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Archive for October, 2008

 

UCSB's Campus Point

UCSB's Campus Point

Aperture has features that just do not exist in iPhoto, I already talked about Loupe. Three others are comparison, light table and stacks. There are many more feature but these are the ones I found while trolling around the interface.

Comparison does what it says it does, it lets you compare two photos and choose the better. I tried using it for some photos but my processor was either too slow or I just did not understand how it works. It would also serve me better if I took, say, six photos of a particular subject and wanted to the best of the six. And I am just not there yet.

Light table is a really neat feature without any designated purpose. It allows one to pull photos out onto a virtual table and move them around as if they were on a table. They can be resized, rotated and pulled forward or back. I think the initial purpose was to do mock-ups of publications, I think it would work great in designing posters. The results can be printed (on a home printer) or saved to a PDF and sent to a poster printer service. Once I get the inspiration I plan on using it to design a poster for my dorm lounge.

I now desire a much larger screen.

Stacks are a feature that would make HDR processing in iPhoto so much easier. Stacks gathers up the selected photos and presents them as a single photo. The photo shown on top can be selected from the group. For HDR this would let me stack together the photos to process, export the component RAW files to Photomatix, process them and send the result back to the top of the stack. So in one Stack I could have the result and the source RAW files. 

This is compared to iPhoto where I have the final HDR image amid a sea of slightly varying RAWs.

There are more features of Aperture that I probably missed. If I missed them it is because I don’t feel that I need their function or I am blindly unaware that they exist.

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"You show me a capitalist & I'll show you a blood-sucker" on the side of the lagoon outflow box.

"You show me a capitalist & I'll show you a blood-sucker" on the side of the lagoon outflow box.

I like importing and managing files in iPhoto much better then Aperture. Likely this is due to using iPhoto for the past two years compared to the week with Aperture. It is also highly dependent on personal preference.

When importing new photos (or any photos really) into Aperture they can be placed into any ‘Project’ or into a new Projects. Projects contain the all of the photos and under the project heading are a list of different organizational structures. These can be albums, folders, print projects, light tables or web galleries. Also photos imported from iPhoto are placed within the albums (which are created) in which they resided in iPhoto. If they are in multiple albums all of them are recreated.

For example if I imported my entire iPhoto library into a project called “iPhoto Library import” all of the photos would reside within the project and be placed (actually referenced and not stored) in the same album structure they had before. If a iPhoto folder contained two albums and a smart album, the normal albums would be recreated while the smart album photos would be placed into the folder without a folder of their own.

While projects exist on their own all of the photos are still listed under Library. In the library the projects are viewed in the same way Events are viewed in the iPhoto library. Or photos can all be viewed en masse without dividing them by project.

iPhoto pictures (or any non-Aperture photo) can also be referenced into the Aperture library instead of imported. If this is done the photos can be added and moved like a normal Aperture photo except they cannot be modified. This is useful if there is a particular photo (or set of photos) that you want to use in an Aperture project but want to be kept in their original location.

Ratings and keywords transfer happily when importing from iPhoto. I found only two keywords were added upon import from iPhoto: iPhoto Original and if they were flagged iPhoto Flagged. However when photos are imported into iPhoto from Aperture (done through an easy pop up window in iPhoto) the file names become all capitals. 

So moving between the two is not particularly difficult, especially in the iPhoto -> Aperture direction, which is a good thing because I prefer the keyword tagging system of iPhoto over Aperture. In Aperture I could not find a way to add keywords directly under the photos in the same way as iPhoto, and that is my preferred method. Aperture does allow for keyword groups to be made with custom buttons. 

Everyone loves custom buttons.

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Spot and Patch removed the major lens flares.

Spot and Patch removed the major lens flares.

Continuing with Apple Aperture:

Next up I had two photos with lens flares. I knew that Aperture had a spot and patch tool, it just took me a few seconds to find it. My first photo had two major lens flares near the moon in a starry sky. The spot tool eliminated the lens flare leaving behind a uniform pool of obvious. I then tried the patch tool. 

Allow me to make a diversion here into a key aspect of aperture. The loupe tool. The zoom it provides is very convenient for examining edits or just getting close into details (very nice for macro shots), however the behavior of the loupe itself is just not right. In my mind it should allow one to zoom in on a specific site, move the loupe out of the way, still zoomed on the initial site, and then edit the site either at normal zoom or within the loupe itself. The closest I could get was letting the loupe be off-center, except even with this I could not edit the louped area.

Eventually I found out how to zoom the entire photo and this did what I wanted.

So the patch tool. I had trouble selection and moving around the patch selection, I will talk more about this in the performance section. Once I found the patch of the right area of sky it was easy to rotate to align the gradient in the sky as well as feather out the edges to blend. Without in depth viewing or knowing they were there I could not readily tell that the lens flares were patched out.

Once the sky was patched and I found out about the zoom tool my second lens flare patch was trivially easy. Especially since it was a small flare on the side of a building. No circular gradients in that photo. 

There are still some lens flares within foliage or hiding between tree branches that I would like to eliminate. But the payoff compared to time required makes them easy to overlook.

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The first photo I edited with Aperture.

The first photo I edited with Aperture.

I downloaded the Aperture trial to try out something more professional then iPhoto. 

Instead of starting by importing a new batch of photos I took a set of five photos from iPhoto that needed editing beyond iPhoto’s capabilities. 

Importing from iPhoto ran into two challenges. The first was that Aperture cannot import or even view iPhoto smart albums, what I wanted to import was a smart album of photos with the “edit” tag. So I had to go back and create an actual album and drag the photos over. The second import issue was where they went. I expected a dialogue to ask where to put them. Instead the photos were placed into a, what I believe to be, a project. Since this is the demo and I not bothering really reading anything I am still unclear on the file structure.

Once the photos were in Aperture my first task was too correct white balance. I had obvious ways to do this. First there are two sliders for temperature and tint, the second option is to select the neutral gray of the photo. I did not know where a neutral gray resided so I just used the sliders to get the right color cast. I must say that I am satisfied with the result with the first white balanced photo, the second one did not turn out as well. Though that might have been inherent in the photo itself.

I will keep posting my impressions as I delve farther into Aperture.

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Crunch

 

Such tempting dry leaves.

Such tempting dry leaves.

Stepping, jumping, biking.

Crunch

Crunch

Crunch

I love fall.

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I have always called these buckyballs, I don't think that is right.

I have always called these buckyballs, I don't think they are called that.

I watched the final of the presidential debates last night. I also sent in my absentee ballot (admittedly before the debate).

I also do not watch network television or really much television aside from Comedy Central (Daily Show is my best source of news). In a sense I am now outside the election season.

By proxy I have heard about the attack ads, the accusatory writings and the tiny niggling details that saturate the news networks. But I have not seen any of them.

There are also all of the automated callings, or the polls. I have missed out on the those as well since I only have a cell phone.

To top it off I live in a relatively uncontested state (some people don’t vote because of this, that makes me cringe).

I sort of feel left out.

Now I just want the election to be over.

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Looking out of my lab in the Micro wavelengths.

Looking out of my lab in the Micro wavelengths.

I mentioned a few days ago that I was working with a micron bolometer. Well today I had a chance to take a picture with it out of the lab doorway (the cords did not reach further), and here it is.

Compared to me other photos it is not the greatest resolution or focus for that matter. But instead of visible light this is in the long wave infrared, with wavelengths of about ten microns or 0.00001 meters. So not that big. 

I just thought it was neat so I wanted to share it.

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The entrance to the UCSB dorm Manzanita Village

The entrance to the UCSB dorm Manzanita Village

Apple released a new set of laptops today. And of course I want one of the new ones since mine (Powerbook G4) is getting a bit slow, especially when trying to process 10mb RAW image files. Aside from that one speed aspect and the lack of an intel processor I am still happy with my laptop.

There are few things about the new ones that really stood out too me.

The glossy screen. Before there was the option to have a matte finish, which I prefer only because that is what I currently have. I have read a lot of negative opinions about how glossy has terrible reflections compared to matte. Usually the same people also say how much better CRTs are compared to LCD. What has amused me is that CRTs are quite glossy, I guess the argument is valid when using a laptop outside.

The other (negative) changes are in the keyboard. Some decry the recessed keyboard versus the traditional powerbook style keyboards, that does not really bother me. What does is the loss of the fn enabled numpad as well as the enter key (it used to be between the Apple key and the keypad). I know I could use fn+return but for programs like Mathematica enter is the main key used in running processes.

The new design looks interesting and I do like the all glass screen, or at least I liked it on the iMacs I have seen. The other new feature that might have some useful functionality is the presence of two video cards: one integrated and another discrete. I have always been a proponent of the separate graphics cards for those that need them and having both, according to Apple, will help save on battery life. Anything would be better then my one hour battery I currently have. I would like to see if anyone finds a way to combine or run both for better graphics processing.

In short I want a new Macbook Pro. Of course I won’t be getting one. Though I might possibly have the chance of buying or receiving one if and or when I am accepted or attend graduate school. Ideally by then the new laptops will have a refresh on them to sort out the inevitable first generation issues.

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Constraint

 

One of my personal favorites.

One of my personal favorites.

Constraint breeds creativity.

When I want to take photos and I don’t know what to point my camera at I limit myself. My favorite way of doing this is to just take a single lens and photograph anything interesting as I walk somewhere. Since I am in school I do this either between class or on the way to class. Of course I need to give myself extra time else I feel rushed.

Another constraint is to just use a single focal length, I do this by taking my 50mm prime lens which forces me to stick to 50mm. 

Only photographing flowers or buildings or colors can help stimulate creative photos as well.

A few days ago when walking to class a flare of yellow caught my eye. I was taking random photos and I found a pair of perfect sunflowers that were hiding in a median of the bike path. It was a good serendipitous moment.

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Conflicted

 

Some of my favorite trees at UCSB.

Some of my favorite trees at UCSB.

Taking photos at night I noticed something that I had not seen before. Lens flares. I guess in the past the flares have either been minor or blended well into the background. This time however they stood out.

I tried to get rid of them by adding a lens hood, in case they were coming from lights to my side. No luck. Then I tried moving the camera a couple feet left or right. Lens flares were still there but I found out they were coming from the lights in my frame. I attempted to reposition the camera to put the light sources behind the main tree I was shooting, I could almost do it but not quite.

Then I found the source of the lens flares — my UV filter.

If I take off the filter the flares go away and I can shoot like I normally would. But if I take off the filter then I lose the lens protection I have it there for. So I am conflicted.

I have the choice of taking it on and off while shooting at night, I could ignore the lens flares (except I can’t now I know they exist) or I could see about getting a better quality filter. 

I am not sure about the last two and I am leaning more towards the first. When I am shooting at night I am using a tripod so the chance of the camera falling or having an unfortunate accident with a frisbee is minimal. During the day when the camera is hand held and these dangers or ever present the lens flares do not show. 

That one flare took me thirty minutes of shooting time to correct.

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