Monday, November 28, 2011

A Passing Tram

How autostitch manages the collage
How Autostitch handled
the moving collage
I have my Pentax Camera Back (with card reader repaired) but it was a very humid overcast day in the city and the only thing around was a passing tram and traffic. So I  just clicked off a number of photos as I walk north and the tram headed south. May not look much but I'm happy everything works, with the camera not the collage Now to get Back to taking some serious photography.

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Icy Christmas Decorations in Summer

2011-11-27_16-10-23_HDR  2011-11-27_16-11-46_HDR
The Glen Shopping Center at Glen Waverley has a wonderful glass dome and vaulted glass roof, letting in beautiful natural light to the otherwise artificial temple to the gods of everything commercial. The Juxtaposition of stylized snow flakes against a rich blue summer sky is an irony I appreciate. Its a pity more Christmas shoppers don’t look up.
thy glen pano-1 2011-11-27

Friday, November 25, 2011

Self Reference Sketches

A little bit of self indulgent self reference. Using my own sketching gear and paints to sketch my own sketching gear and paints.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Still elegant

2011-11-23_13-28-46_HDR This is the back door of the Royal Exhibition Building. This grand old lady, was only meant to be a temporary structure for the “great” Melbourne international Exhibition in 1880, Victoria was still an English colony back then, with newly acquired wealth thanks to the Gold Rush. The building has survived a few partial demolitions and fires, and has now passed into the hands of the Victorian museum and is also now  a listed World Heritage site. She still hold exhibitions and has had many other uses including the opening of the first Australian Parliament (just the opening!) , a sports venue during the 1956 Olympics and as the main Matriculation examination hall (which I remember all to well) during the 56s 60s & 70s and still used by Melbourne Uni and RMIT for exams (also remember these). Today her biggest event is the Melbourne International flower and garden show.

The stark/strong lighting of the Australian summer gives me another good test for HDR camera on my android phone. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Getting in very close

Whilst this fish has featured prominently in my rock art, this is the first time I had seen a real version (aka a fossil in a mueseun collection). The lighting was very low and the specimen small but I thought HDR Camera on my android phone might be ok,

And it was. You would think he was over 70 million years old?

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wide but weird?

I’m still without my DSLR, and missing it. Yet I have been experimenting with my android camera phone, and more specifically the update to Camera Advance Lite which is now called ProCapture, and I’m just trying out the free version. Today I saw I nice set of clouds and their refelections and a group of ducks leaving v trails across the reflections. Just begging for a nice wide panoramic image. I knew that ProCapture claims to offer both a wide shot mode, that utomatically links together 3 photos to produce a high resolution wide image. A little more about the High resolution claim later
When you set ProCapture in Wide shot mode (on the upper mode tool) it lets you take three photos (at your own pace). These p[hotos like others taken with ProCapture seemed well exposed (see collage above) then the phone’s screen  blanks and you see the processing and the normal spiraling indicator. this ran so long my phone shutdown the screen and every after refresshing this it took what seemed like a few minutes. The resulting image (see below) it was only a thin strip across the phone but looks out at that sized.
I’d made the classic mistake when hand holding the phone (what else was I to do?) at a title between shots to the panorama assumes an titled horizon. I’ve added the black edge so I could show how much I had to straighten the image by.
Once loaded onto my computer and reviewed at higher resolution I discovered there where some amazing difference between the camera stitched image and the original photos. Where are the duck’s  V traces in the water for example. Has the vertical scale been compressed? why is so much of the foreground missing? This so called high resolution composite image is actually smaller that the individual photos! This lower resolution of the in phone processed panoramics is a disappointment in most places I have found it (eg see my storm panorama post)
To make sure these are not just stitching artifacts I also stitche the original images with Autostitch (lower image below). It looks fine just Like I expected.
Stitched in Camera with ProCaptureStitched using Autostitch later on computer
Clearly it is worth waiting to do an autostitch back on the computer. from the point of view of image quality. I discovered there are other reasons to be careful when using the wide shoot and panorama setting, over and above the length of time required to process the stitching in camera
WARNING: Don’t forget to reset the camera mode back to Normal, otherwise to might find your next three shoots seem to work, only to find the phones disappears in the processing mode and after a long delay announce no match could be found. Fair enough. The bit that isn’t fair is your three photos will be gone!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The internet of things

I heard about an interesting project on a recent science show podcast.  Its a project between several UK universities and based on open source software and existing technologies that enables things (objects) to become know and have their own presence on the internet. At the simplest level each object gets an entry in the the internet of things, a website specifically created for this project, and gets issues its own QR code. A human (eg you) has to do this. There are also phones app for the iphone and android that make your phone into one of these QR tags readers. So when you happen upon one of these tagged objects you can scan it and read about out it, leave comments or even like it. Then depending on how its entry is configure it might tweet that you a have visited, share your comment or update its facebook status. Suddenly things can have their own form of memory and history in our cyberworld. Sound far fetched? No its very real and very simple.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fencing Off Private Geo “Hot Spots” on Flickr

Flickr now allows you to create hotspots, which it calls geofences with specific privacy settings. These are useful for locations such as "home" or "school" or anywhere else you would like to make more private than your global default. You can have up to 10 geofences, that can automatically block the accidental public display of your location. Many smart phone users do not realize that the location of the photo is frequently also captured and embedded in the photos EXIF metadata data . Posting that photo on the net then will allow others, who know how to read the EXIF data to determine a lot more about your private life than you intended. The real problem is there are now a lot of common social tools that can look for and share this location detail with wind more importantly often without your knowledge, the geofences, accesses and content filter are a good reason to consider doing most of your social network sharing of photos via Flickr.

Alternative you could

  • Use Picasa Web Album, and remove the location data from specific photos.
  • Turn off the geotagging (it might be called location) on your phone (this may not always be in the phonaes cameras settings and might require reference to the phones manual)

Check out your geo privacy page in Your Account Settings on Flickr for more details. You can  also hide your camera’s EXIF data in Your Account Settings.

Friday, November 11, 2011

While the DSLR is away the Androids come out to play

My Pentax DSLR started to chew up my SD memory cards. (actually it was just forcing the small plastic strips between the metal contacts out of shape, rendering the cards unreadable on other devices) I assume either something has fallen in to the card reader or the card insert mechanism was slightly out of alignment, Anyway the camera has gone of holiday to the camera repair shop. Life without it is not the same but I do have my android camera phone to play with and satisfy the urge to experiment with camera techniques.2011-11-10This  is another HDR camera shoot, Captured as three separate images. Damn that pedestrian walking across my image. I didn’t see hime when I tap the screen release button. Click… Click … bugger where did he come from …Click ….right in the middle of frame now. The three images are processed in camera in a HDRI style tacking the exposure range across the three photos and producing an extended (High Dynamic Range) image.The beauty of the HDR camera software is it doesn’t lead to ghosting when the camera is moved or people in the photo move. The moving man appears to been totally ignored, actually not totally his final position is hinted by a shadow shape on the footpath).

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

A wish for PhotoContests to use Creative Commons

I noticed Catherine Hall‘s invite on Google+ for a TWIT Photo contest and investigated because TWIT is a web savvy group but I was discouraged by the same old same old detail in the conditions of entry.

Once upon a time I entered a lot of on-line photo contest, they are fun and a good way to get recognition but I no longer do so because I now always read the terms and conditions of entry. They normally have been written by lawyers (or cut and pasted from rules written by lawyers) and have terms like “irrevocable, royalty-free, non-exclusive, worldwide perpetual” when all they really want is the right to publish the winning and running up photos. Unfortunately that click that you accept the competition conditions is assumed to mean you have in theory have given away your normal common law copyright rights to those mentioned in the conditions I’m not a lawyer but such “agreements” may not be all that enforceable “worldwide” (specifically outside the USA) and are really only there for the USA-centric litigious fantasyland of sue or be sued. It is my observation that having lawyers and agents involved with the threat of litigation just suck the creative side dry rather than feeding and encouraging it. I don’t want to play in that space.

I for one want photo competitions to just use the creative commons guidelines. They are really ideal for what I understand the competition organizer’s want, which to be able to reproduce the photos without expressed permission of the photographer (this is the basic Attribution 3.0 license. CC BY, and the author is granting the right to share and adapt the work. The 3.0 is just the current version of the creative commons licenses. This does allows for commercial use of the work (because it is not excluded, in the same way it is usually not mention in the legalistic competition rules) Commercial use might including the photo in a book which is for sale. It is this right to potential commercial use that creative types should worry about.  Fortunately there is a nice creative common solution, the Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 license CC BY-NC. This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms. In other words you are sharing your work buy not for other to make money from. Any completion organizer should still be happy with this.

So I would be happy to click acceptance on a competition that just requires those entering must license their entry Attribution-NonCommercial, CC BY-NC. End of conditions.

Other photographers might be happy to enter competition with a requirement for Create Commons Attribution, CC BY. Which I think is all the TWIT team really intended after all.

Flickr and Picasa Web Album are examples of two web services that understand this need to include the creative common licensing in their web based display of any photo or art work and including the ability to have default settings. If you look at any single photo in either of these services you will see the little CC logo, or failing that a convention copyright (all rights reserved logo). The intention in Google+ is not as clear in that creative commons isn’t found in the help forum and sharing images bring you to discussion of public versus sharing with your circles. In theory because Google+ images are also in picasa web album they get a default license (which is for me at least is a full copy right). I can change that in picasa web album for specific photos or albums but anyone looking at the image(s) on Google+ will not see these CC license logos. I think this is an important small step for Google+ to fix right now

The big advantage of creative commons for content creators is they are don’t affect the author’s moral rights to the intellectual property and that the author could also grant waivers or stricter conditions to others wanting to use the same image.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Meet the Frogmouths


Mr. & Mrs (order unknown) and the two kids. The Tawny Frogmouth Podargus strigoides, these owls are very equal opportunity parents sharing egg incubation and brooding duties. These two chicks are delightful little bundles of fluffy feathers

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Tripod Easel ver 2.1

I have used my tripod easel a few times now and decided sitting down to sketch/paint in the field is not my thing. I’m very used to perching myself wherever and holding a light drawing board, and turning it around as I want (often to play with the wash flow direction). The tripods I have both extend up to bring the camera virtually to eye level so getting a higher board height is really easy (you just crank the handle on the extension tube). Further the heads on both my tripods have a lockable swivel arm so that the camera is easily reposition with one hand (or the drawing board tilted and rotated).  After a bit of experimentation I opted to have the swivel arm pointing up, which meant I have to reach under or around the board but it does seem to give me better control (however it makes the arm harder to see in the photo below). So all I needed to do was make up a wider drawing board (still 3mm particle board sheet) and find a palette with deeper wells, so the washes don’t spill out as I tilt the board). Using common bulldog clips (anything similar will do just fine) I then clamped my mixing palette on the right and sketch book on the left. A couple of big blobs of blu tac help my keep brushes and pencils handy.
I had tried to find the spot Charles Conder had painted his larger Holiday at Mentone work. The old mentone seas baths, and beach boxes are long gone and the current “jetty” is enclosing a storm water drain and more western along the beach. In my memory conder’s painting faced the other way. So I am probably in much the same location of condor’s easel but looking in the opposite direction. for my sketch. For a wider view see my photosynth below. The standup painting position works better for me, and I could work faster with the washes and tilting the board was very easy. Finally I like this simpler design (less parts to carry) 

Friday, November 04, 2011

Mentone Beach Photosynth :: Full 360°

Further Investigation of AutoFocus up close

My previous investigation only wetted my appetite to find out more about the close up focusing on my android phone. So I reinstalled PRO Paint, something of a mistake (see the footnote) and also grabbed my Pentax DSLR and my wife’s FujiPix (a nifty little point and shoot) and I went out to take some things in the garden up really close. I was primarily interested in the difference in depth of field, as the lens got smaller. I was expecting the depth of field to get wider on the smaller cameras and largely it did. This narrower depth of field on my big DSLR does give a pleasant effect where the subject is in focus but the background blurred. Also these photos are clearer and possibly closer to the true colour saturation. I did use the special macro mode on The FujiPix and my touch and hold method for my HTC camera. What I did notice and I have seen before is that some subjects (eg purple & white flowers) give autofocus a hard time. I suspect these subjects don’t have sharp enough contrast in themselves for the autofocus to play with. See the single lavender bloom (second row) I was trying to focus on the petals of that bloom and only the DSLR let me do that (after a lot of ranking back and forth of the lens) the other cameras just focused on the foliage behind. 

CONCLUSION: You’ll still do better with marco subjects if you go for a DSLR and exploit the depth of field to highlight your subject,  All cameras did a good enough job to get the detail. Some white & lighter purple subjects are harder to get auto-focus to work.

Pentax D20

FujiPix Z30

Android HTC

Android PRO Paint

IMGP9350 DSCF3431 IMAG0403 Nov_3_2011_2152
IMGP9342 DSCF3422 IMAG0392 Nov_3_2011_4917
IMGP9345 DSCF3426 IMAG0398

Not Taken *

IMGP9347 DSCF3428 IMAG0401

Not  Taken *

IMGP9341 DSCF3421 IMAG0394

Not Taken *

IMGP9348 DSCF3429 IMAG0402 Nov_3_2011_1379

* The PRO Paint app kept crashing my phone, whenever it used the flash which it did unnecessarily, so I gave up and uninstalled it again.