Monday, September 15, 2014

ThePatch :: Toy on Parade & Games

I figure I should at least have some fun with this weeks theme at ThePatch , Toy on Parade & Games. It has to be the same toy,(ie the Blue Lego Guy) . So what games would he like to play, or more particularly be part of? Why not chess, I could design the pieces in Lego!  Which I did. (Ok that took a fair while but I have designed a proper lego chess set, and the complete build instructions are available on request).

Some preliminary tests shot for composition escaped (more precisely they were vacuumed up by google auto-backup, which I had only turned on to see if I could get a couple of *HDR autoawesome images from my photowalk on Tuesday). These test shots were made into a short *Motion animated gif. Not exactly exciting but you can see me experimenting with f-stop to try and get a better depth of field. The next issue was to perspective. To get a decent close up I needed a wide angle lens (ie zoom in) but I only had a near orthographic projection (common in CAD systems) available in LDD (Lego Digital Designer) To get such flat perspective I’d need to use my telephoto lens and take the photo from many meters away (and my room is not that wide). So a compromise was needed. First I experimented with tilt shift filters (with ordinary results), Then with 3D adjustment/perspective in Corel Photo Paint (much better but fiddly to set). This is getting complex.

Finally my planning turned to where to place the other chess pieces around the Blue Lego Guy and I had the grandiose idea of using a famous chess game (such as game 5 between Kasparov and the computer Deep Blue, which ended in a draw). From a low down view these games look over crowded and confusing and no one, even a chess expert could possibly recognize the game. Time to simplify the image and layout for simplicity and good composition.

Assembling the final image I ended up creating 3 layers (the the photo of me and  the chess board, the piece I am holding, and the chess pieces themselves) and adjusted them to fit in Corel Photo Paint. However as before I keep the layers separate and reassembled the image again in OnOne's Perfect Photo layers and some tweaks in Perfect Effects to get a overall photographic look. Perhaps more work than play but fun all the same.

PS for those that like Where's Wally style puzzles, there is one actual Lego piece in this picture, can you find it?

PhotoFriday :: Panorama

pano-001Beach Five approaching High Tide
Based on 14 stitched photos

For PhotoFriday‘s topic Panorama

Friday, September 12, 2014

A decade older, ..but any wiser

imageThis blog turns ten years old today. It began with a simple enough objective, Exploring the Creative Potential of Digital Technology and it is still pretty much wandering around the same themes. If you want to spend a bit of time looking around try the label cloud down on the right or type a topic that interests you into the search box. You won’t find any specific camera reviews, as originally promised, but you may find a lot about ways to use them along the way. Looking at my blog stats, I have improved views from around 1000 a month, when I set up the counter in 2005, to over 2000 now (see graph below). The blips in 2012 to the peak in 2013 were due to link spammers, so I probably need to knock off around 2000-3000 page views from the total. Still 80K is a decent number, not spectacularly popular (or worse viral success) but encouraging to continue all the same.

I suspect googles view numbers are very rubbery

So my advice is still the same get a camera, especially one you are happy to use (anything from a smartphone, Mirrorless up to a DSLR, they are all good these days) and learn how to use it. I hope the collection of ideas over the last decade helps you see some of the Magic of Digital Photography.

Onwards into the unknown …and more to learn and share as I go

Thursday, September 11, 2014

One Clue closer to understanding a LR foible

Last night I was tired and left Lightroom running on my laptop computer, which was plugged in but in Sleep mode. This morning my computer showed that windows had preformed and “important” security update for Windows 7 and restarted my computer sometime over night. Lightroom was up and running but a Collection (Adobe’s name for an album) I had definitely set up last night was missing, it was missing in the last catalogue backup made as well (not surprisingly as this was made earlier). This starts to explain at some of the unexplained problems and frustration I was having with Lightroom late last year and earlier in the year. I now suspect that, if the computer is shutdown (in this case by a windows update) and the catalogue backup not run,(It may have been waiting for a user response to run it) and lightroom terminated. Then when the system resumes although lightroom resumed fine it uses an older backup. So the problem really is triggered by the windows update. At least one of the problem events earlier in the year related to a significant power outage. I had already identified that leaving lightroom running overnight was not a good idea, so I have to share a little of the blame.

Ok why this time didn’t I loose any RAW edits? The answer was simple I have adopted the tactic of always writing any changes to a sidecar file (.xmp file) immediately.

Thus what we have is not really a BUG in lightroom more a personality foible to do with how she maintains her precious catalogue. (How to do this is mentioned in my previous post).

The moral, Lightroom is a High Maintenance Mistress

Don’t Leave Her (Lightroom) Running Unattended (ie overnight)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Hail, Rain & No Moon Shine

The Super Moonrise was a non-event last night in Melbourne due to a big storm. There was Hail, Rail and Shine Lightening but the heavy clouds obscured the eastern horizon and the moon
 About 3:30 the sky darkened and the rain began In poured with periods of hail for the next hour & half Towards sunset there was a glimpse of a Rainbow
Storm Clouds Roll in as the sunsets
Mainly just darkness, clouds & lightening after that and no moon to be seen. C’est la Vie
No moon just clouds & lightening

Monday, September 08, 2014

Plenty of Cloud ...No Moon

A series of HDR photos in search of the full moonrise (not seen). The weather forcast for tomoorrow is no better.


The Patch :: Toy on Parade at Work

blg at work in office
My first plan for this week’s thepatch theme, Toy on Parade At Work was to have the Blue Lego Guy working as a Lego designer (see above), a nice bit of self reference there. Nice clean desk by the way guy. Which was fun to set up and shoot but he was creating an artist and artists work too, right! So the idea snowballed to becoming a en plein air outdoor painting set, nice again but the artist idea had taken hold and I needed something a bit more creative.

blg selpotrait_oil Painting A selfportrait … perfect, now we are really talking self reference. It ended up as three separate layers and three separate images. The background was a real easel, the self portrait was a front on image of the lego guy (the one used in the photo above) but re-rendered with corel painter light, using oil bristle brushes and marker pens (a very loose self-portrait it is, but have you seen the size of his brush! The Blue Lego Guy was a separate layer again direct from LDD (that’s Lego Digital Designer). The layers where assembled in Corel Photo Paint but retouched in OnOne's Perfect Effects to get a more photographic finish.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

PhotoFriday :: Nightfall

Two More Days This week's theme gave me an excuse to practise for Tuesday's not-so-supermoon photowalk,

 more details on the MGA events page.

  For PhotoFriday‘s topic Nightfall

Running out of patience with Google+ Photos

I do keenly watch developments in google+ photos, and the take a tour item has just been updated (ok some time in the past month!). One obvious observation is it only show photos on mobile device, and I think this is clearly because that is their current focus (ie picasa and desktop applications are no longer part of the story). That aside one of the features that everypix (now defunked) were developing was object/scene recognition and more automated ways to group and classify your images. So I am interested to see google+ photos making the same claim BUT….
NO it doesn’t do object recognition once the photos are on the web. I suspect this may only be on mobile devices only (which is a bit strange because object recognition is likely to require a heck of a lot of computation cycles)

So where does that leave me, with not such a good report card …
Sad smileon Photo Organization
Sad smileon sharing photos in Blogger
Sad smile not displaying Creative Common Licencing
Sad smileon AutoAwesome
Sad smileon AutoBackup

I suspect the essence of why I am becoming so frustrated with google+ photos and google+ in general is it is going the way of the apple-verse (ie supposedly “always just works” but it will only ever work in a simplistic way), which is so seldom very useful to me.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Be prepared for more Supermoon hype BUT….

Just a heads up to let you know there will be (yet another) supermoon next week this time over two nights for Melbourne, The term supermoon is not from astronomy it is more astrological. The event is real enough, the full moon corresponds with the closest point that the moon gets to the earth and it can give those interested the opportunity to get some nice photos, because the full moon will rise close to sunset.  Depending on the local atmospheric conditions this could produce a pleasing coloured moon against a richer sky. However there are a lot of myths about the name supermoon, (read this lifehacker post), so don’t expect the moon to be really large or much brighter and there are unlikely to be major catastrophes. If you haven’t witnessed a moonrise its happens surprisingly fast.

…it is a good excuse to photograph the moon

If your moon shoots looks like this don't panic read onHaving dismissed  the hype, photographing the moon can be fun because it is quiet a challenge for an automatic digital camera (as it also is with film based photography). The main problems comes when you rely on light meters, they average the illumination. However the moon is bright against a dark sky, so most often the moon will appear as a bright circle (or big white blob with flare) perhaps with a purple halo and no internal detail. Our eyes however can better handle the contrast and our brain adjusts to a more balanced illumination and we can usually make out at least some detail. The essence of photographing the moon is finding the right exposure to capture the detail of the shadows and craters. There is a lot of advice on photographing the moon on the net, some a little miss-guided but here is a good place to find additional advice.

A photo I took last monthFor the Super moon (or any full moon) close to the horizon, my suggestion for a good starting point will be to use a tripod, set you camera to manual and use a long lens (or zoom in).  Even though this is a night photo try to keep the shutter speed high (1/100 to 1/500) because the moon moves fast. The aperture can be standard (ie around f8) although if you have a foreground subject you want to include and you have the long lens it might be wise to go to a small aperture (eg f22) to avoid depth of field issues taking the moon or the foreground out of focus. This really only leaves you the sensitivity to adjust to get the desire exposure and it will probably be in the range ISO 400 to 1000. Most modern digital cameras will go up to at least ISO 800. EXIF exposure data from the above photoThe ambient light of your position and view can make a couple of stops difference to the exposure so it is a good idea to take a test shot or two of the general scene you want to photograph just beforehand (remembering when the moon rises there will be a little extra light, ie slightly under exposed is ok). Finally if you are familiar with taking bracketed exposure, this is the perfect time to set your camera to take 3 (or 5) photos at a range of EV values (-2 to +2 is a good range if your camera allows this) that way you should get at least one good exposure.

The second common surprise most people get when they photography the moon is it always appears smaller than what they saw? This is particularly so if there is something in the foreground. This is really a function of the cameras focal length being a wider angle (ie 50mm for a DSLR). The solution here is easy use a telephoto lens 200mm or longer, or zoom in and stand further back from the object in the foreground.

The Flickr community team have suggested a series of Noctural and Lunar Global Photo Walks for September, and there has already been a focus of events that match up to the supermoon occurrences next Monday & Tuesday. In Melbourne the key times are shown in the table below

Date Event Time
Monday 8th. September Moonrise 5:11 PM
  Sunset 6:03 PM
Tuesday 9th, September Sunset 6:04 PM
  Moonrise 6:24 PM

Source: Hill

If you are in Melbourne, we have already had two widely hyped super moons this year, but Tuesday 9th September will be the last opportunity to photograph a super moon from location for the next decade. So cloud cover permitting why not join the flickr global photo walks group and/or a group starting at the Monash Gallery of Art at 6:00 pm, more details on the MGA events page. Even if it is cloudy there should be some good long exposure opportunities.