Sunday, August 26, 2012

Now you see it, Now you don’t

rainbow 2  rainbow 1
The late afternoon storm, bought dark skys and a few glimpses of sunlight (and rainbows). I took the opportunity to try out my recently "refound" polarizing filter (it is an old filter from film days, and often used back then, but it had been hiding from me for a while). Turn the filter through 90 degrees, took the rainbow from maximum intensity to almost impossible to see.

Friday, August 24, 2012

More Low Light HDR

2012-08-23_17-53-20_HDRI most admit working with long exposures and movement was fun.

There was a great downpour just before the sunset yesterday, and the lights of city traffic where making great reflections of the wet roadway. So why not try some HDR, the movement of course, makes it very difficult to properly register the images. However my android HDR Camera+ app actually did a good job (see image to the right).  Almalence have developed their own HDR algorithms for precise alignment and moving objects handling.

I have this app settings to keep the three bracketed exposure so I was also able to try out how well luminance and picturenaut could handle the movement. Quiet well it appears (albeit with some distinct colour casts, see images below reproduced here for those that want to tut tut at the lurid colours). Both picturenaut and luminace have auto registration and ghost removal features, and many more tone mapping features but I personally prefer the in phone processed image from HDR Camera+city labelled

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Abstraction via Long Exposure with Movement

I visited an interesting exhibition on Photographic Abstraction current on at the Monash Gallery of Art. What struck me most was the wide range of approaches and techniques and yet how strongly they followed photographic traditions. Then the realization that I had taken many similar photos as experiments, textural context and possibly specifically with a screen wallpaper in mind. Just last week I in fact played around with the idea of taking a very long exposure but moving the camera during the last part of the exposure. The image below is taken on a dark night, with a couple of house lights in the distance, Using a 30 second exposure I moved the camera to point at a street light (just off the original aspect). Resulting is some superimposed horizontal stripes of light in an abstract composition.


PhotoFriday :: [Not] Summer Colour

Its a little hard at the moment to take summer colour photos down here in Australia, because it is still winter. However something that look a lot like summer colour are our wattle, with bright yellow flashes on display whereever a bit of bush survives. This wattle is our national emblem and is probably the origin of the "green & gold" colours for our sporting and olympic teams.

For photofriday's topic summer colour
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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Quick Comparison

Apple IPhone 3S HTC Wildfire Cannon EOS 1100D Pentax K20D
2012-08-16_15-41-37_ 2.0Ev IMG_6055
2012-08-16_15-51-30_ 2.0Ev IMG_6060

I’m trying to make a fair comparison or camera phones versus DSLR, by just taking phones at the same spot and not “retouching anything”. All photos are taken as jpegs and have not been cropped.
My objective is simple, I suspect that a decent camera phone and traditional camera  are not so much difference anymore?

Two great Android Camera Apps on Sale

I just happened to notice, I was looking for a light meter app, that two great Android Phone apps are on sale today. Not sure how long that 40% off sale will last, but you’ll get both for a fraction over $5.00, which is great value. HDR Camera + is a real favourite of mine, and takes three exposures and produces a tonemapped image with just a single click. This does translate into vivid colours and rich detail, as claimed, albeit with a little bit of practice. Camera ZOOM FX is a really popular app offering both nice slick standard camera features, and lots of fancy filters but also timer, burst mode & time lapse as well a shoot stabilizer feature. The Tap on the Screen feature to take the photo makes it incredibly easy to use. If you aspire to take better photos with your phone I strongly suggest you buy one or both of these, and be surprise how good you really are at photography on your phone.

The Camera Zoom Fx video on YouTube does a better introduction on how simple it is to use than me.

There are “free” version of both apps if you need to try before you buy.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Pretty in Pink

Known as common heathEpacris impressa, is a very distinctive flower that flowers at this time of the year. It is the foral emblem of Victorian. Once vast heathlands would be covered in such blooms but alas it is not as common any more and most of the heathlands are covered by housing developments, highways and farms.
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walking in the RAW for HDR

Since shooting the bracketed that I was then taking into my preferred HDRi process, such as Picturenaut, originally only worked with. jpeg files, I was essentially forced to take all my bracketed stuff in both .jpeg & RAW. If I used a 5 set bracketing, then I would get 10 large photos, just to create one. With picturenaut 3.2 I am now able to process RAW files and store 16 or 32 bit tiff versions, and at least the Capture16bit tiff are readable in Lightroom.4.1 So my question is does the extra info within a RAW file give the HDR software more power? And can I turn off taking the .jpeg copy? So after a little fiddling and testing. I think I can answer MAYBE to the first question and PROBABLY to the second.

Can you spot the differences in the images below. Both where processed with Picturenaut 3.2, from a set of 5 bracketed exposures and both used the same autoalignment and ghost removal settings. Both were then taken into the Photoreceptor (Reinhard) Tone mapping. They have ben exported as jpeg (8 bit colour) for presentation here. The one on the right uses ,jpeg friles as created in the camera (my Pentax K20D).the one on the left was processed using the RAW images (.pef files). The differences are very subtle!
HDR prepared using jpeg files  HDR prepared using RAW files

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

The Cooperative Kookaburra

cooperative cookaburra
This kookaburra,[Dacelo novaeguineae] sat with us on the balcony, only leaving to chase away some crows to return and sit as we watched the sun set. I could see the the sunset behind making a beautiful picture but knew a photo would give me just a silhouette against a well exposed sky, so I thought I’d chance my arm on using my camera flash (the only light source readily on hand). I had contemplated just being able to get one shot and scaring him away. So I decided to diffuse the light by putting a tissue in front of the flash (it was kind of folded and crumpled a little as it rested on the lens but I hoped it would hold the light back enough to avoid that harsh bleached out flash look). Because I was close I was expecting to find the highlights “clipped” (washed out) in his white chest, but possibly the crumpling diffused the light enough to get the detail in his breast feathers (with a little tweaking in lightroom). He certainly took note of the flash but didn’t fly off in fact he look quiet relaxed as I took a couple more shots. The chance to work with birds close up, is pretty rare little lone being able to experiment with anything other than natural light is probably a once off. So I must give thanks to a very cooperative kookaburra.

Kookaburra Encounter

Today we went for a walk at the inlet and arrived home @ about 5:15
It was a sunny afternoon so I went in to make a cup of tea to enjoy on the deck. I looked through the kitchen window and spotted a kookaburra on the rail of the deck, So I snuck out quietly with my camera. - I needn't have botthered to be so quiet he was completely unfazed by my presence. Soon norm came upstairs and a camera duel began. We couldn't help getting some great shots - the kooka was so obliging, He sat of the rail for at least 20 mins and posed in every position for us - a lovely encounered with nature at Venus Bay.
by Kaye
"Auto-painted" watercolour created with Corel Painter essentials
Duelling Cameras (& IPhones)

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Uploading photos from a camera phone without a cable (or a computer)?

IMGP5944This is probably the most widely unasked question for new smart phone users. Well smartphone users over maybe 30, those with 20 somethings or teenagers in house possible already know how to upload to facebook or share with the world on twitter. Older folk generally only want to upload their photos so they can make prints and share with just a few family members, not the world. Looking through phone manual (if it hasn’t already been thrown out) often draws a blank look and frustration, perhaps even diverting attention towards some additional accessory cable and software.

Well if you have web access on your phone (via 3G or 4G on the phone or WiFi) you will be able to make use of one of many cloud based webservices to transfer  from your phone to where ever you want. The tricky bit is making sure your privacy is maintained. Most such services are free up to a certain storage limit and you need to read the terms and conditions carefully. The first options, which I have chosen to call the big three, really depend on which computer and software you want to use to store and manage your photo collection.

1. Picasa and Picasa Web Albums, (also known as Google+ photos to google+ users) its been around for a while now an is well tested and stable (ok the google+ apps are still in flux). You will need to download either the Official google+ app (best option if you don’t already have a picasa web album) or one of the picasa “tools” apps around (is you do have a web album). To be honest I removed the google+ app from my phone recently (read why) but picasa is probably the easiest place to start. If you don’t want google+ involved google also offer the Google Drive, a cloud based storage/exchange which is photo aware.

2. Windows Live Photo Gallery & Skydrive, which you may have already if you have investigated hotmail recently. Microsoft just announced today that they are phasing out hotmail to be replaced by Fortunately the skydrive connection, which is a cloud based exchange & storage, is also well integrated into that and with both mobile & PC based apps. This is a very nicely integrated combination and ideal for dedicated windows PC users.

3. IPhone, IPad, ICloud and apple MAC, despite the claims of universal sharing this is a bit of a closed shop for the apple fans. To be honest I’m not a fan and will therefore keep my opinions to myself, if you are apple oriented and have all these devices then ICloud is the way to go. If you just have an IPhone both of the previous choices are still valid, because free IPhone apps are available for those services.

If you want to stay away from the big three, there are still plenty of options. Flickr already has a comprehensive set of ways to upload photos from your phone. If you are using a free account remember you can only see the last 200 photos uploaded and there is a month size limit, but you have a lot of control about privacy and sharing and access to a range of print service via snapfish. Photobucket  also has several ways to directly upload from your phone, and again the free signup doesn’t give you access to all facilities.  Both give you access to on-line editing factilities, so you only need web access not a dedicated computer. Today even the local photo processor or photo kiosk at your local shopping centre can offer an upload service from you phone and remember that they can also write the photos to a CD or a web album, instead of or as well as printing the photos.

So stop worrying about all those photos on your phone, get them moving through the cloud, now!

Google Plus-ness arrives at blogger

imageI suppose it was only a matter of time, but the moment bloggers on blogger were dreading has arrived, and the sky hasn’t fallen in.

I was among many bloogers that were quite apprehensive about blogger being gobbled up into virtual vastness of google+ and the possibility that our normal audience (who may, dread the thought, may not be google+ers) might never see us again. Well the day has arrived and google has integrated google+ into blogger, not gobbled it up. Further that integration is largely unnoticeable. At its simplest you are encouraged to create a google+ page that is associated with the blog and then links back to all blog post will also be automatically created as posts on that blog page. I must admit I have noticed that this link to blog posts is The logo if supposed to look like this!exactly how many others use google+, and I have done it a few times myself. In retrospect it is a very obvious way to invigorate the google+ post stream with some fresh blood.