Thursday, July 28, 2016

Finding Space to Postprocess

The third unexpected issue on the train was one of finding space to be able to post porcess the photos. Whilst software like Lightroom, After shot Pro and OnOne 10 photo Suite work fine on my HP Spectre they demand a keyboard to be used effectively. Finding the desk space was a challenge (the actual bar of small tables in the games car where ok) but the movement of they train made using the mouse and pen somewhat of a challenge. The solution was simple use the computer if tablet mode (it double the text and icon size) and so I had an enforced time to try out the touch screen friendly photo editors I had already loaded (Polarr, Autodesk’s Pixlr, Microsoft’s Photo App).Of these Polarr is clerly the most capable and closest to lightroom capabilities. The photo below of a lake at sunsets was entirely post processed in Polarr

#210_MG_8560 Lake Sunset

Perhaps my only requests are all only work with jpeg files, and only the microsft app provides a photo browse feature.

Just using your camera phone and posting to Instagram is another possibility, albeit difficult because there was no WiFi on the train and celluar/mobile phone signal very variable.

The Saskatchewan praires. #Viarail #watercolour #shetch

A photo posted by norm hanson (@apimageo) on

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Too Much To Photograph




Another difficulty I didn’t expect was that the dome (panoramic) seats give you a view that is just so vast even a wide angle lens does not do it justice. Further the necessary frames for the panes of glass are not an obvious intrusion because the scene is moving and/or you can move you head. Instead the camera can only capture a specific view, and window frames can get in the way, unless you have you camera or phone close to the window and that directs you view to only a sub-portion of the vista.  However if you click the shutter button at just the right moment you can get a wonderful photo (it helps to have heard the announcement that the waterfall is coming up on the right).


_MG_8493-Sunset TracksThe even more difficult aspect is to avoid the internal reflection from the glass, The dome has curved sides and the carriage with well lit with natural light (over head is glass also). So your reflection will definitely be in the image you photograph. The standard trick of angling the camera to the glass pane only works with flat windows (the carriage picture windows are flat and thus fine). Also it helps to wear a darker shirt and be conscious of where the reflections are on the window. In the end I just took the photos anyway when the reflections were too hard to avoid (they are not flying saucers).


Photography is all right if you don't mind looking at the world from the point of view of a paralysed Cyclops. - David Hockney

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Russian Roulette with the forest

_MG_8376One of a few problems I soon discovered trying to get decent photos from the train, is to do with a clear view. The Canadian train travels up into the Rockies along deep river ravines and there are lots or trees, which get taller and taller. The train only travels up the steep railway at 45 mph, which is slower than normal car travel. However it is still fast enough they trees beside the tracks just flash past.


So I quickly found there was an anticipation game, when to snap the photo. Its harder than you might think, and I have quiet a set of blurred trees. But once in a while the mountain will be nicely framed between the tree.

  #208_IGP9941-rocky mountain high

(Hint: I used a higher ISO than usual so that the shutter speed was faster and more likely to freeze reasonably close trees)

Monday, July 25, 2016

An Interesting Exhibition and Wonderful Staircase

#206_IGP9735-Reflection of the PastWith some time to spare before The Canadian was due to leave vancouver. We thought we might visit an exhibition of Picasso and the Influence of his Muses (all 6 of them). It was a really comprehensive exhibition showing how the women who inspired Picasso lead to his artistic progress. A wonderful surprise, {not Picasso’s work} was the internal staircase in the gallery decorated with bold simplicity of rhyming words, simple verse and emoticons, a kind of oversized physical tweets.

Art Gallery Pano 1 Art Gallery Pano 2

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Bad Google Photos (again)

Oh google what are you doing? I had pretty much stopped using google photos (the on-line end) and deleted it of my phone (it kept updating and gobbling up lots of precious memory) but I am more fond of picasa and use it daily as my preferred method to off load photos from the memory cards.

The biggest advantage for me is I’m used to it, but it also organises into daily directories, named YYYY-MM-DD so that each day has a separate sub-directory and they automatically sort into dates in descending order. I then quickly cull the duds, the out of focus, unnecessary duplicates anything not worth keeping. I immediately delete both the jpeg & raw files


What I was trying to do yesterday was use googles Auto-Awesome feature to produce a small animation of a cruise ship passing late last nigh. This involved uploading 25 jpeg images, so I selecting those images and hit the big green button and let the computer sort out the bandwidth and time taken etc, the animation was created over night. (ie I didn’t watch the uploads). The animation was created as expected.

_IGP9462-ANIMATION this is an OK animation

However What The?

Over night most of my photos from yesterday had also been uploaded and weird auto awesomes created everywhere (it seems to always make my HDR sets animations and almost never makes proper panorama to mention a couple of common misdemeanours). All the photos have been uploaded to the daily directories that auto backup used to use (not the albums I had been using). Except for bandwidth losses, these extra photo on google photos don’t bother me as they are private and are the size that is free to store. I just can’t figure out why they are uploaded, I have avoided loading google’s autobackup on this computer. Further I can not see anothing in picasa that might trigger such an upload.


The more devastating occurrence was that at the same time (or more particularly overnight) the album I am building from photos of my current trip had been filled with duplicates of some of the images and many others are now missing from the album. It is possible that I have somehow been involved in this because  I did up load some new photos into that library last night. I do have the original images on my computer and also safely backedup up on separate hard drive. The causality here is my faith in google photos, well there isn’t any left now

PhotoFriday :: In the Middle of Nowhere

Middle of nowhere
aka Towards the middle of Vancouver Island.

For PhotoFriday‘s topic Middle of Nowhere

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

How many ways are there to Photograph a totem pole?

_IGP7462Here in British Columbia there are a lot of totem poles, some massively tall ones. The challenge is how to photograph them, without ending up with a lot of photos that just look the same. Here are a few attempts. Stand right back and use a zoom, get up close and use a wide angle view, get up take and take a detail shot, add people for scale,  include its shadow, use the “dutch tilt” or look straight up. I’ve even gone for the collage look.


Sometimes you need to take that obvious snap shot.

Sometimes it pays to explore a few other angles and views to get something extra and perhaps more interesting.


_IGP7459‘  _IGP7469  _IGP7983

_IGP8071  _IGP8076  _IGP8077

_IGP8532 _IGP8613 2016-07-20

Monday, July 18, 2016

PhotoProject :: Dynamic Range & capturing what you saw

Cruise Ship in the last of the day

As I waited for the sunset, I watched a cruise ship on its way north along the inland passage. _IGP8201 - original exposureThe white ship was catching the golden light, but a long way away. The distance was very hazy but there were a few clouds. Should make a great photo right! Well not really, and its a little complex but the camera auto exposure  is trying to get an average (grey) exposure. However the scene as seen by our eyes has some very bright things like the ship and some heavier darks amongst the foliage. If you like histogramsimage you can see rather than being a nice bell curve, the tones peak and trough. Further the camera hasn’t really recorded the brightest golden light and the darkest dark. _IGP8201 - Over Processed LookThey are instead “blown out” or clipped(meaning they are just either totally white or totally black). The result of averaging the exposure across this wide range is most often a flat and murky image, and generally disappointing colour.So what can you do about it. The lighting clearly was richer and more colourful, so the tendency is to go for the brightness (or exposure) slide and then also increase saturation. However this usually makes for a very fake look (to the layman its over “photoshopped” even though photoshop was never used).


There are better ways, _IGP8201 - RAW image with tonal adjustmentIf you have a camera that can record in RAW, which simply means the actual sensor illumination reading and all the camera settings. If you also have suitable software to render the image, such as lightroom you might be able access the greater range of light.  However you will be limited to the range of light and colour you are able to reproduce on your screen or printer. You have to stretch the exposure to get all the levels of tone and colour into that range. I once created my own pre-set call SDR+ (Standard Dynamic Range Plus) but I find it just as easy to tweak the basic sliders.


The second well established method is HDR (which stands for High Dynamic Range)._IGP8200_1_2_Detail Preset 1 in Atershot Pro HDR Merge The simplest way to think of the process is taking three of more separate exposure from under exposed to overexpose. These three or more images are the merged together in such a way to make up a broader range of illumination (something more like our eyes will actually see). There are a number of specialist packages that can undertake this merge. Then there is generally a second process that “tonemaps” this extended range back into the reproducible range. I like this technique but it is getting a bad reputation for being overdone (laymen might sometime call this the “fake HDR look”), because the majority of folk take one of the default pre sets which often overdo the level of detail and intensity of colours.

They is an alternative, rather than choose a default tonemapping _IGP8200_HDR Efx pro with OnOne finishyou can often take the extended bit depth file (usually as a .tiff or .psd file) directly into your favourite software and do the tonemapping manually yourself, The Image at the top of the top of this post ws created in Aftershot Pro HDR Merge but instead of using the pre sets I tweaked the tonal range only slightly avoiding the halos around the trees and unnatural sky. The photo on the right was created with Nik’s software’s HDR Efx pro but finished in OnOne 10 effects to protect the sky but darked the sea and add a big softy vignette.

So there are several ways to expand the dynamic range to better match what you saw, only you must take care not to overdo it. I’ll let you choose which are over baked.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Autumn Memories Painting by Fred McCubbinOn the flight across the ditch I watched the film called " A Month of Sundays", its a quirky poignant story, yet honestly Australian. One of the important subtexts is about the significance of memories. I'll say no more not to spoil your viewing. It has me thinking about what are memories and how we might make them? I live in a very bush fire prone region and it is an unwritten law that if you need to evacuate the first thing to pack is the photo album. The theory being that they hold all your memories.

However photo are just images in tone and sometimes colour. Some say nothing but the special few will evoke a fondness in the viewer and bring up clearer pictures of the place and/or the people, the smell of the garden or the sensation, of intense heat, or being drench by driving rain, the special treat, ice cream or toasting marshmallows. The memories spread into many more dimensions than the flat photograph. These are indeed precious things. However how do you create them?

I'm starting to think you can't. They usually create themselves.

As photographers we are constantly being told to always tell a story. Which is a real challenge in a single still image because stories have a beginning and an end and time between that moves step by step between these end points. Some still images might imply the beginning and how the story might have arrive at the end depicted in the photo or alternatively that might capture the start and the end is implied. A very few photo capture one of the steps.

To tell a story properly you need words and or a video. The reading of the words of watching of the video compel the viewer to concentrate. The mind is generally supressed from wandering into memory until the story is over and your concentration is released.

What I see happening these days with so many of our photos and snippets of videos online, is not about memory. These are instant distraction, kind of a visual gossip of things (in the real world) that can be scrolled through and laughed at. They are short term relevance and mostly soon forgotten

However older photos particular acquire a magical property to bring up deep memories in the viewer(s). So when and how does this happen? I think there are two important components. They are mostly physical (a print or a film strip) as opposed to temporary light on a screen) they have survived the passage of time, not something thrown away or discarded and forgotten. Thus they somewhat rare and precious.

I really doubt any amount of cloud storage and interconnection will achieve this. That all knowing science fiction screen on the wall will certainly have lots of data and images but it will not have obvious precious things. They might be there but they will probably be hiding.

So who will save us? You might be surprised, we might already have a new breed of memory managers amongst us, usually they are younger women, perhaps recent mother who are both social media savvy and at the same time deeply embedded in the family structure. They are the ones that are curating the "look at me" stream of friends and family on social media and making an effort to comment on and save the important parts of the puzzle that will house our future memories. The problem for now is there are few tools to make this easy and these new bread of memory managers, because at the moment they are unlikely to have a deep knowledge of file formats, the archiving strategies or digital asset management at all. If its not a physical print (most just collect 6 by 4 prints) or jpeg files (unfortunately those heavily compressed optimized for web efforts). They will probably have any metadata stripped out by whichever social media service they got momentary fame on. Yet I hope these memory managers survive and flourish. Find each other and build better strategies and places to house our memories. So that in fifty years there will still be something to save, hopefully in a format we can still read, from the approaching wild fire and it will be precious.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Art Inspired :: Finding Faces in Texture

The face of dispairThis is a gumtree truck bleeding gum. Perhaps from burrowing insect damage or cracks sustained in strong winds. It suggests a face perhaps not a happy one a disdaining haughty look.


So I sketched some lines and used them as my training filter in dreamscope (second image below) but this was a bit weak so I used that image as another training for another dreamscope and then another generation each modifying the photo with a deeper and deeper filter.


Finally I took the results into Nik’s Colour Efx Pro to bring out the abstract, just a suspicion of a face but perhaps a little more contorted now a spirit in the shadows or just a trick of the light.  Squiggles & colours that suggest tone and form.


Abstraction from a close up on reality

 face0002final (2) copyface0001final (1) copy

final (1) copy

Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real.

Niels Bohr

Travelling lighter

I’m preparing for a trip to Canada and will be away for a just over a month on the road. This time I”m travelling a lot lighter than the almost 12kgs of laptop, charges and related computer gear I took to Getting LighterNorfolk Island. Believe it or not the photo shows my full compliment of HP spectre and miscellanies bit, and they have a combined weight just a fraction over 2kg. Importantly it is not as if I’m missing anything. I have my photo software mistresses (Picasa, Ligthroom, Aftershot Pro and OnOne Phot 10.5 and now Nik Software add ins and Polarr) all installed. I’ve cleared off the 256GB ssd drive to 191 GB free (hopefully more than plenty of a month of photos). The customized cloth travel wallets were made by my wife and are padded. They keep everything wonderfully tidy when travelling.


I also have two backup drives. The one in the orange wallet will be updated daily and live in my camera bag so it will always be with me. The one in the denim will be updated as I move from one location to the next and at least weekly. It will be stored in my checked luggage when travelling .


I also have a couple of highly desirable accessories. The Pen of course (it came with the computer), and a Blue Tooth Mouse. Unfortunately most photo software is not touch screen friendly and you really require a mouse and to a lesser extent a tablet like a wacom(pen performs these tasks). The big advantage of the blue tooth mouse (over a WiFi/USB mouse) is it doesn’t use up a USB C port (and thus require yet another adaptor) and has a better range. While on the USB C subject it is a fast interface and it can connect many sorts of devises,  it is the way of the future. However very few devices today come with the USB C connector so you must get an adaptor cable, more precisely cables. I have three. The white one is a simple USB C to USD A style (Ie conventional USB style But works with USB 1 USB 2 & USB 3 connections). The black connector is from USB C to HDMI, which lets me connect to a wide variety of screens and data projectors. I can also use a Big Screen TV as an extension Monitor. The small black rectangular block folds out to a USB HUB, connecting two further USB C and two USB A devices. I also have a chrome cast dongle (but now would prefer to use a direct HDMI cable).


Note I have two card readers with my computer stuff and another in my cameras bag, because  I’ve had a couple fail and they are not expensive (but remember to buy the fast ones).

Thursday, July 07, 2016

PhotoProject :: Weaving a Natural Tapestry

_IGP7088-Close up of Lichen on the pathA great thing to do with natural textures is use them to bring added interest to photos particularly the backgrounds. Further I have been encouraged by using my own sketches as filters for dreamscope, So today I am trying out a close up photo of lichen as my template for the filter. I am actually delighted, it brings a natural tapestry feel to my simple bird photos taken meters away from where I photographed the lichen. I’m letting Nature make some of her own marks on my work.

Grey Heron in flight

Double Ducks

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

PhotoProject :: A chance to compare

This is an alright photo for an overcast drizzly day. Actually I was waiting in hope of catching a rainbow, but the sun never shone for me so I didn’t get a rainbow, just the last of the oak leaves falling. Being adventurous and warm back inside I figured this was perfect for a comparison of how I might post process the RAW version of this image in my software on my HP spectre 2 in 1 laptop.

Picasa (no adjustments) After Shot Pro 3 (Perfectly Clear)
_IGP7040 _IGP7040asp
Lightroom (Tonal & Colour Adj) OnOne 10 (Enhance & Effects)
_IGP7040lr _IGP7040-OnOne

I have included the unaltered render of the .pef RAW file, just to show that an unedited RAW file usually looks flat and often a bit dark. My goto tool for the first pass look at photos at the moment is After Shot Pro and the perfectly Clear filter (in this case it has the colour a bit loud and the sky blown out, not that wasn’t pretty much blown out in the unedited version). At this stage I think the image has potential and flag it was a keeper and even give it a couple of stars.

I then fired up Lightroom and set to doing a fairly standard tonal tweak, recovering some shadows by mainly looking to pull highlight down and deepen the blue of the sky (moving the blue channel viberance to the left) I also cropped the image to avoid the leading lines of the edge of the road drawing the veiwer to the bottom left corner. I felt this was better than the Perfectly Clear. Next I used OnOne, I’m having trouble with the browser not display my RAW filesin version 10.5 so I took the unprocessed lightroom rendering into OnOne 10 Enhance and tweaked the total range similarly to lightroom and I also used the magic eraser to remove a couple of post a swing and BBQ and performed a similar crop. Next I went into OnOne 10 effects and started with a soft dynamic contrast, added a little sunshine and finished with the big softy vignette. Happy with this and it becomes my photo of the day, albeit a dull day.

Monday, July 04, 2016

What Gum is that?

The gruff widower Holland has two possessions he cherishes above all others: his sprawling property of eucalyptus trees and his ravishingly beautiful daughter, Ellen.

When Ellen turns nineteen Holland makes an announcement: she may marry only the man who can correctly name the species of each of the hundreds of gum trees on his property.

Ellen is uninterested in the many suitors who arrive from around the world, until one afternoon she chances on a strange, handsome young man resting under a Coolibah tree….


… The plot of Eucalyptus a novel by Murray Bail

I thought I needed to brush up on my identification of the local eucalypts (gum trees to us aussies) as a preliminary to the Jell’s Park Photowalk, and it a lot harder than you might think.



#185 Vertarama of a Gum Tree

This vertarama (a vertical panorama) is built from 5 photos using Autostitch, from straight ahead to almost vertical over head, which leads to the curved expansion at the top. I think this is a Yarra River Gum, which only grows in central/southern Victoria, and is recognized  as "in a highly precarious position and one of the most threatened of the eucalypt species". Pryor (1981). I should have included a person to show the size of this tree (probably over 30m). The pines behind it  would normally be considered tall. The CSIRO is building a guide called EUCLID , that supposedly is Identifying eucalypts made easy, I could not find it online but they are nearing 900 species now. And it isn’t so simple, the classification depends on type or bark, leaf shape, flowering, seed shape and density, branching habit and season of observation, just to mention some of parameters. The only true way to identify the Yarra River Gum, according to Dr Tree from Otway Greening, “If you're really keen to identify a yarra gum, grab some leaves and boil them in water for two minutes. If it is a yarra, a volatile oil called benzaldehyde will be given off by the process. And according to Simmons (1986) it smells of a cross between bitter almonds and fish oil!” Needless to say I haven’t done that.