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All posts for the month June, 2011

Not so much photography related, but hilarious nonetheless.
A couple of years ago I wrote a little piece about how badly translated texts can pretty much undermine your business. Back then it was “only” a flyer for a company organizing entertaining events. However this time…
I was shown something that can be called a blunder of epic proportions. This is the inside cover of the box in which a beautiful cashmere scarf is packed.

Translation, epic fail

Resisting muddy... :D

Now that wouldn’t really be such an epic fail (ok, it would, considering the translation, but still).
This, however, is an official relationship gift from an official representative from an official Chinese state (I’ll spare you the exact details). So VERY official business. And then you translate it with? Google Translate? Babelfish? That is SO not done!
Anyway… None of my business in the end, but something to ponder about while back here we spend a fortune on translators to get things right ;)

There WERE also flowers, of course…

I had a go with the focus stacking in CS5. Works actually surprisingly well, I must say.
The procedure:
1) shoot a number of pictures with different focus points (keep aperture and exposure the same in all images)

Focus stacking images

All 6 images D700, ISO200, 1/250 sec @ f/8, Tamron 90mm macro

2) open images in Photoshop
3) Go to File -> Automate -> Photomerge
4) The window below will appear without the red circles (they are points of attention) and without the filenames in the middle column, but WITH the box “Blend images together” checked by default. That last one is the one you want to uncheck, because you don’t want Photoshop to flatten your image, yet, in case you want to do some adjustments yourself. Click “Add open files” to add the files you opened into the middle column. If you have more files open than the focus stacking requires, you can select and remove them from the list with the remove button.

Photomerge window in PS CS5

Photomerge window in Photoshop CS5

5) Click OK and Photoshop goes to work to put all your separate files together in one layered file.
6) Select all the layers from the layer palette and go to Edit -> Auto Blend Layers. The window below will pop up. Stack images is the default selected, and all you need to do here is…

Focus stacking screenshot

Stack images

7) click OK and Photoshop will go to work for you once again to figure out all the sharp parts in all the layers. It’s quite effective, and at least with the images I tried pretty accurate. After the work you will see something like this in your palette layer, except for the Layer 1 and Layer 2. Those I added afterward for some minor adjustments from my part still (which is why you don’t want Photoshop to blend layers together all the way in the beginning!)

Focus stacking layer palette

The layer structure after Photoshop has processed the images

The end result in my case was this:

Focus stacking

The end result after all the hard labor is done

Went to friends yesterday to shoot some flowers, because they have such a nice garden… You never know what you end up shooting :)

Snail

D700, ISO800, 1/320 sec @ f/8, Tamron 90mm macro, on-camera flash

Centipede

D700, ISO800, 1/320 sec @ f/8, Tamron 90mm macro, on-camera flash

Not too long ago I bought a new toy for my camera. Had been drooling over it for a looooong time already, but never got it, because they’re hard to get from here (and with a hefty price-tag) and it would still be quite expensive to order from the States anyway. But then the other day I finally made up my mind and ordered it from B&H.

It took me awhile before I got the chance to actually test it, but some nights ago I went out to this place I’ve been looking at for some time, and set up the “gear”. And in these neck of the woods you really NEED this gear. Especially around this time, when the sun sets around midnight and rises again an hour later without it getting dark completely. And even then it was still so light and bright that I couldn’t get it exposed any longer than 30 secs. It worked fairly ok. There was a decent wind that kept the waves rolling and the boat bobbing on the waves, so that gives a nice little touch to the image.
This image was shot just after 8pm, and it was like mid-day. I really need to go out after midnight to catch some of that civil twilight. Maybe then I can up the clock to a minute or so…

Question now is (again): which one’s better? The color one or the black and white one?

Boat and pier

Both images shot with D700, ISO200, 30sec @ f/16, Nikkor 50mm, 8-stop VariND filter

Boat and pier

From my time in Montana in 2008 I remember that it was on the list (was it #3?) of most dangerous animals. Around here they seem to be a bit more laid-back about it and when I was driving around the area the other day and spotted one in the field on the other side of the road I never had the idea I was doing a lethal thing with pulling over and getting out of the car. I even had brought the camera this time, and had time enough to switch lenses. The moose occasionally looked up, but never seemed to be in any hurry to charge at me.
So I walked across the road and stood in the grass, with the moose probably about 300 meters away in the field, taking pictures.
Very weird in a way.

This is a young one still. Probably a year (or two) or so old. It doesn’t have a rack, yet, and compared to other moose (mooses? meese? :D ) I’ve seen it was pretty small, even if this is already a massive one.

Moose

D700, ISO200, 1/90 sec @ f/2.8, Nikkor 70-200mm

It’s hard to tell a dog that there are appropriate sizes for everyone.
Especially this particular cutie seemed to be determined to bring back anything you threw away. I tried with a log I just managed to lift and he went after it and tried to drag it back. To no avail, of course :D

Igor

D700, ISO200, 1/250 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 70-200mm

Oh, and challenge of the day:
Try panning this!

Igor

D700, ISO200, 1/250 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 70-200mm

A suitable door is all it takes.
Before:

The door, before metamorphosis

D700, ISO200, 1/125 sec @ f/4, Nikkor 50mm

Oh, and of course a tad bit of Photoshop:

Screenshot Photoshop

Screenshot Photoshop, what you can't see: the Hue/Saturation layer is set to blend mode Overlay.

Which then results in:

The door after post-processing

The door after post-processing

Sooo… in about a month and a half it’s about a year ago I wrote a re-revisited on the Digimarc topic. I was reminded about it, because I got a mail from them that my subscription was going to end. Read that re-revisited for the details on that. Before that I wrote already two other pieces about it.
In that re-revisited I wrote that I would probably do another blog post with the results on the reporting. Well… You haven’t heard from me before, because… there was nothing to report.
I was told that indexing would be done maybe once every 3-6 months on websites where there wasn’t much traffic, and I already expressed my concern in regards to the usability of this reporting service for the photographer hosting his own images on his own site as opposed to on websites with a massive amount of traffic like Getty Images, iStock, or the likes.
I must honestly admit that I haven’t checked the report frequently, but there was no need for it. I was set up with the free pro account to test it out on July 21st 2010, and now, June 3rd 2011, so ten months later, there has been no activity in my account’s report. No images found / indexed. Not a single one. Not even on my own website.
So… Conclusion…
No disrespect towards the great people there, with their excellent customer service and an otherwise good (but not spectacular) product: would I invest in Digimarc Digital Watermarking? No. I wouldn’t.
The one thing that makes this product interesting is exactly the reporting of how and where my images appear. But if the only way to have that reporting working is to get a massive amount of traffic (because those are the websites they primarily target), it doesn’t make any sense to get this as a photographer who doesn’t get x1000 visitors on my website daily (or even weekly). The digital watermarking isn’t as invisible as is portrayed, especially not if you don’t have the high-resolution image available. And personally if I can’t trace back the image with the digital watermark I prefer to have a visible watermark on the image so people don’t steal the images in the first place.
Also the limitation of 2,000 or 5,000 images which you could digitally watermark per year seems to be a bit odd. As a photographer, especially stock and travel photographers, you probably shoot well over that amount of images. You’d have to sign up for the most expensive package for an unlimited amount of images you could watermark.

But anyway… the decision is yours.
I think this topic is closed for all I care ;)