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Underwater Photography

I have been experimenting with underwater photography recently. It is rather expensive to get an underwater housing for an SLR camera, but for about a tenth of the price of a housing you can get a point-and-shoot camera that is good for 10 meters (33 feet) under water. I got one of these cameras and experimented in our swimming pool over the last couple of weekends. Here are some of the photos.

Apple Aperture 3

I upgraded to Apple Aperture 3 shortly after it was released. I was fortunate enough that that I did not experience some of the initial upgrade woes (much discussed in various photography fora), but apparently those issues have since been fixed via the patch releases (version 3.03 is the current one). You can see the new features and specifications on the Apple website, so here I wanted to share my personal experience with Aperture 3.

Overall the experience has been very positive. Read on to see what I liked and disliked about it. Read More...

Micro Four Thirds

I have been eyeing large sensor small cameras, particularly the micro four thirds format, for some time now. The obvious reason to get a small camera is that it is with me more often, especially when I am traveling—which I do frequently. Carrying the hulking Nikon D700 with its huge lenses is not always practical, for example when I am out at dinner with the family or at a school event with the kids. Two things had been holding me back until recently. The first was the that the right product (for me) wasn't out yet—each of the initial first generation products on the market had some shortcoming. The second was that these cameras were not supported by Apple Aperture which is my primary raw converter, photo editor and cataloguer. Read More...

The second hip

I had the right hip resurfacing done on December 2, 2009. This time the recovery was much quicker that the last time. I had a checkup with the doctor at 5 weeks. He gave me a clean bill of health and removed all the range of motion restrictions. The x-ray on the right is from the checkup last week. You can see the cobalt prosthesis on both hips now.

I am already walking without a support this week and the right leg is almost as strong as the left leg. I don't quite have the full range of motion yet, but today I started my physical therapy, so it is a matter of time until I get there. I am hoping to go hiking and get on my bike in the Spring.

Improved Post Processing Tools

For Christmas I got some new post processing tools. The main addition is a Mac Pro that has really been a pleasure to use. The applications are really, really fast and the internal SATA drives as well as the external eSATA drives are about ten times faster than the Drobo FW800 I was using previously (the Drobo seems to have about half the throughput of other FW800 drives). Other additions to the post processing tools include adding Nik Software Complete Collection and upgrading to Final Cut Studio 3. Go to my Post Processing page to see the complete current list. I have the Mac Pro configured as follows:

  • Quad-core Intel Xeon "Nehalem" processor, 2.66 GHz—I spent the money on the RAM rather than the clock speed
  • 16 GB 1066 MHz DDR3 ECC SDRAM—this really makes the apps snappy
  • 160GB Intel X25-M Solid State boot drive (internal)—boot up is fast but, more importantly, apps start fast and the boot drive stays separate from the RAID-configured Data drives. I keep a clone of the boot drive as back-up
  • Four 2TB 3Gb/s internal drives in RAID 0+1 configuration—I get 4TB of usable space, striped for speed, mirrored for reliability
  • Two NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 each with 512MB memory—each of the 30-inch monitors is connected to one of these
  • 4-port eSATA card for connecting external backup drives—right now this is to connect the eSATA back-up drive, but could also be used for storage when I exceed the 4TB space I have now. Not all cards provide drivers that run in Snow Leopard 64-bit kernel
  • Mac OSX Snow Leopard running in 64-bit mode
  • Two 30-inch Apple Cinema Displays—I had one, and I got a second one
  • Two UPS power supplies—one for the Mac Pro and one for the monitors and peripherals

Self Portrait

Here is a self portrait taken earlier this week. My digital SLR camera is not capable of taking this picture—it required a very special camera that has no lens (works like a scanner) but has its own very special light source! The sensor size was 18-inches by 24-inches compared to the 1.4-inch full frame sensor in my DSLR. You can see the left hip prosthesis in white since the metal is completely opaque to the special light.

My latest gadget—a new hip

The balls of my hip joint (femoral heads) were damaged when I was treated with prednisone (a steroid drug) to reduce the inflammation in my lungs during a severe episode of pneumonia over three years ago. This is a known side effect of steroids in less than 1% of the population. Interestingly, however, I have found that this side effect is well known among only orthopedic doctors—every non-orthopedic doctor I have talked to have no idea of this phenomenon. The steroid combines with fat globules in the blood and deposits itself in the tiny capillaries of the bone and deprives the bone of oxygen. During the last few months the symptoms on the left hip became so severe that I not only had trouble biking and swimming, but I also could not walk without pain. I started using a cane but knew that surgical intervention is necessary. After much research and seeing 7 doctors in 4 cities (Houston, Atlanta, New York and Baltimore), Janice and I decided that a hip resurfacing is the way to go rather than a total hip replacement. Above is an artist's rendition video of hip resurfacing.

Why RAW?

How do you end up with the photograph on the right starting with the photograph on the left?

The Lenovo Ideapad S10 netbook

I recently had shoulder surgery and am currently going through physical therapy to regain the range of motion. Carrying an 8-lb laptop between home, office and client sites became a serious issue even before the surgery. Short business trips were worse carrying this behemoth. I got a back pack for the laptop but the backpack did not solve the real problem, it just distributed the problem (weight) over two shoulders to ease the burden. I knew I needed a very lightweight laptop that had enough computing power without breaking the bank. Did such a laptop exist? Read More...