Oct 242013
 

Last fall we took a road trip through some of the South West – I’ve finally got around to posting photos from the first part of that trip to Zion National Park. We were very lucky with the timing as some of the fall colors were starting and the trees were not yet bare. There was yellow colors in the canyon, mostly around the river. The upper road going east out of the canyon was a sea of gorgeous yellows and reds in the river washes, absolutely beautiful set against the tan and red rocks.

We caught a lovely sunset at Canyon Overlook Trail one eve and stayed late to watch the colors disappear. Everyone else at the overlook had already walked back so we quietly wound our way back on the trail in the dark. As we walked we noticed a single bighorn sheep walking on the ridge in front of us, framed by the rising moon. He seemed content to pose for photographs but just then we met some bighorn sheep not ten feet in front of us on the path. Both groups had been walking quietly so several bighorns were very surprised at how close we were and trampled off through the underbrush. The others jumped to a ledge above us and kept a close eye on us as we walked by. It always blows my mind how one can have these intimate experiences by following an easy walking path just a few miles from a major road.

Photos of Zion National Park in fall colors


Oct 202013
 

A month back I finally got around to getting back in the water for some diving. I had just splurged on a large purchase – the Nauticam underwater housing for my Olympus OMD EM5 camera. I just had the kit lens and housing in this instance, and no strobes or lights attached. Some first impressions:

  • It is heavy.  My previous experiences have been with plastic body housings and this has a very different feel underwater and above.  I’ll need to think about adding some floats to achieve neutral buoyancy.
  • It is well made.  Everything is very well fitted together and machined, no need to worry about anything breaking on it.  All buttons are accessible and easy to use.
  • I’m going to use the LCD most of the time.  The housing has the option of using either the large live view LCD screen or the smaller viewfinder screen.  Thus far I find it much easier to use the larger screen with a mask

Next steps I need to get it fitted out with a tray, arm, strobe, and probably a video light of some sort as I have an existing one which can be converted.


Oct 192013
 

I planted an eversweet pomegranate tree about a year ago in a very hot and sunny part of the yard. It seemed to enjoy it and the still small tree has produced 5 fruit this year. They are quite unique, I’ve never tasted any pomegranates like them – very sweet and delacate. The seeds are easy to extract and the juice doesn’t stain anything. I’m looking forward to more growth and harvests next year.

Eversweet Pomegranate fruit Eversweet Pomegranate fruit Eversweet Pomegranate fruit Young Eversweet Pomegranate tree

Sep 072013
 

I’ve been using Gallery (aka Menalto) for almost a decade, starting with Gallery1, now up to Gallery3 in the current release. In the early days the work-flow for adding and providing meta data about photos wasn’t so easy. That got better with Gallery Remote, which I used for many years. However, the Gallery Remote workflow was still clumsy. If I was going to stay with Gallery in any shape it needed to be much easier.

Thankfully alloyphoto made that much easier – his Lightroom Gallery Export Plug-in works extremely well with Gallery3. It works similarly to other export plugins (Flickr, SmugMug, etc) – setup albums, photo properties, and publish to your Gallery3 site. Any content changes made in Lightroom (including image or album removal) can be published back the the Gallery3 site.

gallery3 publish services

When you first start out with the Gallery3 publish service in Lightroom it will not have any of your existing gallery3 albums or images. This can be remedied by first running the Import albums process, and then associating images in Lightroom with ones retrieved from the Gallery3 instance.

lightroom gallery3 plugin import albums

lightroom gallery3 plugin albums

Once the photos are associated with the Lightroom library, new versions of previously created gallery photos can be uploaded again. This is helpful if you have done some updating of previous image metadata or tags, added or updated exif gps data, or simply applied new image processing rules. In my case because I have so many albums and images already out on the site (and the fact that I am running a very low resource server) I chose to change the associate images options to do specific large albums one at a time before trying the entire library. I’ve found that in my case this process is quite time and resource consuming, so if you have a lot to do you may want to grab a cup of tea while you wait. I also made changes to which images are associated as I typically have both jpg and RAW versions of the same files in my library from previous exports – in my case I want to make sure I’m associating the RAW files instead of any generated jpg files.

lightroom gallery3 plugin associate images

lightroom gallery3 plugin associate images settings

One thing I really appreciate in this plugin is the ability to set the number of albums the plugin accesses at a time, and set a throttled response rate. This probably doesn’t apply to everyone – but since I run my site on a Amazon EC2 Micro instance with only bursting CPU it really helps.

gallery3 publish service server options

I enthusiastically recommend this plugin if you have Gallery3 and Lightroom. The plugin is not free, but at $15 it is more than worth it for me in the sheer amount of time it has saved me by streamlining my workflow. One of the main reasons I get so behind in publishing my photos is the large amount of work that I had to do previously – Now everything I’m working on is controlled via Lightroom and that takes all of the headache out of maintaining multiple sets of data.

Lightroom Gallery Publish Plugin home page
Gallery Plug-in at Adobe Exchange

Features

  • Supports Export operations
  • Supports Publish Services in Lightroom 3 and above
  • Supports multiple hosting servers and multiple accounts
  • Supports nested album structures
  • Supports custom sorting in published albums
  • Allows you to import the album structure from the hosting environment into your Lightroom catalog
  • Allows you to associate existing photos with photos in your Lightroom catalog
  • Supports photo keywords (tags) and comments
  • The plug-in automatically checks if a new version is available and updates itself with one click

Requirements

  • Lightroom 2 (2.4 – 2.7): Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Mac OS X
  • Lightroom 3 (3.3 – 3.6): Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Mac OS X
  • Lightroom 4 (4.0 – 4.4): Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Mac OS X
  • Lightroom 5 (5.0): Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Mac OS X
  • Gallery 3.0.1 (and above) hosting service with the following modules enabled:
    • Comments
    • Exif Data
    • Exif GPS Data (if you want your Gallery show map locations for geoencoded photos)
    • REST API
    • Tags
    • Lightroom Plugin Helper – see the download link on the side bar on the right
Sep 062013
 

I had a rough time trying to get my gallery2 install imported and moved to the gallery3 platform. The g2 import process stalled out a lot and crashed & burned hard when faced with different folder names for the redirects (/gallery became /photos). After a lot of fighting with the g2import module & htaccess, I disabled the g2import module and pursued a strictly .htacccess solution for redirecting visitors from the old gallery2 URL to the new gallery3 URL.

One issue I kept coming up against was that the gallery2 URLs all included the source file name and an HTML extension for its rewrite URLs, but gallery3 did away with this behavior. For example:

  • G2: /gallery/album/photo.jpg.html
  • G3: /photos/album/photo

After some help from some folks on stackexchange, I finally found a solution with the following .htaccess content on the old gallery2 URL:

Now to get back to trying new module and skin options in gallery3. I’ve been loving the lightroom gallery3 publish plugin and will write further on my experiences with it when I have a chance.

Jun 232013
 

National Geographic has a great article on the discovery and further research related to our cousins the Denisovans. Everyone knows about the Neandarthals, and at this point I think most people know that large portions humans living today have some percentage of Neanderthal DNA. I was completely in the dark about the prospect of another subspecies of Homo sapiens which moved out of Africa and is carried in the DNA of some modern humans – The Denisovans:

A third kind of human, called Denisovans, seems to have coexisted in Asia with Neanderthals and early modern humans… Although the Denisovans’ genome showed that they were more closely related to the Neanderthals, they too had left their mark on us. But the geographic pattern of that legacy was odd. When the researchers compared the Denisovan genome with those of various modern human populations, they found no trace of it in Russia or nearby China, or anywhere else, for that matter—except in the genomes of New Guineans, other people from islands in Melanesia, and Australian Aborigines. On average their genomes are about 5 percent Denisovan. Negritos in the Philippines have as much as 2.5 percent.

What is amazing about this discovery is that it was all discovered from two teeth and part of a finger bone. Three separate individuals who died in a remote cave in the Altai Mountains in Siberia, a cave which has also been inhabited by Neanderthals and modern humans. Thus far the Denisovians have been found no where else, however, as the article points out the southern climates mean DNA is unlikely to survive. In fact the cool temperature in a Siberian cave is likely the only reason they were able to pull significant DNA out of the finger bone. Genetics and the ability to pull DNA from very old remains is such an incredible change to the way our history is studied – we no longer have to guess at what fragments mean, we can read the history directly from their essence.