e-Picture formatting

I was talking, with a friend who does web-site layouts, about the huge variety of platforms now requiring attention for an application. No longer can you just size any pictures to read well on a 600 x 800 monitor…no you have to consider HD aspect-ratio display formats, high resolution displays, and now iPads and other tablets, smart phones, and various e-readers…high and low resolution…big and small…portrait or landscape orientation.

I recently ‘bought’ a (temporarily) free book on Kindle, Lexi Fairheart and the Forbidden Door, to see how a picture-oriented children’s book worked on a eReader…a Kindle Paperwhite in this case. I had understood that they didn’t work well on that platform. Reading it on the Kindle app on my laptop, the pictures were in color and looked very good,  but on the eReader, while they were sized OK, the conversion to black& white made them so dark it was impossible to see any detail…I would suppose a change in the brightness of the pictures with an eye to the conversion might have helped. [Also, the same problem I had with fonts on my own eBook plagued this eBook…the choice of font styles was totally overridden although the size could be altered.]

When I now start to configure pictures for eReaders I face the challenge of what resolution to use, what aspect ratio, and how light or dark to make them. Kindle suggests 500 x 700 pixels for interior pictures and something like 1800 x 2500 pixels for covers, but they caution that you should preview all files on the various target devices to make sure you can accept the result. That is well and good but what it dramatically shows for picture/drawing/graph-oriented books, the  highly fragmented viewing market really demands that I prepare different files for each target device. Whatever the capabilities of the operating systems on the devices, they do not intelligently optimize all the various files that they display.

How wonderful it would be if there were a defined standard which, in a single file, would play well across all platforms–probably that is presently impossible…it would require the capabilities of a photo editor program in each device as well as a computer with the graphical layout savvy of a professional designer.

New (to me) camera


computer screen at 2' with background 6' behind at F1.2
computer screen at 2′ with background 6′ behind at F1.2

After losing perhaps a dozen auctions I succeeded in acquiring a Nikon D200 digital camera body on eBay, which I was able to pick up in person in Muncie, IN (USA) on the way to visit family in Lafayette.. The particular unit was relatively heavily used with about 90,000 shots taken…rated by Nikon for about 200,000. 

Why did I want an “old” camera? It turns out that the first few Nikon digital models were designed to still work with the older manual lenses, and I had a whole set of nice ones from my film camera days…f55 1:1.2…f135 1:2.8…f19 1:3.8…f28-200 1:3.9-5.6…f500 1:1:8. Most of those lenses are easily duplicated in magnification by almost any cheap digital camera today, but the large apertures…up to 1:1.2…and the wide angle…f19…are the things that are not readily obtained on fixed-lens cameras. In particular the 1.2 allows me to take a picture of a person in front of a busy background by blurring out the background and keeping the subject in sharp focus. Most digital cameras have such sensitive sensors that they don’t need large apertures to gather enough light at hand-held shutter speeds. So the depth of field stays large…sharp focus from 6′ to infinity! The casual user WANTS that sharp-all-over effect so it is no problem for the manufacturer to use cheaper smaller aperture lenses.

So, now I hope to begin producing more pictures with selective focus.


Second E-book published

2nd E-bookAfter editing through the original material on God, Sin, and Salvation, the second of six E-books is up on Amazon Kindle. The process was easier than the first time, with a grasp of the need to erase all font names and font sizes in points…change to ems. The final fix was to clear up the footnote reference numbers to be the same font and size in the text, which showed how much duplicate ‘junk’ WORD keeps in the file when it converts to html. The final product is behaving well on the Paperwhite preview and I hope to have a look at it on the actual reader soon. 

I upgraded the Kindle Previewer with no noticeable change in performance…I assume Kindlegen has not changed much. I have run across some advice on how to utilize the free-download to better effect by notifying several sites that list free downloads. I have held off for fear the 5-day-maximum free period (per 90 days) would expire before anyone found it. So far my first book downloads have totaled 5! ): 

Called my bluff!

I recently received a grant from the Southern Kings Arts Council partially underwriting the printing of my sailing book. Unfortunately not much has been happening on the sailing front…the boat sits in the yard covered in perhaps 12″ of snow, which puts a damper on projects. But the grant did inspire me to get out the chapter drafts and fill in the activities of 2012…they called my bluff!

There was relatively little sailing done in 2012…my “crew” had mutinied and all the sailing was single-handed. It was a good time to make sure I had the autopilot technique down and that I could work out a sequence for sail raising and lowering.

The trailer was a major focus, since its rebuild the year before set it slightly too narrow, crushing parts of the outer hulls when the boat was pulled. I had to repair those spots as well as adding in new sensors for depth and boat speed to go with a new fish-finder. Also I got to break in a new GPS/chart-plotter…particularly useful for entering unknown harbors.

For several years I have been saying I will not release my book until I have a big accomplishment to report. More and more I think that must be an around-the-island trip. PEI should be easily circumnavigated in 10 days, assuming the wind cooperates. Since my (former) crew would be within easy reach of my cell phone and since any part of the Island can be reached by car in under 4 hours, she can serve as my emergency land support. I can use the time taking lots of pictures and should have a lengthy report ready for the book by the end of the trip.

Since there is a slight underwriting, and since Lightning Source now has a low-cost color option, I expect I will insert all the pictures into the book in color. Just thinking about it re-inspires me!