Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Photographing Smoke

Interesting patterns and shapes are revealed when you photograph smoke. This one taken with a desk lamp on the right and a SB-900 with a snoot on the left, with a black backdrop. To further block out the background I shot this with ISO 200 at 1/60 th second at f11 on Aperture Priority with the Nikon 105mm Macro lens. Apparently this is a popular pass time for some? http://photocritic.org/artsmoke-photographing-smoke/ http://www.gavtrain.com/

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Macro Photography

Today while enjoying one of the beautiful sunny days that Sydney has to offer at present I noticed bee's around some flowers in the front yard. So using a Tupperware container I trapped one of the little buggers and put it in the freezer. Why? Well this is a little trick used by Macro photographers to slow the subject down, a few minutes in there and they slow right down. Don't leave them too long or they will die. I got quite a few shots off before the bee started to crawl around and eventually flying off. This one Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G , D300 on a tripod at f16, ISO 200, 2 seconds. I did this once before with a small skink, and lizards being cold blooded made this a very effective method of getting some close up photographs.

Crap in my iTunes music library

I had a heap of crap in my iTunes music library and iTunes never seems to be able to find all of the album covers. I had duplicate songs, mis-labeled albums and little genre or year data and mis labled songs all over the shop. Then I found TuneUp a piece of software for both Windows and Mac that takes the headache out of your iTunes database. It allows you to drag and drop songs and it cleans up all the details about each song and finds the album covers you are missing. If you have Shazam for the iPhone you will be familiar with the concept of a digital sample of the song (a sound fingerprint if you like) is sent to Gracenote, formerly called CDDB (Compact Disc Data Base). Their database contains information about the contents of almost every disc and vinyl record ever produced. With 2,500 tracks I went from 41% clean data to 89% with just a few scans and a little manual tweaking. TuneUp has a free version that lets you cleanup a 100 songs, so it is perfect and FREE for someone with only a few mistakes in their library. I got the paid version $20 for a years subscription and think its well worth it. :-)

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

It’s not information overload. It’s filter failure

So said Clay Shirky . . . recently I read about a site that seems to help. Alltop is a site that has been designed to allow you to find out what’s going on in various different topics on the web that you can browse by categories or search using keywords. There is often just too much information on the web to easily keep up and staying up to date and sifting through it all can be very difficult. Alltop can help as all of your topics are updated every hour. Alltop can be compared to a search engine but Alltop is different from a search engine by the way it collects the headlines of the latest stories from sites and blogs and aggregates this into individual web pages. Alltop describe themselves as the “online magazine rack” of the web. They subscribed to thousands of sources to display stories from sources that you’re probably already visiting, puts them in one place, plus helps you discover new sources for subjects you are interested in. Alltop is free and to register you just need to choose a username, password and also enter a valid email address . The username you choose will also be used as your URL to access your personal account. Alltop was founded in March 2008 by Guy Kawasaki, Will Mayall, and Kathryn Henkens. You can see an example I created at http://my.alltop.com/rhino128

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Keywords for Photography

I use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom its a photography software program developed by Adobe, designed to assist photographers in managing digital images and doing post production work. It is not a file browser but rather an image management application database which helps in viewing, editing, and managing digital photos. When you start to get a lot of images in Lightroom, you will want to search and categorise them for all sorts of reasons. Keyword lists for Lightroom are TAGS that are embedded in the EXIF data in images. EXIF stands for Exchangeable Image File Format, and is a standard for storing interchange information in image files. The EXIF data can be viewed using image editing programs. Alos Flickr and other photo sharing online communities display EXIF data (if available) alongside images, that also means that you can peek at the camera settings used by professional photographers and this is a very valuable learning tool. So why use keyword lists in the first place? Well, auto completion is a good reason, as it saves typing. Also when you run through a specific structured list, it helps keep your keywords tidy. Photographer Nick Potter has created a set of free Keyword lists for Lightroom. The lists cover Geography, Animals, Colours, Natural Landforms and Bodies of Water. While not proclaimed as a comprehensive list, it id FREE and you need to buy a more comprehensive list from say, the Controlled Vocabulary created by David Riecks for example.

I use keywords and looking at your categories can tell you a lot about the photos you take. I end up with a list of categories, all which do contain from 5 to 30 sub categories along the following keywords
[Animals] - [Art] - [Buildings] - [Colour] - [Family] - [Festival] - [Food] - [Geography] - [Photography] - [Plants] - [Season] - [Sky] - [Sport] - [Technology] - [Transport] - [Water]
Of course if you want to sell your images as stock photos you could use these keywords to make your images more easily indexed and found by perspective buyers.


While listening to This Week In Tech (TWIT, you'll get the paradox by reading below) I listened to an interesting discussion on an idea that could make artificial intelligence and useful robots a reality. Imagine computers that could become sociopathic! We could replace all the CEO's out there and save billions in salaries and bonuses alone. Anyway read on for my version of the story . .

In 1869 Dmitri Mendeleev noticed four gaps in the periodic table. They turned out to be the undiscovered elements scandium, gallium, technetium and germanium.

In 1971, Leon Chua an electronics engineer was fascinated by the fact that electronics had no rigorous mathematical foundation.

There are (apparently) four basic quantities that define an electronic circuit, electric charge, the change in that charge over time (current), magnetic fields (magnetic flux or the field's strength) and that magnetic flux variability over time (voltage). Four interconnected things, mathematics says, can be related in six ways. Chua found something missing, a fourth basic circuit element besides the standard trio of resistor, capacitor and inductor. Chua dubbed it the "memristor". The only problem was that as far as Chua or anyone else could see, memristors did not actually exist.

So charge and current, and magnetic flux and voltage, are connected through their definitions. That's two. Three more associations correspond to the three traditional circuit elements. A resistor is any device that, when you pass current through it, creates a voltage. For a given voltage a capacitor will store a certain amount of charge. Pass a current through an inductor, and you create a magnetic flux. That makes five. Something is missing?

This missing 'something' Chua calculated, was the memristor that would behave like a resistor but could "remember" what current had flowed through it before. Memristors may be able to mimic how the brain's neurons interact. The best previous hope for creating an artificial brain, neural networks are simply software running on standard computing hardware. What Chua was aiming for is actually a change in architecture. Read more . . ? See the original article in New Scientist where you can read for yourself. Enjoy.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Thai at the Rocks

Sailors Thai is one of Sydney's most delicious and authentic Thai restaurants.
A few cold Singha beers prepared us for a great lunch.
Thai food here is served in a style of authenticity with Thai herbs and spices that give complexity of flavours in the Thai tradition. Just enough heat in the chillies to lift all the dishes.
Sailors Thai is in George Street, The Rocks in Sydney is a classic 1864 Romanesque Revival style building. We had lunch in the relaxed, shared Canteen upstairs, featuring a long, gleaming zinc communal table.
Magnificently spicy and fragrant combinations made this meal a true Thai experience. 5 Stars *****
The Rocks weekend market every Friday, Saturday and Sunday where you can follow the cobblestone laneways where stalls offer a full range of unique and handmade products.
Interesting stalls with a wide range of 'stuff' and something different around each corner . . .
We also found the Hunter Valley is showcased at The Rocks Markets every Friday and Saturday.
Great Free entertainment as well, perfect to sip coffee and watch the world go by ;-}

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Lazy Saturday Pictures

Saturday I was walking Hermione in a park we were exploring and taking some snaps with the new Nikkor 70-200mm lens and testing the performance of it and getting interesting depth of field effects at f2.8 in full sun (see below).

The shot below of a crested pigeon taken at 1000th sec @ f2.8 ISO 200 focusing at the full 200mm and hand held.

This one below is about a 50% crop
And below again is a closer look. This is at the 200mm end and is not its sharpest point I'd say that would be about f5.6 or so and maybe 120mm? Amazing quality from a real precision built piece of equipment. Its built like a weatherproofed tank, I love this lense already. I just hope Andrea can afford it :-)
Earlier in the day Hermione was lying in the sun on the bed in the spare bedroom and getting some patting attention. Taken with Tokina 11-16mm wide angle 125th of a second at f2.8 ISO 200 and 12mm
Warm sunny day in Sydney . . .

Sunny warm winters day on the bed . . .