B/W HDR Look in Lightroom

Anthony Morganti uses an interesting technique to create photos with a black and white HDR look in Lightroom. It can transform a photo so it looks something like this. (I added a vignette as well.)

B/W HDR Look 1

B/W HDR Look 2

It doesn’t suit all photos of course, it’s also only a starting point as you should develop your photos in whatever way you desire. To avoid repeating all those steps every time I created a Lightroom preset.
Grab that file and install it in the same way you’d install any Lightroom preset. What d’you think?

What’s Bill Gates up to now?

It’s still weird to me that Bill Gates is one of the good guys now. As head of Microsoft he was a ruthless business man who ran a monopoly that every Linux user despised. Since then Microsoft has faltered, or at least the computing arena has changed since the nineties and they’re still catching up.

Anyway, he and his wife now head the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that do amazing work combating disease and helping projects all over the world. For a taste of what they do here are two podcasts worth listening to:

nerdistgates

  • Bill Gates on the Nerdist Podcast. I loved hearing his anecdotes from the early days of computing but what was more interesting was hearing about the fight against polio.
  • Scientific American have a two part show here and here that I’m listening to now.

The Great War Diaries

This is an amazing podcast by the BBC about how ordinary men and women experienced World War One. Stories are brought to life by dramatizing what happened using sound effects and actors.

If you’re a fan of Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast you may remember in Blueprint for Armageddon IV Captain Charles May’s story was told. He wrote a touching letter to his wife before he was due to “go over the top”. You can find it and other stories in this Independent post.

Captain Charles “Charlie” May, 27, thinking of his wife, Bessie, and baby daughter, showed none of his comrades’ enthusiasm to go into battle.

A member of the 22nd Battalion, The Manchester Regiment, 7th Division, he wrote to his wife on 17 June, a fortnight before the bloody first day of battle of the Somme: “I do not want to die. Not that I mind for myself. If it be that I am to go, I am ready. But the thought that I may never see you or our darling baby again turns my bowels to water. I cannot think of it with even the semblance of equanimity.”

Over the months his attitude changed to resigned fatalism. May’s final diary entry at 5.45am on 1 July, reproduced from Malcolm Brown’s history of the Somme, was among the last testaments to be written by the 19,240 Britons who would die on the Somme that day. “No Man’s land is a tangled desert,” he wrote. “We do not yet seem to have stopped his machine guns. These are popping off all along our parapet as I write. I trust they will not claim too many of our lads before the day is over.”

Suspecting he might not return, he asked his friend, Captain FJ Earles, if he would look after his wife and daughter. May led his men over the top at 7.30am that day. The 22nd Manchesters made progress across No Man’s Land, but the machine guns he wrote of cut down many of the battalion – and May was among the dead. Earles kept his promise, and later married May’s widow.

Stephen Fry on God

Gay Byrne interviewed Stephen Fry for RTÉ programme, “The Meaning Of Life”. The full episode goes out on Sunday evening.

While the video above has gone viral in Ireland (and maybe further afield), if you haven’t seen the Intelligence Squared debate on the motion that, “The Catholic Church a force for good in the world.” it’s well worth watching. Stephen Fry and Christopher Hitchens decisively argue against the motion.

There’s also a short video of Stephen’s contribution to the debate if you don’t want to sit through the two hour video above.

Restoring From Physical Media

dancing in the street

Remember DVDs? Last night while looking for the original photo of this dancing in the street photo I was horrified to find an empty directory!

Empty Directories

I had no idea when they were deleted. I searched my backups but of course the directories had been synced a long time ago and they were gone. I checked Backblaze and there was no sign of them. I even checked Google Plus for their backups but still no sign of them. I must have deleted them more than two years ago.

I hate that. I have multiple copies of every photo just because this might happen and yet it wasn’t enough! My backups sync every night so any deletes were synced within twenty four hours.

Almost. Later, I remembered that I had backed up photos to DVDs before I started using multiple drives and Backblaze. They were up in the attic!

DVDs

It didn’t take long to get them, the first DVD worked and my photos from The St. Patrick’s Festival in 2006 were restored, but the photos from April 20th were on the second DVD. The second DVD didn’t work. Nooooo!

The rest of the photos did survive their stay in my cold, damp attic and were restored. I’m thinking now about monthly offline backups to a drive I’ll plug in occasionally.

Do I have any photos from April 20th, 2006? I remember the day well because I was in St. Finbarr’s Hospital with my wife helping a family member. While the others waited I went outside to take photos of a derelict building at the back of the hospital grounds. People passed me going to work while I was take pictures of the daisies, flowers and old architecture. Soon enough a security guard showed up but he just asked me to stop taking photos. I do have a few photos. We called to a friend later in the day and I got some shots of her cat so that’s here too. :)

What’s the take home message from all this?

  • You can never have too many backups.
  • You need versioned backups (of a few days at least) in case you notice a mistake a few days later after your backups have been synced.
  • You need an offline backup that’s synced periodically.
  • You need cloud backup that will keep your files safe for a length of time after they’re deleted. Backblaze holds on to your files for thirty days after they’re deleted!
  • When you export files from Lightroom, Photoshop or whatever graphics app you use, always make sure you export a full size original version, not just a web version.

I’m sad that those files are gone, but glad I have a few reminders of an eventful day.

Creating narratives to stay sane

Halo

One of my favourite podcasts is You are not so smart and the Halo effect episode last month brings together parts of David McRaney’s books and previous shows in a very entertaining two and a half hours plus.

Frankly, the halo effect scares the hell out of me. It’s impossible to be objective when judging others. No matter how hard you try, if one aspect of a person annoys you then you’ll unfairly judge the rest of their personality or ability.

Go listen to the podcast. It’s great.

PS. yes I noticed the scratched vandalism on the picture above, did you?