Photo Frame with Copyright Message in the GIMP

It’s about time I released this script. I announced last December I had written a script for the GIMP to create the border and copyright message seen on my photos here.

Previously I used a 704×490 empty image with the border and message (and a similar image for portrait shots). That was fine for uncropped images but if the width by height ratio was different I had to edit the frame and resize bits. Took ages.

This script creates a thin black border around the image, then adds a white border at the bottom. Finally the copyright text and url are printed in the white border.
Border and text sizes are hard coded but the script will work for any size image. Currently they’re more suitable for the web size images uploaded here.

Looking for the script? Download copyright-frame.scm and copy into .gimp-2.6/scripts/ and start GIMP. The script adds a menu item at “Image->Filters/Decor/Copyright Photo Frame…” The script is based on one written by Alexios Chouchoulas and distributed as part of the GIMP FX Foundary.

When you run the script the border and message is added without further interaction. A dialog to modify the hard coded size values isn’t really necessary because the images I upload are all around the same size. Clicking “OK” each time the script runs is hardly productive. If you want to modify the values, you’ll have to edit the script.
To change the size of the text, look for

(TextLayer (car (gimp-text-fontname inImage -1 (- theWidth 230) (- theHeight 18) “Donncha O Caoimh, http://inphotos.org/” 0 TRUE 11 PIXELS “Sans”)))

230: the number of pixels from the right where the message starts.
18: pixels from the bottom of the image where the top of the message hits.
11: size of the font used for the message.
Change the copyright message to suit your own circumstances.

To change the size of the white bottom border, look for the code (+ theHeight 23) and change 23.

If you use this script please link back here. I’d love to see what’s done with it!

Who gets the free prints?

A few days ago I offered visitors to my blog the chance to win free prints of any of my images. I’m very happy with the response. 27 entries but alas there can only be 2 winners.

So, who wins the free prints? I’m delighted to say that Claire gets the mounted print, and Debbie gets the laminated print. I’ll be in touch later to discuss what photo you want and sort out delivery details. Congratulations to both of you!

(And thank you Mark for helping me pick the winners!)

How I backup my photos

I could go into some of the horror stories about photos I’ve lost or about how a disk crashed just before I copied the files off, but we’ve all been in that situation where we’ve lost important stuff when a disk decided to go belly up.
This might not be of much use to you if you don’t use Linux but bare with me. Some of the ideas might help keep your photos safe.

I use two Iomega 1TB external drives. They’re USB 2.0 drives so not the fastest things in the world but they do. The RAW files from the Canon 40D are noticeably slower loading obviously but not excessively so. Ironically, I bought a laptop because my desktop machine was so noisy, but the fans in those external drives are almost as noisy as my old computer!


Two external drives, earlier today.

Drive one is where I archive my photos for long term storage. Brand new, hot out of the camera photos are copied to the internal disk on my laptop but that only has 60GB free so I move photos manually every few months to Drive one. This drive is also where I store any other files, my music collection, videos I shoot. Anything really.

Drive two is my backup drive. I use Backuppc to do incremental backups every day. It backs up:

  1. All my websites through ssh.
  2. My home directory on my laptop with brand new photos, Thunderbird mail directory, Firefox and everything else.
  3. I used to backup my Macbook but that took too long over the local WiFi connection so I don’t keep anything irreplaceable on that.

What about backing up my photo archive on Drive one? Instead of Backuppc I use rsync to copy the first drive to the second one every night. This command, placed in /etc/cron.daily/backup (and made executable with chmod a+x backup) will do the trick. It copies any new or modified files from disk one to my backup disk.

rsync -a /media/one/ /media/backup/

I use rsync because it’s simpler than Backuppc and I don’t need incremental backups of the data there. Any photos that are modified are copied to new files anyway, rendering increments useless. Rsync is also available on Mac OS X, and there’s also Unison that runs on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows and does the same job.

Backuppc can be installed from rpm or on Debian based systems using apt-get or aptitude. It’s a Unix based backup solution but can backup systems running many other operating systems such as Windows and Mac OS X. It has a simple to use web gui for administering backups. The only downside is configuration which can be daunting as it requires editing of config files and setting up remote hosts if necessary. On the up side, there’s plenty of documenation and it’s well worth trying if you want an automated system you can trust.

Disk capacity is another issue, but as I store all my files in dated folders my photo archive only grows in one area: the folder for the current year. If I run out of disk space I’ll buy another disk or replace an existing drive with a larger one. I could go down the RAID or LVM route but I don’t want to complicate things. If my current drives last that long, I’ll replace both after 2 years. Disks always break sooner or later.

So how do you backup your photos? If you’ve blogged about it, please leave a link to the post. I’m always trying to improve my own system!

Aperture ƒ/5.6
Camera Canon EOS 40D
Focal length 72mm
ISO 400
Shutter speed 1/60s

Jetman Yves Rossy lands, who is the photographer?

Matt reminded my wife that the National Geographic Channel were showing the Jetman documentary last weekend. Yves Rossy flew across the English Channel from France to the UK last week while strapped to a rocket powered wing. I finally got to watch it last night and enjoyed it immensely. It’s a great achievement. Slightly mad perhaps, and very risky, but I have one question though.

Jetman
Who is this photographer who managed to get snapshots of Yves seconds after he landed? I’d say it’s a compact camera he has in his hand so he’s not a pro, and the commentator was heard to say something like, “close friends are running up to..”

Jetman
Seconds later, a security guard rushed up and pushed the photographer away and that was the last we saw of him. Was he arrested?

The next scene was a crowd of press photographers, with DSLRs and video cameras pushing around Yves. I bet they’d have given anything to get a close up shot of the Jetman landing..

More details and a video can be found in this Times article.

Aperture ƒ/2.8
Camera N73
Focal length 5.6mm
ISO 125
Shutter speed 1/53s

The Curves Tool

The curves tool is a very basic tool that can be used to improve photos with a few clicks of the mouse. It is used to change the brightness and contrast of an image. It can also modify the separate Red, Green and Blue channels of an image too. The Curves Tool has a histogram to represent the shadow, midtone and highlight detail in the image. In the GIMP, you access it by right clicking on an image and go to Colors->Curves.

This is the second article in my GIMP for Photographers series, but as usual, all of this applies to Photoshop, or any other image application with a Curves Tool. The first tutorial was on The Levels Tool, and worth a read if you missed it!

Here’s an image I shot at the Lord Mayor’s Picnic in Fitzgerald’s Park a few months ago, and the Curve Tool below it. Notice the histogram? The photo is fairly well exposed, but some highlights are “clipped”, as the histogram hits right hand side without sloping off.


Brightening Curve

It’s easy to brighten an image. Just drag points on the line up.


Darkening Curve

Now, let’s darken the image by dragging points down.


Contrast Curve

A classic use of the Curves Tool is to increase contrast in an image. You do this by darkening the shadows, and brightening the highlights. The curve looks sort of like an “S” when you do this. Don’t go overboard on this though, because it’s easy to lose detail in either direction.


If for some reason your image has too much contrast, a quick inverted S curve will solve that problem,


Wacky Colours

You can select any of the Red, Green and Blue channels and do strange things to your photos. Here’s what happens when you play with the Red Channel.


And here’s what happens when you change multiple colour channels in different ways.

Colour Picker

After you have opened the Curves Tool, click anywhere in the image. Notice how a vertical line goes up and down the histogram/line? That vertical line is the colour of the pixel where you clicked. That can be useful if you’re trying to modify a particular part of a photo. This is what you get when you click on the black coat on the left of the image above.

Aperture ƒ/6.3
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 18mm
ISO 200
Shutter speed 1/250s

What! The Canon EOS 50D announced already?

Yes, yes, boo hoo, oh woe is me, my Canon 40D arrived on the day the new Canon 50D was announced. If only I had waited, my photos would be so much better with the Canon 50D.

Yeah right. I’ve already stated before that the equipment behind the camera is the most important part of image making. Sure, the camera does matter, but DSLRs are getting to the stage PCs got to a few years ago. Upgrading doesn’t significantly change the game. I’ll upgrade again in maybe 3 years. No rush.

The Canon 50D looks sweet though. 15MP sensor, better ISO, better LCD. Nice upgrade. Roland has linked to a few of the sites previewing or discussing the Canon 50D. The Rob Galbraith page is probably the most readable, but the DPReview preview has a neat comparison table to compare the Canon 50D with the Canon 40D.

DIGIC 4 processor Canon’s next-generation, 14-bit DIGIC 4 processor see its debut in the 50D, and it offers both more functionality and about 30% faster processing speed than the DIGIC III processor in the 40D….

The two cameras’ dimensions, body style and control positions are also the same (though the 50D is fractionally lighter). In a nutshell, the 50D appears to be a 40D with a higher-resolution sensor, revamped image processing, faster CompactFlash write speeds, HDMI video out and a crisp new rear LCD.


Love this pic of the motherboard with the DIGIC 4 processor!

GIMP FX Foundary is a massive GIMP plugin archive

I’m surprised I haven’t blogged about The GIMP FX Foundary before. It’s a huge collection of GIMP plugins that have been updated to work with the latest GIMP.

All the plugins were already available in the GIMP Plugin registry or elsewhere but not all of them survived the changes to Scheme in the latest versions of GIMP. I downloaded these plugins ages ago and recently grabbed the updated tarball with over 100 plugins. You’ll see the results of those plugins over the next few weeks as I play around with settings and effects.

I could go on and on about it, but why bother? It’s a small download and free so why not grab the zip file yourself?

Spencer Tunick photoshoot in Blarney Co. Cork, Ireland

As luck would have it, one of the more famous or perhaps notorious photographers of our time, Spencer Tunick, is shooting in Blarney, where I live, tomorrow morning.

Update on Jun 8th, 2009 – I’ve justed posted a small gallery of Spencer Tunick photos as his website is down.

It’s no great secret now, even Ray D’Arcy revealed the location on his radio programme this morning. He’ll be revealing a lot more in a few hours time.. Anyway, it all happens very early in the morning, at a time when most sensible people will be snuggled up in bed and that probably includes me. If I do feel the urge to visit Blarney Castle at dawn I’m sure all I’ll photograph will be groups of dazed and tired volunteers stumbling from buses, full clothed. I have no desire to shoot any naked skin.

Spencer – if you’re reading this, I’d love to go to shoot a portrait of yourself, and perhaps grab an autograph!

There are lots of people looking for Spencer Tunick’s Blarney photoshoot!

Monotone: WordPress Photoblog Theme

Monotone is a pretty cool photoblog theme for WordPress that’s been around for a few months now. Unfortunately it was only available on WordPress.com, and through the Automattic Subversion repository as reported by Jeff on Weblog Tools Collection.

Noel Jackson, the author of the theme, recently revealed that Monotone is now available as a .zip download on the Monotone demo page above. Now it’s easier for self hosted WordPress blogs to try it!

What’s so great about Monotone? It displays a large image in each post like Pixelpost and other photoblog themes, but it does it in a neat way. WordPress allows the blog author to upload and attach images to their posts. It’s then up to the author to insert the image into the post and tidy up the html. Monotone takes this one step further. There’s no need to insert the image into the post at all. The theme takes the first attachment and displays it at the top of the post, with the post content below.

I’d love to use it, but unfortunately I have several years worth of posts that would need to be modified because I used Flickr to host my images until recently. Then I used my own site, but inserted the right html into each post, so they’d all have to be modified unless I hacked the theme to ignore old posts.

RSS feeds display the image too, although I discovered that the feed for the demo site includes some huge images. Probably just an oversight when Noel was uploading images.

Judging by Noel’s comment here, it probably isn’t completely straight forward to install. You probably need the GD library and a hefty server with enough RAM to load and manipulate your images. Anyone tried it? Use my theme tester plugin if you want to test it on your blog without upsetting your visitors!