My Camera In Space

The DSLR camera that I shoot with has been selected to go on the next Space Shuttle mission. Well, not, my camera, but the same model camera that I use, the Olympus E3. Take that, Canikon buying robots!

The E3 was chosen because Olympus’ flagship model was created “to survive the toughest shooting environments”, although its splash- and dust-proof magnesium alloy body is unlikely to be tested on the ISS (unless astronauts are particularly sloppy about their house-keeping).

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Using Aperture With The Olympus E-3

Until Apple supports the Olympus E-3 RAW format directly (via some future OS upgrade) in Aperture, there is a way to use the new Olympus ORF format with Aperture:

  • First, download and install the Adobe DNG Converter.
  • Next copy the ORF files from the camera’s CF card to an export folder on a Mac disk drive.
  • Create a DNG folder under the export folder.
  • Start Adobe DNG Converter and configure it to point at the source (export folder) and destination (DNG folder). If you placed the DNG folder under the export folder, make sure to uncheck the ‘include images contained within subfolders’ option on the source folder.
  • If you find a need to change the file names for the converted files make the changes in the ‘Step 3’ section of the Converter. I went with the defaults, which generates a file with the same name as the original; only with a DNG extension rather than ORF.
  • Click the Convert button.
  • Once the conversion is complete, start Aperture and have it import the DNG folder (not the export folder). If Aperture tells you that you have an unsupported file type it is because you didn’t import the DNG folder.

I have been deleting the DNG files after importing to Aperture and keeping the ORFs because I have been toying with the idea of re-importing them into Aperture when they are directly supported to see if there was any lost in the DNG conversion process.

There you have it, one extra step to be able to use Aperture with the Olympus E-3. Which is much easier and cheaper that switching to Adobe Lightroom, which is what some wags have been recommending.

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Apple Aperture 2.0 Update?

The rumors around Apple software updates have been flying, including a much anticipated (some would say overdue) update to the Aperture photo software. Of course, there was a rumor that Apple were going to release a huge 10.5.2 update last Friday. That update didn’t materialize as planned.

My guess is that we will see both in the coming week as PMA provides the perfect forum for the announcement (and served as the forum for announcing Aperture 1.5). The 10.5.2 update will likely be released at the same time or in advance of Aperture. The key thing about the OS update is that that is how Apple supports new cameras and file formats. This tying of the camera support to the OS release cycle has been a point of bitter grumbling for photographers who like to jump on new cameras as they are first released.

I am hoping for support of the Olympus E-3 in the 10.5.2 update, as well as an announcement from Olympus of a price drop or at least a rebate on the E-3 as I would very much like to upgrade from my existing E-500 before my next trip.

If PMA truly is the backdrop for these announcements, all will be revealed this week.

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Photography Vs Digital Imaging

Reading the product page for the newly announced Photoshop Elements for Mac really drove home the growing divide between photography and digital imaging (which I have commented on before). Just look at the features they are touting:

The ability to make franken-photos by cutting and pasting people an things from a series of photos. I am sure this will come in handy for stalkers everywhere to put themselves in photos with their secret love that never actually happened. Yikes.

And of course, a PS favorite, the ability to change areas of a photo to create colors that didn’t originally exist. Why strive for fidelity in your images when you can turn a sunflower orange and that grey sky blue?

Enhanced ability to create black and whites. This is so overused already because people seem to think that converting an image to B&W instantly gives it some kind of classy/artsy cred that it never had (and never will). It is just annoying.

And my personal favorite: ‘one click adjustments‘. The perfect opportunity to make your pictures look like everyone else’s — not what you actually shot, but what some algorithm thinks is good. No creativity required at all.

Of course, there is nothing to say that you must use PS on your photos. It is just bewildering to me how many people do use it (and abuse it). As one famous professional photographer stated in a podcast (paraphrasing): ‘It is amazing how things have changed. For me the creative process is everything I do before I click the shutter: composition, exposure control, lighting, etc. But today, for most ‘photographers’ the ‘creative’ process starts after they click the shutter…’

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Photography Recognition

This has been an amazing year for my photographic efforts getting some recognition. This is all the more amazing because I don’t really do anything to promote them other than putting photos on flickr for others to see.

First off, I was approached by an editor who saw one of my Alaska pictures on Flickr and asked for permission to have included in a Anchorage travel guide.

Then I was approached by another online travel agent who wanted to use one of my photos from Istanbul in one of their promotions. Unfortunately, due to travel, I wasn’t able to respond in time, but we are still in touch and they are looking for future opportunities to work with me.

Late this summer, I was able to show a few of my photos at a coffee shop on the west side of Cincinnati. This was arranged by a great guy who is one of the members of the Living In Cincinnati group on Flickr. The showing resulted in a woman purchasing a copy of one of my prints. I was blown away and a bit gratified that someone would pay for one of my captures. I donated the proceeds to a local charity as a sort of pay it forward gesture.

Finally, I had one of my shots selected to be included in the Capture Cincinnati photo book. This was a big rush as there are some really great shots in that book. I did think that it was funny that they published the photo without my original title “Hot Frog On Frog Action” as I guess it was a little too racy for prudish Cincinnati.

Thanks to all who have visited my Flickr stream and commented. I am looking forward to learning and sharing more in 2008.

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Flickr Twelve Step Program

This came up in the Olympus E-Systems Community on Flickr in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek discussion on “How to Dramatically Improve Your Photography With Ease”. It is so spot on that I had to repost it here:

I’ve done the Flickr circle of life myself (like I think you’ve done), the 12 step process so to speak…

1. join Flickr
2. take pictures & post
3. hope to get feedback
4. get feed back
5. give feedback
6. make Explore for the first time
7. join some “theme groups”
8. strive to get on Explore so more
9. become disillusioned with all the steps above
10. become jaded
11. stop giving a sh!7 what others say.
12. start taking photos for *you*

I have seen a number of people who seemed to really enjoy photography then jump on the Flickr treadmill and become absolutely obsessed. It’s as if photography becomes hard work and they think that the only ‘good’ photos are staged black and white shots with lots of photoshopped blurs and streaks in them. Basically, rather than doing something creative they wind up copying what is supposed to be ‘fine art photography’ which personally I find to be stilted, self-referential, overly nostalgic and ultimately monotonous.

Granted, my photos aren’t going to win any awards any time soon, but then again, I am at step 12. I enjoy photography, it hasn’t become my new identity.

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24 Hours of Flickr

It’s like ‘take you camera to work day’ (assuming you have a job outside the house and work on Saturdays). It’s 24 Hours of Flickr. Basically, document your day in photos on May 5th, 2007 and then post the best shot to the pool of the same name on Flickr.

What happens around the world in one day? In a word – life. Here on Flickr, photographers are sharing what they see: snapping daily moments, recording history, telling stories, capturing beauty.

To celebrate this global community, we invite you to join us in “24 Hours of Flickr” – a day-long global photo project. On May 5, 2007, grab your camera and whatever else you need, and chronicle your day in pictures. The group’s photos will be featured at Flickr events around the world this summer and in a companion book, which will contain a selection of photographs chosen from the group (more about this soon!).

It’s interesting that they intend to publish a companion book of shots — so this may be your chance for fame and fortune (if thats your thing).

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Zooomr, jUploader and Aperture

I just discovered a nifty little trick for uploading pictures to Zooomr if you are using Aperture (or iPhoto). You can drag and drop photos directly from Aperture onto jUploader and click the upload button. jUploader will then upload the full size image from Aperture. Maybe this is obvious to others, but I was pleased to find that I didn’t have to export to jpeg from Aperture first to use jUploader.

One side effect of this for me, is that I will be uploading a lot more of my stuff to Zooomr as it has just become so much easier.

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National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Winners

Photo contests always seem to be very subjective things to me where more often than not it seems that a ‘good’ photo is one that matches the judges own person style or taste and not one that necessarily has objective merit to it. I certainly sense some of this in the results of the National Geographic Traveler photo contest.

For example, I find the first place photo sort of mundane and the second place shot too predictable. However, I find merit prize 5 and merit prize 8 to be much more interesting. This merit prize shot is exceptional for its spontaneous nature and probably would have suffered if it had been staged.

Don’t get me wrong, they are all great shots; I’m not sure that some of them are ‘all that’. Which brings us back to the subjectivity thing.

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