Blog entries tagged with "travel"

My travel photo workflow

Tuesday, February 5th, 2019 at 9:28 pm

I’ve been sitting on this post for a while (first started while in San Francisco) so my trip around the South island of New Zealand is a good time to get it finished. Upon reflection it is pretty much the same…

Equipment:

  • Camera – of course
  • GPS – I have a Garmin eTrex Vista HCx that is intended for bushwalking, but I just use it to log
  • Computer – A small windows laptop with Lightroom and other tools

During the day:

  • Take photos, lots of them
  • Have the GPS on and always keep it near the camera
  • Take a photo of the GPS device showing the current time

Each night:

1. Copy photos and GPS track

Once I am settled down for the day and have the laptop out I start to copy the photos from my Compact Flash card (or cards if a big day) into an ‘incoming’ directory.

As copying the photos can take a while (though not as long now I used a USB3 card reader) I leave that running and copy the GPS tracks (in GPX files) from my GPS device. I used to to put my GPS device in mass storage mode to access the microSD card via a USB cable, but these days I pull out the microSD card and put it into the card reader.

2. Check GPS track and photo times

I rarely find errors in the GPS track (mostly in areas with lots of tall office buildings, or long periods indoors) but I still check it at this point by loading the GPS track into Google Earth. This does require an internet connection, but gives a nice overview of the day, possibly highlighting if I missed a location.

The photos should have completed copying, so I locate the photo of the time so I can confirm that the camera time is the same as GPS time. If I am careful when setting the time on the camera it can be within a few seconds of the GPS time, but if more than that I will use exiftool to adjust all the times of the photos so they match the GPS time.

3. Geotag photos

With the photos and tracks on the laptop I now use a command line tool called gpsPhoto.pl for most of my geotagging. This tool doesn’t appear to be maintained anymore, but it works for me. When I run it I specify the directory with GPS tracks, the directory with the photos, and the offset in seconds between the time of the photos and UTC.

4. Check tagged photos

If the GPS track is clean then typically all the photos will be correctly geotagged, but to allow for missing sections or errors in the track I check using another tool, this time a GUI tool called GeoSetter. I believe I can use this instead of gpsPhoto.pl to tag based on GPX files, but my current method works, and it looks like GeoSetter might also no longer be supported…

In GeoSetter I am mainly checking the location of all the photos against the map (fixing if required), and then manually adding location to photos if needed.

5. Import into Lightroom

Up to this point I have been directly updating the metadata of the photos, I want it to be correct at the source. While you can update the time and location in Lightroom, I’m not confident that the original file will be updated, not just in the Lightroom catalogue.

While I say “import” here, I’m not using the Lightroom import functionality. Instead I:

  1. run a script to rename the photos in the ‘incoming’ directory to a date based (the corrected GPS date) directory and filename. eg ‘incoming/IMG0349.CR2′ to ‘lightroom\todo\2019\2019-01-30\20190130T092158101-0349.CR2′
  2. within Lightroom right click on the ‘todo’ folder and use ‘Synchronize Folder…’ to find the new photos

I give the photos a quick check to see that the photos I expect from the day are now included in the Lightroom catalog and nothing is obviously wrong (eg corrupted).

6. Backup

Now that the photos have been added, I exit Lightroom and run a backup. This is nothing special, just robocopy to mirror the Lightroom catalog file and the photos to an external SSD.

7. Clear cards

Once the backup is complete I know that the photos exist in two locations (the internal drive of the laptop as well as the external backup SSD) I can clear the cards ready for the next day. I do this by formatting them in the camera.

8. The first cull

I will try to make at least one pass through the photos from the day using the Pick and Rejected flags in Lightroom. Mostly I will use the Rejected flag on any obviously bad (out of focus, undesired movement) or excessively duplicated (a couple of identical images are ok, but I don’t need a dozen) photos, but I occasionally Pick an image that I will definitely do something with.

Once this first pass is complete I will now delete all the Rejected photos, the CTRL+Backspace shortcut is very handy for this. I have found that I take a lot of photos during the day, and will cull around a third in this first pass…

Further processing

Depending on how long this has taken and the time I have available, I will keep going through the photos, rejecting some more but now starting to play around with some adjustments. While I save the bulk of the post-processing until I get home (on a more powerful computer with a much better screen) it is good to get started on it right away.

In fact I have set myself a goal on this trip to edit and post one image from each day, I’m trying to break my past habit of taking months (or years) to do something with the photos.

Back home

Unfortunately every trip comes to an end, for my workflow that means incorporating all the new photos into my existing library. I don’t try copying them from the laptop directly, instead I ensure that everything is synced to the external SSD, so I plug that into my desktop for the copy.

To simplify merging the two Lightroom catalogs I use the same directory structure for the photos on both computers, so they are copied directly over. I then open my main catalog and import from the copy of the laptop’s catalog. So far this has worked nicely, the photos are now incorporated in the main catalog along with any edits or flags that I made while travelling.

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Looking into points again

Friday, May 25th, 2018 at 8:47 pm

For a number of months now I have been thinking about travel, probably due to a combination of shortly spending two weeks in Thailand (and Singapore) for the Koh Samui International Podcast Festival 2018, next year I will be heading over to the South Island of New Zealand for LCA2019 and I am considering a weekend up in Sydney for the Australian Skeptics National Convention. Amongst all the planning of where to go, I thought about rewards points and whether I had enough to use for any part of this travel.

My first step was to look up what points I had, which led to some disappointment and learning about expiry policies…

A few years back when I was in Kansas for work I signed up to the Hilton Honors program as it made it easier to access the hotel wifi, but I also earned points. I don’t recall how many, but that is no relevant anymore as they have all expired. I have learned that to keep your account active (and keep any points) you need to stay at a Hilton hotel every twelve months, something that I did not (and am unlikely to) do.

My original musing on the value of points involved Qantas points, so I knew I had some of those as that is what I would originally get when shopping at Woolworths. Note that I just said ‘originally’ as a few years back the Everyday Rewards program that gave Qantas points changed into the Woolworths Rewards program that gives Woolworths points. While I have appreciated the $10 off for every 2000 points, in hindsight I should have opted to keep getting Qantas points instead. Why? Because the 20,000 Qantas points that I did accumulate have expired due to lack of activity.

The final two places that I have points (and know still have them) are flybuys which I mostly get from using my credit card, and Velocity because in recent years my occasional flights have been with Virgin Australia, including the ones to/from Kansas that work paid for…

Over the years I have accumulated a lot of flybuys points, despite redeeming for books of movie tickets a few times there are around 180,000 points which could be redeemed for $900 in “flybuys Dollars” or the same value in gift cards. On the Velocity side I have around 30,000 points, the “cash rate” for these is slightly better: 18,000 points for $100 instead of the 20,000 points for $100 with flybuys.

But what about all that spam I have been getting about linking my flybuys and Velocity account and then transferring points and getting a 20% bonus if done in May? I have looked into that but…

  • login to flybuys and try to link my Velocity account, it errors saying that the Velocity account is already linked to a flybuys household
  • login to Velocity to see what it says on that side, what does it say “Your flybuys and Velocity memberships are linked”
  • try linking from flybuys again, same error
  • track down contact information for flybuys (only phone or mail, no email) and call them, they say I need to call Velocity to get them to unlink from their side
  • locate the support page for Velocity (now just a phone number) and call them, they can’t unlink flybuys from my account and transfer me over to flybuys support, this person can see there is an issue and while they cannot help, they will escalate
  • over a week later no change…

I don’t have high hopes for being able to transfer point, but one question is do I even want to? Transferring 10,000 flybuys points only gives 4,350 Velocity points (I don’t know if that is including the 20% bonus) so that is not good if I was only going to cash them out as gift cards, so I would need to know that I would be using them for flights.

So I started pricing out some flights…

The same Melbourne to Sydney return flights for a weekend in October:

  • $260 booking direct
  • 52,000 flybuys points (cash rate: $260)
  • 23,800 Velocity points (cash rate: $132)
  • 54,000 flybuys points converted to Velocity points (cash rate: $270)

So using the flybuys points is the same as cashing out the points and just buying the tickets, while the Velocity points are better value if you have the points already. Converting from flybuys to Velocity is the worst option of these.

Another aspect to this comparison is opting for business class instead of economy:

  • $998 booking direct
  • 199,600 flybuys points (cash rate: $998)
  • 38,900 Velocity points (cash rate: $216)
  • 89,000 flybuys points converted to Velocity points (cash rate: $445)

Again the flybuys points give the same as cashing out the points, while using Velocity points is again the “best” option. This time converting flybuys points to Velocity points does come out better than gift cards, though I’m not sure if it is worth it for the short Melbourne to Sydney flight.

Looking further ahead to the longer flight from Melbourne to Christchurch:

Economy:

  • $602 booking direct (includes bags and meal, $552 if bags and no meal, $502 if no bags and no meal)
  • 58,600 flybuys points (cash rate: $293) (no included checked bags or meal)
  • 62,000 Velocity points (cash rate: $344) (includes checked bags and meal)
  • 142,500 flybuys points converted to Velocity points (cash rate: $712)

Business:

  • $1292 booking direct
  • 258,600 flybuys points (cash rate: $1293)
  • 98,100 Velocity points (cash rate: $545)
  • 225,500 flybuys points converted to Velocity points (cash rate: $1127)

For these flights there is more variation in the numbers. For economy it first appears best to book through flybuys, but having to buy checked baggage is not good, so using Velocity points is the best if you have them. Topping up Velocity from flybuys might be an ok compromise, but assumes my accounts are ever able to be linked.

For business class it only appears to be worthwhile if you already have the Velocity points, booking through flybuys is the same as just buying the ticket, though topping up some Velocity points from flybuys might be ok. For my current situation, even though I should get some more Velocity points for my Singapore/Thailand trip I will not have enough of both to make business class an option.

An additional complication to the economy numbers is that the direct prices were direct from Virgin Australia. While a search on Google Flights gave me the same $502 no bags/meal option from Virgin Australia, but also $333 with one bag if booking through Expedia.

After all this there is only one thing I am certain of, this is complex and the time spent working out what is the best deal is probably not worth it. I am leaning towards maybe using Velocity points for Sydney, cashing out flybuys points into gift cards, and looking for a deal (such as the Expedia one) for New Zealand…

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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 (also completing the draft posts I wrote while on the trip). 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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Off to Brisbane for OSDC

Sunday, November 25th, 2007 at 11:02 pm

Tomorrow afternoon I’m flying up to Brisbane for this year’s Open Source Developers’ Conference which runs from Tuesday through Thursday.

Currently the plan is to post a couple of times a day about the talks I go to. We shall see how well that goes…

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