Friday, March 16, 2007

Panda Labs - most excellent customer service

OK, that's it. Panda Lab just rules. This place is two blocks from my house [edit: no longer true, but still pretty convenient and still my main place to get processing done, as of January 2011], and I've been by there a bunch of times, and never gone in. Why not? I don't know. They're awesome. Yeah, OK, so their systems could maybe stand to be computerized or something, but... wow, what excellent customer service. I took them my two rolls of IR film (my first ever -- for the class I'm taking at PCNW), and dropped them off on Wednesday. I asked (actually they asked me what I wanted) for just basic development (no push or pull, or anything special), and a contact sheet... Everything was ready yesterday, but I didn't have time to go in until today.

So today, I went in, to pick things up. Eager to see how my first rolls of IR would come out. Well, I got more than I bargained for, and in a good way. The gal at the counter got my stuff, and handed it over, then proceeding to do up the bill. Distracted by watching the hand-processing of the invoice, I somehow failed to even bother looking at the results yet. And then as she was processing my debit card, she apparently mentioned that one of the IR pickups was here. So this guy Dana comes out, and in a very friendly way offers to look over things with me.

And so I opened things up, and looked what was inside. My two rolls of film (cut into 6's, as had been the choice I'd made when asked if I wanted 5's or 6's -- very nice) were there, in Print Files, and 8 contact sheets. Yup, that's right. 4 contact sheets per roll, each exposed a different amount, so that I could see the results of all the insane bracketing I'd been doing. Wow, that's flippin' cool.

And it didn't end there. Dana proceeded to pull out a couple of the contact sheets, and the negatives, and lay them down above and on (respectively) a light table, and take a look with me. He pointed out the varying densities of things, and asked me about how I'd been metering, and gave me pointers about things, and told me which negatives he thought had the best densities (yay, they were mostly the ones I'd metered for -- so I guess I was doing OK on the metering already), and just all sorts of little tidbits about things -- telling me about which shop I could go to (Camera Techs, in Ballard) to find out if I could fix the DX coding reader problem that blasts one set of sprockets on my film -- or to get a different body, if I couldn't do that, and just generally being helpful and friendly and cool.

He even said to say hello to Patricia, the instructor for the Infrared course I'm taking.

Just cool. Contact sheet scans:

Roll #1:

Contact Sheet, IR Roll #1, version 3

Roll #2:

Contact Sheet, IR Roll #2, version 2

Scans of other images to follow over time.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Am I really ready for this?

In August (the 11th, in case anyone wants to save the date), it seems I'll be teaching my first workshop at the Photographic Center Northwest (PCNW). The working title for this workshop is Beyond Photoshop: Photo Editing Software. I'll probably be talking about things like Aperture and
Lightroom, on the one end of the spectrum, and Picasa and iPhoto on the other, along with ACDSee, and probably a number of others. The idea is to just give some info on what else can be used... from the free stuff to the professional packages. Oh, and we mustn't forget The GIMP.

I believe, you see, that Photoshop is the wrong tool for many a photography job. It can do some amazing things, and it does a number of things really really well, and it's certainly the right tool for some jobs. Ever tried using it to sort and rate 1600 photos from a full day of shooting an event, though? Forget it. That's not what it's for. And that's just one example of stuff it's not for. And a lot of things that it is designed for, and does really well, it's still overkill for for a lot of situations.

So, I'm going to talk about alternatives.

But yeesh, I've got a lot of work to do to be ready for this thing... not to mention the emotional preparation for being up there at the front of a classroom. I've done some informal teaching before, but not a whole lot, and I've never done anything this formal.

Hopefully I'll do OK.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Eat Local

I was wandering around Queen Anne the other day with Laura, and stumbled across Eat Local, a brand new store emphasizing the use of local and sustainable ingredients to make prepared meals. Well, and not only sustainable ingredients, but sustainable packaging, as well. They're currently using corn plastic (a biodegradeable, non-petroleum thing, that looks and feels a lot like regular old plastic, to me... how cool is that?), and then they're also using re-usable glass containers for some stuff, which you "buy" with a deposit, but you get it back in full when you return the container as you're purchasing your next thing. Greg (the owner) says they're going to be working towards having the glass containers for all their products, eventually.

Combine the latter with a Re-usable shopping bag, like the acme bag Laura got for each of us recently, and you have a zero-waste frozen meal!

Which brings us to the one arguable downside of the place -- it seems to only offer frozen prepared meals. Now, this is a good thing, too, it just might be nice if they had non-frozen stuff as well. Then again, there are other markets around for such things, and so it's fine with me if Eat Local is filling a niche that doesn't include that. They do have some non-frozen items like jams and such. They also have frozen items for a variety of meal sizes, and some pottery (locally made), books that are on-topic, and some other stuff.

They even have a meeting space upstairs which is free for bookclubs and non-profits. Pretty cool. I wish them only the best of success... I expect I'll be back there soon to make some purchases of some sort or other. With my Acme Bag in pocket.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

So, uhm...

So, uhm... yeah. Hi. I've created a blog, here. I sorta already have one on my myspace page, and then of course there's my flickr stream... and of course there's also my photography site, which I haven't been doing anything with lately, though I do intend to again some day. (It's not helpful that I was having some problems with my hosting provider for a little while, though they seem to have cleared up, finally.)

Anyway, I was kind of enjoying checking out my recent acquaintance Lisa's blog, and wanted to comment, and thought, well, I guess that'd be easier if I just created an account... and then figured out that it was all tied to google, so creating the account was relatively easy, so... well... here I am. Too bad I didn't get here a couple years earlier, or I could have had my URL as I wanted it. Alas.

Anyway, I have no idea how much or little I'll post, but here I am.

Does this thing work?