Saturday, January 16, 2010

Nikon Picture Control

By default, Nikon D90 has 6 picture controls (Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait and Landscape) installed and these controls endow distinct feelings to photos by changing the setting of saturation, contrast, color hue and sharpness etc. The result of these default picture controls are usually satisfying, however, if you have a different preference other than the default, it is possible to create a custom picture control via the camera or via the Nikon ViewNX program. You can even minic the legendary Fuij S5 Pro color in NIKON DSLR.

Create your own picture control using Nikon ViewNX
The software should come with the camera, if you lost the CD, you can also download ViewNX for free from Nikon's website.

After installation, run ViewNX and click on 'Quick Adjustment' tab on the left bottom of the program.
Step 1: Click on Launch Utility to activate the Picture Control Utility
Step 2: Select a stored Picture Control. Select a predefined picture control as a template for your modification; vivid is a good start if you like a highly saturated photo.
Step 3: Click on 'New' button on the right
Step 4: Rename your Picture Control then press OK button. You can find a new picture control is created in the Stored Picture Controls list.

To modify the Picture Control to meet your need:
Step 1: You can adjust all parameters in 'Level Adjustment' the way you like; to adjust Curve, select 'Use Custom Curve' to enable the custom curve control.
Step 2 (optional): Load Custom Curves. You can also download custom curve files (*.ntc) from PC1, PC2, PC3, PC4.
Step 3 (optional): Select downloaded curve files
Step 4: Press 'Overwrite' button to save your modifications.

Now you can edit photos with your own picture controls by selecting a specific picture control in 'Quick Adjustment' tab of the ViewNX.

Upload Picture Controls to Camera
Except for 6 default picture controls, there are 9 extra spaces in Nikon D90 that allow users to upload custom picture controls to the camera. To do that first plug in your SDHC card to PC via USB. Open the Picture Control Utility window and select the picture control you want to export as step 1. Step 2: Select a number then press 'OK'.

The program creates 2 folders in your SDHC card which are NIKON/CUSTOMPC and the custom picture control file is sent as PICCON01.NCP to the CUSTOMPC folder. The number of the NCP file is coresponding to the No. you select when exporting.

Plug in your SDHC card back to the camera and press the MENU button. Select SHOOTING MENU...

To set Picture Control:

The photos will be recorded as Vivid-01 style.


Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Mandarin or English

Foreigners who can speak Mandarin fluently are often times treated as a rare breed in Taiwan. They are the minority among the outsiders, as a result, speaking English to foreigners is a response reflection and no matter how good their Mandarin is or how hard they try to communicate in Mandarin, most of the time conversations are spoken in English when they are around. It's a very interesting phenomenon in Taiwan and it's also a frustrating experience and a constant reminder of being an outsider for the foreigners. So why do Taiwanese like to speak English to foreigners even if they can speak Mandarin fluently and why do foreigners prefer, sometimes insist, to speak Mandarin to Taiwanese if they are able to? Except for the reasons mentioned above, it would be interesting to make a poll to see the reasons behind the phenomenon but I don't think there is enough traffic from my blog to make a valid poll but here are a few theories I have:

To show off/to boost self-esteem
Except for business or attending English classes, there is not much chance for Taiwanese to speak English in their daily life. It's a once in a blue moon opportunity to bump into a foreigner who will actually have a conversation with them, and it's a great time to make an impression to their freinds, family, colleagues and also the foreigner they are speaking to. Do foreigners try to make such an impression by speaking Mandarin in a conversation? I'll say some of them need that kind of recognition, not as much as Taiwanese though. Afterall, they don't have be to able to master Mandarin to get sincere yet nearly "insulting" comments like "your chinese is great" even if they can only order dumpling in Mandarin without making the restaurant confused with sleeping.

A great practicing opportunity
Practice, practice and practice is the only way to master a language. One of the reasons that my blog is written in English is to practice my English writting skill; just like many foreigners who study Chinese in Taiwan have a Chinese blog. It's a logical assumption that both Taiwanese and foreigners speak a foreign language in a conversation to practice their speaking skills. As the English speaking Taiwanese outnumber Mandarin speaking foreigners, English is usually the default language used.

To blend in
Foreigners who study Chinese in Taiwan wish to blend in to the culture by speaking Mandarin; a shortcut to be recognized by the locals. On the other hand, Taiwanese speak English to minimize a possible intimidation built up with language barrier creating an atmosphere to feel free to speak.

You aren't really that good
Even if foreigners can speak Mandarin fluently, there are times when conversations get too serious for them to handle, sometimes, it just can't be translated. Once the language switching is made, the impression of 'they aren't really that good' makes the conversation stay in English.