Old dogs

23 05 2013

They say you can’t teach old dogs new tricks. I don’t know why they say that. It doesn’t strike me as particularly well based in scientific research.

I’m feeling a bit of an old dog today – I just clocked up 49 circuits of the sun. Give or take a partial spin of the Earth for emigrating from the UK and immigrating into Canada. That’s more of a rounding error in the grand scheme of things. I also flew clockwise all the way around, so I’m not sure what that means in ABSOLUTE age, either. But I do like a new trick every now and then. I can be obsessive in my interests. To the point of annoying Mrs E. My most recent obsession is a newly refreshed interest in photography. I did all the usual mid-life male pseudo-crisis stuff and bought a new camera and lenses. Convinced myself I now took better photos. The usual.

It’s not surprising therefore that when pushed to state preferences for potential presents by offspring and assorted rellies, I came up with an assortment of camera and photography related items. It was a bit tough, as being reasonably affluent and of the male persuasion, I’m not shy of splurging out whenever I feel the desire for a new gizmo or trinket. Nevertheless, I was indeed pressed to name items I might not be averse to receiving, and so duly received even more baubles with which to play.

One such item is an Infra-red filter for my camera. More expensive than I’d have expected, so I’m even more grateful to my father-in-law for sending it.

I attempted to snap a few photos this morning before work. Nada. The images barely registered. I’d watched a video that had explained how hard it was to compose your shot because the IR filter blocks all visible light… kind of makes the through-the-lens viewfinder a bit useless for the non-bionic amongst us!

So I wasn’t looking to get any super photos, just something to see the promised ethereal effect of an IR spectrum shot. The video had mentioned that IR focuses slightly shorter to visible light, and that your focus ring needs to compensate, or you need a deep enough depth of field to handle the difference. Again, I wasn’t looking for super sharp images at this stage… just SOMETHING. The video had gone on to mention setting a small aperture to give that extra depth of field, but had just vaguely mentioned “the appropriate exposure time”. Thinking I was being smart, I set my fancy schmancy camera to aperture priority, slapped on the auto-focus, set ISO100 to try and get a low-noise image, set a small aperture for good DoF and let the camera do the rest. It selected a relatively short exposure (1/50s I think) and snap.

As I said… nada!

Time to leave for work, and a frustrating day pondering the puzzle.

I read more, and discovered that the camera’s sensor is confused by the narrow band of light reaching it through the filter and assumes there’s more light than there actually is. Exposures in the 10s range are more appropriate. Ah! So, once back home, I took care of the other little issue I’d read about – setting the custom white balance of the camera to deal with the strong red/magenta cast of using the filter – and then went about putting my camera on a tripod and having another go.

Here’s where I learnt one last new trick. It turns out that because of the aforementioned difference in IR wavelengths and the band of visible light, the IR light bounces around inside your lens a bit differently before it hits the camera’s sensor to be recorded. Depending on the design of the elements in the lens it may be prone to producing “hot spots” in the centre of the image. The good ol’ Interwebs provides a few sites listing various lenses and their suitability for IR photography. Guess what? My lenses are all on the “bad” list. All except my 100mm Macro.

Oh well – that’s a good excuse to buy more toys. :)

There’s a few tricks left in the old dog yet, it seems…

Image

Image





Liquid Sculptures: Pierre Carreau

4 05 2013

Sometimes I wonder why I even try to take photographs! These are just stunning captures of water (and light) in motion.

Liquid Sculptures: Powerful Waves Photographed by Pierre Carreau Seem Frozen in Time | Colossal.

I’m just reading a book at the moment from an old work colleague. (Read about it yourself here). One of the things I’ve taken on board is that you can take a negative experience and make it a positive one. I know, I know – a bit obvious, given that I work in marketing. Just look at the way Loblaws  is handling the Bangladesh factory collapse. I’d say a +40% delta in profits is “a disaster well managed”, wouldn’t you?

Anyway – I choose to remain in awe of the skill of M. Carreau, happily accept that I am unlikely to ever match it, but still be inspired to try. Not to replicate his work, but to know it is possible, and therefore that I should never stop trying to attain better than what I can do today.

Talking of doing more of what we’re capable of – I made my first ascent of The Stawamus Chief for the year today. First time up First Peak too. That’s all three peaks now “in the bag”. Lots of firsts. It was a lovely warm day. I think I even caught a bit of sun. Lululemon were doing their usual endless parade, sponsored by the young ladies of Greater Vancouver, and distracting all the old blokes like me who refuse to know better. I am supposed to be doing the Grouse tomorrow too, but it’s forecast to be 30 degrees! That’s 86 degrees Fahrenheit in “old money”. I know a lot of it is in and out of tree shade, but I don’t know… I might need some serious persuasion for that. And not all of it in Lululemon!

 





Photo Manipulations by Erik Johansson

1 05 2013

So I’ve recently started to muck about with GIMP – a freeware tool that gives most of the features of PhotoShop… legal and for free.

I used to be firmly of the opinion that if it came out of the camera “bad”, it was just tough. I still think one should be more careful about the image capture itself, and would like to think (with the help of some way more talented friends) I’ve got much better at making the camera do what I want.

However, I have also come to appreciate that there is a whole world of creativity that can begin with those captured images. They are not photographs per se, but are images, in the way a painting is a representation of an idea in the artists head, not necessarily a literal representation of what’s in front of her/him.

I saw “Go Your Own Road” a couple of years ago, but today I discovered more of the work by self-taught Erik Johansson. A couple of his pieces I think look really contrived, but most of the 18 here look very well executed indeed. See what you think.

18 Brilliant Photo Manipulations by Erik Johansson | Bored Panda.

Just to get an appreciation of the amount of effort involved, here’s a time lapse of the creation of “Cut and Fold”





Do you hear the ice cracking?

14 04 2013

Only because it’s a brave soul who could even contemplate using the phrase “average woman”.

I found this page via Twitter. It reminded me of a similar project many years ago – limited to the UK. In that version, there were male and female students used as the subjects. Each participant was “pure” English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish. “Pure” being defined as both parents and all 4 grandparents being born within the country.

By over-laying the images, similarities are reinforced, differences are blurred away. The experiment gives a somewhat blurred “average” face, but it’s distinct enough to recognise as “type”. For such a small, densely populated little group of islands, the UK’s regional genetic purity was astounding. When you think of the modern ease of movement, it’s amazing how distinct the regional variations have remained.

Here’s the more extensive, more global project.

The average woman from each country… – The Meta Picture.





Hilarious Zoo Portraits by Yago Partal | Bored Panda

29 03 2013

You’ve got to love it when creativity meets digital manipulation…

Hilarious Zoo Portraits by Yago Partal | Bored Panda.





Can’t explain why…

7 02 2013

… but I absolutely love this image by Igor Voloshin

1x.com – indigo by igor_voloshin.

Via 1x.com: Indigo by Igor Voloshin





Johan Thörnqvist » Pictures from my phone

7 02 2013

I happened upon these lovely, whimsical drawings – additions to otherwise quite ordinary every day phone photos. Johan Thörnqvist includes the original photo along with his modified version. Quite reminiscent of Hergé‘s Tintin, I thought.

Snarlik.se – Johan Thörnqvist » Pictures from my phone.








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