Zappers

People, Photography, Pictures, Zap No Comments

The Zap Your PRAM Crew

Rannie Turingan is a completely kick-ass photographer in Toronto. He was one of the Zap Your PRAM crew, and spent a whole lot of time chasing down the other attendees and taking our pictures. He’s now finished up processing and posting the formal portraits on his website: Zap Your PRAM portraits. It’s a really nice record of the event, so @Rannie: many thanks for taking the time to do this. You rock.

On Recording vs. Experiencing

Photography, Travel, Zap 6 Comments

Amsterdam Tower

One of the earliest discussions to emerge during the Zap conference centered around the what seems to be a growing drive to record everything and every moment (by twittering it, Plazing it, photographing it, etc.)

The questions that emerged were: Does recording the moment change it? In recording it, are we essentially mediating it for ourselves, taking a step back and observing rather than simply experiencing? Are we stepping outside the moment in the act of recording (or thinking about recording) it, essentially separating ourselves from the experience to a certain degree?

Opinions were mixed. Thinking about it more, I believe that recording a moment does, in fact, separate you from it to a certain extent. And I think that the more you record or think about recording, the less present you actually are.

A few years ago I was in Amsterdam to attend a conference. Naturally we went a little early and stayed a little late so we could take time to experience the city, and during that time I took hundreds of photographs, most of which were just terrible. In spite of taking all these photos, however, my most memorable moment in Amsterdam was when I encountered the works of Vermeer at the Rijksmuseum. They are absolutely breathtaking. Looking at prints in books just doesn’t come anywhere close to the experience of seeing the originals. It was overwhelming and deeply emotional and really quite astonishing for me. I have never had so visceral a reaction to art before, and it was entirely unexpected. I will never, ever forget that experience. And I didn’t take a single picture while I was there. Not one. And my other memories of Amsterdam are of moments where I wasn’t bothering to take photographs. Dinner with friends and coworkers. Having drinks with Rob at a small side street cafe. Talking to some locals while exploring the city’s nightlife. Almost getting killed by a ravaging horde of cyclists before I figured out how traffic worked. Sitting in the lobby watching people walk by the hotel in the morning, drinking insanely good coffee.

The photographs I took? I don’t remember experiencing the thing in the photo, I remember taking the photo. Recording the moment separated me from it, and it now feels almost fake.

We’re going to France soon. We’ve never been before, and I’m really excited about the trip. While I expect I will take my camera with me wherever we go, I am going to be much more deliberate and thoughtful about what I photograph. Rather than taking hundreds of photos of everything, I’m going to take only a few — and only if they’re worthy of being photographs — and spend more of my time actually being in the moment, paying attention, experiencing. What I learned from Amsterdam is that the strongest memories are made this way, not by flipping through a shoebox of pictures when you get home.

Export to Flickr plugin for Lightroom 2 = awesomesauce

Photography, Software No Comments

My entire photoprocessing workflow is now wholly contained in Lightroom 2 because of Jeffrey Friedl’s Export to Flickr plugin. And Lightroom does crazy smart things like stashes images in a temp directory for uploading then automatically deletes the images afterwards so you’re not gumming up your harddrive with unnecessary images that you’ll probably never use again.

Firefox 3: Color profile support (oh the pretty, pretty colors)

Browsers, Firefox, Mozilla, Photography, Work 65 Comments

[Click on pictures to view different sizes.]

I got my first camera around 1985 or so. It was second-hand Fujica 35mm with a 50mm lens that I purchased for $110. I ran a lot of film through that camera, and used it constantly through all of high school and university, going so far as to process my own film, do my own prints, and work as the photo editor for the school paper. I finally replaced my old Fujica with a second-hand Nikon FM2n (and a handful of used prime lenses) in 1997 or 1998. Since then, of course, I’ve been a digital camera junkie, starting with a 1 megapixel Kodak DC240, then moving up through a host of various Nikon and Canon point-and-shoots until finally scraping together the cash for a proper DSLR, the Nikon D70s. I’ve upgraded once since then to the Nikon D80, and I think this is all the camera I need until Nikon puts out a reasonably priced full-frame sensor model. In short, I’m a bit of a photography enthusiast.

One thing that has always irritated me about looking at pictures on the web is that browsers don’t seem to display photographs properly. And by “photographs” I really mean “colors”. I spend a lot of time tweaking pictures in Photoshop, but when I upload them to my Flickr account and look at them in Firefox 2 the colors aren’t the same — they’re more washed out, dull, and lifeless. It’s a subtle thing, but annoying nonetheless.

Here’s an example of what I mean. The following is a split-photo created from two screenshots — one of my Flickr photos displayed in Firefox 2, and the same photo displayed in Photoshop:

Firefox2-Photoshop-Split

It turns out that these differences are because of something called “color profile support”. Firefox 2 does not include support for color profiles, so the browser renders colors as best it can without doing special tweaks based on your system or custom color profiles.

The good news is that Firefox 3 does include full support for color profiles. The bad news is that color profile support will be turned off by default when Firefox 3 ships. I’ll explain why this is the case a little later.

Here’s a three-split photograph created using screenshots of another of my Flickr photos in Firefox 2, Firefox 3 (with color profile support enabled), and Photoshop. As you can see, the Firefox 3 photo matches the Photoshop photo exactly. This is happy news for photographers.

ColorProfileExample6a

There are two ways to turn on color profile support in Firefox 3. The easiest is to install the Color Management add-on (which will work with Firefox 3 Beta 5). After you install the add-on and restart Firefox 3, color profile support is enabled, and you can specify a custom color profile by going to the Tools menu, selecting “Add-ons”, and clicking the Color Management add-on “Preferences” button. If you do not specify a color profile, the system default profile will be used, which should be OK for most people.

The second way to turn on color profile support is through the about:config page, which is a special page where a huge number of different (and usually hidden) Firefox options can be tweaked. This is not a recommended method for most people — about:config options should only be edited if you are very aware of what you’re doing. That said, if you do want to edit the options there, they are gfx.color_management.enabled and gfx.color_management.display_profile. For more about editing about:config, see the SUMO knowledgebase article, or the more detailed (if slightly out of date) content over on MozillaZine.

Here’s another example photo, this time just Firefox 2 compared to Firefox 3 with color profile support enabled:

ColorProfileExample1

Why wouldn’t you want it turned on?

So, if color profile support is so awesome (and it really is, in my opinion), why won’t it be on by default for Firefox 3? There are two main reasons.

First, color profile support causes a roughly 10-15% performance hit in many of our performance tests. If the images that you’re viewing are of a reasonable size, that’s probably negligible. If they’re large, it could be noticeable. We’re working on improving the performance of this feature so that we can turn it on by default in future releases.

Second, plugins do not currently support color profiles. What this means is if a plugin has been color-matched precisely with other parts of the page, it may no longer match when color profile support is turned on. As an example, here are two screenshots of a plugin displayed on the GuildWars game website, Firefox 2 on the left, and Firefox 3 (with color profile support enabled) on the right. You’ll notice that the background grey on the Firefox 3 screenshot is a lot darker, so the corners and bottom of the plugin no longer match it exactly. This is caused by color profile support being enabled — if disabled, Firefox 3 renders the background grey exactly the same way as Firefox 2.

GW-side-by-side

So, there are currently some trade offs involved with enabling color profile support, and the Firefox 3 developers have opted to leave it disabled by default for the time being. That said, I have been using Firefox 3 with color profile support enabled for months and have never encountered any noticeable performance impact. It is likely that a future version of Firefox will see this feature enabled by default, which will be a happy day as everyone will then be able to see photographs on the web as they were meant to be seen. There will be great rejoicing.

ColorProfileExample2

For more examples of Firefox 2 vs. Firefox 3 (with color profile support enabled) screenshots, check out my Flickr set.

Mini road-trip photos

Ottawa, Photography, Pictures No Comments

sawmill and stream

Rob and I went for a mini road-trip out to Balaclava, ON today. As we tend to do, we took a bunch of pictures. My set is here. Rob’s are over here.

Some other new photos

Photography, Pictures No Comments

yellow flower

A couple of weeks ago I took a whole week off (a whole week!) and visited my folks. Dad and I spent some time out taking pictures, some of the results of which are here.

Some new photos

Ottawa, Photography, Pictures No Comments

hole in a hay bale

Rob, Kev, and I went out to shoot at the Experimental Farm for a few hours yesterday afternoon. Gorgeous, unseasonably warm October afternoon. A few of my pictures are here.

This was my first trip out with the new Nikon 10.5mm fisheye lens — I absolutely love it and can’t wait to go shooting with it again soon.

Some new pictures

Canada, Photography No Comments

oh look, it's autumn

Rob and I went for a drive on Monday and ended up wandering around Gatineau Park a bit (specifically, the Mackenzie King Estate) and took some pictures. Mine are here: Gatineau Park, Sept 2007.

Road trip photos

Photography, Pictures No Comments

DSCN0777.jpg

Rob and I took an extended Victoria Day Weekend and booted down to Watkins Glen, NY for a quick mini-vacation. There’s a state park there with an absolutely gorgeous gorge that you can walk through. We took many, many pictures. I’ve posted some (not all yet, but most) here:

Dria’s Watkins Glen Roadtrip Photoset.

New camera and a bunch of photos

Photography, Pictures 5 Comments

daffodil

So after researching and reading and agonizing over which little point&shoot camera I wanted to pick up, I finally settled on the new Nikon P5000.

Major feature rundown:

  • Weighs around 280g with battery and memory card. Super light.
  • It’s 3.9 x 2.5 x 1.6 in. Tiny, but not so tiny that it’s awkward to hold/use.
  • Excellent ergonomics/design. Controls are intuitively laid out, easy to access and use, and the menu system is very nice.
  • 10 megapixel.
  • Kick ass macro mode.
  • Automatic, semi-automatic (Shutter priority and Aperture priority), and full manual mode. I used full manual mode for all the pictures I took this morning, and it’s dead simple to use.
  • Drawback: no RAW support. This is a bit of a drag, but is the only drawback I’ve found so far.

All that aside, here are the shots I took while walking home from my doctor’s appointment this morning: May 11 walk.

Random note: turns out using the “Rotate picture” feature on Flickr completely hoses the EXIF data for those images. I’ll have to re-upload the ones that need to be rotated.

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