print and are still uncertain, here is a community (ToS;DR Terms of Service Didn’t Read) and website that understand and they aim to address and fix the biggest lie on the web “I have read and agree to the Terms” in one click!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Flickr …further into the darkness?

Example of the new layout for the Flickr Photo PageFlickr has begun unveiling some more changes, specially at the moment it is a different layout for the main photo viewing page. Its darker, and more “pictorial”, a lot of the text information that was spread around the original format loaded into the sidebar with more icons. Is this more intuitive? I’m not sure, but the images are clearly dominant now. The Photo Page is probably the most important display in flickr, so I want them to get it right, they can take their time and not overwhelm us with change for change sake. What I noticed is that quiet a few features that where available under the three dot icon aren’t their yet, so for the time being after you had a play with the new layout you will probably want to get back to the old layout, which is the bottom option when you click on the blue help & feedback button on the lower left.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Where are these weird links coming from?

google weird link fail!Looking back through my blog post I have come across a number of weird links, Not all are like this but this one is really weird. I can only assume either google has been doing some “recoding” of links to other items in blogger and picasa web albums or some entity (a hacker or scammer) has managed to access my google account. Just in case of the later I’ve changed my password yet again! It is possible theses are related to changes in google+ photo. They seem easy enough to fix once you know which are the broken links, you can just edit them with the correct link location, which in the case of photos is a bit or work BUT I don;t feel link searching through every link in my 1480 posts and manually fixing the ones that are broken! 

This not one of the typical messages given in google’s help for hacked sites. Has anyone else seen massages like this?

In light of the adobe hack it is probably that now id the right time to change your passwords on every social site (and close the accounts on those ones you not regularly using)..

Monday, October 07, 2013

Catch 22 on the way to Error 500 and other nightmares

picasa web errorI was trying to forget about my frustrations with adobe and do a bit more testing on uploading RAW files to Google+ for a blog post. Alas I hit further frustration there as well, in preparing my blog post about which format I use and why I took a series of comparative photos and realizing that any posted images would just be jpeg version I decided to upload them as RAW files via my google drive. All nice and easy, just takes a little time the sync the files, The problems started when I tried to share the directory and get a link for my blog post to the album I had just created. If I tried to do this via google+ I just get a post into google+ and I can not figure out what the hardlink to that post might be, If there even is one. So then I looked in the picasa web album view, but attempting the old share now goes into the google+ share only now it doesn't work and I managed to get the error 500 a few times. What I could do was just connect to the album in picasa web and copy that link into my blog post. Trying the same approach in google+ photo, gets a much longer link string and at first didn't work and then it did! This prompted me to remember that strange warning about the address being changed when I was first investigating the updates in google+ photo. Ok I still don’t know what this means but as I look back in my blog a lot of the images are not displaying correct in the blog but do display when clicked on. They have very weird link names? Very puzzling?

I am starting to worry I’m just becoming a bit of a grumpy, and I’m not going to waste more time investigating in the hope it will all be fixed,  Now as I am writing this I got a notice that google+ has Auto Awesomed me! Not the original photos in google drive but via the jpegs in my blog post? Its all a bit to incestuous, They are meant as comparative photos not a animated movie btw.

Really google does your right hand know what the left is doing?
Please leave Picasa and Picasa Web uncompromised.

.JPG vs RAW (.PEF) vs .DNG

arning, I must preface this post with the advice that this is very much my personal view, based on my experience rather that on a calibrated benchmark comparison. I have the choice of using jpeg, two types of propriety RAW  and .DNG as an alternative Raw format on my Pentax K20D. I have found the decision as to which format to standardize on hard to resolve and opted to save both RAW+jpeg where there is the such an option. So here is a little about my (in)decisions and why.

All my current and past digital cameras and cameraphones have all captured .jpeg files and my photo collection is dominated by that format. I have come to appreciate picasa as the very best way to manage jpeg files, its fast, simple and behaves. My many mistress project has lead me to see that previewing jpeg thumbnails is by far my preferred way to cull and organise my photos as I load them. At this stage whilst I might do a little cropping I tend not to do any elaborate post processing. Occasionally at this stage I will email images and very occasionally upload them to the net which generally require resized jpeg version (again picasa does this well) without much photo retouching.

There is also no doubt in my mind that you can coax much more out of RAW files than you can get out of the equivalent jpeg. The reasons for this is buried in the image "development" process happening in the camera, to take the sensor readings and produce an image. There are several steps, demosaicing of the Bayer array, white balance assumption, tone mapping, colour saturation and contrast, then image compression before it is written to the camera memory card.. Probably the biggest limitation is that the image must be packed into an 8 bit representation. Each step requires interpretive decision about how to preform the development and many are not easily recovered if the steps lead to less than desirable processing. That’s where having access to the original information in a RAW format file is a big advantage, but now the steps must be specifically undertaken by the photographer, which takes time and experience. Often a lot of time! The jpeg representation, or at least a suitable small sized thumbnail of it, is also needed at the camera itself to be display on the LCD screen on the back of the camera. 
Pentax JPEG *** (5.9MB) Pentax JPEG **** (10.0MB)
Pentax JPEG *** (5.9MB) Pentax JPEG **** (10.0MB)

There is a trade off between the time take to write the large RAW files and the smaller jpeg files, which can mean that you can take fewer images per second, because there can be a bottleneck writing to the card, When you just shoot raw, the jpeg development steps are likely to be run anyway, not only for the image on the LCD screen but most Raw files also include this jpeg thumbnail, for use in quickly previewing the Raw file contents. So in RAW+jpeg both file formats must be written to you to your memory card and it is then just an issue of time taken to write both and extra space required. So fewer unique images fit on the memory card before it is full. Rather than opt for a larger memory card. I've chosen to have several 4 & 8GB cards that have faster read write access, so other than having to change cards more often I probably don't see much difference. There is one exception which is tracking birds in flight and I'll discuss this in a future post.
Pentax RAW  .PEF (13.2MB) Pentax RAW  .DNG (23.1MB)
Pentax RAW  .PEF (13.2MB) Pentax RAW  .DNG (23.1MB)
I have a Pentax which is one of the few manufacture that offer DNG as an alternative RAW format, Leica and Hasselblad are the only others I know of that can save to DNG in the camera. DNG can have one significant advantage, in my view, the files can be 15 to 20% smaller than the equivalent RAW files if they are lossless compressed. This is may be why many photographers have chosen to convert their RAW files to DNG on import. Anyone that has tried the convert on import into lightroom will know that this is simple but a very time consuming process, On a full card this is not just time for a quick coffee this is tme to have dinner and some. However when I choose that format on my Pentax K20D camera, the DNG files are uncompressed and they are almost double the size of the PEF files. Against this there are some differences, just differences not improvements, in how the images are rendered particularly in lightroom and I can't see any advantage capturing in DNG
Cannon JPEG (4.5MB) Canon RAW .CR2 (16.8MB)
Cannon JPEG (4.5MB) Canon RAW .CR2 (16.8MB)
Because of the time/file size trade-off I have stuck with using more compressed versions of the jpeg files (on my Pentax this is the JEPG *** rather than the uncompressed JPEG**** format) when using the RAW+jpeg. This compressed option is the only one available on my canon when using RAW+jpeg. The images posted above are all jpeg files of reduced size, so they can be dispalyed on the web. So it is not possible to show the subtle details and differences here. I have also uploaded the unedited files to my google+ JPEG vs RAW vs DNG photo album. If you are interested this may given extra insight.

So I hope you understand why I choose to store RAW+jpeg and have opted to stick with the PEF format (and .CR2) rather than use DNG from the camera. I do use the DNG format in some special circumstances but that’s for another post.This discussion is prompted by to my thinking longer term focus

 Thanks again to Jessica Hische for her great drop caps.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Ahhh! Adobe, why didn't you tell us?

the annoying beta expired messageOn Friday my patience with adobe ran very thin.. I have had enough of the message that my beta test had run out, every time I start my computer, especially as I was never able to install it. Then I got the following message as I tried to log into creative cloud. I wanted to use Kuler to finish an art project for a self imposed deadline to print works for an upcoming exhibition.
What the...?
The message looked authentic but seemed suspect to me, why was the only option to change my password and why was this necessary but on checking the links names I followed the instructions, and waited ...and waited …and waited for the promised email. After 20 minutes I gave up and did other things. About half an hour later the email had arrived and I followed a new clink on link which only gave me the option of typing in a new password and a duplicate. Now this made me really suspicious! Being sent a false login page to capture your password is a very common phishing scam. However on investigation I again felt that the link address I could see and the mysterious email address cs-auto from adobe were possible legit. So I did some what cautiously change my password. Ok no drama after that, other than I missed my self imposed deadline. I also suggest if you in the same position, consider changing your password a second time, like I did, but  this time accessing and my adobe directly, not by a link from an email!

Now I see what was going on, Adobe has had a massive hacker attack, and only today can I find information from them about their "Customer Security Alert". If Adobe knew about this on the 17th September why didn't they notify their subscribers back then?

More importantly why did adobe choose to run something to force everyone involved to change their passwords,
  1. Without telling them why ?
  2. Doing it such a scammish fashion?
So what am I doing now, making plans for an “adobe free” studio computer!

Friday, October 04, 2013

Not so busy

This corner is supposed to be Melbourne's busiest, wasn't so busy at lunchtime yesterday, just one horse and cart?
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