Posts Tagged ‘Richard Bolam’

Articles

No such thing as an authentic photograph

In Uncategorized on January 9, 2012 by Admin Tagged: , , , , , ,

“For a creative writer possession of the “truth” is less important than emotional sincerity.” George Orwell (1903 – 1950)

I grew up in a world where professional photography was a distant and unattainable world. Nowadays everyone has a camera. Everyone. And taking pictures has become as much a part of our daily lives as eating our meals and, in my case, sometimes simultaneously.

I was first drawn to high dynamic range (HDR) imaging in 2008 after seeing very striking images online. My own approach is to make authentic looking photographs, that capture more of the detail and colour depth that is seen by the human eye, rather than the limited range represented by “normal” photography.

I always say “there is no such thing as an authentic photograph”, and when I say it I think of the iconic photograph by Yevgeny Khaldei (1917 – 1997), of a Russian soldier raising the Soviet flag on the Reichstag after the invasion of Berlin during the Second World War. The high-contrast black and white photograph has become a benchmark of authenticity, but only because it has been made universally familiar by newspapers. However, neither a still, nor a moving image can ever be more than an impression of the scene.

The original photograph (above), the added smoke (top right) and the final manipulated composite (bottom right).

Without going into too much detail, current information claims that the photograph was manipulated to remove the extra wristwatches (obviously looted) from the Heroes of the Soviet Union, and to add more smoke in the background, making a more dramatic composition. Whatever the manipulation, there is no doubting the veracity, or truthfulness, or as Orwell would say “emotional sincerity”, of the image. The terrifying fragility of the situation in a blasted city still in a state of war is clearly communicated.

Here are the 3 original shots used to create the image above. It was a very bright, windy day and the composite, adjusted and cropped, tone-compressed HDR (using Photomatix Pro) gives an “authentic impression” of the scene.

My own dilemma is informed by my desire to capture what I see as authentically as possible, but no camera nor combination of techniques will ever capture a “true” image.

Lots more of my photography on Flickr.

Articles

New Year and the tyranny of choice

In Uncategorized on January 1, 2012 by Admin Tagged: , , , , ,

Happy New Year. It’s quite natural to be thinking about new opportunities at the beginning of a new year and if anything, working in digital media, the problem is not what to do, but what not to do. The automation possible with desktop computers and the availability of high quality image capture devices means that it is very easy to shoot lots and lots and lots of material. But the real challenge is in post-production and critical choice.

My own tyranny stems from having too many ideas and too many options. Digital photography does not require me to be selective at the capture stage and I can always see more than one composition. Here are 3 shots of the same subject with different composition. Which one to use and how to crop? I’m still unsure which one I prefer.

My major challenge for 2012 is to clear my backlog. I have dozens of small projects, and a few large ones, that I shot on spec but need to find time to edit. And that does not include all the conceived projects that are fully formed in my mind but not even begun in production.

2011 was a bad year, cursed by technical failures, equipment losses and late payments, and much of my own work has been delayed.

Happy New Year and here’s to a more productive and prosperous 2012.

Articles

There and back again: In-car timelapse experiments with CHDK

In Uncategorized on December 21, 2011 by Admin Tagged: , , , , , ,

Rain, plane and automobiles.

Here are a couple of timelapse video edits made from material I shot from in-car cameras, timelapse-enabled with the Canon Hack Development Kit (CHDK). The software is an amazing achievement and I use it regularly, although I only use a small part of its functionality. Installing it can be a bit fiddly and you need to spend some time with it, but I have found it extremely useful shooting timelapse and HDR.

Both videos were shot during car journeys that were at predetermined times so I had to accept the routes and weather conditions. One camera is on a suction mount on the inside of the windscreen on the passenger side. This position means that it is mostly in line-of-sight with the roof pillar and does not obscure the driver’s view. In the first video the other camera was mounted behind the passenger seat’s head rest, looking out of the rear passenger’s window.

Shooting through glass is always problematic, but there are ways of reducing the risks. Internal reflections can be reduced by masking internal features with blackout cloth, and/or mounting the cameras very close to the glass. Also, I use black cardboard masks to stop the camera seeing its own reflection. Cleaning the glass helps too. These two videos are just experimental and exhibit a lot of shooting faults.

I use CHDK on Canon Powershot cameras. I have several A560s and a few other models for various reasons. CHDK requires a different build of the software for each camera model so I mostly use several of the same model so that I can swap memory cards between them.

In unpredictable and and extreme conditions such as this, I mostly set the cameras to Program auto-expose and auto-ISO as it is impractical to change the settings during a shoot. This mostly works, particularly for video, as the movement hides a lot of the shooting faults.

I used the script Ultra Intervalometer and set the interval to 0 so the cameras shot as quickly as possible. This is about once a second for A560s. This depends on exposure time and they shoot slower in low light.

I performed various exhaustion tests on the batteries. I’m working on external battery boxes but running them on the two internal AA rechargeable batteries I get variable results depending on shooting period and interval.

Using fairly new Maplin 2,500 mAh rechargeable NiMH batteries (all numbers are approximate):

0 second interval – 9,000+ shots in about 4 hours.
5 second interval – 5,500+ shots in about 11 hours
10 second interval – 3,200+ shots in about 12 hours
20 second interval – 2,200+ shots in about 14 hours

To extend battery life I switch off the screen and this introduces a small problem that focus-lock is not preserved. This is not usually a problem for distant subjects but can be in some circumstances. Problems with the focus are apparent in the Jean Marc Calvet video, though not a big issue. When I’ve shot HDR timelapse, it is better to use external power so that I can lock exposure and focus in order to get higher quality results.

Canon Hack Development Kit (CHDK)
chdk.wikia.com/wiki/CHDK

The music for both videos is by Jason Shaw.
audionautix.com

Articles

It’s a toilet invasion! – Pixelwitch JaQ’s Latrino Boyz

In Uncategorized on December 10, 2011 by Admin Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Jacqui Bellamy aka Pixelwitch JaQ has a secret obsession with shooting beautiful people in toilet cubicles.

After three series of Latrino Gals, here are some stills and behind-the-scenes video from the first series of Latrino Boyz. The good, the bad and the fabulous from the music, arts and creative scenes around Sheffield and beyond.


There is a 2012 calendar available and the prints will be exhibited at the Rutland Arms, Sheffield, UK from 11th December 2011.
rutlandarmspeople.co.uk

Contact latrinoboyz@gmail.com.

Special thanks go to The Common Room, Sheffield, UK for allowing us to use the ladies.
latrinogals.co.uk
common-room.co.uk

Articles

Through the eye of a duck (this must be the place).

In Uncategorized on December 5, 2011 by Admin Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Here are some examples from my first test of the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 prime lens. I am using it on an EOS 550D digital SLR and so is equivalent to an 80mm lens on a full-frame 35mm equivalent sensor. It’s known to perform well beyond its price range.

If you click on the close-ups, you will see the 1:1 version at actual size. You can clearly see me and the geese reflected in the turkey’s eye. Below is the full captured frame.

All these images are post-processed with Adobe Photoshop, using the Topaz Adjust plug-in to enhance the perception of detail, and also sharpened a little. However, software cannot add detail although it can increase your perception of it. all the detail is in the original shot and there is no substitute for good lenses.

Larry the Llama

These shots were taken at the rare breeds farm at Graves Park, Sheffield, UK. I think the turkey is the best of the shots and the goose the least good, but all very successful for a grey day and a bit of random shooting with a new lens.

Graves Park, Sheffield, UK
gravesparksheffield.info
Canon Camera
Canon.co.uk
Topaz Adjust
topazlabs.com

p.s. None of these animals are ducks.

Articles

Shooting into the light – Experiments in HDR

In Uncategorized on December 1, 2011 by Admin Tagged: , , , , , , ,

I have been experimenting with high dynamic range (HDR) photography since 2008. I first became interested when I was researching for an application for artist-in-residence at The Lowry Theatre, Salford, Manchester, UK. I was searching for reference images on Flickr.com and came across HDR photos and was struck by the increased perception of detail and colour depth.

At first, it was a very frustrating technique to use and it took me a while to get any results that I was in the least satisfied with. Just to make things even harder for myself, here are a few recent examples of my experiments shooting directly into the sun.

I use Photomatix Pro for post-processing 3 exposure bracketed images with +/- 2EV. I mostly shoot hand-held and find that the combination of Canon image-stabilised (IS) lenses and the software correction of Photomatix Pro (usually) compensates for my WobblyCam shooting.

Lots more HDR photography on my Flickr account.

Photomatix Pro is available here:
hdrsoft.com

Articles

A Rainy Night in Birmingham – Timelapse video of Holloway Circus

In Uncategorized on November 14, 2011 by Admin Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

Here is a single-shot edit of a random bit of time-lapse I captured during an overnight stay at the Holiday Inn Birmingham City Centre on Smallbrook Queensway, Birmingham, UK. This video was shot on a Canon PowerShot A640, time-lapse-enabled with the Canon Hack Development Kit (CHDK).
holidayinn.com
chdk.wikia.com


I captured triple exposures in order to post-process into high dynamic range (HDR) but I prefer the look of the single exposures. The still image is a tone-compressed HDR, post-processed with Photomatix Pro, but mangled due to camera movement.

I shot it as 1600×1200 pixels but wish I had used a higher resolution so that I could zoom in without having to scale it and, hence, losing quality. This is mastered to 1280×720 pixels and the original video zoomed to 200%.

The music is “Ooi” by Global Goon, c/o The Free Music Archive.
freemusicarchive.org/music/Global_Goon
j-hok.com/wp