the evenings out here - Thoughts, rants and musings about absolutely everything except photography. Or cats.

Season’s Greetings

et joyeux noel

in General Rants , Thursday, December 27, 2012

A bit late, but better than never.

I’d like to wish all readers and visitors to snowhenge a belated happy Christmas, and a wonderful 2013. I’ve been rushing around a wet and windswept Belgium for the last few days, so there’s been little activity in these parts.

Drm 2012 12 21 drm 20121221 2056

Bruges, a few days ago.

It’s been an interesting year, for me, with quite a few changes, and maybe some more to come. And in a couple of days we’ll leaving for Argentina, then a few weeks later Antarctica by way of Ushuaia. And I still haven’t finished packing yet.

I’ve managed to get quite a lot of photography done this year, and I feel I’ve made some progress too. After a few bad-tempered isolationist rants against the web in general earlier this year, I’m feeling considerably more positive and open now. What I haven’t really managed to do is to find a way to get more of my stuff out into the world, but I’ve got a few ideas on how to improve that.

Thanks to you, for reading this - according to my statistics about 99% of visitors here leave no comment, but that’s fine. Et je ne comprends pas pourquoi, mais le pays duquel vient ici le plus grand hombre d’internautes est la France. Go figure.

So, Bonne Année, bonne santé, and hope to see you around.


Some good, some bad, and some really ugly

no, but just incredibly ugly!

in General Rants , Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Yep, it’s PHOTOKINA WEEK, and since this is some kind of a photography site, I’d better waffle about gear and stuff and all the AWE-SOME things lining up to grab our credit cards.

The good

Well, I hope so anyway. Lasersoft’s Silverfast 8 HDR Studio finally slipped out of Beta a few days ago, presumably in order to get promoted at Photokina, although Lasersoft seem to be being pretty quiet about it. The link to the new version is of course broken, bless ‘em, as it still points to v6.6, but the demo link works and the demo can be serialised. So far I haven’t had time to explore it, but when I do I’ll write a review.

The bad

Not exactly Photokina, but anyway it’s certainly bad news. No, not Fuji killing off movie film, but the acquisition by the disgusting Google of NiK software, which will almost certainly result in the disappearance of excellent products such as DFine and Silver Efx, and the mutating of Snapseed into me-too Instagram to let talentless narcissists like this one (sorry, I know he’s popular, but emperor, clothes etc) upload thousands of photos a day, have them auto-processed and handed over to Google’s scary advertising engine. Well anyway Patrick LaRoque puts it far better than I can.

And the Ugly…

It’s no contest really, is it ? Unbelievable. Aghast doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Hasselblad Lunar wooden grip 550x388

Swedish design meets Italian engineering. Or is the other way around ? I’m sure half of Saudi Arabia is already sending the slaves out to queue up for it. Poor old Victor must be doing about 180rpm.


So many photographs… little time

in General Rants , Tuesday, September 04, 2012

I don’t really understand how people do it. People who post one - or more - masterpieces a day on Flickr, on their blogs, on their websites. Photos they took the day before, with a camera they bought last week, and will have discarded next month. The pressure to “keep up” gets so overwhelming that sometimes I want to give up on this whole interaction stuff, or give up on photography altogether. I could just stop taking new photographs now, and spend my remaining years reprocessing, fine tuning, giving some of my archive the attention it might deserve.

I’ve got so many different projects, all unfinished, all seemingly endless. For example, I decided to revisit a large folder of slides from my Antarctic years which I’d discarded as no good. Most them are indeed hopeless, but some, in fact quite a lot, have a degree of documentary or personal interest, and a few are potentially hidden gems. I’m maybe half way through the initial “raw” scans. Since my expectations are not that high anyway, and I’m not looking for anything larger than an A4 print, I decided to scan them to 64bit linear (the other 16 bits are the IR channel) on my Canoscan 9000F, rather than my slower film scanner, but even then it takes ages. And then I have to reprocess to “normal” 48 bit in Silverfast HDR, then finally touch up in Photoshop. Probably quite a lot, considering their state.  And then there are the several hundred which I considered “ok” in the past, many of which have never been scanned, or at least not properly. And that’s project 1.

Ant archive 0001

A sample from Project 1: looking over Rothera base, on Adelaide Island”

Then there’s a huge backlog of digital images, many taken this year in Italy and France, especially of the lavender fields in the Var, and of flamingoes in the Camargue, which I’ve hardly touched upon, or which need reworking from scratch due to my reversal out that disaster of a piece of software called “Mountain Lion”. And still from this year, their’s a whole bunch of shots from Iceland in February which remain in limbo. 

I have 38513 photos in my Aperture catalog, going back to December 2003. Many, many of these deserve further attention. And before 2003 ? Well I’ve got two shelves full of slide binders, and a very full MediaPro catalog.

And then… my ongoing obsession with the XPan is all very well, but the workflow of getting an image of film into my archive is heavy going, and there again there are backlogs.  And stuff from the last decade screaming to be rescanned, for example a whole batch from New Zealand over 10 years ago.

And finally, what for ? Almost nobody sees this stuff. I’ve no real idea how may visits this website gets. It’s not zero, but it’s not very high either. Sometimes I get a few comments on Flickr, but for me 10 is a lot. Possibly I don’t do enough networking. Possibly my photos are not interesting, or don’t reach the level now needed to rise above the noise.

And yet every day bloggers like Kirk Tuck or Ming Theing are showing what they did in the last 5 minutes with their new camera, while at the same time regularly delving into their archives, AND writing several feature length blog posts a day.

I mean, what are they ON ?



An open letter to Lasersoft Imaging

also known as “Silverfast”

in Silverfast , Thursday, June 21, 2012

Dear Lasersoft Imaging,

Quoting from your website, “on August 17th [2011], scanner software SilverFast 8 has been released”. Today is June 21st, 2012, and recently, Beta 10 of Silverfast HDR was released, with little obvious change, except, apparently, in fiddling around with the infrared channel which has been causing you some issues.

Silverfast HDR 8 has no features that are not present in Silverfast 6 HDR. It does, however, miss a few. Zooming doesn’t work. You can see an image at a size which fits the window (about 4% in my scans), or, if you discover the hidden workaround, 100%. That’s it. At least you can pan the 100% view. From playing around, it seems that headline features such as GANE simply don’t work, although the controls are there. There is no way to batch process, a key feature of all previous versions.  There is no equivalent to version 6’s flawed, but useful, Virtual Light Table.

You do have a completely new GUI, which is long overdue. It is an improvement, at least, but hardly earth-shaking. And, crucially, it works on Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion), unlike version 6. Your company’s total refusal to follow any sort of UI standard is baffling though, as well as financially counter-productive. But Lion, and Silverfast 8, were released a long time ago. In fact, OS X 10.8 is imminent, even if we allow that it is little more than a marketing wrapper for a service pack for 10.7.  And Silverfast HDR 8 is still in Beta.

I’m not holding out any hope for a Silverfast AI 8 for my Minolta Scan Multi Pro. It seems that this is just too hard for your engineers, even though it didn’t seem to be a big deal for Ed Hamrick. Anyway, I have now dedicated a semi-retired MacBook Pro to running Silverfast 6.6 AI, but I would like to reprocess the HDR output on my main machine.

I suspect that you are paying the price for years upon years of neglect of a very old, undocumented and labyrinthine code base, and quite possibly the engineers who knew how it worked are gone. For many years you watched the money roll in, and bolted on fairly useless new feature after fairly useless new feature to get the upgrade income. Of course the foundation was - and is - a very good scanning engine, but that’s no longer enough.

I bought into your Archive concept - in both senses of the word -  but it seems that your idea of “archival” is very strange. Your customers now have archive files which can only be processed on current computers with a half-baked Beta. This is a poor reward for the trust your customers have shown.

Personally, I don’t feel any need to join the rush to upgrade to OS X 10.8 - but perhaps I should consider 10.7, as 10.6 is beginning to lock me out of interesting developments. In fact, I have test 10.7.4, and of all the applications I use, including tricky things like monitor calibration and printer drivers, only Silverfast is holding me back.

I challenge to provide a roadmap to a commercial release of Silverfast HDR 8. And to also publish a list of features you intend to include on release, and a list of those which are not currently working in Beta 10 (although you have released Beta 8.0.1r12, the latest update notice on your Silverfast HDR 8 main page is for 8.0.1r4). No gloss, no half-truths, just the facts. This is part of what an open Beta entails, but you seem not to get that.

Yours, in hope of a positive response

David Mantripp


Admin Notes

A couple of updates

in General Rants , Friday, July 22, 2011

Just a quick note about some changes and fixes I’ve recently made here.  First of all, I finally noticed that the links in my RSS feeds were broken. That means that my faithful subscribers (yes, all 4 of you) couldn’t click through to the articles on the site. Brilliant, no ? Anyway, it’s fixed now. Sorry.

Second, you’ll probably notice I’ve added little bubbles showing how many comments there are on the articles listed on the home page. I haven’t bothered with handling the case that there are more than 99 comments. That will be a nice problem to have.

Finally, I am going to try to get around to making commenting easier, especially for frequent visitors (that’s, er, Tim. And maybe RB, sometimes).

Have a wonderful weekend


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