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Posts about photography (old posts, page 1)

Getting nervous

So with the majority of my nintendo stuff sold ("why not all of it?" you ask? stay tuned....), I've got a great wad of virtual cash burning a hole in my virtual wallet and have been poring over local camera shop ads in search of the "Best Deal" for the Nikon D70. I've also been reading a few different photography forums online, and for the most part people seem quite happy with the D70. But as they say, every silver lining has a cloud. There have been a few reports that the D70 sometimes just stops working. Permanently. While the D70 hasn't been out long enough for any of the cameras to be out of warranty, this is a little distressing to say the least. It seems that there is no user error here - the camera simply goes to sleep one day and never wakes up again. What if this happens after the camera is out of warranty? What if this happens while on vacation? Since I had pretty much decided on the D70, I haven't been paying as close attention to the Canon 20D to see what serious issues, if any, have come up with it. There were some issues with firmware upgrades, but as far as I can tell they were mostly user error, and all new units have the most recent firmware installed. Compound that with the ever-increasing number of hot pixels in my 3 year old Coolpix 990, and the flaky battery contacts and I cannot help but start to pay more attention to the little voice inside that questions the long term reliability of digital cameras.

To XMP, or not to XMP

Garrett's question at linuxart, What do you do with your images? has generated quite the discussion. Many excellent suggestions being made, including the use of XMP to store the metadata for your images directly within the image files. The advantages of using XMP are that you can move your files around outside of F-Spot (or whatever other image management app), and still maintain information that you've entered about the description, location, etc. Backups become simpler because you don't have to save the metadata seperately. Two possible issues that I can see are:

  • All image manipulation must be done in an XMP-aware app, or at least applications that don't blow away the XMP data.
  • Support of RAW formats - Adobe's XMP documentation doesn't specifically mention any RAW formats, which makes me wonder if it's possible to use XMP in formats like Nikon's .NEF (which does seem to be a TIFF format, so maybe there's hope).
This does seem like a 180° about face from my last post, but as long as there's an original, unmodified copy of the image somewhere that I can easily revert to, then I'm happy.

Don't touch my pics!

<rant> My images are sacrosanct. I do not want image management software to store comments, tags, descriptions or anything else that did not come from my camera inside the image. If you absolutely feel the need to do this in your software, then at least make a copy of the original image. I always want to be able to go back to the virgin image as it first was transferred from my camera. </rant>


The F-Spot project really interests me. I think I first noticed it from Garret's blog. F-Spot plans to do (according to the wiki) many of the things that I've been trying to hack into my photo management app. One area that I'd like to see more focus on in F-Spot is backups. I've been implementing a system that backs up (as part of a generic exporting system) all of your pictures to CDs or DVDs of different sizes. The CD would also contain (enough to fill up the disc):

  • The complete index of all the pictures you've taken (dates, comments, categories, etc.)
  • Thumbnails for images (those on the CD, and those not on the CD)
  • Images that haven't been backed up in a while (configurable - I figured I'd start with LRBU - Least Recently Backed Up)
  • Recovery data for individual images, or entire CDs. I was thinking of using parchive (probably v2) to generate the recovery data.
All of the above are useful to ensure that no image is ever lost. Losing a CD shouldn't be catastrophic. Nor should losing your hard drive. Storing the complete index on every backup made means that even if your hard drive gets eaten by your dog, you won't lose all of the time spent organizing pictures into categories, adding descriptions, etc. Storing thumbnails of images that are present on the disc just makes browsing the disc faster. It should be possible to turn any of these options off, or change the ratio of thumbnails to extra backups to recovery data. A few other features that would make F-Spot the killer app for me:
  • Flexible directory structure for storing images. I like all of my images to be in folders that identify the date the image was taken. So I've got folders named "2004-10-11", "2004-10-07", etc. But I'm sure that everybody has their own preference, so this should be configurable.
  • Batch date adjustment. I often forget to update the clock on my camera when I travel, so as a result the dates stored in the EXIF headers of the image are in EST. It would be great to be able to select a bunch of images and say "offset the time by -1 hour." If your camera's clock was completely off (but still consistent with itself), it would be great to select a bunch of pictures, choose one of them for which you know the date and time, and the program would figure out the correct time offset and apply it to your selected images.
Maybe I'll have to learn C# so I can start helping out with F-Spot myself :)


Just got back from Calgary where we spent Thanksgiving weekend with my family. We went hiking up Johnston's Canyon in Banff, went to the hot springs, had a great turkey dinner, helped out Tim and Holly with their invitations, and generally had a great time with my whole family. It's been a while since we've all been together!

Canon EOS 20D

Somehow the EOS 20D ( slipped by my notice...So now I have four cameras that I'm considering. My preference is still the D70, but I haven't read up much on the 20D. To me, it looks like that all you get for the extra cash is a few more megapixels...

Weekend to End Breast Cancer

Mel, her cousin Maby and I volunteered for this year's Weekend to End Breast Cancer walk in Toronto. My sister-in-law, Natalia, was doing the walk so we figured that a great way to support her would be to help her fundraise and to volunteer at the actual event. Mel and Maby volunteered in food services, and I volunteered to drive a sweep van. I think I got the easier job :) All in all it was a great weekend. I met lots of great people, and witnessed the incredible power of the human spirit. For those who don't know, participants in the event must raise at least $2,000 (CDN) and walk 60km over the course of a weekend. Young and old, men and women, able and disabled all were there walking to support this cause. In the end, over $14.7 million dollars were raised for breast cancer research! Good job everyone! I'm defintely participating again next year, whether it be as a walker or a volunteer.

East Coast Trip!

Mel and I just got back from our trip to the east coast of Canada with her parents, and as usual I took a few hundred pictures :) I've put up the "best" ones here. We were only there for a week, but we managed to visit St. John's, Gros Morne Park, Cape Breton, Halifax, Lunenburg, the Hopewell Rocks and Fundy Park. Kind of whirlwind tour of the east :) Mel's parents are still there visiting Prince Edward Island. What amazed me the most about our trip was the people we met. Everybody we met was very friendly and helpful to us tourists. We were always greeted with a smile. Quite a contrast from Toronto where most people seem indifferent.