Category Archives: Blog

Another re-org, added Long Trail

Fiddled with the page hierarchy so as to better accommodate the various hikes.  Fixed up the albums accordingly.  Added a page for my (non-AT) Long Trail hikes, and a whopping journal page to go along with it.  Bearing in mind that there have been five Long Trail sections thus far (not including the part that is also the AT.)  It occurs to me that an astute reader might notice no mention of the White Mountains in my various AT pages and journals.  Fear not, that will be a major category unto itself.  This blog/gallery is really just getting underway.

In other matters, I quit my job today.  As of Friday, I think I’m retired.

Adding Journals

Added journals for two Appalachian Trail section hikes, 2005 and 2006.  Links to the journals from the respective gallery pages.  Added proper captions for the photos on those two pages.  Changed out the gallery preview photos in several albums.  Tough day at work.  Tweaking the website was far less stressful.

Getting Organized

Added a small gallery for our vacation in Arizona.  But mostly, I learned a few important tricks, mostly having to do with the navigation menu and page hierarchy.  Sometimes I’m just a slow learner.  It turns out that managing page links in WordPress is just as important as doing that in a hand-crafted website.  Who could have guessed…

I’m using proper NextGen albums now, indeed, a hierarchy of NextGen albums, and knowing how that works, the hierarchy will surely be growing and branching out as time allows.  (Hint:  albums and galleries must link back to their respective pages.) To some extent, this site reflects the work I’m doing with Lightroom on my workstation.

Photocrati Theme

A big day for the blog, perhaps.  After spending a few hours downloading and exploring a few “free” photo-related WordPress themes, I plunked down a bit of cash (well, plastic) for Photocrati, from the same outfit that designs and markets the NextGen WordPress plugin.  There’s no  free lunch.  This I should have learned many times over.  Even in my advanced years, I keep having to relearn this notion.

The rest of the day, from early afternoon onwards, was spent poking around with Photocrati, learning some of its idiosyncracies, and fixing up existing (NextGen) galleries and (WordPress) pages to play nicely with the Photocrati theme.  In the process I solved one vexing issue, namely how to kill that huge list of page-links in the header.  The answer to that one was simple:  there should only be a handful of top level pages.  One of these should be called “Galleries.”  All the individual gallery pages (Eg. Vermont 2011, AT-2002, etc.) should link to the “Galleries” page as parent.  Again, duh.  This is how the old TerrapinPhoto site was organized as well.

So, all the individual gallery (WordPress) pages were tweaked to point to that new parent, and now use NextGen “shortcode” to point to their respective (NextGen) image galleries.  The NextGen image galleries also need to link back their respective Wordpress pages, else they will open up on the Galleries page, which isn’t what we want.  Having done all that, the Galleries page now contains a single NextGen album which nicely links to the subsidiary gallery pages.  Whew.

Well there’s still tons of work to do.  For one thing, I need to experiment with optimal image sizes to balance out image size/resolution and acceptable page-loading times. Right now, the galleries with high-res images take a very long time to load.  That’s not so much an issue for me, but it may scare off almost anyone else trying to browse the site.

And then of course there’s a huge amount of tweaking left to do with the theme itself; Photocrati is more of a theme-builder than a single theme, and there are dozens if not hundreds of choices to make, some of which radically alter the look and feel of the site.  Here’s how the homepage looks as of this moment.  The background rotates between a small set of images.  The homepage can look rather different on a larger screen – that’s another surprise (at least with Photocrati) that’s going to complicate the testing as I continue.


1/10/15 Where it’s at.

Since the last post I’ve added quite a few more image galleries to the site.  Most of these were simply moved over from the old PHP Gallery or the Coppermine Photo Gallery albums.   The AT Hike 1990 page got special treatment.  Those images were newly-generated in Lightroom aka Lr.  I’m liking Lr more and more as I get used to it.  It’s going to be very useful for generating images for this site.  I also like the notion of non-destructive editing.  It keeps one from having to make many different copies of the same image.

There are still gobs of details to sort out.  Lr’s “stacks” only work within one directory.  Bummer.  I often have versions of the same image scattered all over my computer.  Sometimes under different names.  Sometimes from different scans.  I’ve explored some of the developing/retouching features in Lr, and they’re very nice.  This stuff has come a long way since Photoshop CS2.  I used to think the clone tool was the cat’s meow but the healing brush is downright magic.

NextGen Gallery continues to annoy and confound me.  It’s too much in some regards, not enough in others.  A tease.  I never did get a response to my support ticket from last week.  Though I doubt if any of the commercial (non-free) plugins and themes are any different in that regard.

I might add, the folks at PHP Webhosting are the best.  I rarely get to wait even 24 hours for a response to a support ticket, and they’ve never once failed to resolve my issue on the first try.  A big Like.

So I’m muddling along, still experimenting with all this newfangled web tech… so different from just a few years back.  Anything you see here and now is strictly experimental and temporary.  It can and will change on a whim.

In the meantime there’s work, as in the old nine-to-five routine, which is absorbing its share of my mental effort.  Winter’s here and it’s damnably cold outside, so rather than skiing or hiking right now I’m writing this blog to nobody.  Enough for now.  Time to go do something useful.

More tinkering with NextGen

The day began poorly.  An inch of sloppy rain-snow mush covered the driveway, and of course at the foot of said driveway the plowman had left boulders of heavy stuff.  Harsh words exchanged with Merry over the when, where and how of the shoveling task.  I knew it had to be done, that I’d be the one doing most of it… I just didn’t like the way it all unfolded.  Never mind.  We got over it.

I spent most of the day fiddling with this site, trying odd ways to link in a hierarchy of galleries.  I was over-thinking it, as usual.  Got to a point mid-day where I thought I’d “broken” NextGen somehow, I just couldn’t get to that Pro Lightbox view on any of the galleries, and even submitted a support ticket about that. That turned out to be my mistake.  You get to the Pro Lightbox by clicking that tiny gray arrow icon arrow_iconbelow the gallery or thumbnail.  If the gallery in question is being displayed as a grid of thumbnails, you can just click or tap a thumbnail.  But if the gallery is being displayed as a slideshow, you have to click the tiny arrow icon.

A NextGen gallery is just a collection of images.  The manner of its display within a page is chosen while composing the post or page.  It’s the first choice you make after clicking the green rectangle

nextgeninserticonto insert a NextGen gallery into a page.  A different page could display that same gallery in a different way.

NextGen Gallery is rife with oddities and idiosyncrasies.  The Pro Lightbox doesn’t allow “pinching” of the image.  Thumbnails are generally square, but my images aren’t… that sucks a bit.  Numerous tweaks can be applied to gallery types, but not on a per-instance basis, as far as I can tell.

Anyway, one key take-away from the preceding few paragraphs: there are galleries and there are gallery-display-types.  The gallery itself doesn’t have a type; rather, the type is assigned in each instance where the gallery chosen for display.

In order to install WordPress in the first place, I had to get my hosting company to upgrade the PHP version I was using.  Well, guess what… that ended up killing my ancient Gallery site, which was based on an ancient version of PHP.  I grabbed all the images off the host and began shoveling them into pages here on this WordPress site.  Short term effort — this will all be re-done.  Again, the best way I’ve found (so far) for displaying NextGen galleries is to create a new page, and then insert a NextGen gallery into it.  The WordPress sidebar lists all the pages so there’s a link to each gallery.

One final aside.  I did manage to achieve “remote triggering” of my RX100 camera as I’d alluded to in the previous post.  It involved a larger servo than I’d expected, but when I finally figured out how to mount the thing it worked like a charm.  The servo is black, the camera is black, available light was scarce, so no photo for now, sorry…


Time to regroup and reconsider.  My study was piled high with debris from experiments.  Old negatives and slides were stuffed rudely back in the shoebox from which they had exploded.  The study has been cleaned up and (cough cough) vacuumed. Way overdue.  Where am I going with this project?  Some further explorations last night were not so encouraging; the quality I’m getting isn’t quite as spectacular as I thought, but I was comparing critically against an excellent LS-8000 scan.

There is room for improvement.  But really, how good does it need to be? What ancient history am I trying to resuscitate?  I guess part of me was thinking, “Wait, what happened in my life, back before 1998, when I started scanning film?”  Some of that old stuff has been scanned, most has not.  During the years when I was scanning film seriously, it was “art” I was thinking of (and saleable prints) and not family album material, which is what I’m focused now.

But really, who’s going to look at this old stuff?  Will anyone care? It’s the story that matters.  Are those missing years so memorable?  How do I split my time and energy, between living in the moment, versus recording the past?

I’m about to buy a small light stand from BH Photo.  A 52mm 10-diopter macro lens is on order.  And I’ve thought of a way to actuate the shutter using a three dollar hobby servo and and receiver from my other hobby.  It turns out the RX-100 (at least the original model) has no support for electronic tethering, so the servo will at least allow for hands-free, albeit still mechanical shutter activation.  I just need to figure out how to hold the servo against the camera… maybe some sticky-tape?

Film scanning with a digital camera

So here’s my latest little project. I sold my very fine and fancy film scanner years ago. I figured I’d scanned all the slides and negatives I wanted to scan. But I was wrong. I’m taking a new interest in some of that old stuff. So what to do? The solution I’m working on involves a light table and close-up lenses. Results are very promising. A major problem, which even the best film scanners had trouble with, is film curl. Especially with frames at the end of cut strip, like the one pictured below.

That’s my old friend Bob Bailey, on one of our countless hikes in the White Mountains. He doesn’t look happy, for some reason.

There are lots of things I want to try to improve the “scan” quality.

  • Stronger diopter close-up lens
  • A way to hold the film flat
  • Electronic tethering of the camera

This is just a first attempt, using a Sony RX-100 point-and-shoot camera.  The film here is color negative film, inverted in Lightroom. I’m using the Lensmate widget to attach the close-up lenses. The light table is from Artograph.  The overall approach was inspired by this article (.pdf) by Peter Krogh.


Try till I bust…

This is pretty much the effect I was after, from NextGen Plus.  Click or tap on any thumbnail and enjoy.  Whee! This is fun.  There’s much to tweak and learn but I’m pleased with the progress so far.  I’ll add more content gradually and probably reorganize it multiple times along the way.

NextGen Plus

All righty then.  After some digging around I decided to splurge on a copy of NextGen Plus, which appeared to have some of the goodies I was after.  Here’s what I’ve come up with so far, using that same small collection of images.