Loud ramblings of a Software Artisan

Tuesday 17 May 2005

Unified RAW files support

Since manufacturer do not want to do that, for some non-obvious reason, it is a good niche for open source software: a unified RAW file library.

The idea would be to write a library to decode and convery RAW files as well as their metadata, because currently there is information spread accross several projects, not one source.

  • First, turn Dave Coffin's dcraw into a library. Dave does not want to do that and tell to just call dcraw in a pipe or call it's main() from the code. While this is sufficient for just decoding the image, it is not enough to decode the metadata. dcparse has the basic bits to do that... and contain duplicated code too.
  • Daniel Stephens has a NEF decoder, DeNEF, that can be used to help filling the gaps on the Nikon side

I'd be in favor of using GPL just because I dislike that commercial and proprietary software author just shop for these libraries without giving anything back.

And then we'd have to convince everyone to use it.

Saturday 14 May 2005


Since F-Spot is broken because of Mono changes.... I tried Digikam.

Digikam, a KDE application, has some good thing like a really decent speed and "Albums", something that make it impossible to use is that I'm obligated to copy all my pictures in ~/Pictures. Meh, I don't feel like copying 20GB in my home directory. Filed bug 105645. And historically, Digikam is one of the oldest front-end to gphoto for KDE.

Wednesday 4 May 2005

Chateau de Castelnau - Picture of the Day, May 4th, 2005

I haven't posted any picture for some time. So here is one from the film archives, those that actually may stay longer than the proprietary RAW files the digital camera manufacturer want us to use....

This is Chateau de Castelnau ; it is one of the last picture of tour of Perigord, France, in September 2001.

Provia 100F slide film pushed 2 stops (hence the quite high contrast), still with my Canon Elan 7/EOS 33 using a EF 24-85 f/3.5-4.5 USM lens. 1/90sec f/32.

Tuesday 3 May 2005

75 yrs of photography

Paris, September 11th 2075: Le musee de l'art photographique in Paris decided to offer a retrospective exhibition of John C Photographer, the famous Canadian new age photographer the passed away last year at the age of 99.

John C Photographer discovered the photography when he bought his first digital camera in 2000. Ever since he didn't stop. He travelled around the world and depicted the world as he saw it, with a really sensitive eye. He also was the favorite portrait photographer for all these important people, scientists, peace ambassodors, humanitarians. Researcher of the Foundation for Photography preservation in Montreal have just extracted the best shots that made him famous. They are currently working on having them printed for the exhibition. The bugdet for the exhibition is currently estimated to 1 Billions Euros. There is currently no estimate on how long it will take.

Paris, September 11th 2076: Le musee de l'art photographique in Paris just announced that the John C Photographer retrospective announced last year has been cancelled. It just appear that the Foundation for Photography preservation failed to decode the encoded RAW files from the archives, after 1 year of intensive work. That is the only files that got recovered for JCP collection after he passed away, and it sounds lost. Foundation for Photography preservation spoke person explained that for over 70 years photographer have been fighting with the camera manufacturers to get the RAW file format documented to not rely on their software, to make sure RAW files stay forever. They never did so.

In order to satisfy the public, Le musee de l'art photographique decided to do a Henri Cartier Bresson retrospective as his negatives, over 130 yers old, and prints are still stored at the Fondation HCB.

All of this sounds weird, incredible ? Not likely. This is what might happen if current camera manufacturers don't release the complete documentation on how to transform RAW files. This is what some photographers realized, and that's why they started the OpenRAW initiative, whose idea is to request manufacturers the documentation. I'm still surprised to hear from tech-inclined people that it is their right to not release the documentation, and that you can convert to TIFF or JPEG now. This is not correct. There is no right from a company to prevent you to use YOUR own work. That is what camera manufacturers do by obfuscating the RAW files. It is not a personal crusade because I think that a few individual are fooled. It is a humanity wide problem, the dispappearence of memories; photographies are really good historical material, and they should be preserved thru the ages. That is what camera manufacturers are doing.

Nikon just recently opened the can of worm by making it more difficult to reverse engineer the file format. It has been done by dcraw, so the effort was useless; in fact not. It just enlightened people; I have been fighting for a long time about proprietary file format. At last a wider range of people now understand.

Don't forget to be a responsible customer. Ask your vendor for the file format.