Saturday, April 30, 2011

Now Truly mobile

Blogger has been updated in several ways. Prompting me to finally to look at updating my template (at last many might say) to take advantage of more screen real estate available on most computers these days. There is also imagesomething I have been wanting for some time Mobile Phone templates, that automatically reformats this blog to fit on the smaller screens when access via a smart phone, or alternatively use the QR code above to set the link directly into your phone. The layout insert on the left shows and example of the typical mobile screen. Whilst a few post might display thumbnail photos, in most cases you will need to click on the large > (chevron bracket) on the right to see the photos.

After a short play around with the new templates, I decided they all made my previous posts look terrible. So I might just investigate a more customised approach. So watch this space for some gradual changes

Monday, April 25, 2011

PhotoFriday :: minimalist


This is a foam creature. I grow them often when I am molding my rock art with “expanding” foam. Normally they are disguarded, but I thought this one could have a few seconds of fame. It seemed a good subject for a high key understated photo, my idea of minimal.

For Photo Friday‘s topic minimalist

Friday, April 22, 2011

PhotoProject :: Earth Day a Broader View

As a second PhotoProject view for Earth Day I wanted to get a BIG landscape view of the park at the end of my street  This 100MB Photosynth was created from just 21 individual photos (hand held)using the microsoft Live add-in ICE and then uploaded to Photosythn.

Please zoom in and enjoy the park and sunny day. How many boys on bikes can you find?

PhotoProject :: Earth Day Up Close & Personal

Today is Earth Day, and an up close and personal look at my world seemed like a great idea for a PhotoProject. This little busy bee was snapped in my Creatacious Garden. The natural world is all around us and a marvelous subject for macro photography, all you need to do is go outside, find the flower icon mode on your camera, get close and start shooting.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

My Way of Importing into Picasa

Apparently I didn’t give enough detail on how I actually set up my normal Picasa import in my previous 3 step dance post. So here is just the import step in a little more detail. You don’t need to follow my settings exactly but your should get the idea that I am trying to make it KISS (Keep It Simple S…). 9 times out of 10 imports I will just leave the setting as they are just press Import all button.
image1.1 The Import from selection bar, should automatically select the drive slot that your SD card is inserted into  ( H: in my case). My wife prefers to load her images directly from the camera using imagea USB cable and I occasionally load from my mobile phone that way. In this case you should see the name of the camera or the phone in the drop down list. If you don’t see any thumbnails of your new photos displayed below this bar you should check that you have selected the right input source.
1.2 The exclude duplicates check box, is very useful because it will avoid having duplicate copies of your photos clogging up your computer.
1.3 The directory naming conventions you wish to use are really up to you. I decided long ago that a Fullscreen capture 21042011 20032 PMchronological system was best for me. I keep each days photos in a separate directory and use the default DD-MM-YYYY format for the sub-directory name within the My Pictures directory. I use the date taken rather than Todays Date (the date loaded) and the date is actually written in the reverse format YYYY-MM-DD which nicely sorts the directories “numerically” accenting order.
1.4 The way images on the card areFullscreen capture 21042011 20032 PM treated after uploaded photos are copied to your computer is set in the final drop down selector (after Copy). By setting this to delete only copied photos you will ensure you card is cleaned up but only those files copied will be deleted (usually this would leave the duplicate files or file you have de-selected from the upload)
1.5 The only step I actually need to do is click on Import All button at the bottom of the import screen, because I just leave the setting above as my default settings.
imageBecause you are removing files from the SD card after they are uploaded you will get a “are you really sure” type message to check that picasa can removed the imported files from you card when it has finished the imported. This seems unnecessary, of course that is what you selected, but do check the message just incase you accidentally asked for everything to be deleted from the card


Sky as Hero

Some days it is the sky that needs to be your subject.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Microsoft Research’s AutoCollage

Those who may have read my blog previously will know I like making photo collages, often in picasa but I’m open to any good collage tool. Autocollage works are something I first saw on Flickr, and didn’t realise at the time it was another microsoft reseach project (PhotoSynth & ICE are two others I have discussed before). These collages at first appear like very professional graphic artistry and beautifully “seamless” but they are really cleverly blended image segments, that any of us can create with relatively little effort (ok you need to take some good photos first).

It works best with photos of family and friends, say on special occasions. It has been built around a robust multi-pose face recognition system (yes it does sound a bit big brother-ish). The Collage construction is automatic and first looks for the most interesting photos, and particularly clear face shots and the regions of interest (thats ROI Optimization to researchers) with a constraint satisfaction optimization (lost you yet, it means it is trying to pack as many ROI into the collage space as efficiently as possible. A really smart cut-paste system called grab-cut (or as it is know to researches, Image Segmentation with A Bounding Box Prior) then selects the key parts of those ROI and finally a neat blender algorithm that solves a linear system of Poisson Equation to get seamless pastes the segments into the full collage image. Simple really! Well it is to use.

New folder_AutoCollage_20_Images_4
I make a point of not posting links to “hostage”ware (software you can download and use once or twice but then it demands payment) but this download is clearly a 30 day free trial. You do however get a big watermark across the bottom of each image generated with the trial version.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

My comfort 3 step travel dance

IMGP5723Sad smileI have again been suffering a bit of disobedience from my laptop, refusing to wake up. It has become terminally slow a waking up if it wakes at all. I assume it is a Vista thing. Something I’m not really stressed about, because it means I don’t have to check on email etc. However it does take me outside my comfort zone of taking photos and managing them as I travel. It would seem I have become very confortable with “the Picasa 3 step”, and without my laptop (and thus my version of my Picasa database) that dance is a little difficult.
I must admit I have been a bit skeptical of the elaborate digital photo workflows, generally originating from the USA. I suspect much of their origin lies in the complexity to understand photoshop and apple centric expectations (ie there are way too many mouse clicks man!). If you like those workflows use them but understanding what you want to do and doing that quickly and efficiently is the real aim. Still there is a lot to be said for being so familiar with the flow that it is a habit that lives in you comfort zone and does not feel like a chore.
SmileSo here is my comfort zone Picasa 3 steps, when travelling
1 Import imageinto Picasa. This is simplicity itself, I just slide in my SD card and get Picasa running, and then press the import button up at the top of the screen, or as I prefer the short cut keys <Ctrl><m>.
2 Weed & Star, I like to scan through my photos and look at them for the first time on a bigger screen (my laptop is not a “calibratimageed” screen but I am used to it). I usually star, or use the short cut keys <Ctrl><8>, any really good images as soon as I see them. I also get rid of the “total duds”, the unfocused, overexposed, the accidental photos of my feet, duplicates and the just straight “bad”. The short cut to delete forever is <Ctrl><Del>.There might be one of two marginally blurred or underexposed that I decide to keep but I am learning to more be brutal in the weeding.
I once upon a time used to do my “tagging” at this time but it can be too time consuming and hinders the like/dislike selection process. I also avoid doing a lot of image tweaking (exposure, white balance, colour saturation, red eye, cropping) because this also eats up time and diverts attention away from image selection/ranking and is better done on my larger desktop screen that is calibrated.
A really quick way to see an image full screen is to hover the mouse point over a thumbnail image, then with your other hand press and hold <Ctrl><Alt>. The image will instantly be full screen and releasing the <Ctrl><Alt> keys will restore the normal thumbnail display.
image3. Backup to my backpack disc. Sometimes I use the Picasa backup, it can be found under tools on the drop down menus, which has the advantage of Picasa then knowing what and what has not been backed up, but just copying the latest directories, via drag and drop out in windows, works just as well.
Open-mouthed smileWhilst on things Picasa, there is a pleasant surprise for Picasa Web Album users, Google have rejigged its quotas for free accounts, Photos less than 800x600 pixels and videos less than 15 minutes in duration no longer count towards your 1GB quota. As I deliberately keep my blog images small (It makes the blog display faster and also tiny images are a little less desirable for people to steal) I went from about 60% to 28% of my quota without having to do anything.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

An extra big autostitched image

te mata pana 1a

This is probably my biggest multi-image stitched panorama I have attempted. It is based on 32 separate telephoto images (taken at 85mm, equivalent to roughly 130mm for a 35mm film) taken hand held. The flattened perspective of the telephoto shots does put a little more pressure on the stitching to matchup features so I have reduced the amount of overlap between images a little (approx. 15%). The lighting was wonderful this morning and the detail crisp and clear. The stitching was run with Autostitch using all default settings and run to 17,600 pixels horizontally (the image I have posted here is a tenth of that, but should give you a feel for the grandeur of the place) and took over an hour to prepare! The lettering and border where added in Normally I would crop these big images to straighten the edges but I felt the ragged flow of the photo matching adds to the drama of this image. Whilst taking this series and other photos (see previous post) I meet Alistair, a peaker (which means he regularly runs up the IMGP5474peak!) and he said if I waited the swirling mist would clear and I would see the distant pines silhouetted (shown here). Excellent advice.

No. Lord of the Rings was not filmed here.

Te Mata above the Mist

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

And the Cow jumped over the Moon

bull on the hillActually if you look carefully this is a bull. I have seen similar sculptures/billboards (Toro de Osborne) dotted over north western Spain, they where originally advertising, and at one stage banned but have been re-instated by popular demand in many areas. I’m sure that is not the case in Havelock North but the round hill and silhouette bull below the moon made a wonderful composition. The exposure tone mapping in Picturenaut gave the HDRi version above, the true feel of the crisp autumn evening, much more any of the original photos in the bracketed  set I took,

The Mission


Had a Wonderful Lunch and tasted a truly outstanding CabSav., at the Mission, just out or Taradale on Church Rd (it takes a bit of finding). Both the restaurant and winery are well known to the locals but perhaps not so well known outside NZ. If you are in Hawke’s Bay on a sunny day make sure you have a lunch at the mission. Not a bad spot to take a photo or two either.

panothe mission front pano big

If you don’t want only to taste the wines the story of the mission and its trials and tribulations, floods, fires and earthquakes is pretty amazing as well.