CDIA Introduction to Lighting Theory, Its a wrap!

This week we wrapped up another great photography course at CDIA, Introduction to Lighting Theory DP114.

This module will explore and demonstrate the use of light so that students of light will be able to recognize the physical properties of light: direction and quality; hard vs. soft; and that they be able to modify light to suit the needs of their photography. Students will also learn how to identify and work with varying color temperatures.


Of most practical value to me was learning how to use a light meter to measure incident light (the actual light hitting a subject), whereas the camera's TTL metering measures reflected light (the brightness of light reflected off a subject). We also learned how to use light glass and metal and work with their reflective properties using diffusion screens, reflector discs, or gobos, and either natural ambient lighting or photoflood (constant) lighting indoors. Before moving on to indoor settings with artificial lighting, we initially honed our skills with portrait shooting outdoors using ambient lighting combined with the tools mentioned earlier. My favorite part of the course was learning how to do Black Line and White Line Photography with glass, also known as Bright Field and Dark Field.

The strength of the class was the actual instruction of lighting theory, lessons which I found highly valuable. The weakness was we were expected to peform all our shooting in groups of 3 or 4 during short bursts of time in class when we'd have to set up tables and lighting and later break them down, and I felt unable to achieve a satisfactory level of quality in my photography because I felt rushed.

Halfway through the course I realized I needed to set up a home studio where I could spend longer periods of time and have the freedom to play around and test various lighting scenarios. To that end, I spent a day running errands to Home Depot for clamps and extension cords, to JoAnn Fabrics for inexpensive black cloth to line the walls and velvet to shoot small objects on, to Staples for black and white foam boards, and finally to Hunts Photo and Video in Melrose to purchase a Smith-Victor 4 Light Photoflood Kit. Total cost for the whole basement studio was close to $600, not including the ping pong table already in the basement.

Next week we refine our lighting skills and learn to use strobe lighting or flash in course DP111 Introduction to the Studio.

www.flickr.com

Ubuntu @ the Library -and- Vista SP1 Will Install XP

Jessamyn, a Flickr contact and the daughter of one of my friends at my photo club, recently posted a great video on YouTube about installing Ubuntu Linux. As a Librarian in Vermont, she was tasked with repurposing several computers donated to the library, each of which had a potentially unlicensed copy of Windows installed on it. Watch Jessamyn wipe the Windows off the computers, install Ubuntu Linux, and show how great Linux really is. She captured the whole procedure in this short and humorous video.

[More]

An Experiment with Improved File Upload Handling in CF 8

ColdFusion 8 Application Server offers an important improvement regarding memory utilization during the uploading of large files via the CFFILE tag. This entry will offer an experimental observation to demonstrate the improvement in CF 8, but first I'll expand upon each of the related settings and provide some usage scenarios.

Request Throttle Settings
The ColdFusion 7.01 Administrator introduced new file upload settings to better control file uploads. The broadest setting is called Request Throttle Memory, with a default of 200MB, where its purpose is to regulate the cumulative impact of all concurrent large file uploads on the ColdFusion server. The adjacent setting for Request Throttle Threshold, default of 4MB, is the minimum size of file uploads for which the throttle should regulate, anything below the threshold is ignored by the throttle. Further up on the Settings page is also the new field Maximum Size of Post Data, with a default of 100MB.

[More]

Linux Magazine on using Flex with PHP

In the August 2007 edition of Linux Magazine, the editor contributes an article about the usefulness of integrating PHP with the free Flex SDK to achieve a Rich Internet Application (RIA) in a Web 2.0 world.

Flex and PHP
by Martin Streicher
Linux Magazine (full article available online with free registration)


The author begins by a short comparison of the RIA technologies of AJAX vs. Flex, and goes on to suggest that while AJAX is touted as an alternative to Flex UI's, AJAX suffers from a lack of rich media integration such as video, music, or animations and carries the risk of varying JavaScript behavior across different browser implementations.

The article does a great job describing architectural differences between classic web applications and RIAs. In a multi-tiered Rich Internet Application the application server technology such as PHP, or better yet ColdFusion, acts as the controller to implement business logic and interacts with deeper service layers that interface with the database. However, on the client side, Flex runs in the browser to perform data input validation, displays data visually via drill-down charts and graphs or via paginated data grids, and provides real time updates to changes in data (via Live Cycle Data Services a.k.a. Flex Data Services).

Furthermore, Flex provides a smart looking user interface and seamless user experience akin to typical desktop software while lacking the notoriously painful white screens of death during page refreshes that are commonplace in the Web 1.0 world. In effect, more work is done in the browser as a means of distributed computing, leaving the application server to focus on business logic and freeing it from having to generate the UI again and again across requests.

[More]