photoblogography - Just some stuff about photography


The camera they couldn’t drown.

in Photography , Thursday, May 22, 2008

Well, it does seem to have stopped raining. More or less. Ticino has been subject to an absolute deluge for what seems like weeks. Not exactly what we expect for late May. But on the upside, it does mean that the waterfalls up and down the valleys are spectacular. Today I decided to go out and see what I could make of them. With rain, wind and spray to contend with, it was a bit tricky, but out of about 70 frames I managed to get a few worth the trip. And yes, the Olympus E-3 is as waterproof as the E-1. And that's a lot more waterproof than me. drm_20080522_140442_1312.jpg

Edward Burtynsky wannabe


weeping willow


About 200m above ...


... this one


Keyword management in Aperture

Trying to work out how to move keywords from one obscure system to another.

Moving from one RAW workflow tool to another is always going to be painful, a fact that few reviewers ever touch upon. This is the downside to non-destructive editing. Until now, nobody has come up with a way to translate RAW settings from one converter to another, and even if they ever do, it is likely to be an imprecise art. For example, while both Lightroom and Aperture have local contrast enhancement tools (Clarity & Definition, respectively), they behave and respond differently, and it is unlikely that these differences can be easily characterised. So, moving from Lightroom to Aperture, or the other way, is going to be complicated and potentially involves a lot of work. A RAW converter is not just for Christmas. Things are a bit better on the cataloging front. IPTC and keyword metadata written into DNG files in Lightroom should import into Aperture, although some workarounds are required, in particular where ratings are concerned. One thing I dislike about Lightroom is way that keywords are edited and managed, and especially how this is all mixed up with search. I especially dislike the way that I have to switch to the Library module to work with keywords. Well, with Aperture, you don't need to switch to anything, but I have to admit it took me a while to work out how I could make bulk edits to keywords. When importing keywords with certain characters, for example "á", Aperture mangles the keyword. So "Jökulsárlón" became "árlón". To fix this I tried to do it the "Lightroom way", which obviously didn't work. You can't edit keywords in a multiple selection using the metadata panel, at least as far as I can see. But you can use the Keyword HUD: ApertureScreenSnapz002.png This can be quickly used not only to edit, add or remove keywords, but also quickly apply them to images, whatever you're doing to them, be it editing, retouching, arranging for print, for web, anywhere. And for my scattered mind, this is way, way better than Lightroom's rigid approach.

Aperture sluggishness

It does things when it wants to, not when I tell it to

{categories limit="1"}in {category_name} {/categories}, Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I'm in the process of moving, or trying to move, from using Adobe Lightroom to Apple Aperture. The reasons for this I'll get into later, but I'm getting the feeling it may not be a fully satisfying experience. It seems that Aperture 2.1 still has serious performance issues. I'm running it on new MacBook Pro, with 2.5Ghz CoreDuo processor, GeForce 8600M GT graphics card, and 4Gb RAM. Should be enough, really. But I'm beginning to think it isn't.

Aperture 2.1 zips along fast enough in image browsing mode, but as soon as I start adding adjustments, things start going downhill fast. The loupe, for example, starts staggering around like an intoxicated tortoise, and strange video artifacts show up, such as half the image blanking out, or the image disappearing altogether when I move a slider.

Most irritating, the histogram in the levels "brick" doesn't display, and frequently the main histogram doesn't either.


Levels adjustment histogram missing in action...

The histogram itself is very sluggish, and cannot be used to evaluate the effects of adjustments in real time. All in all, it is quite worrying, and also a bit baffling. This is the top end Mac laptop. It is used in PR shots for Aperture 2. And yet it performs at a level which, honestly, is barely adequate. Do I really need a Quad Core Mac Pro to run this thing ?

UPDATE: deleting Aperture's preferences has restored the histogram, and, it seems, performance. I suppose the fact that I repeatedly created and deleted a lot of projects whilst trying to get Lightroom metadata to come across may have had some side effects. Hopefully they won't return.


Dawn in Tuscany, and a rant about Italian drivers. And all the others.

{categories limit="1"}in {category_name} {/categories}, Thursday, May 08, 2008

Photography has being going by the board recently (strange expression... wonder where it comes from ?). I haven't even got around to writing much about my early March Iceland stuff, still less posting any of it except on Flickr.

However, last week, we spent a few days at the heavenly haven of Casa Bolsinina, Tuscany, being looked after by Maria Pia and Marcello. Although I can't say I was feeling particularly motivated, I took a few bits and pieces of gear with me (only 4 cameras), and intended to get up at least once at 4am for a Tuscan dawn.

Well, one morning I set the alarm for 4am, which given that I got to sleep at 1am was a bit drastic. And when 4am came around, I dragged myself out of bed, far enough to see that the sky was completely clear. This, in context, is bad news. Ideally there would be a thick ground mist, which can be used to artfully used to conceal the less attractive parts of the Tuscan landscape.

So I went back to bed.

And felt guilty.

Finally, at 5am I decided to give it a go. By this point, the sky was lightening, and I decided to head in the direction of Val d'Orcia, since getting to the Crete Senese ridge would (a) take too long, and (b) was pointless given the lack of mist.

At some point I glanced around and saw I'd struck oil - a new crescent moon was just rising. All I needed to do was to find a suitable framing for it. Fast. A "this is better than nothing" opportunity arose just outside Buonconvento, and here it is ...


Before Photoshop...


...after Photoshop


In some cultures, a new moon is an invitation to make a wish for the coming month. Well, I didn't make one, but I had been hoping to see a porcupine (or two). And I did. Unfortunately, it was plastered all over the road - a long, straight stretch of road, where some doubtless petrol-head Italian had been compensating for his frustrating relationship with his underpants by bravely travelling at 180kmh.

I have calmed down a bit since, and at the risk of offending my many Italian friends, really, what the F&*% happens to Italian men's brains when they get behind a steering wheel ? Why do almost all of these courteous, educated, polite and cultured people turn into brainless, arrogant, rude homicidal maniacs ?

Same reason the Germans, British, French, etc do I guess.