Nikon D90 – I need to learn how to shoot video now

Nikon D90
Nikon D90 (link goes to

I recently picked up a Nikon D90 body, and have only just started to play with it. Although it hasn’t seen a real stress test yet, so far, 12.3 megapixels of rich colour have been most appreciated.

Compared to my previous D70s, the camera shoots impressively well in low light. Indoor shots taken at 800-1600 ISO (and even 3200 ISO) look sharp and impressively grain-free, even when enlarged. I also really like the ability to configure a custom menu that’s opened by the button under your right index finger, to give yourself rapid access to functionality that was previously buried in menus.

Ken Rockwell’s D90 Users Guide In Plain English has some great tips for tweaking the D90’s initial settings for ease of use and good results. I took his tip to change the customizable button to the Set Picture Control menu, which lets me quickly switch between Standard for people shots, and Vivid for lanscapes. Check out Ken’s guide for more tips.

The D90 has the unique ability among DSLRs of its class to shoot video of up to 1280×720 resolution (720p).  When in video mode, the camera does not auto-focus, so you have to shoot Hollywood-style.

I wasn’t sure if the D90 video quality could be taken seriously until I saw this Youtube video of a Henkell Champagne commercial that was shot with the D90 (direct link).  They apparently used several Nikon lenses to get the job done (Nikon 400 2.8, Nikon 80-200 2.8, Nikon 50 1.8, Nikon 17-55 2.8).

The commercial’s subject matter is not too hard on the eyes, either.

Wow – very cool, and proof to me that in the right hands, the D90’s video functionality can produce some amazing results. Now I need to learn some videography (and invest in a few lenses!).

LOL+Arts Exhibit in San Francisco

I’m delighted to hear that the FractLOL, which blends Deep Zoom and LOLCats into a mosaic of hilarity, is going to be exhibited at LOL+Arts, a cross-media exhibit of artworks inspired by the LOLCat phenomenon. The exhibit will be open in San Francisco on October 23rd, and will benefit Partners in Reading and their work on adult literacy.

To celebrate, I’ve updated the FractLOL to Silverlight 2 RTW, and fully intend to subject you to it again. Here. Right now.

Note: Silverlight Streaming has now been fully updated to Silverlight RTW. The FractLOL can be viewed on the Mac or PC, so long as you install the lightweight Silverlight 2 plug-in from Microsoft. [Updated on the 2nd of November.]

I’ve also updated the FractLOL page on this blog with a bit more information about how this came to be.

Here are links to the LOL+Arts Site, curator Marianne Goldin’s blog, and the announcement on

I love this image they used to promote the event on icanhascheezburger, and wish I had a high-res version for my desktop wallpaper:

OMG Fulla Starz

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past few months, it’s that if you want to drive traffic to your blog, technical articles can be pretty good, but you should really just save yourself the time and energy and just add cats.

LOLCats, akshuly.

It’s a Photosynth kind of day: Synths from The Temple Bar Pub, Dublin, Ireland

PhotoSynth is the Microsoft Research / Seadragon / UWashington technology that can process a collection of photos and turn it into a scene that can be navigated in 3D.

At this year’s Siggraph conference, there’s an interesting paper from the University of Washington and Microsoft about finding more intelligent paths through collections of photos like the ones produced by PhotoSynth.
Here’s the video that accompanies that paper:

(Click for direct link to YouTube)

When I was working for Microsoft in Dublin, I experimented with what was then an internal tool for creating PhotoSynths.  I ran around Dublin taking photos of some famous places.

Two of my favourite Photosynth collections were shot in the early morning quiet at The Temple Bar Pub.  Now, with the public release of PhotoSynth, I can publish these to the web!

Temple Bar (Front Bar), Dublin, Ireland

(Click for larger view on Photosynth site)

If I could go back and shoot these again, I’d put more time into taking close-ups of objects and memorabilia of interest. Photosynth shines in scenes where the viewer is interested in navigating the scene to discover and examine points of interest.

Temple Bar (Back Bar), Dublin, Ireland

(Click for larger view on Photosynth site)

I also have Synths of Newgrange and the Liffey River which I will post when I have a chance to find the original photos.

Congratulations to the PhotoSynth team, and please send me a link if you ‘Synth something cool!

Great White North

I’m back in Canada. I’ve gone from 28 degrees and kitesurfing to -2 and this:

Snowy Canada - kitesurfing anyone?

…Kitesurfing, anyone?

In addition to snow, life here already involves code and consulting. So, after being quite involved with the developer community in Ireland, I’m looking forward to attending my first Canadian .NET Usergroup meeting tomorrow night.

I’m in the middle of an overhaul of my site’s look and feel, and would value your thoughts and feedback. Hopefully you’ll find it easier to find what you’re after.