Announcing Blaisdell Press

Pamela and I have been working since at least last summer on bringing some of her older works back into print ourselves.

It’s finally happening.  We’re calling the operation Blaisdell Press, and our first products will come out March 1st—paperback and electronic editions of Pamela’s 1998 novel Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary.

We expect to go on to publish The Dubious Hills, and possibly a standalone electronic edition of “Owlswater” (a trade paperback of something that short would have to be kind of expensive per word, but we might try that too to see if people want to buy it).

And then—we plan to publish the first edition of Pamela’s new novel Going North.

 

Lightroom. Bah.

It’s really bad at using system resources effectively.  I’m sure this is why it’s so slow at exporting developed photos, and it’s probably also why it’s slow to respond to controls.  Here we see Lightroom using barely half the CPU exporting 18 photos—something that is trivially parallelizable to 18 cores (since the photos are independent).  In contrast, the old Bibble Pro, which is now available as Corel Aftershot Pro, would always put the whole processor to work.

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You Might Learn Something

Recently added monitoring of CPU and disk temperatures to the servers I use.  Good timing!

CPU temps
CPU temps

I also replaced a medium-sized fan (maybe 80mm?) with a larger one as the main chassis fan. Since the CPU cooler fan is ducted to the side of the case that probably didn’t affect the CPU temps, but it definitely reduced the hard drive temps.

Hard Drive Temps
Hard Drive Temps

The Dubious Hills Cover

Okay, I’ve made surprisingly good time on the next cover, and have one which is getting close to ready even before I have the text all cleaned up.

This one started from one of my own photos, so let’s start there:

Perhaps two people on FB may recognize this...
Perhaps two people on my FaceBook friend’s list may recognize this…

It’s really too large, and it’s brick rather than stone, but it’s not a bad starting point. Reducing it to B&W will make the brick less obtrusive, and simply cropping down will both make the doorway (and doorstep) more prominent, and hide the size of the entire building.

And I ended up here:

Current draft cover
Current draft cover

 

The biggest change to the main photo was applying the “rubber stamp” filter from the filter gallery to it. To get that to work out nicely, though, I had to adjust the curtains behind the windows, and the roof, and a number of other things. If you overlay the images you’ll find I’ve also performed some perspective distortion on the house—not actually important for this relatively tight crop, but I did it when the entire house was showing in a wraparound, and it was important there.

Preparing the image for rubber stamp
Preparing the image for rubber stamp

The house was done in two pieces; first I cropped and adjusted and prepared it for filtering, in four layers. The base layer is simply the image (with layer mask to clip the house out of the background). Then there’s a retouch layer which suppresses some things that are emphasized by the rubber stamp treatment. Then a curves layer with layer mask to brighten up foliage so it doesn’t go all black in the rubber stamp, and a curves layer with layer mask to darken the curtains inside the windows so the windows don’t go all white.

Cover layers
Cover layers

Then, that image was made one piece in the cover design. Working up, that image was placed to fit the front cover, the perspective was corrected, and the rubber stamp effect was applied. The opacity of that layer was reduced to get the gray I wanted (that was easier than repeating rubber stamp with different foreground colors selected until I found one I liked).

A simple color layer with “darken” blending mode applies the “background” color (this was easier than masking the rubber stamp group, I thought). Then the layer over that applies a very subtle texture to that background color, to keep it from looking perfectly flat.

The rest is really simple—text elements for title and author on cover and spine, the two cats (the white one will probably get more complicated, see below), the publisher and price on the back cover (and the background rectangle that makes it visible against the background), the author photo, the credit for the author photo, and the author biography.

I’m reasonably pleased with this, and it’s rather different from the last one (though both do involve buildings reduced to low-res B&W representations).

My current issue list for this:

  • Not satisfied with the white cat’s face
  • Not satisfied with roof detail on left half
  • Add extract from review to back—maybe at the top rather than the bottom
  • Still doubtful about front text color
  • Doubtful about using white for Pamela’s name on the spine
  • Not sure about the background color
  • Not sure about the very subtle texture applied to the background color