More Memory for Mac

I have discovered a process that completely saturates the memory on my iMac. It is one of the first 5K iMacs, and it came with 8 GB of memory. I have been happily using it with that much memory for several years. I have beenusing iprocess my photos including HDR processing. But I have gotten a new camera with larger number of pixels and the ability to to auto-bracket five exposures. The first time I tried to do a five exposure HDR in Lightroom my iMac slowed to a crawl. I checked and it was clearly using all available memory. 

I bought an additional 16 GB of memory and installed it. I ran my Lightroom workflow, and it worked great. I checked on memory usage, and it was 12 GB. I could have gotten away with just an 8 GB upgrade, but this will provide me with some future proofing. 

 

Keyboard Shortcuts for Windows 10 Virtual Desktops

Coming from a Mac, I am a big user of virtual desktops but the Windows 10 version of virtual desktops seems less mature. There are keyboard shortcuts in MacOS to move from one virtual desktop to another, and I felt that had to be ones for Windows, but I have been unable to find them until today. A Google search today showed me all of the same pages as before but also http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/5-ways-improve-virtual-desktops-windows-10/. It showed these keyboard shortcuts.

  • Win + Ctrl + D: Create a new virtual desktop.
  • Win + Ctrl + F4: Close the current virtual desktop.
  • Win + Ctrl + Right: Switch to next virtual desktop.
  • Win + Ctrl + Left: Switch to previous virtual desktop.
  • Win + Tab: Open the Task View.

The page also discuses third party applications to extend the functionality of the virtual desktops. I will be looking into them also.

New Laptop

I have used Mac laptops for about 8 years now, and I have been very happy with them, but I have been having problems with one applications that is forcing me back to Windows. At work we use VMware Horizon with a PIV card for our VPN. The Mac does not support the PIV card by default. You have to add drivers to get it to work. I got those drivers  after significant searching, and I have been using VMware Horizon for a couple of years. It has always worked poorly compared to using it on Windows. 

The bulk of the problems are not handling disconnections well. I would log in, do some work and then get distracted by a meeting or phone call. When I come back the laptop is asleep, and VMware cannot connect when I wake up the computer. It just hangs there trying to connect. If I force quit the program and try to reconnect, I can reach the server but I cannot login. Apparently there is a disconnected process with my name on it. It has to be killed by the helpdesk or just time out, before I can login again. 

On my most recent trip for work, I logged into the VPN each morning and got no more than 30 minutes of use before getting disconnected. Today, I bought a Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 14. It cost $800 with Core i5 processor, 8 GB of memory and 256 GB SSD. As so much material has moved online, I am much more comfortable having only 256 GB of storage. This laptop will not have any of my music or photos stored locally. 

I have installed many of my favorite programs and VMware Horizon. Horizon worked fine with my PIC card without having to add drivers. My biggest issue so far is needing to click on the left side of the trackpad. My MacBook Pro does not distinguish sides of the trackpad. I have 15 days to return for a refund, so I will be beating on it hard. 

 

My Photographic Weekend

Last weekend was Labor Day weekend, so I thought I could get some extra shooting in. On Friday evening I went to Baker Park and wandered around downtown Frederick as the sun was setting. As I was heading back to my car, I saw that the sun was setting in a spectacular way. I shot the bell tower in Baker Park with my Nikon D7100 with the 35 mm DX f1.8 prime lens.  I have been using my primes more often lately for more bokeh and sharpness. This is the last photo that I took Friday night. 

Baker Park Sunset. 

It is a 3 exposure HDR merged in Lightroom and then processed in Lightroom. I think it is one of the best photos that I have ever taken.

On Saturday night we again had a very vivid sunset and I hurried home from dinner hoping to catch the sunset near Prospect Hall, a nearby mansion that is being refurbished for other uses. The sunset had moved on by the time I got set up, but I took some photos anyway. I do not have much experience with shooting at the blue hour, so I thought I could get some experience. 

Prospect Hall 

Prospect Hall 

I also took this photo with my Nikon D7100 with the 35 mm DX f1.8 prime lens. This time I used a tripod. I took three bracketed shots, but I only processed the best exposure this time rather than doing an HDR merge.  I was also happy with the results of this photo. I thought it was a very competent first attempt at shooting at the blue hour. 

I posted both photos on flickr within a day of taking them. The second one was featured by flickr on their explore page. It got more then 2,000 views and was favorited by 69 people. I have had photos do better than that on flickr, and I think if the first shot had been featured it would have. 

 

   

Playing with Panning

Once a year there is a high wheel bicycle race in my hometown. I go to take photos, and I see plenty of others with better cameras and lenses than me there too. The high wheel bikes are interesting by themselves and there lots of photo opportunities, but this year I really concentrated on panning while I shot. 

The idea is to move the camera so that the moving object is always in the same place in the photo. This makes the object sharp and the background blurred.  You need to use a slow enough shutter speed so that the camera movement will blur the background. I shot with aperture priority which is my default. I should have tried shutter priority and always used a good shutter speed. My best shots were at 1/80 sec, but it was a bright sunny day and sometimes I ended up with faster shutter speeds that did not have much blur. 

I need to get out more often and practice. I need to find more bike races. 

I should have zoom out a little more on this shot so you could see the bottom of the bike. 

I should have zoom out a little more on this shot so you could see the bottom of the bike. 

Keeping the bike properly framed was challenging. 

I am happy with how sharp the rider is, but I would have liked to gotten him out the corner of the frame. 

I am happy with how sharp the rider is, but I would have liked to gotten him out the corner of the frame. 

Back from England

I spent ten days in England. A week in London and then a few days in the Cotswalds. One of my favorite things to do in England is to visit pubs. I like to try out various English ales. My wife finds them to hoppy, but I think they have just enough hops without overdoing it like some American craft brewers do with IPAs. 

Taps from the first pub we visited. 

At the first pub that we visited, I chose the Alpha 5 Pale Ale, which is the the third tap from the left. I did not notice then, but it is a American ale. It was being featured as part of an international showcase. 

Bubble Chambers as Public Art

A bubble chamber uses a liquid that reacts to charged particles by developing small bubbles.  As the particle passes through the liquid the bubbles form tracks that can be photographed. Particle physicists used to use bubble chambers to study the reactions of elementary particles. I did my Ph.D. using a the Big European Bubble Chamber (BEBC) at CERN in the 80's.  Bubble chambers became less useful when event rates become very high. I have discovered that they have become public art at particle physics labs. 

The Big European Bubble Chamber CERN now stands outside CERN museum as a sculpture. 

  

The 15 foot bubble chamber now sits outside Fermilab's detector development lab.

Lightroom Has Added a Pet Redeye Feature

I have lots of photos of our pet rabbits. Photos of rabbits show extreme redeye, and most redeye correction routines don't work well on them. I discovered that Lightroom CC has a pet eye option. Choose redeye as usual and you will get a panel with options. One is pet eye. I tried it and it worked great. I even tried it on some old photos that had been processed with Picasa. Picasa got rid of the redeye but the result was very unnatural. Lightroom did a good job.

Here is an example of how bad redeye can get on a rabbit. As you can see the room was relatively dark and flash was needed to illuminate the subject. 

Very bad redeye

Very bad redeye

Here is the same photo after correcting it with Lightroom's pet eye feature. 

Fixed with Lightroom

Fixed with Lightroom


Comcast Screws Up Even When They Fix Things

In general my Comcast internet service has been reliable and fairly fast. So I was not overly concerned when in December Comcast offered to increase my internet speed for free. All I had to do was trade in my cable modem for a newer model. I accepted the offer, but I was surprised when a wireless gateway was delivered by UPS rather than a camel modem. The wireless gateway is a combination of a cable modem, a voice over ip adapter, and a wifi router. I already had a wifi router that I had recently purchased and was very happy with. 

My router is an Archer C9 made by TP-LINK. It is 802.11ac router, and I had found it delivered much better performance to both 802.11ac adapters in my iMac and MacBook as well as the 802.11n adapters in my Roku boxes. I was very happy with it. I did not want to give it up for some other device of unknown quality. 

I decided to try  the new wireless gateway, and it delivered the higher speeds promised. In the best case that I tested I saw a 50% increase in downloads speeds. I found that an appealing situation, so I sent back my old cable modem.  As I got my more experience with the setup, I found some problems that I was able to solve, but I had one lingering issue. Machines connected by wifi would have problems after the computer went to sleep. When I would wake up the computer, it reported that wifi was connected, but when I attempted to browse the internet I had DNS lookup failures. I checked the configuration of the wifi adapter and it showed the correct DNS servers listed. If I stopped and restarted the wifi, everything worked fine once again. After a couple of weeks of having to restart my wifi several times a day, I was quite annoyed. 

I spent some time in Comcast’s support forums, and while I could not find my exact problem being discussed, I did see that many people were having problems with the model of wireless gateway that I was using. Many people suggested putting it in bridge mode, which bypassed the router section and allowed you to use your own router. I decided that this was the best solution, but it required Comcast tech support to put the gateway into bridge mode. 

Calling Comcast puts you into a voice mail menu system that seems impossible to escape from. I had clearly tried all of the obvious fixes for my problem, and I had a preferred solution, so I needed to talk to person. I tried hitting the 0 key repeatedly and requesting an agent over and over. Eventually, the system said I would be transferred to a person. I got voice mail saying tech support was closed for the evening. 

When I decided to try contacting tech support again, I gave up on the phone, and I tried a web chat with Comcast tech support. This worked. I got through to a support person in about 10 minutes, and I requested that they put my gateway into bridge mode. She was happy to do that. After I gave her the MAC address of the device, she told me she would put it into bridge mode. 

At that point I lost the connections to web chat. I never got a chance to ask if it mattered which ethernet port I used to connect to the gateway, or if the gateway would need to be restarted. It took me about 20 minutes to get everything reconfigured, and I did have to power cycle the gateway to get things to work.  Things have been running well since, but it would have been helpful if the Comcast tech had arranged a alternate method of communication before putting the gateway into bridge more. 

Because of how difficult it was to get hold of a person at Comcast, I spent about 4 weeks with flaky internet. After my first attempts to call Comcast, I knew I would need to have at least an hour of free time before I could seriously tackle fixing my problem. In the future, I will be extremely leery of attempting anymore upgrades to my Comcast hardware. 

I Am a Amateur Photographer

I went to the park to take some photos on a beautiful autumn day. As I enter the park a large bird flew in front me. Thought it was an owl, but I followed it and found it perched in a tree. It was not an owl but a hawk, which was just as good for me. I have never photographed a bird of prey. I quickly took three photos and then tried to find a better vantage to shoot some more. That spooked the hawk, and it took off and was quickly out of sight. 

When I got home I saw that my shots were OK, but a small branch was just slightly blocking the view of the hawk's head. 

A small hawk perches in Baker Park in Frederick, MD.

A small hawk perches in Baker Park in Frederick, MD.

Serious bird photographers know how to find birds and dedicate time to giving themselves many opportunities for taking great shots. I have stumbled on to a couple of circumstances to photograph interesting birds and I get one shot to get right. This was good, but not great. I also wish the background was less busy, which would allow the hawk to be more visible. 

Someday I will retire and I can devote serious time and effort on my photography.