Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It's an Angel

It's an Angel

I had the opportunity to take a few pictures this weekend. This is the first one that I post-processed. I used Picasa to crop it as opposed to Lightroom because I was in a hurry. No other edits were made.

I really love my Nikon D90!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Workflow Adjustments

I have modified my workflow a few times over the past six months (wow, has it really been that long?) since I purchased my first digital SLR. Now that Adobe CS4 and Lightroom 2 have arrived I need to do so again.

My current workflow has been something like this:
  • Transfer photos using Nikon Transfer which puts everything in the right directory, .../Pictures/unprocessed/u_YYYY-MM-DD so that I can quickly see in Picasa which photos have and have not been processed, as well as copying everything to a backup directory on my linux system via a Samba share.
  • Preview the shots with Google's Picasa and delete any that I have no intention of post-processing (remember I do have backups so I can always pull a shot back out later if I change my mind).
  • Much of the time I simply call it quits here.
  • If a shot already looks good but needs a crop, I will usually just do that with Picasa.
  • If a shot needs postprocessing then I'll open in Paint Shop Pro X2 and get to work (before I purchased PSP I would do everything in Picasa and it is not bad for basic things, just do not blindly trust the automatic controls).
  • Once I am satisfied with how the shot looks I save it to .../Pictures/processed/p_YYYY-MM-DD (preserving the original date) and delete the shot from the unprocessed directory.
There are some flaws in my current workflow; I am not using RAW files, I am not backing up my postprocessed work* and it still feels like there are some missing steps but it could just be my imagination.

With PSP I cannot use RAW files because apparently that is a feature that is only present in the ultimate edition (or whatever they call it) and even if I had it, Corel does not currently support the D90 NEF files. Fortunately the D90 does a great job and the JPEGs are often all that I need.

I know that I should backup my work. I need to find a solution that will work behind the scenes so that I do not have to remember to do it. I have had my eyes on a few external hard drives but I just cannot justify buying one; my linux system has three 500GB drives configured in a RAID5 setup with 1TB of total space.

The whole unprocessed versus process directory name thing (especially with the 'u_' and 'p_' directory prefixes in the names of child directories) seems like overkill to me. I think that I should try to move this scheme to the tagging level.

I would love to hear any suggestions, especially from someone who made a similar switch.

* I lost a few shots when I transitioned back to Windows from Linux and only realized it this past week, I hope that I can salvage something from Picasa Web that is of a suitable resolution.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Software Arrived!

My software package arrived today: Adobe Creative Suite 4 Design Standard, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 and Microsoft Office Professional 2007. I have everything installed and I am downloading the updates now.

I am torn about how to learn how to use it quickly though. I can start playing with it (which is what I would normally do), view the included videos, work through the online tutorials offered by AIO or take the free online classes that are offered by AIO. I just had a thought; I can do all of them (assuming I can find the time).

Online Degree Programs

Consider this a heads up in case anyone is considering pursuing an online degree... Do not think that it will be a free ride; it will be more demanding and at a much faster pace than a normal degree program. As a full time student at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division, I am enrolled in two classes at a time and each lasts for six weeks.

The course work is not hard (yet any way) and that really does not come as much of a surprise because I am in the beginner type classes: Transitional English and Success for Online Studies; it is very time consuming though.

I am required to read between six and eight chapters a week in English, and two complete sections of the book for Success for Online Learning. I am also required to complete three or four written assignments each week for each class with assignments due every day or two. In addition, participation is a large part of the grades so I have to read and make intelligent remarks about other students work in each assignment (I agree or disagree & why, point out spelling, capitalization & grammatical errors as well as offer suggestions on how to improve the work).

I am spending five hours a day on average doing the course work. I hope that over time I will improve my time management skills and stop allowing myself to be distracted which should ultimately result in me not have to spend so much time on it.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Wow! Did you feel that?

A little while ago I was doing some research for my English class when I felt the couch shake and heard the windows rattle a bit. At first I thought that either a) I had imagined it or b) a branch had fallen on the roof. I decided to take a shower and get dressed before heading out to survey the roof.

After my shower I decided to Google for any earthquake news. I found one in Virginia a few hours ago but the source of the information was the U.S. Geological Survey. I visited their website and found a link to Latest Earthquakes in the US which was showing a red dot over D/FW! Clicking the dot took me to a page describing a Magnitude 3.3 earthquake centered over north Arlington. The exact location is in the area, just north of the west fork of the Trinity River and across Collins St (SH 157) from the city dump, where preparations for some construction has been on-going for many months. The area is adjacent to the location of Bird's Fort (which sadly is closed to the general public).

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Long, Hard Road

This is going to be a long, hard road to travel but the destination makes it a worthwhile endeavor.

"Transitional English" is going to be extremely challenging. The professor gives what seems to be a large amount of reading and a decent amount of assignments to turn in each week. The nice part is that everything is due at the end of each week.

Reading the syllabus for "Strategies for Online Learning" made it look like it was going to be an easy class, and perhaps in time it will prove to be true, but just reading through the week one information makes it look daunting. Unlike English, the professor has assignments due every other day. I was hoping to get all of my work done on Friday night and Saturday which would leave the rest of the week free for family and church obligations. We would not be enrolled in an online program if a normal course of study was possible. I guess that I was expecting too much leniency from the professors for that reason.

Fear not readers. I will not only survive, I choose to thrive!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

VisTablet First Impressions

The VisTablet arrived a day early and I set it up last night.

A little background on my current "work area" before I begin. I have a laptop on a Logitech Alto (notebook display riser with wireless keyboard) sitting on the coffee table. I have a wireless mouse sitting on a book on the arm of the couch. It is an odd setup but more comfortable than sitting at a desk all night (I do that all day at work).

The tablet is thin; really, really thin. I am going to need to use it at a desk because it is feels extremely flimsy when I set it on my lap (it feels like I'll break it if I put too much pressure in the middle). It has areas around the top and sides that act as soft buttons; "MacroKeys" is what the manufacturer calls them. The size is nice, it covers my lap. The working area is only 10"x6.25" though and when paired with my wide screen still seems too narrow (I end up with the pen in the MacroKeys area wondering why it isn't working). The sensitivity range is nice but doesn't appear to be as broad as the manufacturer claims but that could be due to my inexperience with the device.

The pen or stylus looks and feels like a dollar store knock-off of a high dollar fountain pen. It is made from thin plastic and is extremely lightweight. The pen only functions in writing mode; there is not an eraser sensor. Part way up the shaft is a rocker button (two-way) that seems to send the same signal no matter which end you press.

My first impression is that it is a decent digital tablet for $130. I will however be upgrading to a larger Wacom as soon as my finances allow.


A reboot of Windows Vista seems to have fixed some of the problems that I was having.

The size is not an issue now, the pointer ends up on the edge of the screen as the pen hits the tablet edge (before reaching the MacroKeys).

It also turns out that the two-way rocker button does send two different signals. The front (bottom?) portion of the button sends a right-click and the back (top?) portion sends a double-click.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Quick Notes

Just a few quick notes for any one who decides to follow my blog...

  • I am attending online classes.
  • I will be enrolled in two classes at a time.
  • I will not be enrolled in any photography related classes for the first two sessions.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Books Arrived

The textbooks for my first two classes arrived today.

Oh and the VisTablet that I ordered yesterday has shipped and will arrive on Wednesday.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Bachelor of Science - Photography

I applied at and have subsequently been accepted into the Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division.

I am working towards a Bachelor of Science in Photography.

Classes start on May 14th and I am excited.