Win your choice of a Drobo S or Drobo FS – enter now!

Updated 9/24/10: The winner of the drawing is Keith LaBarre! He’ll soon get to pick between a Drobo S ($799) or a Drobo FS ($699). Congratulations, you lucky guy! 🙂

My thanks go out to Data Robotics for their generous offer, and to all for your participation! Data Robotics will be in touch with each of you to provide you with a discount coupon good toward a shiny new Drobo. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

I’m happy to announce an awesome contest where you can win your choice of a Drobo S or Drobo FS. It starts today, Tuesday, 9/21/10, at 12:01 AM Pacific Time, and it runs until Friday, 9/24/10, at 9:00 AM Pacific Time. That’s not a lot of time, so enter now!

All you have to do is to fill in your info right here. The winner will be picked at random and announced here on my website, on my Twitter account, and on the @Drobo Twitter account.

Although there can be only one winner, everyone who enters will get a nifty discount good toward the purchase of a new Drobo. So go ahead, enter now!


iQ font – turning driving into writing

Two typographers (Pierre & Damien), a software designer (Zachary Lieberman) and a race car driver (Stef van Campenhoudt) collaborated to create a font with a car. The result is called the iQ font, and it’s available for download.

iQ font – When driving becomes writing / Full making of from wireless on Vimeo.

How To

Get the tiltshift look right from Adobe Lightroom

If you use Adobe Lightroom and want to apply a tiltshift effect to your photos, you can spend hundreds of dollars on expensive Photoshop plugins, or you can do it for free, with an Adobe AIR app called TiltShift.

If you’ve used TiltShift before, you know you can open any photo in it and apply tiltshift effects to it, but did you know you can do this right from Lightroom? Here’s how.

In Lightroom, open up the Export window and add a new Export Preset. See the screenshot below. I called mine TiltShift, so I can easily remember it. Adjust any of the settings, like color space, sizing, sharpening, etc. They don’t really matter, although it’s better to keep the image smaller so TiltShift can work faster with it.

The really important option is in the post-processing section — the very last one in the Export window. There, you’ve got to make sure you tell Lightroom to “Open [your photo] in Other Application…”, then click on the Choose button and browse to find the TiltShift app. This is pretty much it.


Lightroom will automatically pass your image to TiltShift, which will open it and allow you add tiltshift effects to it, to your liking. For example, I initially processed this image of a medieval water pump found on the streets of Medias, Romania, in Lightroom.

The old water fountain

Then I exported it into TiltShift using the export preset set up as described above, and adjusted the settings there to get the effect I wanted. This is how the controls and the image looked inside TiltShift.


Once I did that, I saved the photo and uploaded it here. This is how the final image looks.


It couldn’t be easier, and again, let me remind you TiltShift is a free app.

[TiltShift home page] [Download TiltShift]


Create tiltshift photographs on Mac, Windows and Linux, for free

Takayuki Fukatsu has created a free Adobe AIR app called TiltShift, which runs on any OS that supports AIR (namely Mac, Windows and Linux). It will allow you to easily apply tilt-shift effects to any photograph. Best of all, the price is right: it’s free. Even if this app cost $10 or $20, I’d still rather buy it than some Photoshop plugins that cost hundreds of dollars and do pretty much the same thing.

In less than a couple of minutes, I was able to open a photograph of my wife and niece, walking on the streets of Medias, Romania, and add tilt-shift effects to it. Here’s what it looks like now.

Ligia and Laura

Sure, the tiltshift effect isn’t what you’d get with a LensBaby or with a real tilt-shift lens like the Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L (or any of the other professional tilt-shift lenses made by camera manufacturers), but still, it’s better than no effect at all, and it’s free. TiltShift’s controls are really slider-based and really easy to use. You’ll be making tiltshift photos in no time flat. Give it a go and see how you like it.


I mentioned TiltShift initially in one of my Condensed Knowledge posts, back in May.

[Download TiltShift]


A few free mobile phone wallpapers

A while back, I created wallpapers for one of my cellphones whose screen was 130×130 pixels. They’re cropped and compressed nicely, and they’re from my own photo catalog. Feel free to download and use them on your own mobile phones, but remember, they’re only for personal, not commercial use. In other words, please respect my terms of use for my photos and don’t try to resell them or to derive profit from them in any way, shape or form.


An announcement about my photos

I’ve been mulling over this decision for some time. As I thought about it, I wanted to balance my desire to let people enjoy my photos with my very real need to retain the ability to sell my photographs, because I do want that to become a larger source of income for me than it has been thus far.

I think I may have reached a happy medium, and I hope I won’t regret what I’ve already begun to do. As of last week, I’ve been publishing my images at a much larger resolution — 1920 pixels on the longest side vs. 800 pixels previously. This means that you, the reader who sees this, will be able to download them and use as desktop backgrounds, without seeing a decrease in the photo quality as it fills up your screen. As a matter of fact, you’ll be able to use my images on monitors up to 24″ or more in size (1920×1200) or on HDTVs of any size, without seeing a decrease in quality. I am also resizing all of them to an aspect ratio of 16:10, so they’ll fit natively on widescreen displays.

Now, what am I not doing? I am not posting them at their native 240 dpi, as my Canon 5D gives them to me. I am posting them at 72 dpi, which is the native dpi spec of computer screens everywhere. I am doing this because I want to discourage the making of large prints from my photos, since I’d like to make money from those prints. This also makes it a little harder for people to blow them up to larger sizes for serious commercial work, which is where I also hope to make money.

I am also not removing my copyright notice from the photos. You’ll see it as a small watermark in the lower left corner that says “(c)”. I want to keep that there to let people know that while I may be giving my photos away, I am not relinquishing my copyright, nor am I moving to a Creative Commons type of license, which I believe is inadequate for photographs. I also realize that the photos will get edited in various photo editing programs, and any meta-data will unwittingly get wiped from them. The watermark is the only sensible way to tell people down the line that I made a certain photo. I do wish Lightroom would let me format the watermark in some way, but for now, that’s what it gives me, and I’m not going to run all my published photos through Photoshop just to put a watermark on them.

Am I opening myself up for theft? Yes. There’ll be unscrupulous people (I hesitate to call them people) who will likely steal my photos and try to profit from them. For them, I should point out that I do register my images with the US Copyright Office, and I wouldn’t mind getting a six-figure payout.

For you decent folks out there, I’ll be happy to know that you get a little joy from looking at my photos at a resolution where you can actually enjoy them. Go ahead and download them and use them as desktop backgrounds, put them on your HDTV, email them to your friends, use them on your website, whatever. As long as it’s personal, non-commercial use, and you give me credit, it’s okay with me.

If you’re a company or some kind of organization that wants to use my photos in some way, please get in touch with me first to clear that use with me and to pay for the license. I’ll do my best to accommodate your needs.

Okay, so where do you partake of this fantastic offering? There are wo places where you can get it:

  1. My photo catalog.
  2. My Flickr stream. I’ve opened up access to the All Sizes button. Download away.

Remember to play nice. Here’s how to use my photos. Please obey the rules listed there when using my photos for free, and if you’ll end up licensing some, then you’ll make me very happy. Thanks.


Mobile version of site now available

If you happen to browse my site via a mobile device like an iPhone or another web-enabled smartphone, you will automatically see an optimized version of the site that downloads and navigates a lot faster than the regular version on your mobile device.

This was made possible by the folks at MobilePress, who’ve put together a wonderful (and free) WP plugin. My thanks go to them, to Digital Inspiration for writing about them, and to Chris Nixon for sharing that post through Google Reader for me. That’s how I found out about it.


Two great utilities for photographers using Windows XP

I’m still on Windows XP (don’t think I’ll switch to Vista any time soon), and I’ve gotten accustomed to not being able to view thumbnails of my RAW image files in Windows Explorer. That is, until now. Just found two great little photo utilities from MS (surprise, surprise) and thought I’d share the info.

The first is called Microsoft RAW Image Thumbnailer and Viewer for Windows XP. It’s a really long name but this little utility does just that. Once it’s installed, you can see thumbnail previews of your photos right in Windows Explorer, without having to open Bridge or Lightroom. That’s pretty nice! Not only that, but this lightweight app will also let you open up the RAW files and view/print them.

The second is called Microsoft Photo Info, and it will let you edit a photo’s meta data (EXIF, IPTC) right from Windows Explorer. Once installed, it puts a “Photo Info” option on the right-click menu for any photo (RAW files as well), and it lets you open up single or multiple photos and edit the EXIF data. It’s really handy, and I’m sure it’ll work great for those folks who don’t have Bridge or Lightroom.

By the way, I also talked about editing the EXIF data in your photographs in this post, where I outlined three other EXIF editing apps for Windows. Looks like there’s plenty of choice out there, so don’t be shy, dig in and edit away. Let’s all have nice, clean, crisp meta data in our photos! 🙂


Condensed knowledge for 2007-05-06

Here’s the good stuff:

  • Want to watch cheese mature? A company in England wanted to show the process and time involved in making good cheese, so they installed a web cam next to aging cheddar. That hunk of cheese has now become an Internet star.
  • Escape the Meatrix! Watch this movie to find out what it is and how to join the resistance. 🙂
  • Neatorama has a great post on three animals we ate into extinction. Oh, the poor dodo bird, it never stood a chance, even if its meat was gross.
  • This toothless old man from Russia has a really elastic face (and a really long tongue as well). The video is slightly disturbing, and it begs the question, why would you want to lick your own eyes? I can see him now, scaring little kids in his village. The parents, shuddering, will tell their kids, “See, this is what happens if you don’t brush your teeth!”
  • Have you been wondering why no one reads your blog? This post may have the answer.
  • This bird, called the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, has got to be one of the funniest looking animals I’ve ever seen! 🙂
  • Oh, how I wish I were a boy once more (sans school and homework) and got “The Dangerous Book for Boys” as a birthday present!
  • A fire burned through the historic Eastern Market in DC recently. This Washington Post article has photos.
  • Ever wondered just how our sense of smell works? Well, wonder no more, because Wondermark has the answer.
  • Apparently surgeons have started to perform abdominal surgeries through the mouth (and in women, a certain other orifice)… The advantage is that there’s no external scarring, and the recovery time is much, much better. The patient can go home the same day. Still, I’m pretty grossed out by the whole thing. I would not want bits and pieces of my appendix or gall bladder or other such thing pulled through my mouth. It’s just plain weird.
  • A couple of days ago, I started my browser in the morning and saw that the logo on my Google Home page had changed to iGoogle. For a moment, I thought Google and Apple had merged, but later found out the real explanation.
  • A physician from France wrote Linux drivers for 235 web cams, particularly bargain ones made in China, with no proper drivers and no support whatsoever. And he did this all for free, unrecognized, working from his own home. That’s just plain cool!

Clean your computer with CCleaner

CCleanerI tried CCleaner, a wonderful little freeware app that will clean temp files and other unused files, registry keys and cookies, on three separate PCs, and I’ve come to rely on it already. Two of those PCs were XP Professional machines, and one was a Windows 2003 Server running on VMWare Enterprise as a virtual machine. It did a great job on all three. It gave no error messages, it just cleaned things up nicely.

When I ran it on my first machine (at work), it found over 300 MB of files it could safely delete. Then I ran it on the server (also at work) and it found about 50 MB of files (granted, this was a new install, only days old.) Then I ran it on my laptop at home, and it found over 500 MB of files. I took a few screenshots for you to see. I like the fact that the CCleaner is very customizable. I can tell it what to delete and what to leave intact. I particularly like that I can specify which cookies to keep, and which to delete. To do the same yourself, go to Options >> Cookies. This means that I can keep a set of “safe” cookies, for sites I like and visit often, and delete all the rest. It’s wonderful, because it means that I won’t have to re-type my login information after running CCleaner.

CCleaner - Main Screen

This is the screen where you specify the registry scanning options:

CCleaner - Issues Screen

This is the screen where you tell it what cookies to keep, and what cookies to delete:

CCleaner - Cookies Screen

I highly recommend CCleaner. It works as advertised, and doesn’t cause any problems. A word of warning though. Before running it on my XP Pro machines, I created System Restore points, and I advise you to do the same before running it. (There is no such option on Windows 2003 Server.) Although CCleaner caused no problems whatsoever on all three machines where I used it, freak accidents are possible on Windows machines, and it’s good to have something to fall back on.

By the way, I think it’s a great idea to create System Restore points before you install any piece of software. It’s just good practice. That way, if something goes wrong, you simply restore your computer and move on, no harm done. Don’t rely on Windows to create the restore points automatically. I found out the hard way that sometimes you simply can’t restore from those points. Manual creation of restore points is the safest bet.