I Lied

Beacons of Comfort

I really meant to quit. Cold turkey. Chuck it. Nuke it. Get it over with. Sayanora Baby. Bam.

I’d been going through one of my episodes of self-doubt and low self-esteem. Then I began to feel a bit better and realized that I like writing Silver Bullets. Besides, “Silver Bullets” is engraved on my iPod Touch. I can’t let down my iPod, can I?

So, first thing to talk about? Well, the iPad, of course. The press conference is finally over, we know what Apple’s latest gadget is, and now the questions begin: is this thing another industry shaker?

My first impressions of the iPad are ambivalent. The technology looks gorgeous. It will support Apple’s BlueTooth wireless keyboard plus a docking keyboard. It’s open enough that I expect to see a lot of third-party accessories for it. For reading certain kinds of e-text, it looks splendid. Colour illustrations and maps could scarcely be reproduced better. It, smartly in my opinion, supports the ePub e-book format.

So I ask myself, why am I not excited?

I think the main thing that strikes me, aesthetically, is that the slab looks awkward to use. It weighs too much to hold comfortably in one hand for reading. Unless you purchase the protective carrying case with it, it doesn’t have any kind of built-in tilt. As a writer, why would I want something that lies flat on the table? How is this thing better, overall, than my Dell Mini 10v netbook?

To me, the most disappointing part of the iPad is that it’s nothing more than the iPhone / iPod Touch OS with a larger display. I offers no multitasking, no easy task switching. Why limit it so? Why not put in an embedded Mac OS X and really open it up?

I’ll admit, I may just not understand it. It may turn out to be the hottest consumer electronic device of the year. Experienced IT people are often the last to grasp a paradigm shift. I certainly wish it well.

But I’m feeling a sad sense of disappointment about the iPad. The kind of letdown I feel sometimes when a book by a favourite author isn’t as good as I thought it would be, or a movie with a great cast turns out to have a feeble, undermining script.

I’ll be tracking this one to see if Apple has hit a home run, or has connected for a long foul ball, just missing the pole.

Last Post

Shadow Photographer

After several years of indulging in personal blog writing, I’ve decided to call it quits. It’s been fun to come up with topics and I’ve greatly enjoyed your many comments.

I’m moving on to more content-oriented writing and might, if my plans work out, start a blog on Exploring the Credit, taking day trips along the length of the Credit Valley from the harbour to the headlands, and sharing that information in blog format.

I feel myself getting stale in thinking up personal topics and my personal posts have become more infrequent and, consequently, less interesting. There are so many personal blogs out there that the absence of this one won’t be noticed.

Thank you for your kind support.


Winter Blahs

Ice Hostel

The winter blahs have hit. After a cold spell it’s warmed up a little, but it’s not to be trusted. Weather in February and March can be capricious, not to mention vicious. A January thaw is nice, but undependable.

The worst part about this winter is the lack of snow. People north, south, east, and west of us have had a snowy winter, thank you, but all we’ve had is cold weather. On the plus side, it’s made walking and driving easier, but snow is essential for good winter photography.

One thing that’s made winter a little brighter is the Micro Nikkor AF 55mm f/2.8 lens I acquired from my friend Peter (Aurora_Photog on Flickr). It may possibly be the ugliest lens Nikon has ever made and was quickly replaced by the excellent, and very pretty, Micro Nikkor AF-S 60mm f/2.8. Optically, though, the 55AF is right up there with the best of the Nikkor macro lenses, which is high praise. Because it retains a manual aperture ring on the lens, it can also be used, in manual-focus mode, on my Panasonic G1. The fact it has a plastic tube around the outside of the lens and a two-stage trombone-looking extension can be readily forgiven. As Han Solo once famously said of the scruffy Millennium Falcon, “She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts, kid!”

I wish I had more things to take macro shots of. I wish there were more snow. I wish I were as smart as those of my friends who planned vacations to warm parts at this time of year. I could wish all day.

The thing is, we take life as we find it, just like the ducks and geese in the harbour. So, for the time being, I’m doing less photography and more video watching, snuggled indoors holding a cup of warm green tea.

Life could be worse.

Developing a New Photo Workflow

Adobe Bridge

When I changed platforms from Windows to Mac, I left behind the three tools I used the most in my digital photography workflow: Adobe Photoshop CS3, Downloader Pro, and Irfanview.

I picked up Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 for Mac, and while it’s not quite as complete in some areas as full Photoshop, it’s close enough that I don’t need more. Elements comes with Adobe Bridge, a product I never warmed up to in the past, but not having the handy Downloader Pro around anymore, I explored Bridge as a substitute and was surprised by its versatility.

It does a good job of grabbing images from my SD cards and putting them in a workspot on my HD away from my permanent files. The batch renaming feature is close to being as good as the one in Downloader Pro, and its view mode substitutes quite well for Irfanview, both for culling images and for adding information to the filename. Bridge does a great job of batch adding and editing IPTC data too. I’m converted.

The plugin I most missed from Windows was Nik Silver Efex Pro. When I saw the plugin existed in Mac format, I downloaded and installed the 15-day trial and tried my registered key. It worked, and I now have my all-time favourite utility at my disposal again.

I had similar good luck with Nikon Capture NX2. I downloaded and installed the Mac version, and my registered key worked on it too. NX2 is an excellent image editor with some features that are better than Photoshop, and it can’t be touched for extracting the ultimate from a Nikon NEF (raw) file.

Now that my toolkit is in place and I’ve learned where features are located in Elements, my workflow is up to speed again. I especially thank and congratulate Nik Software and Nikon on their enlightened licensing policies. Adobe should take lessons, rather than charging for a platform change for its products.

New Year’s Resolution: 4288 x 2848

Nikon D90

I started the New Year with a purchase: a Nikon D90 DSLR with, yes, 4288×2848 image resolution.

For those who follow my blog, rest assured I’m not getting rid of the lovely Panasonic G1 4/3 DSLR. It’s a keeper, and one of the most versatile cameras I’ve owned, with its ability to host a wide range of non-Panasonic lenses, including rangefinder lenses. The D90 complements the G1.

The main reason for acquiring a D90 is to use my existing Nikon AF lenses as AF, something the G1 can’t do. And, to be honest, I miss having a Nikon body in the kit. For me, Nikons are the most ergonomic of all camera brands. From the original Nikon F SLR film camera to the present DSLRs, that “feel right in the hand” heritage continues.

I really liked the D60 I sold to a friend. The only problem I had with it was that it couldn’t autofocus my older AF lenses. It required the newer AF-S lenses for AF. The best camera I ever owned was a D300, which I sold only because it proved too heavy for me, after some cardio hiccups.

I told myself that next time I got a Nikon (it was never in doubt) I’d get one of the mid-tier models that would AF my AFs but weigh less than the upper-tier models.

In going mid-tier, I give up the D300’s ability to meter with manual lenses and record the info to EXIF. I’ll miss that, but the weight factor is more important. Besides, I don’t have this ability with the G1 either, and it’s not bothered me much.

The D90 has a movie mode, though my reading of reviews tells me it’s fairly primitive. “Crappy” is a more accurate description. I’ll give it a try, but I suspect my Panasonic FZ35 will run rings around it as a video cam. What the D90 is is a very good still camera.

So I’m starting 2010 the right way: doing my duty as a consumer to keep commerce humming. Isn’t it nice to belong?