Friday, November 26, 2004

The Colour Green

Abstract pattern of Coastal Almond Leaves

Wonderfully Green South Gippsland

Happy Jungle trees, sunshine after rain

Thanks to the spring rains,. my home may be a green glade this year.


The colour blue

Thursday, November 25, 2004

News travels fast

This is my son, on monday. The photos of the "event" were broadcast on phones and via email almost immediately.

Fireworks at the end of my street Posted by Hello

Monday, November 22, 2004

Photo Project: Creating Mobile Phone Wallpapers

I've not been very good with mobile phones, I've managed to damage, loose and/or have them stolen. So my sons got me a bright yellow one. It has a nice colour screen so it wasn't long before I was reading the instructions to set my own screen wallpaper.

It is pretty easy, if you use the software that comes with your phone, you should find a nice simple utility to read and convert standard graphics files, like BMP or JPEG bitmaps. The tricky bit is getting the image the right size for the miniature screen on the phone. My nokia has a 122 by 122 pixel display, other phones have similar but slightly different sizes. In the nokia software, shown below, there is a simple crop tab that lets you select this size and sets up a mask to let you select the section of image you want to crop. It will hold the aspect ratio of the wallpaper as you stretch of squeeze the square shape.

What I found is the outer edges of the phone screen is used by useful menu items, key labels, signal and battery graphs and a digital time. With a picture behind them they are really hard to read. So I reduced the size to 108 by 100 pixels using the size selection under the image menu item on the Nokia Image converter.

When you reduce an image size, you also change how it is seen and particularly the amount of detail in tone and texture. So many images might look quiet sad when you reduce their size. Simpler images reduce best, and enhancing the contrast and colour saturation can sometimes help (increasing colour saturation in larger formats is normally a good way to get an image to look unnatural). This photot of a Lihirian girl was nicely coloured and simple so I used it without enhancement.

When you are happy with the image look for the save button. On the Nokia ultility there is the Update to phone option under the Save option. (My phone uses infrared to communicate with my notebook computer so I just have to bring my phone close the computer and the transfer gets underway. Other phones may uses cables, bluetooth.or even wifi)
My Mobile Phone with one of my photos as wallpaper Posted by Hello

Friday, November 19, 2004

Photo Fix Project: Recovering an image when you forgot to turn the flash on.

Armed with my experiments in Tonal Balance adjustments and enough experience with noiseworks to be dangerous. I decided to have a try at fixing those under exposed, low light shotshot, the ones that are so easy to take . I'm sure you know the ones, so dark you can barely see any detail.

The First Photo is too dark
Original Photo Posted by Hello

At the same time I wanted to test out Photoshops Elements Infill (Digital) Flash. The big trouble with any of the post processesing of such images is the fact that low level long exposures photos on digital camera suffer badly from noise. Tonal adjustment really accenuated this noise.

This Photo is a lot lighter, but too warm This Photo is too noisey

So my idea was to run the tonal fix, then use noiseworks to filter out the grainess, noise and smooth out the photo
This photo has goldilocks looking just right

Well I trust you can see the logic does work and the resulting images are reasonable acceptable, infact the warm lighting actually glows. I like my manual tonal balance and noise filter best so I used a clone tool in corel photobook to mend the distracting torn wall paper on it to give the final "fixed" photo.

I just trust that one day goldilocks will forgive me using this photo as an example.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

The Daintree

This photo is probably just south of Cape Tribulation. It is a wonderful place the magnificent ancient Daintree Rain Forest comes down right onto the beach. It is a very popular backpacker destination but also a wonderful piece of ecological heritage.

The Daintree meets the Pacific Posted by Hello

The Great Barrier Reef (a tiny bit of it) Posted by Hello

Back into the light

I've been burning the Midnight Oils a bit lately turning to get a big project finished. That is why I've taken so many night shots recently. Anyway I'm on my what south again, well there was a few moments of doubts there. Just after take off the pilot reassured us everything was ok just a light playing up, That was not exactly the truth! After a lot of circling and wobbly maneuvers we where told we needed to return to lihir and land. Basically the landing gear had stuck down. Traveling in remote areas tends to have that sort of adventure. Somewhat late we got going again and I just made the next flight, but i did!

The engins is reliable Not so the landing gear

The landing gear actually working
Posted by Hello

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Photo Project: Same Place, Different Times

A really interesting little photo project, first suggested to me by my wife, is to go and photograph something you look at frequently at different times and therefore under different lighting conditions, and possibly even different season.
Interesting Clouds Late Afternoon
At Dusk Sunset
These photos are a view from the balcony of my temporary Lodgings, it is not the best view from that balcony. It is truely the same view, you can se the same microwave arial in all if you look for it. I started taking photo to capture interesting skys, the clouds and the colours. It is a good demostration of how much difference the atmospheric conditions and the time of day can make. You should also test out the theory of the "Golden Hour", which is supposed the hour after sunrise. I find the golden hour is longer and also occurs late in the afternoon, but it also depends on your latitude and the weather, Don't stop taking your test photos on an over cast day or even at night!
After Dark(using Night Scene Mode)

Monday, November 15, 2004

Making Calendars, made easy

Last year I made my mother a ca lander of flower photos, and gave it to her as a Christmas gift. My Olympus Camedia software includes a simple but very tasteful calendar printing function. I bought the best quality ultra gross paper and had them wirer bound at officeworks. It looked very professional, even if i do say so myself. She loved it and it has taken pride of place on her coffee table ever since, I have already taken several photos of flowers from her garden for this years calendar.

This calendar if based on the Flowers in the Gardens of Londolovit
Click Here, to see an example page

The international school on Lihir is always looking to raise funds so I got involved in producing two more calendars for their Christmas faire. The first, above is another flower calender, was produced with Camedia software. For the second, below is based on pictures of kids, I had a look through all the photo album software I am "sort of" testing. I found the Jasc Paint Shop Photo Album 5 really easy to use and also tasteful. Both packages produced very good PDF files. Since lihir is a remote and isolated island getting things printed in glorious colour is not easy. So the PDFs of the final calendar layout have to be forwarded to Australia via email.

This calendar shows some of the children that live on Lihir
Click Here, to see an example page

I was surprised how many digital photo album packages had calendar producing functions, some are a bit basic, however a professional quality calendar of your photo is surprisingly easy to produce and could be a welcome Christmas gift.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

(free) Photo Albums from the Big Boys

I'm using the term Big Boys, for those that might have a vested interest in what you do with your photos. So I've chosen HP, Hewlett Packard as an example printer supplier and Kodak as an example of a specialist printer paper supplier and photo finisher. This is as opposed to camera suppliers that might just focus on images from their cameras. Yes I realize that both HP & Kodak produce digital cameras, but I had to start looking somewhere.

Both HP & Kodak now let you download there Photo Album Software for free.

Link to HP Image Express
Link to Kodak Easy Share

They are probably offering the software free hoping that you will use the services they provide (notably ordering prints over the net). Both have nice ways to upload your photos to the web and order prints on line. So they want aunt maud and granny to order prints from the net as well. This is good marketing logic and so I'm guessing it will be successful.

So My Verdict?

Well all are great value for money! No seriously they are good. The HP Album are getting used less than the Kodaks, but they both do a great job printing. HP Image Express is more an camera companion album.

HP Photo Albun 2.0

The HP Photo manager is not quite in the same league as Kodak's Easy share, or HPs other Product Image Express. It is however a very solid package and also seems to get the best out of printers (even on Kodak paper). There are Title, Keywords and descriptions fields which you can record for each photos, which can aid searching for and finding pharaoh (assuming you don't mind typing all that on, for each photo) It is much nicer looking than the HP photo & image gallery software that came with my printer & again with my scanner, but since the scanner is connected to that I'll end up staying with photo & image gallery and it will probably be the software fridge for HP Photo Manager. Image express claims it is "Simple, blazingly fast photo software", and it is. The biggest detraction for Image express in my view is its file management and wanting to read and index every file you have.

Kodak Easy Share Main Screen

I'm not sure just what it is but the Kodak has a nice big colourful button called "on touch to better pictures" under the printing tab. It is automatically set to Enabled if the printer you select is able to take the more advanced photographic setting, which I assume is mainly settings for different paper types. It does a really great job when I used my HP Photosmart printer and special kodak papers. I also like the little heart that lets you tag your favourite images. In fact the tagging mechanism is nice, there are allso people and place tags, once new tags are added you can just select them from a pull down list. This album is likely to remain on my desktop for a while.

Koadak Easy Share Add Pictures Tool

One thing that is really annoying me about a lot of photo album mangers is the fact that they try to take over file management, and the result is it can be hard to know where the photos actually are stored. Kodak losses a point or two here. whilst you can easily identify the to folders read when you create an album, you can not easily see the location of a photo in an album. You have to use the properties option and then you just get a big long directly name not a graphic tree.

Phew what a long blog, sorry about that

Panorama in 9 Parts

This will look better if you view this image in a higher res version, so click here

If you have tried out the sticking together of multiple images to make a panoramic view of anything thing close, you have probably run in the problems of parallax, which makes it hard to align the close and far objects up. However I like the altered perspective of these panoramics and I don't like well intentioned rules like "Don't attempt panorams of close objects".

Slice 1 Slice 2 Slice 3

Slice 4 Slice 5 Slice 6, unfortunately this is a little out of focus but it is not obvious in the final image
Slice 7 Slice 8 Slice 9

So here is a little about how I have discovered you can get reasonable panoramas of close objects.

1) Use a tripod so the rotation can be guaranteed to be in the same plane (My tripod has a built-in bubble level and reference marks so I can get the rotation between each image can be fairly exact and horizontal)
2) Find a good reference line in the distance (the horizon is perfect) and center the image on that If this line is not at the center of the image you take the line will become a curve in the final assembled image)
3) Use a vertical (portrait) orientation, this means you are using thinner bits of image, in the horizontal plane, when you stitch them together.This significantly reduces the degree of parallax shift of the near objects at the edge of each image, and is the secret to getting the stitching to work.
4) Zoom in a bit, This will give you more images and even thinner strips, the second bit of the above secret.
5) Use an Olympus camera! Well Olympus have a nice panoramic mode, providing you use an Olympus media card. Then the Olympus Camedia software automatically reassembles the series of such panoramic photos (well most of the time it does!). Just joking about the Olympus camera, you can probably use any panoramic sticking software. It is just that I really like the Olympus system.