Help Globe TigeRobotics continue its high school program!

Globe High School’s robotics team had a big win at the 2015 Arizona West Regionals! We then had an amazing and educational time at the World Championships in St. Louis, MO, and State Championships in Prescott Valley, AZ. We need your help to continue to grow this team, which participates in the FIRST Robotics Program.

Ways to Support TigeRobotics Financially

  • One of the easiest ways for Arizona residents to help out is to fill out the Extracurricular Activity Tax Credit Contribution Form, which allows you to donate via check directly to the cause and get an equivalent 2015 tax credit of up to $400. Click here to get the printable form which can be mailed in or delivered in person.
  • If you’d like to donate via check without the tax benefit, please make checks out to “Globe High School Robotics“. Checks can be delivered in person or mailed to the Globe High School District Office, Attn: Noelle Anderson, 501 Ash St, Globe, AZ 85501.
  • To make an online donation via credit card, please visit our campaign page at http://www.gofundme.com/rd7sfw

For all other questions, please contact us! Thank you for your support of this important program and incredible life-changing opportunity!

2015 Arizona West Regional Competition Photos

Globe TigeRobotics making some adjustments to their robot at Arizona West regional competition.
Globe TigeRobotics making some adjustments to their robot at Arizona West regional competition. Photo by Kenneth Chan Photography.
Globe TigeRobotics at Arizona West regional competition.
Globe TigeRobotics at Arizona West regional competition. Our coach is being interviewed by Fox 10 News (Phoenix) in the background. Photo by Kenneth Chan Photography.
Globe TigeRobotics competing in the arena with other robots at Arizona West regional competition.
Globe TigeRobotics competing in the arena with other robots at Arizona West regional competition. Photo by Kenneth Chan Photography.
Day 2 of competition for Globe TigeRobotics at Arizona West regional competition.
Day 2 of competition for Globe TigeRobotics at Arizona West regional competition. Photo by Kenneth Chan Photography.
Globe TigeRobotics gets their shot at the Playoffs with top-ranked alliance members Team 2122 (Boise) and Team 3309 (Anaheim).
Globe TigeRobotics gets their shot at the Playoffs with top-ranked alliance members Team 2122 (Boise) and Team 3309 (Anaheim). Photo by Kenneth Chan Photography.
2015 Arizona West Regional champions: Team 3309 (Anaheim), Team 2122 (Boise), and Team 5059 (Globe). Photo by Kenneth Chan Photography.
2015 Arizona West Regional champions: Team 3309 (Anaheim), Team 2122 (Boise), and Team 5059 (Globe). Photo by Kenneth Chan Photography.
2015 Arizona West Regional champions: Team 5059 (Globe).
2015 Arizona West Regional champions: Team 5059 (Globe). Photo by Kenneth Chan Photography.

Click the following link to see more photos of Globe TigeRobotics at the 2015 Arizona West Regional Competition! Thank you for your support! To review donation options, please click to return to the top of the page.

About Globe TigeRobotics

Here’s a playlist of our current videos, including team introductions, demos of our robot, and competition footage!

Click the following link to see more photos of Globe TigeRobotics FRC Team 5059! Thank you for your support! To review donation options, please click to return to the top of the page.

 

How to Resize Photos and Images for the Web

Don’t you hate it when a webpage takes forever to load? I do too, so let’s look at one quick technique for reducing the load times for the webpages that you contribute to or manage so that your viewers will not suffer the same frustration. One of the reasons for slow-loading pages is that the images on them have not been optimized for online display. This common problem occurs when we post photos straight out of the digital camera onto the web without resizing them first, even if we will not need to view them at full-resolution online. Fortunately, many websites (e.g. Facebook, Flickr, WordPress) already make it a point to automatically resize and compress your images at the time of upload so that you don’t have to think about it. However, there remain many circumstances when having a basic knowledge of resizing will be useful, especially if you are working on your own website or want to control how large a version of a photo file you want to give to someone else (and to reduce the time it takes to email it to them). What follows is a brief tutorial on how to do this for free using any Windows or Mac computer with an Internet connection, using the free Photoshop Express Editor, which is part of the Photoshop Online Tools.

1. Launch a web browser and visit http://www.photoshop.com/tools to load the Photoshop Online Tools homepage. It should look like the screenshot below. From here, click the “Start the Editor” link, which is indicated in red. (If all you needed was a quick recommendation on which online tool to use for image resizing and you can take it from here, feel free to stop the tutorial and take it from here!)

01_photoshop_online_tools

2. You should be prompted to select a photo to edit. Click the Upload Photo button to proceed. (If you are prompted to install Adobe Air for your browser to enable this web-based photo editing application to run, visit https://get.adobe.com/air to download and install Adobe Air, and then return here to complete the rest of the tutorial!)

02_select_photo_to_edit

3. You may get a warning that, “the Photoshop Express Editor currently only supports JPEG files.” (So if your camera creates Raw image files, you will need to find a way to save those as JPG files first. We’ll leave that tutorial for another day!) Click the Upload button as shown below to open up the file browser. Select your photo file and then click OK.

03_jpg_only_warning

4. Your photo will load in the main editing window. As you can see on the left side of the interface, Photoshop Express Editor has many photo editing functions, and we will focus just on the Resize function in this tutorial. Click the Resize button to enter that module.

04_basic_interface

5. The box indicated in red is the Navigator window, which allows you to see a thumbnail of your entire image even if you are zoomed into the image. The smaller gray box in the Navigator window can be clicked and dragged to see the selected section in greater detail. Try out this optional step to get a feel for how this handy tool works. It will be particularly useful when you use the other editing functions available in Photoshop Express Editor.

05_resize

6. At the top of this same window, you will see some common resizing presets for Profile photos, Mobile devices, Email, and Website images. If you click on any of these, the maximum pixel dimensions will be set for your image. For example, the Website button will constrain the image to 800 pixels on the longest edge, which is generally as large an image as you would want for display on a website, since you need to account for users with browser windows of all sizes, including tablet users. Here is how each of the presets will constrain the longest edge of your image: Profile (150 pixels); Mobile (320 pixels); Email (640 pixels); Website (800 pixels). If none of the presets are appropriate for your needs, click the Custom button to set your own constraints for the pixel height or width. In this example, I clicked the Website button to constrain the image to 800 pixels.

06_resize_navigator

7. Once you define the pixel dimensions, you may notice the Navigator window update to show you a representation of the scale of your image. Click the Done button when you are ready to save a copy of your photo with the new edits.

07_resize_for_website

8. The application will ask you what you would like to do with your edited photo. Click the Save button to proceed.

08_click_to_save

9. You can now create a name for your new file. For photos that I am submitting to a publisher or someone else’s website, I prefer to list my name or initials, a short description of the image, and the longest edge of the image in pixels. In this example, the name of my new file is therefore kenneth_chan_venice_800px.jpg. Notice that the application will report how large the new file will be in kilobytes (KB) or megabytes (MB). The smaller, the better, so long as it serves your needs. Click the Save button to proceed.

09_rename

10. You will get a confirmation once the Save function is successful. Click the Done button to proceed.

10_confirmation

11. That’s it! Here’s my resulting photo, which has been constrained to 800 pixels so that it will display quickly for the web.

kenneth_chan_venice_800px

Ready to work on another photo? Visit http://www.photoshop.com/tools or click the Start the Editor link again!

Additional Considerations

Some of our readers may have some additional questions not covered in the basic tutorial above. They will be addressed below!

Q. What about dots-per-inch (dpi)? How come this resizing app doesn’t seem to address this parameter?
A. DPI is primarily relevant for printed materials. Whether you set your image to be, for example, 72 dpi or 300 dpi, it would still display the same nearly every display device (unless you’ve gone out of your way to configure your display device already, in which case you probably don’t need any help from me!). Most apps designed to help you create web graphics will automatically set images to be 72 dpi.

Q. Okay, so DPI doesn’t affect the image size on an electronic display, but my publisher still wants the file “at 300 dpi” for printing, so what do I do?
A. This is actually not too tricky, but does involve just a little bit of math. The main question you must first ask is, “What is that largest size that the final image will be printed?” Then you just multiply the target print dimensions by the dpi requirements. So if you need to print an image at 4″x6″ at 300 dots-per-inch (dpi), then your pixel dimensions need to be 1200 x 1600 pixels. If you need an 8″x10″ as your final product at 300 dpi, you would need to submit a 2400 x 3000 pixel image. Typical dpi requirements are 72 dpi for screen display only, 180 dpi for basic-quality prints, and 300 dpi for high-quality prints. (Incidentally, this accounts for why a lot of images look great on the web, but look blocky and pixelated when printed — they probably didn’t contain enough pixels to be printed well.)

Q. What if I’m required to submit an image that’s a maximum of 800 pixels on the longest edge, but I’m also told that it will need to be printable at 300 dpi? Can I do that in the same file?
A. It’s rare for a publisher to require both constraints so rigidly defined for a given image file, and here’s why: Let’s say the image was a total of 800 x 600 pixels in order to meet the pixel requirement. At 300 dpi, that image would print at 2.7 x 2 inches — barely bigger than a postage stamp! That’s probably not what the publisher really wants, and the awkward wording of the requirements likely stems from a misunderstanding about the relationship between pixel dimensions and print resolution in dpi. If you were preparing an image for both web and print media, it would be ideal to submit two versions of the image — one smaller version for the web, and one that is much larger for printing.

Don't forget to check out the Recommendations page for the latest products that I'm showing to friends and blog readers based on their requests. I love talking about this stuff, and every time you click on a referral link from this website to a featured retailer like Amazon.com and B&H Photo and Video, I get a small commission that helps keep this site running, at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support, and please contact me if you need any recommendations!

Canon EOS 5D Mark III DSLR: Super Quick Review

The Canon 5D Mark III is out, but is it worth it? Back in 2009, I still remember agonizing over the decision whether to buy the Canon 5D Mark II DSLR for months. Fast forward 3 years and tens of thousands of photos later, I can easily say I have no regrets about moving forward. That camera pretty much spoiled me with its high performance and amazing image quality. It made me want to become a better photographer, and I can never look back. The Canon 5D Mark III raises the standard again, and here are the main points I considered: 

What I love:

  • Excellent low light performance: The Canon 5D Mark III is rated to support ISO 25600, due to its 35mm full frame format. While in my testing it seems like ISO 25600 is really pushing it (and there is a lot of grain at that setting) , the camera does allow for very usable images up to ISO 6400. I can usually easily handhold my shots without flash even in a dim interior.
  • 22-megapixels is huge and means I have a lot of leverage to do creative cropping in Adobe Lightroom 4 when I need it to improve a shot’s composition. Even very aggressive crops result in very large and usable images. Photography is not all about megapixel count, but it does matter if you’re likely to crop heavily while retaining fine detail. 
  • The new 61-point autofocus system is world-class. This was one of the big complaints about the 5D Mark II (which only had an outdated 9-point AF system). Canon has finally upgraded this, and it is amazingly powerful. It takes some study and practice to leverage its power, but the effort is worthwhile for tack-sharp images.
  • The shooting mode dial lock is awesome! (Now you have to intentionally push down on the center button of the dial before you can rotate it.) I used to hate it when I carry two cameras at a event shoot like a wedding, and in the course of the cameras brush against me, the mode changes from Manual or Aperture Priority to something random and I mess up a few shots before I realize what’s going on! Say goodbye to that problem!
  • The 6 fps continuous shooting mode is about 50% faster than the 5D Mark II. It is good enough for me to shoot sports, kids, pets, etc., and capture the peak action. When I need to shoot action, I usually set the camera to 1/500-1/1000s shutter speed, center-point focus with expanded focus points, and AI-SERVO autofocus. The ability to reprogram the Depth of Field (DOF) Preview to instantly switch over to AI-SERVO mode is also a great improvement.
  • Auto ISO finally works in Manual Mode (M). Now you can set your aperture and shutter, and let the camera figure out the matching ISO to give you the “correct” exposure. This may seem stupid to some professional shooters, but it’s a welcome change to me. It never made sense why setting it to Auto in the past meant it would “automatically” set it to ISO 400 only.
  • The camera finally supports 60fps in 720p recording mode, a headphone jack to monitor your audio, as well as the ability to seamlessly record movies longer than 4GB will fit.There is also a dedicated movie switch (like the Canon 7D) rather than the cumbersome system we put up with in the 5D Mark II.

What still irks me:

  • ISO 25600 is pretty ugly and grainy to me. The fact that I can get very usable images at ISO 6400 is already amazing, but I don’t personally understand why the manufacturer claims a much higher number when it looks really bad. (Tip: At high ISOs, I tend to actually overexpose the image by up to 1-stop, and then bring it back down in post-processing, which seems to work much better to control the noise than to underexpose the image in camera and then try to bring up the exposure in post.) 
  • I actually don’t like the placement of the zoom button. It has moved to the left side and is taking some getting used to. I wish they at least kept the zoom in/out functionality on the right side of the back of the camera as well, because that’s what I continue to push out of muscle memory!
  • The price for all of these new features and improvements in the 5D Mark III is a whopping $1000 more than the list price of the 5D Mark II. Ouch!

Conclusion

All in all, there were some major improvements and very little to complain about. Canon listened to their customers and gave them much of what was still lacking in the 5D Mark II. This is pretty amazing camera for anyone serious about photography and video, so if you can part with the cash, there’s very little to not like here, which explains why it’s been constantly out of stock everywhere when it was first released. For those who are not doing photography and videography professionally, you may also want to consider the very capable (and significantly less expensive!) Canon Rebel T3i

You can also check out sample shots from the Canon 5D Mark III at http://www.kennethphotography.com/category/canon-5d-mark-iii

Buy it now or check out other user reviews! Canon 5D Mark III on Amazon

Don't forget to check out the Recommendations page for the latest products that I'm showing to friends and blog readers based on their requests. I love talking about this stuff, and every time you click on a referral link from this website to a featured retailer like Amazon.com and B&H Photo and Video, I get a small commission that helps keep this site running, at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support, and please contact me if you need any recommendations!