Archive for September, 2008

Visit to Naperville

Lucy being Lucy

On our visit to see my parents I spent a bit of time in Dad’s garage shooting around. I’ve been reading Freeman Patterson’s book Photography and the Art of Seeing lately. So, decided to start practicing “seeing” in the garage.

Clothes Pin

Finally, while swinging with my kids, I saw this picture:

Flag and imported car

It’s an odd juxtaposition for me. A proud display of the American flag with an imported car parked right beneath it. I used to work with a guy that would say “the job you save may one day be your own.” I understand the free market, world trade, etc. But, shouldn’t we pause to think about this now and then?

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Aperture Rants

Several weekends ago I took the time to get my photos into the latest version of Aperture.


Mural in downtown Champaign, IL

Previously I’ve been using Bridge for my browsing and a folder hierarchy for my organizing.

I’m starting to get the feel for Aperture, and right now I’ve got mixed feelings.

The key to being successful with complex software is to get into the developer’s mindset. It’s my belief that if you stray too far from this mindset things that you think should be possible and are simple just aren’t supported. This can be extremely frustrating, but it’s the world we live in (as opposed to the world we wished we lived in).

Here’s my top list of complaints:

  1. Can’t zoom in greater than 100% using retouch brush
    At least I haven’t figured out how yet. It seems like this would be a simple / straight forward thing. If I want a bit more control over a retouch, I’d like to be at 200% or so.
  2. Can’t save multiple mods into single preset
    I think that I’ve confirmed this one via internet searching. What happened here? Perhaps it’s just me, but I often like to apply a “global” set of changes and then tweak or remove on a per picture basis. I’d prefer not to have to select each preset individually.
  3. Presets within a group are destructive
    I’m only 50% positive on this one, but it seems that if I’ve modified the contrast of a picture and then use a preset to tweak the definition, it will change the contrast again.
  4. Can’t delete version on a networked drive due to lack of access to trash bin?
    I don’t know if this is an Aperture limitation or Mac OS X or what, but now I’ve got zombie pictures floating around on my network drive (to steal a phrase from UNIX).
  5. Fill light?
    Okay, not a huge deal but it’s a nice to have in ACR.
  6. HSL adjustments?
    Not really anything wrong, but I’m more comfortable with the HSL layous in ACR.
  7. No keyboard shortcut for changing brush sizes?
  8. Somewhat “primitive” black and white converter.
    I much prefer the Lightroom method of dragging on the HSL colors to change each. Perhaps there’s an analog in Aperture, but I’ve not found it yet.
  9. Seems like I have to pay more (via plugin architecture) than I do for Lightroom
    While the API / Plug-in architecture may be beneficial to me in the long run, it seems like the whole situation is setup to cost me more.
  10. No alternate previews when adjusting the sliders
    In Adobe Camera Raw, I can hold down the alt key when changing the exposure and see via a “temperature map” what areas are being affected. Same for black point and recovery.
  11. Only alphabetical sorting of projects pane.
    If there’s another way to order the objects in the pane, I haven’t figured it out yet.

All these rants aside, I think Aperture is a decent tool. Once the thumbnails are generated it runs relatively fast. Sometimes it becomes non-responsive for no apparent reason, but not too often. I think that the price point is just about right ($200 I think) as opposed to Lightroom ($300). I like the library management interface (except the delete rant, above).

I haven’t really come to a strong opinion on the version system. Time will tell.

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Searching for the muse

It’s been a tough week photographically. I’ve been struggling to get excited about shooting. I just can’t seem to find anything very interesting to stand in front of.

From Piano in the living room

We just got this piano about a month ago from our neighbor. They have since moved, and asked if we would get a quick picture of it for her. So I had a bit of an assignment.

It felt like every picture was a flop. Ugh!

But, I did manage to get a few keepers. I like the first picture, lens flare and all.

From Piano in the living room

A similar shot, but a bit darker. I really like the grass in the background, the blue of the sky, and the light on the piano. It’s my cup of tea.

Finally, the boring one:

From Piano in the living room

Not terribly interesting, but my neighbor will appreciate it.

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Playing in the rain

From Fun at the park and in the rain
Don’t eat the mushrooms

We got hit with the vestiges of hurricane Ike, much like the rest of the midwest. Lucy was up for a bit of playing in the puddles, so out we went.

From Fun at the park and in the rain

We have a retention pond 1 block from our house and we decided to check it out.

From Fun at the park and in the rain

Suffice to say that the tree is not normally under water. I’d estimate that the pond was several feet higher than normal.

Fortunately, our sump pump was able to keep up. There was one point, though, where the water was coming in to the pit as fast as the pump could remove it. A bit scary, that. After all, what can you do?

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Afternoon Walk

Recently I went for an afternoon walk. There are some paved walking trails near my office. About half way through the walk, we happened to see this person heading back to their office.

Afternoon Walk
Afternoon Walk

I guess he wanted an afternoon sabbatical as well, but it just seems odd to me. Perhaps after spending the money on a Segway, you want to justify it’s usefulness. Kind of misses the point, in my opinion.

Update: Apparently I was being a bit to quick on the judgement front. From the comments below, there was a valid medical reason. Mea Culpa.


Later that day I noticed this shell in my backyard.



Dragon Fly

Dragon Fly?

I’m not sure what it is, but it’s wings make an interesting pattern.



Finally, one more tomato picture from the garden. I’m still not sure why I’m drawn to the tomato plants. But I keep shooting, for better or worse.



Tomatoes in the garden
Tomatoes in the garden

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Not too much time today, just enough for one post….



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Critters in the Garden

More garden pictures. As I mentioned in my $50 film camera page, something keeps drawing me back to the garden for pictures. I still haven’t figured out what it is, but I still keep ambling out there with my camera. I happened to spot this critter on a tomato.

Mantis on Tomato, 1

Praying Mantis


Mantis on Tomato, 2

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High ISO Black and White

Yesterday we got the remnants of hurricane gustav here in central illinois. It rained most of the day, and after dinner Lily, Lucy, and I decided to go for a walk in the rain.

Running in the rain

Running in the rain

I find myself gravitating towards grainy high contrast black and white pictures. There’s just something about them that I enjoy. Don’t get me wrong, I find the smooth tones of a well done monochrome wonderful as well (as in the latest Lens Work).

I’ve been noodling with an old Pentax K-1000 and some Ilford Super XP2 film lately. While I enjoy using the camera, the quick turn allure of digital is omnipresent. Plus, I did just get a new camera.

Greenway sign

Greenway Sign

So, off we went in the rain. It wasn’t raining very much. Just a sprinkle really. I had to push to ISO3200 equivalent just to be shooting at around 1/125, f4. But, the black and white conversions effectively hide the chroma noise, and I like the grain look of the luminance noise. I have not applied any noise reduction, but will probably end up trying that later this weekend.

Walking home after the rain

Walking Home After the Rain

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Please don’t feed the animals

We took the family up to Wisconsin to spend labor day with my wife’s family at the lake. Since I had my new toy, I wasn’t shy about taking pictures.

The kids went tubing, we had a mini-Olympics, and generally got to bum around with cousins.

My favorite picture of the weekend:

From Labor Day, 2008

Please don’t feed the animals

I’m sure they don’t mean us, right?

Also, the medal ceremony from one of our Olympic games:

From Labor Day, 2008

Medal winners

You can see one unhappy contestant, camera right. Eventually all the kids won a medal, I think.

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Reduce, reuse, recycle

Crumpled Cans

Crumpled Cans

Not too much going on today. I had hoped to make it out to Busey woods and see what I could find. But, mother nature had other plans for me. The heavens opened up and rain came down in torrents.

While warming my lunch I happened to see our can recycling box.

I’d like to think that this somehow speaks to positive recycling. The cans are sitting in a repurposed box, waiting to be recycled. But, I suppose that the darker message is that we’re using all of these natural resources and this is what it’s come to. Crumpled cans sitting in a used box.

Food for thought.