What a Difference a Few Minutes Make

Posted in Photo with tags on January 18, 2012 by Mike Procario

Yesterday’s photo of the day of a sunset was not as good as I had hoped for. I came out of work just before the sunset and I thought the red and blue and the black tree silhouettes would look good, but it was pretty dark especially for my Canon A590IS point and shoot.

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Well, today I came out of the work about 10 minutes earlier, and I tried again with the same camera. I think the results are better.

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There is more red in the sky in this photo, and the shutter speed was higher due to more light. If you look at the trees in this photo you can see fine detail in the branches, which was blurred last night.

Serious photographers talk about waiting for the light to be just right. Well for these daily shots I don’t often have time to wait for the light, so I will keep trying and see if I can find the right light one day.

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Working on Picture a Day

Posted in Photo with tags on January 17, 2012 by Mike Procario

It was raining this morning, so I put on my rain coat. I discovered that my Canon A590IS point and shoot was in my pocket, so I had another choice for a camera for my photo of the day. As soon as I got out of the house I saw the raindrops hanging off the Japanese maple in our yard. I took this photo of it.

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I think this might have been a nice photo, if I had taken it with my DSLR and set the aperture wide open to blur the background. As it stands now, it is lesson learned.

When I left the office, the sun was had almost set and it was getting fairly dark. I took the photo below with the Canon A590IS. It only has a maximum ISO of 200, so my DSLR has much better low light performance, but for this shot it may not have made much difference. I am pretty happy with the trees just being silhouettes.

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I decided to pick the sunset as my photo of the day, but I may take my DSLR to work tomorrow to see what opportunities present themselves.

Picture a Day

Posted in Photo with tags on January 14, 2012 by Mike Procario

On Flickr there are quite a few groups that invite you to take and post a photo a day. I tried to do that in 2010 and I succeeded in taking 78 photos for a 21% rate. I am going to give it another try this year. I am now two weeks in, and I have succeeded 100% of the time.

I don’t have the time to grab my SLR and go out and find something very interesting to shoot everyday, so I will have to be happy with catching shots with my iPhone. In 2010 I did get several nice shots with my phone, which was then a Motorola Droid. This is one of my favorite shots from any camera. It was taken with my Droid in the parking lot at work.

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If everyday turned out this well, I would be delighted. Clearly, they won’t, so I take this challenge as a chance to experiment more and generally keep my eyes open for photo taking opportunities.

On the 7th, I took my DSLR downtown and took about 50 photos. I was happy with about 10 of them, so the challenge there was which one to pick to represent the day. I picked this one.

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I could also have picked this one

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or this one

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I find all of those interesting as photographs, but some days I just go for fun like this one. The caption was “In Chicago, the cars pray to the snow gods to not be buried.”

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You can follow my experiments on Flickr, my 2012 photo a day set.

My First Experiments with Shooting Photos in RAW Format

Posted in Photo on December 30, 2011 by Mike Procario

I got a Nikon D7000 this summer after using a D50 for six years. I continued to shoot jpegs with the D7000 until this week. I picked up a copy of the December 2011 Digital Photo magazine with an article on starting to use raw format, so I went out did some shooting in the mode that records a RAW file and a jpeg. I thought the skies look particularly interesting, and I took some shots of local landscapes with lots of sky. Many of the shots had blown out skies with none of the clouds visible. He is the best of the shots of the sky that I got with jpegs. I applied no processing beyond what the camera did.

A shot that had a problem with blown out highlights in the sky is shown below. I processed both the jpeg and the RAW format in Adobe Lightroom 3. The jpeg seemed to get the most detail back at recovery of 30. Cranking up to recovery to 100 did add not any more detail.

Using Lightroom 3 was able to recover the clouds in the RAW format shots. Both shots below were adjusted by about the same amount. Setting recovery to 30 brought all of the clouds back in the raw format.

So far I have been able to turn a bad shot into an average shot, but there still seems to be a real advantage even for an amateur like me to shoot RAW.

Americs’a Problem with the 1%

Posted in Economy, politics on December 22, 2011 by Mike Procario

Joshua Brown explains to  the 1% what gets the 99% ticked off.

So, no, we don’t hate the rich.  What we hate are the predators.

What we hate are the people who we view as having found their success as a consequence of the damage their activities have done to our country.  What we hate are those who take and give nothing back in the form of innovation, convenience, entertainment or scientific progress.  We hate those who’ve exploited political relationships and stupidity to rake in even more of the nation’s wealth while simultaneously driving the potential for success further away from the grasp of everyone else.

No Food Stamps for Millionaires

Posted in Economy, Law & Politics on December 1, 2011 by Mike Procario

From the NY Times

Senate Republican leaders would go after “millionaires and billionaires,” not by raising their taxes but by making them ineligible for unemployment compensation and food stamps and increasing their Medicare premiums.

Your Congress at work, awe inspiring isn’t it?

Software Upgrade for the TV

Posted in Technology and Software on October 25, 2011 by Mike Procario

We have a 42 inch plasma TV that we bought in 2005. We have watched two Steeler Superbowl victories on it. It recently began to pop up the setup menu for no apparent reason. We would exit the setup menu and it would go away to just pop back minutes to seconds later. The longer the TV was on, the faster the menu came on. It really smelled like a software problem.

I looked for a firmware upgrade on the web. It is a Phillips TV and I just plugged in the model number and it produced the required files. I downloaded the file and copied it to a USB thumb drive. I plugged the drive into the TV and turned it on. The TV saw it and did the upgrade automatically.

The TV appears to be fixed. It was really quite a simple process. The key was recognizing it was a software problem.

I chatted with some my physicists friends after I fixed it and I asked if what they would have done. Turning the TV off, even pulling the plug was mentioned, but they did not come up with upgrading the firmware. I told them my solution and they thought they would have eventually have come up with the same solution.