Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Wednesday 25 May 2011

I had a few minutes before work this morning to try out HDRSoft's Photomagix software. The program takes digital photos taken at different exposures and combines them into one image, a process called high dynamic range imaging, or HDRi.

For my first attempt, I used three photos of the park near my house that were only 1 EV apart, so the result may fail to awe you:

Here's one of the three originals from Monday evening, at the "correct" exposure:

The HDR image looks better, but not that much better. In the next couple of days I'll experiment some more, now that I have a better idea what I'm looking for and how to shoot it.

Wednesday 25 May 2011 13:16:14 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Photography#

It turns out a lot of stuff happened on May 25th in years past:

  • In 1521, the Diet of Worms coughed up an edict formally designating Martin Luther a heretic;
  • In 1878, the infernal nonsense Pinafore opened in London;
  • In 1925, Dayton, Tenn. indicted John Scopes on charges of teaching evolution in a school;
  • In 1963, Mike Myers was born (yes, he's that old);
  • In 1977, Star Wars hit theaters (and I spent an hour waiting in line in Torrance, Calif., to see it);
  • In 1979, American 191 crashed in Wood Dale, Ill.; and
  • In 2006, Geek Pride Day had its first celebration.

No over-arching point is intended here. I just thought the connections interesting.

Wednesday 25 May 2011 08:42:31 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | World#
Tuesday 24 May 2011

Actually, I'm blegging for information. Has anyone used online photo printing services like ZenFolio, SmugMug, or Shutterfly, either as a photographer selling images or as a customer? Maybe your wedding photographer used a third-party site?

As a corollary, do you or does anyone you know buy stock photos for publication?

No, I'm not quitting my job; but with a backlog of 30,000 photos—some of them already sold as stock, some of them more than once—the wheels in my brain have started to turn. (Maybe it's the MBA.)

Tuesday 24 May 2011 14:30:43 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Photography | Business#

Why didn't I get Adobe Lightroom earlier? Even its basic photo-editing tools dramatically improve photos (or at least get them back to where they should be). I'm going to re-scan this one at higher resolution, after carefully dusting it, and with the appropriate filter, but for the moment, I think I've gotten pretty close to what the original Kodachrome image looked like:

This one came close, but not quite:

Both: Public Garden, Boston, 10 May 1986. Kodachrome 64. Exposure unrecorded.

Monday 23 May 2011 21:49:36 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Photography#

Another of my favorite Bills:

I want to try out some new techniques on this and a few other shots I took tonight, but I won't have time until the weekend. For now, here's a gratuitous statue photo.

Monday 23 May 2011 21:14:04 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Photography#
Sunday 22 May 2011

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

For more photos and some discussion about how Adobe Lightroom is making me rethink photo storage, go to The Daily Parker.

Sunday 22 May 2011 15:56:03 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Biking | Chicago | Photography | Weather#

(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.

Saturday 21 May 2011 22:46:33 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Photography#

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.

Saturday 21 May 2011 22:16:01 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Parker | Photography#

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.

Saturday 21 May 2011 20:06:30 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Photography#
Saturday 21 May 2011

The 30-park geas can resume now that I'm done with school.

Go to The Daily Parker to see how far I've gotten and where I still need to go.

Saturday 21 May 2011 17:17:14 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Baseball | Cubs#
Friday 20 May 2011

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?

Friday 20 May 2011 16:56:38 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Jokes#

Problem: I have multiple websites on a Windows 2008 server (using IIS7), and I need to enable SSL (https:// connections) on more than one of them.

People really interested in server configuration can read the rest at The Daily Parker. For the other 6.9 billion people in the world, we now return to your regularly-scheduled blog.

Friday 20 May 2011 16:38:31 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Business#

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.

Friday 20 May 2011 13:09:35 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Photography | Business#
Wednesday 18 May 2011

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.

Continue reading and see the results on The Daily Parker.

Wednesday 18 May 2011 14:27:55 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Photography#
Tuesday 17 May 2011

Le Figaro is reporting that the French accident-investigation authority (BEA, the French equivalent of the NTSB) reviewed the flight data recorder from AF447 over the weekend. Airbus Industrie, the airplane's manufacturer, this morning reported to its customers that they do not anticipate a finding that the airplane was at fault, an elliptical way of saying it's pilot error. The BEA is livid that Le Figaro leaked the story:

“Sensationalist publication of non-validated information, whilst the analysis of the data from the flight recorders has only just started, is a violation of the respect due to the passengers and the crew members that died and disturbs the families of the victims, who have already suffered as a result of many hyped-up stories,” the BEA said in a statement responding to that story.

Le Figaro, though almost completely consumed for the last three days with Dominique Strauss-Kahn, still seems to have come to a reasonable conclusion based on leaked information from the BEA:

Selon les sources interrogées par Le Figaro, de nouveaux éléments sur la responsabilité d'Air France ou de son équipage seront communiquées par le BEA dans la journée de mardi. Le rapport définitif d'enquête du BEA devrait être rédigé durant plusieurs mois mais il est possible que le scénario du drame soit définitivement établi d'ici la fin de semaine. Contactée par Le Figaro, le porte-parole d'Air France s'est refusé à tout commentaire, «tant que le BEA n'aura pas mené à bien l'ensemble des vérifications nécessaires». De son côté, Airbus s'est également refusé à toute confirmation.

Translation: According to Le Figaro's sources, new information about Air France's responsibility or its crew's will be released by the BEA on Tuesday. The final report on the accident won't be released by the BEA for several months, but it is possible that the drama's scenario will be definitively established by the end of this week. Air France has declined to comment; for its part, Airbus has also refused to confirm the information.

The most widely-held hypothesis, advanced by PBS's Nova a couple of months ago, holds that the plane's computer lost airspeed information due to pitot tube icing, but the pilots failed to respond correctly to the problem.

Tuesday 17 May 2011 16:13:10 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation#

Via Gulliver, an Economist post on the English-distortion field around airplanes:

In general, flying is filled with phrases you’ll never hear anywhere else. You must “deplane”, not just leave the airplane. In a theatre you’re asked to switch your mobile phone off; on an American airline you’re told to put all electronic devices "in the off position”, whatever that is. Carry-on suitcases with wheels apparently became "rollerboards" "roll-aboards" in the mouths of the airline staff at some point. Many of the instructions seem replete with extra verbiage: seats and tray tables in "the full upright and locked position". Flights that are not just full but completely full.

Pat Smith ("Ask the Pilot") complained about this a while ago, but I didn't find the column in four minutes so I'll leave the search up to my loyal readers.

Tuesday 17 May 2011 13:21:17 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation#
Monday 16 May 2011

Officially and virtually, I've had this since December 30th. I do like having the hard copy though:

Monday 16 May 2011 09:10:48 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Duke#
On this page....
High-dynamic-range images
May 25th
Have I got a photo to sell you
Old photos too
More shots around the 'hood
Summer comes out for the weekend
Blog post #2500
What I've learned today about image editing
More photo editing
The 30-Park Geas, revisited
How to prepare for the zombie apocalypse: CDC
How Microsoft finally got SSL right (long, computer-geeky post)
Possibly inappropriate medium
More than the camera
French newspaper suggests pilot error in Air France 447 crash
Put your English skills in the "on" position
Late delivery from Durham
The Daily Parker +3617d 01h 54m
Whiskey Fest 21d 07h 49m
My next birthday 330d 21h 13m
Parker's 10th birthday 250d 11h 19m
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David Braverman and Parker
David Braverman is the Chief Technology Officer of Holden International in Chicago, and the creator of Weather Now. Parker is the most adorable dog on the planet, 80% of the time.
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The Daily Parker by David Braverman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License, excluding photographs, which may not be republished unless otherwise noted.
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