Monthly Archives: September 2014

Lightroom Focus Point Plugin

The focus point of any given photo (at least with Canon DSLR’s) is stored in the photo’s metadata, and it’s always been something that I’ve wanted to be able to see. I know that Canon’s Digital Photo Professional Software can display this, but as a Lightroom user, I don’t even have DPP installed. Recently, I learned of a Lightroom plugin that can do the same thing. It’s called, appropriately enough, the Lightroom Focus Points plugin, and can be found (for free, no less) here.

I’ve been using it for a couple days now, and it seems to work exactly as advertised. The only gotcha that I’ve found so far is that it only seems to work with the original raw or jpeg. If the photo has been edited in Photoshop, it appears to lose the focus point information.

The other downer (not really) is that it’s a be careful what you ask for kind of thing. After running the plugin against a huge batch of shots, I learned just how adept I am at missing my intended focus point. Especially on bird-in-flight, I’ve learned that I suck. Now this example below (shot with my 7D) looks pretty good, but I can tell you that I chose this shot simply because I did actually hit my focus point. That’s seemingly a rare occurrence among the photos I’ve checked so far.

Anyway, the plugin is great, and can be very educational in terms of revealing mistakes in your focus. It can certainly be a blow to your ego though. Highly recommended.

focus point

Canon EOS 7D Mark II

I’ve been waiting for almost two years to use that title on a post. And it’s finally coming. Canon announced it officially on Monday, and many retailers have it available for pre-order (Pre-order links for the lazy – Amazon | B&H). Funny enough, it’s already the number 1 selling DSLR on Amazon, even though the first batch won’t be shipping for two months. I guess there has been a bit of pent-up demand, huh?

I’ve loved my 7D since the day I bought it, but it’s grown a bit long in the tooth, and the image quality, while very good, has always featured more noise that I would have liked. I’ve spent the last two days salivating over specs and first-looks at the 7D Mark II, and the results are very promising. 65-point AF, 10 FPS burst speed, new 20.2MP sensor, and many other goodies. Woohoo!

DPReview has a good look at the specs, without drawing any conclusions.

dpreview7d2

Matt Granger has put up some sample shots, including some high-ISO shots that look promising, although with resized web jpgs, you have to take it with a grain of salt.

7d2samples

Finally, if you want a quick rundown without devoting much time, Kelby & Co did a quick 3-minute infomercial that looks at the “top 10” features of the 7D2.

kelbyinfomercial

75 Days to Freedom

About five years ago, I suffered a back injury. Two herniated discs in my lumbar spine. Compounding that problem was the fact that I have other discs that have deteriorated to the point that my doctor felt that I was a poor candidate for surgery. The prescription was for steroid injections into my spine, physical therapy, and time. I got the injections, did the PT and waited, and while I waited, I got sedentary, lazy, fat, and miserable.

I had occasional wake-up calls that what I was doing to myself, or perhaps NOT doing FOR myself, was taking its toll. One particular moment came in June of 2012. Google+ was celebrating its second anniversary by sponsoring a series of photo walks in cities around the world. For the Denver walk, Thomas Hawk came to town, and I got the wonderful opportunity to spend a couple of days shooting with him. I loved every minute of it, but it almost crippled me. At one point, we were shooting at the Denver Botanic Gardens, and I had gotten down on the ground to shoot a water lily. Suddenly I realized that I couldn’t get up. I did not wish to embarrass myself, so I waited there on the ground until Thomas moved away, then thrashed around until I managed to make it to my feet, in massive pain and almost shaking. I managed to keep moving that day, and the entire following day, but I was laid up for a better part of a week afterward. That should have been motivation enough to do something about my health, but it wasn’t. Instead, I sunk even lower. My health got worse, culminated by two kidney stones that precipitated a full nine month of hell on earth for me. By early this year, just getting up in the morning was a trial that I rarely wanted to face.

75 days ago, it was the the 4th of July. I had just gotten home from our big annual fish fry and fireworks festival, and to put it bluntly, I felt like shit. My head was throbbing, my guts were aching, and I felt like I could barely move. I decided to take my blood pressure before going to bed, and to say it was scary was an understatement. 168/108. Not good. Like dropping-dead not good. Checked my pulse. 90+ at rest. Also not good. I then made the mistake of stepping on the bathroom scale, and my shock turned to disgust when I saw the numbers roll well past the 260-pound mark. They say that good health is merely dying at the slowest possible rate, but it became fully clear to me that night that I was working myself toward the grave at a considerably faster pace. So I had a choice; I could continue that path, come what may, or I could do something about it. I laid there in bed, feeling and even hearing my pulse as my heart thumped in my chest, alternately hating myself, feeling sorry for myself, and pondering what to do next.

My insides were a mess, so I fasted for three days while I thought about my predicament. By the end of the third day, instead of feeling starved and lifeless, I found that I actually felt better, which illustrates how bad I must have felt before. I started eating again on day four, but far less and far more healthy. Somewhere along the line I guess I decided that I really did want to keep on living for a while. I ate very little that first ten days, and in that time, I dropped 15 pounds.

On July 13th, my god-daughter Camden called me early in the morning. She suggested that I drag my pathetic ass out of bed and go walking with her. Wonder of wonders, I actually did. Now, Cam and her sister Jenna have been the lights of my life since the days that they were born, but that morning, Cami also became my savior.

So, we walked. Cami was supportive and demanding by turns. I growled and moaned, but I walked. I managed to cover 2.57 miles. It took well over two hours, and by the time I was done, I was so used up that I pretty much laid in bed the rest of the day. A couple of days later, we did it again. Then again. Each time was a little farther, a little faster. By the end of the second week, I actually jogged a bit. If you want to call my shambling, staggering gait jogging, that is. Every day I at least walked, even if I didn’t run. The miles passed, and the pounds kept dropping.

Fast-forward to this past Sunday. Our Sunday morning walk has become ritual (and has sped up sufficiently that we can almost call it a run), so I got up and we headed out. Our usual route takes us from her house to my house, with a trail switch midstream to keep us from having to scale a large, steep incline known as Ward Road Hill. A quarter mile of 18%-grade miserable. This day though, we chose to NOT switch trails, which meant two things. One was that the run would be longer, about 5 miles, and two of course was that we’d have to tackle THE HILL. An hour later we were done. We made the run, went over the hill, and I was about as near to dead as I want to get in the next 40-50 years or so, but I was also jubilant. It was longer and faster than I had ever gone before. By the standards of a runner, it was laughable, but by my standards, it was miraculous. We averaged 11:43 per mile that day. That’s a far cry from the hour and ten minutes a mile I started with a mere two and a half months ago.

Tonight when I got home from work, I changed clothes and went out and ran three miles. After I got home and rested for a while, I stepped on the scale. 223 pounds. Nearly 40 pounds lighter than on the 4th of July. I then took my blood pressure. 123/76. And just to be consistent, I took my pulse. 54 at rest. All of these numbers are amazing to me, but the most amazing thing is how I feel. In short, better than I’ve felt in many years. And I also look forward to feeling even better. You see, now I have goals other than living until the next miserable day. This fall, Cam and I are going to run in a 5k race, and perhaps even a 10k this winter. By next fall, I am going to have dumped another 30-40 pounds of fat, and we intend to run a half-marathon. And if you’re wondering what all this might have to do with my photography, the answer is simple. I’m going to have a camera with me in every race I run, and I’m going to take pictures of those races from a vantage point that I wouldn’t have dreamed of even just a couple months ago; the vantage point of a participant. Kind of seems as though July 4th really WAS Independence Day for me…

This is Cami. She is going to school to become a nurse, so she can save lives. She doesn’t even know it, but she’s already saved mine.
IMG_3539

Sometimes Spam is Hilarious!

I normally hate spam, whether it be something guaranteed to cure my toe fungus, or enhance my manhood, or that nice man from Nigeria that I correspond with who wants desperately to give me forty million dollars. However, once in a while, spam CAN in fact give me a chuckle. To wit:

doyoupoopenough

Why yes, I do. Thank you very much for asking.

Don’t you just love it when people are concerned about your health?

Users Can Be Stupid

Just in case anybody hadn’t noticed…Unfortunately, this time the stupid user was me.

Back in 2012, I bought a copy of Photoshop CS6, which I used until I signed up for Adobe’s Creative Cloud service earlier this year. When I installed Photoshop CC, I also removed CS6. Recently though, I found a particular plugin that I have needs CS6 (it won’t run on CC). So, I figured I’d just put it back on, and all would be well. Yeah, right…

I was worried that there would be some version problems with installing CS6 after CC, so I removed CC, installed CS6, then put CC back on. All good. UNTIL, that is, I went to open and activate CS6. I immediately got an error “Licensing for this product has expired”. Damn. I clicked past that error and was brought to the licensing screen. I entered my serial number and all that, then…nothing…Photoshop could not connect to the internet. Whaaattt? My browser was open, I could surf at will, all seemed to be good. But not joy. I tried a couple times. Same problem each time. I was either expired, or couldn’t connect to the internet. Damn again.

I thought maybe there was a problem with my serial, but I checked that out and it was okay, and my Adobe account was okay as well. I thought maybe it had something to do with some leftover files or something weird, so I bit the bullet and built up a brand new Windows 8 install on a new hard drive. Installed CS6, and boom…SAME EXACT PROBLEM. Fu…I mean Damn. Just to be utterly certain, I built yet another new image, this one of Windows 7. Same problem. Now I’m about to scream.

mad

I started digging through Adobe support forums, looking for similar problems. Not much there, but there was one post that suggested setting the system clock on the computer back. Didn’t make much sense to me, but I figured what the hell. So I set the clock back to January 1st, 2006. Clicked on the CS6 shortcut, and waddaya know, it started to load. Then things went sideways again. Instead of seeing the Photoshop splash screen as it loaded, I’m greeted with a splash screen that had the word “Superstition” scrawled across the top. It went by too quick for me to catch the first time, so I closed it, restarted, and grabbed a screenshot.

6862021724_5c920cbd18_z

NOW the dim bulb in my little brain began to glow. Before Photoshop CS6 was even released, I had downloaded and played with the public beta. When I purchased the final version, I deleted the beta installer and archived the final installer. Except that I didn’t. Turns out I had deleted the final version and kept the beta, which is what I had been trying to install for the last several hours. It said it was expired because it WAS expired. A couple years ago…

Anyway, I downloaded the correct installer from Adobe, installed it, put in my serial, and wooohooo! It worked. Soooo, just another little anecdote from stupid user central. I’m just glad I didn’t do something really stupid like going off on some poor tech support person. Live and learn…