Photo Blog 81

29 07 2009

Just a real quick update because it has been a while. The other morning we happened to wake up just after sunrise so I rushed into the living room and took a few shots off the balcony. I made it into an HDR which seemed a more time consuming process than normal because the camera’s bracketing had not captured everything even at [0,+2,+4] and so there had to be a lot of touch ups to get rid of noise in the area around the railway campus…

HDR Sunrise from the balcony (f16 1/1000 1/250 1/60 24mm)

HDR Sunrise from the balcony (f16 1/1000 1/250 1/60 24mm)

What a lot of pretty lens flare :-)

Advertisements




Photo How-To 1 – Sequence Shots

22 07 2009

Hi all,
When making the shot of Tim yesterday I was experimenting a lot with how it could be done and what steps were required in Photoshop to make it happen. After thinking about it a bit I thought that it might be a cool exercise to write up what I did and in the process learn how to write how-tos of the sort seen on digital-photography-school.com. Although I don’t have delusions of being at that level :-)

DISCLAIMER: I’m only a beginner, both at photography and Photoshop and so everything I write here should be taken with a grain of salt.

As I said in the post yesterday, the aim is to create sequence shots like those used in ski and snowboard magazines, an example of which can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomasroed/2274197627/sizes/o/

Step 1 – Take the shots


On the last day in Savai’i, Samoa we stopped at a fresh water waterfall with a cliff jump for a cool off. I tried to take several series of shots of Tim and Dad jumping off with the intent that they would become a sequence.

When shooting you should frame the shot so that the action will occur well inside the frame as you don’t want to move the camera during the action and therefore change the view point as parallax and the like will change the arrangement and relative position of things. If needed you can always crop away area later on but it is kind of annoying if you miss the edge of the action because it goes out of frame.

Ideally you should use a tripod while taking the shots so they are perfectly aligned but I just handheld and used Photoshop to align the images which works well enough that it doesn’t matter too much.

You’ll also want to use as fast a shutter speed as is reasonable to capture the action and to manually focus on the plane the action is taking place to avoid differently focused images. As such the aperture should be small enough so the hyperfocal distance includes all the action. Unfortunately, even though the action was happening on one plane so I could use a wide aperture of f4.0 the lighting was too low to support a shutter speed faster than 1/50s at ISO 400 so there is a lot of blurring.

I also found that because it took longer than 1/10 second (5 shots at 1/50s) for the entire jump it wasn’t possible to use continuous mode as the buffer would fill before the splash and the camera would slow considerably. Of course this would be even worse with faster shutter speeds. As a result I started to intermittently press the shutter so the time between shots was longer. This means more movement in the camera and less regular timings but means a complete sample of the action is taken.

Step 1 - Take the shots

Step 1 - Take the shots

Step 2 – Align Layers


The next step is to get them into Photoshop. Make sure that the same white balance is used in the conversion process but it doesn’t matter so much about the exposure as this will be corrected later. Open each image then paste them into separate layers of the same document. Select all layers then, if the shots were taken handheld, use the Auto-Align feature to align them properly.

Edit->Auto Align Layers

Step 2 - Aligned Layers

Step 2 - Aligned Layers

Step 3 – Exposure Compensation


Because things change from moment to moment there will be slight variations in the exposure of each image. To make the blending more accurate it’s a good idea to compensate for these differences. To do this I first chose the ‘master layer’ where most of the image will come from. In this case it was pretty easy because the splash held a lot more detail than the other layers that would be difficult to mask later. For every other layer I then created a layer mask that was half hide and half reveal.

  1. Layer->Layer Mask->Hide All
  2. Rectangular Marquee
  3. Select half the layer mask
  4. Fill with white
Step 3 - Exposure Compensation

Step 3 - Exposure Compensation

This makes it easy to see the difference between each layer’s exposure and each can be tweaked to match the ‘master’ layer.

Image->Adjustments->Exposure

This done we can remove the masks and are ready to move on to compositing the bits together.

Step 4 – Organize Composition


Next we need to organize which order to layer things. This is important if there is overlap in any of the frames as there was in my case where the splash and the shot just before entering the water were overlapped. To make things more complicated I had a problem that the splash should be over the previous frame but the splash was needed as the master image because it had more detail than the others and masking would be hard.

To get around this I did a selective select on the splash, copied this to a new layer, and then put this over the top of the other shot Because the splash was white this was reasonably easy using a ‘Color Range’ selection:

Select->Color Range

Then choose a fuzziness that selects enough of the splash but not the background, copy and paste into a new layer.

Step 4 - Arrange Composition

Step 4 - Arrange Composition

Step 5 – Mask Images


The final step is to selectively mask in the areas of each frame that we are interested in and merge them into the final image. Turning off all but one layer you can mask in the relevant area by creating a layer mask and selecting the relevant area then ‘cutting it out’ of the layer mask.

  1. Layer->Layer Mask->Hide All
  2. Disable Mask (hint: shift+click on mask)
  3. Make sure Layer Mask is selected
  4. Use magnetic lasso to select around area of interest
  5. Fill with white
  6. Re-enable Mask
Step 5 - Mask each layer

Step 5 - Mask each layer

This should make the area you want be visible over the master layer. By doing this for each layer you will end up with just the action areas composited over the master layer, and because the layers are aligned the area around each bit of action or any objects that pass in front should fit with the background nicely.

If you want you can tweak the exposure, contrast and colour of each layer to make it fit better or stand out from the background more to taste. Finally we can merge all the layers together and we have the final image.

Final Image


Tim at the waterfall (5 shots f4.0 1/50 40mm)

Tim at the waterfall (5 shots f4.0 1/50 40mm)





Photo Blog 80 – Samoa 5

21 07 2009

Todays images are from the island of Savai’i where we stayed for 3 nights. The fales were so close to the beach that high tide would wake us up during the night. And in the morning there were lots of little crabs that would be coming out to feed and then bury themselves in the sand making small holes everywhere. Dad seemed fascinated with them and every morning when I woke up he was out chasing them around the beach. They weren’t particularly hard to track down and one morning I had the camera when Dad got one.

Crabs (f4.0 1/25 105mm)

Crabs (f4.0 1/25 105mm)

On the last day before heading back to the ferry we stopped off at a waterfall and went swimming. The fresh water was refreshing and the change of scenery was nice. Tim and Dad bravd the cliff jump and I tried to get a few sequence shots. The best I managed was a 5 shot sequence of Tim where each shot was 1/50th of a second. That still isn’t nearly fast enough to capture the action as still shots but when compisited together it works quite well. I was trying to go for the sort of thing that they use in ski and snowboard magazines to illustrate a jump (An example)

Tim at the waterfall (5 shots f4.0 1/50 40mm)

Tim at the waterfall (5 shots f4.0 1/50 40mm)





Photo Blog 79 – Samoa 4

19 07 2009

Third to last Samoa update I promise :-). One of the features of staying at some of the fales is that they have a weekly fiafia where one of the local dance groups perform for the tourists. Sometimes they involve fire (which I’ll be showing in the last update) but also music and synchronized group dancing. This is what we saw and so I have a couple of images of that for tonight.

It was quite low light but with nasty flourescents overhead to blow any wide image that had both them and shadows in the frame. And all the images had to be underexposed to allow for a fast enough shutter speed to capture without too much movement. I still got a few good group shots but the ones I’ve chosen feature individual dancers. The first is of one of the women’s dances where I captured the closest dancer in focus with those behind being nicely blurred. The only strange thing is the colour cast, it seems either Aperture’s RAW conversion or one part of my process to counteract the under-exposure of the images is making the colours look a little washed-out with almost too much contrast.

Faifai (f4.0 1/15 70mm ISO800)

Faifai (f4.0 1/15 70mm ISO800)

The second shot is one of Joe who was the drummer for the performance (when required, most of the time they had a backing track). I thought I’d put this one in for the girls :-)

For the girls (f4.0 1/10 105mm ISO800)

For the girls (f4.0 1/10 105mm ISO800)

An external flash would have bee nice but it would likely have been distracting and it wasn’t a very big group so it would have been wrong to be too intrusive…





Photo Blog 78

16 07 2009

Woohoo! New apartment! So I still have at least 3 more updates from Samoa to go but I thought I’d interrupt with an interlude of a couple of photos from our new apartment. We just moved yesterday and while it is in the same building it is much higher up and on the corner so has sweeping views from the North Shore to Parnell.

There was a bit of fog and rain so it is difficult to see the lights across to Devonport and the North Shore but you can still see the difference to looking at the building 5m opposite.

So, the view North:

View North (f20 30s 24mm)

View North (f20 30s 24mm)

And the view East:

View East (f20 13s 35mm)

View East (f20 13s 35mm)

Now we just have to wait for the internet connection and it will be home sweet home…

Update: Here is what the view north looks like on a clear night:

View North (clear) (f16 30s 24mm)

View North (clear) (f16 30s 24mm)





Photo Blog 77 – Samoa 3

12 07 2009

Today I have a couple more pics from Samoa. Promise there won’t be too many more updates from the trip but I did take enough photos :-)

The first of the ice-cream gang. One of the only sources of refreshment during the day (apart from not-particularly-good beer) was ice-cream. So it became an almost daily occurrence to head down to the local dairy and get a single scope cone. This shot is on the way back from one such excursion.

Ice cream gang (f8.0 1/200 24mm)

Ice cream gang (f8.0 1/200 24mm)

The second shot is the ‘sunset’. It seems the sun never sets in Samoa, or at least it likes to keep private about it and not show itself while it does. So here is the sunset from the first place we stayed…

Sunset in Samoa (f8.0 1/125 73mm)

Sunset in Samoa (f8.0 1/125 73mm)

Impressive isn’t it?





Photo Blog 76 – Samoa 2

7 07 2009

Another couple of shots from Samoa. The first has to do with food and the second with entertainment. It turns out that piggies are one of the most prized possessions that one can have and we were told that if you hit one while driving you should go straight to the police as otherwise the villagers are likely to come after you. Probably with sticks or something. There were pigs and pigglets almost everywhere, most of them were pretty cute too. Seeing as Victor is so enarmoured with the things I thought it would be unfair not to take a few shots so here is one such example.

Chancho (f4.0 1/200 105mm)

Chancho (f4.0 1/200 105mm)

Entertainment was also a little sparse and we were required to make our own. Which meant a lot of books and cards after dinner at least till we got into the habit of going to bed at 9pm. The whole time the parents only won once of course and even then they had to wait till both Tim and I were sick :-)

Cards (f4.0 1/8 24mm)

Cards (f4.0 1/8 24mm)

Tim seems pretty happy with his cards…