News and Views from Dave Wilson

Archive for August, 2011

“Ready Player One” Launch and Signing

by on Aug.23, 2011, under Miscellaneous

Ernie Cline's "ECTO88" DeLorean outside Book People

With an author wife whose first book is scheduled to hit the shelves in August next year, our family attends a lot of book signings and launch parties but tonight was rather different since, for the first time in ages, the boys and I attended a signing without Nikki and for a book aimed at adults.

Local screenwriter and author Ernie Cline (he wrote the screenplay for “Fanboys“. If you haven’t seen it and are even vaguely interested in Star Wars geekdom, you should) was hosting his book launch and signing event for “Ready Player One” at Book People this evening. The book, a dystopian sci-fi, is promoted as a jam-packed geekfest of 1980’s cultural references so the evening started off well when we discovered 80s era video games available for people to play while waiting. Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters were flowing or, for those who don’t like having their brains smashed out with a slice of lemon tied round a large gold brick, Tab and Pepsi (in old-style cans). The mechanical highlight of the evening, however, was definitely Ernie’s DeLorean, complete with flux capacitor, KIT-style oscillating LEDs and Ghostbusters paraphernalia. This cunning tax write-off is to be Ernie’s transport all around the country on his book tour which started yesterday in Houston and continues through Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and California. It was also open for young (and not so young) boys to sit in.

I’m looking forward to getting into the book since I have it on good authority that it’s a great read (thanks Mike).

Drew in Ernie Cline's DeLorean

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Image in use – Aquifers of Texas

by on Aug.16, 2011, under Photography

One of my Hamilton Pool shots is on the cover of a new report on the state of Texas’ aquifers from the Texas Water Development Board. You can get hold of a PDF version of the report (which is also being printed) here if you are interested.

Aquifers of Texas cover

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World Wide Photo Walk, Austin

by on Aug.15, 2011, under Photography

If you like to get together with other photographers, geek out, get a bit of exercise and take part in a world-wide photographic phenomenon, head on over to Scott Kelby’s World Wide Photo Walk site and sign up to take part in one of the 570+ photo walks arranged for the weekend of October 1st and 2nd this year.

I’m signed up for the Austin walk, led by the wonderful Simi Shonowo. Simi has led walks in Austin for the last 3 years and does a lovely job of arranging a route and helping folks out on the walk. There are still 20 places open on the walk but these are very likely to fill so get your name on the list quickly.

I hope to see you on Saturday, October 1st. In the meantime, here are a few shots I’ve taken on the last 2 WWPW events in Austin.

First Street Bridge, Austin

Palmer Events Center, Austin

Tire Sculpture, Austin


Balconies, Austin

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Lightroom Tip – Using Colour Labels

by on Aug.14, 2011, under Photography

I had a discussion on Twitter last week with a professional photographer who was bemoaning the drudgery of editing large numbers of pictures. During the exchange, we talked about how we go about marking photos that we’ve downloaded but not yet got round to editing. His solution was to import everything into a single folder and, when he had edited them, move them to their final destination. I told him about the method I use which he has since adopted so I reckoned this may be a worthwhile tip to pass on. This is really part of a larger post I need to write on my overall digital workflow but, for now, here’s how I keep track of pictures in various stages of uneditedness in Lightroom.

The “Library” module in Lightroom offers you a great array of ways to mark photos – collections, star ratings, pick flags and colour labels. How you use these is entirely up to you but it’s a good idea to figure out some convention and stick to it so that you can use these markings to make your overall image management strategy a lot easier. Of these methods, I use three extensively – colour labels, star ratings and smart collections – and this post concentrates on my convention for the colour labels.

The first thing to note about the colour labels in Lightroom is that you can actually edit the labels to say anything you want. The default labels names “Red”, “Blue”, “Green”, “Yellow” and so on, are extremely obvious but entirely unhelpful. The first thing I would suggest doing is changing these to indicate what you are using the labels to signify. In my case, I’ve redefined 4 of the labels to allow me to define the following categories of picture:

“Review Required”
Images I’ve imported but not yet had a chance to do my usual post-import editing on (adding keywords, culling duds, selecting picks).
“Rework Required”
An image that I am partway through working on. This may be a tonemapped HDR that requires some Photoshop work or a Photoshop file that still needs some masking or layering operation completed.
“Unprocessed Panorama”
Images that are part of a set taken for a panoramic image but which I have yet to stitch.
“Unprocessed HDR”
Images that are part of a bracketed set for an HDR that I have not yet processed.

So how do you edit the label names? I had to go to the Lightroom help to answer this the first time but you can do this from the Metadata menu where you will find “Color Label Set” and, under this, an “Edit…” option. Just type the names you want and press OK. Now, whenever you right click on an image in the Library and select the “Color Label….” option, the list you see will contain your own label strings rather than the basic colour names.
The Metadata drop down menu in Adobe Lightroom 3
The colour label editing box in Adobe Lightroom 3
The Lightroom 3 context menu shows your colour label names after editing

Using these categories along with smart collections, I can easily see all the images in my library that fall into each of these categories. With one click, I can show all my unprocessed HDR brackets and pick one to work on, for example. To create a smart collection that allows you to view everything in one of these categories, click on the “+” next to “Collections” in the left-side panel while in “Library” mode then pick “Create Smart Collection…”. You will be shown a dialog box that lets you enter various conditions used to pick the images that will appear when you view the collection. My “Unprocessed HDRs” smart collection is defined as follows:
The dialog box in Adobe Lightroom 3 used to set up a smart collection

Note that I set up two conditions so that a picture is selected if EITHER the label color is green OR the label text is “Unprocessed HDRs”. This may seem like overkill but it’s a good idea since, if you happen to accidentally (or intentionally) edit the label names or reset them to defaults, the smart collection will still show the expected images.

That’s all there is to it. I now have four smart collections that give me single click access to all the images that need work of one kind or another done. After I do basic editing on the “Review Required” shots, I reassign the colour labels as needed, either setting them to one of the other categories or clearing them entirely. This allows me to move the images between states without having to worry about copying files on my disk. Lightroom handles all the searching for me.

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Ira Glass on Storytelling

by on Aug.06, 2011, under Miscellaneous, Photography

Wow – has it really been 3 weeks since I last posted something? Sorry about that – vacation and a busy summer have left this blog further down the priority list than I would like. Hopefully, a burst of posts this weekend will make up for the recent silence!

I love Ira Glass’s radio work. If you’ve not listened to “This American Life” you are missing one of the best radio documentary series around. It’s weird, quirky, different and beautifully crafted. Check it out. Given this, I was interested to take a look at a Vimeo clip that someone posted on Facebook today. This is Ira talking about the process of being creative. His context is audio storytelling but it applies perfectly to photography too.

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

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