Thursday, June 30, 2011

Rich Colours at Sunset


I have been watching and photographing the sunsets lately looking for any marked change, that might be related to the Chilean Volcanic Ash Cloud. Tonight’s display was the best for weeks, but alas it is probably way to delayed to be actually due to any remnant ash cloud.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Heads in the clouds

IMGP0727Web Based Photo Editors and Organizers are coming of age. Over the past year it has become truly possibly to upload, fix up and share your photos without first transferring them to a computer.

On-line Photo Editors

The review of these 4 Web apps at suggest that you might not always need the power of Photoshop, just to crop an image or do some simple adjustments and I whole heartedly agree. All these web based system give you a lot of power to enhance and manipulate photographic images. Either by an upload direct from mobile phones, webcam, photo directly off cameras, even your computer or possibly the URL of you cloud based album. Picnik is very well integrated into Flickr, and Picasa Web Album and I have used it from time to time. All four Web Apps have free offerings are all impressive, some have phone Apps you can download to your phone.

Web/Clouds based Albums & Storage


These three services have free starter versions and give you a lot for nothing. Further they have the things needed for Photo organization built in. Picasa web is probably the best choice is you also use Picasa on your computer, SkyDrive might be better for those using the Windows Live Photo Gallery, both offer a whopping 20 to 25GB of space free. a little different it only offers 5GB of free storage (and that’s for the personal account, that’s still a lot of space if you keep you images smallish), it is first and foremost an easy way to share conventional files, documents etc but photos are fine, between you personal devices, but it has nice collaborative sharing of folders, tagging files and preview of images and integrated picture editing via picnik and files can be linked to an embedded in other sites such as blogs facebook etc.. is a major hit on iPhones, It rates its self as fast, beautiful and fun. You just upload you photo, add some cuteness (aka filters) and publish on Facebook, Twitter or Flickr. My opinion is there is a lot of hype, little substance, it is as shallow as it sounds, but certainly enjoy it if that is what you want to do with your phone photos.

I have actually left out a lot of web album services, especially the commercial ones associated with printing your photo. It doesn’t mean these service are not worth using. For example I am warming to snapfish, it is fast and efficient and well integrated into the things I use like Flickr, Picasa and Live Photo Gallery ideal for everyday style prints. I still like the custom labs for blow ups and exhibition quality Prints.

Of course you do still need a computer, netbook, smart phone of iPad to access these services but that can be anywhere, a cyber cafe, library, WiFi hotspot you no longer have to be home and at your desk based computer

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The exhibition is over

After admitting on Radio, to Lindy Burns, that I take lots of pictures each day, saying “I take anything my camera is pointed at at the time” which “disturbed” even Tony Moclair. Well it isn’t really that bad you should be able to see, looking back through this blog, that I still find time to investigate interesting things and exhibit my work. Normal photographer type behaviour.

The Opening

Speaking of which. The Fractured Thread Exhibition is over. Despite all the photographers and friends at the opening (thanks for coming folks) there are only a few images mainly captured by accident, Enough to make a suitably fractured collage.

The Window's Live Photo Gallery Create ScreenI also wanted to finally get around to testing out the Windows Live Photo Gallery share tools. It was really fast and easy, just had to do the Authorization thing for flickr first, and I took the opportunity to change the image size from original to max 1600pixel wide. Not only does this save bandwidth, it makes it less likely that you will find your image used in an ad campaign, without your permission.

The real GEM in these Window’s Live share tools is the SkyDrive upload. It is not as good as having your sky drive as a network drive letter, but it is simple easy to use and fast. Much easier and faster than the previous default methods, using old fashioned web pages with logins and “empty”upload dialogue pop up screens. Now it is select the photo (or photos) follow by two key clicks, on the Create & then Publish/Skydrive icons. Ok there is still one pop dialogue screen but you usually just have to click on the Publish key. For me at least this means that SkyDrive is now worthwhile using the 25 Giga Bytes that sky drive offers, for cloud based backup (not archiving) and sharing

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

the storm


Was walking home, without my camera (shock horror) and a massive storm was moving across the Dandenong  Creek Valley below me. I did have my trusty old Nokia classic phone and thought I'd give the pano feature a try. Not as good as a big multi-image panorama with my DSLR camera might have captured but its just OK I guess. If you know the area you might expect Mt. Dandenong to be where the dark clouds billow.

Moral : Always carry my camera when walking & investigate a new phone with better camera.
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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lunar Eclipse II :: as it happens

Just like the last time I photographed an eclipse of the moon I plan to blog my photos as it happens. Wish me luck and stay tuned.

Camera on Automatic Everything9:30PM July 15th. 2011. The Full Moon is high in the sky and its a lovely clear night, no clouds and no hint of fog (yet) but it is a very cold night. My first attempt at getting a good photo is a disaster. I’ve let the camera do the focusing (and it tracked back & forth a few times) before firing.  The exposure the camera has selected is 0.7sec and aperture f4.5 and ISO set to 400. Out of focus and pretty much a disaster.  The next shot I focussed manually and I get a sharp edged albeit burnt out white disc on an almost black background, still not good enough. Then that moment of dread for most outdoor photographers, as the possums looked on quizzically the camera battery went dead, and I still only have the one rechargeable battery and no useful moon images. Damn, but its ok I’m just in the back yard and there is a charger handy. Back into the warmth for a few hours.

Before & After in Photoshop Elements10:00 PM. I’m interested to see what the photo packages think of my first photo. Windows Live gallery’s  Auto-adjust seems to think everything is ok, I can no see any difference after I’ve used it. Picasa’s I’m feeling lucky darked the image a little, so the flaring is a little less obvious. Adobe's Photoshop Element’s Smart Fix, somewhat surprisingly, lightens the image a lot, so it really looks patchy and even more out of focus. Yuk. So much for the automatic stuff and all that technology. The real photography will need to start now.

11:00 PM Batteries still charging, sky still clear some stars flickering.

IMGP7321MIDNIGHT Battery charged, at last. Manual focus this time and remote shutter button. Quick experiment with exposures 1/125 second at f32 but still ISO400, seems to give a clear reference picture of the full moon straight above me now. However the stars are not so bright as before, Hope its the brightness of the moon causing this and not a volcanic dust haze starting. No fog but its really cold now. Into a warm bed until 5:00 am.


IMGP7367IMGP7346:5:00 AM July 16th. 2011 Already missed a good part of the eclipse. The moon is starting to take on the red glow and the star are coming out. the next three images are at different times. Hoevr your mouse over them to see the time. Very long exposures now (up to 20 seconds and ISO 1600, hence the “noise”)



5:20AM 5:29 AM 5:18 AM Very Dark now, hard to focus

IMGP7470IMGP74716:30AM, The moon’s fully eclipsed outline is hard to see now and dropping out of my view behind trees and roof to the west. The  predawn is lighting the sky in the east. Time for a new vantage point. So much traffic on east link, deafening, sounds like peak hour is early today or is it the still conditions amplifying the sound?

7:00 AM I abandon my search for a better vantage point. The sun is coming up now and the moon has slipped behind the local horizon. That’s all folks.

Photographing tonight’s eclipse of the moon

Click on this image to get this free Lunar Eclipse Wallpaper  from flickr

Tonight's eclipse of the moon should be worth getting up to photograph. The coloured part of the eclipse will happen over in the western sky at 6:30am EST (Eastern Standard Time in Australia) and the dust from the Chilean Volcano may help enhance the “blood” red colour during the eclipse. Well actually I haven’t noticed any dramatic change in either the sunrises or sunsets so don’t hold your breathe about the redness. the eclipse will continue till almost 7am but by then the rising sun will wash out the detail. The sky should be clear if you can get above any fog.

Lunar Eclipse Wallpaper you can download for free from flickr

I did manage to photograph an eclipse of the moon from my front garden back in 2007. Its a little more difficult than you might think. My Advice is -

  1. Use a good tripod
  2. Use the B setting and an remote control/cable release to get a long exposure but keep your camera still
  3. Don’t trust your light meter! Experiment with the timing and f-stop to get a clear exposure (since the lighting changes dramatically during the eclipse you will need to keep changing your settings.)
  4. Rug up! It is going to be a cool night.

Here is some extra more general advice from Lifehacker, and detailed advice from Mr Eclipse on taking Photos of an eclipse.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Volcanic Dawn?

Sunday Sunset with clear skies


The Chilean Volcanic ash in the upper atmosphere, is now disrupting our air space. It should in theory show up in the sunrise and sunsets as richer colours. Admittedly last night with clear skies (few clouds to colour) and this morning was very foggy. However I really couldn’t see any dramatic change in these wonderful daily lighting display, it was might cold al the same!


Monday a foggy sunrise

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Winter Beach

These two photos where taken on the same beach not so far apart in time. The top photo was looking south, with the wonderful clear sky and clouds reflected in the wet sand. The photo below it was taken facing north and into the low winter sun, and takes on a real silver afternoon feel.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Thursday, June 02, 2011


Still clear days make for marvelous reflections. A three panel autostich panorama of Jell's Park Lake.
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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Welcome back stranger



IMGP6842I have not seen black swans [Cygnus atratus] in Jell’s Park Lake for a couple of years now. They were once very common, especially in late spring.  I assumed the pelicans had scared them away. Today one was swimming around exploring the reedy areas and generally enjoying the sun.


No black swan theory here