Welcome to the 384th issue of the PC Improvement News. PCIN consists mainly
of news and tips. There is something for everyone, and if this is your first
issue, I'm sure there will be something for you. If you give me two or three
issues, I know that you will come back for more!
I'm on vacation this week and so that's why you are probably getting the newsletter
out a little early. We didn't go anywhere, but we've gotten a fair amount of
work done in and around the house, so it's been good. ANd of course it's always
good playing with Andrew and Matthew. I don't want to sound too old, but they
sure do grow up fast!
When I sent out the newsletter last week I forgot to put the new Digital
Photography Tip of the Week in so it was a repeat of the week before.
Sorry about that. The new tip is in this issue, and concludes Chris' series
on night photography.
Remember that I'm looking for items that I can include in the Tips
and Other Stuff section. This has always been the hardest section to
fill. Feel free to email us with some sites to recommend and useful tips.
It will help us put together a more complete newsletter, and it will help
your fellow readers. We'd be happy to provide you with the credit and link
back to you for anything that we use.
Rumsfeld: U.S. propaganda needs to enter digital age
The United States lags dangerously behind al-Qaida and other enemies in
getting out information in the digital media age and must update its old-fashioned
methods, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Friday. Modernization
is crucial to winning the hearts and minds of Muslims worldwide who are bombarded
with negative images of the West, Rumsfeld told the Council on Foreign Relations.
The Pentagon chief said today's weapons of war include e-mail, BlackBerries,
instant messaging, digital cameras and blogs. "Our enemies have skillfully
adapted to fighting wars in today's media age, but...our country has not
adapted," Rumsfeld said.
Call it a sexual revolution of the virtual kind -- young Canadians are
practicing a new style of safe sex and the only touching required involves
Of more than 2,500 university and college students polled across Canada,
87 percent of them are having sex over instant messenger, Webcams or the
telephone, according to results of a national survey released on Monday.
"We were very surprised," Noah Gurza, a founder of Toronto-based CampusKiss.com,
an online dating community for students, which commissioned the first annual
Canadian CampusKiss & Tell Survey.
"We did realize that new technologies are always embraced by younger individuals,
but we didn't think it would've reached such a high number."
Attendees at the 2006 Scientific and Technical Academy Awards ceremonies
in Beverly Hills saw more pocket protectors Saturday than Harry Winston diamonds.
The annual film-industry tech honors recognize devices, formulas and discoveries
that change the way movies are made. The ceremony took place at the Beverly
Hilton, the same ballroom where the Oscars will unfold in two weeks.
America Online Inc., seeking to encourage its subscribers to sign up for
high-speed connections, is raising the price of its main dial-up plan to
equal that of its new broadband offerings. That means most subscribers will
pay $25.90 a month for either dial-up or broadband beginning March 9, although
AOL is offering discounts to dial-up subscribers who commit to a year. AOL
currently charges $23.90 a month for unlimited dial-up access. "We're
doing this because a majority of AOL members will be able to get high-speed
connections and access the AOL service for this new price," spokeswoman
Anne Bentley said Tuesday. "Hopefully it's an encouragement for them
to get high-speed connections."
I have been discussing night photography in the past few tips, including helpful
equipment and shooting
techniques for great night shots. I will finish up the series today with
some tips about when to shoot, using flash, a technique called dragging the
shutter, and 2nd curtain sync.
Using flash for night photography can be helpful, but usually only for illuminating
near subjects. The built in flash on cameras are only powerful enough to effectively
light a subject up to 20 feet away at best. Using flash on automatic mode,
you will end up with photos that exhibit 'deer in the headlights' syndrome.
The subject will be illuminated nicely, but the rest of the photo will be black.
So, how do you compensate for that? This is where manual mode pays off. But
first, let me explain the two exposures that are happening in your photo.
The first exposure is a product of your flash and aperture. It is an almost
instantaneous exposure (the length of the flash burst). The aperture controls
how much light is being recorded on film. The second exposure is a product
of your shutter speed. So long as you stay at or below your camera's sync speed,
usually 1/90th of a second or slower (more on that another time), the foreground
will always be illuminated by the flash (up to the point when the shutter speed/aperture
combination provide enough exposure for the main subject) while the shutter
speed will affect the background. A longer shutter speed will allow more of
the ambient light to be recorded, bringing detail out of the background shadows.
Dragging the shutter or slow shutter
sync is simply using a longer shutter speed than the camera recommends when
using flash to illuminate a night scene. Your photo will then have proper exposure
for the foreground (because of the flash exposure) and the background will
start to have more detail in it (because of the longer shutter speed). If you
want the background brighter, use a longer shutter speed, and if you want it
darker, use a faster shutter speed. If your camera features a night
mode setting, that will also drag the shutter (though for a fixed time.)
This photo shows what can happen when you combine
moving objects, flash and night photography.
Another feature many cameras have is called 2nd
curtain sync or also referred to as rear curtain sync. This basically
controls when the flash fires, either at the beginning of the exposure or
at the end. For a static subject, it does not really matter, but for a subject
that will move during the exposure, 2nd curtain sync has an advantage. When
the subject moves, it will leave a trail in the image. If the flash goes
off at the beginning of the exposure, the subject will appear to be moving
into the streaks, whereas if the flash occurs at the end of the exposure,
it will appear as though the subject is moving away from the streaks (which
is what we would normally expect to see.)
When is the ideal time to photograph at night? Well, that depends on what
you are shooting and what you want to accomplish. However, two times do stand
out as worth noting. Just after dusk and just before dawn, often referred to
as the magic hour. During this time, there is some light in the sky though
not enough to provide enough to expose your subjects. Shooting at this time
can yield some spectacular results. The shot below was taken within this timeframe.
Last week I also promised some links to some nice night photography. I'll
start with some of my own. The series of 7
shots (the first image and 6 days prior) was taken in Toronto, ON between
1:00 and 2:00 am, with exposures ranging from 1/8
second to 3.2
seconds. Lostamerica.com features
many night photographs of abandoned places along roadways in the US. TheNocturnes.com features
a gallery of night time images as well as resources for night time photography.
I hope this series on night time photography has been helpful. Next week I
will discuss keeping straight lines straight.
The digital photography tip of the week is written by the PCIN Assistant
Editor, Chris Empey. Chris is a long time photographer and is currently
the vice-president of the Niagara Falls Camera Club. You can see more of
his photography at his Photo
of the Day website.
If you have a tip to send Chris, or a question about digital photography
he can address in the newsletter, send it to email@example.com.
Answer me this my fellow digital photographers: when you come back from
shooting a bunch of photos with your camera, do you keep them all? Or do
you delete some of them? I'm not talking about the blurry ones, or the
ones that are too dark to be rescued. I'm asking if you delete photos that
turned out well. Does the thought of that scare you? Do you believe that
the real benefit of digital photography is the ability to shoot as many
pictures as you want of the same thing, and keep them all? Then this article
is for you.
Not everyone will agree with this, but it is an interesting article.
Gmail Skins is a Firefox extension that lets you change the look of your
Gmail inbox (amongst some other things).
It adds the following features:
Change the colour/skin of your inbox
Insert smileys/emoticons and images in to your emails
Make the navigation (Inbox, Starred, Sent Mail, etc) horizontal
Fix the navigation in place so that you don't have to scroll to the
top of the page to see it
Zebra stripes on mailbox - pretty!
Change the attachment paperclip (on inbox) to an icon indicating the
type of attachment
Hide various page elements (invite panel, page footer, your email address
from the top right of inbox - may be useful for public computers)
I just installed it and it seems to work fine. Of course there are the normal
warnings that if you have problems with Gmail afterwards, uninstall the skin
rather than contacting Google. Check
I recently received an email from Jim Lawler, the programmer behind PurgeIE:
I am the author of PurgeIE which you reviewed for one of your newsletter
Please take a look at "DelinvFile" and consider mentioning it in
your "Tips..." section.
Although I recently converted "DelinvFile" to a commercial version,
the basic functionality is available without having to register (pay a fee).
The webpage is - http://www.purgeie.com/delinv/index.htm
Basically, "DelinvFile" is an easy-to-use utility that one can
use to delete data files that they are not able to delete with the normal
Windows Delete function.
PCIN is brought to you by Graham Wing. The opinions expressed are those of
the Editor, Graham Wing and the Assistant Editor, Chris Empey. Graham Wing
and Chris Empey accept no responsibility for the results obtained from trying
the tips in this newsletter.
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