Swamp-raiding weekend

Went for a doggy walk in the woods this weekend with hopes to take some autumn nature pictures at the same time too. Ended up in a small swamp crouching over an old rotten birch tree, trying to make a photo out of it. So I finally got to this:

Turned around and there was Terra, my swamp raider, staring and wondering what on earth I am up to for so long...

She ended up posing for the best picture of the day :)

On the way home found a tree that actually still had leaves on! A photo of some nice yellow blur came from that

I don't normally post-process my pictures so much, but the first two above got a bit abused with a couple of new plugins for Bibble I had installed recently. Various layer blending modes, different opacity settings, extra blur and even my website address added on to the photo directly in Bibble.

There is a whole community building plugins for Bibble 5, but it is quite scattered and unorganized... Already started writing about the plugins I use, so a separate article is coming soon as one of the Friday posts about photographers life with Linux.

By the way, the good old Nikon D70s is starting to fool around :(  The DOF preview button closes the mirror, no matter what f number is set. Viewfinder goes pitch black as of today... And the auto focus misses sometimes completely in some weird manner... It's been almost 5 years now... Hope the new camera will be at least as good!

Weekend over. Back to life...

Beefing up the hardware

Last Friday I mentioned that I upgraded the hardware of my photo PC a bit. And it feels like such a good bit!

First it's the processing speed. Surely the 4 new cores feel like lightning compared to the old Intel Celeron driven laptop. Especially when using Bibble 5 as it can utilize all 4 of the cores, which means it is 4 times faster already. Batch processing will never be the same again :) Add 4GB of memory to that computing power and my relatively small NEFs from D70s are digested in under a second each (yes yes, depending on how heavy the post-work is)! That is 0.8s now compared to around 8s before! Obviously the new CPU helps reduce photo editing time as well because any change that I make to a picture in Bibble is instantly reflected on screen without no delay what so ever. Even layer masking (not one of Bibbles strongest points, imho) is much easier and workable now. That is a sweet deal right there.

In addition to the CPU power I got better storage. Now the PC is running on two mirrored hard drives which means that both are identical copies of each other, they hold exactly same information and if one HDD breaks down physically there is still the other one to work with. This mirroring into two hard drives is called RAID 1.

To solve potential software-failure-related data loss I do manual backups to an external USB HDD. I never bothered to find any software to do backups for me... Maybe I should. Will update if I ever get around to it. For now I just try to keep a clean and easy to maintain folder structure.

It did not work out to install the PC from the same USB memory stick as I used to install Fedora 13 on my laptop. This is more related to funky (incompetent) hardware (or me not knowing what I'm doing...). Maybe with time computers will get better in recognizing the USB drives at boot time. For now we deal with what we have and just burn ourselves a good old CD.

This was the second computer I installed Fedora 13 on. Again- no problems. As mentioned last week, there was an additional challenge to get the NVidia graphics adapter working 100% correctly, but just something I've never done before, not a bug or problem.

Now I feel comfortable enough to say- get your latest version of Fedora from here:

I can not realy put my finger on it, but it somehow feels good, this whole thing with moving away from Windows to open source. It will probably sound way too geeky, but I feel like home when I sit infront of my PC now :)


Slow crop in Bibble 5

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that Bibble 5 interface was a bit slow and jerky when using the crop tool under Linux (Fedora 13 in my case). A bit more digging arround pointed to a newer version of Bibble that has this issue solved, so for those of you trying out RAW photo editing on Linux today, just be sure to install the latest version, get it directly from BibbleLabs download page and you should be fine.

Yes, I said 'should' once again. Because it did not help me whole 100%. I have learned that built-in graphics drivers for Linux are not that great (still better than the default delivered by M$! :p ) and that I need to install proper driver for the GeForce 8800 GTX (jep, I did upgrade my hardware a bit, so no more slow laptop! But that's a post for another Friday ;) ). The newer graphics cards from NVidia have good support for Linux. Just check out their homepage for details. Fedora users are able to install the drivers via Add/Remove Programs; Just search for NVidia.

After installing the latest version of NVidia drivers s**t realy hit the fan. Now all of the XWindows got hanging when I was using Bibble... Or even try to open a youtube page in the browser... Did not find anything specific for my graphics card, but gave a shot adding a parameter to the kernel settings:


Add the above to your kernel configuration in /boot/grub/grub.conf file.

No idea what this thingie does as I just found it on some forum as a suggestion to solve simmilar interminent crashes for a different NVidia card, but it surely worked for me! No more crashing no matter how hard I abuse the GeForce!

So Linux does have some buggers hanging loose still... I did need to poke around to get things smooth. In any case, I am happy all of that is over now and I can live happily ever after. Or wait... I can't print on-line any more like I used to...Nothing major, but some strange Java plugin failing... More on this next time.

Need some color in this gray n dull post... A shot of a lovely sunset this autumn:

Surely the photo was processed under Linux with Bibble 5 B-D Except for the watermark that was added with the GIMP... can't get the Bibble watermark plugin to work :(

Have fun ;)

When you screw that pooch...

Dorit Chrysler was not the only concert I visited last week. Youngfuck and Leidi Misterie had a performance at Cafe Berlin on Thursday. The day I have learned that NOT always can you pull it off with just a kit lens and ambient light.

There were just a couple of small bulbs and a visual installation through out that dark cellar... So I ended up with some seriously "artistic" (read that how you wish...) pictures.

Youngfuck- shot over 40 frames from the same position before someone stepped in front of me:

And then my blurrastrophy with Leidi Misterie:

You know that feeling when you look at the pictures on a big monitor for the first time and start feeling your guts turn inside-out? That was exactly this time. Well, the bad result was visible even on the small LCD really, but I had to make sure...

Anyhow- lesson learned:
1. No more 'traveling light' to new places. Carry the flashes, be there early to have setup time;
2. Every f stop counts. The f3.5 to f4.5 of my kit lens is just not going to work (some times), no matter how many frames I shoot... Even setting sensitivity to ISO 1600 on a D70s (jep, I humiliated myself that much) will not save my ar**. Maybe a Nikkor 50mm f1.4? Or maybe I'm old enough for a D700 with 24-70 f2.8 on it?..

A talk related to messy pics is going on Zack Arias blog. Check out the comments of Blowing it on purpose post :) I do find it strange that he used those pics made by Paolo Roversi to ilustrate 'technically imperfect'... I guess there is some hard to explain fine line between a really cool and failed... I do think that some of my shots like the trumpet player from Bobastian or bass player from Kapten hurricane are artsy fartsy and not perfect in a perfect way :)

I don't get the same feel from the pics from this session at Cafe Berlin though...

Well, already had a better event with Leidi Misterie this Monday at Oceanen. Now just need to catch Youngfuck playing somewhere (where there is light maybe:) ).


ÄNTLIGEN MÅNDAG at Oceanen with Leidi Misterie and Goodland Trio

Finished working on pics from yesterdays concert at Oceanen, Göteborg, where Leidi Misterie and Goodland Trio played some nice music.

Click here for remaining pictures from the evening on my homepage.

Phew, this time there was enough light! One huge stage light. And it was sort of neutral-yellowish color too. Much easier to work with, I must say.

Night ya all ;)

Dorit Chrysler in Göteborg

Last friday Dorit Chrysler visited Göteborg. Folks got warmed up with some beer

and music by Johanna Nordström

Then with Dorit Chrysler on stage I got to see how a theremin works in real life. Now that is one funky contraption! And a funky and visual performance too! A couple of hundred years ago you could get burned for such moves ;-)

Another good night out!

As for the picture taking bit, this place was one of the more challenging... Two harsh beams of light- one blue the other red... Camera meter gone wild... At least the light was stable and was there. Pulled it off with the usual 18-70mm and D70s kit...


The missing piece of Linux puzzle - monitor calibration

When preparing my photographic self for transition to Linux there was this one last thing that was bothering me -  how on earth am I going to calibrate my monitor and will the gods of OSS accept my EIZO-labeled Spyder 3 colorimeter?! Well, worse case, I figured, I'll just find a windows laptop and fix myself an ICC profile on it; never tell anyone and live in shame for the rest of my days.

So, after I installed all of the other tools like Bibble and GIMP and Hugin, I got to work on the colors. First thing I do is plug in the USB cable of my Spyder 3. No whining or crying so far. Then look for some software for it... Initial googling around points to some strange command line tool - Argyll CMS it's called... At this point I am ready to take anything that goes as no page mentions support for Spyder 3 in a positive way.  Go to Add/Remove Software in Fedora System menu, Search for argyll, select both packages and install.

Reading through Linux Photography... Doesn't sound promissing, but I still go for the test:
sudo ./dispcal -v -y l ./test

A root password later I can clearly see that my Spyder 3 is recognized by the system (because Argyll states the device name clearly). The main menu appears and I am ready to rock! This seriously made my day! I was so happy with this whole color calibration working out :D and now I can easily shout out so that anyone can hear it:


Here is a screenshot of my Spyder being abused by Argyll to prove it:

There! And don't let the lack of info be misleading. It does work and it works like a charm!

The whole process of creating an accurate ICC profile for your monitor is described by Linux Photography in here. Yes, a lot of reading, but it will also allow you to understand better the process behind creation of the ICC profile.

The only thing that I would like to add to above post from LP is that there is a strange bug in the tool and when it says 'Press any key to continue' it actually means pres Enter. Took a while to get there as I was hitting a spacebar and was being kicked out of the program for a couple of minutes :)

OK, hopefully by now you have an ICC profile file. You need to add it to Bibble, GIMP and set it as the default system profile for this monitor.

System->Preferences->Color Management
Select the active monitor, click the dropdown menu to select the profile and choose Other profile... Find the file you have just created with Argyll CMS. Done with system default.

Bibble should automatically find the system default profile. Note the word should. Even BibbleLabs say that it's well worth the hassle to point out the same file one more time for the tool, just to be sure.

GIMP will not even try to find the profile, so jump into Edit->Preferences->Color Management and point the Monitor Profile to the ICC you've created.

For browsing the calibrated internet I use Firefox. Install 'Color Management' extension and point it to your newly created monitor profile. Restart Firefox and all photos you see will be as real as they can be! You can now try it out by exporting a raw picture from Bibble to JPEG and opening it in Firefox. What you see in Bibble should be almost identical to what you see in Firefox.

Seems like we're done now! All colors calibrated, tools set up and ready to go!

Enjoy your accurate colors ;)

Stitching panoramas with Hugin under Linux

If you are one of the panorama folks trying to move off to Linux, you'll surely like to try out Hugin panorama stitcher (it does work on other platforms too, so Win and Mac users could make use of it just as well!).

As you know I have migrated to Linux some weeks ago therefore I will only talk about Hugin on Fedora 13 and no other platform (all flavors of Linux act in a similar fashion). The only thing to get done before starting with Hugin is to install autopano-sift-C package. The trick to it is that it is not available in the standard repository of Fedora. So, first install RPM Fusion from here. After that is done you should be able to go to System->Administration->Add/Remove software and search for 'autopano'. Select the package, install. Now search for Hugin, select it, install. And now you are all set and ready to go! You can find Hugin under Applications->Graphics menu.

After starting up, you land in Assistant tab. This is all I used to create the above image out of 4 tiff files. So you click '1. Load images...' select all the files that should be included and click Open. For verification it should display how many images you have selected, what focal length was used and the crop factor.

Also button '2. Align...' becomes active. Click it and Hugin will pick up all the control points that will be used to stitch the pictures together. A new window opens up. Here the only thing needed for a quick startup is the Crop tab. Choose that and click Autocrop button. Worked great for me! If it fails for you just readjust manually.

Close the Align window and click button '3. Create panorama...'. Specify the output file name and click Save.

Congrats, you have just finished your very first Hugin panorama.

There are tons of more advanced options and possibilities in Hugin but more on those some other time!

A geek note- all 4 pictures taken hand-held with D70s and Nikkor 70-300 lens on an amazing evening in Swedish west coast.

Keep shooting!