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All posts for the month July, 2010

Cows are probably one of the most photographed animals. And one of the most prominently visible animals on funny post cards and stuff. Why?
They’re so dang curious and they stuff their nose IN your lens if only you give them the opportunity.

I was out with the wide angle and that makes things even worse, because you get in so close and when you look through the view finder you don’t realize how close you are really… Until you get a wet slimy slobber on your glass.
But nonetheless… got myself a couple of those post cards :D

Cow making funny faces in the camera

D700, ISO200, 1/180 sec @ f/13, Sigma 10-20mm, on-camera flash

Cow making funny faces in the camera

D700, ISO200, 1/180 sec @ f/13, Sigma 10-20mm, on-camera flash

After the second post about cross-processing I thought I’d make second post about HDR to even things out. So here goes. Victim this time was the old church in Uusikaupunki, Finland.

No auto-bracketing or anything, just two straight-forward exposures. One for the church, one for the sky. Manually merged in Photoshop (CS3). I’ve never been too impressed with the auto-merge in Photoshop. Just upgraded my system to CS5 and I have yet to test those features there (I’ve heard they’ve improved a lot, so I’m curious to give that a go).

Old Church in Uusikaupunki

Left: D700, ISO800, 1/350 sec @ f/13, Nikkor 50mm. Right: D700, ISO800, 1/1500 sec @ f/13, Nikkor 50mm.

Old church in Uusikaupunki

The above two images merged in Photoshop CS3. Levels, curves, contrast and saturation adjusted.

See there’s no halo around the church (sure, go ahead, click image to enlarge)? That’s one of those typical things you see when HDR exposures are merged together automatically using software. It’s one of the reasons why I prefer to do things manually (still). Then you’re sure that things are looking more natural, and if you HAVE to cheat, you decide where you cheat and how you cheat. Of course I’m cheating. Do you really think I’m masking around branches and leaves in the trees? Of course not. I cheat. But I make sure you don’t see it, unless I want you to see it ;)

Pori Jazz

Stage background in Kirjurinluoto Arena, Pori, Finland

A lot of great artists this year on Pori Jazz. Massive Attack, Melody Gardot, Toto, Eternal Erection… And that’s only to name but a few.
We managed to get tickets to Tori Amos and John Fogerty and the Kirjurinluoto Arena in Pori was packed with about 15,000 people (if you don’t know who these people are you’re either still wearing diapers or you’ve been living under a rock for the past decades, Google them!).

15,000 people packed in the Kirjurinluoto Arena

15,000 people packed in the Kirjurinluoto Arena

There was a half day program, starting around 3pm. I wouldn’t really call them warm-ups, since both of the bands were excellent. But of course less known than the two main acts.

Ricky-Tick Big Band performing on stage in Kirjurinluoto Arena

Ricky-Tick Big Band performing on stage in Kirjurinluoto Arena

Ricky-Tick Big Band performing on stage in Kirjurinluoto Arena

Ricky-Tick Big Band performing on stage in Kirjurinluoto Arena

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 performing on stage in Kirjurinluoto Arena

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 performing on stage in Kirjurinluoto Arena

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 performing on stage in Kirjurinluoto Arena

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 performing on stage in Kirjurinluoto Arena

And then the two main acts. The beautiful Tori Amos, playing on keyboards and piano, with her back turned towards the latter. Quite impressive.

Tori Amos performing on stage in Kirjurinluoto Arena

Tori Amos performing on stage in Kirjurinluoto Arena

Tori Amos performing on stage in Kirjurinluoto Arena

Tori Amos performing on stage in Kirjurinluoto Arena

And the never aging John Fogerty.

John Fogerty performing on stage in Kirjurinluoto Arena

John Fogerty performing on stage in Kirjurinluoto Arena

John Fogerty performing on stage in Kirjurinluoto Arena

John Fogerty performing on stage in Kirjurinluoto Arena

More images of Pori Jazz 2010 at stock.arnoenzerink.com

This has been standing in my draft queue for quite some time now. It wasn’t quite done yet, and there were a couple of things I needed to check first, but here we go then (a couple of days mentioned below isn’t quite accurate anymore, that’s a month and a half or so ago by now ;) )

Wow… I’m getting the feeling I’m being watched ;)

A couple of days ago I revisited my Digimarc experience and I wrote how I was contacted by Ms Gina Giachetti, representing Digimarc, and asked if I wanted to blog about the new Digimarc.
I wasn’t too keen at first to write about it, since my first experience with Digimarc wasn’t all that spectacular, but Ms Giachetti promised to put me in touch with a product manager to “talk things over”. For some reason that went all south because of a miscommunication, as it now appears: holidays from both sides (I had no idea Digimarc was located in Oregon, otherwise I could’ve stopped by the office in March when I was in Oregon!), busy time schedules, etc. etc.

Anyway… I posted the revisited the 28th in the morning, and that same day in the evening there’s a mail from Ms Giachetti waiting in my inbox. Yep, things had gone all south, and that wasn’t how it was supposed to be. So we gave it a second try and last Wednesday she set me up in a telephone conversation with Digimarc’s product manager Ben Bounketh. Very agreeable guy, I must say (I’m also not getting paid to say this, dang! :D ). We had a really interesting conversation in which he told me a bit more about Digimarc in general and more specifically about the watermarking process and product. I’m not going to repeat that all here, so you’ll have to head on to the Digimarc website. And -I already mentioned in my first post about Digimarc that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with their customer service- he set me up with a free Pro account for a year for me to test the new product. Wow! :)

Mr Bounketh presented me with a little video on how the new Digimarc Watermarking would be really imperceptible. And no matter how nice he sounded, my first reaction was “Sure, that’s a generic picture, the OLD watermarking would even work on that. You’re not getting off that easily with me!” So… You all probably remember the jellyfish picture I put my test on? That was the OLD method. Ghastly… Autch!

Digimarc watermark examples: left without watermark, right with watermark

Digimarc watermark examples: left without watermark, right with watermark

So I thought, let’s see how Mr Bounketh’s statement will hold up in this image.

Digimarc watermark examples: left without watermark, right with watermark

Digimarc watermark examples: left without watermark, right with watermark

And well… Kudos, Mr Bounketh. Kudos to you and Digimarc. Compared to the old version this is a world of difference. Where you could see the obvious difference in the first example, even without the need to view full, in the second example I had to enlarge the areas to show the difference, and even then you can’t see it without looking at the full view.
When looking at a 4000+ pixels image at 100% you can see some slight noise in these even areas, but the quality of the images with watermark has improved so much that you can’t even really make a decent comparison anymore.
I’d still be a bit reluctant uploading images with an even background like this in full resolution to for example a stock agency, but for the “normal” images, with a more diverse and detailed background it will be no problem whatsoever, and for web images it will be perfect.

The watermark itself is pretty solid in terms of durability. I put the watermark in a 4000+ pixels image, downscaled in stages and in one go to 300pixels and only at that point was the watermark not found anymore. Upscaling and cropping the same story.
However… as with all editing with images you ARE supposed to do it in the hi-res version, and when I tested adding the watermark to a lower res version it came out with the same ghastly result. So added in a 4000 pixel image and then scaled down to 800 pixels is perfectly acceptable, but adding the watermark straight to the 800 pixels picture is a big no-no (still). When presenting this issue to Mr Bounketh, he did give a plausible explanation. In short and super-simplified something along the lines of the watermark having to be hidden in less available pixels).

Jellyfish comparison

Left the image in which the watermark was added at 800 pixels, right the image where it was added at 4000 pixels and then downscaled to 800 pixels (click to enlarge).

I can’t say anything on the reporting and scouting/tracking of images, yet. That will take some time, but I’m going to upload a batch of generic images with Digimarc watermark to my website and see if they are picked up and where they end up. Mr Bounketh did explain a little on how the searching and “tracking” works. He also noted that, because of the time and costs involved, at this point only larger sites with a lot of traffic will be scanned/indexed on a regular basis.  I’m not really sure if it will be super useful for (starting) artists who don’t have much traffic to their website, since those websites would be scanned/indexed only like once per 3-6 months. But since the price has gone down and the scouting/tracking is included in that price, there’s little to do about it anyway.
I’m happily testing away now, and I’ll probably do a re-re-revisited in a year or so, or if/when I get some data in on the scouting/tracking.