Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Where To Kick The Computer?

©Bert Gildart: FRUSTRATIONS OF A DIGITAL NEWBIE
Or, Knowing Where to Kick the Computer

This past spring I received several telephone calls from Tom Ulrich, a photographer friend, asking if I’d yet learned how to work with raw images. Though we’re both Montana based, we travel extensively, and he was in Texas, while I was in New Mexico. Just weeks earlier, we’d all been in Bosque del Apache, relaxed—photographing the massive wintering congregations of snow geese and sandhill cranes. Now, we were experiencing digital difficulties, wondering if a swift kick to the mainframe of our respective computers might relieve frustrations.Problems originated when we tried to load raw images (raw is akin to your unmodified negative back in the good old days of film) from our new Nikon D-200s, which we’d both purchased, and into a dedicated program called Picture Project.

For some reason, the integrated PhotoShop program wouldn’t allow us to use the Nikon raw images from Picture Project. My situation was maddening, but Tom’s was urgent, and he needed a remedy. Tom was competing in a nationally recognized photo contest, one in which a number of Texas ranches were being made available for one month to individual photographers participating in the contest. Eventually Tom concluded he’d have to shoot in the jpeg mode, and then later convert the images to tiffs. That would create larger files, ones that would generate an 8×12 image at 300 dpi (dots per inch), but it still wasn’t quite as good as shooting in the raw mode.Because I was closer (in the physical sense) to answers than was Tom, I began questioning representatives, but because the camera was new and because the technology is so rapidly changing, no one person was able to provide all the answers. The frustrating fact is that this may portend the way all this digital stuff is going to go.

And, so, to transform a long story into but a moderately short story, I’m here to report that I wasn’t able to get many of the answers. In fact, it wasn’t until Tom returned to Montana just weeks ago, that we were able to put our heads together and resolve the puzzle.

For starters, our conviction that most PR people in the digital world were also struggling proved true. None were really sure whether or not we had to have the latest version of PhotoShop; but as it turns out, we did. So both Tom and I updated. Cost-wise, that was not a big, big deal, though I’m the one that really benefited, because I had never updated since I’d purchased PhotoShop 5.5 several years ago—and in the computer age, that’s like going back to the days of the dinosaurs. Nevertheless, CS2 loaded effortlessly over my 5.5, and with it I set about trying to deal with raw images.

Tom, on the other hand had upgraded long ago, and was now upgrading from a recently upgraded version of CS—not CS2. Ouch! But darn it all, updates didn’t resolve the problem for me—or for Tom, who is light-years ahead of me in ability to resolve digital difficulties.

At this point, I was ready to start kicking—and go back to film. Tom, however, prevailed and got on the phone with an Adobe representative, who advised him he’d now need a “plug-in” called Camera Raw.8BI. And now we can make a long story into a more abbreviated one.

After four days of struggle Tom finally managed to load Camera Raw.8BI into PhotoShop CS2. Then, bless him; he graciously shared his knowledge with me. The technique required the push of three or four buttons, but the punching had to follow the right path once in My Computer. (Program files>common files>Adobe>Plug-ins>CS2>File Formats>into which you then load Camera Raw.8BI) Simple isn’t it… and it reminded me of the old story about a mechanic fixing a car by kicking it, then charging the customer $100. “Yes,” says the mechanic, “I kicked the car, and you can too. But I knew where to kick it.”

Happily my system is now “all goes,” at least for awhile. To celebrate, I immediately had to go out and shoot raw. It all worked, and here’s my first image, shot raw and then converted to a tiff. The image is to accompany a story on pike fishing, and one of the flies represents a mouse, the other a frog. The file loaded onto my computer defaulted to a 70 megabyte file—and even this digital newbie knows that’s huge! Now I have to figure out where to kick the computer, so as to load smaller files.



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