100 Films scanned

My effort of scanning my collection of negatives has just reached the 100th film. Once ready there will have been about 3600 photos scanned. This film contains pictures dated from 2000. So, only about 3½ years to go before I started using a digital camera. To come this far took me about 1½ years. Not very fast, but for doing this mostly in the evenings this is still fast enough.

Alternative to Ball Bungees

David Hobby aka the strobist has a collection of very, very good articles online under the headline “[Lightning 101]((http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/03/lighting-101.html)”, a must read for every one who wants to get his strobe/flash photography technique into shape (of course the rest of the site is just as good). He lists an item called the “Ball Bungee” as a very versatile means to quickly attach a flash to some furniture or whatever is available. These “Ball Bungees” appear to be a very common item in the US. However not so here in Germany. Extensive googleing didn’t turn up anything.

When I searched through bloglines, perhaps some other fellow European had found something equivalent, this flickr link turned up. After having seen this and some more googleing I found the Spannflex, which appears to be the very same thing as in the before mentioned flickr link. The “Spannflex” expression lead me finally to the online store http://www.thomann.de and in particular to this (in white) and this (in black). €0.65 per piece. This webshop lists quite a number of country banners in their header, so this shop might be usefull to people in other countries.

As a last resort, it should be possible to build the Ball Bungees yourself. I found elastic rope in a local DIY store and it should possible to obtain appropiate wooden balls into which you drill a hole. Another source for elactic rope I found along the way is http://www.estoma.de/.

Some Panoramas from Vejers, Denmark

During our Denmark vacation I shot some pictures with the intention to produce some panoramas to illustrate, why I like Vejers so much. You might have seen them in an earlier post.

Anyway, during the vacation I stitched them with Canon Stitch 3.0, which is included in the software delivered with the 350D. This produced indeed a picture consisting of of all the pictures, but it didn’t look very good. In particular the areas, where the pictures overlapped was very visible.

So, back at home I tried PTAssembler and these are the (very good) results. PTAssembler produces a Photoshop PSD file, each picture on it’s own layer. Following the tutorial from the PWAssembler site
you can place the seams at the best locations. The final step is the color/brightness adjustment. This was done with the Gimp under Linux. I guess, if I knew the Gimp better I could have completely removed the still visible differences in brightness. In this particular area the advantage of Photoshop is very obvious. In particular, many of the techniques I’ve learned about in the RadiantVista tutorials are not directly transferable to the Gimp.

Vejers Strand

Vejers Strand

This final picture was again stitched with PTAssebler, but this time installed in Wine under Linux (this means, that it works under Wine/Linux). The final corrections however were done in Photoshop. I’m pleased to say, that I’m really pretty happy with the result. The seams could still be handled a notch better.

Vejers Strandhotel

I guess the 39 bucks will be well spend considerung the $20 discount on the Panosausrus Panoramic Tripod Head.

Virtual Machine for Digital Darkroom Work

It is certainly possible to do all the work on digital images under Linux. However I think to a large part it still feels somewhat clumsy. At the very least it requires dedication and time to achieve similar results as under Windows.

Since VMWare released the player and the former GSX server (still beta at the moment) for free, I decided to check the feasibility of using a VMWare virtual machine for any digital darkroom and cataloguing work.

The Windows VM was quickly created after having installed the necessary VMWare software. The VM is run on a AMD 2800+ with 1Gb main memory of which is 512Mb assigned to the VM. The Windows installation was extended with these tools from Microsoft:

Additionaly these free utilities were installed to make the operation of the VM reasonably safe and comfortable.

And now, most importantly the tools, that I wanted to check out within the VM.

Of course, all of these programs run perfectly within the VM. The question was, how much am I slowed down for my typical work because the software runs within the VM.

Imatch works very well. The importing of many pictures into the database is slowed down due to the fact, that the pictures and and the actual database reside in the Linux native file system and are accessed in the VM through the networking layer and SAMBA. However, this not much of a problem. In my other scenario, where Imatch would be running on a real Windows system the access of the picture would still be over the network. Once the pictures are imported the tagging and categorising of the pictures works without any noticable delays, very smoothly. Only if you want to look at the picture in the native resolution with Irfanview, there is a distinct delay until the image appears on the screen.

Basically the same can be said about RawShooter Essentials. It works quick enough for me. It would be snappier running natively, but it employs so clever algorithms, that the slow down from the VM is very acceptable. Anyway, I’m not so quick in deciding if I want a certain picture or not.

Now, Neatimage benefits from every CPU cycle it can get. If you only want to de-noise the occasional one or two pictures, it is ok to run it in the VM, but if you have many pictures, that you want to treat with Neatimage, it is definitely better you used it natively on a Windows host. Or since Neatimage runs within Wine, this might be another option.

In the end the VM solution is very usable for me. Even some Photoshop work is possible, if you’re only doing some cropping or some colour and contrast enhancements. However it is completely impossible to do any work, which requires colour calibration. The Linux/VM combination doesn’t provide the required setting to actually calibrate the monitor. The best, what you can do is to set the monitor to a colour temperature of 6500K and use this diagram to adjust the monitor so that black and white levels are displayed correctly. And you need to stay in the sRGB colour domain.

And since I was at it, I also checked, if I could use my Canon Pixma 4000 printer from within the VM and if I could connect to my recently bought used Nokia 3660 phone through Bluetooth. For this I additionally installed these packages:

  • Belkin Bluetooth Software (from the F8T012 Bluetooth dongle)
  • Canon Utilities Easy-PhotoPrint (from my Pixma 4000 printer)
  • CD-LabelPrint (from my Pixma 4000 printer)
  • PC Suite für das Nokia 3660

I’m happy to say, that this worked flawlessly as well. I loaded some new pictures onto the phone, so data transfer works. However since I don’t use any of the synchronisation targets like Outlook or Lotus Notes this is somewhat useless for me, but it would work.

The driver for the Konica Minolta Dimage IV apparently isn’t build cleanly enough. Installation work fine, but when I tried to access the scanner with the scanning software this resulted in a Blue Screen of Death.

Donations for Radiant Vista

The Radiant Vista is currently seeking donations to expand their feature set. I’m a regular reader of the Radiant Vista and I’ve learned so much through the Daily Critique, the Photoshop Workbench and the Video Tutorials that I immediately felt obliged to make a donation.

The Radiant Vista is definitely “the” website to visit, once you’ve mastered the basic technical skills of photography and you want to really “make” great photos as opposed to just snapping away. Highly recommended

RawShooter Essentials 1.1.3 under Wine

The RawShooter Essentials 1.1.3 raw converter works flawlessly under Wine. I used it to convert about 60 pictures from my Canon 350D, as I already said, without any problems.

The Wine version 0.9.5 is installed on my Gentoo system and additionally the WineTools 0.9, which create the fake Windows environment into which the Windows applications are installed and operate in. By default the fake environment is created in the users home directory in .wine/drive_c. Therefore I moved the RawShooterEssentials installation archive into the directory .wine/drive_c/temp and executed:

. findwine
$WINE "C:\\temp\\RawShooterEssentials2005-113.exe" &

This installed the raw converter into the fake Windows environment. After that, I created this little shell script (modelled after the IE6 start-up script from the WineTools):

#!/bin/bash
. findwine
$WINE "c:\\Program Files\\Pixmantec\\RawShooter essentials 2005 1.0\\RawShooter.exe" \
&>/dev/null &

Now I can convert my Canon raw files quite comfortably and make some initial adjustments and improvements to the photos.