Wednesday, August 29, 2007

My Prodigal Ogg Player

Last week I begrudgingly had to send back my shiny new ogg-player for a replacement (you can read more about that story here). To add to the agony, I was out sick yesterday, so when the replacement arrived at the office, I had to sit and pine feverishly (I did have a fever) for it for an extra 24 hours before I could get my grubby hands on the device.

Arriving home with it today however, rather than immediately commence with the music upload, I thought I'd experiment with trying to take one of those fancy product-type shots you see in magazines and such. No time like the present, I convinced myself, before fingerprint-smudges mar the visage. Here's the result:

I knew I wanted a cool blue background, and in lieu of a second flash to slap a blue gel onto, I simply used a blue sheet of card-paper as the base and backdrop. After posing the device appropriately, these are the bits I had to consider regarding how to light it:
  • The bottom half of the face needs a specular highlight to emphasize the surface indentations where the buttons are.
  • This should transition to no specular highlight in the top half so that the graphics on the display can shine through.
  • I need some light as a fill on the right and to emphasize the metallic buttons on the side.
  • All this, with just one flash.
Here's the ghetto-setup shot, metered for the flash:

And here it is again, metered for ambient (I opened up the windows to get more light in -- hence the splotchy sunlight).

The guts of it is essentially hooking on that piece of cardboard to the top of the flash as a gobo to produce that light-to-dark transition on the paper which is then reflected in the face of the device. That, and making sure that there's enough shiny stuff at the top and at the right to reflect what little available light makes it through back onto the device for a fill.

Another detail: I was working at a fairly tight aperture, so in order to get the display and button lights to register, I had to use a tripod and keep the shutter open for about a half-second.

Stuff I could've done better?
  • Move the specular highlight producing paper further away so the grain of the paper doesn't show up in the reflection. This would've made the fill reflection on the left dimmer though, so it's tough without that second flash.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

My Fancy New Ogg Player

I've ranted and raved for a while about how the iPod is simply the aesthetically pleasing spawn of the devil, whose sole aim is to rob us of our hard-earned dough for substandard features, and incompatible media formats.

Unfortunately, my trusty iRiver iFP-890 died on me about 2 months ago, and I have not been able to find a replacement. Worse, the pointy-haired fools running that company have gone and sold their souls, and now don't support Ogg files, and only provide a proprietary (Windows Media Player) means of getting music on and off their devices.

So after wandering hither and yon and reading countless technical specifications in Korean, my replacement is here at last! The Cowon iAudio 7. Features that matter to me the most:
  • Plays Ogg Vorbis. Even at the insanely high bit-rate (256kbps) that I encode my CDs to.
  • Mounts as a standard VFAT filesystem under Linux. And because of this, it hooks nicely into Amarok from which I can drag/drop music, podcasts, etc.
  • 8GB of flash memory storage. No spinning hard drives, so I get (supposedly --- I haven't tested) 60 hours of continuous playback time.
  • Integrated FM radio.
  • Records from integrated mic, line-in, and FM.
The only glitch? I had to return mine for a replacement because (and you're not going to believe this), there was a hair trapped under the screen. Yup. I kid you not. I didn't notice it at first, but when trying out the image-viewing features, I noticed it in stark contrast against one of the brighter pictures. Luckily Amazon has a pretty good policy on replacements, although I'm pretty sure they've never heard a reason like mine before. So Jayita has another week or so before she loses another part of my soul to yet another shiny flashy gadget.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Scoop of the Day

So David Hobby over at Strobist had an assignment last week, where he asked people to elevate an ordinary piece of kitchen equipment to the level of art.

Imagine my surprise, when my humble submission below got called out in his blog post as one of the "standout" pictures!

It feels like back in grad-school, getting that first publication accepted ;)