As If You Really Cared…

Well, for the past few months, I have been busier than a one legged man in an ass kicking contest, and I have had to prioritize my paid work as well as writing that actually furthers my career over luxuries like sleep, exercise and posting substantive content to the blog. As a result, my posts lately have been fluffier than usual.

I do intend to get back to writing posts that are a little geekier, hopefully sooner rather than later, but it doesn’t look like its going to happen this week. Instead, I decided to add a new feature to the blog, a Flickr plugin that I was able to install and configure (complete with my own basic styling) in under a half hour. It integrates very nicely with several areas of WordPress and beautifully displays just about all of the information that you see on Flickr itself. If, like me, you already use Flickr to share your photos, this plugin grabs your “sets” (in Flickr terminology) and displays them as “albums” (in the Flickr plugin terminology) in WordPress very effortlessly. It’s also very easy to add images of various sizes from Flickr to your posts:

You can find my sets/albums under the “what I am seeing” link that compliments the “what I am reading” link, which is just an RSS feed of links I have tagged with ’stonemind’ with some notes. As if anyone really cares.

All the photos I’m currently slurping into the blog are taken with my Nokia 6102i camera phone. Because I always have it with me, it provides a cheaper and more convenient way to take pictures than even a compact digital camera, and so, I have been using it to re-educate myself about basic photographic composition and digital manipulation. I began just trying to capture interesting subjects without manipulating the images, other than cropping them and converting them to grayscale. I then began experimenting with adjusting brightness and contrast, and sepia toning as well as exploring how differently the same images look with various treatments.

In case you were wondering about some of the images, all the photo manipulation is done with the GIMP (of course!) and the sepia toned images were created using the “Old Photo” filter that I found under Script-Fu -> Decor, and that can also further soften and “mottle” the image. There is also a detailed contributed tutorial on the GIMP site that shows how to do sepia toning manually for greater control; at some point I need to read this and learn how to do this for myself.

Despite the obvious and severe limitations of camera phones, the images are of surprisingly good quality, at least, they are better than what I expected. The resolution is 640×480, or about the same as the first widely available digital cameras, but it actually seems to handle different lighting conditions better than those old cameras did.

At some point, I will get more serious, buy a digital SLR, and really begin to re-educate myself on how to take professional pictures and manipulate them, but for now, I am having fun exploring what can be done with this low-end tool. For example, how many people actually do things like soften their high resolution digital images? With the camera phone, the lower resolution produces a softness/graininess in images that you might not otherwise get a chance to see.

The only painful point in this process is pushing the images to my computer; for some reason, the only batch operation you seem to be able to perform on this phone is also the most dangerous: deleting all the images at once. To actually send an image via bluetooth (or any other means), you have to go through an easy 10 step process per photo.

Because I am using a relatively old computer, I needed to add a bluetooth receiver. Fortunately for about $30 US, I bought a D-Link DBT-120 Bluetooth USB Adapter that I could easily plug in. Then, this forum post gave explicit instructions for how to get it all to work together in Ubuntu. Although the instructions are for Hoary, I have had it working in Breezy and now Fiesty. This is the script that I currently use:

#!/bin/bashsudo modprobe l2capsudo modprobe rfcommsudo sdptool add –channel=10 OPUSHwhile truedo obexserverdone

The only other mild inconvenience that I haven’t taken the time to work around is that when the photos are transfered to my computer they are saved to /tmp.

To supplement my experimentation, I am enjoying the O’Reilly book Digital Photography Hacks by Derrick Story, which includes a chapter of recipes for camera phones. I have also started reading The Tao of Photography: Seeing Beyond Seeing by Philippe L. Gross and S.I. Shapiro.

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