Well, yesterday was quite the day. Kyle and I spent eight and a half hours in the Mac Lab, and it wasn’t even a school day. In the last post, I talked about our plans to install Snow Leopard on all the Mac Lab computers, as well as new fonts, and set up a new workstation. We met these goals, and it took us from 8 am to 4:30 pm to do so.
We arrived at school just before 8 am and Mr. Skocko took a break from a teacher meeting to let us into the Lab. The day before, we had updated all the computers, so as soon as we were in, we were ready to go. Kyle and I started with Snow Leopard. It took us the better part of two hours to install it on the 44 remaining computers (we installed it on #8 on Thursday as a test). During the time we spent waiting for the installation to be completed, we took the opportunity to continue our work organizing the lab. We started on the corner where the projector is, and basically tore it apart. By the time it was finished, nothing was left, but two things were added. Those two things are two new computers, maclab46 and maclab47. The first is an old PowerPC G4 that is quite a few years old, but still powerful enough to be useful. It once was the server for most of the Grossmont Union High School District. The second of the two computers is a newer PowerPC G5, which on the exterior looks like a Mac Pro (we opened up the computer to clean it, and found out what it was that way). Both computers are hooked up to very large screens, but I am not sure what the actual measurements are. The G5 has a also has a second screen, which is smaller. The two other computer we found on Thursday, another G4 and another G5, are broken beyond repair and so we sent them to be disposed of by the district. Due to legal issues, we are not allowed to dispose of them ourselves; the district has to do it, as the computers are GUHSD property. We also set up the $2,500 scanner that Mr. Skocko bought, which will be accessible from ANY computer in the room (once we finish the setup).
After the Snow Leopard install was done, we updated the Adobe products on every computer, as well as Perian. We also disabled the automatic login to the admin account. Last, we installed the fonts, but I am not sure exactly how many. These last steps were completed a long time after the Snow Leopard install, because we were so busy setting of the computers and organizing that we didn’t have time until the very end.
By the time it was 4 pm and Skocko was ready to leave, the Mac Lab was a very different-looking place. The corner with the projector (where we spent the majority of our time) is completely different, and very much better. The two new computers are not completely finished being set up, so they are not yet open for business, and are still running Mac OS X v10.4 Tiger. We will update them to Leopard as soon as we find out if the software they have is compatible with Leopard. Their processors, PowerPC’s, do not work with Snow Leopard. They are more likely just new work stations rather than new high-end work stations, but it is still good to have two new computers in the room, and having two screens is really cool.
(I had to go back and edit the after image, because the serial number for the CS4 Master Collection was written on that paper!)
Today, Kyle and I stayed two hours after school and prepped the Mac Lab for a much-needed update.
It all started three weeks ago, when Kyle offered to organize Mr. Skocko’s cabinet. For extra minutes, he offered to come in during MLSS™ and revamp Mr. Skocko’s organization system. I tagged along. That Saturday, we spent four hours going through the camera cabinet and completely reorganized it. We also vowed to do the same to the adjacent tables and the corner with the projector.
Three weeks later, we have made a small amount of progress, but we have also accepted another task. Tomorrow, we will arrive at the Mac Lab at 8am and install Mac OS X v10.6.2 Snow Leopard on all the computers. For those of you who have been living under a rock, Snow Leopard is the newest and greatest operating system for Mac. Mr. Skocko has the software disks, he just needs to install them. That is where we come in. We will spend many hours updating each computer to the latest and greatest software from Apple.
Back to today. We spent two hours after school installing all the software updates for the current operating system, Mac OS X 10.5.8 Leopard,which are required before installing Snow Leopard. We also ran a test install to see how long it would take (1 hour 20 minutes). We took all the pen tablets from the computers and packed them in a box for us to organize tomorrow. Also, we took all the headphones from the computers and are going to sort through them as well.
Lastly, we found two Mac Pros and two old G4′s. We plan to set these computers up into a high-end work station with even more professional tools. With any luck, we will be able to salvage parts from the old G4′s to make the newer Mac Pro that is missing a hard drive work. The other Mac Pro works just fine. With any luck, by Monday, there will be an extra high-end station or two for people to work at.
And so, tomorrow we will update the Mac Lab to the latest and greatest operating system from Apple. After that, we will install some extra software including new fonts, which will definitely come in handy. Hopefully, we will also make good progress on our reorganization of the clutter that is literally piled throughout the Lab.
As for my other plans this weekend, I hope to do some more light painting, but without Kyle (he is going to Orange County) it will be less fun. I borrowed two lenses (10-22mm wide-angle and 18-200 telephoto), a remote shutter release, a gorillapod, and a 58mm Circular Polarizing filter from the Mac Lab, and will try to put them to good use. I own a Rebel T1i, so I didn’t need to take a camera, although I was tempted to take a 5D Mark II anyway. Also, I bought a tripod for myself today, so I don’t have to fight with anyone for the only remaining Mac Lab tripod with a mount piece. Last week, I bought the 50GB expansion for Dropbox, so I will have plenty of room to keep my photos updated across five computers.
On another note, we hope to print some of our images tomorrow. Whether or not they will go on the wall or will just be for our own enjoyment is yet to be determined.
Everyone in the Mac Lab should appreciate what we will do tomorrow.
Well, that’s it for now. I don’t have any image for today, as I have spent so much time studying for AP Chemistry, that I haven’t had time to edit anything new.
Yesterday at around 10:30 pm, this blog passed the 1,000 hit mark. Founded just 17 days ago, the CRDESIGNLAB blog has rapidly grown to a massive project that has dominated my digital life. So far, we have had 1,111 hits, 125 comments, written 16 posts, and built 8 pages. That is truly amazing.
I have been planning to write a special post for this blog’s 1,000 hit milestone, but I did not expect that milestone to come so fast. Yesterday evening as the ticker lept past 1,000, I was deep in a light painting discussion with Philip Behnam and a comment war with Fadi George. These conversations led to a massive 251 page views and 59 new comments in a two hour period. And so instead of pausing my marathon commenting to author a new post, I have waited until today, where I could to this post justice.
In order to properly describe the evolution that CRDESIGNLAB will undergo in the coming weeks and months, I feel that it is necessary to look into the past, and enlighten you all as to how this blog came to be:
17 days ago, on Saturday, January 9, Kyle and I were at my house, sitting around my iMac and MacBook Pro, unloading pictures from my Canon Rebel T1i. We had just taken some pictures around my house in Monarch Ridge. It was then that we started the discussion about founding a blog. I think we only decided to go ahead with it because other people were starting blogs and we wanted to stay up to date. Kyle wasn’t even sure he wanted the blog to be a part of our Mac Lab work.
Over the next few days, as I built all the pages and the two of us wrote our first posts, it became clear that this was not going to be easy. But are the best things in life ever easy? A few talks with Mr. Skocko solidified my idea that CRDESIGNLAB was not going to be just average. I decided that I was not going to merely do average work. I knew at that point that I was going to give this blog my all and make it the best I could, and then make it better. Over the past 17 days, I have been working tirelessly to expand and define CRDESIGNLAB. For every hour I work in class, I spend at least three working on this blog outside of class.
And then we get to today.
And now to venture forth into the unknown with only a computer and a plan.
And so here is the plan. I have spent so much time being a photographer, editing images, building the galleries, and writing the posts, that I have neglected a very important element of the Mac Lab philosophy: the act of helping others. There is a page entitled “This is How We Do It,” and currently all that is says is that we will build it after Finals. And that is what I intend to do. That page will, hopefully, become the greatest of them all, and will be where Kyle and I communicate to the Mac Lab and the world as a whole how we have filled our galleries. The “How We Do It” page will finally tell you how we do it.
Also, the blog itself will change. By the end of the year, I hope to have learned enough of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) to completely, or at least partially, redesign the look of CRDESIGNLAB.
Of course, the galleries will also grow, and multiply. Kyle and I will continue to take and edit pictures. Furthermore, I will create dedicated galleries for light painting and 3D Design and Animation, as well as the subcategories of our Digital Art: self portraits, logos, and posters.
Ultimately, I would like to transform CRDESIGNLAB into a resource for aspiring photographers, both in the Mac Lab and beyond. In the spirit of teamwork, I would like to ask for suggestions or opinions as to where this blog should venture and what we should do in the future.
This post was written during the 7th period Mac Lab Final, so I do not have access to my photo library and therefore have no image to represent what I have said here. Truthfully though, nothing represents this post better than the blog itself, so I leave you with that: CRDESIGNLAB.
Yesterday, my sister and I were playing XBox and I happened to glance out the window. I noticed that it was hailing, and we paused the game and went outside. We walked around in the hail for a few minutes before something interesting happened. In a split second, the hail went form the size of peas to the size of marbles. We were stunned and each attempted to deflect the falling ice away from our faces. After a moment, we realized what was happening and that it was more cool than painful, even though it did hurt a little. In just a few minutes, the hail was piled high and in places looked like snow.
As the hail died down and I started to go inside, my sister yelled for me to get my camera. At that moment, something went off in my head. I registered that this was a once a year opportunity that I could not let pass by. I was going to get pictures, good pictures, of this winter wonderland no matter what. I ran inside and called for my mom to get my camera, as I was soaking wet and didn’t want to get the floor dirty. When she arrived with it, I transformed into photographer mode and started snapping away.
In ten minutes, I took 385 pictures. That is a picture every 1.56 seconds!!!!! Most of them were, from an artistic point of view, a complete waste of memory card space. A few, however, turned out to be pretty good. The one I have chosen to be featured on this post was taken from about six inches above my driveway and looking down so as to capture to sun’s reflection off of the wet ground. I think it turned out nice.
The whole point of this anecdote is really very simple: when presented by a rare opportunity, seize the moment and make it worthwhile. That is what I did yesterday. When the hail was done and it was safe outside for technology (the rain had paused also), I acted fast and captured a rare event on camera. The bottom line: when an opportunity arises, seize it.
Last week, I signed this blog up for Google Analytics. The next day, I found out that you need the CSS Styles upgrade in order to access the blog’s code and make Google Analytics work. CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is a type of coding language used to govern the appearance of the a web page. Basically, it tells the browser what to show, dealing with everything from the fonts to the colors, formatting, and even the background image(s). I had only been briefly aware of CSS before.
Today, I bought the CSS Styles upgrade and have started going through some tutorials on how to write CSS code. So far, it is fairly simple, and the possibilities seem endless, but I have a long ways to go. In a few weeks, I hope to have completely overhauled the blog’s appearance, but I won’t apply the changes until I am completely done, and I certainly won’t be done in time for the presentations next week. Also, I won’t be able to set up Google Analytics until I have made progress on the CSS code. If anyone wants to know how or why, ask me. Wish me luck!!!
As Christopher mentioned, this weekend was filled with photography, and lots of it, with close to 2,500 pictures taken over a three day period. And let me say right off the bat… the 5D Mark II is an absolutely amazing camera, and with it we got great results, both with light painting and traditional photography in my backyard. The picture that goes along with this post is one of several taken in sequence of a bee drinking the nectar out of a large rosemary bush down on a hill of my backyard.
Being one of my favorite pictures of the day, I thought it would be one worth editing in Camera Raw, and my premonition was correct when I saw the final result of an already beautiful photograph. Is it still in need of work? Yes, of course; nothing in the Mac Lab is ever finished. But as it currently stands, it’s not all that bad.
As time permits, with finals and all coming up, more editing and posting will take place and we will show some of the great pictures we took throughout the weekend.
Kyle and I spent about an hour and a half light painting during our marathon of photography on Saturday and ended up with a single image that we dubbed good enough to make an appearance here. As part of our weekend plan, we hoped to go to downtown San Diego at night and do some light painting with the cars and lights of the city. This is a different type of light painting than the one we had been doing before. Instead of running around with flashlights drawing something in the air, we would simply set up the camera and see what happened to drift in front of it. Come Sunday, our plan was carried out.
We met just after 5pm, and after fixing some tire pressure problems, my mom drove us into the city. We didn’t want to go alone primarily because we wanted an extra person to keep an eye on the cameras while we were working. On the drive there, we took out the 5D Mark II and took turns taking long exposures of the lights of the highway, and produced some pretty cool and amazing patterns.
We went first to Horton Plaza, and ascended to the seventh floor. We took photos of the city from vantage points around the mall and of the interior of the mall itself, before the security guards told us we couldn’t. We were only allowed to take pictures of ourselves in the mall, not the architecture of the mall itself.
We decided to leave Horton Plaza and took the elevator down to street level. We took position just outside the main entrance to the mall and took a few long exposures of traffic entering the mall. This post’s featured image was the second of these pictures. We then crossed the street and captured shots of the cars moving perpendicular to the first shots. After that, we moved further down the street towards a building lit with vibrant purple and orange lights, but didn’t get too close because of a group of loud football fans shouting and cussing away their disappointment at the Chargers’ loss.
By then, it was after 8pm, and we were getting hungry. We had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe before heading home. On the way back, we took more pictures out the windows of the car, which turned out to be even cooler than the ones we took before. It turns out that we took a total of 134 pictures, and not counting the ones taken from the car, 9 are worth keeping and exploring in Photoshop. I briefly processed two of these images in class today, and posted them on the “Photo Gallery” page. They are likely not done, but I wanted to post something from that day. Overall, I would call it a fairly successful day, and we plan to do a lot more light painting in coming weeks.
We met at Kyle’s house around noon and spent a few minutes outlining what we were going to do the rest of the day. After all our gear was assembled, we hiked a few hundred yards down into the canyon behind Kyle’s house. We spent about a hour photographing anything that we found interesting and then hiked back. At this point, the day started getting good. Kyle has the perfect backyard for photgraphy, and we took advantage of that. We spent over three hours working our way back and forth across his yard. He was using the 5D Mark II with the 70-300mm Marco plus a 58mm Circular Polarizing filter and a lens hood, all on a tripod. I was using a T1i with the 5D’s 24-105mm. We each covered the same ground, so we got two pictures of everything, ensuring at least one good shot. We only stopped because both of the T1i’s batteries died and we had filled up almost all the 24GB worth of memory cards we brought along. We took a break, ate some grapefruit, and charged the T1i.
As the sun started to set, we grabbed our gear again and hiked back through the canyon to a patch of rocks that offered a good vantage point of the sunset. We spent about forty-five minutes photographing the sunset and filled up the cards the rest of the way. Then we hiked back and went to my house.
At my house, we proceeded to unload the pictures from the cameras. We used both my MacBook Pro and my iMac to make the process go faster. In the end, it turned out that we had taken a total of 2160 pictures in just over five hours, and we were not even done for the day. We quickly looked through the pictures, deleting the duds, test shots, and obviously awful ones. We also marked the ones that were clearly superior. We will return to these at a later date.
Finally, we set up the cameras for light painting and went out to my driveway. We traced my truck with flashlights and, after several tries, actually produced something that looked quite cool. Next, we traced the driveway itself and added light at different heights to add a three dimensional effect. Our masterpiece for the evening was a two minute and seventeen second exposure of the driveway where we wrote “Mac Lab” outlines by layered light and with cars in the background. We tried tracing my garage door and the brick path to my entryway, but those didn’t turn out as good. After an hour and a half, we decided to stop and unloaded the pictures onto my iMac. We suspected, the “Mac Lab” one turned out to be the best. As the final activity of the day, we took it into Photoshop to brighten up the colors a little.
Overall, it turned out to be a very productive day. Of the 2160 pictures we took, over a hundred are good enough to be edited and maybe twenty will make it onto this blog. It is only a matter of finding the time to do it.
I don’t think it would be an overstatement to say that Kyle and I borrowed more equipment from the Mac Lab today than probably 99% of people have on a single occasion before us. We took a tripod, two lenses (a 12-24mm Wide Angle and a 70-300mm Marco), a lens hood, a hood hat, a bag full of filters plus a 58mm UV Haze filter and a 58mm Circular Polarizing filter, a cable, two remote shutter buttons, some cleaning wipes, a cleaning pen, a Cintiq and its cables and pen, and a Canon EOS Rebel 5D Mark II along with its 24-105mm Zoom lens. Kyle had to bring a duffel bag to carry all the equipment.
After school, we tested the equipment and took some pictures around Monarch Ridge with our friend and fellow Mac Lab (Digital Arts) student Cameron Rabell. The three of us took about three hundred pictures before we filled the 4GB card in the 5D Mark II. The last person to borrow it had left several videos on the card that took up most of the space. We had also brought my Rebel T1i along, but primarily used the 5D Mark II. We returned to my house and unloaded the pictures, but had to hurry back to school before we could view or edit any of them. Kyle had to work the concessions stand at the 6pm basketball game as part of his ASB duties. I came along and brought both cameras. I took eight hundred plus pictures in just over an hour and a half. It took me a while to fine tune the settings on the camera in order to get good shots, as this was only the second time I had shot a sporting event.
By 7:45, Kyle was allowed to leave and we parted ways. I went home and unloaded the picture from my camera, and deleted all of them. Heh, practice makes perfect. Kyle took the 5D Mark II home with him, as well as most of the gear. I think that camera has the better pictures on it.
I decided to switch gears. I enlisted my sister and we light painted for a little while. I spelled out each letter of “Mac Lab” individually and then assembled them in Photoshop. I had to do all of this twice as I forgot to change the ISO back to 100 from 1600, which I had set it at for shooting the game. I think the finished product turned out good, sorta. Mr. Skocko demanded good work in return for letting us borrow the 5D Mark II, so we are under tremendous pressure to make something cool.
Well, this is it for today. I have been working nonstop since 5am. That’s eighteen hours. Tomorrow, we plan to meet and do some more light painting. We would like to go to downtown at night, which is a good time and place for light painting.
Kyle summed up what we plan to do this weekend fairly well, but I would like to add a little myself.
Both in “The Night Sky” post and several comments on the “Dawn and Dusk” post, I have explained how I have been trying for a while now to take a picture of the night sky but have had only limited success. I would like to add to this weekend’s plan that I will attempt several more photographs of the night sky and of the moon this weekend, weather permitting. I have taken pictures of the moon before and they have turned out pretty good, but I was using a lens with a less powerful zoom than the one we will borrow this weekend, so I would like to take some more.
Sometime this weekend I will create a page devoted to the technical aspect of photography. “How to” sections, essentially. The first entry will discuss photographing the night sky.
In downtown, we will try to do some light painting, although we may end up going somewhere in Monarch Ridge or Cottonwood if that doesn’t work out. We have attempted light painting on several occasions in the past, but we have never had the right equipment and so the final products were not even close to being good enough to post here. There is only one picture from those instances that will make it onto this blog, and it is one where I wrote Kyle’s name with a flashlight. I think it would make a nice Gravatar.
Most of this depends on Mr. Skocko letting us borrow as all the equipment we want. We spent half an hour outlining the weekend and making a list a third of a page long of all the things we want to borrow. Kyle is even bringing a duffel bag to carry all the equipment. I told him we should carry all the stuff to the top of Mt. San Jacinto and take some shots from there, but lugging thirty pounds of gear for sixteen miles did not appeal to him. I can’t imagine why not.
Well, I say goodbye for now as I go to read twenty-five pages from the AP U.S. book and solve some trigonometric equations.