Create Focus In A Busy Scene With Selective Color

final selective color version of vw beetle
Sometimes a composition is quite busy and it's hard to isolate focus on the main subject. Using selective color to make the subject stand out can not only quiet down the image but also add add an element of contrast to the scene. Let's look at several examples.

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One Deep River

One Deep River album cover
Filled with trains and deeply introspective, Mark Knopfler's new album, One Deep River, delivers another collection of songs in his wonderful, distinctive style. While there aren't as many stand-out tracks for me as Down The Road Whenever, the following highlights flow perfectly with his existing catalog.

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Artistically Blending Colors Into A Scene

final improved sunset image using the colorize module
Maybe you just missed the peak colors of a sunset, or maybe you just want to apply an artistic interpretation to a photo. Darktable offers powerful and easy-to-use tools for blending new colors into a scene; let's take a closer look at some different techniques for how to do this.

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Adjusting The Shadows and Highlights Using Tone Equalizer

final improved view of Haleakala
It's hard to overstate the power of the tone equalizer module in darktable: it can perform tone adjustments on the whole image or only a certain luminance range and preserve details throughout the process. This module has a lot of options, which can seem intimidating at first (especially if coming from Adobe Lightroom), so let's look at several example images to see how to use it.

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Ubiquitous JPEGs Have Conditioned Us To Think Hue Shifts Are Normal

final improved flower using filmic
At first glance, the flower above might look fine. However, there is a hue shift going on which makes the flower look green/yellow even though it should be an orange/yellow. This phenomenon is present on a huge number of the JPEGs generated on-the-fly (also know as out-of-camera JPEGs) from smartphones and other devices.

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Understanding ZFS Datasets

ZFS datasets
ZFS datasets are a powerful and flexible organizational tool that let you easily and quickly structure your data, monitor size over time, and take backups. Learn more about how to create and manage ZFS datasets in this article.

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Changing Colors in a Scene

final improved river scene
When developing a photo, you may want to change the color of an object or set of objects in a scene while not altering other parts of the image. In this example, the autumn colors were just starting to change but would have appeared much more dramatic a week or two later. Let's show how we can use darktable with a couple of different methods to shift the scene to this later, more dramatic time period.

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The Unlikely Story of Michael Garibaldi

Michael Garibaldi
Against all odds, the story of Michael Garibaldi is one of hope and the possibility of happy endings. Although he may be most easily recognized for his role as Chief of Security, his friendship with Jeffrey Sinclair, or his great sense of humor (fasten-zip, peekaboo, etc), in fact his biggest lesson is to never give up trying for a better tomorrow. As we celebrate Babylon 5's 30th anniversary, let's explore what makes Mr. Garibaldi such a compelling character.

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Star Trek: Picard Series Review

Star Trek Picard cast
Star Trek: Picard ended its third and final season recently with a phenomenal conclusion that explored powerful themes and reaffirmed that the core values and ideas of Star Trek are once again present in modern Star Trek. Let's review each season and cover the major themes.

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Getting Started With Photography Gear

Canon 60D
Getting started with digital photography can seem intimidating because of the price of cameras, lenses, and accessories. Moreover, the myriad of choices of brands adds to the complexity. Fortunately, there is a surprisingly simple solution to getting started.

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Return of the Dream Canteen

Return of the Dream Canteen
Fans of the Red Hot Chili Peppers are graced with not one but two beautiful, rich albums in 2022 with the return of John Frusciante (and Rick Rubin). The overall theme I see in this new album is everyone performing at the top of their game. As is often the case with RHCP, the magic of these 4 musicians working together results in something incredible and greater than the sum of its parts. Read on for a full review of the album.

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You Should Be Watching The Orville

The Orville cast
The Orville, Seth MacFarlane's homage to Star Trek: The Next Generation, is a phenomenal scifi show and I would highly recommend you check it out on Disney+. I'll outline some of the reasons why this show stands out below.

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Elevate Your Note-Taking with Obsidian

Obsidian screenshot
Finding a way to effortlessly take notes across different devices and easily apply formatting is something I've been searching for for a long time. Solutions like Dokuwiki or even Google Docs don't allow for easily and intuitively adding markup to a document, particularly when on on a mobile device. Moreover, keeping notes organized in a simple folder structure is important for interoperability with other apps and services. Enter Obsidian, a phenomenal note-taking app that allows you to effortlessly write notes, add markup using Markdown, and sync across devices.

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Selective White Balance on Part of a Photo

final image with selective white balance
Adjusting the white balance of a photo is a fundamental skill needed when developing RAW files. In this tutorial, we take it a step further and show how to use darktable's powerful selective white balance to use different white balance settings on specific parts of the image. Typically, this would be used to correct the color from multiple light sources (each with different color temperatures), but in this case we'll use it to keep the subject neutral while adding a creative effect to the background.

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Highlighting The Subject Using RGB Channels

enhanced image of blue butterfly
Mastering the channel mixer allows you to not only adjust white balance, but also creatively color grade a photo to set the mood, change the luminosity, and make local adjustments to specific areas of the photo. In this example, we use color calibration to highlight a subject when the surrounding content, in this case the green foliage, is naturally brighter than the subject and thus pulls your focus away. We can counteract this using channel mixer in color calibration.

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The Case For Q

Q says goodbye to Picard
With the season finale of Star Trek: Picard, we finally learn if Q is a friend or a foe. Let's review the case for Q as a friend of Jean Luc Picard, and reflect on John DeLancie's phenomenal performance in Farewell.

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Unlimited Love

Unlimited Love
I've been eagerly awaiting the release of the new Red Hot Chili Peppers album for quite awhile, and Unlimited Love thoroughly surpassed my expectations. Not only is this a new RHCP album, which is always exciting, but this one is imbued with extra quality, polish, and creativity. As Flea described it, "this is the best of us". Read on for a full review of the album.

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Directing Attention in a Scene

final image of field with table
Darktable's powerful parametric masks, combined with the ability to layer multiple instances of a module with a separate set of adjustments applied to each, makes it possible to quickly make high-impact edits. In this example, an additional exposure module directs the viewer's attention to the picnic table, the focal point of the image.

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And So It Begins... Again

babylon 5

JMS made a very surprising and exciting announcement yesterday (see the entire thread for additional details):

JMS post about Babylon 5 reboot

The original Babylon 5 was groundbreaking in many ways - the serialized 5-year story arc, the special effects, and the complex web of events and genres woven together. Moreover, JMS developed rich, 3-dimensional characters, many …

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Q Returns

Q returns to Star Trek

Watch on YouTube

In a stunning announcement yesterday, we learn that Q will be making a return in season 2 of Star Trek: Picard! This is certainly some good fortune! With this announcement, and the clear theme of time in the above trailer, I'd like to reflect on some possibilities …

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Why I'm a Fan of Mark Knopfler's Music

Tracker album cover

There are many things I like about Mark Knopfler's work, both his solo albums as well as Dire Straits:

Personal Geography

The way he weaves memories from his own life (even seemingly mundane things) brings a personal connection to his music. For example, taking the train in Southbound Again, remembering …

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The Darktable Scene-Referred Workflow

final sydney opera house
Quickly get started with the darktable scene-referred workflow using easy, step-by-step instructions. Learn the purpose of each step rather than just clicking buttons and moving sliders, so these actions become intuitive when developing your photos.

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Star Trek: Picard


Throughout the past decade, in 2013, 2015, and 2018, I've written about what I believe to be the core of Star Trek and how a new series should carry on this important legacy. I am thrilled to report that Star Trek: Picard has fulfilled and surpassed these expectations. Let's explore …

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Down The Road Wherever

Down The Road Wherever

Mark Knopfler's latest solo album, Down The Road Wherever (YouTube), is perhaps his best work since Shangri-La. His other recent albums (even including Get Lucky, which I reviewed here), have felt too folky for my taste and lacked hints of Dire Straits rock. Down The Road Wherever reduces the folk …

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A Royal Conclusion

Royal Pains conclusion

I've really enjoyed watching Royal Pains over the last eight years, but it took seeing the finale to be able to really articulate why I like it so much: all of the characters give, and through their giving they receive what they need. For example, Hank helped so many people …

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Ansible - Templating Config Files

ansible logo
Ansible is a fantastic technology that allows you to deploy and manage servers easily and in a repeatable fashion. One thing that can be tricky is using templates to create complex configuration files. In this example, I'll demonstrate how to use nested variables to create a sample Sanoid config file.

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A Successful New Star Trek Series

stars and nebula
Title image captured by NASA


As you have probably heard, CBS announced that a new Star Trek series will premiere in January 2017! This is very exciting news for Star Trek fans, as Enterprise has been off the air for 10 years now. However, with this opportunity comes great …

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The Fantastic Star Trek Lit Universe

The Star Trek lit universe


Ever since Star Trek Enterprise went off the air, there has been a void, a lack of new Star Trek TV or movies available to fans. The NuTrek films (the 2009 Star Trek reboot and subsequent movies set in an alternate universe) do not count, because although they are …

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2011 - The Year of The Linux Desktop

elementary desktop
Every year, members of the Linux community debate this question - will this be the year of the Linux desktop? Each passing year results in the same answer to this question - not yet. I think that 2011 is going to mark the end of this trend and see the beginning of a rise in use of Linux on the desktop because of several new and exciting projects.

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Doctor Who - The Big Bang

Doctor Who

It was definitely a heartfelt ending. I was skeptical to say the least of Matt Smith being able to fill David Tennant's shoes as The Doctor, but he has really done a superb job, especially with the 2nd half of the season. He brings a totally new element to The …

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MobaSSH provides an easy-to-use SSH server on Windows!

Openssh Logo

As you know, I'm a Linux fan and can't live without remote SSH access to my boxes. Recently, I was forced to put together a Windows server instead of a Linux one in order to run my MagicJack (unfortunately, Virtualbox's USB Audio drivers aren't very good). I wanted to have …

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James Callis Moves to Eureka

James Callis comes to Eureka

I have to admit, I wasn't very excited about the return of Eureka this season. Don't get me wrong, I think it is a great scifi show and really some of the best content on TV. I just wasn't in a rush or overly excited to start in on this …

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Way to Go, Steve

iPhone and Adobe Flash

As you have probably heard by now, Steve Jobs recently responded to the escalating Adobe-Apple conflict with a detailed and open letter explaining his thoughts on flash. Since the letter was published, there have been numerous responses (1, 2, 3...) to his letter, many of which try and accuse Apple …

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The Computer Paradigm Shift

first generation ipad

In case you didn't already know, the iPad will go on sale tomorrow. This event marks the beginning of the next great leap forward for computers. This shift takes computers from the "desktop" model of managing files, folders, and devices to a task-centric model which abstracts these things from the …

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The iPad - My Thoughts

iPad Image

Finally it is here. There has been a lot of negative reactions to Apple's new iPad. Remember the reaction to the first iPod or the iPhone? Many of the complaints are things that can (and hopefully will) be addressed with software updates. This is a major new product which means …

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Sanctuary - Sleepers

Tesla in Sanctuary

Another excellent episode of Sanctuary. I am continually impressed by the rich mythology of this show. After the exploration of the Ancients and their history in the Stargate franchise, I really began to appreciate how well those shows weaved their mythology together. However, I have been even more impressed with …

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Bluetooth Support for Toshiba Laptops on Ubuntu

bluetooth logo

It has taken a long while for me to figure out how to get the bluetooth adapter in my Toshiba a200/a205 laptop to work with linux. I am currently running Linux Mint 8, which is a derivative of Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic. These instructions and tools apply specifically to …

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Sanctuary - Veritas

Sanctuary Veritas screenshot 1

What a fantastic episode of scifi. This week on Sanctuary brought a suspenseful and fast paced thriller to this already great series.

WARNING: the following review contains spoilers for the season 2 episode Veritas. After the nice character development for Henry last week, this episode was a refreshing fast-paced mystery …

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Get Lucky

Get Lucky album

Mark Knopfler's latest offering doesn't disappoint. Throughout both the Dire Straits years as well as his solo career, Mark has always shyed away from the pop sound in favor of rich imagery and sound. Get Lucky is no exception. Right from the title track, Mark's unique style of weaving a …

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My Thoughts on Mono

Linux loves mono

If you follow any tech news sites, you've probably come across the Mono controversy. If not, let me give you a brief introduction. Microsoft built on top of the Java programming language syntax to create a new language called C#. C# fixed a bunch of the programs with Java (such …

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