Tuesday, September 30, 2014

ThePatch :: Toy on Parade & Transportation


It is the last outing for my virtual creation the Blue Lego Guy on the Patch, and it was about transportation. I was down at Point Lonsdale and a lot of the things to move around looked like fun, but they where possibly more sport than pure transportation. Anyway why deny the Blue Lego Guy some fun.

I had photographed cars, boats & even container ships, but the guy didn’t look happy. Then I realised he needed to be with lego, real lego. So my young grandson helped out again. This time building a technical lego monster truck. The Blue Lego Guy was in his element helping out.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Tale of Two Pano Stitchers

On my recent trip I had been giving google+ photos an opportunity to redeem itself (in my eyes). So most of my photo where running through auto-backup and thus into “autoawesome” algorithms. I took two separate sets of the back beach at Sorrento (the first above) just a set of overlapping photos. The second a set of overlapping bracketed photos (-1.5E,0,+1.5EV) with the sets overlapping in the same way as the first set (see result below).  The image above was joined  by the autoawesome *Pano feature, and shows a distinct wide angle lens perspective. The image below was first combined to increase dynamic range, using Autoawesomes *HDR features, I then downloaded these and used Autostitch to combine them, The differences are astounding! I expected the colouration and tonal difference but the perspective differences came as a bit of a shock.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Finding a way to something like little planets

A very wavey panoramaI was back at the Queenscliff observation tower yesterday and took another overlapping series. It occured to me that it might make a nice series for a little planet image. I’m still travelling and don’t have all my little software utilities with me, and my first attempt was a manual pasting (joiner collage style). Ok its not very convincing but it was interesting. The next step was to construct a stitched 350 panorama, but for some reason (not yet understood) it produced a very wavy horizon line. Not to worry, I still had a few more transforms to do. I do have a little utility called Amorph Me! on my portable app key (in my camera bag) which does have something like a polar coordinate style transformation, designed to construct cylindrical mirror transform, sometimes used by M.C.Escher. However this transform needs a more equi-dimensional starting images so I had to stretch my pano out vertically and fill colour the black edges in the original pano. The wavy horizontal produced a nice oval rather than a circle.

My manual joiner collage  wavy pano stetchedCylindrical mirror transform

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Into the Known

Last week I started trying out a new open source social web style platform, unlike most other social web offering it is designed to be owned (and controlled by you the owner). I haven’t got a far as setting up my own platform on my own website (just yet) but I can see the benefits of the POSSE (Publish [on your] Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere).This is a much better model for any creative type tat is interested in preserving their IP (Intellectual Porperty) rights but still share across the net. Theb place you firt published is owned by you (not by a social media service) and the syndication is under your control
Right at the moment the free WithKnown service, is available if you don’t want to use, or haven’t access to your own web space, so you can create you own site. It offers simple ways to also syndicate your post and status updates to a few selected services (Twitter, Flickr, Facebook & Soundcloud). I’m not a facebook person so I’m just experimenting with twitter & flickr. I’d probably like a similar connection into blogger but the service now is very similar to tumblr and with the same feel as a microblogging platform like twitter. In other words it easy to use and perhaps most suited to putting together a few words and perhaps a picture or two. So for the time being I will use it to make a few notes on my artistic (sketch & painting pursuits) a kind of provenance bank (archive).

My website is imageo.withknown.com

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

More on Collection Photo Reference & Even More Sketching

I like the idea of the 50 50 rule, where it recommends you only spend 50% of the time getting the intended (or standard “postcard”) view and then go onto the next 50% of the time looking for something a little more create. Chances are if you are looking for reference material for your art this will be easy, zoom in look for texture, zoom out and take a number of different compositions, walk into the scene and get close to the subject. Turn around and take what is behind you. The 50 50 rule approach shouldn’t finish there, when you are loading the reference art into a collection of album (probably but not necessarily on a computer) don’t just flag the best image(s) for post processing, flag a few for creative post processing (perhaps at some later date)
sketch 1 pano big copyIMAG1088 copysketch 2 pano big copy

The Full 360°

360 Observation TowerThe is an observation tower in the redeveloped port area of Queescliff, called 360. It does offer amazing view back onto Port Phillip Bay as well as out over to Point Nepean and through the heads.

I took a bit of time to take 3 over lapping photos at each of 24 windows, with the aim to try and assemble a full panorama. Only autostitch rose to the challenge of processing all 72 photos at one time.

360 big pano copy

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Making your digital camera into a sketch book

Sketching can be a very relaxing and rewards activity. but it takes time and effort.
My Sketch Pad & Camera Bag  Today's Sketches
As I mentioned yesterday, I carry a small sketch book in my camera bag. It is handy to record shapes, tone, and lines (edges). Even with a small set of paints I’m less concerned about colour. It is much easier just to take a picture but ….
An EV bracketed set of Diver Dan's Boat Shed I used picturenaut to create a HDR 16bit Tiff file.
A big short coming of photos, and particularly digital photos, is they usually don’t record the tonal range in the same fashion an artist might have seen it. The Issue is the dynamic range, which an artist would know as the tonal range. You can often approximate this by stretching the histogram, such as using Tone Curves in lightroom or Levels in photoshop. Another way to lift an photo and give it the punch, you remember is HDR. Whilst many use this to technique to produce very enhancement images (aka over cooked), it is the perfect method for this situation. All that is required is to take a set of photos at different EV values, then use suitable software (like picturenaut) to build the HDR image (in this case I’m using conventional adaptive logarithmic (aka Rheinhard) tonemapping.)
diver dan's boat house
However I do recommend resisting the urge to copy the photo exactly. There is a lot of detail that can be left out and just suggested in the appropriate texture. But hopefully this is a stronger reference photo to remind you of the scene and act as inspiration for a sketch or painting,

Moving from 2:1 to 3:1

I’ve been doing a number of multi-image stitch panoramas. I agree they usually don’t look their best on social media and computer screens but they can look really impressive when blown up. Then the biggest issues becomes the cost of custom framing. I have found that a few framers have 2:1 (landscape frames) pre-made. Many print-on-canvas services also offer this 2:1 ratio in various sizes. So for some time I have adopted to just use the 2:1 Ratio, when cropping panoramas.

However, the 3:1 ratio is more compelling for panoramas.

Those that enjoyed the ABC TV series SeaChange, might recognise
a heavily refurbished Diver Dan’s Boat Shed

Collecting Photographic Reference for Paintings

2014-09-201I was fascinated with the contorted shapes of the branches of some of the mature trees along the coastal walk (the promenade at Point Lonsdale) and felt they could make an interesting series of paintings. I carry a very small sketch book (A7 sized) in my camera bag (and in fact did a few scribbles as I had a coffee over he road). A digital camera can be a vey hand thing for an artist. However I like to use mine as a sketch book taking down important details giving and overall view, I shot many photos that may never see lightroom and printing, they are more an aide-mémoire. I also like to capture at least a couple of bracketed sets to be able some additional tonal investigation when I have a chance.
tree hdr pano big-001
This tree, possibly a very mature bearded heath, overhangs the path. I original figured I could make a “joiner” collage, but the HDR worked out well so I got an autostiched HDR panorama, Now hopefully I have a better memory to inspire a wonderful painting?

Monday, September 15, 2014

ThePatch :: Toy on Parade & Games

I figure I should at least have some fun with this weeks theme at ThePatch , Toy on Parade & Games. It has to be the same toy,(ie the Blue Lego Guy) . So what games would he like to play, or more particularly be part of? Why not chess, I could design the pieces in Lego!  Which I did. (Ok that took a fair while but I have designed a proper lego chess set, and the complete build instructions are available on request).

Some preliminary tests shot for composition escaped (more precisely they were vacuumed up by google auto-backup, which I had only turned on to see if I could get a couple of *HDR autoawesome images from my photowalk on Tuesday). These test shots were made into a short *Motion animated gif. Not exactly exciting but you can see me experimenting with f-stop to try and get a better depth of field. The next issue was to perspective. To get a decent close up I needed a wide angle lens (ie zoom in) but I only had a near orthographic projection (common in CAD systems) available in LDD (Lego Digital Designer) To get such flat perspective I’d need to use my telephoto lens and take the photo from many meters away (and my room is not that wide). So a compromise was needed. First I experimented with tilt shift filters (with ordinary results), Then with 3D adjustment/perspective in Corel Photo Paint (much better but fiddly to set). This is getting complex.

Finally my planning turned to where to place the other chess pieces around the Blue Lego Guy and I had the grandiose idea of using a famous chess game (such as game 5 between Kasparov and the computer Deep Blue, which ended in a draw). From a low down view these games look over crowded and confusing and no one, even a chess expert could possibly recognize the game. Time to simplify the image and layout for simplicity and good composition.

Assembling the final image I ended up creating 3 layers (the the photo of me and  the chess board, the piece I am holding, and the chess pieces themselves) and adjusted them to fit in Corel Photo Paint. However as before I keep the layers separate and reassembled the image again in OnOne's Perfect Photo layers and some tweaks in Perfect Effects to get a overall photographic look. Perhaps more work than play but fun all the same.

PS for those that like Where's Wally style puzzles, there is one actual Lego piece in this picture, can you find it?

PhotoFriday :: Panorama

pano-001Beach Five approaching High Tide
Based on 14 stitched photos

For PhotoFriday‘s topic Panorama

Friday, September 12, 2014

A decade older, ..but any wiser

imageThis blog turns ten years old today. It began with a simple enough objective, Exploring the Creative Potential of Digital Technology and it is still pretty much wandering around the same themes. If you want to spend a bit of time looking around try the label cloud down on the right or type a topic that interests you into the search box. You won’t find any specific camera reviews, as originally promised, but you may find a lot about ways to use them along the way. Looking at my blog stats, I have improved views from around 1000 a month, when I set up the counter in 2005, to over 2000 now (see graph below). The blips in 2012 to the peak in 2013 were due to link spammers, so I probably need to knock off around 2000-3000 page views from the total. Still 80K is a decent number, not spectacularly popular (or worse viral success) but encouraging to continue all the same.

I suspect googles view numbers are very rubbery

So my advice is still the same get a camera, especially one you are happy to use (anything from a smartphone, Mirrorless up to a DSLR, they are all good these days) and learn how to use it. I hope the collection of ideas over the last decade helps you see some of the Magic of Digital Photography.

Onwards into the unknown …and more to learn and share as I go

Thursday, September 11, 2014

One Clue closer to understanding a LR foible

Last night I was tired and left Lightroom running on my laptop computer, which was plugged in but in Sleep mode. This morning my computer showed that windows had preformed and “important” security update for Windows 7 and restarted my computer sometime over night. Lightroom was up and running but a Collection (Adobe’s name for an album) I had definitely set up last night was missing, it was missing in the last catalogue backup made as well (not surprisingly as this was made earlier). This starts to explain at some of the unexplained problems and frustration I was having with Lightroom late last year and earlier in the year. I now suspect that, if the computer is shutdown (in this case by a windows update) and the catalogue backup not run,(It may have been waiting for a user response to run it) and lightroom terminated. Then when the system resumes although lightroom resumed fine it uses an older backup. So the problem really is triggered by the windows update. At least one of the problem events earlier in the year related to a significant power outage. I had already identified that leaving lightroom running overnight was not a good idea, so I have to share a little of the blame.

Ok why this time didn’t I loose any RAW edits? The answer was simple I have adopted the tactic of always writing any changes to a sidecar file (.xmp file) immediately.

Thus what we have is not really a BUG in lightroom more a personality foible to do with how she maintains her precious catalogue. (How to do this is mentioned in my previous post).

The moral, Lightroom is a High Maintenance Mistress

Don’t Leave Her (Lightroom) Running Unattended (ie overnight)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Hail, Rain & No Moon Shine

The Super Moonrise was a non-event last night in Melbourne due to a big storm. There was Hail, Rail and Shine Lightening but the heavy clouds obscured the eastern horizon and the moon
 About 3:30 the sky darkened and the rain began In poured with periods of hail for the next hour & half Towards sunset there was a glimpse of a Rainbow
Storm Clouds Roll in as the sunsets
Mainly just darkness, clouds & lightening after that and no moon to be seen. C’est la Vie
No moon just clouds & lightening

Monday, September 08, 2014

Plenty of Cloud ...No Moon

A series of HDR photos in search of the full moonrise (not seen). The weather forcast for tomoorrow is no better.


The Patch :: Toy on Parade at Work

blg at work in office
My first plan for this week’s thepatch theme, Toy on Parade At Work was to have the Blue Lego Guy working as a Lego designer (see above), a nice bit of self reference there. Nice clean desk by the way guy. Which was fun to set up and shoot but he was creating an artist and artists work too, right! So the idea snowballed to becoming a en plein air outdoor painting set, nice again but the artist idea had taken hold and I needed something a bit more creative.

blg selpotrait_oil Painting A selfportrait … perfect, now we are really talking self reference. It ended up as three separate layers and three separate images. The background was a real easel, the self portrait was a front on image of the lego guy (the one used in the photo above) but re-rendered with corel painter light, using oil bristle brushes and marker pens (a very loose self-portrait it is, but have you seen the size of his brush! The Blue Lego Guy was a separate layer again direct from LDD (that’s Lego Digital Designer). The layers where assembled in Corel Photo Paint but retouched in OnOne's Perfect Effects to get a more photographic finish.