David's Blog

Tag: Photographs

Belém Tower (Alternatively: Embrace Your Mistakes)


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This picture is of Belem Tower, an impressive building found in Lisbon.

My intention was to do a new photo stitch on a very large scale, I had in mind a rather pretentious (and silly) idea of taking all the pictures from slightly different angles and showing a truly 3D-2D world. What it actually looks like is (as one could expect) a mess.

there are several reasons for this, and as it is always best to learn from ones (or someone else’s) mistakes I shall go through them for you.

1. The pictures are all taken with different lighting conditions.

2. I did not use a tripod

3. If I really wanted to take it from different angles I should of actually taken all angles possible to slowly stitch up. Show one side of a cube you get a square, show two sides that do not connect and you get two squares etc.

4. (Perhaps the most important) I did not think through what I wanted to achieve, I just blindly clicked away.

So with these 4 tips in mind a reader could (and quite probably should) ask: “Why not through away the picture? Why did you keep and PUBLISH it for all to laugh at?” This is for a very simple reason: I like it. Sure it doesn’t work; a tower is appearing out of the sea, all the images are different colours and nothing really matches up. With all this in mind I still think of it as quite a silly, fun picture and one that I can see not just what I wanted to achieve but how I can do so next time.

And so with his in mind I have created a new category called “Embrace Your Mistakes” and a new Flickr Set of the same name. I am going to carry on posting and sharing not just pictures I am proud of but pictures that completely failed in my aims.

So remember this: Anyone can take a good picture of Belém Tower, it takes someone special to create a really bad one.

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Photo Stitching

My girlfriend has taken up stitching with her (great) Grandmother’s old sewing machine. I have been doing some stitching myself, but not with needles and thread but photographs and an editing software.

Friends who do not own DSLRs and Photoshop moan to me that they have not been able to do any of my blogs so far, so this is a simple technique that can be done with ANY type of camera (or camera app) and any type of photo editing software (for a free alternative to photoshop look at Gimp, if you have a mac Pixelmator is well worth it’s £10).

Panorama’s are all in at the moment thanks to some brilliant apps on smart phones but I have a few problems:

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1. the image quality is not great

2. the image is too trimmed (which means you are stuck doing landscape shots)

3. They never look as good as you hope

By digitally stitching together pictures you can have full control over the image. When taking pictures there are several things to remember:

1. make sure your images can be overlapped, it is useless if there is a gap.

2. make sure there is a ‘point’ to an image being so large, if you want to show say a ladybird on a leaf, is stitching loads of images around the lady bird going to make the eyes focus on that little red and black specimen?

3. Have you got everything you need? Remember the image will have to be cropped, so shoot a bit of sky or ground if you need

4. Make sure you take the pics pretty darn quick so the image looks like it was all in one shot and make sure the camera exposure is consistent.

5. Have fun 🙂

Now when you put the photographs side by side in your application they’re going to look like what they are, a jumble of shots side by side. So now you have to take those pictures and overlap them where they correspond and start rubbing out the edges and duplicates. This is the most time consuming part, the heading photo was quick as it was five different tripod shots (18mm lens, 600d) while the shot at the end of this post took a little longer as I needed to crop, resize and duplicate some of the images to get all the tree trunk and surrounding canopy (that shot was taken a Nikon D300 with 17-200mm lens.) But why be so linear? Big spaces are what the panoramic image was made for but with stitching you can go in any direction. This bug below was first shown on my Lens Duplication Reversion Blog but as as equally at home here. Why? Because it is actually many many many images all crammed into one, as the image next to it shows:

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Also why do you even have to hide it’s a collection? Why not show it for what it is? A higgledy piggledy messy collage? Isn’t that right Jellings? (that’s James Jellings on the top right…he’s a friend from the uni days). I am going to do more posts on this soon as I think there’s a lot more to say on the subject but for now comment with anything you have to say and flick through my flickr set.

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Lens Whacking (or The Original Lens Whacker)

First of all I was thrilled with the response to my Double Reversing Lens Blog and I shall do a follow up shortly. Before that however, I would like to welcome you to my new blog post on the art of Lens Whacking.

Lens Whacking is an even simpler technique than the one shown in my last blog, all you have to do is take the lens off the camera, letting more light into the sensor, and hold it at different lengths to the camera, like so:

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By lens whacking you can create a dreamy washed out shot that still has a sharp focus point. (If you like, it is a DIY lens baby shot without the lens baby). If you hold the lens close to the camera the shot is more in-focus and  great for portraits. If you hold the lens further away it gives a more abstract look.

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For me Lens Whacking doesn’t really come alive until you do some filming, here you can move the lens both closer to and further from the camera to give a fluid dreamy look, this is demonstrated  with the header video wich is an elongated sequence from my degree film The World Collector taken all the way back in 2011.

Many things have multiple discoveries, while tracking in the Jungle  Alfred Russel Wallace came up with Evolution by Natural Selection at the same time Darwin was just completing his Origins of Species in secret.* Lens Whacking is another. It all started along time ago in the year 2010 in the magical land of Norwich, or perhaps more accurately, Norwich University of the Arts where our hero, a skinny, scruffy haired film student (yours truly) was playing around with a friends 60d. He was switching lenses with the camera was still on when he, accidentally, discovered Lens Whacking (or as he called it Light Bleeding, after 35mm development).

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This is where the story should end, his film was shown to polite appraisal and he graduated with a BA in 2011 as a fully fledged filmmaker. Then in 2012 something strange was happening, Twitter was abuzz with this revelatory way of filming it was called Lens Whacking. All my friends where doing it, all their friends where doing it and by all accounts it spread from Philip Bloom, DSLR Guru. I was aghast. IT WAS LIGHT BLEEDING, and not even a footnote talking about me. So go, have fun, and play around with the process, it’s both very easy to do and a lot of fun. But please remember the moral of this post:

ALWAYS BLOG STRAIGHT AWAY ABOUT YOUR FINDS AND NOT THREE YEARS LATER. 

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*Not quite as simple as this you understand. Darwin’s theory implied in Origin (and given full attention in his behemoth of a read The Descent of Man) that humans were a part of his tree of life, Wallace saw humans (or rather human’s mind) as separate thus putting a nail in his intellectual coffin that T H Huxley gladly hammered in… this is all very interesting and I could not recommend looking Darwin’s life, his scientific ideas and his companions enough.

Double Lens Reversing (or DIY Macro)

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For the last few weeks I have been playing around with Double Lens Reversing shots, a simple process where you add a reversed lens over an attached one to create a DIY Macro photograph. The process is a revelation to me and I have been embarrassing my girlfriend by every moment possible crouching down near anything, holding a two lenses together and rocking backwards and forwards slowly to try and find the focus (this is actually how you focus, you also have to get very very close to the subject), looking something like this:

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You can do an array of different shots from the picturesque, like the daffodil  heading this blog to the grotesque little critter that flew onto my book below.

Fly

For these shots I used a sigma 70-300mm Zoom lens attached and the standard canon kit lens the 18-55 reversed on top. Although for different results any can be used, you could even hold a non-standard lens in front, some of my best shots where taken with my trusty helios 44 2.0.

There are some issues. It will always be a small vignetted image and it would be hard to get a full creature (unless tiny) in one frame. These problems can be got around though with the help of post-production. Adobe, Gimp, Pixelmator heck even MS Paint, whatever tool you use can crop the image getting rid of the black vignette around. By collaging/digitally stitching pictures together you can create whole beings in all their macro magnificence. The shot below was done on Photoshop and is six different images, it is by no means a perfect image but you can see the potential within.

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A more pressing issue is the lack of light, I put the ISO to the max (for me 6,400) and the shutter speed right down to its fastest, this is to minimise any shake wich WILL occur. This I’m afraid can not be sorted out in post and the only help I can give is to advise you to take the shoots outside in full daylight or bring as much light onto the subject as possible, that fly shot was taken with a reading lamp, room light and flash, it was also shot on RAW to give me slight control in post.

One final issue that Im sure you’re already shouting at the screen about is the shakiness of holding two lenses together. Well my dears I have come up with a solution,  gasp at the wondrous contraption below:

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All you need is one empty Willaim Lawson’s vintage whisky case (and some friends to help you drink it would be beneficial, I suppose any whisky case of your choosing will do as they do not sponsor me…yet) your two lenses and a bit of foam to cushion the lenses in. This can be rested on your knee making a perfectly still(ish) shot. This will also work for moving images- more of wich will apear in a blog hopefully of the very near future.

If you have any queries,  suggestions or shots you would like to share please do get in touch. If you liked this post also say as it will motivate me to do more!  Here is my Flickr Set for all my try-outs, take a look and follow me, it would be brilliant to see others take these ideas and improve on them!