Sunday, March 30, 2008

Photoshop Express? I'm not Impressed

There's been a lot of hype about Adobe's new Photoshop Express service. I've played around with it and I think it's a dud. No matter what you may be able to do with it—image editing (very limited), storing 2 GBs of photos free, etc.—if it won't render your images well, it's a dud. And it doesn't. My images that look sharp and well rendered in SmugMug, well, they look mushy and blurry when you view them in PS express. Maybe one needs to upload them at just the right size. But if that's the case, then you need Photoshop or PS elements or Capture NX or some other image editor before you upload them to PS express. Then PS express becomes little more than a place online to store and share your images. And there are plenty of other image storage and viewing sites (like Smugmug) that offer a ton more options and actually render images well. I'm not wasting my time with PS Express.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Family Photo- Finally!

I think it's been over a decade, maybe more, since we had a decent family photo. You can see a larger, better quality image here. Oh, and there's a good one of Chris and Spencer, too.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Warm and Sunny

It's been almost a week since I posted anything. We've been on vacation at Pensacola Beach since last Thursday. It's been in the 70s, sunny, and breezy since we got here. Today, after the weekend, the beaches are empty. Nothing new to say, just some pictures to post. You can see the rest here as I process and post them.

Whoops. I had the wrong link for my Pensacola gallery. Fixed it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Shameless Bragging

I just heard that I'm one of the 15 finalists for the 2007 Nikonian Photographer of the Year award. Cool. I'm amazed. My wife reminded me that she was the one that told me to stop and capture that image. Looking at the other nice images, I don't think I'll win. But it's pretty flattering to have made it to the finals.

Creep Me Out!

I'm afraid to ask who's developing these things. Could it be Skynet?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Hands to Heaven

Thanks to Tim Werkema for the image from this past Sunday's worship service at Providence Reformed Presbyterian Church.

Updated, color corrected image.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Monday, March 10, 2008

Before & After Photoshop (and Nikon's Capture NX)

Before I give you the link to some sample images of before and after processing let me say a few things.

You try to get the image you want by manipulating all the variables on the camera, choosing the right lens, framing the picture, etc. But you often just don't have the light you want or the time to set up the shot as you'd prefer. So you click the shutter release and hope you can fix it back home with your post-processing software.

Sometimes the problem is bad lighting (too hot and contrasty in the middle of the day or not enough light indoors, etc.). The human eye and brain, of course, are able to make sense of some very challenging lighting situations. The human eye is much more sensitive to relative luminance differences than the best and biggest digital sensors. What this means is that most, if not all, digital captures with even the best cameras will need some post processing to compensate for the difference.

Sometimes you know you could make the light work if you have thousands of dollars of lighting equipment (like Joe MacNally) and a couple of hours or more to set things up. Sometimes a little fill light from your speedlight or reflected light from the sun will do the trick. But often you don't have the time to set up for a complicated shot. So you shoot a couple of shots at different settings as quick as you can and hope one of them works. I could never do that with film cameras because every shot cost money. With erasable digital imaging you can click the shutter liberally and not worry.

Not every image requires as much post-processing work. If exposed and composed correctly, most don't need much more than a few adjustments to the lighting and some sharpening. The images I've posted require a lot more than that.

Okay. So I've downloaded some "unprocessed images" for you to compare with the finished product. It's not entirely true that these are unprocessed images. The camera, of course, always does some processing. And the "unprocessed" images I've posted have been converted from raw NEF files to JPGs. I can't post a 26 MB raw file on my Smugmug sight. The 14 bit raw files have a huge amount of detail - much more than you can see. All that detail is accessible in Photoshop or Nikon's Capture NX. What you see here is what the unprocessed images look like before I start tweaking it.

I've put the unprocessed image first, followed by the final processed picture. You can switch back and forth between them using your left and right arrow keys.

UPDATE: Hey, I've added another example and some comments to each photo. The added example shows what a little "cloning" (removing objects) in Photoshop can do for an image.

New Images - Brooklyn Bridge 2

See the image in my B&W gallery. I captured these images on my trip to NYC last year. But I just now got around to processing them to my liking. The same is true for the banner pict of the NYC skyline. The original color images was dreadful, but a bit of post-processing work made the B&W conversion quite nice. See the NYC skyline image here.

New Images - Brooklyn Bridge 1

See a better image of this here.

New Images - Candy Wall

Blogger doesn't render the color and details very well, so you'll have to go here to see a better image.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Yes! A Thousand Times Yes!

The Case for Terrestrial (a.k.a. Nuclear) Energy
By William Tucker

From Imprimis (February 2008)

There have been a host of debates this year between the Democratic and Republican candidates for president. Many of these candidates believe that among our top priorities is to address global warming by reducing carbon emissions. All or most seem to agree that decreasing America’s energy dependence is another. Yet few if any of the candidates have mentioned that nuclear energy—or, as I prefer, terrestrial energy—could serve both these ends.

Right now there are 103 operating nuclear reactors in America, but most are owned by utilities (which also own coal plants). The few spin-offs that concentrate mainly on nuclear—Entergy, of Jackson, Mississippi, and Exelon, of Chicago—are relatively small players. As for a nuclear infrastructure, it hardly exists. There is only one steel company in the world today that can cast the reactor vessels (the 42-foot, egg-shaped containers at the core of a reactor): Japan Steel Works. As countries around the world begin to build new reactors, the company is now back-ordered for four years. Unless some enterprising American steel company takes an interest, any new reactor built in America will be cast in Japan.

This is an extraordinary fate for what was once regarded as an American technology. France, China, Russia, Finland, and Japan all perceive the enormous opportunity that nuclear energy promises for reducing carbon emissions and relieving the world’s energy problems as reflected in recent soaring oil prices. Yet in America, we remain trapped in a Three Mile Island mentality, without even a public discussion of the issue. As folk singer Ani Di-Franco puts it, the structure of the atom is so perfect that it is “blasphemy / To use it to make bombs / Or electricity.”

It is time to step back and question whether this prejudice makes sense.

Read the entire essay.

Update: Schwarzenegger denounces "outrageous" homeschooling ruling.

Will Homeschooling be Illegal in CA?

Maybe. If this court decision is allowed to stand, homeschooling will be illegal in the state of California.

Download the pdf of the court case here.

Consider this quotation from the case: "A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare."

Scary. Statism is alive and well in CA.

The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has some information on this, too.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Crosstiching Dooyeweerd

We're likely to get a foot of snow today, March 4th! The pict above is the view from my front door this morning. So to pass the time perhaps some of you in St. Louis would like to crosstich some Dooyeweerd.

This is Angie's work.