I had forgotten all about a series of panoramic photos I took on a holiday back in January 2008.
I wanted to travel light On the holiday, so all I brought (and had in terms of a mid-range zoom) was the kit Nikon 18-70mm. No tripod either, but I felt that I needed to take some panoramic shots becaues of the expansive cities and engaging environments in a new country.
Here’s one of the Le Consulat – a famous icon in Montmartre, an arty district in Paris. We had climbed up a heap of stairs to reach the peak of a hill where the Sacre Coeur sits. We wound around the left side to some shops, and then reached the famous square where artists sell paintings and will draw portraits of you. This building is little further on past the square.
I’s a 5 image stitch done in Photoshop, and I was happy to use some of the sharpening and local contrast tips that I picked up at Christian Fletcher’s workshop.
I love Venice! The atmosphere there is so different, each canal has its own story. And the environment was so picturesque, I struggled to capture it in a photo.
Here are some shots I took on the Rialto bridge. They were taken at dusk, but of course I wasn’t lugging a tripod around with me, so it had to be steady hands but I decided to go bigger aperture instead of higher ISO, which the details a little soft. I would’ve loved to have done a long exposure to get the water to look all silky. Even though I’ve chosen a wide aspect ratio to give the sense of space, in the end, I still don’t think I captured the grandness of the canal here.
We also took an expensive gondola ride. I guess it’s something you have to do.. once.. or maybe more if you can afford it! The best part about it was navigating through the small back canals. Our gondola man was young, and attempted to do a bit of singing, but it felt like he did it because he thought we thought he should have been singing. We did spot only a couple of gondola dudes who actually sang like operatic tenors – I wonder how much they charge!!
I wasn’t quite sure how steady it was going to be, but I brought my camera anyway. I didn’t want to spend too long fiddling with the camera settings on our expensive and short ride, but popped a few shots off to try to capture the feeling. Here’s one of my favourites.
I’ve been running into many problems when trying to upload photos to Facebook. I usually select a large number to upload at once and then the browser starts to do its thing. Unfortunately, lately it always fails.
I did a Google and found quite a few other people with the same problem but there didn’t seem to be any silver bullet to solving the problem.
I found I had an hour or two on the weekend to investigate it further and eventually was able to upload the latest photos from our Italy trip.
First I looked at the Java console log and found this error message:
2/08/2008 01:27:29 org.apache.commons.httpclient.HttpMethodDirector isRedirectNeeded
INFO: Redirect requested but followRedirects is disabled
2/08/2008 01:27:29 org.apache.commons.httpclient.HttpMethodBase getResponseBody
WARNING: Going to buffer response body of large or unknown size. Using getResponseAsStream instead is recommended.
I Googled these errors and didn’t find much but did find a Facebook discussion where others had the same problem. It seemed that the uploader would try to upload the photos, then get near the end, wait for a response from the Facebook server, and then decide to try uploading all the photos again.
Just to rule the browser out of things, I tried switching from Firefox to Internet Explorer. Fortunately, it made no difference 🙂
I then made sure I had the latest Java toolkit and Java console. It still made no difference.
In Internet Explorer, I checked the ActiveX controls I’ve downloaded and found that my PC actually had 3 different Facebook uploaders but was only using one. Just to be sure, I deleted all of them and went back to the Facebook site again to reinstall it. It still made no difference.
I then experimented with the number of photos to upload. It could be a problem with the number of photos or the time taken to upload the photos. Here is a screenshot of some rough notes I took:
I managed to get up to 18 photos to upload at once with no problems. Momentarily I was joyous! I could upload my holiday photos in batches of 18, although I still have problems trying to make out the photos in the thumbnail view.
This went all right, until it failed again. And this time on only 11 photos. I reduced the number down to 6, then down to 1 – and it still failed.
Check internet connection – OK.
It turns out that the Facebook photo uploader was having problems with one particular photo of mine. Don’t know why – it was the same dimensions and roughly the same size as the others. But I didn’t upload that one and it was fine from then onwards.
I’m pretty sure I’ve uploaded near the maximum of 60 before in one shot before – but this was at my previous place with ADSL2. I’m unfortunately only on ADSL1 at the moment with an upload speed of 128k. My gut feel is that it’s something to do with the time taken to upload or response time, which is related to my connection speed and the number of photos I’m uploading.
For now, I’m happy to find my magic breaking point of ~18 photos. Something for others to think about if they’re having problems!
[Update 26 May 2009]
I’ve noticed that this blog post still gets a lot of hits! I’m not sure whether these techniques work for anyone or not.
Lately, I’ve been having much more success uploading to Facebook if I resize my photos first to a maximum width of 1024 pixels and upload smaller groups at a time. It even works with the Java based uploader!
I think my mistake above, nearly a year ago, was to upload the photos taken directly by my digital camera. With digital cameras commonly having 8-12 megapixels nowadays, the images produced are really too large for viewing on computer screens. The solution is to resize your photo BEFORE uploading. This makes the size of the photo drop dramatically too, and reduces the work that the Facebook uploader would do in resizing the photo. Hope this helps someone out there!
[Update 6 Oct 2009]
I tried again on the weekend to upload some photos to Facebook and it still didn’t work reliably. But then I tried using the Facebook publishing tool in iPhoto, and it worked successfully the very first time! This really leads me to believe it’s the java code in Facebook’s uploading page that is not very robust.
So in the last few nights, once the kiddies are asleep and the house is as quiet as the drone of the ducted airconditioning and fridge, I’ve been processing the photos from our trip to Italy.
It’s wierd – I guess in the “old” days of film, in huge sweeping generalisations – you would get the people who take their photos to a lab to get processed, and then you would get those with dark room expertise. Time in the dark room was just as important as taking/composing the shot – you can dodge and burn, crop, alter the exposure, etc.
My father in law ran a film lab for quite a few years. When we visited him, I would be amazed at how he would manually “fix” other people’s photos just before they are printed so that they came out with better exposure and colours. It was all possible with the machine. I appreciated his eye and abilities even more when I saw that he was fixing colours in reverse – since he was making changes by looking at the negative. It really makes one appreciate the computerised version of dragging sliders and seeing the results immediately! (And also made me cringe when I got some photos back from photo “labs” who just churn the roll through the machine without even looking at them and you get bad prints.)
Now that I’ve transitioned to digital, the computer has become my dark room. It’s quite enjoyable tinkering with the photos, playing around with levels, curves, layers. Nearly an obsession.
I’ve been slowly working my way through our Italy adventure photos. Here’s one of the baldacchino and dome in St Peter’s.
How do you come up with images like this? The basic technique involves really long exposures and then either “drawing” using a light source, or lighting up the scene with directed flashes/spotlights/etc. I’m sure the guys that came up with images above have some special secret techniques too!
It’s something I wish I had time to experiment with besides the basic sparkler drawing photos people do!
Had a free day with the kids today, so since it was sunny, we decided to go to the zoo. It’s a place we don’t go to often, but we used when the kids were younger.
I can definitely recommend the Zoo Friends pass – you just have to go 4 times a year to make it pay itself off. But the best thing about it is that once you have one, you can go to the zoo for free – so instead of going to the park, just go to the zoo! Also, you don’t feel compelled to do the whole zoo at once. You can take it in bite sized pieces, and come back to continue another day.
Today I decided to take the 50mm 1.8 lens only. The last time I went, I took the 70-200mm but it’s pretty heavy, and without the wifey around to help, I needed to travel light. It was a good challenge though, trying to take and compose good shots with the 50mm as lots of the animals are too far away. But it was good for the close up exhibits that you can find in the Alinta Reptile Encounter and Wetlands (in the Perth Zoo).
Tips for getting shots like this:
Large Aperture – Open up the aperture to get the minimum depth of field. This basically means that the subject will be in focus, but everything else in front and behind will be out of focus, making the subject stand out. In the photos above, I used apertures down to f/1.8.
Not too slow Shutter – Make sure the shutter is not too slow, make it at least 1/focal length. So, for the 50mm lens, at least 1/50 seconds. The main point here is to ensure that you’re not getting any camera shake causing blurry photos. Unfortunately, at the zoo in the indoor enclosures, there’s not that much lighting, so to get a faster shutter speed with a large aperture, you will need to increase the ISO (see next step). I did end up with some blurry shots, but once I pumped up the ISO and checked the shutter speed, all was fine.
Higher ISO – Pump up the ISO. This is easy if you have a digital SLR. For the photos above, I pumped up to ISO800.