HDR Panorama!!!

Following on from the news of my new camera, somewhat dwarfed by the the other content in this post, and developing my ideas and techniques from the HDR experiment I did in this post, I am now pushing the limits of my creativity!!!

First: A Little technical jargonnery.

My new camera, the Canon EOS 450d is 12.2 megapixel, rather high quality and in general a really awesome bit of kit. As a first DSLR I could wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone. But the important point is, that unlike my old camera, this one provides RAW support. Raw is the data that is picked up by the sensor inside the camera, before any processing has taken place.

In creating a JPEG file from this data, the image data gets applied a white balance, which cannot be undone. It is then also stored in a 24bit format (JPEG) which loses a lot of the resolution for the dynamic range of graphical data. In english the quality drops, never to return.

This particular RAW format is 14 bit, So it should now store enough detail to prevent me from having to take 3 or 5 pictures of the same scene at different exposures, in order to get this exquisite detail throughout the range of the exposure, as I did in my previous HDR experiment.

So I did a panorama in RAW, this time with a slightly different technique. A “Panorama” as discussed here, consists of a tripod, and lots of overlapping photos which you merge digitally to make one big picture.

I ended up with 8 or 9 RAW images, that looked something like this.  


Wow – What a gaming engine

Having grown up as a young graphics coder, under the wing of my eldest brother, furiously trying to write efficient graphics routines in a strange mix of Turbo Pascal 6 and raw embedded ASM code, I really couldn’t help but be astonished by the incredible realism of realitime graphics these days. 10 years ago, this would have passed for top end blockbuster movie special effects to die for.  Enjoy. The tune aint bad either……..

I’m getting married!!!!

ring.jpgSo………I’m almost 30….. I have a house, a nice car, and a wonderful girlfriend….what is missing? Well it’s marriage of course, but not for long…

Yesterday, the 20th of may 2008 I asked my beautiful girlfriend Maria La Chica to marry me. She accepted, thank goodness (lest I should have looked a little silly!), and we are now engaged to be married. I have slowly been growing up and up to the point where I now realize that the “young” part of my life is no longer something I desire actively. This is probably because I have both over-indulged and under-enjoyed it over the years for various reasons.  I’ll be staying firmly young at heart but hopefully progressing myself to somewhat more worldly wise.

I’ve left most of my vices behind me since meeting maria, including the pub, smoking, regular drinking sessions, clubbing till all hours etc. I don’t miss them at all really. I still like a drink now and then but having grown up in Sandhurst who can blame me? It’s in the bloodline…
So we hope to marry reasonably soon if possible. It’s all a bit of a blur to be honest but I have all four of my grandparents still with us today which is amazing – and I would dearly love to have them at my wedding. First stop – THE RINGS!!! I will keep you posted about what’s going  on here, with photos, and you’ll all be free to post comments should you wish to.

I never thought anything would dwarf the news that further to my recent internet mugging, Maria has bought me a brand new Canon EOS 450d for our anniversary. My face at the sight must have been a picture, as it really was the last thing I was expecting.  It’s a truly excellent camera, and I think Maria secretly hankers after it herself as well (she has the ever-so-slightly older EOS400d); Still, both cameras are a great bit of kit, and together we can go out and enjoy taking snapshots of our lives together.
I also bought Maria a present – a Canon Pixma printer which is a super-high quality inkjet designed specifically for printing photos (but big!). We have found that all of the great functionality employed by Windows Vista when viewing a slideshow simply can’t match the tactile experience of flicking through a photo album.

The best of the shots will of course be found on our Flickr sites should you be interested.

So much to say…….but I’ll keep it short:

I’m really really happy.


Tough Guy – Im getting there!

Well I went for another 2 mile run the other day, after first spending an hour at my parents house shifting the heaviest kitchen worktop in the world and generally moving heavy stuff around.

 Truth be told – I wasn’t that tired! I managed an entire mile on the way back without stopping to walk at all; This can only mean one thing – my fitness level is increasing, and this will hopefully become an exponential growth over the next four weeks.

I played tennis again last night – winning 2 sets to love against Joel which was good fun. The result doesnt really tell the story – Joel and I are pretty evenly matched most times, and both sets were neck and neck for 5 games or so.

To give you a summary – tough guy challenge consists of 6 miles of cross country running, followed by four miles of assault course (which will involve queuing and other rests of that sort). Not easy. But not unachievable most importantly. The next step is in two weeks or so time when I will be running round virginia water (4 miles!) without stopping to walk or rest. I’m going with my brother so we can push each other, and neither of us can cheat!

I’m also buying shoes soon with help from mr Mark of Hastings, which will need to be worn in – all I need after that is a pair of cycling shorts, short running shorts and a running vest (emblazoned with my usual bling of course).

What I’m trying to say is – I AM serious about this and I WILL post a picture of me with my HARD earned medal on this website. I will.

2 months to go – pray for me.

So I’m off for a long weekend!!!

Hurray! I’m going to spain for 4 days! It’s 25 degrees there – and Maria and I can enjoy photos, sun, seafood and just a little privacy in Maria’s flat (we have two properties dontchaknow).

 To be honest – I need it. Work has been getting me down, but the sun brightens me up, so I can manage a little better with Spring leaving us and summer knocking on the door. I’m also off to Dublin on business next week, which should be a welcome change to the drudgery of highlighting schematics and sending out quotations all day long.

My assistant Jason is moving across from Sales to Engineering, too – mainly because I think he didnt enjoy the work I do. I don’t enjoy the work I do either, and I’m sure he will get better job satisfaction from field engineering; It will also have the benefit of giving him an array of life experience which simply cannot be achieved in an office environment, and from which he will benefit immensely. 

 All in all, the future looks brighter all round. It may not be orange but its definitely a warm Tan of some sort. Feeling positive feels good.

See you when I get back.


Tough Guy – Fame!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, your humble narrator is now famous; With a face now known by millions, (or at least everyone who reads the Surrey Guardian) I can hold my head high as I walk the streets, confident that I will receive invites to A-list social events and copious freebies as befits my general splendour.

The silliest thing is – we were told to look mean for this pic and noone does! Still, I was bearing my teeth for the camera until just before it was taken, when I started laughing. But you can’t tell.toughguys.jpg

I am the one on the bottom right, feel me roar.

I’ve been ill recently so you’ll have to give me a break on the training which has taken a back seat over the last couple of weeks. I have run a total of about 4 miles so far, and walked much more than that , and done a sum total of around 150 push ups.  Never mind, I have two months, and I am planning a regime of some undisclosed form in the weeks approaching the event.

I’ll keep you posted……

The Kittens of Montenegro

The Kittens of Montenegro

Originally uploaded by Pensive666

This picture is my favourite photo I have ever taken.

I am so distressed that it is slightly out of focus, the camera was obviously fooled by the light!!!

Never mind, we live and learn – dont take a crap camera on holiday with you!

I Was Mugged!

scam.gifYes indeed, I was mugged. Totally. The camera I purchased online turned out to be scammers who had hijacked an Amazon account of a respected seller.

It goes like this:

  1. Scammers hack into a well established Amazon seller account, and disable order processing functionality to the target country, so no orders can be processed.

So I did it…I bought the camera

The Japanese Samurai Goblin of Technological Consumerism.Now those of you who read my previous camera post will have noticed;

I thought I’d beaten the goblin of consumerism – but all I did was fend him off temporarily….

A couple of days later some Italian company on amazon accidentally advertised a Canon EOS 400D for a whoppingly small £212, that is a whole £165 short of the usual asking price. I mailed them, found that it was indeed brand new, boxed, includes the standard 18-55mm lens etc, so I duly paid my money.

It should be winging its way to me by next weekend, if all goes well; A mighty camera of wonder and joy – a light in the darkness of my camera woes. Now my HDR experiments can really go stellar. Watch this space, I shall document my learning here, on this site.

And if the Italian dudes rip me off, I’ll tell you here!

To bother…or not?

opensource_logo.gifI set up a website some months ago, rather similiar to this, which you can see here: www.openalchemy.com

Its all about open source – the way forward for computer software; The ultimate in re-using the perfectly good wheel, the best way to create perfect software….surely?

Not always. Humans, unfortunately are generally in need of something very important to guide their paths. Management.

We all need it, some of us can do it, some of us think they can do without it; There are a number of open source projects which I would consider exemplary examples: OpenOffice being one of them. As well integrated as M$ Office, but totally free; If I wasn’t already so irrevocably entwined with the Microsoft products at work, I would be using it myself. It was clearly a well managed project.

But the there is the Gimp. Its an open source alternative to Photoshop, and its incredibly powerful. It also has the most appallingly variant user interface I have seen. Ever. Every single window looks slightly different, each function appears and curiously, functions in a different manner; The windows appear to be untethered to the main program window, almost as if they don’t need gimp, they just use it for their own satisfaction.

Using it is like wrestling three monkeys having a poo fight – it just gets messy.

Then there is Paint.NET – not strictly open source, but freeware all the same, and it clearly had a managed team (or there was only one or two people), which dictated that the interface should follow Adobe Photoshop’s good example. As a result, the software feels solid, feels robust, and feels familiar. It is nowhere near as powerful as photoshop, but I would use it in a moment over the GIMP.

But the real point of my post – does anyone care? I am an advocate of open source, and yet I use photoshop. I use Microsoft Office. I use Adobe reader, and a wealth of other softwares with open source alternatives. Is it because I am scared?

Yes. Iam concerned that using an open source software is a lesser alternative which it generally is – not always, but often. The best programmers only code for money, just like anyone else who excels in their given field.

Should I continue to lie to the general public about my open source affiliations? No.

Should I use my little website to come clean?………..

No – it won’t help the scene. Perhaps I should just continue my merry way through the world, adding my thoughts here and there – the trouble is, I am finding myself using more and more proprietary commercial software. What validity will my posts have these days?

I will strive to deliver more reviews in the future…I will certainly try.