Dabbling in HDR

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Here’s my first more or less successful HDR attempt. I tried before, but never came up with a result I liked.
I took these photos a while back while on a walk; I wasn’t really out with the goal to take great pictures, I just like to have my camera with me when I go for a walk. I certainly wasn’t planning on doing HDR at the time, but I got into the habit of auto-bracketing when I’m outside a long time ago because it’s so hard to judge the exposure on the camera screen outside. So I had three exposures of this, and while browsing old images I thought this one looked like it could be interesting for a try.

I used LuminanceHDR for tone mapping, and since I don’t know squat about it I just went ahead and used the default values for everything. For this composition, I aligned the images manually in GIMP, and unfortunately, I couldn’t get it quite right; in the end I just gave up when I got it as close as I thought I could get it. With this picture I found it didn’t matter that much, anyway. On an architecture picture it probably would have been a problem, but in this case it just adds to the general surrealism, I think. Afterwards, with a new test with a different set of images, I tried the auto-align option with Hugin in LuminanceHDR, and it worked great — I just didn’t like the picture that much, so I prefer to post this one. I might try again with this picture next time I can muster the patience 🙂

Here are the original images:

DIY strip light — finished

I finished my strip light (see part one of the documentation.)

The material I used for the diffusor came from an old shower curtain, which was all white and made of polyester, and in look and feel it’s very similar to the material used in commercial light modifiers. I put some Velcro strips on and then painted the whole thing.

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The only thing I will probably do at some point is to replace the cardboard bottom with a piece of wood. Other than that, it works great and was well worth the effort!

DIY Strip light, a work in progress

I wanted to have a strip light for my studio for a long time; unfortunately, I was always a little too low on cash to get one, and I still am. But I recently came across a few DIY tutorials, and I figured it wouldn’t be to hard to make one. I was right; it’s a lot of work (which is why it’s at this point still a work in progress), but not very difficult.

A couple of months ago I bought two cheapo studio strobes, these guys: http://www.amazon.de/gp/product/B005SNUJCI/. I wanted to design my strip light so it would fit over one of these. Unfortunately that means no modelling light, but that’s something I accepted back when I bought them. The price was right, and I also wanted something that’s portable because one of the things I offer as a photographer is to take portraits in people’s homes instead of my studio. So they fit the bill. For this project I thought they would be better because it would be easier to attach my new modifier to one of these than my big studio lights. Also, the box that I used wasn’t very big; it was long, but thin — it was a box from a paper background.

My main inspiration came from this tutorial: http://www.diyphotography.net/the-diy-strip-light.

The box used in the tutorial above looks like it was a little wider than mine; when it was whole, mine was only about 9 cm each side, so I cut it open along the seam so that I would have five sides plus the front instead Continue reading DIY Strip light, a work in progress

Distractions

It’s really unbelievable how you can jump from one distraction to the next. The day before yesterday, we created a G+ page for my musician friend. I didn’t get around to do anything with it yet; on Sunday it was already late in the day, yesterday afternoon I had to work (you know, actual work, the kind that pays the rent.) Today I finally want to get this done. What’s the first thing, obviously that has to go on there? A profile picture, obviously. No problem, I have plenty of pictures of my friend to choose from.

But I just bought Corel Aftershot Pro as an upgrade to my Bibble 5 installation, and I haven’t installed that on my desktop yet. My desktop, though, is the computer that has all my pictures on it, so I better put it on there.
Oh, of course, I have to re-create the catalogs because you can’t just import them from Bibble. At least I don’t think so. And browsing the file system instead of using a catalog is so slow. That’s only, oh, 245 folders, and never mind that I have to import them individually, because I can’t turn on the “Include sub-folders” option, because I only want to import the RAW files, which are in the root folder for each date, and most folders have sub-folders with edits and exports and I don’t want to import those.
While I’m at it, I really should see how many of my favorite Bibble plugins have so far been ported to Aftershot Pro. Wow, this “Wavelet Denoise” plugin is great, the results are as good as NoiseNinja, which I bought in 2009 but which doesn’t work with ASP. Hm, I wonder if it’s possible to re-order those plugins; by default they are in the order they have been installed, newest first. I have to Google that.

Do you hear that noise my computer makes? It sounds like one of the hard disks. I hope it’s not the one I’ve mounted under /home; that one has all my pictures on it. I better update my backup on my external hard disk. And while the directory syncing in Krusader is running, I can import some more folders into Aftershot Pro. Also, I need to update my index file; I have an ods file with a list of all my photo folders including date, description and number of pictures.

Hmm, there really isn’t that much space left on my external hard disk; now that I’m done with the picture backup, I only have about a hundred GB left. I better look and see if I really need all that stuff.
Ok, that freed about a hundred GB, now I can rest easy knowing that I can take a lot more pictures before I have to buy a new external HD.

I should find out which one of the hard disks makes that noise. Let’s turn off the computer, unplug the home disk, and then restart. Yes, that’s what I feared. Oh, there’s only 3 GB left on the root partition; not good. After rebooting with the home disk plugged in again, I’ll better make some room there; delete old kernels and run apt-get clean packages, which I haven’t done in a while.

While I’m at it, I should see how much room I can make on the home disk, too. I recently installed an extra hard disk from an old Windows computer, but it still needs to be formatted from NTFS to EXT4. I already copied all the Windows stuff to another hard disk, so I can just format it. Then I can put the Videos folder from my home disk on there; that should give me a lot of extra space.

Geez, it’s really unbelievable how you can jump from one distraction to the next. I should write a post about that; I got time while the Video folder is being copied…

Profile picture on my friend’s G+ page? Nope…

Getting some excersise again

I am so proud of myself. I just went running, for the first time in a long time.

I haven’t done any serious exercise in about a year and a half. In 2011 I worked hard to lose weight, and I lost about 15 kilos. Then our move from Celle got in the way, and my stepper broke. Now I got about ten of those back, and I have been thinking for quite a while now that I have to get back in shape. The other day I was on the phone and I had to get downstairs (one floor down) to check something, all the while talking. When I came back up I was panting as if I’d been running a marathon. So, I really have to get moving again.

This morning I woke up at 20 after 5. I started to think about exercising again, and then I was thinking, I should start shopping for a new stepper, and then I was thinking about the money, and then I thought, well, I don’t absolutely have to spend money on equipment, I just could go running. Maybe I’ll start that. And, then, quite unexpectedly, I found myself getting up at 5:30 thinking, what’s wrong with now? I realized I have been making excuses for not exercising for a really long time.

This is what it looks like where I started to run... Good thing it was still dark.
This is what it looks like where I started to run… Good thing it was still dark.
I planed a route, which, according to Google Maps, is 1.4 k. Since this village is built on a hill, about half of that went uphill, in parts fairly steep. I put some music on my MP3 player — one song for running and one for walking. The running song is an instrumental (this one) which is about five minutes long and great for running; I used that before, when I was still living in Frankfurt. I thought, ok, for now I’ll be happy if I can make it through the song once before I start walking. But I actually managed to run the whole route, without slowing to a walk even once, which was was about two repeats of the five-minute-song and more than halfway into the third, about 13 minutes. Which I think is not bad for the first time, after a year and half with no cardio exercise whatsoever. So, yes, I’m really proud of myself.

Now I just need to hope I can keep it up. I changed my alarm from 6 a.m. to 5 a.m., so tomorrow is gonna be the real test.

The Dark Side of Any Feminism

A few days ago, somebody in my circles on Google+ posted a link to this article by a female blogger I had not heard of before. She tells the story of how she and her friend attended an Open Source event and were harassed because of the way they dressed and how they were hurting the Geek Feminist movement. It’s well worth a read, go ahead.

While this attitude is probably stronger in geek culture and IT than it is anywhere else, the story she tells is also symptomatic for a larger problem in every kind of feminism. The only way any feminist movement can be a success is if you win the majority of women to the cause. But what these people are doing is counterproductive. If you tell women they can’t enjoy being female, let alone show they enjoy being female, you will not win the majority. On the contrary. You will put most women off. If you, the feminists, tell me that in order to get true equality we have to try and be more like men, then I say that’s the kind of equality you can keep, thank you very much.

MyPaint: The first real success

After messing around with MyPaint for a bit I finally had the first real success, something that I’m actually proud to show off 🙂

Chowchow

That was based on a photograph of my grandparents’ old dog, that my parents later took over, when my grandparents became to old to handle him. It’s not perfectly true to the original, but I’m not sure it should be.

I’m actually quite proud of the result, because, as I already pointed out, I haven’t done any serious artwork in about 15 years. Even back then I hardly ever did anything in color; mostly I did pencil drawings.

This one is… well, unfortunately only about 99 percent MyPaint. I did some touching up in Gimp, because it was a little bit too light. But hey. Nothing’s perfect. And I don’t really see this as cheating, since the work was already done on the computer anyway 😉

Getting into night time photography

 

Salzhemmendorf Church at nightI woke up around 3:30 this morning and found myself wide awake with not a chance of going back to sleep anytime soon. So, since the sky was clear, I decided to finally do what I’ve been threatening to do for years, which is getting into night time photography.

Over the past few years I have seen so many great pictures shot at night with available light, and every time I saw a new one I thought, this is something I really like to try, but somehow I never got around to it. This morning I finally took the opportunity. When I realized that the night was clear I got dressed, grabbed my camera and tripod and headed down to the Salzhemmendorf church, which seemed like a good location to try this out. First of all, it’s not very far, and second of all, I like the castle-y look of it. It really fits this type of picture.

The result is far from what I’m hoping to get at some point, but I learned a few lessons. The most important one: Damn, we’re moving fast… No, seriously. The star movement is amazing. Brings to mind Monty Python:

Just remember that you’re standing on a planet that’s evolving
And revolving at 900 miles an hour
That’s orbiting at 19 miles a second, so it’s reckoned
A sun that is the source of all our power

— Monty Python, “The Galaxy Song” from the movie “The Meaning of Life”

According to Wikipedia, it’s quite close.

So, what I really learned from this is that Continue reading Getting into night time photography