March 25, 2009

Pondering a Format Change

Having too much time on my hands forces me to want to shake things up a bit. I'm putting some thought into a revision of the format of this blog. Not just the design, but also a major overhaul to the content. I think I'm going to refrain from the more personal journal-style blogging and instead switch to featuring my interests. Highlighting photos and photographers (and other art, such as illustration, etc.), interior design, products/product design (gadgets, toys), web design/usability, and entertainment products (video & computer games, podcasts, books, etc.) that I find particularly appealing. This would be an avenue for me to "scrapbook" inspiring design ideas, explore my interests more deeply, and improve my writing/reviewing skills. Stay tuned to see if I can follow-through on something!!

journal | posted at 03:28 AM

February 27, 2009

Canon 5D Mark II HD Video Samples

Somehow I ran across some HD video shot by someone using a Canon 5D Mark II DSLR. The video was striking, and the depth of field (DOF) was not something you normally see in consumer HD cameras. A comment revealed that it was shot with the 5D Mark II, and thus began my search for other video examples of its use. And WOW are there some excellent test videos out there!!!

I thought I'd embed a few here, both to awe my readers, and to keep a quick link for myself.


5D mark II clips from Lucasberg on Vimeo.


test 5d mark II - "crime" shoot from Hot Rod on Vimeo.


Christina on 5d Mark II from Barry Goyette on Vimeo.

February 26, 2009

Fun with Lightroom

As I've mentioned probably a dozen times now, I recently purchased Adobe's Lightroom software. I'm still taking babysteps into the application, but I've played around with it a little to some good effect (I think). A few samples are below. First images are originals, seconds are the mods.

Kevin, with Saxophone


Rock-Collecting


Parasurfing


So that's a start. Feel free to leave me feedback. These were shot with different cameras (RebelXT and G3, I believe), and none of them in the ultra-flexible RAW format. I'm going to start shooting in RAW from now on, as I've seen that it handles these sorts of digital post-processing much better.

photos | posted at 06:21 PM

February 25, 2009

Barnes and Not-So-Noble

Yesterday I received my much-anticipated copy of Adobe Lightroom 2, a professional-level post-processing software application for use on digital photos. I installed it yesterday and was overwhelmed by the interface. I had seen it in action, sure, but there was just so much to do that I didn't know where to start. After re-touching a few photos to remove blemishes and marks from faces (like magic!), I decided I needed to get a little more direction if I was going to do this right.

So today I did a little research and found a well-reviewed book called The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 Book for Digital Photographers (Voices That Matter) by Scott Kelby. I figured that I had a few errands to run today, so I'd swing by the nearby Barnes and Noble to pickup a copy. I looked online and found the price (around $35) and then called to verify that they had it in stock.

Silly me for not asking for a price check.

I drove to the nearby town of Woodinville to grab my copy, went to the cashier, and was all ready to pay when the lady said "That will be $49..."-something-something. I don't remember the exact amount. Now, I'm not that great at math, but I know enough to figure out that $35 + tax ≠ $49. I leaned over to double-check that it was the correct book, and indeed it was. I asked her to confirm the price and she told me it was $44. Hmmm. She asked if I saw the book online, and I responded in the positive. She then informed me that their online prices were different than in-store. Hmmmmmmm.

So, if I went online, ordered the book on there (even selecting the "Pickup at Store" option), the price would be almost $10 less? How does that make sense at all? It's deceptive, and bad business-practice, and I believe it's similar to what got Best Buy in trouble a little while back. The cashier even looked up the price online and saw it was lower. But when I asked if I could get that reduced pricing, she shook her head. No deal.

I had to think about it for a moment. Normally, I'd just shrug it off and buy it. But money is tight, and those extra bucks are really worth something to me now. So I informed her that I was sorry for the inconvenience, but I was going to pass on the purchase. Fueled by anger, I went to my car and pulled up the Amazon app on my iPhone and found the book. It was listed at $29, or SIX DOLLARS LESS than the online B&N price, and a whopping $15 less than their insulting "in-store" price. Added to cart. Ordered. All told (tax & shipping), I got it for less than B&N's online price.

journal | posted at 01:26 PM

February 19, 2009

Irresponsible

I did something a little ridiculous today. A little irresponsible, a little stupid. But still, more than a little exciting for me.

Some of you may know that I've been into photography for a few years now. I went from a film SLR to a digital point-n-shoot (Canon G3), a Lomo, a smaller point-n-shoot, and eventually up to my Canon Digital SLR (350D, Rebel XT) with a few different lenses.

I had a lot of fun shooting and getting pleasing images (pleasing to me, anyways). But I hit a roadblock, for some reason. Maybe it was moving up to Seattle or getting Zippy or something. I was staying inside more - a bigger problem in itself - and wasn't really producing images that I found to be appealing at all. And when I did manage to take a photo where, for instance, the composition was excellent, I'd be bummed out when, on loading to the bigger screen of the computer, I'd see how blurry it actually was. That happened a lot. So, after awhile, I just didn't grab for my camera anymore.

Adobe Lightroom imageI've been feeling the excitement again, though. This is always spurred on by something outside of myself. In this case it was watching (on someone's blog) a tutorial of sorts, a walkthrough of Adobe's Lightroom 2 software and some of the advantages of shooting in RAW vs. JPEG.

I'll spare you the geeky details, but things just started to fall into place for me. And I started really looking at photos of other people, identifying what I liked and digging to see what tools were used to create the images. My camera's not amazing, but it's totally more than enough for me. My small lens collection is really quite adequate. I really don't have the kind of expendable dough to go buying "good glass" right now, anyways. That would be silly.

Lightroom 2 was first on my list. I had heard about it, but really didn't understand what it was used for until I actually saw the interface and watched someone use it (that's how I learn best). It would certainly beat the pants off iPhoto for post-processing. Hands down. But it was around $300. So I added that to my mental wishlist and tried to put it out of my mind.

Canon Speedlite 430 EX IIAround the same time, I started to think about external flashes. I didn't know much about external flashes, but I did know that the internal flash on my camera sucked bigtime and was impractical for almost every situation I find myself shooting in. I remembered seeing the Canon Speedlite 430EX mentioned occasionally on Flickr or what have you, and I went and looked at what it might cost. I did a quick look-up on B&H Photo, and they listed it as discontinued. Another search found the Canon Speedlite 430EX II available at a different vendor, at just shy of $300. Again, put it out of my mind.

But then I came across the photos of a fellow Boston Terrier owner (we're in the same Meetup.com group and got our dogs from the same breeder), and I saw the kinds of images I wanted to get of my dog, but just couldn't. Why couldn't I?

Let me add a little side-note about this right here, because I don't want you to get the wrong idea. It is not my intention to acquire a bunch of higher-than-basic consumer-level photo equipment and then spend all my time shooting my dog. That sounds pretty silly. While yes, I will certainly get much enjoyment and practice out of taking photos of him, my main interest is in portraiture. It's my favorite personal style of photography. I love taking portraits of people, animals. But those willing to casually model for me are difficult to find, so I use what's around. Namely, my boyfriend, and my dog. And the dog is easier to cajole.

Back to the fellow BT owner. For one, it looked like she was shooting with an external flash. Also, her photos had coloring that just "popped". And when I noticed a light vignetting around some of her photos, I had a sneaking suspicion - a hunch, really - that she might be using Lightroom. Lastly, the focus and composition of the photos struck me as being from a 50mm lens, a 50mm 1.8, to be specific. Again, a hunch. So I emailed her, complimented her on her photos, and humbly asked about her equipment.

She was using a camera that was a different brand, but comparable to my own. She was, indeed, using the 50mm 1.8 lens. And she was using an external flash comparable to the 430EX II. And she was using Lightroom for post-processing. Ta-da! Adding fuel to the fire, my pretties!

Now my desire for these pricey pieces of equipment was almost overwhelming. But I'm unemployed. But I have a rather large tax refund coming to me. But I'm UNEMPLOYED! But, really, the refund is quite a large sum of money! BUT I'M UNEMPLOYED!! Srsly!!

But then Erik said I should. So I went ahead and did it. I found both items for a really low price, and went for it. I very rarely splurge so irresponsibly like this. I tend to be a saver over a spender. But this unemployment has seriously got me down. It's a really tough job market out there, and if these two purchases will get me outside and excited about something immediately, well, I'll chalk it up as a mental health expense. And besides, it's really a ridiculously-large tax refund. Thanks, first-time home buyer's tax credit!

photos | posted at 05:17 PM

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