Loud ramblings of a Software Artisan

Sunday 14 November 2010

On Flickr

I started posting my photo to my Flickr photostream. The main motivation for this is the community aspect, the one where you get people together around the same interests and sharing pictures. The other is that I have been meaning to write my own gallery software but I have never found the time or motivation to actually do it - no of the one I have found did inspire me either.

I'll continue to host my pictures myself as well. Two is better than one. And maybe one day I'll have that gallery software written.

I have added a little "flickr" link on all the photos I posted here since 2009 so that one can view them on Flickr.

Wednesday 17 March 2010

Think wide

I finally upgraded. Sunday, I got myself a Canon 5DMkII to replace my aging 20D. Not to be mistaken ; I do like my 20D a lot, but I'm feeling encumbered in my creative process with the 1.6x crop factor turning by 24mm to the equivalent of a 38mm in term of field of view. That's a bit narrow for somebody like me who like wide angle.

Amongst other things, the main feature I get are:

  • full-frame (good idea I had not to invest in EF-S lenses): that's something I was really missing from film. Despite having more wide angle capabilities, it also helps controlling depth of field.
  • better noise contol. I was first impressed by the 6400 ISO shots I took. We'll see how it goes.
  • A larger buffer: I never thought I'd be limited by this in the past, but I have run into more than often lately with the 20D.

Things I might use experiment with:

  • movie mode: the interesting part with the movie mode is that it has been the subject of the last firmware upgrades as it is being used more and more in the movie industry for second unit photography and digital plates (for use with green screen)

It came with the firmware 2.0.3 that Canon released yesterday.

With it, I got the "kit lens": EF 24-105 f/4 L IS. Unlike other "kit lens" this is actually a not cheap and good piece of glass. Well build, sharp, etc; so much better than the 24-85 or 28-105 I was using. And better than the 28-135 IS that Canon was putting as a kit with models like the 40D (with 1.6x crop). With a significant rebate when purchased with the camera, I was afraid it wouldn't come with the lens hood nor the pouch, like the retail version. But no. It is the exact same deal. Note had I had the EF 24-70 L, I wouldn't possibly have gotten this lens.

I'll write more about both of these later.

The test pictures. Because I love the challenges, they have been shot at ISO 6400. Is just corrected the white balance because of the difficult lighting conditions.




Tuesday 24 July 2007

Guadec photo coverage?

I was reading about Ubuntu Live photo coverage by James Duncan Davidson, I was wondering if we shouldn't try to get one for the next Guadec [1]. Off course there is the financial cost of such a hire, but I'm pretty sure that, like for the video filming of the presentations, we could find volunteers to do it (count me in). On my side, I sort tried to do it, to some extent, but it is a lot of work for a proper coverage, and I was also attending, which does not mix very well.

The other issue being technical: I miss a very important piece of glass, the EF 70-200 f/2.8 L IS to be able to cover the talks / keynote properly (the 50mm f/1.4 is too short for that even with the x1.6 crop of the 20D), and trying for a few shots Garrett's lens convinced me.

Maybe next year in Istanbul...

BTW, one more time thanks to the Guadec organizers. It was fantastic.


[1] actually I was wondering even before Guadec, watching James' work with other conferences

Tuesday 29 May 2007

Last week-end (or was it the one before ?)

Last week-end (or maybe the one before, I keep delaying this post), for Victoria day, we took the train to Montréal. It was actually a meetup of Range Finder Forums members.

Without order, occurred during the week-end:

  • watched the Sens winning to get to the finals of the Stanley Cup. They play starting this Monday against Anaheim's Duck This happened at Hurley's.
  • tried out the Epson RD-1, a digital rangefinder camera. Unfortunately I don't have the pictures as I didn't have my SD cards with me... Too bad this camera is expensive, still less than the Leica M8, but still.
  • tried out a Bessa R2 rangefinder at marché Jean-Talon. For this one I have the film, but I have yet to get it processed.
  • had a shoot with models. More about that later. Two fact: the EF 50mm f/1.4 USM is one of my favorite lenses (I ended up shooting most of the week-end with it), and I need to get a decent light meter for proper incident light metering.
  • discovered a few places on Saint-Denis: La Baroufe, Le Passeport (a gothic night club, that turns back into a clothing shop during the day) and l'Académie, a very nice apportez-votre vin[1] restaurant, located next to a SAQ[2] that close at 10:00PM[3]

I really miss living in that city. I felt that last time when attending LGM, this time just confirmed it. I miss walking down Sainte-Catherine with people in the street, in the evening or on week-ends, I miss the Metro.

Let's talk about changes. When I left they were starting to tear down the building that was hiding Saint-James-United church. Now the front of the church is free, visible. Here is what that give at dusk, from the street:

taken with an EF 50mm f1.4 USM, 1/160 f/2.5 @1600 ISO

Before that, I could only photograph this from the inside, like this, with very little distance:

taken with an EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5 USM, 1/125 f/3.5 @400 ISO

I'll go further in depth for the pictures, but the workflow for digital photography on Linux is still pretty steep...


[1] bring your own wine

[2] provincial liquor store

[3] pretty much uncommon, but for beer and wine, we have deps in Québec until 11:00PM

Friday 25 May 2007

Digital photography with free software

Linux.com has recently published several articles about digitial photography with Linux.


[1] Digital Asset Management

Thursday 22 March 2007

Open Source Photography

Thanks to Alex Prokoudine, I ran through this wiki Open Source Photography. It is a user oriented website. Interesting.

Tuesday 3 October 2006

Travelling with photo gear

When flying from Toronto to Dublin, my fear what that my connection in London-Heathrow force me to check my carry on luggage in. I only travel with one carry on that is my LowePro CompuTrekker AW to carry photo gear and laptop. Very convenient, regulation size, etc.

Getting lost on the Internet, I found a few things about travelling safely with you photo gear, mostly in the USA because this is were the regulation are getting the worse.

First, Bruce Schneier idea to put expensive camera as checked in luggage with a weapon. It sound weird, but TSA regulation about transporting weapons on board of aircraft is quite adequate as it involve making sure the piece of luggage arrive to the destination. They certainly don't want to have a lost gun somewhere in the wild. So much for your priced gear. That includes Starter Pistol used to start a race :-)

Second, James Duncan Davidson talk about various kind of cases that are both regulation size for carry on and safe in case of mis-handling. I'll keep that in mind if I have to travel more. I'm not a pro- so I don't have the same needs, but I usually pack several lenses, etc.

Tuesday 18 April 2006

Sensor cleaning

The other I during a shoot in the north of Outaouais, QC, I found out that I had a huge dust speckle on my sensor. So huge that it was visible on the camera LCD preview (without zoom) and it was visible on the sensor itself.

So I used the spat-u-swab method: pec-pads, Eclipse solution and the "spatula". The first time it took me 10 time to get it right. This time it was done in one shot. I should note that the biggest photo store in Montréal had none of the pec-pads and eclipse. Almost shocking, I was not impressed.

Hint: when doing the test shot, close the lens as much as possible. Due to diffraction, the dust speckles are even more visible when the lens is stepped down. f/16 or f/22 seems to be a good value.

Saturday 4 March 2006

Camera names

Canon recently announced a new DSLR, the 30D, to replace the 20D. Apparently Canon marketing has a really special technique to find product names (satire warning). As a result this 30D camera has a name similar to the D30, the first Canon produced DSLR camera, released in 2000. How long before some ebay sellers tries to send a D30 "confusing" it with a 30D.

Off course, the few extra features of the 30D could be found on the 20D with a software upgrade, and there is still no documentation for the RAW files which seems to have changed a bit, once again.

Sunday 19 February 2006

AE-1 test roll

I had to do a test roll for an AE-1 camera I bought used recently. So I went to the local grocery store that has a 1h lab, got a film and shot around the parking lot to have it processed there. Actually pictures turned okay (for something I took 5 minute to shoot), that show that I can still do things with very little inspiration. Given that I haven't ever been a fan of 1hour photo labs, I must admit that I'm surprised how quick it is to process: 10 minutes to process the roll (C-41 color negative) and 5 minutes to print (automatic settings) on a Noritsu minilab. Probably not the most optimal results, but with proper setting these machines output good quality prints without much effort.

The camera was an Canon AE-1 with a 50mm Macro f3.5 FD.

I scanned a couple of frames. It is not exactly how the print looks, but it is pretty close, and I like it that way. Given that it is negative, it is always subject to interpretation, both scan-wise or print-wise.

And xsane needs sone UI love, seriously.

Sunday 5 February 2006

Irony, honesty

I'm looking for a Canon AE-1 user manual in French (it is not for me, that's why I'm not being satisfied of the English one).

And the only place I could find it requires you to pay for that using an overcharged phone number (1-900 like). Typically the French mentality (same mentality that make all the customer services and even banks to have overcharged phone numbers instead of regular one). But what is getting worse is that the same website use copyrighted icons that are not distributed with a free licence, and that paying for a copy of copyrighted-and-non-free material is not to be considered as "fair use". For the record, the charge from Canada is CAD$5, the webmaster tell people to use something else than your own phone line.

That was the rant-du-jour.

Friday 20 January 2006

Another one bites the dust...

Konica-Monilta drops photography activity

Now the question: what will happen to all these undocumented devices (cameras) and and file formats (MRW raw files)? It is in the argument of most if not all the manufacturers to not document these because they claim they'll support them (even is the don't support more than 2 proprietary OS).

Polaroid, Agfa, Ilford, Konica-Minolta, etc. All of these have either closed, stopped photo activities, or went so much in downsizing in that area that they just have become a name in the history of photography. This is the living proof that even the biggest and oldest company can disappear suddenly one day. Who knows what Sony will do with the assets they purchased, what they will phase out. And who knows what will be lost in the limbs of business, be it this documentation probably worth thousands of hours of reverse engineering, and these photographic memories that might stay as a bunch of unused megabytes, maybe forever.

It just explain why relying on the manufacturer to support undocumented protocols and file format is not a good idea for the customer.

Wednesday 2 November 2005

Nikon D100, a short try out

Today I borrowed for 15minutes magnon's Nikon D100 with a 50mm f1.4. I must say that I'm a bit impressed. It is a real pleasure to use (aside the non-USM autofocus, I should have switched to manual focus). The viewfinder is really bright and really comfortable. It is the first time I used that model. The D100 is really convenient, and I didn't have any trouble switching for my Canon, unlike for the F70 the I have used for a short time and whose user interface is really different.

I took the camera as is, so I didn't realize it was in RAW mode, so I have now a bunch of NEF files to process. ufraw seems to do a real good job at processing, despite some minor glitches with EXIF that I should report.


Monday 17 October 2005

Parc Jean Drapeau, Montréal

A few week back (October 2nd, 2005), a little excursion to Parc Jean Drapeau on Île-Sainte-Hélène, Montréal.

The rest of the shots are either on slide film (and needs to be scanned) or to be stitched into a panorama (the city-scape taken from the island).


Monday 22 August 2005

New gear

Earlier I talked about a rumored "full frame" 13MPix DSLR for less than USD$4,000. It is announced for less than USD$3,300. More info. The notable thing is that it does not have a flash built-in.

There is also an interesting EF 24-105 f/4L USM IS that would make a nice replacement for my EF 24-85 f/3.5-4.5 USM.