post processing delay

In my experience, it seems like people that have a certain skill set often don’t use it for their own benefit. Case in point. My dad and brother are both maintenance engineers at hotels. On a day to day basis, they do repairs and scheduled maintenance to keep their respective hotels looking sharp and running smoothly. But our house in SF is beat up and rundown, and could use a lot of repairs. I know several people who are good mechanics but drive the junkiest cars that barely make it up to freeway speeds.

For me it applies in computers. My laptop is a beat up six year old Thinkpad X41 that still runs Windows XP. I let my mom borrow it to take to a computer skills class, only to have the instructor reject it as being too old. I actually have another computer that’s even older. I still routinely use a ten year old Thinkpad X21 laptop, a real dinosaur by today’s standards. It’s so old that it doesn’t even have wi-fi built in, I had to buy a little pc card adapter to connect it to my router.

Like most computer geeks I built my own desktop as well as a file server that holds all my music and pictures, but both were out of commission until recently. The desktop had a flaky graphics card and the server had a blown power supply, and for the longest time I was too lazy to fix them. They both sat around for almost half a year while I got by on my daily computing needs on my dinosaur laptops. The stupid thing was I bought the parts to fix the computers almost as soon as they went down, I was just too lazy to devote thirty minutes to swapping out the parts.

I finally got around to fixing the computer a couple of weeks ago. I finally have access to my Itunes library and pictures stored on my file server. I can now edit pictures again on my desktop. This past weekend I took some photos at Emerald Bay and merged them into one huge panoramic. That inspired me to look through my pictures from the last few years of adventures and do some post processing work on them that I had been meaning to do for a long time.

Most people know that I love the outdoors. It was that love for the outdoors that gave birth to my love for photography. I bring my DSLR with me on most of my outdoor trips. Most of the time I upload the pictures as-is, or if anything do some minor tweaks like cropping and exposure correction. But sometimes I take pictures knowing that I’ll need to go back and post process them later.

Sometimes I’ll bracket shots to merge into an HDR (high dynamic range) shot later. I took a few of these sort of shots when I hiked through the Zion Narrows last year. This shot came at the end of a long eight mile hike through the canyon. The canyon walls rose up hundreds of feet above us, blocking a lot of light. This made exposing for both the foreground and background impossible, so I took three shots, intending to merge them.

I finally merged them into an HDR shot last night. When I looked at the result, I realized that I should’ve actually taken five shots, because the area between the canyons is still pretty overexposed, but the final image still came out pretty close to how I remember it. This shot brings back memories of the exhaustion and cold my friends and I felt after hiking all day to arrive in our campsite at the Zion Narrows. At times we didn’t think we’d make it before the sun went down. The sun was going down quickly because we were in a deep canyon, and it was hard to gauge how far we had hiked. We made it to camp a little before sundown, utterly exhausted, cold and wet, but it was totally worth it (at least to me, I’m not sure if Warren and Tim would agree.)

The other kind of editing I’ll sometimes do is a panoramic shot. I remember sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon being utterly amazed by the sheer size of it. Even with my ultra-wide lens, the entire canyon wouldn’t fit in one frame. I ended up taking five shots to stitch together when I got home. Those shots have been sitting on my broken computer– I finally got around to making them into a panoramic yesterday night. Unfortunately the shot came out kind of hazy because of the distance. I think I would’ve needed a circular polarizing filter to get it to come out clearer. Nevertheless the picture still reminds me of how huge the canyon is and how small we are in comparison.

Last year I went on a cross country drive with my friend Sam. We rigged up a camera to make a time lapse video of the drive. We ended up taking around 20,000 shots, which we intended to make a video out of.  I had made a video of the first day’s drive and then totally forgot about the pictures until now.

I started merging the rest of the shots into a time lapse video. It’s a bit slow even running four of them at once on my quad core desktop. I hope to have the rest of the week long drive up in a few days. They’re pretty long overdue… Just about a year and two months now. That’s a pretty hefty post processing delay.

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