Saturday, January 24, 2015

Sharing the Old Fashion Way (from Picasa Web Albums)

The Google+ Photos screen in a chrome browser
These days all version of picaca, will take to you to google+ photos within google+, rather than to the former way picasa shared on the web, which was called Picasa Web Albums. To be fair google+ photos has a few more features, particularly editing the photos on-line. However it has lost a few of the nice ways to share your photos both privately and publically that where part of Picasa Web Albums (some are just very hard to find). Basically the big green share button is just about sharing within the google+ environment (and those in your circles within that environment).
The good news is the old Picasa Web Albums View and the new Google+ photos actually are just different front ends to the same photo storage. You Just need to know the magic link which will change you back to the Picasa Web Album view (and many of its sharing tools)
The Picasa Web Album screen in a chrome browser

This link still works (at the moment!) Picasa Web Album, sharing an album via emailThe photos are the same, editing them (such as cropping) in one version will change them in the other. There is also a slightly different way to define sharing, which can be set on an album or individually on each photo. The options being Only You, Limited, anyone with the link and Public, shown by simple little icons (a lock for private, a little globe for public and a globe with a piece of paper in front of it for limited). There is a share button which goes to google+ but you can also share via email by adding the email address above the share button. They get sent the email that you then set up on a dialogue popup (shown on the right) and can access the photo or album using the included link in that email. This is a very quick and convenient way to send a number of images via email because you only send the link, and the photos will be private to yourself and the person receiving the email. Google+ can do an email invite but it is firstly an invite to join google+ or log in with a google account before the recipient can view the photos.

Picasa Web Album, sharing an album direct linkThe other nice options to share your photos, will show up in the photo display when it is available via limited or public, you will see an extra series of share options below the share key (don’t hit it, its the one that just shares to google+). These share options include posting to blogger and twitter and including a direct HTML link or embedding some HTML code for a website or blog post. You can also reset the secret link, if you fear others have been sent the access code/link.

I don’t understand why google+ doesn’t still offer these sharing options, without the need for the receiver to join google+.

But now you know how to access these sharing options and can enjoy sharing your photos again.

UPDATE Jan 2016, The share button and/or share link are now missing, open sharing outside the google-verse appears to have been turned off.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Size matters, but so does speed

 SD cards come in a large variety of capacities, in general the bigger the capacity the more expensive, but there is a second consideration speed. The SD Association have a speed class system that can help you understand the performance. the symbol is a number (the number of Mega Bytes per sec) inside a C, a bit like the @ symbol (see example on right hand side). Whilst most cameras will work the original the original standard SD cards (mainly still available in 2Giga Bytes) many older cameras cannot use the newer SD HC (High capacity) which general come in between 2 GB and 32 GB capacities, These newer card can have speed from 2 MB/s up to 10 MB/s. Understanding the performance is pretty simple if your DSLR camera writes a jpeg or RAW file that is 10MB in size it will take 1 second to write (with a tiny overhead for the cameras software). If you are still using a speed class 2 card that same file will take 5 seconds. A little more in cost of the card may make a big difference, particularly in bust mode.

This was all fine for still cameras but video is even more demanding, so there is now another class the SD XC or UHS (Ultra High Speed), which an come in capacities up to 1 TB (terra byte(more commonly 32GB).  Their speed class is shown in a U, The class U 3 is equivalent to 30MB/s (as shown on the left). Some newer cameras and particularly video cameras like the GO Pro actually require these higher speed cards.

So here is a guide of what size/speed card might suit you best

Type of Photography


Speed Class

If you just shoot jpeg (or old camera)



If you mainly shoot RAW



If you shoot jpeg + RAW



If you shoot video & RAW




Thursday, January 22, 2015

Start your own Provenance, sharing into the future

Me enjoying an espresso (short black) coffeeSocial media is often prompted as a way an artist can reach a larger audience. This is really only partly true. Just putting works on line doesn’t mean others will look at them.  For a start it will probably just be a tiny thumbnail to most until they click on it, if they click on it. Further in a time where almost everyone has access to the net, via smartphone, tablet or computer and their own web presence, via a social media service. Everything quickly gets swamped by a plethora of other distractions. Many of those distractions will be striking similar because the web is full of copy cats and people who “wanna bee” celebrities.  They either are ignorant of, or just wish to remain ignorant of, intellectual property rights and ownership, they are just chasing likes, views and +1s. If your work is original, you may not want it devalued by lots of “clones” or just simply having it “stolen” and reposted without attribution. Well maybe you don’t actually need to post it, just about it.

Establishing provenance (the chain of ownership) for art works is an important historical undertaking. It helps detect and eliminated forgeries (unless the forger can also “plant” an elaborate chain of fake histories) and it is fundamental in establishing the value of the work. It is not possible for you to write the provenance but things you do, write about, sketch and/or photograph will form the foundation of this future value. Posting about your current work, including sketches and photos of you working on it and/or others in front of the work (say at an exhibition) are probably better ways to use social media to promote your art than just posting a thumbnail of it.

My Painting "The Short Black"

The Short Black was painted in 2013, as a donation to the Art Auction at Alphington Primary School

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

PhotoProject ::Photographing a Sunset as an Artist might Paint

I saw an interesting article is a recent copy of Australian Artist, it was the forth instalment of a 4 part workshop challenge series on Mastering Sunsets by Richard Roberston. He correctly identifies that a brightly coloured sky and deep shadows in the foreground is a very difficult subject to photograph correctly. and offers a simple way to expose the setting sun & sky correctly (point the camera towards the sun and half press the shutter and hold it, then move to get the composed image you want and then fully press the button releasing the shutter). Next take a second exposure for the shadows (by pointing at them and again half pressing the shutter and returning to the composition you want before pressing the shutter fully) The article them moves on to describe “how to paint better than a camera” and it focuses on “seeing” (and analysing) colour and tone However the sunset is a fleeting event and even an great artist will have to work fast to record even a small sketch, but that sketch and time spent looking for and understanding the the true difference between what a camera sees and what the human eye sees, will give the artist the ability to lift a studio painting to the next level even when they are using a photo or photos as extra reference.

I do carry a small A7 sketchbook in my camera bagI actually think the same logic can be applied by a photographer but the photographer may be at a disadvantage if he is not familiar with looking for the chromatic value and tonality in colour, (with his eye rather than just his camera). Further few photographers carry around a sketch book (other than me) so they need to do a few observations and commit them to memory.

Tonal (an artist will squint, but you can just look through the viewfinder and set your camera slightly out of focus)

  • Look for the big areas of similar tone?
  • What are the natural positive and negative shapes? (maybe you need to find a interesting negative shape in the foreground to balance the composition)
  • Where is the lightest, brightest part?
  • Where are the shadows and how dark do they appear?

Dominant colours (again looking at the de-focused image in your viewfinder can help)

  • What are the 5 dominant colours? (don’t just say yellow or orange for a sunset, there will be more)
  • Given the colours a name? (use your own favourite/pet names, you’ll remember them better)
  • Give the a colours a shade? (its tonal strength, pale, bright, desaturated, dark )
  • Is the colour scheme Harmonious, Complimentary, Analogous? (an artist might drop a colour that conflicts with the overall scheme, you’ll have to do this in post)

If you have a camera that takes RAW image format and you have software to post process it, take you photo in this format because you may be able to tease out some of these memories. Remember an unprocessed RAW file can look very flat even compared with the equivalent jpeg. It will have to be post processed for sure!

This is a place from which I have sketched and photographed many sunsets, and over last weekend there where a couple decent ones. It is a nice place because the lacy texture of the banksia forms an interesting silhouette and strong foreground.

Out of Camera
IMGP1471 IMGP1420 IMGP1497
in Lightroom
IMGP1471 IMGP1420 IMGP1497
Tonal &
Colour Adjustment
in Lightroom
IMGP1471-2 IMGP1420-2 IMGP1497
After Shot Pro
Perfectly Clear
IMGP1471 IMGP1420 IMGP1497
Perfect Photo Suite
Magic Landscape preset
IMGP1471-Edit IMGP1420-Edit-2 IMGP1497-Edit

Whilst the difference may not be dramatic if you start with reasonable exposures. I am including these comparisons so yu can see it is possible to tweak the information in a RAW file to give you a richer image, perhaps more like you remember when you witnessed the sunset (You did commit to memory the tonality and colours you saw, didn’t you!)image

The other alternative, and it is a good one, is to take a bracketed set of exposures. The logic here is even if your camera’s lightmeter makes a wrong selection, for the best average exposure you should get at least one ok image. If you have access to HDR software then this set of different exposures can be combined to give a fuller dynamic range. If you have a google+ photo account and use autobackup, google may create an autoawsome HDR* for you when it recognizes a suitable bracket set of jpeg images. Unfortunately these can sometimes be a little lurid and over saturated.

with Lightroom
sunset 1471-001 sunset 14209 sunset 1497

16 bit HDR with Adaptive Logarithmic tone mapping and Perfect Effects Finish

As the sun sinks slowly in the west

... or so we remember?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

More Mistress Troubles

I do like my lightroom and use her a lot, but she is not behaving nicely. She has always clearly been a high maintenance lady she doesn’t like working across several computers (and a network), she is very fussy about controlling everything, very finicky about external drives and she suffers occasional memory lapses. I am very careful about saving any edits, by writing an xmp (sidecar) file and writing collections as a keyword back into the metadata (also written to an xmp file). So on my studio computer she is happy and cooperative. She also plays nicely with my other new photographic mistress Perfect Photo Suite (I’m pretty sure lightroom thinks she is in charge and Perfect Photo plays along).

The disaster I discover yesterday was letting her look after my archives (which are on an external drive on a different computer). That lightroom catalogue actually references all my photos. Sure she was slow to start up there and sometimes there was a bit of a stutter waiting for a response but she had things under control. Or so I thought! I general only use that copy when I do my monthly backup and archive and then it is generally only to import the new files that have arrived in my archive (a task over which she does take her time). So time earlier last year I had used lightroom here to prepare a couple of blurb photobooks (which I have yet to get printed; not that that will happen now) they were left partly set up as collections. I hadn’t used that computer and lightroom since well beforebe good woman Christmas and when I opened her up and started looking for the books she start to slow then I got a Microsoft message that she had failed BUT she valiantly asked if I’d like to make a backup of her catalogue. Bad move! It took well over 12 hours to finished and when it had finished I had only 197,494 photos showing in the catalogue only 215 photos in two collections and I could not find any rating or corrections on any photos. I actually have more like 600,000 photos and probably had well over 100 collections. Well all the files and specifically the xmp files are still there and perfect photo’s browser happily see the metadata and the simpler editing at least. Corel’s Aftershot Pro is also happy reading the files and metadata although it can’t replicate the lightroom edits.

Trying to rebuild the lightroom catalogue, from previous backups, is really too daunting a task at the moment.  So she is banished from the archive for now, until I can find a workable solution. Perfect Photo’s browser mode is able to help out for the time being, but what will the future bring? I’m beginning to understand how those aperture users are feeling.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

PhotoFriday :: HDR+Macro

Gingko Leaves
Raindrops on Gingko Leaves
Trying out HDR techniques with Macro (close up) Photography

For PhotoFriday‘s topic Macro

PhotoProject: Creating a PhotoBook using Picasa & Snapfish

picasa screen showing the albums I createdMy suggestion for the first thing to do when creating a photobook is to get your photos organised. I used albums within Picasa to do that. If you select the photo or photos you want and then right click within Picasa your will see a pop up menu and the second item on that pop-up is add to album. An Album is an organization thing, The photo still stays in the same location on your computer but an album entry also exist that looks as if the photo also exist there. Many package have similar concepts (for example Lightroom has the name collections rather than albums) to show a specific grouping of photos. A photo can exist in several albums. Removing a photo from an album does not remove the original photo from your computer. So they are a very simple and safe way to organize and reorganise your collection.

picasa can order prints from snapfish directlyThe next step is to upload your album to Snapfish, because it is an on-line service for the preparation your book. This can be a tedious process if you have to upload the photos manually (one at a time or even a few at a time via the snap fish web interface). Fortunately Picasa has a simple way to do this. Firstly go to the album with all your photos. If you look on the File/Order Prints Menu Item you should see Snapfish as one of the options (the options available vary by country, so check before you start). When you click on the choose button under the Snapfish logo you will meed to enter your Snapfish account name and password. If you don’t have one you can create an account (and yes it will ask for payment and personal details, after all you are going to buy a book). Once you are connected to the server and your account details are verified Picasa will start to upload the full contents of your album, which might take a while. Alternative if you just select some images in the album and start the upload only those photos get uploaded. Since I wanted to split the photos into 4 groups I uploaded the groups separately. Unfortunately this interface has a limit that will not upload and photo greater than 4000 pixel in any dimension (larger photo have to be loaded by a special option in the Snapfish web uploader). Snapfish also has facilities to upload from Flickr & Facebook.

snapfish uploads sectionThe upload step finishes by opening a browser window and taking you to the Snapfish upload section. You will see on the right two option in green, the top one take you into creating a book. the second will let you order prints. I’m not going straight the the photos book. Nor am I ordering prints. The upload always loads into a directory called My Pictures, so the first thing I do is change the name. There is a little pencil icon beside the screen name at the top of this section. Click on the pencil and you can type over the name. To make the task of finding images easier I loaded the four sections I wanted into four directories, I have found once you have more than 50 photos in a directory it can be a bit time consuming finding the photo you want. When you are organised here and have all your photos uploaded its time to start the book.

Snapfish book creation toolThis is both the most fun and perhaps the most tense part (particularly if this is your first book). You can let Snapfish autofill the book for you but be prepared for the cost. Remember I choose the largest book, and the autofill had done a reasonable job albeit with fewer photos per pages on average than I had planned. So I went back to the start and choose my custom layouts as I went along building the book, doing it section by section. It didn’t take all that long and I was very pleased with both the layout and reduction in price. In the review process you can email your photobook project to others for approval/feedback and they can order a copy from your link, but the preview is in flash, so it won’t work on an iPad. If your at all like me it will be important to check any text your entered for typos and omissions. So it is a good idea to save your project, have a break and come back a fresh eyes to review your masterpiece before ordering it.

For the finer details of setting up and personalizing you book I’ll leave you to the snapfish’s video. The process is pretty much as simple as it looks.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Perhaps this will be the year of the photo book?

I bravely claimed at the being of last year that it would be the year of the photobook. There are certainly photobook offerings a plenty, but alas every time I started to prepare one I found a stumbling block, sometime of my own doing, mainly procrastination but often what I saw as fundamental limitation in layout. The one’s that offered “simple” templates where difficult to customize and the ones with lots of formatting options required a lot of training to use (more trial and error investigation). I had been moving towards blurb (because it built into lightroom) and momento because you can set up an manipulate the book locally on your computer. Trouble was it had become tedious and I had lost interest.

What I had learned is it was a good idea to sort through your images and group them into an album or collection and have a rough idea of the way you want the photos grouped, and do a few back of the envelope checks for number of photos per page and number of pages needed. Remember you can only add and remove two pages at a time in most of the photo book applications. Most photobooks will start with the end pages set up so you add and subtract pairs of facing pages.

imageI did look at several of the on-line photobook offering, but quickly dismissed them, as I wasn’t interested in adding zany sticker of having cuddly themed backgrounds. A lot of folk might. Of this group the flickr offering seemed the most photographic, flickr photobooks are incredible easy to create and infact I do have two books partially set up. What stop me at the time was the cost, but I notice that has fallen. However I got to retry a few on-line templates for creating calanders before Christmas and found the process and templates of vistaprint and shutterfly much more to my liking.

So to recap, as this new year started I had a big backlog of ideas and half finished projects, but I also had two family events that really needed photobooks rather than standard prints (the type that go on the fridge and them get lost). Up to Christmas and then again at the turn of the New Year I was flooded with discount offers on photobooks, so I investigated a few. The one that interested me most was snapfish, they have an XXL (28 by 35cm) hardcover Landscape book (that’s big enough to do justice to good photos) and a good discount was available (sorry that offer will have expired by the time you see this. I have been using snapfish to order prints on-line for many years and find them competitively prices and easy to use. So in my next post I will tell a little bit about how I set up my snapfish photo book of a past vacation (a really outstanding project).

Is this year going to be the year of the Photobook? Maybe not, but it might be for me. If you are printing lot of photos and don’t mind the time to organise then and perhaps want something more permanent,  I suggest now is a good time to look out for good photobook deals, and just order the standard book, Then see if you like the quality and enjoyed the process before you spend too much money.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sharing (aka Self promotion) from Red Bubble

I haven't been very active uploading images to red bubble (from where you can purchase the images in a variety of printed product formats)for some time. However having a relook at places to present works that could be displayed (safely) and purchased, I noticed that red bubble now have metal print. My Gaia Birds Revisited series were designed for this type of printing and I had the originals printed on Chrome foil papers (not directly on aluminium) and it did beautifully enrich the colours and enliven the texture. So I've reworked the images and have uploaded 20 (including some new images) specifically for printing on metal (aluminium) at approx 40 by 40 cm and bigger via RedBubble.

Take a look.

Returning to the POSSE approach to sharing

Light soaking rains overnight but where is the torrential downpour?

Weil after what seem like days of dire weather warning of torrential rain and storms (which failed to reach my neck of the woods) it has cooled down a lot and we did get soaking, albeit soft, rain overnight.

Still the ibis are grouping where I have never seen them in large numbers before, perhaps they know something if finally coming? Will the weather Bureau warning come to roost tomorrow?


Publish to your own site first. Then share to social media if you wantMy conclusion is that whilst social media promise to make sharing your images easy, that is only half true. Whilst i may have focussed in google+ and flickr, the same issues (and often more so) apply to other social networks/media services (eg Facebook, Instagram and Twitter). Most folk no longer have their own web sites and even Blogs are becoming more locked into the social space. However I do see it is time to reclaim your domain and build your own web presence and first publish there and then syndicate the share yourself. I have been experimenting with the self blog platform Known and the notion of POSSE. Now I see why this concpet is so important, particularly if you wish to control how you share to the world.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Sharing outside the bubble, that is google+

Example of the google+ share dialogue
Despite all the claims google+ make about how easy it is to share photos. When you you press that big green share button, and even with the To line set to the green public option. By public share google really only mean easy to share within the bubble of those that belong to google+ (or more suspiciously places google may choose to share your photograph, such as in searches and maps if you have locations embedded in the photo). That everywhere in the pop-up, should read everywhere google wants. Also even if you limit the share to specific people or circles, if they click +1, then their followers can see the work also.

If you want to share you photo to the wider world its really not obvious how to do it. Here are three ways that seem to work for me. First you need to share the photo on google+, then go to that post.

Get a URL link

Embedded Post

1. Get the Link by right clicking on the date stamp then selecting the copy link address in the drop down option list.  3. If you look on the upper right hand side of the post there is a small down arrow icon, clicking on it brings up and option menu and the embedded code option .
2. You can also click on the dates stamp of the post itself, and then copy the URL address from your browsers address bar.
Where to find the the URL link address Where to find the embed code
The Embed cose must be pasted into your desired place to postHowever these methods are tedious, and really discourage me from using google+ photo. I’m not so interested in just getting a URL, because that doesn’t let me easily display the photo. The embed code is of more desirable. The really interesting part is that you can paste this HTML embed code into blogger and it will not display in their compose mode of their standard post editor but it is displayed in google+ format on blogger itself (see the insert in this post at the top). All the same none of these methods appeal to me.