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Black and White Photography, New York: Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Christos Gates, 110th Street
Christos Gates, 110th Street

A.G. thought these looked like a bunch of tenament buildings with shower curtains in front of them.  He was looking at the b&w shot.  I think this works better in color.

9:23:22 PM    

This is a 'masking' exercise I did recently:  Self portraits

5:44:13 PM    

I got the digital bug July 4th, 2004 with the Canon A75.  Might have been a month later I picked up the 300D.  I have dropped it once (it was hanging from the strap on my right shoulder and dropped onto a thin carpet - no dents, no problems).  I've used it in snow and rain.  I usually keep it in my bag and take it out to shoot, or keep it under my jacket.  A couple of times though I've had it out for some time on a tripod in the snow.  The battery gets cold and loses power after a while, but other than that, no problem and I carry three batteries around.  In fact, the only serious gripe I have with it is the burst rate when shooting RAW.

Other than getting a grasp of raw processing, the biggest surprises were a) the amount of photoshop knowledge I had to acquire to make fine prints  b) how much I enjoy learning Photoshop techniques, and c) you need a very serious file backup system. 

The upshot of all that is that from a fine art point of view it has enabled me to spend more time working on an individual print without getting bored or frustrated.  I spent several days working on the Gull & Tree shot, and am still adjusting one section of it, but I would never spend that amount of time on a single print in the darkroom.  So that is another surprise, I'm spending more time, not less on one print.  Yes, once you've got it, you've got it - and not all the prints need work, but in the old days, I would make a couple of test prints of something new, if it looked like it was going to be too tough, I would often abandon it. 

The tools for getting it right are more powerful.  The main thing is that you need to be careful not to clip the high values.  But if you are working slowly on a tripod, you can take a look at the histogram on the back of the camera and get a pretty good idea of how you are doing.  I don't find myself bracketing at all, not in the blind way that you might bracket film. If you see that you are going to have a tough dynamic range, you can take two shots, one for the highlights, and one for the shadows, and there are various techniques to combine them later.

You still need to have some idea of what you want the print to look like.  You still need to be able to imagine it ahead of time.  But you have more control along the way.  And contrary to what a lot of beginners think, you can spend hours and days in Photoshop, where the goal is not to make a perfect print, but to make an expressive print.

One other point, I think people have a built-in quota on how many special pictures they can make. At least I do.

For me, if I do 10 good prints during the year, that's great.  That hasn't changed.  Real inspiration is just as rare in the digital world as it is in the film world.

2:17:40 PM    

Severe Geek Warning.  What follows is only for the eyes of techies.  There is a severe chance that any non-techs reading this will suffer blindness or worse...

Over the last few months my pc has had sporadic blue-screen events, usually after a new USB peripheral was hooked up.  I would switch a couple of cables around, plug and un-plug and plug again, and eventually some combination would solve the problem until either another peripheral was added, or some program futzed with the registry. 

So, after I attached the One Touch Drive (which is the 300 GB external HD) something brand new  happened.  If I was copying a lot of files to the drive at once, I would get the following error:

"Delayed Write Failed"

This began to pop up many times and I would generally have to give the pc a hard boot.

Since this message is coming from the operating system,  I go onto the Microsoft site and search for Delayed Write Failed, and find about fifty knowledge base articles about possible causes.  Most of them mention something called ELW or Effective Layer Write, or something like that.  They tell you the files that are involved and so I go and search for them on the PC.  I don't have any of them.  So check that off the list.

Next: a google search brings me to a huge thread about Delayed Write Failed errors.  The thread from hell began a few years ago, and just keeps going and going up until the present day.  Horror stories abound. There are nearly 20 different possible remedies.  There are a lot of tips about resetting certain parameters in the registry.  (I still say that registry organization is nuts).

I check registry settings like: LargeCacheWrite and my settings are correct.

Eyes already bleary, I stumble onto some posts suggesting that it is related to the ATI Graphics Card driver.  Hmmm.  I think I have one of those.  My graphic card drivers it turns out are timestamped 2000.  As I read on, I see some posts suggesting that if you install the latest ATI drivers, these Delayed Write Failures will go away.  What could the graphics card have to do with the hard drive?

I read a few other posts that say that after installing the new drivers, the machine was unusable or in some cases they couldn't even boot back to the last "good" settings.  I do a count.  10 posts in favor of the new drivers; 2 against.  I've got to try it.

The ATI site shows me how to identify the card, there's a number that is long than a social security number in the properties; and I figure out which card I have.  I download the driver.  And with fingers crossed and breath held, I click the install button.

The thing starts adding all sorts of stuff.  And as always, when it is done sticking its DLLs and SYS files here and there and altering the registry - it asks me to reboot.  I do.

When the machine boots up, the screen does a couple of strange resets, and then comes up looking crisp and neat and brighter than it was before.  Ah, relief.  And everything is working fine (knock wood).  And it is.  One day without any problems and I've done some large copies.

But here is the odd thing: in Photoshop, the soft proof options for Windows Monitor and Monitor look exactly the same.  In the past, the monitor setting had always been darker and I had used this setting when making images for the web.  Now, when I'm in Photoshop, the image I see while in normal non-proof mode, is the same as what is generated for the web.  And, even better, when I'm in ImagePrint, the preview there looks exactly as what comes out of the printer.  (Before the profiles were working in Photoshop but not showing up correctly in IMAGEPrint preview).

That is the story.  The ATI card drivers being 5 years old were causing various problems including the blue screen and the disk writing errors.  I have tried this morning to recreate these problems and couldn't.

The real point of the story is: how could any normal, that is non-tech type person deal with this stuff when this is what I go through after working with computers for something like 30 years?  Something like that - when was the first pc introduced anyway? 

10:31:14 AM    


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