Saturday, April 18, 2015

PhotoFriday :: Wet

Cyclamens left in the rain (given the HDR treatment)

For PhotoFriday‘s topic Wet

Friday, April 17, 2015

A good reason to delete

imageI have noticed a few significant changes in some of the on-line sharing services I have been trying out recently (enough of the sharing already). Canon’s Irista desktop loader has been tripping a mirosoft .NET error lately and its attempt to Autoupdate kept failing. I was just trying irista out as google+ photos was getting me frustrated, and I still have a tiny bit of loyalty to Canon. alas I don’t want yet another thing quickly ripping photos from under me and uploading copies to yet another loocation.
Sorry canon this need fixing but I’m not waiting around I’m just going to delete the Irista desktop app.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Last Lunar Eclipse Opportunity for a Long While

Lunar Eclipse

We have been fortunate in Melbourne having seen a several lunar eclipses over the past four years, but this will be the last for a while (next for Melbourne will be 2018) . So the eclipse will start at 9:16pm, hit the total eclipse stage (where the moon might be a strong red) around 10:38pm and then finish 12:45am. If you haven’t tried to photographing the moon here is some good advice, its fun.

However the cloud cover is getting thicker fingers crossed it will clear later tonight.

The age has a nice article on-line called  Total lunar eclipse 2015: What you need to know if you want some more details.

Trying out a new phone

The gums
The Gums

Just an experiment with an LG L7, nice clean colours ....but "super difficult to see the screen in strong light!!!" Autumn Light here in Melbourne can be beautiful but it still has a lot of contrast and often leaves digital cameras very confused.

taken with Pudding Camera App & uploaded to flickr via Pilxr. 

All the apps I had used on my older HTC phones are easily downloaded and most benefit from the extra screen space

Thursday, March 19, 2015

In Search of Aurora Australis

In Serach ot Aurira Australis
 Last night had a high K index so I went out for a while looking for Aurora activity, but the ambient light of the city was probably too bright, the maximum activity was over New Zealand and probably I'm too far north anyway. Still I had a little fun doing some low light multi-stitch panoramas. This is a three photo vertarama, created with autostitch.

Looks like its back to the drawing board and a visible copyright icon on my flickr photostream.

Monday, March 16, 2015

PhotoEditingTools :: Straighten in Picasa & Google+ Photo

picasa basic enhancements tools panelFor me picasa was the first software to offer a seriously easy to use straightening tool. There were some tools with stretch out tilts but most only offered slides and or the ability to type in an angular change. They were not easy to use and generally didn’t show you interactively how the photo was being rotated. Picasa even in its early versions (pre-google ownership) included a straighten tool in the first basic enhance panel. By comparison the picasa straightener put a detailed grid over your image and as you move the straightening slider. Moving the slider to the right is a clockwise tilt and moving the slider to the left is anti-clockwise tilt. The big improvement was that as you moved the slider the whole photo was moved on the screen so it was relatively easy to line up the horizontal or vertical straight lines in your photo.

Adjustment in picasa

Google+ Photo Straighten/Crop TileThe on-line end of picasa is now google+ photo (I’m expecting that name to change name soon) and it also has some good basic editing tools. Specifically a decent straightening tool. However it is somewhat hidden because the tile that activates it is called crop, but it does have a curved arrow above the typical crop icon. To find it firstly click on the edit item on the tool bar above your image, which appears above any single photo display. This the brings up a side panel which has a number of tiles representing various tools and filters. At the top of this panel are basic adjustments and these are all green tiles with “identifying” icons. The crop & straightening tile is on the lower right.

Adjustment in Google+Photo

The crop/straighten panel (shown above) is then displayed and it has a number of tools to rotate the image. I’m using the ruler called straighten. Using it you first select one point, say on the horizon, click and then you stretch out desired the desired new horizon, and click on a second point on the horizon. The photo is then adjusted on screen and you set where the automatic cropping is also displayed (outside this the triangular salvages are still displayed but subdued). The two icons with the small rectangle and curved rotation arrows can be used to rotate the photo through 90° to right or left (ie correct for the camera held at 90°). The sliders also rotates the photo but only by a limited amount. Like the original picasa straightener moving to the right is a clockwise rotation and moving the slider to the left is anti-clockwise tilt.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Learning Workspace & Tools rather than Workflow

I have never been a fan of the idea of a workflow to control how you work on images. At least for a creative person this approach will guarantee that your work looks just like almost everyone else’s. Instead I prefer to think a better way to "learn" your own style and skills should be a self exploration of the workspace and the tools available.

I'm actually falling back on the way an artist might be expected to learn to sketch. Some of that instruction might be how to hold the pencil but most of the time will be dedicated to seeing the subject and making the appropriate marks on the page, sometimes using a HB pencil sometimes sometimes much softer like a 4B or charcoal and other times maybe coloured like a watercolour wash or crayons. To this end I began a series of simple post where I described the workspace available in common software (specifically software I have used). This was a lot like opening the page of your sketch book or perhaps a setting up a ready primed canvas and getting out your pencils. Pens and/or paints.However once you are familiar with the workspace it is time to find out what tools are available and what they can do.

What I am going to tackle next is an exploration of tool type, by tool type, which I consider the important photo editing tools. This is somewhat like using different media in the sketching but I will be focussing on specific tasks that most photographers will commonly encounter. I have picked a dozen common tasks and the tools to do them and divided these into three groups

Basic Tools

Florish Tools

Special Tasks

White Balance Sharpening/Smoothing Noise Reduction


Selective Refinements Red Eye Reduction

Tonal Enhancement

Layers, Masks, Gradients Lens Corrections
Straighten Filters, Presets  

You probably don't need to learn all of them or even learn them in the order given. They are just a set of tools I think are important to learn. They are not a comprehensive list of tools to answer every possible modification of a digital photo. I intend to discuss each tool, one at a time, and generally one tool in one software package. I don't intend to explain every possible option for each tools but I want to start you on the journey of learn new tools and which tools can be used for which tasks, and a desire to experiment with those new tools and skills.

So next time you have a photo you think has potential, look at which task/tool is likely to deliver that improvement and start to experiment with just that tool. Shift the sliders both ways. Look at the extremes. Perhaps even try the same image in a different package or the same tool on an on-line service. Like any artist become skilled at making your mark in the way you feel comfortable.  You couls wait for me to discuss it but If you aren't comfortable yet experiment with the tool, try every which way. The big advantage with digital images is it will cost you little more than your time.

There are dozens of expensive books that follow elaborate workflows but I don't think you can beat learning how to use one tool at a time on a task that is important to creating/enhancing your own image.

Once you know the way in which you want to use the tools and you find yourself doing the same tasks time and time again, then  this is the time to considered work flow, But it should be something that suits you and enhances your creativity.