Thursday, March 21, 2013

New Stuff to Learn

A new camera (a Canon EOS 6D), Lightroom (cheapest alternative to getting processing capability for raw files) and then the actual GPS (integrated into the 6D) usage, will all keep me busy for a while.

So far the camera part seems pretty easy. The 6D is similar enough to my 5D (first generation). The on/off switch is in a different place and due to the auto sensor cleaning, the camera starts up from totally being "off" a bit slower. The menus are laid out slightly differently but are still easy to navigate, especially compared to the average compact point and shoot. The 6D focuses noticeably faster on the center point though and the quiet mode of the shutter is appreciated and is already my default setting. The GPS is not as good at obtaining/retaining lock as I would have hoped, but I'm sure it will work fine for most of what I'm interested in. I also think the GPS contributes to the very limited battery life (compared to my 5D). I've yet to mess with the video (or live-view option) and I haven't (and I doubt I ever will) use the WIFI. As a data point, I don't believe I ever once have used the Eye Control Focus on my EOS 3.

Lightroom is very different from Photoshop CS version whatever. It is a totally different thought process and it really serves a different function. I just wanted a reasonably priced raw converter. Photoshop is just far too expensive. CS6, the current version, doesn't do anything that I care enough about that my CS4 doesn't do, and it's not available for Linux, which is where I'm eventually headed. So far I've figured out how to do adjustments such as curves etc. and spit the result out as a jpg. I'm either going to need a book or have to take a class to get beyond that and to get the benefits of the program. I'm pretty sure that I don't think or see the world the way Lightroom does so the organization advantages that it probably shines at for photography are lost on me. I generally don't like organization, putting things in boxes feels like it limits the possibilities and certainly tends to keep me thinking in boxes. As I told someone at work once, "If I don't put things in boxes, it is much easier to think outside the box".

The GPS. I'm sure (at least I sure hope so) that there are all kinds of cool things that can be done with the GPS function. I've not even scratched the surface due to lack of time. I do know how to turn it on/off, set up logging. Just tonight, I put the photos below in the Canon supplied Map Utility. Eventually I'd like to do a little map or Google Earth type thing of walks or hikes I do with my camera so that you can click on points along the way and see the photo from that point. It probably isn't hard, I just need to learn how to put it all together.

In the meantime, below is a screen capture of the Map Utility with the photos locations marked, and then three of the photos themselves from my walk around Patuxent Research Refuge a couple days ago.

Map Utility Screen Capture

Buds of Spring

Dry Grass in Black and White


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Abstract on a Gray Day

This is a direct result of two things...

First, my 365 Project (take a photo every day) Elesa talked me in to doing a bit over a month ago. It forces me to think of, and take, at least one photo every day. We've had a lot of gray days lately and as I was going out to the car (camera in tow in case a photo opportunity arose) I noticed the tree's reflection on the windshield.

Second, I uploaded the new GIMP, which blew away the raw converter I had linked to GIMP...which got me looking more and more into the various menus and possibilities with GIMP. Unfortunately, working with the JPEG for now.

Tree Reflects on a Gray Day

Lens Baby Fun

Still enjoying time off, but no access to my regular computer, photoshop fact I even messed up my raw converter for GIMP. I have Lightroom and a new toy on order and they should be here tomorrow (more on that soon).

Moss, Lichens and a Hole or Two

Sunday, March 10, 2013

5 Things

I've been pondering this post for a while. But now that I've been back in the States for a while I think I have enough perspective to do it justice.

5 Things that the U.S.A. does better than almost anywhere else:

1. Paper products...whether it be paper napkins, facial tissue, paper plates or toilet paper, no where else in the world does paper right, and certainly not at the price point as the U.S.A.

2. Food and "stuff" everywhere. The ubiquity and availability of food (mostly processed crap, but...), fast food, just "stuff". Strip malls, regular malls, shops etc....there is just "stuff" everywhere.

3. Egalitarianism in day to day life. In general, your order will be taken etc by your place in line, not by how wealthy you look, your family connections, nor by how much lighter (or darker) your skin is than mine (and I'm talking barely discernible shades of exposure to sunlight).

4. The Interstate Highway System...but Europe's autobahn system has almost caught up.

5. Gasoline prices. Complain if you will, but most surveys put the United States at about 10th on the scale of cheap gas...out of like 190 or so countries. It cost more for a tank of gas than it did to rent the car for a week in a couple countries I've traveled to recently

5 Things that are done better outside the U.S.A.
and maybe we could learn from the rest of the world:

1. Dairy products. The variety, choices, quality and cost all suck in the U.S.A. Cheese and yogurt especially so. For example, if you have two choices in feta cheese or any choices in full fat yogurt at your local grocery store, you have it great.

2. Traffic lights & road conditions. Does the U.S. know that the rest of the world has a system that times traffic lights so that if you make one and drive at the speed limit, you will make the rest on that street? Traffic is horrible because our traffic management is stupid. Road conditions are just an embarrassment for a supposedly first world country.

3. Public transportation. Except for in a handful of cities, public transportation is unusable or non-existent. Walk-ability of our cities and suburbs is pathetic too.

4. Internet & cell phones. Outside of war zones, internet in the U.S.A. is among the worst in the world when normalized for cost, speed etc. There is no excuse. Cell phones too, are extremely expensive and the contract thing along with the "locked" phones is just ridiculous. You can thank your corrupt congressmen for the U.S.A. having some of the worst telecommunications in the world.

5. Food choices in general. Our grocery stores are huge, but the vast majority of the shelf space is taken up by just a few products. The "cookie" aisle is almost entirely Oreos, cereal is almost all Cheerios etc. It reminds me of the move "Demolition Man" when all restaurants have become Taco Bell.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Enjoying some time off with family and friends. Trying out grandpa's chair...he may need to work on his balance a bit...

Chance in the Big Chair