Monday, September 26, 2016

Tonally adjusting your monitor is important.

Quick monitor check test pattern

I noticed that the new photofriday included a monitor adjustment. I also found this older article on flickr central, which goes into a far bit more detail about doing the tonal adjustment for you computer monitor and its just as relevant today.

It is not me that benefits from you doing this, it is you that benefits. You will be able the better appreciate the effort good photographers have undertake to capture well balanced and rich tonal ranges.

If you are serious about looking at photos on-line check out the test strip above (it shoud show 17 shades of grey plus black and white. Commonly it is the strips at either end that might look the same. Dive into the post to see what needs to be adjusted

Sunday, September 18, 2016

ArtInspired :: Fun with Deep Style

I must admit I liked the Henri Rousseau Style images from my photos using google’s deep dream generator. So I decided to have a bit of fun using half a dozen famous Australian Landscape Painters.

IMGP3410_HDR_Suburban_BushIMGP3413_HDR_Dandenong Creek

Can you guess whose style I am using to render my two photos (above)? (answers in comments)

Suburban_Bush styled on McCubbinDandenong Creek styled on McCubbin

Suburban_Bush styled on HeysenDandenong Creek styled on Heysen

Suburban_Bush styled on Aurthur BoydDandenong Creek styled on Aurthr Boyd

Suburban_Bush styled on DrysdaleDandenong Creek styled on Drysdale

Suburban_Bush styled on Fred WilliamsDandenong Creek styled on Fred Williams

Suburban_Bush styled on WhiteleyDandenong Creek styled on Whiteley

Saturday, September 17, 2016

PhotoProject :: Surreally into the Night

I have been interested for sometime in multi-exposure and superimposing subjects across time. This image is not a multi-exposure in camera instead it combined two photos taken only a short interval apart. It was just on dusk and there two ducks where lazily swimming by. I already had though of the idea of using flash and non-flash for the multiple images so I grabbed my camera and two a couple of photos, trying to keep the ducks in the center of the frame.


Back home I put the two images together but it was quiet boring because light water in the normal exposure cancelled the dark water  in the flash photo (it a boring blue/grey)and the ducks where cut in half because they did overlap. So I had the idea of using a luminosity mask in OnOne 10. First I used a dark brocade textures layer and replaced the lighter values in the photo (the water) and kept the darks (the ducks and shadows). Next I overlayed the flash image and using an inverted luminosity mask let the blend bring the modified original photo and texture into the dark background. A slight crop, leaving the illuminated duck swimming on a surreal surface, with their available light selves becoming living shadows,

#261 IMGP3597 Surreally into the night

Friday, September 16, 2016

An Update at PhotoFriday

I’ve been submitting photos to the weekly PhotoFriday challenges somewhat routinely for a long time, and I normally post the photos here in this blog. I liked their site but it has been significantly upgraded (specifically you can see the images directly without having to click through. It is much more Instagram like and easy to contribute to. It may take me a while to get used to but I’m willing to keep contributing and that means signing up and perhaps not posting the photos here (just their background story if and when they have one)


The one thing that instantly grabbed my attention was the monitor calibration. Something I wish more people would do. However I also know that colour calibration is a big issue (way beyond those devices that supposedly do it for you) and the ambient lighting has a lot more influence on the colours you see. Further it may not always address the tonal accuracy either. I know that it is the tonal aspects (brightness and contrast) that most folk stumble with and either have super contrasty, very dark or extra light monitors and they have got used to it. This sometimes means all the tonal effort a photographer has gone to, often gets lost on the viewers. PhotoFriday’s calibartion screen will probably get you to a much better place to appreciate the tonality of good photo. If you see subtle targets in the black and white circles in the test above you probably ok but if either the black or white shapes is just a single circle you need to do the calibration. Remember to follow the instructions (eg dims the room lights)

Try it its free!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A nifty way to store cables

The USB interface has revolutionised the way and number of devices you can connect to your computer (and android phones, cameras and widows computer, Simple Cable Box for under $2the apple-verse is catching up but they have an even more complex range of cables to manage). The downside is all those cables, lots of similar ones.  Storing them often lead to jumbled mess of cables and it often took time to find the end you needed.


Whilst buying some hardware supplies I chance upon some cheap plastic storage boxes (under $2 each), with removable sliders. I originally visualised them storing longer screws and or bolts. However, when I put it on the side table beside the cables the electric globe of inspiration came on. Now I have my cables back in my desk draw but now I can quickly find the cable I need and don’t have to untangle anything. Also I have an extra SD card reader in the box as well as another one in my camera bag.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

ArtInspired :: Deeper into Style & Inceptionism

Inceptionism is the made up name by some of the google software engineers working on a project (deep dream) where they were looking to training artificial neural networks to recognize objects within images It is an attempt the characterize a technique they developed to explain what was happening in their networks. The article in the link above explains some of the process in more detail but I like to think of it as a slightly different way of seeing the knowledge the network is building played back as a superimposed patterns that reflect what they are looking for. The deeper you go the more things look like what you seek and the patterns of line form and light get distorted or re-seen as something else. Positive reinforcement good wild in a meta-self-referencing sort of way. If you are looking for animals, birds or insects, mystical beasts start to appear every where as if a dream (hence the project name) in an artificially intelligent neural network cycling through its meals of data in a computer somewhere in “the cloud”.

#226 Suburban Bush Dreamtime

The deep dreaming code and many of their networks are publically released and I am still keen to code it up and build something for myself one day (probably not soon). However the meme of deep dreams has spread quickly on the internet and their are now many website that offer the deep dream approach. One of the first was dreamscope, and it is my favorite, but google also has an on-line deep dream generator. Many of theses site like lucid for android phones offer a instragram-like pick and one-click filter approach. Already there are already two variants.

  1. Convolutional Neural Networks, these have been describe by a team at University of Tubingen. These neural networks are base on a feed forward approach and they are starting to be able to detect style and the nature of marks made as well as the content. The Tubingen study suggest that style and content are separable.  Thus you can apply a particular style to a  different subject.These system using this approach often have style in their name, (eg google style) and I will adopt that name to characterize this group.
  2. Inceptionist, neural networks. This is the approach described in the google paper (link at the top of this post. It is really just a way to describe googles approach which are extended (more layers) convolution neural networks but have been put into the feedback loop, looking for what they know how to find.

So how useful are these techniques to help an artist create original art?

1. Style

This group is likely to be the most over-used (instagramed to death) because they are in general so easy to use. I am experimenting with such a system called Lucid on my android phone, there are plenty of others for android & apple and even Faux look-alike systems. The better ones like Lucid, do the processing in the cloud, so you load the photo you wait a little while then pick the thumbnail showing the result you want (Lucid uses famous art works for it network training). You pick one and wait a little longer and presto you have something like your photo but painted or sketched by that artist. Some images work, and work wonderfully a lot look just sad. It will be the posting of these unfortunate images that might give this approach a bad name.

Statues by night #Ballarat #Lucid #deepdream after salvador dali

A photo posted by norm hanson (@apimageo) on

Hang on I’ve already posted a few myself!

There are some web based “filter” or “app sites” that also offer this style approach. My example here is using google’s deep style approach and a Henri Rousseau painting as my network training example. The results are clear Rousseau inspired and yet also clearly recognizably the subjects of my photos.

Deep Style using RousseauDeep Style using Rousseau 2

Whilst I have seen many wonderful examples, there are a lot trashy examples as well and this my lead to the same reaction of many non photographers to the more extreme HDR works. They may reject these works as a gimmick.


2. Inceptionism

It is not only google who offer access to the original inceptionism technique, here I am using Dreamscope again but with two different neural training sets following the  feedback approach. The first is called Angel Hair is more about texture and the flow of lines, the second called inception painting is about seeing animals and generates those weird animal eyes and patterns.  You may need to click on the images below to see this detail.

Dreamscope using Angel HairDreamscope using inseption painting

Inceptionism is very quirky, and needs to be used with constraint. Also the deep galleries’ sites in general are becoming far to overloaded with selfies & cats.


Still I see a lot of opportunity to build original art with these techniques.