Redwing

Today has been a grey day in more ways than one. But I was pleased to spot a Redwing in the Viburnum just over the fence. With the naked eye I wasn’t sure what it was, it looked Thrush shaped (all I could see was the silhouette) but slightly smaller and not quite like a Blackbird. With my binoculars I could see it was a Redwing. Often they seem to be high in trees or well hidden so, when I went out with my camera, I was quite pleased to get a few photos of one.

When I worked at Salts Mill and used to walk through Roberts Park to and from and often at lunchtime I used to see a few Redwing in the Winter. I have only seen them a few times in our garden.

If you click on an image below you can see it larger in the gallery.

I need to look out of the window when it is a bit brighter to see if I can get any better shots or of more than one of them. They come over for Winter from Europe in their thousands so there should be plenty around.

Digital Asset Management and Linux

For several years I have been using the Organiser within PhotoShop Elements to catalogue and tag my photos. I have found that having indexed and searchable photos is indispensable when preparing for some of the talks I have done. How else would I find the photo I wanted to use of the Grasshopper Warbler that I took on Baildon Moor?

Occasionally I used the editor within Elements, but only because it was easy to get from the organiser to the editor. This meant that I was only using a small part of the Elements power. There have also been a few hiccoughs with Elements on the way. I was forced to upgrade quite soon after an upgrade because the map display within Elements was broken. I also get pestered by notifications about upgrades, or new features, or “have you tried this?”

I am a fan of Open Source and for several years my photo editor of choice has been GIMP, but it doesn’t work with RAW files so I had been using Digital Photo Professional 4 provided by Canon to process the RAW file and then export to GIMP. The RAW processing in DPP4 seemed better than the Adobe Camera RAW that is part of Elements, it seemed better at handling highlights and noise reduction. This probably means that DPP4 automatically did some stuff that I could also have done in Adobe Camera RAW if I had spent the time to investigate.

Using Elements and DPP4 meant that I was tied to Windows but on another PC I use Ubuntu Linux. I had already installed GIMP on it and occasionally used it when working on my website development. A while back I decided to start looking for programs I could use within Linux so I could move completely over from Windows. I was already using the LibreOffice suite and Scribus DTP on Windows that are also available on Linux so I needed alternatives for Elements Organiser for Digital Asset Management and Canon DPP4 for RAW processing. I used the software centre within Ubuntu to look for RAW processing applications and came across RawTherapee and darktable. I also let friends know I was looking, so I had a go with darktable on Windows

darktable has some neat ways of working and I soon got to like it and I was quite pleased with the results. If anyone is thinking of trying it I would suggest watching some of the videos to get started. I was now only tied to Windows by the Elements Organiser

With a bit more investigating I came across DigiKam (the header image above is pinched from their site) that looked as though it worked in a similar way to Elements Organiser. It was available for Windows and Ubuntu so I tried it out first on Windows. I wrote all the image tags to the image files using Elements Organiser and then imported everything into DigiKam. The terminology in the program was a bit different and I had to rebuild the tag hierarchy from the imported tags but that only has to be done once and I was able to make some improvements on the way. After trying DigiKam for a while I decided to migrate to it as my asset manager. This means that I am no longer tied to Windows. One neat feature of DigiKam is that it will find similar photos and rank them by how similar they are. I used it to find duplicates of images even though the file size was different due to different EXIF data etc. It also found the same photos but at different resolutions where I had created reduced resolution/quality images for the web where I could then decide whether to keep the high or low resolution file. If the photo was for nostalgia, e.g. a photo of the changing use/demolition/refit of a local building, I would only keep the low res file.

I have yet to have a serious go with the scanner under Linux. The software that comes with the printer/scanner is Windows only but generic Linux scanner software looks as though it might be more than adequate and I have already had to use Linux software to stitch the PDFs together after scanning booklets.

As part of this migration I have decided to have a rethink about the PCs in use, i.e. have some serious upgrades. The Windows desktop PC has been replaced with an Intel NUC 8i3BEH with 16GB RAM and 1TB M.2 SSD. It is tiny and only an i3 but it is a lot faster than the desktop it is replacing. The Linux box is being replaced with a custom build Ryzen 7 with 32 GB RAM, 1 TB M.2 SSD and 2 TB HDD. Given that the Linux box was the cast off from the previous Windows box this should be a dramatic upgrade. I might provide a blog update when the Linux box is up and running. In amongst this I am also going to try a Raspberry Pi4 for displaying the CCTV cameras.

Shipley Glen Tree

I am a member of the T&A Camera Club facebook group. Each month there is a different topic for people to submit photos to, and one photo is chosen each month by the admins as the “winner”. I have only submitted photos a couple of times but this month the topic is Changing Seasons so I have finally got round to selecting some photos of the tree on Shipley Glen and putting them together to make a single image.

Back in January 2013 I went up to some of the rocks near the tree with my camera and tripod. I took a few shots of the tree and made a note of where the tripod was and how my camera was positioned. I then went back to the same place 22 more times, on one occasion with my flashgun, to take photos of the tree. I can’t remember whether anything happened to stop me but the photos range from 13 January to 24 October. Why did I not carry on through November and December?

I have been promising to go through the images for ages but it was the T&A topic that prompted me to finally do something with them.

September Butterfly Bush

This is a mixture of some recent photos so the title is a bit misleading but since I have said September Butterfly Bush lets start with the butterflies.

A month or so back the media contained several reports of the number of Painted Lady butterflies, saying that this was a once in every 10 year occurrence, with higher than usual numbers of the butterflies around. Back on August 5 I posted again about More Painted Ladies. But even in September our buddleia, when the sun was on it, had good numbers. The third one in the gallery above shows a Painted Lady and a Bumble Bee looking as though they are sipping from the same flower.

Several Peacock butterflies were around at the same time and most of them had very raggedy wings.

What was noticeable, not in the same numbers as the Painted Ladies earlier in the year, but still worth a mention, were the Red Admirals.

Some of the Rd Admirals were looking very fresh.

Tortoiseshell and Small Whites were also around during September.

While taking photos of the butterflies I could also hear several Goldfinchs and Blackbirds in the Hawthorn and Elderberry. I could see the small branches moving but couldn’t see any birds until this one suddenly hopped into view. I still kept seeing birds fly into and out of the trees but once in they mostly kept hidden. On a couple of the shots above you may have noticed that the sky has been very blue.

In the clear blue sky ‘planes flying over were showing bright with long vapour trails. The first shot above is at 600mm, the same lens I used for the Goldfinch. I have shown the image uncropped – as taken. The second image is the same photo but heavily cropped to 800 pixels wide. The reason for this is to give some scale to the next set of photos.

These were taken just a few seconds before the one of the plane and are cropped the same amount to give an idea of relative size. The object was heading North (ish) and changed shape slightly. I have rotated the images slightly so that the line is top to bottom. The Sun was to the left. I was shooting handheld and so the angle of the camera could have changed between the shots. At the time I started the SkyView app on my phone and it told me that the International Space Station was in a similar compass direction but well below the horizon. I don’t know how accurate SkyView is for things that move across the sky at the rate this was moving but I can’t think what else it could be. The data from the camera says it was taken on 21 Sept at 14:48:40 BST. Checking the camera now shows that it is running about 10 seconds slow so the correct time was 14:48:50. I wonder if it is possible to find out where ISS was at that time?

During September I went down to Denso Marston Nature Reserve a couple of times. I heard, and got glimpses of Kingfisher. A Grey Heron saw me before I saw it and was already flying away but these Goosander were a little less panicked.

I often hear Chaffinch, Robin, Wren, in the front garden and sometimes hear Goldcrest in the trees. On this particular time, when I was out near the garage, it sounded a little lower and closer than it often sounds so I went to have a look. After spotting it I went in and got my camera with macro lens fitted, I was hoping it would come nice and close. I could see it deep in the tree but it was well hidden so taking a photo was not on, but it was working its way around the tree. After waiting patiently it came around to my side and I managed to get a few shots of it. So tiny!

I have spent a bit of time recently helping out at Baildon Community Link on Cliffe Avenue, refitting cupboard doors and similar such things. On leaving one day I thought this view of the park next to it looked rather good after the grass had been cut. On the walk home I saw someone that was going a little further than I normally do to get a decent view of things. One of the problems of being surrounded by trees is that your view can be obstructed. 🙂

Harley Tanks 2018

I remember creating the collage of Harley Tanks from the 2018 rally and sharing it on a facebook group but it looks as though I didn’t add it to my blog. So here it is, rather late I know.

This one has 64 tanks in it. It was raining on the day so bikes may have been tucked out of the way and I might not have put too much effort into finding them. Also there had been the risk that the rally was not going to take place. For a rally that closes off public roads there are many things that need to be done. Each task may be reasonably straight forward but there’s a lot of them and miss one of them and the event does not happen. Until social media and the community got behind the event to support the organisers there was a risk that it was not going to happen. I think there is a valuable lesson to be learnt there – if there are things that we enjoy taking part in don’t expect others to put all the hard work in just so we can have fun.

The 2019 rally was the 40th and I got 214 tanks in the collage.

The 2017 rally collage was 133 tanks

The 2012 rally saw me find 59 Harley tanks.

At the 2013 rally I added 43 new tanks.

I also have photos from 2002, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2014. I might put together a little history sometime.

A Glimpse of GIMP

GIMP is being forked to Glimpse.

On several occasions when I have told people I use GIMP as an image editor I have seen smirks. Not a good start, and that is before I have started talking about applying masks to layers. The situation does not improve when they ask what it means and I tell them that it stands for “GNU Image Manipulation Program”. Why would you want to manipulate a GNU Image? However “What is GNU?” is often the next question. And the answer is “GNU’s not Unix”. How is this supposed to entice someone serious about photography away from Photoshop or Lightroom? You can even find “photoshop” in the English dictionary now.

I am pretty sure that the use of GIMP is quite widespread but when a department head tells their graphic designers that they are to use a different editor instead of PhotoLab or PhotoShop or PhotoScape I reckon they’ll tend to use the name as little as possible.

What percentage of people picking up a digital camera know what Unix is? And of those how many might be interested, or care, that something is not Unix? But perhaps most people don’t care what software is called, and they are the ones that are never influenced by advertising.

If you have come from an IT background you can tap the side of your nose knowledgeably and install the new version of GIMP from the command line. Why would we want to let Windoze or Mac users into our world?

The answers are that it is a powerful image editor and it is Open Source i.e. free.

Apparently the project name has been a discussion topic on several occasions in the GIMP Project community and up until recently those in the know have tapped the side of their noses and carried on. I have not read the discussion itself but according to one source (The Register) it recently got a bit bad-tempered. As a result someone stuck their finger up and created a fork of the project in the best open source tradition and the current name for it is Glimpse. The new project has grand plans for major improvements to the user interface (AKA make it look even more like PhotoShop?) but is this looking for ways to justify the fork?

I don’t think I will be switching over for a while yet but it will be interesting to see if Glimpse gets past the geeky image or adolescent smirks of its parent.