The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Summer comes out for the weekend

This morning we had weather about as perfect as a human could hope for, 26°C and sunny by the lake, with a gentle breeze out of the southwest. I hopped on my bike for an actual workout, complete with heart-rate monitor, for the first time in a couple of years, then came back, grabbed my camera, and walked the dog. Some results:

ISO 400, f/6.3, 1/640, 225mm

ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/500, 55mm

As I continue to evaluate Adobe Lightroom, I'm trying to figure out how best to use it. Since about 2000, I've kept the raw copies of everything my various digital cameras produced, making copies of almost all of them with names and metadata. Lightroom obviates that step, because it saves metadata and editing steps separately from the image files, preserving the raw camera output. If I need a JPEG version of a photo, I can simply export it—edited, and with all the relevant metadata.

This changes everything. I'm just now sure how. For my first step, I've set my camera to shoot only photos in raw (Canon .cr2) format. They're a lot bigger—25 MB vs. 5 MB for JPEG—but so what? Hard drive space is around $100 per terabyte, which works out to 0.24¢ per photo. (It adds up, though; I took 4,635 photos and videos in 2010 and I've taken 2,351 so far this year, and their combined 24.1 GB use up a whopping $2.35 of hard drive space.)

As I write this, dark clouds have rolled in and radar shows thunderstorms just about on top of us. I feel like I took good advantage of the excellent weather. I even remembered sunscreen today, and had the foresight yesterday to install my air conditioners. Now I've got some real work to do, though. Sounds like it's time to go to my Remote Office...

Blog post #2500

(This is the 2,500th post on The Daily Parker. And now back to our current thread, already in progress.)

Version 1, pretty much as it came out of the camera:

Version 2, processed from the raw camera file:

8 April 2011, 18:16 BST, 1/1000 f/5.6, ISO 100

Subtle differences—but noticeable.

OK, walk the dog, thence bed. I feel like I learned a lot today, including that I have to learn a lot more.

What I've learned today about image editing

I'm continuing to play with Adobe Lightroom, and it turns out I've been doing a lot wrong for five years (i.e., since I first started shooting with a digital SLR). It looks like I'm going to shoot a lot more raw photos, because they allow modern software (like Lightbox and Photoshop) a lot more control over the final image.

And, of course, I discovered this using Parker as a subject. The results don't completely suck:

50mm, 1/60 at f/2.0, ISO 3200.

50mm, 1/15 at f/1.8, ISO 3200.

More photo editing

A few days ago I experimented with photo processing to try out a technique a photographer suggested. I neglected the most obvious transformation of the photo in question:

I've also downloaded Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, though I may want to go full-bore Photoshop in a couple of weeks. Lightroom looks like a fabulous way to organize photos, which would be helpful as I've got north of 25,000 right now and that doesn't include about 170 rolls of negatives I've yet to scan. It has some basic editing tools—nowhere near as powerful as Photoshop—and I'm just getting used to them.

I still won't get any photography books for my Kindle.

The 30-Park Geas, revisited

The 30-park geas can resume now that I'm done with school. Here's my progress so far:

/
City Team Park First visit Last visit Next visit
Chicago Cubs Wrigley Field 1977 Jul 24 2011 Aug 6
Los Angeles Dodgers Dodger Stadium 1980 Jul 28? 2001 May 12
New York Mets Shea Stadium [4] 1988 Sep 15 [1] 1997 Apr 19 [3]
Houston Astros Enron Field
Minute Maid Park [2]
2001 May 9 [3]
2009 Apr 7 [1]
Milwaukee Brewers Miller Park 2006 Jul 29 [3] 2008 Aug 11
Kansas City Royals Kauffman Stadium 2008 May 28 2008 May 28
San Francisco Giants AT&T Park 2008 May 31 2008 May 31
Chicago White Sox U.S. Cellular Field 2008 Jun 6 2011 Aug 1  
Cleveland Indians Progressive Field 2008 Jul 10 2008 Jul 10
Baltimore Orioles Camden Yards 2008 Jul 26 2008 Jul 26
Philadelphia Phillies Citizens Bank Park 2008 Jul 27 2008 Jul 27
New York Yankees Yankee Stadium 2008 Jul 28 2008 Jul 28
Washington Nationals Nationals Park 2008 Jul 29 2008 Jul 29
Atlanta Braves Turner Field 2008 Aug 13 [1] 2008 Aug 14 [1]
Oakland Athletics Oakland Coliseum 2009 Apr 25 2009 Apr 25
Detroit Tigers Comerica Park 2009 Jun 24 [1] 2009 Jun 24 [1]
Boston Red Sox Fenway Park 2010 Aug 21 2010 Aug 21
Pittsburgh Pirates PNC Park 2011 Jul 9 [1] 2011 Jul 9 [1]  
Los Angeles Angels Angel Stadium 2011 Sep 3 2011 Sep 3  
Miami Marlins New Marlins Ballpark 2012 Apr 19 [1] 2012 Apr 19 [1]  
Tampa Bay Rays Tropicana Field 2012 Apr 20 2012 Apr 20
Still to come
Arizona Diamondbacks Chase Field
Cincinnati Reds Great American Ballpark
Colorado Rockies Coors Field
Minnesota Twins Target Field
New York Mets Citi Field [4]
St. Louis Cardinals Busch Stadium
San Diego Padres Petco Park
Seattle Mariners Safeco Field
Texas Rangers Rangers Ballpark
Toronto Blue Jays Rogers Centre

[1] vs. Cubs
[2] Renamed Minute Maid Park in 2004
[3] I've decided not to count parks that were rebuilt after I started this geas in 2008.
[4] Shea demolished in 2009; Citi Field opened 13 April 2009

Last edited: 20 April 2012. This page replaces the original page started in 2008.

How to prepare for the zombie apocalypse: CDC

Via Bruce Schneier, evidence that the Centers for Disease Control have a sense of humor:

There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for. Take a zombie apocalypse for example. That’s right, I said z-o-m-b-i-e a-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e. You may laugh now, but when it happens you’ll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you’ll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency.

This is a lot more entertaining than Internet Information Services configuration, no?

Possibly inappropriate medium

Generally, I prefer to learn new things by reading first, then doing. I mentioned Wednesday that I've grown dissatisfied with my photography skills, so naturally, I'll go first to Amazon. You know: read about a technique, try it out, post the results online, rinse and repeat.

So it seems somewhat odd to me that most of Amazon's top-rated books on photography—like this one on Photoshop—have Kindle editions that cost almost as much. Because nothing will help someone understand how to do advanced photo editing than 10 cm, 18 dpi halftones, right? Even stranger: the example I just cited has a companion DVD, which I assume does not come with the Kindle version. That, to me, puts the F in WTF.

More than the camera

I'm slowly coming around to the notion that no matter how perfect the composition, digital photographs almost always benefit from some post-processing. Back when I shot hand-rolled Tri-X from bulk and printed everything myself, I routinely changed papers and printing filters, dodged, burned, cropped, and distorted, in search of the perfect print. (I have a great before-and-after example that I will post when I receive the subject's permission.) Ansel Adams, recall, did most of his work in the darkroom.

Here's a 10-minute example of digital processing. Let's start with the raw photo; only the output size has changed:

The near-sunset direct light makes Leah look radiant. The expression—this was during our dad's speech—is purely her. And the reflections off the picture behind her don't distract me too much. Why would I change this shot?

Because I think it can look even better.

Now, I really don't have much experience with digital photo alterations. And I haven't invested in Photoshop; I'm just using Microsoft's Digital Image Suite 2006, which they have discontinued. So you won't see any dramatic changes.

First, let me desaturate slightly (to 70%) and increase the contrast slightly (to 130%):

Huh. I think that's a little better. She's better defined, and the light looks more golden than red. What if I do more? Saturation 30%, contrast 150%, and reducing the shadow level by 20%:

Too much? Maybe. OK, add more color up to 50% saturation, stay at 150% contrast, shadows down only 15%, and change the color temperature from 5700K daylight to 6200K (adding some warmth back in after the desaturaion):

I'm not sure which of these looks best. I'd appreciate feedback from the blogosphere. I will probably do another version that removes her stray hairs, reduces the ghost reflections behind her, and brings out her eyes just a bit more. Maybe I'll even buy Photoshop.

Half Moon Bay, Calif., 5 June 2010, 19:40 PDT. Canon 20D, 1/200s at f/6.3, ISO 800, 200mm.