Sunday, May 27, 2012

HDR? Not Really

The image below was taken in Dublin California in the hills looking east toward Livermore, CA. My experience with night shooting is still very limited, but I enjoy trying post processing techniques to improve the image.

This is the RAW original …

In my first attempt, I merely added some brightening and reduced contract and saved the file....

For my 2nd attempt, my original idea was to take the RAW image into PSP and make three copies of it at different exposure levels, save them as JPEGs and then combine them into an HDR image (this is a common practice among current photographers when getting three images was not done at the site). What I ended up doing was something completely different. See if you like it....

The original RAW was taken into Photoshop and two copies were produced….

 In this first copy, I reduced the contrast and increased the lighting in the “shadows” (dark areas). A TIFF copy of it was saved …

However, that image had too much red (brown) in the image. So, opening the RAW again, I changed the “temperature” (aka hue) of the image so that it looked liked this …

Even though this is obviously too “cool,” (cold, with too much blue), I expected this result. A TIFF was saved of this image.

Then I opened Paint Shop Pro and selected the option to import the two TIFF files as HDR source images. The recommended brightness was far too extreme. So I lowered the overall brightness and ended up with the following image….

I don’t know that I am really completely satisfied with the results. I think I may have still left the image too bright. But it does demonstrate a technique that I have not previously found mentioned on the web. Those with more experience may be able to improve on the idea.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Magic Jack Plus For Faxing?

(All: The article below was originally written in 2012. It seems to be a popular one in that it is still accessed even 5 years later (as of 3/12/2017). Please note: The Magic Jack device has morphed and upgraded a few times since I wrote this it. I no longer use the device at all, in fact I allowed my subscription to lapse. There are probably better sources than this old article if you are trying to determine the feasibility of using Magic Jack for faxing.)

I was going to create my second-ever Youtube video on this subject but after reviewing the multitude of videos already created by others, I figured mine would just add to the cloud of confusion, testimony both good and bad.

One hotly disputed feature is whether or not a person can use the device for faxing. The Magic Jack company itself takes an official position that faxing is not supported however, some people have been successful at it. One technical reason that using a common fax machine over the internet should not work is documented here. So then, what are all these claims that some are successful while others adamantly claim it is not possible and go so far as to claim that those who say they can send faxes over Magic Jack are mistaken or lying? The answer lies in the opening paragraphs of the cited article—it might work, but it is not dependable.

My experience with this: I have maintained contact with a couple business associates from my last employer. I talk to one of them at least once every two to three weeks. Here is the test we ran together: First, I sent him an email containing the one-page fax I was going to attempt to send him. That way, he could compare the document to ensure the whole thing was sent. Then I connected my fax machine to the phone-line connection on the Magic Jack Plus device and used the stand-alone configuration (circumventing the computer).

In the first attempt, I heard my fax machine sending out its “hello” and being answered and accepted by the remote machine. The connection lasted for about 1 minute but then disconnected and my Canon MX860 all-in-one device (printer, fax, scanner) printed a “zero pages sent” notice. I tried to send it again but it never even connected to the remote machine. (I later found out that someone in my associate’s office was sending a fax, which would explain the “no answer” experience.)

For my third attempt I decided to plug the Magic Jack into the computer. This required removing the Ethernet cable connected to the Magic Jack, seeing as the computer already had such. This time the handshake between the two units and the subsequent data dialog lasted about one minute and then ended. This time I received no acknowledging printout of a failed transmission. Within about ten minutes my associate called and said he had received the complete fax.

So my experience pretty much supports the authoritative explanation offered by soft-switch. Bottom line for me would be: In those cases wherein I do decide to use Magic Jack for faxing, I will need to call and confirm the success of the transmission. I also do not trust it enough that anything past a few pages will be possible.

PS: There is one video on youtube that was sort of upsetting because of the self-confident nature of the poster. His “handle” is tech1587. People tend to believe those that claim to be technically qualified and then go on to make a bandstand performance supporting whatever conclusion they want you to reach. In this case he made one attempt sending a document from a fax machine connected to Magic Jack and sending to an on-line service known as efax. He should know that efax is itself an internet solution for faxing and not a straight solution (to another analog device). But instead he concludes that it is Magic Jack that failed and never even considers the possibility that efax may be the culprit or that both together just are not compatible. Having worked as a technician for large corporations I know real testing of anything (software or hardware) takes a bit more diligence.

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