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The Sky’s the Limit

November 14, 2010 7 comments

Hmmm. Where to begin? I can’t believe that it’s been seventy days since I last posted. Well, in all honesty I can. I haven’t felt very inspired over the last two and a half months. This year in the Mac Lab has been exactly what Mr. Skocko said it would be: amazing on a scale we had never before seen. The reach and scope of the Mac Lab has expanded further than ever before, our little classroom is being called upon more and more to complete projects for the school, and Mac Lab students are accomplishing feats never before dreamed of. And yet, I can’t help feeling like I have gotten almost nowhere in the past seventy days.

Last year, Danny Owens and I decided that I would inherit his role as leader of the Mac Lab Video Team come the start of the 2010/2011 school year. I have done my best to assume this mantle of leadership and drive our little group of dedicated students into greatness. However, I can’t say that I am enjoying it. The year started with Kyle W, Philip B, Josh K, James W, and myself frantically pushing video after video through what felt like an assembly line for the school. For the first few weeks, I was so caught up in the adrenaline of this fast-paced workflow that I failed to realize how what I loved about the Mac Lab was crumbling around us. Simply put, I have not felt proud of a single video that we have produced for the school, despite people saying that they are good. And that is why I am unhappy. Perhaps the defining factor of my epic year in the Mac Lab last year was that I finally felt proud of something I had done, and now that is gone. That pride drove me day after day to work for hours on end in front of my computer at home, striving to be the best that I could be. The never-ending onslaught of projects this year has not allowed me to work at the best of my ability and that has diminished the quality of our projects. This decrease in quality has then sapped away my pride in what I am doing in the Mac Lab. And that is a problem.

At the same time, I encountered problems within our Video Team. People not wanting to work hard, being lazy, not liking to be told what to do, not being professional, and not holding themselves to Mac Lab standards tore a massive hole through the heart of Mac Lab Media. However, in the past month I have backed off, listened more, and lead less and that has in turn seemed to stabilize the social and political situation within MLM. Nobody is perfect, especially not me.

So how am I going to fix this problem of me not being happy in the Mac Lab right now? Well, first I need to identify a more concrete source of my unhappiness. After a few days of introspection, I realized that what made last year so great was that I had time to learn. I had time to learn, practice, and successfully (or not) implement new skills. That and my own determination strapped me to a rocket bound for Mac Lab greatness. Happiness ensued. So the logical way for me be happy again is to start learning again. (Some people are rolling their eyes right now. “Learning……I HATE LEARNING….How can learning make this lunatic happy?” My answer: find something you love doing, then learn about it and then ask yourself the same question.) Well, to learn, I need time. Ah, time, the illusive thing that has escaped me these past eleven weeks. In order to find time to learn, something else has to go. If I don’t deem a project to be conducive to my learning, I won’t take it. Period. That should clear up my schedule a little, and if it doesn’t I’m man enough to do whatever else is necessary to make sure that the rest of my Senior Year is better than these past eleven weeks.

And now on to a more positive topic: what I have liked/loved about these past eleven weeks. First and foremost, I have been able to build friendships that would never have grown without my time in the Mac Lab. In general, the friendships that I have made in the Mac Lab have been one of my main reasons for returning day after day. Mac Lab Media has become a tight-knit group of friends who do their best given the task at hand. Regardless of the projects we have worked on, the other members of Mac Lab Media have been true heroes to the Mac Lab, the school, and to me. Thank you guys. This year has been, above all else, a team effort.

My second reason for surviving these past months has been my Mac Lab work outside the Mac Lab. Specifically, the time I have spent working with Steven Moyer on his projects for Digital Group Audio has been, without doubt, the highlight of my summer and the past eleven weeks of this school year. Steven has taken all my classroom experience in the Mac Lab and channeled it, craft it into something I can use in the real world. For the details of the many-pronged Zipbuds project, read Steven, Kyle, Christian, and Philip’s detailed descriptions.

For me, the Zipbuds project took my skills as a photographer/Photoshopper to the next level while at the same time giving me real world experience that will have repercussions for the rest of my life. “What? You’ve gotta be kidding me. You expect me to believe that those endless hours in front of the computer or in Steven’s garage are going to have an impact on the rest of your life?” Hey, beyond the internal benefits and happiness that working on such a wonderful project has brought me, the successes of the Zipbuds project will fatten my resumé quite nicely. And that is extremely important in today’s gladiator battle for college acceptance. To all you people out there who live for your grades, there is another, equally important side to a college application: the extracurricular activities section. (And hey, I have been able to do all this stuff for the Mac Lab, continuously building my resumé, while still maintaining my straight A’s. That sounds like a good deal to me.)

The Zipbuds project is a true testament to the power of teamwork, because teamwork was the driving force for the greatness of the final result. Steven, Kyle, Danny, Philip, Christian, Evan, and myself could not have done it without each other. And what do we have to show for it? See for yourself: www.Zipbuds.com |  Gizmodo |  Gadget Review

I will build a gallery of the roughly two dozen Zipbuds pictures that I personally Photoshopped sometime in the next week (they are stored on a different computer than the one I am writing this post on).

There is no doubt that the Zipbuds project will go down in Mac Lab history as one of the greatest examples of how students can, given the opportunity (thanks to Steven), create work that is good enough to stand proud beside the best in the industry. To come right out and say it, the Zipbuds project has demonstrated how, in the Mac Lab, the sky really is the limit.

And so now I finally get to talk about that featured image. I took that picture almost two months ago and have been saving it for a really special post. Obviously, I did quite a bit of enhancement in Photoshop, but that is how I work. For me, an image isn’t complete until I have torn it pixel from pixel in Adobe’s king of pics. This post’s featured image symbolizes the turmoil and conflict of the skies, but given the success that I described in the preceding paragraphs it can be interpreted to illustrate the power of the Mac Lab to elevate a student’s abilities to the level where they can survive such chaos. But that’s just AP Literature talking. I think it’s a great picture.

I have taken a keen interest in the sky lately, and so here is another of my attempts to capture the beauty of nature. I know that the orange glow is lopsided.

While filming a history movie with my friend Chadd Cady, we noticed a horde of bees swarming a nearby bush. I put down my T1i and ran home to grab the 5D Mark II and 100mm Macro. Here is my first attempt to use that wonderful lens.

While taking a break during the same video shoot, I snapped these pictures of a nearby fence post. Check out that beastly depth of field, courtesy of the 100mm Macro.

I have not had much time to work on projects of my choosing, but one thing that I did do was try stop motion photography. I’ll spare you the details for now. Only one of the four test videos I made turned out semi-interesting. I learned a lot from these tests and next time I try stop motion photography the results will be much better.

Mr. Skocko printed one of my pictures during my seventy-day vacation from post-writing, but I don’t think it turned out good so I haven’t hung it. I did go frame-shopping a few days ago and took notes of various frame sizes. Now I have to decided which pictures I like enough to crop, reprint, and frame.

In the next few weeks, I will try stop motion photography again, give FLOAT my first honest attempt, learn more about Adobe Premiere, and do my best to keep learning, start having fun again, and find that zone of intrinsic motivation that made last year so epic.

Big Update Time

May 29, 2010 9 comments

Just so you are forewarned, this post is designed to beat Christian’s latest super-post as far as word count is concerned. Here we go.

Philip, I apologize in advance (he doesn’t like lengthy posts).

Light Painting Update:

As I have mentioned many times before, I went through a dry spell as far as new work was concerned during the time leading up to AP Exams when I spent all my time studying and working on the 840 Poster. Well, as the AP Exams are over and the 840 Poster is slowly coming to an end, I have had time to consider and complete new light painting projects. As this post explains, I went to Harbor Island a few weekends ago and took 28 pictures of downtown and the sights of the city from afar. Since that post, I have edited two more images.

I think the first is good, but not spectacular.

I was getting bored with making realistic pictures of Dowtown over and over again, so I threw the “Fill Light” and “Blacks” sliders in Camera Raw all the way to the right, added a few extra crazy adjustments, and got the second image. I have no idea where the halo came from or I would have gotten rid of it (it’s not from “Clarity”).

After the District Art Show, Kyle W, Philip, Christian, Zack, and I went to Tidelands Park in Coronado to take pictures, and we had great success. Read more here and here. After browsing through my images, I counted 24 that were good enough to edit and eventually narrowed that down to nine.

Here they are:

I kind of like this shot of the Coronado Bridge, even though it didn’t turn out as good as I would have liked (I was using the wrong lens – Christian was using the right one).

With these next two images, I decided to listen to Philip’s advice and make them not as warm as the others. This forced me to approach them from a different angle and I think they turned out very nicely (some of my favorites). Thanks for the advice Philip. (But there is a point where cool (blue) turns into unrealistic (too blue/bad).)

This next one was out of focus and I tried to compensate by adding lots of different effects. I don’t really like it.

The next image is my favorite. I really like the contrast between the bluish background and orange foreground (complementary colors), even though the frame isn’t great.

I tried a lot of new techniques on these pictures, including using the “Threshold” Adjustment Layer for the first time. I also ventured deeper into Camera Raw than ever before and used the “Split Toning” panel for the first time.

I was all ready to post this post after three hours of writing, and then I realized I had forgotten to add vignettes to my new images. I had to go back and fix, re-save, re-upload, and re-add twelve images (it turns out the Dip wasn’t up-to-date too). Argh!

With more free time (now that most of my classes have toned done the workload) I should be able to produce more new work relatively quickly. I continue to get better at using the 5D Mark II as well as my Rebel T1i, which has translated into better pictures than ever before. I remember from the beginning of the year how out of two hundred pictures, maybe ten would be good. Well now maybe one hundred would turn out nicely.

The District Art Show:

As you all read here, Superintendent Collins surprised everyone when he awarded my already 1st place Dip picture (named “Night in the Light” for the Art Show) one of the biggest awards of the night. I was surprised my pictures won anything at all because they printed horribly bright (I had tailored them for the big Epson in the Mac Lab and not the small Epson at Mr. Skocko’s house). The actual print from the Art Show is hanging in my living room, and looks just fine in the dim lighting. I gave the “Navy Lights” picture to Kyle R because he hadn’t gotten a print of it yet.

For me, the greatest feeling of accomplishment in the Mac Lab is seeing something of mine being printed, and so to have had eleven things receive that honor, I feel pretty good about my year so far. Oh, and just to set the record straight, the bigger the print the better!!!!!! At only 20 inches by 13 inches, this image looks like a postage stamp next to this one and this one, which are both 30 by 20 inches. (I want my copy of the District 840 poster to be 44 inches by 70 inches, one square inch for every hour I spent working on it.)

The District 840 Poster:

The third thing I want to give an update on is the District 840 Poster. It is currently on its fourth version, which is two more than it was on when it was submitted and mass-printed. After a marathon Skype video conference and some last-minute tweaking the day before it was due, this is what the poster looked like. We (Kyle W, Philip, Mr. Skocko, and myself) all agreed that the sky was just awful and needed to be replaced, so I added some Photoshop clouds that night, which is version two. At that point, we had no choice but to submit the poster but we vowed to make it better. The poster was mass-printed 11 by 17 inches and distributed around the school and a 44 by 70 inch giant was printed for in front of the office. However, as time went on the sky looked worse and worse, so I began the process of finding somehow to make a new one. I decided to look at old photos and try to find one with an acceptable sky (we realized that the idea of making a sky from scratch in Photoshop proved futile). I turned first to the pictures in this post, and combined the skies from the two images (one, two) in Photoshop. Because the stars in the two images are different sizes, the result had a feeling of depth. I liked this third version, but had to agree with Philip when he said that it looked too peaceful. Also, adding a night sky created a different problem: night means the buildings need lights. Making that happen proved impossible with our current skills, and so I continued my search for an image that could work. I stumbled across this one while going through some old files and knew instantly that it was the one. Unfortunately, two problems arose: first, it was a JPG and second, it was VERY noisy. We had no choice but to live with the first problem, and the wonderful noise reduction features in Camera Raw beautifully solved the second. Instead of trying to add the new sky to the same file with the other two skies, we went all the way back to the beginning, to the version two trips through Camera Raw before this version: the big 1.38GB main file with all the components on their own layers. This made adding the new sky a piece of cake and also allowed some problems with the edges of the buildings to be solved relatively easily. However, this also meant that we had to repeat the Camera Raw steps, but in the end that proved to be a good thing too. After a week of work, Kyle and I managed to get the new fourth version looking much better than its predecessors. A few last-minute fixes made for a truly great poster, but since the Mac Lab is out of paper it will remain solely digital for now.

Looking at all the versions of the 840 Poster side by side, I think that the buildings in the final version need to be darker. That’s an easy fix, but I need to run it by the group first.

Photoshop Update:

Over the past couple of months when I couldn’t go out and take pictures because I was supposed to be focusing on my other classes, I turned to Photoshop. I learned dozens of new skills and have become truly great at using Photoshop. The District 840 poster taught me a lot about image correction and the healing tools, which gave me a new appreciation for a different side of Photoshop.

Also, instead of trying to push my images to the brink of destruction, I have really tried to reign in my enthusiasm and not over-process my images. When reworking the Dip and Cars images, I took special attention to this and ended up decreasing the vibrance on both images quite a lot. This took the edge off the bright and somewhat blinding colors and created two images that were pleasant, not painful, to look at. The main thing I fixed in the Dip image was severe over-processing, and it was only through some creative Camera Raw-ing that I was able to same the image. I experienced a moment of desperation and hopelessness while working on that picture, when I ran out of ideas and felt the pain of failure. Then I reached for the Adjustment Brush and blurred/desaturated/darkened the over-processing away. Miraculous, in my opinion anyway. Just look at the road in these two versions (one and two). See the difference? In this post I called the previous version a masterpiece, and now I feel foolish for doing so. There is a point when too much of a good thing (like Photoshop) can be a very, very bad and very, very destructive thing indeed, and that is something I have been trying to avoid in my latest images.

The new tools in Photoshop CS5, like Content-Aware Fill, the Content-Aware Spot-Healing Brush, Puppet Warp, Lens Correction, and the new blending modes have come in extremely handy and have changed the way I work with my images. The new skills that I have learned through thousands of hours in front of my computer have truly transformed my skills as a digital artist in the past six months. (Example: in three days I was able to capture, edit, and print a District Art Show-worthy picture. Unfortunately, when Mr. Skocko learned he could only submit eight things, he had to cut it, leaving only two of my images in the Art Show) Now I feel like whatever the challenge, I have the skills to overcome it.

Also, I have been using Camera Raw on a scale I would never have imagined before. I was just starting to really appreciate the power of Camera Raw 5 in CS4 when Camera Raw 6 was launched with CS5. The new version has a totally new engine that allows for better edits than ever before. The new noise reduction features may be my favorite, but then again the new lens correction software in the 6.1 update just may be cooler. I never realized just how distorted the images straight out of the camera really were until I tried out this new feature!

I almost forget to talk about the wonderful Adobe Digital Negative file format that I discovered a while ago but only started using with CS5. The Digital Negative format allows for increased compression without data loss (which is great when taking high-quality 30MB pictures) and does away with the old XMP sidecar files that CR2 files had. I especially like how if I start editing an image in Camera Raw but don’t finish, I can save the image directly in Camera Raw as a DNG without loosing any edibility (or the edits I just made). Basically, if it’s a picture and it’s not a PSD or a web-ready JPG, it needs to be a DNG. It’s that simple (in my opinion). DNG’s are smaller, store more information, and are more versatile that CR2′s, so why not use them?

Blog Update:

I haven’t done much to CRDESIGNLAB in the past months except remove all of Kyle R’s work. That means all the Digital Art pages are looking quite empty, which is likely how they will stay for the rest of the year (along with the 3D pages). I have been searching for a new blog theme, but have not found anything intriguing yet.

I think I will hold out on making new tutorials until summer because I don’t see myself as having any time before the end of the year. I plan to make dozens of new tutorials over the summer (on light painting, Photoshop, and photography) in order to build a wonderful student resource for next year. Speaking of next year, I will be a Senior but I will not be taking any Mac Lab classes. Don’t worry though, I will go periods one through five and spend six and seven in the Mac Lab anyway helping students and working on projects. I hope to be a resource next year both through my direct aid and the tutorials on this blog.

By the way, this is the 72nd post on CRDESIGNLAB. That’s a lot of posts. (Other stats: 550 comments, 6,736 hits)

Current Projects:

I am continuing to make final changes to the 840 Poster, but as soon as the Mac Lab gets paper it is ready to print.

Also, I have volunteered to set up fifteen new iMacs for Mrs. Ormsby and the SAGA. I have been working on just one of the computers and plan to build a master disk image that I can then transfer to the others. After some initial difficulties with InDesign, which is the primary program the journalism students use, Mr. Skocko suggested I bring the computer down to the Mac Lab for the setup process instead of working in Mrs. Ormsby’s room. Having access to a reliable internet connection allowed me to download the required updates to make InDesign work, and I was able to complete the installation of all the applications Mrs. Ormsby needs. Now I just need to here back from SAGA on what specific files need to be standardized across all the computers. Hopefully I should be done with the setup and ready to create the image using Carbon Copy Cloner within the coming week. That means that hopefully all fifteen new computers should be up and running and ready to replace the ten year old Macs in room 322 before too long.

Plans for the Rest of the Year:

Well, I have only 2 days left on my trial for CS5, so my plans for the next few weeks must include buying the CS5 Master Collection. Mac Lab Media needs to produce a video advertising next year’s Blood Drive, which I will be very involved in. I need to learn more about Final Cut Studio in preparation for leading Mac Lab Media next year. I need to continue to learn how to use the new audio/video equipment, which will be invaluable for all future video projects. I hope to work with Christian on a stop-motion light painting video, but that might get pushed until summer. The District 840 poster needs to be “finished” and printed for in front of the office. I need to finish setting up Mrs. Ormsby’s new computers. I need to edit my newest light painting pictures and capture new ones. The Mac Lab iDev Team has yet to get off its feet, but I hope that in the next few weeks I can put my iPad to good use and start working my way through the tutorials. And that’s just the stuff I can think of off the top of my head. There’s a lot more, but I think my subconscious is not letting me remember it.

Oh, I almost forgot: Kyle W and I have to assemble the Mac Lab iBook for the Final Exam. That’s going to take a while and teach us more about InDesign than we will ever wanted to know.

Sunday night I will attempt this challenge, which will help me appreciate the skill required to be a photographer before the invention of digital cameras. Plus, getting a free print isn’t bad either. My strategy is to pick four shots and take nine picture of each with different settings hoping to get something good. I will probably work with Kyle W and create some light painting masterpieces the old-fashioned way.

On Monday I have to film a group English project, but because my group didn’t want to step up to Mac Lab standards I am not allowed to use Mac Lab cameras. That’s too bad because I was really hoping to make a phenomenal video, but it looks like I am going to have to settle with what the group want, which isn’t phenomenal.

This year has been much more that I envisioned it to be. My first year in the Mac Lab (as a Freshman) was quite uneventful and, honestly, I expected this year to be the same. When I enrolled in the Mac Lab a year ago, I had no idea that I would have five things on the Wall of Fame (I think it’s five), have eleven beautiful prints hanging in my house, or have stood alongside Danny and Christian and received the ROP Champion of Champions Award (and then that totally unexpected follow-up  award from the California Legislature). And as a math and science guy, becoming one of the most decorated recipients at the 24th District Art Show was something that I would never have expected in a thousand years (me, winning art awards, you can’t be serious!!!). This year has been more fun than I could have possibly imagined, and I plan to end it on a high note. I have learned so much about myself and grown so much as a person in the past year that I would not trade my time in the Mac Lab for anything.

And the crazy thing is that something tells me that next year will be even better.

Christian, I cut down the length of this post by over a thousand words because the general consensus seemed to be that I write too much. But at 3014 words this post stills claims the trophy.

Evolution and the Death of the Computer

April 3, 2010 5 comments

Today, the world changed. Well, the technology world anyway. I say this as I look back on the past from the new era of personal computing. I write this from my Apple iPad.

This afternoon, at around 2 pm, my Dad, sister, and I drove to the Fashion Valley shopping mall and walked into an Apple Store. We were there to see the new iPad, just like the hundreds of other people there. My Dad was determined to wait for the 2nd generation model, which will likely be released around Christmas. We left the Apple Store with a piece of the future, and a case to store it in. We were stunned by the simple beauty and elegance of the iPad and the ease with which it emphasized the relationship between man and machine. We paid the $700 because even though there will be a better version in six months, what we experienced with the iPad was so revolutionary, so unprecedented, that it clearly represents a milestone in the evolution of the computer.

Everything about the iPad screams cutting edge. Everything from the lightweight but robust aluminum and glass enclosure to the shockingly responsive multi-touch display and beautifully slick interface represents the future of the computer. Apple has once again found a way to fundamentally alter and improve the way we interact with the digital world.

As all those people who had the honor of trying the iPad before it’s launch said about their own experiences with the iPad, when I walked into the store, I thought, “what would I ever use this thing for?” And yet after just a few hours with this ultra-cool device, I say, “just you try to take it from me!!! I can’t live without it.” I can’t remember the world before it.

One thing I was especially unprepared for was the web. The iPad revolves around the Apps, but the Apps revolve around the web, so the iPad revolves around the web. And it is the web which the iPad does best. Safari is by far the most important of the many thousands of Apps in the Apple library. All I can say is that the future of communication and personal computing is in the web and portable devices that offer a window into the web effectively will dominate the future. The iPad is one of those devices, and the first real mobile computer.

The last thing I want to mention was the last thing my Dad and I tried while setting up the iPad. The Apple Sales Rep said that the standard Apple wireless keyboard would work with the iPad, and so we decided to give it a try. We turned on the Bluetooth, and as my Dad powered on the keyboard, he said, “If this works, it will be the death of the computer.” The keyboard worked, and just the way a keyboard should work. He pushed the iPad’s box and wrappings away and positioned it and the keyboard on the desk. While surveying his new workstation, my Dad said with a smile, “This is the death of the computer.”

The iPad is the death of the home computer as we know it. It is the first computer that lives on and for the internet and in a world where people live through the internet it will overpower and replace the old home computer. It will not replace the powerhouse workstation that is needed to edit videos or run Photoshop, but even Photoshop is going online. The rest of the software world will either follow in Photoshop’s footsteps or be replaced by something that does. The leading technology researchers and analysts have stated that the future is in the web, in cloud computing, in the internet. Apple has accepted this and embraced it. The other computer companies will either follow in Apple’s footsteps, or be replaced by someone who does.

My iPad is amazing. It is the future. It is Apple.

New Tech

March 17, 2010 6 comments

So today I walk into the Mac Lab at lunch and what do I see? Three large cardboard boxes. In those boxes are the first of the new 21.5 inch iMacs that will be replacing the old white computers. During lunch, Kyle and I unpacked one of them and right now (during 7th period) I am in the process of transferring the data from my old computer, as I get the honor of receiving the first of the new iMacs. According to the computer, in 35 minutes the data transfer will be complete and the new Mac will be up and running. Everyone who sits at computer #14 is going to have the best computer in the room, at least for a couple days.

I have been working on those 22 pictures that Mr. Skocko was given and have finished about ten of them. I would be working on them right now, expect that my computer is off the network and so I can’t get to the files. Overall, they are good pictures from a content point of view, but are very small and in some cases distorted. I have been trying my best to bring out the best in them, but it has been rough going. Wish me luck.

That’s it for now. Don’t forget to check the “This Is How We Do It” page for the new tutorials I made yesterday.

Elections

March 8, 2010 2 comments

I’m sure many of you are aware that the elections for the new California Governor are soon to take place. Without going on a political rant, I just want to say that this is a critical time for this state, in choosing the correct political candidate that will make a change in this state’s economic and political crisis.

The past few years have been trying times for both this state and country. Especially for education. Last week, most of the Grossmont Union High School District staff stood outside their schools protesting budget cuts. These cuts harshly effect both the students and staff. Teachers will suffer pay and health care benefit decreases, which will result in larger class sizes for students.

Overall, we are in desperate need of a new state leader. One who can help balance the budget, decrease the state’s deficit, and restore the funding needed by education.

In addition to California’s Governor election, Valhalla will be having its ASB executive, class officer, and HOK elections within the next few weeks. I plan on running for Executive President. Nothing is official yet, but I would greatly appreciate all the support I can get.

For those of you who can vote, help make a change for this state’s future, because we are in desperate need of revival. When time permits, go out and vote.

Categories: Other Stuff Tags:

Blue Skies

February 23, 2010 3 comments

I have been at my computer for five hours now, copying 30GB to two places and working on two images, one of which is done (for now).

As soon as I got home today, I began the long and arduous task of updating my files. Over the past six months, Kyle and I have accumulated just under 30GB of Mac Lab content, and have been trying our best to keep these 1,423 files synced across six computers. We upgraded to the 50GB version of DropBox, but that is limited by the speed of the internet connection and requires that the computer be turned on and logged into the specific account for an extended length of time, which is a problem because we are each only in the Mac Lab for one period a day. I have started storing all my files on my 1 terabyte external HDD, which I have lugged to school the past two days and have been trying to use to keep the computers undated, but DropBox just keeps messing things up. I have decided to suspend DropBox from the computers that are not updated and manually load the files onto them. Unfortunately, that all six computer needed updating, so the process has taken a while. So far, four are done. When I got home today, I updated my MacBook Pro and my iMac, and am letting my iMac sync up to the DropBox server. The iMac as school are also finished.

As soon as I got the file transfers started, I turned to Photoshop. A few posts ago, I said how I had spent an evening light painting with my lightsabers and that four good images were produced. Well,today I took one of those images back through Photoshop and attempted to improve upon the version that is on the Mac Lab Light Painting Gallery. One of the best features of this image is that you can see star lines in the background, and so I endeavored to improve this quality. I applied a “Deep Blue” “Photo Filter” set to 95% to the images and painstakingly masked everything expect the sky back in. Then I applied a “Cooling Filet (80)” set to 35% and copied the mask to that layer. The result was astounding. Where I once had a brownish-yellow haze, I now have a navy blue abyss streaked with starlight. It is a little hard to tell just how dramatic the change is from looking at the image to the left, but it makes all the difference. One of my favorite features of this image is the fact that I managed to capture the stars, and now to accent those with a clear blue sky, it completely makes the photo.  I also removed the hard light effect I added before, so now there is a smooth rather than harsh feel. The power of adjustment layers and the mask still astound me, even after three years.

After that, I played around with a similar image, but the masking was taking way too much time. I was forced to move on to more urgent tasks, like writing this post.

I officially dub Street 01 done for now. It goes back into my maze of a file system to await a day when I learn something new and can make it better.

Update: The power of QuickTime!!!!!!

Early In the Mornin’

February 21, 2010 2 comments

Because SnapzProX is just so cool, I had to make an early morning update.

Categories: Other Stuff, tutorials Tags: ,

Weekend Update, 02

February 19, 2010 Leave a comment

This explains it all.

(Record for shortest post ever)

The 3 Part Explosion

February 9, 2010 8 comments

Part 1: The Big 1/12th

1 blog.

2 people.

31 posts.

259 comments.

2,662 hits. (palindrome)

1 month.

It make you wonder what the future holds in store.

Part 2: Standing Against Yoda

Well, as you may have guessed from the seemingly random facts listed about, this blog is now one month old. Actually, it turned 1/12th at about 3pm.

I have talked quite a lot about the direction that CRDESIGNLAB will be taking both here and here, and so I won’t bore you with any more repetitive details. I would just like to add that with every passing day, I become more and more devoted to expanding and improving this young site. With every passing day, I realize just how much potential the 2.0 web holds, and how with a little hard work, almost anything is possible. With every passing day, I become more and more enlightened as to the possibilities that exist within the Mac Lab. And with every passing day, I try harder and harder to make CRDESIGNLAB the best it can be by being the best I can be, by being everything that the Mac Lab is about, and I do so with a happiness and sense of gratification that I do not get anywhere else.

And that is why this site is great. Because I try to be great. I try. And sometimes I succeed, and sometimes I fail. Luckily for me, my successes are far more numerous than my failures.

On Saturday, I commented on Philip Behnam’s brilliantly beautiful new blog header pattern and I asked him how he managed to change the header. He said the setting was in the appearance menus. I looked, but to no avail. I desperately wanted to trash the horrid grey gradient  that had been sitting atop CRDESIGNLAB for a month, and so I turned to my last resort: Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). I bought the CSS Styles upgrade for WordPress a while back, but to be honest, code kind of scares me, so I have been reluctant to delve into it. I decided I would brave the unknown and try to dig the code for the header out of the current theme’s CSS, and as you can see, I succeeded. I was ecstatic! I left a jubilant comment on Philip’s blog and literally jumped for joy. I had actually, on my own, figured out how to make something happen by using code! Man, I was happy. And to be completely honest, it was a piece of cake. It took me two minutes and the result was really cool.  The moral of this seemlingly pointless little anecdote is that I TRIED!!!! For two minutes, I gave it my all and to my great surprise, I succeeded. Whoever heard of such a thing!!!

Basically, I am trying to tell all of you people who are sitting there thinking “how in the world did they do that stuff” or “how in the world did they find the time” or “how in the world are they so smart” to take a moment to try. Just try to do something. Anything. Just not nothing. I challenge you, I dare you, to put forth some effort and I guarantee you will be shocked at the outcome.

Yoda (from Star Wars) said “Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.” I would like to think of Yoda as a wise old Jedi Master, as his 900 years surely lent him some experience, but I stand conflicted on this statement of his. I believe there is a “try”, and I also believe that if you “try”, the “do” will come naturally. I believe that you cannot have the “do” without the “try”. And so I think the Master is wrong, in a sense. Trying is part of doing. And the latter cannot exist without the first. And the first inevitably leads to the latter. Did I forget to mention that I like circular logic?

Bottom line: try.

Man, ranting is fun! And shockingly tangential sometimes. I started out talking about the blog and ended by telling you to try. It’s it amazing how the lessons of the web 2.0 world can be so relevant in daily life.

Part 3: The Lines of Light

Now for the feature of today’s post. The featured photo was taken when Kyle and I went to downtown on 1/17/2010. The 43 second exposure captured cars as they drove past and then stopped at the red light. It is not as good as a few of the other light painting we did that day, but I think the cars make it very cool. Also, during the car ride downtown, we opened the shutter for twenty seconds or so at a time and captured the lights of the cars moving down the highway. The results of four such experiments are now on the light painting gallery, along with the car picture. I don’t want to devote too much time to these images, as the tangential point of today’s post is discussed above in Part 2.

Well, I guess that is all. I kind of exploded into my computer during 7th period today, and this post was the result. The title was the last thing I wrote, because I feel like that simply is what this post is. My mind exploded. I just threw a bunch of stuff at you. Now do with it what you wish.

8 Hours of Fun in the Mac Lab

January 30, 2010 5 comments

Well, yesterday was quite the day. Kyle and I spent eight and a half hours in the Mac Lab, and it wasn’t even a school day. In the last post, I talked about our plans to install Snow Leopard on all the Mac Lab computers, as well as new fonts, and set up a new workstation. We met these goals, and it took us from 8 am to 4:30 pm to do so.

We arrived at school just before 8 am and Mr. Skocko took a break from a teacher meeting to let us into the Lab. The day before, we had updated all the computers, so as soon as we were in, we were ready to go. Kyle and I started with Snow Leopard. It took us the better part of two hours to install it on the 44 remaining computers (we installed it on #8 on Thursday as a test). During the time we spent waiting for the installation to be completed, we took the opportunity to continue our work organizing the lab. We started on the corner where the projector is, and basically tore it apart. By the time it was finished, nothing was left, but two things were added. Those two things are two new computers, maclab46 and maclab47. The first is an old PowerPC G4 that is quite a few years old, but still powerful enough to be useful. It once was the server for most of the Grossmont Union High School District. The second of the two computers is a newer PowerPC G5, which on the exterior looks like a Mac Pro (we opened up the computer to clean it, and found out what it was that way). Both computers are hooked up to very large screens, but I am not sure what the actual measurements are. The G5 has a also has a second screen, which is smaller. The two other computer we found on Thursday, another G4 and another G5, are broken beyond repair and so we sent them to be disposed of by the district. Due to legal issues, we are not allowed to dispose of them ourselves; the district has to do it, as the computers are GUHSD property. We also set up the $2,500 scanner that Mr. Skocko bought, which will be accessible from ANY computer in the room (once we finish the setup).

After the Snow Leopard install was done, we updated the Adobe products on every computer, as well as Perian. We also disabled the automatic login to the admin account. Last, we installed the fonts, but I am not sure exactly how many. These last steps were completed a long time after the Snow Leopard install, because we were so busy setting of the computers and organizing that we didn’t have time until the very end.

By the time it was 4 pm and Skocko was ready to leave, the Mac Lab was a very different-looking place. The corner with the projector (where we spent the majority of our time) is completely different, and very much better. The two new computers are not completely finished being set up, so they are not yet open for business, and are still running Mac OS X v10.4 Tiger. We will update them to Leopard as soon as we find out if the software they have is compatible with Leopard. Their processors, PowerPC’s, do not work with Snow Leopard. They are more likely just new work stations rather than new high-end work stations, but it is still good to have two new computers in the room, and having two screens is really cool.

Take a look at the before and after images to see what we did for yourself. It doesn’t look like we did a lot, but we really did.

(I had to go back and edit the after image, because the serial number for the CS4 Master Collection was written on that paper!)

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