Sunday, January 28, 2007

Building a lightbox

Fisheye lensFound a nice article that explains how to build a lightbox with cardboard and tracing paper. Works really nice as the photo to the left illustrates.

Just a tree

tree BWThis is just a older tree picture I liked because of the fractal patterns. In color the tree is very pretty yellow, but I liked how dramatic and graphic it becomes in black and white.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Lightroom interview

Just found a really interesting interview with Mark Hamburg - one of the developers behind Adobe's lightroom (via the lightroom blog). It is intriguing and offers quite some insight into the ideas behind the interface. I am hoping that the final version adopts some of the really good organization ideas from Aperture and vice versa (the print pane in Lightroom is really nice!) so that the whole field gets advanced. A little old-fashioned competition is a good thing I think.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Lightroom vs Mac OS X system RAW

I'll offer this without any comment, as I think it is quite obvious.

Mac OS X system default conversion (i.e. Aperture 1.1 RAW engine and other programs):

Lightroom version: 100% crop

Here is the whole picture:
Snowshoeing Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Shooting a panorama using a fisheye lens

Some time ago, I built myself a panoramic head that allows for full 360 degrees panoramas in both space angle directions. The point of such a head (I'll post some pictures and instructions later) is to allow you to rotate the camera/lens combination around its entrance pupil and not its nodal point as you will often read, to avoid parallax. Now I used to shoot panoramas using my normal wide angle lens of 18 mm (28 mm equivalent in35 mm cameras) which made it necessary to shoot 32 portrait-oriented pictures for a full panorama, 4 at 60 degrees down every 90 degrees, 12 at 30 degrees down every 30 degrees, 12 at 30 degrees up, and 4 at 60 degrees up. Rather tedious indeed. So I got
myself a fisheye lens (the 10.5 mm Nikkor) which has a much wider field of view. I experimented with some patterns. The most popular on the web seems to be to shoot 4 pictures in landscape horizontally at 90 degree angles and then make a nadir and apex shot. These are very tough to stitch, so I settled on a much smarter strategy that gives way more overlap between shots and is far easier to accomplish since you do not have to change the camera from landscape to portrait orientation, but you can keep it on its side. The pattern is simply 4 pictures at 30 degrees down every 90 degrees and then 4 pictures 30 degrees up every 90 degrees, but shifted 45 degrees from the bottom row.

This can then be easily stitched in a program like hugin to the result below:

My old blog

Just to aggregate a little, here are some links to some older posts I made before on my previous blogsite.
How to correct lens distortion using free tools.

Some Aperture (Mac OS X system RAW converter) vs Lightroom comparisons.

I wrote more than once about that.

Compiling ufraw (a very high quality freeware RAW converter based on dcraw) on Mac OS X.

Safari and blogger

Well so far I only found one major annoyance, which is that composing in blogger doesn't work right in Safari. Things like adding an image will not work at all. Luckily the site works great in Firefox, my second choice in browsers. I was also annoyed to find out that if you let blogger scale the image, it forgets to include the icc profile in the scaled image's icc profile. Very bad!. iWeb at least maintained the profile if the image was tagged with one. Even with that, I think I'll stick with it for the time being. iWeb is simply impossible for photographers as it has a nasty bug where uploaded images suddenly have little white lines on the top or the bottom, forcing you to resize the image by 1 pixel increments (or decrements) until it gets it right. Of course, you can only seen this after you upload the site. Perhaps Apple will get this right in the rumored new version of iLife as they marked my submitted bug on this as duplicate, but I am not holding my breath.

Trying the blogger thing

After blogging for a while using Apple's iWeb (see my old blog here), I got so frustrated with it that I am looking for something better. This might be it. I write mostly about photography and especially digital photography. One of my favorite things to do used to be the old chemical photography in the darkroom. Needless to say, that had some problems in the sense that it takes a lot of preparation and effort and it takes a long time between the shot and seeing the actual photograph. Digital is, in those respects, much better. Immediate feedback, accurate colour, easy road onto the web, etc. There are many things I do miss about the old way, such as dynamic range, versatility and especially resolution. I am very happy though with my Nikon DSLR and for most purposes, the resolution is good enough. Anyway, for this blog, I'll revisit a few subjects I put on my older, mostly undiscovered by the world ;-), blog and thrust into new "uncharted" waters.