What happened to 3 liters

June 13, 2007

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None of the grocery or corner stores that I shop at carry 3 liter bottles of coke. Do they exist anymore? It seems like they would be a natural fit in these days when you can get a 1 gallon Big Gulp. Weird.


Donating Computer Gear

June 13, 2007

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There is a local company in Jax called Unlimited Solutions, Inc. that has some pretty good karma. They take donations of old computer gear and get it to folks that otherwise wouldn't have a shot at it. Their mission statement from their website:

Unlimited Solutions, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to providing refurbished computer equipment, training, advocacy, and other assistive technology services to individuals with disabilities, their families, and others in the Florida community who would otherwise not have access to empowering technologies. Our goal is to improve the quality of life of individuals with disabilities, by providing them the digital technology and training necessary to open the doors of independence, employment, education, and community.

I've donated some of my old stuff to them in the past. I think that just about the only way I'm ever going to become less of a packrat is by donating stuff. On a lot of levels it bugs me to throw out something that works just because I no longer need it. I'm really glad that these guys exist because Good Will here stopped taking computer donations a while ago. This struck me as strange, but from what the attendant said they were worried about the privacy aspects of accepting computers. The fear being that someone would donate a computer to Good Will that would then be picked up by someone else and they could possibly steal personal info from it and the original owner would hold Good Will responsible. There are, of course, some pretty easy steps to make sure this doesn't happen if you know what you are doing, but I can see where Good Will wouldn't necessarily have the resources to carry this out. I hung onto a ton of old gear for a while because of that till I found these guys. Good stuff.


Condensed Mythbusters

June 12, 2007

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I really get a kick out of the show "Mythbusters" on the Discovery channel. Problem solving, science, not infrequent explosions and urban ledgends…. what more could a tech geek ask for. Of course, it seems to do a great job of reaching a fairly broad audience which is great as well. Reminds me a lot of Mr. Wizard's World where just about everyone was entertained by science and everyone got a little smarter because of it. One major gripe that I have about the show though is it quickly starts to feel like one of those "Top 10 Worst Car Crashes Caught On Tape" shows with its editing. I don't mind a general introduction at the start of the show that lets you know what's coming up, but before each commercial break they tease the entire rest of the show. By the time you get to the last myth they are examining, it feels like you have heard a "Coming up later" voice over about it a half dozen times. And then they recap all the stuff you have seen leading up to it. Some of which you just saw 30 seconds ago. It's huge overkill. I'm sure that this is largely done so that they can make sure that each show is an hour, but sadly almost enough enough to turn me off from the show. While I'm over-exaggerating a little, it would be interesting to see someone slice up the show in time blocks and figure out how much is 1) commercials, 2) teasing later content, 3) reviewing previous content and 4) actual mythbusting content. My guess is that it varies from show to show and is largely dependent on the complexity of the setup for the respective myths, but I'd put the over/under at about 21 min of actual content in a broadcast hour of the show.


Lens review site

June 12, 2007

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For those interested in an Excellent lens review site, check out: http://www.the-digital-picture.com/. The person who puts it together is to be applauded. Great details about a huge array of lenses as well as comparisons between options within given ranges. A shining example of internet coolness.


Photoshop Softfocus

June 11, 2007

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I'm still looking for a soft focus effect in photoshop that I like. The latest one that I'm working with that I quite pleased with so far is to run a Gaussian Blur with a radius of 9.0 pixels on a full size image from a 5D then fade it out to 45%. The effect reminds me a lot of my old glass Nikon soft focus 1 filter that was a favorite of mine.


Lightroom initial review

June 11, 2007

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Been playing around with Lightroom a little more. Mainly using it to edit down a wedding I shot a couple weeks ago. By and large, it's a very good application for something that has just hit version 1.0. That said, there are a few things that still need to be worked out. My main gripe is that I run into "Out of Memory" issues from time to time. This appears to be a Windows only thing and doesn't seem to be related to the actual amount of memory in the machine. (Possible culprit is Norton's real-time anti-virus protection, but that remains to be confirmed.) These errors don't seem critical and simply shutting down and restarting the application (not the entire computer) seem to get everything humming along again. By and large, it's very quick to do cropping, color correction, keyword input and making picks and discarding rejects. Way faster than anything else I've used before. Admittedly, I've only toyed around with a few other tools, but compared to Adobe Bridge combined with Camera Raw that I had been using, it's measurably faster. Another item that Adobe needs to come up with a solution for is the ability to transport libraries between different computers. Right now, that doesn't appear to be possible. I've seen a few hacks around the net, but nothing that I would want to try for fear of royally screwing things up. I wouldn't be surprised if this improvement is close to the top of the list of things the engineers are working on. Most shooters I know use a laptop for in the field and on location, but then dump to a desktop machine as soon as they are able for heavy lifting and archive purposes. A final grip is that lack of a function in lightroom that drives a batch process in photoshop. As a specific example of where this would be nice, in the wedding images I'm processing I want to a apply a mild soft focus to each image. Lightroom doesn't have that so I created an action in Photoshop to accommodate the desired effect. Trouble is, the only way I can get the edits and selections I made in lightroom over is to export plain files from that applcatoin and then run a separate batch in Photoshop. It should be as simply as making my selection and then telling lightroom which action in photoshop I want to run with the chosen images. I'll bet that's not too far away either. All and all, it's a solid start for an application. Still have a few bugs to work out to make it as stable as I would expect and then a few improvements to add to get it on down the path to more expected functionality. Still, it's saved me a ton of time running the wedding, so money well spent.


Wireless IR to RF repeater

May 22, 2007

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I've become a decent fan of the wireless TTL that is in canon's flashes these days (assuming you have at least one expensive one that can act as a master). However, it is a very limited system. I had an assistant with me at the wedding last weekend and was trying to use a slave on a monopod that he was carrying for some shots. It was very inconsistent. Even when we were indoors and he was only a few feet away from me if everything wasn't lined up just right, his strobe wouldn't trigger. I ended up going back to a previous setup where I attach two strobes directly to my bracket. One pointing at the subject and the second one pointing up to provide a bounce off the ceiling (when appropriate). I'll post some images of the result after the bride has seen them. In the past I've used pocket wizards for this type of stuff but they don't provide the benefits of TTL. So, you either have to set them manually or run with them judging the exposure themselves. I almost always went with the latter in the film days, but with the clipping that can occur in digital I'm nervous to go that route. This lead me back to thinking about a way to run radio wireless instead of the built in IR. One way would be to try to create a hot shoe that reads the instructions from the camera and then map the IR signals and try to clone. Another way that I just thought of would be to create an RF repeater. The basic idea is to create a little RF transceiver that goes in front of the IR ports on the canon strobes. It would simply capture the IR signals then convert them to RF for transmission to the other unit where it would be received and transposed back into IR. Seems like it should be possible even if the timing and communication is a bit tricky. Of course, this could also be setup to play nice with my master wireless controller described at the bottom of this post.


Photo Workshop

May 21, 2007

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One day, I will go here.


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