My cousin Juno

It’s been four years [since I last wrote about my cousin Juno][thanksgiving chicken]. I haven’t changed much but a baby grows up a lot in that time.

While technically he’s my nephew, he calls me “사촌”—사촌 (sa-chon) means cousin in Korean, so I refer to him as my cousin Juno. And apparently I’m a big hit with him—Juno constantly pesters his parents before family get togethers, “Is Sa-chon Terry going to be there?”

The reason why is I have a secret weapon…

iPhone attention
Vicolleto, North Beach, San Francisco, California

Leica M8, Voigtländer Nokton 35mm F1.2
1/60sec, ISO160, 35mm (47mm)

…an iPhone loaded with [tons of free and $1 games][nintendo vs iphone].

Unfortunately because I never actually *play* the games, I hadn’t unlocked enough levels in [Krazy Kart][krazykart]. Marie had to help out:

Here is how you do that
Here is how you do that
Vicolleto, North Beach, San Francisco, California

Leica M8, Voigtländer Nokton 35mm F1.2
1/60sec, ISO160, 35mm (47mm)

What an amazing device, and an amazing cousin. Oh, to be a kid right now! Wait a minute…

Photobooth - Me, Juno, Marie

We still are!

[thanksgiving chicken]: “It isn’t Thanksgiving without the kimchee”
[krazykart]: “Krazy Kart Racing (US)—iTunes Store”
[nintendo vs iphone]: “The Fire—Penny Arcade”

Focus on the eyes

The eyes are the most expressive part of a person.

One thing people forget about smaller-sensor cameras is that it is easier to do close-up photography. Even if the subject is a person, it’s okay to crop everything out, just remember to focus on the eyes. The closer the subject the smaller the depth-of-field gets so even with a small sensor, you have to get the focus just right.

The Richmond, San Francisco, California

Olympus E-PL3, Lumix G 20/F1.7
1/60sec @ ƒ1.8, ISO500, 20mm (40mm)

What attracted me to photographing Marie was the way the light from the bay windows caught her eyes. Unfortunately, my camera blocked a lot of that.

This camera has face and eye detection. I can even select which eye to prefer (I always select closest eye of the closest subject), but it is not always accurate. This photo suffers a little because the camera mistakenly focused on the distal eye—probably because I am near the close-focusing limit of this lens (the sensor isn’t small enough and the lens is a pancake).

It is interesting my appreciation of this image is interrupted because as the photographer, I see my mistakes: the off-focus and camera [gobo][gobo], but my friends don’t.

### Other tips

Even though the image is highly cropped it’s okay. A closely cropped photo rarely suffers and you can crop a person anywhere as long as it isn’t near a joint. As with “focus on the eyes”, these sort of photographing decisions are derived from our evolution.

Just remember, you will have to retouch the portrait a bit. Soften the skin (a little, not too much) and add definition and saturation to the eyes and lips. You should probably remove some of the color from the whites of the eyes, but I didn’t need to in this photo. Note that retouching tools have gotten very good as computers have gotten very powerful. I didn’t even need to leave Aperture (or use the RAW image) to retouch.

[gobo]: “Gobo (lighting)—Wikibedia”

AVCHD movies in Aperture

My new camera takes video, but unlike my previous ones, the highest resolution video (1080p) only writes in the should-never-have-been-invented [AVCHD specification][avchd].

AVCHD has weird support on Mac OS X. If you insert a card with it, iMovie will recognize it. However, Apple Aperture and iPhoto will not. Since the video and metadata for the clips are [split over many files][file structure], you can’t do a straight import into any of the above.

While there is [an excellent free tool for viewing AVCHD video streams][vlc], this means that in order to work with this video *as a photographer*, I need to transcode the video. This was not obviously done until I ran into [this post on AVCHD on the Mac][AVCHD video workflow].

ClipWrap diskimage

There exists many other cheaper ([and free][handbrake]) solutions for transcoding, but I opted for the more expensive [ClipWrap][clipwrap] mentioned in the article for a couple reasons:

1. Most other transcoders, re-encode the video. On the other hand QuickTime is a container format, not a codec. What ClipWrap can do is re-wrap the AVCHD in a quicktime container without changing the codec. This is much faster, but, more importantly, *it preserves the original encoding with no loss*.
2. ClipWrap can also transcode the video like other converters.
2. In both cases, ClipWrap can preserves the video creation date.

ClipWrap conversion

There are some caveats though:

1. A rewrapped file may not be viewable on the computer without the free tool, [Perian][perian].
2. A rewrapped file cannot be directly worked with in iMovie, instead you need to transcode into [AIC][aic]. I think you are fine if you are a Final Cut Pro user, but I stopped using that product a long time ago since I’m not a videographer.
3. Be aware of the funky file structure. Look for the videos in /PRIVATE/AVCHD/STREAM/*.MTS, not your camera’s media folder. You lose any of the other metadata also (pretty much worthless)
4. Be aware that AIC files are uncompressed more than H.264 in a ClipWrap Quicktime/AVCHD . This means you want to store it in this format, only work with it this way.
5. I don’t (yet) have a workflow for converting from rewrapped Quicktime to AIC. :-(

This means that I store:

1. In my archive originals folder, I keep the original *.MTS files.
2. In Apple Aperture, I import re-wrapped quicktime MOVs.
3. If I need to work on videos, I transcode the AVCHD MTS’s into AIC and then import into iMovie. I lose the Aperture integration this way. :-(

I did get it to work this way. Here’s an example I edited from the [Plantronics][plantronics] Launch Party last week:

If you don’t have video working, here are two photos I took with my other camera:

Water pool
Water pool
Plantronics Launch Party, Dogpatch, San Francisco, California

Nikon D3, Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G
1/100sec @ ƒ2.8, ISO3200, 28mm

Dry ice cocktail and champagne
Dry ice cocktail and champagne
Plantronics Launch Party, Dogpatch, San Francisco, California

Nikon D3, Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G
1/30sec @ ƒ3.2, ISO5000, 48mm

Now if only I can come up with a work flow for the RAW images that doesn’t involve [a lot of work][unsupported RAW] or [exiftool][exiftool] [hacking][exifhack].

[More photos and videos from the Plantronics Launch Party][plantronics photos].

[plantronics photos]: “2011-0138 SF Potrero Hill—Plantronics Launch Party @ Obscura Digital—tychay @ Flickr”
[exiftool]: “Exiftool by Phil Harvey”
[unsupported raw]: “Unsupported RAW workflow in Apple Aperture”
[plantronics]: “Plantronics WIreless Heasets, Bluetooth Headset, Office and Contact Center, Enterprise Solutions”
[AVCHD video workflow]: “AVCHD HD video workflow on Mac OS X—ECHeng”
[avchd]: “AVCHD—Wikipedia”
[file structure]: “File:AVCHD actual file structure—Wikipedia”
[handbrake]: “HandBrake”
[perian]: “Perian: The swiss-army knife of QuickTime components”
[clipwrap]: “ClipWrap”
[aic]: “Apple Intermediate Codec—Wikipedia”
[vlc]: “VideoLAN: Official page for the VLC media player: the open source video framework”

World Bike Festival

CNN informed me that[a photo of mine][amsterdam photo] was selected for [a slideshow about the World Bike Festival][cnn article]:

World Bike Festival highlights benefits of cycling around the globe -

It occurred to me that this combines a ton of my passions—photography, internet, writing, cycling, and activism—with my ethnicity.

Save the world, one bike ride at a time. :-)

[amsterdam photo]: “Amsterdam bicycle parking—tychay @ Flickr”
[cnn article]: “World Bike Festival highlights benefits of cycling around the globe”

You have a camera

“I want to tell you the most important tip I learned about photography.”

“What is it?”

“You have a camera.”

Frame that shot!
Frame that shot!
Zazie’s, Cole Valley, San Francisco, California

Olympus E-P1, M.ZUIKO Digital 17mm 1:2.8 Pancake
1/60sec @ ƒ2.8, ISO1000, 17mm (35mm)

Coley teases my habit of photographing my friends.

Recently some colleagues had a contest: “Guess how many cameras Terry has on him right now?”

Even though I have one, too often, I forget I carry a camera.

Smiling Sean Coates
Smiling Sean Coates
The Invisible Dog, Brooklyn, New York City, New York

Olympus E-PL3, Lumix G 20/F1.7
1/60sec @ ƒ1.8, ISO500, 20mm (40mm)

Sean is embarassed to have my camera in his face… or happy that he guessed how many cameras I was carrying.

You have a camera, shoot it! You never know what will happen.

A Scientific Lesson for the Geographical Journalism Party

Scientific thinking requires that the more outlandish the claim, the more compelling the evidence must be. It is this thinking that rejects the libertarian’s love children: Freakonomics, The Bell Curve, or nearly any book by Malcolm Gladwell.

During lunch, I exhausted my daily newsfeed and started to troll the top hits on digg when I ran across [this linked article in which a journalist and amateur geographer explains the Tea Party movement][geography tea party].

Here is the central claim that forms the basis for the author’s entire argument:

> We’ve never been a nation-state in the European sense; we’re a federation of nations, more akin to the European Union than the Republic of France, and this confounds both collective efforts to find common ground and radical campaigns to force one component nation’s values on the others.

[geography tea party]: “A Geography Lesson for the Tea Party—Washington Monthly”

What a load of crap! Continue reading about regionalism after the jump→

Show Me What I'm Looking For


“This is another song from a Swedish band.”

“Are they Swedish or something else?”

“I don’t know—some Scandinavian country I think. The song isn’t bad.”

“I think it’s a bit overplayed—it’s featured in a lot of TV and movies.”

“Yes, I guess you’re right. Did you know that it’s played a lot in evangelical churches, even though it not about religion?”

“Oh really?”

“Yeah, listen to the lyrics… ‘Save me, I’m lost.’… ‘Oh lord I’ve been waiting for you.’”

“Wow, he was asking for it!”

*Laughs* “Yeah. He probably shouldn’t have added ‘Oh Lord.’”

(The fact that the lead singer looks like [White Jesus][white jesus] doesn’t help either.)

[white jesus]: “White Jesesus—Stuff White Christians Like”

Continue reading the lyrics to Show Me What I’m Looking For after the jump→

Why Siri

[From The iPhone Blog][tipb]:

> Equally interesting is what [[Siri][siri]] portents for Apple. Just like the App Store began the intermediation and exclusion of Google by offering users a better experience interacting with data in apps than via a web search, Siri continues it by theoretically making it easier and more enjoyable to engage in query/response with Siri than with Google. In typical fashion, Apple isn’t building a search engine to compete with Google, they’re building something to obsolete the current conception of search engines. And they’re not doing it by becoming a walled garden — there’s no profit in that. They’re doing it by becoming a walled gate with a multi-directional toll system.

Great observation. Reminds me also of how Apple got out from under the [Microsoft Office Sword of Damocles][microsoft 150] with [Safari][safari] and [iWork][iwork].

[tipb]: “iOS 5 for iPhone and iPad walkthrough—TiPb”
[microsoft 150]: “Microsoft and Apple Affirm Commitment to Build Next Generation Software for Macintosh. The $150 million was a smokescreen to avoid the obvious anti-trust move of bundling Explorer in order to keep Microsoft continuing to develop Office for the Mac.”
[safari]: “Safari: Browse the web in smarter, more powerful ways—Apple”
[siri]: “Ask Siri to help you get things done—Apple”
[iwork]: “iWork: Documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. The Mac way—Apple”

You tell that other boy, not to touch the woodwork