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Sunday, 23 July 2017 Dereel Images for 23 July 2017
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Hugin stitch problems: solved
Topic: photography, technology Link here

For the past couple of weeks I've been puzzling about why my first panoramas two weeks ago didn't stitch correctly. Today I finally found out why. cpfind was finding control points on the end of the panorama bracket:


This should be false-positive-control-points.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: false positive control points          Dimensions:          1676 x 1254, 1641 kB
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Diary entry for Sunday, 23 July 2017 Complete exposure details

   
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Image title: false positive control points detail
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That makes sense, and it's something I had been concerned about some time ago. The real question is why it didn't cause a problem before. My best bet is that the contrast was better in other images, so the control point detectors found better results (or, as in this case, none of any use). Time to rearrange the bracket.


Scanning old negatives
Topic: photography, technology, history Link here

As I go through my 1964 diary, I'm re-scanning the photos I took at the time. I had already scanned them with the ill-fated Canon 9900F scanner, but I can do better now.

Or can I? After letting the Epson “Perfection” 4990 Photo spend hours scanning the negatives, I ended up with:


This should be Ananda-grain-reduce-colour-restore-backlight-correct-ICE.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Ananda grain reduce colour restore backlight correct ICE          Dimensions:          3407 x 2040, 854 kB
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All images taken on Friday, 4 September 1964, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 4 September 1964, small
Diary entry for Friday, 4 September 1964 Complete exposure details

 

What the hell went wrong there? One of the scanner parameters? But which one? The settings in the scanner program are:

 
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Image title: Scan parameters
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Which are useful? I've established that “Backlight Correction” improves the shadows, and for colour photos “Color Resotration” really does help a lot. And the others? Grain is always a problem in old films (here Kodak Plus-X Pan), so I do that too. And the dust is everywhere, so how about “Dust Removal”? Ah, that's an old, worn-out magic word (so why is it there?). The new one is “DIGITAL ICE Technology”.

Is one of these causing my problems? Went through most combinations, and found that colour restore didn't do much, though it did slightly darken the image:


This should be Ananda-grain-reduce.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Ananda grain reduce          Dimensions:          3407 x 2040, 553 kB
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Diary entry for Friday, 4 September 1964 Complete exposure details

 
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Image title: Ananda grain reduce colour restore          Dimensions:          3407 x 2040, 572 kB
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In the images above, as well as many below, run the cursor over an image to compare it with its neighbour. As expected, backlight correction improved things:


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Image title: Ananda grain reduce colour restore          Dimensions:          3407 x 2040, 572 kB
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This should be Ananda-grain-reduce-colour-restore-backlight-correct.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Ananda grain reduce colour restore backlight correct          Dimensions:          3407 x 2040, 733 kB
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Diary entry for Friday, 4 September 1964 Complete exposure details

 

And then “Digital ICE”:


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Image title: Ananda grain reduce colour restore backlight correct ICE          Dimensions:          3407 x 2040, 854 kB
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So that was the culprit! What about dust removal?


This should be Ananda-grain-reduce-colour-restore-backlight-correct.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Ananda grain reduce colour restore backlight correct          Dimensions:          3407 x 2040, 733 kB
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Diary entry for Friday, 4 September 1964 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Ananda-grain-reduce-colour-restore-backlight-correct-dust-remove.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Ananda grain reduce colour restore backlight correct dust remove          Dimensions:          3407 x 2040, 679 kB
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Diary entry for Friday, 4 September 1964 Complete exposure details

 

Some dust removed, but not much. OK, what about removing the “colour restore”? The difference is subtle.


This should be Ananda-grain-reduce-backlight-correct-dust-remove.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Ananda grain reduce backlight correct dust remove          Dimensions:          3407 x 2040, 660 kB
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This should be Ananda-grain-reduce-colour-restore-backlight-correct.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Ananda grain reduce colour restore backlight correct          Dimensions:          3407 x 2040, 733 kB
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Diary entry for Friday, 4 September 1964 Complete exposure details

 

But there are other issues. Not all of the dust appears to be dust, and there are artefacts that appear at random, here visible on the shutters in front of Ananda's face. They're present in both images, but in different places:


This should be Ananda-grain-reduce-backlight-correct-dust-remove.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Ananda grain reduce backlight correct dust remove          Dimensions:          3407 x 2040, 660 kB
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Diary entry for Friday, 4 September 1964 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Ananda-grain-reduce-backlight-correct-dust-remove-foo.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Ananda grain reduce backlight correct dust remove foo          Dimensions:          3407 x 2040, 658 kB
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This should be Ananda-grain-reduce-backlight-correct-dust-remove-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Ananda grain reduce backlight correct dust remove detail          Dimensions:          1160 x 772, 138 kB
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This should be Ananda-grain-reduce-backlight-correct-dust-remove-foo-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Ananda grain reduce backlight correct dust remove foo detail          Dimensions:          1160 x 772, 137 kB
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That looks like an issue with the scanner or the software, possibly related to the dust removal. Given the quality of the originals, I can live with that.


DxO fisheye
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

My Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 8 mm f/3.5 fisheye lens suffers from considerable chromatic aberration, and DxO Optics “Pro” doesn't have a profile for it. As a result, the best correction I can get is this (from the image shown below):

 
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Image title: house from entrance 0+0EV detail 2
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But thanks to its simplistic approach to recognizing lenses (“We don't need no steenking EXIF”), DxO thinks that it's a Panasonic Lumix G fisheye, because it has the same focal length and maximum aperture. And it keeps nagging me to download the module.

OK, who knows? Maybe it can help reduce the chromatic aberration. So I downloaded the module. The results were remarkable. No, it didn't reduce the chromatic aberration, quite the opposite, it would seem. Here an image from today's garden shots, firstly corrected manually, and then automatically with the DxO module:


This should be house-from-entrance-0+0EV.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: house from entrance 0+0EV          Dimensions:          5184 x 3888, 4583 kB
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Image title: house from entrance 0 wrong lens          Dimensions:          5510 x 3888, 3670 kB
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That's not correcting optical faults. It's correcting a world view, converting a fisheye projection to (I think) rectilinear. For my purposes, that's useless. And why does it do it? DxO has another product, ViewPoint, that does that kind of correction. That's annoying, because it means that when I do have a fisheye with support, I won't be able to use it.

And the chromatic aberration? Significantly exaggerated:


This should be house-from-entrance-0+0EV-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: house from entrance 0+0EV detail          Dimensions:          1051 x 762, 117 kB
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This should be house-from-entrance-0-wrong-lens-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: house from entrance 0 wrong lens detail          Dimensions:          1196 x 918, 195 kB
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That's mainly an indication that the lens properties differ significantly.


teevee progress
Topic: technology, multimedia Link here

More playing around with my teevee issues today. The colour difference on xterms proved to have nothing to do with bash: I had forgotten the .Xdefaults file, and that fixed that. It also made the window manager menus more legible, but it didn't change the font sizes in firefox. And to add to the list, mail isn't being delivered:

That's not overly serious, since I don't really need mail from this system, but I suppose I should fix it.


New network hardware
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

There's another issue with teevee: slow NFS mounts, is gradually beginning to make sense: after configuring the network interface, it takes nearly 10 seconds before it comes up. During this time the system attempts NFS mounts and fails. And, as I noted, this happened on tiwi before it, a machine with completely different hardware—in the box. It still connected to the same switch in the pantry, which has given me other cause for concern. So high time for a new switch.

I don't really understand switch pricing. I can buy a 5 port switch for as little as $8.73 including postage from Hong Kong, as long as I like white. A black version costs $1.18 more.

That makes for a price of $1.75 per (white) port. But come to 8 ports, and the minimum price goes up to $16.65, or $2.08 per port. And for 16 ports the minimum price is $83.00, or $5.19 per port. Does the architecture of a port mean that the price rises proportionately to the square of the number of ports? Or is it related to the fact that most 5 port switches are for a domestic environment, while 16 port switches are exclusively “professional”? No idea.

In any case, it seems that switches are particularly susceptible to failure, so it makes sense to buy one from a reputable manufacturer. Found a used Netgear JGS516 going for $49, including postage. That seems a reasonable choice: they have a lifetime warranty (my life, not the life of the switch), and though it's not clear that it applies to me, it is a certain indication of their confidence in their product. It also has a built-in power supply, which I'm beginning to consider an advantage.


Typesetting units
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Andy Farkas came up on IRC today with an interesting quote from Wikipedia:

Later Apollo missions used Nikon F 35mm cameras with a special f1.2 aperture 55m lens in order to take photographs in low light conditions...

He thought that could do with improvement. So did I: f/1.2, not f1.2. But he was really looking at the focal length, and 55 m really did seem rather long. Clearly it should be 55 mm.

Or should it? Andy thought “55mm”. And that's a question that's been in the back of my head for a while. I (now) always put a space between numbers and units, but it is correct? I dragged out my style guides, and found:

In all cases, there are exceptions for degrees, minutes and seconds.

The interesting thing, though, is that most people didn't like it. Despite clear and consistent rules, most people don't want to put a space between the number and the unit. Why not?


Monday, 24 July 2017 Dereel Images for 24 July 2017
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Fake saffron
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

A month ago I bought some very cheap “saffron” on eBay. At the price ($0.28 per gram, comparing to $5 odd per gram for normal quality saffron) it was clear that the quality would not be spectacular, but I was curious.

It arrived today:


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Image title: Fake saffron 1          Dimensions:          4199 x 3138, 4519 kB
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I suppose that's one way to fool customs.

The first thing I notices was that there was no odour. Plastic bags are no barrier to the odour of saffron. When I opened the bag, it smelt of grass. No evidence of anything saffron-like.

Only then did I try to interpret the description: “10/20g Tibet Tibetan Dry Saffron Flower Natural Pure Spice Kasubha Health Herbal”. I know all those words except “Kasubha”, which proves to be a Tagalog word that Google translates as “Kasubha”. Further searching shows that it means Safflower, not saffron at all.

Sorry, people, that's more than misleading. I was prepared to risk the purchase price for low-quality goods, but this is fake. Yet another eBay return.


Pruning roses
Topic: gardening Link here

I don't do much in the garden, but it's high time to prune the roses, though some are still flowering. It's a surprisingly complicated business, and in the end I left some to finish flowering, and off to tend to my wounds.


This page contains (roughly) yesterday's and today's entries. I have a horror of reverse chronological documents, so all my diary entries are chronological. This page normally contains the last two days, but if I fall behind it may contain more. You can find older entries in the archive. Note that I often update a diary entry a day or two after I write it.     Do you have a comment about something I have written? This is a diary, not a “blog”, and there is deliberately no provision for directly adding comments. But I welcome feedback and try to reply to all messages I receive. See the diary overview for more details. If you do send me a message relating to something I have written, please indicate whether you'd prefer me not to mention your name. Otherwise I'll assume that it's OK to do so.


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