Friday, October 30, 2009

The Daemon drink

I work part time in a large office, I share this space with around 80 other people and on the whole they are amongst the brightest people I have ever worked with, until they mix with alcohol.

Now in their defence I must start by saying most of them are quite young (at their age I would have never held such a responsible job, in fact I’m surprised I do now) and given that life is short who can blame them for going out and having a good time, but there is a price to pay for all that fun and the next morning when you have to face you workmates is when you pay it.

Take Mr X, a man used to spending late nights in the arms of a pretty girl, but when that girl works in the same office, regardless of how desirable she is, he just knows he will have to face a day of comments befitting of the best carry on films and also know’s it will only stop when someone else succumbs to the daemon drink and over shadows his latest exploits.

This relentless cycle of drink and regret serves only to provide entertainment to those of us old enough not to be able to go out and do the same, but what fun it is to sit back and watch it all. Today, what promised to be a long and boring shift turn into one of the most amusing days I have had in years and all thanks to Mr X and the long memories of his work mates who remembered just how much stick he had given them in the past.

Picture today other HDR shot of the great ridge taken early this year.




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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

High dynamic range imaging

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia

In image processing, computer graphics, and photography, high dynamic range imaging (HDRI or just HDR) is a set of techniques that allow a greater dynamic range of luminances between the lightest and darkest areas of an image than standard digital imaging techniques or photographic methods. This wider dynamic range allows HDR images to represent more accurately the wide range of intensity levels found in real scenes ranging from direct sunlight to faint starlight.

The two main sources of HDR imagery are computer renderings and merging of multiple photographs, which in turn are known as low dynamic range (LDR) or standard dynamic range (SDR) images. Tone mapping techniques, which reduce overall contrast to facilitate display of HDR images on devices with lower dynamic range, can be applied to produce images with preserved or exaggerated local contrast for artistic effect.

Well that was easier than try to explain what it means, but what does the technique offer to a photographer. Well first let me explain how I create my images; I take a single raw file and pass it through photomatix, I then take the resulting HDR image and edit it in lightroom and Photoshop till I get the look I want. This means that for me there is only one extra step to get this look and the good part is that the best images for this are flat dull ones, just the sort of photos that you take because it looks so good at the time but nothing when you get them home, of which I have 100’s.
The resulting image, at its best, has a painted quality where all the detail is visible, great for buildings and complex scenes, and given that the images were not really usable in their original form, even better for me.

Now some people don’t like this technique, they don’t think they are real photos, but what is a real photo, I take raw images with my camera, resulting in a 10mb file, after they have been converted to a real photo, a jpeg, the file size is around 4mb, just what have I lost in that 6mb? This technique does not add anything that was not there already, it just was not visible in the normal image, although you would have been able to see it when you were looking at the scene and maybe that’s why some photos don’t seem to look like we thought they should.

This shot is of a large tractor on our local cement works, taken while it was snowing on a very cold gray day. At the time I thought it was a great study full of textures and colour, but the original file was gray and flat, if I added contrast I lost the detail in the snow, if I lightened the image I lost the detail in the ground and sky, if I darkened the image to get more sky detail, I lost detail on the tractor, the image was a complete loss and no chance of getting a second go. With HDR the shot has that detail and colour that I saw when I took it, here are both shots the top is the HDR just in case you can not tell. Click on each image to get a full view.






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Monday, October 26, 2009

Blog of the week - A Tykes progress

Blog of the week for this week is the wonderful a Tykes progress; it’s a very girly anonymous blog, which means that reading it from a male point of view is like getting the daily news from a different planet. She has such a way with words that I feel drawn in and can picture the scene without really having to make any effort, for me this is the best sort of writing. My favourite post by a long way is this one, be warned it has an adult theme but should not really upset any one, but do not read at work unless your colleagues are used to you crying with laughter at your desk.

Picture today yet another HDR shot, a lot of people asking about these so I will go in to more detail on them and where to find more information on Wednesday, this shot is of 3 shires head, but taken from a way down the river.



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Friday, October 23, 2009

Rutland HDR

Years ago I trained to do a parachute jump and for weeks afterward went down to the airfield to try and get the jump done, only to find that the weather was too bad to jump. This gave me an exaggerated heightening of the senses where wind was concerned, as high wind speed was the reason we could not jump. When I took up photography the same thing happened as regards light, I started to notice light levels and the way light fell onto everything, it changed the way I look at the world. Now it’s happened again with my discovery of HDR pictures.

It started last Friday when I was choosing the blog of the week for this week, I had a site book marked and spent some time checking out the wonderful HDR pictures on there, come Monday I again found myself looking at those great images and thinking that I should give it ago, so I did. My first attempt went on to the Leek blog on Thursday and now it’s the time for this blog to get the HDR treatment.

This image has already appeared on the blog as a standard photo and was suggested by Caz as a good candidate for the treatment, she was right as always, it is the church on Rutland water, now a visitor centre/museum.

Since I started to do this to my pictures I have started to look at everything in a new way, even the dullest drabbest scene now has promise.



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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What colour are you?

What colour are you, are you male or female, gay or straight, what god do you believe in (if any) and why the hell should the answers to any of these questions have the slightest relevance to me.

To be honest I don’t care one bit what the answers are and would rather you did not say, you read this blog and even sometimes comment and as far as I’m concern the fact that you do the first qualifies you to do the second as well as any one else. The reason for the questions was to high light the fact that it really does not matter who you are, you are you and that’s fine by me.

But some people think differently, take this article on the blog Duckrabbit, its all about the fact that they perceive that the photographic industry is inherently racist and highlights a photo competition judging panel as a prime example, mainly because they are all white. They claim that it should more closely reflect the ethnic makeup of the society that it is in, this from a uk based blog that’s header picture has only one ethnic group in it. Are they in the right or are they racist for only seeing the colour of the judges skin, check out the names of the judges in the post and the majority are not the fine Anglo-Saxon names you would have expected. The main point of the post is that being an all white panel they will tend to vote for whites, but the judges won’t see the photographers or their names, all they will see is a photograph, which they will judge on its merits, based on their years of experience.

This morning on the news an article was saying a Politian was going to pick more women for parliamentary seats, forcing their appointment if necessary on the local parties, shouldn’t we be picking the best people for the job and not trying to fill quotas.

I’m all for equality and seeing every one gets a fair deal, but when we start to take race, sex, age or religion into consideration when judging people that’s the point when we stop becoming the defenders of an ideal and start becoming its attackers.

A sheep, regardless of colour still tastes better with mint sauce.



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Monday, October 19, 2009

Blog of the week - Wood and pixels

Blog of the week this week is Wood and Pixels, it’s a photo blog is a similar vain as this one, by that I mean that unlike some photo blogs the words are just as important as the photos, but that just does not make it an illustrated blog as the photos are far more than just a side show to the writing.

Photography comes in many different styles, some are well received by nearly everybody, take a good landscape shot for example or a good black and white portrait, but the bulk of the images on this site may well split the vote as they are processed as HDR photos.
Now HDR images seem to have taken the place of digital images in the “must hate” category by that group of photographers whose ancestors clung on to glass plates while the rest of the world moved on to film and they themselves clung on to film while the rest moved on to digital.

HDR (high dynamic range) is a set of techniques that allow a greater dynamic range of luminance between the lightest and darkest areas of an image than standard digital imaging techniques or photographic methods. This wider dynamic range allows HDR images to represent more accurately the wide range of intensity levels found in real scenes ranging from direct sunlight to faint starlight. This produces a very different type of image that at first sight can look just wrong to someone used to looking at normal photos, but in the right hands (and I have seen very few that get it right) it can be an art form that blurs the line between photos and painting. In my opinion this blog produces some of the very best you are likely to find, remember it’s a blog not a one off gallery, he is producing these day after day and the quality is mind blowing.

I would be interest to known what you think as I see this area of photography growing into an art form of its own over the coming years.

Just like to add my congratulations to Jenson Button the F1 world champion a great drive yesterday and a fine example of how hard work and tenacity will get you what you want.

My picture to day is far removed from HDR, it’s a grab shot taken on Settle station with very little time spent on the computer.



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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day - Climate change, virgin birth, flat earth.

Climate change, I have to admit that I’m very skeptical about the existence of climate change and the whole global warming thing. My basis for this is that we (humans) have only been here for such a short time and for a large period of that were not really in a position to judge what was happening around us. An even smaller period of time is the length of time we have been able to accurately measure things like temperature or the size of the ice caps, so to be able to say that things are changing outside of the norm, when we really have no idea what the norm is, is like seeing a snow flake and predicting the start of an ice age.

Now I known that lots of very important people seem to have been convinced that there is a problem but remember past world leaders and experts also had some strange ideas (flat earth, virgin birth, communist ruling the plant, woman’s heads over heating if they learn too much).

Are they right or are they wrong, I really do not know, I personally think that we do not have enough data to make a definitive statement and that a lot of what we hear is sensationalized.

But.

Can we really take the risk, we know the earth is round, but at one point someone had to be the first to say it, (imagine what he got called by the experts of the day) so they may be right, we may be doing harm to our world, we have no spare, this is our only one, now is not the time to play the odds. You all have insurance of some sort, you hope it is something you never need, would you just cancel it all and still sleep at night, the cost of doing something is like paying insurance, the price of doing nothing is a lot higher.

Picture today is called my world too.



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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Paramo, great customer service

I was not going to post today as tomorrow is Blog action day and I’ve signed up again to do a special post, but the post arrived and I had a reason to blog.

Customer service and customer satisfaction, lots of companies strive for these two, but very few manage to get any where close. For companies that compete in an area with very similar product, service and satisfaction can be the only difference between them and for those companies I would expect a lot of effort to do them right.

But what if your product is unique, the only one of its type and of a very high standard, why then should you bother to go that extra mile, I know that I would be tempted to let things slide a bit, so when I got both excellent service and satisfaction from a company that really does not have to try at all to impress me I had to let the world (or at least my small part of it) know.
As you all know I walk a lot and spend a lot of that time getting wet, I am in England so what would you expect. So for me the most important item of clothing is my waterproof jacket and after being waylaid by a very knowledgeable sales man found my self wearing a jacket made by Paramo.

Now these are not your normal waterproofs, they are soft, warm and comfortable, they are also hard wearing, very well designed and have no real competitor, so no real reason to put themselves out for the customer as the clothing does all the work for them. So imagine my surprise when we had a email saying they were running a show in our area, just a few miles from our door, basically a factory sale with out the need to visit the factory, happy days.

On getting to the show the first thing that struck me was the amount of stock, it was massive, then the staff were great, no school kids reading the label and trying to up sell you, service and getting you what you needed seemed to be the order of the day. Now I had a list of what I needed and unfortunately the smallest thing on that list was not there, replacement rubbers for my gaiters, but as soon as I enquired I was informed that if I rang them back at the office during the week they would send them out for free, I did that yesterday at 11.00 and by 9.00 today they were here. Now I needed those bits or the gaiters were useless, they are the only manufacturer, so I was pretty much a captive customer and for doing what they did I thought they need a bit of praise.



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Monday, October 12, 2009

Blog of the week - Olympia daily photo

For the first time in ages I was out before the sun was up and the reward was low mist, blue sky’s and wonderful colours, but as I’m still working on those shots you will have to wait for them to appear on the Leek daily photo blog. Talking of daily photo blogs leads me very nicely on to the blog of the week.

This week’s blog of the week is The Olympia daily photo, now I know there are loads of these types of blog around so what makes this one stand out? First off there is the photography, it superb; sharp, well framed and interesting, day after day, something I know is very hard to keep up. Second and by no mean any less important, it is well written, the style is friendly and informative, after a while you start to feel like a member of the family. Good images backed up by good writing, it all adds up to a great little blog and one well worth a visit.

Now the result of the competition’s, although load of you visited only 2 left an entry so Suburbia and Wiicheat win 2 of the 3 vouchers, as there was one going spare Friday saw a quick guess the photo competition won by Polergirl who was first to spot it was condensation on a window, it great to be able to take a photo while still in bed.

Photo today was taken last year and was over looked at the time, but I spotted it as I was clearing some space on the hard drive.



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Friday, October 9, 2009

What is this a picture of?

The very short competition is over and it’s small time scale was only beaten by the smaller number of people that entered. So the vouchers go to Suburbia and Wii cheat (I will be in touch).

Those of you that were paying attention will notice that it still leaves £30 of Blurb vouchers up for grabs and I would hate to see it go to waste, so very quick quiz and the nearest to the answer I have got wins.

What is this a picture of?

You have till Monday when I need to send off the winners details to get the vouchers sent out.



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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hello! Where are you?

Where are you all? With only 2 days left of the competition and only one entry I can see who the winner will be, its not as if it going to be that hard to find a funny post as most of you are bloggers that I read and most of you have made me laugh out loud at one time or another.

It’s a genuine prize of a £30 voucher off the cost of your own (or some one else’s) Blurb photo book, you don’t have to enter Blurbs competition, but if your book is on one of the themes then it does not hurt to have a go, so come on and have a go (the more that enter the more likely that they will do this again). Here are the details again.

Those wonderful people at blurb have given me 3 vouchers worth £30 each to give away, to help promote their latest book competition in which you could win $3,000. The book competition ends on the 22/10 so to give the winners of the vouchers time to do their books this give away ends on Friday 9th.

To enter you just need to follow one of my blogs and tell me your funniest pet, travel or family related story. If you already have a post on your blog just link to that in the comment and I will read it there.

Why have I chosen those categories well they just happen to be the themes of the books for Blurbs competition, Pets, Travel or Families, so get your thinking caps on as this competition for the £30 vouchers ends Friday.

Picture is of a cow, taken from about 30cm away, had to keep wiping the lens as it kept fogging up from the cow’s breath.




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Monday, October 5, 2009

Free competition time again!

Free competition time again, those wonderful people at blurb have given me 3 voucher worth £30 each to give away, to help promote their latest book competition in which you could win $3,000. The book competition ends on the 22/10 so to give the winners of the vouchers time to do their books this give away ends on Friday 9th.

To enter you just need to follow one of my blogs and tell me your funniest pet, travel or family related story. If you already have a post on your blog just link to that in the comment and I will read it there.

Why have I chosen those categories well they just happen to be the themes of the books for Blurbs competition, Pets, Travel or Families, so get your thinking caps on as this competition for the £30 vouchers ends Friday.

Photo to day is of Buachaille Etive Mor taken from the road at the top of Glen Coe.




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Friday, October 2, 2009

Skye

Back to Skye, and I wish I was going straight back, the whole reason for our journey up north was to get to the fabulous island of Skye and after 4 days of travelling we reach our destination, Carolyn’s god parents in the small village of Luib just outside of Broadford. Their house is sat right on the shore (they have seen otters playing from their windows!) and it has fantastic views down the loch, in fact the only thing to beat the location was the welcome we both got, it was like coming home.

The first thing that you realise when you start to explore Skye is that its much bigger than you think, part of this is that the roads have to go round so many large mountains and also follows the coast which very rarely goes in a straight line, so it takes forever to get any where. The other part is that there are not that many towns on the island so coupled with the long road journeys it gives the appearance of being much bigger. The second thing you notice are the mountains, again they are much bigger than you think and seem to be every where. With both of us being experienced walkers we were both very keen to get in to the mountains and made that our first priority only to be beaten by the famous Skye weather.

Skye is famous for many things, Whiskey, the famous Talisker comes from here, mountain, it has 12 Monros, wildlife, including otters and golden eagles and loads of history. But the thing that gets talked about the most is the weather and more particular the rain. Years ago we spent a week there and it rained all the time, a common thing as it is one of the wettest places in Scotland, but this time we were lucky in that we only had 1 day when it rain for just an hour, the hour was just at the point when we were deciding to head higher into the mountains and that tipped our decision not to go on. Heading into strange mountains when you can only see 10 feet ahead is not very wise, so we called it a day and came down, even then the sights we had seen had us hooked so that the rest of the time there was spent more out doors than in, although we never made it to the tops of any of the big ones, we will save them for later.

When it became time to leave we did not want to go, the whole feel of the place is different to the main land, the quality of life seems fuller and in common with all the people we met north of the boarder the people were so friendly, but leaving Harvey and Jill’s company was the hardest bit as we had been made to feel so welcome and treated like royalty, I’m still trying to lose the weight I put on.
The picture for today comes from a walk we did from the door of their house, this view is just an hours stroll from their house heading in land from the village.




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