Blog entries tagged with "photos"

A GPU for Lightroom

Sunday, December 18th, 2016 at 11:57 am

In the four years since I last upgraded my windows desktop the only hardware change was that I had added hard drives for additional storage. On the software side it is also similar, except newer versions (Windows 10 instead of Windows 7, updated browsers, Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC, etc).

In mid 2015 when Lightroom introduced the ability to use the GPU my initial experience was negative as it broke the develop module. It was detecting the GPU in the onboard video, but was failing to use it properly. It turned out the solution was to install the Intel drivers instead of using the generic Microsoft ones. At the time there were people saying that unless you had a really high resolution display that you shouldn’t bother enabling the GPU, I didn’t notice a different either way so I left it enabled.

I don’t make panoramas that often, but I was glad that there is now merge functionality built into Lightroom, except when it fails. There was one panorama I was trying to merge earlier this year that would fail with an internal error, but it would succeed with the GPU disabled. I only had the default amount of memory allocated to the GPU, but increasing it didn’t help.

I haven’t played games for a long time so the onboard video was sufficient, but a small part of me started to wonder whether adding a graphics card with a decent GPU would be worthwhile. It doesn’t need to be a fancy gaming card, just something better enough than the onboard video.

Last Monday I went along to a Canon Collective workshop that was about shooting panoramas to make into little planets:

Federation Square

When performing the initial merge I found that it would again fail when using the onboard GPU, and then when the GPU was disabled Lightroom would max out the CPU and RAM, failing about half the time. So yesterday I picked up an Nvidia GTX 750 Ti graphics card, the second cheapest card available at local stores, but still rated around 450% better than the onboard GPU.

I don’t notice much difference while adjusting images, but based on what I see in task manager it is using less CPU and memory. However there is a big difference when merging images into the panorama. Where before it would take 15 minutes and all available memory, the same merge now takes around 3 minutes and about half the available memory. So a useful improvement.

The other thing that came out of the panorama workshop was the benefit of a tripod head that lets you pan independently of tilt. The Manfrotto 486RC2 ballhead that I use has one locking action, so to pan I used the kludge of rotating the tripod column. This isn’t ideal so on a whim I checked ebay, within 24 hours I had upgraded the ballhead to the (now discontinued) Manfrotto 488RC2 ballhead. This also came with a spare quick release and plate, which I believe I can use to make an L bracket, which will be a post for another time…

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Clearing the backlog

Sunday, August 7th, 2016 at 9:58 pm

It has now been two years since I got back from my big US trip and started a new job. For the following year and a bit I rarely picked up my camera, but over the last nine or so months I have been making up for that with some travel, some photo walks, some photography meetups and other events.

Though those who follow me online will have seen more photos than that as for the past couple of months I have been spending a lot of time sorting through the post-processing photos in my todo folder.

This resulted in the following albums:

Looking back I didn’t realise how long this list would be, I makes be even happier that I have caught up.

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Printing big

Thursday, June 9th, 2016 at 10:09 pm

I have written before about how I print images, but I haven’t mentioned what I do with them once I get them back from the camera club competitions.

As they are images that I like and they are all the same size, I bought a number of 16×20″ frames so I could hang them up at home. I like the look of the simple black frame around the off-white mat board, and I have a few larger frames containing some other posters which includes Up Goer Five.

There were two locations that I wasn’t quite sure what would be best suited, in one spot a single 16×20″ seemed a bit lonely and in the other two 16×20″ images seemed two crowded. I realised that panorama images would work better. But what images and what frames?

It didn’t take me long to come up with the two images that would work:

Mechanical

Downtown behind

After playing around with the numbers I worked out that Mechanical could be printed at 21×10″ to go in a 28×16″ frame, and Downtown behind printed at 28×9″ for a 34×16″ frame. Then it was time to work out the various components…

The mat board comes in 40×36″ sheets and the last time I got some I had them cut them into quarters, much easier to handle and no further cutting required as that takes them down to the 16×20″ size. For the larger images I picked up a full sheet, cut it down the middle for the 16″ dimension, then cut those down for the 28″ and 34″ lengths.

The frames were also straightforward and I went down to the place where I got all of the other frames and ordered them. While they have 16×20″ at a standard size, they didn’t have what I wanted as a standard size, but a couple of weeks later (I was in no hurry) I picked them up. At the same time I also ordered a frame to fit the 12″x48″ Up Goer Five poster.

Printing the images involved a lot more research and thinking…

While I had previously printed both of these images, I had printed them on A3+ paper to be mounted on 16×20″ mat board. The A3+ paper is 13″ wide so that is sufficient, but the other dimension is 19″ which is too short. I briefly thought that I could get an A2 sheet that I could cut in half, but that would still only give me a 23″ length which isn’t enough.

So I started to investigate getting the images printed, but as well as the cost there is the uncertainty about the quality of the print. Until something made me think about roll paper which my printer supports.

A significant issue I would have with printing on roll paper is that my printer only supports paper up to a maximum 13″ width. Epson make roll paper at that size, but my preferred Ilford paper is only available in 17″ and up. I could cut the roll paper into smaller sections manually, but apart from being able to print these large panorama images would there be any cost benefit?

If I am printed for mounting on 16×20″ mat board I will leave at least a 2″ border. This means the largest visible image will be 12×16″, but bump that up to 13×17″ to allow for a generous overlap under the mat board.

Hmmm, 17″ is the width of the Ilford roll paper and 13″ is the maximum width of what the printer can take. The roll of paper is 27 metres long, so can be divided up into 81 and a bit sections. A price for a roll is $193 which translates to a per section price of $2.38. From the same place a box of A3+ paper (13×19″) is $57, that contains 25 sheets at $2.28.

So far the roll paper is looking like it would be both more expensive and less convenient.

Looking around I found another site that that has the roll paper on special, for a price that brings the cost down to $1.68. Even once postage was allowed for this is a small but significant saving, so I ordered a roll of paper.

I picked the paper up from the post office after work and I spent the evening printing and then mounting these images. I haven’t been able to get a decent photo of it, but I am quite pleased with the result.

The first image I printed myself for a camera club competition (after various test prints on different papers) was Mechanical, so it was a nice coincidence that it would also be the first print I did on the roll paper. Trimming the width of the first piece of paper was a bit of a juggle as I was cutting along a 24″ length but using a mat that is only 18″ wide. Working out where to set custom paper sizes in the print dialog also took a couple of minutes but once that was entered it was a straightforward matter of selecing the custom size, setting the dimensions of the image, centering it and then starting the print. It was a little bit nerve-wracking watching the print slowly appear, but it worked out.

I also increased the difficulty with mounting this image as I repeated the same treatment I had done previously which was to leave a 5mm border between the print and the mount. This means no overlap and the mount must be cut very accurately, but the final look is the image, 5mm of the white paper, the white core of the mat board on the 45°, the off-white of the mat board, then finally the black frame.

Printing Downtown behind was easier as I had already figured things out, and this time I had the mat board overlap the print, no ultra-precise cutting to leave a 5mm border.

Now that I have gone through all this effort I don’t know when I will next print an image larger than A3+, but it is now an option and once I have used up the last few sheets of A3+ I will be using sections cut from the roll…

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Three weeks in Kansas

Sunday, February 7th, 2016 at 11:19 pm

The place I have been working for the past eighteen months is part of a larger company based out of Kansas City. One of the biggest direct impacts this has on me is working 7am-4pm so that the start of our day overlaps with the end of their day, but I have come to appreciate avoiding the crowds on the train or on the bike path.

The other possibility is travelling to Kansas City for work, which has just happened for me. A few of us went over, my reason for going was to be there to support the first US based team that is using the tools we have build to upgrade their application for the new servers.

This was my second trip to the US, and only my third trip overseas. This was quite different as I didn’t pay for the flights or hotel, and I received a per diem, but of course most of the time was spent doing work. During the two weekends I was there I managed to squeeze in some sightseeing with my camera, I went to places that other people (who have made the trip multiple times before) had not even considered going to. As I ended up having one of the cars to myself, I headed out over a couple of lunchtimes to some nearby areas.

Of the photos I took, my final selection of 60 is in a Flickr album, with my favourites including:

Museum entrance Shaft Three In the afternoon Path
Arched over Hydrant Heading home Touchdown Frozen outflow

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Using the Big Stopper

Thursday, June 11th, 2015 at 8:19 pm

This last weekend was a long weekend due to the Queen’s Birthday public holiday. I spent it down at Phillip Island with others from the Waverley Camera Club. I took a lot of photos, ending up with a final selection of 40.

As well as giving me an incentive to get out with my camera, the weekend was also the first time I experiemented properly with me Lee filters, in particular the Big Stopper. It is only a year since I got them…

My first stop when I got down there on Friday was at the wreck of the SS Specke. Unfortunately this was after high tide and I didn’t get much water around the wreck itself. This image has movement in the clouds, but others I have seen from this angle have smoothed out water.

Broken

For the sunset on Saturday we split into two groups, I went with others to Red Rocks near Cowes. Although this image doesn’t feature the smoothed out effect in the water, I prefer it as it was one of the brief times that the sun broke through the clouds.

Lit rocks

The sunrise on Sunday was quite colourful, but that doesn’t require the big stopper. Once there was more light I started to play around, getting images such as this around the Rhyll boat ramp.

Pole

The middle of the day isn’t the best for photography, so while scouting around for other locations we stopped at an old chicory kiln (albeit with a new roof). A wider shot with more of the sky and interesting clouds would be an improvement to this shot.

New roof on the kiln

While at the kiln I took a photo in a different direction, while not a good image overall there is something about the effect of the dead trees being stationary against the branches moving in the wind.

Windy

While down at Pyramid Rock for the sunset on Sunday I took most of my photos without the big stopper as I wanted to catch the shape of the breaking waves, but I took a couple with the big stopper to see what it looked like.

Afternoon light

It was a good weekend, with my only regret being that I didn’t get up for the sunrise on the Monday.

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Another year at the camera club

Sunday, December 14th, 2014 at 11:22 am

Among my growing collection of unfinished blog posts there are a couple about my entries to the monthly competition at the camera club. As the year is now over I am rolling them up into a single post.

One of the few photos (because there were so many people) I took on the Trey Ratcliff photowalk in early 2013 was of the underside of the Princess Bridge.

Beamwork

In 2013 I joined a weekly black and white photo project, while I only managed to stick with it for six months it did force me to take a number of new photos specifically for monochrome. This was was taken for technology.

Standing alone

Taken while on a photowalk, submitted for archtecture, the to the camera club.

Within the Sanctuary

While on the club weekend away to Marysville a couple of us split from the main group and headed west towards Murrindindi. There were a few other cars and bikes around that had kicked up dust and while stopped taking photos of the rays of sunlight some bikes went past. A fair amount of adjustment was done to balance out the light, and in the final version the bike and rider was darkened to be a silhouette. This was awarded image of the month for May and then got third place in the end of year competition.

Riding through

How could I not resist submitting an image of a Lego minifig that shot for silhouette under ‘Shadows, Silhouettes & Reflections’.

Upright

The topic one month was ‘creative’ and I had no idea what to submit, it was a struggle as I try to be accurate and reflect what is there… While sorting through some older images I came across an image that after some extreme level adjustment came out like this:

One giraffe drinks

There were three competitions after I returned from my US trip and all of the images I submitted were from that trip. Starting with this early morning shot in San Francisco. It wasn’t until editing the image later that I noticed the cyclist which I thought changed the whole feel of the image. At the monthly competition this received a merit, and in the end of year it received second place for monochrome print.

Morning ride

I don’t take photos of people, so for the portrait competition (even when extended to include animals) I struggled and only submitted one entry, but it was this image of an owl in Owl Canyon which is near the infamous Antelope Canyon in Arizona.

In the canyon

It took me a while to adjust to my new job (started right after returning from my US trip) so I got a bit slack with entering printed images. I should have made the effort as the judge liked the two images I did submit for the ‘Travel’ competition, obviously they are from my US trip.

Different colours

Behind and in front

I still have a lot of things on my todo list, but one thing for sure is that I enjoy going out to take photos and I will make sure I find the time. We have the list of topics for the club competitions in 2015 and I have just seen that the B&W Project will be running as a project 26 in 2015.

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The old colour space chestnut

Thursday, October 16th, 2014 at 9:19 pm

Along with which program to edit your images, another contentious topic that comes up in regard to digital photography is what colour space to use. Initially it starts out as someone being told that they must change their camera from sRGB to Adobe RGB, it snowballs from there.

A couple of years ago I did some research and tried to write up a post about it, I didn’t get very far because it is crazy complex, you need to consider an entire colour managed workflow from the camera, through editing and then output somewhere on a webpage, on another device, as a print, etc. Fortunately others have gone to the trouble of explaining colour management.

Cambridge in Colour is an excellent resource for Photographers and one of its tutorials is on Color Management & Printing that is worth reading all of the way through. If you only want to read one thing, then make it the page that compares sRGB vs. Adobe RGB.

Another example of how complex colour spaces are to explain is a seven part series of articles titled Digital-Image Color Spaces which also includes quite a number of example images. Note that this series is now almost eight years old, so be aware that web browser support for colour profiles has improved a lot since then.

On the topic of web browsers, the International Color Consortium (ICC) has a test page so you can see what version of ICC colour profiles your browser supports. Though if you want an extreme example, computer forensics researcher Neal Krawetz shows how one image can display in ten different ways depending on what you use to view it.

Want to read more about sRGB vs Adobe RGB? Stop. Don’t do it. There are countless articles (yes, I know you are reading one of them right now) where people give their opinion about whether your should use sRGB or Adobe RGB. Many of them are pure opinion without any supporting information, or contain information already covered by something like the Cambridge in Colour tutorials.

So what do I do? I avoid the issue… I shoot in RAW to capture as much information as possible, adjust (on my calibrated and profiled monitor) in Lightroom with all that image data, and only at the end discard data when exporting to an 8-bit JPG in sRGB for the internet. When I print I trust that Lightroom and the Epson printer driver are doing what is best.

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Four weeks

Sunday, August 31st, 2014 at 4:42 pm

Today, four weeks after returning from my US trip, I have completed processing my photos and uploading them into albums. Of the 6,000 I came home with, 275 made the cut and can be seen in 12 albums over on Flickr. They can also be found on Google+ and Panoramio, but they don’t have a nice collections page to link to.

My use of the word “completed” is not quite correct. Every day after getting the photos off the camera I did a bit of sorting, mostly deleting obvious bad images but also flagging images for editing. About half of what I flagged during the trip made it into the final selection, but I still need to go back through and cull out other unwanted images.

It is also been four weeks since I started my new job and I think that I am almost used to getting up for the early start. When asked about how I an finding it my response has been that it is “different.” There were good things as well as bad things at Monash, there are also good things and bad things about this place as well. Further down the track I might have another view, but for now there are so many new things to pick up that I don’t know what to think.

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I like automatic perspective correction

Monday, June 2nd, 2014 at 11:11 pm

As a rule I try to avoid spending too much time post-processing my photos which is why I have been generally satisfied with the simple (compared to full Photoshop) adjustment tools within Lightroom. There are of course the occasional exception to any rule.

I have mentioned before about how I went from this (as-shot) image of the Albury train station:

Grand old station

to this brightened, sign and chimney removed, and perspective corrected image:

Grand old station (modified)

What I said in the previous post wasn’t quite correct, I actually cloned out the signs and added a gradient before I decided to try to correct the perspective using GIMP. I recall that this took about an hour to figure out how to do, then the image went back into Lightroom to clone out the third chimney and some final tweaks.

That was two years ago. Today in version 5 of Lightroom is a perspective correction tool. You don’t have full control to change the perspective, instead it is a couple of correction settings that work in an automatic way. Since it was introduced it has been a very handy tool.

I don’t know why, but a few days ago I thought of this image and wondered how the built in perspective correction would do. So I went to the original image in the Library (ie all the edits up to the point it was exported to TIFF for GIMP), made a virtual copy, clicked the ‘Vertical’ perspective button, recropped and then cloned out the third chimney to arrive at:

Grand old station (modified 2)

If you open both modified images and swap between them you can see that the only difference is a slight difference to the proportions of the building. But when you consider one was a few seconds to click a button while the other was at least an hour and then the change history is split across two files, I am glad that Lightroom now has built in perspective correction.

I am also hoping that over time the perspective correction tool is expanded into something like the Adaptive Wide Angle filter from Photoshop. While I am wishing for things, I would also like Lightroom to get content aware fill…

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A little bit more on that false dichotomy

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014 at 2:30 pm

I was sorting through some old files (yes, a lot like xkcd 1360) and I came across a PDF of a getting started guide for Lightroom. It is old (version 1.1) but while skimming through it I noticed this overview of the workflow:

Lightroom workflow overview

The particular thing that caught my eye was the blue “Export to Photoshop” circle to indicate that Photoshop is not the end point, this is what I was saying in my recent post about the false dichotomy between Photoshop and Lightroom.

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How I print and mount photos

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014 at 9:23 pm

Last night I lugged a bunch of stuff – computer, printer, mat cutter, supplies, past images – up to the camera club to do a demonstration on how I print and submit images for the monthly competitions. While I rambled on and showed things in a non-sequential manner I think that at least a couple of people got something out of the night.

In case this might be useful at other times, here are some notes from my process: (with the disclaimer that this is just my process, there are other ways to print images)

  • I was very lucky that at the time I decided to start printing my own images I was able to pick up a secondhand printer at a reasonable price.
  • From the beginning I decided to stick with genuine Epson inks.
  • I got a sample pack of different Ilford papers and did some test prints with both these and some Epson papers.
  • I decided to just use Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl paper, even though some types of images can benefit from certain types (matt, gloss, art, metallic) of paper. I looked around online to get A3+ paper at a good price.
  • Ensure that you use the profile for your paper/printer combination, you get these from the paper manufacturer.
  • I do not try to match the print against my screen, instead I care about a print that looks good.
  • Do a nozzle check if it has been a while since you last used the printer. The one time I forgot to do this there was a blocked nozzle (fixed by a head clean) that ruined a full size print.
  • Any unused areas of the A3+ sheet are salvaged into 6×4″ pieces. Test prints are made on these before committing to a full size print.
  • The size of the printed image is worked out based on the size and orientation of the mat board, the border width and allowing for a small overlap.
  • Leave a small margin above the image on the paper, this is the area that will be used for tape later.
  • Mark everything out on the back of the mat board. These markings are then lined up with the edge of the rail in the mat cutter. I cut slightly longer (both before and after) to ensure a clean cut in the corners with no tear out.
  • Only use tape across the top of the image, this allows it to float between the mat and backing, otherwise it might buckle.
  • I use double sided tape (squares in the corners, spots along the edges) to attach 3mm foam core board as the backing. As no tape is exposed it cannot peel up and cause damage when in the box with other prints.
  • The foam core board is larger than the 16×20″ mat board, this is attached and then trimmed down to the size of the mat board instead of trying to align exactly.

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Some Lightroom things

Saturday, May 10th, 2014 at 11:28 pm

Performance

Back when I last upgraded my desktop I made the choice to put my “todo” photos on the SSD which I thought gave a significant speed improvement. I was wrong and over time I came to realise that the real speed improvement was on existing images, not any of the new images, they still had a small ‘Loading…’ delay.

Once I got around to looking into it I found the Lightroom Help / Optimize performance page which is a good starting point. These other 10 tips were also helpful.

Apart from tweaking settings such as the preview size, the biggest change to my process is that I intentionally render 1:1 previews. These previews are stored in the cache which is on the SSD. As the photos didn’t benefit from being on the SSD, all my photos are back on to a single drive (a WD Black so decent speeds) which benefits my import process and also the “todo” to “done” move of the photos.

Lens correction by default

A few months ago I started to apply lens correction and removal of chromatic aberration to all of the new photos. For a while I would do this by going to the first image in the import, checking the two boxes and then syncing the settings to the other images.

To automatically turn on the correction there seems to be two common methods, create a preset to use when importing or to change the default develop settings. As I don’t actually use the import workflow I opted for the latter, so from last week any image taken with a Canon 7D will have correction applied.

Convert to DNG

Whether or not to convert RAW files to DNG is one of those questions with no clear answer. Hence why I currently use RAW files, but as an experiment I will convert the photos from my next outing into DNG.

I expect to get a small (but it will add up) benefit from the slightly smaller file (around 2MB per), but the main benefit should be the embedded fast load data. Time will tell…

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The false dichotomy of “Photoshop or Lightroom?”

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014 at 11:52 am

If you are talking about photography post processing (be it in a camera club or online) then it is inevitable that you will be part of a debate about whether you should use Photoshop or Lightroom. As there is no simple answer don’t be surprised if things get heated.

The flaw in these debates is that Photoshop and Lightroom are not alternatives for each other. While Photoshop is a massively powerful image editor, you don’t use it to manage your photo library. On the other side while Lightroom has a great library module and gives many adjustment options, it is not an image editor.

So Photoshop and Lightroom and not alternatives, they complement each other and that shows through in how they integrate together. If you need to do something that is beyond the adjustments built into Lightroom then you can take the image out to Photoshop (or other program) and then bring it back to Lightroom for exporting or printing.

Keeping within the realm of Adobe products, instead of comparing Lightroom to Photoshop, the valid comparison is Lightroom against the combination of Bridge and Camera Raw.

So what is the harm in arguing over Lightroom or Photoshop? Apart from the time that is wasted, it can also provide incomplete information to the inexperienced photographer. This may have a greater negative impact in the long run.

What do I mean? Well, at the camera club we want to encourage beginners to be out there taking photos and submitting them in our monthly competitions with the critique feeding back into better photos in the future. To me this includes talking about concepts and effects, not the specific steps in a particular tool.

I have seen an experienced photographer demonstrate to a beginner how to add a vignette to a photo via a complex series of steps (selection, feathering, new layer, fill, opacity blending, etc) in Photoshop. The same vignette could be added in Lightroom (or Camera Raw) by moving a slider which means that the beginner could take in more about why to use a vignette than how to apply it.

My view is that a beginner should start with Lightroom to manage their photos and apply adjustments. It is only once they are much more experienced and are pushing the limits of the Lightroom adjustments that they should consider Photoshop. And don’t forget that taking the right photo in the first place is better than fiddling with post-processing.

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Last day of driving

Sunday, March 31st, 2013 at 10:07 pm

Earlier this evening the driving portion of this road trip was completed when we arrived back in Devonport. Of course this was with just enough time to check into the motel, find some dinner and then get back to watch the new episode of Doctor Who.

The day started in Launceston with a brief stop by the Trevallyn Dam and a lookout on the western side of town.

Looking down the Tamar

We then visited the Launceston Tramway Museum where it was quite interesting to see that although they only ever had 29 trams, they have managed to track down all of them. Of course not all have survived, some are being restored and this example has been retained as an example of the chook shed it had been converted into.

There's a tram in there

From Launceston we followed the eastern side of the Tamar River to George Town where we were lucky enough to arrive at lighthouse at noon, just at the time that they sounded the restored fog horn.

Horizontal stripe

Heading back up the river we stopped at one of the old semaphore stations (that linked George Town with Launceston).

Chain

Crossing over the Tamar was via the Batman Bridge – the first cable-stayed bridge in Australia.

Another Australian first

Now on the western side of the river we visited the mining museum at Beaconsfield, didn’t see much at Greens Beach, skipped visiting Port Sorell and then arrived in Devonport.

Although we did see the Spirit come into port at Devonport, our booking is for tomorrow (a day sailing) as we wanted to keep our last driving day flexible. We did ask if we could change our booking to tonights sailing, but it would have cost $300 to change it at this late stage…

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Up through the middle

Saturday, March 30th, 2013 at 9:45 pm

As this road trip through western Tasmania draws to a close, today we travelleled north from Hobart to Launceston, but we didn’t just follow the main highway.

From Hobart we headed back up the Derwent River to have another look at its vertical lift bridge.

Largest of its kind

From there we continued north, but then turned off into the hills to the Waddamana Power Station Museum.

Grand entrance

The museum was an excellent source for photos of old machinery and switching gear. This alone has provided many photos for me to sort through later.

From Waddamana we headed up to the Miena Dam on Great Lake. The water level was low enough to expose the second Miena Dam (a series of concrete arches) behind the current rockfill dam. It wasn’t quite low enough to expose the first concrete dam, but it was just visible.

First (just), second and third

Around the corner from the Miena Dam was the outlet of the pipe where water is pumped up from Arthurs Lake. Here is a small power station that uses that water to reclaim some of the energy.

Cost recovery

Continuing north we dropped down the Great Western Tiers and then arrived in Launceston in mid-afternoon. This gave us time to visit Cataract Gorge, both First Basin and the old Duck Reach power station.

Suspended

First basin

Gathering needles

New(er) concrete, older stone

We also drove around Launceston, noting the Tramway Museum for a visit tomorrow.

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Hobart on Good Friday…

Friday, March 29th, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Our Tasmania road trip is almost over with today being a full day in Hobart. Today is also Good Friday. What is Hobart like on Good Friday? In our roaming around searching for things to do or see we did stop by the Waterfront and Salamanca Place. The former featuring a cruise ship in port and the latter the busiest place we saw all day.

After an early lunch we headed over the Tasman Bridge to the Rosny Hill Lookout, drove past the Bellerive Oval before stopping under the eastern approach to said bridge.

Under the Tasman

We then headed up the eastern side of the Derwent River, stopping at a few places which included shortly before the Bowen Bridge with a view across the river of the zinc smelter. (and the Incat shipyard, but nothing interesting was visible)

Mechanical

After crossing the river we headed over the the Tasmanian Transport Museum which we understood to be “open on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays”. It seems that Good Friday isn’t a public holiday, as it was not open. With more time to kill, but not in the mood to look at actual art we found a place to photograph Mona from a distance.

The villain's lair

Heading back south (we were working our way anti-clockwise) we stopped at the western approach to the Tasman bridge before heading up into Queens Domain. As we now expect, the view from the summit lookout was obscured by trees, but interestingly there was access onto a pair of huge water tanks, from which there was a clear view of the Tasman Bridge.

Connection to the east

By now we had exhausted our short list of places to go, but it was only mid afternoon. To fill the time we brought forward our visit to Richmond from tomorrow. On the way we spotted some dishes not far from the road, which turned out to be the Mount Pleasant Radio Observatory.

An unexpected find

Later research informed us that one of the dishes (not the one pictured) is from the former Orroral Valley Tracking Station which we stopped at on a previous road trip.

Continuing on to Richmond we of photographed the bridge…

One hundred and ninety

… before heading back to Hobart via Sorrell, Seven Mile Beach and even Rokeby where we spotted this sign.

Something for sale

Since we stopped via Richmond today, tomorrows plan is now to head straight for the Hydro Museum at Waddamana before ultimately ending up in Launceston.

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A day of driving

Thursday, March 28th, 2013 at 11:06 pm

Today’s leg started out with a visit to Russell Falls, but there wasn’t much water flowing over them.

Russell Falls

We then headed west to visit the Gordon Dam, a drive of approximately 200 kilometres return with not much to see on the way. It was also raining for most of the drive, we where lucky to get a couple of breaks while at the dam itself. We also stopped by the Serpentine Dam, but that is in no way as interesting to photograph.

Tallest in Tasmania

Once we returned to the main highway, we followed the Derwent River all of the way into Hobart. In an attempt to catch the sunset we headed up Mount Wellington which was clouded in when we initially arrived, but we were lucky again as that cleared.

Shelter at the top

Shadow of a mountain

1,271 metres

Despite it clearing, it was still cold and very windy, so we didn’t stay long. Instead opting to drive over to Mount Nelson and then down and through Hobart. This is the first of two nights in Hobart, we are still planning what to do tomorrow.

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One kilometre underground

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013 at 10:02 pm

This morning our Tasmania road trip started the day with an underground tour of the Mount Lyell Mine. The tour took around three hours, covering the above ground and (more importantly) the underground operations of the mine. We didn’t go all of the way down, but we got to the crib room, saw underground workshops, the crusher, the main shaft, haulage trucks and all sorts of other things. The operations are quite a contrast to the tour of the Super Pit in Kalgoorlie that we went on two years ago during the Perth road trip.

Following the mine we stopped by the Spion Kop Lookout in town before heading east, where our day switched from mining to dams and power stations. Our first stop was at Lake St Clair, where we were not interested in the nature, but in the old pumping station.

From 1940

Comtinuing on we started to pass the series of dams that supply the Tungatinah Power Station, including the intake portal.

Water goes in here

Shortly after that we passed Tungatinah Power Station itself and then the Tarraleah Power Station on the opposite side of the river.

Old with new attached

The old village for building Tarraleah is now part of a resort, but it does have a viewing platform above the penstocks.

Water goes down

From there we followed the pipes, canals and aqueducts up to Clark Dam.

Canal and the old road

Aqueduct over pipe

Our path then took up down the Derwent River where we spotted the spilling Cluny Dam, but only from a distance.

The closest we could get

Our final dam visit was to the Repulse Dam, where they appear to be really keen about limiting loads over the bridge.

Clearance enforced

Since Tasmania has such a large number of hydroelectic power generation it is not surprising we are seeing so many, in fact we will see more tomorrow (Gordon and Serpentine) and in a few days time when we head back north.

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On an ABT railway

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013 at 10:26 pm

As mentioned yesterday, today’s leg of the Tasmania road trip included a trip on the Mount Lyell Railway West Coast Wilderness Railway. The current setup is that you ride the train one way, with a coach shuttle either at the start or end.

Checking

Shunting

We opted for the 8AM coach from Strahan to Queenstown and then the train back to Strahan which would give us more time under our control, so we had four hours to drive ourselves to Queenstown and explore the nearby area. This included stops at the historic Lake Margaret Power Station, the old Iron Blow mine and dams south of Queenstown.

Old mining

Even further south we found the Bird River Track which follows the route of the North Mount Lyell Railway and was a contemporary of the Mount Lyell Railway.

Another old tramway

During the return to Queenstown there was interesting light over the hills around the slurry dam and the almost full moon was rising.

Layered

Not quite full

Tomorrow we will continue mine related activities with an underground tour of the Mount Lyell tour, followed by a long drive past Lake St Clair, past Tarraleah to arrive at Russell Falls in the Mount Field National Park before sunset.

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Walking on a road trip

Monday, March 25th, 2013 at 9:28 pm

Today’s leg of the Tasmania road trip was quite short, this was to allow for the three hour return walk along the old route of the North East Dundas Tramway to the base of Montezuma Falls, the highest (at 104 metres) falls in Tasmania. Being the old tramway the walk was quite easy, with the old sleepers visible in sections.

Old tramway

Top of the 104 metres

Unfortunately the weather wasn’t the best to photograph the falls, photos of the suspension bridge (across where a trestle bridge used to be) were a lot better.

Suspension

Once back in the car we looked around some of the other old mining area around Roseberry before heading to Zeehan which has a number of old buildings and a mining museum. There is also the Spray Tunnel, a tunnel that serviced the Spray Mine.

Out of the tunnel

We then headed down to Strahan and after sorting out out (booked) ticked for the train tomorrow, we headed out to Braddon Point where we drove out onto the beach from where we could see the lighthouses at the entrance to Macquarie Harbour.

At the entrance

Bonnet Island

As the light changed we stopped be a jety, explored some forest tracks, picked up some dinner and then found a lookout over the town.

Jetty

Sunset on Regatta Point

Our plan for tomorrow is also a short day, this time because of the West Coast Wilderness Railway.

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Water in two forms

Sunday, March 24th, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Today’s leg of our Tasmania road trip started with water in one form, and then ended with water in another form.

The first form was the ocean, which we followed from Arthur River through Couta Rocks to Temma. We were surpised by how many coastal ’shacks’ there were, most quite substantial and a few with slips for fishing boats.

Steps out

Big and small

After leaving the coast we followed the Western Explorer Highway south through a variety of environments before arriving at Corrina with its ferry across the Pieman River.

How to get on barge

The remainder of the day was dominated by dams and power stations, of course with their water in a stored form. There were a number of them, including one that diverted water through a tunnel from one river system into a reservoir on another river system.

Below the dam

Road, rail and reflection

Access and drainage adit

At one point we stopped at a lookout, one that was in need of some upkeep, a situation that we have often found.

Upkeep needed

Tomorrow we are off to Montezuma Falls (the highest in Tasmania) and then mining history at Zeehan.

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Lighthouses are along the coast

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013 at 11:16 pm

On day two of this road trip through Tasmania we travelled west along the north coast from Burnie and then south along the west coast to Arthur River. However we did start the day by heading inland to find Guide Falls, only one of the two waterfalls we were looking for today.

Someone in the shot

The weather was mixed, mostly heavy rain in the morning that was punctuated by patches of clear(er) sky. When it had just been raining and was still overcast the nice rich tones made themselves known.

Down

Despite this, it was nice that as we returned to the coast we could see the rain moving away, where it stayed for most of the afternoon.

The departing rain

Which, being along the coast, featured a couple of lighthouses such at the one up on Rocky Cape.

Short and stubby

Locator pin

We started to see more wildlife.

I can see you

At West Point we failed to find the lighthouse, just these concrete foundations.

1916 foundations

At Bluff Hill Point we found a relatively modern (precast concrete, not stone, masonary or concrete in a form) lighthouse, it wasn’t until looking it up later that we found that when this was comissioned, it replaced the one at West Point that was subsequently removed.

Break in the clouds

These weren’t the only sights we saw, it is just that I need more time post processing those photos (in some cases that will mean assembling panoramas), but right now the day is over. Tomorrow is heading back inland, first along the Western Explorer Highway through the Tarkine region and then past mines and a number of dams.

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I was on a boat

Friday, March 22nd, 2013 at 10:09 pm

Twenty four hours ago I was about to pass through Port Phillip Heads on my way to Devonport aboard the Spirit of Tasmania. That was the start of a twelve day trip, ten of which involve driving around the north western areas of Tasmania.

After a very poor night’s sleep, we drove off the boat (from the very bottom garage deck) at around 6:30am, picked up supplies at a supermarket and then headed towards Cradle Mountain National Park, stopping at lookouts and dams along the way.

Braddons Lookout

It's underground

Exposed

The plan had been to spend a couple of hours at Dove Lake, but the weather was so miserable and wet that we ate lunch in the car and decided to move on. A waterfall and old dam or so later we ended up back on the coast at Wynyard before heading to the accommodation we had booked at Burnie.

Written permission

Old bluestone facing

On Table Cape

The plan for tomorrow is to start the day at the Hellyers Road Distillery (just for a tasting) before continuing along the coast, past The Nut at Stanley to end up on the west coast at Arthur River.

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A heavily worked image

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Two years ago I took this photo of the Albury railway station:

Grand old station

However the version I submitted in the May competition at the camera club was the result of a few hours of processing, the most processing I have ever done to an image:

Grand old station (modified)

I first took the image out of Lightroom and into GIMP where I “corrected” the perspective. You know, to make the verticals vertical. I also stretched it vertically because it was looking a bit squashed.

Once back in Lightroom I began to liberally apply the spot removal tool to remove the parking signs and one of the chimneys, the goal being to make the image symmetrical. My final changes were to add a gradient to bump up the exposure of the bottom half and an overall change to the levels.

I entered the image as a print, which the judge awarded a highly commended.

I also recieved highly commendeds for two other images, both from the Perth road trip and both entered as EDI. First was this image of the red earth and blue skies near Marvel Loch:

Red and blue

Second was this image of water pooled on some rocks in the desert:

It rained recently (modified)

This second image was also modified from when I first posted it to Flickr, it is a different crop, contrast has been increased and a gradient applied to the sky to bring out the clouds.

My final image featured the regrowth on the trees near Marysville, burnt in the Black Saturday bushfires:

Regrowth

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A three week tour

Friday, March 4th, 2011 at 11:48 am

This time tomorrow, Damien and I should be heading in a westerly direction out of Melbourne. The first day of a three week / 8,000km plus road trip from Melbourne to Perth and back.


View Larger Map

Not much about the trip is set in stone as we don’t know how long we will stop (if at all) at various places. To reflect this we have lists of motels, caravan parks and campsites, but very few actual bookings. If needed we will call ahead a few days in advance, but that is all.

One thing that (some) people seem surprised about is that we will only be spending a single day in Perth. Yes, one day out of three weeks and that is a rest day to catch up on things like washing clothes (there are other rest days as well). This is a road trip, so it is about the journey, not about the destination, Perth is just one of the stops. Driving across Australia is not something you do often, you can always fly over to Perth later.

The last few weeks have been busy with final planning which should all come together tonight with the final pack of the car. But I thought I should mention the technology that we are considering essential:

  • Three still cameras (SLR, compact and a bridge)
  • One HD video camera (mounted to the windscreen..)
  • Three (maybe four) phones (one of mine, the others Damiens)
  • GPS unit (in addition to one in the phones)
  • UHF radios
  • Two laptops
  • Telstra internet dongle
  • External drives for backup
  • Batteries and chargers

I will try to keep identica/twitter/facebook updated, and maybe throw in a blog post or two. But we know that there is zero mobile coverage across the desert (on the train line yes, but not down at the highway) so it will become quiet on the Ceduna to Esperance and Norseman to Ceduna sections.

If nothing else, I expect to be back in three weeks with lots of photos, hopefully some of them good.

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Hearing from Pakenham

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Last month I, mostly as an experiment, entered some image in the 6th Pakenham National. Today I heard from them with my results.

I entered eleven images in three categories, most of them being images I had previously entered in WCC competitions.

Four projected images:

Sport stress balls #1 Lake Fyans sunrise
Bridge at night Lego speed

Three open monochrome prints:

Emerging Nymphaea
Seamans Hut

Four open colour prints:

Diecast vs Extruded Waterfront
Somewhere to sit Setting

So how did they go?

My lowest score of any of them was 8, while the highest score was 11. The three that received 11 were “accepted” into the exhibition in September. These are one of the first images I entered into the monthly competition at WCC, a recent experiment with long shutter and black thread and a successful monochrome conversion:

Bridge at night

Lego speed

Emerging

I am pleased and it was definitely a learning experience that will be completed once I see the other acceptances at the exhibition.

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From the backlog: Blue Lotus Water Garden

Friday, April 23rd, 2010 at 9:59 pm

On the first Sunday of 2010 the Waverley Camera Club went on an outing to the Blue Lotus Water Garden in Yarra Junction. I have lost track of how many photos I took on the day, but I have completed processing them down to 34 images.

Obviously most of them are of flowers. Solitary…

Blue Lotus Water Garden (06)

…in groups…

Blue Lotus Water Garden (11)

…as a bud…

Blue Lotus Water Garden (30)

…or somewhere in between.

Blue Lotus Water Garden (08)

There were also some bridges of interest…

Blue Lotus Water Garden (24)

Two of the images are HDR, the one above for example, but for the others I first cropped, tweaked levels to increase contrast (a lot of tweaking for a couple of the images) and finally added a slight vignette.

All can be viewed in their Flickr set.

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Point Cook Air Pageant 2010

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010 at 11:51 pm

For the past three days I have been up at Halls Gap in the Grampians with the camera club. Although I returned home yesterday, I took an extra day of leave because I knew that in addition to the long drive, the weekend itself would be tiring because of late nights and early mornings.

So today I didn’t do much, except some photo sorting. Although I did do a little bit of sorting through my photos from the weekend (mostly getting them off the laptop I borrowed) I decided that it would be better to return to the backlog.

The previous weekend I went out to Healesville Sanctuary on the Saturday, and then to the biannual Air Pageant at the Point Cook RAAF Museum on the Sunday. It was the Point Cook photos that I turned to.

This day really made me regret selling my 75-300mm lens when I sold my Canon 400d. Although it was the kit lens, by definition cheap, it would have given me reach that my 17-85mm lens just does not have. I also could have thought ahead and asked at the camera club. Borrowing a 28-300mm would have been excellent as I would have only needed one lens, but borrowing a 70-200mm f/4 would have been good as well.

The big downside of having a maximum focal length of 85mm was that most of what could have been good shots were just too small in the frame which meant that when cropped down they were too noisy with not enough detail. I shot 2000 photos on the day and my first pass brought the count down to 262. My efforts today brought that down further to the 58 that are now up on Flickr.

The weather was a bit ordinary for an airshow. Mostly overcast with patches of blue sky. That worked for some shots as it cast a moody feel:

CAC P51 Mustang

Miss Imogen wants to fly

While at other times the break in the clouds gave both lighting and a contrasting backdrop:

Harvards coming in

Spitfire, Sabre and Mustang

See Point Cook Air Pageant 2010 for all of the images.

Something else that I have done with this set is to try to give each image a unique name, not just “Place/Event (#)”. This did take extra time, but it is something that I should be doing. Plus it makes the subject of the photo much easier to identify.

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I don’t shoot in monochrome …

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010 at 11:06 pm

… so finding entries for a ‘monochrome’ topic meant I needed to find suitable photos to desaturate.

After lots of experimenting I ended up with four images that I submitted last month, one of which was awarded a merit tonight:

Nymphaea

This is a photo from the club outing to the Blue Lotus Water Garden earlier in the year. The flowers were originally pink/white and after converting to greyscale I spent a lot of time removing distracting spot from the leaves. It turned out to be worth it.

My other printed image was of the cooling towers at Loy Yang Power Station, also earlier in the year:

Cooling

By changing the greyscale mix I was able to increase the contrast on the towers, as well as making the bright blue sky quite ominous.

I also spent a large amount of time fiddling with one of my images of the Murray 1 hydro power station to get:

Murray 1

My final image was taken by combining a Lego Technic figure, a seamless white background and a flash:

Over here!

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More from the backlog

Sunday, February 21st, 2010 at 10:25 pm

As promised last week I have continued working through my backlog of photos and have processed my photos from Brisbane last year. And this is despite being distracted first be the ISS and then the sunset.

The photos are a mixed bag:

Water and wildlife:

Brisbane (05) Brisbane (06)

Buildings:

Brisbane (08) Brisbane (09) Brisbane (10)

Cityscapes (day and night):

Brisbane (13) Brisbane (15)

Brisbane (17) Brisbane (21)

Brisbane 2009

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Sunset from Beacon Cove

Sunday, February 21st, 2010 at 9:07 pm

On Friday night the Waverley Camera Club met up at Beacon Cove (aka near Station Pier) for a night shoot.

As we sat on the boardwalk eating fish and chips the sky quickly changed through:

Sunset at Beacon Cove (01)

Sunset at Beacon Cove (02)

Sunset at Beacon Cove (12)

Sunset at Beacon Cove (18)

Sunset at Beacon Cove (21)

Sunset from Beacon Cove

My final selection of 21 photos are all in the Flickr set. They may look a bit repetitive – there are only so many different shots of a sunset – but this has been thinned down a lot.

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Catching the ISS go by

Monday, February 15th, 2010 at 10:51 pm

Earlier in the evening I stood outside on the front lawn in the dark for about half an hour. The result was this:

ISS over Melbourne

That is my first ever shot of the International Space Station passing overhead.

For a while I have been wanting to capture a shot of the ISS, yet I either didn’t find out about a visible pass, or I found out too late. This is despite knowing about the excellent Heavens-Above which lets you enter your location, and it will tell you whatever you want to know about objects in the sky. You can get a whole sky chart (which I looked up for the WCC star trails attempt earlier in the year) or a list of when an object such as the ISS is making a visible pass. This time I have a timely tweet from Wolf Cocklin to thank.

Now, the photo above isn’t that great as shots of the night sky go (a Flickr search for ‘iss’ returns impressive images), but for a shot taken from suburban Melbourne with plenty of light pollution, I am happy with it.

The actual pass was quite short so I took a few test shots so I would know what setttings to use, plus

As I didn’t know exactly where in the sky the ISS would appear or what it would actually look like to the naked eye, I first took a few test shots before aiming the camera up and to the south-southwest. The tests can be seen in the ISS visible pass (15 February 2010) Flickr set.

As there are other visible passes of the ISS for the next week I will attempt to catch it again, weather permitting.

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Photos from the backlog

Sunday, February 14th, 2010 at 10:10 pm

Today I knuckled down and sorted through photos, resulting in two new sets on Flickr. I still have a lot more sorting through as I am still four months behind.

The first set is from a Sunday morning in August when I walked around some of Melbourne’s laneways and arcades with the camera club:

Melbourne laneways and arcades (05) Melbourne laneways and arcades (21) Melbourne laneways and arcades (32)
Melbourne laneways and arcades (43) Melbourne laneways and arcades (46) Melbourne laneways and arcades (23)

Melbourne laneways and arcades

The other set I uploaded to Flickr was from one lunchtime where I walked over to campus for the specific purpose of taking some photos. This was related to a competition we were running at the time for students and staff to submit photos to appear on the my.monash login page. Although we were not eligible, it was a good enough reason to get over to campus.

Monash Uni - Clayton (01) Monash Uni - Clayton (07)
Monash Uni - Clayton (09) Monash Uni - Clayton (11)

Monash Uni – Clayton

The next lot of photos I have to sort are those from Brisbane, when I wandered around Brisbane CBD and Southbank on the day before OSDC2009.

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First competition for the new year

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010 at 11:43 pm

Tonight was the first judging night for 2010 at the Waverley Camera Club. The topic was “Opposites” and I submitted four still life photos created specifically for this competition.

After digging through my box of Lego and my Dad’s box of Dinky toy cars I came up with this as a print:

Diecast vs Extruded

The opposites include: diecast metal versus extruded plastic, new (relatively) versus old, battered versus unbattered and of course facing left versus facing right. The judge awarded this a Merit and also added truck versus car.

My second print was of wine bottles:

A varied drop

I took way too many photos of these (and some others) bottles from different angles, with different lighting (for the shadows), and different orientation before choosing this one. The judge commented that the shadows behind, but at the same level, added interest.

My two digital entries were about denominations and opacity:

Dollars and centsOne is softer

Tonight I submitted monochrome entries for next month, including a last minute change so that at least one shot included Lego.

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OSDC2009 wrap up

Sunday, December 6th, 2009 at 10:29 am

In the last week of November I headed up to Brisbane for the sixth Australian Open Source Developers’ Conference and over the three days of the conference I took a lot of photos. Yesterday I completed sorting through them and uploaded 177 of them to Flickr across four sets.

Anyone who follows me on Twitter, identi.ca or Facebook would have seen me commenting as the conference unfolded, but here is a pictorial summary of what I consider to be the highlights.

OSDC2009 – Day 1

The conference began with a talk from Karen Pauley on Understanding Volunteers:

OSDC 2009 - Day 1 - 5

Richard Jones discovered issues with MacBooks an some projectors:

OSDC 2009 - Day 1 - 10

Paul Fenwick told us about the awesome things we missed in Perl:

OSDC 2009 - Day 1 - 18

Adam Kennedy brought us up to date on Padre:

OSDC 2009 - Day 1 - 27

With the day closing with lightning talks:

OSDC 2009 - Day 1 - 31OSDC 2009 - Day 1 - 33OSDC 2009 - Day 1 - 34OSDC 2009 - Day 1 - 36

OSDC2009 – Day 2

On short notice Marty Pauley gave a great talk on simplicity:

OSDC 2009 - Day 2 - 1

Then later in the day Arjen Lentz let us know that failure is not an emergency:

OSDC 2009 - Day 2 - 14

With the day concluding with lightning talks:

OSDC 2009 - Day 2 - 28OSDC 2009 - Day 2 - 29OSDC 2009 - Day 2 - 30OSDC 2009 - Day 2 - 31

OSDC2009 – Dinner

At dinner a certain someone garnered lots of attention by dressing up for his dinner talk:

OSDC 2009 - Dinner - 20

While everyone else was challenged to illustrate in Play-doh how removing something can be a feature:

OSDC 2009 - Dinner - 35OSDC 2009 - Dinner - 38OSDC 2009 - Dinner - 43OSDC 2009 - Dinner - 56

OSDC2009 – Day 3

On the final day we heard about Google Wave:

OSDC 2009 - Day 3 - 10

contained more lightning talks:

OSDC 2009 - Day 3 - 31OSDC 2009 - Day 3 - 33OSDC 2009 - Day 3 - 39OSDC 2009 - Day 3 - 35

Before being closed by Pia Waugh talking about open source in government:

OSDC 2009 - Day 3 - 40

It was again a great conference, that I really need to speak at again next year. My only regret this year was that I had to fly back on the Friday night. It would have been better if I had hung around and flown back on the Saturday like I did last year.

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WSG photos from February, May and July

Monday, November 9th, 2009 at 10:35 pm

Tonight I finally got around to sorting through the photos I took at the past three Web Standards Group meeetings:

These photos are a mixture of the presenters:

20090216T19235720090520T191237_132-485620090520T201803_132-489120090720T192711_132-7346

the hosts:

20090216T19005620090520T191105_132-484820090720T183643_132-7312

the attendees:

20090216T19282220090216T21364520090520T185057_132-483220090520T214658_132-492920090720T184800_132-732220090720T220309_132-7386

and some food:

20090720T184020_132-731820090720T185124_132-7323

Now the question is: when is the next meeting?

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Bumped up to A grade

Thursday, November 5th, 2009 at 9:52 pm

For the camera club competitions next year I will no longer in B grade, as my results from a few days ago bumped me up to A grade.

A print of this HDR image from the club outing to Montsalvat received a highly commended:

Time for a swim

This image is the result of running the bracketed exposures through Photomatix with the default settings. I was quite pleased with how it came out, even though the colours are slightly oversaturated compared to what would be seen in real light.

In addition this image from the club outing to Puffing Billy received a merit:

Emerging

I played around with this image for quite a long time until I tried it as black and white. It was then a straightforward matter of adjusting the levels to increase the contrast to arrive at the image above.

My remaining images recieved a mix of positive and negative comments. Starting with this heavily processed HDR image from the club outing to Hanging Rock (I have yet to complete sorting the remainder of the photos from tha day):

After the storm

And this image from Melbourne Photo Walk #3:

Flagpoles in the forecourt

This was the last of the monthly competitions for the year, as next month is the end of year competition which is composed of images that had been entered in the monthly competitions. As I didn’t have any monochrome prints, I entered three prints and there digitial. I shall find out about those in December.

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Feeling good about “blue”

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009 at 10:17 pm

Being the first Tuesday of the month, tonight was judging night at the Waverley Camera Club where the topic was “blue”.

But what is blue? Is it the colour? What about the mood, such as depression? Or sex, such as a blue movie?

My first idea involved taking a lego car outside:

LEGO off-road

Yes, it is just a blue toy in the garden, but I spent quite a while shooting this in various locations until I thought it conveyed a sense of action. With the dirt on the wheels I can imagine that it is driving up into the frame.

The judge awarded this a highly commended.

Next I spent a lot of time thinking about how to convey the colour blue, but not necessarily with the colour blue. For this I turned to the drawer full of games and was able to assemble a few variations of the word ‘blue’ from non-blue coloured blocks.

But then I started playing around with a Scrabble set and the Wikipedia shades of blue category:

Shades of Scrabble

I spent hours playing around with different words layouts and lighting until I was happy with the photo above. But I also had a close alternative image that I would have titled “3-1-1-1″. What that photo would have been is an exercise for the reader.

This print was awarded a merit.

After spending a considerable amount of time on the two printed images, I was lazy with the digital images and ended up picking two that I had taken previously, one from Melbourne Photo Walk #3, and one from the night after the photo walk.

This HDR shot of Eureka was a no brainer due to the sheer amount of blue. The entry was further cropped down to remove a tree from the bottom corner:

Eureka

This was awarded a merit.

My final image is one that I quite liked, but I considered it flawed because the subject was flawed:

Giant Sky Wheel

The flaws are evident in the lights of the ferris wheel, some sections are not lighting up and other sections are stuck on the wrong colour.

The judge obviously didn’t care about those flaws and he awarded this the image of the month in the B grade digital category. I was pleasantly surprised.

This is my highest result so far, with all four of my photos receiving an award. This also means that, at this rate, my aggregate score will soon be high enough to push me up into A grade. I welcome the challenge.

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Learning more from photo competitions

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009 at 11:50 pm

Today is the first Tuesday of the month, this means it is judging night at the camera club, when I find out how the photos I submitted a month ago have been judged.

This is also the deadline for next month’s competition – topic of ‘Blue’ this time- so that has been dominating my thoughts for the past week or so. But those photos are done and submitted, so it was time to listen for feedback.

As the September competition was open, aka no topic, there were a record number of entries. Good for the club, good for learning, bad for me individually as there is more competition.

Then it was announced who the judge would be: Pele Leung. After seeing that he was interested in architecture I didn’t expect this fairly safe image of the Sydney Opera House to get much of a reaction:

The house on the point

In his comments Pele said that although technically quite good, it was a pretty standard shot and would have been better from an different perspective than everyone else. Despite this he awarded it a merit.

Earlier that same night I took this photo:

Bridge at night

The judge back in May gave this a highly commended award. Significantly because of the interest created by the unusual angle. He said that at first he didn’t recognise it as the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

And my three (because I am entering the full two printed and two digitial) other entries?

On the club outing to Macedon I took this photo low to the ground down from the waterfall in Stanley Park:

Close to the ground

I quite like the shallow depth of field and for me the small green leaves are the item of interest. However Pele didn’t agree, he wanted something of interest amongst the leaves.

My third entry was from the War Memorial which we visited on the third Melbourne Photo Walk:

Late afternoon in the forecourt

This is actually a cleaned up (some cloning to not have floating body parts) version of the photo for which I received an unexpected prize:

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If I hadn’t received the prize I would have entered this photo of the flagpoles on the other side of the forecourt:

Flagpoles in the forecourt

I had spent some time in GIMP to correct the perspective from this:

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Maybe I should have entered this one as in this case the feature (the flags flying from the flagpoles) are nicely backlit. The comment from the judge about the other photo was that he considered the Cenotaph to be the feature, yet it is too much in shadow.

And my final image? As I wan’t sure what to enter I chose an image of the peacock from Montsalvat for the humour aspect:

Curious

This is a modification of this photo:

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For the competition entry I increased the crop, rotated the image further and added a vignette. I like the quirky aspect, but apart from that it’s nothing special.

I believe that I am learning from this experience and hopefully my photos perform better for the ‘blue’ theme. But as they have been submitted I need to think about the November competion.

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An unexpected prize

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009 at 10:14 pm

When I uploaded my photos from the third Melbourne Photo Walk, I added a selection of them to the group pool. Although it wasn’t my primary intention, this selection of photos then put me in the running for a prize.

On Monday – before I found out the camera club competition results – I found out that this HDR image of the Cenotaph and Eternal flame in the Forecourt

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… was one of two winners of a $50 voucher.

At the time I was still finalising what images I would submit for the September competition at the camera club. I had decided on which two I would submit as prints and I had a shortlist for digitial. This image was in the shortlist, but towards the bottom as I was more likely to submit this image of the Flagpoles on the other side of the Forecourt:

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I had even gone as far as using GIMP to correct the perspective (so the flagpoles were not leaning over) and to clone out the couple of people. But then I decided to go with the Cenotaph/Eternal flame image.

As the people had moved in between the bracketed exposures the final image contained some extra body parts. It would have been too much work to remove the people entirely, so I just removed any excess body parts. Have a close look at the image on Flickr to see what I mean. I also changed to a tighter crop, but that is all I did before submitting it last night. Now it is a matter of waiting a month before I hear the results.

If I find some time on the weekend I will upload the modified flagpoles image to Flickr for comparison. I might even upload the current camera club competition entries. Previously I have waited until after I hear the results, but I don’t really have a compelling reason to wait.

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I would like to thank Strobist…

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 at 11:45 pm

… because without his lunchbox technique, last night at the camera club would not have been as good.

Being the first Tuesday of the month it was a judging night. The topic was “Still life” and the judge was Adrian Smith. It was noted that while the number of entries were lower than normal, they were even lower than expected for a competition with a topic (compared to an “open” competition) as still life can be particularily difficult.

I had entered four images, two prints and two digital, so when the judging began I didn’t know what to expect. As it quickly became clear that Adrian has a preference for diagonals and that the photo needed to tell a story, my expectations fell.

I was wrong.

This image pretty much follows Strobist’s technique to the letter:

Stressed sports

As it was my second favourite image of those stress balls (my favourite would have worked square, but I had already cut the mount for 3:2) I got it printed. It received a highly commended award.

On the same night I experimented with all sorts of lighting and I thought this one using direct lighting came out quite well:

Stressed shapes

As I didn’t like it quite as much as the sport one (and I didn’t want to enter two prints that were pretty much the same) I entered it as a digital image, where it received a merit award.

While looking around for inspiration for still life I played around with various arrangements of the items I use to cut out the photo mounts and ended up with this:

Mounting equipment

I printed this out and it also recieved a merit.

By the time I got around to selecting my second digital image I had run out of ideas, so I grabbed one of my small Lego sets and shot it against a white background:

Snow Scooter

I like it, but it doesn’t really grab me. It didn’t grab the judge either and this didn’t earn any awards.

So, for a topic that I was not confident about I ended up with three awards. I am happy, except now I have to wait a month to find out about the images I submitted tonight, and I need to start finding images now for the following month’s competition: “Blue”

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The third Melbourne Photo Walk

Monday, July 27th, 2009 at 11:14 pm

Sunday week ago I went on the third Melbourne Photo Walk. I have just completed sorting through the photos and uploading them to Flickr.

How I have processed them is a bit of a mixture. The range from pretty much as shot:

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to HDR processed that start to look unnatural:

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I also played around with the levels of a few to make silouhettes:

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All of the images can be seen in the set: Melbourne Photo Walk #3 (July 2009)

Now I really need to get back to the photos I took a few weeks ago on the WCC outing to Macedon as well as the photos from the past three Web Standards Group meetings…

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Geotagging my photos

Sunday, July 26th, 2009 at 2:05 pm

For a long time now I have been using the map within Flickr to locate the photos that I have uploaded.

Since I bought a GPS unit I have taken it on long rides as well as some other journeys to allow me to follow a route and to track where I have been.

In the back of my mind I was aware that you can add GPS information to the EXIF data of images, but it wasn’t until a talk and presentation on geotagging last Tuesday at the camera club that I finally put them together for geotagging.

So, from this point on, I am going to attempt to geotag as many of my photos as I can where the location is appropriate (eg it isn’t for model shots of lego). For photo walks or camera club outings this means that I will have my GPS unit in the top of my camera bag. While for events such as Web Standards Group which is at a fixed location, I will add the location of the venue to the EXIF data instead of just in Flickr.

So how do I actually add the location?

I already use exiftool to sort my images into date based directories and to shift the dates if needed, so one initial thought was to write my own program.

No, first I would see what free programs were available. So over the past few days I have been looking at the first few programs I found: GPicSync, Geotag and PhotoMapper. I also came across gpsPhoto.pl which I will keep in mind if I write my own program as it is in perl, but I’m not looking at a command line tool yet.

  • GPicSync worked, but was slow and didn’t give a preview before writing to the files and generating a KML file
  • Geotag was fast and allowed me to preview before writing to the files. It also allowed me to tweak the time offset of the photos within the program, but I would still prefer to sync the files with GPS time first.
  • PhotoMapper was also fast and it provides a preview using Google Maps within the program before modifying the files. Unfortunately it only appears to support JPG, I also need support for RAW files.

I will keep looking at different programs until I am clear on how to fit geotagging into my workflow and which program will best do that.

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An outing to Montsalvat

Thursday, July 16th, 2009 at 10:49 pm

Over a month ago, back at the start of June, I went out to Montsalvat for the monthly outing of the the Waverley Camera Club. I have finally found some time to finish sorting through the photos I took that day and uploaded them to Flickr.

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I had never been there before and although the weather didn’t quite cooperate – a fair amount of rain – it was quite a good day out, although the eclectic mix of buildings doesn’t really appeal to me.

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The photos in the Flickr set have been minimally processed – cropped and levels tweaked to increase contrast. I do have a few more that I took multiple exposures of for processing as HDR, but they will be posted later with another blog post.

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July photo competition results

Thursday, July 9th, 2009 at 9:33 pm

Two nights ago it was the first Tuesday of the month, ie judging night at the camera club. I had four entries, two digital and two prints, but none of them received an award.

The two prints (this time in mounts I cut out myself) were:

Incomplete cover Tupperware

Yes, that toy dog is real Tupperware, it is part of the Zoo-it-Yourself set. I had planned to take a photo of the three animals in the set for the still life competition, but that didn’t happen.

The two digital entries were:

Orange glow Connecting rods

My original plan had been to enter the bridge as a print instead of the sunset image. However when David printed it for me the orange wasn’t quite as intense, but the sunset one came out fine. The close up on the connecting rod was taken on the Puffing Billy outing a few months ago.

As usual I prefer to keep the image manipulation to a minimum. All of the photos have been cropped and the levels tweaked a bit. The connecting rod image was the most manipulated, however that was a focal black and white filter to only keep the colour on the brass plates.

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Balloons, bulbs and party poppers

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 at 9:55 pm

Last night at the camera club we popped balloons, set of party poppers and smashed light bulbs.

These activities in a dark room containing a bunch of photographers and a sound triggered flash resulted in balloons like this:

Purple balloon

party poppers like this:

Side lit party popper

and light bulbs like this:

Light bulb

These photos plus more are in the Balloons, bulbs and party poppers set on Flickr.

Although it was only the other day that I saw an article about this, it has been on the club’s program all year and the trigger we used was built by George about twenty five years ago.

It was a good night and David and I have actually borrowed the trigger. However a design improvement that would have been handy last night was the “double fire” protection that this simple circuit has.

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Another round of judged photos

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009 at 11:04 pm

I have just returned from the judging of the June competition at the camera club. Although I didn’t go as well as last month, I am happy with the result.

Against the theme of “Melbourne’s Parklands (taken within a Melbourne park)” I entered three photos, one print and two digital. Although I had a number of photos that met the theme, I struggled to narrow that down to ones I like.

The photo that I liked the most was this one of the flag of the Governor of Victoria flying from the belvedere tower at Government House framed by trees:

Golden standard

It earned a merit.

My other digital entry was taken at Jells Park of a tree and some cloud patterns:

Patterns

The judge commented that it would have been improved by increasing the colour saturation of the clouds to bring out the orange.

My final entry was a print of a photo, taken on the same day as the one of the Governor’s flag, of bare trees reaching up to the moon:

Reaching

The judge didn’t really comment on this one.

Tonight was also the deadline for the July competition, thankfully the topic is “Open”, in which I have entered two printed and two digital images. The prints were again printed by David, but I cut the mounts myself.

However, now I have a month to sort out my entries for the August competition. The issue there being that the topic is “still life” for which I will have to take photos from scratch.

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Learning how to mount photographs

Thursday, May 21st, 2009 at 8:57 pm

At the WCC workshop night earlier in the week there was a demonstration on how to cut the mount for a printed photo from mat board. Although I had read about how to do it – including a detailed guide from Hugh Sykes (PDF, 195KB) from a club in Sydney – an actual demonstration shows more of the detail.

The main demonstration was done by Roger:

  • Use two L shaped pieces of mat to determine what size the cutout should be for the particular print, eg 160×240mm
  • Double the chosen border size (eg 60mm) and add to the cutout dimensions to get the overall size of the mount, eg 280×360mm
  • Cut the mat board with a straight edge to size
  • On the back of the board mark the sides of the cutout
  • Mark the top and bottom of the cutout so that it is slightly above centre, eg 58mm for the top, 62mm for the bottom
  • Align the straight edge with the marked line
  • Using a pull style 45° cutter, cut along the line with multiple passes
  • Repeat for each side of the cutout
  • If the cutout doesn’t release cleanly, use a craft knife
  • Run an emory board along the newly cut edges
  • Place a strip of tape along the top edge of the print and set it face up
  • Put the mount down on the print in the correct location and press to make the tape stick
  • Attach a backing board to the mount

Fred then showed us another way to attach the print without using tape, instead he attaches the print to the backing board using sticky photo corners. This means that there isn’t any tape on the print and makes it easier to reuse the mount.

Now I know in a fair amount of detail two ways to cut the mount and three ways to attach the print to the mount. Which way will I use?

Last week I ordered two push style cutters from the US. I ordered two to save on international postage as I will easily sell the second one. Now, although this is the same cutter that Fred showed, Roger used a pull style cutter that includes a marker bar that would make it easier to mark the cut lines.

Today I bought a sheet of black mat board from a local framing shop. While I wait for the cutters to arrive I will cut it down to size, I’m thinking a size suitable for 6:4 printed on an A4 sheet which would give me six mounts from the raw mat sheet.

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Happy with the judge’s response

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009 at 10:49 pm

At the camera club tonight I had two digital images in the competition. This is actually the second month that I had entered photos, but last month there was a mixup and my entries were missed.

This month I am extremely happy with the response, one receiving a ‘highly commended’ and the other with positive feedback.

I took this photo of the whistle on top of one of the Puffing Billy locomotives on the WCC outing last month:

Steam whistle

I entered this image because I liked the condensation on the whistle and how the whistle was framed by the steam in the background. I wasn’t quite happy with the sharpness of the other parts of the image, and the judge picked up on that.

So that means that this image of the Sydney Harbour Bridge that I took last year before OSDC2008 received the ‘highly commended’ award:

Bridge at night

I took this image as it was getting dark. This was just one of many long exposures I took from around the same area.

The judge commented that he didn’t recognise the bridge at first because it wasn’t taken from the typical angle. He also liked that there was still colour in the sky and the varied colours in different areas of the bridge.

All up a very good experience.

Now I need to work out how to best print and then mount images so I can enter four images (two printed and two digital) each month. I am also planning to post some images to the club’s comment gallery in addition to taking some along to the next workshop meeting which is a photo discussion night.

Update: The images are now available in the club’s gallery: Steam whistle, Bridge at night. In the galleries you can see what other photos were being judged that night, for both A and B grades there is one for digitial images of the prints and another for the digitial entries.

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StixCampNewstead was awesome

Thursday, March 19th, 2009 at 8:16 pm

Last weekend was StixCampNewstead, a Melbourne BarCamp out in the sticks. The general consensus is that the event can be summarised in a single word:

Awesome

This one word covers:

  • the talks/discussions – schedule of talks
  • the venue – Welshmans Reef Vineyard
  • the food – BBQ lunch; wood fired pizzas; bacon, egg and sausage rolls; homemade dumplings
  • the people – too many to list
  • the adhoc discussions – to varied to list

If you didn’t come along, you must come along to the next BarCampMelbourne in September and next year’s StixCamp, wherever that will be.

Over the weekend I took almost 600 photos, earlier in the week I sorted through them an uploaded 129 into a set on Flickr. There are photos from others on Flickr, or you can check out what people said before, during and after the event on Twitter or Identi.ca.

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Results from the photo walk

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009 at 11:13 pm

A few days ago I went into the city for the photo walk that I had previously mentioned.

After catching a train into the city I was quite surprised about how many other people had turned up, I think at least 15.

The walk was quite enjoyable and after Docklands we ended up going past the new exhibition centre to Flinders Street Station. Most people headed home, but a couple of us went for a coffee/beer. I intend to go along on the next one. Whenever that will be.

I took over 500 photos (in RAW which means 5GB of data) and I have just finished sorting through them and uploading the final 67 to a set on Flickr.

I still need to add proper descriptions (instead of the timestamp) and choose which ones to add to the group pool. It is interesting to see others have already added to the pool as it allows me to compare how other people saw the same situation.

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BBQ and photos at Jells Park

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009 at 11:02 pm

Tonight, aside from catching up on a couple of blog posts, I went with David to the Waverley Camera Club meeting: A BBQ at Jells Park.

I ended up taking about 200 photos, some of which are multiple exposures ready for some HDR experiments. Now I need to find time to process them, but I have run out of time tonight, and tomorrow I’ll be in the city for Sub Standards.

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Improving my digital workflow

Thursday, February 5th, 2009 at 8:56 pm

Earlier in the week I went along to another judging night at the Waverley Camera Club. Like the first meeting I went to, hearing the comments from the Judge, Peter Ryan, was quite informative:

  • being technically correct (focus, DOF, exposure, etc) isn’t enough
  • don’t take the same photo as everyone else, be different
  • what is cropped out is often more important than what is left in
  • removing distracting elements from the edges
  • ditch the rule of thirds and other ‘traditional’ rules
  • push objects of interest into the corners
  • use diagonals to draw interest around the frame

He also briefly talked about how he processes his images; from shooting in DNG and the programs he uses for various tasks.

This made me think again about my digitial workflow, which is currently:

  • Shoot in JPEG
  • Copy files to date based directories with a perl script that uses ExifTool
  • Using Picasa:
    • Review photos and delete unwanted ones
    • Basic editing (cropping, colour adjustment)
    • Export to JPEG

I need to change the first step which is to start shooting in RAW, specifically CR2. But where do I go from there?

  • Do I leave them as CR2 or do I convert them to DNG? This is supposed to be better for long term support.
  • Copying the files from the CF card based on the EXIF data will continue to work after I change my script to look beyond JPEG files.
  • Picasa does support RAW files (both CR2 and DNG), but it doesn’t give the control that a program with proper RAW support gives. I have installed Canon Digital Photo Professional which came with my camera, but there are plenty of other tools (mostly non-free).
  • If I batch update the white balance of the photos, do I then have two copies to manage?

It is a lot to think about. My next step will be to read through explanations of other people’s workflows that I have bookmarked.

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Eastlink at night and a bridge removal

Sunday, January 18th, 2009 at 4:34 pm

Last night Damien and I spent a few hours taking photos from various places around Eastlink before heading over to East Malvern where they had shut down the freeway to remove the pedestrian over-bridge. I have just finished uploading a selection of the photos to Flickr and here are some of them:

Eastlink at night

Pedestrian bridge over Eastlink at Koomba Road

Behind the ventilation stack on the Eastern Portal

East along Eastlink from Springvale Road

Removing the East Malvern pedestrian bridge

Preparing the lift the second span

Cutting the span free

Swinging the span between the cranes

Lowering the span onto the trailer

I also uploaded a couple of other recent(ish) photos:

Sunset on clouds from my window:

Sunset on the clouds from my window (2)

A handheld shot of the city at night:

Handheld shot of the eastern Melbourne CBD

and finally Alfie in his attention grabbing pink top:

Alfie in his pink top

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Photos from OSDC2008

Sunday, December 7th, 2008 at 10:29 pm

I have just finished sorting through my photos from the conference and have uploaded the better ones to Flickr in a set for each day:

Almost all of them are of people in between the talks or in the evening at the dinner or at various pubs.

The photos I took of presenters as they were presenting didn’t come out the best, the 50mm f/1.8 would have been very nice. Despite this I am glad that I resisted the impluse to go and buy one as I ended up being the winning bidder for a secondhand one, at half the retail price.

Of all of the photos, this one requires to be singled out:

Paul dressed up for his talk

I have a lot more other photos from Sydney. I should be able to sort through them soon.

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November’s WSG photos

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008 at 5:51 pm

I have uploaded photos from last Monday’s WSG meeting:

Ian Stewart and Chris Sampson answering questions

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Web Standards Group (November 2008) – a set on Flickr

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September’s WSG photos

Sunday, November 16th, 2008 at 10:13 pm

In time for tomorrow’s Web Standards Group meeting I have uploaded photos from the September meeting:

The catering

Andreas and Charles setting up

Impromptu laptop stand

Web Standards Group (September 2008) – a set on Flickr

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PM and WSG photos

Sunday, September 28th, 2008 at 8:05 pm

After a long delay I have finally caught up with putting my photos from Melbourne Perl Mongers and the Web Standards Group up on Flickr:

At some later point I need to change the name of each photo to be descriptive, not just the image filename.

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The digital SLR course ended last week

Monday, September 1st, 2008 at 6:21 pm

Last Monday was the last week of the digital SLR course that I was doing with David. After covering long exposures we covered exposure, perspective, depth of field and (not) using the flash. From this I have added some more photos to the Flickr set.

These include the stereotypical flower for depth of field:

Small DOF (28mm 1/250s f/1.8)

double exposure using an external flash twice in a long exposure:

Long exposure - flash x 2

and using long exposure again, but with a moving sparkler and the external flash:

Long exposure - Sparklers and flash (1)

I would recommend the course to anyone.

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Three weeks into the digital SLR course

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008 at 8:37 pm

Last night was the third week of the digital SLR course, and this time we were outside taking long exposures:

Long exposure traffic - Fire truck

If you look carefully you can see the fire truck.

On the second week we were assigned some homework to get photos of moving water and to do some panning which David and I went out to get on Saturday afternoon down at Dandenong Creek. At 3 seconds the water flowing around the rocks looked more like fog than water:

Moving water (3s f/32)

More photos can be found in a Flickr set and I will be adding to it as the course proceeds.

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Two different 50mm lenses

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008 at 11:33 pm

Last week contained both a Perl Mongers meeting and a Web Standards Group meeting. I have just finished sorting through the photos I took and have uploaded the best (not so much for WSG) to Flickr.

Wednesday night was Perl Mongers at a new location, across the road from Federation Square. Wes brought along his 50mm f/1.4 lens which is a significant improvement over the 50mm f/1.8 lens that I had used previously.

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Melbourne Perl Mongers (May 2008) – a set on Flickr

(That raspberry wheat beer was very popular…)

On the Thursday night was a WSG meeting, tied in with the Web Directions South conference, where I was back to borrowing the 50mm f/1.8 lens. There was hardly any light and the lens (and camera) really struggled.

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Web Standards Group (May 2008) – a set on Flickr

While most of the photos look ok when small, some are really bad when the large versions are viewed. Adjusting the light levels just made it worse.

The upshot of all this is that I have more practical experience with different lenses and I now know that in the situation where a 50mm lens (on a crop body) is suitable, I should really get the f/1.4 over the f/1.8. A pity about the massive price difference.

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Another try of the 50mm lens at WSG Melbourne

Thursday, April 24th, 2008 at 9:22 pm

Last night I went to the April Web Standards Group meeting where Gerry Gaffney talked about how users really search and John Allsopp talked about the web away from the desktop, in particular on mobile devices.

But that isn’t really what I want to talk about.

In a repeat of the recent Perl Mongers meeting I borrowed a co-workers 50mm f/1.8 lens. This time I kept the lens on my camera all night as it was working really well.

At the venue there was hardly any light but I was able to get some shots:

Gerry Gaffney on How Users Really Search
Downlight above Gerry, reflection from the projected image and light from the laptop screen.

John Allsopp on The Web Beyond The Desktop
John was directly lit by the projector, downlight for the background.

Post talk drinks
Light from behind the bar.

In this case the narrow angle of view at the 50mm turned out to be what was needed as I was able to take these photos from the other side of the room. It is definitely something to consider in my future lens choice.

One other change I made was that instead of having the camera in aperture priority with it wide open, I had it in shutter priority at (mostly) 1/25 second in order to freeze action with the intention of lightening the photos later if they were a bit too dark. It turns out that I only needed to do that to one photo that had nowhere near enough light.

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Trying out a lens at the new Perl Mongers location

Sunday, April 20th, 2008 at 6:36 pm

Wednesday week ago, Melbourne Perl Mongers was held at a new location in Southbank followed by dinner and drinks at the Town Hall Hotel in South Melbourne.

This afternoon I finally got around to sorting through the photos and uploading a select few to flickr:

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Melbourne Perl Mongers (April 2008) – a set on Flickr

For the night I borrowed what a co-worker refers to as his “nifty fifty”, a 50mm f/1.8 lens. This is a pretty cheap and inexpensive lens, so I wanted to try one out before getting one. This was also my first opportunity to use my new camera bag, a Crumpler 5 Million Dollar Home.

I found that f/1.8 is a big improvement over the f/2.8 of my 28mm lens, but being 50mm it is too narrow which meant I didn’t use it for much of the night.

When talking to Wes I found that even though he has the better 50mm f/1.4 lens, he is finding that it is too narrow and is thinking about the faster 28mm lens.

That Canon 28mm f/1.8 lens is very temping as it gives a ‘normal’ angle of view on a crop body and is nice and fast due to its wide aperture. It also doesn’t hurt that it it a USM lens as the motor in the 28mm f/2.8 is slow and loud. What would hurt is the price and that it doesn’t appear to be anywhere near as available secondhand as the f/2.8 is.

I had also lined up a Speedlite 430EX flash to borrow for the night but that fell through at the last minute because its owner had to make a decision between catching the body or the flash before they encountered the floor. The flash is what ended up breaking.

This coming Wednesday is a Web Standards Group meeting which will give me another opportunity to experiment in low light.

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A walk-around lens

Sunday, March 16th, 2008 at 9:17 pm

The kit lens from my digital SLR is a Canon 18-55mm lens. As well as the quality not being the best (I am far from alone in that opinion) it doesn’t have the zoom range that I want for a general purpose walk-around lens.

A few weeks ago I went into Luna Park with David to take some photos. For this I borrowed Hamish’s Canon 28-90mm lens (that he has since sold) and the extra length was good. However 28mm just wasn’t wide enough.

Last week I went to the Steamrail open weekend (repeating last year with a better camera) and this time I took along Hamish’s Sigma 18-125mm lens (that he has has his main lens). Although this is both longer and shorter than the 28-90mm, it is the shorter length that I used the most.

From a number of options I has narrowed down my choice to the Canon 17-85mm IS lens and for the past two weeks I have been monitoring eBay. After bidding on a few listings, last night I was the winning bidder for the lens, a hood and two UV filters for half what they would all cost new and consistent with the final price of other listings. Fortunately the seller (from the other side of the city) was coming my way and they delivered it today.

I knew it was physically bigger than the 18-55mm kit lens, but until I had handled it I hadn’t realised how much. Compared to my 28mm it is massive:

Canon EF 28mm and EF-S 17-85mm IS lenses

This difference means that the case I got a few weeks ago is now not big enough for this lens, and it is a bit too big if I have the 28mm on. Maybe I should have got a slightly smaller bag for when I will just have the 28mm (such as the upcoming Pub Standards meeting) and a bigger bag to take the camera with 17-85mm attached and the 28mm in a pocket.

That photo above of the two lenses was taken against some off-white paper (slightly larger than A3) curved up against the wall and with a business card to bounce the flash off the (white) ceiling. So it didn’t look dull I had to adjust the fill light in Picasa which resulted in it being a bit grainy. That is why I need to make a lightbox. Decent external lights (flash or floodlights), the camera on a tripid and controlling it via software would be a massive improvement.

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The first Pub Mongers

Thursday, March 13th, 2008 at 10:50 pm

Due to venue issues, there was no Melbourne Perl Mongers last night. Instead there was a ‘Pub Mongers’, sort of the same thing except entirely at the pub with no planned talks.

But that didn’t stop Paul:

Paul using his portable presentation device

Pub Mongers (March 2008) – a photoset on Flickr.

One other change is that I didn’t bother taking my laptop along as the most I have used it for at a meeting for a long time is making a note of something to look up later. What I did take along was my good camera.

I only took along the kit 18-55mm lens (instead of the 28mm F2.8 lens I also have) as I still haven’t got a better walkaround lens (looking at a EF-S 17-85mm IS lens on eBay). This still gave me some experience in pretty bad light so hopefully things will only improve.

Continuing my plan on going to as many community events as I can I should be repeating this next week at Pub Standards Melbourne.

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Photos of Lego and Dinky

Monday, January 28th, 2008 at 7:25 pm

Yesterday, two weeks after assembling them, I got around to taking photographs of the Lego sets that had been stored in the roof. They are available for all to see in a Flickr set.

Legoland Tanker Truck (6695)

The technique I used for the photos was near a window with sheer curtains drawn and on top of some off-white paper. I ended up using the flash as there wasn’t quite enough light. I’m thinking about getting (probably make one) a lightbox to make it a lot easier to take photos like this. And a tripod. I tried to take all of the photos from the same angle and a tripod would really have been appreciated.

What I have photographed so far is only the discrete sets that we had. There is a lot of older mixed bricks that could be used for anything, and don’t forget my Technic sets that have been (most of them) on display (of sorts) since I last played with them.

While I was taking photos continued on and photographed all of my father’s die-case Dinky Toys that had been brought down from the roof. They are also available in a Flickr set with (usually) three shots per toy.

Dinky Supertoys 972 - 20-ton Lorry-mounted Crane (1)

The challenge with these ones was identifying what each one was. dinkytoys.ch was a huge help with most of the toys. For others a google image search with various keywords eventually turned up a reasonably confident answer.

As these will all be packed back up and returned to the roof (for the time being at least), the photos will help us know what is actually up there. And by making them available it should help others identify their own toys, in addition to existing resources of course.

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First decent ride in a while, to Belgrave and Ringwood

Sunday, January 20th, 2008 at 3:11 pm

Yesterday Damien and I went on our first ride since last May, what was planned as a nice big loop that included Belgrave and Croydon.

First we went via Scoresby and Upper Ferntree Gully to Belgrave:

Glen Waverley to Belgrave (via Rowville and Upper Ferntree Gully) @ Bikely.com

The new bridge for the Eastlink Trail is well underway at the south end of Jells Park:

New bridge at south end of Jells Park (1)

And, despite the website saying otherwise, the upgraded trail south of Ferntree Gully Road is open:

Goat track to wide concrete

all the way to where Eastlink crosses the Dandenong Creek in Mulgrave:

No more detour up the hill

But some landscaping and cleanup is still to be done.

Since it drizzled for much of the ride to Belgrave we decided to catch the train to Ringwood and continue riding from there:

Ringwood to Glen Waverley (inc looking at Eastlink) @ Bikely.com

Paths near the Ringwood Bypass are done, but not yet open:

New path under EastLink in Ringwood

And the upgraded path through Koomba Park has been open for six months now:

Upgraded path through Koomba Park (1)

Apart from the drizzle it was an enjoyable ride and once Eastlink is complete there will be a decent network with many combinations to enjoy.

Part of what we skipped was a loop from Bayswater to Croydon (via the Tarralla Creek Trail), Ringwood (via the Upper Mullum Mullum Creek Trail) and back to Bayswater:

Bayswater, Croydon, Ringwood loop @ Bikely.com

Some more photos are available in my Bike paths and Eastlink (January 2008) Flickr set.

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Playing around with a digital SLR

Friday, September 21st, 2007 at 11:04 pm

Further to my thoughts about getting a digital SLR camera I have borrowed Hamish’s Canon EOS 300D. In particular his 28mm f/2.8 lens for candid shots in low light without needing the flash.

Tonight we had a family dinner and during the evening I took over 500 photos, almost all of which were of my nephews. The large number was thanks to continuous mode which allowed me to capture interesting actions and expressions. Looking through the photos later it appears that there is only one good photo from each burst. However, that still results in a fair number of good photos.

Something that worked out well for some photos and not so good for others was my decision to attempt to select a appropriate white balance setting:

  • The kitchen has fluorescent lights and the fluorescent setting worked out very well.
  • The dining room has a single incandescent light and with the incandescent setting the photos are slightly yellow. But that could be expected as there isn’t much light in that room.
  • The lounge has compact fluorescent lamps but I was using the incandescent setting. It was only when I was reviewing the photos later that I saw that all of these ones had a green tinge.

For a while now I have been using Picasa as a way of browsing through all my photos. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the automatic colour adjustment did a very good job of removing the green tinge and the fill light control is good for lightening up the photos that are a bit dark.

So, apart from some mistakes that experience should eliminate, using a digital SLR was worth it.

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Thinking about a digital SLR camera

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007 at 11:06 pm

Early last year I chose convenience in my choice for a digital camera. This has allowed me to have it with me almost all the time, including being readily accessible while out riding.

Ever since one friend got a secondhand Canon EOS 300D and another got a new Nikon D80 I have been thinking about getting a digital SLR of my own. What impressed me was the speed and sensitivity of the camera, in particular in low light without using a flash and an appropriate lens.

The other area I would appreciate an SLR is in taking photos for my computer collection. It would give me much greater control of the photos and also allow me to rely less on the flash (although better lighting would also do that).

So what would I get?

I’m not yet sure. Over the last couple of days I have been reading up on two cameras that are at a similar price point:

The Canon is much more popular and there seems to be a much availablity of lenses for it. Also, the Canon has now been out for over a year and should be replaced in arond six months, while the Nikon has only been out for a few months. I don’t know how this affects any decision I make.

I suppose my next step is to go to some camera stores and have a look at them in person. It would also be interesting to see what the salesperson “recommends”.

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Airshow photos are up

Saturday, July 28th, 2007 at 4:20 pm

Last night and this afternoon I finally got around to putting the better photos from the airshow up on Flickr:

IMG_0302
- Australian International Airshow 2007

I haven’t quite finished putting meaningful titles and tags on all of the photos…

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Airshow 2007

Friday, March 23rd, 2007 at 11:11 pm

I have just returned from the Airshow. Apart from a few things (the incident in the Burnley tunnel delaying our journey, it being windy and dusty, poor traffic management leaving the carpark) it was well worth it.

I ended up taking around 500 photos although a large number of those were taken using the continuous mode on my camera in order to try and capture a good shot of the aerial displays. I’m not going to sort through them (and upload them to Flickr) until sometime next week as I am going to wait until I can get a copy of the photos Damien took.

Although in the last week I have uploaded some other photos:

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Handlebar pouch for camera

Sunday, March 18th, 2007 at 6:05 pm

Two weeks ago I mused about taking photos while riding. Last week I picked up a small camera pouch from a computer swap meet for the grand sum of AU$5 with an eye to mounting it on the handlebars of my bike.

Earlier in the week I modified the pouch to remove and extra bit of padding that actually made it more difficult to fit my camera (which is one of the smallest…) and today was the maiden voyage one my ride out to Endeavour Hills and back.

How did it go? Excellent as I was able to take a lot more photos that I normally would. It also gave me a location to store a map of where I was riding, given that I folded it up pretty small. My next action is to make a more secure mount as I don’t quite trust the velcro on the belt loop, at minimum I will add a backup connection to ensure that the pouch doesn’t go far if the velcro lets go.

And here it is (follow the link to flickr to see notes):

What's on my handlebars

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Taking photos while riding

Sunday, March 4th, 2007 at 8:56 pm

Ever since I got my camera I have had it with me almost all of the time, either in a pocket, in the top of my backpack or in my laptop bag. When I am riding, such as commuting or rides such as this afternoon, I rarely take photos as it is a hassle to stop, release two clips, swing it around, and unzip the top of my backpack in order to get to the camera.

For a few weeks now I have been considering getting another pouch for the camera to attach to the handlebars of my bike, the headstem in particular. This would make the camera readily accessible. Instead of stopping I could even take the riskier path of actually taking the photos without stopping.

As well as taking photos of landmarks or interesting things I have also been thinking about documenting my commute as has been done by others, and they are just some local ones.

What about taking it further?

Some time ago I found an article about building a simple camera mount. There are other homemade solutions as well as options you can buy but for me they all have the same issue. The view is fixed to be ahead of the bike. What if you want to take a photo of something else?

The next step is to consider recording video instead of taking still photos. As well as homemade options there are commercial options targeted as pretty much any action sport. But whatever option you take it seems that the cost is non-trivial which eliminates it as an option for me.

So what is the outcome of all of this? I’m going to look for a suitable pouch or small bag that I can attach to the side of my headstem. This should only set me back at most AU$20…

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Photos of the city

Sunday, October 1st, 2006 at 10:53 am

Last night I uploaded the photos I took two weeks ago while wandering through the city.

I still need to add titles and descriptions but I did geotag them

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Wandering through the city [3/3]

Saturday, September 16th, 2006 at 4:31 pm

After leaving the bazaar I walked around Federation Square and Southbank for around about an hour before catching the train back to Clifton Hill.

A large amount of this time was looking at the exhibition of overhead photos by Yann Arthus-Bertrand that were on display. They were stunning and I almost bought some posters of them but I couldn’t decide what to get. The remainder of the time was spend taking photos of various things, mostly over at Southbank, which I should upload to Flickr.

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Now using Flickr

Saturday, May 20th, 2006 at 10:51 pm

A few days ago I decided that I would use Flickr for my photos instead of continuing my manual system or installing an existing package such as Gallery. Although I don’t have as much control over what I can do with sharing the photos there is the advantage of now have to worry about any bandwidth usage but more importantly there is a greater chance that people will see and possibly comment on my photos.

Since then I have moved the sets that I had already made available over to flickr and added some rudimentary integration by automatically showing the thumbnails in their place. My next step is to go through all of my photos and add them as well…

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Convenience narrowly wins

Friday, April 28th, 2006 at 7:25 pm

A few weeks ago I rambled on about getting my own digital camera. A few days ago I made a decision and as of this afternoon I have a Canon IXUS 60 with 1GB memory card and leather pouch to do with as I please. As it is smaller than my wallet, even in its pouch, I have absolutely no excuse to not have it with me at all times. Finding suitable things to photograph will be the next challenge and after that will be a convenient mechanism to publish them.

One thing I didn’t realise about this camera is that it lacks the remote capture features that both my parents camera (PowerShot S45) and my other finalist (PowerShot S80) have. I do have to say that I have never taken advantage of that and the last time I saw someone do so was a few years ago for a time lapse of our last lan party…

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Convenience versus quality

Sunday, April 16th, 2006 at 10:53 pm

For some time now I have been thinking about getting my own digital camera instead of simply borrowing my parents camera, a Canon PowerShot S45. Although it is now a few years old it is still a good camera and except in low (or no) light (were a tripod should probably help) I have been very pleased with the quality of the photos. The biggest problem I have is that it is not my camera and if both my parents and I want to use it they win out.

When I was thinking along these lines a few months ago I was tempted to get the current version of it, the eight megapixel PowerShot S80. My current thinking has been altered by two things: that a couple of people of work have ultra compact cameras such as the Canon IXUS 60 and how impressive the photos posted to forums such as the Victoria forum on SkyScraperCity that are taken with digital SLR cameras. However there is no reason I could even come close to justifying that kind of expense.

This leaves me with two options:

  • A good camera that is no bigger than my wallet which makes it extreemly convenient to carry around (eg the IXUS 600 for AU$460); or
  • A better camera that is bigger which makes is less convenient (eg the PowerShot S80 for $680);

Since both of these options are an improvement on the camera that I currently have access to my current inclination is to go for the more convenient (and cheaper) option and see how much I do use it…

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Photos of Kooyong Station

Sunday, May 15th, 2005 at 3:55 pm

I have just finished sorting through another batch of photos, this time of Kooyong Station from after perl mongers the other night.

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More photos…

Saturday, May 14th, 2005 at 2:16 pm

I have just finished sorting through and uploading two sets of photos:

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Photos at Springvale and Westall

Friday, March 18th, 2005 at 10:21 pm

In an unprecedented move I somehow found the time this week to organise the photos that I took last Sunday around Springvale and Westall Stations. There are even descriptions this time.

I should end up with more photos to organise tomorrow as this weekend they are closing the interstection of Springvale Road and Burwood Highway for construction related to the tram extension to Vermont South. The plan is to stop by with a camera on my way back from golf…

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Just over a month since the event in question

Tuesday, March 15th, 2005 at 10:29 pm

Tonight I finally got around to sorting through the photos that I took back in February when the QE2 stopped by Melbourne. The final selection has been processed and uploaded for your perusal.

At some point in the future I will enter descriptions for the photos but that may be not for some time given that I have another large collection of photos that I took the other day of the rail infrastructure (sidings, yards, etc) around Springvale and Westall stations…

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QE2, Port Melbourne and more of Spencer Street Station

Saturday, February 12th, 2005 at 1:07 pm

This morning I got up at the disgustingly early hour of 6AM in order to drive in to Station Pier to watch the arrival of the QE2.

After taking a number of photos of the QE2 being turned around to dock against the west side of the pier there wasn’t much to see so we decided to take advantage of the time to have a look around Port Melbourne and Fishermens bend. This produced photos of the old Webb Dock rail line, the underside of the West Gate Bridge and even of a container ship heading out and a tug boat heading back up the Yarra River.

Since we still had plenty of time before either of us had to be back we went over to Spencer Street Station to have a look and unlike my previous visits to take photos we actually went through the V/Line section of the station to take photos.

Hopefully I can find some time to sort through and upload all of these photos by the end of the weekend…

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Final Perl Mongers for the year

Wednesday, December 8th, 2004 at 10:12 pm

Tonight was the final Melbourne Perl Mongers for the year and since the OSDC was just last week we didn’t bother with any talks that might make us think and just went straight to the pub. Also due to the OSDC were two new faces; Debbie, who actually teaches at Monash, and Greg, who used to work with John (from work) at Ericsson.

Like last month I got a lift in with Alfie and we stopped at Spencer Street Station to look at the progress and take some photos. However I ended up taking better photos from the car of bits of the CBD as we drove along Kings Way/ King St which will be available shortly.

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Service Oriented Computing, aka Web Services

Thursday, November 25th, 2004 at 7:09 pm

Tonight I caught the shuttle bus over to the Caulfield campus to attend the first event by a new Service Oriented Computing special interest group that has been setup by the Victorian branch of the Australian Computer Society. It was pretty interesting and the topic is likely to become very relevant to how the my.monash portal integrates with other services in the future.

As the shuttle bus had stopped running by the time it finished I had to catch a train and a bus to get back to the Clayton campus in order to pickup my bicycle and ride home. This meant I was able to spend about half an hour taking photos of Caulfield Station.

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Photos of Spencer and Flinders Street Stations

Friday, November 12th, 2004 at 7:34 pm

On my way to and from Melbourne Perl Mongers on Wednesday night I was able to spend a few minutes taking some photos of Spencer and Flinders Street Stations.

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