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.

Raw DNG Samples from the Nexus 5

Android L, the next major release of Android will allow apps to get raw data from the camera. This lets photographers extract more information and develop photos a lot more than they could with simple Jpeg files. They’ll be able to “push” the image further to recover blown out highlights and recover detail from shadows.

At least that’s the theory. You’re still working with the relatively small lenses and sensors in camera phones so they’re not going to compare to a DSLR or dedicated camera but images will get closer in quality.

This thread on r/Android has some samples of DNG files you can work on in Lightroom or whatever your RAW processor of choice is. The photos were taken with lcamera as the official Google camera app only records to Jpeg images. I took a stab at the “auto exposure” image here and came up with this:

2014-10-19-182340-gp

That’s pretty good for a photo taken by a Nexus 5 at ISO 1635. Lightroom settings were as follows:

Settings:

  • Temp: -1.65
  • Tint: +59
  • Exposure: -1.65
  • Highlights: -100
  • Shadows: 100
  • Whites: +2
  • Blacks: -29
  • Clarity: +22

Detail

  • Sharpening
    • Amount: 67
    • Radius: 1.0
    • Detail: 10
    • Masking: 70
  • Noise Reduction
    • Luminance: 20
    • Detail: 50
    • Contrast: 0

I’m really excited to see what Android L will bring to camera apps once it’s officially out in the wild and more phones have it installed!

How to remove the shine on faces with Lightroom

I had to develop a bunch of photos I took at an event recently and some of the faces in the photos had distracting highlights. The shine wasn’t too bad, but it mocked me and my initial attempts to fix it!

Lightroom is limited in it’s editing tools but it does have a powerful brush tool. The instructions I found here worked a treat. You can use the brush tool, healing tool or a combination of both.

  • Select the brush tool and change the colour to a shade close to the skin colour. Do this by clicking on the colour tool and when the colour picker popups up drag the cursor to where you want to grab the colour in the picture.
  • Set the brush to a low opacity and colour in the shine. Go slowly, it’ll take a number of passes.

You can also use the heal tool, but again make sure the opacity is set low.

Retro Gaming at jQuery UK 2013

Just a few photos that have been sitting in my “upload folder” for the last year or so after attending jQuery UK. Look at all those old 90s consoles! Snes and Megadrive machines? There’s another machine there too but I don’t recognise it. I wasn’t a fan of console gaming back then, but if they’d thrown in a C64 I’d have had fun!

It was an amazing conference and best of all, the talks are online. I remember being blown away by Wait, Chrome DevTools can do THAT? by Ilya Grigorick.

Scenic photos of Oxford will eventually make their way to my photoblog at In Photos dot Org.

Get out and make some memories

It can get pretty crazy at live performances can’t it? I’m 100% guilty of taking photos at concerts and I recorded video of my son’s stage performances at school. I even sneaked a camera into the Irish Bruce Springsteen and Take That concerts.

Meanwhile, this is what Louis CK has to say about posting videos of your kids on Facebook. It’s very NSFW obviously so be warned!

Do you wonder if you’ll ever watch any of those videos again? You need to make it easy for your family to do. Grab Plex, install it on your PC and tell it where your family videos are. It will do the hard work of indexing them. You can browse them from a web interface, on your phone in their app, on PS3 or Xbox 360 even. I’ve rediscovered videos taken when my son was only two years old that make me smile and laugh all over again!

I found the video above on fstoppers where Mike Wilkinson mentions a singer named Mayer Hawthorne who told people to get out their phones and cameras and he and his band posed for photos. Apparently everyone put their cameras away afterwards and enjoyed the show. Good idea. Taking that one step further it’d be great if performers put photos and videos of their shows online for fans to download. Put that URL on the ticket. Could schools do something similar? Most schools must have a reasonably competent (or enthusiastic) photographer and videographer as a parent. Delegate the job perhaps?

Finally, keep making memories and recording them but as I’ve been reminded many times, get your face out from behind the viewfinder too!

Portals in the Sea

portals-in-the-sea

Garrettstown Beach in Co Cork boasts a number of attractions. Chief among them are the waves loved by surfers in one area and a long sandy beach next door.

There are also a few Ingress portals there and I managed to capture some of them. The two in the sea only have a couple of resonators and not the full complement of eight because I was standing at the bottom of the sea wall with my hand outstretched trying to reach them. After almost getting caught by a sudden wave I beat a hasty retreat.

2013-04-14-7438-m
When the tide goes out however I’ll be back!

Tethered shooting Android apps for Canon and Nikon DSLRs

I discovered Helicon Remote a few days ago. It allows you to hook your Android phone to a Canon or Nikon DSLR via the camera’s USB port and control many aspects of photo taking. It even has live preview on the phone screen which is a nice bonus.

The app itself is free to download but is limited in that it won’t allow you to shoot RAW images. It also doesn’t restore the camera settings when you shut it down so you may need to fix those after using it. If you register it by handing over $38 (discounted price, it’s normally $48!) you’ll be able to make RAW photos.

There is also the free remote release app by Chainfire and his (much) more advanced DSLR Controller costing only €7.13 that looks to be similar to the Helicon app but more reasonably priced.

I tried the Helicon app with my SGSII, an OTG USB cable and my Canon 40D. Images are stored on your phone just in case you’re wondering where they’ve disappeared to after disconnecting everything!

Three Days in Dungarvan

I spent the last few days in Dungarvan, staying in the Park Hotel with my family. It’s a really nice town, small enough that you can walk around it in half an hour but plenty of places to eat and drink.

I took my camera of course and almost always shot in b/w mode with my Canon f1.8 50mm lens. I cheated a little as I used RAW+Jpeg mode but I’m happy with the results. RAW lets me recover the colour information while the Jpeg records a useful b/w image I can check against during post processing.

I love that 50mm lens but rarely use it so a whole holiday was a challenge. With such a short depth of field it’s really important getting the focus point right. I usually used the center point or a side point rather than trust the matrix to pick out the right one!