Home From The High Seas

A while between updates, but I have been off for the last week on yet another cruise. This time on the Pacific Dawn again for a week up to North Queensland and back to Brisbane via Willis Island. Not been home all that long and haven’t been through all my photos, but here is a quick one from heading ashore at the Whitsundays. Was a great week and there shall be more updates soon!

Pacific Dawn

May the 4th be with you

If you haven’t heard yet, today is International Star Wars Day. Why is this all of a sudden relevant? Well, if you follow my flickr then you will have noticed that I am digging into yet another 365 days of photos thing, but this time it is based around Star Wars or to be more specific, Stormtrooper action figures. So given the day that it is, here is a quick update with some of my picks so far. Oh and don’t forget to check out the whole set as well!

Better left unsaid?

Regrets

Squabbling

Not quite right

Causal gaming

May the 4th be with you

Adobe, you impress us yet again with content aware fill

I am sure by now that everyone has seen the videos from Adobe showing off the impressive little tool that is going to be packaged with Photoshop CS5 known as content aware fill. If you haven’t seen the video of the guys from Adobe virtually picking up trash and doing a spot of tree lopping then go and take a peek here. Sure, its pretty nifty and will probably get used way too much by people using it just because “it is pretty damn cool”. But now we see another video with some more down to earth, real world applications for it.

Linux and Photography – Round Two

Some may remember that a fair while back now, I blogged about using Linux (Ubuntu Studio 8.04 to be exact) for photographic purposes. I came to the conclusion that whilst it was completely possible, life was just easier if you were running a Windows or OS X install and using either Lightroom or Aperture. Since then however, I got rid of the Ubuntu Studio install and just ran a regular flavour of Ubuntu and what I found was that it became even more useful for the odd bits of photography work I had to do each day and as a day to day operating system.

Jump forward a year and a bit and I know sit here with a semi fresh installation of Ubuntu 9.10 (64bit) in front of me and I am astounded at how quickly things have progressed. The experience is just so much more polished and it feels like such a solid OS to work with. There are some negatives however, such as the music library management program I had been using, Songbird, ditching its iPod support, but that is for another time. So without any further ado, lets jump into how I handle my workflow from start to finish.

First off, we have a nice and clean desktop to work from. You may be different, but I absolutely hate clutter in the back ground. Whether it is a gazillion shortcuts, mounted devices or a busy wallpaper, I just cannot stand it.

desktop
Now, so you have come home from a busy day covering a protest or trekking up and and down mountains in search of that “perfect” landscape, you have your images on your card and you want them downloaded onto your PC. My recommendation would be a nice little app called Rapid Photo Downloader, which does exactly as the name suggests, it downloads your photos off your memory cards nice and quick and has management for folder structure and file management among other things. It isn’t a catalog manager but for those who are used to using Explorer, Finder or Nautilus to manage your collection of images, it isn’t a bad starting point.


Next up is getting around to the actual processing of the images. At the moment, I am using a trial of Bibble 5 and I am amazed at how much it has improved since Bibble 4. There are a few areas of the program that by far outshine parts of Lightroom, like incorporated Noise Ninja, the ability to create edit layers and some of the presets as well. It mightn’t be as polished as Lightroom is or as quick sometimes, but it really is a powerful image editing program. There are some basic catalog features in there and the interface is straight forward and rather easy to get used to as you use it. Of course, one large downside is the price, Bibble 5 is currently selling for USD$199.95, a bit of a sting if you are more than used to the free nature of most of the Linux world. If you decide it is worth it though, you get an incredibly powerful and versatile piece of software for your money. If you don’t want to fork out this kind of cash, then there are other options out there such as Raw Therapy (which I spoke about in my last article) and RawStudio which can be had for the grand total of nothing.

bibble

bibble2

Once you have finished editing your photos, you will most likely want to share them with the world. In my case, that meant finding an application to upload batches of photos to Flickr with as little trouble as possible. I also wanted something where I could specify a particular set for the images to be placed in as well as tags and resize options if I needed to resize something quickly without opening the Gimp or Bibble. After a quick search of the internet, I decided to give kflickr a go as it looked like it was the best match for my needs. It is incredibly simple to use and nice and quick. Haven’t had an issue with it yet (touch wood).

kflickr

I decided to not include any mention of the Gimp as it really hasn’t changed all that much since I last spoke of it and also, I never really use it. Same for another great program, Inkscape, it is incredibly feature rich and a great free alternative to Indesign, but I just have not had a chance to use it lately and give an accurate opinion on it. If you like to do some video editing on the side, then there are options there as well such asPiTiVi which seems to be a well polished, feature rich video editor/movie maker (don’t ask me any more about it, I only have it installed and haven’t used it yet).

So there we have it, a quick run down of what is available to a budding photographer who doesn’t want to rely on either Microsoft or Apple for their computing needs. Using an OS such as Ubuntu also means that you can save a fair bit of cash when building a system to use for your editing needs, which leaves more money in the bank for cameras, lenses and other accessories 😉

For Your Viewing Pleasure

Remember a post I made a while ago about my sources of inspiration? Well not long after I wrote that, I was introduced to the flickr of Lakshal Perera (Lucky for short) and in particular, his 52 weeks projects self portraits. Every time I saw one of them, I just wanted to drop whatever I was doing, grab the camera and start shooting again. For some reason, I never actually added him as a contact (or I thought I had), so today I finally got around to doing it. Turns out he recently moved up to Bris-vegas and has started taking on a 365 days project as well, but with a bit of a twist. Wish I had his will power for sticking with photography projects, into his second 52 weeks project and doing a 365 one at the same time. I couldn’t even keep up with just one of them at a time…

Lucky also has a blog as well as his flickr and it is definitely worth checking out. So what are you waiting for? Go have a look-see 😉

The Wait Is Over

Ok, forgive me for being a little slow on this one, but I don’t normally make posts about these sorts of things (probably going to change from now on though). Anyone who has been remotely (excuse the pun) into the strobist movement over the last few years will no undoubtedly be aware of the long saga involving the release of the RadioPopper Jr’s. Well, after a ridiculously long wait and a redesign, they are finally here and now known as the RadioPopper JrX.

jrx_04_sm

Of course Dave Hobby, being the in the know guy that he is, got his hands on them over the weekend and has been kind enough to put them through their paces for the rest of us. Clicky here if you wish.

Now I have a slight dilemma, do I try and get my hands on a set of these or just pick up someone’s second hand Alien Bee Cybersyncs as people start offloading current set ups for them? Could just say stuff it and find some Pocket Wizards though…

Slipping Standards or Just Being Cynical?

I remembered yesterday that I still had an account set up over at deviant Art so I decided to log in and see how long it had been since I showed it some love. Last upload was something like the 9th of October last year and the last journal entry was a rather emotional one from the 2nd of that month. So after getting used to the layout changes they had made to the site in the last nine months, I set about updating a few things and started looking around to see how my fellow dA users were going with their artistic adventures.

Now back when I used to frequent the site, the quality of submissions was over all very good. People had obviously put time and effort into taking the photos in the first place and then chosen only their best to upload and into the right categories. Now though it seems as though a blurry, over exposed photo of a man hole cover taken with an iPhone on a whim counts as serious street photography. There are photos that people have just thrown into whatever category they want (a webcam self portrait of an angsty teen and her equally angsty and immature boyfriend in the urban life one for example), photos of anything with way too many cheap and nasty photoshop filters applied to them that you can barely see the subject and an artistic nude section that could make some porn sites jealous.

Don’t get me wrong, there are still some great works of art on there, you just have to dig a little longer through everything else to find the occasional inspirational gem.