Good little consumer - Livre d'Or

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Good little consumer
Tuesday, 13 January 2009 at 10:50 am
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So I'm doing my bit for helping the economy not fall over: before Christmas, so it probably counts in the Christmas retail figures, I finally caved and bought myself a new camera. Then I actually participated, for the first time, in the ritual gift exchange at Christmas. And on Sunday I managed to spend about £180 on clothes in the January sales, which I think is a record for me.

I bought my old camera in early 2004, and it was a two-year-old model then. It's a Fuji Finepix 4700, and it was one of the most mistaken purchases I've ever made. I got a really nice little film SLR when I was about 11 or 12, and I was somewhat reluctant to make the leap to digital, and in fact only did so because I had already spent about twice the value of the camera on repairing it, so I decided it was time to stop. Even then I dithered about digital; in principle, digital cameras are obviously better, because I'm much more interested in sharing photos on the web than in having piles of paper photos fading and gathering dust in a cupboard. But I didn't want a camera where you press a button and a mini computer does some clever maths and a photo comes out, I wanted a camera that I could focus and adjust the aperture and shutter speed. And the kind of camera I was given as a kid is hard to find in a digital version: the intermediate stage between a point-and-shoot box and a fancy professional camera, a thing you can get for about £50, which gives you control of the actual mechanics of photography.

So I tried to find a camera that was affordable, but also had some degree of manual controls. I was advised that the digital version of that sort of thing starts from about £200, and that felt out of my budget. So I stubbornly searched eBay and other bargain-hunting sites until I found a two-year-old, originally £200 camera that was retailing for £120. The problem with the Finepix is that although it does have the ability to set aperture and shutter speed (also ISO equivalent and white balance), and to focus manually, it's incredibly fiddly to do so. Also, and I don't know if this is a flaw in the model or just because mine was old, to use the manual settings you had to have the LCD screen switched on, and I found that with the screen switched on, I got about 10 minutes of battery life even with high-quality rechargeables. So I ended up using this fancy camera as an inferior point-and-shoot, and feeling increasingly unsatisfied with it. And the flash never worked, and as it got older the mechanism for retracting and expanding the lens became unreliable, and it would more and more often just lose the seating of the memory card. By last year, I'd got to the point where I just wouldn't bother taking the camera most places, and if I did I often wouldn't bother getting it out, because it was more of a chore than a pleasure to use.

I carried on dithering for about half a year, because I don't like spending money, and I don't like the consumer electronics mindset that you have to replace everything every couple of years to keep up with Moore's law and the shoddily made gadgets failing. Finally someone linked someone else on my friends list to Digital Photography Review, which is a comparison and consumer site for serious geeks. It has a long list (like three screens!) of features, and you can select the ones you wanted, and it presents you with a selection of cameras which match your requirements, and then you can read incredibly detailed reviews of every technical aspect of them. This allowed me to find, with about 10 minutes' research, all the cameras which take normal AA batteries, have a real optical viewfinder (this is very rare in modern digital cameras), and have manual focus and some degree of manual light control. (Previously I'd been doing things like going to Amazon or ebuyer and scouring customer reviews for this kind of information, and trying to make a list, and giving up because it was too confusing. Most of the actual manufacturer sites have nothing but puff about how their camera is so cool, and when they do list features it's features I don't care about.) So I decided that what I needed was a Canon Powershot, and Canon are a brand I trust from the film camera days, so once I had that knowledge, it was easy enough to find it sold for a decent price.

I played with it for the first time over Christmas. I wasn't trying to do anything very sophisticated, just holiday snaps, really. I already like it far better than the old camera. It's about half the weight, which helps a great deal, and has a body shaped like a traditional camera, wider than it's long so it's very comfortable to hold even in one hand. Also, even though I was working with the viewscreen turned on, one set of batteries lasted the whole holiday, including four snapping sessions. (This makes the optical viewfinder issue less urgent than I thought it was, but there are still going to be times when I don't want to wait for the screen to wake up and settle.) And wow, I have a working flash for the first time in my life! It can do things that my old camera simply couldn't do, such as this shot where you can see that the scorf is shiny and the fuzzy toy is fuzzy and the jewellery box is stroky and the carpet is carpet-y. And landscapes that don't just look like undifferentiated green, and capturing enough detail at maximum zoom to get a decent shot of a small feature on a roof.

On the negative side, there doesn't seem to be a low quality setting; for the majority of my photos, 8 megapixels just means a file that takes up far too much space on my hard drive, I'm never going to use anything over a fifth that size, and quite often less. Having the capacity to take 8 MP shots is a good thing, for example when I want to take pictures of weather vanes high up on the roof, and crop just the detail from a full-sized image. But I want the option to take 2 MP snaps as well. With my old camera I used to take most shots at 1.2 MP, and process them on my computer to about 0.2 to 0.5 MP, giving me a size suitable for the web. Occasionally I was frustrated because I couldn't go above the 3.6 MP capacity of my camera, which is part of the reason for moving to something more modern. With the new camera, I am forced to take everything at 8 MP, which opens up a whole range of new potential for about 10% of my photos, but annoys me for the remaining 90%, because you can't shrink something from 8 MP to 0.5 MP without visible loss of information.

I'm tempted to complain that the quality is worse; you can see really blatant sensor noise in some of my photos which the Fujifilm camera never had. But that's not really fair, because I'm seeing sensor noise in photos that the Fuji wouldn't have been able to take at all, eg indoor shots or photos of mountains several miles away. And some of the noise is a factor of the resolution being insanely high compared to my requirements, I think. The colour balance is, well, a lot of these shots are taken with flash, which doesn't help, but I'm finding that almost every single photo wants processing to increase the darkness of the dark tones and take away a slightly bleached cast from the raw images. I think a lot of these problems are going to be diminished when I start actually start playing with the advanced settings; I didn't want to do that for the first time when I was taking photos in company, because it's boring if someone you're trying to be sociable with keeps stopping to spend 10 minutes fiddling with a camera.

Anyway, I'm already far happier with this new camera than I ever was with the old one, and I'm looking forward to learning how to stretch it to its full capacity.

To start with, cartesiandaemon and his family were incredibly generous with Christmas presents. And several people gave me lovely things for my birthday, including some parcels which came in the post from abroad, always exciting. Many thanks to rysmiel for bookies and darcydodo for the adorable tiny pink teapot, also to everyone who gave me a birthday present in person. cartesiandaemon has started a campaign to make me less of a film philistine, giving me a huge heap of DVDs and even a DVD player, something I've always wanted but never quite got round to buying myself since I generally didn't want a TV. Now my landlord has pressed one on me, and while I do resent the licensing fee which I'd rather have spent on DVDs or trips to the cinema, at least I have a screen on which to show DVDs now.

Yesterday evening I went to redeem a parcel collecting slip (they have a really good system here, where you get a slip in your mail box, and you take it to a collection point in a supermarket, which is open long hours and convenient to get to, none of this nonsense about the delivery person making a half-hearted attempt to see if you're at home, and if not either making you go to a depot in another city, or dumping the parcel to get broken or stolen). I was expecting the next instalment of my book delivery from staubundsterne, but it turned out that as well as lovely bookies, I had a set of Star wars DVDs from a mysterious benefactor. I think I know who it is, but if my theory is right they'll enjoy making me guess... Thank you both, that was a really cheering thing.

Just a note about Star wars: no, I've really never seen it. Even though it's a classic, I'd prefer not to be spoiled; I know there's a big reveal about somebody being somebody's father, but I can't remember who, and I'd just as rather see the trilogy naively. Also, the DVDs contain the original trilogy, now called IV to VI, and they have two discs for each episode, one with the remastered versions released recently, and one with the original cinematic release. I should watch the older versions, right? The only slightly annoying thing is that I was so excited to have Star Wars suddenly show up that I wanted to start watching straight away, and it turns out that my new shiny DVD player didn't come supplied with a cable for connecting to the TV, so I need to go and buy one of those. Do I need to know anything more than the fact that it will be a SCART cable?

Clothes shopping *sigh*

I was very determined that I would take advantage of the last opportunity to buy warm winter clothes in Sweden, namely the January sales. All the new season stuff is spring already, and if I end up leaving the country, I won't have nearly such a good selection of really warm, snuggly stuff. So I was good, and I didn't get distracted by shiny things, or random cheap t-shirts which I have plenty of already, but methodically went through the shops I know I like (KappAhl, Gina Tricot, Axelssons) picking out warm winter things and patching actual gaps in my wardrobe.

The two big purchases were a good winter jacket, waterproof, with a hood, and a nice dark red colour, so both smart and practical; and some grey woollen trousers. I have been looking for winter trousers forever, and this time my perseverance in trying on about 30 pairs that didn't even slightly fit was rewarded. (It's not that there are no trousers in my theoretical size – most of the shops I bother to patronize have a plus size range – but that all the trousers in the world that fit over my bottom have the waist way too huge and often in the wrong place.) Other than that, I got half a dozen jumpers in a range of colours and styles, and a random bra (after the exhausting and demoralizing trouser hunt, I didn't have the courage to repeat the process with underwear, so just got something basic to tide me over), and a couple of tops, including a polo neck in my absolute favourite shade of bright purple, and lots of tights which I always need more of. And a new handbag, to replace the most recent one I killed by putting too many heavy books in it. This one is gunmetal grey, more or less like an elegant version of a satchel, with space for a modern oversized book and my tiny computer, so it's pretty close to the ideal version I had in mind. Oh, and some warm winter PJs, shiny dark blue on the outside, and fuzzy and warm on the inside. Mm, snuggly.

I think that's a win overall, though I am still lacking a thick winter skirt, and proper gloves for when it gets seriously cold, and decent bras, though that project isn't restricted to January.

In less capitalist news, I meant to add to my New Year social report that lethargic_man very sweetly agreed to meet up with me when I was on the way between Cambridge and the airport. It was really lovely to spend some time with him; we went out to Diwana Bhel Poori, a really excellent vegetarian Indian restaurant just behind Euston, which ewtikins introduced me to in 2007, and I stupidly forgot to write down the name in my LJ report. Happily she didn't mind reminding me of the name and how to find it, so we got to sample the tasty tasty lunch buffet. It just hit the spot, because I'm deprived of Indian food here, and it's amazingly cheap by London standards, and very good, with the different dishes providing really unique flavours. lethargic_man did me the huge favour of accompanying me all the way to Heathrow on the Tube, making the journey incredibly less boring.

This weekend was fun and sociable too; SA invited me and Joanna to dinner on Friday night, and we had some delightfully girly conversation. I was a bit pushed for time in which to get home, sleep, and get up in time to be in shul Saturday morning to lead the service. That went very well indeed; I got the timing right, and could feel that the community were really engaged, and lots of people said very nice things about it. Then I lead a successful seminar on the week's Torah portion. Slightly annoyingly, I had to spend the afternoon in a committee meeting, but we met in the Örtagården veggie restaurant, and the meeting was convivial if the random side discussions meant that it took rather longer than necessary.

Whereaboooots: Stockholm, Sweden
Moooood: predatoryacquisitive
Tuuuuune: Cat Power: Cross bones style
Discussion: 53 contributions | Contribute something
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hairyears: default
Date:January 13th, 2009 11:49 am (UTC)
11 minutes after journal entry, 11:49 am (hairyears's time)
Oh dear! The smaller Canon cameras are a kind of 'gateway drug' - soon you'll be purchasing lenses and lusting after an EOS. Myself, I'm a Nikon fan, but I notice that Canon owners work their way through all the features - quite an achievement, even on the low-end models - and develop their own photographic style.

Which is to say: you will shortly be A Proper Photographer with portfolio of publication-quality images.
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livredor: geekette
Date:January 13th, 2009 12:01 pm (UTC)
23 minutes after journal entry, 12:01 pm (livredor's time)
In some ways, a gateway drug is exactly what I want. I would like to be confident enough in my photography to justify spending a few hundred on a nice dSLR. Until now I've felt caught in an annoying loop, where cameras good enough to learn on are too expensive for someone who doesn't know how to use a modern camera well. I went to an effort to pick a camera that lets me play around with settings, rather than one where the presets and automated features are superlatively good, because I would rather get acceptable images and know that it was me that created that, than beautiful images that just come out of a black box. So this comment is really encouraging. (Nikon was my second choice, actually, and I think what clinched it was a fairly minor thing like preferring ordinary AA batteries over a built-in battery suitable only for that particular model.)
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(no subject) - green_knight (1/13/09 08:26 pm)
(no subject) - livredor (1/14/09 12:09 pm)
(no subject) - pplfichi (1/13/09 02:06 pm)
(no subject) - green_knight (1/13/09 08:39 pm)
(no subject) - pplfichi (1/14/09 01:51 pm)
(no subject) - pplfichi (1/14/09 02:13 pm)
(no subject) - livredor (1/14/09 12:24 pm)
(no subject) - pplfichi (1/14/09 02:03 pm)
miss_next: default
Date:January 13th, 2009 12:01 pm (UTC)
23 minutes after journal entry
Two things. First, I know a good digital photographer you might be interested to talk to. He is sir_dave - tell him I sent you! He's extremely good at what he does, and also he and I are about as diametrically opposed in technique as two photographers could possibly be. He, like you, enjoys having manual control over all the technical aspects so that he can get the perfect shot of a landscape, or a building, or basically something large that stays put. I am the ultimate snapper, and the reason for this is that I prefer to take photographs of people looking as natural as possible. The best photo I've ever taken is here. I dare say it could be improved in terms of composition, colour and all sorts of things like that, but what I actually wanted it to do, it does 100% - and that is to catch one very camera-shy little nightingale looking like himself, rather than freezing up when he finds himself on the wrong end of a lens and therefore looking weird in the photo. Shame about the beard, but he did eventually shave it off. :-)

The other thing is trousers. I can entirely sympathise with your plight, because most trousers aren't made to my shape either; elasticated waists usually provide a reasonable compromise in my case, but one doesn't necessarily want everything to be elasticated. (Like you, I have a small waist in proportion to my hips. I also have a pronounced sway-back, which tends to pull the waistband down at the back.) There is only one really good answer, and that is home sewing. If you haven't tried it, it is honestly not as hard as it looks, and I can provide as much advice on the subject as you need, especially regarding pattern alterations. I don't use a machine myself, so I don't sew if I need something in a hurry, but if you do use one it is pretty quick for basic skirt or trouser patterns. If that still seems too daunting, I also find long skirts are a brilliant alternative to trousers; apart from anything else, you can wear what the heck you like under them in the winter and nobody will stare. :-)
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livredor: complicated
Date:January 13th, 2009 12:58 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, 12:58 pm (livredor's time)
Ooh, I do like that photo of Charles (though I agree with your poll finding that megamole is way cuter!) You are quite right that I'm personally more interested in artistic images of things that stay still, than natural snaps of people. This Christmas proved that my new toy can take perfectly respectable snaps if I want to use it for that.

One of the things that's a bit difficult to get used to in the switch from film to digital is that with a film camera, it sometimes took me a little while to set up a shot, but once I had everything in place, I took the photo instantly. Digital photos are quite quick to establish, but then there's this weird lag between pressing the button and taking the photo. But fast shooting is another of those features, like manual focus, that is high-end with a digital camera even though it was basic with film cameras.

Yeah, I do have slightly better luck with elasticated waist trousers, but I did want something a little smarter on this occasion. Your comment makes me wonder if the reason trousers never fit me is partly the shape of my spine, as well as my fat distribution. (My waist isn't all that much smaller than my literal hips, but a lot of clothing terminology seems to use hips as a euphemism for bum, and it's that part of me that sticks out.)

I love long skirts, and that's what I wear 90% of the time. It's just that when it's really cold, skirt plus tights isn't quite warm enough. I have tried the trick of putting trousers under skirts, but right now I have no trousers at all, they've all gone in the thighs and crotch to the point that they're not wearable, even hidden under a skirt. That's why I was so desperate to buy new trousers on this shopping trip!

I am very much in favour of sewing in theory, but it's something that I'm extremely bad at, and likely to stay that way. My spatial awareness is poor, so I can't deal with patterns or putting pieces together, and I don't have the focus to sit doing a repetitive task like sewing for a long time without getting distracted. I know "anyone can sew", and I can, but it's something I'll never be very good at and probably would have a hard time even getting interested in.
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(no subject) - miss_next (1/13/09 01:14 pm)
(no subject) - livredor (1/14/09 12:33 pm)
(no subject) - miss_next (1/14/09 01:20 pm)
(no subject) - miss_next (1/14/09 01:24 pm)
(no subject) - feanelwa (1/13/09 01:41 pm)
(no subject) - livredor (1/14/09 12:39 pm)
(no subject) - feanelwa (1/14/09 12:51 pm)
(no subject) - green_knight (1/13/09 08:49 pm)
(no subject) - livredor (1/14/09 12:54 pm)
ewx: default
Date:January 13th, 2009 12:14 pm (UTC)
36 minutes after journal entry, 12:14 pm (ewx's time)

Star Wars


I'd watch the original versions in preference to the modified ones. I don't think this is just liking the familiar, many of the additions in the more recent modifications are very visibly different from the adjacent original effects.

IV to VI were always thusly numbered - the original idea was a 9-film sequence (though I don't recall if there was a clear justification for starting in the middle).

I strongly recommend watching in the order 456123, especially given some of the things you say above.

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livredor: fangirl
Date:January 13th, 2009 12:59 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, 12:59 pm (livredor's time)

Re: Star Wars

Thank you, that's just the sort of advice I wanted. I'd picked up from general internet culture that you should start with IV not I, and that the old versions are better than the new versions, but it's nice to have that confirmed by my film-knowledgeable friends.
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Re: Star Wars - lethargic_man (1/13/09 02:29 pm)
Re: Star Wars - rysmiel (1/13/09 06:47 pm)
Re: Star Wars - lethargic_man (1/13/09 06:50 pm)
Re: Star Wars - livredor (1/14/09 12:57 pm)
Re: Star Wars - livredor (1/14/09 12:56 pm)
Re: Star Wars - lethargic_man (1/14/09 06:17 pm)
redbird: default
Date:January 13th, 2009 12:37 pm (UTC)
59 minutes after journal entry, 07:37 am (redbird's time)
I suspect I could have benefited from Digital Photography Review. As it is, I spent a little time on the reviews at CNet (which is, at least, actual reviews, but not as handy as what you describe) and then walked into a camera shop and asked to hold/test a couple. I'm reasonably happy with what I got; I'd reached the point of concluding that if I held out for the best camera in my price range, or the cheapest source of a good camera, I would keep living without a camera.
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livredor: geekette
Date:January 13th, 2009 01:04 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, 01:04 pm (livredor's time)
Absolutely, I was in just that position before I found Digital Photography Review, I was getting stuck trying to decide which camera was best (for me, I don't care about objectively best), and best value for money. Finding a camera for rysmiel was easier, cos they're not trying to recreate the experience of being a teenager with a film SLR, so they fit quite well in the demographic that mid-range digital compacts are marketed to.

I didn't bother going to brick and mortar camera shops, though perhaps I should have; I think these days the kind of shop staffed by knowledgeable people who would help you choose rather than trying to push the latest flashy thing on you is pretty rare. It's particularly hard to find places like that when you're working in a foreign country, and then there's the language barrier to having any discussions beyond the level of "I'd like to buy this object, please". I also wasn't convinced I could form an impression of a camera by playing for a few minutes, so I felt more confident reading detailed descriptions on the web, and looking for reviews by people who have similar ideas about photography to me.
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(no subject) - blue_mai (1/13/09 01:08 pm)
(no subject) - livredor (1/14/09 01:01 pm)
blue_mai: mirror
Date:January 13th, 2009 01:04 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, 01:04 pm (blue_mai's time)
was it my link to dpreview? hmm.. anyway i used to have a Canon Powershot i think 2003-4 so yours is rather more swizzy and advanced. i got it for the same reasons as you - manual control but still compact etc. i enjoyed using it (i only had it for a year) but i think i might have preferred an Ixus, a couple of my friends had the Ixus 3 or 4 around then, and while they are point-and-shoot compacts, they were somehow nice and intuitive to use.
Colour balance - do you have it on auto white balance setting? and i'd be really surprised if you can't take smaller pictures than 8MP. i would expect both a pixel size setting and a JPEG quality setting.

well done for warm clothing sucess and i'm happy that you got Star Wars! a good fuzzy memory i have is of when the old ones were re-issued - it was when we were in 6th form and a bunch of us went to see each 'premier' at about 4 or 5 in the afternoon (too early for most working people) at the big screen of the ABC cinema on Regent St (now The Regal), they were released each friday for 3 weeks. it seemed to be an entire cinema of teenagers...
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livredor: complicated
Date:January 14th, 2009 01:24 pm (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, 01:24 pm (livredor's time)
I don't think I got the link to the comparison site from you, I think someone on my friends page (maybe emperor?) posted asking for advice about cameras, and one of their friends linked the site. But I bookmarked the site itself, not the journal that linked to it, so I'm not sure.

I didn't know you'd ever succumbed to the digital thing, I think of you as the last bastion of twentieth century photography! You're definitely more serious than I ever was about exploring the technology physically, though.

This feels like a good time to be buying a digital camera; it's hard to think of any new features that a camera could have that I might conceivably want, and I am certainly not interested in any further increase in MP. But the current crop do seem to be noticeably better than the cutting edge of technology a few years ago. I was put off the Ixus, though; as far as I could tell, the main selling point is that it's "cool", and I don't want cool, I want something that I can adapt to my needs.

I've now found the setting to fix both the white balance and the pixel size of the images. And yes, you can choose the jpeg quality too. I think what I want to do is force the thing to lowish film speed, and see what I can do with a combination of natural light and setting the white balance properly.

Yay warm clothes and Star Wars. I think I might just settle in for the winter, now. I could wear my snuggly pyjamas and curl up in front of the TV with a good supply of chocolate and tea.
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(no subject) - blue_mai (1/14/09 03:03 pm)
simont: default
Date:January 13th, 2009 01:13 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry
Do I need to know anything more than the fact that it will be a SCART cable?

As long as it has a SCART connector at each end, no, there's only one kind of those.
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livredor: geekette
Date:January 14th, 2009 01:27 pm (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, 01:27 pm (livredor's time)
Cheers. Knowing this, I went into the silly consumer electronics chain, because it happened to be on the way to somewhere I wanted to be, and didn't bother looking for a more specialist shop. And I asked for a SCART cable to connect a DVD player to a TV, and the salesguy knew what I meant and only asked me how long I wanted it, and I said "the shortest", and now I am all equipped. I'm surprised it doesn't come in the box with a DVD player, though, I'd have thought it was a fairly essential component!
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(no subject) - simont (1/14/09 01:31 pm)
cartesiandaemon: default
Date:January 13th, 2009 01:27 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry
*hugs* Wow, that's a lot of stuff.

you can't shrink something from 8 MP to 0.5 MP without visible loss of information.

I know almost nothing about images. But surely, why it's annoying to have to, the end product shouldn't actually be worse? Indeed, on a computer, surely "higher quality" translates to "bigger" not "looking better", really, if everything has to be displayed in pixels?

I think I know who it is, but if my theory is right they'll enjoy making me guess...

I also have a theory[1].

I'm really glad you get to see them, they're such a part of culture. From what I recall, the edition with all six films and the original versions of the original three is definitely the right edition to get. Though I couldn't recall if it existed or not; I'm glad someone took on the mantle of getting that choice right! :)

For viewing order, I'd be really curious to know what an intelligent, relatively unspoiled but pro-sci-fi person would make of the I<->VI order.

But I agree with the essentially undisputed advice: the way to see them is in the order they were made, ie. the original IV-VI and then I-III. Because although Lucas tried to make them make the most sense in I-VI order, and to improve the original trilogy with the remastering, I doubt he was able to make that version actually better than seeing each having seen exactly all the ones made before that.

(Many people would say you should never see the recent versions at all, and that Lucas made a travesty. I am not that harsh. Although I agree the editorial changes to the original trilogy change the story definitely for the worse.)

Do I need to know anything more than the fact that it will be a SCART cable?

Oops :) I don't think so, but I'm not sure.

Ooh, congratulations on new handbag and new clothes!

[1] Must... not... make pop culture references people won't get! OTOH, I've slowly been reading my way through Mark's Gospel, so I'll suppose we'll slowly converge.
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cartesiandaemon: default
Date:January 13th, 2009 01:30 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry
For a little while, I remembered who I'd gone to see each new starwars film with, but now I can't remember.
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(no subject) - simont (1/13/09 01:43 pm)
(no subject) - cartesiandaemon (1/13/09 01:58 pm)
(no subject) - staubundsterne (1/13/09 02:12 pm)
staubundsterne: default
Date:January 13th, 2009 02:10 pm (UTC)
2 hours after journal entry
Congratualtions on the capitalist front! (Esp. on the trousers, I always have trouble finding a pair that fits, too).

I have a bookish question: Are you more in the mood for something funny or something serious, non-fictional? I have two strong contenders for January on my desk and will be sending one of them out either tomorrow or at the beginning of next week.
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pplfichi: tea
Date:January 13th, 2009 03:12 pm (UTC)
3 hours after journal entry, 03:12 pm (pplfichi's time)

Possibly (un)helpful links

My camera has a noise problem in low light and I don't using flash so i avoid it until I absolutely can't keep the camera still enough for the shutter speed at an acceptable ISO.

Noise reduction software has helped make some of the otherwise unusable pictures usable and others more acceptable. I've ended up buying a copy of Neat Image [], which conveniently has sensibly crippled and actually usable) demo so you can try it and see if you like it, but there are plenty of alternatives that are easier/better then what Photoshop/Gimp can do by itself.

This won't be helpful if you don't use Windows but one other thing I've found really useful is the Windows XP Image resizer powertoy [] for quickly making lots of images smaller for email or the web. Vista doesn't have such an easy alternative but a quick google search yields this [] which is free for personal use, and has a less convenient alternative that's entirely within Vista. The blog is from 2007 and shows the program has potential Vista rightclick not working and other issues in the comments, but the program changelog appears to address this since. There's always Photoshop's save for web feature. It's more controllable, but this assumes you have Photoshop and feel the need to fiddle.

I'm not procrastinating, honest...
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livredor: complicated
Date:January 13th, 2009 03:46 pm (UTC)
4 hours after journal entry, 03:46 pm (livredor's time)
Ooooh. That is one useful little app, thank you so much. I process everything in Photoshop anyway, because that's what I use for work, so I have both access to the program and familiarity with it. I tend to take a few dozen photos and am willing to tweak them by hand to get them right, I find that an enjoyable part of the process. But having a plug-in for Photoshop which actually fine tunes the noise reduction to the specific camera I use, that's really a major bonus.

One-click trial, with just the default settings:
Without filterAuto noise removal
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(no subject) - blue_mai (1/13/09 06:45 pm)
(no subject) - pplfichi (1/14/09 03:25 pm)
forestofglory: default
Date:January 13th, 2009 05:43 pm (UTC)
6 hours after journal entry, 09:43 am (forestofglory's time)
I remember seeing Star Wars for the 1st time. My dad bought the original on VHS at Cosco because he knew my mom liked it. This was before then new edition. We watched it in the back room, the whole family. And I just loved it and couldn't wait to see the next one. I felt bad for my mom who'd had to wait years between. Before the remastered versions came out it wasn't quite as popluar so I got to tell all my friends about it. I hosted Star Wars parties where we stayed up all night watching the whole thing and counting things drinking game style. (this could have been a bit latter)

And I remember how totally excited we where to see it on the big screen. We went to SF to see it on the screen my mom 1st saw it on.

Man, I miss experiencing media they way I did as teen. I hope you enjoy it your 1st time through as well. (I don't love Star Wars this way any more -- but that's another story and I won't spoil your viewing with it.)
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lethargic_man: default
Date:January 13th, 2009 06:53 pm (UTC)
7 hours after journal entry, 06:53 pm (lethargic_man's time)
Yes, I remember that: the period before 1998 when there was a whole new generation that had grown up not knowing Star Wars. Wasn't that weird? ;^)
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(no subject) - forestofglory (1/13/09 07:48 pm)
darcydodo: default
Date:January 13th, 2009 06:23 pm (UTC)
6 hours after journal entry, 12:23 pm (darcydodo's time)
Purple, not pink! :P

I'm surprised there's not a reduced-resolution setting. Have you checked all the sub-menus?
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