Monday, February 12, 2007

On Tablets and Mice - Part II

OK. It has been several weeks since I first wrote about using a tablet and a pen instead of a computer mouse. I have tried it on and off and here is what I found.

The tablet is a completely different experience, and needs time to get used to. Hand does not get tired since the motions are similar to drawing (more like sketching). One thing I did notice is that the smaller the tablet the better. Artists who are used to broad strokes may prefer bigger tablets, but for a substitute mouse, a small tablet works best. The main reason being that the hand has to move over the tablet. The more real estate you have to cover, the more motion your hand goes through. And the more tired you get...

With an ordinary mouse, you move the mouse around and that in turn moves the cursor. With a trackball, your hand is stationary and the ball rotation moves the cursor. In case of a tablet, the motion of the pen dictates the cursor movement.

One thing that is significantly different is that the cursor jumps while using the tablet. Wherever you place the pen tip (on the tablet) is where the cursor ends up. So, if you pick up the pen and place it on another location on the tablet, the cursor jumps to that location. This takes some time to get used to. But, makes it easier and faster to move the cursor around. It also takes a bit of time to get used to the area of the tablet. The pen works only on the marked area on the tablet. Unlike a mouse that works anywhere you move it.

Since I use different devices at different locations (trackball at work, tablet at home and scroll mouse while on the road), it gives my hand/wrist a break from the same repetitive motion.

If you are prone to CTS, I think it is a worthwhile exercise to try the tablet. Get the smallest tablet from Wacom and give it a try.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Photo mosaic ad infinitum

Check this site for an incredible photo mosaic experience.

Enuf said.

Enjoy it while I ponder the technology behind it all...

Thursday, February 1, 2007

City lights and digital cameras

I always love shooting city lights on winter nights. The two advantages being, it gets dark sooner and the winter skies have an aura around them. Yesterday evening was the first time I tried long exposures with my digiSLR.

I was pleasantly surprised that the digital cameras do not suffer from reciprocity failure. For some reason, I had assumed that the camera manufacturers would have mimicked all the features of a film camera (and improved on them). What I failed to realize was that reciprocity failure is not a feature of a camera, but is a shortcoming of the film. Reciprocity failure is a characteristic of the chemical make-up of film emulsion at long exposures. Why would a digital camera mimic such a "feature".

The reason I called it a feature is because I always relied on reciprocity failure during my long exposures, and have shot some excellent slides with long trails of car lights or aircraft lights in my cityscapes. Try exposing a cityscape for 3 secs and 30 secs, and you rarely notice the difference in exposure, but for the light trails. Do the same with a digital camera and all you get for 30 secs is a washed out snap. The above photograph of Seattle cityscape was exposed for 2 secs at f5.6 on ISO 400 film setting on my digiSLR.

The lack of reciprocity failure handicapped me in a certain way. I had become so good at using this breakdown of reciprocity with film. Now, I have to find the strengths in my digital camera and start capitalizing them.

What this also means is that I cannot use my digiSLR for astro-photography. I cannot imagine the amount of bloom and noise an hour long exposure would create on a CCD!

I guess I will keep learning more about my digital camera as I experiment with it.