Friday, May 30, 2014

Another Way to find Dust on your Sensor

Looking back over some google+ photo autoawesomes, of my autobacked up photos. Ok you got me, I do eventually look through them. I noticed that some dust particles I had missed in my sensor cleaning where really highlighted in any HDR images. I assume that this is because the detail of dust is strongest on the slightly over exposed image from the bracketed set, and the google+ hdr process is trying to preserve that detail. This is really an abstract and secondary way to check for dust I still recommend taking a direct image of the sky as a quicker and easier way to detect dust.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

One Day, Two Sunsets

If you travel west towards east for long enough, and at the right times you can have the weird experience (not to mention jet lag) of seeing two sunset about 16 to 17 hours  apart. Flying from Jeddah to Melbourne via Abu Dhabi I managed to photograph two sunsets in the same day (well as measured by my camera). I slept though the sunrise.

Approaching Abu Dhabi
Arriving at Melbourne

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

As close as you can get


IMGP1652  IMGP1651

As a non Muslim there are certain parts of Saudi Arabia that I am not permitted, (like Al- Masjid Al-Haram Makka (Meca) and Al-Harma Medina) trouble in most of the signs are in arabic! Around Meca there are quiet a few signs in red and white and English saying muslin only area. At medina which is undergoing a lot of development, there are some very clear welcoming (and warning) “gates”, beside the new roads.

On the road to Makkah

pilgrim busses on the road to makkah

The pilgrim coaches are still working after dusk on the road to Makkah, ferrying the flow of pilgrims to and from their holy place.

Monday, May 26, 2014

ThePatch :: Abstract/Curves

Arabic StuccoSome may have noticed I’ve taken more curved things this week. I’ve been looking for more abstract ways (to please other patchers) to photograph curves and in a flat land with few features, curves are not so common. So a bit of extra ingenuity was required. I tried reverse light paintings (had potential), satellite dish shadows (perhaps not abstract enough). wheels and cups, even lollies and arabian stucco (see small tile photo to the left, the paster is spread on and then patterns scratched out as it dries). Countless other things that suggested curves/
LED Lights wrapped around a poleOrnate Window GrillOpen Pit

I ended up opting for some pure colour theory fun. I took three images of smarties (lollies not unlike M&Ms) at different distances to get different size ovaloids. Then I overlayed (multi-exposure in picasa) the three images over a fourth layer, a hand drawn scribble of orange curves on a blue fabric background (ie contrasting colours). Where blue overlays yellow you get green, red over yellow, you get orange. Blue on blue strengthen blue.  I’m sure you know the rest.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A precious find in the desert

short black single shot

IMGP1571-001 Sometimes it is the little things that you appreciate most like a rich roast, delicate brew and aromatic crèma of an Italian style espresso, as the sunsets.

This HDR was created with Picturenaut as a 16 bit image and tweaked with lightroom

Friday, May 23, 2014

The importance of, right place, right time


By the time I notice this magic moment of the last of the sun breaking through the clouds, I just had time to snap this but those power lines in the way so distracting. Unfortunately by the time I got somewhere without the power lines, the magic was over. Just yet more proof you should carry your camera (iPhones also) with you always and keep your eyes out for those magic moments

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Desert Floor after Rain

IMGP0922After the sandstorm a couple of nights ago there was a decent thunder storm and some rain, which clear the air and puddled rather than sinking in. The desert flora enjoyed the drink, but the harsh sun has dried the short lived mud pack and the desert floor is already cracking and peeling.

IMGP0887 IMGP0930 IMGP0895

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Painting in the Desert

My impromptu desert painting kitAs it quiet standard for me, I always carry a sketch bock and a little portable palette of watercolours, some soft pencils and a few brushed. Also after finding I like Derwent’s Inktense sticks (particularly over in New Zealand) I had bought them along as well. Tonight was quiet mild compare with yesteday’s dust/sand storm, when it was dark well before the sunset. It was probably still in 35-40 C range but really dry heat.


I had to put the sketch book & inktense tin down for the photographSo I pulled out my portable pallete but it has been here over a week now and all the paint in the pallete had cracked and crumbled (indicating just how dry it has been). It would be a bit of a disaster using that, out in the evening breeze. Sunset was approaching fast so I just took out the sketch book, the Inktense tin and a big rubber band to hold them togethr, A couple of pencils and brushes in my pocket and a bottle of water (for me to drink as well as for painting) and a paper cup (for my paint water). Even with my trusty Pentax as well it was easy to carry this kit.


Trying to finish in the last of the daylightThe fauna out here includes desert cobras, scorpions (big ones) and camel spiders (all poisonous) so I had no intention to sit as I sketched. Instead I slung the camera over mu shoulder, put some water in the paper cup and recapped the water bottle leaving them on the ground. I then opened the intense tin and put the lid underneath it. Took a couple of stick and put the sketch book ontop, so the Inktense tin was doubling as a sketch board, I had to slide out the the intense tin as I changes colours but that was easy, provided I used one hand to hold the Inktense tin and the sketch book together and the other hand to change sticks,. When I need water I did have to bend and load the brush up with water but that that wasn’t such a big deal. However the sunsets incredibly quickly here to I just into the rhythm of sketch and the sun began disappearing. Still I was very please with my effort and improvised hand held sketching table.

Photograph of the Sketch

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Looking for Curves when there aren’t any

The wind and risk of a sand storms has kept me inside the past couple of evenings, So I thought I might experiment with some ways to make abstract curves with my camera. I figure if I use the TV and led lights on remotes and other devices. Set the ISO slow (such as 100 or 200) high f-stop and slow shutter 1 to 5 seconds and experimented with moving the camera. Kind of light painting in reverse.2014-05-181

Without too much trial and error, I got some encouraging results, It was a matter of moving the camera as smoothly as possible and adjusting the time to suit different light sources. Some of the LED lights obviously omit a fluctuating light leaving dotted lines. The image below was prepared as a candidate for the final challenge in this month’s abstract theme on the patch. It superimposes two images.


Photofriday :: Morning has Broken–Revisited

Morning has broken

For PhotoFriday‘s topic Early Morning


When I took this shot last week I( was actually pleased with it tonal but not colour and the original is posted on flickr. BUT it was quiet a magical moment to be there, the sun was breaking through the low morning cloud and exposing some promising blue sky above, and the dust and sand haze was still hugging the grown and the shafts of light where casting a gold glow. So I set about reprocessing the image on two parts (layers) in Perfect Effect 8 to cool the sky and warm the shafts of light in the dust and every so carefully  applying a clarity tone adjusted to the whole. Its now much closer to what I remember, well in my minds eye.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Dust, the natural enemy of DLSRs

Trying to photography in the Saudi Arabian Desert has highlighted the issues of dust and (mirrored) DSLR cameras. Basically each time the mirror folds up to take a picture and exposes the sensor. The desert wind pick up fine sand particles and dust and it penetrates everything from your ears, anything you touch and eat, even to filling your back pocket. When you change lens for example some dust can find its way inside your camera and onto the sensors. Leaving those annoying little spots on your image. The image above has the very clear black spot of a fine sand particle but also so many ghosted dots (also dust) that I gave up pointing to them all, in the photo above.

So what can you do about it?

The first thing to remember there are now good tools to recover any photos you have taken that have unfortunate spots. These are generally versions of cloning tools that allow you copy the texture/detail for a nearby area over the spot and thus erase it. In lighroom this is called the spot removal tools and cab be found in the development module. In Picasa it is called Retouched and found in the basic edit tools. In AfterShot Pro it is called heal (which just fixes circular blemishes like dust) and is found in their layer manager.
The better solution is to clean your sensor of dust as soon as you detect it. This is relatively easy for most camera but a few makers and models do recommend that you get the camera cleaned by the company or their designated agents (and that can be expensive!) For the rest of use check you camera manual and carefully follow the instructions. Some cameras like my Pentax K20D has a sensor shake mechanism to dislodge dusk particles, and often can do this at start-up. IMGP0729However bi also just find the setting to clean the sensor which lift the mirror and expose the lens. With the lens remove i them a conventional blower with the brush removes and with the camera upside down I give the sensor a good blast of air. Remember you must never touch the sensor with anything, hold the blower a couple centimetres away (approx. 1”) below the sensor and squeeze the bubble several times pointing at different parts of the sensor. I find this approach works well, if the dust is fresh. If the dust have been there a while it may take a couple of cleanings to get rid of all the spots. I have previously posted that a good way to find dust spots is to photograph a clear sky.

IMGP0550I have found giving my camera a strange turban-like bit of head gear, made from a face washer rather than the traditional tea towel patterned cloth in the saudi style, and a rubber band has helped a lot. Although it will never be white again. Those familiar with hitch hiker’s guide to the galaxy will know that a small towel is an essential travel necessity, (especially so for a photographers). And importantly I don’t change lenses out in the open.

Sandstorm Weather

Google+'s HDR autoawesome has done a great job capturing the atmosphere of the grey sunset, it is almost a solarized effect, but it has captured the stark eerieness perfectly. This atmospheric change is apparently a strong indication of sand storm weather to come. Compare this with the sunset a couple of days ago.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Patch :: Abstract Lines

Road to NowhereI find myself in the middle of the Saudi Arabian Desert this week and there is not an obvious lot to photograph. There is of course the horizon, its a strong line (except in a dust storm) its incredibly flat and feature less. There is the road in, which is very straight and does have some lamp posts near the camp, some of  the lights actually work. There are some low lying scrubby bushes but nothing particularly linear so I went looking for strong shadows and the hot sun here does create strong shades of anything brave enough to stand up.

abstract lines

Seems the building are the one thing brave enough, so I set about taking photos of various different parts of the camp in the morning and/or evening. The sun rise quickly over head here so there are only short periods after dawn and before sunset that you get an decent length to the shadow (dust storms permitting). It the end I found the photo of my own accommodation gave me the best abstract lines (note there are no external windows and very thick walls)


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Yellow Moon

The full moon is not so much a harvest moon as just an indication of just how dusty it is out here

Monday, May 12, 2014

Setting Sun through the Dust

The best time of day (really the only time) is as the sun is very low on the horizon (after dawn and before dusk), but all the dust in the air adds its own "warmify" filter

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Amazing Doorways

IMGP0397  IMGP0396-HDR treatment by Google+

The doorways, here is Saudi Arabia, are amazing and something that has struck be as worth photographing (I guess its the focus on abstract patterns). This one was in an unused shopping complex at the base of the mountain pass up to Taif.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Arriving at Taif

Beside the road from Makkah

PhotoFriday :: Shadows


For PhotoFriday‘s topic Shadows

What is that watermark about?

API  copyright blackI have started to physically (aka visibly) add a watermark to my photos onloine. Mainly those shared on Flickr, but now any large resolution photos I post. I started doing this when I read that many services where stripping out the metadata, effectively making any downloaded (or screen copied images) into “orphan works”, which under some legislation in different countries (not Australia I believe) means that the images can be freely reused. Most of the things I post on this blog I do allow to be reused under a creative commons licence.  So if you see this watermark on an image you want to use, please contact me, I will probably grant you permission. I know a lot of people don’t like visible watermarks and if that is what puts them off so be it. The real reason I'm posting the watermark here is to ensure that google image indexes this simple design. After going to the trouble of designing a icon style shape that incorporated a stylized camera, the copyright symbol and the letters api (for art and photography @ imageo) I realised this would mean nothing to the majority of people who of course don’t know me or follow this blog. At least by having the watermark graphic indexed and locatable for a reverse image search means that anyone who tries to “steal” or repost these photos without permission are not taking reasonable steps to find the rightful owner. Such miss-appropriation can expect at least a DCMA notice or appropriate legal action of the country concerned.

Friday, May 09, 2014

The Benefits of Bracketing for High Contrast Subjects

The set of Bracketed Ev values
The Photographic opportunities at the Alfred Nicholas Gardens was pretty amazing but the sunny autumn day produced strong contrast in the pools of coloured light in the shade of the tall trees. This definitely a situation that gives a hard time for the in camera light meter to get a viable exposure. I have learned to trust my instincts in situations like this and go for slight under exposure to avoid burning out the highlights. If you are shooting raw you will usually be able to get a bit of detail in the shadows, whereas it is hard to fix the highlights when they are burnt out.Histogram from the EV=-0.5 photo I have also learn that this is also the time to run a bracketed set. In this case I cranked up the EV steps of 1.5 and run five exposures. Just looking at the back of the camera I was able to conform that I was approximately right in my choice, The histogram starts to rise up on the right hand edge when the highlights get blown out, In lightroom this is refered to as tonal clipping and when a number of pixel beloe just white (or truely In the case of this series I selected the EV=2.0 photo to post on flickr. Just in case I did run a few more bracketing exposures are I walked around and took different views. So I have a few over and under expose images but most turned out fine. IMGP0322.jpg

Where do Photographers go in Autumn?

The charming sign on sherbrooke road.I now know where Melbourne's photographers all go on a sunny day in autumn. They go en mass to the Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens, just on the edge of Sherbrooke forest, in the Dandenong ranges. I have never seen so much high end gear and tripods.

What puzzled me a little was the number of very long lenses, when most of the scenery cried out for wide angel approach. Even with my 18-50 zoom (~ 30-75mm in 35mm talk) I was not able to get the right perspective of the lake. So I ended up taking a series of 32 photos from the boat house end of lake, which I was able to run through autostitch and produce a 9,400 wide panorama (unfortunately its a bit pointless trying to upload any image this size). Even so it may be worth zooming in and seeing how many photographers you can count. The wonderful yellow tree on the island is a ginkgo biloba (the maiden-hair tree), not shown at its best here. The reflections in the lake alone a worth a special trip, and the walk back up the hill.
alfred nicholas garden panorama