Saturday, March 31, 2012

365 Photo Project - Everything March

It's that time again, time to post a contact sheet of all the images I've taken in the last month and reflect on them.

There's definitely more panoramic attempts this month, at least during the very spring like weather we had at the start of the month. Looking over these pictures I can see flowering trees and plants definitely are prominent as I'm sure they are for more photographers this time of year. Also, this month I made more of an effort to get involved in flickr groups, one to attract more people to this blog but also to hopefully learn and get ideas for this photo a day project. What with spring being here hopefully better weather is just around the corner and I do certainly like having more opportunities with the lighter evenings to get out and out snapping things.

91/365 Photo Project - Overcast on the Red Line

Overcast on the Red Line

The forecast called for snow flakes in Western Mass., but here in Boston this morning it was mostly just overcast and drizzly. This was shot out of the rear car of a red line train back towards Kendall Sq.

Taken with the iPod touch camera, attempted some retouching in post processing.

Friday, March 30, 2012

90/365 Photo Project - Volvo Sports Coupe

Volvo Sports Coupe

Out and about for lunch today in Central Sq. and I saw this little beauty parked up by the curb and ready to be taken by its lucky owner for a road trip. If I win the mega millions lottery tonight I may have to get me one or two of these ;)

Taken with the Canon PowerShot SX230HS, cropped and levels adjusted slightly in post processing.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

89/365 Photo Project - Reliable Sprinkler Alarm

Reliable Sprinkler Alarm

I thought I'd contract yesterday's patterns on the ground with today's patterns on this wall which plays host to a fire alarm.

Taken with the Canon PowerShot SX230HS, tone corrected and cropped for squaring in post processing.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

88/365 Photo Project - Cobblestones


Showers that passed through the area today left a shine on these cobblestones in Cambridge.

Taken with the Canon PowerShot SX230HS, tone corrected in post processing.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

87/365 Photo Project - Blossoms In Boston

Blossoms In Boston

Blossoms in Boston hold on through the biting wind chills that came through the area this week.

Taken with the LG Rumor Touch phone, no post processing.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Free April 2012 Desktop Calendar Wallpaper

Get your free April 2012 Monthly Desktop Calendar Wallpaper. Simply click on the above image to get the full size version and right click to save it to your picture directory (depending on your browser).

Once saved locally you can set it as your desktop background. For instructions on how change your desktop background on a Mac or a PC click here or here.

86/365 Photo Project - Beacon Hill State House

Beacon Hill State House

There was a nip in the air today as I walked through the Boston Common passed the Beach Hill State House. Boston seemed very quiet for a week day and those Bostonians who were out and about all looked a little angry and the returning winter temperatures.

Taken with the LG Rumor Touch phone as 3 photos combined in post processing.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

85/365 Photo Project - Going Bananas

Going Bananas

While out grocery shopping today I committed the sin of not having my camera with me, not even my camera phone, so today's photo was taken with the extremely bad lens of my iPod touch which as you can see takes extremely awful indoor light shots at the extremely low resolution of 960x720.

Taken with the iPod touch camera, attempted noise reduction in post processing.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

84/365 Photo Project - Spring Blossoms

Spring Blossoms

Today's 50F temps may not be quite as spring like as the last few days but the trees sure think Spring is in the air. I like the bokeh effect but wish it was a little more, well, effective here.

Taken with the Canon PowerShot SX230HS in macro focusing mode, tone corrected in post processing.

Friday, March 23, 2012

83/365 Photo Project - Ceiling Fan

Ceiling Fan

Not a lot to say about today's inspiration that came to me while resting up in bed. Fan was on full speed and I tried to capture the blurriness of its motion.

Taken with the Canon PowerShot SX230HS no post processing.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

82/365 Photo Project - Sun Setting On The Harvard Boat House

Sun Setting On The Harvard Boat House

Taken from the passenger seat of my wife's car as we crossed the Charles River. It was difficult to capture this scene without getting any pedestrians in the frame.

Taken with the LG Rumor Touch phone, no post processing.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

81/365 Photo Project - Sun Over The Boston Public Gardens

Sun Over The Boston Public Gardens

A walk through the Boston Common and Public Gardens after work today allowed me to capture the sun shining brightly overhead while the temps hit 80f.

Taken with LG Rumor Touch I snapped 2 photos and combined them in post processing to make one large square aspect ratio frame for a total of 1622x1622 before uploading to blogger.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

80/365 Photo Project - Anniversary Flowers

Anniversary Flowers

Today March 20th 2012 is the 9th Anniversary of the marriage of me and my wife, wow where does the time go to? Thanks to my mom & dad for the flowers!

Taken with the Canon PowerShot SX230HS in landscape mode, cropped in post processing and clone stamp used to get rid of an unfortunate background object in the original frame.

Monday, March 19, 2012

79/365 Photo Project - Still St Patrick's Day

Still St Patrick's Day

St Patrick's day may have passed but that doesn't mean the folks around Boston and Cambridge are ready to take down their celebratory decorations.

Taken with the Canon PowerShot SX230HS in landscape mode no post processing.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

78/365 Photo Project - Fresh Pond Cardinal

Fresh Pond Cardinal

A sunny spring morning in Fresh Pond, Cambridge MA, and all the birds were singing. This cardinal refused to stay still long enough for me to get in to position where I could snap a better portrait of it so this profile shot will have to suffice. I like the brilliance of the cardinals red feathers against the bright blue sky.

Taken with the Canon PowerShot SX230HS in landscape mode with it's x14 zoom fully extended, cropped and levels adjusted in post processing.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

77/365 Photo Project - Central Sq Panoramic

Central Sq Panoramic

Another overcast day here in Cambridge MA, another lunch break in Central Sq. While the wife was getting her lunch I sat at a park bench watching the people and traffic pass by and waited for an interesting scene to happen. Taking several shots on continuous shooting mode a total of 9 shots were combined in post processing, joins removed with the clone stamp tool as best I could. As usual with taking any number of shots to be combined in to a superwide pano frame it's essential to take your shots as quickly as possible, especially with fast moving traffic and pedestrians. Combined size before uploading was 13666x3360 pixels.

Taken with the Canon PowerShot SX230HS in continous shooting mode.

Friday, March 16, 2012

76/365 Photo Project - Alien Plant

Alien Plant

Actually it's dried eucalyptus plant stems but Alien Plant seems to describe this frame better don't you think?

Taken with the Canon PowerShot SX230HS in portrait mode, no post processing.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

75/365 Photo Project - JFK/Umass T Station

JFK/Umass T Station

Southbound T station at JFK/Umass, those red line trains certainly don't run too often. Waiting for the train in the cold is captured well in this B&W photo, tip for any south bound T riders, wait at Andrew station for the braintree bound train in the warmth and comfort of the underground station.

Taken with the Canon PowerShot SX230HS in landscape mode and converted to B&W in post processing.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

74/365 Photo Project - Fog Over Boston

Fog Over Boston

This photo is a stark contrast to the sunny days we've had here in the Boston area. The skyscrapers of the Boston skyline disappear in to the early morning mist. Compare this to the same scene taken January 4th.

Taken with the Canon PowerShot SX230HS, cropped for aspect and tone corrected in post processing.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

73/365 Photo Project - Aussie Pie

Aussie Pie

Working in the South Boston I've often passed by KO Catering & Pies restaurant and wondered if I'd like their pies, well today the pull was just too much to resist. As someone who grew up in the North of England I do love a good pie but I am often dismayed at what passes as a 'pie' in New England. I'm looking at you restaurants that simply stuff a puff pastry on top of a Irish stew. A pie should have a base as well as a top, yum! Just add pies, sweetcorn and HP brown sauce and I was in heaven.

Taken with the Canon PowerShot SX230HS and eaten in 10 minutes. Happy Pie Day for tomorrow, 3/14!

Monday, March 12, 2012

72/365 Photo Project - Time Change

Time Change

The amount of traffic in and out of Boston today seemed really light, I have a theory a lot of folks forgot about the time change and were an hour late for work! The time shown on the clock here is actually not the time this photo was taken because it is broken.

Taken with the Canon PowerShot SX230HS tone corrected and cropped for aspect in post processing.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

71/365 Photo Project - Rock on Wollaston Beach

Rock on Wollaston Beach

The warm weather today lent itself well to a long walk along Wollaston Beach where I had the chance to take this shot of the rocks as the tide went out.

Taken with the Canon PowerShot SX230HS tone corrected in post processing.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

70/365 Photo Project - Water Droplet Macro

Water Droplet Macro

Inspired by some of the wonderful reflections in water droplets I've seen on G+ lately I thought I would give it a go. Some dried flowers provided the leaf and a drop of water from a teaspoon provided the droplet, lit only here by the natural light of the window which was probably my biggest mistake. The more light the more detail and greater the reflection, next time I will use artificial light and go for a bigger droplet.

Taken with the Pentax K200d in Macro using the Sigma 70mm F/2.8 EX DG Macro Lens I held the camera supported against my knee. I cropped and corrected for tone in post processing but besides that what you see here is what came out of the camera.

My Top 5 must have FREE Windows apps

I've been a windows PC user since Windows 3 and as bad as some of their Operating Systems have been Microsoft have to be given some credit for bringing the home computer to the masses (Mac what's that?!)

In the many iterations of Windows I've used I always find myself downloading the following 5 applications that I recommend to all amateur photos and grapic designers a like.

The free image viewer (which does a lot more than just open images) has been my go to image viewer for close to 15 years now and with each version Irfan just keeps on making his software better and better with support now added for music and movie files too.

For those of us who watch a lot of movies on their PC though there is no substitute of a real movie viewer, and anyone who has used Windows own built in Media Player will know the woahs of having downloaded a movie and not being able to play it because of a missing codec or a report of a bad/corrupt file. Or even worse those clever little virus writers out there can now embed nasty things in movies and music files so you have to be sure of the source of your videos. You can minimize all that nonsence by downloading and installed the VLC Player, if this movie player doesnt open that file then nothing will beleive me! And because it's not a 'mainstream' player the risk of being exposed by a bad file is minimized (so I'm told, don't hold me to that!)

For those times when you are working on some CSS or are just trying to match the background color of a web site in your image editing software then this tool is invaluable. Start up ColorPic and move your mouse cursor to the color you wish to match/copy et voila! Color pic gives you the RGB value, the HTML hex code as well as HSV and CMYB values. If you don't know what most of these are don't worry, just know that you'll never be able to not match to a color again (that didn't seem like very good English did it?). ColorPic even saves the colors you have 'grabbed' so you always have easy access to them again.

In these days of FaceBook and the like there may be a generation out there that doesn't understand the pain of owning and maintaining a web site with joy of folder permissions and such languages as PHP and ASP. Well, for those of us who still have our own personal web space and yearn for the days of Geocities (ok maybe not) we will find FileZilla an invaluable tool to quickly upload entire web folders to your web space (or download if need be too). Anyone recall 'surfing' FTP servers at college to find that latest midi files, games and software releases in the days before anyone had ever heard of FireFox? Ok I'm showing my age now.

One of my most common annoyances with software is unnecessary size and bloat, and this has become epitimized in Adobe's PDF Reader software, with so many addins and unnecessary features that you are forced to accept when you download and install their software. Or even worse when the software itself just comes pre-installed on a new PC without your consent. Well there is an anwer, that answer is FoxIt's PDF reader/viewer which avoids all that nonsense and is a simple PDF reader that now supports the ability to read PDFs directly in your browser. And as an added bonus it is also meant to be less prone to attackers who may attach bad things to those PDF files that download online. Again no promises from me on that claim either!

And there you have it my Top 5 list, I must say it was hard not to make this a Top 10 or Top 20 I could have waffled on about the merits of good, free software for hours. And remember Free is not Free, if you really love these programs consider donating to their cause with either money or time, yes the open source software movement benefits from the contribution of developers the world other.

Do you agree with this list, any others you would add? Take Care, Andy.

Friday, March 9, 2012

69/365 Photo Project - Harvard Campus Buildings

Harvard Campus Buildings

I thought I would end the week with another panoramic, this time taken with my Canon PowerShot instead of my phone or iPod though so I was more hopeful about getting better resolution source images for combining in to one large ultra wide angel zoom of Harvard. With the sun shining overhead this afternoon it may have looked like spring but there was still quite a chill in the air.

Taken with the Canon PowerShot SX230HS then combined, cropped and rotated counter-clockwise 2 degrees in post processing. I also tried to fill in the gaps left by the combination software in the sky and buildings can you tell where? Probably.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

68/365 Photo Project - Sweeping Panoramic of Boston Tea Party Ship

Sweeping Panoramic of Boston Tea Party Ship

I just couldn't help myself again today, it was so nice out at lunch time that I grabbed my LG Rumor Touch and snapped 5 photos of the Boston harbor. This was shot viewed towards the new construction of the Boston Tea Party Ship which seems to be coming along nicely, about time they did something with it!

It may have been mid 60s out there but the breeze off the water sure cooled things down a lot, so much so I was glad to be back in the office after taking this shot. The resolution of the 5 pics combined came to a total of 4638x2280 after a little cropping for size.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

67/365 Photo Project - South Boston Panoramic

South Boston Panoramic

Thanks again go to the Fast Camera app on iTunes for taking the 32 consecutive snaps on my iPod Touch which I was able to combine in to the one large panoramic image above (resolution 3126x734 before upload).

I really need to get better at sweeping across the horizon and avoiding the 'curvature' effect, if only there was a tripod for the iPod ;)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

66/365 Photo Project - Broadway Boston Panoramic

Broadway Boston Panoramic

Thanks to the Fast Camera app on iTunes, which was free today I was able to take this sweeping pano on my iPod across Broadway in South Boston and capture over 30 consecutive snaps and combine them in to the one large panoramic image above.

Taken with the iPod Touch it's clear that the built-in camera resolution pretty poor but when combining lots of low resolution images together in to one large 2961x631 resolution image is pretty cool, I won't be throwing away by Canon P&S shooter any time soon though.

A tip for anyone attempting this technique try it on a scene without fast moving objects or you will get ghosting effect as demo'd by the maroon SUV in this pic.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Photoshop #4 - Fun With Photoshop Brushes

After messing around

Before and boring

Using one of my less interesting photographs taken this month I was determined to spruce it up a bit using the built in brushes in Photoshop, can you tell which ones? Flowing Stars of various sizes and intensity make for the rain effect here, Grass in the foreground and Scattered Leaves were added to the bear branches of the tree.

Filters that were applied were Solarize and Adjustments for B&W and for the final touch Levels were also adjusted slightly at the bottom end to give the sun in the background more of a pop. For my next Photoshop assignment I would like to learn how to create my own custom brushes. I think the 'grass' in the foreground was a little over the top here but hey I had fun.

65/365 Photo Project - Boston From The Charles

Boston From The Charles

It might be chilly out there but the sun and clear skies sure make it feel like spring, and with 66F meant to be returning to the area on Thursday I can't wait to start taking more photography walks again. This was taken from the Longfellow Bridge

Taken with the Canon PowerShot SX230HS cropped for aspect and tone adjusted in post processing.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Photoshop #3 - 3d Other World

3d Other World

I must have been in a creative mood today because I thought I would try to follow the techniques laid out by Alexandra Fomicheva in her blog post but using my own images as the source of this outer worldly scene.

I don't have Photoshop CS5 so I didn't expect to follow all the 3d techniques mentioned and I didn't expect to be able to come anywhere close to the professional results of the tutorial. Rather I wanted to practice my artistic post processing skills and learn some new Photoshop techniques, namely layers, gradient fill, tweaking of magic wand selections and how to apply filters to only parts of an image. And the result was the above image where I used the moon from a photograph I took in Medford MA in January, the clouds from a South Boston MA scene I taken in February and a texture lifted from yet another of my 365 photo projects. All in all there's not much photography in this but at least there is some digital artistry I hope.

64/365 Photo Project - Time In Central Square

Time In Central Square

Time for coffee in Central Sq at breakfast this morning. The overcast weather continues to supply really boring skies, I can't wait for some blue skies and fluffy clouds to return.

Taken with the Canon PowerShot SX230HS tone adjusted in post processing.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

63/365 Photo Project - Overcast Sky

Overcast Sky

The snow of the past few days begins to melt causing foggy, wet overcast conditions today. I wasn't going to venture too far from home so here's a snap of the sun trying to break through the clouds. Not the most interesting composition but it will have to do for today, hopefully tomorrow will be drier and I'll venture further out. I couldn't decide whether to take this with the Canon's belt in B&W filter option but I didn't want to lose what little color this had so it remains as is.

Taken with the Canon PowerShot SX230HS tone adjusted in post processing.

Friday, March 2, 2012

365 Photo Project - Everything February

Well I did it last month so here again is a contact sheet of all the images I've taken in February.

Comparing these images to those taken the previous month I think it's evident that the warm winter weather has meant more outdoor shots, and long may that warm weather continue, but I would like to use my light box to capture some more great macro shots.

62/365 Photo Project - All You Can Eat

All You Can Eat

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a fan, probably too much so, of the 'all you can eat buffet'. Today, lunch at India Castle in Central Square was no exception. I might have to start a blog comparing all the various area all you can eat buffets but that probably wouldn't be very good for my ever expanding waste-line ;)

Buffet Selection : 7/10
Tastiness: 8/10
Naan bread: 7/10
Price: 9/10
Unique thing: Free cup of tea

Taken with the Canon PowerShot SX230HS no post processing.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

61/365 Photo Project - Data Loss

Data Loss

If you learn one thing from reading any of my posts on this blog I hope it's that you can never backup too often. My laptop hard drive died on me the other day and I have lost 6 months worth of photos. I am needless to say more than a little pissed at that. Being someone who is computer savvy I would normally backup to DVD, to external Hard Drive to web sites more regularly than I have been doing due to our recent house move, never let being too busy be an excuse, back up now before something happens to your important photos, files, financial records or and passwords too!

So today's photo is of my old hard drive as I continue in vane it seems to recover the files on it, no luck yet using it as a second drive, trying GetDataBack and HDD Regenerator apps on it, although both programs are pay to use they do allow you to look at your HD first to see if there is anything they can recover and believe me I would gladly pay the 50 bucks to get those pictures back. Fortunately, at least anything I have posted to this blog is saved (although in a lower resolution) automatically by Blogger, so there is at least that.

Taken with the Canon PowerShot SX230HS in handheld night-scene mode with no post processing.

UPDATE 3/2: Thanks to some great recovery software I have managed to recover all of my photos that I thought lost, technology is a wonderful thing if you have the right tools, and yes I have backed them all up now, crisis averted. I have not been a fun individual to be around while I thought everything was lost but now life can return to normal once more.