Thursday, April 30, 2015

Letting Lightroom regain her dignity

imageI have not been able to find out exactly why lightrooms started forgetting things, particularly distressing was her forgetting collections. I knew she was a high maintenance mistress and I had been routinely backing up her catalogue but it would seem the problem occurred in bits and pieces, just a few collections here, then a collection or two at another time. This hasn’t stopped me using lightroom but I am careful to use just a smaller catalogue of recent photos I wish to post process at the moment and no memory losses so far.

There where almost 100 backups so going back through everything looked like a nightmare. Transferring collections is possible (you have to export them as a catalogue) but it does involve exporting the images in the collection and the last thing I wanted was having to alter existing the folders and files, or generate a lot of duplicates. I had also got very used to using AfterShot Pro to write sidecar files as a way to transfer metadata and ratings. I had also worked out that the collections (or albums) could also be written into the metadata, using something like the ~alb (for album) prefix in your metadata. This are then easy enough to find or filter in your photo manager and can be used to “re-find” the desired collection (album).

So I haven’t tried to rebuild a full catalogue of all my archived photos, what I have done is progressively worked through the backup (with the catalogue running from an external backpack location and then use lightroom to write a suitable ~alb collection name  tag to the photos in that collection into the metadata, creating a xmp sidecar file for the photos involved.  Ok that is taking time but I think storing the collections in a way that can be shared around the software packages I use (the one that can read the metadata in xmp files) is a worthwhile step. Reloading the photos into lightroom is now just on an ad-hoc basis. It will still take me a few months of occasional work to recover all my collection organization but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

For new photos I really like the OnOne Perfect Photo Browser. version 9.5 now supports Albums and it is a simple task to transfer these into lightroom collections. More importantly I only load those photos in the collection into lightroom. Naturally I also make sure I add the ~alb codes into my metadata before doing this transfer.

The days of trusting lightroom to look after my entire collect are over but I am still glad to let her beautiful develop tools enhance my work.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Cameraphone :: One Phone 3 Cameras

Pudding Camera  HDR Camera+  A Better Camera

I have a new phone an LG Android and the review’s seem to can it as very ordinary but to me it is s reasonably decent camera to have always in my pocket. Specifically to get simple snaps and collect reference material for my sketching.

One thing that many people don’t realise you are not locked into the supplied camera app that came with your phone. There are dozen of good camera enhancements out there.

Pudding Camera gets some favourable reviews and has a simple and easy to use controls, the special feature is you can choose the style of camera you wish to use (the above left photo) is Basic Camera with a vintage look.. I’m still experiment with this one but being able to see the final effect before you take a photo is great.

HDR Camera+ was a favourite back on my HTC wildfire, it takes three exposures and then creates a HDR image, all processed on the phone and it has a range of tone mapping in the form of little filter style icons. I still like it (centre image above)

A Better Camera, is another camera app from Almalence who create HDR camera+, for a small cost you can get am impressive array of extra controls for your camera, akin to the controls available on most Bigger DSLR Cameras. They are on a pull down icon menu but easy to learn and navigate. For me its bihggest benefit is that it does produce clearer and more vivid images (see the image on the right above), with the DRO (Dynamic Range Optimization) option set. This is a propriety technique similar to tone mapping that seeks to make the camera see like the human eye!

Monday, April 27, 2015

PhotoEditingTools :: White Balance, When & Where

Colour correction, usually just called white balance these days, has been an issue since the earliest days of colour film. Some aspects even stretching back further into the martials used in the construction of black and films. Looking around current net explanations the need for colour compensation might be related to a technical limitation of colour film or modern digital sensor, actually the truth is they are pretty good at capturing the true light and they are getting better. The issue is the human eye (and yes a lot of this pre-processing is done at the back of the eye and on the way to the brain) is very good at accepting that a wide range of illumination is actually a “white” light source and reflection of it in the surroundings. This acceptance of what is supposed to be white is general subconscious and takes a very short time. Yet light sources (particularly artificial ones) can vary in strength and their colour profile, which can be measure on the Kelvin Scale (shown on the right), which actually an absolute measure, but it has been adopted in photography as a measure of colour temperature. These measure all very technical and somewhat theoretical but essentially different light sources emit light that corresponds to different hues (colours). A candle or tungsten globe seen in daylight will appear quiet yellow/orangish but in a room just illuminate by that light source our eyes will happily convey the image as if illuminated by a white light. The camera however will “correctly” capture the image a with distinct orangey bias. Objects that our eye saw a white will actually be orange and other colours will have excessive yellow and/or red tints. Thus the photo may look wrong.

Cambridge Colour  website has a great tutorial on the theory of colour compensation (aka white balance) as well as good practical advice, for those that want to investigate this deeper.

The best place to adjust white balance is in your camera, and this is an area you will need to consult your camera manual but most digital cameras, even the less expensive point & shoot ones will have a number of white balance options typically indicated by icons like those on the right. They normally cover a decent range of common lighting sources. What’s more AWB Automatic White Balance techniques have become very dependable in most modern cameras, so it is the obvious default setting. Older Camera phones might be the biggest exception here, particularly in low and/or artificial light. So it is worth looking at you camera settings on your phone. understanding the right setting and changing them as required could make a big difference to your low light photos taken with your phone

When It comes to RAW photos the white balance may not have to be set in your camera (ie just leave it on the default AWB) because there is usually enough information stored in the RAW file to allow the colour adjustment to be undertaken on the RAW image, Most RAW photo editors then allow the recalibration of the image to either a given Kelvin temperature, standard light sources or even a better estimate of the “as shoot” balance.

Having advised that AWB (Auto White Balance) is probably the best default I need to point out that there can still be situation that can confused the camera (ie an scene of dominantly warm or cool colours). Alternatively if you are always reaching for the warming slider trying setting your white balance to cloudy or shade.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Archiving Long Term, a timely warning

Vint Cinf recognised as one of the fathers of the internet, recently warned of a coming “digital dark age”, which was picked up by the UK Amateur Photographer magazine in a nice article titled “Photographers are sleepwalking into a ‘photographic Armageddon’“ I must admit I fully agree with the issues raised, the media we rely on today to store digital images does have a limited life, probably shorter than we realise.

My first digital images where recorded using a Sony Marvica Camera on 3 ½” diskettes and whilst I have a few of the diskettes still I think I might be struggling to find a diskette reader, and that has only taken 15 years. I did have the foresight to back them up, but my preferred media then was a zip drive, Damn yet another obsolete format! Ok I have taken some photos into my main photo archive and most have already been recycled onto CD (but already computers don’t always come with a CD/DVD drive, phones & tablet certainly don’t)

The essence of Vint Cinf talks was that photographers also need to print there work to ensure its long term survival. However even with the best archival papers or other media the longevity is never guaranteed yet it is certainly a better choice for important family snaps. By Prints, I’m sure this doesn’t necessarily mean the same old 10 by 15cm snapshot (that’s 4”by 6” for the metric-impaired) you can store in an old shoebox. in could be printing to a photobook. If you want to do you own printing, remembering many ink jet printers use dyes rather than pigments and the colour will quickly fade if exposed to daylight. (ie display on the fridge door)

The morale of this story is make sure you include some form of hardcopy print to provide an additional archive security for your most cherished photos (better still print two copies or have one print and include the same photo in a photo book). If you intend to fames and display the print, put it behind glass and/or have a second print stored safely.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Getting my Toshiba laptop to use the right graphics driver

I’ve recent upgradeg to version 9.5 of OnOne’s Perfect Photo Suite, but instead of the browser becoming faster it had become decidedly unreliable and prone to “hanging”. Checking the compatibility requirements in OnOne support had me puzzled I had enough memory and a Nvidia graphics card also with required memory. Updating the cards drivers didn’t help. Finally the penny dropped, my Toshiba has two graphics card, one an Intel CPU (for standard widows stuff) and a Nvidia Card (for games and advanced video) and supposedly some intelligence to let the application find the right card and driver. Well basically the latest version of Perfect Browse was trapped in the standard Intel graphics card, when it actually wanted the more sporty Nvidia, Yes now I remember a similar issue long ago but how to fix it. Don’t bother with manuals, The answer is buried piece by piece across a number of forums. Here is my simplified approach for those with a Toshiba laptop with dual graphics cards.

Nvidia Control PanelThe Nvidia control panel does allow you to select the programs that you wish to start with its drivers (and overrides the supposed automatic select of the most appropriate driver).check Desktop settings On the Toshiba laptop with dual graphics card you need to go into the control panel then double click on the Nvidia Control panel. Here you just need to select the desktop item in the main menu and check that the item called Add "Run with graphics processor" Option to Context Menu. Now the final step is to right click on the Prefect Photo Suite icon on your desktop, which will bring up the context menu, now with the run with graphic processor option, and this will bring up a submenu.

Right click to get the Context Menu
Dialogue to Set Nvidia as the default driverYou can then select to run the perfect suite under the Nvidia driver for just one run. or better change the default driver associated with this program. Changing the default brings up the Nvidia Control panel again this time in a dialogue that lets you select the Nvidia processor as the default driver for a given program and the Perfect Photo Suite will be selected. Make sure the Nvidia processor is associate with it and then press Apply.

I realise this is a kind of double loop but you seem to need all these steps and  it worked for me, I now have a speedy photo browser in Perfect Photo Suite 9.5

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Wow… 10 years …camera roll please


I was checking out flickr’s new Camera Roll, it is a timeline based display of your images you can scroll through by Date Taken or Date Uploaded. So I had to go back to the beginning and wow I started posting on flickr 10 years ago!

The Camera Roll is just square thumbnails, very calendar stylish and nice layout, plenty of white space. I doubt many will use it instead of the in your face clutter of the photostream but it should appeal to older flickr fans and is certainly a quicker way to find things if you remember when the photo was taken (not so sure the upload date is going to be that useful, other than my search above). Once you find the photo just click on it and you get that photo page within your photostream.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Friday, April 17, 2015

A good reason to delete

imageI have noticed a few significant changes in some of the on-line sharing services I have been trying out recently (enough of the sharing already). Canon’s Irista desktop loader has been tripping a mirosoft .NET error lately and its attempt to Autoupdate kept failing. I was just trying Irista out as google+ photos was getting me frustrated, and I still have a tiny bit of loyalty to Canon. alas I don’t want yet another thing quickly ripping photos from under me and uploading copies to yet another location.

Sorry canon this need fixing but I’m not waiting around I’m just going to delete the Irista desktop app.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Enough of the sharing already

I’m in the process of swapping from and old HTC android phone (still on version 2.2) to a newish LG android phone (running 4.4) The transition has been very straightforward, You just go to the My Apps section of google play, from my computer, change the device (the number is the same as I just swapped the SIM over) and tick the apps you want (there are a few duds in the my apps list and a few to much sharing, & why black & white?I haven’t used much). So whenever I’m on WiFi I get the apps downloaded (a couple at a time).

Unfortunately I hadn’t anticipated that a number of the apps would be updated (for compatibility with android 4.4) and that entailed turning on the default settings, which on most of my camera related tools involved “free” upload and on-line storage. Suddenly every time I took a picture I would get a copy sent to google+ autobackup, Carousel/Dropbox, flickr, adobe and a few others. Most of which I didn’t know about. Worse google has restarted its auto awesome blooper campaign, sending me enhanced version of photo I didn’t really want rather than the ones I would have preferred and the occasional humorous miscalculation. Where’s the off switch on autoawesome again?

Ok it was easy to turn all the auto-uploads off (except the dropbox, which only uploads when I have a WiFi connection). Fortunately all the uploads where set to “private” (ie not automatically shared). Still it is a timely warning to check those “this app requires access to” settings, particularly around the Photo/Video/Media files  and Camera item(s) and what internal settings are defaults in those apps.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Last Lunar Eclipse Opportunity for a Long While

Lunar Eclipse

We have been fortunate in Melbourne having seen a several lunar eclipses over the past four years, but this will be the last for a while (next for Melbourne will be 2018) . So the eclipse will start at 9:16pm, hit the total eclipse stage (where the moon might be a strong red) around 10:38pm and then finish 12:45am. If you haven’t tried to photographing the moon here is some good advice, its fun.

However the cloud cover is getting thicker fingers crossed it will clear later tonight.

The age has a nice article on-line called  Total lunar eclipse 2015: What you need to know if you want some more details.

Trying out a new phone

The gums
The Gums

Just an experiment with an LG L7, nice clean colours ....but "super difficult to see the screen in strong light!!!" Autumn Light here in Melbourne can be beautiful but it still has a lot of contrast and often leaves digital cameras very confused.

taken with Pudding Camera App & uploaded to flickr via Pilxr. 

All the apps I had used on my older HTC phones are easily downloaded and most benefit from the extra screen space