Analyze the Data not the Drivel

Recent Images

  • My daughter is now an author. She just released her first book on Amazon a few weeks ago. (Click here) to order a copy. Just recently she asked me if I had anything to help decorate her novel's Facebook page. How about the author getting a diaper change as a newborn? Congrats on your first novel Helen. Dad's be bad! Now get busy with your next book.

  • Me under Window Arch.

  • One of Mali's me taking pictures picture. This one is positively posterior.

  • Granite icecream takes a long time to melt.

  • Conformal mapping of colored botanical gardens pencil fence.

  • With my brother Steve in the Eggar house in the summer of 1967. We are still full-on geeky guys.

  • This was my first overnight backpacking trip with trekking poles. I have used them before but never when loaded with camping equipment. I resisted using poles for years. Just like I resist dressing up in gay Spiderman outfits to ride my bike. While I remain adamant about biking outfits trekking poles have won me over. They reduce the stress on your knees and lower your chances of falling or twisting your ankles. After tearing both my quadriceps I've been extra vigilant about falls. When you're hiking alone it's especially important to avoid falls and trekking poles help keep you upright.

  • Deadwood mired in a small lake just south of Sawtooth Lake.

  • Early morning sun on the peaks north of Sawtooth Lake.

  • This week I hiked up to Sawtooth Lake and spent the night. It was my first solo backpacking trip since my twenties nearly forty years ago. The Sawtooth region in Idaho has been declared an International Dark Sky site. I wanted to observe the sky around a new moon. On the way up I ran into a few groups of day hikers but nobody was camping. I arrived at the southern end of the lake around two pm. I set up my tent, spent a few hours shooting pictures, ate a small dinner, boiled tea – the best tea is still made on backpacking burners – and watched the sunset. I was entirely alone in the valley. The sky was dark. The mountains blocked the horizon on all sides but I could easily see the Milky Way arching through the Summer Triangle. All the stars of the Little Dipper were visible and the fuzzy patch of the Andromeda Galaxy stood out. The only artificial lights I saw were occasional blinking planes. It was easily the most gloriously dark I spot I have seen in years.

  • Reddish volcanic cinders atop the Inferno Cone in Craters of the Moon. It's a rare image that comes close to how I felt when framing a scene. This is one of them.

  • There's no shortage of apps, websites and image editors that apply hokey styles to photographs. This "fabulous" creation is the afterbirth of aiportraits.org and one of my iPhone old fart shots. Perhaps I should wear drag and always be "marvelous."

  • A simple bilateral reflection combined with color toning turns our basic living room into a shining symmetrical shrine.

  • Mali on rocks beside a City of Rocks campground.

  • The mandatory "been there done that" shot. The sign at the entrance to the City of Rocks is looking a bit worn. The Park Service has been squeezed for repair money in recent years and sign maintenance is low on their priority list. I rather like rundown signs they tend to shoo away people that confuse signs with substance.

  • Today we drove down to take a look at the City of Rocks and Castle Rocks State Park. The rocks are very impressive chunks of exposed granite and the City of Rocks harbors some of the nicest campgrounds I've seen in years. I may go back and make another photographic foray. Today I felt hurried and didn't feel that I had given this spectacular landscape the attention it deserves. This image of Elephant Rock, complete with tiny rock climbers, is composed of five handheld 60 mm macro shots that I squeezed off standing in the bed of my little pickup truck. I stitched the panorama directly from NEF files in Affinity Photo making sure to turn off default tone curve processing. When the tone curve is off the base image tone maps naturally.

  • Hazel snapped this Kodachrome slide of Judy rocking a red hatted cowboy suit in 1955. Judy was the daughter of my grandmother Hazel's sister Elsie; making her a distant cousin.

  • My grandmother Helen snapped this blurry Kodacolor picture of my father, the taller man, with his father in Redwash Utah in the spring of 1964. I have very few shots of the two of them together. In 1964 my grandfather was exactly the same age I am right now (2019). I like to think I am better preserved but it’s probably just vanity.

  • The teeth in the Sawtooths.

  • Morning sunlight capping the mountains looming over my campsite.

  • Deep silent dusk. I had the entire Sawtooth Lake valley to myself.

  • Grow a pair.

  • Applying successive warping transformations to simple patterned objects and spinning the hue wheel can lead to dripping turquoise. The color key computed by my Python dominant color program is often wrong for images with alpha layers. The alpha layer is always seen as pure black. If I cared enough I would write some code to fix this but, as I have pointed out in a series of Jupyter notebooks (click here), the single dominant color does not always align with artistic opinions.

  • Selfie abuse.

  • Another Darktable RAW development test. Darktable is a decent image sorting and RAW development tool. The Windows version could use some polishing but considering the price - free - there's not much to complain about. Here I used the cheesy watermark feature - something I never do so this time I did it. One feature that all RAW developers lack is digital branding. Digital branding would scan the bits of the RAW file, including its date and name, and generate an immutable cryptographic hash key with something like SHA-2 and insert it into the image EXIF with a new tag. Then no matter how much you tweak, edit, rename and otherwise hack copies of the image you could trivially find the original among the thousands of RAW files in your directories. Stable keys are the bee's knees. If I don't see something like this soon I may have to concoct my own program.

  • The City of Rocks largely owes its National Reserve status to pioneer graffiti. In the mid 19th century thousands of people passed through the rocks on the way to California. The rocks are a striking landscape feature so they are a good place to sign your name. To help preserve the fading signatures the area was declared a national reserve. We can be thankful the reserve was created before the "insane intersectional age." Not only would there be no signs about the movement of privileged mostly white devils, (yeah idiots think poor 19th settlers were privileged because skin color), but their 19th-century signatures would be scrubbed from the rocks and the whole region would be named using an obscure, but politically correct, Native American phrase for "big f'ing rocks."

  • Autumn colors at the City of Rocks.

  • The Twin Sisters in the City of Rocks.

  • Hazel snapped this slide of Johnnie Gentry on his third birthday, (there are three candles are on the cake), in 1954. Johnnie was the son of my great aunt Elsie making him a distant cousin. I am not sure if Johnnie is still alive (2019). I know his older sister Judy is still alive.

  • A before and after of one of my grandmother Helen's 1963 Kodacolor prints. The original print was in good condition but it's blurred. Restoring blurred low-resolution print scans is something I find difficult and I'm seldom happy with my efforts. For this picture I fiddled around attempting to color balance the shot, there is a neutral gray on the camera around my neck, but while I managed to get decent skin tones the shadows were all wrong. I desaturated the shadows, blended in a tone-mapped version to bring out detail and brighten the image and then inpainted away the usual tears, spots, and scratches. Because I preserved the basic tones most of this work is invisible unless you zoom in and "pixel peep."

  • Sunlight falling on a large split boulder beside a driftwood dam.

  • The last gasp of sunlight as it fades behind the mountains.

  • Looking north from where I pitched my tent at Sawtooth Lake.

  • My last few visits to the Yellowstone canyon have been plagued with rainy weather. I didn't get a decent shot of the falls this September (2019) so I looked back through my slide scans and found this shot I took in the summer of 2000. It was another overcast day but at least it wasn't raining. Earthquakes have damaged some of the canyon viewpoints in the last twenty years; I'm not sure if this viewpoint is one of them.

  • Pigeon Rocks in Beirut. From one of my father's 1968 Ektachrome slides.

  • On the way downstream in Hells Canyon the jet-boat made a few stops.

  • I'm testing the color balance of a cheap LED light panel. I suspected it was too blue but surprisingly balancing on the four greys of the Whibal card did not shift the colors much. This iPhone ProCamera shot (click here) is straight out of the app with a tiny tweak in Picture Window Pro to match the four greys. Yes I look this bad!

  • Selfie inflicted.

  • My Darktable tests continue. This image of a hole in Elephant Rock was developed from NEF RAW using the win64 version of Darktable. No further tweaks were applied except for converting the local 16-bit tiff file to jpeg and insuring the aspect ratio is 2:3. My first impressions of Darktable were not favorable but I've learned to step back and keep plugging away. The program has some nice image categorization features and the RAW developer is competitive with Lightroom, RawTherapee, Affinity Photo, and others. The metadata editor is still no match for Lightroom; I still have to insert long captions using either EXIFTOOL, Lightroom or Thumbsplus. Never depend on one program for anything that matters!

  • Mali sitting at the window arch in the City of Rocks.

  • My grandmother Hazel had a knack for people pictures. This 1948 Kodachrome slide of well-dressed children is one of my favorites. I haven’t saturated or altered the colors. If anything the colors here understate the vibrancy of the slide. After more than seventy years there is little if any fading: god I loved Kodachrome. I only recognize one child. The little boy standing right behind the girl with the bright red dress is Johnny Gentry. Johnnie was the son of my great aunt Elsie. I imagine some of these kids are still alive (2019). They would all be in their seventies or eighties now. This is the power of photography: it binds us to forgotten worlds.

  • My grandmother Helen took this snapshot of me at Dinosaur National Monument in 1963. At the time we lived about fifty kilometers from the monument and like most young boys I had a keen interest in dinosaurs. Like today I was touring with a camera. I still nurse a keen interest in dinosaurs and I still run around with cameras. I haven't found any of my old prints or negatives from those days. I was lucky to find this print in Helen's inherited snapshot collection.

  • Deep reddish alpine brown leaves.

  • Sawtooth Lake viewed from the south.

  • I pitched my tent in a flat spot that had been used by other backpackers. A pile of stones beside the log in the foreground made a nice windbreak for my little camp stove.

  • Warp factor eleven.

  • Aileen getting a camel ride in Lebanon.

  • Every day hundreds of "photographers" stop at the Ansel Adams point in Teton National Park and take a stab at reproducing Adam's famous picture. It's a fool's errand. The landscape has changed, the trees have grown up, the ground cover on the river banks is different, the light is never the same and few if any have Adam's eye, skill or large format camera. If you ever get a chance to view Adams prints, not the glossy table book reproductions, you'll finally understand why attempting to copy a master while fun is futile.

  • I found this 1907 Dickinson High School class portrait, (a girl in the front row is holding a sign), in my grandmother Helen's prints. I am not sure where this school was and I doubt that either my grandmother Helen, who was only five years old in 1907 or my grandfather Frank, nine at the time, were in this class. I started restoring this shot without thinking about the large number of faces I would have to inspect. I removed spots on every single face! There is still work to do here. The brick background is stained but I didn't feel like fixing hundred-year-old bricks. Why bother you ask? I like the expressions on the kid's faces and old pictures like this shove our mortality in our faces. Every single person in this photograph has long since died. They had their lives, however long, and now most, if not all, are completely forgotten leaving only old photographs to mark their faces.

  • Mali near Elephant Rock. I snapped this iPhone shot standing in the bed of my pickup. I call standing on vehicles to shoot pictures "Ansel Adams'ing."

  • This is the western view from one of the City of Rocks campsites. I was impressed by the quality and quantity of campsites. I was even more impressed by the relative absence of visitors. It seems midweek in October and November is a good time to enjoy solitude in this austere granite landscape.

  • Base-e-ball has been very very good to me! I continue to test RAW development software. This image was cooked with the latest version of Darktable. I tried Darktable (click here) a year ago but wasn't impressed. The current version (2.6.2) has significantly improved for Win64 users. Its directory scanning and import facilities are now faster than RawTherapee (click here) and competitive with Lightroom. And unlike Lightroom, it processes RAW files from later digital cameras. To get my Nikon D7500 images directly processed with Lightroom I would have to upgrade to the "pay for-fucking-ever" version which is something I will never do. I've been working around this by converting D7500 images to DNGs but this violates the sanctity of the RAW file. Once a RAW file is created it should never be altered. It's one of the photographer's commandments: look it up. Darktable's support for writing long bloviating captions, (like this diatribe), is limited. Sadly Lightroom is still my most convenient option for writing long captions. Long captions can also be inserted by EXIFTOOL (click here) which is simply the most powerful and versatile EXIF manipulator on the planet.

  • I have a few prints and negatives from my 1967 Egypt visit. One of my favorites is this image of the step pyramid at Saqqara. The original is a small four inch Brownie camera black and white print taken in broad daylight. The image quality was never great and age has imposed the usual defects. Still, I’ve always liked this shot and have made numerous attempts to restore it. My restorations always disappointed me so today I hacked the image and produced this dark somber version. The step pyramid stands after human extinction!

  • Collages summarize events in ways single images and videos cannot. They’re also a good way to use your mediocre “look at me” cell phone shots. None of the images in this collage are impressive but together they convey a sense of my Sawtooth Lake hike. A single turd is just shit but a large pile of turds becomes organic manure. If you browse this picture’s EXIF you’ll see it seems to be a single iPhone shot. This is not correct. I extracted EXIF data from the campsite image, (middle image on the top row), and replaced the EXIF written by the collage app I used to make this picture. I frequently manipulate EXIF data. Most of the time I insert dates, locations, and captions but sometimes I insert proxies for shots composed of more than one image.

  • The autumn colors of pine forests do not match deciduous forests but they still have their charms.

  • Morning sunlight casting undulating shadows and reflections at Sawtooth Lake.

  • Looking northwest from the southern end of Sawtooth Lake. The mountains get a touch of autumn colors. The red bushes in the foreground contrasted nicely with the blue of the lake.

  • "The best tool yet devised for improving society is freedom." Many do not subscribe to this view. We have vast industries and academies devoted to "improving" society while diminishing personal freedoms. As hectored citizens, we are called upon to sacrifice our time, money, and even lives for one imbecilic crusade after another. For all their wealth and influence the vast industries have achieved little. For six decades the rocket boosters of the vast industries were thrown into the sea at launch; the decisions of one free man stopped this. Find me a better tool than freedom and I will happily wield it.

  • Looking over the American University of Beirut athletic field toward the Mediterranean. Even in 1968, I was surprised to find an institution called "American" in Lebanon. Even more surprising, AUB still exists today (2019) and is still called the American University of Beirut. Believe it or not at one time Americans were not uniformly despised in the Middle East. Unfortunately, we've been working hard to earn the region's enmity for decades.

  • The Devil's Orchid on an overcast day.





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