Rainy. Still eating antibiotics. I used some time this Sunday to update my web pages, put couple of articles (one on horror fiction in Finnish, the gameplay experience paper from DiGRA-05 with Laura, in English) available into my university home page, then updated the links in the photo album page (in Finnish; you can also go directly into my server pics-folder with mostly uncommented stuff).

While going through all those materials, I started thinking whether I should have some “selected few” pictures collection somewhere. So, I went back to my old flickr account, and put a few of my favourites there. Hope you like them, too – and find them this way more easily accessible than in the larger achive folders.

images and reflections

After couple of days, I have got most of the Provencal photos edited, and have some kind of online gallery available, here. I tested Flickr service while setting up this, to see whether that would be better than hosting them on my own server. But I did not realise they had a 20 meg monthly bandwidth limit, and while testing with couple of my high-resolution originals, I blew my entire quota for this month. Oh well, I think I will stick with my own server, even if I am then limited to whatever code I am able to set up and maintain there. Currently, I am tweaking with JAlbum, and trying to find the most informative and best-designed skin among the offerings. (Unfortunately, I do not have time to script and design one of my own liking.) Attached are some of the photos available in this archive:

jagged lines of summer pics

I have been thinking about how to organise the images from the EOS I am going to shoot this summer. The Photoshop Elements 3.0 is doing decent job in keeping an archive, but too often it crashes (there are c. 3700 pics in the archived folders so far, wonder if it is the numbers, or if the programme is just inherently unstable) – but then there is the online reference thing. Currently I am pondering between making the online folders from the Elements, or continue using JAlbum, which prints the techical data nicely, but on the other hand, the scaling-down of hi-rez original produces nastily jagged artifacts into lines, as you can see from this sample of a crow in Midsummer evening.

The rest of this photo trip into summery Häme, as handled by JAlbum, are visible in this folder.

playing with photos

Friday, I finally got the digital SLR I had been planning and saving for during whole this spring. I did the purchase order first into a German net store (for obvious price reasons), but after several weeks of delays (they sell stuff they do not have in store, or even do not exactly know when they’ll get some) I went to a local shop (Rajala). The arbitration between Nikon D70s, Canon EOS 350D and 20D was long and hard, but finally I decided to go for 350D. The price of the kit was practically at the same level with D70s, which would have offered better controls, lenses and a more robust design. But when testing, I realised that I have been shooting with a Canon EOS camera from 1987, and the “Canon language” has become so natural that transfer to Nikon felt hard. And Nikon was not getting as good reviews for the picture quality – there was the moiré issue, for example. None of these were perfect cameras of course, but on the other hand all of them were very good. 20D was a bit pricy, and instead I decided to go for 350D, but equipped it with the vertical battery pack (BG-E3) which made a real difference to how the tiny camera handles. The glassware I could afford at this point was not so great (including the plastic-feeling kit lens), but I bought also a Sigma 70-300 F4-5.6 II APO which is a cheap “Macro Super” zoom, meaning I can go pretty close to those details, textures, insects and other little marvels I love to look at and photograph. In the post-processing, I am currently getting acquainted with the RAW data format; it seems that Adobe Elements 3.0 which I bought as the editing and archiving software can handle 350D RAW, but only after installing a separate update file. There are many features in this program I already love (take a look at the sample web photo folder it created from the originals with a couple of clicks), but it also appears still a bit unfinished and unstable (getting crashes and Visual Basic errors tonight, probably my photo library is just too large for it or something). I also realised that Elements 3 does not retain exposure, aperture and other tech data when you export RAW files into JPEGs, so it is perhaps best to shoot both files at the same time; RAW for print jobs and archiving, JPEG for web publishing. Need to study this some more. Other stuff: a Wacom touchpad for editing, Manfrotto tripod for support (got a remote control, too). The Manfrotto (055PROB) seems actually versatile enough, with its horizontally adaptable center column and legs that can be tilted absolutely flat against the earth, if need be. But the mini ball head (484RC2) is unfortunately not really compatible with it, so I have to get it switched. The first dozen or so pics, taken at a nearby Tohloppi lake shore at sunset should give some idea how rich in details and how huge a colour and tonal range these things can deliver when shooting in full 8 mega-pixel resolution. (I am going to need lots of hard-disk space soon…) Never having worked with a digital SLR before, I am just so dazed! 🙂