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03 July 2010


First Swim of 2010

It's been a week of hard, not too successful work. But thanks to some friends with a car, finally this morning we made it to the beach and I had my first swim in 2010. It's kind of late in the year. Thinking of it, I can't say what kept me. Always there seemed to have been some reason or other. Of course around Athens the beaches are not so nice, etc. etc.

Well, there I am, in the water. First moment was a bit cold, as usual. Then that great feeling of splashing in and being carried. The old camera is still watertight, even after its repair. I'll hopefully make a lot more underwater pictures this year, some of them nice, most of them boring, but who cares, it's summer!

Posted by betabug at 12:41 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
15 July 2010

Yes, I'm Back in Athens

Since Sunday actually

Last Sunday I returned from Naxos. On a boat filled to the last place. Lots of tourists too, so I guess the tourism industry can't complain that there are no tourists at all. It was good to leave in a place that's easy to get to from the port in Pireus. After traveling by boat it's nice to get home fast and take a break.

On Monday I went to the National Garden (next to Syntagma square) with the Arca and took lots and lots of (well, for the standard of working with the Arca... about 27) pictures of Vana Xenou's sculptures there. I got the films developed and (rough, low quality) scanned on Tuesday. I think I did a good job, except for the last few one's, when I was too tired after a day out in the dust and the heat. The main point was to be at each sculpture at the right time when the sun would peep through the large trees around everything... and then get a good point of view and don't f* up the composition. Maybe I'll post some pictures somewhere.

The duration of the exhibition was extended to somewhere in September. Plenty of time for a pleasant stroll through the park to see some sculptures!

Posted by betabug at 10:21 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
21 July 2010

Προφήτη Ηλία και Παγωτό στο Ιντερνέτι

View from the profiti ilia church on the Ymittos at night

Χτες ήταν η γιορτή του προφήτη Ηλία. Όπως είναι το έθιμο, ανεβήκαμε με τα πόδια σ' ένα εκκλησάκι πάνω στον Υμηττό. Είχαν φωτίσει το μονοπάτι, το ξέρω και πολύ καλά, γιατί πάω συχνά για φωτογραφίες εκεί. Κανένα πρόβλημα δηλαδή. Πέρα από αυτό είχε και ωραία δροσούλα.

Στην δουλειά είχαμε μια ωραία έκπληξη χτες: Ένα site που φτιάξαμε επί πολύ καιρό μπήκε online. Δεν το είχα φτιάξει εγώ, αλλά στην τελική φάση ανέλαβα κάτι σαν το τεχνικό project management. Έκανα βεβαίως και κάτι bug fixes στων κώδικα. Το site είναι σε flash, κάτι που δεν είναι ακριβώς η πρώτη επιλογή μου... αλλά παίζει τώρα. Οπότε αν ψάχνουμε την Häagen-Dazs στην Ελλάδα με τα παγωτά τους, μπορούμε τώρα να την βρούμε στο Ένα πολύ μεγάλο ευχαριστώ σ' αυτήν την φάση πρέπει να πω και στον φίλο μου τον Javier, a.k.a. graffic που μου βοήθησε με κάποια απίστευτα τεχνικά προβλήματα.

Posted by betabug at 10:41 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
29 July 2010

Setting the Focus Distance on the Epson V700 Scanner

... and see what you're doing
Sunset next to the Belltower of St.Georges on Lycabettus

The biggest problem with the otherwise quite splendid scanner Epson "Perfection" V700 (pretentious little product name there) is hitting the right focus distance... and keeping the film flat. Here are some little hints to solve part 1 of that riddle, to find the right focus distance.

The usual procedure is to make a series of test scans, setting your film carrier to each of its three possible heights (or, if you bought the Betterscanning holder, an binary search through a lot of different heights).

The problem with that is, assuming you're using large format (or even "baby large format" 6x9cm, like me), that you won't really be able to see any grain to focus on. So you'd have to rely on having a sharp negative. But how sharp is sharp? When I tried it at first, I didn't know if I'd hit the edge of what's possible with the scanner or if my negative was really not that 100% sharp. So here is what I've learned.

First, switch off any ICE (or in VueScan "infrared") dust removal. It will give you a slightly reduced sharpness, which makes your job to find the right focus hard. It will also speed your tests up a bit, since the scan head doesn't have to make two passes.

Second, use a large resolution, even if it's more than you usually would need. 3200 spi (samples per inch, also called "pixel per inch" sometimes) is probably safe. To save some time, I set the output format to JPEG and only 24bit RGB. I learned to resist the temptation to try to do something that you can later use at the same time.

Detail in the dark parts of that image

Third, the real secret: Use a color negative with some parts that are underexposed (e.g. stuff that is in the shadows). You will get big, fat grain in those parts. See how the grain looks in the "ghosts" of these people there? You can see that you have the right focus distance, even though that part of the image is not technically "sharp".

This is a small piece of that big picture, some people looking at the sunset. The scan is done at 1600 spi, you'd see it even a bit better at 3200 spi. (The small sample pictures are at 100% of the 1600spi scan resolution and not sharpened.)

Detail in the dark parts of that image, corrected

Here is the same piece of the image, with proper color correction and "curves" adjustment layer applied. The grain has disappeared, because well, it's in the shadows anyway.

Fourth, for once, dust is your friend. As much as we hate dust on our scans usually, here it helped me quite a bit. Because dust has 100% sharp outlines most all the time. So when you see a little spec of dust that is sharp... well, you're quite close to the optimal film focus height. The difference of the height of the dust spec probably won't matter much.

As for the 2nd part, getting the negative flat, I can't be of much help there yet, still fighting with that!

Posted by betabug at 16:01 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)