Flickr Upload: Analogue photography

15 10 2009

Analogue photography

For our 2nd year anniversary Lindi got me something I’ve wanted for a while, but I never considered it practical enough to justify the purchase being film and all. So here it is a 35mm film based Lomography Fish Eye 2 camera. I’m looking forward to playing with this crazy 10mm equiv fish-eye and getting some films developed! If you don’t know what lomography is… here are the 10 “golden rules”:

1. Take your camera everywhere you go.
2. Use it any time – day and night.
3. Lomography is not an interference in your life, but part of it.
4. Try the shot from the hip.
5. Approach the objects of your Lomographic desire as close as possible.
6. Don’t think.
7. Be fast.
8. You don’t have to know beforehand what you captured on film.
9. Afterwards either.
10. Don’t worry about any rules.

So really, it’s just a more care-free style of photography which does not worry about technical excellence, and actually embraces visual flaws… but most importantly it’s about capturing our lives. I’m looking forward to dropping the DSLR every now and then, and having some fun!

Canon EOS 400D & EFS 17-85mm Err99

15 09 2009

Er99The symptom:

My Canon EOS 400D (XTi in the states) along with my EFS 17-85mm f/4-5.6 was giving the famous Err 99 – “Shooting is not possible. Turn the power switch to <OFF> and <ON> again or re-install the battery” when I fully depressed the shutter button. It did not do it at all times, and also the problem did not occur with my EF 50mm f/1.8.

The problem:

I found through a process of elimination that the problem (Err 99) would only occur on the wide angle (17-35mm) when using an aperture smaller than f/4. So I guessed that either the lens was the problem, or perhaps the communication between the lens and body. I cleaned the contact points with an eraser… but no go… same problem.

The solution:

Took both the out-of-warranty body and lens into the Canon Service Centre in Singapore. They found the problem to be with the len’s power diaphragm assembly, and replaced it as a cost of S$111.28 (Part S$24, Labor S$80 & GST S$7.28). They also did a great job cleaning the internal lens elements and external housing, so it looks as good as new now.

Unrelated they found my focus screen on the body to be really scratched too, and replaced it for S$26.75 (Part S$5, Labor S$20 & GST S$1.75).

Image credit to Rowen Atkinson

Canon lenses – How they are made

9 09 2009

After watching this video on how Canon lenses, and in particular the EF 500mm F4L (~USD10K) are made… I can appreciate why these things are so damn expensive!

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Gimp fullscreen previews

5 09 2009

I’ve always been frustrated with the lack of proper full screen preview in Gimp. By default if you enter fullscreen mode (F11), it just gives you a bit more screen real estate but keeps all of the menu bars, rulers and other things that distract you from the image.

I found that you can customize what is displayed in full screen mode, and also on what colour background your image is shown. By turning all things off in full screen mode, and selecting a background colour of choice (I like black) it works well as a full screen preview mode.

Here is what my preferences look like now (click here for a larger version):

Flickr Upload: Khai Island, Thailand

26 08 2009

Khai Island, Thailand

Stopped at Khai Island for about an hour and a half on a recent trip to Phi Phi islands near Phuket. It’s a beautiful sand island which is good for relaxing and doing some snorkeling too. I wish I was still there…

PP: Masked curves, vignette, sharpening and border.

Looks better on black

Flickr Upload: Fly by Night

26 08 2009

Fly By Night

Took some friends, who are currently staying in Holland, on the Singapore Flyer, it was lots of fun, but unfortunately my camera is playing up now giving “Err 99” errors and such – so off to the Canon Service Centre I go this weekend.

Flickr Page

Update: got that Err99 fixed!

Panoramas on Linux

6 10 2008

Larger version: here

This shot is made up of 7 RAW shots from my Canon EOS 400D (aka Rebel XTi) w/ EF-S 17-85mm IS USM lens, here was the process I followed:

The shoot:

1. Mounted the camera on a tripod in portrait orientation, doing this has two benefits… firstly puts the barrel distortion introduced by your lens on the top and bottom making the shots easier to blend and stitch, also it’ll give your pano more height. The down side of course is that you’ll need to take more shots than you would with landscape to get the same field of view.

2. Put the camera in Manual mode to ensure that the exposure is locked. If you use any of the Auto/Semi-auto modes… your camera will re-meter for exposure for each shot – causing the brightness of each shot to differ.

3. Then I selected a specific white balance, in this case ‘daylight’ – but the important thing is not to have it on Auto White Balance, otherwise each shot is likely to be a different temperature.

4. Next I dialed in the aperture to a tiny (F/22), this is to ensure that I get the deepest Depth of Field (DoF) as possible so the foreground and background are sharp and in focus.

5. Then I used the auto focus to do the focus work for me, then once focus was achieved I switched to Manual Focus to ensure that each shot is taken with the same focus.

6. Finally, using my Canon IR remote I shot off the first shot then carefully panned by tripod head until there was approximately 20% overlap from the previous shot then shot off again… then continued until I had the complete field of view I was after.

The post processing:

I did the post processing on my Linux (Ubuntu) box, as a minimum you’ll need the following:

Here is the process I followed:

1. Converted my RAW images to JPEG using dcraw. I used a custom version of the script available here:

2. Renamed the .JPEG output to .JPG, because Autopano-sift-C fails with .JPEG extensions.

3. Batch rotated JPEGs using mogrify from ImageMagick (mogrify -rotate “-90” *.JPG)

4. Opened images in Hugin, and got it to use Autopano-sift-C to automatically find the control points between the set of images.

5. Hugin then uses ‘nano’ to modify the geometry of the images, then ‘enblend’ to stitch them all together.

FYI – I did run into an issue with the latest CVS version of Enblend (v3.2), and had to downgrade to a previous version to make it work.