Friday, October 6, 2017

Video and Photography

As some of you know, I've been shooting some video for Randall J Hodges. He has a photo gallery in Edmonds, and also teaches photography classes. I've taken five photo classes from him, and he was looking for someone to shoot and edit some video to show how he does his "all-in-camera" photography. He and I decided to give it a whirl last spring, and as of this week, I've done three videos for him, all on his YouTube channel, "Out in the Field w/ Randall J Hodges."

Stop by, take a look, and Subscribe to his channel. Don't worry, there won't be more than about 5 or 6 videos a year. You won't be inundated.

The last three, "Sauk Mountain", "Park Butte", and "Winchester Mountain" are the ones I've done with him so far. We might do one winter video this year.

I enjoy getting out, and Randall is a fun person to be around. On a normal trip, we hike a few miles and have between one and two thousand feet of elevation gain. Two of the three trips we've car camped, so I'm not carrying camping gear on my back. Even so, on this latest trip, with clothing, 10 (or so) essentials, video gear, and photo gear (of course I get to take a few photos, too), my pack came in at around 40 pounds. For Park Butte, where we camped overnight, my pack was something around 54 pounds to start with.

When we went to Winchester Mountain and Twin Lakes this past Monday, the fall colors were at their peak. We had beautiful reds, yellows, oranges and greens. And a bit of new snow to top it all off.

Here's a bit of the trail on the way up to the top of Winchester Mountain.

We were at the top for sunset (just barely - it was hard to stop taking photos on the way up the trail!).

And as sunset progressed into Alpenglow, the view only got better. You can see the moon, and Twin Lakes below (where our camp was, and where we had to get back to after dark).

And the colors were even brilliant by moonlight after we got back to camp. Here's Winchester Mountain over the lower Twin Lake.

The next day, with such brilliant colors, we decided to hike part way back up Winchester Mountain. Once we got past half way, it only seemed sensible (some might say I lost my sensibility) to hike the rest of the way. And, I had to prove I was there. This is my style of selfie - shot with my Canon 5D Mark III. Since I'd lugged that camera up there, I wasn't going to settle for a shot with my cell phone.

The photos above are as they came out of the camera. Photoshop, Lightroom, etc., have not seen these photos. If you want to know how these photos are shot, take a class from Randall!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Image File Naming

In my last post (Scan, Scan, Scan), I wrote about how I got so far into scanning my photos. With (now) over 135,000 photos in my Lightroom catalog, and more than 20,000 of them scanned from film (I just did a more accurate count - I'm close to 27,000 scanned photos), I had to come up with a naming strategy that works long term.

Early in my photography days, I wrote descriptions on the frames of my 2x2-mounted 35mm slides. Something like "Playing Baseball in Front Yard". When I first started scanning, that was my scanned image name. It didn't take long to figure out that this wouldn't work. What if I had two photos with the same subject? So I started adding "-1" or "-2" to the names. It was clear this wouldn't work for long, either.

I tried a number of different schemes, but didn't hit on anything I really liked. That is, until I ran across a book, The DAM Book, Digital Asset Management for Photographers, that gave me the insight I needed. The Second Edition of this book is worth having on your bookshelf if you take a lot of photos. (There is way more than file naming information in this book.)

My filenames now look like this: gbs_20170304_5156.dng. Let me expand on this for you:

  • gbs - my initials. If I scan photos belonging to someone else, I use their initials. 
  • 20170304 - The date. That should be obvious. YYYYMMDD - 4 digits for the year, 2 digits for the month, and two digits for the day. Month and day are always 2 digits. For example February 15, 1995 would be 19950215. This way you can sort chronologically just by ordering the files by filename. 
  • 5156 - the sequence number from my digital camera. If the camera uses a different numbering scheme, then I use that. For instance, files from my Panasonic Point-and-Shoot camera end up looking like this: gbs_20170219_1040995.jpg. And from my Android phone, like this: gbs_2017-02-17 14.32.55.jpg (OK, that sort of breaks the sorting rules, but that's the way it is).
  • And, obviously, the file type - .dng (Digital Negative), .jpg (JPEG), etc. 
The good thing is that Lightroom lets me import my photos from my camera into this (these) format(s) very easily, so there is no manual renaming needed. 

What about scanned photos? They don't have an embedded sequence number. Again, I've done lots of experimenting through the years. The bottom line is that I only need to 1) uniquely name the files, and 2) be able to sort them into some semblance of order. 

I started out naming files like this (before I had completely formed my naming standard): gbs_19950721(05). The number in parentheses at the end was the frame number from the roll of film. That worked... until I shot two rolls of film in a day. Then I added 100 to the frame number for the next roll, becoming gbs_19950721(105). But that felt clumsy. And did I reset the number for the next date, or did I keep the 100 until I finished the roll?

Since ancient times (1960s or 1970s), I had kept my rolls of film numbered through the year, so a roll of film would be Roll (for example) 1988-12. Duh! Simple! I don't think I ever shot more than 100 rolls of film in a year, so I started numbering my images like this: gbs_19880325_1206. The 1206 is frame 6 of roll 12. And if you shot more than I did, just make the roll number 3 digits long. 

That leaves only one set of images with which that I don't follow this standard. I have a few boxes of loose black and white negatives. One of those boxes appears to be photos my grandfather shot starting around 1920 and continuing at least into the 1940s. There are no dates. There are no frame numbers. The rules are completely broken. At this time I'm just trying to preserve them. I'm placing them in folders that indicate who I think shot them, and they are simply named Image001.jpg, Image002.jpg, etc. As I find out more about them, I rename and catalog them. For instance, I found a photo of my Mother's first birthday - I can come pretty close to when that photo was shot , so I've renamed it accordingly. Of course, the sequence number is fiction.

Stay tuned. My on-disk organization might be next (or not). 

Of course, I must include a photo. This is photo gbs_19740317_0012.tif. Clearly it was shot March 17, 1974. It is the 12th frame on the roll of film, and I scanned this photo before I fully developed my naming standard. The photo shows Kettle Falls on the Columbia River near the town of Kettle Falls, Washington. It was taken the last time Kettle Falls was visible when the level of Lake Roosevelt was lowered during construction of the Third Powerhouse of Grand Coulee Dam. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Scan, Scan, Scan

It all started simply enough. I had an HP flatbed scanner (I don't recall the model) that came with this little mirror device that would redirect light from the scanner back down through a 2"x2" mounted 35mm slide so that you could scan the slide. Resolution? Oh, probably 400 or 600 dpi. It worked OK (just OK) for well-exposed or slightly over-exposed slides. Not so well for underexposed slides. I may have scanned a few dozen slides, but the quality wasn't adequate for me.

Some time later, I purchased a dedicated film scanner (Nikon Coolscan 3000).

The Nikon Coolscan 3000 could scan up to 2,700 dpi. At first, I thought this was more resolution than I needed, so scanned many slides and negatives at 1,350 dpi. About enough for a decent 4"x6" print.

It wasn't long before I wanted better. So I purchased a Nikon Super Coolscan 4000 ED film scanner, capable of 4,000 dpi resolution. And I upped my default scanning resolution to a whopping 2,000 dpi, scanning some specific negatives and slides at 3,000 or even 4,000 dpi if I thought I wanted larger prints from them. Eventually, disk space got really cheap and I realized that I should just scan everything at the maximum resolution. So all 35mm film I've scanned for the last 4 years or so is at 4,000 dpi. Eventually I purchased a Nikon Super Coolscan 5000 ED film scanner, which also scans at 4,000 dpi, but had a few more features that hopefully would improve my scan quality.

For image viewing and printing software, I used ACDSee, and later, ACDSee Pro. Not sure when I purchased this, but know I owned it in 2001. I still use it for specific purposes, which I will describe in a future blog.

When my friend/neighbor Jenne was about 7th grade (around 2008), I got this idea to create a photo book for her for her senior graduation (plan ahead...). I had been shooting all digital since 2003 or 2004, but had known Jenne since her arrival and adoption in the United States in 1998, so had around 6 years of photos on film. Before this time I had occasionally scanned some of my photos, but hadn't gotten really serious about it. I had probably scanned a thousand images.

So I started scanning photos of her. But, where to stop? What if the roll of film I was scanning had some other interesting photos? Should I not scan those? Or scan those? I opted to scan all. My scanner/software could scan a strip of negatives at a time, so it was easy to insert a strip and let it automatically do a preview of all negatives in the strip (usually 4), then select which to scan. But I also wanted to keep track of which rolls of film and which negatives had been scanned. The scanner software could accept a filename pattern, and automatically increment a number within that pattern. So I decided to make the filenames include the negative number.

To start with (I think - this was years ago, and I've been refining my scheme through the years, and don't recall all details, or the exact order of the evolution), I put the images from each roll of film in its own folder, and labeled them something like IMAGE00l.JPG, IMAGE002.JPG, etc. More about the evolution of my file naming conventions in a future blog.

Now that I had a goal, and a deadline (Jenne's graduation), I started scanning everything I had shot since 1998 up until I was shooting all digital (around 2005). I had tried multiple tools for cataloging through the years, but they each had its own proprietary database. At one point, an upgrade to a new version of a tool lost all of the data from the previous version. I knew what I wanted, and it wasn't available. I looked at a professional digital asset management tool that was, in my mind, too complex (and quite expensive). I knew the only way this could work was to store the cataloging information in the image file.

And I continued scanning.

To go back a few years... Cataloging my photos was something I have thought about since early in my photography days. I started shooting when I was around 10 or 11 when my dad gave me his old Kodak 620 folding camera (I still have it). I then upgraded (?) to a Kodak Instamatic with a little pop-up flash that used 126 film. When I graduated high school, I could still look at any photo I had shot, and recall the circumstances of the photograph. By the time I got through college, I could still remember pretty much any photo, but storage was becoming an issue. I was shooting all 35mm slides at that point, and was filing them by subject matter in slide storage boxes. Being able to remember any shot allowed this to work. If I wanted a particular photo, I could remember where I had filed it.

I had subjects such as Family, Friends, Church, Scenery... I knew this wasn't going to work much longer. How should I file a slide that had pictures of, for example, Family at Church? So I switched to filing slides chronologically. Sometime in the mid-'70s I learned about Key Word In Context (KWIC) ( I wrote a computer program to implement this. Here's a simple example of how it worked.

Say I had a photo (labeled Photo 045) that I described as "Dad and Randy at Mt. Rainier." The KWIC program would ignore a list of connector and filler words (such as "at" and "Mt."), and generate one line of output for each significant work in the sentence. Thus this description would generate 3 lines of output:

  1. Dad and Randy at Mt. Rainier - (Photo 045)
  2. Randy at Mt. Rainier - Dad and (Photo 045)
  3. Rainier - Dad and Randy at Mt. (Photo 045)
Let's say I also had Photo 060 with a description of "Mom and Dad at Christmas." This description also generates three lines:
  1. Mom and Dad at Christmas - (Photo 060)
  2. Dad at Christmas - Mom and (Photo 060)
  3. Christmas - Mom and Dad at (Photo 060)

Now I would have an output file that could have thousands of lines of output for maybe 1,000 photo descriptions. It would then be sorted alphabetically, yielding:
  1. Christmas - Mom and Dad at (Photo 060)
  2. Dad and Randy at Mt. Rainier - (Photo 045)
  3. Dad at Christmas - Mom and (Photo 060)
  4. Mom and Dad at Christmas - (Photo 060)
  5. Rainier - Dad and Randy at Mt. (Photo 045)
  6. Randy at Mt. Rainier - Dad and (Photo 045)
and I could now scan down the list for the subjects of interest and locate the photos. In reality, after I had entered about 100 photos, I realized this was quickly going to become too cumbersome, so I abandoned it.

In 2006, Adobe announced the beta of Lightroom. It could catalog. It could edit photos. And it stored the data in the image file! I immediately downloaded it, and started learning how to use it. (I'm still learning.) I started tagging images with keywords, and those are all stored in a database and in the image file. My dream had become reality.

By then I had thousands of images on disk, as I had started shooting digital in 2002, plus I had scanned a "few" slides and negatives. I tried to go back and catalog everything, but I missed many hundreds of photos, and my cataloging was incomplete. But at least I could quickly and easily locate all images I had cataloged.

Now I could continue scanning. And cataloging both the scanned images and the ones shot on digital cameras. And continue scanning I am doing. I've scanned photos for friends. I've scanned negatives my dad shot in the Army, and of me when I was a year or two old. And negatives my Grandpa shot when my Mom was 1 year old, and through her high school years, and of me. I have 100-200 rolls of negatives that I got from my Mom that she has shot before switching to digital that I am scanning. And cataloging. She also has several (at least) file boxes of slides, of which I have only scanned one or two.

All told, I now have, at this moment, 134,620 photos in Lightroom. I have scanned somewhere over 20,000 of those, and the rest are from digital cameras, mine, family and friends.

And, yes, I completed the photo book for Jenne. It consisted of about 800 photos, beginning with her arrival in the United States of America through her high school graduation. I was a little late to give it as a graduation present, but it did make a good Christmas present that year. In case you are wondering, I have 10,247 photos cataloged of Jenne. I'm sure I've missed a few. And, over the years, Jenne helped me pick the photos she liked. She didn't know the goal, but I would occasionally show here several hundred photos that I had selected, and have her mark (with a special key word) the ones she liked. Thank you for your help, Jenne!

And her younger sister is now only four years from graduation. I have another task ahead of me. The good news is the film photos of her are already scanned.

Scanning these photos allows me to share these old photos with friends and family. And it brings back good memories. Here is a photo of the sails on the ship Fantome on a cruise in the Caribbean in 1991.


Another sailing story. Written in 2002. Jenne, mentioned here, was age 5. Lynn is her mother.

Today (Saturday) it wasn't nearly as warm. It was cloudy all morning and into the afternoon - just like the weatherman said it would be. That's our air conditioning kicking in. Whenever Seattle gets hot weather for a few days, the flow reverses and we get the cool moist air off the ocean, which cuts the sun's intensity in the morning so we won't get so hot. As we're near the summer solstice and the sun is high in the sky for many hours, it almost always burns through in the afternoon so we get a sunny day that's just comfortable. And, so it was today. We (Lynn, Jenne, and I) got on the boat at about 2:15 this afternoon. The sun was moderately filtered - you know what I mean, perfect picture taking lighting. Not bright sun, but bright enough that there are definite shadows. In fact, I was thinking I should have a tripod there and take some pictures of the marina. It was a very low tide, so standing at the top of the ramp down to the docks you seemed to be about mid-height on many of the sailboat masts. It would have been perfect angles and lighting for a panoramic shot of the whole marina. I'll keep that lighting and tide in mind for the future. But, on to the boat. Headed out, and had full sun by the time we were 5 minutes out of the marina. Light breeze at about 8 knots. Just perfect for a relaxing sail with a 5-year-old on board. Especially one that wants to steer part of the time.

Got the main sail up. Got the jib deployed. Doing fine, moving about 4-5 knots. But, the wind is tapering off as we head further out. At 3-4 knots of wind we're moving along at 2 knots (not bad!). Finally, the wind is just kind of whispering at us from various directions. We're almost dead in the water. So, drop the jib and start the engine. Plan B is in effect. We'll motor over to Blake Island (about 5 or 6 miles), and check out the mooring buoy situation on the back side. We're planning a trip in late July with some of Jenne's "China friends" to Blake Island, and just in case the dock and mooring buoys on the front are filled up, we want to know what our options are. My, but the island is busy today. All of the mooring buoys on the NW end are taken, as are the ones on the east side. On the south side, just across the point from the dock, there is an available mooring buoy. Wish we'd come prepared to spend the night. It would be a perfect night to sleep on the boat.

Head back to the marina. Jenne steers the last 15 minutes toward the marina.She's really getting the hang of this. Last year, she understood about turning the wheel in the direction she wanted to go, but didn't understand about straightening the wheel (OK, that word picture isn't right) once you were pointed in the right direction. But, she understood the important things. Once, when Lynn was below decks and Jenne was steering  (assisted), she asked if she could turn the boat in a circle so she could see Mama's reaction. Of course I said yes... And we hadn't made more than a third of a circle when Lynn's head popped up asking what was going on, much to Jenne's delight. This year Jenne understands how to steer. Her concentration often lapses and she needs to be reminded where she's heading, but hey, I know adults that need that!

Again, perfect weather. With the light breezes and sunshine, it's another T-shirt, shorts, and Tevas day. I did put a sweatshirt on after 6:00 PM out on the water. Took it off when we got in the marina.

Back into the marina, where the tensions normally mount. Gee, I must be getting the hang of this - and I haven't even been a boat owner for 4 years yet! No stress. Of course, the winds are light at about 6 knots, and they're coming from the right direction. We'll be heading almost straight into the wind coming into the slip. Lynn agrees to handle the lines and get the fenders out, and I'll just stay on the helm. Turn at the right channel (I've almost screwed that up in the past - quite embarrassing). Head up the channel and spot our boat's slip (it used to be hard for me to pick that slip out - there are a lot of slips in this marina - we're slip 63, and just over half way out). Swing the bow toward the slip - hey, it's looking like I turned at the right time. Ease it around, pop it in reverse. Rev the engine, and the boat slows nicely. Serenity "walks" left when in reverse (normal for single-engine boats - the physics of the prop and all), and we have a bow-in port-tie slip. Wonderful - the stern sucks nicely up against the pier, and I step over the lifeline, hop off the boat (almost tripping over the dock line that's wrapped around my foot, but no one notices), and secure the stern line while Lynn is handling the bow line. Jenne now gets to shut down the engine (it's a diesel - you don't shut off the key until you've starved the engine of fuel so the engine dies), which she thinks is a cool job. We're back. Just pick up all the stuff we brought on board, close up the boat, hose off the salt spray (we didn't do that after our ride Thursday night), and go for Chicken Teriyaki.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

An Evening Sail

It has been much too long since I posted. This is a (true) story I wrote back in 2002. First of three stories.

Thursday I went out after work (temperature on land was above 90 degrees) with the one and only lessee, Joe, on Serenity (my sailboat). Had stiff winds when we left - highest I saw was 19 knots. Had full mainsail and jib up, and we were hauling ass out there. Got her up above 6 knots. We headed N, tacking upwind. Got across the little bay (you know - to the other side of the water over by the north end of Bainbridge Island), and the wind dropped off to a measly 8 knots.

So, just to see how it would work, we put up the asymmetrical spinnaker (sometimes known as a geniker, or a drifter). That's a lot of sail! Headed mostly downwind - straight for downtown Seattle, aimed right at the Smith Tower, and she performed beautifully. We were doing 5+ knots. As we got closer to Seattle - sort of back where we came from - the wind started picking up. Once the winds got around 12 knots, Serenity got real squirrelly. If I let her bow come up at all, she'd catch the wind and try to turn into the wind. Normally, you'd think that would be good - into the wind spills the wind out of the sails and lets the boat come more upright. However, when you're heading downwind to begin with... into the wind puts you more broadside to the wind. With that much sail out there, she really heeled under those conditions. I was afraid at one point I was going to lose control - the helm didn't respond and I was just about standing on the side of the cockpit. (Who needs drugs when you've got that much adrenalin?) Hit 6.5 knots at one point. That may be the fastest I've ever had Serenity moving.

I wore a short sleeved T-shirt, shorts, and boating Tevas the whole evening. In the middle of the sound with a 15+ knot breeze, I considered adding a sweatshirt. Then we'd get close to the shore and the wind felt like a blowtorch coming off the land. It was great!

As we got close to Seattle, the wind tapered a bit (and so did I). We were almost dead square in front of the incoming Bremerton Ferry, so we moved north a bit so as to not block the dock. We were going to drop the Geniker, but decided to leave it up until the ferry passed us - it is a beautiful rainbow-colored sail - for the enjoyment of the ferry passengers. Then we headed north again back to the Marina. A very successful evening.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Seattle signage not very clear!

While waiting for the bus in Seattle on Third near Pine yesterday, I noticed this sign, and wondered what the hell it means!

The top part seem clear - from 6 to 9 in the morning and 3 to 6 in the afternoon buses come here. I'm trying to catch a bus here, so that's a good thing. 

But what's this "EVERYDAY" stuff? I think of the word "everyday" as an adjective, although says it can be a noun (it has three definitions for use as an adjective and one for use as a noun). Synonyms include "workday" and "common". To me, "everyday" means "common". As in, "Today I'm wearing my everyday shoes." 

So is this where the Common bus stops? (The Fancy bus must stop somewhere else.)

Then there's the bottom portion of the sign. Wow. Seattle, are you sure? It's clear that your car will be towed. But when? Apparently, just "all other times". So does that mean you won't be towed from 6 to 9 in the morning and 3 to 6 in the afternoon? (And, is that Every Day? or just the Everyday Days?)

At least they have a phone number you can call if this is confusing. 206-684-5444. (But don't bother - it wasn't helpful.)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A few fixes for the Kawasaki Versys

I bought my Kawasaki Versys new in 2009. It's been a great motorcycle, but it didn't take long to discover a few things that needed improving or a few problems to be solved. Here are three of the fixes I've done.

  • The mirrors were terrible. First, they're too short (or not set far enough out). When you look in the mirrors, all you see is your shoulders. And they vibrate like crazy, making it impossible to see details of what's going on behind you! Early on I bought a couple of mirror extenders from That fixed it so I could see traffic behind me and not just my shoulders, but the vibration problem still was there. The solution for the vibration was to replace the mirrors. I picked up a pair of Aprilia mirrors locally for about $24 each (a real deal - way less than Kawasaki wanted for mirrors for any model motorcycle). 
  • After the first season of riding my Versys it developed a terrible buzz/vibration coming from somewhere up front. Reading the forums, it was apparent this was "normal" for this bike. I found that pressing on the cowling around the headlight reduced it (which was one of the commonly mentioned buzz points). Again, at the recommendation of several riders on the forums, I took all the cowling off and put a thin self-sticking foam insulation (picked up from the local hardware store) everywhere the cowling touched or almost touched the frame or another piece of cowling. Buzz fixed!
  • The reset button in the instrument cluster is another failure point. Very frustrating to not be able to reset my trip odometer or set the clock! Again, the forums identified the problem (or multiple problems) - and had a solution. Take the instrument cluster off the bike, dismantle it enough to get to the bottom of the circuit board, and then use contact cleaner on the switches. It looks like they're enclosed and the contact cleaner won't get into the switch, but apparently it does get into the right area and doing this solved my problem. A year later, and the switches still work reliably. 
There are more things on my list I'd like to do, but these were the frustrating little design flaws that were easy to resolve. (I hope Kawasaki is listening.)