Saturday, October 15, 2016
Today I went out to take pictures. It is a very good day for taking pictures. I prefer, presently, days with very low humidity. Humidity in the atmosphere tends to light up a little bit and it ends up in your photograph as a kind over lightening of your image. Your eye sees this and your mind accommodates it. Your camera though takes it all in.
My Canon Powershot flashed a little thumbnail sign at me today. It suggested I change my white balance settings. I had set my white balance about 2 weeks ago on a very bright sunny day. The manual setting on the Powershot uses that white balance.
It is important to update your manual white balance at each new location you use. I hadn't done that so I took out a white piece of paper and re-calibrated the white balance. I used the back of a receipt at first, and it turned the color tones in the view finder green.
I tried again, same results.
Then I went back to the mini-van and puled out a sheet of typewriter paper and stuck it on the back windshield under the rear windshield wiper which had the direct sun beaming down on it. I got a great white balance then, the colors looked great in the view finder afterwards. Or so I thought.
I took some more pictures. The Autumn colors are really on right now. But I wasn't seeing the same bright colors in the view finder. I went back to the white balance settings and changed the setting to fluorescent.
Big difference. But I am not sure the colors are any better. I think I prefer using the white balance I calibrated better than changing to the fluorescent mode for outdoors under sunshine.
The difference I am seeing is a kind of slight reddening and maybe a little bit of browning to the captured image.
Posted by Charles Baldwin at 1:47 PM
Friday, October 14, 2016
Over the next 2 weeks the Autumn Colors are going to become brilliant. A friend of mine told me today that the trip out to his farm, about an hour away, was particularly spectacular.
I will post some links to my photo blog at 500px.com for you to take a look at the nice colors the trees are showing us this year.
Posted by Charles Baldwin at 9:50 PM
I have been posting my photographs to 500px.com.
I found this site about 2 years ago and enjoy the features it has. I started with it because I rented a camera to shoot video of a concert in 2013 and as part of the rental I got a discount card to 500px.com.
So I opened an account.
500px.com keeps adding features that I enjoy, and I keep discovering more features as I look through the dashboard and other available links.
A couple weeks ago I created a 500px portfolio of my photos. I used the statistics feature to help decide which photographs would become a part of my current portfolio. And I have already taken the first photos down and placed new pictures in my portfolio.
500px.com has an algorithm called Pulse. I have no idea what the parameters are to generate the Pulse figure for one of my photos is but with it and the number of views my photos receive I make decisions on which photos seem to be right for my portfolio.
Here is a link to my current portfolio: http://photoplane.500px.com/
I have noticed the portfolio seems to soften the focus of my pictures. That bothers me a little because sharp looking photos are important, especially for my landscape images and I hope to sell photographs from this site. I suspect the photos get processed through a Flash system. Flash is falling out of favor as a web display system because of security issues.
The portfolio presentation is extremely good except for that issue.
I would rather you look at my photos right off the photo tiles though, located here:
When you click on any of those tiles you get to see the pictures as clearly as I see them through the camera.
Posted by Charles Baldwin at 9:48 PM
I had a strange thing happen the other day.
I re-named an online account of mine and a cloned account was created at the same time.
So my old account got a new name, and the clone took the old name and added a numeric 1 to the end of it.
I sit here and ponder this.
My immediate reaction was to email tech support because I thought something malicious happened. I thought perhaps a hacker had somehow managed to be waiting at the right moment and then when I re-named the account, because there was a credit card attached to the old account, and money applied to the old account (which meant the account fell into a higher category of user type, it became more significant in a number of ways (better dashboard controls, statistics and so on)), and this is reaching a bit admittedly, but that extra gave it a little more life, so to speak.
Which made me wonder.
I informed tech support and they deleted the new clone account.
It begs the question... did the data that made up that old account want to come to life and because it was threatened by my wanting to give my account a new name it decided to give birth to itself as a clone?
Think about this. The implications are quite significant. What if this Universe was created in much the same way?
What if, as the Gnostics believe, there was only a single all one-ness and some part of that one-ness wanted its freedom, and the other part decided the new part needed a new name and in so naming the new, a clone of the old was created?
For those of you that know the Gnostic storyline this makes sense. I'll leave this discussion there for now.
It begs another question... Did I inadvertently kill off a new form of life?
What would the clone have done had it continued? Would I have had to keep "feeding it" new content? Would it have eventually expired itself on its own?
The online service this happened with is a photography site. There are literally millions of photographs on this site.
Is it possible by so much human input, so much intense interest in the photos uploaded that those collective thoughts, at the right moment, given the right conditions, when I decided to re-name my account, gave birth to the clone?
Posted by Charles Baldwin at 7:29 PM
Thursday, September 8, 2016
My digital camera, the Canon SX530 Powershot has been very nice to me. One of the things I noticed that was not so nice are the measurements scale for the macro zoom functions. Macro zoom, for those of you who don't know, is for shooting extremely close to a subject. 1 to 6 inches is close. Some people like to take a picture that is even closer.
My camera was set to metric measurements and while I understand the accuracy of the metric system, I switched mine to inches so I could better use the macro ability. I know what 1 and 2 inches looks like, whereas I don't know what 50cm looks like.
'Having written that though, I set the macro focus to 1 inch and then put the camera about 1 inch away from this keyboard I am using. The letter G was still a little out of focus.
My point is trust what your eyes see as focused, and then take the picture.
The Powershot has an interesting feature that I can't presently take advantage of. I can connect an HDMI device.
I mentioned this a few posts ago. If I could carry around a tablet or some other large self powered screen device, a Macbook Pro, or an iPad with a Lightroom type of application I could use that large screen to really see how well my subject is focused.
And of course, some subjects, like a moving hummingbird, don't allow you the time, so you have to trust the camera to capture as best as it can for you.
Posted by Charles Baldwin at 3:07 PM
Saturday, July 30, 2016
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
This observation probably applies to most cameras that are newer DSLR and HiDEF digital video cameras.
I have started to get used to my new Canon Powershot SX530 and found that it has two ports built into it. I was a little surprised that neither was a USB computer connection. Both ports are A/V outputs.
One is HDMI, the other connection I am not presently familiar with.
What this allows for is to connect an external screen to the camera. Like an Apple iPhone or better yet the large iPad because now you can use the iPad in place of the camera LCD screen to compose and manage the scene you are going to shoot still pictures or video with. A larger screen means you will be able to adjust focus and lighting before shooting and get the best image acquisition possible.
If you have an iPad, make the connection and use the pad as your viewscreen.
Additionally, you can load a Lightroom application into the pad, and use the camera, the iPad, and Lightroom in live, real-time situations at the same time to compose, color adjust, and get incredibly sharp focus as well as manipulate the scene all before shooting it.
This will raise the quality of your photos.
Posted by Charles Baldwin at 9:22 AM
Saturday, July 16, 2016
I now have 4 cameras. I recently added a Canon Powershot SX530 HS.
This is a nice little camera.
The first aspect I enjoyed learning was the 200 power zoom. It is 160 power optical with digital zoom that really extends the reach, and with a tripod you can get a good picture with the 160 power zoom. The digital zoom, while impressive to be able to zoom in on something so far away, the quality of the image drops off and begins to pixel-ize.
This pixelization can be both good and bad. A degraded image can add to how the image plays to the story being told.
If for example the 200 power zoomed picture were to be examined in some kind of procedural way, for example if the story is using the image to explain how something happened for forensic or other reasons and is viewed as an element inside the main frame of the picture then it adds to the way the story plays. This can also go the other way, by using the camera in its movie mode and being zoomed all the way at 200x, the story might be enhanced in a negative space kind of way, depicting amateur imaging to unfold the story from an unscholarly point of view, or the vision of an alien presence or a collection of evidence, or proof that something is out there, but mystery remains as part of the zoomed imagery might not be completely discernible, making it necessary for the characters in the story to go view or investigate further, thus moving the story further along, and not reducing the viewer's involvement with the story. In other words, it helps to convince the story line and does not detract from the story line, depending on how it is used.
I am still learning the camera and am loving it. It has a hybrid feature of taking a few seconds of video and then tacks a still image image at the end of that movie clip, so you could shoot 20 or 30 minutes and have a kind of digest of hybridized video and still shots that tell a short story.
For example a journalist might be on the scene of a story and be shooting like this as a set of visual notes for memory refreshment at a later time. This then could be incorporated into a much larger story in a feature length movie. And since it is a new technique I will be working in a new field of still and video hybridization. New is not always better, I like this though.
The camera also allows you to learn the inverse qualities of aperture and shutter and how they affect each other. There is a fixed shutter setting where the camera will automatically set the aperture and a setting that goes the other way fixing aperture and automatically adjusting shutter speed. After enough use your mind will start to understand how these two aspects of photographing and acquiring moving image play together to give you good and great imagery.
The camera also has an excellent high speed feature, it can take burst mode shots. Each image is 4 megapixels, which isn't great quality, but still pretty good, and this setting allows you to acquire 20 or 30 photos of high speed action.
It is a 16 megapixel camera with a nice mix of automatic and manual features, from white balance to a nice fish-eye lensing effect I can easily recommend this for the beginning photographer and you'll get great photographs by just using the automatic features, and you'll get to learn professional photography concepts as this scales up in difficulty of use by adding in manual settings a little at a time.
And since I want to make a feature movie I really like its sound recording ability. It captures stereo sound, and so far (I haven't really put the audio recording to the test yet by going into a live concert for example) it is a pretty good audio recorder.
Posted by Charles Baldwin at 9:00 PM
My science fiction story series, The Diegisis Series, keeps getting more interesting to me and to my online readers.
You can find copies of the stories here:
Spark Gap and Seeds of the Three Suns
As I was writing the story and eventually got to the part about Larry DeVaryo building his electron lab, and the ensuing electrical firestorm that came out of that, and Larry's adventure dealing with hundreds of balls of ball lightning that Larry accidentally created, I came across this story out of China about Ball Lightning being observed in nature for the first time:
Ball lightning recorded and seen for the first time in China.
The second item that made it into the news recently was this discovery of mysterious solid spheres and reported here:
Youtube number 9 and number 2
And here in the UK Telegraph:
UK Telegraph article.
While these items probably aren't related in anyway, and probably don't prove any kind of other earthly or alien presence, they do make the Diegisis stories a little more realistic and fun to read.
Realistically, I expect that the mysterious spheres, much like the ice age created natural rectangular rock formations, will prove to be just that -natural formations. BUT, in the Diegisis Series Sieffas is a small dragon and those mysterious spheres might be some of the moons of Voryon.
Now what do you suppose they could be doing here?
Posted by Charles Baldwin at 8:18 PM
Friday, July 1, 2016
A while back I started to research music and how you can put it in your movie.
I have come up with a couple answers to this.
One. You can go the hard route, which is probably worth it if you can get a decent song and marry it to your movie appropriately.
The hard route is via the Harry Fox agency and or any other licensing mechanical fee (needle drop fee) enterprise that has the ability to provide you permission, for pay, to use a song by an artist in your movie.
Be prepared to go through a lot of steps to get to where you want to be with this route. Big name bands can be pretty sensitive about giving clearance to their music.
And it'll cost you a lot of money, either up front for usage rights or on the back end as a part of the film profits.
Two. You can also find production music in various places. Do a Google for it and you will find some good leads on production music. You have to be careful with production music though. A couple of the sites I found have little stipulations on how you can use the music they offer. For example, in one case, after reading the licensing and use material I discovered I could buy the music but I wasn't allowed to alter it in anyway.
What good is that in today's mixology world?
Radio stations have production music libraries. I can't recommend these production libraries as you can tell the energy that makes a great piece of music simply isn't there.
Having said that, keep looking and searching, you can find production music that kicks ass and isn't by a name band. Be prepared to spend a few hundred dollars to be allowed to license it for your work.
Here is the problem with route number two: other productions can also find the same music and purchase it and put it in their movie as well.
I had it happen where I bought a piece of artwork only to have someone later tell me they saw the same piece of artwork elsewhere. That kind of news kind of sucks.
But... There is some great production music out there that is reasonably priced.
Three. Make your own music. There are places on the web where you can find online music machines. I found a lot of them going through Stumble Upon. These machines can be a little bit of a challenge to master, but you are nearly guaranteed to have a unique piece of music, even if someone else comes along and uses the same machine to put music in their movie. The chances both of you will compose the exact same piece of music is slim to none, but you could find yourself watching someone else's movie and listening to what sounds like your song, when it isn't. That would be a kind of a surprise. I think the best use of these machines is for short movie stings, like if someone turns a corner and discovers something surprising like a meteor tearing through a hallway wall.
Four. Find a local band that wants their music out there. I have found a few of these here locally. One gentleman is an incredible free form gospel player. He can't read music and simply plays by ear.
In this case I am a little hesitant because he may be playing someone else's music and simply not know it.
In another case I found a local group of young musicians and these guys are amazing to listen to. BUT, I am not sure their music is what I would call suitable for a movie. Its kind of like saying Frank Zappa or Iggy Pop might not be right for the Sound of Music, or the John Phillip Souza doumanetary film, it might be as a contrast, but probably not good to demonstrate marching music.
Having said that, I haven't listened to this local band's entire repertoire. They have hours and hours of music, and what is particularly interesting is they apply a kind of free form playback of the songs, so each time they play it is a little bit different.
I like that. The trouble becomes getting a decent studio recording of them. That can be a challenge as they almost always have their own lives to make and their schedules don't always mesh easily with yours.
Posted by Charles Baldwin at 10:15 PM
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
A few posts ago I mentioned that I thought it seemed likely that there will be crossover films from the Marvel Universe, DC Comics and whatever. Here is the latest news touting Fox joining up with Marvel to make that exact thing happen:
Posted by Charles Baldwin at 5:31 PM
Friday, June 24, 2016
Finding Dory is the follow up film to Finding Nemo.
I didn't see Finding Nemo but I did enjoy Finding Dory.
The voice casting was great.
And Disney/Pixar animation is great.
I was a little surprised to see credits roll at the beginning of the movie. In the past this usually meant that the story of the movie was going to somehow end in such a way that people probably wouldn't sit through the credits at the end, and so the production moves the credits to the beginning of the film.
My college professor made a statement once that, if you find yourself in the movie business, or in television, watch the credits. It is after all why you are in the business. To see your name up there.
The story hit a little hard for me. The story is about a blue tang, a type of salwater fish, named Dory, who has short term memory loss. It was fun for the kids in the theater to see someone go through the problems of short term memory loss.
For me though it struck home in a different way. At this time I am living with my 93 year old mother, and she is beginning to have issues with short term memory loss.
The question it raises for me is how do you go about dealing with this?
As I sat there I began to feel guilty for being in the theater and leaving her at home alone.
She really needs to have someone around to help her. Not so much to take care of her as she seems to be doing okay. She can get her food and make her way to and from bed, she still balances her bills and checkbook but that particular chore is becoming difficult and she has always made it a point in her life to balance her checkbook often. Short term memory is taking that away from her.
It will eventually, if we all live to be that old, take it away from us as well.
I have been trying to figure out how to gracefully meet the eventual cross roads I am coming to. I will at some point have to find work somehow that will be adequate for me to live the rest of my life on. And I will have to leave her.
The medical experts will tell you to go.
It is not so easy.
In the last few years Mom has been preyed upon. She answered some spam emails over the last few years and was caught up in some scams. Fortunately I was here, and helped to stop them.
But now I am thinking what is the next one going to be. And can I take the risk of leaving, knowing someone might take another opportunity to make mischief at her expense.
The last scammer came right to the door and asked for her electric bill. He may have been legitimate however he wasn't wearing anything like a uniform and didn't leave a business card, and he wasn't driving a company car, and there wasn't any advance notice he was coming to visit.
The American economy has fallen so much that many Americans can't make enough money to live without thinking about how they can make some more money.
It is a difficult nut to crack.
Out of this there is a predator spirit at work to take, even if it means taking from little old ladies.
The United States, if you read a book called Plan B, Mobilizing to Save Civilization (I have only gleaned a few pages here and there in it), you find out that other countries are also desperate. Countries are renting land in other countries to raise foods to bring back to their own countries to feed their people.
I share this feeling of desperation, although I try to minimize it as much as possible, because I am coming to this crossroads I mentioned earlier.
Finding Dory is a story about a Tang that loses its family, but somehow makes it way across the ocean and back again to find its family.
I empathized with the emotional content through this story.
NPR ran a story recently about how this movie will have an impact on ocean fish. The scientist in the NPR story is concerned that people will want to have saltwater aquariums and fish as pets.
I am inclined to agree and to share this concern.
Our oceans are over fished, and recently I have been made aware that eating fresh water fish is not good for you, that there are now so many contaminants in our fresh waters that it is starting to border on being a health hazard to do so.
The term Walt Kelly made via his character known as Pogo comes to mind. We are our own worst enemy, we have met the enemy and he is us.
One more thing about movie credits and the end of the movie, sit through until the end. More and more the movies are adding snippets to the end of the credits worth seeing. Finding Dory ran the credits and then had about 5 more minutes of movie to watch.
Disney really knows how to make movies.
A long time ago I watched a movie at a theater in Hollywood. I want to say it was The Egyptian, but now I have taken the time to look via Google and I am not so sure it is the theater called the Egyptian in present day Hollywood. Whatever theater it was, what a cool looking theater it was.
The movie was Outland with Sean Connery and Peter Boyle. Outland is a remake of the Gary Cooper movie, High Noon. At the end of Outland when the bad guys got beat, the entire audience cheered and clapped. That's Hollywood for you.
They are really into the movies there.
I make it a point now to sit through to the end... and clap even if I am the only one left in the theater.
Posted by Charles Baldwin at 5:47 PM