Category Archives: digital photography

Cheap stuff

For the last couple of month’s I’ve been mostly using my Samsung Google Chromebook for my internet/blogging/multimedia activities. It cost $250.

It’s certainly true that I would rather have a new MacBook Air, but as I have stated before I couldn’t see spending that kind of money right now. Too many other things I want and need to spend money on.

The more I use this little machine, the more comfortable I am with it. True, it is kind of cheaply built, but hell, look at the price. The only thing I’ve found it really doesn’t do that well is video display. I guess the graphics card, or whatever you call the part of this machine that processes video, isn’t super good. But it isn’t horrible either.

I guess there is on other issue that has come up, and that is video editing. While there is some reasonable cloud-based software out there for video editing, the challenge is in the uploading of your video footage into the cloud to work on it. HD video creates such big files. It just isn’t very feasible to upload hundreds of megs (or multiples gigs) unless you have a much faster upload speed than most people. There needs to be some app that will load locally on the Chromebook and process the video locally. Perhaps there already is and I just haven’t found it.

I’ve had good enough luck with this Chromebook that I’m tempted to apply the same “making the most out inexpensive equipment” ethos to the rest of  my computing activities. I hardly every use a real “camcorder” for shooting video. Almost all mine is done on a simple point ‘n’ shoot digital camera. I use a GoPro HD Hero sometimes, but overall the point ‘n’ shoot seems to be my favored device.

In a world of skateboarders using expensive and cutting edge cameras, I like the idea of shooting good pics, video, and audio using inexpensive stuff, on an inexpensive computer. While I’ve been thinking very seriously about getting a nice digital SLR, maybe just getting a better point ‘n’ shoot — one that will shoot video in HD — might be a better choice for me.

OK, yes, this is kind of one of those rambling blog posts that no one will want to read. Whatever.

Pen Pic

Posted this on my photoblog this morning, but was kinda stoked about the way the flash lit up the orange notebook, so I’m posting it here. Shot on Macro setting. No manipulation of image. Was really just testing the macro on this beat up old point ‘n’ shoot camera. Still seems to be getting the job done.

pen pic

Lamy Safari fountain pen on Rhodia notebook.

Richardson Texas Photo Journal #1

Here’s a link to the first small set of pictures I’ve taken while riding around Richardson in the evening.

I’ve really come to appreciate how easy it is to ride a bike around town in the evenings. Traffic is light after about 7pm, and right now the weather is great. A good headlight and some flashing lights for the back of the bike, and you are good to go.

Flight canceled

Like thousands of others, my American Airlines flight was cancelled. I was supposed to fly home in the morning. So I called AA, left the phone on speaker-phone for an hour, and finally got an agent on the horn to help me out. He set me up with another flight — at 7:05am. Hopefully it will not be canceled too.

We’ll see.

Anyway, I got the notice that my flight had been canceled while I was out on a bus tour of DC. It was actually a nice night, and the monuments were really beautiful all lit up. I set my camera on “super fine, wide screen, no flash” and tried to get artistic. Click to get the wide screen version. I shot this image at the FDR memorial. I’ll post a few more soon, but now it is time for bed. If I’m lucky I can get 4 hours sleep, thanks to the airline shuffle.


Some bowl skating footage

Shot some video of my friend Fletcher, from Austin, at the Irving, Texas skatepark. All shot on my Canon SD750 digital camera. Of course, this footage on Youtube is somewhat degraded. The original quality vid is really nice.

Canon SD750 and video

Here’s a quick video, shot with my Canon SD750, of my friend Paul skating Havik skatepark. The video is compressed to a 9.5 meg QuickTime file — the original files are really good quality.

 Click here for the Quicktime file, or you can watch it in my VodPod widget down on the right.

For short clips edited together, I have to say that using the digital camera is a lot easier than using a camcorder. When you are ready to put them on the computer, you just dump the clips into whatever application you are using (in this case iPhoto and then iMovie). Much easier than finding and importing stuff from a tape. My camera takes pretty high quality video, which means big file sizes, but my 2 gig card was plenty. I may get an even bigger card for it. I can see using this for video a lot.

Sadly, this is the last week for Havik Skatepark. I’m sorry I didn’t make it out there until last night. It’s kind of far from my house, but I do think it would have been worth the drive a couple of times a month. I need to be more willing to drive a little to a good spot.

Longboard ditch skating

My friend Chris and I hit the Glenville ditch, here in Richardson, for a session last night. Being extremely manly, Chris managed to seperate one of the wheels from the truck on his newschool board, so I shared my longboard with him. He’s a good longboarder, of course, so it was killer.

This was my first real attempt at skateboard photography with my new Canon SD750. The first shots were pretty blurry. Then I started using Auto mode, pre-focusing on the area I wanted to shoot, and then panning with the skater as he rode by. Pre-focusing reduced the shutter lag to almost zero, making it a lot easier to shoot. The result was a much clearer shot of the skater — pretty neat — good photos for a total beginner. Chris got some good shots of me too. Check out the rest by clicking here…

Funny, after so many years of longboarding, that 44″ board doesn’t feel or look that big.

Canon PowerShot SD750

Since I’ve been running a fairly popular website for 8 years, and blogging for about 3 years, and I’m always afraid that I’ll drop my wife’s digital camera as I roll down a hill on a skateboard while shooting pictures of another skateboarder…

…today I got my own digital camera. It’s still too nice to drop, but at least if I do I’m not in trouble. haha — ha —

Anyway, here is what I got — the Canon PowerShot SD750

After researching this for a while, I came to a few conclusions. 1) I wanted something I could have in my pocket. 2) I like the menu system and controls of Canon cameras. 3) Finally, if you read too many camera reviews, it will drive you crazy.

When buying a truely compact digital camera there are some tradeoffs. None of them have a lot of optical zoom. This one has 3x optical zoom. In a camera this size, that’s about as much as you will find. If you read reviews on CNET or similar sites, keep in mind that they can really knit-pick. For example, they harped on the “purple fringe” on some of this camera’s pics. Sure — if you take a shot, and then blow up a tiny section 4x you might see it, but I have to say that so far I think the quality is fine. If you are really that freaked out about having perfect image quality, you need to spend money on a digital SLR, not a compact point and shoot camera. I have to say though that CNET was a really useful site. They gave me just enough good info, without overwhelming me with technical data.

Some other good points: This camera has really big, nice screen. It doesn’t have an optical viewfinder — big deal. Not important to me. The controls and menu system are very easy to use. I like the fact that the text/symbols on the control buttons are actually legible – you can see them. Good stuff.

The burst mode will crank out a series of images pretty fast. Cool. I’ve been playing with the various settings — trying different ISO settings, the Macro setting, etc. The automatic red-eye removal is magic. Very, very cool. The facial recognition actually works.

The Auto mode is great. In manual you can do some interesting stuff. Blah, blah, blah. Obviously I like my new camera. But I’m not a fan-boy. If it sucked, I’d say it sucks. But its a good camera.

Sooooo….if you are looking for a nice compact in the range of $280 – $300, this would be a good choice.

My previous post contains a few of the first images I took.

First shots with my new camera

Here are some of the first images I’ve taken with my new camera. I went outside and found the first thing with color. Click through to Flickr for more info on the settings. For a first attempt, they look pretty good at full size (when you click the image and get to Flickr, THEN click the “all sizes” link right above the image to see the real full-sized image). Zeroing in on tiny features in nature can reveal some pretty amazing structures. Really, I was just experimenting with different settings. I more or less understand all the settings, but I don’t necessarily always chose the right ones.