Category Archives: Photography

rip picasa: google does it again

A couple years ago, my most often used Google products were Gmail, Contacts, Google Reader, and Picasa.  Then Google eliminated Google Reader.  After some grumbling, I have switched to Feedly.  Now, Google is no longer supporting Picasa.  I organize and edit my photos using Photoshop CS5, and I use Picasa for photosharing.  Picasa has a very nice feature where it will automatically resize the photo to a high res, but not full res version.  Online, I can easily share photos with people by setting privacy such that anyone with a link can view.  Not super secure, but enough for my purposes and easy for my less tech-savvy relations to deal with.

Google Photos, the ostensible replacement for Picasa, does not allow you upload photos by album.  Instead, it sorts them by date.  This is problematic because I like to sort my photos in folders of my own definition.  These photos are actually usually defined by date, but I have two cameras, and I like to keep all the photos I generated from a single camera together.  I use the cameras interchangeably, so there is a lot of interweaving.  With Google photos, i can’t easily select all the photos I just edited and share them with people.  In addition, my husband sometimes switches my camera to RAW + JPG mode since he likes to deal with jpegs.  I always process my photos in raw.  (Typically I do very little processing, but I like to adjust white balance and I usually let Photoshop do auto-light and contrast.)  This results in two jpgs of the same photo.  This problem is over-comable, I found after some pain.  You set Google Photo not to auto-backup but manually add each new folder.  I put my processed photos in a separate folder.  However, it doesn’t solve the interweaving issue.  I will probably give Google photos another try with my next batch of photos, but for now, I’m trying Flickr.

Flickr has a couple issues as well.  First, you’re limited to 1 Tb of storage.  That is a lot of course, but this brings us to issue #2.  It doesn’t include any automatic resolution reduction.  I like to upload high res but not full res versions of my photos.  However, I like to store full res versions on my machine so that they’re easily available when I make prints or photo books.  I could, of course, save two versions of every photo, but that would be a pain.  I can also upload full res versions.  This may cause me to run into the storage limit, and it is very slow to upload.  I like to upload the photos and then share; I’d have to start it uploading and then come back later to share.

Any other photo buffs have thoughts or recommendations?

Back to Google: obviously there are no guarantees with free online software.  Google has been brutal lately about getting rid of their applications that I like best.  Is Gmail next?


I’m loving my new camera.  It is basically the same as the Rebel in a different package, with a few minor upgrades, but wow, I just like it so much more for some reason.

Part of it is my 60 mm macro lens, which I also love.

Even poor neglected Penske was subjected to the photo session.


My only complaint is that it is ridiculously hard to change between video mode and aperture priority mode.  I knew this going in, but it is still infuriating.  Terrible design on someone’s part!



camera shopping

I bought a new camera this week.  I’d been wanting to replace my GF1 for a while because the video only works about 50% of the time, and you don’t discover it’s failed until you attempt to end the video.  Anyway, I debated a few options, starting with the tiny GM1:

image of Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1

It’s about the size of compact camera.  However, it takes the same size lenses as the GF1, so I’m not sure how much value that would really provide, and many people apparently find controller the camera hard because it’s so small.  I prefer to shoot in aperture-priority mode which means I want to be able to control the aperture and exposure compensation easily.  This camera runs about $570.

I also looked at the GX7:

image of Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7

This is a larger, heavier camera than my GF1.  With this one, I was concerned that it might be too big.  Some of the space is for things I don’t care about, like a pop-up flash and a built in electronic viewfinder.  If I want to do flash photography, I use my Canon.  Maybe I should look into Panasonic’s flash photography capabilities, but the cameras are so little, attaching a giant flash on top has never made sense to me.  As for the viewfinder, I bought a viewfinder for my GF1 and ended up selling it because I never used it.  With mirrorless camears, I find the image preview works too well to mess around with a viewfinder.  (On the Canons, on the other hand, the image preview drives me crazy and I never use it -always the viewfinder.)  The other major problem with this camera is that it is currently selling for $720, which is more than I wanted to pay.  Heck, $570 was also more than I wanted to pay.

The other problem is that it’s very difficult to find a place to hold and look at these cameras.  They’re not carried by places like BestBuy.  (They sell them but don’t stock them.)  I hate going into my local photography store because they know or suspect that I’m using them only as a showroom.  The irony is that if they were nicer and less snobby to me, I’d consider buying cameras from them.  As it is, the last time I went in, I felt like the salesguy was snatching cameras out of my hands before I’d had a chance to look at them properly, and they didn’t have any cameras out.  I had to ask to look at anything I wanted to see.  I considered buying both cameras off Amazon and just sending one or both of them back – big cash layout, but low risk.

In the end, though, I decided to purchase a Panasonic GX1:

image of Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1

The GX1 is very, very similar to my GF1, except with an updated sensor and a few other minor updates.  It came out in 2011, a little over 2 years after the GF1.  Now, I have loved using my GF1.  I have a few complaints about it, most notably its performance in low light.  But the major reason I was looking to replace it was simply that it was broken (the video issue), not because I disliked the camera.  Therefore, buying the GX1 which is so similar suited me well.  I decided to buy a used copy off Amazon in “like new” condition for about $200.  I’ll sell my GF1 (clearly advertising the video issue, obviously) and probably get a few bucks for it.  All in all, a relatively inexpensive camera upgrade.  So far, I’ve been quite pleased with the GX1.  It’s not the excitement of a brand new camera because (a) it’s not new and (b) it’s so incredibly similar to my current camera.  I’m pleased, though, to have reliable video.  The catalyst for buying it now is that I don’t want to miss my new baby’s first moments due to camera malfunction.

My first “real” camera was my Canon 20D.  That was really an incredible camera.  I abused it like you wouldn’t believe.  I faceplanted in the snow while snowshoeing with it around my neck, took it out in all manner of rain, sleet, and snow many, many times, took it to the beach, often in windy conditions.  In short, I abused it horribly – and got great use out of it in the process.  The on/off button eventually failed, but B was able to fix it without much trouble.  Other than that, I had no issues with it, which is rather incredible considering that I actually bought it used.

When finally I decided that it was worth replacing it, simply because camera technology has progressed so far since 2005 when I bought it, I bought a Canon Rebel T3i.  Now, I bought it this winter (January) when I was in the throes of morning sickness, and I was really just too sick to use it.  As a result, I didn’t really try it out properly during the period in which I could have returned it.  I have discovered that I really don’t like it that much.  It’s hard to say why, but it is not my 20D.  The handling, menus, video operation – all annoy me, and so I don’t use it that often.  Therefore, I’m planning to sell it.  I think I’ll probably replace it with a used Canon from the X0D line, maybe the 50D which runs about the same price as this one used.   When I was buying this camera, I felt I couldn’t justify buying from the X0D line because it was so much more expensive.  The 50D doesn’t have as good of a sensor, for example, and probably image quality, as the T3i.  However, when a camera drives you crazy and you never really use it, it doesn’t matter what kind of image quality it has.  So we’ll see.  Lots of camera buying and selling in my near future planned, since I want to have all this wrapped up before the baby comes.

Canon T3i:

image of Canon EOS Rebel T3i (EOS 600D)

Canon 50D:

image of Canon EOS 50D

our first er trip

We took L to the ER for the first time tonight.  She was a little crabby two nights ago, and she started running a fever yesterday afternoon or evening.  I figured it was most likely caused by the MMR vaccine and assumed it would pass in 24 hours.  Today, though, her fever was in the 102s, and while Tylenol seemed to help, it didn’t really bring it down to normal, just a degree or two, and not for long.  At around 7:30 pm, I took her temperature and it was 104.  This was consistent across both our rec.tal thermometer and our forehead scan.   I’d just given her Tylenol at 7 pm, so I figured in 30 minutes it should have started to kick in if it was going to.  My threshold for mild panic was 103.5, per the internets.  Anyway, I called the two local urgent care places that were open.  The first told me there was an hour and a half wait and had no further advice.  The second told me their waiting room was packed, and the nurse spoke to the doctor and told me he recommended we take her to the ER.  I was skeptical, but the nurse was insistent that this was the doctor’s recommendation.  (My skepticism arose from the fact that the waiting room was packed and my feeling that L was not really seriously ill.)  Complicating matters, all our local urgent care places close at 8 pm.  Since it was 7:30, we didn’t have much time to figure out what to do.

We decided to go to the ER.  I wasn’t too happy about it for a couple reasons.  First, I was afraid we could be sitting there waiting for a long time with L miserable.  I thought the best thing for her was probably a good night’s sleep and feared we could be a long time in the ER.  Second, I was worried about tests they might want to do.  Things which are trivial on an adult, such as a blood test, can be very difficult with a baby, especially a sick baby.

In the end, it went about as well as it possibly could have.  I took her in, and in triage, they weighed her, took her blood pressure and took her temperature.  Well, I stripped her down for the weight check, which made her cry passionately, then dressed her again.  Then they were like, oh, I forgot, we need to do a temperature.  Could you strip her down again?  They then decided to do the BP first.  They tried and failed to do it with her finger, and finally managed it with her foot.  After that, they did a rec.tal temperature.  They did not hurt her at all, and despite some inefficiency, I really can’t fault the personnel at all.  However, the fact of the matter is that L had a 103+ temperature and it was past her bedtime, so the above items led to sustained, near-hysterical crying.  Not fun for anybody.  She was crying so loud it was very difficult to communicate with the doctor and nurse.    Her temperature at this point was 103.3.  I think it’s most likely that the Tylenol we gave at 7 pm had kicked in a bit more.

Anyway, they then moved out of triage to a room.  I dressed her in a gown, and we saw a nurse, then another doctor.  The doctor looked her over, concluded she looked good, all things considered, advised Ibuprofen, and told us to bring her back if she cried inconsolably or just looked bad.  A nurse came in and we induced more hysterical crying dosing her with the meds.  She was just way past her breaking point.

Now, I feel like a complete idiot, because I hadn’t thought to give her Ibuprofen earlier.  Seriously – two major fails on my part.  1.) Should have taken her to the pediatrician or urgent care earlier in the day.  I always hesitate because I don’t want to expose her to waiting room germs, but that was a very bad decision on my part.  2.) I should have obviously dosed her with Ibuprofen earlier.

All in all, the experience was pretty painless.  The Ibuprofen kicked in, and her fever is truly down for the first time all day and she’s much, much happier (though not what I’d call happy.)   Hopefully the night will go well and her fever will break tomorrow.  I really wish I knew whether this was vaccine induced or just a virus she caught somewhere.  We don’t get out much, but we did have dinner with friends who have kids a couple nights ago, so she could have caught something then.

Update – I’ve reconsidered my opinion, and I now think it’s most likely that the fever is caused by the vaccine.  From the NYT (,-mumps,-and-rubella.html):

“About 5 – 15% of people who are vaccinated with any live measles virus vaccine develop a fever of 103 °F or greater, usually between 5 and 15 days after the vaccination. It usually lasts 1 or 2 days but can persist up to 5 days. In very young children, seizures can occur from high fever 8 – 14 days after vaccination, but they are rare and almost never have any long-term effects.”

From CDC:

“Mild Problems

• Fever (up to 1 person out of 6)
• Mild rash (about 1 person out of 20)
• Swelling of glands in the cheeks or neck (about 1
person out of 75)
If these problems occur, it is usually within 6-14 days
after the shot. They occur less often after the second

Given our lifestyle and the extremely  low likelihood of exposure to M, M, or R by L, I really regret giving her the vaccine at 12 months at this point.  I wish that I had waited until she was a bit older (maybe 2 years.)   Ironically, I highest fever I ever remember having as a child was at age 4 — 104 degrees from the measles.

On an unrelated note, great article on Sony’s new cameras.  Add the RX1 to the list of things I’d buy if I was a billionaire.