Monday, June 28, 2010

Tyrannosaur on Ice

"Sleep, eat, skate. It's what I do."

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Tyrannosaurus Express

Move over Mariano, there's a new kid in town.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Tyrannosaurus Dexterous

Tyrannosaurus Rex: street performer, eating machine.

Opted for less saturated colors compared to the previous dino. It suits my fancy.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

How Graceful is the Tyrannosaur... softly she touches
her toes to floor and up again
take care she doesn't eat you

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Understanding Exposure: 3rd Edition

A while back I reviewed Bryan Peterson's book Understanding Exposure. In two months, on Aug. 10 2010, the third edition is due to come out.

While I can not say how valuable the updates to it might be for someone who already owns a previous edition, based on my experience in learning from the 2nd edition, I can certainly recommend the book to those who don't own previous editions. It is an invaluable resource to someone wanting to crack the black box of creating consistently good results with their photography. Even if you're a long time photographer, if you don't really understand the basics of shutter speed, aperture, and iso, this will help you fill the void and allow you to take control of the camera when most appropriate, instead of letting the camera making the decisions for you (as the camera might not choose the settings you'd like). And when you tell tell the camera to make the choices, you'll understand what it's doing, and know what settings might need to be changed if the results you are getting are different than you expected.

Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera

Or, if you're in need of knowledge now, the 2nd Edition will certainly meet your needs in understanding the ins and outs getting proper exposures. I'm guessing the update might be useful, but not critical. The keys to the book are in teaching how to properly expose your photographs. The new edition isn't likely to improve on it's ability to teach these concepts, although, again, not having read it the 3rd edition, I can't say how useful its new material might be.

Link to 2nd Edition:
Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with a Film or Digital Camera (Updated Edition)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Canon Pixma Pro 9000 Mark II: some thoughts in review

After a few dozen prints made, I can without question say that my Canon PIXMA Pro9000 Mark II creates beautiful prints. If you're considering getting one, I'd say go for it. It produces excellent results.

One caveat:

If you're going to print on fine art paper, steer well clear of Canon brand fine art paper. (There may be an exception, which I'll get to later in the post.) When printing on Canon's fine art paper they impose a 35mm border on each end of the paper lengthwise, so your 13x19 paper gets you no wider than a 16.25", and your 8.5" x 11" becomes 8" x 8.25" (the short side of the paper has a 1/4" border - and two times 1/4" equals 1/2", reducing the short side of the paper to 8"). If you don't mind this limitation, then the particular kind of Canon fine art paper I have used produces beautiful prints. Canon does not impose a 35mm border on you if you use their other paper types.

Here's how the 35mm border is imposed. Canon creates their paper icc profiles with each paper type in mind. So, when you go to print, you choose the icc profile that matches the paper, and you select the paper type being used. These two pieces of information tell the printer how to correctly lay down the ink to produce the image as you have it on screen (if your monitor is calibrated correctly). So, to get a correctly printed image, the icc profile and paper type need to be accurately selected. When selecting the fine art paper types, you are required to choose a paper size that has a 35mm border defined.

You could, however, lie to the printer, and say you are using a different type of paper than you really are. Which means you could tell the printer you are using a paper that does not have the 35mm border limitation. The problem with this is the prints come out inaccurately (there may be an exception, which I'll address in a moment). So, if you are using the Canon fine art paper, but you were to tell the printer, for example, that you are using glossy photo as your paper type, then the print would come out with somewhat different colors than you see on your calibrated monitor. And on the Canon fine art paper I used, when I tell the printer I am using some other type of paper, some of the colors in the print may even bleed into others.

A Probable Exception:

At least one type of fine art paper that is Canon branded (Fine Art Photo Rag 188gsm), is created by Hahnemuhle. On Hahnemuhle's site, the instructions for using what appears to be the same paper (Photo Rag 188gsm) suggests selecting matte photo as the paper type being used (which does not impose the 35mm border), while also using the icc profile that Hahnemuhle created. I discovered this fact by listening to Martin Bailey's excellent podcast on the subject. He is using a Canon Pixma Pro 9500, but I expect that his happy results would be the same when using the 9000. No more silly 35mm border.

Password Security Tips

Remember the scam I posted about? It included some tips about email security. Today I stumbled across an article about choosing and using passwords for the umpteen sites you have passwords for. It's quite informative. Written by John P. at One Man's Blog, How I’d Hack Your Weak Passwords.

He mentions password software that will allow you to use a unique password for each site, as well as information like: "Adding just one capital letter and one asterisk would change the [time it would take a hacker to discover an] 8 character password from 2.4 days to 2.1 centuries."

Read it, apply it, save your bank account, etc. from being broken into.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Xubuntu goes bust

[A post in which I dis Linux (Xubuntu in particular), then return to an interest in it, then consider just going Mac and Adobe all the way now and forever, and by the end of which I turn to the reasonableness of the free Linux and Inkscape software on a less pricey self built system. Note that the idea of Windows does not crop up anywhere in the discussion. Ew.]

I upgraded to the latest Xubuntu, 10.04 (it's called Lusty Lynx or something, as each new release has an animal name associated with the new version number). Now Xubuntu doesn't boot up. Grrrr. Maybe I'll get back to it in a month or two and see if it is a bug that gets resolved. I assume it isn't something that happens on all computer systems. It's been a LOT of work though, trying to set up Xubuntu, just to see if I might squeeze some more speed out of Inkscape. I dunno, maybe I'll dip my toe into the forums somewhat, here and there, and see if I can figure it out. I can see myself one day opting for a purely linux machine, after my current iMac G5 finally goes to its grave. If I can manage to work out the kinks that seem to be a part of the deal (at least with my current hardware and peripherals), it would surely be the most economically efficient option for both hardware and software. If, that is, the time put into getting everything set up (including a driver for my Canon printer, oi, I wonder how difficult that might be) isn't too terribly much more time than I've put into it so for.

I tried the upgrade because, having had a chance recently to get back to my experimenting with Xubuntu, I tried again to get my wacom tablet to work on it. But having to again run the gauntlet of forum posts and jargon and foreign programming type instructions (much like I had to do in order to figure out how to initially install Xubuntu, as well as for getting wireless to work), I opted to try simply upgrading to the recent release of 10.04, as I already stated, hoping (?) this might allow my Wacom Bamboo to work with no special set up. If it would have done it, I can't know. It freezes during boot up.

I wonder if the love linux users have for the various flavors of linux has at least something to do with a love of tinkering and figuring out how to make it all work with various computer set ups. I can understand that, and there's a part of me that likes that sort of thing, but the frustrations that come with so much of it all being unfamiliar (and much geekier than I am presently able to understand, or at least a different kind of geek) leaves me, well, just that, frustrated. But strangely still drawn to it in some way. Are there systems that work with linux out of the box?

Then again, a new Mac, plus time put into learning Illustrator over Inkscape, just might be worth it. I'm thinking this, because the time put into one (a Mac plus Illustrator set up), might be much the same as the time put into the other (Linux plus Inkscape set up). Counting my learning of Illustrator (in place of learning how to make Linux operational), plus the time required to earn the extra dough for the certainly pricier Mac and Adobe software (in place of using the free Inkscape, plus building my own machine at a lower price, which also would require some learning time, or perhaps buying an already built machine, albeit a cheaper one than a Mac would be), it might all be somewhat even as far as time put in, whichever way I chose to go. Well, at least initially. Over the long hall, by my second or third upgrade, the Linux on a self built computer with Inkscape, would be less costly than upgrading to a new Mac two or three or four (and five and six) times. Did I lose you? Are you even reading? It's late. Good night.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Eric Paints Pictures

Original measures about 30" wide

My brother Eric and I shared a booth at the local Scandinavian Days festival this past weekend, and he did pretty well with his oil paintings and prints. Better than I'd expected, not because I don't think he can sell (I really think he can), but I didn't expect this to be the best venue for his work. Once he goes out and gets his work into a few galleries he'll be selling a half dozen or more paintings a year straightaway. And if his skill continues to progress at the rate it has been, he'll become not only quite good (as he is already), but very, very, (very) good in the next year or two. And within two to five years, a master. Although, he's made such a distinct breakthrough recently, that I may be overestimating. He may be better sooner.

Original measures 13.5" x 8.25"

The work here shows where he's at after about five years of oil painting, not all the time of which has been focused on landscapes. I'm not sure, but I believe he's painted less than a couple dozen landscapes (if that). The one at the top of this post, in person at least, being his strongest of the three shown here. He has one recent painting that he can't bring himself to part with. I rushed to make a reproduction of it, but it didn't come out right, and perhaps I'll share it at a later time once we have had a chance to sit down and get it right. It's probably his strongest painting to date. Although, all the paintings here, on my screen at least, look pretty accurate to the originals in color. They printed out fabulously on my Canon Pixma Pro9000 MkII. Still haven't gotten the smoothest of color management going, but we managed with a bit of a workaround. More on the reproduction process at a later time (no jokes, please). I'll walk through the photographing of the original, through the printing of the print.

Original measures about 30" wide