Showing posts from October, 2012


Last week I was up in Virginia, near Alexandria, participating in an system-of-systems integration event. I took the Sony with me and practiced using the camera. Up to this point I've not been particularly pleased with the output from the camera, attributing that to my lack of familiarity with the NEX system. The only way to gain familiarity, and thus satisfactory results, is to practice as much as possible.

Something must be happening because these last few groups of photos are actually beginning to look good. I can still see the flaws from the Sony 18-55mm kit zoom, but they don't bother me anymore. Instead I'm doing something I think I forgot how to do. I'm standing back and looking at the whole picture. And when I do I find the flaws disappear and I like the kind of photos the NEX-5N is capable of producing. I like them very much.
Whether taken during the day or after dark, the photos turn out rather well. Part if this comes from working with the various features …

At Work with Linux: Back to Fedora 17 and WiFi Now Works

Well, I'm back to Fedora 17. I've learned a lot these past two days, and I managed to get WiFi working. You know what the problem was? Are you ready for this? Are you sitting down?

The bloody external switch was off. Yes, off.

When I bothered to look at the side of the notebook and saw the state of the switch I could have screamed. I had basically forgotten that it was even there. I looked at my E6510 that runs Windows 7 Enterprise, and yes, the switch enables WiFi. And of course it works. But the switch on the side of the E6510 I've been installing various Linux distributions on, it was disabled (red showing on the switch). As soon as I turned it on the WiFi icon changed state on the panel. And it found all the local WiFi hotspots. And I was able to log in just like I log in for every device in this house, from Windows notebook to Apple Macbook to smartphone and all the various Barnes & Noble tablets. And WiFi under Fedora 17 on the E6510 with Centrino 6300 WiFi is r…

At Work with Linux: openSUSE 12.2 + Cinnamon on a Latitude E6510

I've been spending far too much time with this over the weekend, but then, I figure why not. This is one of the few times I can install Linux distributions with impunity. So I grabbed a DVD ISO of the latest openSUSE, version 12.2.

Funnily enough I installed the Gnome 3 desktop (Gnome 3.6 according to the openSUSE site) rather than the KDE desktop. After messing with the latest Gnome 3 desktop while I had Fedora running I actually liked the underlying technology, if not the visible implementation. When openSUSE finished installing I found I liked it's implementation a bit more than Fedora's, primarily for such little touches as a computer shutdown entry on the far upper right drop-down user menu.

In the end I would up installing Cinnamon 1.6.1 as my desktop. I would have done the same under Fedora 17, something I'd already said I would in an earlier post. With Cinnamon I finally have a desktop with a minimal touch that reminds me a bit of the Metro desktop and Google …

At Work with Linux: Fedora 17 on a Latitude E6510 (UPDATED)

I spent the majority of last week at an integration event. Part of the toolkit I took with me was a Dell Latitude E6510 with RHEL 6.3 installed. Running on top of that was VMware Player to host several VMs that ran additional systems as part of the event. I'd also installed Google's exfat driver to support a 64GB SDXC card and additional drivers from EPEL to support a 500GB LaCie external drive formated as NTFS. It was a decent enough system, and certainly supported the integration event to a very successful conclusion.

When I got back home, however, I wanted a more advanced kernel on the notebook, one that had a chance of supporting the E6510's wifi wireless chipset. The older driver under RHEL couldn't see it (or I never saw it with the tools), so I installed Fedora 17 to get at least the drivers installed. Sure enough, dmesg logs that the Intel wifi chipset was found and enabled on boot:

[ 5.406423] iwlwifi 0000:03:00.0: loaded firmware version build 2…

Toronto 9 September 2012

Subtitle: Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

I have several thousand photos from the September 2012 Road Trip stashed in my digital shoe box. When I remember to do it I go back and rummage about in there, looking and being reminded of that intense two week trip up to Toronto and back. Today I looked at a few of the 9 September photos that were taken that day with Matthew, Penny, and Judy about. The first three in this sequence were taken at the 2012 Cabbagetown Festival. The last four were taken after dinner at the By The Way Cafe. After we finished our excellent meal we walked slowly down Bloor Street for a ways while attempted a bit of very amateur street photography. Nothing matches the charm and rich cultural texture of a sophisticated urban center like downtown Toronto. Orlando, unfortunately, doesn't have that.
While the subtitle could refer to Toronto, it was written more with my NEX 5N experiences in mind. While there's a lot to like about the 5N, and it has feature…

At the hospital


I'm going through pre-op right now (blood, x-rays) for a new awesome cyborg left knee replacement on November 2nd. I've been living with this gimpy human left knee for over a year. Last November it went to hell in a hand basket right after I flew up to Ann Arbor on a business trip. The weekend after I returned I wound up in an emergency room unable to really use the stupid thing. After months of medication and physical therapy it's finally come down to surgery and a partial knee replacement. Today I drove to Dr. P. Phillips hospital with my scripts and my NEX 5N with an OM 2.8/28mm to take care of everything.

The original scripts had me going to Quest Diagnostics here in Orlando for the blood work. I've been to Quest in the past and I've not been particularly happy. To walk into a Quest is to walk into a location that looks like it's seen better days. Dirty carpets, stained furniture, scruffy walls. It makes me wonder if I'll catch something like M…

The camera Olympus should have made

About a week ago a NEX-5N arrived at the house with just the stock 18-55mm kit zoom. Today I finally received a Fotodiox OM-NEX lens adapter so that I could use my OM lenses with my NEX-5N. In order to use my manual focus OM film-era lenses with the 5N and the adapter I had to enable Release w/o Lens under Menu | Setup. I then selected Peaking Level of High and a Peaking Color of Red in the Setup menu. And then I went back to shooting raw.

Unless the subject is colored red, focus peaking works a treat with the 5N. This is the one feature above all others I would have liked Olympus to have added to its digital cameras, especially the Pens. I managed, after a fashion, to learn how to manually focus my OMs with my Pens (E-P2, E-PL1 and E-PL2), but it was a slow process. With the 5N focus peaking system, correct focus is absolute and certain, and for me at least a lot faster.

I've also noticed another feature I appreciate on the 5N, and that's its minimal lag when pressing the shu…

Learning how to play again

Doctor morning for my wife and I. I went to my doctor in preparation for a partial left knee replacement to take place the beginning of November. I then went straight from there to the hospital where they discharged my wife. She's home trying to learn how to live with her right arm strapped down while her shoulder heals. It's been interesting.

Two photos out of many taken with the 5N today in between running errands. Still digging into the menus and features, trying to really understand what the 5N can produce. The top photo was taken with the cameras "rich black and white" setting, while the bottom was taken with the Picture Effect's Pop Color. Both where taken in the very late evening while I was out back grilling chicken for supper. What did I learn from today's impromptu lessons?
I love shooting at ISO 3200 with impunity, especially with the kit zoom. I've never felt that way with the Olympus cameras. Either I used a fast lens (M.Zuiko 1.8/45mm or Lum…

NEX 5N Experimenting with HDR, Panorama...

Another trip to the hospital to see my wife and check up on her after her surgery. She now has a new right shoulder. Unfortunately she'll have her right arm strapped down for a few weeks after being released. Afterwards she's hopeful she'll have her old Olympic softball pitching arm back. I told her to wait until spring training and then we'll find out.

After leaving the hospital I went back into downtown for a little more shutter therapy for me and a bit of experimentation with more of the 5N's built-in features. This time I was playing around with it's in-camera HDR and panorama capabilities.

Based on what I came away with today, Sony's implemented HDR with subtlety in mind. Which is a bit surprising, considering the 5N is aimed at the enthusiast consumer. I had expected the HDR feature to be more garish in nature, but it appears to be implemented with a photographer's eye. The top photo shows what happens after in-camera HDR is applied. Detail in th…

NEX 5N Experimenting with Anti Motion Blur

I've been tinkering with the settings on the 5N in an effort to clean up the blurring I found earlier today on the outer edges of all my images. I have configured four camera parameters under Menu | Setup:

Steady Shot: - Off (note IS is lens based, not body based)Lens Comp.: Shading - AutoLens Comp.: Chro. Aber. - Auto (chromatic aberration correction auto)Lens Comp.: Distortion - Auto I'm turning Steady Shot off to see if it's actually causing issues with the lens. I've seen Olympus IBIS cause problems as well, and I've turned it off on the E-PL1. Unfortunately, when putting the camera into Anti Motion Blur mode it automatically turns Steady Shot back on again. When you press the shutter the 5N fires off six sucessive intermediate exposures, then blends them in-camera into a single final exposure. This is meant to reduce or remove (if possible) the effects of hand-held motion as well as the effects of high ISO noise. According to the EXIF data on the image, the te…

First attempt at using the Sony

Very early this morning (even earlier than necessary because it's a weekend) I dropped my wife off at the local hospital to have her shoulder operated on. After checking her in I drove back a short distance into the center of town and where the new Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is being built. This was dawn, with the sun just coming up over the horizon.
Not much to write about, but these are my impressions out shooting:

After taking 95 photos the battery had dropped to 85%. As a rough order of measure it looks like I will probably get at least 500 photos/battery charge based on how I was photographing this morning. I'm really going to need extra batteries, and probably the higher capacity Wasabi.When I got out I wanted to set the ISO. That's when I found out my soft buttons had been reset back to their defaults. So I spent five minutes or so fumbling through the menu system to set them back. Then I went to ISO 100.After the first dozen or so photos I put the …

There's now a Sony in the house

Sony dropped the price of the NEX 5N with kit lens low enough that I finally opened my wallet and purchased a copy. I have read many reviews and seen the results of using this camera and I have been favorably impressed. What finally convinced me to purchase the 5N was an event in Toronto back on the September road trip. I was up at Casa Loma with Matthew Robertson when a vacationing family asked me to take a group photo of them with the castle in the background. It was the silver NEX 5 with the kit zoom.

Once I had the camera in my hands it took me all of about 30 seconds to figure out the general control layout, make sure it was set up properly and then trip the shutter. I flipped up the rear display so I could drop the camera down to about chest level and get a better view of the castle behind the family. I liked the way the kit lens zoomed and the way it locked focus. I especially liked the sound of the shutter. I came away from that moment realizing that blindly culling anything …

Light in the Darkness


The Trip

This weekend was another world-wind trip, from Orlando to Gainesville to Tallahassee on Saturday and then back home again today. We hired the same house sitter we'd used on our road trip so that we could leave the Labs and make as efficient use off our limited travel time as possible; that means very few stops along the way and thus the shortest travel times possible.

The biggest amount of work was in Tallahassee. We transported a queen-sized bed purchased at the Orlando IKEA up to daughter #2. To get it there I had to put down the right back seat and push the front passenger seat up as far as possible. There was enough room to put everything in. My wife and I sat on the driver side. In spite of all that material loaded in the Prius, we still managed 52MPG, which is more than double what the much older Kia Sedona van was able to get when it was brand new. Granted, the van was much larger, and had a much larger engine (3.5L vs the Prius' 1.8L engine), but times have certainly …

The Beard

I have been nurturing a bit of facial hair since the start of last September's two week road trip. After a little more than a month I am, according to my wife, beginning to look more and more like a cross between a Viking, Ernest Hemingway, and Robert E. Lee.

There is, however, one other late figure of note I think I'm beginning to show some degree of similarity to: Stanley Kubrick. In his later years Mr. Kubrick had a full rich beard and thinning hairline, much like me.

The only difference between him and I is, well, he's well known for cinematic masterpieces such as Sparticus, Dr. Strangelove, 2001, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, The Shining, and Full Metal Jacket, to name but a few. All nominated and/or won Oscars, BAFTAs, and Golden Globes.

And I'm most certainly not.

What got me started thinking about Kubrick tonight were two science fiction movies, 2001 and Spielberg's film, A. I. Artificial Intelligence, a film Kubrick wanted to direct but never did, and…

The Florida Economy and Presidential Politics

You're looking at two recently deceased businesses on I-10 at exit 262 north bound on County Road 255 to Lee, Florida, one directly across the other. I found these quite by accident when I pulled off of I-10 to switch driving with my wife.

I say recently deceased because there's very little wear on the businesses. While I was standing there trying to photograph Kounty Kitchen Restaurant a relative of the former owner drove up in his truck to ask if I was interested in buying the business. When I told him "No" he grew a bit disappointed, said goodbye, and drove on. This is indicative of what I continue to see, small businesses all over that are being shuttered, one by slow steady one, while both political parties continue to dither over a solution. I find the unemployment statistic of "only" 7.8% to be something close to obscene. No, I don't believe the numbers were manipulated by the president. Yes, I do find 7.8% just as depressing as any of the prior…

My Visit to Toronto

Yes, you're looking at your's truly in Toronto, taken by Matthew Robertson and posted on his Five Thousand Photos project here and here. The photo at the top shows me with my one week old beard and shooting with the E-PL2. The bottom shows my hands and my walking stick to help compensate for my gimpy left knee. In both instances I am holding my camera in what one Austin wag refers to as the "stinky diaper" method. I find the large LCD on the back something of a boon, especially with my aging and heavily corrected eyesight.

So what Pulitzer quality photos did I take? Feast your eyes...
What's interesting (to me) is I was waiting for the Canon photographer to back up and take his photograph so I could photograph him photographing, much in the same way that Matthew photographed me photographing the scene. The Sunday scene was taken at twilight, right after the sun set, so I wanted to capture some of that atmosphere. I don't know why I took the upper photo, I gu…

A Change in Attitude Towards the Nikon D600

I'm writing this post for two reasons: (1) because 47 minutes into the first presidential debate I got so sick of Romney's smug smile and babbling answers (as well as his flip-flops on a number of key issues) that I turned off the tube panel, and (2) earlier in the evening I'd stopped by the Best Buy at the Mall at Millenia to handle a Nikon D600, and came away totally turned off to the camera.

The Nikon D600 is not worth $2,100. It is the most poorly made camera in that price bracket that I believe I have ever held. The plastic coating is thin and chintzy looking. The pop-up flash should never have been added to the body, as it's thin and flimsy. While I was standing there gently toying with the battery cover it popped off the body into my hand. When I looked at the overall battery compartment I was appalled at the cheesy all-plastic design and construction. I know what some marketing droid at Nikon probably thought: they're going to buy a vertical grip, so why p…

Ybor City

Drove west on I-4 this afternoon to a hotel in Ybor City for a two day conference in Tampa. Got here in the late evening, checked in, and then went out with a Pen and the 25mm for a short walk and a bit of super; what Robin Wong refers to as "shutter therapy."

Caddy-cornered from the hotel is a gentrified, Disneyesque section called Centro Ybor (Portuguese for Ybor center). It spans 7th through 9th Avenues, between 15th and 17 Streets. I walked through looking about rather quickly, until I reached 7th Avenue and then began to walk west. That's when I started to see far more interesting things. I grabbed a few photos in the dying evening light, then headed back to my hotel, stopping along the way to enjoy a pretty good supper at the Tampa Bay Brewing Company inside Centro Ybor. Tomorrow is the first of two intense days of work. It starts early but ends early, so maybe I can capture a bit more that's interesting of Tampa and Ybor City, at least from my perspective.