Friday, May 6, 2011

Wallpapers posted at my new web site

As I have promised before, some of my photographs have now been optimized for several screen resolutions for best visual effect on your screen. Available as a free download at

grabiec design


Monday, February 8, 2010

Some fresh pics from the Pacific

Weather has been cooperating in the last few days. We're a few days past
Hawaii headed for Guam. Nothing dramatic happened and I hate to post same
pics time and again. These have a double rainbow, which came and went in a
matter of minutes, and a couple of Picasa processed images. As I have stated
many times before, I am a strong promoter of programs like Picasa due to
their inherent simplicity, great organizer features, and limitations that
promote better picture taking skills. Enjoy.

Received: from GCC at Globe Wireless;
Mon, 08 Feb 2010 23:11 UTC
Message-id: 617385291

Thursday, January 28, 2010

open sea sunrise

Here I am again with these two photos of the Sun setting on the horizon.
Weather has been on a rough side for the last couple of days and swell
slowly increasing to some 20 feet and working its way towards our beam (not
exactly best of things, as it increases roll and lessens cruising comfort).
All else is well and in about 3 days we should reach a Hawaii waypoint .

Received: from MPD at Globe Wireless;
Fri, 29 Jan 2010 05:02 UTC
Message-id: 614354318

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Out to sea

At last after a long period of breaking the ship out 5-month long
retirement,we have completed the load of grain for Middle East and departed.
Bad weather awaited us (as seen in the photograph), but the southerly route
chosen played out well (vs. the northern route suggested by the often
unreliable and down right dangerous weather routing service. I'll be
updating this blog with more trip photos as they become available.

Received: from GCC at Globe Wireless;
Wed, 27 Jan 2010 14:30 UTC
Message-id: 613875818

The ship I'm on

This is a unique class of vessels that were built in the early 1980's to
circumvent some regulations in order to decrease required manning levels
(among other requirements). The result was a design that was attempted only
a handful of times, has always been more of a pain for any shipyard periods
than an actual benefit to anybody (although I would think some acountants
might want to argue).

This is a class of vessels that will have shortly become all but extinct.
This is an ITB or an Integrated Tug Barge. This is not an ATB (Articulated
Tug Barge, where tug is pinned to the barge in a pivoting-type connection).
Integrated stands for a rigid integration where tug engages with the barge
via a long tong at barge's after end and corresponding "cradle" within tug's
pontoons. Resulting connection secures the two together and cannot be pulled
apart unless very specific draft and trim conditions of each unit are met.
In reality the two come only apart for shipyard and drydocking. Given the
amount of water that has to be moved in order to attain disconnect
condition, the process of disconnecting is around 2-3 days long, somewhat
less for reconnection.

Pictures show the tug after it was disconnected (end of the barge's tong is
also visible) and the same tug in the drydock in Portland Oregon.

Received: from GCC at Globe Wireless;
Wed, 27 Jan 2010 14:30 UTC
Message-id: 613875780

Friday, December 18, 2009

Blog to be updated via email

To all interested I will be away for several months, but intend to update my whereabouts to this blog via email feed. This unfortunately may bring in some entries not at their prettiest, but should still keep a good count of events awaiting me.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Pro level P&S digital cameras

You may have noticed a new feed in the right pane of this blog. I'm calling it "Equipment News" and what's in it will change as dreams change. What dreams you ask?

Well, in digital picture taking, camera is one component. An obvious first one, as you need something to take that photograph WITH, then you go on through software processing and printing stage. Back to that camera, I say you need to record an image. The basic choice is the so called point-and-shoot and dSLR. In P&S category, there is the majority of consumer level cameras, the ones you find in every household, and the arguably PRO level P&S, that cater to more advanced shooters who want RAW capture, full manual controls, high quality lens etc. In the latter, there is only a few contenders and seemingly only ONE per manufacturer. They all hover in the $400-$500 price range (isn't it interesting?) with the exception of Leica, but you want pretty name, you pay.

Click on an image to go to a review site.

Canon G10 & Sigma DP2

Leica D-LUX 4 & Panasonic Lumix DMC-LC3 (practically same innards)

Nikon P6000

So here you have a quick way of following news on these MEGA point-and-shoots. Currently the Panasonic/Leica may be the choice of the day, not without limitations of course.

I don't own any one of these at this point, although I am definitely tinkering with the idea. One main thing I can say here is, that we've hit the max sensible pixel count it appears as Canon got it in G10 to 14. As it was stated over and over, here and everywhere, pixel count is one of the factors, but it's the pixel size (individual receptor within it sensor) that makes it or breaks it. The idea being, the smaller the pixel the higher the gain needed to deliver "same" goods. Sensors themselves don't grow any more, but more and more pixel get cramped into the space. In other words, in order to improve image quality it's the dimensions of the sensor must increase, so as to facilitate a larger receptor size. Unfortunately, we're talking a P&S camera that by default implies a small device. There is only so much that can fit into it and it is NOT about fitting a larger sensor, but rather a larger lens so it can provide image circle corresponding with the larger sensor . Optical design has made huge leaps in recent years, so we can expect an eventual lens design of a compact size and larger than today coverage. But until that happens, we'll continue following new yet inadequate small camera designs. These BIG guys are no doubt superior to their less expensive counterparts, but they have a long way to go, to be freely accepted as a larger camera replacement. Perhaps we should skip the "larger camera" idea altogether, as there is always going to be a performance gap between the two. Let's call it a backup that's capable of great photography, especially if you subscribe to the idea:

"it's the photographer,not the camera"

Our wait continues though.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Picasa is up to version 3

As I have stated on numerous occasions, my primary program for web work is Picasa, a free organizer and image manipulator from Google. While I use other porgrams and lean toward making Adobe's Lightroom my main platform, I will continue to advocate the incredible value of Picasa, because for the most part, it is indeed most what most people need. It's flexibility is more than adequate, it's organizer works well and has some powerful features, and program's integration with Google's other projects seamless.

A barge on Seine river in northern France

It may well be, that the ease of exporting images to blogs, emailing them etc. is the main reason program has good following. What I think it "downgrades" in many minds, is it's free and no-strings-attached approach. No need to argue my no-strings-attached clause. No doubt Google counts on users to engage in some paid services, but the fact is:

1. you're not obligated to do so

2. you can go away any time you like

The bottom line is simple. Picasa has enough features to organize all of your images quickly and efficiently. It gives you many tools to "beautify" your images. It has an easy learning curve for absolute majority of tasks, although if you're used to another program it may take a little to grasp the interface. PLUS, it is almost bullet proof for emailing images that aren't too big (once an outgoing image size is set, it stays that way until you change it).

Now, how many times have you received a vacation shot from a friend or family member, that was in a full blown pixel count? Did you have a slower connection as you were trying to open it? Did you, by any chance, try to view it on a smaller resolution screen and all you could see was a fraction of it? (Sure, if your browser/viewer is set right, it will automatically down-scale the image to screen size, but that's not the point). Or perhaps, why email a large file to begin with?

Pixel count of today consumer cameras is way beyond the need already (too bad, but later on this issue). It will (unfortunately) continue to grow, because manufacturers fail to teach the general user about where the technology should go, instead they fight each other on pixel battle ground. As things are today, we're already receiving pics in 5Mb range or larger, only to view it on a computer screen (in which case 50 kB would more than suffice). It may seem I'm spending too much time bragging about what Picasa can do for you in this matter. The truth is, it does. Is it the only program that does that? Of course not.

Picasa is now in a beta version 3. If you install it in the same folder as a previous version, it will automatically overwrite it (and you won't even know it). I have switched to version 3 and it appears stable, so I see no trouble here. What are the improvements? You can live with the still available version 2.7, but as everything else you get extras in ver. 3.

Best place to start is Google's own account of changes and enhancements. In addition you should visit Picasa Help Group , as this is by far the most authoritative place for anything Picasa related.

There is one thing that keeps people's interest in a hobby. That is the level of satisfaction they get from it. Picasa gives you many easy to use tools, to change the look of what you took. It may or may not succeed in keeping your interest in digital photography. But if Picasa does not, I'd look for another hobby. Even, if you consider picture taking as a social necessity, you're still in need of a program to put all those digital files in sinc. Picasa is a quick and effective way of doing either.

Download Picasa and have fun. Sky is the limit and it is NOT an oxymoron.

Monday, November 10, 2008

No naked lady on a scooter ...

While not much to report, I've had some great photographic challenges come my way during recent passage through Suez Canal. It's not a place I actually enjoy going back to and I truly believe someone should write a book on world's mentalities. I would even publish it in the For Dummies series. Imagine that title: "World's Mentalities for Dummies". Not meant to induce pain or disrespect in any of the known to human sarcastic ways, just plain simple shot at getting someone to publish some sort of user's guide on "How to deal with the other side of the logical spectrum".

But back to the topic at hand, which is often on this blog about photography. Egypt, as most places in that part of the World, is kind of dull looking. Don't expect dramatic skies, rapid weather changes, and especially a naked lady on a scooter zipping through town. Do however, expect limited contrast and a harsh sun. Learn quickly how to take an unattractive scene into the "promised" land of photographic opportunity. Also expect to employ the power of digital manipulation to get things in tune with your vision. Here I bring my own.

The photographs in this article are from the same single image, manipulated in Picasa (now in version 3), which I use exclusively for my current web work. The reasons for this are simple, but I'll write something on that in another piece.

The two images above have had some tonal and focus changes applied. The two below deal mostly with framing, or cropping if you will, although selective focus is also tried.

You be the judge they say, but use your imagination and play with Picasa (as I see no need to use anything else, especially in earlier stages of getting your hands wet in digital manipulation). But most of all, pick the right image.

You can read a bit more on Picasa's another feature in this article about "focus B&W"

Monday, March 10, 2008

Evening clouds

Shot on the way up to Port Arthur, TX.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

New blog and a mention of Plogger

Just started a blog Mad Pontoon dedicated to web site design with focus on photography presentation, but also delving into general issues of site design. I'm a definite novice in the field of "pure" web design (pure as in - hand coded in it's entirety). The pure approach, while quite a chore for a newcomer, produces more manageable results, cleaner code, and helps in site updates down the line. Those who can afford a professional services can sure do that, others like myself, who would rather do the whole thing on their own, need to stick to the learning process.

Mad Pontoon will become my link between actual design work and resources I find necessary to get the results.

While on the subject of web photo presentation, I'm all into open source model. There is several choices that make gallery creation easy and nearly painless. Some are too elaborate for my taste, but there is a few, that get it "right". In some cases customization may get a bit overwhelming at first, but if a gallery is to be integrated into the rest of a site, it better match its overall look.

So here, let me mention Plogger, a free server side script that produces a simple gallery, that has a lot of customization almost built in. I will be creating a test gallery soon, and will report here when it's completed.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Today was a good day ... for photography

Most of the day today there was an ever flowing fog throughout much of the lower Mississippi. Hard to argue with it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Small web site about skansens in Poland

I have put together a small web site about open air museums (skansens) in southeastern Poland. I will add more images in a near future.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Houston skyline

It's an odd view in a way and you get to smell a lot of different
stuff before you see it - Houston skyline.