Nikon NEF Codec and Photo Gallery

Microsoft Live Photo Gallery is a most useful and versatile tool for managing your photos. I have used it enthusiastically for many years. Like other photo handling programs, it needs to translate the image files to viewable images. For photos stored in the camera manufacturer’s RAW file format it needs a “codec” to do the translation. Microsoft provides the “Microsoft Camera Codec Pack” for use with Windows 7 (and earlier). That works well but does not allow appending or changing the file properties, “EXIF” data, for the RAW files. My recommendation has been to use the manufacturer’s codec instead, and for Nikon users that is the “Nikon NEF Codec”. That has worked well for me in the past. It allows adding meta data, such as comments or tags, to the RAW files, “NEF” extension files, and does all other things well.

Some months back I noticed that there were problems with files coming from Nikon D800 cameras, I did not check with files from other Nikon cameras. Since then Nikon has updated the codec a couple of times, for the D810 and more recently for the D750. Unfortunately the problems have persisted.

What happens is that any NEF photo files that have tags or other metadata added get hopelessly mangled in Photo Gallery when they are changed to JPG format. Here is what thumbnails look like:

WL-thumbnails-NC-1

Viewed large they look the same. Take one of those files to another application and it either looks the same or even more psychedelic like here:

WL-thumbnails-NC-2

Files that did not have metadata changed work perfectly well. There are probably all sorts of other conditions under which all is well. I have not explored the possibilities.

Since adding metadata was my objective for using the Nikon codec in the first place, not being able to do so successfully defeats the use. Nikon is aware of problems with Photo Gallery and says so in their release notes. I just wish they would fix the problems.

This article is also published on my Café Ludwig blog.

.:.

© 2014 Ludwig Keck

Posted in Digital Photos, Photo Gallery, Photography, Photos | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Celebrating

Celebrating moving to WordPress

Here is the little “hurray” from WordPress:

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It was the end of Microsoft’s support for Live blogs. Pity.

.:.

© 2014 Ludwig Keck

Posted in Blogging, Live Writer, Windows Live Services | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Photo Captions

Photo Captions in Blogs

In a prior post on Live Writer Basics, Photo Captions in WordPress Blogs, the topic was the caption feature provided in the WordPress blogging service. Captions are a nice feature to explain the details of an image. There were questions from readers about how to do captions for photos in Blogger blogs. This article takes up the subject and expands to Blogger blogs and blogs in general.

There is no native caption feature provided by Blogger, and there is no direct support in Live Writer. So, to do captions we do it the old-fashioned way and go back to using tables. That used to be very popular years ago when whole sites consisted of nothing but tables. That approach was cumbersome and is much despised and discouraged. However, it is a viable and relatively easy way to add captions to illustrations. Of course, it will work not just for Blogger blogs, but others as well. So it can be used on WordPress almost as readily as the  caption feature. There is a big HOWEVER, since the code described here is archaic and deprecated and won’t work with the newer WordPress themes. More and that farther down.

Here are the details – using a table to caption a photo

The Table tool in Live Writer

Table tool in Live WriterIn Live Writer the table option is on the Insert tab.

Before we go into the details let’s take a look at the problem we have set for ourselves. The need for “captioning a photo” assumes that the photo accompanies text and is set within that body of text, either to the left or the right. We likely do not want the outlines that are so common with tabular data. The table tool in Live Writer by default sets the table the width of the blog column and centers it with no text to either the right or left of it. Indeed, the tool does not offer an alignment option. We will have to do that the hard way.

captions-2-02The Live Writer Insert Table dialog

Clicking the Table tool brings up a small dialog to enter the details for the table. The dialog will look different for you the first time you use it and Live Writer will remember your settings for the next time.

For this use, captioning a photo, we need a table with just one row and one column.

The width is not critical at the outset as Live Writer will resize the table when you set the size of the photo once you have inserted it.

There is a check box for “Show table border” and a field for specifying the width of the border in pixels. For this application we don’t want a border. Unfortunately, Live Writer uses the style sheet set up for the blog theme or template and there may be some defaults that interfere with what we are trying to do. Uncheck the box, the field will be “grayed out” and no border width entry is required or possible.

Next come two other specifications, “Pad cell contents” and “Space between cells”. Both values are specified in pixels. These values are translated to HTML “cellpadding” and “cellspacing” attributes, respectively. Here again Live Writer may bow to the blog style sheet and be less than cooperative with you. We will come to the workaround shortly. Do remember that Microsoft has not seem fit to update this magnificent tool in the last few years.

We want some space between the blog text and the image, we will use the “Space between cells” value for that. A value of 10 should be fine. The “Pad cell contents” value specifies additional space within the cell, think of it as a margin setting. You would think that the two add to each other. They do. Yes, one or the other could be set to zero, but farther along in this article I will explain and added bonus feature, so go ahead and use 10 for this value also.

When you click Insert in the dialog you will see something like this on your screen:

captions-2-03

The HTML code, as seem when you click the  Source tab (lower left of Live Writer window) is like this:captions-2-04

We will need to add an attribute to this code to specify the alignment. You can do this at any time, but it is easiest to do it right away when the HTML code is at the end and easy to find. The attribute is align=”left” or align=”right” and needs to be added to the first line of the table HTML code. I like to add it just before the closing “>”. Live Writer will move it to where it likes it.

Move the cursor to the place in your post text where you want the image. Insert your table, click the Source tab. Find the table code. Move the cursor to the end of the “table” line but before the “>”. Type a space and then the align attribute. Obviously, if you want the picture on the left side, use align=”left” and if you want it along the right margin use align=”right”. Click the Edit tab to return to the normal display.

Click in the center space of the table. The cursor will be located inside the cell. I like to type my caption text before inserting the image, but it doesn’t matter. It works as you would expect. You can size the image as you normally do, the table size will be readjusted by Live Writer.

There is one thing I must caution you about: In Live Writer tables are not easy to move. It is easier to move the text that is around them.

Bonus

In elegant sites you may have admired photos not only being captioned, but also offset on a different color background. That is easy to do. First figure out the hex code for the color that you want for the background. captions-2-05Your theme or template may already set the blog on a colored background, so you want your “image highlight” to be a color that is close, a little darker if it is a light background or a little lighter if you blog is on a dark background. What I do is this: I do a screen capture of one of my blog posts, paste it into Paint and use the color picker to load the background color into the color selector. Then I adjust the color for the background I want, see the pointer in the illustration. The values for read, green and blue (see the arrow) are then translated into hex for the HTML code. For the values here, 255, 233, 191, you get FF, E9, and BF (I use the Calculator in Programmer view). The HTML attribute to set this color as the cell background is bgcolor=”ffe9bf”. This attribute goes into the “td” line. Again it doesn’t matter where you put it, Live Writer will relocate it. It is easiest, however, to put it right at the start. See the HTML code  illustration here and also the result in the normal edit view.

captions-2-06


The Eastern Continental Divide Monument
in Duluth, Georgia.
The location of this obelisk is at
34o 00’ 12.286” N   84o 08’ 43.245” W

Alright, let’s try it. Here is a little bit of art to illustrate photo captioning as well as setting a background color for the image. Once you try this technique it will soon become much easier that you now might think after this long dissertation. Note that for the caption all the text editing features are available.

Also note that the image not only can be sized as desired, you can also insert a hyperlink. In this case it takes you to my Café Ludwig OneDrive photo album.

What was just described works for Blogger blogs and WordPress blogs using some older themes. It does not work, or does not work well, with the newer WordPress themes. For the newer themes the use of the “” option is the way to go. This was described in Photo Captions in WordPress Blogs in the Live Writer Basics blog.

The text above is pretty much a duplicate of the article Photo Captions in Blogs from Live Writer Basics.

This blog uses a newer theme and what was described above does not work at all. The older, deprecated, HTML attributes are totally ignored and the default table settings just won’t cooperate with what was described here.

Of course, tables can be used for photo captioning and other uses, the newer conventions have to be observed and followed. Live Writer still prepares HTML code the old way. It was orphaned some four years ago by Microsoft and the world has not stood still in that time. It would be nice to wake up Microsoft and get Live Writer up to date, but that is not likely.

Modifying Live Writer table code to work with current WordPress themes

To work properly, the HTML code must be modified to use the “style” attribute for specifying the table properties. Live Writer can live with that, although it will modify the code that I will suggest here.

Use the Table tool in Live Writer but change the cell padding and spacing values to zero. The code will be as shown above, but let me repeat it here:

image

For setting the photo to the left, with other text to the right, change the code to this:

image

To set the photo to the right, with text to its left, specify the float value as right, and use left-margin:10px instead. Note that everything in the first line, the “<table” line, was replaced, and in the “td” line the two attributes were removed and replaced with the background color (this is optional, of course). Live Writer will change this code, but it will work. In the Edit view you will see just a dashed outline or a light space if you specified the background color.  Insert your photo into this box and your caption text. Use the normal tools and options.

imageOne last hint. If you want to use a color background but don’t wish to have to calculate the hex color value, do this: Type a couple of letter, I usually use XX, drag the cursor over them to select, highlight the text. Click the ▼ next to the little highlighter icon in the Font section, click on a color you like. The text you selected will now be on a color background like this: XX.

Now take a look in Source view. The code for the marked text will look like this:

image

Yep, Live Writer uses the style attribute for this and prepared the code, including the color value, for you. just select the part you need for the “td” section.

.:.

© 2014 Ludwig Keck

Posted in Blogging, Live Writer, Photos | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

OneDrive storage aplenty!

Microsoft announced a while back that the storage space on OneDrive would be increased. The free allotment is now 15 GB and an Office 365 subscription gets you an additional terabyte (TB).

OneDrive-140716-03The extra space is now being rolled out. You can see in the illustration here that I now have  well over one terabyte available on my OneDrive.

So the cloud war is picking up again. It wasn’t so long ago that Yahoo increased the storage allowance for Flickr users to one terabyte.

Google is lagging at the moment at 15 GB.

All this cloud storage space now makes backing up to the cloud something that can be seriously considered.

.:.

© 2014 Ludwig Keck

Posted in Flickr, Google, Microsoft Office, OneDrive | Tagged , | 2 Comments

OneDrive improvement

ZDNet reported on June 10, 2014 on a recent update to OneDrive, formerly SkyDrive: Microsoft slips sync changes into OneDrive on Windows 8.1 This is a useful small improvement that on Windows 7 systems was installed automatically but requires user-intervention on Windows 8.1 machines.

imageRight-click on the little OneDrive (cloud) icon in the notification area of the taskbar. If it does not have all the options shown in this screen clip, do another update.

To start an update use the search tool and enter “update” then click on “Check for updates”.

When you see the screen shown below click on “View Details”.

image

You will see the available updates. Important updates are checked, but there is an update under “Optional” that is not checked. This update contains the OneDrive improvements.

image

Click on the update KB2962409 to select it and then click Install. After the update process you will see the OneDrive options as shown above.

.:.

© 2014 Ludwig Keck

Posted in OneDrive, SkyDrive, Windows 8.1 | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

VirtualBox Drag-and-Drop

Sorry, drag-and-drop not in latest update

Oracle VirtualBox is a virtual machine utility that allows another operating systems to run in a window on Windows and other host machines. VirtualBox 4.3.12 was released on May 16, 2014. This is a maintenance release.

image

For a long time drag-and-drop was not available between the host machine and guest machines. Neither could copy and paste be used. imageSadly, that is still the case. You can find the setting under DevicesDrag’n’Drop. You can set Host To Guest, Guest To Host, or Bidirectional. The setting sticks, but such functions simple are not available.

Neither is copy and paste. The clipboard sharing can be set in the MachineSettings, under General on the Advanced tab. It is just as pretty an illusion as the drag-and-drop setting. image

So how do you move data between host and guest systems? imageThe optional use of a shared folder works very nicely. You can set up such a folder anywhere on the host system. I put mine in the same folder as my virtual machines. This makes is a bit of a chore to locate and open. My work-around is to open the folder and then right-click on Favorites in the nav pane of Windows Explorer, File Explorer to Windows 8 fans, and click Add current location to Favorites. This makes it easy to get to. In fact I do the same thing in the guest system. Then drag-and-drop or copy-and-paste operations take just one extra step.

Window Resizing

imageI should add that window resizing is still not implemented properly. VirtualBox provides a few screen resolution settings. If that is not sufficient, there is a mode called Scale mode. In that mode you can drag the window to a new size. Unfortunately it stays proportional to the original size. The menu bar and Taskbar disappear. The window is not really resized, just stretched out, making the readability very poor.

.:.

© 2014 Ludwig Keck

Posted in Virtual Machine | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

OneDrive Advancements

Microsoft adds new OneDrive features

The competition to be the “one and only” in the personal cloud storage competition continues to bring us improvements and enhancements. The latest from Microsoft OneDrive are a number of nice updates for photo albums.

The thumbnails are now much larger than before. There are still some sizing quirks that need to get worked out as the small images are not always in the correct proportions.

TnT-OnDrive-140506-2

The little slide shows on the folder tiles can now be replaced with a fixed cover photo.

TnT-OnDrive-140506-1

This is a neat feature. The next step will likely be lager folder tiles as the present small images seem a bit outdated now.

One “feature” that I find a bit bothersome is the way OneDrive is presented differently to the owner and public visitors. Here are two views, the first as I see it when signed in, and the second as it appears to visitors. This has to do with the permission on folders and photos.

TnT-OnDrive-140506-3

TnT-OnDrive-140506-4

For more on the updates see the OneDrive blog post Updating OneDrive: Five New Features You Asked For

.:.

© 2014 Ludwig Keck

Posted in Digital Photos, OneDrive, Photos, SkyDrive | Tagged , | 9 Comments