Sunday, November 7, 2010

Bear Peak and Mesa Trail

After two weeks of allergies and colds, with about three intermittent days total during that time of health, I finally went for a halfway decent weekend run. It was low intensity, but it was still extra running on great trails with great company.

I hooked up with Eric Lee, Kari Frasier, and Mike Poland from Boulder. Unfortunately, my camera was set to the wrong settings - I'm still clueless. It must've been trying to take "portraits". My Bear Peak summit shots were blurry, washed-out, and the Rocky Mountains blended into the clouds such that you couldn't see the peaks. I'm not sure why the pano turned out, but even that needed some retouch.

The free tools I use are Paint.NET and Autostitch.

I have Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2, but I hate it!! First, the install didn't go smoothly, and it kept wanting to go to the Internet. Second - and this one really sticks in my craw - advertisements pop up when I launch it. I paid for this app, and they have the nerve to spam me while using it! If it was freeware, I could understand that, but bought-and-paid? I also had to hack some garbage out of the Startup routines. I swear Corel is as bad as HP when it comes to crapifying your computer with startup shitlets, but at least HP's are easy to hack out. Corel has gone through great efforts to keep you from hacking them out. They want to take over your computer and remove any choice in having Corel contact and interrupt you at-will. I'll never buy Corel products again. Period.
I loved Paint Shop Pro, when it was owned by Jasc, but when Corel bought it, it got ruined by the marketing department and Corel management. I guess I'll just keep using my ancient version of Paint Shop Pro 5.
But honestly, Paint.NET does 95% of what I could ever want a graphics app to do, and it's totally free and totally supported with multiple updates a year, plus plugins.
Paint.NET runs on the Microsoft .NETFramework engine, so it doesn't come in a Mac or Linux flavor. That's the only downside. On the plus, it has a rotation function that is superior to any graphics app I've ever seen. I even have PhotoShop on one of my older machines, and it can't compare. For rotations, Paint.NET rules!

In order to get Autostitch to do what I want, I found I have to change two settings, Output Size and JPEG Quality, to 100%. This requires a lot of CPU speed and computer memory, but my computer is a beast, so no problem. If you use Autostitch, and have a slower machine, you can set these two settings a little lower and still get good results. It's better to leave photos at max resolution before stitching, even if it's slower. I prefer to crop lastly, because I often need to correct some tilt out of the pano, and zoom-crop. Reducing the image size to between 1-2MB is the last thing I do.

I haven't done a great many panos, so I only use this a few times a year. And when I get the hang of my new camera, I won't need it - my camera has a panorama function built-in. I just need to learn how to use it.

Half the time, though, all I want to do is paste a screen-capture, crop, and put red boxes around stuff to highlight. For that, my favorite is the ultra-simple MSPaint. I sometimes prefer there not to be any fancy features that slow the launch down. Using the keyboard and mouse, I can create entire images, with edits, in seconds. Any of the other apps mentioned would take 5x's longer.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments will be moderated before being allowed to show.