Archive for February, 2008

This will be short and sweet.When you have a choice in the format for your digital images, choose the largest file size possible. If your camera allows you to choose your image format, go with ( in this order): RAW, TIFF, or low compression/high quality JPEG. RAW, of course, gives the largest files and shooting large files means you’ll need larger, faster cards. That’s a small price to pay for the leap in quality you’ll experience! More and more photographers are opting for the flexibility that shooting to RAW provides. For example, you can change the color balance of your photos AFTER THE FACT in RAW. You can’t in either TIFF or JPEG.The combination of RAW and CS3’s RAW plugin is the ultimate. It allows you to take control of every aspect of your image from highlights to shadows.  If you think this sounds like an ad for RAW, you’re right.  Shoot in RAW if you can, you’ll thank me for it.  

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I used to do that alot when growing up in West Virginia. I’d grab my camera and tromp off into the woods in search of solitude and inspiration. This time, I’ll be looking for a little stress relief from this hectic world in general. Call it a return to my roots. Today I’m headed to the park to meet some folks who are members of the photo gallery I moderate on HRTownsquare. They seem to be a good group of photo folks with a better than average appreciation of the craft and a passion for sharing their love for photography with others. I’m hoping to share some of my knowledge with them and in return be inspired by their enthusiasm. We’ll walk through the woods and, I hope, find some interesting things to photograph. Maybe I’ll post mine here. We’ll see.

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I’ve enjoyed building plastic models since I was six years old. Shame on me for not learning about Tamiya Extra Thin Cement till just recently. Through the years I’ve accumulated an impressive number of tools for assembling my models but never really put any thought into the glue that held them together. Scott Bregi, a modeling buddy of mine, clued me in to this cement and it quickly replaced Tenax as my glue of choice.

Tamiya Extra Thin Cement

You see, liquid plastic glues work by melting the plastic at the joining point, not filling the gap with glue like tube glues. Melting plastic makes for a stronger bond and, since this is fairly volatile stuff, dries quickly allowing you to continue with model building and not waiting for the glue to set. The extra thin Tamiya cement is not as “hot” as Tenax or the orange cap Tamiya cements so it attacks the plastic slower, allowing time to position parts precisely. I also found that it’s great for smoothing over the marks left after scraping mold seams. Simply run the included application brush across the scraped seam and watch it fade away. A bottle costs around $3.50 USD and is as important to model building as any other tool on your workbench.

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Seeing the work  of others has always been an inspiration for me. Lately I’ve been browsing through the enormous Flickr photo site and enjoying the work of other photographers from around the world. It’s become somewhat of a pastime with me lately as I backup files and watch Final Cut render a video — more than Windows Solitaire ever was.

Do yourself a favor and sign up for a free account and give it a spin. Search through the groups for a topic that interests you and start your journey. Or click on one of my photos at the right.

You won’t regret it. 

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Not happy with the thought of having my priceless photos and documents backed up to a single external drive, I signed up for an off-site backup account with Mozy.com today.

After hearing Francis Ford Coppola’s horror story about thieves stealing his computer AND the backup drives attached to it, causing him to lose a lifetime of work, I decided that a measly $55/year was cheap for peace of mind.

So I installed Mozy’s proprietary software, marked the folders for backing up and clicked the start button.  My mac has been chugging along for hours now, sending data to my new, unlimited capacity storage site.One thing to remember when backing up your system, only back up the files that are truly irreplaceable. This means you don’t need to copy your computer system files, applications or any other data that can EASILY be recovered or reinstalled. Still, I’m looking at a backup of over 65GIGS!!!

Yeah, I save a lot of photos and videos. It’s a sickness. 

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Having just discovered that several of my older cd-r disks filled with photos have become unreadable in five short years, I’m making a switch to a different brand of recordable DVD disks. Made by Delkin, these disks have a gold core and are guaranteed to last 300 years. While I’m not gullible enough to buy into that claim, I have done a bit of research and found that these particular disks are living up to their claims…so far. 

gold dvd

Backing up to some sort of optical media has become a must-do routine for anyone shooting digital images. The ones and zeroes that make up our photos are fragile things that need to be kept on some sort of reliable storage medium. I personally back up all my shoots first to my external hard drive (that means I’ve got a copy on my internal drive too), then to optical when I have enough images to fill a 4.7 GB DVD.

The finished DVD will then go to an off-site storage facility. I use a large deposit box at the bank. The reasoning is that what’s the point of backing up if you’re gonna store it beside the computer? Fires happen and I’ve read too many sob stories about folks who didn’t store their copies in another location.

In the very near future I’m also planning to subscribe to either Carbonite or Mozy for a fourth link in my backup chain, but more on that later. For now, I’m happy to add gold as a link in the chain. 

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Powershot G9

I’m constantly asked to recommend a quality point and shoot camera — something easy to use without breaking the bank to acquire. I’ve finally found a camera that fits the bill and it’s available for under $400. The Canon PowerShot G9 is a great little camera with one feature that sets it apart from the pack — it captures in RAW format. RAW format is what it implies, the raw information sent from the imaging chip to the memory card. No compressing as with JPEG format and with much more flexibility after the fact using Canon software or Photoshop. Other specifications include:  a 12.1 megapixel imaging chip, 6X optical zoom (because we all know optical is the only way to zoom!), an ISO range of from 80 to 1600, a 3 inch LCD and a rechargeable lithium ion battery pack. The hotshoe on top also allows you to use Canon Speedlights. For those of us who want to carry a camera with them at all times but can’t always carry their DSLR, this is the camera for you. If I gave stars, this one would have five of them.

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