Caution Children

A sign at the entrance to my estate warns motorists to watch out for children playing on the street.

Just to prove that you don’t need a big digital SLR to take interesting photos, this was taken with my Panasonic FZ5. I saw the great cloudscape in the sky and illuminated the sign with the onboard flash.

Alcatraz Staircase

A lonely staircase on Alcatraz is off-limtis to tourists but not to the eye of my camera.

Sailing In San Francisco

A yacht sails past the waterfront in San Francisco Bay. There was plenty of activity on the waters with ferries, yachts, kite surfers and even helicopters fly overhead.

We’ve got your picture, now what’s your name?

RTE Radio 1’s Flux ran a programme on the treatment of a community following the death of a woman and her two sons in Firhouse, Co Dublin. last year.

Local community members were interviewed almost a year later by Flux to find out how journalists and photographers treated them. Some of the stories are shocking, others have been discounted as pure fantasy, and the newspapers are defended by a member of staff from the Irish Daily Mail.

I’m writing this from memory because the sound on my desktop box is broken and the sound on my Macbook is just too low for comfort. I used mplayer to record the stream using the following command, mplayer rtsp://streaming2.rte.ie/2007/0129/29012007rte-flux.rm -novideo -ao pcm. That dumps the realaudio stream to a file called audiodump.wav. I wish mencoder worked on audio streams…

It’s well worth a listen though.

Corrugated Prison Roof

Visitors to Alcatraz Island walk about on the broad path up to the main prison building.

Some of the buildings on the island are in a bad state of repair, lacking everything but the brick walls that stand like a whitewashed skeletons. This building is about halfway up the hill and in much better condition.

Alcatraz Tower and Prison

The prison tower and buildings of Alcatraz provide a stark welcome for visitors to the former penitentiary.

Despite my close investigation, the tower in this picture was off limits. Pity, because I bet there’d be a great view from up there!

This old skool Flickr user doesn’t care

From: FlickrHQ
Subject: Update for Old Skool members

Dear Old Skool Account-Holding Flickr Member,

On March 15th we’ll be discontinuing the old email-based Flickr sign in system. From that point on, everyone will have to use a Yahoo! ID to sign in to Flickr.

It seems that everyone is up in arms about recent changes at Flickr:

  • Flickr and Yahoo! accounts must be merged into a Yahoo! login. If you have multiple Flickr account then you’re logging in and out of Flickr all the time, now do it with Yahoo! Surely you do most of your Flickr work in one account anyway, so why not make that the one your main Yahoo! account?
  • Tags and Contacts are going to be limited. I see that this would affect a tiny minority of the userbase on Flickr, unfortunately for Flickr it’s likely to be the most active (and vocal?) membership. I also feel for Thomas with his Where I’ve Been Lately image because a lot of those tags will be removed but does anyone else have more than 75 legitimate tags on a photo? I’m sure I only have 15 at most on mine. Limiting contacts will hurt the most prolific users of the site such as Thomas Hawk, but others are probably just spamming the system.

Yes, the changes to tags and contacts will hurt a tiny minority but for almost everyone on the site it won’t make any difference. Yes, the change to using Yahoo! IDs will mean Yahoo knows about your photos, but if they know about your email and stock portfolio already what are you worried about? They’ve got more than enough demograpic data to go on to market to you!

Unfortunately I can’t recommend Zooomr either because their service is so slow – images take an age to download, and when they do download, they aren’t cached by the browser. It’s really frustrating using Zooomr.com when it’s so slow as it has so much potential and the people behind it are so smart and full of ideas! Fix the slow connection, caching and add a “blog by email” feature and I’d be over to Zooomr faster than you can say “Flickr sucks!”

There are plenty of pissed off Flickr users, but I’m not one of them. Have a nice day!

Update: Treasa is as upset as I am! Oh Lordy!

Update 2: Richard isnt worried either. Definitely a storm in a teacup.

Cobh at sunset

The tide is out in Cobh, Co. Cork while the sun sets in the west casting an orange glow over the water and boats in the harbour.

Method
This required some work to expose properly. The sky is bright while the harbour, houses and landscape are in shadow. Out with the layers, top layer for the sky was darkened and the opposite was done for the ground.
Then it’s the simple task of adding a layer mask to the top layer and rubbing out the dark bits to expose the brightened landscape.
When using a layer mask, never paint with an opacity of 100%, try 30% or even 5%. Don’t be afraid to do a rough job of exposing the bottom layer because with a layer mask you can always reverse the procedure by swapping the colour of your brush with an opposite colour!

Thank you all for the comments on yesterday’s post, The Lonely Swan, it’s great to get feedback and I’m glad when people get something out of my methods when I describe them. See what you’ve done? I did it again!

The lonely swan

A solitary swan swims on the calm waters of The Lough as the sun disappears at the end of the day.

Believe it or not, this is a 10 second exposure that turned out much better than I could have hoped! I balanced my camera on the edge of the Lough, set it to Aperture priority mode at f/11, dialed the exposure down two stops, flipped up the camera flash and took the shot.

How does this work?

  • By setting the aperture to a fairly high value little light is let into the camera sensor.
  • By setting the exposure down two stops the whole scene will be underexposed but bright areas will be exposed mostly correctly.
  • Given the above settings, any dark moving objects will be completely invisible so when the flash fired it picked out the swan swimming past and even created a nice reflection in the water.

Hope that helps!