Tuesday, November 13, 2018

David Hockney’s thoughts on the Art of Seeing

Those coming to the next Sketch Crawl, Sunday 18th November (there is still time to register at eventbrite) might like to view this BBC documentary which covers much of David Hockneys views on photography and the important Art of Seeing. The documentary does run for almost an hour and mainly covers Hockney’s revised inspirations from landscapes and lead up to Hockney’s Bigger Picture series of landscapes. The PhotoWalk/SketchCrawl is based around many of the same issues. So this You Tube is not only a very interesting in itself, it is also great context for the walk.

The harder to look the more you see.

Monday, November 12, 2018

A small crack but a big disappointment

At Big crack in my faith in HP, as well as a small crack in my screen.I loved my little HP spectre but last week I opened it and found the touch screen didn’t work, and deeper investigation revealed a small crack across the screen towards the base. This is the second cracked screen in under two years and in this case the computer definitely hasn’t been mishandled. It was sitting on my desk and I opened it in the same careful manner I always used. The cost of replacing a screen in Australia about a year ago was around AUD$800. Ouch!!

The spectre can be turned on and off, the touch screen doesn’t work and it works with the mouse but with multiple mouse icons that jump around the place. Its effectively unusable.

However then I started to look on the HP forums to see if there was other repair options and what I saw was an avalanche of similar problems, most after no obvious rough handling or damage.I've blur out my email address but where is the lick or instructions to change my password? With the only conclusion that HP spectre x2 & 360s are prone to unexplained cracking. Suddenly I am thinking twice about spending more on a computer that is at risk of yet another crack without any mishandling.

Then I tried to explain my story on the HP forums, and despite spending a couple of hours to try and log in, get a new password (I got an email without a link to change my password, shown on the right). Then I tried to set up a new account on the forum and you guessed it! Error!

The only HP advice I could find was where to find a dealer or HP repair service to replace the screen, or screen damage is not normally covered under warranty, and I looked around a lot, enough to kill my faith in HP.

Captureh-p error

Ok I’ve lost the ability to warn other HP users but I am still able to tell this story my colleagues and acquittances, those I train and the readers of this blog. Why should I pay a lot to give HP a third chance. Its my money and I’m not. Am I likely to recommend HP gear to others, I really doubt it.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Creative Commons and another sting in a free flickr tail

imageI have been a fan of the Creative Commons style licencing for a long time and use the creative commons licence on most of my flickr posts. I learnt very early that most people ignore these so I am also careful not to post of Flickr or any social media photos that I want to sell or otherwise don’t want copied. My licence is for Attribution (the figure in a circle graphic) which means its free to use if you attribute me as its creator, it is also NonCommercial (the dollar sign with a strike through in the second circle) and Share Alike (the anticlockwise circular arrow in the third circle) which means it can be shared but must not be altered.

51075027_53736347ca_oFor example the 5 fingered hand was posted on flickr over a decade ago, it is of course a crude photo manipulation and a bit o fun to create.  If you do a reverse image search in google images  or tin eye you with find hundreds of uses of this image. Clearly only one (my flickr post) is attributed to me. It has been used on the cover or an Indian Rap record (commercial) and is recognizable in many modification (ie. not share alike). All these are violations of the creative commons licence.  Looking at the stats it has had 2688 views but only 1 fave and no comments. Which makes me concluded that a large proportion of the Flickr viewers paid little regard to flickr’s licencing and probably no real effort has been applied by flickr or the creative commons group to enforce such licences.

On the up side, there are several example of people who obviously have read the licence on other photos of mine and reached out to me wanting to share this photos on blogs, book covers, and tourist information (I have allowed most and all attributed me as the photographer). So the creative commons licence system can work but requires people to acknowledge the creative commons licence. Unfortunately in my experience they are a very small minority. 

Is the answer legal enforcement (I doubt it), shaming the thieves (“feeding the trolls” doesn’t work on the internet because it just gives them more hits) or Education (yes I believe thats the only way.) Unfortunately way to many creative people who want to truly share and collaboratively work with other are being taken advantage of. This is a big #FAIL for Flickr and pretty well all social media, So guys don’t put your head in the sand, start educating.

So I am very sceptical of the latest post on Flickr’s blog about not deleting creative commons images. I certainly acknowledge that allowing creative commons licencing is a great thing (for example google used to in the picasa web album days but no longer do in google photos) and it is the best way to correctly share images (something I am not against and in fact I encourage), Also having the licence details clearly visible as logos and easily access the find out what the means (vis the Some rights reserved v link , which means there is no excuse for those incorrectly reusing the photos. It all sounds nice but in practise I can’t see evidence of any enforcement of attempt to educate. For me I only see this as a kind of pale grey-mail to get me to pay yearly for a pro account. I have more than the thousand photos allowed under creative commons licences photo and if flickr won’t deleted them I would get looked out of posting any more photos. Specifically I see this as not share any extra photos. Such is Life

Sadly it probably means good bye most of my creative common photos I will have to delete you if I want to stay active on flickr and I apologise to any legitimate uses if that causes distress (just contact me and I am sure you can legal still use of any of my image). However I am now even more resolved not to pay an annual fee to just share my work with others (at least not on flickr). Also don’t expect to see my best work on Flickr any more.

Sorry Don MacAskill if I have misinterpreted your intensions. A lot of others are likely to do the same.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Colour Calibration :: Before You Panic II :: Tonal & White Balance

Back in the HSL Luminosity Tint & Shade post, I suggested that luminosity has a big impact on how we judge colour. I also showed how getting a tonal balance in black and white tonal range first, then switching the colour back on can enhance the feeling of colour. There is another important tool to help your colour judgement in a photo and that is White Balance.

The Idea behind white balance is an adjustment to match the colour temperature of your light source, and this is achieve by either warming (usually adding magenta) or cooling (usually adding green) the overall colour rendition. Human vision automatically undertake these changes so we seldom notice the effect of different light sources. However cameras will record these colour cast and that often leads to an unnatural looking image. In the early days of colour film, specific film stocks where developed for different light sources (specifically incandescent and tungsten lights). You needed to use different film under different lights. Digital Photography has enable these adjust to be undereaten in the camera when it prepares the jpeg render of the image. Most DSLR & mirrorless cameras can be White Balance calibrated for given scenes and lighting conditions. RAW formats which record more details of the image and only carry out the white balance (so AWB or Auto White Balance is ok) to render the jpeg thumbnail embedded in the RAW format in camera. However the photographer is able to carry out white balance after the photo is de-mosaiced and re-rendered in postprocessing steps. White Balancing can also be used to remove colour cast created by strong reflections of highly coloured surface.

Example of White Balance eye dropper in LightroomIt is my experience all the software I have used, with a white balance feature, can do a reasonable job removing colour casts providing you pick a neutral grey tone (or White or 18% grey card) in your photo.  As discussed on the video above those packages that let you then copy the white balance adjustment across a number of photos, then let you take a reference image perhaps with a “white balance” card infront or held by your subject. make an adjustment and then copy that across the rest of that set of exposures.

There seems to be quiet a school of thought that you can not perform White Balance on a Jpeg files (including the video above) after it is captured, but my experience is if you have a reference shot of a suitable card (with a white or neutral grey patch) you can improve the reliable rendition of colour. The example below is a jpeg file straight from my Olympus OMD EM10iii camera, which I post processed in Picasa 3 (ie an old bit of software).

.Example of using White Balance eye dropper in Picasa

In the example above I have already adjusted the tone to get the the white on my test strip lighter then I used the white balance eyedropper and pointed to one of the two very light grey patches on my test card and clicked. That’s all that’s required. Note I haven’t had to use an expensive bit of specialist gear or customised colour profile.


It is my observation that it requires both Tonal and White Balance together to “clean up” colour in a photo.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Colour Calibration :: Before You Panic I

On the internet Blogs, Podcasts and You Tube are full of advice that you have run to buy and expensive bit of gear and calibrate your monitor immediately. Well you don’t but its a bit complex after that.

If you want to go the full colour calibration route you actually need to start at the camera,  cameraphone or scanner, then you can calibrate your monitor, and perhaps phone and data projector, then you must calibrate your printer. Only then can you reliably start using specific colour profiles.  If you want to use outside print services or book publishers you will have to trust their calibration and colour profiles. There is a lot involved in that workflow chain and a lot of it is device specific.Then you will find that your photos look flat, unless you start with really good light. This might sound depressing but…

Ok I’ll start with your computer monitor which is where most folk feel they need colour help. If you’ve got a recent LCD or OLED screen you probably don’t need to worry. Most are carefully colour calibrated during manufacture and/or have some colour calibration features in their setup menu. They generally will be well set when you first unbox the screen. Over time the screen suffers a bit of degradation (normally in luminance of the all pixels) if they are heavily used. The older issues of fading and images burning in (if a single image is continually displayed) were a problem for the old CRT Monitor and TV screens). Some early Plasma TV screens had been reported as noticeably degraded in colour intensity over time. Recent discussion seem to claim plasma screens degrade slower than LCDs. I don’t have a plasma screen  so I just have to accept that as true.image

Really the only thing you need to check is the tonal balance of your monitor which you do with the brightness and contrast adjustments only. There are many calibration web apps but I have found the one on Photo Friday is very simple to use and always gives great results. Rather that use the screen capture here I suggest you go to the Photo Friday site and the Monitor calibration is down the bottom. The basic idea is you need to be able to see a true black and a true white on your screen (not grey approximations of them). Just go to the site and follow the on screen instructions. Believe me it works nicely. Once you’ve done this tonal calibration I’m sure you will notice improved colour rendering.

Yes the first step in good colour calibration is to work in Black & White.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

PhotoProject :: LIVE TIME .vs. LIVE COMP for Lightning

imageI took the opportunity of the storm last night to test out two features LIVE COMP and LIVE TIME of my new camera. The Little Olympus, OMD EM10iii Mirrorless Camera. LIVE TIME lets you see a long exposure building up the image on the LCD screen (in 2 second updates so the lightning just lit up the whole sky (looked like sheet lightning, which it wasn’t)

Wimagehereas LIVE COMP (the image above) takes a back ground image and then only add things that are stronger light,  (again I'd set this to 2 second intervals), its like I am doing highlight blend mode across several images (say 50 to 100). That’s how I got this photo with the forks of lightning and strong frozen backlighting of the tree. Yes I have cropped in a bit.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

PhotoProject :: Capturing Rain

I have tried many times to find a nice ay to capture rain. Basically it falls to fast to nicely capture drops in detail and its usually dark anyway.


It was raining heavily yesterday and I saw an opportunity to photographs the drops backlit against dark foliage. Then I took photos at three different shutter speeds

  • 1/500th. second (ie fast enough to freeze a bird in flight)
  • 1/50th. second (a comfortable hand-held speed that should avoid blurring my shaky hands)
  • 1/15th. second (very slow, I have to rely on the in body stabilisation (IBS) of the  camera)

The result is obvious the best photo telling the story of raining is the slow exposure because it has elongated blurs hat captured the motion of the water droplets. Sound obvious in retrospect. Slow shutter speed to blur the motion and hold the camera steady (and/or IBS)