Lens Distortion No More?

I have just learned about a wonderful new tool in Photoshop CS2 that is a life saver – or, to be more accurate, a picture saver. I’ve noticed dark corners in almost all of my pictures with my “bad” lens and in a lot of my super-wide pictures as well. What I have learned is that vignetting, as this is called, is a normal thing even for the most expensive of zoom lenses. Fixed length “prime” lenses do not suffer these problems nearly as much. This can be avoided [mainly minimized] by utilizing an F-stop value that is in the center of the lens’ range instead of one of the maximum or minimum values. I, of course, like to go to extremes, so this vignetting shows up in my work.

So – how does one fix it? In Photoshop there is a nifty tool to correct lens distortion – including vignetting. So – the pitures I took of my friend’s daughter now look ten times better since I’m able to smooth the exposure to the edge of the frame. They no longer look like I’m taking a picture through a tube.

It doesn’t do away with lens distortion, but really allows me to deal with what I have. It doesn’t compensate for the slow focus problem, but it will make some of my darkened pictures look a bit better. Actually, a lot better. I was quite surprised how much difference a little de-vignetting makes.

New Lens?

After spending a weekend attempting to photograph an energetic three year old, I have decided that my over 10-year-old lens is not suitable for that job. It looks as if I will need to buy a new lens. The old one is so slow to focus that the child usually moves out of focus before the lens gets there. So – blurry pictures. I think kid photography is somewhat more dificult than sports photography.

So – I’ve been looking at zoom lenses in the 70-200mm range. My current lens is a Tamron 28-200mm, but I have other lenses to cover that “lower” range: an excellent quality Sigma 17-35mm wide angle lens, a “cheapie” Canon 35-80mm which came with my old Rebel and has better clarity than my Tamron 28-200mm.

In my searches, one lens stands out: the Canon 70-200mm F/4 “L” USM lens. This lens is one of Canon’s “L” series lenses. The “L” really means their top-end professional line [and that ususally means $$$]. I looked at the 70-200 F/2.8, but that one costs over a $1000 more than this one – which seems to be the entry point for the high-end professional lenses. I even looked at an equivalent 28-200mm “L” lens, but that one was over $2000, so it got scratched off the list [I’ve even read some reviews about it that give it a “mediocre” rating – not something I’d pay two grand for]. Some of these “L” lenses cost over $6000 [Ouch! I hope I don’t need that one any time soon!] but this one is actually affordable at less than $600. Sure: it’s simple and doesn’t have as many bells and whistles as the others [like image stabilization], but it’s a workhorse and the picture quality is astounding.

Looks like I have something else to save up for!

Trillions Of Bytes

2012-01-08 23:29:28

It certainly feels like Spring today, what with 65 degree temperatures. What a wonderful day for a ride – which is exactly what I did. I’m totally stoked about riding home, too! [but then, I usually am… did I tell you I love to go home to my wife?]

I finished building the new data server with the two replacement drives that came on Wednesday. It took quite a while to rebuild the large data storage array – but that’s because it’s 1.2TB. That’s right: 1.2 terabytes… or 1,200GB or 1,200,000MB or 1,200,000,000KB or 1,200,000,000,000 bytes. That kind of space only a few years ago would have taken up a whole room with storage racks from floor to ceiling – and I certainly wouldn’t have been able to afford it. And this is all on 5 hard drives – that’s it. In a tower-sized computer case. Yes, it’s larger than average, but all this space fits in a box the size of 3 CD ROM drives. Unbelievable. And those drives are not even the largest available today! I chose them becasue they were big enough and cheap. There are 500GB drives available today and that would be 2.5TB! Wow.

That’s a lot of space. Should last us a few years.

Next steps: data migration. I’ve started this already [it seems to not even make a dent in the available space – 30GB moved so far is less than 3% of the total space where before it was almost half my drive] but the big migration is yet to come. And, we’re going to be cleaning up the directory structure as well as eliminating any duplication.

Should be fun… heh.


When does Spring arrive? Soon, I hope.

I used to love Winter – now, I think fondly of warm sunshine and breezes. I think Winter had become an unknown Utopia – a distant ideal for me when I lived in hot, humid Houston. Now, it’s a reality. I’m still cold.

Of course, that doesn’t stop me from riding in the freezing cold. I enjoy the ride more that I dislike being cold. There are days, though…

However, all-in-all, I think I’d still rather be too cold than too hot.

I have noticed some flowers springing up in our yard and the tulips we planted are now sprouting. I hope to get some good pictures of them soon.

Heavy Watches And Broken Arms

It’s strange, being without debt. I’m so used to trying to decide how much will go toward debt vs savings – It’s like an old habit that doesn’t make sense anymore. Now, I don’t have to decide. I can simply move excess money into saving… AND NOT WORRY ABOUT DEBT! It is ia very strange feeling.

I suppose I got used to the pressure hanging over my head – or at least, used to its presence. I tried to explain my feelings to Laura, and this is the best that I could come up with: Imagine yourself wearing a 20-pound watch [some of you who wear dive watches may understand what I mean]. You wear this watch day and night, never taking it off. It’s not a comfortable watch – it’s cold and hard and has sharp edges. You keep having to look at it – you’re obsessed with the numbers on the front. You wear it for six years and while the watch isn’t what you’d call comforting, you become accostomed to its presence. Then, one day, you finally figure out that you don’t need it and that you can take it off and never pick it up again. Imagine the feeling of lightness – of freedom of movement.

Imaging also, that feeling of always wanting to look at the numbers – the numbers that aren’t there anymore [if any of you regualr watch wearers have forgotten to put on your watch, you know what I mean – you feel a little lost without it and keep trying to check the time on your empty arm…].

In fact it’s kind of like getting a cast off – you can finally itch where you couldn’t reach for so long and the feeling is simply sublime. But, even so, you still want to favor the limb: go easy on it, because you can’t quite believe that it’s as strong as it ever was and you don’t want to have to put that cast back on.

These feelings are very akin to what I have been experiencing this week.

Being debt free TOTALLY ROCKS! I’d recommend it to anyone.

This Is The Day

There is dancing in the streets.

At least, in my street. Today was the day that The Debt went away.

It has been over six years of struggling, with both patience and impatience. But: now, we are debt free. No credit card debt – we have paid off the last one. We will be keeping two cards in a file cabinet, but the one which we just paid off will be cancelled and cut up once the payment clears.

Those who deserve thanks for helping me accomplish this task are: God most of all for his patience with me and his provision in my life, Laura for her willingness to work through the debt with me that I incurred, my parents for their wise council, and my grandmother for providing the final push over the edge.

So, even if you don’t know me well, you still should celebrate that one more person is free of the slavery of debt.

Go dance in your street.

2 Of 7

No, not “Seven of Nine”, but two out of seven hard drives in my new system either failed to start at all, or went bad after a successful start. That fast: one hour. At least I got that out of the way early. The others seem to be working just fine. Of course, since one drive in each array died, I cannot even install the OS on my computer yet. At least, not permanently. I can “practice”. Or, just install the OS and run the hardware diagnostics to see if any other items need to be replaced.

This is my first major computer assembly from parts, at least from so many parts, and I suppose that statistically speaking, this is within the norm. However, I don’t want to be normal. I want it all to work the first time!

I did try to install the OS last night [Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition for 64-bit], but the CD I burned with the OS on it had a flaw, so I need to burn a new one. And I didn’t want to do that last night, or I’d have never gone to sleep at all… However, up until the point it failed to copy one file, it positively FLEW. The processor and the drive arrays I have are SO fast, that the usual 30 minutes until the customization stage was more like 5 minutes. Quite nice. I highly recommend 64 bit and SATA II.

Now, I must wait again… How long does it take to do an RMA replacement?