Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Fading Paris Boats

and how much to unfade...

Nikon D800  F/13  1/640s  ISO-800  PrPR  EV 0  120mm
Paris boats (the boat being the symbol of the city of Paris) are everywhere.

It's like when you are thinking of buying a certain brand of new car; you start seeing them everywhere you look.

And as soon as I said to the person I was with what I've just told you I was able to find two more example, one on a parking meter and the other on a street bench, so there you go.

Anyway, I collect these things, and here's a splendid, if weathered example.

One of the decisions you have to make when you get a weathered old version is how much to 'bump it up'. In other words, these days, by saturating the colours and such like we can make it look almost as good as new, but not as good as reality - that's the danger.

Here I decided to go gently and try not to overdo it.

All I did to the pic on the left was a touch of colour strengthener in Nikon's ViewNX2 under what they call 'Color Booster' with the option set to 'People' (as opposed to 'Nature'), which keeps the effect managable and not too exaggerated.

Then I sharpened to the max and after the serious reduction down to 400px the result is what you see above. Not much difference really.

Then I cropped but don't think I did much else to it.

The final version below is a major zoom to show, once again, just how useful all those 'extra' pixels can be. Here I too the shot from across the road, thereby keeping the image fairly 'flat' without any troubling zooming away parallels yet still managed a 'close-up', as it were. Thanks again Nikon D800. All hand held as usual.

It was still on program mode and JPG only for some reason, so I didn't have access to a couple of the useful controls in ViewNX2 such as White Balance and Picture Control, which I suppose are only available when you've taken the shot in RAW. Another good reason for taking your shots in RAW, I guess...

It's funny, but the more I look at the shot below, the more I think I should have saturated the colour more. But I'm being seriously influenced by the way I usually process my iPhone pics where I do just that. The shot you're looking at is brighter and richer than in reality already, and it's easy to forget that.

My photo philosophy isn't to achieve images which are as close to reality as possible; it's to do the opposite and move them over to something a bit more impressionistic. Here, however, especially as it will be part of my series on Paris boats, I want it to be pretty lifelike so I'll leave it as it is. In all its glory. And I do find it quite glorious, by the way - the Paris boat that is - but that's just me!





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* Sab Will runs Photo and Curios Tours in Paris, and also manages a variety of Paris and photography-themed sites and blogs. He writes an illustrated Paris Chronicle every day, runs a Meetup group for Paris lovers, interviews Paris personalities and reviews Paris books (on this blog), and even contributes to the city's street art (shh), so feel free to browse some of the links below and in the right-hand column to find out more about what he gets up to out there...

                        
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© 2012 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Capturing Light...

in a mini mirror ball

Nikon D800  F/5.6  1/160s  ISO-200  PrAP  EV 0  120mm
Those pictures of raindrops and dewdrops always make me envious so I thought I'd grab a couple of shots as I was walking the dog to see what an initial attempt could produce.

A lot was left to be desired in the end, but some great learning took place and I reckon my next attempts could be much better based on this first experiment.

I've also taken the opportunity to show you what Nikon's sharpening tool in their supplied software does on the basic image.

I was about to say on the raw image, but in fact you might think it was a RAW image, which it isn't! I had put the camera onto the 'fine' JPG setting for some book shots where I really didn't need billions of MBs and forgot about it. So we're looking at a jpg from the camera resampled as another jpg for the smaller shot above, which has then been re-resampled by Blogger to bring it down from 500px to 400px - phew - what's left after all that?! (it's also not the exact same image as those below - that I destroyed during one of my manips - hehe)

Anyway, I cropped the image in ViewNX2 to get the composition you can see below.


The shot above has no sharpening applied to it. You can see that it's not sharp, due to my handholding the camera at a too slow 1/160s whilst squatting down and using the lens at it's longest focal length of 120mm. Not a recipe for sharpness in anyone's book! Oh, plus a slight breeze...

As I mentioned above, if I'd been doing it seriously I'd have used a tripod, a faster shutter speed, probably a higher ISO and looked for some drops which were better shielded from the wind.

You have to watch out for the reflections in the drops too of course. Here we're looking at a light grey cloudy sky I'm afraid. You have to get down low because if you're above the drops the green of the leaf shows through and the magical drop effect is completely lost.


In the second shot I used half of the power of the sharpness setting and you can see that it's got a bit sharper but not a lot.

I was then going to use the full power on the same image but the software decided to overwrite the original image with the new sharpened one. So the image below is the second image (above) sharpened at full power and here you can definitely see the difference.


The glassy bit of the drop is great, but where the leaf is showing through (magnified) is starting to look a bit strained (grained) as it were.

Still, from a JPG, albeit a huge one, and all the faults with the initial image, the result is pretty ok. The potential is certainly there, and I'll attempt a proper shot as soon as I can. A little red ladybird would be magical climbing up the leaf, wouldn't it?!



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* Sab Will runs Photo and Curios Tours in Paris, and also manages a variety of Paris and photography-themed sites and blogs. He writes an illustrated Paris Chronicle every day, runs a Meetup group for Paris lovers, interviews Paris personalities and reviews Paris books (on this blog), and even contributes to the city's street art (shh), so feel free to browse some of the links below and in the right-hand column to find out more about what he gets up to out there...

                        
_________________________________________________________________________________
© 2012 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Eye-Popping Focus

here I come...

These photos are a great example of one of the effects of selective focus: that of seeming to bring things nearer. The effect is so strong in the last image you could almost class it as an optical illusion.

Nikon D800  F/5.6  1/20s  ISO-1600  PrAP  EV 0  120mm
In this first shot the pillar and the priest (let's call him a priest) with his wall support backing are about the same width as we look at them.

Our brain therefore wants to tell us that they are an equal distance from us. The sharpness of the pillar, however, gives us the extra information we need, along with the fact that the priest seems to be attached to a wall which disappears behind the pillar, to tell us that he is probably further from us than the pillar, which is indeed the case. Oh, and the difference in height - the pillar seems to be towering over us - another clue...

Nikon D800  F/5.6  1/25s  ISO-1600  PrAP  EV 0  120mm
In the second image, not only is the pillar noticably bigger than the priest, but his is much fuzzier, making the pillar seem much closer to us, which is, again, the case.

Finally, though, and this is the tricky one, comes image three, below.

Nikon D800  F/5.6  1/30s  ISO-1600  PrAP  EV 0  120mm
Not only are the left-hand column and the priest+support about the same size, but the priest is now much sharper than the pillar. And tell me if it doesn't look like he's closer to you than the pillar, at least a bit as you flit your eyes back and forth between the two.

The effect is especially strong when looking at the priest where the pillar seems to turn into some sort of distant wallpaper. The effect doesn't work perfectly because the motifs on the pillar are too big to be distant wallpaper and the light modelling belies the fact that it's a pillar and not a flat wall behind the priest. But it's disquieting nonetheless.

The moral of the story? There isn't one really, just that you need to be careful with what you place in focus and it can be used to powerfully 'pull forward' items you want to draw people's attention to, or vice versa to blur out unwanted detail, and should be too!

P.S. For your info, all of these images are straight conversions from the RAW to JPGs with no fiddling whatsoever. Thank you.


And why not...
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* Sab Will runs Photo and Curios Tours in Paris, and also manages a variety of Paris and photography-themed sites and blogs. He writes an illustrated Paris Chronicle every day, runs a Meetup group for Paris lovers, interviews Paris personalities and reviews Paris books (on this blog), and even contributes to the city's street art (shh), so feel free to browse some of the links below and in the right-hand column to find out more about what he gets up to out there...

                        
_________________________________________________________________________________
© 2012 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Off With Her Head...

Nikon D800  F/5.6  1/2.5s  ISO-3200  PrAP  EV 0  24mm
darkest moments...

This is Marie-Antoinette in the Conciergerie living out her last moments before having her head deftly cloven from her body. Aspirin, anyone?

Anyway, it was fairly gloomy. There may have been some internal lighting from behind me, but most of it was coming in from that window top left.

It's well over-exposed - i.e. blown out - so in reality you can imagine the murkiness of the scene.

My Nikon D800 was having none of it, however! Slam the ISO up to 3200, fairly wide aperture at f/5.6 and a very dodgy 1/2.5 shutter speed (doncha just love those mixed fractions and decimals?) and Bob's your uncle. A surprisingly ok shot. But then again, that's why I bought the damn thing in the first place, wasn't it?

I've yet to try the D800 out on murky night scenes but this was a good first step.

Most of the blur must have been camera shake at that hand-held shutter speed (I'm alergic to tripods) but still I'm not utterly disappointed. Check out the results given the above on some of the tiny elements of the shot to see how well it did...

I've brightened and sharpened a bit in Paint Shop Pro because to be honest it needed it but you can see the extent to which the detail is there, in the shading on Christ's body and the grain of the dilapidated wallpaper.

In the shot of the books the grain of the shot (i.e. the pixels) are starting to take over from the detail of the scene and I didn't dare apply just one more sharpen as the digital noise just exploded. That's not surprising though because at this tiny sample we're getting near to seeing every pixel and it's only the stunning resolution that allows us to get this up close and personal in the first place.

I'm really starting to appreciate the massive resolution because I often want to publish both an overall shot and a detail on my Paris If You Please blog. This allows me to use the same shot for both if I haven't got an appropriate close up. Check out this page for a perfect example of what I'm talking about, with a weather vane way up high making it impossible to get any sort of close-up, especially with my maximum 120mm lens.

One of my biggest regrets with this lens was that it wasn't a bit longer (24-120mm). Now I've half solved the problem with this mega resolution taking the place of a longer zoom and making it worth the huge file sizes of up to 45 MB in some cases.

Don't forget, by the way, that these shots have all been converted over to JPGs at a fairly high but not top quality of compression, so that will add even more distortion in what you're looking at as opposed to the original. You've got to admit the Jesus and the books are impressive, though...

In case you're interested, yes, my existing computer can deal with that resolution, but it does take a bit longer. That's life in the fast lane, I guess.



And why not...
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* Sab Will runs Photo and Curios Tours in Paris, and also manages a variety of Paris and photography-themed sites and blogs. He writes an illustrated Paris Chronicle every day, runs a Meetup group for Paris lovers, interviews Paris personalities and reviews Paris books (on this blog), and even contributes to the city's street art (shh), so feel free to browse some of the links below and in the right-hand column to find out more about what he gets up to out there...

                        
_________________________________________________________________________________
© 2012 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.