My New Canon Rebel T2i

Finally, I now have my first ever DSLR camera, a Canon EOS 550D, also known as the Canon Rebel T2i.

Just got my new Canon Rebel T2i yesterday evening right after work. This is not just ‘my new camera’. It’s my very first DSLR camera ever. I’ve had cameras before but all of them were the point and shoot kind.

I don’t know if it’s their standard procedure but I feel that the store clerk may have read through me clearly when, prior to the payment at the cashier, he invited me over to a table and gave me a demo of the Canon Rebel T2i – from assembling the sling, taking off the lens cap, down to how to press the shutter. I didn’t know my ignorance about dslr cameras was that transparent. I thought I sounded pro when I dropped some pro-sounding words, e.g. when I inquired about available macro glasses (intentionally using the word ‘glasses’ instead of ‘lenses’, as suggested by Scott Kelby), and carbon fiber tripods.

Well, I couldn’t contain my excitement I couldn’t sit still while I waited a little over an hour to fully charge the new (partly charged) battery at home. I devoured the manual and run smack into technical photo jargon, e.g. aperture priority, shutter priority, white balance, etc. It particularly took some time to get the confusion out of aperture value and actual aperture ‘open-ness’.

Needless to say, I took some shots at the nearest things I could shoot at. Here are a few of them.

These are some of the things I found inside the box (except the Scott Kelby book).

My daughter’s Minnie Mouse on the wall.

I took a lot of pictures without taking thought about choice of subjects. Hell, I took pictures of the trash bin, my toes, the laundry bin, the inside of the cabinet, the kids, my wife, you name it.

Today, while I waited for my turn at the dentist’s office, I took the liberty of taking some shots inside her receiving room.

As of now, I’m still shooting mostly with the mode dial set to P (Program AE), where the camera sets the shutter speed and aperture automatically. Even now, I’m still exploring the rebel. I’m setting my mind on messing up with apertures and shutter speed and manual focus soon. And I’m looking forward to the free photography seminar the sales clerk at Canon told me about, which he said is tentatively set around the second week of November.

Diving Into Digital SLR Photography

In a matter of days, I’m getting my very first dslr camera. At this point, I can’t wait to get myself wet in the digital slr photography waters, I’m dipping my toes with a couple of books by Scott Kelby.


Just days prior to my acquisition of my very first DSLR camera, and thus soon taking the plunge into digital slr photography, I wasn’t able to help myself from buying a couple of books on digital slr photography, “The Digital Photography Book” volume 1 and volume 2 by Scott Kelby. As this is my first foray into this jungle, I’m not sure if Scott Kelby is considered a cool author in the photography world. (If he is, then I must have been guided into making him my first photography books’ author). These books actually also come as a 3-book series boxed set but I opted to buy only the first two, thinking that as a first-timer, I may have to spend a lot of time reading and experiencing whatever knowledge and wisdom is in books 1 and 2.

I have pored through book 1 and has so far been enlightened on a lot of points I have earlier been ignorant about. The book was formatted in such a way that it provided easy reading for me and Mr. Kelby simply spewed out tips and tricks that other photographers would probably prefer to just keep to themselves. I like his injection of humor and I indeed got into a lot of “Oh, so that’s how they do it…” moments.

I now see photographers as artists and not just dumb clickers who point and shoot. When I say photographer, I mean of course the ones who make digital slr photography a serious business, or at least a serious hobby. I understand for instance how they mind those little artifacts that we laymen wouldn’t have minded having in our pictures. I understand why they lug around those bulky-looking tripods wherever they go. Inspite of their fine artistic hands and fingers, they don’t trust that those wouldn’t create even the minutest shake that could snatch away perfection out of their final output. They have to use tripods. And some go as far as choosing tripods made with carbon fiber to dampen even the humanly undetectable vibrations.

Of course, there are instances where they couldn’t use tripods.Well, they got tricks to compensate. In wedding settings inside churches for instance, they would increase their ISO settings just enough so that noise is kept to a minimum and use their fastest lens to minimize the effects of hand shake. Kelby btw showed a technique of holding the camera to add extra stability and thus minimize hand shake, in the absence of a tripod.

After reading the book, I thought of increasing my budget in order to accomodate additional gadgets e.g. some particular glasses for specific purposes. No, actually I plan to buy those extra glasses some other time. These little beasts are not cheap, you know. I just have to type out these sentences to show that I use ‘glasses’ instead of ‘lenses’. Kelby says I’d sound more non-amateurish if I do that. Wait, will I sound professional if I include, say, ‘white balance’ and ‘f-stops’ whenever I talk about pictures?

At this point though, I still don’t agree with a photographer’s trick in shooting waterfalls where the output shows a very fine water flow that almost makes the water look like thick mist. It still just looks so artificial to me. This seems to be a standard among them, however, as I always see these effects in all exhibits I see where waterfalls or water is featured. Me, I still prefer to be able to see actual droplets and coarse splashes. Wow, I’m yet to enter the portals of digital slr photography and I’m already a rebel.

Now, I’m literally kicking-eager to go to the Canon outlet to get my camera. Oh no, not the skyhigh-priced ones. As I’m an absolute first timer and the budget is sorta tight, I’d settle, for now, for a Canon Rebel, the E0S 550D. I suppose this will turn out to be cool enough for my amateurish purposes. Earlier, I had set my sights on the new 60D. However some friends tell me to start off with the Rebel and that, should I pursue this art further later, I can upgrade to something even better than the 60D or 7D (or the Mark units, chill), or perhaps jump to the Nikon wagon altogether.

Colored Halftone Effect In Inkscape

Yes, one can create colored halftone effects using the free SVG application called Inkscape.

I just got acquianted with Inkscape and the beginner in me clamored to learn how to create a colored halftone effect in inkscape. Inkscape is an open-source vector graphics editor that works like Adobe Illustrator. One notable difference between Illustrator and Inkscape is that Illustrator costs about $600 bucks while Inkscape is $0.00; in other words, free.

I found a cool tutorial about creating halftone effects in inkscape here. It describes the process of creating a black halftone effect. After learning it, I soon hankered to create a halftone effect in a color other than black. Perhaps I just didn’t search long enough, but I didn’t find any on google. So, I tweaked and experimented on what I have learned so far and found that one could make a colored halftone effect in inkscape using the following procedures (same as istarlome’s but just slightly revised):

  1. Create a 300px X 300px light gray box (no stroke)
  2. Within the light gray box, draw (a) black or black-and-white object(s) (no stroke)
  3. Draw an8px X 8px dot on the uppermost-left corner of the light gray box with, say, green (or whatever color you want for your halftone) fill (no stroke)
  4. Group the black (or black-and-white) object(s) and the light gray box together.
  5. Make sure the group is selected. Blur to +/-11.
  6. Unselect any selected objects
  7. Select the green-filled dot
  8. In the Menu, click Edit>Clone>Create Tiled Tones> click on the Trace tab
  9. In the Trace Tab window:
    • In ‘1. Pick from the drawings:’ choose ‘Color’
    • In ‘3. Apply the value to the clones’:’ choose ‘Size’
    • Select ‘Width, height:’ and input 300 x 300 px
    • Click the ‘Create’ button.
  10. Delete the green dot
  11. Delete the light gray box
  12. Voila! A green halftone effect!

The now messed up pic of Kiera below is evidence of what can happen to a good picture when I decide to do havoc with it.

Well, the halftones here are not as impressive as I want them to be. But, charge that to my amateur talent at manipulating digital graphics. Perhaps, a few more weeks of experimenting will help.

The free Inkscape application can be downloaded here: inkscape.org.

DIV Background Image for WordPress Post

In your wordpress post or article, do you sometimes want to put a background image behind the paragraphs of text? I do. Here’s how I did it.

(I know how to put a div background image behind a paragraph of text in an ordinary html or php page. I was expecting to be able to do the same in a wordpress page by simply clicking on a button, but found no function alloted to it.)


Except where the pictures are relevant to the presentation of an idea, most wordpress blogs insert some pictures or images within their articles only for the purpose of giving color and appeal to the article. It is eye candy and its attention holding power boosts the chances of the passive visitor to read on or to find some other post or feature that would interest him. It prods the visitor to explore further. Well, at least that’s my take on the matter.

In the wordpress dashboard, it is easy to do this as all you have to do is click the little rectangle (with the ‘Add an image’ tooltip) to the right of the caption ‘Upload/Insert’ below the title box. Then, the picture appears like the one below.

background imageWell, look at that. Isn’t the motorbike simply hot?*


The above image can also be wrapped in a div box, especially if you want it to become a background image to some paragraphs of text.

Image as background to text in a post

Yes, setting a background image to a div is basic HTML. Anyone who has even a superficial knowledge of HTML knows this; that you can have paragraphs of text with a picture behind it as a background image.

Perhaps it is not a good practice anyway since the image behind may cause some text to be hard to read especially in areas where the image pixels approach the color of the text. This is probably why I don’t see this effect in wordpress sites. Nevertheless, with a good eye for color balance, I believe the effect can enhance the beauty and appeal of an article page.

Wait, is the color balance thingy really the reason why this ‘background image behind the text‘ effect is not seen often in posts on wordpress sites? I don’t think so. The most probable reason is that it is not a one-click action like the ‘Add an image’ click that we have grown used to. For now, it has to be done manually. If there is an easier way to do this, or there’s actually a built-in feature in wordpress that I just am unaware of, please tell me. The way I inserted the image of a dollar bundle as background to the text here is as follows:

  1. Click the ‘Add an image’ graphical link next to the ‘Upload/Insert’ caption in the Post dashboard in order to upload your chosen image to your wordpress directory.
  2. Copy the ‘src’ portion of the resulting code. The src string may look like this:

    http://localhost/moralde/wp-content/uploads/2012/99/moralde-dollars.jpg

    This is the url/path to the image you want to use. Now, you can delete the resulting code set of the uploaded image written on your content box.

  3. Then you create a div box upon which you want to put the image as its background and within which you would place your text. The src string you copied earlier is then placed within the url part. The final code would look like so:

    <div style="background:url('http://localhost/moralde/
    wp-content/uploads/2012/99/moralde-dollars.jpg') 
    no-repeat">
    
    These are the texts which you want to float above the 
    background image. Yada, yada, yada...The div background 
    image is now underneath your wordpress post. <em>The
    italic text within the div tags being part of the text above 
    the div background image</em>. The <strong>bold 
    text</strong> above the div background image. The 
    <span style="text-decoration: underline;">underlined text 
    within the div</span>. The quick brown fox jumped over the
    heads of the lazy dogs near the bank of the River Rhine where
    animal control cannot see them. Yada, yada, yada...
    
    </div>

    It’s actually the same coding whether it’s a wordpress or a non-wordpress site.

Well, that’s how I did it here. Of course, one could also use the css file to do this. Again, if you have an easier method, or there is a wordpress function or even a plugin for this, let me know by commenting below.

*Hot? What do you think of Joann Krupa here.

Photo Fun

Just thought of showcasing some photo-editing skill on my blog. It’s not much, but I do get some fun out of layering multiple photos, blending them, cropping some, rotating some, and checking out the end result after all the chaos.


Photo Fun

This photo fun post is a response to the advise to write about what you love doing. Well I just seem to be writing-challenged at the moment so I sort of twisted that advise a little and turned it into just ‘do what you love doing’. I love photo fun. By photo fun, I don’t mean taking pictures and asking friends to come around and have fun looking at them. I meant having fun with the photos. Photo-editing. I learned photo editing some years ago, as a hobby, using photoshop and some other free photoshop-like applications. Today, I just felt like having photo fun. So I gathered a few interesting images and threw them into the photo editing applications and out came the photo shown below.

I don’t know…probably, I just haven’t had enough of 2012. Besides, I didn’t see much of Italy being ravaged in the 2012 movie. (Sorry my Italian buddies :). No offense meant). So, here it is.

Photo Fun

photo-fun
Click on photo to see bigger photo size.

Now, that I have started this, this just might be the first of a series of photo fun posts that I’ll probably post every now and then, as the spirit leads. I think one could also showcase some talents besides writing in a blog; photo editing or photo art for instance. What d’ya think? Or, should blogging be considered as an exclusive estate only for those who can write? I am not a very good writer. So I had this idea to supplement whatever little writing skill I have with photo art / photo fun. Brian Hawkins has a photo-blog that he used to publish his pictures taken either from a cellphone camera or from his high-tech digital camera. Not much writing there. You don’t need to read for 5 minutes to be able to comment there. You just look at the picture, enjoy its art, and post a comment if you are moved to. BTW, the photo work in my previous post, WordPress Slideshow Plugin, is a photo fun work of mine too.

brianbuttons
In the above photo fun picture, I think I should have included a picture of me diving off from the tower and into the raging chaos, with Brian’s button pinned on my swimming trunk.

WordPress Slideshow Plugin: Superb Slideshow

A wordpress slideshow plugin I think is exceptionally good. The superb slideshow plugin serves my purposes as far as link insertion, proper slideshow pauses and smooth transitions are concerned.

Best WordPress Slideshow Plugin

slideshow codes removed 12/23/2011

After a suggestion was made to revamp the design of my boss’ company website to which the boss agreed, I immediately googled out for some inspiring website designs that would be both functional and pleasing to the eyes. One employee showed me some website designs she liked. Most involved a lot of animated images, most probably embedded flash elements. And all of them have black backgrounds. Having earlier known some of my boss’ likes and dislikes, I am not sure if he would agree to these suggested designs. Just the same, it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try.

Since there seems to be a focused attention on animated elements, based on the suggestions, I fear I may have to research on the area of embedding flash files in a wordpress web site. But before embarking on that mission, I had this idea of trying out the available wordpress slideshow plugins first. A slideshow of course is not as flashy and flexible as the real flash apps, but these just might work in place of embedding flash files. I discovered this plugin called the superb-slideshow plugin which can output a slideshow of images plus the following major features:

  • Automatically pause the slide show on hover.
  • Insert a line of text at the bottom portion.
  • Insert link code so that the whole slideshow box is a link for each particular image.
  • Multiple slideshows.

WordPress Slideshow Plugin Test

I tested the wordpress slideshow plugin and it does work. Gopi, the plugin’s author promptly responded to some questions I threw at him and helped me with the effects I wanted to output. I have yet to see of course the implementation, if it could be done and if he has the time to work on it, of some of my suggestions like the following:

  • Option to choose to have the current black background of the text into ‘transparent’.
  • Option to choose the vertical location of the text. e.g. middle, or top.

All in all, I think the plugin is pretty good. In the sample slideshow above, I choose not to use text since the black background bar tends to ruin the irregular shape effect.

You can download this wordpress slideshow plugin at the wordpress site, or you can visit the author’s homepage: Gopi’s Homepage.

(Note: The last time I updated this wordpress slideshow plugin, all the newly created files (xml and images) within the slideshow directory were deleted. The plugin author, Gopi, may have to re-do some coding in order to address this issue. So, in the meantime, should you decide to use this plugin, be sure to backup your xml and image files under the slideshow directory especially prior to updating to a newer version of the plugin.)

Update: As of version 4.0, the coder of this plugin still hasn’t addressed the issue of the deleted images and xml files. As soon as I updated, the images and xml files I created were gone, and a slew of error messages got displayed in this post. What I did is to create a folder of my images outside the plugin’s folder. This way, it won’t get deleted on update. As for the xml file, I got no choice but to backup before an update.

Update: 12/23/2011. By some careless lapse, I accidentally updated the plugin. Like before, the slideshow again messed itself up. Like before Gopi the plugin’s author have updated his plugin but never addressed the complaint of many users about his inability to correct a glaring error in his code design. All created xml are wiped out on each update. Since, the update I made was accidental, I was not able to back up my xml file. Darn.

Planned future posts: wordpress gallery plugin, slideshow pro wordpress plugin, wordpress album plugin, flickr slideshow plugin, wordpress plugins images, jquery cycle, wp slideshow plugin, jquery slideshow plugin.