Shortly before we went on our vacation in London, my Wikiloops friend from Paris, Mr. OliVBee published another album, again featuring Shi as the singer on all tracks. And now that we’re back I could finally download and listen to it – and again I’m floored by everything I hear on it. So here are the cover and a link to the album:
I love all of its 14 tracks, but outstanding for me personally this time were the “Irlenn Tribute” (track #5), a wonderful Bossa Nova track which made me want to grab Mitchie and just dance (couldn’t because she was sleeping already), then “Like a river” (track 11) because of that wonderful Irish whistle played by TomasFoe, and “Footprints” (track 12) because of the trumpet by ‘jaz100’.
Edit: like Oliv just told me, credits for the album cover (artwork & photography) go to Shi again – and I don’t have to mention her amazing lyrics and singing of course, still, a big ‘merci’ goes to her as well.
So I gave some thumbs-ups on the tracks I hadn’t heard before, but the others (including one which I played on myself in another version) were also great, and Oliv’s mixes are some of the best in the Wikiloops archives.
So go and have a listen. Or even better, get a download ticket to get the album, and to support Wikiloops – and as such, all of us – a bit.
I showed you that portrait photo of a young woman already which I took in front of the British Museum. And I’ve made that one with my usual workflow which was/is to first convert the raw .orf file with Olympus Viewer 3 in Windows, and then to tag and add Exif data and other small adjustments with RawTherapee on Linux. All well and good, practised and tested on thousands of my images.
But with new software versions come new tests, and so I found that by now, and for me, Darktable also has its merits. It’s especially great for rotating, adding frames, and even adding GPS data with simply dropping the photos onto an OpenStreetMap.
I also wanted to see the photo in black & white.
So after another conversion from .orf to .tif, this time with the newer Olympus Workspace (the successor of the former Olympus Viewer 3), I first loaded the resulting .tif into Silver Efex Pro 2 – and decided that for a portrait of a young woman the standard conversion method might be the best option. I then did the same with Olympus Workspace (same as if it would have been done in-camera) to compare both outputs.
And they were pretty much the same, really. Same file sizes, no real differences between these two. So I took the one made with Olympus Workspace (again, same as in-camera), and used RawTherapee 5.5 with my stored midtone procedure which shifts the midtones (not the blacks or the whites) from a neutral grey to a more brownish tone (which I „stole“ from a photo of a horse by Laura Wilson (Owen’s mum who is a great photographer)). Then I straightened the picture about -4.25 degrees and added 3.5% of a border (using one of the colour tones from within the image) with Darktable 2.6.0 – all on my Debian 10 “Buster” operating system which is out since Saturday, July 6th, 2019.
For a colour version, the process was more or less the same, minus the black and white conversion in Olympus Workspace, and minus the midtoning with RawTherapee of course. But the straightening, framing, and adding of GPS data was more or less the same.
Then I uploaded both versions to Flickr so that I can show them here without using too much space on our own server, and added them to some folders and groups in Flickr. And here they are:
and the colour version:
I like them both. Even without the framing, the aditional controls for rotating, or that GPS data functionality are very nice features to have. Other things are a bit more complicated in Darktable when compared to RawTherapee, but then again I’m just doing my first baby-steps here with this program after ignoring it for a long time…
Anyway, it’s nice to have some great tools, and it’s even nicer when they’re free.
And again and like always, thanks for reading, and for viewing.
Here’s another photo I took in London, this time ‘developed’ with Olympus Workspace (on Windows 10), followed by Darktable (on Linux) – you simply can’t get those skin tones without Olympus’ special treatment, at least I can’t beat it:
It shows the London Subway station Hyde Park Corner, and on the display you see that people are waiting for a train to Arnos Grove (see Wikipedia, or a map).
This has nothing to do with my colleague Arno of course, but I still thought that he might like the news that there are “Arnos House”, Arnos Park”, and even “Arnos Station” (and “Arnos Pool”!) around there. Maybe one day he’ll move there, or at least visit the place? Bon voyage… 🙂
It pays by the way to get a Travelcard. Here’s mine which was for 3 zones, and for 7 days:
We just went to the woman who was looking after Tuna while we were gone, and out of curiosity I tried the cycle-through knob in the tachometer of our car again – and there it was, the display dimming part! How could I not see this on Saturday – I could swear it wasn’t there, but here it was! And, sure enough, after holding the button for a few seconds, the display was lit like a Christmas tree again.
But this wasn’t the real reason for showing this image here, it was rather a change in my workflow. The ‘postr’ app (also called ‘Flickr Uploadr’ in Gnome) doesn’t work anymore since the new owners of Flickr (SmugMug) changed the authentication to an OAuth model, so I used another newer app called ‘frogr’ here. And for ‘developing’ that photo from the raw .orf file into a .jpg which can be shown I used Darktable instead of my usual combination of OV3 (on Windows) and RawTherapee (on Linux), just to see the state of development.
And well, yes, all these apps and programs are getting better. frogr isn’t as good yet as postr was, but Darktable is quite nice already. Not perfect but usable. And I can even geotag images with it, and these geotags are shown in Flickr which is nice (that never worked with RawTherapee).
Don’t know if I can/should get used to it, but it’s always good to have options, no?
As I wrote already, the Hammersmith & City line had some service announcement for Saturday, so we had to take Jubilee to London Bridge, and the Northern line to Kings Cross / St Pancras. The guys at the hotel were nice enough to pack some breakfast for us, of which we had a bit while waiting at this place in the station:
In the Eurostar, we had the “Standard Premier” tickets this time, so we got another breakfast in the train as well – nice. Plus, while knowing that it went way over 200km/h over land (not in the tunnel), this time I could actually see the monitor – and indeed it displayed 298 and 299km/h when I looked. Two hours from London to Brussels (or back), which is very cool.
Then, “S-Bahn” from Brussels to Leuven – with what felt 1/10th of the speed. For these 18kilometers it took us almost another hour.
Finally, some stations with a bus, and at the Toyota dealer we could pick up our car with a new generator and battery (which was also damaged according to the service/sales guy there).
And yes, thankfully our car brought us back home. But the display is still strange – when I now turn on the front lights of the car, the display automatically dims to almost unreadable. And the (step-trough) section of undimming that display is gone – simply not there anymore. They must either also have changed the programming box, or cabled something differently, or simply put in something else than what the car had before that service… so that means I either have to live with that dark display now, or to have it checked (and repaired) again at a local dealer. Because, honestly, what were the options? To complain on a late Saturday, with no mechanics in anymore?
Sigh… reality has me back…
At least, London was nice. As long as I didn’t have to walk too far.
There weren’t any plans (from my family) for Friday, so I suggested to visit the Bike Shed in Old Street. It’s partly store, partly restaurant, partly motorcycle repair and club, and you can even get a haircut there if you like.
But on the way there, I first saw this strange architecture:
Looks like its maker fell in a whiskey jar before the first drawings… anyway, here is a nice custom Duc:
The shop also had some very nice Belstaff jackets for slightly less than 500 quid, and even a normal T-Shirt was 35 pounds (kids’ shirts far smaller than for Zuleikha were 15 pounds), so we passed on buying something.
Instead, we first went to Baker Street, but only took photos from outside the Sherlock Holmes museum – my next idea & suggestion was Harrods, so from Baker Street we hopped on the 74 bus to head there – via Hyde Park again, and this time I took a photo of the traffic around Hyde Park Corner:
We didn’t stay in Harrods for too long – it may well be “all things for all men” – as long as you can afford it. Coming out and going around the corner, you see their clientele’s car’s parked:
These two had licenses from Kuwait – maybe my colleague Nabil was in for a short (and fast) trip as well? 😉
Back in the tube, I asked a local (very friendly officer) for a restaurant tip again – it was our last day in London, and both Mitchie and Zuleikha have never tried the famous fish & chips. He sent us to the Rocks and Sole Plaice near Covent Garden which again was a very good tip – thanks so much, sir!
The best of the day was yet to come: Mitchie had contact to a friend with whom she studied in Wisconsin, and who lives about an hour from London – so both Salma and her husband came in via train at Waterloo station. And after some coffee they took us to a pub and then to another (this time Indian) restaurant, so we had very good food again, and in wonderful company. They’re now off to Malaysia but promised to visit us around here as soon as they can.
So we were ‘home’ (at our hotel) a bit later than planned – we had to pack and leave early, so that was our Friday then.
For Thursday, it was the “Sea Life” aquarium which was on the plan, and for which we had tickets already, so this was where we went. Here are a few photos:
I often wondered about using flash on animals – lots of people do this “just to get the shot”, or simply because they don’t care or think. But I’ve never flashed an animal (like bugs and/or butterflies, an exception is our cat), and I later read that indeed doing so can ruin their eyes forever – so I was glad to see signs like the one above. So don’t “shoot” what you love – take photographs with a bit of care and consideration instead.
The Sea Life in London has very nice and funky lights anyway – you can take lots of great photos if you just see the lights as they are:
And that includes the animals:
All in all, a great place to be, and well worth the time and money. It takes about two hours to get through, even if you let the occasional school classes pass, and wait a bit until they’re gone.
Then, once you’re out, you’re just beneath the “London Eye”:
And starting from there you’ll see and hear street musicians, some of them really good. Couldn’t support them all, but Zuleikha dropped some coins whenever she liked one.
Plans were to see the bridges, but for me, I didn’t fancy all the walking – so I suggested to see them from a boat instead. Mitchie and Zuleikha accepted, and we looked for a TfL boat to book a roundtrip to Greenwich. So here are some photos from the rest of our day:
After the boat tour we were hungry, and this time Mitchie found some address on her phone, a very nice restaurant with Italian food. On our way to it, we passed Westminster Abbey:
As you can see, the sun was low already, so after our meal we made it back to the hotel. By the way, Mitchie liked the Jubilee line of the London subway (“tube”), but Zuleikha loved the announcements on another one: