Changes to the blog

When you start something new, you start very enthusiastic. When the enthusiasm fades away, it will be more difficult to keep going. To keep going you need to find inspiration, otherwise you will completely stop doing it.

This blog suffered from that problem. I created this blog because I wanted to share my experiences in the search for a good post processing software and I wrote several posts about that topic. After that it was difficult to find new topics and I kept talking about things I was working on, but after a while I stopped writing. I didn’t know what to write about and I didn’t want to think a lot about it.

A similar problem I have with my photography. I love making photographs and I made a lot of photographs last year. What I don’t like because it takes to much of my time is post processing. Most of my photo’s are imported into bible, so I can do something with them, but I never did anything with them, some of the photo’s I didn’t even look at. So it is hard to see what level I have in my photography, which makes it hard to improve my photography.

To stay inspired and to improve my photography I’ll will change this blog and post more photo’s on it. I will post some reviews of some gear and software I have, but I will focus on posting photo’s.

Secondly I will go out and make more photographs, post process them faster and post them on this blog.

Recovering from a bad backup strategy part 2

After a lot of time and after a few tries, I finally recovered all my photographs from the bad backup strategy I had. (You can read about that here)

What I end up doing was copying all photo’s one by one to a correct folder (year/month) and sort them, when a specific photo was already in the correct folder, I just deleted it and moved on to the next photo. It only took a few hours to do it this way, and I am pretty sure I have all the photo’s I wanted to keep.

The next step now is of course setting up a good backup strategy and keep that going without getting duplicate photo’s or loosing photo’s. I still need to think about that, but for now I will once in a while copy my bible library to an external harddrive.

Recovering from a bad backup strategy

File management has always been difficult for me. Most of the time my files and photos where on logical places, and I could always found them when I needed them. I didn’t really do any backup. I used to reinstall my computer a lot, always trying an other operating system, never happy with what I got. To make sure I didn’t loose my files, I made a ‘backup’ and put it on a floppies, zip-drives or harddrives. After installing the new system, I copied the most important files back to my computer. Sometimes I made a copy of the backup medium to be able to use it for something else. Whenever I reinstalled my computer, everything started all over again.

Since I started owned my own camera, I started to be more concerned over where my photos where kept. Since I use Bibble I want to organize all my photos inside Bibble, but where could I find all the photos? After going through my complete ‘backup’ I found that I had photos all over the place, in different folders on the harddrive and in archives. Sometimes I had copies of archives, and copies of files in different folders as well. After putting all the photos inside one folder, I found that I had around 40 GB of photo related files, including raw files, jpegs, Gimp files and some photo album files.

At the moment I am in the process of importing the photos in Bibble and make sure I don’t have any double or unwanted photo. All the newly imported photos get a tag “unsorted” and I will remove all the photos that are duplicate and the  ones I don’t want to keep (since they are not mine).

From this experience I have learned a lesson I always knew. Make sure your files are properly organized, so you can easily find them. When backing up files, do this by making an exact copy of the complete folder structure. so that it is easily to restore and you can easily find files. Don’t wait with organizing your files, because the files you have, it gets more difficult to get started.

Linux and creating photo books.

Years ago, we used to create lots of photo albums. Since we have digital camera’s most of the photos ends on the harddrive.

For the last holiday my wife and I decided that we wanted to create a photo book. There are a lot of companies that allow you to create these books and they provide software that helps you to create them. There are, however, very few companies that provide Linux versions of the software. Some of the companies allow you to send in some PDF files (one for the content and one for the cover) which they will use to print the book.

Using the software, provided by the company, makes it very easy to create a photo book very fast. It is easy to select the right format of the book, they provide borders and backgrounds and you know that when you have send the book, it will be printed correctly. The biggest disadvantage is that you don’t have full control over the layout of the book. You can’t create master pages that are used for every page and you can’t use custom borders.

When you can create a PDF you have full control. You can use almost every word processor (like Microsoft Word or OpenOffice.org) or publishing processing software (like Microsoft Publisher, Adobe InDesign or Scribus). Most of them will allow you to create a PDF file natively, for others (especially older version) you need a PDF printer (which you can find on the internet).
Although full control is mostly an advantage, it can also be a disadvantage, because the possibilities can be overwhelming.

Because there are not so much printing companies that have support for Linux, I have decided to look for a company that support PDF printing. I will use Scribus to create the book and export it to PDF. Then I will send the PDF to Blurb.

Since this will be the first time I use Scribus and Blurb, I will post my experiences when I am finished.

Finding photos by using keywords

My photos are organised by date. So I have a folder for the year, the month and the day I took the photo. Sometimes I will use a project code and add it after the day. This way of organisation makes it difficult to find photos, you can’t find all the photos that are taken in London.

Another way to find the photos is to assign keywords to the photos.  With applications like Bibble it is possible to assign an unlimited number of keywords to the photos and after that you can search or select for specific keywords.

After my holiday I assigned keywords to my photos. All the photos got the keyword “Holiday 2011” and the name of the place or area where it was taken or what it is showing. I didn’t look for every detail, because if I would do that, I would be still working on those keywords.

I have thought of one special keyword, “panorama”. I use this for the photos that, as you can guess, are going to be used to create panorama pictures. I made a couple of them and using this keyword I can easily find them and create a panorama from them.

When I would have shot some multiple exposures of the same scene, and I wanted to create an HDR photo, I would mark them with HDR.

My tip for today, add meaningful keywords to your photos, but don’t go too wild with them.

My new 50mm prime lens.

In preparation to our holiday, I bought a new lens. I bought the Nikon 50mm f/1.8D lens. This is a prime lens, which means it has only one focal length (50mm). Since the lens only has one focal length it is possible to get better quality for the lens, while keeping the price low. A zoom lens with the same quality will be 10 times more expansive…

The reason why I wanted to have this lens now, is that we will most likely visit some caves during our holiday. In those caves there will be lights and I want to avoid using the flash, so that I can see the lights on my photos. I think that it will be possible with this lens.

The lens itself is very small, very light (especially compared to the 17-200mm zoom lens I have) and the pictures should be very sharp. The problem of this lens on my camera is that the auto focus doesn’t work. All right, that is not a problem but an opportunity to improve my manual focus skills.

Taking picture inside my house last evening turned out to be very easy and successful, no need for a flash, just set the aperture to 1.8, the ISO to 400 or 800 and I can still handhold the camera with a shutter speed of 1/60 of a second, just great! I don’t have any photo worthy to share, but they will come.

Some photography tips – monkey workshop

A couple of weeks ago I went to a workshop which focused on monkey photography, this workshop was given by Jan Vermeer in the Apenheul. This was the first photography workshop I ever attended and so I can’t compare with other workshops, so I will focus on what I enjoyed and what I learned.

It is great to be able to spend a whole day inside the zoo and photograph the monkeys. We didn’t go through the whole park, but focused on just a few monkeys. This way we could spend an hour or more with each type of monkey so that we could photograph a lot and had the time to study their behaviour, try different techniques and ask questions. Jan constantly gave us tips, some I already knew, others I didn’t know, but it is great to be reminded of these tips. So here is a list of tips for photographing monkeys, portraiture, and basically any other type of photography.

  • Keep the eyes in the shot and in focus. When making a portraiture, it can be awkward to not have eyes in the photo, or only out of focus eyes. So try to always keep the eyes in focus, not the nose, not the eyebrows, but the eyes.
  • Watch the background and the edges. A photo can be ruined by someone with a red jacket in the background, or reflected in a window. Also someone or something on the edge of the frame that should be there can be very disturbing.
  • Watch your exposure settings, especially the ISO. As you should know, the ISO is the sensitivity of the sensor and a higher ISO number makes it easier to take a photograph in low light conditions. Of course I knew this, but I always forgot that I could change the ISO. During the workshop I learned to watch the ISO a lot and now I am used to look at it more often.
  • Shoot in the shadows and not in direct sunlight. Direct sunlight is a very harsh light and it is difficult to take good photographs with it. It is easier to shoot in the shadows, the light is more defused and photos will look better.
  • Go out and make photograph as much as you can. The more you go out, the easier it gets to take good photographs.

That is it for today. See you next time…