container ship timelapse


And another video. This one by Jeff Tsang has been making the rounds. 10 minutes of unadulterated peacefulness and mesmerising goodness. Worth watching multiple times. He works on a container ship and set up his Nikon D750 and Rokinon 12mm f/2.8 lens facing the bow, then proceeded to collect over 80,000 images or 1.5TB of material which he edited into a timelapse video. 30 days of sailing in 10 minutes from the Red Sea to Sri Lanka to SIngapore to Hong Kong.

The sky and the weather looked so beautiful. I thought he was lucky but I remembered that pollution usually settles in built up areas and in the vast expanse of the oceans it’s really just the elements. And vast and expansive it was. For long periods there was nothing in the horizon but sky and water.

His captions are simple and educational too. In just a few words he described the hard work done by pilots, how long it takes to unload and load a container ship, and how traffic is organised (in lanes going in one direction in the straits around Singapore and no organisation around the South China Sea as fishing vessels are everywhere and crisscross around the ship). He made a decision to leave the camera out to continue recording while there was a storm and paid the price of water in his lens.

timelapse

My favourite bits include the enormous night sky with the Milky Way at around 0:30, lightning at around 3:20, the sky lit up by the full moon at around 6:00. And blue, blue skies.

photofriday: blur

mel286night

This week’s photofriday challenge is blur.

This bokeh-like pic was taken in Melbourne in February 2017, the first night we got safely back after being stranded in the middle of the ocean with no engines. Full moon so we took a walk on deck 7 after dinner. The camera was trying its hardest to autofocus so I clicked the shutter while it was still focusing. Then i tried to blur the image using manual focus. And played with the iphone too, it focused quicker so I had to click faster.

tsingy de bemaraha national park

We had very tentative plans to travel later in the year, but nothing fixed. May be Japan again if we only have a week; Europe if we have longer. With mm’s mum’s health situation, those plans are probably out. I may still get to travel before the end of the year, but I’m not sure.

tsingy
© Dave Stamboulis, BBC Travel

I’ve been looking at the bbc photoessay about Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park in Madagascar, one of the most difficult UNESCO site to reach. First, it’s in Madagascar, already one of the world’s most remote location. Secondly, the national park is in the northwestern part of the island and accessible by a dirt road that is a muddy swamp 6 months of the year. When it is relatively dry to travel, there are still 2 rivers to cross, both crocodile-infested.

Tsingy is the local language for “the place where one cannot walk” describes the sharp limestone formations in the national park. A series of suspension bridges, steel cables, pegs and ladders together with train guides allows visitors to see the spiky formations up close. UNESCO describes this world heritage site as:

impressive ‘tsingy’ peaks and a ‘forest’ of limestone needles.

I usually do quite well in those global places I’ve visited quizzes. I don’t see this often on those list challenges and it should be. I doubt I’ll ever get a chance to go but looking at the pics is enough. Spectacular.

two contests

A couple of contest winners, can’t be more different.

National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year

I can’t get into the natgo website, but the Atlantic has a great gallery. I’m also including the photographers’ captions.

natgopowernature
© Sergio Tapiro Velasco, National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest 2017

The Power of Nature – Grand Prize and 1st Prize Nature Category. Powerful eruption of Colima Volcano in Mexico on December 13th, 2015. That night, the weather was dry and cold, friction of ash particles generated a big lightning rod of about 600 meters that connected ash and volcano, illuminating the dark scene. In last part of 2015, this volcano showed a lot of eruptive activity with ash explosions that raised 2-3 km above the crater. Most of the night explosions produced incandescent rock falls and lightning not bigger than 100 meters in average.

Or as kottke called it, Mount Doom.

A couple of others caught my eye.

natgoforest
© Yutaka Takafuji, National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest 2017

Forest of the Fairy – Honorable mention, Nature. This photograph was taken in the evening hours of a humid early summer day in the forest of a small remote village in the Tamba area of Japan. It beautifully captures the magical atmosphere of princess fireflies carpeting a stairway leading to a small shrine revered by the local people.

I love this, dream-like and surreal.

natgotrain
© Moin Ahmed, National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest 2017

The Man’s Stare – Honorable mention, People. The photo was taken on July 23rd 2016 at Tongi Railway Station in Gazipur, Bangladesh. I was there taking photos and waiting for a moment. A train from Dhaka toward another district stopped at the platform for 5 minutes for lifting passengers. It was raining a lot. Suddenly I found a pair of curious eyes looking at me through the window and on his left an umbrella has been put to protect from the rain. I got the moment.

This is almost like a painting.


The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

This is for the WORST opening sentence. Not in a real novel, but participants try to write the worst opening line. Kat Russo was the winner for:

The elven city of Losstii faced towering sea cliffs and abutted rolling hills that in the summer were covered with blankets of flowers and in the winter were covered with blankets, because the elves wanted to keep the flowers warm and didn’t know much at all about gardening.

Pam Tallmann, in the Crime/Detective category:

As hard-boiled detective Max Baxter ate his soft-boiled egg, he thought about the gorgeous dame he’d found last night lying in a pool of her own blood—it being inconvenient to lie in a pool of someone else’s blood—and wondered how she liked her eggs.

They even have a Purple Prose category. Tyson Canale won with:

A sweaty Hector threw off his shirt, passion burning, skin glistening, his deodorant congealed to little chunks ensnared among the matted jungle of his armpits like so many crumbles of pungent blue cheese over a bed of sprouts, moistened with a dressing of perspiration, and lustily asked, “Are you as hungry as I am?” to the confused busboy.

red bull illume photography competition

The Red Bull Illume photography competition says it’s the greatest international contest for adventure and sports photography. With 5,646 photographers from 120 countries invited to submit to 10 categories and over 34,500 images received, it is certainly great.

The Atlantic covered some of the award-winning entries. I really like reading the descriptions that the photographers wrote to accompany the images too.

lorenzholder
© Lorenz Holder / Red Bull Illume

This is the amazing image by overall winner Lorenz Holder: “Senad and I were on the way to a different location early in the morning when we passed this scenic spot. We saw a sign from the street and I had some pictures in mind that I’d seen from this bridge on the internet. When we got there the sun was just above the trees and it was lighting up the full color-spectrum of the autumn leaves in a very soft way. I’d chosen a very low camera position to get an almost perfect mirrored scene on the water surface. The bridge looked like a perfect circle and the light was still very good. When Senad was on the bridge, it took us two or three tries to get the shot. There was also no more time for another try because the wind came up and the perfect reflection on the water was gone.”

Timing is everything, but it takes a masterful photographer to spot the correct light, setting and action.

friday food fiesta

fridayfoodfiesta

There was (still is, technically) a flickr group called friday food fiesta where we post pics to a weekly topic. It was quite active, then less active and then totally inactive;. the last weekly topic was set in December 2011.

For some reason pics started getting posted there recently. I guess people are just blindly posting to groups that mention food. I don’t mind, the pics are good quality, food-related and it’s nice to see activity in a long dormant group. I don’t see even the admins active on flickr anymore, which is sad.

Ah, nostalgia and the days when being social online seemed more fun and interactive.

loremflickr

I discovered loremflickr and have been having a lot of fun with it. What is loremflickr? It’s a free random picture generator. In the same vein as lorem ipsum for text, it posts

placeholder images for every case, web or print, on almost any subject, in any size

Images are sourced from flickr that are marked creative commons and the user is acknowledged. Just enter the url including size, colour, subject. Let’s call a 500×375 pic of food, so the url is loremflickr.com/500/375/food:

loremflickrfood

How about same size, red, shoes: http://loremflickr.com/red/500/375/shoes

loremflickrredshoes

It does multiple searches too. So I may want a random pic of car or train: http://loremflickr.com/500/375/car,train/all

loremflickrcartrain

This is fun. And the best part is, I have literally no idea what will show up on this post.

trip pics uploaded

I deliberated whether to upload pics and write posts at the same time but decided to tackle one task at a time. All pics are sorted and uploaded. Trimmed 1923 to 1059, including 8 videos.

Trip reports up to day 13 are posted, ie all Australia days.

random flickr

ork375tastingbottles

Haven’t played random flickr for a while. Sometime during 2016 I went past 30,000 on flickr and I have 302 pages on my photostream.

A random number generator gave me 170 so I navigated to page 170 of my flickr photostream. May 2012, visit to Orkney and the Highland Park distillery. Tasted 12, 15, 18, 25, 30, 40yrs and Thor; held a bottle of 50yr in my hand. The pic is of a row of tasting samples on the shelf in their tasting room. I haven’t been drinking a lot of whisky lately, should get back to a glass or two occasionally. Good times.

best of: 2016 pictures

best of: 2016

Really didn’t feel like doing any top 10 lists for 2016, but I know if I skipped top 10 pics I will regret it, like skipping nano 2007.

shatinunderbridge

Not very many pics in 2016 compared with past years, and many were taken on the iphone. The top 10 picks seem to end up being shape and line-driven. This one fits my current mood. Grey, floating, straight lines, harsh.

photofriday nature

jun133glacier

Photofriday challenge this week is Nature.

They changed the website in September, instead of linking to our own page we upload a pic to theirs. Modern thumbnail look, infinite scrolling page etc. Need to create an account there now. On the one hand I get why, because the flickr links were getting ridiculous and the whole flash display was slow AF. The cynical me thinks it’s all to do with data mining, because that’s what it takes nowadays. I’m having problems both signing in and uploading images, and it’s not worth my trouble to dig into why.

Anyway, the pic I would have submitted is of the Mendenhall glacier in Alaska, which mum and I saw when we went on our cruise a couple of years ago. It’s probably one of the most photographed glaciers, seeing that it’s quite accessible and so many people have gone to Juneau. I’m reminded of how fragile our planet is, the glacier has receded a lot in recent years and we really have to watch climate change.

accidental textures

blurrypavement

This was a complete accident. A blurry shot of the concrete pavement. Don’t even know where or when. The patterns and textures are interesting though.

taio056textures

Reminds me of this pic I purposely took while out and about with mum and greataunt a few weeks ago. It’s a few broken wooden planks against a brown tarp at the side of a house. Again, interesting patterns and textures.

Makes a change from my usual food instagrams.

cruise writeup and pics

Sorted cruise pics and wrote up the trip. Total around 200 pics: ship, Halong Bay, Sanya. The most work needed were the halong bay pics.

I try not to overdo photoshopping because it feels like cheating somehow. The pics at Halong Bay were seriously awful though. Grey, hazy, dull, just ugh. I don’t have the newfangled dehaze feature in photoshop and lightroom cc, but there’s a youtube video for everything isn’t there.

Adjust levels, add a little mid-tone blue and green in levels, unsharp mask (20%, 50px), shadow/highlight and the pics pop a bit better.

Here’s the original of a pic I took at port:
hb01

After fixing:
hb02

Contrast before and after:
hb03

Another one, the rock details really came out in this one:
hb06

Posts and sets:

fascinating north korea pics

I have a morbid fascination with North Korea. Currently it’s fairly nearby in terms of geography and a quick bit of googling tells me that there are package tours. Expensive, the 4-day tour is more than the flight+5 nights hotel package I got for Paris. Plus a) it departs Beijing and b) it’s more for foreign passport holders.

Which is why I was so fascinated at a r/pics thread of a European traveller who went to the DPK recently and came back with wonderful pics. Many were quick snaps out of range of the ever-present guides.

dpkshop

The pic that grabbed my attention to the thread, entitled Off-limits shop in North Korea. I had 15 seconds to take this picture before my guide realised I wasn’t around, which says it all really.

Road to North Korea

The first album posted, of the initial part of the journey, is a huge eye-opener. It isn’t entirely surprising, because we know about the poverty, isolation and amount of propaganda there, especially as more and more people visit. It’s just sad and shocking to the system to see how real it is. It’s worth scrolling through every pic and reading the commentary.

p.s. all pics copyright Michael Huniewicz @ m1key.me

random flickr 20160104

A random number generator gave me 120, so I navigated to page 120 of my flickr photostream and picked an image.

prag021mktjuice

These were jugs of all sorts of fresh fruit juices at the market square in Prague, when bbmm visited summer of 2012.

flickr best of 2015

Top 10 flickr pics of 2015. Had a difficult time, as usual, paring down from 3,565 to 10. A mixed bag of pics this year, mostly of travelling. Some instagram included, because it’s part of culture now.

asi591damiano

I like this one of San Damiano. It’s a boring touristy pic, but it has so many good memories of our trip, and it’s a place of such importance, that I want to include it.

#25 find colour in an unusual place

parkbenchballoons2015

Task #25 of 101.1001 is one of the incomplete ones from the 2007 challenge. This was from tues, find colour in an unusual place:

any color, bright or drab that you wouldn’t normally find in place. (example, on a steel gray manhole cover a small scrap of brilliant pink colored wrapping paper)

I’m not a very observant person when I’m out and about. Mostly I want to get to my destination with the minimum interaction with the external environment. I also keep forgetting this task. Sometimes I do see possibilities, like flower petals on a concrete slope, or oddly coloured flowers we saw at the market last year.

This was on my run today. A bunch of blue and white balloons were stuck underneath a park bench. The blue and white are not colours we expect to see at a park, especially the blue which was more aquamarine. I’m thinking someone had a wedding or graduation photoshoot there and left the balloons. All the better for my challenge.

It’s also poignant. tues set this assignment in 2007, and I took this on an iphone and instagrammed it. In 2007 the iphone just came out and instagram wouldn’t appear until 2010.

4 second boomerang videos

A video posted by invisiblecompany (@mal088) on

 

Been playing around with boomerang, a new app from instagram that takes a burst of photos and stitches them into a forward and backward 4 second video. It’s quite silly but fun. There are other apps that does this; I was looking into one called phhhoto–I think I didn’t like the lack of privacy in that one.

 

A video posted by invisiblecompany (@mal088) on

 

And this one is the guitar player at the school fair over the weekend. I think there’s lots of potential for silly gif-like pics.

 

donate a photo, help a cause

 

The donate-a-photo app has been around for about 2.5 years now; I only just spotted it recently on instagram. The idea is to share a photo a day, and Johnson & Johnson will donate USD1 for every photo.

Each cause will receive a minimum donation and will appear in the app until its donation period ends or its goal is reached.

 

Sounds simple and innocent enough. Win-win all round. Right? Everything I read online about it has been generally positive. Except my first reaction was skepticism. Originally the app used the tagline selfless selfies and encouraged people to upload their selfies. That was a massive red flag. Invasion of privacy, facial recognition, profiling. It’s yet another data gathering exercise to market their products.

 

My second reaction was, what will happen to these photos? This is a good way of gathering thousands of photos that they don’t have to pay royalties for. Rule #1 of sharing a pic with a big brand is be careful. They mislead, engage in bait-and-switch tactics and generally don’t give credit or compensation. Over the years, I’ve had requests on flickr to add to a website or use in a magazine (the biggest was Travel and Leisure). I’ve found that the ones that promise “credit and exposure” without paying are the worst, they don’t even send you back the link to the story (no, T+L never sent anything back). I’ve stopped responding.

 

The donate-a-photo app does say that the photos shared will be added to a gallery to promote the app,

but they will never be used to sell any products or for any other commercial.

 

donatephoto20151121

 

What’s the harm, I thought. I’ll upload some innocuous pics and if it gets money to the right causes, it’s all good. So far I’ve added a couple of pics of trees and one of smiley pastries. I also signed up for the UK version as opposed to the US version. It’s smaller in scale, in terms of causes included—only 2 so far this week. Unlike the US charity navigator I can’t find any good UK based charity vetting services. I may switch to US so I know more about the causes offered.      

 

donateaphotoimpact2015

 

As of today, J&J claims that they have received 801k photos, which suggests they have donated $801k. Over 2.5 years it’s roughly $320k per year. Even rounded up to $500k, this is probably just a fraction of their philanthropy budget. According to this infographic, they gave $131 million in 2011, representing 1.1% of their pre-tax profits.

 

Creating an app like donate-a-photo is a smart idea. Lots of good publicity, and using the sharing economy concept to run the campaign. They already have a department that liaises with causes, just agree on an amount to donate and timeframe. Once the amount is reached or timeslot completed, move the next cause up the queue. Run a report every once in a while, send the money, update the app and website, claim the tax benefits. The general public do all the work of populating the galleries and spreading the word to their friends. And it makes everyone feel good.

 

photofriday: yellow

sf170tram 
Photofriday challenge this week is yellow.

title: tram from castro to the ferry terminal, san francisco
description: each tram is distinctive and meticulously archived; #1811 is a Peter Witts design repainted into the original 1928 Milan livery of yellow and white with black trim
date: october 2006

Click here for full-sized and other details
©invisiblecompany 2015, all rights reserved

 

 

trip pics loaded | RAW vs jpg

ptown157beach

Finally uploaded trip pics:

  • chicago — mainly marathon
  • albany — firefighters memorial
  • ptown — town, harbour, beach, cemeteries, lighthouse, whale-watching
  • scranton — cemetary, former orphanage
  • state college — penn state

 

ptown068shellshop

May be it’s because of the beautiful weather, I’m liking how most of these turned out. I do see a difference between using the big camera vs the small camera. Not bad for an entry-level 10 year old DSLR. I’m not happy with the small camera; at the back of my mind I’m still missing my s90 and not liking the newer s110. I hardly used it on the trip.

scran017leaf

May be also due to the good weather, minimum adjustments needed for the outdoor pics. Some cropping, some levels. There’s a speck of dust or a scratch inside one of the mirrors so a little cover up needed. The indoor pics, especially at the Sage Inn, had to be re-levelled, because the interior was so dark.

ptown471whale

A friend at Ptown brought along her brand new, fabulous, envy-worthy lens. She kindly let me borrow it for a second and I quickly snapped this one of the whale-watching signboard from far away. Nice. Thanks, Dutch!

We were also talking a little about over-processing of pics. I see a lot of, especially landscape and nature photography, that are rich and complex but then I realise how much the pics have been processed and I’m less impressed. I admit, processing in Lightroom is also a skill, it just seems less photography than digital manipulation.

Interesting that Reuters just issued a worldwide ban on RAW photos from their freelance photographers, to

increase both ethics and speed

I can only applaud the decision. RAW images are flexible and can be processed much more than jpgs. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Seeing this comparison:

 

rawjpg
image from manners photo

who wouldn’t want to use RAW? The question then is, which is real and which is manufactured. I’m all for relatively small adjustments to exposure, level, colour—I do it all the time. But professionals who earn money taking action news photos as they happen should present the most realistic picture (pun not intended) of what is happening, hence Reuters’ emphasis on ethics.

Also fitting that in the middle of teasing me the other day, mm reminded me that I actually got paid for a photo I took when we visited whitstable. That one was literally a quick snap with none of the post-processing Lightroom stuff (well, cos I don’t shoot in RAW). Each to their own, I suppose.

lessons learnt from breaking $1600 lens

German photographer Marius Vieth described how accidentally breaking his $1600 EF 24mm lens gave him the idea for a

trippy & abstract photo set dipped in red about broken characters captured with a broken lens by a former broken soul

 

Broken: Hell's Angels

His photoset, Broken, was taken in the red light district of Amsterdam and is full of blurry, bokeh-like, atmospheric imagery. The lens doesn’t focus anymore, so it’s credit to the photographer’s skill to be able to get pictures that tell a story.

This is an interesting take on the phenomenon of autoposting blurry, poorly composed phone pics on fb without any sense of curation. Seriously, people, stop autoposting your 500 phone pics. Delete the duplicate or the poor quality ones. Upload them in proper order. Tell a story. Sigh.

 

trip pics

Finally got the trip pics sorted and uploaded: new orleans | conference

nola141house

A few of my favourite NOLA pics are of the distinctive houses. Balconies, wrought iron decorations and, in general, very big. When we walked around the garden district, we looked at estate agent windows and these houses are expensive for the US market. The majority are well kept.

nola265bookshop

Talking about the garden district, we paid a short visit to a small bookshop there. They have one shelf of books about NOLA, nice.

nola121bookshop

We also came across an old bookshop in the French quarter.

gcls191masksisters

I posted a bunch of conference pics on fb already, I guess I should let people know I have more pics on flickr. I brought the big camera with me most days, and it seemed to do a better job than the little camera. I didn’t take many pics of panels and discussions, only ones I thought were interesting. Took quite a few during karaoke with people in masks. I was too busy during the awards to take many pics with others.

gcls108dorothy

One of the pics I thought turned out very well was the one of Dorothy Allison during her keynote. I was sitting almost immediately in front of the podium and took this before moving to the back of the room to get shots of the audience.

film, digital, iphone cameras

icarexcamera02

I was cleaning my freezer and was reminded that I still have a stash of 35mm film in a ziploc bag. Film stored in a freezer can last 15 years and be defrosted and refrozen. I think mine are coming up to the 15 year mark. I don’t know if my film camera still works, or may be I should use my dad’s Zeiss camera, which is older than me. I don’t know if I have the skill to do the pictures justice though. Plus, not being able to preview and re-do, that’s pressure.

cameranowthen

I remember going on safari with mm before the days before I bought my first digital camera, and ending up with something like 30 rolls of film to be developed. Had to find a friendly shop that offered a discount. If we were to go on the same safari now, I’d still take my DSLR, but all I need to worry is having enough memory cards and backing up every day. How the landscape of photography has changed. This graphic, spotted via truthfacts / petapixel, is a perfect illustration. Well, I tend not to print pics but I do look at them. My iphone has only 200 pics because I delete ones that have been processed and uploaded to flickr. I’m probably not typical, mm has thousands of pics and screenshots on her iphone and I can say probably Sis and Mum too. My niece is more like me, her camera roll is organised, she’s the one who introduced me to tidy.


©Michal Koralewski IPPAwards 2015

Digital photography is come a long way. My iphone camera, at 8MP, has caught up to my big camera (EOS350D). One of these days, I’ll have an iphone that surpasses my small camera (s110) at 12.1MP. I used to carry my small camera in my backpack, more frequently nowadays I only have the iphone. This b/w picture by Michal Koralewski from Poland won first place at this year’s iphone photography awards aka IPPAwards. What a great picture. It’s not the camera, which is a mere tool; it’s the photographer. I have so much to learn.

london by night HD @LaforetAIR

londonnight

via mashable, a set of truly stunning night photos of London by photographer Vincent Laforet as part of the AIR project:

AIR is a creative project that started with a series of spectacular photographs above New York City. Through unprecedented viral momentum, the project is expanding to other cities around the globe with the aim to:

Show the world that it is connected

Engage people from all around the world to connect with one another.

Previous cities included New York and Los Angeles. The London pics were shot around 12-13 May, the next scheduled project flights will include Barcelona, Berlin, Paris and Venice.

Very interestng write up and observations (and loads more pics) about the project shoot in London, from initial worries about getting through the bureaucracy for permission to fly, the lack of a grid system and the dreaded British weather to realisation about the distinctive architecture and colours. Interesting tidbit, when they were flying over Buckingham Palace:

Within a few minutes we were (unusually) politely asked by Air Traffic Control how long we planned on flying around that specific area. There was no suggestion of asking us to move – but the high level of politeness sent an even stronger message.

Watch the video again, look at the London gallery again. Look at the details, the light, the colours, the buildings, the streets, the bridges. I challenge anyone to not feel completely in awe of probably the greatest city in the world.

flickr 4.0

flickr401photostream

As I was uploading trip pics I noticed yahoo rolled out yet another new look for flickr. The main photostream page still isn’t as good as the original layout, but better than the horrible 3.0. Less cluttered with sharper, cleaner lines. Can sort by date taken or different permission views. The set (sigh, album) page looks cleaner too, although I’m still not a big fan of infinite scrolling.

The two major new features are auto uploading and auto-tagging for a more powerful search.

At 1TB, flickr offers more storage than dropbox, icloud and many other storage sites. Free. I’m not even at 10% of my capacity with 27k images so there’s no danger of running out (nor any desire to renew my pro account). The new uploadr, plus the 1TB storage, lets people dump all their images into flickr automatically from computer and smartphone. No need for there to be pics stored here, there and everywhere. We can still use instagram or vine or fb, but now flickr can act as central repository for all our image files.

Will I use uploadr like that? Yes on mobile, no for computer. I already use flickr as my image repository, but I go through the process of sorting and organising before uploading. Imagine uploadr taking all 3267 trip pics and uploading into one album for me to organise—-no, no, no. I want to control how and where my pics are uploaded, even though it takes me longer.

It’s a different picture for mobile. I’m pretty good at sorting my iphone camera roll, I review and delete pics that are duplicate, poor quality or temporary. Currently, I use dropbox to transfer to the mba (yes, I know I should be using pushbullet) then manually upload to flickr. If I can skip the dropbox step it will be a time-saver. It took the app a few hours to process my iphone camera roll, but going forward it will be quicker. Liking the app too, used to be clunky and non-user friendly, now I may start using it more.

asi778chimney

The other major new feature is a powerful search engine using image recognition algorithms that sees the content of an image. As an example, I had basic tags to this pic of an Assisi chimney, the flickrbots are smart enough to add building, architecture, roof and outdoor tags:

flickr402tags

Some users are up in arms about this, because they want control over their tags. I’m fine with the concept.

flickr404search

Another example: this week’s photofriday challenge is “detail” and when I plug that in as a search term, I get fairly interesting results, and advanced options to drill down into colours, dates etc. Before the update, I’d get an error or a no result page because I haven’t tagged any pic using the term detail. This is an improvement.

flickr405magic

Where all the new features come together is the camera roll. I can set it to display by the traditional, boring method of date taken. Or I can use the new magic view which sorts my pics into, well, tags. Magic view shows my pics under common criteria, when I select pattern from the sidebar, it shows patterned pics (although I wouldn’t necessarily include the pic of the space needle). I can’t stop playing around in magic view, it really is magical.

Another new feature is bulk processing: bulk download, bulk sharing, bulk editing, bulk delete. The downloading feature is one that has been requested for a long time, it’s not relevant to me but may be for people who use flickr as triage.

Not everything is positive in the update. Thumbnails are too large. For a time all my pics defaulted to family & friends instead of public. All my sets in organizr are called auto upload. My biggest complaint is that getting the html link involves a popup lightbox as opposed to a simple hover menu before. I can’t get the html code for videos. Notes have been discontinued. They are moving in the right direction for a change. The Verge has a good summary of the new design:

What’s impressive is what it’s doing for free: backing up a terabyte of photos from your main computer and your mobile devices, then making them easily searchable in the cloud. The rest of Flickr is still there: you can still follow great photographers, browse beautiful photos, and showcase your own. But among the solutions for backing up your photos online, Flickr has moved from the back of the pack to the front.

photofriday: moving

par081citroen

This week’s photofriday challenge is moving.

title: allez allez, rouge
description: quick snap of a red 2CV full of guys in suits speeding along a Parisien street
date: mar-2008

click for full-sized and other details
©invisiblecompany 2015, all rights reserved

    </div>

#20: 1001 instagrams total

southbay011tower

Task #20 of 101.1001 is to reach 1001 instagram/vine/snapchat total. I tried vine and it was fine, but instagram offered similar videoing functionality and I’m used to using instagram, so my vine count is still under 10. I never got round to using snapchat.

Without me noticing it, I reached 1001 instagrams a couple of weeks ago. This was taken when mm and I drove out to South Bay on a nice cool evening and the place was empty. The lifeguard towers looked sad and forlorn on the beach.

photo-a-day challenge feb 2015

This photo-a-day challenge is actually from feb-2014. They post one item a day over the month, instead of posting the whole list at the beginning of the month. Seems to be quite interesting anyway. Full set here.

18magic

Probably my favourite is 18magic, the stack of rocks my niece built at the beach. I thought it was pretty magical.

#theidearoom photo-a-day jan-2015

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

The problem with doing 30 day photo challenges is finding interesting material when I spend most of my time at home. I can only take so many pictures of my desk. That said, I thought I’d go through this month’s instagram to see if I can fit them into this photo-a-day challenge. It’s not the right way of doing a challenge, so the results are mediocre at best. Anyway, start with the list:

00list>

01 new is the january 2015 calendar page; for #02 change I scattered some coins on my desk (the desk had to make an appearance somehow); #03 organise is dragonboats stacked up at Stanley beach. And so on. Applied a bit of creative licence on a few, like #05 clean is laundry hanging to dry, #19 ice/icy is space food ice cream and #21 noise is an empty stand at the track (think about the noise when it’s full of people).

12texture 16happy
22whereistand 28traitquiet

A few were decent attempts. #12 texture is the mat we have on the balcony, it turned out quite texture-y; #16 happy is halves of two pastries I shared with mm, it was only when I looked at the pic that I realised they made a smiley face; #22 from where I stand is a shadow. #28 is supposed to be a personality trait. I think you’re allowed to be creative, so I used one of the water bird perched on a log at sunset. I thought it was quiet and peaceful.
 

photofriday: stillness

trip108antelope

The first photofriday challenge of 2015 is stillness. This was one of the shortlisted 2014 favourites that didn’t make the final 10.

title: antelope island state park, utah
description: Antelope Island state park is the largest island on the Great Salt lake outside Salt Lake City in Utah. The barren yet beautiful scenery consisted of beaches and deserts; the hot day making it hazy like a painting
date: july 2014
also available to view full-sized

©invisiblecompany 2015, all rights reserved<
 

top 10 photo 2014

I posted over 6,000 photos and videos to flickr in 2014. And I thought 3,500 in 2013 was a lot. So many trips this year: Mediterranean cruise to Greece, Italy, Israel, West Bank; cruise to Alaska including stayover at Seattle and Vancouver; month-long visit to the US including epic road trip from Chicago to Portland that took in several national parks; 2 trips to Japan: Hokkaido & Tokyo; an end of year trip to Seoul. Not to mention family events, outings with mm (and her family). Plus my part in documenting the 79 days of the umbrella movement.

It was very tough to narrow 6,000 pics to ten. Mostly I went for scenery or ones that were memorable for me. I tried to include diverse regions but it was difficult, for instance most of the pics from Tokyo and Italy were repeats or food, since it’s not the first time I’ve visited those places. That said, I guess I managed to pick pics of the sea, lake, mountain and desert.

vic159vsunset

This was a surprising one. Out of the entire Alaska cruise trip, many pics of glaciers and mountains made the shortlist but this one of sunset at Buchart Gardens stayed with me longer. The light was fading fast, we’d just gotten to the bottom of the Japanese garden and making our way back to the entrance. I had to stand on a fence to get this quickly. No filters, no adjustments.

Not as good a year for food photography. Most food pics were instagram eating out, I had a rather poor cooking year. The product I was proudest was making a box of truffles for my niece’s birthday.
 

christmas decoration at the mall

201412landmark01 201412landmark02

Had some errands to run in the afternoon, walked from PP to Central and even up the escalator to almost back home. Not as crowded as normal, except nearer the end of the working day. Saw the christmas decoration at the atrium of Landmark mall. Pretty. And the bright lights of Harvey Nics in the background helped. There’s a sort of tilt-shift quality to the pic but when I put it through the tilt-shift app it didn’t work out as well as I thought. Original instagram on the left, tiltshifted on the right.
 

instagram twitter 001

As instagram overtakes twitter by reaching 300m mau, it’s worth looking back to my first posts on both services. Joined twitter august 2007. It’s easy enough to find a user’s first tweet through twitter’s discovery service. Not much meaning to that first tweet, which means I used it for the correct purpose, hahaha. I use twitter primarily to record my running and workouts, and for the longest time it was pretty much the only things I posted. I’m trying to vary the content a little more nowadays.

inst001kettle

Joined instagram july 2011 and the first pic was of my kettle. Very mundane. Most of the instagrams in the first few years were of food, and like twitter I’ve tried to diversify somewhat lately. Most pics I take on the iphone get instagrammed, and as new filters are announced, my view of quick pics has changed. I took pics of the recent pannacotta I made on both instagram and my camera and as I was photoshopping the camera pics I was looking for the effects I’m getting on instagram.

All my instagrams are automatically posted to twitter, and all tweets are automatically saved to a google docs spreadsheet; the automation achieved by IFTTT recipes. Because of IFTTT I don’t have to pick any one service, they seem to co-exist quite happily. I have mostly different followers so there isn’t so much overlap.

 

photofriday: blue

med236sidihouse

This week’s photofriday challenge is blue. This was taken in the picturesque village of Sidi Bou Said near Tunis, which was a pretty touristy village with whitewashed houses with windows and doors painted a uniform blue colour. 

seoul trip pics and write-up

kor070door kor123bukdoor

The good thing about having decent hotel connection is I managed to write up the trip daily, just like when we went to Tokyo. So the experience feels fresher. The trip summary merges all the daily posts.

kor177bukframe kor207hanokcafe

The slight negative is I had to pick just a few daily pics to upload and post. The entire set of 521 pics and videos didn’t take long to sort and rename, but I forgot to upload them when I was at home and using mum’s slow internet it’s taken almost a week to upload since I had to do them in batches of no more than 30 at a time, and when no one else is using the internet. Anyway, set 1 and set 2.

kor443ihwamural kor545ihwamural

Some more that didn’t make it into the daily posts. Doors at bukchon, decorations and from ihwa wall mural art village. We were there almost 5 full days and didn’t make it to any of the palaces, world heritage sites, parks, river walks and a few areas like itawon and gangnam. I like our new style of travelling, not in as much hurry as before, trying to fit everything in. Because you can’t. We’d wake up whenever, have brunch, walk around our destination of the day, stop for coffee tea and take our time. 

#randomflickr fun with @pixelsorter

praha122charlesriver

Another #randomflickr, this one was taken in Prague oct-2011. Pretty autumn colours along the river vitava from the end of charles bridge.

An article on quartz talked about twitter bots. An interesting one is pixelsorter which

sorts the rows (or optionally columns) of an image according to a specific method like hue, red, brightness, luma, etc

Just tweet @pixelsorter and attach an image. It’s a bit like playing with the multitude of filters on photoshop.

There are also a few preset commands which give other results. This is the effect using preset[triphop]. Pretty cool. I love discovering quirky pointless stuff like this.

 

#randomflickr

I’m trying to start a new trend on twitter, to post random flickr image. It’s a good way for me to look back at old pics. I used a random number generator to get a page number (I have a total of 239 pages) then I picked an image that I liked. This was during Taste of Chicago jul-2010, my parents were visiting and we were having a great time.

This is my second attempt at #randomflickr. Let’s see if the trend picks up. Not harbouring a lot of hope. I did a quick count, even though I have 197 followers on twitter, only around 20 are active. There are about 100 real people who haven’t posted for ages, or have automatic feeds from their fb statuses. The rest are commercial or fake accounts, I also attract a fair number who probably wanted to follow @wattpad, and for some odd reason, a bunch of indonesian / filipino followers.

That said, I’m enjoying hanging out on twitter and instagram. Much more rewarding than fb, which has turned into a sad popularity contest.

 

30in30 #24: something creative

tok001mosiac tok026chirashi
tok345meiji tok310mosiacwater

Task #24 of 30in30 is to do something creative.

Lots of possibilities here. Since task #26 is to write 1000 words and tasks #28-30 are photo challenges, I should try something else. Draw something, crochet a blanket or make bunting. Ack, no good at any of those. No artistic talent there.

What have I been doing recently? I sorted through the Tokyo pics. 414 pics and 2 videos into 2 sets: tokyo 01 | tokyo 02. So may be I can do something fun with them. I don’t like photo montage apps but I did use a webapp to create a mosiac out of all 400+ pics. Took a few minutes to upload and compose, I picked the bowl of chirashi from tsukiji market and the water bath outside meiji shrine as base pictures. I think the results are pretty cool.

Did that count as something creative? Or should I have drawn something or folded an origami swan? It’s creative enough for me. YMMV.

30in30 #20: scan 10 family pics

familyscan1-24

Task #20 of 30in30 is to scan 10 family pics.

Both my grandfather and father had cameras when we were small; my dad still has his camera and my grandfather even took 8mm videos. Before the age of digital cameras and social media, photographs were carefully composed on 35mm film, developed at a shop and stored in photo albums. We have a lot of family albums. A couple of shelves in their cabinet and I have 2 boxes myself. It’ll take a long time to organise and scan them all, I want to make a start somehow.

These are small 3.5”x2.5” pics of me and sis. I love the small format, these are firm favourites. There are 16 double-sided pages in this album, each page holds 8 pics so 256 total. Scanned the first 24, all b/w, I was about 4 or 5 years old. Still good quality albeit a little yellowed, adds to the charm.

p.s. image is deliberately small and blurred, I don’t want our faces to be recognisable.

camera ready

lenserror

The last day of our road trip, my small camera broke down all of a sudden. All I was doing was turning it on to take a picture. The lens extended part way, then there was some grinding noises of it trying some more, then a couple of beeps. The display said lens error and the camera shut down with the lens extended. I don’t know if it was the heat of the badlands or if a grain of sand had gotten inside or if I’d been turning it on and off too many times.

We had atrocious internet that night at the Ramada Inn Mitchell, I spent the little connection I had on the iphone in the lobby googling how to fix lens error. Methods included cleaning around the lens with the edge of a sheet of paper and tapping the side of the camera. Nothing worked. Fortunately a) it was the end of the road trip and b) I had my big camera. Worse case scenario, the iphone camera takes acceptable pics. Lesson learned: bring 2 cameras on a long trip, even though it’s a pain to lug the big camera.

The small camera is my day-to-day camera, so I have to get it repaired or replaced pronto. I bought it almost 2 years ago, so it’s out of warranty. Official repair quote was US$170. Gulp.

hkcamerarepair2014

A little more digging led me to a small local shop that quoted me US$50. I figured, this guy Raymond has good reviews online and it’s worth a gamble of $50. The tiny shop, more a glorified store room, is located on the 22/F of a dingy office building in the middle of the most crowded shopping district in town. The shop is stacked full of boxes and equipment and parts with a tiny space just inside the door for customers to stand. They’re professional though, taking care to mark down my camera’s serial number, not charging till it’s fixed and giving a 30 day warranty. Took them a few days to get the parts and fix the camera, I picked it up yesterday and it’s working fine. Raymond told me that the lens mechanisms on s100 and s110s last about 500-600 times, so obviously Canon doesn’t test like Ikea.

Since there were no other customers, I asked him for recommendations and tips. We agreed that the s90 and s95 are better and more reliable cameras than the newer models; the product cycle for modern electronics is too short for meaningful testing. Interestingly second hand s95 cameras are still costly, which reinforces our argument. I’m also half thinking of replacing my almost 10 year old EOS 350D. His response, ditch the dSLR and instead look into the G1X. It occupies an undefinable place in the market, with all the power of a dSLR (except detachable lens) and yet too large to be a real point-and-shoot. He showed me the quality achieved by the 4x digital zoom and it’s impressive.

Reviews are okay, there are some issues like slow auto focus (which I also find with the s110), macro needs filter (macro on s110 isn’t up to par with s90) and it’s neither here nor there in terms of size and weight. It’s more expensive than the s110, and the s110 was already at the top of my price tolerance.

I’ll always want a small camera that fits in my pocket so the question is whether the G1X is the right camera if I want to downsize from the big camera. I need to think about what I really use the big camera for: the last few years it’s been events like conference and weddings. Can a mid-range camera do the job? Should I get a second hand dSLR instead? The ideal set up will be s110, G1X and either 5D or 7D. That’s wishful thinking, I don’t do enough photography to justify the expense.

big

sisuk158bluewhale ldn119bigben

The theme for this week’s photofriday challenge is big so I searched through my flickr archive. With 23,000 pics there has to be one that fits right? The first pic is of the blue whale at the natural history museum. Good. Blue whales are big. Then it gave me big thunder mountain at disney world and big ben. Also good, keyword match.

lolla021crowd islay332bowwash

The rest of the search results included all pics from bear country, because in the description I said big horn sheep. By the same logic it gave me lollapalooza 2009 (big crowds) and the visit to Bowmore distillery 2012 (big conglomerate).

Not the search results I wanted, except perhaps the blue whale. However, I don’t like submitting snapshots to challenges. There has to be at least some technique or composition or something more thoughtful. So what image would be best to convey big? The usual suspects came to mind as I proceeded to search again.

big sky — the parent-child tree at hokkaido:
hok637parentchild

big ocean — surfer at bondi beach:
syd218bondi

big nature — frozen niagara falls :
tor194falls

big buildings — skyscrapers in central district:
hk160central

big machine — snowplough engine at white pass railway:

skag267trainplough

big food — steak at maze grill:
ldnmaze004bonerib

This is both an easy and hard photo challenge. The current submissions aren’t that helpful either, most people have gone for the easy option. Big scenery, big statues, big heart represented by someone wearing a t-shirt with a heart (seriously?). Some are quite irrelevant too. I’m undecided on this challenge, I don’t think I have found the perfect pic to submit. May be it’s a mood thing, that I’m in the mood for something intense and broody and all I can find are literal interpretations.

p.s. the google image search for “big” gives very…interesting results, mainly of human bodies partially covered by small pieces of cloth. May be they’re supposed to be attractive but I find these images of stupid big brother contestants, big muscles and big boobs to be off-putting.

trip pics uploaded

Finally the trip pics are sorted and uploaded. From the 1846 pics and 11 videos it’s now 977 pics and 10 videos:

  • general road trip — misc pics taken during drive, platte river archway museum, lincoln highway monument, salt lake city, antelope island, twin falls, columbia river, coeur d’alene, old montana prison, wall drugs
  • portland — city, waterfront, foodcarts, distilleries & wineries
  • gcls 2014 — mostly private set of a few pics I took or with me in them
  • yellowstone national park — beautiful scenery, waterfalls, geysers & volcanic activity areas, a vast lake, and buffalo
  • devils tower & deadwood — iconic devils tower including the prairie dog colony, mount moriah cemetery, days of 76 museum, deadwood historic main street, winery
  • south dakota — custer, crazy horse monument day & night, mount rushmore, badlands

Some favourites that haven’t already been posted:

trip108antelope
Antelope island state park, the haze making the great salt lake look like a painting.

port024winery
Vines growing under Mount Hood, such a picture perfect picture.

port099powells
Vintage cookery books at Powell’s. I had about 45mins to explore, after I walked through all the rooms to get pictures I spent most of my time at the food & drink shelf.

Old Faithful.

ynp112fisherman
Fisherman at Yellowstone lake whilst we were having lunch. We were respectfully quiet, watching him cast.

sd147purplepie
I wish we had more time to try the pies at the purple pie place in custer.

sd228crazynight
The finale at crazy horse laser & light show.

sd349badpano
Panorama badlands national park.

trip396rain
The weather was fine, the only major rain we encountered was heavy isolated showers as we headed towards Bozeman, the rain patches were so dense we could see them.

trip423fire
Fire danger never went above moderate.

We saw a lot of buffalo, both real and sculptures:

trip022platte trip123antelope sd078bison sd204gate  sd153buffalo sd253keystone ynp176bison ynp193bison

From left: platte river archway museum | antelope island | days of 76 museum | nature gate at crazy horse | buffalo parade custer | keystone | single one yellowstone | herd at yellowstone

And finally a couple of videos of animal encounters close to the car, the epic buffalo encounter at yellowstone (this audio is safe for work) and the arctic wolf at bear country: