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Sifting through 1100+ photos

My Nikon D60 is set to continuous release mode. This is great, because it allows me to capture ambient-light images of normally motion-blur-prone children. I took some photos at my nephew’s first soccer game and the continuous shutter works really well for action photos too. Instead of snapping one shot and finding out later I was too slow or the kids too fidgety, I can snap a few and pick out the good one later.

So a shot like this is culled out of a series of blurred frames:

Looking up

The not-so-great part of this technique is what happens after a week visiting family across the country. I have 1100+ photos to sift through, and that’s after some in-camera deletion of obviously useless shots.

I use Picasa to manage the photos on my hard drive, it’s fast and has a nice UI. My usual tactic is to make a couple passes through, starring good shots. Then I make a final pass through the starred photos where I might crop or adjust levels a bit (that’s the Tuning tab in Picasa) and finally export to a folder. From there I can upload to Flickr, Facebook, Panoramio, and any of the other places I find myself sharing photos.

Anyone have any helpful tips for speeding up this workflow? Any actual professional photographers out there who deal with this on a regular basis? I remember similar problems when I worked in newsrooms but that was a while back and I don’t remember a good solution existing at the time.

Adding GPS tracking to your Android phone with Google My Tracks

Did you see the squirrel? I’ve recently switched over from my iPhone to an HTC Dream phone running Google’s Android operating system, otherwise known as the G1.  One of the main reasons I switched was because my older iPhone didn’t have a real GPS, and the cell-tower triangulation just didn’t cut it in many parts of the country.

Google just released an app that makes the GPS really useful, called My Tracks.  I’m not the first to write about it, and there’s a pretty thorough review at AndroidGuys, but I thought I’d share my first experience.  This is also an excuse to post more pictures of my cute kid on my supposedly technology-focused blog, since she came along for the walk.

To use My Tracks you’ll need to download it for free from the Android Market. Once you have it installed it’s just a matter of starting up and hitting the menu button and then Record Track.  You can put your phone in your pocket and forget about it while you hike or even surf the web and use other apps – it will keep running in the background.  Multitasking is another advantage that Android has over the iPhone.

Here’s my walk with my internet-famous firstborn:


View Larger Map

It’s fairly accurate, and you can even tell which side of the street I walked on most of the time. Mountain View is no metropolis but walking near tallish buildings downtown did seem to throw it off a bit. I promise I was not staggering from side to side as I walked down Castro Street.

You also get summary data about the duration, traveling speed, and even elevation changes of your trip.

On the trail at Rancho San Antonio The best thing about My Tracks is that it uses Google Maps and makes it easy to share your route with people. One note – you’ll have the click the little down arrow button on the map screen and choose “Send to Google…” before it shows up in your “My Maps” list in Google Maps. To embed the result in the blog post (like I did above), click the “Link” link in Google Maps and you’ll get code for an iframe.

You can also share some route details with Google Docs but to be honest I was hoping for more data – I’d like to get the point-by-point GPS data so I can use it to automatically geotag photos. I am an obsessive geotagger on Flickr but it’s just too time-consuming to do it manually if the data already exists somewhere. You can access Google Docs spreadsheet data with Python, after all.

Another similar Google product I haven’t signed up for yet is Latitude – I’m not so much worried about privacy as I am unlikely to be traveling around enough for it to be interesting at this point. Athena likes to go for walks but we aren’t roaming too far yet.

My Photography Featured on Flickr?

Small steel mill building set aside for a future museum This is cool – I’m not sure how the honor is bestowed, but I happened to be looking through Flickr’s Places feature and noticed that I’m a featured photographer for Cleveland.  You may have to reload a couple times, they only display two users at a time and there are at least 6 or so featured.

Perhaps not real fame but these are the sorts of inconsequential online vanity things that make me happy. I’d actually be even happier to know that I was chosen complete algorithmically, rather than by human editors, because it means some code somewhere though my pictures were good in some flawed, but slightly more objective way.

This is also an example of why I’m still using Flickr more than Google’s Picasa, even though I use the Picasa application to organize all the photos on my hard drive and the face tagging feature is really impressive.

Speaking of featured photographers (and yet another photo sharing website), check out Vinay’s photos on SmugMug. I just found out about his site and have been enjoying the pics.