Friday, August 15, 2014

Got a DSLR now! Even more photography fun!

Edit: Not sure what's up with the colours, but putting photos on Blogger, it seems like Blogger is 'auto adjusting' the images or something rather than displaying them natural. It's particularly noticeable on the two purple flowers and the photo at the bottom, which look completely different on other sites outside of blogger, and in my photo editing programs. I think I'll probably be sticking to hosting my photos on Flickr now as things look fine on there and it gathers my favourite photos together for easy viewing. Anyway, if anyone wants to view me on Flickr, just go to this address: www.flickr.com/photos/tsmpaul/



I want to do a photography course, and the prerequisite was ownership of a DSLR. I was tempted to jump right in with a big expensive camera, but I decided that if I complete the course, I will upgrade, but that I would start off on a budget. So I found a second hand Canon EOS 600D with 18-55mm IS lens and a bunch of free accessories thrown in, and it's been lots of fun today trying it out around the house and the garden.

The thing I like the most, is that so far all shots are hand held - usually for this sort of thing I'd be using a tripod, but it's so much faster at taking photos than my previous cameras, and also - with point and shoots, the more you zoom, the further back you have to step from things to be able to focus. For example, at long zoom with the G1X you can't be closer than 1.5 meters. But with the 18-55mm IS kit lens on the 600D DSLR, I can stay at 25cm at all times. Changing the zoom didn't affect the focusing - that meant I could zoom in the full amount on a flower (or a bee!) without having to step back from the subject.

Anyway, I'm really loving this camera!

As usual, I played around in Lightroom after taking the photos. Mostly it's just adding a touch of Clarity Slider, and if it was 800 or so ISO, I reduced the image's noise as well if it was noticeable.









This impressed me - a bee shot, full zoom, handheld! And it's still pretty sharp!


I think this shot of the purple flowers in the garden (which I love taking photos of) is my favourite from today.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Panorama - photo stitched landscape



So I'm doing proper panoramas now :) Before I was just taking the highest res photos my camera could do, and then cropping the top and bottom off, so they looked like a panorama shape, but now I'm taking multiple photos, using measured rotation angles, and stitching them together, then touching up the final image, to make images that are huge compared to the photos I've done previously. It means I can print out a panorama at A1 paper size with my current camera, and have ultra detail in the print, whereas before I was printing at A3 and there'd still be a hint of blurriness to the print. So the new method is a lot of fun, a little more time consuming, but I am enjoying the results.

This photo is almost 10,000 pixels wide at its original size (my monitor is only 1,920 pixels wide, so it's a LOT bigger than my screen!), but I shrunk the panorama and compressed it a little as a jpg to display a copy on this blog.

I love the detail level and sharpness in the full size image, and can't wait to see it printed out :) Of course, now I've got to spend more time and effort finding some good scenes to capture in this way. Today was a bit dreary and cloudy and gray, so this photo was more of a test run for getting the method worked out.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Some April / May Photos

Been a while since I put anything on this blog. Here's some of the photos from the last month or two.


playing around with HDR, and combining two scenes together. One set of 3 photos with me in the shot, one set of 3 photos with me not in the shot, combined on the computer to make this image.


playing around with making 'posters' of some shots.


I went for a walk across the road from Grant's Picnic Ground at the Sherbrooke Forest near Belgrave in Melbourne, Vic, Australia. Tracks through the rainforest.



Monday, April 7, 2014

reflections, hdr, and flickr

I keep forgetting about my blog, sorry :) Most of the time I'm just posting my favourite stuff onto flickr. You can see my photo channel at:

http://flickr.com/photos/tsmpaul

So today I thought I'd experiment with some reflections and hdr'ing, when I walked past my parent's kitchen bench and saw a vase and flowers reflected on its surface. Took lots of shots with exposure bracketing, and some merging in Dynamic HFR Photo Plus 5, and these are the two that I liked how they turned out.



Sunday, November 24, 2013

flower - without picking it


I set my tripod up in the dirt, down low, in front of the flower. Put the camera on timer, then held a sheet of white cardboard behind the flower for a flat backdrop. Rotated the image 45 degrees, and cropped it into a square! Made sure to line up the center of the flower with the top right grid point on a 3x3 photo grid.

It was getting dark outside. I wanted the least amount of noise, so I managed to get this on 100 ISO, though it was a bit motion-blurry, hence I resized to 512 x 512 on this shot, so the blurriness wasn't visible.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

self portrait without a studio

Had some fun this morning. I pulled my bedside table out from the bed, and parked a chair next to it. Sat so my head was level with the bedside lamp, and all the curtains, etc, closed so the room was really dark. With two hands, held a large dark cushion behind my head for a dark backdrop, with my left elbow back so it didn't block the lamp's light, and then had my camera close to me, on a 10 second timer, at 200 ISO to get the best quality without too much facial blurring from movement.

The screen on the G1X swivels, so I could watch myself as the timer counted down, ensuring I was posed, and at the last second, looked directly at the lense.

Here's the shot after a little bit of light balancing and cropping in Corel Photo-Paint X5!



Saturday, November 16, 2013

Photos Holiday at Torquay, Victorian Coast, Australia



Before I get to the rest of this year's photos, I apologize for a whole bunch of chatter about the new camera and editing software. Of course, you can just scroll down if you just want to see the pics :)

I've got to say - I am sooo happy I upgraded from the Canon SX-120 to the Canon G1X. The almost APS-C sized image sensor and the ability to be at higher ISO levels with incredibly less noise, have resulted in my most successful and fun photo holiday yet! I also used the Circular Polarizer in some of the shots, which really enhanced the look of the water.

I went with my family down to our annual holiday at Torquay, to the southwest of Melbourne, along the start of the Great Ocean Road (Victoria, Australia), and took my new camera along (I'm still calling it 'new' though I've now had it since July) and had a great time :)

I also got to go to a number of scenic spots around where we were staying, and try out the G1X. Earlier in my blog, you'll see last year's trip, and some of the photos I took with the Canon SX-130. They look good for holiday point-and-shoot snaps, but not as good as the G1X. Also, the old photos looked good mostly when shrunk down to Photo Size, due to noise, blurring, etc, in the small sensor. The new photos have so much more detail, and less noise, that they look great on my 32" TV screen on my PC, but viewing them on an Ipad Retina screen they look fantastic! Because of the lower noise level, I was able to make HDR photos much better than before (since noise in photos gets enhanced during the HDR process, and can make final images hard to clean up).

Some of these shots were actually taken at 1600 ISO, freehand! That's an unbelievable high ISO setting to be using, but the G1X's low noise means it is equivalent to 800 ISO or a bit better on many other cameras, but enabling greater photo-taking speed, which was good because it was so windy, and it was hard at first to capture handheld shots, but somehow the photos using that ISO still look great! The other shots were taken at 100 ISO on a tripod to get clear triple-exposure with bracketing. So, the shots of the cliffs for example at the start, are the 100 ISO high quality, while the shot of me at the beach at the bottom (handheld shot taken by my father with my camera) was at 1600 ISO, and still looks pretty good!

All of my photos have been played with using a program called Dynamic HDR Pro 5. Almost all of them were assembled by using Exposure Bracketing on the Camera, which lets me take 3 photos, each at a different light exposure level - one dark, one normal, one bright. The program on my PC then lets me 'merge' the three photos together (so it's important to use a tripod to avoid alignment problems and blurring) to create a new image that takes colour information from a much larger range of values than a single photo can capture.

A couple photos - usually ones with people in them (this post only has a sample of my favourite scenery shots) were also processed in the HDR software, even though they were only single-image photos, as it has a 'pseudo HDR' mode that lets you transform single-image photos to make them look more like the full 3-image HDR shots.

Anyway, have a look at some of the shots from my holiday, and I hope you can see the big difference in quality since last year's photos.

A note on colour calibration: I should point out too, that colours/contrast look different on different monitors and screens - they aren't manufactured and calibrated to the same standard out of the factory. It's been ages since I used my colour calibrator device on my screen, to change the brightness/contrast/saturation/hues to be close to the industry standard and actual look of the photo's colour data. When I first edited these photos, I couldn't get the colours right for my tastes - the greens looked very fluorescent, but then I decided to try colour calibrating my screen again, and after the calibration back to industry standard colour profile and appropriate brightness/contrast levels, I discovered that all the photos looked natural and great after all! I use a calibration device called the Spyder 4 for PC, and it really does do wonders, and let me see the photos as they actually are supposed to look, and so I can know that anyone else using a screen that has been calibrated will see about the same thing that I see on my screen too. I find that my Ipad 3 does a pretty good / accurate job naturally, though it is a little bit warmer/glowier than the calibrated monitor, and the greens still look just a little bit brighter on the Ipad, as opposed to the natural look on the calibrated screen.

Anyway, enough talk! Here's some shots from my holiday :)