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I have been a flickr member since 2005, and a pro member since almost the beginning. When flickr was fun; before yahoo bought it. I kept my pro account after the yahoo takeover, and when they pretty much ignored it.
I clicked on flickr and was presented with the new layout. No warning. No explanation. No notification prior that this was happening. I saw this huge page with huge pictures of my photostream. There was a random pic from someone else they set as my cover page. I was told to upload a bigger and better avatar.
Yes, there’s now 1TB of storage for all accounts as well as a slew of other features. But here’s my problem: all the benefits I paid for are now part of the free account. In fact, it looks like the free account is even better than the old pro account. Lots of reaction, mostly negative from existing pro users. Wade through the usual resistance-to-interface-change whining and there are genuine problems:
- not given any warning, no trial period
- no option to change interface, some display features seem to have disappeared
- glaring black background
- even slower to load than before
- organizer still doesn’t work
- search doesn’t work, I got a blank page for a simple search on “ham”
- infinite scrolling on photostream doesn’t work, is extremely slow
- titles, descriptions and comments only on mouseover
- uploader doesn’t work
- defaulted to random cover picture that wasn’t mine — even facebook didn’t do that, they left the cover page area blank and asked the user to pick their own
- assigning cover pic only limited to recent uploads, couldn’t search through sets
- collections seem to have disappeared
Techradar’s post title said it all, Has Yahoo Lost Its Mind:
Most of it sounds like the sort of teething problems you encounter when a free service undergoes a radical revamp - but for its most loyal users, Flickr isn’t a free service. It’s something they pay for, and have done for a long time.
Exactly. I wouldn’t have minded the new site if I were a free member. If facebook or google or even yahoo mail change their design and functionality, I have nothing to say because these are services I use free of charge. I changed to timeline on facebook fairly early because I thought it was okay and knew it was better to embrace the inevitable early. The issue with flickr is, I’m a pro member. I’ve paid for this service for 8 years. I don’t think I’m wrong in expecting to be treated with a little more respect.
And what the hell have they done with the pro accounts, and pricing? They say pro accounts will be grandfathered, if it’s set to auto-renew. Mine isn’t, but I can still see the extension option. Apparently users also have until August to downgrade to a new free account, but nothing is said about refunds. My pro account has a whole year left, so what am I supposed to do? I don’t want to renew now, but I’m afraid the option will go away or the price will go up. The new pro pricing doubles to $50 and the only benefit is ad-free. I have adblock plus for that. I just don’t trust that I’ll have unlimited uploads with the new free account—I don’t upload all the time but when I do it’s a big batch.
Honestly, I don’t mind the new design. I don’t quite like it, especially how it’s In.Your.Face but I’ll get used to it. I just feel they didn’t do a good job in rolling out the new service, including the lack of a heads-up, not offering display options, and not fixing existing usability issues. This is not what we expect from a supposedly experienced business.
What really rankles is the way pro users are being treated. We loyally supported the service during the past few years, but because we’re not good ad revenue prospects, or not instant gratification mobile users, we’re being pushed to the side. Flickr was originally about photography and photographers, now they just seem to want to turn it into yet another social media site. By all means, try to attract new customers but don’t do it while alienating existing customers. This is not the way to run a business.
I know they have me locked in because migrating 15,000 images is a big endeavour, but I’ll probably need to look at alternatives. Like many others, I already have a 500px account and I just signed up for ipernity. If things get really rough at flickr, I’ll just eat that $25 fee and migrate over.
The day after twelfth night is Epiphany. Do I have any profound thoughts? Nope. None at all. Aside from about 40mins out running hill repeats, I stayed home all day. I sorted some more pictures, that’s it. Reminds me, this is one of my all time favourites, and it wasn’t photoshopped or anything. I took this at the Chicago air and water show 2010; in the background are the Blue Angels doing spectacular air acrobatics, in the foreground is a seagull. One of those perfect moments. Seems appropriate for a day like today.
I said I’d get it, so I did. I saw the ad on the subway last week, but only had time to go to the shop today. Around US$470, so no big difference in RRP. I did get some extras: spare battery, 16GB card, mini-tripod, screen protector, canon case and a pair of puma socks.
Battery is charged, haven’t played with the wifi yet, I need to log into the canon network, and I’m still thinking of whether to do that.
I didn’t bring the big camera with me so all I have right now is the iphone camera. The next incarnation of my beloved lost s90 is the s110, which comes out late October. It’s only a small upgrade from the currently available s100, with added GPS and wifi. Truthfully, I don’t need either, and if the release date weren’t so near I probably would have gone out and bought the s100 instead.
Way back in the long ago past, before flickr, or instagram, or facebook, or iphones, there was The Mirror Project. Between 2001 and 2006, around 34,000 simple 300px self portraits on mirrored surfaces were submitted. Of course, nowadays it takes instagram 10 minutes to reach 34,000, and facebook has 300 million pictures uploaded daily.
It was a different era. Most people had digital cameras then, but phone cameras were still in their infancy. Arguably, people thought a bit more about taking pictures. Or just appreciated the opportunity for participation more.
Which is why I was very excited to read that founder Heather Champ has relaunched the mirror project from backups. No new material, just the original stuff. How wonderful. I hope she doesn’t open up the site; or if she does, point new submissions elsewhere. There’s a piece of internet history there, a time capsule as she describes. Best not to disturb it.
I didn’t, and still don’t, like my face all over the web. So I only had a couple of pictures in my gallery. So kitschy and simple and so bad, they’re even good.
A sad day indeed, when picnik closed. I’m not going to want to go into the trouble of logging into google+ to use it, I want a browser based editing tool that is easy to use. A couple of ex-picnik engineers did and for similar user experience, it’s great. I’m temporarily using it as my picnik alternative. Another one that will hopefully launch shortly is ribbet, which has been touting itself on a picnik alternative facebook page for a while. A quick google gave me mashable’s 7 alternative. Looks like we won’t be left out in the cold, lots of people are racing in with their own product.
flickr was down for almost 2 hours on Thursday. They tried to be humorous and posted on their blog something about the servers being uncomfortable and then later
our chiropractors have found the spot and are applying gentle [massage] pressure right now
Thank goodness for twitter. As soon as I got the connection refused message, I went to check #flickr and lo and behold a lot of people were reporting the same problem. I appreciate them trying to lightened up the situation, but a major site like flickr going down has dire consequences, however much they apologise. I have 11,488 pictures and videos stored there. True, they are backed up on iphoto, but imagine if I had to reload them if something goes wrong. That’s inconceivable.
That the internet and the cloud has become so integral to our lives is no surprise to anyone. IMHO, it is a utility, just like electricity or gas or water. Prolonged outage will cause major stress.
This morning as I was walking to the tube station, the sky turned pink from the sunrise. The clouds were lined up in a pretty pattern and there was a crispness in the air. Took this on instagram, with the hefe filter. I have a normal pic on my camera that I haven’t bothered downloading yet.
full set: flickr
This year I hardly did any artistic photography. I’d say the majority are food and travel pics. What I’ve chosen for the top 10 aren’t based on quality or skill. Each one has significance:
- bbmm blessings rainbow — first of two rainbows that greeted us, just as one of us was feeling down, truly a blessing
- Chicago marathon runner with US flag — I purposely ran ahead of him to get this, I”m not American but I was still moved
- Diana’s beautiful garden — reminds me when Sis and my niece visited
- bike at the Southbank — one of the many favourite places Mum and I discovered when she visited, this is a special shot cos it’s probably my only one that has king’s in the background
- hot air balloon at Prague — the city is simply so pretty
- people fising at St Ives — perfect memory of mm’s visit
- roasted bone marrow at St John — epitomised my eating out culinary journey this year, tried many new restaurants and new dishes
- sparkling cranberries — what can I say, simple to make and I’m very proud of the composition of this pic, even though yes I copied it
- beet & sweet potato stack — yes, the second pic from just the past week, but another brand new recipe that will be in my portfolio for a long time
- instagram kettle — my first instagram pic, to add a fun and techy element to the selection
This is an old picture from 2007, taken uring my epic 28 day trip to the US and Chile. This was when I visited my friend Doc K and was taken at Valparaiso on day 25. It’s a favourite, because of the blue sky, the moon and the position of the 2 trees. I’m using this as a cover pics for my fb accounts.
This picture of camel thorn trees set against orange-tinted dunes at sunrise in Namibia that was in the National Geographic is probably one of the most perfect picture I’ve ever seen. Breath-taking. My little mara tree pic that I use as avatar pales in insignificance.
It all started with a post by flickr designer Timoni West on how the page that shows us recent uploads by our contacts is broken. The baton was then taken up by Jason Kottke, who goes further to say that flickr has become the place to put every single one of your photos instead of how it was intended to be, sharing of good quality photos.
I’d forgotten the original purpose of flickr. And I willingly confess that I do use it for storage rather then display. I don’t blindly upload every photo, I rename, photoshop and sort. So at least my collection isn’t random and difficult to navigate. It’s the only site, apart from my website, that I pay for. $25 a year is acceptable (well, it’s $50 for 2 accounts but who’s counting).
So, in the spirit of sharing best photos, here’s one of my favourites and I would say top 10 of my best work. Taken at Queenstown, NZ. Not photoshopped. It’s been my wallpaper for over 5 years.
Although iphoto 11 can share pictures directly to flickr and facebook, it’s still very rudimentary. Can’t edit sets, can’t add descriptions, can’t add tags and most importantly, pictures get uploaded to the photostream in the default is date order. Doesn’t work for me cos I rename and regroup pictures, I end up with a mess.
The days when the share function wasn’t available for older iphoto versions, I used a couple of external tools. So I sucked it up and spent $10 on the upgrade to flickrexport. Now to get photoshop installed on the mba and I’m back in business — it’s no big deal, I can still use photoshop on the mbp, it’s just a short walk to the other room.
set here: best of: 2010
Took me this long to remember to do a best of 2010 flickr set. Every year I pick 10 favourites taken during that one year into a set. 2010 was less about technique and quality of the photos and more about the events — a year of running culminating in the marathon, parents visiting me, going to orlando with mm, and not forgetting experimenting with food.
Legend has it that a couple of Austrian photogs discovered a factory full of intriguing plastic cameras in Russia and saved these cameras from being destroyed. In doing so, with its unique and quirky effects, a cult was created. I thought long and hard about getting the original LCA cameras, but chickened out and got a holga instead. And one that had been modified to take 35mm film to boot.
This is the first roll that I developed. Most were blurry, I got may be 5 out of the roll that were interesting enough to keep. Going back to film, i have to re-learn the art of taking just one pic per scene. The lens is also really basic, so I can’t expect it to perform in low light conditions, or to pick up any sort of detail. So, lots of light and distinct images only. Despite the lack of focus, I like the painting quality of the results. Now I can see the effects, the next roll should be more interesting.
Every macro photographer knows a light box is a must have. Normally they cost from $30 to over $100. But it’s really easy to build a basic one at home for less than $10.
I started off with a document box from work. Cut 2 vertical lines down one long side to expose the front. Then it was just a matter of cutting 2 windows either side of the box and an another one on the lid. Taped tissue paper over the openings for diffusion. The backdrop is a piece of white posterboard with its top taped to the top of the box and the rest allowed to drape over the inside of the box. Lighting is provided by 2 desk lamps I got at Target for $4.99 (for both) and the light from the top is my living room floor lamp.
This is the result. With the proper white balance setting on the camera, no photoshopping is needed. This is actually my second lightbox, food photos in the past few months were taken using this setup.
Heather Champ issued this challenge:
On October 10, 2010, take a photo (analogue, digital — whatever your pleasure) at a time that’s convenient for you. There’s no specific theme, direction or time requirement. When you’re ready, share your photo in this Flickr group
Me? I’m doing the chicago marathon. I’m taking my camera.
flickr set here
The August 2010 sh1ft.org challenge was 31 photos in 31 days. It turned out to be difficult to make interesting, for the same reasons that I don’t do foursquare — I simply go between home and work during the week. On weekends I try to find something to do, in between training, so it was easier to take pictures. There are a few favourites, so I’m pleased I participated.
The s90 was probably my best gadget investment, I rank it higher than the ipad and even the ereader. I didn’t even consider taking the EOS to the air show, and that one has a longer lens.
Now canon is launching the s95, which adds HD video and a viewfinder (would have been useful at the air show). Almost drool-worthy. Except I don’t take many videos that need to be HD quality. (The camcorder being very low on the list of value gadget investments.) According to cnet for existing s90 owners there’s
not much of a reason to upgrade
Which is a relief of sorts, cos otherwise I would have had to find someone to give / sell the s90.
photo courtesy goenetix (…), copyright acknowledged
I just wanted to type “porn” again. Yes I’m twelve.
Anyway, any interesting tidbit is that the food porn flickr group is moderated by none other than the accidental hedonist, one of the food blogs I follow religiously and probably top of my list of bloggers I’d like to meet personally, if only to ask her for the name of the restaurant she sanctified.
I know I’m trying to cut down on junk but seriously, I have to have this!! Aptly found in the awesomeness section is this coffee mug that looks exactly like a EF 24-105mm lens, which is what I use as the standard on my EOS. Just read the photojojo people gush about it:
It’s equipped with a lens-cap lid (omg), rubber-grip focus and zoom rings (o…m…g), and an auto-focus switch that actually switches
There’s also this canon dial decal for the mbp, and other cool stuff on that site. I love how they explain that they have canon and nikon dial decals:
because we know there are two types of people in this world: those that brake for Nikons and those that don’t let friends buy one
Remember my post last week about taking pictures of food? Well, I think that if one’s hobby gets mentioned on the new york times, one is vindicated, no?
Anyway, since I was chatting with K earlier, here’s the wonderful jardin de mariscos — seafood platter — I had when I visited her in Chile a couple of years ago. Look at all the fresh seafood — crab, loco (like abalone), prawns, mussels, scallops, razor clams, piure (orange slimy clams).
I can’t pinpoint exactly when I started, but I have been taking pictures of food for a long time. Both what I make, and when I eat out. To the point that none of my friends and family bat an eyelid when I take my camera out before a meal. They either continue eating, or even help me find the best angle. Why do I do it? I dunno exactly, if pressed I’d say one of the reasons is to have a visual record of what I experience in life. How else would I remember chicken feet, or brie and cranberry sauce pizza?
I read on timeout chicago about Grant Achatz’s take on people photographing their meals at alinea. Now alinea is a progressive, awesome, difficult-to-get-reservation restaurant that serves delicate, delicious tasting menus with as many as 30 courses. Chef Achatz is not against his customers taking pictures, but questions
why people so passionate about food would sacrifice the integrity of the courses, instead prioritizing the documentation
Some of the examples he quoted did seem pretty extreme. Setting up a tripod and spending 3 mins moving plates around and finding the right light; videoing the kitchen staff; using voice recorders to describe the food. I agree it’s taking things a bit too far.
One of the reasons I got the s90 is because of its ability to perform under low light conditions. I always keep the flash off because flash can be very distracting and I don’t want other customers to be bothered by it. I’m usually pretty quick about it. I’m not using it for commercial purposes, and I hope that too many foodies taking pictures won’t alienate restaurants owners and managers and they start banning it.
26 things for feb 2010:
- line up
- an insect
- into the air
- set up
- 10 mins away
- in my mailbox
- behind the scenes
- a door
In the middle of all the holiday eating, meeting with people, shopping stuff, I decided to do this month’s 26things in HK and completing another 101.1001 task, which is to use a colour theme. It wasn’t hard to decide on red. Click on each pic for brief notes. Link to full set: here
I took 1,546 photographs in 2009, or rather, uploaded that many to flickr. Actual taken is probably 5 times that, with the rest deleted. Here’s my top 10 favourite, in no particular order.
- acupunture jelly blue — my 2 year old acupuncture shoes, taken with the lomo app on the iphone in my office. There’s something interesting about the colours that the lomo gives, it’s really quite fetching
- thunderbirds at the chicago air and water show — it was a miserably rainy day, the jets were very fast and I didn’t have a long lens. I had to do some extensive photoshopping to make the sky look decently interesting
- empty room at the ellis island museum — only slightly photoshopped, the original colours and (lack of) sharpness were retained
- kettle at lin heung restaurant — this is one of the last remaining traditional restaurants, and the geriatric waiters fill up customers’ tea pots using these kettles
- bowling pins at the antique shop on clark — more about its location than the actual photo
- cape cod cemetery — I got so many nice pics on that day, this one stood out because of the angle and the moss on the tombstone
- milford cemetery — it was the perfect time, perfect location and perfect weather
- little girl at market days — it was crowded, and loud, and a faux-abba band was on, but this girl was enjoying herself so much
- amber benson — this is definitely the case of the subject being a favourite rather than the pic itself
- mushroom and asparagus bread pudding — I had to include a food pic, and this one is for the staging and lightbox, as well as how delicious it tasted
Over at flickr, there’s a thread for people to post their worst shots. Some of them look actually nice, the photographer must either have been disappointed, have high standards or is being falsely humble.
My worst shot 2009 would have been deleted and never made it through photoshop, iphoto and to flickr. This is the closest. I had to keep it to show the process, i didn’t have another similar one. This was when I was cooking the quinces to make quince paste.
This was taken a couple of weeks ago at market days. This little girl was dancing at the corner of the stage where the ABBA tribute band was playing. Cute expression and good background. I guess it’s the music as a whole, can’t believe she knows any ABBA songs per se. Way before her time.
I love photographing food. All my friends, family and even colleagues know this. That I’m prone to taking out my camera and photographing what I’m eating, and even what they ordered. They indulge me, and treat it like an endearing idiosyncrasy rather than an annoyance.
So I was interested to read the comments on the Lifehacker article Photograph your food without being a jerk, that some people think it’s a fetish and don’t like it when other people photograph their food. The original discussion, on chow.com talked a little about the etiquette:
don’t take multiple shots from multiple angles, kneel on the banquette, or rearrange the table
Fine enough. I don’t understand the vitriol that non-food photographers have throw at food photographers. Especially at the higher end restaurants. One of the reasons I photograph my food is to remember the dish, so all the more reason that if i were to dine at a special restaurant, I’d want to remember it. I do agree, flash can be distracting, and no climbing all over the furniture.
Anyway, this is my entry for this week’s friday food fiesta, theme is pretty plating.
Summary of each hour, even though I was up after 8pm, there wasn’t anything interesting, so it’s only 10 pics:
- 1100 — it’s a saturday, i’m allowed to lie in. first things first, tea and get online
- 1200 — take stuff to new home. what i like about the area are the trees, and the cute roundabouts
- 1300 — walking around Clark, this woman walking in front of me
- 1400 — maifest at lincoln square — may version of oktoberfest, my first summer festival this year
- 1500 — late lunch of german meatloaf sandwich with potato salad and sauerkraut, washed down with 1 litre of beer
- 1600 — more food! almond custard cake
- 1700 — waiting for the train at ravenswood station
- 1800 — after 2l of beer, i need water and something for the headache
- 1900 — yummy cherries
- 2000 — back to where i started in the morning — water and mbp online
Uploaded NYC pics: nyc set | ym6 set
One that isn’t related to the trip, but I really like it. In the Ellis Island museum, there’s a area that they haven’t totally restored and the feel is still stuck in the 1950s. Some of the rooms were empty, though roped off. This is one of them. I wanted to convey the sense of quietness and isolation that I felt, looking at that room.
Tilt-Shift miniature faking takes a real life picture and manipulates it so it looks like a miniature scale model. This view of Sydney Harbour from top of the gap at Watsons Bay is one of my favourites and is perfect for trying it out. The recommendation for selecting a suitable candidate pic is that the viewpoint is high. So, I’m trying out 2 methods.
This one uses a straightforward photoshop method, according to this tutorial:
- switch to quick mask mode (hit “q”)
- choose gradient > reflected gradient
- draw a line from the centre of the in-focus area to the end will be where the transition from in-focus to out-of-focus is completed
- return to standard mode
- play with blur > lens blur
- increase saturation, adjust curves if necessary
This second one simply uses the online tiltshiftmaker. The gradient and blur effects are pretty similar, but the ability to adjust saturation, colour and curves makes the photoshop method better. Then again, there’s the big price different between a free website and CS3.
This is fun. I can see me doing more tilt-shifts in the future.
Nowadays I’m so used to shops being open all year round, even on Christmas Day — shoppers paradise means retail trumps everything. I almost can’t remember how London is, nothing is open, no tube, no bus, no shops (apart from small corner shops may be). So i was intrigued to find via mefi phootographs by IanVisits, who took the trouble of photographing London early on Christmas Day. The resultant flickr set, abandoned london is very eerie. To see places like Trafalgar Square, Oxford Street totally empty, it’s like something out of a science fiction movie.
Like last year I thought I’d do a little retrospective on my pictures of 2008.
Total 1,512 pictures, of which 428 (28.3%) are food related. So basically, I took some pictures of travelling but my major obsession has been food. This was helped by the purchase in June of the Nikon S550, which permanently sits in my backpack nowadays. I haven’t used the EOS for ages and ages (well, since Hokkaido) and I’m feeling a little guilty I’m neglecting my main camera.
For my top 10 favourites this year I’ve selected more static shots. These may not be the best quality in terms of photographic skills, but there’s something about the colour, or motion, or feel that I like.
This was converted using the gorman-holbert method, named after Greg Gorman and Mac Holbert. It’s another method developed by Rob Carr and gives outstanding results, especially for portraits.
This is from the millenium forest in hokkaido.
- Select Image > Mode > Lab Color to convert the image to Lab mode
- Go to the Channel palette and select the Lightness channel
- Select Image > Mode > Grayscale and discard the “a” and “b” channels
- While holding the Control key click on the Gray channel
- Select > Inverse to select the shadows
- With the shadows selected select Image > Mode > RGB Color to convert back to RGB
- Go to the Layers Palette
- Create a new Solid Color layer
- Select a color from the color chooser
- Change the Blending Mode of the solid color layer to Multiply
- Hit Command-Option-Shift-E to create a new merged layer
- Change the blending mode of the new layer to Overlay. Set opacity to 20%
- Select Filter > Other > High Pass
- Set the radius to 50 pixels
One of the [many] great features of photoshop is that we can create and store actions. This is a black and white action from eliot shepard which is based on one by bob carr.
This is the lobby of the Westin in Sydney, the one where they converted the GPO to a swanky hotel, restaurant, shopping complex.
- Convert to Lab Color (Image > Mode > Lab Color)
- Select the Lightness channel (Channels palette > Lightness channel)
- Convert to Grayscale (Image > Mode > Grayscale)
- Make the new channel the selection (Control-click the thumbnail in the new Gray channel)
- Invert selection (Select > Inverse) (Leave this selection active for the next steps)
- Fill the selection with black (Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color > Select color #000000)
- Tweak the opacity of the fill layer (Layers palette > select Color Fill > set opacity to ~50%)
- Create a new Levels (or Curves if you prefer) adjustment layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels)
- Tweak the levels in the adjustment layer as you like
- Select Background Layer (Layers palette > select Background)
- Duplicate layer (Layer > Duplicate Layer)
- Run the High Pass Filter (Filter > Other > High Pass > Radius 10)
- Convert the filtered layer’s blending mode to Hard Light (Layers palette > Select Background copy > set blending to Hard Light)
- Reduce the opacity of the Background copy layer to a good point (I start at 25%)
Had half a day to spare before needing to go to Heathrow so I took the opportunity to walk around and take pictures of places and things that I’d taken for granted when I was young. First I walked from the hotel to Liverpool Street past my old company then through Moorgate and back to my old school. Some of the old shops are still there — like that Boots next to Moorgate station.
The school looks the same too, as was the sign for Cripplegate Without on the wall of St Giles Church, one of the remaining old use of ‘without’ I think.
Took the tube to Hyde Park Corner to the Hard Rock Café with the sole purpose of getting a new London HRC polo shirt. More about that in another post on my HRC polo shirt collection. I’d actually never walked around Wellington Place on foot, because that’s such a touristy thing to do. The New Zealand war memorial is new, and is very poignant. From the HRC I walked all the way to Piccadilly Circus to another tourist mecca — the Eros statue, Leicester Square and Chinatown. The familiar restaurants are still here, including our old favourite. Except instead of noodles it’s now a §8.90 buffet place. The second hand bookstores on Charing Cross Road were unchanged too.
Lunch at Belgo, where I had moules provenç with frites that looked more like chips. Washed them down with a Chimay Bleu beer, and tried the Floris Apple beer too. The apple beer tasted of cider, nothing special.
By then it was almost time to head back to the hotel. By bus again, and it being a nice day looking out of the windows was clear.
Here are some uniquely London things: the traditional red phonebox and the open platform routemaster buses. Not many of either left.
More pictures at the flickr set. And I edited monday’s post to add a few food pics.
More Chile pictures. This is of the vina del mar coastline. Converted to b&w using the same gradient method.
I hadn’t chatted with K for ages and she showed up on chat tonight. It was great to catch up. Reminds me of my visit last July. This is one of the parks in Santiago. Converted to b&w simply by:
add adjustment layer > gradient > b&w adjust levels, curves or add burn /soft light adjustment layers to increase depth
I had always wanted to learn black & white photography and in the days of film camera I tried taking a couple of rolls of b&w film. Was never really happy with the results. No surprise.
With the advent of digital photography, it’s not as if we can get b&w memory cards. Taking b&w pictures can be done using a filter. Some cameras have in camera settings. The other method is to post process. Photoshop, iPhoto and all photo editing software has this functionality.
This picture was of the Cardrona Hotel on that lonely road between Queenstown and Wanaka, New Zealand. I tried the simplest channel mixer method and set it to black&white infra red filter. Then used levels and curves to add contrast. original colour version.
The theme for this week’s photo friday is relationship. While I have a few hundred pictures with mm, I didn’t want to enter those. It’s boring for other people to see pictures of us. Plus, I would never allow personal pictures to be seen in public.
This one was taken at Lake Tarawera near Rotorua in New Zealand. It’s a pretty lake, not the prettiest we saw on that trip. We were there late afternoon so it was quiet, it was nice to spend a few minutes enjoying the water and the small sandy beach. I took this picture of our shadows in the shallow water, it was a spur of the moment shot, the light was just right. [#262]
When we were at the hoosoka viewpoint at kushiro wetlands, I rotated through and took a series of 7-8 kinda sorta overlapping pictures.
Autostitching in photoshop appears to be straightforward according to this tutorial. I tried, but the results using Auto-Align weren’t good, the contrast and exposure between pictures didn’t match at all. I guess it’s because there was too much green and the details aren’t clear enough to distinguish using an automated program.
I ended up eyeballing most of it, matching layers adjusting levels, curves and exposure layer by layer. The Auto-Blend function was useful though, took some guesswork out of the exercise. For the remaining parts I did some smudging and copying to eliminate as much of the obvious line up points as possible.
I wonder if Nikon, not Canon, had come up with the first good autofocus camera I would have gone with Nikon rather than Canon. hmm, the more I think about it, yes. As things go now, I suppose it’d be too late to jump ship, buying a Coolpix notwithstanding.
Why the musing? Because of the new Nikon D90, their new prosumer DSLR. Why the wanting? Because it takes videos. I know point-and-shoots have been still and video for a while, but this is the first SLR.
It’s manual focus and may be seen as limited. But guess what, it’s not a camcorder replacement. For real videos use real video equipment. What it is, is a device that enables you to take short videos when they are needed cos somethings when you’re on holiday it just may come in handy.
If I were in the market for a new DSLR, I’d give it serious thought. What is surprising is the comment from David Pogue:
It’s pretty funny that it comes from Nikon, a company with practically no experience in video cameras — and not, say, a camcorder/camera behemoth like Sony or Canon.
I’m sure the next EOS will come with video. But by then Canon is a follower not a leader, dammit.
I’ve always had 2 cameras. The main SLR and a smaller one I carry around in my backpack or for business trips when I know I won’t need a full camera. The second camera has always been an ixus, an original 2.0 model. It’s gotten to the point when it’s not reliable, even with new batteries.
So in June I dragged mm to get a new one. I was so set on another ixus, I did research on the various models and it was just a matter of trying out to see which fit in my hand best.
The unthinkable happened.
The shop assistant said to me that I can get the same specs as the one I was looking at (850 or 90 I think) for 30% less. It’s not a second tier brand but a Nikon. Same specs! I asked why it’s cheaper and he said that Canon spends too much money on expensive advertising which bumps up the prices. Regardless of whether that’s true or not I can’t fault the big price difference. Yes there was a huge built-in resistance to Nikons, I wasn’t comfortable because, well, you’re either a Canon person or a Nikon person.
Money won at the end. Plus it’s a small point and shoot. What’s the harm?
I’ve been using it for 2 months now. Pretty much exclusively, for the last 2 Chicago trips. Now most people graduate to a DSLR from a small digital, not the other way round. Case in point, Dean Allen’s reaction on getting a Nikon D60:
It autofocuses in less time than it takes my eyes to imagine what a proper focus would be! You can take pictures in tungsten light without tacking a fucking white card to the wall and metering fifteen times! You push the button and it takes a fucking picture! I am in consumer ecstasy!
My take on it is that it’s a very solid camera. There is no viewfinder, the LCD screen is the source. It took me a while to get used to it. The macro function is excellent, which is important to me cos the major use of this camera is to photograph food. It has a smile mode, a number of nice features, and it’s small and light. The biggest complaint is if I have it on single shot mode it takes forever for it to display the picture and enable me to take the next shot. Sometimes I have to wait 2-3 seconds before I can click again and I’m so not used to this.
No way am I abandoning my trusted EOS, it’s just the occasions when I needed a camera lately have been more suited to a point and shoot. For quick snaps of hotel rooms and restaurant food the small camera is oh so convenient. There’s not such a big emphasis on resolution and picture quality.
I did a quick test of both cameras over the weekend. The sunrise shot was taken using both. There is a marked difference in colour rending.
Picture 1: Nikon Coolpix S550 | fully automatic. Picture 2: Canon EOS350D | 28mm on EF24-105mm | ISO200 | P
Not photoshopped or altered in any way except resized and cropped. Does the S550 hold its own against the EOS? Well, no. The colours from the EOS have more depth, and captured the orange-red of the sunrise better. Exposure wise the S550 is brighter and sharper but the EOS picture is easier on the eyes.
I know, it’s unfair to compare. I’m not saying the S550 is not good, in fact for quick snaps it’s better. I’m just saying there is room for separate cameras in my life.
Jetlag has been bad. I don’t know why I’m not completely exhausted cos I’ve been waking up at stupid hours all week. 1am, 3am, 4am, 5am. I give up on trying to get back to sleep once it gets to around 5.30am.
I took this at just before 6am from my study. The sky was full of reds and oranges for just those few minutes. The trees around the swimming pool act as a good foreground to the skyscrapers in the background.
I entered this for the flickr 888 event. Some people actually take pictures of three 8s, I wish I had the opportunity to do that.
One of the specialist chefs at the Peking Garden restaurant in Hong Kong. This is one of the best restaurants for Peking duck and when we were there on a Saturday lunchtime, the ducks were served non-stop.
The duck would come out of the kitchen, shiny and fresh. The waiter would present it to the table for inspection, then it goes to the chef’s station. Diners have a choice of skin only or skin with meat. In short precise strokes the chef slices even portions onto an oval platter with a duck handle.
It’s one of the greatest dishes in the world, and you can see the focus and expertise in this chef’s action.
When I first switched to digital photography, I had a 128MB card, then a 512MB card. And I thought they were great.
When my card failed in NZ, I bought a 1GB card for megabucks.
Then I got a couple of 2GB, and recently a 4GB.
But today Microdia announced that they will begin shipping the 64GB XTRA ELITE CF card in June. No, that wasn’t a typo, CF cards are now 64GB.
I’m sure in 3 years’ time, when tetrabyte cards are the norm, I’d look back fondly at these GB cards.
I like this picture. It was taken at Pitt Street Mall in Sydney; I’d just came up from the Myers food court and it was the string quartet that caught my attention. There was quite a large crowd, and they were good. It was only after a while that I noticed the mime. My intention was to contrast the stillness of the mime against the musicians but there were too many pedestrians distracting the background. I’m glad I got the movement effect of the passers-by walking past.
And talking about photography, Adobe today announced the web version of photoshop, Photoshop Express. It’s in beta and only has the basic features like red eye, crop, rotate, exposure, saturation, colour, hue. But it’s free and comes with a 2 GB storage so for casual use it’s perfect.
I took a screenshot, and it’s not a good sign that I had to edit it in picnik. The Test Drive version only allowed me to play with pictures they’ve uploaded; to play around my own pics I have to sign up. The way they ask for login information (name is required) made me a bit uncomfortable. Country is US only but it didn’t stop the sign up process. What did was that yahoo mail wasn’t acceptable. I’m surprised there’s so much restriction / paranoia about a free photo editing website. There are other sites available, with same or more features, the fact that this carries the Photoshop name may end up being meaningless.
I’ve noticed a trend with my posts — food and photography. Which is why I was so excited to come across photojojo’s food photography tips. A sensible, if common sense, list. The trick is to get really good pics that I see all the time.
- setting — plain backgrounds, plates that are not the same colour as the food, get rid of junk around the food
- light — natural light is best, naturally
- colour balance — I need to learn this
- don’t move — or use a tripod
- shoot a lot — experiment with different angles
- zoom in — the macro function is our friend
- preparation — sometimes, pics of the preparation are just as interesting
- be quick — otherwise food starts losing its freshness
- details — clean the plates, use sauces and garnishes to add colour
- don’t shoot — some food never look good
The latest request was from the wheelchairs group. The pic in question is the wheelchair button one I took in SF, after pushing endless ones in Vegas. Pretty cool pictures in that group, which includes a list of “wheelchair” in different languages.
So much variety on flickr. It’s good.
flickr is 4. It’s amazing, I have no idea what I will do without flickr. The other photo sharing sites are just…not the same. I had to load a couple of videos to photobucket cos flickr video isn’t due till April. While it got the job done, I didn’t like the interface and there were ads everywhere on the page. I like the easy, standard interface I have with flickr. I totally and completely rely on the hosting service. Tagging is intuitive. I like having sets and collections. I know there is so much more out there that I can explore. I am grateful for what I have.
From the makers of 26 things, a day in the life project for 29 February. What a neat coincidence. The aim:
do something you’ve never done before and/or always wanted to do - and photograph it! One photo an hour for as long as you’re awake during this leap day
I’m on vacation in Chicago, and I stayed at home today. But there was enough to photograph; and I did something I’ve never done before. The flickr set is shown in pictobrowser format, don’t forget to click on the notes.
Here’s a summary of each “hour”:
- 0800 - woke up to snow
- 0900 - conference call with work
- 1000 - mmm tea and Tim Tams
- 1100 - Joxer at the window
- 1200 - pasta lunch
- 1300 - snow shoveling, before
- 1400 - snow shoveling, after
- 1500 - relax with a good book
- 1600 - beautiful scenery
- 1700 - preparing dinner
- 1800 - pasta dinner
- 1900 - should I have some strawberries or not
- 2000 - Joxer and the pot
- 2100 - calling mm
- 2200 - work on the set
A long day of meetings today. I was sitting looking outside, day-dreaming, thinking about stuff other than work. And then my colleague’s crystal decoration caught my eye. It perfectly caught the reflections of the buildings outside.
I had my camera with me today, so I snapped this.
I bought this small desktop clock in a tiny curio / antique shop in Switzerland. Was probably in Zurich itself but could be any of the towns, can’t really remember. I couldn’t exactly not have a Swiss-made clock at home now could I. What caught my eye was the overall design of the clock, but also the intricate patterns on the face. The needles are actually pretty fragile, and there’s no glass or anything to protect them.
This is the macro view from above. I know I should be playing around with the macro setting more often, may be I’ll start a study of small things at home. hmm.
photo friday ran “best of 2007” as year end theme, which got me thinking about what I could consider my best photo. I have 1,788 photos tagged with 2007 in flickr, give and take a few duplicates.
The first photo this year was taken on 3 February at the MacRitchie reservoir walk in Singapore. A rather ordinary picture, all greys and dullness.
The last few photos are a bunch of food related pics — Christmas lunch, yogurt cheese and this one of breakfast salad being #1788.
The last non-food photo came full circle to the first one, to Singapore. Taken on 16 December at Sydney airport it’s the Singapore Airlines A380 approaching the gate. Not a very good quality pic, again dull weather, not helped by the fact that I took it through the glass.
I do most of my photography during travelling and this year I’ve travelled to: Singapore, Toronto, Chicago, Santiago (and surrounds), Sydney and Melbourne. Out of the full set I selected 10 favourites, more for how I like them rather than any inspiring technique. It’s interesting that half were from Australia. I guess it’s because of a) the perennial good weather and b) timing = recent.
When I was looking for the hammock graphic for yesterday’s post I put in “relax home” in a google image search. This came up on the first page, in fact it was on the top line. Clicking on the image brought me to the uk durex site, which was um surprising. The reason is that the alt of the image is relax_home.jpg.
Anyway, I studied it for a little while and realised that I wasn’t offended by the nudity. In fact, I began to appreciate the photography — in particular the composition and how the head, arms and legs are positioned. It did show a relaxed body, but there was also something anticipatory about the pose. Normally I’m clueless about art, classifying everything under “like” or “don’t like” — this definitely falls under the “like” pile.
There’s too much stigma in society about nakedness, we should put away the prudishness and start noticing the how natural the human form can be.
This is my entry for this week’s photo friday challenge — Dead of Night. Usually I’m intimidated by the quality of photos there, but this time I thought what the hell. My entry is #130 in case anyone want to vote for it. This was taken from one side of the Bellagio fountain looking towards the other side. The cloud at the bottom is the remains of dry ice after the half-hourly fountain display.
A few of my pictures on flickr got noticed by schmap and they asked for my permission to use them. It’s flattering, there’s a sense of pride the first time I received an email telling me my picture has been shortlisted and could I click on a link to agree or reject its inclusion.
Schmap is a travel guide, I can’t decide whether they want it online or whether the downloaded version is the proper way to use it. They cover 200 destinations in USA, Canada, Europe Australia and New Zealand — North American focused and the usual suspects in terms of cities. The interesting feature is that users can click around the guide and there are useful links and photos of hotspots along the route. Or they can plan a walking tour and see pictures of highlights on the way.
For instance, my first Schmap picture is of the Carbide and Carbon Building. There’s a map to show where it is, a little blurb about the landmark and the user can scroll through 10 different pictures of the building. They also included my picture of the Hard Rock Café in Niagara and I just got an email that a couple of my Washington DC pics have been shortlisted.
The pictures aren’t the super fancy professional ones, more like ones taken by ordinary people, which I guess is the point. It’s an interesting business model. To use a clichéd saying, very web 2.0 — user-generated content, no need to use expensive photographers, free marketing. They seem to source the majority of their pictures from flickr, and the people who use flickr are mostly more tech-friendly. How better to have a bunch of bloggers telling the world about how they are included … the page links and click rate alone is bound to be stunning. Having said that, the content needs to be good to ensure repeat visitors.
I made toblerone chocolate mousse. And then I realised the recipe post doesn’t have a picture, which is bad bad bad.
Man, talk about difficult. I think I’ve posted about how difficult it is to do food photography at home — too dark, no sunlight, bad lighting, no white surface, too much stuff affecting the background. Not to mention I don’t have good enough utensils, containers and I don’t own a tablecloth. I think photographing food so it looks appealing is tough, period.
I made do with what I had, using different containers — an Ikea dessert bowl, a Starbucks espresso cup and a shot glass. I had cocoa powder and a block of chocolate for shaving. I wish I had chocolate sauce, some raspberries or even mint. But no, I’m out of all those. I did manage to find a box of amaretto biscotti for decoration. See the results:
First I tried the table, then the usual makeshift white surface (ie the microwave). I tried scooping it into a fresh dessert bowl so it looks haphazard. I had a running battle with condensation and the mousse melting. In the end I shot off like 30 pics. I dunno, none of them looked good.
Oh the whole reason I was making chocolate mousse was because I was reading the article about the hidden bear inside the toblerone logo.
And I remembered I had 3 bars of the dark toblerone in my fridge that needed using. Oh no, it’s got nothing to do with the fact that it’s one of my favourite recipes to use.
You go to a family birthday party. You’ve been given the camera. You’re supposed to get people to pose with the birthday VIP until the VIP’s smile is frozen. You’re supposed to take photos of the cake. You’re not supposed to be taking pictures of the moon.
Researching into how best to redo the gallery. I don’t have stats but it seems to me that a typical personal website will include a blog and a place to put photos. I’m surprised that there aren’t more integration between the likes of flickr / photobucket and MT / Wordpress. May be I’m not looking hard enough, but I don’t think so.
Like many before me, I hacked MT to make it a sort of photoblog/gallery type page. Six Apart say it’s straightforward — witness the number of SA staff using Byrne Reese’s PhotoGallery. But honestly, it’s not immediately intuitive, especially the treatment of thumbnails. There’s the flickrphotos plugin but there’s a fair bit of fiddling needed, it seems to me.
Of course, I don’t have to use MT or a specific CMS. There are several popular solutions:
PHP/database, flexible, seems easy to install but I’m not sure how well it can integrate to the MT-based css. Apparently some performance issues.
Full-featured, gallery maker more suited for professionals selling their photos. The most basic license is $399.
PHP/mysql based, developed specifically for photoblogging. Looks fantastic, allows comments and all that we’ve come to expect of a blogging software.
But I’m not going to use pixelpost or gallery (forget about lightboxphoto) because these require that my images are uploaded and hosted on my server. Not that I haven’t done that, but for the purposes of the gallery I really want to use flickr. Why? The practical reason is because of tags, sets, convenience and not having to upload to multiple locations. They’re neatly organised on flickr, I just want to link them back.
I’m glad I’m not the only one considering the options.
There are quite a few options. My thoughts:
Simple app that displays thumbnails of sets, click on one and it goes to a page with the photos, then the photo itself. Includes recent photos and popular tags. In order to view private pictures, add comments and the like, I have to sign into flickr. Feels to me like it replicates flickr feel on my own website.
comment: not for me. I’m not looking for a flickr clone, I’d like something that looks more elegant. Apparently I can play with the demo to see how my sets look like, but I never got it to work.
A flash widget that displays flickr pictures. Simple filmstrip design and interface. Choose a set, tag or group and it generates a block of code to embed into a webpage.
comment: very easy, no need to worry about design. But it’s for single sets or tags only, and in order to display multiple sets, I’ll need to code it myself. Basic, but I need more functions. Here’s my 26thngs for Sept06.
More of a desktop photo organiser that happens to generate a flash web album after it’s uploaded to flickr. Has GPS and geotagging. In use, it’s very Windows look and feel. The flash feature generates a pop-up page that has fairly basic navigation elements. For instance clicking on the photo brings me back to the album.
comment: I don’t want to organise my photos through their application because I use iPhoto on the desktop. The whole point is I don’t want to manage my photos in multiple places. Such a Windows-heavy application won’t make many friends with mac users anyway.
Another PHP application that makes use of flickr’s API. Uses mootools and slimbox for sleekness. Displays thumbnails of pictures of a set; clicking on one dims the set and overlays the picture in question over the set. Looks nice, very nice. Comes with a black and a white theme, so I’m not sure how much it can integrate into a sitewise css.
comment: nice, worth looking at.
Similar to Satellite in its use of the slimbox overlay method. Themes are customisable and EXIF data is displayed.
comment: similar in concept to Satellite, appears to have a few more features. Worth looking at.
Very popular. Generates a flash slide show with thumbnails of remainder of photos at side, makes it easy to navigate. Integrates with flickr, wordpress as well as desktop apps like iPhoto.
comment: I like this. Clean and neat navigation.
Verdict? At the moment it’s between simpleviewer and flogr/satellite. It’s to do with navigation — do I like the slimbox overlay approach or the filmstrip approach. Ah, decisions.
I will go back and write up the Singapore long weekend trip. In the meantime, a little late, but May 26 things is done. All taken during the last few days in Singapore. Not my best collection by far, I was too slow with a lot of chances. I think my 26things standard is slipping, sigh.
|1. keys||10. round||19. after|
|2. dance||11. currency||20. landmark|
|3. fold||12. electronic||21. from the hip|
|4. soft||13. large||22. front page|
|5. tangle||14. fake||23. a difference|
|6. panoramic||15. stop||24. telephone|
|7. truck||16. feast||25. number 9|
|8. sparkle||17. multicoloured||26. sticky|
|9. nose||18. before|
November 26 things is done. Most are snapshots from home, work and while I’m out and about. Not my best pics by far but … *shrug*. Here’s the list:
|1. glee||10. stairwell||19. words|
|2. village||11. public transport||20. odd|
|3. reality||12. art||21. a stop sign|
|4. accident||13. shoes||22. traditional|
|5. anxiety||14. friday||23. the sea|
|6. low||15. alley||24. stripes|
|7. copy||16. 7pm||25. tangled|
|8. kindness||17. telephone||26. a night shot|
|9. bad taste||18. ant’s eye view|
One of the reasons I prefer flickr over photobucket isn't just the snob factor, I do find it the better tool. Granted, photobucket is easier to use and more intuitive, but I can't imagine uploading my pics without the tags and sets feature that flickr offer. For me, photobucket is the mass market product so the common and garden user can upload a pic and send the link to their chums; in other words, a windows user. Whereas flickr is the mac equivalent, for someone who wants a little more control.
Anyway, the reason I thought about flickr was the list of top 10 cameras on flickr:
- Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
- NIKON D50
- Canon EOS 350D DIGITAL
- Canon EOS 20D
- NIKON D70
- NIKON D70s
- Canon PowerShot S2 IS
- Canon EOS 30D
- Sony CYBERSHOT
- Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL
See, that's another cool feature of flickr. If your camera has that function, when you upload your pic it'll record which camera.
It's also telling that actually the Rebel XT and 350D are the same, and shouldn't they lump the Nikon D70 and D70s?
woot! Sept 2006 26 things is out. I wonder if I can finish it this time. Here’s the list:
|1. overcome||10. fly||19. shadows|
|2. at the top||11. words||20. curvaceous|
|3. pile of||12. traffic||21. blur|
|4. coated||13. fresh||22. tv|
|5. button||14. craving||23. meaning of life|
|6. soft||15. town||24. price|
|7. strange||16. small spaces||25. mirror|
|8. package||17. scream||26. macro|
|9. team||18. boring|
- it has been ages since I submitted an entry for the mirror project
- I can’t even remember what my username is there
- I need to move those entries to flickr
- I need to have a big sort on my photo collection
- I should redo my photo gallery section. need to investigate tools, link from flickr? gallery? simpleviewer?
- learn photography
crap. I need to start thinking about an overally site redesign — redo entire look and feel, use switchable stylesheets, upgrade to the latest Movable Type or switch to Wordpress, add recipes. argh!
I loaded the photos from both India trips (45 photos). They’re not the best I’ve taken since most of them were taken from the back of a car. The November 2005 ones were also taken with the small ixus, so the resolution sucks.
A few thoughts:
Nowhere else is the contrast so glaring — the poverty of the children sleeping on the streets vs the opulence of my hotel suite; the streetside stalls vs the modern shopping malls.
I don’t know which is worse, the quality of the roads or the traffic. There’d be the tarmac, piles of rubbish, dirt, the semblence of a pavement, then the buildings. People walk on the road, cars and ricksaws and motorcycles and buses and trucks all fight for the same space. There are no lane markings; honking is a norm.
There is a big difference between the suburbs and downtown Mumbai. Downtown is just like any big city, may be busier and dirtier, but I felt fine walking around even in the dark.
The Bollywood business is huge. I mean, huge.
I bit the bullet and paid for a flickr pro account today. I made the Jan deadline of using up the free 20MB transfer last week and uploaded 151 photos. Today I thought I’d make a start on the feb quota. Heh, doesn’t give me that much, at this rate it’ll be August before I upload all the NZ pics. $25 a year isn’t bad. 2GB transfer, unlimited storage and unlimited photo sets. Doesn’t resize my pics. Gives me the flexibility to eventually move all my pics over to flickr and not use up my server space. The $20 I save from my host goes there I suppose.
What else do I like about it — tags, tags, tags. The organizer is okay, though I would like to have a functionality where I can add multiple pics to a set. It’s easy to use and intuitive. I’m up to Christchurch, 721 pics. I’ll do North Island tomorrow.
Oh, and my photostream has already been viewed 82 times and I have a few comments already. Wow. It should also let me post directly but it doesn’t respect my css, and the img didn’t have an alt, and there are too many strange html. Yeah, I prefer to html it myself. This was a sign we saw at the pub in Kaikoura.
I’m now at the stage when I’m re-sizing the NZ trip photos. They’re huge — the onces from my camera are 3,456x2,504 px and naturally the file size is astounding. So with 1,650 photos, how does one scale them down to a manageable size and not have to do them one by one?
Photoshop Actions to the rescue. I could simply record the action (select image size —> set width to 800 —> close and save) and run it under File>>Automation. I wish it were smart enough to recognise the difference between portrait and landscape pics so it automatically makes the longest side 800px, but it’s a small thing.
I’m at 1,000+, just finished the Franz Josef Glacier set. Then I need to figure out where to upload the pics. Comcast has PhotoShow, which looks great but I think the file is only available for 30 days. Yahoo photos, hmm, boring. Ofoto or photobucket. I’m definitely leaning towards flickr. Or use iPhoto and the same plugin kottke uses … it looks great.
Dunedin - Queenstown
Bade goodbye to the Portabello, we were very comfortable there. First on the agenda this morning was fill up the car. It was cold, windy and wet at the BP, grrrr. Pleasant drive though, we were heading towards Alexandra, via the “fruit route.” There were lots of fruit farms near Alexandra and we bought a large pack of cherries $12. The cherry orchards were shrouded by nets, to protect them from birds and insects apparently.
By the time we got to Central Otago the weather had changed so much, from wet and windy to positively hot. Scenery changed too, we drove alongside the Clutha River and stopped at the Cromwell Lookout to take some huge photos.
Alexandra is supposed to be a largish town in the region, but the main street was still pretty tiny. We had a late lunch of mini quiche and bacon & egg pie (more like a quiche than pie IMO). Visited the tourist information centre and got tons of brochures. Armed with our newly acquired ‘Central Otago Wine Map’ we headed towards Cromwell to the vineyards. This is the southermost winemaking region in the world (NZ holds a lot of ‘southermost’ records) and the climate of hot summers and cool winters suit the grapes very much.
The vineyard we visited at Cromwell wasn’t impressive so we decided to move on, and ended up at Bannockburn. Almost by chance we hit Olssens, which is the last one along the road it is on. We tasted the available wines there, had a brilliant chat with the lady there and bought a couple of bottles of pinot noir and some verjuice, which is sour like vinegar and used in dressings and baking. 2 bottles of ice wine too, total $165, pretty good. There were some sculptures on the grounds, more photo opportunity.
Here’s a photo at Cromwell Lookout and one of the sculptures at Olssens. Kinda similiar?
Then it was onward again to Queenstown. The view on the way was stunning. Rock formations, driving along the river, sheep, deer, lovely. Passed by the place where bungy jumps were invented but it was closed. Still tourists there taking pictures of the bridge.
Queenstown was very touristy, she said it was like Davos. And yes, it felt like a downmarket version of any alpine resort. Very commercial, lots of outdoor shops and backpackers hostels. We had dinner at a posh restaurant called the Tatler – sat outside, she had john dory on risotto cake and asparagus and I had rack of lamb with potato dauphinois and ratatouille. Half a dozen oysters to start and a beer for me. $90.
Still light out so we walked around the town. Bought cheese, eggs, ribena and stuff at a small supermarket. Tried to decide on what to do tomorrow. Saw a few internet places, about $3-5 an hour. VERY tempted. sigh. Here’s a photo of sunset at the lake. NO FILTERS, NOT PHOTOSHOPPED.
We’re staying at the Colonial Village motel. It cannot compare with the Portabello at all, it’s one of those places where you try to touch very little of the furniture and fittings. nothing particularly wrong, just not 100% comfortable.
I bought it. As if there was ever any doubt. Canon EOS350D, aka Rebel XT. Though the silver version is prettier, I went for the black body cos it matches my other cameras.
Comes with a 18-55mm lens, which I promptly changed to my normal 28-80mm. A lot of the reviews says the kit lens isn’t that good. I think it should be fine, but I’m just more used to my usual lens. Also came with 1GB memory card, a tripod and there was an extra gift — a Powerpuff girl coin holder, which I gave to mm. She deserves it!
I guess sticking with Canon has its advantages. The charger uses the same cables as my ixus; the 350D uses the same card as the ixus; the software is the same. Plus the biggest advantage is that it uses my EF lenses. So now my camera collection consists of:
- EOS650 - first generation
- EOS300 - still my favourite
- EOS350D - it’ll grow on me I’m sure
- Original ixus - yes it’s the 2.1MP version
Right now it’s charging away happily. The first picture I took was of mm in the shop, surprisingly it’s very good.
What else did we do today? We went shopping, ended up in a small shop that sells owl stuff and lots of fun souvenirs. We bought a bunch of presents there. I bought her a green silk scarf.
Looking around for something to do, submitted an enty to photo friday, my first. It's such a coincidence, I'm sorting out the gallery pictures and I find I like taking pictures of water most, so this week's challenge, ocean, is perfect.
I submitted probably the oldest of my favorite pictures, the lighthouse at corbiere, more usually known as jerseyblue. Entry is #216.