Saturday, July 28, 2007

Monitor calibration

As I mentioned last post, I decided to bite the bullet and dive head first into the whole "monitor calibration/custom profile" deal in an effort to save time (and, I guess, money - in terms of paper and ink - eventually) and get on with my masters work.

I thought I'd share a little of what this has involved - minus the usual swearing that always accompanies installing any new device on a computer... The picture above shows the "Spyder" (only 3 legs tho') actually in the middle of the process. Before we got to this stage I had to turn off a lot of things - e.g. my firewall, Adobe gamma, my screensaver and some other things I couldn't find and had to ask my husband to locate for me.

Next, I followed the "wizard" to install the Spyder2Express software. That was reasonably simple, except there are a lot of very strict instructions about ambient light. This has to be constant for the duration of the test, not directly shining on your screen (i.e. no over lighting in the room, no desk lamp) and the usual lighting conditions you work under! The room I work in is on the western side of the building, but the house next door is reasonably close. This means that in the afternoons (when I do most of my work) the light changes quite radically over about and hour and a half until the sun is completely blocked by the neighbours house! Oh well! I pulled the blind (not my usual lighting conditions) and did the best I could. Finally, I could put the spyder in position on the screen, adjusted the counterweight (the round thing at the top) so it wouldn't fall off half way through and with one (or two) more clicks, it did its stuff!

In the picture above the spyder is "reading green samples". It worked its way through red and blue ones too (RGB) and then to my surprise also did grey and black. (see below) I guess my surprise shows how little I understand the process!

At the end, I could see a difference in the test image, but it didn't seem huge, which surprised me a bit considering the trouble I was having with printing my images. That meant that I was going to have to depend on the custom profile to make a big difference. Tune in for the next post to see whether I am to be disappointed or thrilled with the results....

Update 3rd AUG
After some discussion with Jeremy at Image Science, who sold me my Spyder, I realised I did not actually have the new monitor profile as created by the Spyder wonder I couldn't see much difference (is there any hope for me???) I am 'fessing up to this because I suspect I really am not the only one who has trouble with these things. After I went to Start>control panel>colour>profiles and installed the Spyder2Express, I actually did see more of a difference on the monitor...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Emotional flip-flop!

It is amazing how things appear to swing around from seeming so positive and hopeful to feeling like they are completely beyond me. Not that much as changed, probably mostly my hormones (!) but I feel as if I need to take some drastic steps if I am to have a hope of completing the masters in time.

Last week I seemed to be recovering from my trip to Melbourne quite well. On Thursday I was able to do a "CFS-day" of work (=3-4 hours) and the same again on Friday. I was feeling quite pleased with my recovery and even though the work I did wasn't all that creative and inspiring, it was necessary.

I have decided to bite the bullet and buy a "Spyder" in order to calibrate my monitor properly. I am also getting a custom profile done for use on my printer with Hahnemuehle Photo Rag. This is the paper I have chosen for the book "Like Weather". All this should ensure that the colours I see are the colours that print, and while costing a bit [remember I'm a paid writer now ;() ] will save loads of time, paper and ink, not to mention grief.

So I spent Thursday and Friday working through the instructions, printing off the "target profile" which I posted off to Melbourne to await my custom profile. I also spent time tweaking images and text for "Like Weather", as suggested by my supervisor. It's all very slow, and I'm not done yet, but at least I felt I was on the move again.

Then yesterday morning I woke with a giant headache which did not let up until evening. The day was spent in bed, sleeping fitfully, not daring to move about in case I vomited, and trying not to worry about "lost time". Fortunately when I woke this morning the headache was gone and for a while I was so relieved I felt quite positive.

Some hours later, I am wondering how I can possibly manage to finish my masters work while keeping up with the various family obligations I have. I thought about going to Melbourne for a month to work solidly without interruption, but I don't know how I could afford the accommodation costs, and I'd need a space to work. Then I thought, maybe I could just say I'd gone to Melbourne. I could keep a low profile and really focus on working. But my husband and I aren't good liars, we're just not comfortable with it - there is no way we could keep it up for a month.

Hhm, family. It's not that you don't want to help, you just don't want your life taken over.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Help! I've been tagged!

One of my special cyber-chums, cusp, over at l'ombre de mon ombre has tagged me and now I have to come up with 8 random facts about myself. I must confess that I've already been tagged once before back in May by the talented Jade over at spectroscope. I only found this out recently when I was visiting her blog - I think it was during the period when I was pretty sick and not online that much. I apologise profusely for "breaking the chain" in that case, so I'll have to do better this time.

Umm, this is really hard... anything that might be interesting is terribly embarrassing....but I'll give it a try.....

First the rules:

1. Let others know who tagged you. (done that)
2. Players start with 8 random facts about themselves.
3. Those who are tagged should post these rules and their 8 random facts.
4. Players should tag 8 other people and notify them they have been tagged.

8 random facts about Amanda
1. I was born with a caul or a veil, which is a shimmery coating of the head and face. It is a membrane, part of the amniotic sac and occurs reasonably rarely, about 1 in every 1000 births. In some belief systems it is held as a sign of good luck or an omen that the child was destined for greatness(!!!) Possession of a newborn's caul (yuk!) is said to prevent death by drowning, so sailors often purchased them for large sums in medieval times.

2. I was supposed to be named "Miranda" after a poem my father loved by Belloc. Only he mis-remembered the name, hence Amanda. To me, the two names have quite a different feel, and I've always wondered how it might have affected my personality if I'd been called Miranda.

Here's the poem:

Do you remember an Inn, Miranda?
Do you remember an Inn?
And the tedding and the shredding
Of the straw for a bedding,
And the fleas that tease in the High Pyrenees,
And the wine that tasted of tar?
And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers
(Under the vine of the dark veranda)?
Do you remember an Inn, Miranda,
Do you remember an Inn?
And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers
Who hadn't got a penny,
And who weren't paying any,
And the hammer at the doors and the din?
And the hip! hop! hap!
Of the clap
Of the hands to the swirl and the twirl
Of the girl gone chancing,
Backing and advancing,
Snapping of the clapper to the spin
Out and in-
And the ting, tong, tang of the guitar!
Do you remember an Inn,Miranda?
Do you remember an Inn?
Never more;Miranda,
Never more.
Only the high peaks hoar;
And Aragon a torrent at the door.
No soundin the walls of the halls where falls
The tread
Of the feet of the dead to the ground,
No sound:
But the boom
Of the far waterfall like doom.

3. I refused to go to kindy or preschool, telling my mother I was "too busy".

4. I am 18 years younger than my sister and 15 years younger than my brother. In fact, my sister's daughter (my niece) is more like a sister to me, as she is only 9 years younger than me.

5. I attended the same school from year 1 to year 12. It is the same school my mother, aunt and sister attended and my niece also went there for a couple of years. If I had a daughter, there is no way I would send her there!

6. I secretly dream of living in England in a town whose name includes the phrase "on-sea".

7. My first concert was the Bay City Rollers, at Brisbane Festival Hall in 1975. I'm not telling who my favourite "Roller" was though....

8. In 1986 I left my first "professional" job (i.e. as an occupational therapist) after only 5 months to go back-packing around Europe with a bloke I'd only met 4 months earlier. Five weeks later we were engaged to be married. (This was all very uncharacteristic behaviour for me - I was considered very mature and responsible for my age.) We continued our travels for nearly nine months and then returned to Australia to organise the wedding. Twenty years later we are still together.

So who do I tag?

Well, I do this with the proviso that anyone who has already been tagged and doesn't want to participate again doesn't have to, and anyone who just hates this kind of chain thing (which usually includes me) also doesn't have to...being tagged should be seen as a compliment, rather than creating a duty to participate.
  1. Aine over at Artist Printmaker online
  2. Annie at Woodblock Dreams
  3. a Kiwi neighbour, azirca, at speak without my voice
  4. From Down the Rabbit Hole
  5. Mandy at Feltbug, even tho' I know she's been tagged before
  6. Marion at my art grows around me
  7. my dear friend Mel, another Brisbane girl over at feffakooken
  8. peggy at adventures in relief

Saturday, July 14, 2007

It's mostly Neil Finn's fault...

that I haven't posted to this blog in so very long! Well, that's my story anyway! (How often do you get to blame a major Australian/NZ icon for keeping you from doing something???)

Okay, that may be stretching the truth a little, but in a round about way, it is true....

I have been a fan of Neil Finn and the bands he has been in (Split Enz, the Muldanes, Crowded House, the Finn Brothers) since the release of "I See Red" when I was in year 12. When I heard that Crowded House were reforming, I was both thrilled and could it be Crowded House without Paul Hester (d. 2005)? Still, I really hoped it would be good.

So on June 21st when I heard about a "special" gig for only 500 punters at Melbourne's Corner Hotel, I knew I had to try to get tickets. And to my amazement, 10 minutes later, I had two (the maximum purchase) in my "virtual" hands! The only problem was I live in Brisbane, nearly 1500 kms away, and I was planning trips to Melbourne in August, September and November but not in July...

Fortunately, my lovely supervisor Kevin agreed to see me on Wednesday July 11th instead of in August. The gig was Monday night, so that gave me Tuesday to rest up in between - wonderful!

It did mean that I had to really put my head down and try to get as much done as possible on two works in order to have something substantial to show and get feedback on. As well as finishing the catalogue essay that I had committed to writing. blogging...sorry! But I do promise to share my progress very soon....

Naturally I didn't get as much done as I would have liked, but I did get enough, and the supervision was very useful. It has done quite a lot to calm my nerves actually, and I am now quite hopeful that I might be able to finish on time.

To be honest, the whole trip to Melbourne probably came along at just the right time, psychologically speaking. I don't get to go to many gigs any more - the cost, the late night, the hours of standing - usually it seems like too big a price to pay unless it is someone really special. For me, Neil Finn/Crowded House are that special and I was able to capture some of the "high" I only ever experience at a great gig! There is something about music that touches me in a completely visceral way. I feel it bodily, and am carried to an emotional place that I do not experience any other way. It is nourishing to the soul while also consuming physical energy. The long-term benefit lasts...I'm not sure how long, definitely weeks, maybe months, but there is a short-term price to pay. It is definitely worth it for me, but it does have to be planned...I couldn't just do it every week-end.

I was thinking about the effect music has on me, and I realized that I can get the same benefit from certain songs played up loud on a good sound system (which we have). But I have actually stopped doing it, because of the physical energy it takes. It is something that does raise my spirits and keep me on-track emotionally, but I have to be prepared to spare some physical energy. It's a balancing act, and I don't think I've quite got it right.