Archive for October, 2006

A Monopoly of the Guildhall

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

As many visitors to this website may have realized, I am amateur (but very enthusiastic) photographer who showcases his photos on Flickr. I live in a smallish city in the middle of England called Derby, and make a point of carrying a camera with me wherever I go; as such, a have a huge collection of photos from around my hometown.

I realized a few days ago that a search for ‘derby guildhall’ in Flickr returns results almost exclusively from myself and people with whom I am acquainted.

The first result is a HDR image from JonnyFez, a photographer that I met a fair time ago through a Derby group, and with whom I correspond fairly frequently. The second picture was taken by myself, and pictures 4, 5 and 6 were taken by the founder of the Derby Flickr Group (of which I am a member), dexter_mixwith.

There are a a couple of photos on the page by three photographers that I don’t know, but apart from that the photos are from Jess Payne (a fellow student and friend), Rose Akers (another fellow student), and Jyoti Mishra (a very friendly photographer and musician that I have contact with every other day – visit his blog).

The photos on the second page are exclusively by dexter_mixwith (real name John, I believe) and I, and the third is exclusively my photos – except for one by Rose.

I thought that was pretty cool. Of course, I also have very little else to post.

Sitting in on Static Vendetta

Thursday, October 12th, 2006

Last night I sat in on a pre-gig rehersal for a friend’s band, Static Vendetta. Considering that my own band isn’t exactly in the best shape it’s ever been in, watching Static Vendetta practice is elightening.

Static Vendetta Band Practice:  JohnTo start with, they play as a definate unit. The band is led by the drums, which are imaginative, varied, powerful, and – critically – consistant. The band takes their timing from the drums – this is the way that it should be. In The Lowlifes, songs have a tendency to rely on either me or Elliot for timings as we use an electric kit (it’s all we can fit in the attic), and they’re quiet.

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Predicted grades for GCSE

Tuesday, October 10th, 2006

I just received my predicted grades for GCSE.

Subject Target Attainment Effort Estimated
English language A A 2 A*
English Literature A A 2 A
Mathematics (Higher) A C 4 C
Science (double award) A B 2 A
Geography A C 2 B
Business A B 2 B
German A D 4 D
DiDA A B 1 A

For reference, DiDA is worth 4 GCSEs. To get back at Landau Forte College (which I am currently attending), I need at least 5 A* to B grades, to show that I am committed. Failing this, I could apply for a place at the Joseph Wright College, a new 6th-form college which doesn’t really come close to Landau’s 98% pass rate, but has photography on the prospectus (Landau lacks this).

I don’t really know what I plan to do when I leave college. I would like to be a professional geek, but I haven’t quite refined this yet. I’m thinking perhaps webdesign or multimedia – maybe I could merge the two, or be an entrepreneur.

If I stay at Landau, I would like to take the following courses at A level:

  • English Language and Literature;
  • Mathematics (I hate it, but it’s useful);
  • A computer or ICT related course;
  • AS-level Business.

At any other college, I would replace AS-level business with photography… but hey, you can’t have everything I guess.

Rediscovering Photoshop, Pt. I

Friday, October 6th, 2006

I take a lot of photos – between 5 and 15 on an average day, up to perhaps 50 if I get carried away. When I’ve got a focus (at a gig, or on a day trip perhaps), I’ll take something between 70 and 150 photos. Though I love photography and improving photos, I will invariably have scarce enough time to do my GCSE coursework, attend band practices and guitar lessons and see my girlfriend, let alone photoshop 100 images.

Picasa ScreenshotBecause of my lack of time (and perhaps also a degree of lazyness), I turn to a program called Picasa to help me edit my photos.

Picasa is great because it fits it’s purpose perfectly. It isn’t made for graphic designers – it is a photography tool. It is both a highly usable image organizer – without which I would not be able to find most of my photos – and an image optimizer in one. Graphic designers will be turned off by it’s lack of selection tools, text tools… even a brush tool.

Markeaton Park:  The Ugly Duckling?However, for the more artistic and adventurous photographer, there are a few effects built in. Picasa basically contains the most useful features of a photo editing suite, and cuts out the less commonly used stuff – tools to crop, straighten, remove red-eye, brighten, sharpen, (de)saturate, and adjust shadow and highlight levels are provided, excluding the very neat ‘I’m feeling lucky’ one-click fix for pretty much everything. There are also some other neat effects such as blurs, glows and focal black and white – the picture to the right is a good example of what can be done.

Forgotten benchPicasa isn’t the holy grail of digital photography, though – there are few people in the world of IT who haven’t heard more than a faint whisper of Photoshop, the industry standard in photo editing. I started using photoshop a while back for adding an effect called vignetting. Notice the darkened corners around this image? It’s useful to give your photos a professional feel and to draw the viewer’s attention to the subject.

Pink phone boxFor a time I disregarded Photoshop, considering it a tool purely for those who enjoy manipulating images, creating blends and banners, that sort of thing. I did this myself for a while – my poorly done and inexplicably popular pink phonebox on Flickr is testament to this. But now I have started to use it again…

I have discovered some useful features in photoshop, such as HDR and the ability to fine-tune certain colours. The picture of the taxis below is the first in a series of images that I have used to experiment with Photoshop. This picture features heavy vignetting and also the slight de-saturation of every colour except yellow.

Yellow Car!  Smack!  Kiss!

Those of you who are becoming interested in digital photography may be interested to know that I managed to get this focusing effect by using a small aperture of f2.6. Anyway, more photoshop goodness coming soon…

The Windows Challenge

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2006
Windows Challenge (Cropped Image)

Whilst wallowing in the boredom that GCSE Business Studies coursework induces, a peer who shall go by the flimsy alias of ‘worms’ decided to take it upon himself to discover how many programs he could run off a school terminal without it crashing.

The experiment (which focused on Microsoft-produced programs) was pretty simple:

  • Find a program that creates a new instance of itself upon pressing the hotkey Ctrl + N;
  • Hold down said hotkey until you get bored / the rate of creation of new instances slows to a crawl / the terminal starts to spasm, lock up, or is otherwise retarded;
  • Take a screenie.

Windows ChallengeWe were quite pleased with the results. It was discovered that whilst Internet Explorer is a surprising resource hog and crashed my computer after something like 20 windows (I knew it was bloated, but I didn’t think it was that bad), Word is some kind of self-replicating machine; it is possible to spawn around 170 fresh Word documents in about 20 seconds before the system even seems to notice what you’re up to.

Anyway, you can see the final outcome of the Windows Challenge by clicking on the thumbnail above – the terminal could probably handle more, but our ‘Worms’ character got bored and decided that passing GCSE business studies is perhaps more important than giving his computer a stress-test.