Thursday, September 18, 2014

New Camera time

Pentax K-01. I have a backup body... it has better high ISO performance than my primary camera. Oops. Also it's fun to use!

The rest:

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Today's hike

Beautiful weather and decent light!

Great Salt Lake

Taken May 31, 2007. My Dad and I have made it a point to go to the various parks around the Great Salt Lake when I'm out visiting. In 2007, we went to Antelope Island, which more or less tops off the Oquirrh mountain range on the west side of the Salt Lake valley. The park itself is home to a fairly diverse mammal population, as well as some fascinating rock features thanks to the shoreline erosion from the old Lake Bonneville. Seen here, Dad's looking out at something out over or on the other side of the lake (I don't remember), though the picture makes it look like he's observing the rock with binoculars.

Note the horrible air quality - I brought down the blue luminance some to make it look more natural; without it, the picture looks like this. It only gets worse over time, as the state doesn't seem to care much about preserving the area for everyone.

Friday, September 5, 2014

return to "form"

I have a fantastic idea for "why do I have blog?" - it goes like this.

Each time I open Lightroom, I'm forcing myself to develop, proof, and upload a photo. I've been just tweeting them, but I think from now on, I'm going to post it here instead and write a little bit about it. Maybe give some context, some insight into the development process, or maybe just recount the day of the shoot.

To go back a couple days:

These doves were my friends in the spring of 2006. I had taken over classroom support management responsibilities and, with them, a desk and window in an office. I brought in a bird feeder, but it quickly became apparent that all I was getting were garbage birds. I tried filling it with black oil sunflower seeds instead, but nothing interesting was coming to eat. Then I forgot about it for a week or two and opened the window to see these two greeting me. They had started to eat the seeds that fell out of the feeder. I took it down and poured out its contents; for the next month or so, I had them as regular visitors. As long as I kept the window cracked about this far, they'd even let me watch them eat.

Photo was shot with a Pentax MX and I'm guessing the M50/1.7. I'd also guess Agfa color film, but I'd have to go find the negative to be sure - this is an old old old old old scan.

Thoughts on Lightroom

Having assembled a new computer this summer to get back into the wonderful world of digital photography development, I've been spending a lot more time rolling around in Lightroom lately. Today, I went to export a picture and I realized that it came out looking a lot better than it went in.

If only it were bragging.

Lightroom, it turns out, can get really fussy about color profiles. I did a color calibration on my monitor and reloaded the Dell driver for color profiles to no avail. Wondering what was wrong, I then quit the program and relaunched it. Which worked.

I guess the moral of this return-to-blogging story is "is it on? turn it off and back on again."

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The State of My Mobile Technology

I've got a pretty stupid problem.

In August of 2013, I purchased a Nokia Lumia 1020. This phone has hands-down the most amazing camera on a cell phone available today. It has rekindled my investigative spirit, encouraging me to put a lens in front of things and look at them.

Physically, it feels good in the hand - key for my tiny mitts - and is neither too heavy nor too light. The unibody construction is inspiring, and the optional camera grip gives it the extra weight to take some great shots.

I even like Windows Phone. I like its train depot interface metaphor, I like its relative speed and the fact that it always feels like it's doing something. Android's animations always made the phone feel slow to me, but the way the transitions are presented in Windows Phone 8 make the experience seem fluid and organic, both experiences missing from the pop-through and slide-back animations common to at least versions 4.2 and earlier of Android. The organizational structure of the start screen - mine - makes total sense, and there is no wasted screen life or space on a search widget I don't ever use or a background covered by an undersized grid of icons and widgets. These are problems I know alternative Launchers can solve on Android, but I hadn't experimented with that when the *camera* came out.

WP8 has, for the most part, the app support I need. I'm a little bummed there's no Canabalt, but there are enough other distractions to keep me busy, and the sharing and photo options available are perfect for a person like me. I didn't care about missing Instagram or Hipstamatic; I cared about being able to capture beautiful or thought provoking shots and put them through twitter at my friends and family. WP8 makes this undeniably easy, and the use of Microsoft's OneDrive for the storage means I have a fairly reliable home for those shared images for years to come, making it easier to find "that one thing, with the dog" or "that really cool spiderweb."

My view of Android devices had been tarnished by bad experiences with the Hero CDMA (which I got over) and the Wildfire S (which I also got over). The Evo Shift 4G and Galaxy S II T989 were both excellent phones for me and I had no serious complaints about either, except for maybe post-jellybean battery life on the T989. Even that was addressable. I made the switch away because of the *camera* and haven't really been unhappy.

With the exception of my Asus TF700, the least-rewarding technology experience I have ever had. The storage on that device is so slow it's hardly usable for anything except video streaming, and the audio output isn't really adequate for that purpose either. However, it's reminded me of the flexibility of the OS platform; as I've tried to come up with ways to enusable the thing, I've had to hack away at build.prop, with probably a dozen custom ROM installations, a few cache-to-RAM utilities, and have given thought to buying a speedy microSD card and just dumping the whole system to that.

So what's the hangup?

With Windows Phone 8.1 coming around the corner, I'm worried. Part of what I liked about Android was my Pebble smartwatch. It worked great for me on my T989, and I haven't been able to make full use of it since I made the switch to the Lumia. Major and serious thanks to Greg Banta for his work on the Pebble app currently available in the Windows Phone Store, as he's the only one that's given a ray of hope and a picture of the situation behind the scenes, making me hope for a cure for the devices' mutual unintelligibility sooner than later, with the promised revamping of the Bluetooth stack in WP8.1 and the possibility that the notification center would be accessible to third-party devices. But, 36 hours after the Build 2014 announcements about WP8.1, I've heard nothing about the SDK and support for wearable technologies. The SDK went out in February, meaning actual developers have had months to look at it and report back, and still nothing. I'd also like to get hold of a fitbit and figure out how to exercise as a part of my daily routine, and that capacity is also missing from the current WP8 scene. Nokia has announced a Sensorcore API or SDK or something, which one can hope will make it work, but I want to continue to see ways for my phone to help me in life, and fitness is the best way to do that, especially given the way the last couple years have gone.

I am anxiously awaiting the April 14th release of the WP8.1 developer preview. I am also anxiously awaiting news from developers on what new-to-the-platform technologies will be available. Unfortunately, anxiety comes with a price - as happy as I'll be if I get what I want, I will be impatient and want it sooner and sooner as time goes. I hope that writing these thoughts out will help to some extent, but if not, I may be making a return journey to Android through the Nexus 5, as it comes closest to representing what I need in a cell phone with a passable camera. The detail isn't there, but the optical stabilization is. I just don't know what I'll do to replace Nokia Camera's unbelievable manual flexibility.

Guess it's time to start researching...