Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Which digital camera should you buy?

I have steered cleared of doing camera reviews, mainly because I think any digital camera these days are good enough to take decent pictures. However there is a such a range of camera available deciding where to begin is quiet a challenge. I notice on the flickr blog, they are tackling this very question, and they are in the wonderful position of seeing millions of photos loaded with a wide range of camera. They have a neat summary table of the main classes of camera versus the type of photo you wish to take. I have added colour to highlight the great, versus good versus ok. This is the first in a series of articles planned for the flickr blog so make sure you visit them again and follow the series.


I have to admit I own cameras from 3 of these 4 classes (I don’t own a mirrorless/micro 4/3rds. camera;yet!) Smartphones can be expensive, but the camera will seldom be the key purchasing criteria, the other cameras get more expensive as you move to the right. The interesting observation here is that the micro 4/3 cameras are satisfying the more common Pehaps it is time to consider a mirrorless mirco 4/3 cameraphotography generas, their reasonable pricing probably make them a better choice these days than the compact style cameras, and if you haven’t already invested in the larger and heavier DSLRs they are probably an obvious choice of a new photographer (in training/aspirations).

If your getting down to the purchase decision it might also be worth checking out the Flickr Camera Finder, you get to see not only the cameras popularity and technical specs but importantly you can get to see a range of photos taken with that camera.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Patch :: Falling back on joiners

I had been scouting around for a photoworthy urban landscape and whilst I live in a “vibrant” city I really don’t fine it so attractive (infact this week I was more confronted by the ulgy side of the urban aspects), So whilst I took many photos of buildings and motorways, the only ones that even inspired the idea of a worthwhile landscape for me was a group of shoots I took hand held looking back on Melbourne at dusk.  However rather that try and work up a panorama I felt there was extra charm in leaving them as a stack of images.

Whilst photo collages have been around a long time its is the joiners developed by David Hockney that can bring a rich artistic feel of personality and being an original work. His original joiners where just polaroid images (lots of them) assembled and stuck down to make a larger image. Not necessarily taken from the same vantage and often deliberately not quiet matching. I have found the collage maker in picasa is an idea place to build similar joiner style collages. However there is plenty of software out their to do a similar job (Hockneyizer is a wonderful “filter” style app,originally for flickr photos but you can upload any photo to it directly, that will take a single image and break it into a hockney style collage)
Picasa collage ScreenIn picasa you just need to select the photos you want and the select the collage builder tool (either the Create/Picture Collage menu item or collage button if you have one on the bottom toolbar).  The first step is to select the picture pile format which is as if you are just scattering the photos on your desktop. under that is a series of border templates (the collage above has the polaroid frames, in homage to Hockney but they are not what I wanted for the final image. I prefer borderless option.) However I like to using a drop shadow which emphasis (rather than hides) the join between photos. The next step is to move around and possible resize and reoriented to photos. When you select a given image a control circle if overlayed on the photo click on in and moving your mouse slides the photo over the surface. You can resize the photo with the mouse wheel (or clicking on the orange dot on the little control button on the edge of the circular tool and moving it in and out (horizontally). To rotate the image again click on the orange dot and now move the mouse vertically and you will see the image rotate. the controls are very easy to master and you will soon be able to rotate and resize at the same time.
Picasa collage ScreenOne of the bigger charms of Hockney’s later joiner work is that he did not try to fill the whole space and left ragged edges and some gaps but he did take time to judge a suitable background colour, something that could bring the whole together. I like this approach and so I used the eye dropper tool to select the dark blue of the sky as my background, Then a bit more rescale and realignment of all the photos together (press select all at the top of the workspace and all the photos will be outlined and can be reoriented and scaled as one). You must then hit the create collage button, which creates the composite image and puts them in a separate album called collages. You can then work on this as any other photo in picasa so I did a fraction more cropping. The advantage of the picasa’s tool is you can return and re-edit the original collages in the collage album at any time.

There should of course be some “art” applied to your selection and arrangement of the images but if you are lost for inspiration you could always try the scramble and/or shuffle button at the bottom of the collage workspace (remembering that any alignment of images will be lost)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Why is this disturbing me so much?…

In my search for an Urban landscape i keep (somewhat disappointedly) litter everywhere. I’m totally amazed at the amount I have seen and how blatantly its been dumped (in the example below it is in easy walking distance of some bins. _IGP0034

This is just straight distressing (and has to be deliberate dumping)

_IGP9903 copy

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The joys of hand colouring photos

I spent a great afternoon learning a little about hand colouring photos at a workshop run by Janina Green at the Monash Gallery of Art. Hand colouring precious photos was once an important aspect of preserving family memories or postcards for tourist, but it can be a wonderful way to add originality (and extra value, not just sentimental) to a photographic image.

There are some wonderful hand coloured works as part of the Photography meet Feniinism Exhibition on at the monash gallery of art till 7th December.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Bit of Nostalgia

A bit of nostalgiaMy trial of Perfect Photo Suite 9 had not been progressing well, I was running up against an 1018 error which relates to Open/GL 2 support and the graphics card. My Toshiba laptop having two graphics cards an standard intel and the Higher performing Nvidia GeForce but alas I was only seeing the intel driver and the 1018 error of a warning about Open/GL support. A fair bit of research and asking the right question to OnOne support has got me through this serious "trial" of my patience. 

Anyway I noticed that amongst the presets in Suite 9 is a comprehensive set of slide film emulating filters. Slide film was great it bought a true luminescence to photos, particularly landscapes, but at the same time it was very demanding, even half a stop out and you could "blow the highlights" or a stop under exposed and you would have gloom. However in between was a magic place full of rich colour.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Sculptures in the (sub)Urban Landscape

Wednesday was a magnificent spring afternoon so I was out looking for an Urban Landscape photo opportunities. Thes two metal sentinals look vey happy in the stong light.
IMGP9943-HDR copy
IMGP9958-HDR  IMGP9955-HDR copy

For PhotoFriday‘s topic Metal

 They are all Google+ Autoaewsome HDR* images, finished off with a perfect Photu Suite 9 Big Softy Vignette

Thursday, November 20, 2014

What is Clone Painting?

I have been a long time fan of Corel products. Corel Draw is still my go to graphics program and I use AfterShot Pro all the time now. I also have Corel Painter Essential 4 (it was bundled with my Wacom portable bamboo tablet) and Painter Lite (it was bundled with AfterShot pro). These latter two programs allow you to paint on layers over any photo and do some sampling from the image (such a colour and tone). Unlike other "artistic" filters that algorithmicly change the whole image, these works at the stroke level and the type of stroke you make leaves an authentic mark for the media and brush or pen you have selected. Well Corel have just release Painter Essentials 5, which is clearly aimed at the "art enthusiasts and emerging photo artists who want to go beyond ordinary and turn everyday inspiration into wildly impressive art". There is an autopaint setting (which can try its best to make marks suiting the media you choose). However this is really a fantastic product for anyone that wants to be creative and show their own originality (Specifically haven't already invested a lot of time and money learning the fancier side of Photoshop.)

So what is clone painting? other than a term invented by corel! It is the process of "painting" on a new layer (or layers) by sampling the underlying photo. pretty well any package that has a clone stamp and layers capabililty can do it (eg photoshop, gimp and even At the simplest level you could say trace over the edges in your photo with a pencil (the analogy outlines on a sheet of tracing paper is good for this process). The you might change to a watercolour style brush and by again sampling the colour and tone from the photo below start to paint in the image (in a process somewhat like colouring in). Using a mouse to do this is possible but having a pen and tablet makes this all very natural and brings a lot of hand drawn authenticity into the resulting image.. The Corel Painter Series products have taken this to a high degree of sophistication by allowing automatically sampling the point under the brush at any time. Other packages may require that you dip your brush (or an eye dropper) into the photos to get the colour you want each time you need to change. Using a soft edge cloning tools some of the brush strokes may even copy the image below to the width of the brush being used and with a little feathering at the edge.

My own attempt at clone painiting, showing the layers
Clone Painted Self Portrait (via Corel Painter Lite)
Whilst some purist artists may look down on this process, there are very many younger artists that are running with this technique and producing beautiful and original work, Often they identify under the grouping digital artists (on a whole different level to those posting those "no longer zany" instagram filters).

Vive la différence !