Taking care of business, part 2

(Oh, haha, I see I’ve already used that as a post title…)

Today was dedicated to steps along the road to getting myself set up with a photography sales business. I set up my website a while ago, and now I’m implementing a bunch of stuff necessary to start selling prints. Today I got a monitor colour calibration tool and properly calibrated my monitor, then I prepared a few selected photos in Photoshop files with all the required colour profile settings, ready to send to the printing lab to have them printed on art quality paper. The next stage is to send them off and have a few test prints made. Then I’ll be ready to start selling and shipping them to people.

The other thing is that the printer I’m using can put my photos on their website, with the handful of art photographers that they work with, and start selling online off their website. I’ll also be adding a shop on my own website, to collect orders through my own advertising.

And another thing I did was to register for an Australian Business Number. This is required for all the dull business/tax things that I need to start keeping track of, and filing with the government.

To calibrate my monitor I needed to pick up the tool from the city, and then I realised I needed a calibration print from the printer, so I walked over there to get one. It was a fair walk, and I passed some interesting things along the way:

Mortuary Station

Regent Street Station, formerly known as Mortuary Station, a now disused railway station that used to be the stop where bodies were loaded to be transported to Rookwood Cemetery, in Sydney’s west.

Codenames Blue Spy

Some cool street art. It reminded me of one of the blue spy cards in Codenames.

Austin of England

“Austin of England” car, circa 1951. Showing the typical mud-spattered look that many Sydney cars now sport, due to the combination of dust storms and rainstorms, and water restrictions that make it more difficult to wash cars.

Ravenswood, 1896

Ravenswood, a Federation style building from 1896.

By the time I got home I was very warm and sweaty, from the humid heat that has settled over Sydney in the past couple of weeks. But it was an exciting day for another reason! Today was Scully’s first day on the job as a Delta Therapy Dog!

Delta Dog

Here she is in uniform, ready to go to work at Royal North Shore Hospital. My wife is her official Delta handler, and they both had to pass training and evaluation to qualify for this role. They’re doing patient visits in the orthopaedics ward at the hospital, to help cheer the patients up and improve their recovery. I’m extremely proud of both of them – when I first heard of this program I didn’t think it was a serious possibility for them to qualify for it. But I’m very happy they did!

New content today:

Taking care of business

I had a busy day today. I had a meeting scheduled at 2pm with a guy who runs an art photo printing company. One of my contacts through the Standards Australia committee for photography that I chair was the former owner of the business, and he arranged to meet us there and introduce us.

The site was in the city, not far from where one of my friends works, so I contacted him and asked if he wanted to meet up for lunch beforehand. With a lunch appointment set, I headed into the city on the train a couple of hours early, so I could browse around in some bookshops and then walk from there to lunch. I took some photos along the way:

Sydney Town Hall

This is Sydney Town Hall, the seat of the local city government council. They’re the ones who put on the famous New Year’s Eve fireworks, among other things. This lovely old building also hosts concerts and other events. It has a magnificent pipe organ.

From here I walked south down George Street, the central city’s main thoroughfare, until I reached Broadway, which is really just the continuation of George Street as it gently turns west. Here there are some lovely old Art Deco hotel/pub buildings:

Bar Broadway

This is the Bar Broadway, which used to be Sutherland’s Hotel (hence the old signage above). Behind it you can see the tall tower of the newish Central Park building, with the greenery on the exterior. Closer up it looks like this:

Central Park, Broadway

The dangling thing over the middle is an array of solar reflectors, to reflect sunlight down into parts of the building that are in the shade. This building is mostly student accommodation, because the University of Technology, Sydney, is right across the road. Here’s an exterior walkway along the road just outside one of the university buildings:

UTS tunnel

And out the other side there’s another old Art Deco hotel:

Broadway Crown, formerly Hotel Broadway

This one is the Broadway Crown, formerly known as the Hotel Broadway. This is near where I had lunch with my friend. We discussed various things, including our stalled comic project, Eavesdropper. He said that what we’d been doing was essentially a first draft of the story in his head, and it wasn’t a final polished version in his opinion. What he needs to do is get the whole story down on paper, and then revise it. So illustrating it further as a comic doesn’t really make sense – doubly so because of how much effort I had to put into drawing the artwork. So I think we can officially call the comic project finished, albeit not completed.

We also talked about games we’ve been playing lately and plan to play in the future. I need to knuckle down and write the next instalment of our current D&D adventure that I’m running.

After lunch, I headed to my meeting at the photo printing place. I met the owner and he showed me around the print shop, and we discussed the various printing machines and paper stocks and mounting and framing options he had available. I said I wanted to to start selling mounted and framed prints of my photography, from an online shop on my website, and he said they had art photographers listing photos for sale on the print shop’s website, so the photographers themselves don’t need to run a shop site. Customers can order prints, they print and frame and ship them, and give the mark-up to the photographer, minus a small percentage for hosting the online shop. This sounds perfect! So I’m going to go through the details with him by email and produce some photo files that they can sell as large prints. Initial selections will be some of the photos that you can see on my portfolio site.

I got home late in the afternoon. My wife and I took Scully for a walk and run around the park near our place. Then we made some more pizza with the home-made feta. I’d left a chunk of it sitting in a bowl of milk in the fridge all day, to draw some of the salt out, and that trick worked well. The resulting cheese was milder, and the pizza wasn’t as salty as yesterday.

As I was relaxing into the evening, news broke of a fire in a school in Sydney. It was Lane Cove Public School, which is the school where I teach Primary Ethics! Fortunately the kids are still on summer holidays, but their school hall and canteen are reported to have burnt down. The hall apparently had a lot of musical instruments stored inside, so the students are going to have it tough until they can buy new instruments. Fortunately no classrooms were affected. It’s going to be interesting to see how the recovery is going when I return there in a few weeks to start teaching a new year of kids Ethics.

New content today:

Dental

I had a dental appointment today, for a clean. The hygienist reported everything looks good, so that’s always good news. My appointment was shortly before lunch, not far from my wife’s office, and she finished early today, so we met up to have lunch at a place nearby that does dim sum, and had a nice meal together, before heading home.

The other thing I’ve done today is put the finishing touches on my new photography website, which I’ve set up as part of my effort to generate some income through my photography. I’m planning to sell framed prints of some of my photos, and am currently doing some research into suitable printing and framing companies where I can get them made. I also have a new Instagram account dedicated to the sort of high quality photos that I’ll be selling – please follow it if you’re interested! (I also have a more general Instagram account, with more casual day-to-day photos on it.)

Oh, I also did some Standards work, follow-up tasks from the meeting I had a week and a bit ago. I’m in the process of organising to host an international photography standards meeting in Sydney in early 2021. There are people to contact and things to book and agreements to get signed.

And gosh, it’s only Tuesday! It’s going to be a full week by the time it’s over.

New content today:

Dog party!

Somehow I got stuck with the job of baking a ham for Christmas lunch with my wife’s family. So this morning I ventured out to acquire a ham. When I got to the supermarket, I found a section with Christmas hams… they were about $20 a kilogram, and all huge slabs of meat weighing 4, 5, 6+ kilos each. Christmas lunch will be for about 8 people… I really don’t think we could get through $100 worth of ham. So I wandered off to get some other groceries, wondering what to do. But then I ran across another section of the store where they had baby hams, closer to 1 kilo. Perfect!

Ham acquired, I bought some other stuff and went home. On the way, I popped into my dentist, as I was walking past and it reminded me that I’m overdue for a teeth clean. The receptionist wasn’t at the desk, so I had to wait a couple of minutes to make my appointment, and I looked over at the coffee table covered in magazines for waiting patients to read. And I spotted something interesting:

Mechanical Dentistry by Charles Hunter

Mechanical Dentistry by Charles Hunter

Well it’s good to see that my dentist is up on all of the latest techniques and practices! There was even a chapter on how to alloy gold for use in a filling or for a false tooth!

The rest of the morning I spent cataloguing all the bird photos I took yesterday, extracting photo metadata (date, time, GPS coordinates, etc), matching it to species IDs, and then importing the lot into my bird photo database. (You can browse this database, but it’s still under construction – I have to go back and import all my historical bird photos. At the moment it only has photos I took this year, so many of the birds click through to an empty page. For one with several photos, try the New Holland honeyeater.)

This afternoon, we had another Christmas party that Scully was invited to – this time at her dog park that we go to a couple of times a week. It was just organised by the group of regulars there, who invited everyone and their dogs to show up with a plate of food. We arrived early, to go for the usual walk along the shore with the group of dogs that Scully has become familiar with. By the time we got back from the walk there were maybe 20-30 dogs plus their owners there, enjoying plenty of food and drink.

Dog park party

As you can see, Scully was wearing her festive kiwifruit bandana. We stayed for a couple of hours, until about 6pm, when we left to go in search of dinner (the food we ate there was really more of an appetiser than a meal). We ended up at an Italian place, walking a large circuit from our place via the dog park. In total it was almost 8 km we walked this evening. Scully should sleep well tonight, as hopefully will I!

New content today:

School presentation and birds

This morning was the end of year Presentation Day assembly at the primary school where I do my volunteer science teaching stuff. As in the last few years, the school invited me to present the Science Award to the best science student. I get a reserved parking spot, and a seat on the stage with other special guests – it’s pretty cool. They present a whole bunch of academic, sports, and community awards to students, and “graduation” awards to the departing Year 6 class, going on to high school next year. This was the last time I’ll visit the school before the new year starts, and I wished the kids I saw from my Science Club a good Christmas holidays.

Afterwards, I decided to take advantage of being up on the northern beaches and took a walk for about an hour and a half around the Long Reef headland, which is a good spot to do some bird watching. I opened my account today with a crested pigeon:

Crested pigeon

I got a good shot of a red wattlebird (the bird isn’t red, it has red wattles, below the eyes):

Red wattlebird

And I managed to get a decent shot of a bird I hadn’t photographed before, a nankeen kestrel. It was flying overhead and I couldn’t tell what it was, silhouetted against the sky. I boosted the exposure and shot wildly, trying to follow it across the sky:

Nankeen kestrel

I could go on, but rather than post all the photos here, I’ve stuck them in an Imgur album with species IDs, which you can check at your leisure if interested. (They’re also in my Flickr stream, link below.)

I had some lunch nearby, and then drove a few minutes to Warriewood Wetlands, which is another bird hostspot, and photographed some more birds (also in the album). I got home just in time to take Scully out to the park for afternoon exercise. And then I spent the rest of the evening processing and uploading bird photos. 🙂

New content today:

Friday/Saturday Double

I missed yesterday’s post because I was out most of the day, so I’ll cover Friday and Saturday now to make up for it.

Friday morning I had a meeting at Standards Australia, chairing the committee on photography standards. I caught a train into the city, where Standards Australia has their offices in the Australian Stock Exchange building. So you have to check in and get a security pass, and the lifts have this weird operation where you swipe your visitor card and a lift comes and takes you to the floor you’re allowed access to, without you having to press any buttons – in fact the lifts have no buttons at all inside them.

We have committee members form various research and cultural institutions, as well as representatives form industry and professional photography associations. I reported on the work done at the international standards meeting in Cologne that I attended in October. One particularly interesting project is updating the formulation of visual noise measurement in photos, to revise the current international standard. Experimentally, the current definition doesn’t correlate very well with human observer opinion on how much noise is in an image. People from several countries have been doing experiments designed to derive and then verify a new formula based on image statistics – including an experiment that I ran in December 2018 (while I was still employed). The work is approaching the final stages and a revision of the standard should progress through the approval process in the next year.

After the meeting closed, I walked through the city to do some Christmas shopping. For someone I wanted to get some classic thriller movies, so I checked out a major retailer and their BluRay section. They had a bunch of Hitchcock films, and I thought I’d get Psycho and Vertigo. Both were available for $12.95, but Psycho had a discount sticker on it saying “2 for $20”, while Vertigo had a sticker “Buy 2, get 1 free”. I grabbed them and went to the counter and asked if they could treat the second sticker like the first and give me both titles for $20. The person said no, the stickered items were very strictly applied, and they couldn’t change the discounts. Feeling cheated of a bargain, I walked out empty handed.

A few blocks south, there was another shop of the same retailer, so I went in to see if their stick was any different. Again Psycho and Vertigo for $12.95, but here Vertigo had a “2 for $20” sticker, while Psycho had no discount sticker. If I’d managed somehow to get Psycho from the first shop and Vertigo from the second, I could have had them both for $20! But at this shop they again refused me the combo discount, so I stubbornly refused to buy either of them. If the stickers are “strictly applied”, how come the same titles are stickered differently at different shops??

Anyway, I progressed through a series of other shops, buying gifts along the way. The shopping areas were moderately crowded with Christmas shoppers, but not as bad as it’ll get in the next few weeks. Then I headed home on the train again. The sky was very grey and smoky still from the bushfires, but it seemed higher up, and not clogging the ground level with smoke like it had on Thursday.

After a brief stop at home, I set out for fortnightly Friday games night at a friend’s place. We started early, to give us an hour and a bit to write some Darths & Droids comics, at which we made good progress, writing four new strips. We’re still finishing off the Muppet storyline, and haven’t started work on The Force Awakens yet. We’re planning a group viewing of The Rise of Skywalker when it’s released in a couple of weeks, after which we’ll sit down and figure out our storyline through the final three films.

Then it was into games! We started with The Quacks of Quedlinburg, in which each player is a quack doctor, brewing magic potions in an attempt to sell them to suckers patients, in order to buy more ingredients to make more profitable potions:

The Quacks of Quedlinburg

This game was interrupted a bit by several of us veering off to play Magic: the Gathering games to complete the high-powered cube draft we started back in September. The final few games were completed, and Steven ended up winning, while I managed to come dead last, despite being the only person who knew in advance what cards we were going to be playing with! While this was going on, other players played hot seat in the Quacks game, taking over as other people subbed out to play Magic. I started the game in one seat, but returned later to take over another seat, from where I managed to come second in the game – while the seat I started in came last!

After this, we split into two groups to play two different games. I ended up playing Wingspan, which I’d never played before. It’s a game of collecting different birds, using food to gather them, and then they lay eggs, and various other things happen that score points.

Wingspan

This was two rounds in; I was playing the board at the bottom with the red cubes, and I thought I was going rather poorly. But by the end of the game:

Wingspan

I had a lot of birds, with a lot of eggs. My birds were not worth many points compared to the other players, but I had so many eggs that I won the game by 3 points! (89 on the score sheet in the photo.) It was a fun game, and I’m definitely keen to try it again.

The other guys were all ribbing me during the game, saying I’d find factual errors or stuff on the bird cards, since I’m interested in birds. I don’t recall the details, but I certainly made some erudite bird comments during the game, which only served to prove their point!

I got home late, so didn’t make a post last night. Today, Saturday, I spent the morning cleaning the bathroom and then making one of the new Darths & Droids strips that we write last night. And then after lunch my wife and I went out with Scully to a market, to meet her mum and sister there. Scully got to chase ducks and geese, which I don’t think she’s seen before. The geese were three times her size, but she was keen to chase them! The market ate up the afternoon, and then this evening we went out for dinner at a Greek place near us – that was established in 1969, so is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Today was warmer, and the sky a smoky grey all day. This smoke is really starting to get to people, me included. It feels like we haven’t seen blue sky for weeks. And the outlook isn’t good either, with forecasters saying it will most likely hang around Sydney for weeks, if not months. Blah.

New content yesterday:

New content today:

Report writing

Today was a working day. I needed to write a report on my recent trip to Germany for the ISO Photography standards meeting in Cologne. Standards Australia requires a meeting report, and I also need to prepare notes for a follow-up meeting with photography experts here in Australia, to report on what was discussed in Germany. Part of the meeting outcomes was a plan to host a meeting in Sydney in February 2021, which we now need to begin planning.

So I spent most of the day writing that report. Later in the afternoon we had a big thunderstorm crash through Sydney, although we only caught the edge of it and didn’t see a lot of rain, but we certainly got a lot of lightning and thunder. We have more storms forecast for tomorrow. It’s good to get some rain, although it’s not clear if it’ll make much difference to the current drought. Sydney goes onto Level 2 water restrictions in a couple of weeks, because our dams continue to dry up.

New content today:

Debug day

Ugh, what a day. I spent basically all day trying to reconstruct the Irregular Webcomic! forums after yesterday’s disastrous PHP upgrade event on my webhost.

I tried several things, battling with cryptic documentation and apparently non-working installers. I installed a brand new copy of the latest version of phpBB, expecting that I could import/convert the old database containing all the forum poster user data and posts. The installer said there was a convertor included, but when I got to that step, it just wasn’t there. I fiddled around for some hours, trying things, searching for help, discussing with other people. Eventually I tried the installer again, and lo, this time the mysterious convertor interface was there! I don’t know why it wasn’t there the first time.

Anyway, I managed to import the old database, so all of the old forum data is now in the new forums. It looks like it’s working fine, but all of my graphical customisations have vanished. I may try to reinstate some of them, but it was actually the extensive modifications I made to the previous forum’s appearance that caused me to give up upgrading the software in the first place, since the customisations and upgrades interfered with each other and made the upgrade process a real pain in the neck each time. So this time I plan to keep any modifications minimal, so that I can keep the software up to date and hopefully avoid this sort of issue again.

While doing all this, I also got a report that the PHP 7 upgrade has also broken the comics on mezzacotta.net. I spent a bit of time debugging that as well, replacing some deprecated/removed functions. The code now seems to run okay under PHP 7 on the command line, but for some reasons it’s still failing when run via the web page. So I’m currently stumped on that one.

I also squeezed in a few other minor coding tasks in between bashing my head on a brick wall all day. I finally figured out getting an SSL certificate for Darths & Droids, so now the site loads with that trendy padlock icon instead of the “This site is not secure” warning. I’ll add this to all my sites in the next day or so – there’s apparently an interaction with WordPress sites that makes it less trivial than what I did today.

And I set up my new photography website on a brand new domain: dmm.photo. I’ll be expanding this site a bit soon, with a view to offering photo prints for sale. Oh yeah, and it links to a trendy new Instagram that I’ve started too: @davidmorganmar. These two items are part of a campaign I’m beginning to try and make some income as a photographer. Since it’s something else I love doing, like making comics.

New content today:

Germany travel diary completed

I’ve completed work on my Germany travel diary from last week’s trip. I’ve revised the text a bit and added photos, after completing work on the photos I took over there.

And in some other good news: Remember how one of the hotels I booked through Amoma, and then Amoma went bankrupt, leaving my booking in limbo and me out of $500? I applied to Visa for a chargeback, and submitted evidence of Amoma’s bankruptcy and defaulting on my prepaid hotel bill. It took 7 weeks for Visa to process the claim, but today I got the money refunded! Woo!

Apart from that, I didn’t do much today. I strained my back yesterday while hauling those groceries home, and wanted to take it easy today, so I relaxed a bit.

New content today:

More Germany photos

This morning I went up the street to get some groceries, to restock things after being away for a week. I walked up the hill to the supermarket, and hauled three heavy bags of stuff home, including a cooler bag full of stuff to go in the fridge and freezer. I got home… and realised I hadn’t taken the key. Oops.

Fortunately, two circumstances made this not a disaster. Firstly, one of my neighbours was home, and let me put my cold groceries in his fridge, and leave the rest fo them in his kitchen. Secondly, my wife works only 20 minutes away. So I headed over to her work to pick up her keys, then came back home, picked up my groceries from the neighbour, and finally let myself in. So that was an interesting waste of an hour or so.

I spent much of the day sorting through Magic: the Gathering cards, trying to catalogue all the bulk commons in my collection. It’s time to clear them out and regain some (a) storage space and (b) cash, if I can. In between, I processed and uploaded a bunch more photos from last week in Cologne. Here’s my travelling companion Monkey at Cologne Cathedral:

Monkey at Cologne Cathedral

On one afternoon after my meetings finished, my wife and I checked out the Wallraf-Richartz Museum of art. It has this painting, among others: Drawbridge at Arles, by Vincent van Gogh (my photo):

Drawbridge at Arles

And then also the Museum für Angewandte Kunst Köln (MAKK), a museum of art and design. The historical permanent exhibit was closed for renovation, but the modern design exhibit was open, with lots of funky design stuff from around 1900-1950, like this Russian radio:

Russian radio

New content today: