Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What to do with my photos?

I have been into photography as a hobby for close to 2 years now. Up until recently, I have been clicking pictures, sharing them out on facebook/flickr, and that was about it. At the end of 2010, I got an idea from my cousin to create calendars using the pictures I have shot. After spending about a fortnight on designing calendars, I ended up with single page calendar designs, printable at 18' X 12'. I even got some prints done and gave them out to relatives and friends. Here are a few of them:

This was a landscape photo taken at Jungfrau, Switzerland. The crystal clear sky and the white snow, made for a compelling contrast in this image. I had several photos taken while I was there. The need to shortlist one among them was tricky. Most photos I shot were in landscape orientation, and this was the ONLY one I had shot in portrait orientation. Hence, I chose this.
A photo of the Vitthala temple seen through one of the several stone mantaps, in Hampi. This place is a creative breeding ground! Lots of geometry to be explored and experimented with. I was mostly trying to get close to the ground, to click a photo of one of the mantaps on the Hemakoota hill. From one angle, I could see the gopura of the Vitthala temple. Capturing both the mantapa and the temple tower as seen in this picture makes it one of my favorite photos from that trip. Choosing this for a calendar design, was only natural.
This was a small fridge magnet, containing a model of London bridge. Shake it up, and small flakes rise up and gradually float down. I used light from a torch from the left side to create this image. This photo was the result of sheer boredom on a rainy day, left with nothing to do alone at home. A student of my mother had given this fridge magnet and I had not even looked at it properly until I raided the refrigerator to look for something to eat, late in the evening. Once I saw the gradual falling flakes, the idea was born. The hard part, after this, was to get good lighting. To say that I spent close to an hour and clicked about 40 photos suffices to describe my struggle that day. I had to show my hard work in a calendar design.

Last month, when I visited a friend's newly-rented house, I saw that he had used prints of his photos and used them to adorn walls in his room. I borrowed this idea and used simple items like thermocol boards, cardboard, glue and double-sided adhesive rolls. Here is what it looks.  

 I am still looking at new ways to put my photos to other creative uses. One thing I can say for sure. The joy of getting your hands on a large print of your photo is something that one has to experience! :)

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Access weirdness to some websites

I am NOT a networking specialist. These are just some of my observations about a weird issue I went through recently.

I have a desktop and laptop at my home. I use my desktop for all the heavy-lift work. Import photos, process the RAW images, fine tune them, resize them for web and print and finally back them up - pretty much the whole workflow for getting images from the memory card off the camera and getting it ready for print. I'm a flickr user - I upload my work there. Ever since I upgraded my desktop to Windows 7, I was unable to even open up the flickr homepage. The browser (ANY browser - I tried with firefox (different versions), chrome and IE) would just get stuck with "Connecting to http://www.flickr.com...". The laptop I had was running Windows XP - things worked just fine on that! For many weeks, I could not figure it out. I just worked-around this issue by using my laptop to upload work to flickr. 

Recently I was fed up enough to sit and spend some time trying to figure out what the hell this issue was all about. Let me categorically state that I have still not figured out what causes this issue even now! I just got the thing to work on my desktop. I still have to do one extra step everytime I have to upload pictures to flickr! 

I started with the basics. 

  1. Does my DNS resolve the web address? Yes it does...
    > nslookup flickr.com
    Server:  resolver1.opendns.com

    Non-authoritative answer:
    Name:    flickr.com

  2. Am I able to ping the flickr server? Yes
    > ping flickr.com

    Pinging flickr.com [] with 32 bytes of data:
    Reply from bytes=32 time=322ms TTL=53
    Reply from bytes=32 time=325ms TTL=53
    Reply from bytes=32 time=330ms TTL=52
    Reply from bytes=32 time=323ms TTL=53

    Ping statistics for
        Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss)
    Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
        Minimum = 322ms, Maximum = 330ms, Average = 325ms
  3. I tried opening up the browser and directly using the IP address of flickr.com in the address bar. Does not work - the site is not that simple!

    We're sorry, Flickr doesn't allow embedding within frames.
    If you'd like to view this content, please click here.
  4. I vaguely did not search on google. I found that some people do have similar issue, but not with flickr but some other websites. The one suggestion in many of those cases that stood out as being common was to check MTU value and try a lower value. I checked that both in Windows and in my Netgear modem, the MTU was set to 1500. Now the thing to do was to find the correct MTU for flickr.com...

    > ping flickr.com -f -l 1500

    Pinging flickr.com [] with 1500 bytes of data:
    Packet needs to be fragmented but DF set.
    Packet needs to be fragmented but DF set.
    Packet needs to be fragmented but DF set.
    Packet needs to be fragmented but DF set.

    Ping statistics for
        Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 0, Lost = 4 (100% loss)

    Flickr does not like MTU 1500

    > ping flickr.com -f -l 1400

    Pinging flickr.com [] with 1400 bytes of data:
    Reply from bytes=1400 time=354ms TTL=52
    Reply from bytes=1400 time=350ms TTL=53
    Reply from bytes=1400 time=355ms TTL=52
    Reply from bytes=1400 time=350ms TTL=53

    Ping statistics for
        Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
    Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
        Minimum = 350ms, Maximum = 355ms, Average = 352ms

    MTU 1400 works, but can we get this to work with a higher MTU. Lower MTU means more overhead!

    Using a binary search between 1400 and 1500, I ended up with a value 1472 which flickr seemed to work with. I changed the MTU setting on my modem and voila, I am now able to upload pictures without any hassles.
I do however do not leave my MTU set at 1472 all the time since most other things work fine with MTU 1500. This is the minor step (reduce MTU to 1472 at Netgear modem) at the time I upload photos to flickr and revert it back to 1500 once I am done.