Archive for January, 2007

Monday, January 22nd 2007

Photography Tip of the Day: Warmer Flash Photos

I often think flash photos look unnatural. Flat and cold. Having an external flash which you can swivel to bounce the light off a ceiling or wall gets rid of the flat light, but you may still find the light looks unnaturally cold. This tip will give flash photos the feeling of being shot in ambient light.

The solution lies in adjusting the white balance setting of your camera. The trick is to manually set your white balance to 7000 K. (Or even higher – experiment!) By doing this your flash photos will end up a shade warmer than if you set the white balance to flash. When the camera is set to 7000 K it will interpret the light from the flash as slightly warm/yellow, since it has a colour temperature of 6000 K.

Hover the photo below to see the (slight!) difference this makes.

Differently coloured smarties

I know this is possible on the Canon EOS 30D, Canon EOS 5D, Nikon D200, Nikon D80 and the more expensive SLRs, but it may also be possible on some serious compacts. Fiddle around with your menus and settings and see what you find!

Edit: Here are some good articles on white balance and colour temperature:

Wednesday, January 17th 2007

Openoffice Suction

Back in September of 2005 I was moaning about how the spell checker in OpenOffice sucks. Sadly, it hasn’t improved since then.

Heck, Firefox has a much better spell checker for its text fields.

I have to moan some more about this expensive software:

  • There is no simple way of binding a certain character to a keyboard shortcut. You have to record a macro which inserts the character, and then edit the macro with a text editor so that it works independent of which font you happen to be using. Finally, you bind the macro to a keyboard shortcut.
  • The upgrade process is awful! Why are all my settings obliterated when I install a new version? Obviously, this really puts me off upgrading. I could live with there being no binary update, but I would like it if I could at least install a point upgrade without losing all my settings and dictionaries.
  • Page numbering anyone? Could it be more complicated and non-intuitive?

Monday, January 15th 2007

Quick Sharpness Test of the Canon EF 50mm 1:1.4 USM

In response to this thread over at I decided to test my copy of the Canon EF 50mm 1:1.4 USM at various apertures.

The question posted in the thread is basically Can the Ef 50mm be used at f/1.4, or is it only sharp at f/2.8?.

Since it is late at night here, my test subject is rather boring. It’s a Volvo brochure laid out flat on my floor:

However, the tiny text is good for showing lens sharpness.

I shot test pictures at f/1.4, f/2.0, f/2.8, f/4.0, f/5.6 and f/8. Here are the obligatory 100% crops. I should add that the images where shot with sharpness set to 3 (out of 7) and contrast at -4 in my 30D.


As you can see, at f/1.4 the edges are slightly soft. The edges are sharper at f/2.0, and even sharper at f/2.8:



From f/2.8 and up, the results are pretty similar:




So, to answer the question: The Canon EF 50mm 1:1.4 USM is not as sharp at f/1.4 and f/2.0 as it is at f/2.8 and above, but I’d say it is definitely usable.

Tuesday, January 9th 2007

Search Netscape for Firefox, get Netscape

The other day I was bored and searched for Firefox using the built-in keyword search in Netscape 7.01. (Somewhat outdated browser, I know… To make things better, this was on Mac OS 9.)

The search results were very interesting. You would have expected the top hit for a “mozilla firefox” search to be at least a page hosted somewhere on or, but no. Instead the first item (after the skilfully disguised sponsored links) was Download Netscape 7.2 Browser.

That’s just plain weird if you ask me. I could sort-of have understood if the first hit would have been Netscape 8, since that at least is based on Mozilla Firefox…

Searches for firefox browser and opera browser both result with the top search spot being filled with a specially designed ad for Netscape 8, while the previous number one has been pushed down to second:

In fact, any search including browser will put Netscape’s ad at the top.

Imagine the fuss that would arise if Microsoft did something like this! The fact that this hasn’t caused a huge fuss just proves that Netscape means nothing these days.

Interestingly, though, a search for Microsoft Internet Explorer doesn’t put Netscape in first position…

Netscape, you’re fighting a losing battle. Even Microsoft is! 😀 Just move aside, and you might keep some dignity!