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Tech

Dealing With Multiple White Balance Settings in Lightroom and Photoshop

German Baptist Deaconess Home and Hospital Society (formerly) ©Rena Katinas

I walk past what was once the Baptist Girls Home pictured above, most evenings. The stair entrance is painted mint green and the combination of it with fluorescent light gives it this sickly green glow that I wanted to document with a photograph in case someone had a sudden case of good sense and changed the color/lighting combination.

Once I brought the image into Lightroom 3 for development, I realized I had two different light sources in the shot and each had a different white balance setting. You can see in the set of photos below, that neither white balance in the left and middle image works on a whole. Even though I like the green in the Tungsten (left) version, it’s not a true color representation of the subject. The fluorescent version (middle) is right on the money as far as the stairwell and wood door are concerned, but it throws the color of everything else completely out of wack. Normally I would go to the Hue/Saturation/Luminance panel in Lightroom, to deal with off color, but I wanted to work on the wood door without affecting the brick’s color. A HSL panel within the Adjustment Brush would be a really nice thing right about now! There isn’t one, so the next best thing is Layer Masks in Photoshop.

White Balance from left to right: tungsten, fluorescent, and tungsten/fluorescent combined

I put the Tungsten version on the topmost layer, including a layer mask  and the Fluorescent version below. After I removed most of the door and stairwell in the layer mask, I realized that I had forgotten the third light source, the street light behind me and the bottom step which had a mix of all three light sources. Using a brush set at 10% opacity, I was able to decide the light source percentages for each plane of the lower half of the steps and the sidewalk, by selectively painting back into, or removing from the mask layer of the channels palette.

Mask in channels palette

Once I put the almost final image in this post, I noticed three blue shadows, that must have something to do with the change in color space from Photoshop to the browser window, so I’ll have to figure out what’s going on there. Bottom line, it would be nice if there were a way to have multiple white balances along with Hue/Saturation/Luminosity, using the Adjustment Brush in Lightroom, but thank goodness for my old friend, Photoshop’s layer mask feature until then!


Converting bin/cue to iso in OS X

Today I found myself with another pair of those darn .bin/.cue files that Apple’s Disk Utility won’t open, burn or convert. In the past I’ve always had to go through a number of steps to convert and burn using Toast, which is fine, but kind of a pain that I choose not to engage in any longer. After reading through articles, forum and comment threads I realized I could’ve ditched the Toast method years ago, using bchunk and Terminal, egads!

I don’t consider myself to be particularly “tech-ie”, I use the terminal for very basic tasks when my Mac refuses to cooperate any other way (eg. CD/DVD’s that won’t eject, Trash that never wants to leave, etc.) I deal with .bin/.cue files rarely, so I thought it would be a good idea to write down the following steps in plain English for the non-techies out there. Also by the time I’m confronted with a pair of .bin/.cue files again, I’ll have probably forgotten the commands.

If you’re new to the Mac or never used the terminal and you’re scratching your head because you’ve a .bin/.cue file you want to open, this should help:

First off, in order for this to work, you need to have your Xcode Developer Tools installed. You can find them on your Leopard (or Tiger) Installation disc or you can download it free, directly from Apple’s Developer site: http://developer.apple.com/mac/ but you will need your Apple ID. If you’re running Leopard and not Snow Leopard, be sure you download the correct version as the most recent Xcode is only compatible with Snow Leopard. (I followed the steps below running 10.5.8 on an Intel, but this should work on 10.4 and on the PPC as well.)

1. Xcode Developer Tools should be installed.

2. Download bchunk from (just right click and download/save file): http://jamesnsears.com/code/bchunk.zip

3.  If your Mac hasn’t unzipped the file automatically, extract the .zip file by double clicking it and copy it to your home folder:
/Users/[your username]

4. Go to your Applications/Utilities folder, open Terminal and type (you can copy and paste):

sudo cp bchunk /usr/bin/
sudo chmod a+x /usr/bin/bchunk

After I did this, Terminal asked me for my administrator password, go ahead and type it in and hit Return/Enter.

5. Copy your .bin and .cue files to your home folder (where bchunk now also resides), and in Terminal type:

bchunk input.bin input.cue output.iso

In place of input.bin and input.cue type the names of the .bin and .cue files you want to convert)

6. You’ll see your .bin file convert to an .iso file in the Terminal window and you’re done. You can mount the .iso onto your Desktop now, or burn it in Disk Utility/iTunes or Toast depending upon what kind of files are enclosed.

Thanks to Gavin McLelland’s post: http://gavin.mclelland.ca/2007/10/04/convert_bincue_to_iso_on_mac_osx/ and James N, Sears for compiling bchunk so I didn’t have to: http://www.jamesnsears.com/


Who Wants to Play Zombie Run! in Palmer Square?

©2010 Rena Katinas

Took a photo of Palmer Square and thought I’d have a little fun with it in Photoshop. I’m fairly happy with the results. This is my dog’s favorite spot in Logan Square, a favorite among babies and friendly dogs alike. I would love to get a game of Zombie Run! going here, as Palmer Square is a good 2 blocks long. Plus there’s just enough people stranger than us hanging about, that no one would notice myself and a group of friends running from invisible zombies. Anyone?


Android Seduces Woman Who Is Not Dead Yet

When I first heard about the arrival of Android phones, I was overjoyed. As a long time Mac user and not quite so long iPhone wanter, I was happy to see that finally there was competition for Apple’s iPhone. I and many non AT&T customers could not figure out why Apple gave AT&T exclusive rights to the iPhone in the first place. Anyone whose ever had AT&T cellphone service, and hated their treatment of their customers, knows what I mean. I would rather start a fire and use smoke signals to communicate, than be taken on that AT&T hell ride ever again.

Eight long months after Sprint released their first Android phone, the HTC Hero, I finally bought one for $99. No longer am I envious of my friends with iPhones and iPod Touches, and I never, and I mean NEVER will have to consider going back to AT&T. My distaste for AT&T is stronger than my love for Macintosh products, so I’m quite happy I did not have to compromise my anti-AT&T principles.

I’m never going to carry a phone and a separate mp3 player, it’s not practical for me, which is the only reason I wanted an iPhone in the first place. The discovery that my friends could control my iTunes library through their iPhone/iPod using Remote (free at the Apple Store) made me twinge slightly, as I had to physically walk within range of my Mac even to use my cute little Apple Remote, how unfair! I had even considered setting up some small mirrors throughout the house, to avoid having to run to the computer in my bedroom, every time I wanted to skip a track or hear a particular track in my library. Imagine my happiness when I discovered Tunes Remote (free at the Android Marketplace) which allows me access to my entire iTunes library and all my playlists, including the Smart Playlists. Now when I’m painting or chilling in the living room or cooking a meal and listening to music, I can stay right where I am and control iTunes.

Another immediate favorite is the app A Online Radio (also free at Android Marketplace) which allows me to listen to whatever my iTunes library is playing, when I’m nowhere near home, while using the Mac application Nicecast, to stream my music online. This gives me the benefit of not having to add 20,000 songs to my phone’s SD card (which would never fit anyway) in order to listen to whatever I’m in the mood for.

What if I left the house without leaving iTunes playing and Nicecast streaming? No problem, because LogMeIn (again, free at Android Marketplace) allows me to access my Mac where ever I am, and turn on iTunes and Nicecast. It’s no more difficult to use than Screen Sharing, where I can use any Mac on my network, from my Mini. The nice thing about LogMeIn, is I can use my phone’s internet connection to access my computer, and am not limited to only using an available WiFi signal (if there’s one available.)

What is really helpful, is the ability to continue to scrobble my music to Last.fm, which is a very important feature for me. It always irritated me that my mp3 player did not scrobble my music, neither during the actual listening nor after the fact, once my mp3 player was plugged into my Mac. Last.fm’s Android app scrobbles my music as I’m listening from my phone. Plus I can use the Last.fm app to listen to my Last.fm library, playlists and recommendations.

If I thought things couldn’t get any better, I soon found iSyncr, which syncs my iTunes playlists with my phone’s music player and syncs my phones music play count with my iTunes Smart Playlists (eg: Top 25 Most Played, etc.) There is a free version of iSyncr, but $3.00 for the paid version is money well spent, for the ability to create playlists larger than 20 songs.

Now, I can honestly say to Apple, you can keep your iPhone, I don’t want one, and really mean it. All that’s left for me to complete my Android joy, is to find some awesome sounding headphones or earbuds for less than $40.

One other note, all these apps mentioned worked fine on Android 1.5 and continue to work on Android 2.1 Eclair, yay!


Last Shot Of The Day

©Rena Katinas

This shot would have been useless if it had not been for Adobe Lightroom and that I switched to shooting in RAW format that day. As I was heading towards the subway, I thought I’d grab a quick shot across Daley Plaza. I metered for the sky, which left everything else black. My second shot, meant to expose for the architecture was ruined by a bus. I was without a tripod, so getting another shot in perfect registration wasn’t going to happen. Plus I was running late and needed to get home so I could get ready to see the new Star Trek movie, so I figured the shot was lost.

I couldn’t toss such a cool sky and imported it into Adobe Lightroom any way. Once it was in my library, I made a second virtual copy and brought out the mid-tones and highlights. I left the original copy with the exposed sky alone. I exported both copies to Photoshop, and opened them separately. It was easiest (laziest) to magic wand the black buildings silhouettes, saving the selection for use with both files. Then it was just a matter of pasting the sky into the second image.

It’s definitely not perfect, an image THAT underexposed, really has no business being corrected to that level in Lightroom, there is some color fringing on the edges that may have been correctable, or not. At least now I know that in a pinch, when I’m caught without my tripod, I can still sandwich “multiple” images, with just one (hopefully better exposed) RAW image and Adobe Lightroom.

The original image on the left, extremely underexposed for the sky, and the adjusted virtual copy on the right-a real testament to Adobe Lightroom.


StartLogic and WordPress 2.5

I installed the new WordPress 2.5 today, at least I thought I did. Everything works, but:

Day One – No change, whatsoever. Emptied my Firefox cache, where is this upgraded and super new version, that I just gave a good hour of my life backing up the old version for? Something is terribly, terribly wrong. It still appears I’m in WordPress 2.0.3 …nifty!

(more…)


More Cool Software, March 2008

Ventrilo – Surround Sound Voice Communication Software. It’s surround sound VOIP in a chatroom GUI. Now I asked my friend, we’ll call her Mmmmm, for the moment, just because I haven’t thought of a good alias for her yet, when she sent me the link to download Ventrilo. I said “Why in gawds name would I want this? This surround sound internet phone, when I already have Gizmo?” Do I really need to talk to my friends in surround sound?

“It’s free,” Mmmmm said. Nuf said?

Well it involves running a free server client, which thankfully I wasn’t responsible for. It’s cross-platform, Windows, Mac and Linux platforms; the sound is absolutely amazing, compared to Gizmo and it’s annoying cycling, which results in loss of sound every so many seconds. The sound is so true and clean that it’s a little creepy, especially if you are hooked up to surround sound speakers in your bedroom, as I am. It also supports voice chat for groups. Even though Gizmo is $0.01 per minute, Ventrilo is $0.00 a minute. The chat room GUI is downright dismal, do what I do, look at something else! Maybe the person who runs our particular server can post on the set-up. http://www.ventrilo.com

Adium – If you are on a Mac and don’t have Adium, either you do not IM ever, do not have internet access, have no friends, or have been living under a rock for the last several years. This is the best chat client EVER! I actually neglected to re-install it for over a year, after I replaced my PowerBook’s hard drive; I finally installed a new updated version, and baby, it’s tits! There are lot’s of add-ons, and many options for customization, visual and otherwise. Adium let’s you log into all your chat screennames, even myspace chat. It’s free, Mac users have no excuse, unless you really have no friends. http://www.adiumx.com

iClip – iClip is the best clipboard utility I’ve come across. It’s interface is elegant, and customizable. Every time you copy ANYTHING, be it a web link, text or an image, iClip stores it in the recorder. What’s really nice is that iClip gives the user the option of creating separate menus to permanently store everything. One click, and what you’ve copied is pasted into whatever application, web browser, etc, you are working with. It also comes in a free widget. inventive.us/iClip

Amnesty Singles – If your are like me, with way too many widgets running in your dashboard, then Amnesty Singles is for you. I love this tiny little app! AS, let’s you turn any widget into a separate desktop application. http://www.amnestywidgets.com

CSSEdit – A few years ago, MacRabbit’s CSSEdit was a nice little app for tweaking your CSS, in a nice simple interface. Imagine my surprise, when I got a load of the new CSSEdit! It’s like a whole new application. You can extract all the CSS from any site, view a site in X-Ray mode, and make changes live, for ANY site. I am still learning about all the new options, but at this point I can already see what a great app this is for the beginning CSS coder and the experienced, alike. macrabbit.com

DeskLickr – this is a nice little free app I like to run, when I’m sick of all my desktop images. DeskLickr accesses photos from the DeskLickr Group on flicker, which I am a member of. It allows you to view all photos from the group, or only new submissions, or ban photos from your desktop which you never want to see again, or mark them as favorites. DeskLickr is Mac only as far as I know, but I’m sure there is a Windoze app out there that does something similar.

DeskShade – If your desktop is a perpetual mess, don’t bother cleaning it up and organizing, just use DeskShade. Not only does DeskShade hide everything on your desktop, giving you a nice clean workspace, but it will gladly change your desktop picture, complete with animations, with a click of your trackpad. You can always put away your desktop toys later, just don’t tell Mom!

GoogleMail – Or gmail. OK, if you are still using Hotmail or Yahoo, you need to get yourself over to GoogleMail and grab a gmail address, (hey! grab two, they’re free) and pick up Google Talk, as well. It’s 2008, not 1995, drop those old free-mail addresses, paleeze! Yahoo and Hotmail are SO-O decrepit and useless these days, at least in comparison to gmail. Do you really enjoy traveling through 3 or 4 pages just to get to your Inbox? REALLY? Wouldn’t you like to send and receive attachments of over 20MB? How about using your 2GB of mail storage for file storage, using a simple Firefox add-on? Here’s the best reason of all, they actually give you their incoming and outgoing mail servers to use in your mail client, for free. Yahoo charges for that little convenience. Gmail is fully customizable for POP and IMAP, in fact it’s so customizable I’ve gotten lost in there. You can use it in conjunction with your existing server space and it’s loads better than the email that I pay for on this server. Get off your ass, and tell your friends you have a new, better free email address, and tell ’em to write you there.

Next time, BitPim, for us Samsung cell phone users, who can’t Sync their phones to their Mac. I’m still trying it out on my A900, which is not supported yet. There is a generic profile to play with, hopefully I won’t completely screw up my phone.

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Now playing: Belle & Sebastian – Expectations
via FoxyTunes—————-
Now playing: The Dears – Find Our Way To Freedom
via FoxyTunes


Sugar Cookies! Visitered Little 1.6, Works Quite Little

I love this new theme “Visitered Little” 1.6 by Nik Iliakis, but damn it all to hell, the wallpapers do not change no matter what I do. I replaced the original wallpapers with my own photos, renaming them after the original file names for the theme, and waited for those nifty thumbnails to be generated. Waited. Waited. No thumbnails. The old thumbnails still manage to link to the wallpapers which I deleted, instead of my own personal, and re-named photos. Bleh!
What kinda bogus baloney have I gotten myself into?

Well, I’m still enjoying the theme, for now, but what makes it so great, isn’t working, and that is disappointing.

Update: Day 3, still waiting for the MAGIC to happen, where are those thumbnails that are supposed to generate themselves? Should I pray? Dance round a fire? This theme may be too mystical for me…
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Now playing: Nine Inch Nails – Ghosts I
via FoxyTunes