New Orleans, Jazz Fest

New Orleans az a város, ahol nehéz olyan kocsmát, vendéglőt, klubot, vagy akár üzletet találni, ahonnan rossz zene szól. Márpedig a zene sok helyen szól, és nem is kis hangerővel, minden este a French Quarter-ben, egymást túlkiabálva, egymást túllicitálva. Egyfajta “survival of the fittest”-ről van szó: a Bourbon utcán, ha nem tudsz elég nézőt, hallgatót, turistát, alkoholistát, szájtátót becsalogatni minden este, akkor el vagy veszve.

New Orleans az a város, ahol reggel tízkor leülsz, hogy igyál egy kávét, és megkérdezik, nem óhajtasz-e egy ‘bloody mary’-t. S ha körülnézel, látod, hogy vannak, akik nem utasítják vissza.

New Orleans az a város, ahol egymást érik a jobbnál jobb és drágábbnál drágább vendéglők; de nem messze a legelitebb kajáldáktól és hotelektől bedeszkázott, elázott, hiányos fedelű épületek jelzik, hogy merre pusztított 2005-ben a hurrikán.

Norah Jones
New Orleans az a város, ahol minden évben egy néhány százezer ember gyűl össze zenét hallgatni a Jazz Fest-en, ahol nemcsak dzsesszt játszanak, és, akárcsak a French Quarter-ben, nehéz hallgathatatlan zenét találni. Miközben Van Morrisont vagy valamelyik névtelen helyi együttest hallgatod (amelyik sok szempontból jobb, mint Van Morrison, különösen néhány sör után), enyhe marijuána-illat lengi be a levegőt. A happiness-hangulat azokat is elkapja, akik csak passzívan szívják.

Vagy az a sörnek köszönhető?

Több fotó itt.

Georeferencing photos on a Mac

Not long ago I managed to georeference some of my photos using GPS measurements. Before I forget how I did this, here are some notes on the process. The key piece of software is GPSPhotoLinker, written by Jeffrey Early. After downloading and installing this nice little program, the next step is to get the GPS tracks from the GPS unit. For some reason, GPSPhotoLinker did not do this for me; so I downloaded GPSBabel, connected my Garmin Vista Cx to the iMac, and saved the tracks in GPX format. [GPSBabel is the same utility that is used inside GPSPhotoLinker]. I tried to open the GPX file in GPSPhotoLinker, but it did not work. The problem was that some of the tracks on the GPS unit were actually saved — and saving tracks on a Garmin GPS unit (and maybe on other units as well, I don’t know) results in losing the time stamp from each datapoint. GPSPhotoLinker apparently is not able to just ignore this part of the GPX file; the only solution was that I manually deleted all the saved tracks from the GPX file. After that, everything went pretty smoothly. GPSPhotoLinker finds the GPS points that are the closest in time to the time stamp of the photograph and writes the latitude and longitude into the EXIF header of the jpeg file. You can choose between ‘snapping’ photo locations to the nearest GPS datapoint or to interpolate between two points to find the best estimate for the place where the photo was taken. It is important, of course, to record a fairly large number of GPS points when you are taking the pictures.

Once I had the photos tagged with the geographic coordinates, I had two options to display them in the context of a map: either relying on Smugmug, the photo-hosting web service that I use, or on a cool iPhoto plugin called iPhotoToGoogleEarth. With Smugmug, both Google Maps and Google Earth can be used to look at the photos; the drawback is that the displayed pictures are small and you have to go go back to the Smugmug page to see the photos in a reasonable size. The iPhoto plugin generates a kmz file that can be opened with Google Earth and includes all the photos in a reasonable size, that, of course, can be adjusted by the user). The advantage is that you do not have to leave Google Earth in order to look at the photos.

Here is my first try at doing the gereferencing, as shown by Smugmug in Google Maps. It is not a bad idea after all to have a GPS unit handy when you are traveling and taking photos.

PS. In addition to the saved tracks, the other thing that GPSPhotoLinker does not like in the GPX file is the part of the header that refers to the geographic bounds of the file, e.g., “bounds minlat=”-51.725563835″ minlon =”-98.491744157″ maxlat=”43.777740654″ maxlon=”131.500083692″”. You have to delete that in order for GPSPhotoLinker to read the file.

PS 2. There is always more to learn. I thought that the ideal workflow for georeferencing photos would be to (1) do the tagging in GPSPhotoLinker, (2) import the photos to iPhoto, (3) export the ones I want to post on the web, and (4) put them on Smugmug. It turns out this does not work well; all the photos I took in California (and were correctly labeled by GPSPhotolinker) ended up in Kamchatka. The point is that the georeferencing must be done (or redone) after the photos are exported from iPhoto.

Shameless plug for Google, Smugmug, and my own photos

Uploaded some new (and not-so-new) photos to smugmug. Here are a few from our recent geological trip to the Canadian Rockies (more precisely the Caribou Mountains near McBride, British Columbia); these were taken during the trip with my father and Aniko in Rocky Mountain, Grand Teton, and Yellowstone National Parks; and, finally, a bunch of nice ripple marks from Sea Rim State Park in Texas.

I have to say I am very happy with smugmug; it is not free (the cheapest membership is 30$ / year), but you certainly get what you pay for. I think the design and the style are great, you can upload and view photographs as large as you want, etc. — see their list of advantages here. And recently they have adapted the Google Maps API to add mapping capabilities to the photos; that is, you can type in a latitude and longitude for your photo and smugmug will place a tag on the map. Check this out for example. I think Google is making fantastic progress with both Google Maps and Google Earth; who would ever want to go back to Mapquest or other indistinguishable map services after trying Google’s maps?

On digital SLRs and compact cameras

When last summer I bought a Nikon D70, I only knew that I wanted a very good digital camera. Since all the reviews about the Nikon D70 were extremely positive, this was my final choice. But even after I bought it, I had some afterthoughts that maybe it would have been better to get an expensive (but similarly priced to a ‘cheap’ DSLR) point-and-shoot camera that has a fixed lens, like the Nikon 8700 or the Sony DSC-F828. With these, you get a lens with a wider range of zoom, without having to buy another expensive lens and then having ot change them all the time.

But since then I have been using the Nikon D70 quite often (not as often as I’d like to, but that’s another story), and I am perfectly happy with it. Ken Rockwell explains very well here why it is a no-brainer whether to buy an expensive point-and-shoot camera or a ‘cheap’ DSLR for the same price. Even the latest and greatest point-and-shoot cameras do not have the speed necessary to capture moving subjects. Here is how Ken Rockwell sums it up:

“For a small snapshot camera get a $300 point-and-shoot. I have one, love it, and take it everywhere.If you want to spend a grand for serious digital photography forget the expensive p/s cameras and go straight to any DSLR. Since you can get a far superior DSLR for what you used to have to pay for just a p/s as of 2004 I see no need for the expensive p/s digital cameras. The reason we still have expensive p/s cameras today is because camera companies still have two sets of development and marketing teams, one for each class of camera, so there are still people at these companies pushing the expensive p/s cameras even though the DSLRs made by the same company are better for the same price. Other companies, like Sony, don’t make any real DSLRs and of course they will promote their p/s cameras. Don’t waste $1,000 on a point and shoot unless you really want to trade off ease of use, speed and image quality for a little size and weight.”