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Sunday, October 30, 2011

••◊ How to use and upload Canon picture styles

While I finish up more artistic work, this week's blog post is going to be a technical tutorial on how to use Canon custom picture styles.  Sometimes I refer to them as picture profiles, so you'll just have to forgive me if I slip up and call them that from time to time.  In previous posts I discussed how to use the Canon Picture Style Editor software and Canon provides instructions on the web as well.

Essentially there are two ways to use a picture style file (.pf2).  The first is to upload it to your camera via the EOS Utility.  When you plug your camera into the computer it will likely ask if you want to run the EOS utility, which is where you want to go.  Click on the "Camera settings/Remote shooting" link in the EOS Utility.

When the "camera icon" tab is selected you should see a link called "Register User Defined style."  Click on that.

A dialog box will pop up that allows you to upload up to three user defined styles.  When you select the button with the file folder icon the normal file explorer will come up and you should be able to search for the desired .pf2 file.  In this case you can see that I chose a picture style aligned to the DSC Camalign chart.  Click on OK and the file will be uploaded to your camera.

The way a picture style is selected with each camera menu and button layout is a little different, but should be obvious to any user advanced enough to be playing with customized picture styles.  If nothing else I highly recommend to RTFM refer to the manual.  When you select the user defined picture style in the camera the picture style is embedded into each raw (.CR2) file and JPEG processing will use the picture style.  It also works with movie mode.

The second method only works if you take your pictures in raw format.  After uploading the pictures from the camera to your computer you can use the custom picture style in Canon's Digital Photo Professional software.  On the tool palette just click on the "Browse" button in the "Picture Style" category.  The file explorer will pop up and you can select your custom picture style.  I personally think it's better to have the custom picture style in the camera because when I process hundreds of photos from a day of shooting I don't want to have to repetitively do this operation.

This was a good and much needed distraction from my current photo and video work. So feel free to distract me and ask questions if you need more info.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

••◊ An Ever Green State of Mind, Part 4: Lake Quinault

So if two associated works are called a sequel and three works are called a trilogy, what do you call four? Maybe it's series, a journal, a sequence, or a serial? Usually in Hollywood an over-exploitation is referred to as a "franchise." I'm not sure. Whatever... this is part four.
After hiking in the Hoh Rain Forest we headed south along the coast for our overnight accommodations at the Lake Quinault Lodge, located just north of Aberdeen (hometown of the band Nirvana).  This nirvana was the real thing. 

When we arrived at the lodge we were told that the resort has Internet access, to which we both thought "why?"  It seemed like a luxury to get away from email, cell phone service, and television, i.e. all the things that contribute to our daily information overload.  So despite the ability to log on to the information super highway we both hesitated for peace of mind.  That being said, after surviving the pasta primavera at Sol Duc the cobbler with vanilla ice cream was a modern amenity I could totally dig.

The main lodge was built in 1926 and visited by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1937.  He felt it was such a beautiful place to preserve that he initiated the Olympic National Park in 1938, putting many depression era citizens to work.  The restaurant in the main lodge (lower left of building in above photo) has the newspaper clipping showing his visit.

Another interesting feature is the rain gauge on the chimney in the middle of the building.  From the photo above it sort of looks like a totem pole, but really it's a rain gauge measuring up to 17' of rain!  This is a rain forest.

The beach front has your typical Washington rocky sand, but the stress relieving lake is welcoming after days of hiking.  You can grab a beach chair, take off your socks and cool your tired toes in the water.  The water helps with swollen feet and the rocks are more like acupressure at this point.

The next morning started off with the usual; my stomach telling me I had to get out of bed or face the wrath of the rumbling tummy.  I was one of only a handful of people at the restaurant that early in the morning (7am).  The lodge keeps bird feeders just outside the windows so you can watch Bluejays have their breakfast too.  I struck up a conversation with a woman sporting binoculars, figuring that she was likely a birder.  From her description it turns out that, despite their size, Bluejays are actually some of the most aggressive birds.  The morning feeding looked almost like a cage match with birds dive bombing each other, pushing others aside, and generally forgetting how to share.  It was like the official bird of Wall Street, but I digress...

The local hikes are only a few miles around and essentially start and stop across the street from the lodge, with trail heads just up and down the road a bit.  It's a climb.  What you don't see in the photos above is that the hills go up steeply behind the lodge, but that also means waterfalls. Obligatory nature photos shown below.  I wish I would have had more sunlight, but the sun decided to go away overnight leaving everything a flat saturated green color.

Our final quarter mile hike was to the world's largest spruce tree.  Mom is shown for scale.  If a spruce tree could take anabolic steroids, this might be the result.  When I went up to the tree so my mom could take a picture I realized that people had been climbing all over the roots and had worn away the lower bark.  Sad really.  I guess a tree can grow new bark, but people should still respect nature.  The tree does have a way of getting revenge!  I simply walked up to the base and leaned against it.  Sap was all over my back side necessitating a good butt brushing before getting back in the car.

The drive home was long. Very long. Internet, email, and production work was waiting back home. I find that after trips like this I have to re-adjust normality to involve more electronic doo-dads and impersonal communication. That's modern life.

Friday, October 14, 2011

••◊ An Ever Green State of Mind, Part 3: Hoh Rain Forest and Ruby Beach

Continuing our adventure around the Olympic National Forest, on Tuesday we left Sol Duc heading south along the western coast of the Olympic Peninsula.  The second stop in our daily hiking plan was the Hoh Rain Forest.  Primarily known for its large mossy trees, the surrounding forest receives on average 12 to 14 feet of rain per year - and people think it rains in Seattle!  On this particular day the clouds in the sky were widely scattered, making for a easy trail conditions.

One thing you immediately feel when walking into a rain forest is the humidity.  Yes, you can smell and see the dense swaths of pollen flying through the air (thank goodness for sealed lenses), but you can feel the humidity.  The temperature also drops significantly after leaving the parking lot and entering the green maze.  With everything so green you can almost lose your sense of direction.  However, I figured this hike wasn't going to be that hard when I saw a large, beyond retirement age, group of people with name tags hitting the Hall of Mosses Trail with us.  Below is a picture along the Hall of Mosses route.  As you can see, it's hard to take a picture in a rain forest.  What isn't deeply saturated green is too dark for a camera to see during the day.

My mom was feeling a bit tired from our extended hike (yes, we left the geriatrics behind and hit the "hardcore" trail too) and I became the designated driver.  By the time we left the Hoh Rain Forest access road and hit 101 I wasn't feeling much like driving either, however the previous day a backpacking hiker had recommended that we visit Ruby Beach.  I noticed the sign along 101 and decided to pull off just so I could stretch my legs a little and see something other than green!

Boy was I glad I did.  It's just a short hike down the hill from the parking lot to the beach and a sudden, unexpected, grand view of the Washington coastline.  Below are some views of the beach.

Ruby Beach gets it's name from the red garnet that's mixed in with the sand.  Unfortunately I didn't know that ahead of time otherwise I would have scooped up a handful of sand and taken a picture.  What's interesting is that I thought I was taking pictures of a fairly unknown place until I got back in the office later and saw that one of the standard Windows background images is Ruby Beach -and- their image is at sunset with pretty oranges hues!  Darn Microsoft.  I'm setting my background to the Space Needle in protest (or jealousy...whatever).

One of the most regrettable parts of this whole trip was that I didn't get to share this experience with my mom, who was not feeling well and decided to stay behind in the car. 

I didn't stay long, just enough to take a few pictures and get back on 101 heading south for our final stop.

Friday, October 7, 2011

••◊ An Ever Green State of Mind, Part 2: Lake Crescent and Sol Duc

Monday afternoon we left Hurricane Ridge and headed toward Sol Duc, with a stop over at Lake Cresent.  Although Lake Crescent is a serene vista itself, we only had time for one short hike at Marymere Falls on the way to our night's accommodations.  Some interesting factoids from Wikipedia: The depth of the lake has been unofficially measured to 1000ft (second deepest in Washington) and the deeply saturated blue color of the lake comes from a lack of nitrogen.

Marymere Falls is a short 1 mile hike from the parking lot off highway 101 and drops 90 feet into a pool that feeds Falls Creek.  Even though my feet were a bit sore from hiking up the ridge line at Hurricane Ridge, I knew this would be no big deal since there were  ...let's call them less than athletic... people traversing the trail without pause or issue.  The photo above is the staircase up to the elevated viewpoint of the falls.  We made a brief photo stop at the stream just below the falls for a quick picture of mom and then headed up to the falls itself for another quick picture.  Just so I don't receive too much flack for this, my idea of a quick picture and my mom's idea of a quick picture are drastically different.  Her's involves a button press, mine involves a single tripod setup and no off camera light metering. 

Monday night we stayed at the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, which is just southwest of Lake Crescent.  Now before you start getting all fancy-frenchy and pronouncing the name "sole-due" I should probably let you know that the name is pronounced in the rather rural America fashion of "sole-duck."  I made that mistake and was quickly corrected.

When we first arrived I'm pretty sure that my mom and I gave each other the trepidous look of "who farted?", then we quickly remind ourselves that we were next to a sulphur hot springs.  So fart, or no fart, it smelled the same.  Ah yes...  the freedom to casually fart in public and blame it on mother nature!  They should advertise this as a "no pressure" resort!

At dinner we both decided on the pasta primavera and thus both got a severe case of indigestion and maybe a slight case of food poisoning.  We evidently weren't used to the sulphur content.  At least the cabins were nice.  Below are some photos of the resort at night.

After surviving multiple night time pitch black bathroom trips while navigating an unfamiliar furniture configuration it was morning again.  Time to get our hike on!  Morning in the forest is very, very green.  It's that deep saturated green that a computer monitor just can't reproduce.  Someone once told me that they thought San Diego was green and I had to tell them they had no clue.  A rain forest is also very quiet, with your footsteps being the only consistent sound.  Steps sound like damped beating on a large drum head due to the water saturated ground.

Sol Duc falls is a short (~2 mile) hike from the parking lot to falls.  In the picture below mom (upper right) is shown for scale.  Along the way you see all types of strange plant life including wild mushrooms and things I don't know how to describe.  One of those things is below in the last picture below.  It's much easier to imagine a rain forest as a living, breathing place when you see it in person.  The fallen logs provide nutrients, shelter, and growth opportunities for new life.  Plants grow under other plants for shade... and so forth.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

••◊ An Ever Green State of Mind, Part 1: Hurricane Ridge

I feel like if I was Catholic this blog post would begin, "forgive me follower, for I have sinned.  It's been three weeks since my last blog post.  I lusted after adventure and pictures, rather than take care of my duties to blog."  Hopefully this multi-part series of road trip (!!!) pictures makes up for my laziness. 

The week before last I spent in Washington State venturing around with mom in the Olympic National Park on the Olympic Peninsula.  For those less familiar with the geography, the Olympic National Park is just west of Seattle, across Puget Sound.  The Park was founded in 1938.  According to historical documentation the first euro-expedition party to explore Hurricane Ridge, just south of Port Angeles, was led by Lt. Joseph P. O'Neil in 1885.  It took him approximately a month to carve through the dense rain forest in the same general direction.  Today you simply hop in a car and drive up in about a half hour to the gift shop/ranger station at the top.

So... on to the pictures... 

My mom spotted this afternoon dew on the leaves and thought the droplets looked like diamonds. 

The view to the west provided a grand vista of the treeline and valley below.

Yes, this was the ridge line you had to climb to get to the panorama photos, only slightly exaggerated by a 24mm lens - really, only slightly.  It left me breathing hard with my photo pack strapped to my back and tripod Paul Bunyan'ed over the shoulder.

For the grand vistas, here are some panoramas I stitched together.  I generally stuck with a 50mm focal length and used my lens offset fixture to offset the front element of the lens to the center of the pivot axis.  It worked like a champ!  Below are examples of why I feel at home in the mountains.

On the way down this dear (shown in the first shot above) decided to stop in the middle of the road and have lunch without regard for the steady stream of cars.  In fact, the deer were so tame that the first thing I saw at the top of Hurricane Ridge was a deer coming straight down into the parking lot to check us out.  No fear of people.  When one couple's dog started barking the deer didn't even flinch.  I guess they're used to teasing dogs on leashes about the dog's apparent lack of freedom!  Funny how the deer have figured out dog leashes, but not multi-ton moving objects.  I guess they understand insurance deductibles too.