28 July, 2008

On Technology


I'm a big fan of technology. Advances in technology often make my job of messing around, having fun with things, and amusing myself (go harvard comma!) a lot easier. And, regardless of what happens, the past is so much fun to laugh at.

I shot the above image at the end-of-year APO BookEx in May of 2007. Exposure is 1/10s at f/4.5 and ISO640. The donut was mine (and delicious). The other thing is APO's. Is it sad that I was considering adding a cat macro to this photo? Well, if you want me to put this thing on ICHC, come up with a funnyhilarious caption (I tried, believe me).

Anyway, despite being a fan of technology, I'm also a retro-grouch on many counts. Because, ya know, they just don't make some things like they used to. My continued use of some antiquated devices notwithstanding, however, there are some methodologies, technologies, and combinations thereof which I have embraced.

Open Source. I'm fairly confident that without open source, Linux would not be as widespread as it is today. I am positive that if it weren't for open source mindset, and for the UNIX tradition of combining robust individual tools into a powerful pipeline (of fury), there's no way I could take photos and (soon, hopefully) produce high-quality prints for just the cost of the hardware and paper. Consider my current (and future) workflow:
  1. shoot a bunch of photos
  2. transfer them to machine, running Debian GNU/Linux
  3. browse through them with Geeqie, which grabs previews from the NEFs with exiv2 and does color-correction on-the-fly using lcms
  4. open RAW image in UFRaw, which…
    • interprets the RAW file with Dave Coffin's amazing dcraw program
    • also handles color management with lcms
    • and passes the image data along to…
  5. The Gimp, which will soon have arbitrary color depth and format support, thanks to GEGL and babl. (As an aside, this will surpass Photoshop in some aspects &emdash; many of Photoshop's plugins simply don't work on 16-bit (48bpp) images.)
  6. (do stuff)
  7. print from The Gimp to (arbitrary photo printer) with Gutenprint (see OpenPrinting for specific support info)
And lest I forget to mention, ArgyllCMS (using requisite hardware, of course) can calibrate and profile scanners, displays (including projectors), cameras, printers, and other devices.

And when the whole deal is done, I've gone from high-quality (heh) photo to high-quality print, using only Free software. And for you non-Linux folks, the entirety of this workflow will run on OS X (and likely also on anything POSIXy that has X). Everything except Geeqie and Gutenprint runs on Windows, too.

So that's it for now. To conclude, a fitting quote from Sir Isaac Newton:
"If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

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