Archive for January, 2009

Thursday, January 29th 2009

A few thoughts on IE8 RC 1

I have just downloaded and installed the upgrade from Internet Explorer 8 beta 2 to release candidate 1.

Internet Explorer 8 logo

The installation required restarting the computer twice. The second time Windows didn’t get further than the welcome screen, so I had to restart a third time.

Some thoughts about IE8 RC 1 then:

  • It definitely feels faster than beta 2. It seems load quite a bit faster and new tabs open faster too. My installation of Firefox doesn’t start up as quickly (which might have something to do with the 14 extensions + 1 theme I use), but it opens tabs much faster. Instantly even.
  • The IE team claim full compatibility with CSS 2.1. That’s great news and a huge leap forward for the IE rendering engine. Web designers will still miss some of the CSS 3 goodies that Firefox and Safari have put out recently though. Rounded borders and transparent colours come to mind.
  • Internet Explorer 8 has quite a few new features that I covered in my review of beta 2. But not much seems to have happened in the way of features for RC 1.
  • JavaScript performance seems to have improved quite a bit from beta 2. Firefox 3.1 beta 2 runs the Sunspider benchmark more than four times as quickly though.

To sum up: Nice improvements made by the IE team, but it’s a shame for web designers that we still won’t be able to use rounded borders and semi-transparent colours.

Wednesday, January 28th 2009

What's going on here?

I’ve noticed this a few times now. When I do a Google search using Internet Explorer the first few results are high-jacked by various spam-ish sites.

google screenshot

Anyone have any idea what’s happening here? I’m guessing my computer has been infected somehow. I doubt very much this is Google’s fault.

I’ll let Spybot loose and see what it finds.

Edit: After running Spybot and fixing all the problems it found, Google now behaves as it should in Internet Explorer. (There was never a problem in Firefox.)

Thursday, January 22nd 2009

Major Lightroom Project Completed

This blog has been dormant for about three weeks, so sorry to anyone who was expecting regular posts. My blogging tends to come and go.

The reason for the outage has been a fairly huge, crazy project that I started on some time after new year: Moving all my Raw photos into Lightroom. (Up until now I have only used it to organize my developed JPEGs.)

Until now I have used the Canon software Raw Image Task to turn my CR2 files into JPEGs. I liked the fact that it produced the same output as the camera itself in JPEG mode.

But it got to the point when Lightroom had so much going for it I just couldn’t keep making myself use the, by comparison, useless Canon software any more.

Here are all the things that made me switch:

  1. Not having to keep all photos as both Raw and JPEG. That saves me about 20 GB of space on a drive which is beginning to fill up.
  2. The vastly superior user interface in Lightroom. Lightroom makes it so much easier to get the white balance right, and has a much wider range of settings to help you save the slightly failed photos. Fill Light and Recovery are really useful for saving under- and overexposed shots.
  3. Simplified workflow: Lightroom does it all. Import, development, organization, keywording. I don’t have to keep switching programs all the time.
  4. Lightroom suppresses hot pixels. This was the straw that broke Raw Image Task’s back. By accident, when I was developing my star trail shots I noticed that Lightroom somehow can detect those pesky red, green and blue pixels that appear in really long exposures and replace them with something more reasonable. I have no idea how it does this but I love it.

I’m sure there were other reasons too that I can’t remember right now.

The only thing I find negative with switching to Lightroom is that I can’t reproduce the look that the camera outputs. But this may change given some time, since Lightroom allows you to import and use different base profiles for the Raw conversion.

Anyway, here’s what this little moving importing project entailed:

  1. Importing roughly 7,700 photos
  2. Copying keywords, captions, titles and location metadata from each JPEG to each CR2 file. This had to be done one photo at a time. Ctrl+Shift+C, Enter, right arrow, Ctrl+Shift+V, right arrow. 7,700 times. Easily worth it. 🙂
  3. Finding good defaults for the develop settings. Then going back and changing my mind about them again. And again. And again. And the going back to some previous settings.
  4. Tweaking white balance and exposure for all photos, one by one. (Lightroom doesn’t read any settings saved by Canon Raw Image Task.)
  5. Copying spot removal data for all photos taken at small apertures.

Well, now all that is done. I’m going to keep my JPEGs around for a while before I clear the space on the hard drive, just because that is the kind of thing you usually regret doing if you don’t think about it for long enough first.

Have some HDR shots from the Xmas holidays that I might post here. Uploading to Flickr at the moment.

Friday, January 2nd 2009

More HDR shots of Uppsala

A few more HDR shots from the same photo walk as the previous ones.

This is the big cinema in Uppsala, Filmstaden. I only needed three bracketed shots to get the dynamic range here, since the sky wasn’t that bright above the houses.

SF Filmstaden, Uppsala (HDR)

And here five shots, taken about two hours after the photo above.

SF Filmstaden, Uppsala (HDR)

This is Islandsfallet, from which the river is deep enough for boats to sail south to lake Mälaren.

Islandsfallet, Uppsala

Thursday, January 1st 2009

Kvarnfallet, again

It’s beginning to feel like I’m repeating myself … Couldn’t resist to take a few more pictures of Kvarnfallet last time I went shooting in Uppsala.

Kvarnfallet, Uppsala

I used my Gorillapod to fasten my camera to the iron fence that runs along the river, keeping the shoulder strap around my neck as extra security. Didn’t feel like loosing the camera to the ice-cold water below.

I probably looked weird to the people passing by … but hey, that’s photography.

Upplandsmuseet vid Kvarnfallet, Uppsala

For this last shot (which really was the first) I used the grey (ND) filter I was given for Christmas. Very useful for this kind of stuff to get nice long exposures.

Kvarnfallet och Upplandsmuseet, Uppsala