Monthly Archives: August 2010

Basal Insulin, Bolus Insulin

September 1st is Diabetes Art Day, a fabulous idea by Lee Ann Thill at The Butter Compartment. Below are photographs of my contribution, Basal Insulin, Bolus Insulin, a temporary mixed-media installation. I always knew that I would use those fifty or so insulin vials for an art project, but I needed a little nudge to translate the raw materials into a finished project. (Thanks, Lee Ann!)

I collected the vials over 26 months of “hormone replacement therapy.” The insulin they contained influences so many choices in my life, not the least of which is picking which food to eat. Low carb. Sugar-free. Sugar substitute. Simple sugar. High fiber. Original, decadent, carb-heavy. Whatever it may be, insulin supports the choice.

Basal Insulin, Bolus Insulin #1
Basal Insulin, Bolus Insulin #1 (2010)

Basal Insulin, Bolus Insulin #2
Basal Insulin, Bolus Insulin #2 (2010)

Basal Insulin, Bolus Insulin #3
Basal Insulin, Bolus Insulin #3 (2010)

Basal Insulin, Bolus Insulin #4
Basal Insulin, Bolus Insulin #4 (2010)

Basal Insulin, Bolus Insulin #5
Basal Insulin, Bolus Insulin #5 (2010)

Basal Insulin, Bolus Insulin #6
Basal Insulin, Bolus Insulin #6 (2010)

Basal Insulin, Bolus Insulin #7
Basal Insulin, Bolus Insulin #7 (2010)

Basal Insulin, Bolus Insulin #8
Basal Insulin, Bolus Insulin #8 (2010)

Basal Insulin, Bolus Insulin #9
Basal Insulin, Bolus Insulin #9 (2010)

Basal Insulin, Bolus Insulin #10
Basal Insulin, Bolus Insulin #10 (2010)

Humalog® and the Lilly logo are trademarks of Eli Lilly. Other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Posted in Diabetes, Photography | 11 Comments

New Video File Formats

File formats come, and file formats go. Strike that last part. File formats never really go away. People just stop storing data in them, and vendors stop supporting the formats in their products. Eventually the data is just a bunch of bits that nobody really cares about. (At least that’s how I feel about most of the papers that I wrote in college.)

While formats never really retire*, there’s a steady stream of rookies. Sometimes a format totally destroys the competition: PDF, JPEG, GIF, etc. (Being first helps, as does being in the right place at the right time.) Other times a new file format results from an actual deficiency for one community in an existing family of widely-used formats. Those formats — such as DNG, JPEG 2000, etc. — have rather more difficulty overcoming the inertia of the majority of data users’ workflows despite their superior qualities.

For example, DNG never really took off the way I had hoped. My Nikon D300′s RAW file is still NEF. As are all Nikon RAW files. And I’m not convinced that there are enough applications that support DNG in my workflow (beyond the obvious Adobe applications) for me to consider converting my .nef files to DNG on import. It’s a funny chicken and egg problem.

Add to this menagerie two new video file formats.

I don’t have a lot of video experience. Still photography was always more accessible and interesting to me, though I have to confess that I’ve been greatly enjoying editing the video from our trip to Australia. iMovie is surprisingly good at what it does, and the video coming out of my point-and-shoot camera is acceptable for reminiscing. I still like the story that a still photograph can tell, but video fits that niche that I always used to fill with babbling during my slide shows.

Anyway, I digress.

I don’t have a lot of video file format experience. Undoubtedly it’s more complicated than I know, but the sense I got was that there are a few widely used file formats — AVI, MPEG, Quicktime — with a variety of audio and video compression codecs, chroma subsampling settings, and bit depths thrown in to complicate what would otherwise be a very simple landscape.

Enter the consumer HD video revolution — partly thanks to a new generation of dSLR cameras — and it seems like we’re on the cusp of another explosion of proprietary file formats. Add in the demands of professional workflows, and you get two new file formats.

Just as it did with DNG for still cameras, Adobe is proposing CinemaDNG as an open file format for storing RAW files from digital video cameras.

Storing, retrieving, and manipulating the RAW pixels in a video frame only goes so far. Eventually those frames are edited, cut and combined with audio tracks. Those frames and audio are mixed with other assets, such as subtitles, alternate audio tracks, time codes, and other metadata. Finally all of these assets are combined with a desired output intent to create a digital or film copy for cinema projection, a television broadcast, a DVD, streaming video, etc.

The Entertainment Technology Center at the University of Southern California (ETC) has worked with industry players to develop an interoperable master format (IMF) that encapsulates audio, video, and effects assets together with metadata and output profiles into a package. Basically IMF is the file-level portion of a digital asset management (DAM) solution.

The details of this encapsulating master format are quite numerous, but the following might be of interest to people who need to contemplate support for reading and writing the imagery portions of IMF. The format is evolving, but as of version 0.82a these were true.

  • IMF is pretty permissive with respect to image dimensions, audio sampling frequencies, bit depths, and so on. There are a lot of “shoulds” in the spec.
  • “Essence files” contain the video and audio assets.
  • Essence files must use ISO or SMPTE standard formats. That’s good news. I hate the reinvention of the wheel.
  • Frame rates must be constant.
  • There are some required standard and nonstandard resolutions and frame rates.
  • Non-1:1 pixel aspect ratios are OK.
  • 8- and 10-bit samples must be supported, and I/O drivers should support 12- and 16-bit imagery, too.
  • 4:4:4 and 4:2:2 chroma sampling is allowed.
  • RGB-709, YCbCr-709, YCbCr-601, and CIE XYZ are supported color spaces.
  • 3-D/stereoscopic imagery must be supported.
  • Compression is recommended, especially visually/perceptually lossless methods (but not necessarily mathematically reversible).
  • Compression must be industry standard and open. In fact, it probably should look a lot like JPEG-2000.
  • Uncompressed data will look a lot like DPX or SMPTE 384M.

Once again this is just the tip of the iceberg of the details are in the draft document. If you like these or don’t agree with them or if you have other suggestions — such as specifying a particular set of options and metadata settings as a “baseline” — do download the spec yourself and comment.


* — For an example of a moribund format, consider PICT from Apple.

Posted in Computing, File Formats, Fodder for Techno-weenies, Photography, Video | Leave a comment

Aussie Photos

We’ve been back for a while, and I’m occasionally reminded that I haven’t posted all of the photographs from our trip. Here they are! Ironically, I got sidetracked by the process of selecting and printing photographs, some of them you can see here. Almost all of those photos are in a Flickr collection.

Short on time? View the abridged set of 130+ photographs.

As an overview, here’s a day-by-day view of our trip:

Day -4: Packing for the trip Day -3: Packed for the trip Day 0: Leaving Boston ... in a limo
Day 1: Over the Pacific Day 2: Hyde Park, Sydney Day 3: Taronga Zoo
Day 4: Sydney Aquarium Day 5: Darwin Sunset Day 6: Wangi Falls, Litchfield NP
Day 7: Swimming below Florence Falls, Litchfield NP Day 8: Mimi Spirit, Kakadu NP Day 9: Yellow Water Bilabong, Kakadu NP
Day 10: Katherine Gorge, Nitmiluk NP Day 11: Daly Waters Pub Day 12: Devils Marbles, NT
Day 13: Ghost gum tree and sandstone, Watarrka NP Day 14: Kings Canyon, Watarrka NP Day 15: Uluṟu (Ayers Rock)
Day 16: Valley of the Winds, Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa NP Day 17: Sunrise in Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa NP Day 18: Lisa with an olive python, Alice Springs Reptile Centre
Day 19: Thorny devil, Alice Springs Desert Park Day 20: Frolicking in the surf of Trinity Beach, Queensland Day 21: Mossman Gorge, Daintree NP
Day 22: Flynn Reef, Great Barrier Reef Day 23: Trinity Beach Day 24: Australina Butterfly Sanctuary, Kuranda
Day 25: Crocodile, Cairns Tropical Zoo Day 26: Sydney Harbour Bridge Day 27: Watson's Bay, Sydney
Day 28: View of our plane as we leave Australia Day after: A month's worth of mail

The Narrative:

Some other experiences:

You can also read about our trip.

Posted in Australia, Historical Record, I am Rembrandt, Photography, Travel | Leave a comment

Heading Out

Tomorrow I’m going out to northwestern Mass. to restart my photography project. I’m heading NW so that I can take in an exhibit on Picasso and Degas at the Clark in Williamstown, but it seemed like a perfect time to restart a long dormant photo-project. First up: Rowe, a town with a population of 351 in the 2000 census. That seems auspicious for a project that involves photographing all 351 towns and cities in the Commonwealth.

And I’m thinking about rejoining my former camera club when it starts up in a few weeks.

Stay tuned.

Posted in Commonwealth Project, Photography | Leave a comment

Thoughts from a Thursday Morning

In honor of the company meeting earlier this morning, here are some of the things I’ve learned and thoughts I’ve had this morning . . . bullet point style:

  • I can’t decide whether Arcade Fire’s new album, “Suburbs,” is completely, utterly pretentious and lacking in fun, or if that’s me I’m thinking about.
  • The second week of August may be the second best commuting week of the year. It has felt like the week between Christmas and New Years.
  • The reception areas of Newton-Wellesley Hospital (NWH) are under construction, and the architects created a display of the materials they’re using. I like that a lot.
  • Phlebotomists, who specialize in doing something inherently painful with a minimum amount of discomfort, aren’t paid well enough. I’ve been poked many times, and the ones who do it well really are amazing.
  • The NWH lab dedicated to drawing blood is extremely quick. It’s where I prefer to go. It opens at 8:30.
  • At 7:00 the main hospital lab claimed a 30 minute wait, but it was really an hour-long wait for 60 seconds of actual medical procedures.
  • Some days I’m really eager to get to work and finish up what I was working on the day before. Today was one of those days.
  • In early April, Sports Illustrated predicted the Chicago Cubs would finish second in the NL Central, with a record of 81-81. To make that happen, the Cubs will have to go 33-15 for the rest of the season. The Cubs also have an estimated payroll of $137M for the season, which is $100M more than the team one behind them, the Pittsburgh Pirates. (The Pirates!)
  • I should have brought a book with me to the lab. I just finished reading about platypuses and have started reading about Romantic science.
  • I was smarter during the company meeting. Now I know a lot more about “Black-point compensation: theory and application” and ICC color profile rendering intents than I did yesterday.

And now it’s time to muck around with run-length encoding.

Posted in Baseball, Book Notes, Color and Vision, Diabetes, Health Care, Life Lessons | 3 Comments

Clean Office!

OMG!! I have a clean office/library! It’s the first time in . . . well, forever.

Clean library

Clean office

Kitty in a bag

Posted in General, Hoarding, This is who we are | 1 Comment

Ten Things I Love about Adobe Photoshop CS5

I just recently upgraded from Adobe Photoshop CS to Photoshop CS5. As you might imagine, a lot has changed in four major releases over the last seven years. I know I should have upgraded sooner . . . blah blah blah.

After installing CS5 over the weekend, I gave it a quick go and was immediately pleased. Tonight I used it a bit more, and now I’m even happier. Who knows how many of these are new to CS5? Not me. Anyway, here are ten things I really like:

Screenshot #1 of Adobe Photoshop CS5
Click for larger.

Screenshot #2 of Adobe Photoshop CS5
Click for larger.

  1. The “Adjustments” panel — I can work on multiple layers without being locked into editing one layer at a time. This makes me sooooo happy.
  2. Photo filters — Yeah, so they’re not real photo filters, since they don’t work on color spectra. But who cares? It’s 2010, not 2020. At least now I can easily make a warming filter.
  3. Adjustment presets — A lot of the curve shapes and levels adjustments are now precooked. Just select the right one from the drop-down list.
  4. Nicer panels — The way to move around and resize panels/palettes is just like I’d expect.
  5. More adjustments shiz — Okay, I guess I really like the adjustment layer improvements, because I honestly can’t remember what I was going to say here. I think it might have had something to do with being able to browse the precooked adjustments. Maybe? I don’t know.
  6. New adjustment layers — Easy to get to, right there next to the adjustments I want to make.
  7. Tabs — Tabs for files . . . Up there on the top, right where they belong.
  8. Action menus — The context menus appear on each panel, and the Photoshop engineers have located most of the common actions in the action menus, making them easier to find.
  9. Workspace browser — I like very much that Adobe is customizing the Photoshop experience for various communities via workspace. Click a button and you’ve changed your Photoshop experience. The panels move around, and (perhaps controversially) the menus change. I’ve saved my panel configuration as my own workspace.
  10. Mini Bridge — Do I like this or don’t I? I’ve never used Bridge effectively before. I used the Mini Bridge tonight to find and load a file; it seemed alright.

And of course there’s stuff you can’t see here, stuff buried in the menus. Some of them are brand new features to CS5, and some — like many of the items listed above — are only new to me.

I can’t wait to see what else is new and how it will continue to improve my retouching and editing workflow.


* — A couple years ago I was part of the Photoshop CS4 beta. As part of that, I used the Photomerge feature to create some panoramas from multiple photographs. I loved it then, and I’m excited to try it out with some photos from Australia. Stay tuned.

Posted in Computing, Fodder for Techno-weenies, Photography | Leave a comment