Blog makeover

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Just a quick note to describe some recent changes to this site.

I’ve changed the template from the attractive but not easily configurable “Feather” theme to Chris Pearson’s “Cutline 3 column” one. The initial advantage of this was it was easy to set up my own header images to be my own photos rather than someone else’s. All the headers are my own.

While it was nice to have each individual page type (posts, archives, pages, about etc) have their own header image, Chris posted a simple mod to the header PHP file that randomly selects an image from a set. Every time you visit the site or refresh a page you’ll get a different header. I intend updating the image set as often as I can. If you read further down this post I have described the header images currently in use.

But there have been more changes than this.

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Posing Robin

While out walking one chilly morning in Attenborough nature reserve I spotted this Robin. Luckily for me he was in posing mood and I managed to get pretty close with my 200mm lens. The image is uncropped – I got within just a few feet of him. I saw how they used bird feeders that spins off squirrels to feed them. You can click here for more info about these feeders.

I got some nice comments on the image from the people over at Flickr.com, and thought it worthwhile to post here too (see the links panel for more of my pictures on Flickr). I’ve also recently been getting into Flickr a lot, and this was an opportunity to link my gallery straight to this blog for a bit of a test. Regular readers will have noticed that at long last I have chosen a different theme – the header images are all mine, although I plan on randomising the set to add a bit of variety.

Hopefully this hooking together of online galleries and WordPress means I can keep my earlier promise of updating this site more frequently.

Sign of a bad blog….

The sign of a bad blog is that it hardly ever gets updates. In other words, this one!

Long Tailed Tit'

It’s hard to believe that six months have gone by without a single new posting, which is rather poor of me. My only excuse is that I have a life, and finding time to write some coherent thoughts on things, at the expense of other activities, is often too hard to justify.

And yet there is lots I would like to chuck out there, and lots of things I have been experimenting with or starting to use. For example Fogbugz (a software management tool), how do you choose an online gallery, and DIY desktop mixed reality. So here’s hoping I get the chance.

The picture introducing this post is a Long Tailed Tit I spotted while walking in Attenborough nature reserve, using my new Canon 80-300mm IS (Image Stabilised) lens. It was pretty much a reaction shot – the bird did not sit still for more than a few seconds, and I have several pictures showing empty twigs with just the blur of a tail feather exiting the frame. Click on the image to see a bigger version via Flickr (since this was originally written I’ve been getting to grips with this online gallery).

I’m pretty impressed with the lens so far, even after just a single brief outing. I got it for wildlife and sports/action photography. I still need to experiment with the image stabilisation feature to get the best out of it.

My photos in Google Earth

My photos in Google Maps

A few weeks ago I wrote about using Panoramio to publish and view images from around the world in Google Earth and Google Maps. At the time I posted just a single beach scene from Hamilton Island in Australia as a test image and noted that it takes a while for these images to appear to any user of Google Earth. At long last these have now appeared!

After I wrote the article I added a few more images I had lying around. After a few weeks, they started being flagged by the Panoramio reviewers as having been accepted by Google Earth.

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Photosynth – reconstruction of 3D spaces from photos

Photosynth

I was fortunate enough to go to Siggraph this year in San Diego, which is the premier conference for new research relating to computer graphics. While the technology I’m going to write about in this article was not presented there this year, it another example of one of an increasing number of research projects to use the vast array of photos available through online communities such as Flickr.

Microsoft have recently released a techology preview of a stunning new piece of technology called “Photosynth”. The aim is to create three dimensional “spaces” of real places and buildings by analysing and processing photos taken from differing viewpoints. The idea of creating spaces is subtly different from creating models. The former places the emphasis on something that is navigable and in which you feel immersed. Model reconstruction, on the other hand, is the creation of a 3D representation that can be places within a virtual environment, perhaps as part of a larger scene.

It is incredibly cool stuff. This article introduces the ideas and shows where to go for more information.

(Update August ’08: See this link for another post on the recently released version that anyone can use to make 3D spaces from their photos.)

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Panoramio – See your photos in Google Earth

Panoramia overlay in Google Earth

Something I came across recently was the ability to share your own photos of places around the globe using Google Earth. A Spanish company called Panoramio have created a very easy way of selecting locations on the globe and adding your own pictures. Other users of Google Earth can then see these photos by clicking on the camera symbols that get overlaid onto the map.

At first sight Panoramio looks just like yet another website that hosts online galleries. You can store upto 2Gb of pictures for free. Other users of the site can browse your pictures. But the big difference here is that you can do this by clicking on a Google Map window, and have the images appear to other people via Google Earth. A two way link between an image browser list and the map window means selecting an image in either window will select it in the other so you can see in a very dynamic way where pictures were taken. It is much easier to try than describe – go to the Panoramio Map and have a play.

And then the really smart thing is link into 3D with Google Earth. Read on…
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