Exaggerated focus

“The best camera is the one that’s with you.” – Chase Jarvis

With apps like Instagram, CameraFX and even Photoshop Express one does have a large variety of tools of the trade to chose from to be creative. I’ve got a common job like every other common, working person that does not leave me enough room to carry my SLRs with me to wherever I want. I also do not have the chance to process my pictures in Lightroom each and every time I want to. So I took the quote by Chase Jarvis and made it my personal challenge. My phone is my buddy that’s with me all the time and it’s the device that captures pictures when I’m without my beloved SLRs.

Of course, I’m limited to a file format like JPEG that does me the opportunities like RAW does. I barely have any¬† option to do any preprocessing like choosing the aperture or the exposure. And the quality itself cannot be compared to the results you would receive with a professional SLR processor and sensor. But these things do not actually matter, what matters is the composition.

One of my weaknesses in photography is an exaggerated focus on technical details and in reverse I often fail on the rules of composition. The phone camera gives me a fine chance to take pictures pretty basic. As previously mentioned, the quality does not matter. With a picture that may deserve it, I can also wait till I’m home and edit it in Photoshop to get it top notch.

I hated Instagram for quite a long time, because it’s yet another app with filters and effects. After a period of giving it a try, I finally came to the conclusion that it’s a good way to process pictures quickly and easy. And you’ve also got a good way to share them with your friends or publicly. One might say, one can do this with almost every other app as well, but I finally felt comfortable with the Instagram community and I don’t like to share every sodding picture on Facebook. The opinion of a complete, unprejudiced strangers counts more to me, than an opinion of a friend on Facebook.

I’m not going to post these mobile pictures in communities like deviantART or 500px. I still believe that these platforms were made to display artworks with a high standard and even (semi) professional artworks. Even though they do look “pretty fine” I still believe that these mobile phone camera pictures do not belong there. Additionally, there are billions of people out there that share pictures like these on almost every common social network, there’s nothing special about them in a hobbyist way. You don’t need any more of them spread out.

So for me it’s a good way to improve my composition skills and learn. With Instagram I’m also limited to square format. Which makes it easier on one side, but also difficult on the other side. I do not only use Instagram, CameraFX is another great app as well and even Photoshop Express does the trick. If you’re interested in my pictures, search and follow ‘InV4d3r’ on Instagram.

Lightroom 4 experience

Sodding time is the issue, once again. And a bunch of different things that keeps me busy. Basically it’s my PC that I use for editing pictures and developing photos that soaked a lot of time recently. I abandoned my AMD Phenom 965 and switched to my old Intel Q9550. Main reason for this was the overclockability of the Intel CPU. The 965 is also a fine CPU to overclock, but the only platform I could give is a AMD 770 or 790 chipset. Bummer! One can overclock with the boards I’ve got, but the CPU clock is static. And I don’t want to waste the majority of my salary for the utilities.

So, I rebuilt my PC that I usually use for work and the more serious things. It’s overclocked at 3.86GHz with an air cooler and everything looks save. Temperature and stability are within limits. And most importantly, the overall performance has increased as well. Working with Lightroom became much smoother. One of my main issues was developing with the two-monitor setup. I use one monitor for the main-view and the other one is for comparison view and cropping.

Additionally do I have to mention, I was running on Lightroom 4.0 for the last few weeks and I had performance issues on both systems, Intel and AMD. Nevertheless, the Intel system felt smoother, thanks to a much higher clock rate. I upgraded Lightroom to version 4.1RC2 and Adobe has done a brilliant job. Some slight improvement on the UI and several new featues, but most importantly, Lightroom performs much better with two monitors. As far as I’d experienced, it’s even with Lightroom 3, but there’s still room left to get it even smoother.

Passions regained

This is the announcement, that I’m back on track. Well, actually, it’s just an announcement that I’m finally back to a fixed, regular schedule for my gym sessions. It’s three days a week in the morning and one day in the afternoon. I’m totally happy and completely satisfied with this new schedule, it doesn’t burn me out too much, leaves enough room to rest and I don’t have the feeling to lose to much free time. Apparently, I’ve to go to bed pretty early because the alarm clock rings at 4:00am but like I said, it’s easy to handle when you have only three days per week to get up that early. I’m also making good progress when it comes to dexterity and pure muscle strength. The dexterity is good so far and much, much better as it was in times where I was a smoker, even with my massive overweight. Even though I’m at the beginning of training my strength is as good as it was the time I let the training fade away. I was also able to increase weight on some stations in the gym. Right now, I’m focussing on chest and neck. I guess it’s pretty obvious and I don’t have to mention it explicitely that I always train belly and back. Nothing’s more important than a well trained centre. Within the next couple of weeks I will also start a protein diet to get a little boost to muscle growth and lose some fat.

Pike's place

Secondly, I’m once again a little bit more into photography. During my trip to London, I haven’t even used a whole SD card for my pics. Compared to previous trips it’s an improvement, because I used like two or three cards within one or two days. A lot of crappy pictures came up these days. Just let us say I reached a border where quality took over quantity. Whatever the case, I personally see me making progress in photography and my picture are getting better. There are still some issues with incorrect focusing and a weird usage of depth of field, but this okay for the moment. I do no longer have these completely wrong exposures. It’s natural to get a couple of pics that too bright or too dark, but you don’t have to forget that some pics are snapshot style and I’m not always rethink light and stuff before a shoot the pic. This happens from time to time.

My besty gifted me on X-mas with a nice book about Lightroom and Photoshop. I’m currently working myself through the Lightroom book and it’s giving me a blast in knowledge about digital photo development. Until a short time ago, I was using Lightroom for collecting and organizing my picture only. The whole editing always happened in Photoshop and it happened a couple of times where the final product was worse than the original picture. Lightroom is fun and it’s so awe-inspiring to see how my pictures can still develop, even those that I already abandoned.

Finally, shame on me, I still owe you an article about XBMC and a couple of nice add-ons I don’t wanna miss anymore. It’s coming. Just be patient.

It’s floating away

There’s this strange, weird phenomenon I’ve recently discovered in my life. Everytime I start something with a special goal in a creative matter, it’s no longer coming to an end. When I was younger, like years ago, I finished so many art projects like solo album (which was more a compilation of some tunes of mine). I did some nice stuff with the band I once had and so on. Nowadays everything gets a start and right after beginning the whole thing is stuck or abandoned. I was working on my second solo album and it didn’t make any progress. I wanted to dig a little deeper into the Adobe Lightroom/Photoshop workflow to improve my exposure with these tools. I wanted to do much more photography and it stucked as well. I feel more and more as if time is slipping away. Actually, time is always floating away and barely able to grab, but why do I have this immense lack of time? Probably because I’m working too much. Work is wasting like eight and a half hour a day and it feels like an eternity or two till it’s over, so one reason for this time lack seems to be my daily work. For the love of God, I can’t quit because I need the financial income. Damn it.

time

Sleep might be a reason but I cut down the time for daily sleep to something around five to six hours, which has to be enough. Sleep is for the weak, never forget that. One thing that was sucking time like a blood-thirsty vampire during the last month was the need for technical maintenance on my PCs. Changes to another operating system. Service pack crashes. Raid crashes. Hardware exchanges. All this cost a lot of time and most the invested time was wasted, because it mostly led to another maintenance or repair. Right now, I finishing working on my PCs so that I can go by and work with them instead of on them. PC number four is still in queue, but it’ll stay there for a while because I simply don’t have the delight to build up another machine that wastes time.

I actually forgot what I wanted to say in this particular post, because I’m pretty tired and exhausted today and today’s gym session will be horrible I guess. Anyhow, I’ll continue unveiling the time killers in my life and hopefully get back to more creativity or other kind of ways to spent my rare free time.

For the rare time being

The last couple of days has been very busy for me, not that I had too many “private projects” but some too intense of time. First things first, my gaming system got crashed during the Windows 7 Service Pack 1 update process and I wasn’t able to revive it any way. I had to reinstall everthing, had to setup a lot of applications and so on. Good thing about this, the system can now be rebooted again without getting a raid failure, which was one big issue with the previous setup. I’m nearly finished with the system, like 90 per cent, and I only have to restore most of my games profiles. Actually, this whole thing wasted a lot of time on my last weekend and is also responsible for missing, once again, the game of the week feature here in this blog.

Besides all this were I still in modifying and hacking my Motorola Backflip cellphone. I now managed to install Android 2.2 aka Froyo including multitouch, which isn’t a stock feature of the phone, and I also installed an unlocked kernel that I’m able to overclock and also underclock it. The phone now runs with a stock Android, without any Motorola software features, and it’s, compared to the default Android 1.5, as fast as hell. I’m testing the battery at the moment to see, if my also also increased the lifetime of this particular part of the phone. It’s such a hilarious feel to finally have features on my cellphone that aren’t supposed to be there actually. And most importantly, for my subjective estimation, the phone has now a status, where I would say, that one can use it instead of just getting angry about it.

Android

Far from all this nerdish stuff did I come back to a more healthier living style without all this unhealthy, calory rich and fat food. I also visit the gym from time to time and as expected, it’s giving me a boost in many ways. Say whatever you want, after a fine session in the gym, you feel refreshed and the essence of life creeps back to your bones and you feel recharged. I mentioned it in one of my previous posts, I don’t want to exaggerate anything at the moment and I want to keep it on a level where I still have fun with all this too. Getting into a boot camp like training plan as I had it once before is not my intention, even though I can say, that this was fun too. Anyhow, I’m losing weight, I start feeling better now and hopefully my cardio will increase once again. There’s no particular muscle training on the schedule right now, I just want to sustain my back and belly muscles at the moment to get a strong centre for future training plans.

Unfortunately, I haven’t found any time for photography or any creative stuff in that kind of way. I also haven’t managed to get a little bit more into the whole Photoshop/Lightroom thing that was actually on my schedule for this year’s beginning. Saying that there was no time is not totally correct, I actually wasn’t in the mood to do anything like this. Maybe later, when my bike is fixed and I’ll be able to get out a little bit more often and most importantly further away.