Archive for Photograpy

Monkeh Bebbeh

Looking through my photo directories to eliminate some cruft, I was fairly unsuccessful. But I figured I’d share these two pictures.


  1. Holding on tight is a a monkeh bebbeh’s modus operandi.

  2. Surprise!

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On My Header Image

In what is probably the biggest visual change since I first created this theme back in ’05 — yes, it’s that old! — on June 2, 2011 I replaced the header image with a picture I took a month prior in the Keukenhof.

The opportunity presented itself to experiment slightly with decent JPEG compression, rather than simply depending on GIMP’s output, which unfortunately is virtually guaranteed to be suboptimal. Since all I did was crop and resize, I used PNG as my working format. I might’ve been able to use jpegcrop and jpegtran, but since I was going to re-encode in a lossy manner afterward that would have been nothing but needless extra effort.

First I tried cjpeg, which doesn’t support a lot of input filetypes, so I had to save a copy as BMP.

cjpeg -quality 80 -optimize -progressive -dct float -outfile test80.jpg head.bmp

Then I discovered that imagemagick can do the exact same thing, optimized by default and everything. It also uses libjpeg under the hood, so the resulting image is exactly the same.

convert -quality 80 -interlace plane head.png test80.jpg

That results in JPEGs that are about as small as they can get without enabling options that might not be readily supported by all viewers. I wrote a (very) simple shell script to aid with a quick overview of size versus quality.

#!/bin/bash
#jpegs.sh
filename=$1
extension=${filename##*.}
filename=${filename%.*}
convert -quality 30 -interlace plane $1 ${filename}30.jpg
convert -quality 40 -interlace plane $1 ${filename}40.jpg
convert -quality 50 -interlace plane $1 ${filename}50.jpg
convert -quality 60 -interlace plane $1 ${filename}60.jpg
convert -quality 70 -interlace plane $1 ${filename}70.jpg
convert -quality 80 -interlace plane $1 ${filename}80.jpg

My rationale is that any quality under 30 is most likely too ugly and anything over 80 will result in a file size that’s too large for my intended purpose of using lower quality — but not low quality — images on the Internet.

I also decided it was time to get rid of my half-hearted concessions to Internet Exporer. This in no way inhibits readability of the content.

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Lossless Rotation with jhead and jpegtrans

I like my pictures rotated in such a way that I don’t have to depend on application support for them to be displayed correctly. jpegtran (pre-installed on most distros) is a wonderful application with many features, including lossless rotation, but it’s too laborious for my purposes. That’s where jhead comes in.

You can simply go into a directory, run a command like the following, and everything will be done automatically for you.

jhead -autorot *.JPG

Of course I wouldn’t run it if you don’t have a backup available. I always keep the pictures around on my camera until I’ve confirmed that all processing was successful and then I still don’t delete them until the adjusted files were also copied to my external HDD in my semi-regular backup regime.

Another utility that can perform the same task is exiftran, but despite being more or less dedicated to this very purpose it’s not even easier to use: I’d expect exiftran *.JPG to default to the equivalent of the jhead -autorot *.JPG command I posted above, but instead you have to use exiftran -ai *.JPG. All other things being equal for my purposes, I decided to go with jhead because it has many more features — although last year I decided that exiv2 is superior to jhead in ease of use for most of those features.

If you’re just looking for the occasional lossless rotation, you could also try the Geeqie image viewer and manager. It integrates calls to exiftran, but beware that you explicitly have to choose the lossless option, as there are also lossy rotate options.

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Using exiv2 to Help Manage Your Pictures

Installation

As always, in Ubuntu it’s a piece of cake with sudo apt-get install exiv2.

Adjusting Exif Date/Time

With exiv2, exiv2 ad -a [-]HH[:MM[:SS]] file does the job.

For example, my camera was still on DST when I shot my new year’s fireworks pictures, which made them appear as if they were shot at 1 AM. Thus, I ran the command exiv2 ad -a -1 *.JPG to fix it.

Using a Command File

I use a file named exif-copyright-2010.txt (and another one for 2009 etc.) with just two lines in it, which I apply instantly when grabbing pictures from my camera. This file contains the following lines.

add Exif.Image.Artist	Ascii	"My name"
add Exif.Image.Copyright	Ascii	"Copyright © 2010 My name"

This can be applied using exiv2 -m /somewhere/exif-copyright-2010.txt file. I used to mess about with batch processing in graphical applications — which worked fine — but this is much faster.

Read More

You can read more about all of this on the official website.

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Fireworks on the Scheldt

Last night I decided to try to take some pictures of fireworks without a tripod. Considering the freezing temperatures I knew I was in for disaster, but with plenty of space available on my memory card, that didn’t really matter.

Fireworks and lots of smoke
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(290 KB)
Pretty dots
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The more falling kind of fireworks
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(270 KB)

I think the most important thing we just observed is that if you want to take nice pictures of fireworks, you should probably not stand upwind — although considering the distance involved that would have taken almost as long as the fireworks lasted (about 20 minutes). I did zoom in quite a bit. On the other hand, you’ll miss some or most of the smell of gunpowder if you do that, which is an important part of the watching experience, after all.

Happy new year!

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Aanschouw de jaren 1900-1950

While browsing through my father’s book collection, I found a fairly awesome picture book entitled Observe the years 1900-1950: a book full of pictures illustrating and describing events of the then past 50 years, published in late 1949.

I scanned some of the images I liked best.

  1. “In foreign countries, traditions completely unknown in The Netherlands persisted. In France there was a duel between two members of the chamber in 1902, while in German fraternities ‘Mensur’ still existed, where the goal was to hurt each other so he’d bleed, preferably in the face.”

  2. “The airforce was a new weapon, which enabled previously unthought of possibilities for bombing of important targets.”

  3. “Science continued, despite the international uproar. In 1915 Shackleton researched the South-pole area, while his ship, the ‘endurance’ was cracked by ice. The discovery of the grave of Tut-ankh-amon in 1926 was remarkable.”

  4. “On the side of the government [of Spain] women actively participated in battle, while numerous volunteers joined forces both for and against the republican government.”

  5. “Of the heart of the prosperous harbor-city of Rotterdam, only wasteland remains.”

  6. “Like master… like servant. In Europe the Führer makes himself popular, so the Leider [Dutch for leader, German puppet government] faithfully follows his example.”
  7. “Death by famine and exhaustion is the fate of many. But the worst will only appear later
  8. “The price of freedom. The American war-churchyard Margraten in Limburg.”
  9. “The creation of the state of Israel on 15 May 1948 brought happiness to the Jewish people who finally found a mother country after all those centuries of wandering. On the first meeting of the world council of chuches, 4 September 1948 in Amsterdam, it was created as permanent contact-point for all Christians. The Catholic Church and the Orthodox Russian church were not present.”

  10. “Because of the advancing communist troops in China, the waterways in Shanghai had to harbour uncountable amounts of sampans. In The Netherlands all attention was concentrated on the developments in Indonesia, which led to the round-table conference.”

  11. “At the beginning of the century Europe dominated the world. Now the power swifted to the hands of the United States of America and the Soviet Union. Will their decisions decide the future of our continent?”

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The blue toy

Today I will introduce you to possibly one of the coolest toys ever. Melantrys took it with her from this mythical place where she lives. She passed it on to me before we went to Brussels.

If you ask why she lives in a mythical place, I just ask you, can a place which is abbreviated to the sound a barking dog makes be real?


But enough of the chit-chat. On to the toy itself. It is blue. It is flexible. In a strange way it feels alive.


If you hold it in your hand you can caress it. Or you can throw it around like a ball. Do whatever you like.


You can squeeze it and then it will emit different psychedelic colours of light.

In short, it rocks. Thanks babe!

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Brussels

Last Thursday, I set off on a trip which would eventually take me to Brussels. I spotted a rare fish in the sea.

  1. A submarine in the North Sea.
    I had never seen a submarine in the wild before. Only in harbors.

Much later, in a bus, only a few away minutes from my place, I got a phonecall. Instead of the expected four people joining dinner, I would have to cook for eight. My phone was scared to death after hearing that, but luckily giving it an electricity boost when I arrived made its heart beat again.

Our olive oil was all gone, so I did what I’d always do: use butter. However, my dear visitor happened to be a vegan. Mel only managed to stop me from throwing the rest of the vegan stuff in butter just in time, and the neighbors gently lent us some olive oil. Loes (my housemate) just told me that she discovered we also had some vegetable cooking butter. That night we watched Artificial Intelligence, which is not a movie I can recommend. Especially the ending was bad.

  1. Mel giving the finger.
    The next day we had to leave early. Too early. Three and a half hours later, when we arrived at Julien’s place (our host for the night), someone didn’t react very friendly to me taking a picture as you can see.
  2. Grinning evil moon thing.
    An interesting table-decoration at Julien’s place was this evil moon thing.
  3. Some guys playing with tools.
    We arrived at the venue a little while later. The Claws were just arriving around the same time. In the garden of the Botanique there were these guys preparing some kind of tent, probably for an event the next day or week. I found them amusing for some reason.
  4. An abandoned smoked cigarette.
    This cigarette represents one of my main impressions of Brussels. A damn lot of smokers.
  5. Some weird guys with weird hats.
    When we were walking back from the park we ran across a few weird guys looking for Manneken Pis. We didn’t actually encounter the little guy, but we did manage to take a few pictures of the weird guys checking out interesting accessoires.
  6. Bård wearing a funny hat.
    A front view should make clear that the weird guys were part of this band which goes by the name of Clawfinger. 😉 One minute later I made a movie of him saying tandenborstel, Dutch for toothbrush. Later on he also got us on the guestlist. Thumbs up.
  7. A non-smoking sign.
    Later that night, after the first band finished playing (featuring the man where we’d spend the night), I decided to take a picture of this sign. It’s funny because it says there’s some kind of non-smoking law since ‘91, but like 90% of the people were smoking inside (remember my earlier impression).
  8. A picture of a cellphone screen showing the provider BASE.
    I also took this picture to prove that I had “BASE” as a mobile phone provider in Belgium, which I thought sounded much more awesome than the Proteus (or something like that)Proximus which Mel had.
  9. Zak singing something.
    And then some sound reached our ears.
  10. Jocke in the background behind Zak playing a bit of guitar.
    Check the crazy guy in the background of the picture. 😛
  11. Someone taking a picture of Zak and Bård.
    My camera kicks the ass of yours mate. 😛
  12. André headbanging.
    André doing his thing.
  13. Zak showing his stomach.
    “I’ve got a personal trainer” (from Nothing Going On). Mel made a video of this, although it’s actually of the event right before it, Bård doing the duck walk.
  14. Bård playing guitar.
    And some more guitar action.
  15. Jocke doing the things he does.
    I thought I’d take a shot of the guys in the background, but the ones I made of Henka managed to fail.
  16. Now just for some pictures.
  17. Bård singing and playing guitar.
  18. Zak engaging the public while performing.
  19. André in one of his less headbanging moments.

And that’s it for today.

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Matrix photoshoot

This morning I decided I needed a few pictures of myself in Matrix-style, for usage on MSN and such. So here’s the result of the photoshoot.












What’s also important is how it looks as a finished picture, photoshopped and all. I will also do one with a gun, of course.

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What happens in a week?

Today Sushubh wrote:

abhitux: I just write in because it makes me sane
Sushubh: ur stealing my dialogue now

It might be true, considering that my weblog is quite insane now and then. However, I think it’s more a reflection of myself than a part of me I try to surpress.

Regardless of all of this, there are other ways to prevail your sanity. Wether it was to prevail mine I don’t know, but I embraced myself in a few of those activities in this week of vacation, which I spent at my parents’ place.

  1. The evening I arrived, I installed the router/phone “Experia Box”, which comes with the InternetPlusBellen (InternetPlusCalling) subscription through which you call via VoIP and get ADSL internet (same speed my parents already had). It’s cheaper and you get wireless internet on top of that. My main personal motivation was wireless internet, but fooling around with the wires (some of which was quite tricky) was quite fun in retrospect.
  2. The next day I had to go out and photograph some nature in our garden.

  3. Some other crocuses than last time had emerged in the meantime.
  4. There were two old computer doing absolutely nothing in my old room. This was no surprise considering their old age, after all the oldest was a 286 IMB PS/2 (from 1991 I think, perhaps earlier) and the other one a p100 from 1996.

    They both served their purpose in the past, the 286 as the first computer in my dad’s office and the p100 as our first computer at home. Therefore it taught me a lot about computers in general, although I never accessed the internet from it. But now they were just rusting away, so I decided to clear some space by throwing them away. My mom has been awaiting this moment for years.

    The other things you see on the picture are a Philips VCR which is broken and an Epson Stylus C84 printer which is also broken. I kept the Philips VCR around in the past to see if I could repair it, but nowadays I consider VHS an old and dead technology. Recording to harddisk and then burning to CD or DVD if really interesting is my way of preserving things now.


  5. My parents bought a new piece of furniture for their television. Therefore a sucky, quite small television, which only works after you bang on it a couple of times, has now been upgraded to a real Jan des Bouvries piece of television furniture. If you think the tv looks quite nice, you only have to ask yourself why it’s still in my old room at my parents’ and not at my place.

  6. Of course I went out to shoot some more photographs. I bought my camera to use it for more than illustrational shots on my weblog after all. Homemade desktop backgrounds are my main goal. 😛

  7. This was lying hidden on the ground and I barely noticed it. Then I picked up the branch and managed to take a few nice pictures.
  8. figcaption>Roses may be red, but not in this time of the year.

  9. Willows are probably not associated with The Netherlands as much as mills, but they form a much greater part of our countryside. Willow catkins such as these are quite neat to put in a vase.

  10. I mowed quite a lot of grass. Partly because my father, who would normally do it, is still recovering. Partly because it’s simply refreshingly mindless and a fairly good excercise for your arms (the sides of the field anyway, the middle is just boring). After long and exhausting usage for both man and machine, both are indeed quite hot.

  11. And last, but not least, a picture of some old alder catkins.

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