What’s Happening?

June 28, 2006

A few updates of things that have been happening lately.

Our baby is currently four days overdue! My wife had another obstetrician appointment yesterday and she was told that if it hasn’t arrived by seven days overdue, she will be induced. That means we’re only three days away (at the most) from meeting the little one – wow. The “when’s it going to arrive” suspense is killing us!

Here’s a cool flash based game in which you manage a McDonalds store: McDonalds Video Game. From managing the farm, slaughterhouse, store and even your marketing/advertising campaigns, you’ll have your hands full. While I’ve only managed to get to 2008, I hear others have advanced much further. However, I warn you… it’s highly addictive!

Today my blog passed 50 views in one day – rock on. Want to know which search words send the most traffic to my blog from Google? “Who do you say I am?” consistently has 1 to 3 referrals a day, amazing. Not getting many comments though so I might have to jazz up my blog with some more controversial posts.

Ordered a remote cable switch for my Canon 350D yesterday over eBay for $14 (shipping included) – I think genuine Canon versions go for $50+. Do I really need it? Umm, good question. Probably not but I think it’ll come in handy for tripod work and at that price it’s not going to break the bank. Still haven’t really had a day where I can just go and concentrate on taking photos (be it in the city, at the beach or some event etc) but I’m hoping to during my time off soon.


Google’s ‘Picasa Web Albums’ Review

June 14, 2006

Google has just released its ‘Picasa Web Albums’ product. Picasa is, in Google’s own words:

Google’s free desktop photo management software. Picasa is a quick download that makes it easy for people to organize and edit their pictures using something that’s simple and clutter-free. It’s all about the photos.

Fair enough. It would seem that users have been requesting online photo sharing integration with Picasa so Google has come to the party. Check it out here. It’s currently only in Beta so it’s first come, first in. I decided to check it out for myself and see what it’s like and here are my impressions:

  • Storage
    250Mbs for a standard free account or $25 a year for roughly 6Gb. That’s pretty good value.
  • Interface
    It’s Web 2.0 so that should get those that care about that kind of thing happy. It’s cute and I like it more than Flickrs busy and confusing look.
  • Photo Sharing Ability
    In all honesty, it’s pretty basic… damn basic in fact. You can pretty much only upload photos, give them captions, rotate them, delete them and move between albums. Speaking of albums, you can create albums (or sets as Flickr calls it) but just like Flickr, you can’t do albums within an album. This for me is the biggest problem with Flickr (besides it’s interface for viewing photos which I don’t like) and Googles offering – Pbase has both products licked in this area in my opinion.

    Picasa Web Albums also don’t seem to display EXIF information – a must if this online photo sharing site is going to be taken serious by photo buffs.

So all up, it’s a good start but pretty simplistic in it’s offerings and photo managing/organising abilities. It is still in Beta (or TEST as Google calls it) so possibly these little issues will be ironed out in the future. Then again, maybe it isn’t aiming to take on Flickr, Pbase, Shutterfly etc and is just a basic way of uploading photos to the web – if so, it does that just fine.

But don’t take my word for it – check it out, Picasa Web Albums, yourself!

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Essential Photography Tools

June 1, 2006

There are several software tools that I believe are essential for a digital photographer these days. Chief amongst these are:

  • Cropping software: to ‘zoom’ in and get rid of unnecessary things in your photo
  • Image editing software: curves/levels correction, resizing, sharpening etc
  • Noise reduction software: removing ISO noise is great when you are pushing ISO 1600+
  • Online photo gallery: to share your photos with the world!

There is also conversion software that converts RAW files to TIFF/Jpeg etc files. Seeing as I don’t use RAW, I can’t really give any advice on a good raw converter. Anyway, Lets have a look at what I believe are the best tools for these tasks…

Read the rest of this entry »

DSLR, Here We Come

May 9, 2006

After many months of contemplating, dreaming, debating & hand wringing over the cost I finally brought a digital SLR today. I've had my heart set on the Canon 350D, so that's what i ended up getting. Check out a review of it here.

I've been using a Canon S400/IXUS 400 (4MP 3x optical zoom) for the past few years and it's been a faithful tool. Great picture quality, compact & light. However, the following reasons moved me to get an SLR:

  1. Low light performance; the S400 really struggled in low light situations, even after bumping the ISO up to 400 (it's highest rating). The 350D can do ISO 1600 which is 4 times higher (resulting in faster shutter response) and yet it's noise (the grain you see on film photos) is comparable to the S400 at ISO 50.
  2. Shutter speed; I've lost many photos with the S400 due to camera blur because the shutter speed was too slow (I'm fairly stable when taking photos) and the moment had passed by the time the shutter went off. With the 350D the shutter is almost instanteous (after taking focusing into account).
  3. Image quality; though the S400 has great image quality straight out of the camera (and after post processing in Photoshop), it can't compare to the images the 350D or any SLR can produce.
  4. Lense selection; with my S400 I'm stuck with a 3x optical zoom and always in the same focal length. With an SLR I can get as many lenses as I want, to cover whatever focal length I want.
  5. Photo creativity; better brokeh (the ability to blur the background), more manual control over settings (though most digicameras have manual modes), better flash, in the proper 3:2 format for printing etc.

Given our baby arriving soon, I wanted a camera that could capture it's early life without compromising the points above. The S400 just wasn't going to offer that.

It's not all good news though. The SLR body is expensive, as are quality lenses, bigger than a compact digicamera, requires more post processing and did I say expensive (around a factor of 2.5 to 3 times)?

My DSLR arrives tomorrow – can't wait. I'll post up a review after a few days of using it!

Update 10/05: Camera has arrived, battery is charging – woohoo!

Love Is In The Air

May 8, 2006

Yesterday was a terribly cold day in Melbourne – absolutely freezing. Normally this wouldn't be an issue as I would be at home, heater blazing and none the wiser to the cold outside. But not yesterday. Instead I was at a friends wedding.

It was at a reception centre called Windmill Gardens, a lovely place in the suburb of Rockbank (and yes, there was a windmill). It's pretty much farm country so lots of wide open land and thus lots of wind rushing about the place. Lots of cold wind. Cold, freezing wind.

Church service was officiated by my friends uncle and there was a pretty good turn out considering the day. In fact, it had been raining most of the morning which then stopped around 11am – so the sun was out of sorts and it was fairly dry. Still very cold though.

eception commenced at 5:30pm and it was a great evening that was enjoyed by all the people who attended. Got to catch up with another friend who I used to play soccer with, so that was good. Even got up and danced with my wife to a few of the slower songs – pretty funny dancing with her large belly in the way. All said and done, it was a great day.

What makes it interesting though is that this was only the 3rd or so time that we'd (myself, wife, brother, friend etc) met the bride due to the whirlwind nature of the relationship, engagement (don't think there even was one) and then marriage. All up I think we're talking 5 months?

The lucky couple are now off on a 3 month honeymoon around the world (America, London, Paris, Malta, America, Fiji or something like that) – some people have all the luck!

(photos to be uploaded shortly)


April 26, 2006

Yesterday was ANZAC, Australian & New Zealand Army Corps, Day in Australia and New Zealand. It is a national public holiday to remember the ANZACs who have served in battle for Australia or New Zealand. "Lest We Forget" is it's immortal slogan. Typically the day remembers the ill fated landing of ANZAC forces at Gallipoli, Turkey during World War I (or The Great War as they called it back then), but it is also a day for ANZAC WWII, Korean, Vietnam soldiers as well our current soldiers in Iraq, Afganistan and various other peace/humanitarian forces around the world.

My day started at 4:15am as I got up in preparation for the ANZAC Day Dawn Service, held at the Melbourne Shrine of Rememberance, my 2nd Dawn Service in as many years. I picked up a friend at 5am and we proceeded into the city. I must say, it is a marvelous site to see so many people turning out for the Dawn Service – 30,000 were the media estimates and it sure felt like there were that many. The older generation was there, as to be expected, but it was the younger (my age and younger) that were out in force yesterday. Young lads, young girls, families with babies, gray haired bikies, couples, grandparents – all were there.

A moving preservice tribute was read and then the actual Dawn Service started. Was very touching as a young year 12 (I think) student described her trip to the fields of the Western Front and mentioned a comment a local made to her as she was leaving. "Thank-you for having us", she had said and this old gentleman had replied, "No. Thank-you for your country's sacrifice, we would not be here today without you." There were a few sniffles in the crowd.

After the service had finished, around 6:30am, I waited 45 minutes in line as the crowd shuffled through the actual Shrine and laid down poppies. It was a terribly cold morning, but well worth it. Headed back home before coming back into the city to watch Essendon vs Collingwood in the ANZAC Day Match (Australian Rules footy). 91,000 screaming fans, the majority of whom seemed to be Collingwood fans, were not disappointed as it was a close game all day til the final five minutes when Collingwood broke away to eventually win by 17 points. Was not a happy ending for me, I barrack for Essendon, but was still a great ending to a great day.

I have a few photos that I took of this years Dawn Service, as well as lasts years, that I'll be posting on my Pbase account shortly.