Category Archives: digital photography

The Unreal World of Retouching

I always find it interesting why creative directors feel it necessary to retouch certain images. A great collection of photos showing before/after retouching are below. Some obviously need it, like 50-something Madonna trying to look like a twenty-something. However, shots like the Jennifer Lawrence example are something of a mystery. Beautiful woman with a great body made to look rail thin, for no real good reason… other than the anorexic look is what everyone aspires to. Sad. Here’s a link to all the images (the two mentioned are below, but there are a couple dozen on the Imgur page):

Before and after photoshop

madonna retouched

Photo Manipulation, Contests, and Getting Disqualified

Good article here about how the photo that would have won the National Geographic photo of the year, got disqualified because the photographer used Photoshop to get rid of a trash bag instead of cropping it.

If you’re going to enter contests it’s a good thing to read the rules, but it’s almost a certainty that if you bust out the clone tool or use Content-aware Fill you are going to be disqualified. Obviously if it’s a photo manipulation contest that’s different, but most photography contests want you to do everything in camera, limiting adjustments to minor tweaks like cropping and contrast, things that were relatively easy to do in the darkroom days.

While you might argue what’s the difference between cloning a trash bag out of the photo and cropping it, it’s a very slippery slope. It rapidly becomes more about your Photoshop skills and less about your photography skills. If it’s a photography contest, then it should be about your photography skills.

Here’s the disqualified image, click on it to read the full article and see the original.

disqualifed Photoshopped photo

Great New Tutorial on Shooting Greenscreen/Chromakey Photos

We’ve wanted to do a training video for awhile that touched on all aspects of Greenscreen photography. From the photo shoot to the file management and, of course, the keying. We recently had the opportunity to work with with Mike Price of Fairfield Photography to do just that. Mike has been shooting youth sports for years and uses greenscreens and Primatte.

Shooting Chromakey photograph on a greenscreen and keying greenscreen photos in Photoshop

In this 30 minute video, Mike touches on all aspects of Greenscreen photography: Shooting and light setup, managing photos, setting up actions, and doing the keying. If you’re new to chromakey photography, regardless of whether you’re using greenscreen or bluescreen, this is a great video. Even if you’re an old hand, it’s always great to see how other folks are doing it. So check it out!

http://vimeo.com/53470129

Color Calibration

After some time off, I’m creating prints of my photos. At first, I thought this was a good opportunity to try Costco, which has been showing up at some of the photography tradeshows touting their services to pro photographers. Using Costco as a print lab seems like a strange idea, but I figured if they’re promoting themselves to pros… but, no, the quality is what you would expect. Pretty awful prints. Nevermind.

So let’s try Bay Photo. Good reputation as a lab… so I ordered a matted print from them. Good print, but this is what the corners of the mat looked like:

Bay photo matting

Seriously? Why even offer matting if you have zero quality control?

Looks like I’m doing this myself. Which meant calibrating the monitor and printer. I’ve got the ColorMunki for this purpose, but hadn’t used it for awhile. I’d sort of forgotten how easy it is use and set up. I have to say I love this thing. The Cinema Display and my Epson R2000 Printer are amazingly in sync. It’s not perfect… you sometimes have to calibrate the monitor a few times to get it right and I’ve heard it doesn’t work well with older monitors, but for me it works great.

One thing I discovered is that you should calibrate the printer with full ink tanks. Changing the ink can require recalibration. The Cyan was low when I did the initial calibration. I got 3 prints out of it before it ran out. Replacing it resulted in a color shift and recalibration.

Printing yourself is still a bit of a pain in the ass, it’s not the cheapest option, especially when you factor in your time. So I may end up printing with a lab anyways. But I’m always impressed when technology works the way it’s supposed to. The folks over at X-rite have done a nice job with the Munki hardware and software.

<shameless plug> If you’d like to see some of the prints, it’s Open Studios in San Francisco this month! I’ll have a few prints at SMAart Gallery on Sutter St. exhibited with Lily Yao’s ceramics. SMAart is open the first two weekends of Open Studios: Oct. 13/14 and Oct. 20/21, so if you’re in the Bay Area come on over. More info can be found here:

http://smaartgallery.com/

Cloud Services – The Ugly

So I don’t get it when people freak out about cloud services going down. It’s the internet. Outages happen. Actually, they happen to any electronics.

Should they happen frequently? No, of course not. But Google Talk going down for half a day, Twitter, Salesforce, and Amazon all having recent outages have made it clear that you can’t trust the cloud 100%. Which is only to say that you should have backup plans in the event the cloud service you’re using or your internet connection go down temporarily (hello? Comcast? Anyone home?).

Furthermore, you should make sure all the data on your cloud service is backed up locally in the event the cloud service you’re using goes down permanently. This is a real risk if you’re using any cloud service that isn’t Amazon or Google. And even then, I’ve heard of Google deleting accounts by mistake in such a way they were unrecoverable. I back up all my Google docs once a week and download a copy of important documents as soon as I finish them.

While I have photos stored online, the originals are safely on a RAID 1 hard drive. I’ve written about the failure of Digital Railroad before, which was a photo storage site that went bellyup and gave users about 12 hours to download their photos before shutting off the servers. When startups go down, they go down hard since they usually try to hold on until the last dollar runs out. When the money runs out, you can’t pay for bandwidth fees, and then darkness comes (and the ice weasels. Beware the ice weasels).

So don’t get me wrong, I think the cloud is great. But as with anything, it’s good to know the limitations and be able to work around them.

Joy of Photography

One of the great things about running DA is that it gives me an excuse to buy fancy camera equipment and play with it. The latest subject I’m infatuated with is stars. No, I haven’t joined the paparazzi. I’m talking about the stars you can see when you’re 10,000 feet up on a rock in the middle of the Pacific ( the Haleakala volcano in Maui).

(c) 2012 Jim Tierney

Photography is absolutely amazing. It really forces you to be present in the place you’re at and the moment you’re there.

Continue reading Joy of Photography

How To Not Be A Starving Artist

In the previous post I mention an article from NPR: Silicon Valley vs. Hollywood. In that article they quote filmmaker Tim Chey as saying: “We do it for the art, we do it because we want to tell our stories, express our stories. I, as a filmmaker, am not in it for the money.”

Awesome! Then why are you complaining about piracy? You want people to hear your stories. You’re not in it for the money. Pirates are just enabling more people to see your movie that otherwise would play at two arthouse theaters on each coast and then be forgotten. What exactly is the problem?

However, somehow I feel he’s not being completely honest about not being in it for the money.

The biggest problem that most artists run into is that if they want to be even remotely successful, they need to look at themselves as a business. This kind of sucks. Most artists became artists because they didn’t want to think about marketing, business plans, how to accept credit cards, who they have to pay off to get in a gallery, etc. Sadly, that’s the hard, cold reality of it. Either you learn how to market yourself, you give up a good chunk of your earnings to someone that will market for you (like a gallery), or you starve. (or I suppose you can subsist in a coffee shop making pretty patterns in the latte foam of hipsters who go ‘Wow, that’s cool. You should be an artist!’)

Continue reading How To Not Be A Starving Artist

Using Adobe’s DNG Raw File Format

Just saw Tom Hogarty speak at the San Francisco Photoshop User Group. Mostly he was talking about Lightroom (he is the LR product manager), but he also discussed the benefits of converting your RAW files to Adobe’s DNG File Format. He made a pretty compelling argument. If not a somewhat boring one. File formats are just not sexy and exciting no matter how you spin it. :-)

The main benefit of DNG is that it’s an open format in the sense that the specification is publicly available. So even if Adobe were to fail, it’d still be possible for other software developers to read the format. With so many RAW file formats out there (every camera has a slightly different file format), the possibility that the RAW files won’t be accessible sometime in the future is very possible. Still, such a problem is a ways off. So what are the immediate benefits?

The big immediate benefit is that the thumbnail and metadata is built into the format. No more sidecar files that are easy to lose or not copy over when moving your photos around. This benefit alone was enough to convert me to DNG. While I don’t care about the thumbnail files, I’ve definitely had to redo my RAW settings due to not copying over an .xmp file. Stupid mistake, sure, but something that should be avoidable in the first place by a well thought out file format.

The DNG files are also smaller by about 25-33%. So that makes them easier to backup and transport around. The reason for this, as explained by Tom, is that when you’re shooting the camera is just concerned about getting the images on your card. So the compression is fast, but not as robust as it could be. When you’re creating the DNG file on your regular computer, time isn’t such an issue so a better but slightly slower compression algorithm can be used. All the data is the same.

So I’m a fan and I recommend you take a look at it. It really does seem to solve some very real problems.

Wedding Photography and Money

For all the talk about cheap cameras and everyone becoming a photographer, there certainly seems to be a fair amount of money still being spent on Weddings. Although judging from the success of WPPI and similar tradeshows there are probably more photographers out there than the market can support. However, if you can successfully carve out a niche the money seems to be there. (As with most business, you’re sales and marketing prowess needs to be as good as your photography prowess)

Why do I think that?

Continue reading Wedding Photography and Money

Stupid Photographer Tricks

If you’re going to hang over the side of a boat to do underwater photography, it helps to have a leash/lanyard attached to the housing/camera. One might ask, with good reason, why you would hang over the side of the boat in the first place. If you’re trying to photograph Humpback whales in Hawaii, you’re not allowed to get in the water with them. Hawaii is a national sanctuary for the whales and as they’re endangered species there can be some pretty hefty fines for getting in the water with them. So you go out on Zodiac/raft boats, let the whales swim up to the boat, and put the camera in the water. Hopefully, you are holding onto the camera while you are doing this. (If you are, you can get some nice shots like the one below)

However, if you are like me and get excited when you see a Humpback whale 10 feet away from the boat, you might let your camera slip out of your hand. At which point you will watch your Canon T2i and Ikelite housing start slowly sinking. It’s like watching a big bag of money go down to Davey Jones locker. Not good. For a split second I considered the fact that we were in a whale sanctuary and I might be fined if I dove in after the camera and underwater housing. After the .25 of a second was up, I dove in and grabbed the camera. Luckily, I don’t think anyone other than Mr. Humpback Whale (and 18 other passengers) saw anything and their were no repercussions. I immediately got back on the boat anyways, so it’s not like I was hanging out having a photo session with the whale.

The moral of the story: Sometimes a $10 lanyard can save you a lot of camera equipment!  (Feel free to post your own stupid photographer tricks in the comment section)

Can you trust the cloud with your photos?

The answer, in a nutshell, is no.

I’ve written about this before… when Digital Railroad failed a couple years ago and gave photographers 24 hours to download their photos, it should have been a big wake up call for photographers that these services can’t be trusted as archives (at least, not without offline backups as well). Now, maybe they can’t even be trusted as temporary storage. With tech companies it’s all good… until it’s not. Then the CEO announces everyone is laid off and the servers are shut down. I’ve been part of startups where this has happened. As Jason Perlow points out in an excellent blog post ‘Flickr: Too big to fail?’, Flickr is not too big to fail.

AND even if it doesn’t fail, that doesn’t mean your account won’t be accidentally deleted and since Flickr doesn’t have backups of your data, there goes all your photos. Which means all the links on your blog or web site that point to Flickr (or Vimeo or…) get broken requiring a lot of time and aggravation fixing your site. Assuming you have all those photos backup in a single place and you don’t have to go rooting around for the particular photos/videos you uploaded… which would involve even more time.

I’ll point out that I think these sites are great usually. I use them, particularly vimeo. However, it’s important to know what will happen if things go wrong and to know what you’re in for.

Anyways, give Jason’s blog a read… it brings up some good questions and concerns.

DSLRs vs. Consumer HD Camcorders

I recently finished up shooting a side project DVD on Humpback Whale Photography… watching them and photographing them (facebook: Exploring Maui). A little different from my usual gig of wrangling Photoshop plugins! ;-) For the most part it was shot with a Canon 5D Mark II. The 5D is great when it’s locked down on a tripod and you’re shooting interviews or talking about a topic.

The DVD has a lot of amazing photos of the Humpbacks, but very little actual video. This is due to the fact that the 5D doesn’t work well for wildlife videography. Now, some of you might have expected that, knowing about rolling shutter, aliasing, and some of the other issues that DSLRs have. However, when I started the project, I was blissfully unaware of most of those issues. Even though we shot with the 5D on a Stedicam Merlin most of the footage was unusable. Between the motion of the boat, the rolling shutter, and fast moving wildlife the 5D proved not to be the camera we hoped it was. (it was everything we expected for the tripod shots, so that came out well. But when we were actually on the boat… not so much.) There are some Final Cut Pro plugins to help out with these problems, but when dealing with a boat and wildlife it was just too much for the camera.

So the DVD was made with a little video footage of the whales and a lot of great photos. It came out fine, but looking to the future we want to shoot videos of the whales. What to do?

Continue reading DSLRs vs. Consumer HD Camcorders

Featured Artist: Jook Leung

Many of you may be familiar with Photoshop’s Photomerge, but this artist is in a panorama class of his own. Jook Leung has been recognized worldwide as a master of panoramic photography.

Some if his most captivating work comes from a project titled, “Times Square New Year’s Eve at Midnight.” For the past decade, Jook Leung has been capturing the ‘famous’ moment in 360VR. View his most recent 2010 image here.

© Jook Leung - http://jookleung.com/

Jook on his work, “I’m quite passionate about crafting the kind of panoramic images that reveal a unique perspective while conveying a strong sense of intimacy with the subject. Here the viewer becomes fully immersed in the same moment in time the photogapher is trying to capture. This is what masterful photography is all about. New technologies like Apple Computer’s QuickTime VR and Helmut Dersch’s Panorama Tools have made it possible to construct, publish and view full 360° x 180° spherical images. For me, this is the ultimate panorama and is what I specialize in doing well.”

Continue reading Featured Artist: Jook Leung

Altered photos in the news.

My household gets a delivery of The Economist magazine. Sometime I only skim a few pages but I always think of this publication as a resource for straightforward, accurate, apolitical news reporting.

Same with Reuters, a news outlet known for running its photographs unedited. No use of Photoshop is allowed to alter the image or change its intended meaning.

A story today in Media Decoder questions a Reuters photograph used by The Economist in its June 19 issue. The photo shows President Obama standing alone in front of the Gulf of Mexico, head down as if in contemplation. It’s a striking image on that mid-June cover, and one that inspired me to flip more closely the magazine a few weeks ago.

Continue reading Altered photos in the news.

Pose and Compose

Are you ever in a situation with a model or subject and can’t get the perfect position out of them? If yes, then this is your luck day. I came across a great article that gives 10 top portrait tips to help you capture the uniqueness of your subject.

One that I found interesting is #9.“DO make sure to separate the arms from the waist. Arms flat against the side of your subject create the illusion of a very wide waist.” Or you can always adjust for that in Photoshop ;)

Continue reading Pose and Compose

Skin smoothing for kittens?

Yesterday Digital Anarchy did a photoshoot for our Beauty Box product for video skin retouching. Well actually for our Beauty Box PRODUCTS, since we have related product coming out really soon. (Stay tuned for that exciting news!)

We had two terrific models participating in the shoot, which took place at Jim’s apartment. Towards the end of the day, his fluffy cat got curious and investigated the scene. I don’t think that cats need skin retouching but maybe we will come out with a fur smoothing product.

Molotov Cupcake got a little indignant when we booted her from the ‘set’. The model got a little mock indignant when Jim proclaimed that the cutest shot all day was of the cat!

Continue reading Skin smoothing for kittens?

Keeping A DSLR Steady For A Video Shoot?

Ever since they started shooting motion pictures one of the biggest questions have been… How do you keep the damn camera steady? And what do you do about it if it’s not? If you’re a photographer just getting into shooting video with your DSLR, you’re likely to have the same questions. I’ll give you some answers to the first question and a few tips on dealing with the second.

While a shaky camera can be used, on rare occasion, to good effect… it’s usually something to be avoided. More often than not, it just means your watching a B horror flick and the owner of said shaky camera is about to be bitten in half. Hopefully we can get you shooting stable video so as to insure you are not similarly attacked by creatures that are aggravated by shaky video.

So… how do you avoid such a fate?

Continue reading Keeping A DSLR Steady For A Video Shoot?

What Material To Use For Greenscreen?

When we first launched Primatte, we tested a variety of ‘greenscreen’ backgrounds to determine what to recommend. Paper backgrounds turned out to be worst and we had the best luck with a velcro/foam material.

Well… apparently not all paper backgrounds are made equal!

I don’t remember who made the paper background we initially tested. But it was awful. Very reflective and prone to hot spots. We figured all paper would have the same problems. After listening to a talk by another company that does greenscreen software, I decided to revisit this and give Savage Paper’s ‘tech green #46’ a try.

So how’d it fare vs. the foam materail we’ve been recommending since day 1?

Continue reading What Material To Use For Greenscreen?

Are DSLRs The New Point-And-Shoots?

It’s no secret that digital cameras have been big business this, er… last decade.

However the Financial Times reports a new wrinkle. DSLR sales have slowed significantly less than point-and-shoot sales, meaning the DSLRs are making up a larger share of the digital camera market. Over 8 million DSLRs will be sold in 2009.

What does this mean? How does it affect photographers?

Continue reading Are DSLRs The New Point-And-Shoots?

I hate HDR

Ok, well I only hate one common use of it. That surreal, oversaturated look that seems to be the first thing everyone does when they try the technique. You don’t even need to use HDR, there’s a photoshop plugin for it and you can use Camera Raw to pull it off. Here’s an example of the style:

HDR gone bad

HDR Gone Bad

It’s a novelty look and I’m over it. It was cool for a very short time, then everyone decided they wanted to have surreal images. It’s not that hard of a look to achieve, so it’s not that impressive. Get over it.  :-) I much prefer to use HDR for what it was meant for… which is giving a slightly wider dynamic range to create a shot that has similar contrast and color range to what your eye actually sees. No one has seen colors like the photo above has. Alright, well, yeah I’ve taken mushrooms too, so maybe then… but not normally.

The better use for HDR…

Continue reading I hate HDR

The Real Masters of Light

The Nobel Prize for physics went, in part, to William Boyle and George Smith who invented the Charged Coupled Device. The CCD is what allows all of your digital cameras to capture photos. So as your running around with your cameraphone, DSLR, HD video camera, or whatever give a nod to the physicists who allow you to capture light.

Click here for the full story

George E. Smith Nobel Physics

A tech side note… I saw this photo in a newspaper and started searching around online for it. Google Images completely failed. Microsoft’s Bing found it on the second try. At least for image searching, it would appear Google has some competition.

Future of Photo, part II

In part 1 I discussed some of the habits that may or may not develop. Now I’m going to talk technology. While at the Digital Imaging conference a few technology things kept coming up… Cameraphones, the cloud, and social networks. Not exactly unexpected.

The interesting thing about cameraphones is 1) how they will evolve and affect point and shoot cameras and 2) how are users storing and managing their photos.

samsung Instinct HDThis little piece of work from Samsung not only has a 5mp camera, but shoots decent HD video as well.

Continue reading Future of Photo, part II

Future of Photography Part I

Just got back from the InfoTrends Digital Imaging conference. There seems to be alot of speculation around the future of photography, including the 6Sight conference which is dedicated to the question. So, let’s talk about prints, clouds, camera phones, and some of the other stuff that came up at the conference.

One of the interesting observations at the conference was the way our picture taking habits are changing. We (as a society) are taking a LOT more pictures. However, these pictures tend to have a lower value on average, with a shorter shelf life so to speak. In the past, pictures were somewhat difficult to take and get printed so there was some value to them, even the crappy ones. Now we snap pictures everywhere, immediately send them around to our network of friends. We can immediately see our friends pictures who are doing the same thing. But a lot of these photos are ‘of the moment’. Pictures from very recent events that are not great photos, but are interesting because of their immediacy. Most are not pictures you’ll be looking at five years from now. There are a few things that can change the value of a picture immediately, for example, if someone passes away any pictures you have of them become more valuable.

Another interesting point was that the value of some pictures have a ‘V’ shaped curve over time. They are very valuable when first taken, but that value diminishes over time. However at some point along the timeline, because of the age of the photo, a death, or something else, the value of the photo starts to increase.

Value of a Photo

Ok, but why does this matter?

Continue reading Future of Photography Part I

Photowalkin’ (and camera lenses)

Yesterday, I joined Photoshop product manager Bryan O’neil-Hughes for his Photowalk. This was part of the effort by NAPP to get folks out and taking pictures. There were photowalks all over the nation because of this.

It’s a pretty cool idea and was great fun. Adobe rockstar Julieanne Kost joined us along with a few other Adobe folks. The walk itself was fairly short in length and mostly went a few blocks around the Adobe campus in San Jose. You’d be surprised at how long it takes for 50 photographers to go a few blocks. In any event, this led to many photos of the Adobe building (there also seemed to be a good deal of photographers taking pictures of photographers).

Adobe through the leaves

When you go on walks like this, it’s interesting what your choice of lens does to your photos.

Continue reading Photowalkin’ (and camera lenses)

Tiny Toons & more Panos from Perry.

For the July 4th weekend, I went to a friend’s cabin in the Russian River, California area. The town of Guerneville has tons of scenic photo opps and upon arriving, I was dismayed that I had forgotten to pack both my SLR camera and my little point and shoot. Luckily I had my iPhone with me. I couldn’t zoom in or add a perspective blur, but I was still able to get some really nice shots. Certainly any camera-enabled phone would do an equally good job.

When I returned to my Inbox this morning, my favorite roving panographer (if, in fact, there is such a term) had emailed to me his own stunning, low pixel image from a recent nature walk. Here is what Stanton Perry said about his photo, which was also taken with an iPhone, and its subsequent cartoon that uses our ToonIt! Photo plugin.

070609_stanton-toon500

Continue reading Tiny Toons & more Panos from Perry.

Commercials, lions, and manipulation

Interesting video of what goes into a high profile commercial photo shoot. In this case for Bebe, posted on Giulianobekor.com.

062609-jim-bebe1

Very cool to see what the actual shots were and what the printed ad ended up being with all the compositing, color correction, and other assorted image processing. Oh, yeah, and the lions. Ya gotta have lions. Continue reading Commercials, lions, and manipulation

Inspiration

In Photo Techniques magazine there was this quote attributed to Chuck Close:

“Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work.”

This sort of misses the point of inspiration. Obviously, you can’t stare at clouds all day, but that doesn’t mean you have to have your nose to the grindstone continuously either. I think a lot of inspiration is simply keeping your mind open and aware of what’s going on as you move through life. Inspiration doesn’t need to be lightning bolts and explotions. It can be simple things like ice cubes. Here’s a recent example of some macro shots I did:

macro_ice Continue reading Inspiration

Obama’s poster uses stolen photo

One of the recurring topics that I’ve seen in recent years is that of copyright and what internet technologies mean to photographers. The challenges that photographers face are neatly illustrated in an article the Wall Street Journal published today.

Essentially the Obama Hope poster that was widely used, was created based on a photograph by Mannie Garcia that Sheppard Fairey found on the internet, used without permission, didn’t give credit to the photographer, and even refused to acknowledge the photograph when asked about it.

Here’s what we’re talking about:

obama_3up Continue reading Obama’s poster uses stolen photo

Fake or Not Fake?

A picture can not lie. We all know the untruth of that these days. But what do you do when a picture isn’t lying, yet looks ‘obviously’ fake?

The below photo illustrates this to some degree:

photography sometimes captures real life in an unrealistic way
photography sometimes captures real life in an unrealistic way

This is a photo of a friend’s whale watching boat (Ultimate Whale Watch in Maui). Obviously, I shot this from a different boat while a whale swam up to and under the boat. I’m using a 70-200mm f2.8 lens, so I’ve got really narrow depth of field. As a consequence, the boat is razor sharp and everything else is pretty blurred.

If you saw the above image in a marketing brochure would you believe it?

Continue reading Fake or Not Fake?

My favorite photography ‘gear’ site

There are a lot of review sites out there. http://www.dpreview.com is a good one… however, my favorite is http://www.slrgear.com.

In truth, they really only do lenses, but it’s an incredible site. The most in depth reviews of lenses you can imagine, including an interactive 3D graph showing you the focus profiles at any given aperture/focal length. It’s hugely entertaining to play around with the 3D graph and see where the sweet spot is for the lens and where it starts to really break down… as far as sharpness and vignetting goes.

For example, I’ve got the Canon 50mm 1.4 lens. You can see looking at the SLRgear graph that at 1.4, the lens really isn’t that great. But once you get to 2.0 and especially 2.8, it’s a great lens. It’s a good thing to check if you want to get the most out of your lenses.

Here’s a screenshot:

Screenshot of slrgear.com's 3D Blur index for camera lenses (Tamron 70-200mm in this case)
Screenshot of slrgear.com's 3D Blur index for camera lenses (Tamron 70-200mm in this case)

Camera sensors

So an article discussing 2K vs. 4K images popped up on my radar today. It’s named ‘The Truth About 2K and 4K’ and is an interview with John Galt of panavision. It’s partially a marketing piece for Panavision, so take a grain of salt to some of the ‘truth’. On one hand he disparages the RED camera (panavision competitor) for not having a true 4K sensor (this is apprently true) and then later in the article he disparages IMAX (panavision competitor) for being 4K but that it doesn’t really matter because our eyes can normally only see 2K worth of detail.  Uh… so that means RED actually got it right?

The jist of it is that RED, like Canon/Nikon DSLRs, uses a sensor with a Bayer mosaic pattern. Each spot (viewsite) on the sensor only receives one color (R, G, or B). 4 (Green gets counted twice) of those are added up to produce one pixel in your camera. Because of this, technically the image RED produces (and Canon and Nikon and…) is interpolated. The alternative is to have each spot on the sensor record all three colors at once. There is a GREAT comparison of the Canon 5D with the Sigma SD14 (which does use a sensor that captures all three colors on the same spot) and explains the difference between sensors very well:

http://www.ddisoftware.com/sd14-5d/

Between both articles it brings up some interesting questions for RED users and for digital photographers.

Continue reading Camera sensors

Getting a telephoto lens into a sporting event

So in honor of the SuperBowl…

There are those of you who might own a relatively large telephoto and like sports. Usually, if you have a big lens attached to the camera, you’re not going to be allowed in, especially for big events. However, here’s a trick I’ve used to get my Canon 100-400mm lens into the BCS Title game, NFL Playoffs, and the NCAA tournament (among other things)…

Put a normal lens on the camera and put the telephoto lens in it’s case. Let someone else carry the camera in and you carry the lens in. If anyone asks about it… say it’s a binocular. The guys at the gate have no idea what a lens is unless it’s actually attached to the camera.

I’ve never been denied getting in.

Once in, it’s a little different story. You have to be somewhat stealthy about using it… especially if you have good seats. Where security along the sidelines can see you. I have been threatened with being kicked out if I didn’t stop using it. Dumbest move: had sideline seats at the 2006 BCS title game and got busted taking shots of warmups. They’ll give you a warning… but it made using it during the game a bit riskier because they’ve already seen you. So… don’t take shots of warmups or pregame crap. Nevertheless… got some good shots.

cheers,

Jim Tierney

http://www.digitalanarchy.com

http://anarchyjim.digitalanarchy.com

Reggie Bush running

Greenscreen Obama

Greenscreens are cropping up all over the place.

I was in DC for the inauguration and in my hotel you could get a picture with President Obama pretty much any time. The trick to this was that they had a green screen set up and they’d composite you into a picture with the Prez. (or Joe Biden… but c’mon… how many people are going to go for Joe?). It was pretty entertaining to see people lined up to do this. It’s pretty cool to see how prevalent greenscreens are becoming.

Here’s some shots of the setup….

the greenscreen

Continue reading Greenscreen Obama

Making 3D look real

So I just got a calendar from Maxon (makers of Cinema 4D). Some really nice examples of 3D art using their software. As I looked at the images, I was struck by how some were really difficult to tell from photographs and some were obviously 3D. The difference, I think, is depth of field.

Depth of field was really noticable. On too many 3D images the DOF is infinite. Meaning that buildings 300 yards away are in razor sharp focus and you can see every detail on the bricks that make up the building. While the artist may want you to appreciate all the hard work he put in adding fine details… I don’t want to see them. I want them blurred out.

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Rediscovered treasures: John Riley & Museo Nacional de Costa Rica

Last month, Digital Anarchy had some difficulty with our server, store and site… shudder… and had to change vendors unexpectedly. I’ve been combing through our media ever since, trying to find content that didn’t properly survive the transition.

Which caused me to stumble upon one of my favorite artists in our Primatte Chromakey gallery. John Riley, Ph.D., is a physicist and associate professor who initially contacted Digital Anarchy about some graphics work for which he was using Primatte, an Adobe Photoshop plugin for blue/greenscreen masking.

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Photoshop & fingerprints & forensics, oh my.

I was clicking around online yesterday, procrastin…er, doing some market research, when I came upon this interesting website, forensicphotoshop.blogspot.com.

I’ve read frequently on Adobe’s website that the medical slash science industry is a huge demographic of their Photoshop and Acrobat sales. (From the Adobe site, here’s an interesting white paper on the subject of Adobe and Foresnics.) At trade shows and socially, I have run into people who use Photoshop for cool stuff like the Genome project. But I’d never noticed a website devoted to a segment of the graphics industry that isn’t considered a creative market.

Until now. The author, Jim Hoerricks, rounds up a lot of Photoshop topics that are interesting in their own right, and moreso because they are referencing, to me, an emerging boutique part of the industry.

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Polaroid is no longer instant.

I read today on the Studio Photography blog that Polaroid will stop producing its instant film. The article rounds up some interesting vignettes about Polaroid aficionados and why they love the medium, but here’s the meat of the news:

“Sixty years after Polaroid introduced its first instant camera, the company’s iconic film is disappearing from stores. Although Polaroid says the film should be available into 2009, this is the final month of its last production year. Eclipsed by digital photography, Polaroid’s white-bordered prints — and the anticipation they created as their ghostly images gradually came into view — will soon be things of the past.”

This discontinuation feels quite sad. Although I don’t use Polaroid anymore, I remember years back when my friends and I would take Polaroids of each other at parties and tape the photos to a window or sliding glass door. By the end of the evening, we’d have a timeline of the party and all of the silly and sweet things that had occurred.

hmm, and perhaps my statement multiplied by 1 or 3 million is why the instant film is being discontinued. Memories don’t always translate into dollars. Also, while Polariod is nostalgic to me and perhaps the generation above me, it’s not to someone in their teens or 20’s.

Seems to me that if Polaroid did some marketing and made that medium feel relevant, then it could still sell okay. But I guess they’re a big company and it’s just not worthwhile to their bottom line.

regards -Debbie