Friday, December 3rd 2010

Perfekt vinter

Massor av minusgrader, tjockt med frost, en sol som är på väg neråt och lagom klar himmel. Sverige blir inte mycket vackrare än såhär.

Jag tog på mig termobyxorna, packade kameran och åkte en kvart tidigare till jobbet (började kl 14 i dag) för att hinna stanna på ett par ställen som jag spanat in tidigare.

Använde mitt 17-55mm och 10-20mm. Som vanligt ungefär.

Syns tankeprocessen i mina fotspår när jag letade den bästa vinkeln?

Allén till Haga slott

Det här var tydligen allén till Haga slott. Det tycks finnas väldigt många fina alléer runtomkring Enköping. Och jag tycks alltid känna ett starkt behov av att fota dem.

Fingrarna värkte efter bara någon minut utanför bilen, trots att handskarna var på.

Frostiga trädgrenar

Frostiga trädgrenar

Enköpings näs kyrka

Enköpings-Näs kyrka och kyrkogård.

Enköpings-Näs kyrka

Enköpings-Näs kyrka

När jag som bäst kröp runt på knä i snön för att ta bilden här nedanför kom en annan man för att besöka kyrkogården. Han var väldigt vänlig och parkerade sin bil precis utanför bilden till vänster.

Enköpings-Näs kyrka

Detta slår väl lätt de andra årstiderna i skönhet?

Thursday, December 2nd 2010

Advent

Det är något visst med att komma hem klockan elva på kvällen till tända adventsljusstakar och adventsstjärnor.

Adventsljusstake i fönster

Adventsstjärna

Monday, November 29th 2010

Life Expectancy Over 200 Years

Here’s a relly cool video with a decently crazy Swede (apparently Hans Rosling) projecting life expectancy data from all over the world in a room. Not sure how they did it.

This seems to be a short clip from a tv show (The Joy of Stats), which sounds like just the thing for me. =)

Edit: Here’s a really funny lecture with Hans Rosling.

Sunday, November 28th 2010

Kuwait not banning SLRs

It turns out The Kuwait Times didn’t do their research and published unconfirmed information. So Kuwait isn’t banning use of SLRs in public after all.

Sunday, November 28th 2010

Tre diabilder ur en skokartong

När jag hade min gamla goda Canon EOS 300 (analog) så provade jag att fota någon enstaka rulle diafilm. Och trots att jag haft en diaprojektor så har jag knappt sett dessa bilder alls. Kanske berodde det på att jag inte hade någon duk att rikta projektorn mot.

Hur stom helst. Nu när jag scannade in dem var det trevligt att hitta ett par i mitt tycke hyfsat fina naturbilder. De är däremot väldigt enkla – alla tre har egentligen bara en beståndsdel.

Sunset behind a lone tree.

Den här bilden tog jag på Öland, i samband med att jag gjorde mitt examensarbete om jag minns rätt. Den ser nästan överdrivet behandlad ut, men jag har bara ställt in nivåerna för att svart ska vara svart. Plus en aning brusreducering.

Yellow crocus.

Förmodligen stod den här krokusen i någon av mina föräldrars rabatter.

En kylig vinterdag, någonstans i närheten av Vaksala kyrka i Uppsala.

Thursday, November 25th 2010

Kuwait bans use of SLR cameras

Well this seems completely reasonable, right? There was me thinking Kuwait was one of the more civilized parts of the middle east.

Wednesday, November 24th 2010

Hipstamatic & Instagram

Everywhere I go I see photos made to look like old, dis-coloured polaroids. I’ll admit they sometimes look kinda cool, but I probably won’t get on that train for another few years. Probably just around the time when everyone else is going back to a more natural look.

I guess I have an obsession for image detail, and the thought of mangling my photos with something like Hipstamatic or Instagram hurts a little.

Also, I can’t help feeling the effect is already getting a bit old. When everyone uses it on all their photos we end up with polaroid overload.

Here’s a guy who has even stronger (negative) feelings about these apps.

BTW, I just realized – can you even get the Instagram or Hipstamatic effects on anything that wasn’t taken with an iPhone? Are there any other equivalents which will do this in a browser?

Wednesday, November 24th 2010

Ung och bortskämd

Tittade just på det tredje avsnittet av SVT:s första förnedringssåpa, Ung och bortskämd. Det kom inte i närheten av det första avsnittet när det gäller antal gapskratt, men det är lite småkul ändå.

Har hittills fått som jag velat i omröstningarna, men nu hade jag hellre sett att Paulina åkte ut.

Wednesday, November 24th 2010

Reworking my favourites

Over time I have realized that during my first few years of digital photography I was very careful when editing my photos. Meanwhile I have become more and more daring with the contrast, saturation and a whole bunch of other sliders.

So I decided to go through all my favourites and re-do them as I would have done if I had taken them today. Some photos have made me wonder why on earth I put them in this collection in the first place, and have been brutally removed.

I have come about half way, but I won’t upload them to my Flickr account until I’m done. But here are a few before-and-afters of the photos I’ve done so far:

Rose hips.

Rose hips.

Apart from lacking in contrast and colour, I found that many photos felt too warm. So I have nudged the white balance slider down on quite a few.

Uppsala konsert och kongress.

Reflection in a glass wall at the Uppsala concert hall.

On the honeymoon.

One of the picnics we had on our honeymoon on Gotland.

Chevrolet Chevelle.

Chevrolet Chevelle.

Here I also thought the cropping was a bit off, so I made it tighter.

What do you think, better or worse?

Wednesday, November 3rd 2010

A Day I Won’t Forget

A few weeks ago I stopped by in a magnificent oak meadow along the way to work, by Hjulstabron outside Enköping. I will remember that day for a long time because after leaving the meadow and crossing the bridge I came across a biker that had been hit head on by a car. On a 90 kph (56 mph) road.

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He was lying in the ditch. Two other guys had already called the ambulance and were taking care of him. Amazingly he was alive and breathing, but obviously badly hurt and unconscious. One of them asked me to check the deep wound in his leg to make sure he wasn’t losing a lot of blood. Thankfully, he wasn’t.

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Three ambulances arrived and I was asked to leave since I hadn’t actually witnessed the accident. He was taken to the hospital in Uppsala. His injuries were life threatening according to the press information from the hospital. I still don’t know if he survived, and I doubt I ever will know.

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All in all it was a very strange mix of amazing natural beauty and grim, brutal reality. All in the space of less than five minutes.

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Working at a paper I have seen quite a few accident scenes, but somehow this was completely different. Even though I had my camera with me in my car I never thought once of getting it out. It is standard procedure to take shots of the ambulances and the police cars, parked across the road and blocking it for other traffic. I felt a bit stupid when I got to work and realized that I had my camera with me all the time.

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Here is the article we published.

Tuesday, November 2nd 2010

Catching Up in Lightroom

It has been a long while since I posted anything here. It has also been a very long time since I took the time to go through and tag my latest photos in Lightroom. This in turn means I haven’t uploaded any photos to Flickr since the 5th of September.

This afternoon I finally took the time to plow through September’s and October’s photos and upload them. Here are a few of my favourites.

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Julia having a go on my parents piano.

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5 am, on the way to work. Somewhere between Enköping and Strängnäs.

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A few of the many, many apples we picked off my parents apple tree.

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The view from our flat in Enköping. Not usually very inspiring, but quite pretty for a few days when the leaves went red.

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Fried chantarelles.

Wednesday, September 8th 2010

Photoshoot with Linnéa

A few weeks ago I launched my new website for my photography business. I’ve had the business since last December, I just haven’t got round to actually making the website until now.

Anyway, while making the site I realized I could do with a few more portraits to show. So I asked for volunteers among my friends on Facebook, and got loads of replies. And the first to get pointed at with my camera was Linnéa. We went out to Linné’s Hammarby just outside Uppsala. As it turns out, it cost 60 kronor to get in, so we decided to scout for good environments nearby.

We started off in an enclosure with horses, but the horses turned out to be just a little too interested in what we were doing. They seemed to think the best place to stand was right in-between me and Linnéa, so we soon moved on.

After a little improvisation, here are a few of the shots we ended up with:

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I have still to actually put them on the business website, but I might wait until I’ve done a few more shoots.

Sunday, August 29th 2010

Scanning Negatives

On and off I’ve been thinking of getting a negative scanner for quite some time. The other week I finally made a decision and ordered a Reflecta Crystalscan 7200 from German Scandig.

I have already scanned a number of films and it is amazing to see how much detail their actually is in those old photos. I’m scanning at 3600 dpi, which means I end up with 17 megapixel images. Probably slightly overkill, but storage space is not an issue so I’m going with safe, not sorry. Obviously though the detail and smoothness is nowhere near what I get out of my 50D (or even my 30D).

Here is the first roll I scanned.

The big win is really just to have all the old photographs digitized, which makes them easy to share and keeps them safer for the future (provided you have a good back-up routine). And just seeing all the photos, one by one, brings back loads of great memories.

First I will be scanning my own and my wife’s photos. After those ~100 films, if I have the energy, I might keep going with my parents photos.

Sunday, August 22nd 2010

Move Tabs to Titlebar in Firefox 4

Edit: As of Firefox 4 beta 9, tabs will automatically move to the title bar when the window is maximized. So the following hack isn’t really needed any more …

Firefox 4 beta has moved the tabs up above the navigation bar, but not all the way up in the title bar where Chrome and Opera both have put them.

Firefox 4 beta with tabs on top.

Firefox 4 beta

Opera 10.6 with tabs in title bar.

Opera 10.6

Chrome 6 beta with tabs in title bar.

Chrome 6 beta

The hack

Now, the Firefox developers seem to be working on a fix for this, but in the mean time there’s a quick hack which lets you do this right now in your Firefox 4 beta.

First, locate (or create) your userChrome.css file.

Then add the following code:

#toolbar-menubar{
padding-left: 110px !important;
margin-right: 110px !important;
padding-top: 8px !important;
margin-top: -30px !important;
}

#appmenu-button-container{
position: fixed !important;
}

#navigator-toolbox[tabsontop=”false”] #nav-bar{
margin-left: 108px !important;
margin-right: 140px !important;
padding-top: 12px !important;
}

#navigator-toolbox[tabsontop=”true”] #TabsToolbar{
margin-left: 108px !important;
margin-right: 140px !important;
padding-top: 8px !important;

Edit 2: Thanks to dsid who posted this css code which seems to work with the latest nightlies and betas (as of 2010-09-10).

Firefox 4 beta with the tabs in the title bar.

This will make the tabs go all the way to the top of the window, which makes them very easy to target with your mouse when the window is maximized. (Since it doesn’t matter if you push your mouse outside the screen.) However, this means you can’t grab the window above the tabs to drag it. You can still grab it to the right of the tabs though. With the code above, there will always be an area next to the minimize-maximize-close-buttons which you can drag.

If you like, you can move the tabs down from the edge by increasing the padding-top values.

Hope you found this as useful as I did. Thanks to Gdgtry for the original code!

Monday, August 16th 2010

Things to like in Firefox 4

I’ve been using the nightly builds of Firefox 4 for a while now, and thought I’d just blog about a few of the nice improvements that have been made.

Sync

Firefox now lets you connect and sync your bookmarks, passwords, history and settings between different computers. Personally, I have been using the Weave extension to do this for quite a while. Specifically I have synced history and passwords between my home and work computer. Bookmarks I have intentionally kept separate.

The especially nice thing is that this works with Firefox Mobile too. And if you have an iPhone, there is the Firefox Home app which loads your Firefox history, bookmarks and tabs for the Safari browser.

Tab sets

A new feature for those who have a *lot* of tabs open. With tab sets, you can hit Ctrl+Space and organize your tabs into groups. It is hard to explain in words, so have a look at the video here.

New theme

Firefox’s look has been given a complete overhaul. The goal of the new theme is to get out of the user’s way and to leave as much space as possible for the web content.

Here’s what the end result should look like:

Mockup of Firefox 4 theme

The current betas have parts of the new theme, but not all of it.

For anyone using Windows Vista or Windows 7, this will be a welcome update since it fits better in with the operating system. Especially since the new theme supports Aero Glass, i.e. the semi transparent windows in Vista & 7.

Tabs on top

One major part of the new look is the fact that tabs have been moved to the top of the window, above the navigation and bookmark bars. (Anyone who wants the tabs below the navigation bar can move them back.)

There are pros and cons to both placements. Having them at the top feels more logical though, since the tab applies to navigation buttons and the location bar. Also, there is screen space to be saved if you push the tabs all the way to the top of the window when maximized. This hasn’t yet been fixed, but it looks like it will be.

WebM support

WebM will probably be the next big thing on the web. Imagine being able to watch video on the web without the hassle of plug-ins? Well, when the web browsers all support a common video format that could become reality. At the moment, Internet Explorer is the only browser not to support WebM.

App tabs

In Firefox 4, you can right-click a tab and make it into an “App tab”. This basically pins the tab over to the left and hides the page title. Useful for tabs that you keep open all the time, such as e-mail or Facebook. Here is a nice video explaining the feature.

Behind the scenes

Apart from the new features that are directly visible to the user, Firefox 4 has loads and loads of improvements in the way it interprets web pages. So when you do upgrade, you’re also making life easier (& more fun!) for every single web developer out there.

If you haven’t already, you can get the latest Firefox 4 beta here.

Friday, June 25th 2010

Flickr is *Finally* Being Updated

Flickr have at long last decided to release an upgrade to their users.

The upgrade is currently only visible if you’re logged in to Flickr, but will be rolled out to all visitors in the coming weeks.

There are many improvements, but the ones I like best are a larger default size (up from 500 to 640 pixels) on the photo page and a new light box mode for viewing photos larger.

Screenshot of the new Flickr photo page.

But I can’t help wondering why they didn’t go for at least 720 pixels while they were at it. Or why not – since this is 2010 – a design that adapts the photo size to the browser window, à la Picasa? Perhaps that wouldn’t make it possible for Flickr to apply their magical sharpening that gives all Flickr photos that crisp look.

The new page seems to be designed to fit into a 1024×768 screen. If that is a requirement, then I just wish they’d spend a few more pixels on the photo and a few less on the right hand column.

Are we going to have to wait another 6 years for the next size increase?

At least they made navigation more intuitive with arrows labelled Newer and Older just above the photo. If you’re viewing a set, the buttons are labelled Prev and Next. (I’ve been using Flickr since 2006 and I still haven’t learnt if older photos are to the left or to the right on the photo page.)

The new light box is much better than the old All sizes page. (The All sizes page still exists though, and has been improved too.)

Screenshot of the new Flickr light box.

Basically it is a response to the View large on black link that many users have been adding to their photo description.

This is better though. It has a dark grey background, and buttons to move back and forward through the photos. It also has a play button that gives you a simple slide-show. The old (Flash) slide-show is still available though.

One thing that has nagged me for quite some time is the fact that the 1024 pixel images look soft, especially in comparison to the medium 500/640 pixel size. I’d really like them to apply a little sharpening to the 1024 pixel images too.

To sum up, some great improvements. They’ve really identified Flickr’s weak spots, I just wish they had done even more to fix them.

Tuesday, June 22nd 2010

Family Photo Shoot

The other week I had the privilege of taking some family portraits of my cousin, his girlfriend and their daughter. It was great fun, and since they’re all so photogenic we ended up with loads of good photos. Here are just a few of them.

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Tuesday, June 22nd 2010

Converting to DNG

After having thought about it loosely for ages, I decided to finally convert all my raw (CR2) files into the open DNG (digital negative) file format. But before I did so I sat down and did plenty of internet research to make sure I wasn’t doing something stupid.

If you didn’t know, DNG is Adobe’s attempt to create a universal and openly documented raw image file format. The (perhaps optimistic) idea being that camera makers will start using it instead of their proprietary raw formats (*cough* nikoncanon *splutter*). Whether or not this will ever become true remains to be seen.

Thankfully all photographers that want to can make use of DNG and its benefits regardless of which camera make they have, thanks to Adobe’s free DNG Converter.

Here are the factors that made me convert …

Future proof

Imagine the following scenario. Canon make a few bad decisions on their camera line-up. Nikon make a few really good ones. Nikon gains loads and loads of market share, making Canon a minor player. Canon is bought by Sony or Nikon, who proceed to terminate Canon’s own camera production. (Nikon users: Imagine the opposite.)

That could all happen in say five–ten years in a worst case scenario.

Then, in 2019, it is time to buy a new computer. And with a new computer comes a new operating system. Then, it turns out, there is no software for Windows 10 that reads CR2 files from a Canon EOS 30D. Dead end? Well, probably not, but there would be a lot of hassle for sure.

Actually, even if Canon are still around in 2019 it is quite possible that they won’t release software to cater for the oldest camera models and their raw files.

With DNG files the chance of there not being compatible software is much smaller since the specification is entirely open. (Read it here if you like.) Even if Adobe were to be blasted off the face of the earth, the DNG specification would live on. And someone in the intersection between photography geeks and computer geeks would most certainly write a program that can read DNGs.

Granted, you could argue that as long as Adobe’s DNG Converter is around there is no need to rush. And there isn’t really, but there are a few more pros that made me do the switch now. Read on.

Previews and metadata

DNGs will contain a preview JPEG (tiny, medium or full size) and all the metadata of the original raw file, plus any metadata you want to add such as keywords, titles, captions or develop settings. For anyone using Adobe Lightroom, Bridge or Camera Raw this means that you’ll have one DNG file instead of a CR2/NEF image file and an XMP metadata file next to it.

Also, when you’ve changed the appearance of a photo you can render a new preview JPEG and embed it in the DNG. (In Lightroom: Right click and choose Metadata -> Update DNG Preview & Metadata.) I don’t know how NEFs work, but with CR2 files there is definitely no way of updating the embedded JPEG.

File size

DNG files are often smaller then the camera’s raw file. This is thanks to better compression, but also thanks to the possibility to use a smaller size JPEG than in the original.

I chose the medium JPEG size (1024 pixels I think) and the DNG files are on average 19 percent smaller than the CR2s from my Canon EOS 50D. My thinking here is that I don’t really need a full size preview in the raw file once I have it on the computer. In the camera it’s a different matter – there I need the full size preview to be able to check focus. And even if I do choose to embed a full size JPEG the DNG ends up ~10% smaller.

It will be a while though before I will actually see the benefit of the smaller file size, because right now I’m keeping my CR2 files in parallel with the DNGs. I also have them backed up to our two external drives (one off location) as well as on DVDs. So I have essentially doubled my storage needs.

In a few weeks though I’ll probably feel 100% comfortable with the conversion, and then I’ll delete the CR2s from my working folders and only have the three backup copies.

No negatives?

Considering that DNGs are just that, negatives, there are very few drawbacks. The only one, as I see it, is that I won’t be able to go back and use Canon’s own raw converters Raw Image Task or Digital Photo Professional. This is a rather academic point though, since I have never wanted to use either of them since moving to Lightroom. The only reason I might want to do that in the future would be to see how much better raw image processing has become since I bought my camera. So I might make such a comparison before I actually chuck the CR2 files.

Conclusion

Being a Lightroom user, the DNG format is very useful. I’m not sure if DNG is quite as sweet a deal if you’re using some other raw converter though, and DNG isn’t necessarily for everyone. But for me it definitely is a great step up from the CR2 format. So far I haven’t had any second thoughts at all, and I doubt I will have any later on either.

Thursday, June 10th 2010

More Lightroom 3 Demos

Here are a few more hover comparisons of Lightroom 2 and 3. (Here are some previous ones I made.)

Highlight edges look much better in Lightroom 3.

See how Lightroom 3 deals with the highlights. Somehow it manages to get rid of those unnatural red edges.

Lightroom 3 can deal with chromatic aberration automatically.

Here you can see how version 3 automatically deals with chromatic aberration, based on what it knows about the lens that was used. Here I used my Canon 17-55mm, which is one of the many lenses that have been profiled by Adobe. Also, you’ll notice that Lightroom 3 is much better at showing the fine branches to the right.

Automatic correction of geometric distortion in Lightroom 3.

The automatic lens correction can also deal with geometric distortion. This lets you get rid of that bulging look you often get at the wide end of a zoom lens. Since this affects cropping slightly, I’ve personally left this off by default. I’ll only use it when necessary.

Automatic vignetting correction in Lightroom 3.

LR3 can correct for lens vignetting too, but more often than not I think vignetting adds some natural punch to a photo, including the example above. So I probably won’t use this very often at all.

Wednesday, June 9th 2010

Lightroom 3 and High ISO Images

Hover this image to see what Lightroom 3 can do with a hopelessly noisy ISO 12,800 photo:

High ISO noise reduction in Lightroom 3.

(This is a 100% crop from my Canon EOS 50D.)

And since I can set up defaults based on the image’s ISO setting, I can make it do that automatically.