Thursday, May 26, 2005

SQL Down Under Podcast

I listened to the first half of Greg Low's SQL Down Under Podcast today at lunchtime. Great stuff Greg - looking forward to listening to the second half during tomorrows lunch break. Kalen Delaney is a great first guest.

Apress Ebooks now available!

Well done to Apress for responding to reader demand and making a heap of there totals available as Ebooks that can be purchased from the Apress site. As consultant without a regular desk, Ebooks are much, much more useful to me than paper books, and I have favoured MS Press in the past based purely on E-book availability.

You can get Maximizing .NET Performance here at half the cover price (US22.50). I'm taking 6 months off starting at the end of June, and am looking forward to catching up with a number of Apress titles on my PDA during my travels.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Photo of the Week - 21 May 2005

This image is a merged panorama of five separate shots taken in portrait mode. The merge image is 8200 by 2124 pixels (a whopping 17.4 megapixels - take that you punny 16.7 megapixel 1DsMkII), and is about 160 degrees (~ 4mm horizontal equivalent). The shots where taken last Friday after some pretty heavy rain mid-week at a spot called Winifred Falls. There are two falls between Audely and the road out to Maianbar, and has a good description of the falls (and all the other falls in the Sydney region).

The shot was taken around lunchtime, and a 4 stop neutral filter was used to blur the water going over the falls. My wife and daughter where at the top of the falls, and light rain began falling as I was setting up, so I had less than 20 minutes to set up and take the shots. Luckily, there are only two vantage points where the falls are actually visible from the base, and this one was clearly the best. The trees on either side of the small clearing nicely frame the shot, and the overcast conditions kept the light fairly even.

The shots where taken with the EF 17-40mm f/4L USM set to around 29mm to avoid excessive distortion that can totally kill the merge process. Photoshop's inbuilt merge was used, and this nailed the merge with no visible seams and no stuffing around choosing common points that made Pano Tools such a painful exercise.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Photo of the Week - 16 May 2005

This shot was taken thirty-eight minutes after last weeks shot. I hadn't actually been out on the Longreef rock platform before, but once I got out there, I realised that it would have been a much better location for the sunrise shot that last weeks fairly standard beach-shot-at-sunrise-with-a-few-rocks-thrown-in-for-foreground. The reef has a wonderful series of small rock pools and mid-size scattered boulders that make composition a breeze. A shot like this could be composed in nearly any direction.

Once I got out onto the rock platform, it was pretty obvious that I had somewhere near 15 minutes of good light before the sun broke through the cloud layer above the horizon and killed the good reflections and excellent diffused light. This turned out to be heaps of time to get some good shots, and I took this shot hand-held as I was leaving to dry off my jeans and boots, and try to find the missing pieces of my tripod.

The two good shots made the 4.45am start worth it.

Photo of the Week - 9 May 2005

[I wrote this post last Tuesday (10 May), but have spent the better part of a week trying to get the orange sky (which looks great in Photoshop) accurately reproduced in the JPEG format. On CRT screens it looks pretty good, but looks very dull and muddy on LCD screens. The graphics guru at work who lives in Photoshop all day long wasn't able to get the image right when viewed on all monitors, but I've decided to post it anyway in the hope that some folks will get to see it on a monitor that displays it well]

This one was taken this morning out at Longreef. I've had to work on-site this week, and I took the opportunity to avoid the traffic and head up to the Northern Beaches for sunrise. I noticed a lot of pollution about yesterday, and as this makes for great sunrises, I was hopeful of a colourful sky. Also, Sydney had a mild change forecast for today, which meant that there should be a plenty of cloud to hold the colour. Both guesses turned out to be correct, and the sunrise was pretty spectacular. There where actually folks stopping on their morning walks to admire the great colour in the sky.

I ended up breaking a knob off my tripod getting it out of the car and copped a wave up to mid-shin as I was standing in the location that this shot was taken (resulting in a pretty uncomfortable morning walking around in wet shoes and jeans), so I guess that this was one shot that I "paid the price" to get. Soon after this shot I noticed some dolphins frolicking near the headland, but they weren't doing enough acrobatics to make any of the shots worthwhile. I also got some nice shots out on the reef itself, and I'll use those as next weeks Photo of the Week.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Photo of the Week - 2 May 2005

This lone mangrove tree sits on a small rock reef just west of Maianbar (that's the correct spelling - not sure of the origins). I took the shot at dawn on a Sunday morning using my very humble Canon A80 backup. I've got a waterproof housing for this camera, and sometime bring it along when I'm going for an early surfski to get some sunrise shots. I'd had this spot on my list of potential locations for a while, but hadn't got the right combo of tide and light to shoot it. I actually took the camera out of the underwater housing for this shot, and it was a pretty precarious balancing act to get the shot while sitting on the surfski, avoiding the oysters, and racing a rapidly dropping tide.

I didn't use any fill flash on this shot, but in retrospect I would have certainly given it a go. I've boosted the contrast around the tree considerably using Photoshop, but it's still a bit drab and tends to blend in with the Buraneer peninsula in the left background. To use Michael Reichmann's category systems, this shot is definitely not an Image, and is a bit above a Snapshot, so I guess it is simply a postcard. The only shot I can comfortably say I am happy with as an Image is the Rottnet Island lighthouse shot.