Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

8/3/2018

More Free Alternatives to Photoshop

Filed under: Art,Fun,Linux,Photography — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but things change.

Okay, some things don’t change and one of those is that Adobe Photoshop is still the leader in graphics editing software, especially for photographers. But, it’s also pretty expensive, which means everyone is always looking for a cheaper alternative. Frankly, for years, I was no different. Most of the time, I used GIMP, but there are actually a lot of other packages that are out there now. In fact, the fine folks at the Photo Argus have posted a review of 11 Outstanding (Free)Alternatives to Photoshop, one of which is GIMP. I used GIMP for years, in part because it was the first “big” photo editor that was available on Linux. My thinking was that Linux was the wave of the future, so I might as well learn the software package that ran on it best. Sadly, that dream has never come to fruition,but GIMP is still free, so it’s not all bad. I’m not as familiar with the other ones, but since they’re all free, why not download them and see which you like best?
Personally, I started subscribing to the Adobe Photographer’s Pack, which gives me access to Photoshop and Lightroom for a relatively low monthly fee. Definitely worth it, I think.

By the way, I’m trying something new with my writing workflow. I’ve been writing posts in a software package called Scrivener, queuing them up and archiving them once I’ve scheduled them in my blog software. So far, it’s worked pretty well and it’s helping me get used to writing in Scrivener. Of course, I’ve only done two posts, but my intention is to get into a habit of writing this way so I can extend it to fiction. That was why I bought Scrivener in the first place and has been my goal since I was in the Fourth Grade and transformed the amazingly dull writing exercise “My Adventure At The Circus” into a tale of subterranean mythic adventure. I think it was good preparation for writing pulp fiction, but we’ll just have to see what I manage to produce.
In any case, I’ll keep these weekly posts coming!
See you next week!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words!

1/19/2018

Horribly Beautiful Nature

Filed under: Art,Fun,Photography — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Nature is filled with creatures both terrible and beautiful.

I love macro photography. Getting close to small animals and insects and seeing them in a totally new way and on a scale we don’t normally perceive them is something I love to both do and see. And, while I have to admit my skills are meager and mostly focused on still photography, macro videography is even more amazing to me.
So, this week, I’m sharing some wonderful macro video with you by way of bioGraphic, which is a magnificent website filled with incredible video and stills of nature. But, this week, specifically, I’d like to share bioGraphic’s page of “Caterpillar Cameos” videos. It’s a whole page of short, but fantastic, videos of caterpillars that are both beautiful and kind of terrible. While some are brilliantly colored, or even furred, they also may be poisonous or mature into devastating crop parasites. And, let’s face it, something about those creepy, little caterpillar faces are both enthralling to watch and uncomfortable at the same time. At least for me.

Either way, it’s a beautiful thing to behold nature in all its diversity and glory in ways that you may not otherwise seek out.
Enjoy!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

1/5/2018

Improve Your Photography This Year

Filed under: Art,Fun,Photography — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Challenge yourself, one week at a time!

This Christmas, I got an LED ring flash can also be used as a continuous ring-light. It’s something I’ve been wanting, but reluctant to buy for myself, because I haven’t been making time for photography the past couple of years. I love macro photography, as well as portraiture, and when I saw this little light, it seemed like just the thing to encourage and motivate me to get behind the camera again.
The year after I got my first DSLR, I did a “photo-a-day” project, called 365 Days on Flickr. I figured that doing a project like that would help me get comfortable with the camera, and in front of it. Neither thing was true when I started the project, but, I think, I got better about both as a result. I’ve upgraded my camera since then, and gotten a lot of better lenses, including a fantastic 100mm macro lens I paid for with the proceeds of selling the wedding rings from my first marriage. But, that was almost ten years ago now, and I’m remarried and busy with life and photography has slipped from my daily routine.

But, thanks to PetaPixel, I may have a new project to work on. Namely, their 52 Week Challenge to Improve Your Photography Skills in 2018. (You can also see the whole challenge laid out at the author’s website. It sounds a little easier than a daily photo, but it still has a weekly project to work on that will help a relatively new photographer improve in four major areas; personal vision, composition, technical aptitude, and creativity. They throw in a fifth, “wild card”, category to encourage you to try out ideas that come up while working on the other areas.
It’s not the first time I’ve seen one of these, or thought that I might try one, but I thought I’d share it with you in the hopes that you might get inspired, too. And, yes, we are a week into the new year, but it’s still not too late to start it up! You can always bleed over into another new year!

So, I hope you find more motivation and drive to pursue your hobbies this coming year, just like I hope to do.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words, which is kind of ironic, since I’m talking about photography and not writing at all.

7/7/2017

Free Stock

Filed under: Art,Fun,On Creativity,Photography,The Tools — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Regular readers know how I love free.

Okay, look, I put this stuff out there week after week and I’m honestly not even sure that anyone ever reads this at all. I don’t know, maybe I just do it to keep the search engines happy, or maybe just out of habit. Worse, maybe I just keep doing it because to stop would mean that this blog and site are meaningless and so is my entire life. Yeah, so best not to think about that and keep posting. Besides, even if I just keep posting this stuff so that I can find it for my own, personal use later, that’s reason enough.
So, in that spirit, I’ve been thinking about my sad and inadequate graphic design skills and how to improve them. Naturally, as a blogger and WordPress user, I thought I might try, yet again, to make a custom theme. Specifically, a prettier child theme of the default twenty-seventeen theme that comes with WordPress. Naturally, I’d want to pretty that up a bit more than I normally do, which means adding graphics. And, until I get better at all that actual graphic stuff, that means I’d use some stock graphics. But, since I’m a cheapskate and a skinflint, according to my ex-wife, I went hunting for free stock sites. I found three that I liked. Or, I found one and then two sites that are either a list of free stock sites or an aggregated search of free stock sites.
The first is a list of 25 “sublime” sites to download free stock images by Sitepoint. And they are 25 great links to great stock photos.
The second is an aggregated stock photo search engine, that also lists some other sites, called furiouscamera.com. Their search is pretty good, though obviously limited, and will also include non-free images, for which they get a percentage, I assume, so watch what you try to use. Still, my searches brought up a good selection.
The third link actually started my search, though it’s also found in the list at furiouscamera.com and is AllTheFreeStock, but it also has a whole lot more there for you, like brand style guides and SEO tools and more. I listed it last because, frankly, there’s so much there it’s kind of overwhelming. If you’re a designer, though, especially for the web, it’s definitely worth a look.

So, there you go. Free stock graphics and photos for your work.
Come back next week to see if I delve even deeper into my existential fears and trauma!

This post first appeared on Use Your Words.

5/19/2017

Free Creative Business Course

Filed under: Fun Work,Life Goals,Photography,The Day Job — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Seems like everyone is looking for a “side hustle” these days.

Personally, I’ve never felt very comfortable in a real entrepreneurial role, but even I have gone hunting for a side business on occasion, trying to get a leg up. When I was in college, I wrote. I’d always had the idea that I might eventually write a novel or three, which would, of course, sell forever, giving me a slow trickle of income for years and years. Clearly, that never quite happened. I have, on the other hand, done some consulting on the side, to make up for a hit in salary fifteen years ago. And, of course, to occasionally make a little extra when I needed to spend a little more, like when I got my first digital camera. Then, when I first started getting into photography, I thought I might find a way to leverage that into something. Unfortunately, that never quite happened and I decided to just let my photography be a hobby. But, if I had the opportunity to take this free business course for photographers and other creatives, I may have tried to make a go of it.
Well, if you want to give it a try, check out the course, but do it fast, because the course is only free until July 1st.
And, if you do decide to give professional photography a whirl, check out FindMyPhotographer.com, where you can set up an account in a growing directory of photographers. And, yes, that’s my site, too. You can setup a free account, or upload more sample photos and rank higher in local searches by buying an account. Use discount code Startup25 for a 25% discount for new accounts.

And, that’s all the “side hustle” I have time for this week. Come back next week for more free stuff!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

5/5/2017

Fly Through the International Space Station

Filed under: Art,Fun,Ooo, shiny...,Photography — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

For me, living aboard a space station is about the most fantastical thing imaginable.

I truly admire the brave people who risk their lives by exploring space. I really and truly believe that humankind’s future is in space and off planet Earth. It’s not that I’m a pessimist, because I’m not. I just believe, as does Stephan Hawking, that humanity shouldn’t keep all our eggs in one basket. I think we need to reach far and wide, starting with space stations and moving to permanent settlements on other planets in our solar system. To me, it just makes sense.

That being said, I also recognize that I will never leave the planet of my birth, at least while I’m alive. In fact, in my lifetime, only a relatively few humans will ever leave our little cosmic garden for wider vistas. And, the majority of those who do will never leave orbit. They’ll mostly stay in spacecraft or live for relatively brief periods of time on the International Space Station, doing research on how more of us might work and live in space.
Over the years, I’ve seen plenty of pictures of the ISS, but today I’m sharing something even cooler than that, a “fly-through” of the inside of the International Space Station in ultra high-def. If you can, play this on a big-screen 4K television. It’s gorgeous and, for most of us, the closest we will ever get to space.

Also, it’s been a busy couple of weeks and this was all I had time to scare up and share, so enjoy.
See you next week!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

3/31/2017

Free Public Domain Photography Books

Filed under: Art,Photography,The Infinite Library — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

You know how I like free.

I started out the year talking big about stepping up my photography, but, honestly, between a new job, my wife’s business, and trying to refinance our house to get a better mortgage rate before they go up, I just haven’t done that. I still intend to, eventually. Honest.
In the mean time, however, I have been stacking up ebooks on photography in my queue. I always hope that if I can read enough about the art and science of photography, I’ll get motivated and get out with my camera more often. We’ll see how that goes, especially considering how backed up my reading queue is these days. At least, I didn’t spend a lot of money on my latest batch of photography books. And, if you’re looking for some free alternatives to inspire your own photographic I have good news for you, Project Gutenberg has hundreds of free, public-domain photography books digitized for you to load up on. They have everything from the really old developing and printing processes that photographers used to use to books of actual photography for raw inspiration.

In any case, they’re all free and, hopefully, interesting enough to get a fellow stuck photographer inspired enough to get going again.
Enjoy and we’ll see you next week!

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words.

2/3/2017

Pretty Pictures

Filed under: Art,Fun,Photography — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

So, I’m not quite done with the photography links.

Seriously, though, I’m working on some other things to share. I promise. Still, I have this one last thing from last month to share with you.
We all like to look at beautiful things, right? And free things are great, too, aren’t they? What about free things that are beautiful to look at? Yeah, pretty much the sweet-spot of ways to waste time on a Friday. So, that’s what I’ve got for you. Free photography that’s pretty much gorgeous. And, I really mean free. You can do whatever with these photos without worrying about violating some poor photographer’s copyright and stealing money from their family. Trust me, it’s cool.
The site is Unsplash. And, it’s just what I said. Beautiful photography, for free.

Go look.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

1/27/2017

Photographic Software Tips

Filed under: Art,Fun,Photography — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

The fourth post in this month’s themed series of useful photography information focuses on the big two photographic software programs; Photoshop and Lightroom.

So, while the information is free, the software isn’t.
Personally, I try to get as much right in the camera as I can. Photography is my hobby and I work on computers all day long, so I’m not particularly interested in spending a lot of time on using software to “fix” my pictures. Still, I don’t know where I’d be without the software I do use. Mostly, I work in Lightroom, with the occasional Alien Skin add-on, but I also know that Photoshop is the “gold standard” in the minds of many photographers and creative professionals. So, the first ling I’m sharing this Friday is Are you a Photoshop Master? Even you may not know these ten features! It’s a short video of some helpful, but lesser known, features in Photoshop. It seems like every big program like this has at least one hidden feature almost no one knows about, so it’s always cool to find some, even for software I don’t use a lot of the time.
On the other hand, I do use Lightroom after pretty much every photography session. And, lately, I’ve been very interested in printing my work for easy display around the house. Of course, I’m mostly going to send those to a specialty printing company, but I still want to proof them and, possibly, try them in a spot on the wall before committing to a more expensive print. Or, I may want to do a little more “pre-procesing” before sending my work to the printer. No matter my goal in regards to printing, the Photofocus tutorial on Mastering Lightroom Print Layout Styles will definitely help me save time. Honestly, it’s a feature in Lightroom that I haven’t used, but I hope to use more this year.

So, there you have it. Two tutorials in the most popular photographic software packages to round out the month.
See you next week!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

1/20/2017

Building a Great Minimalist Studio

Filed under: Art,Fun,On Creativity,Photography,The Tools — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

Another resource for photographers.

I think one of the reasons I initially was interested in photography was because I was shy, but wanted to meet people. I figured that a photographer would meet beautiful people, which seemed like a great idea in my teens and twenties.  Actually, it’s still not a bad idea, except I’m a little less invested in meeting new beautiful people now that I’m married.  Now, I’m strictly interested in the photography.  But, like a lot of amateur photographers, I don’t really have the time, space or money to justify having a big, fancy, dedicated photography studio in my home. I’ve mostly made do with some seamless paper in my garage, which, to be fair, has pretty much worked okay. It worked well enough, in fact, to take not only my LinkedIn profile shot, but also get paid for taking someone else’s LinkedIn headshot.  So, you know, it works well enough.  But, what if you want to go a little farther than that?  What if you want to do more than just the occasional headshot?  Well, my favorite commercial photographer and author of Studio Anywhere, Nick Fancher, has written an article for PetaPixel about just this subject titled You Don’t Need to Spend a Fortune to Have a Great Photo Studio.
It’s a great article and shows you some really creative options for a small, but very versatile studio you can use to make some really inspiring photos.
To his article, I’ll only add that you can get really creative with cheap LED lights and shop lights, not to mention rechargeable light bars and automotive lights.  I recently shot some still life photography in my kitchen using a glass shelf and some cheap LED flashlights and was very pleased with the effect.
So, go read his article and see what Nick has to say about textures and space and see if you can’t apply that to your own situation and find some available space for a studio, even if it’s temporary.

But, above all, keep shooting!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

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