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Category: Opinionated


I have seen the light and I am never going back.

Let’s briefly talk about what they both are. I’m sure you have an idea but I’m gonna throw it out there anyway. The RAW format is not really standardized, but in a nutshell, it’s minimally processed data from an image sensor, such as the one in a camera. It’s something like a digital photo negative… it contains the information needed to make an image. Then there’s a JPEG, which is more like the final printed picture. It’s an image that you can look at. A final product, persay.

Many cameras (well, maybe not the point-and-shoots so much, but most of the digital SLRs) give you the option to shoot in JPEG, RAW, or both in some cases. I admit, I shot in JPEG for a long time. But for people that edit their photos (much like how film photographers used different methods when developing their film for different effects), RAW is the way to go. Allow me to show you some visual examples.

Here’s a flower photo I took today.

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It’s a decent picture, but a little boring and the colors don’t look nearly as vibrant or natural as they actually are. So, I spruced up the RAW file a bit.

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Now that’s better. Yay better! But, just for curiosity’s sake.. let’s see what happens if I apply the same exact changes to a JPEG version of the original image that I applied to the RAW version of it.

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Yes. Not so good, right? That’s because RAW files store more information than a JPEG. The RAW file doesn’t have a set white balance, and it hasn’t had saturation or contrast levels forced on it, or anything like that, so it can be changed in ways that a JPEG can’t, because the JPEG only kept the information that was visible at the time, instead of the information that could have been used to make adjustments. RAW is also 16 bit data as opposed to 8 bit, so it has 65,536 levels to work with instead of just 256 like the JPEG. It’s a little hard to explain what the difference is between the information.. but basically, there are not nearly as many things set in stone in a RAW file, so you have more control over the editing.

Another good example is in how you can edit the exposure. Today when I was out shooting, I had forgotten to adjust the manual settings on my camera when I went outside after shooting inside. This, of course, led to a painfully over exposed picture. Had I only been shooting in JPEG, the image would have been ruined forever, because you just can’t turn a white blur into something that makes sense. The RAW image however, stored more information about what the image looked like before it crossed the line to overexposed. So I was able to pop the image into Lightroom and turn the exposure down to rescue it. Allow me to show you what happened when I took the overexposed image and edited the RAW, and the JPEG versions of it.


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So as you can see, there are many benefits to shooting in RAW. The only downside is that they take longer to write, and they are large files. They also require special software to read them. Lightroom is a great program for it. If you don’t do any post-processing on your photos, then it won’t be worth it to shoot in RAW. But if you do… try it out. I think you’ll like the amount of control you get with a RAW file over the JPEG.


Roller Derby Is Awesome!

So, I went up to Seattle this weekend (I will blog more about that tomorrow), and while I was there, my friends and I went to see the Jet City Roller Girls bout. I’d never seen roller derby before, and can I just say, it was the MOST FRICKEN AWESOME THING EVER!!!!

I mean, how can you beat it? You’ve got all these hardcore chicks on roller skates knocking the hell out of each other while their jammer tries to survive the chaos and pass everybody. It’s great! People break bones playing this game. Ouch, but yeah, it’s definitely bad ass! I sat in the crash zone for a while, but nobody fell on me. I was a little sad. Here’s a video I took of one of the jams.

So now that I have been exposed to the glory that is the roller derby, I really want to get into it! Portland is home of the Rose City Rollers and I would absolutely LOVE to be part of it. I figure, if I can survive kickboxing and mosh pits, and love every second of it, roller derby is meant for me to play! They have some clinics and tryouts coming up quick. Sadly I don’t think I’ll be able to get in this time around though. For starters, I don’t own skates or any of the rest of the gear. Secondly.. well, it’s been YEARS since I’ve been on a pair of roller skates. In-lines I can do.. quads… not so much ha. So I will have to get a pair and practice being about to stay on my feet. It looks like an expensive thing to get into… but some time soon, I will do it! And then you all have to come to Portland to cheer for me. *nods*

In short… if you’ve never been to a roller derby bout, look up your local team and go! It’s fun :D


Apparently, Moses was High

Moses and the Israelites were on drugs, says Benny Shanon, an Israeli professor of cognitive philosophy.

Writing in the British Journal Time and Mind, he claims Moses was probably on psychedelic drugs when he received the Ten Commandments from God.

The assertions give a whole new meaning to Moses being “high” on Mount Sinai.

According to Shanon, a professor at Hebrew University, two naturally existing plants in the Sinai Peninsula have the same psychoactive components as ones found in the Amazon jungle and are well-known for their mind-altering capabilities. The drugs are usually combined in a drink called ayahuasca.

“As far as Moses on Mount Sinai is concerned, it was either a supernatural cosmic event, which I don’t believe, or a legend, which I don’t believe either, or finally, and this is very probable, an event that joined Moses and the people of Israel under the effects of narcotics,” he told Israel Radio in an interview Tuesday.

The description in The Book of Exodus of thunder, lightening and a blaring trumpet, according to Shanon, are the classic imaginings of people under the influence of drugs.

As for the vision of the burning bush, well obviously that too was a drug-fueled hallucination, according to Shanon.

“In advanced forms of ayahuasca inebriation,” he wrote, “the seeing of light is accompanied by profound religious and spiritual feelings.”

Shanon admits he took some of these drugs while in the Amazon in 1991. “I experienced visions that had spiritual-religious connotations,” he said.

The initial reaction to this controversial theory from Israel’s religiously orthodox community and the powerful rabbis who lead it was less than enthusiastic.

Orthodox rabbi Yuval Sherlow, quoted by Reuters speaking on Israel radio, said: “The Bible is trying to convey a very profound event. We have to fear not for the fate of the biblical Moses, but for the fate of science.”


Okay. This is definitely the most interesting article I have read all day. There are two things I try not to really talk about too much: politics, and faith. Those conversations just never seem to go well. But I couldn’t resist posting this.

Now, allow me to preface these next few paragraphs by saying this: I was born and raised Protestant. I have my ups and downs with religion as we know it. Sometimes I’m not sure if I even really believe in God as he was taught to me. I am very confused about my own personal faith. So, I think a lot about possible alternatives.

One of my favorites, that ties in with this story, is this: Why do science and religion have to argue? Why does one have to be absolutely right? What if they’re both right? I think it makes more sense to believe that they’re both right. For instance!

Let’s say Moses was high. Ok… they like to say that the Lord moves in mysterious ways. Maybe God chose to come to Moses while he was high, so that science could explain this vision, but the people that have faith would be able to exercise that faith by believing that God really did make himself and his will known to Moses. Science and Religion are both right.

What about The Big Bang theory? What if… maybe it’s crazy… but what if, when God created the Heavens and the Earth, he didn’t just will it into existence, but rather, was the cause of the Big Bang? Again, Science and Religion can both be right.

Maybe God uses science to his advantage. Maybe it’s his way of doing things so that us mere mortals can somewhat understand it. Maybe he wants us to be able to relate to him just a little bit. Maybe it was never meant to be Science verses Religion, and the two are supposed to work hand in hand to explain Existence.

… just a thought.

(now, before people start commenting, let me remind you of the comment policy, particularly rules 5 and 6. I mean it; I don’t tolerate immature fighting on my blog.)


L.A. Tap Water “Nation’s Tastiest”

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. —  Their air might bring pollution complaints, but residents of Los Angeles drink the nation’s tastiest tap water, according to the judges of an international competition.

More than 120 water sources competed in the 18th annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting, held Saturday.

A panel of 10 journalists and food critics sampled sparkling, tap and bottled water from 19 states and other countries, including New Zealand, Romania, Macedonia and the Philippines.

The title of best municipal water was shared by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which serves Los Angeles, and the town of Clearbrook, British Columbia.

Los Angeles won a gold medal in 1998 and has been in the top five in four other competitions since then, according to the competition organizers.

“It means they give special care and attention to their water and how it is processed,” said event producer Jill Klein Rone.


Am I reading this right? Los Angeles has the best tap water in the nation? Are these people crazy?! Take it from me… I spent 21 years in L.A. and the tap water is NOT tasty. In any way, shape, or form. It tastes metallic. Bottled water companies made a killing on me and my family.

The tap water here in Portland is significantly better. I don’t buy bottled water anymore because the tap water here is actually drinkable. Those tasters…. have no taste. Durp. What other places have good tap water?


Sim City Societies

So, I installed Sim City Societies today. Here are my initial thoughts.

One: It’s nice that getting power to my city isn’t so god damn annoying. My biggest turnoff about the older versions is I had to actually pay attention to where I was putting water pipes and power lines. Not my thing. I just want to generate power and assume it knows where it’s going. bam! Place some windmills, produce power, go start building.

Two: … you know, I didn’t really get much further than that because the game crashes every five-ten minutes. Seriously. I didn’t even get to finish the tutorial. Lame to the MAX. The patch says it fixed the random crash bug. Yeah, it lied. Screw you patch!

Three: From what I could tell, it looks like it’d be fun.

I know a lot of people are complaining about how it’s fundamentally different from the traditional Sim City games, but since I was never overly fond of the other ones, I think that’s probably going to prove to be a good thing, for me at least. I just wish i could actually play it.