Zurich Photos

Last week I was in Zurich and I took some photos, which have now been added to my photo album. Most of them were taken in the evening. Some of them are pretty nice considering I had no tripod and it was quite dark.

Zurich lake in the evening

For example this one was taken from a bridge in Zurich with the shutter open for 1.3 seconds. Despite this, it turned out quite OK. I did quite a bit of color correction and curves tweaking on this picture and it turned out quite a bit more brighter than I remember it to be or the original below.

Before editing

Christmas Photos

Before leaving for San Francisco a few weeks ago, I also spent Christmas with my parents in France. Of course I took lots of pictures and I was a bit more lucky with the weather there than in California. Since I’m visiting my parents tomorrow (flying home for my sisters wedding), I figured I should finally do a little editing and polishing of these photos. Results are here.

Updated my photo site

I’ve just started uploading my new photo site. It’s 150 MB so that is going to take some time. It should be back up in about two hours (I hope). Basically one of the changes is that I’m now using rsync for this as well and no longer rely on clumsy ftp. The big advantage is that I waste less bandwidth and time and gain some convenience.

The other big change is that I retired my good old JAlbum theme. I designed this theme a few years ago and did several updates to it and even posted it on the JAlbum themes site. However, JAlbum has kept on developing and the new default themes that come with the latest version have a lot of nice features that I’m just not going to replicate in my own theme. So, I regenerated the album with the Chameleon theme that comes with it and it has a lot of nice features:

  • Nice UI
  • Javascript Slideshow
  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • Nice navigation options
  • It prints whatever metainfo that is there, including EXIF
  • It doesn’t look half bad either

Of course there is some downsides as well. This is basically a table based layout, which I don’t like and was in fact the whole reason for me getting obnoxious about standards and rolling my own theme. Basically, I’m tired of chasing stupid CSS/HTML issues and am just not going to put in a lot of time into updating my theme (as I should) so bye bye xhtmlstrict and hello Chameleon.

Update. Uploading is done. A lot faster than I expected (45 minutes).

And another Stockholm photo

Other side of the bridge

When shooting the panorama in the previous post, I actually shot 7 images doing about a 270 degree circle, handheld. Of course I realized that the fence and hugely distorted angle would make most of the shots unusable. So I just stitched the first three and got the nice panorama posted earlier.

Then, just for the hell, I tried if I could stitch the other side. The fence would be a huge issue due to parallax error that basically no software can fix. It’s basically a worst case scenario since in each of the three shots the perspective is very different due to the close proximity to the fence. Or so I thought. I loaded the three shots up in hugin and let it do its magic of finding matching points and then doing some severe transforming on the images to make them line up. The end result is near perfect except for 8 spots where the cables don’t quite line up. I fixed those by pasting over a slightly transformed bit of nearby cable. It bends a bit in a odd way when watched at 300% magnification but it doesn’t seem to distract. Overall the end result is near perfect.

Photos Stockholm and Seurasaari

I’ve uploaded two batches of photos to my photo site: photos.jillesvangurp.com from a recent trip to Stockholm and some photos I took from Seurasaari just behind my house.

Here’s a few samples:

My neighbourhood seen from Seurasaari.

This beautiful picture was taken in August when me and my friend Mark who was over for a weekend visited the open air museum on Seurasari which is behind my house on a island connected to the mainland by a bridge. To get to where I took this photo is a very nice 5 KM walk along the coast. In the distance you can see Hietaniemie beach and a few rows of buildings. One of the rooftops behind the electricity pole on the right is where I live.

View of stockholm

The panorama photo above was taken from the Katarinahissen on the photo below during a visit to Stockholm where I spent a weekend with my father. The Katarinahissen connects lower Södermalm to the bit of the city situated on top of the 20 meter hill. Sadly the elevator was out of order so we took the stairs. My father and I have been on several trips in the past few years. We went to Berlin and London in 2005.


QR codes

I just found this cool mobile barcoder extension for firefox that displays so-called QR codes that encode the url of the page you are currently looking at. QR codes are like bar codes, only 2-dimensional. For example:
QR code for my blog
(generated using this site: http://qrcode.kaywa.com/)

It so happens that my Nokia N95 (hey, there’s some benefit in working for a market leading mobile phone manufacturer 🙂 ) includes a bar code reading application that is damn near useless reading old fashioned bar codes in dark supermarkets. The problem is partly with the optics in the camera which do not support macro mode photography very well (i.e. photographing subjects from something like 15cm doesn’t really work wel). A second problem is that while hovering with your camera over the barcode you generally block the light that falls onto it. This combined with real world situations where bar code equipped objects are generally indoors in possibly poorly lit places doesn’t make it easier. A final problem is that the old vertical bar codes are actually quite hard to scan properly with a camera since the thickness of the bars has meaning (four different bars) and the bars tend to be quite close together.

However, I just discovered the software handles QR codes displayed on a nice bright LCD screen a hell of a lot better. Just hold the camera about 30 cm from the screen, press scan code and almost instantly you have the url in the phone and can then proceed to open it in the S60 browser. QR is short for quick recognition and it really is quick. QR codes don’t have all the problems listed above and are basically optimized to be scanned using a camera. They include error correction. The three big squares are used for indicating the dimensions of the QR code to the software.

So, why is this nice? Well T9 is OKish for sending short messages to people with all vowels omitted but sort of sucks for entering urls. So if you quickly want to browse a url with your N95 (or any other phone with QR bard code scanning software), this is a pretty neat way to do it.

links for 2007-10-05

links for 2007-08-01