Photo Workflows and the Tujunga Wash—05.17.13

Cactus

It seems like Friday is a pretty good for me to actually get stuff written and posted for some reason. Weird.

I’ve spent most of today wrangling with changing my photo workflow and the applications I use to be a little faster and expandable to the systems I want to use in the future etc, but that’s boring so first some photos.

I went a little photo walk as the sun was getting ready to set a couple days ago. I walked down the rather recently opened new segment of the Tujunga Wash Water Reclamation / Urban Park project. The parts that have been done for awhile now are actually pretty nice. I have some photos from a walk around there several months ago. There’s some well grown vegetation and there’s this stream created from super gross awful water from the wash that actually creates a pretty nice cooling effect when you’re walking by it.

This new segment isn’t nearly as nice yet. I spent most of time walking along the path lamenting how urban and awful Los Angeles is. I realized I don’t really have lots of photos of nature doing it’s thing because well, it doesn’t around here.

Bench
Bench Graffiti
Corona

I ended up taking some pretty typical shots from my LA photowalks. Gross urban planning, graffiti, discarded alcoholic drinks…

And then this dog showed up. I don’t have a lot of photos of him because he zipping around all over the place out of the range of my crappy kit lens, but he was so full of energy it was awesome. His owners were and older hispanic couple that spoken really broken English telling me that the dog was fine (he was? I was a little confused).

Dog

He ran around and was super confused by my camera and then ran around some more and picked up pieces of mulch and ran all over the place with it. I wish I had a proper photo of how he ran, he didn’t really coordinate his legs so much as bounce from place to place, it was pretty hilarious.

darktable lamp

To finish my super exciting photo workflow story from earlier, let’s talk about Linux. Everyone’s favorite. Linux doesn’t have a whole lot of support when it comes to really good photo editing applications, but I’m very likely to end up with a stupid powerful Linux desktop for doing my awful homework with next year. I really hate having to deal with dual booting and all of that nonsense, so if I could find a photo-editor and catalog manager that wasn’t completely awful and ran on Linux I would be very happy.

So I went the FOSS route and tried darktable which is nice, and has an absolutely ridiculous amount of power for editing RAW images, but really lakes in the UI department. As is typical with FOSS the developers focus a lot more on making cool new features and making their code run stupid fast than building a consistent UI experience that really makes sense. I have no idea how I would organize my photos with that piece of software, and most of the actual image editing felt really clunky and slow and difficult to work with.

To be fair darktable does work pretty well for the actual image manipulation. The photo above was processed by darktable and I don’t see any obvious glaring problems with the quality of it. Noise was handled well and sharpness doesn’t seem to be terribly affected.

What I’ve ended up settling on makes me a little bit uncomfortable, but works surprisingly well. Corel AfterShot Pro is not free software, and is definitely not polished to perfection in the same way that Lightroom is, but it offers a consistent, cross-platform, and fast photo workflow. It also has some really cool tools for editing photos that Lightroom doesn’t offer. Proper adjustment layers and a heal/clone tool that I actually understand! The photo leading this post was editing in AfterShot Pro, the upper right corner had an awful window ruining the shot that is now mysteriously missing. I didn’t do a great job but I was also just playing around with the software, so I’m quite happy to be honest.

So AfterShot Pro will probably prevent me from ever really having to open Photoshop up again while I’m purely editing photos. It definitely lacks in export options, and the super minimal geotagging support added by asGPS is really really rough and could use some work. But it works. I’m happy for now…

 

2013 So Far—05.10.13

What a surprise! I didn’t update this website very often for a long time. Again! I’ve been busy being a ridiculously involved college student with his hands in almost every theatrical production he can possibly work on. Accordingly my photographic output has also been just a ‘tiny’ little bit less prolific than in years past.

Because of that, here’s a summary of the last 5 months of my life in a little photo essay.

Flying to Worcester

On January 2nd I packed up my bags and put all the thoughts from the long semester previous behind me. I headed back out to Worcester to work on a musical being put on at WPI by the student run Vox. We put on I Love You Because and it was truly wonderful experience and one I’m not going to forget anytime soon.

Snowy Tree

I did not however, love the cold. This is already several weeks later in the after math of Winter Storm Nemo. When I flew into Worcester on that cold January Day it was a whole 2 degrees fahrenheit. It didn’t stay that cold forever but it was icy and snowy and awful for way longer than is reasonable for a native Californian.

Snowy Branch

I did like taking pictures of things covered in snow though, apparently. (Apparently also apparently snow in general)

Frosty Window

A testament to how busy I was this last semester, this is the last good photo I have from before I got home. It’s a picture of an airplane window on my flight home.

Pizza

And now I’m home. I expect I’m going to spend all summer taking photos and making big plans for next year and next to none of them will actually happen.

(But hey at least I fixed this website in some limited sense and am actually doing stuff, if only for the next three months).

 

Smile!—07.17.12

Monday's Breakfast
Tuesday's Breakfast

I’m noticing a pattern.

 

A Stroll in the Park—07.13.12

Big wall of flowers at the VNSO park

A few days ago I ambled along to the Van Nuys Sherman Oaks ‘Recreation Center’, a big park with a pool and an inordinate amount of space for little kids to play little league (insert-sport-here). I’ve just recently gotten a new camera, and I haven’t really gotten into the swing of doing photo walks and taking pictures that aren’t horrible so I figured I’d try my hand once more.

I ended up taking 194 photos, and I think I posted 8 to flickr. So I guess that was reasonably successful. Here’s a few of them:

There are a bunch of homes bordering the park and a bunch of them have little gates to give them their own 'private' access to the park. I guess these people don't use theirs very often though.
Here's a generic photographer's shot. This was right next to the door above.
I started taking pictures of these weird flowers, but I ended up being way more interested in the bees flying around. They seem to get stuck in these flowers for awhile, I assume because they are rather a tight fit for a bee.

“These weird flowers” turned out to be Kangaroo Paw, maybe specifically Anigozanthos flavidus although I’m really not sure if it’s that particular species.

And as with any scene in the Greater Los Angeles area, here's some urban decay.

 

Garmin Edge 500 for Photowalk Tracklogs.—07.12.12

I swear, this image DOES have something to do with this post.

There’s this nifty little GPS Bike Computer called the Garmin Edge 500. It does all sorts of cool things for a cyclist, recording your position and speed, heart rate, cadence, ‘power’ (if you have a fancy power meter). It makes it possible to record and store your performance for years and year so you can see how you’ve improved over time. It’s a cool piece of technology, and today I realized it’s a perfectly fine GPS datalogger I could use to geotag photos.

Of course I’m not the first person to have roughly this idea: this guy said other people did before him, this guy wrote his own software for it (linux-based), and there are a lot of other totally unremarkable examples (see: google). Most people who have tried to use the Edge series have run into the problem that they are in fact fitness devices and so they output their tracklogs in weird formats with lots of extra data in the ‘.FIT’ extension, or ‘Flexible and Interoperable Data Transfer’ protocol. I was on my way to start building a little tool that generated .GPX tracklogs from the .FIT files, but then I remembered my friend Google. It turns out that there is a tool already out there in the wild that will convert .FIT to .GPX (and many many other fileformats to many many other fileformats) GPSBabel. Naturally, it works great.

So then I have a really simple workflow:

  • Use GPSBabel to convert .fit to .gpx (store the .gpx on a backup drive somewhere)
  • Load the .gpx into Lightroom 4 and autotag photos.
  • Easy!

Of course if you don’t have the Lightroom 4 there are some other options for geotagging your photos once you have a tracklog.

If you do have Lightroom 4 with the Map module in all it’s glory then you get a cool view like this:

I just did a quick stroll around my house so I don’t want to show the entire world the whole track log, but I’m pretty impressed with how well the Edge tracks where I am. Upon closer inspection things get sort of weird, when you stop to take a photo the Edge Auto Pauses and picks up when you start moving again. So when you take photos they get spread out between where it detected you stopped and whered it detected you started. It’s definitely accurate enough for getting very close to where you actually are though so I’m happy with my basically free geotagging solution.

(If you haven’t guessed yet, the image above is the first tracklog geotagged image I’ve put on flickr, and the one in the Lighroom capture above).

 

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