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9/20, 9PM





Sunday, September 24, 2006
8:23 PM      

From: Warren
Subject: for your blog...?
Date: September 21, 2006 11:19:16 AM EDT

Saw this at the bottom of that Washington Times article-- wanted to make sure you didn't miss this.

One of these things is not like the others...


Under "Advertising Links" we have"

Car Loans UK
Email Marketing uk
Security Camera
Wholesale MLM Lead
Family ski holidays
Jehovah's Witnesses news
Debt Management
Engagement Rings
Hear the Cries of Uganda
Gourmet Coffee
Flower Delivery UK
Used Cars
Cruise Vacation Trip Guide
Mailing Lists

Warren was referring to Hear the Cries of Uganda, which really doesn't sound like a hook for some marketing scheme, but Jehovah's Witnesses news seems a bit off, too... I think the computers just like to have a little fun now and then — see if we humans are on our toes. Either that, or some geniuses are tagging those links so that they pop up everywhere. In that case, they have no clue about the value of affinity in marketing. If they pay per click, they're probably paying through the nose for curiosity seekers. Or, maybe that's just what they want...


Interesting Shot of Perspective
From the Shreveport, LA Times:

A year ago, Cameron Parish cattle farmer Mike Montie frantically moved his cattle herd from their coastal pasture to higher ground north of the Intracoastal Waterway, saving 174 of 175 cows.

He was one of the few lucky ones, as up to 30,000 head of cattle drowned in Cameron, a center of the state's cattle trade.

Another 40,000 had to be sold and many are still dying from liver disease due to drinking salt water.

On Saturday, the eve of the first anniversary of Hurricane Rita's landfall, Montie and his fellow cattlemen hosted a symbolic cattle drive, hoping to capture some national media attention for the plight of southwest Louisiana, lost in the focus of attention on New Orleans.



Shoot it RAW
Not much more than three months ago, I finally started shooting RAW only. Happily, that meant that I could get 120 shots on a 2GB card, but it was more than that. With CS2, the workflow is smooth enough that RAW no longer presents significant hurdles to production.

The best part of the transition for me, is that the benefits are more substantial than I expected. Having one or two stops of headroom is a great concept. Seeing what that actually means in practice, is really impressive. I shot a band about a week ago, and made a web gallery from the pics. The interesting part of the exercise is that I was able to build the gallery using only Camera Raw and batch resize in Photoshop. The pictures look great, even without local adjustments.

Of course, the top pics will get additional treatment, but the ability to capture tones and adjust color temperature in RAW gives me global results that work out better than applying curves to a JPEG image. That observation doesn't move me to give Aperture and Lightroom a closer look, but it does lend validity to the idea raw-processing engines with no capacity for localized tonal adjustment like these.

I'm still coming to grasp how I'll work with Bridge. I prefer the catalog metaphor of iView, but the way that Bridge allows you to synchronize settings between several images could help speed up some of my post-processing. Supposedly, there is a menu item that will allow me to transfer ratings and labels from iView to Bridge, but I haven't found the menu item. In Bridge, I haven't figured out how to show or hide selections, which is a very handy feature in iView.

For this project, I dragged the folder containing my RAW files onto iView, and tagged the images that had potential with a green label. Then, I hid all images that weren't labeled green. I dragged the images around within the catalog to develop a presentation order. Then, I began to open the images in Camera Raw using a contextual menu in iView. In Camera Raw, I adjusted color temperature, exposure, brightness, and shadows to my satisfaction, then clicked Done. The adjustments I make are saved in sidecar files, which Photoshop will read when I run a batch process later.

Once I finished with my RAW settings, I ran two batch processes — one to make large images, and a second to make thumbnails. Nice thing about SimpleViewer: you don't have to expend the extra effort to make square thumbnail images. It usually presents a nice square thumbnail by displaying the central portion of a rectangular image.

To finish the SimpleViewer gallery, I needed an XML file containing filenames and captions. I copied the filenames in their appropriate order from iView's list view, and pasted that list (over 100 file names) into Excel twice — one column for filenames, and a second for captions, which in this case would be the file name, stripped of its _DSC prefix and the .jpg suffix. Find and Replace cleaned the second column quickly. A not-so-complex text formula allowed me to wrap the appropriate tags around the data displayed in the two columns. The result was a single image's XML data. From there, it was a simple matter to fill down to build the rest of the XML. I then copied the resultant column, and pasted it into my XML file. Without Excel, this part would have involved a lot more typing and typos.

When I previewed my SimpleViewer page, it mostly worked. The page title was no good — a simple fix in Dreamweaver took care of that — and I found that I could control-click (right click) on the large image and view the original JPEG file in my browser. I didn't want that, and it turned out to be a simple change in the XML file.

Processing 100 files and building a web gallery in SimpleViewer took the better part of a day to do, but I could have used the process described to build something much quicker and dirtier. Instead, I made something of a much higher quality with just a small incremental amount of effort.


Browsing This Month's MacWorld
A company called Orbicule has introduced a kind of Lojack for Mac OSX. Undercover is theft recovery software that captures and transmits network info and screen shots from your Mac if it's put into use after it's been stolen. It can even use the built-in iSight camera to photograph the thief for you. It gets better. If the machine can't be recovered, the software will cause your Mac to intermittently play dead.

As clever as Undercover may be, it has me thinking that savvy Mac thieves will now begin doing clean system installs as a first precaution. But, then again, maybe that's too much like work.

Popabrella just looks like a goofy little novelty. It's an umbrella with a mount that attaches to your camera to protect from rain or sun flare. I think the sun flare argument was added after the fact. A good lens hood will guard against flare in most of the situations there the umbrella would be useful.

All too often, wind accompanies rain, turning that umbrella into a sail or turning it inside out. If I were planning to shoot in foul weather a lot, I'd look into a protective rain cover like these from Kinesis. I doubt I'd carry a ‘just in case’ umbrella just for my camera.

Think Geek [stuff for smart masses] has fun T-Shirts. Great, like I don't have enough of those already! Three of my faves:

I just love a good SQL joke... Of course, jokes are never as funny when you try to explain them, so I won't.

A company called Dynamism makes sushi-shaped USB Flash drives and Hello Kitty MP3 players — you move kitty's feet to control the music. Now, that's kitsch.

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