A blog of my digital camera exploits

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Photos From Hawaii

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Not too long ago, I took a vacation to Hawaii. I had just gotten a 8mm super fish eye, and was looking to take a whole bunch of pictures. I ended up taking close to a thousand. I was planning on taking some cool time lapses, but I forgot to pack a tripod, so didn't get any of those.

Here is the link to my facebook album, which should let you look at them, even if you'r not my friend. Please make any comments here on the blog, and keep in mind that I don't accept friend requests from people I don't know.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Madrid Williams Media

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I'm excited to announce that I have joined forces with a fantastic editor and digital cinema enthusiast, Jonathan Madrid. To take our work to a more professional level, we have started our own media company, called Madrid Williams Media. I built the logo and the website.

If you are in the Colorado Springs area and looking for affordable, profesional video production then drop us a line at www.MadridWilliamsMedia.com

Monday, May 9, 2011

Headlight Art

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Glowing Flower
One of my favorite things to do on a long car ride, while someone else is driving of course, is to take long exposures of the street lights and headlights around me. By doing long exposures, anywhere between 10 and 30 seconds, and moving the camera around and adjusting focus, I can get some great looking abstract photos.
I hope you enjoy these photos that I took Saturday night on the ride back from my brother Jeremiah's graduation party. Congratulations to him for graduating from CU- Boulder!

--Click to view full size--
light wall
Streetlight River
Bright Hook
Bright Basket
Neon Highway

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Using the "Sunny 16" rule to plan a shoot.

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Tomorrow my older brother is graduating college, and I want to be able to capture photos of him getting his diploma so I went to grab my longest lenses, one is 500mm prime and the other is a 70-300mm zoom. As not to look like the awkward photographer, I decided to just take one. But which one?

The 500mm prime has a much sharper image and longer length, but it only opens to f/8 whereas the zoom opens to f/4, two whole stops. I decided to take the 500mm as long as I could get enough light.

The "Sunny 16" rule states that on a day with direct sunlight, set the f-stop to 16 and the shutter speed to reciprocal of the ISO. There is another rule that states, don't ever shoot at a shutter speed less than your focal length.

Knowing all of this I know ill set my f-stop to f/16, my shutter speed to 1/500s and my ISO to 500. With these settings I know I can get a properly exposed shot that's not gonna be blurry and not too noisy (I know photos look good up to 800 ISO and I can get away with 1600 ISO).

But what if I want a lower ISO for a cleaner picture? Well since the minimum f-stop of the less is f/8, I know I can, but how much more?

All I have to do is know stops. Stops are units of exposure which you can translate into any of your three exposure options. To add or subtract a stop from ISO simply double or half it, and the opposite is true for shutter speed. To do the same for f-stop, its 2 stops for each time you double or half it.

So going from f/16 to f/8 is two stops, and knowing ill stay at 1/500s, I can half my ISO twice, giving me 125. Which means ill be able to get a low ISO shot if I want.

Needless to say I packed the 500mm prime and will be taking pictures in the morning.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Using Technicolor's LUT file WITH LUT Buddy

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--Update: Technicolor took town the LUT file and replaced it with a .mga file. This should work just the same in LUT buddy without the "changing Pattern" workaround.--
Yesterday I covered how to use a LUT file without any plugins, but was informed that some editors don't have support for custom curves. So I downloaded a trial of Premiere, since I don't have a Mac, I cant test Final Cut, and fiddled around with LUT Buddy till it worked. The secret? Upload your LUT file in setup, then change the "Action" to "Draw Pattern", then the "Pattern" to "3D 64", and then the "Action" back to "Apply LUT". And that's it!

Here is my quick video tutorial showing how to do it in Premiere, but hopefully it works the same in Final Cut:

The only change I would make is putting the LUT file somewhere in the Adobe directory, or other location you know will continue to be around, instead of with the project files so it doesn't get deleted or lost when you move on to another project.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Using Technicolor's LUT file without a LUT plugin

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Using the LUT file provided with Technicolor's CineStyle picture profile is essential, but some editors, including Sony Vegas, don't have a plugin for LUT files.
Here is a video tutorial that I made explaining how to use the LUT file without a plugin.

This is the graph of the curve defined by the LUT file. Reproducing this replaces the need for a LUT plugin.
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And don't forget to save it as a preset for later use.

Here is the image before and after the LUT defined s-curve. Click for full size.
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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Technicolor CineStyle vs. SuperFlat vs. MarvelCine vs. Neutral

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After the popularity of yesterday's post, I decided to continue my tests of grading Technicolor's new picture profile CineStyle. This time I took my beautiful girlfriend and we headed out to get some skin tone tests.
I set up one scene, which I shot at proper exposure and then overexposed.
Since some people asked for comparisons, I shot in what I believe to be the most common picture profiles: Neutral, MarvelCine, SuperFlat, and of course CineStyle. All styles were set to (0, -4, -2, 0)
I brought them back and ran quick color correction over them, focusing on getting them as close as possible, without deviating too far from a basic correction.
--Click images for full sized versions--





As you can see, they're all very similar, but the MarvelCine and Neutral came off the camera looking more graded, and they were the most difficult to push to something new. The SuperFlat and CineStyle both kept the most details in the shadows(look at the sunglasses, in Neutral you can barely see her eyes), but CineStyle kept the most detail in the highlights (look at her teeth). I did not like the way SuperFlat held the color in her cheeks. It looks unnatural to me.

If I were to rank this round, it would go as follows:
1st to Cinestyle for keeping detail in her eyes and her teeth, and keeping natural color. Plus it was easiest to grade.
2nd to MarvelCine because it has a wide dynamic range, and also kept the color nicely.
3rd to Neutral because although it had a lower dynamic range, it had great color and was easy to grade.
4th to SuperFlat, because even though it has a wide dynamic range, but didn't produce usable colors without extra tweaking. Plus it was difficult to grade to a natural looking image.

Next I shot overexposed. I kept all of the grading the same, and only tweaked curves using the waveform to create the best image. The over exposed frame grabs strait out of the camera can be found at http://www.flickr.com/photos/zechw.
Here are the images corrected and graded:





Once again, all the images look very similar, but when looking at her forehead, which was clipping, we can tell how graceful each of the picture styles handle overexposure. Again MarvelCine and Neutral performed almost identical, they even both added more red to her hair. But when it came to grading, I had to fight the graded look that it already had to produce a good looking image. Once again SuperFlat distorted its colors and took some extra work to bring skin tones back into an acceptable range (they were greatly over saturated). Also is it just me, or does her hair look softer with SuperFlat. CineStyle was easiest to grade and held its colors nicely.
This round goes to Neutral simply because her forehead looked better and its dynamic range was comparable to both MarvelCine and CineStyle. Next comes CineStyle because of its ease of grading, followed by MarvelCine. SuperFlat came in last because it did not produce usable colors without extra work.

Before CineStyle was released, I used to prefer SuperFlat when I needed the dynamic range and Neutral when I didn't, but now I will most likely be using CineStyle all the time because not only does it have the raised dynamic range, It is extremely flexible in grading. I feel like I could push CineStyle much more than I could Push Neutral or MarvelCine.