Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Week 8 ~ A Bad Habit

Week 8 ~ A Bad Habit
Spot the Bad Habit...clue: there are two.

I pondered this topic for hours and in the end I concluded, as any reasonable person would, that I have no bad habits at all. Then I spoke to my family, who were more than happy to point out that I actually had quite a few. Not wanting to bore you with what they may be, I chose the very first offending habit they claim I have. Now, I want you to look at the picture I've attached. What do you see? Do you see a bad habit there? No, I didn't think so. I can't see it either. However, my family would like you to know, there are actually two bad habits contained in that diptych.

And just what are these heinous habits of mine? Well...I apparently leave the little tins of salmon (or tuna) and beans (or corn or chickpeas) on the bench while I eat my lunch and I don't rinse and recycle them immediately. Sometimes I wash them up an hour or so later. Really. How. Bad. Is. That.

And the other bad habit? I photograph my food*. Which, according to them is a bad habit. A very bad habit. Let me just be clear on this, I don't photograph all my food, as that really would be silly. But if you love food as much as I do and also happen to love photography, then when you prepare a dish or are served a dish that is a riot of colour, I get this strong compulsion to photograph it and I simply can't enjoy the dish until I've photographed it. Photographing food, for me, serves another purpose - it reminds me of the event and the people where that food was enjoyed. When you view this set, while it may appear to be just a collection of food and drinks, to me they are memories of great times spent with friends and family in places both near and far. Some people collect teaspoons to remind them of places and events, some have the t-shirt. I photograph the food.  Horrid habit? Maybe. Only maybe.

* Ok, ok, so sometimes I also photograph other people's food before they get a chance to dig in and enjoy it. So what.

Strobist Information:
The blue lines represent the semi-opaque storage box I used as a "lightbox" t diffuse the light.

Canon 50D
50mm f1.8 @f7
ISO 200
1/50 sec
430ex to left of camera shot at 1/2 power and Nissin to right of camera shot at auto.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Can You Make Large Canvas Prints With Your iPhone Images?


In short, the answer is yes. But you do need to follow a few steps in order to be able to obtain large prints. Below are the steps I used to create a canvas print as large as 684mm x 508mm of the above image.

You will need:

* iPhone image
* gloss photo paper
* inkjet printer and scanner
* photo editing software


1. Open up your photo editing software and import your iPhone image.
2. If you're using PS, select File > Print. This will open up the image and position it on the "paper". I selected A4 sized paper and then set the size so the image would fit within that A4 paper.
3. Go into your Printer Properties and select gloss paper and the highest quality printer setting you can. In the case of my printer, I also made sure the actual printer also had those settings. (probably an unnecessary step)
4. Once you have printed the iPhone image onto your gloss photo paper, pop that image onto the scanner.
5. Go to your photo editing software program and select File > Import. You'll see that you have your printer as one of the options. Select it.
6. Select Advance Mode in the scanning tabs. You should be able to see that you can now select the Output Resolution. You will want to increase this to as high as you can. The above image was scanned at 500dpi, giving me a file size of 68MB. I can scan images on my printer to a maximum of 99MB.
7. There are other settings you can fiddle with, such as Data Size and Image Settings. Other than making sure the Image Setting is "Photo", I don't fiddle with any of the other options. I then select Preview, and this does an initial scan.
8. If you're happy with the Preview Scan, then hit the Scan button and the image will then be carefully scanned and popped into your photo editing software program.
9. Once your scanned iPhone image is done, this is where you can make any further edits, changes, add textures and so on.

The above image had already been edited using a couple of iPhone apps and once it was scanned, I simply added a couple of my textures, tweaked the vibrancy and curves and then I was done. I'm sure there are other ways this can be done, but I thought I'd share how I do it.

I hope this has been helpful - and have fun scanning those iPhone images :)

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Healthy Blueberry and Banana Pancakes

 Blueberry and Banana Pancakes

Pancake Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday was today which means there's never been a more perfect excuse to cook up some pancakes. I was surfing the net looking for some ideas, and this particular recipe really stood out - Blueberry and Banana Pancakes by Teresa Cutter, The Healthy Chef. Click on The Healthy Chef to read the recipe for yourself. Not only were the pancakes easy to make,  but they were totally scrumptious! I should have made a double batch...

Monday, 20 February 2012

Linky Love #2

There's been a lot of talk about the new kid on the block and it's questionable TOS, with discussions taking place on all sorts of websites. These concerns are serious and genuine and I really, really hope that Pinterest look into their TOS and alter them. Not all concerns about that site are serious, one is hilariously funny - and I'm not sure what's funnier, the post or those they fool.

Do you find you over-analyse in order to come up with the solution to a problem? Sometimes it's the obvious and common-sense approach that contains the answer.

All digital images go through some sort of post-processing, some more than others. If you can look past just how much these were 'shopped, they still make for beautiful images.

Some places of work are like finely oiled pieces of machinery.

You don't have to lose track of time ever again.

A blank white canvas isn't the only place you can throw paint.

Entertaining or annoying? You decide.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Juanita Has Good Reason to be Cross...

And that reason is Stella, Juanita's* secret twin sister. Stella's new hobby is tap dancing. It started when she saw the call for auditions in the upcoming reality show, "So Mindfreak You Think You Can Survive With The Millionaire's Family Jewels And Dance Better Than An Apprentice Model on Project X?". The series is going to be big, and Stella wants so badly to get through the auditions but that means she tap dances all the hours of the day. Every day. To say this pisses off Juanita would be quite the understatement. Do you have any idea just how many soufflés Stella's tap dancing has ruined? Poor Juanita. As we say here in Australia, "Not Happy Jan."

* Please do yourself a favour and click on Juanita to understand why I'm even talking about her.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Week 7 ~ Eyes

~ if we couldnt dream...~
~ If we couldn't dream...~

I have to admit that I rolled my eyes when I saw this week's topic. I'm not anti-eyes or anti-eyelashes in photography, it just meant that I had to think about trying something different that wasn't going to be too clichéd. I could be wrong, and this open/closed eye thing could be cliché too! I didn't want to create a doe-eyed look, or a eyelash macro, or capture my dog's eyes, or anything too sweet and pretty - I wanted something a little different.

A couple of weeks ago I spotted a blog that showcased B&W sleeping portraits. Many of the shots were quite haunting and there was one - with its eyes open/shut - that really stood out for me, so this week I tried my hand at interpreting it in my way. When I had to think of a title for the portrait, my immediate thought was "awake is the new sleep" until I realised that's also the name of a Ben Lee album - and that's a little too twee for me. That's when I stumbled upon this quote 
"If we couldn't dream, our lives wouldn't mean anything anymore" 
by George Kaiser in The Raft of the Medusa, and I thought it fitted much better with what I was trying to portray.

Many thanks to my model Ashleigh who patiently posed for this shot.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Linky Love #1

Yes, that's right, my first Linky Love post. At least, I think it is. I'm not sure why I haven't done this before, as I really enjoy discovering sites on the net via the various blogs I visit. So here goes.

I found myself nodding a few times while I watched this. Well worth watching, but you may need to find a comfy chair. And maybe a coffee. And some chocolate.

I became more determined to keep at it and to constantly leave that super comfortable comfort zone.

I lost myself in the past and had to reluctantly join the now.

Discovered new music that felt both new and yet familiar.

And laughed out loud at the realisation that the grass isn't always greener on the other side.

I'm having withdrawals, as the blogger is on holidays with almost no net access, but here's one he prepared earlier.

So there you have it - your Linky Love goodness for the week.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Week 6 ~ From a Low Angle

There is so much scope possible with a theme such as this week's 'low angle'. For me it all comes down to the safe option or the out of comfort zone option. The safe option was to stick around the house and look at life as it is from a low angle; both indoors and outdoors. 
~ seeking shelter ~
The Safe Shot - 100mm IS f2.8 @f4.5 ISO160, 1/60
It's been raining  - still - and there are plenty of spider webs that could have been shot from a low angle, and dew drops on clover is certainly within my comfort zone. When you're starting a project, if your aim is to improve your skills and have fun along the way, it always pays to avoid the safe option and to go, instead, with the one that you always put off for another time. Not this week. 

That's how I found myself at the Blue Mountains National Park, in the rain and with very limited access due to flooding in the area. I had in my mind a particular image and the weather conditions - low mist and heavy cloud cover - was what I was after. The problem was the road closure to the area I needed to get to, and so I changed plans and made the best of it. It would have been easier to get back to the car and drive home - after all, I already had my safe shot done and edited. Instead, I headed over to Blue Pool hoping there would be some access and from the rushing of water, I could tell there was certainly a decent amount flowing. The problem was the lack of safe access to the rushing water. There is a difference between stupidity and pushing your boundaries...and I didn't feel like a helicopter ride out of the National Park. Reluctantly walking on, I did come to a safer location that afforded me with a more open view to the water. I had my  tripod with me and two lenses - 100mm and 70-210mm and the images I've included were shot using the latter of the lenses. Of course, they're not the sort of lenses you would normally use for landscapes, but I wasn't after a wide expanse sort of shot. I was after a narrow and low slice of nature. 

I had the tripod and camera set to perhaps 40cm from ground level and I wanted to take advantage of the beautiful reflections in the water. The thick cloud cover meant the reflections were richly coloured and created an impressionist feel to the slowly moving water. The first one is actually a 3 shot panorama which I purposely framed with more water than greenery - firstly it suited my purposes and due to the litter still caught in the trees, I didn't want to have to spend time editing out the litter.
Blue Pool reflections I
3 shot panorama stitched in PS; 70-210mm @ 210mm f4 @ f13 ISO100 0.8sec

The second two images I really couldn't decide which I preferred - the vertical or horizontal - the reeds and their reflection were something that really caught my eye.  Something that I've learned that is a huge advantage with digital imaging, is you can shoot both then decide which has the stronger composition when you get home. After you've showered. And changed into clean and dry clothes. And had a much needed cup of coffee. And perhaps a biscuit. Ahem...

Blue Pool reflections II
The vertical shot - 70-210mm @210mm f4 @ f13 ISO100 0.8sec

Blue Pool reflections III
The horizontal shot - 70-210mm @210mm f4 @f13 ISO100 0.8sec

So, how did you go this week?

Friday, 3 February 2012

Week 5 ~ Fruit

 still life summerfruit

This week's topic was fruit and being summer, I chose summer fruits - luscious peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots and a tiny bunch of grapes. There's such a  wonderful variety available at the moment and they're all so delicious. I had intended the image to reflect the summer feel this fruit has, but summer seems to be missing where I live. It's been raining all week and I know that the heavy and constant rain is causing all sorts of problems in northern NSW and QLD. By the time I finished editing the images - I couldn't make up my mind which I preferred, so I did two versions - there is barely a hint of summer in the images!

still life summerfruit lensbaby
with Lensbaby Composer f8

Before I started though, I came across Digital Photography School's blog post that talked about slowing down and really looking at the subject you're going to shoot. Let the light and shape etc, determine how you're going to shoot it. So I applied that thinking to the summer fruits image. The family were banned from going anywhere near the fruit until I had finished with it! I have to say that studying the fruit and slowing down really worked. I took a fraction of the usual number of images. Unfortunately, the article didn't address how you really should make up your mind when choosing the final image and not confuse things by using different lenses... I've included the lighting diagram below to give you an indication of the set up. Again, I used my own textures applied at various opacities.

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