Monday, November 30, 2009

Topaz Detail variations.

Here are a couple more shot's given the Topaz Detail treatment, what I have done here is try to show the variation of different effects that can be obtained, from a soft almost painted effect to a much harsher almost engraved look. Wayne

Tiger Woods.

Just what happened to Tiger Woods on Friday night is a question on lots of peoples lips, including the Orlando police who are still waiting to speak to woods and have been waiting for 3 days, as well as a disappearing act good enough for a magic show he's now dropped out of his own golf tournament claiming injuries received in the accident have made him unable to play.
The official story claims as he was leaving his house his car hit a hydrant and tree, his wife Elin Nordegren then broke a window with a golf club to release him. Why he would want to avoid talking to police about this raises more questions than it answers.

Topaz Detail (the return)

Topaz Detail is designed as a plug-in for Photoshop, it has several uses including sharpening (claimed halo free) it also does a sort of HDR/tonemapped effect, or as I have used here a sort of illustrated look.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Some recent black and white.

Here are a couple of the pics for the weekend, I took these recently at a shoot, and thought they'd work well as black and white shots.
Both shots are taken to give shallow depth of field, one on a longer lens at 135mm (the single lady) this was also fairly high iso 800.
The otherwas shot on a 50mm but wide open at F1.8 on a full frame camera (the group)
Enjoy. Wayne

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Adobe DNG format

Adobe DNG format was hailed as the "new" RAW when launched, it's claimed to be the archival format, you never need worry about whether you'll still be able to convert your RAW images 20 years down the line.
Personally I have always had my doubts first off there's not a huge support for DNG and I suspect if Adobe ever go bust what support there is will soon disappear. Secondly There's different versions of the DNG format it appears, some software saves to DNG with differing parameters, not storing all the information in it. Thirdly it's well known that some RAW formats carry data specific to their own software, Adobe leaves this out in some cases so you may loose things like lens correction that you'd get with the makers own software..
Lastly and of bigger concern it turns out that Adobes DNG doesn't carry all the RAW data, apparently data from the edges of the frames are left out with some cameras, this means your loosing important data, just what you don't need in archival software.

By all means convert to DNG, it'll be handy if your older version of photoshop doesn't support your brand new D3x or whatever, it means you can still use CS instead of forking out £500 for CS4 (CS5 next April-ish) and it means you do have another back-up just in case your old RAW isn't recognised by the latest version of whatever software you use, but DO keep your original RAW images, don't rely totally on DNG, you don't know what your chucking away!

HDR Darkroom launched

HDR Darkroom have launched the software properly after the beta testing period (which I took part in)

The software which is designed for the HDR (high dynamic range) enthusiast has the advantages of being simple and remarkably quick to use, taking just over 10 seconds on my computer to render this HDR from a raw image. It works from a single jpeg through to multiply raw images, and even from DNG, should you be a user of Adobes tame RAW format (more on this in a later post!)

The software itself is a small quick and simple install, with a pleasant dark grey interface, the sliders are simple and unlike some other HDR software make sense and are intuitive (anyone who's used Photomatix will know what I mean there) this makes it easy to get a good result. You can buy the software from It costs $49 or about £30 at the current exchange rate.

Shown here is a pic of Neath abbey and the HDRD interface. Wayne

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Star Trek film review

Star Trek 2009. This film is basically a prequel to the old TV series it's shows how Kirk, Spock and the rest meet up and their first mission on the Enterprise.
The film has excellent special effects (as we expect these days) with the fight on the tower giving real "edge of the seat" action.
While Chris Pine (Kirk) isn't exactly a look-alike for good old Bill Shatner, Carl Urban is brilliant as Dr McCoy, he's got him off to a tee! And John Cho and Anton Yelchin (Sulu and Checkov) are pretty good, Simon Pegg sadly hasn't get the accent for Scotty, he's about as convincing as a Scotsman as I am as the next Pope.
The film is good entertainment and action packed, worth a watch.

Computer error messages.

Don't you just love the stupid error messages you get with computers. I mean why don't they actually say what they mean
What for example do you suppose data cyclic redundancy error actually means? well it actually usually means there's a problem reading a CD/DVD the data is broken into small sections and given a data number, if this comes up wrong when reading the PC gives you an error message, but why not just say can't read CD/DVD? That at least would make sense to normal people.
I watched another photographer spend a morning shooting tethered last week (tethered= camera connected directly to computer and pics show up on screen when taken), only to find after 2 hours none of his photos had actually been saved to the computer. Oh it did try to tell us with an error message, but it was so obscure it didn't actually tell us anything we could understand, and just to confuse things he'd had exactly the same error message before but on that occasion it had saved the pictures perfectly so no clue as to what it really meant.
Come on computer nerds give us error messages that make sense.... we know where you live!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I had a bit of a challenge this week.

I had a bit of a challenge this week. I was asked to fix the photo of the building. Now because of where it is and obstructions in front of it the only viewpoint is close in at ground level, this means shooting at an angle. I also needed to remove the bin and the banner on the wall, fixing the angle took a while to get right, it needed to look normal and there's some distortion from the wide lens used. The banner was easy enough, but removing the bin took ages. The problem there was I didn't have a full door to swap over (the easy way to do it) I doubt you'll see on this size image but the door had detailed panels on it, and the whole bottom half is missing. I actually had to make a new door in photoshop, actually make all the panels and the bottom rail and doorstep then fix the wall behind the bin.
It probably took me a good hour or so to do, but I do enjoy a challenge!
I have blurred out the name to protect the innocent lol.

Monday, November 23, 2009

2012 film review.

The film 2012 is very loosely based on the end of the Mayan calendar, it's claimed by some to mean the end of the world, others claim the calendar just resets and starts again, either way Hollywood have their own "spin" on it.
The acting is pretty good, as are the special effects (where the moneys gone I suspect) but the film leaves me cold. I never really engaged with any of the characters, to be honest by the end of the 2 hour 20 minute film I didn't really care if any lived or died.
The film is over long in my opinion, you could easily trim 40 minutes off it no problem, theres far too much talking and faffing about at the start, it's over 45 minutes in before we get any of the big dramatic effects, then it slowly builds to the big ending.
As usual with all these Hollywood action/adventure films theres a happy ending. Normally I wouldn't spoil it for you, but I doubt you'd be supprised by the ending, I certainly wasn't, you could see it coming right from the start.

I'm a celebrity farce!

There's a farce going on with the series I'm a celebrity get me out of here. First they have 2 people who are medically unfit to take part in the challenges making it unfair in the first place, secondly they let it get turned into the "Katie Price show" with one of the least popular women in the UK. Now it seems Katie has left the show complaining people hate her and are deliberately making her do all the bush tucker trials, er.... yes Katie they are and they do hate you!

Who's in the next series Nick Griffin and Osama Bin Laden? if nothing else at least we'd have a "real" celebrity then, not a bunch of has-been ex boxers and TV cleaners.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Price of Coke!

Whats with the price of coke? No I don't mean that disgusting stuff celebrities stuff up their noses, I mean Coca-Cola the soft drink.
Invented in Columbus Georgia by John Pemberton in 1885 it's been popular ever since, trouble is it's getting bloody expensive.... at least if you buy it in a bar or pub it is. You can buy 3 litres of the stuff in a supermarket for about £1.50, in a pub a glass full will cost you a staggering £3.35, that's about £7 a litre, or around £21 for the same 3 litres you could buy in the supermarket!!!.
How in the world are drivers supposed to stay sober when a pint of beer is cheaper than a soft drink, it's crazy!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

To Sharpen Or Not To Sharpen??

To sharpen, or not to sharpen, that is the question? not exactly Shakespeare I'll admit but it's a question I often get asked.
So whats the answer? Well pretty much all digital images need some sharpening. You see the way digital cameras work actually softens the image slightly, theres a filter over the sensor in most cameras called the Anti Alias filter, this is a bit of clear glass but slightly blured like a bathroom window, it's job is to smooth out the light on the sensor and to help remove moire patterns (that sort of checker pattern you sometimes see on clothing with a fine texture or pattern) Trouble is it removes a little of the sharpness in the camera, this is where capture sharpening comes in to replace this effect.
Now there's lots of differing opinions about sharpening, but the top people generally agree a 3 step sharpening route is the best way to go.
Step 1 Capture sharpening, this is a mild sharpen just to replace the sharpening lost to the AA filter.
Step 2 Creative sharpening, this is where you sharpen only parts of an image for effect, maybe just the eye's and hair in a portrait, or the in focus foreground in a landscape, usually done with layer masks to limit the effect.
Step 3 Output sharpening, this is where you sharpen the whole image to the final size and output type, printing needed more sharpening for matt papers and larger sizes etc.
Now not everybody uses all 3 steps, but the first 2 are the most important (some printers add sharpening by default anyway)
Then there's different ways of sharpening, one of the more popular with the more advanced photographers is the "Hi-pass" sharpening, often mentioned in hushed tones by tog's huddled in corners, the way it works is pretty much edge sharpening (over simplified) The way to do it is to create a duplicate layer, then filter/other/ high pass, set about 10 as a starting point then change the layer blend mode to hard light, now ajust the opacity of the layer till your happy.
In the image above I have just used hi-pass with no other sharpening on the left half, the right sides had no sharpening at all.

A New Language?

We seem to be inventing a new language, it not that a new lost race of people has been found, just that somebody somewhere want to over complicate things!
Take food for example, now some are rated by glycemic index (whatever that means) even fat isn't just fat, it's Saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and mono-unsaturated fats, even Omega 3 fats. Then there's cholesterol, anti oxidants, Free radicals and heavens knows what else.
Face cream isn't just face cream, it has to contain things like Alpha-hydroxy acids, copper peptides, Dithiolane-3-Pentanic Acid, idebenone, Ascorbyl Palmitate, and Deanol. And thats before we get to Botox (held to be the most toxic substance known to mankind).
So next time you pop down the shop for a bottle of milk and a tin of cat food remember to take an industrial chemist to explain what your actually buying!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Now lets make this perfectly clear I'm not a trainspotter! I haven't a clue what type of train this is, nor do I particularly care It just happened to be coming past when I was walking past a level crossing so I grabbed a shot with this effect in mind.
What I have done here is blended a black and white image with a colour one, giving this sort of desaturated version, I used a preset for good old Kodak Tri-X for the black and white version, giving it the slightly grainy appearance.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Edward Woodward OBE. 1930-2009

The actor Edward Woodward died today after a long illness. A prolific actor he is best remembered for his roles as Callan 1967-1972 with a film of the same name in 1974, and the Equaliser 1985-1989. He is also remembered for his staring role in the cult film The Wicker Man 1973, and more recently a cameo role in Hot Fuzz 2007.
He leaves two sons and two daughters.

Few portraits.

Did a few portraits over the weekend at Neath Abbey, it's an interesting location, lots of potential for photographs.
Heres a few to go on with.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Speed!! No not the slightly dodgy 1994 film with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves. I'm talking about giving the "impression" of speed.
Here I have used a static photograph and using photoshop have giving it the feeling of movement, making you feel as if your riding the buffers of the train.
Warning do not go on railway lines it is very dangerous!
I took special precautions before taking the picture shown above.

Ynyscedwyn Ironworks Ystradgynlais.

I have posted a similar shot before but as I was in the Ystrad area I thought I'd grab another shot of it. This is processed to HDR using a new beta software I'm testing. To be fair it's pretty good so far.

Bad wetaher. The weathers been wild the last day or two here in South Wales, very high winds and heavy rain, it's not looking too good for later today either!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Here's something a little different, a Jigsaw all done in..... yep you guessed it Photoshop!
Surprisingly it actually has all the pieces, not that is unusual!!!

Some sepia.

Here are a few recent sepia shots.
I find sepia give a lovely "old world" feel to the images, and is easily done in photoshop.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Gordon Brown strikes again. (double whammy

Yes our trusty prime minister Gordon (whoops!) Brown has struck another blow to himself.
Last week he managed to get the name of a dead soldier wrong in the badly scribbled letter of condolence he sent to the family. Then to add insult to injury he didn't bother to bow his head after placing a wreath at the cenotaph in London.
The mistakes were blaimed on poor eyesight, which then raises the question how did that stop him bowing his head?
Is the man really fit to run our country is a bigger question.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Gnoll park and waterfalls (last part)

Heres the last part of my Gnoll park 2009 series, hope you enjoyed looking at them.
Tomorrow I'm pretty busy so it'll probably bee Sunday before any more blog updates.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gnoll park and waterfalls (part four)

Heres the fourth batch of pics from the Gnoll park in Neath, the next batch will probably be the last of these.
Enjoy. Wayne

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Gnoll park and waterfalls (part three)

Heres the third batch from my Gnoll wander. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Hot curry competition.

My mate Anthony challenged the chef at my take-away to a how hot can I eat competition. Here are the photos.
Anthony is the first pic, before eating the meal. next is the 9 Narga chilli's (the hottest in the world) the other 30 normal chilli's I didn't bother getting a pic of, finally the finished curry.
To be honest I'm surprised it didn't take the glaze off the plate, it was lethal, I wouldn't have eaten it. To his credit Anthony eat over half the large plate full before giving up, I suspect he'll be ill later, certainly he'll have a bad stomach in the morning (if he survives lol)
Respect man!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Gnoll park waterfalls (part two)

Heres the second part of my Gnoll park images. Enjoy. Wayne

Gnoll park waterfalls (part one)

My backs been pretty bad recently (old injury) so I decided to go for a little walk to exercise it gently, I chose the Gnoll park in Neath. They have got the cascade working again so here are some photos of it. I took quite a lot of waterfall pictures mixed with a few other shots, I'll post a few each day till I run out.
Enjoy. Wayne

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Curry and waterfalls.

First the waterfall picture, this was taken a while back but reworked to get more mid tone detail. Not a great shot, but a pic for the blog at any rate.

Now the curry bit. Yesterday I was in my take-away with a few mates, when one who likes hot-ish curry decided to challenge the chef to a how hot can I eat competition!.
Challenging a chef is never a great idea. I find it's best not to upset the person whose cooking my food, but Anthony thought it was a good idea.
I think it's a silly idea. You see the chef eats really hot spicy food all the time, Anthony on the other hand doesn't, and he also has what we suspect to be an ulcer, not a great combination to tackle a warp strength curry.
A normal curry sends him running for the loo with a bad stomach for days, this idea could put him in hospital if he's daft enough to actually do it.
Time will tell. Me I'm going to watch if it happens, I might even take the camera!