The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Coat? Check. Goves? Check. Hat? Check. Must be May.

A strong storm system just to the south of Chicago is drawing cooler air into the city from the northeast and the lake. At the moment we have some truly delightful weather: winds north-northeast at 35 km/h with gusts up to 62 km/h, visibility 5 km in mist, temperature 7°C with a windchill of 2°C.

Says WGN's Tom Skilling:

The last time it was even close to this cool on a May 26 was a half century ago in 1961 when a high of 9°C occurred. The average high this time of the year is 22°C which puts the day's predicted 7°C high some 16°C below the long-time average. By contrast, temperatures on this date a year ago hit 31°C—a level 23°C warmer.

In short, it's crappy outside.

High-dynamic-range images

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.

May 25th

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.

Have I got a photo to sell you

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.)

Old photos too

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.

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.