Friday, December 28, 2012

Obligatory Christmas post

Everybody have gathered to see baby Jesus.
There's live music, a star tennis player promoting the event, police force/security and a proper queue.
And the first in line to see it, a guy that climbed up the heavens...
(the astronaut is my oldest Lego piece :D)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Accidentally depressing

Taking into account events and history,
i wouldn't place a sign like that on barb wire...

Monday, October 29, 2012

Clouds framing the sky

There is a rectangular piece missing ... Seriously...
It's like the clouds are framing that piece of the sky.
Click the pic for a bigger version.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Small cheat #1

There are some things that may be considered by some to be cardinal sins and in most cases it's how i feel about them as well. However the keyword phrases here are "in moderation" and "when in a pinch".

One of those sins is to use an image of a certain size in a situation requiring a bigger size by resizing it and in the process make the image blurry. However what can you do in a case where you have no other choice than to use said picture? It doesn't matter if it's too small or anything, there is a reason that you just have to use that specific one and you can't get it bigger. Well there is a cheat that you can do to try and hide the blurriness. Again this works if the image is slightly blurry, CSI magic is just that; magic in a TV series. The "cheat" isn't about making the image sharper as there is already a sharpening filter in Photoshop (which sometimes introduces sharpening artifacts). Instead it is to make the image look as if it is sharp enough or more specifically trick the eye into seeing more resolution and details than it really has.

So what is this semi-solution to blurry image sin? Noise filter. No wait, don’t hang me yet, I’m not talking about uncontrollable amounts of noise and yes; it’s not a silver bullet, it doesn’t always work nor does it have a standard amount of noise that works. It’s really easy to pull it off in Photoshop though, you set the noise filter in monochrome as you want to add false detail, not color blotches. Then you play around with the noise amount slider to find the value that works for your image, starting from the very left to just add a tiny bit amount of noise making it look more like fine film grain than noise. For my taste it's the point where the noise barely starts to get visible. Oh and btw it works better with photos that are in monochrome. (And that means any colour, not just black and white.)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Putting things into perspective

If you have an SLR or dSLR camera then chances are, you are wondering which lens to buy, which working focal length to invest in. Well in case you haven’t figured it out yet, the answer is simple (in the sense of choosing your focal length), get what you need for the things you like shooting the most. And please don’t ask about “how X zoom” the lens has, as that is just a marketing trick and means nothing about the lens really. A 70-200mm zoom lens is less useful than a 24mm fixed length if what you like shooting is street scenes, and like wise a 600mm lens is more useful than a 17-85mm zoom lens if you like shooting wild life. If you are still confusing the wide and narrow focal lengths, think of it like this: The higher the mm number, the further away you’ll see. The smaller the number, the closer you’ll be able to see (This is just a way of thinking about it if you are confused, the mm rating means something else in reality!). 200mm is narrower than 24mm because it translates into an angle of view; with a 200mm lens having a narrower view cone than the 24mm.

Another thing that a lens’s focal length changes is the perspective, or how things look. People keep saying that you need a 40-50mm lens. The reason behind it might stem from the fact that it was the lens being given away with cameras most often back when film SLR cameras started popping out or  that lenses in that focal range are closer to the human eye in terms of perspective distortion, or rather the lack of it. What do I mean with that is that lenses outside that range tend to change how things look depending on how much wider or narrower the focal length is when compared to the 40-50 range. Check out the old stone olive press.

The reason is that the wider the lens, the closer you can get your subject. But the closer you get, the closer some elements of your subject get to the lens, while the things further away don’t, or at least not in any significant distance. Remember those scenes in comedies where the teacher points at a pupil and the view from the pupil is distorted with the teacher’s finger almost touching the kid’s nose, an elongated arm like a bridge and the teacher almost in the back of the frame? That is what you get when you use a really wide lens and have a subject that is really really close to it. If you go narrower than the 40-50mm range into let’s say 200+, then you get the exact opposite effect. Things get squashed and they lose their extreme depth.

So, remember that when you want to take some portraits. Don’t put up your ultra wide lens and go close to them or they will start complaining about their nose looking like Rudolf. Use a narrower range, like let’s say 70-80 and just take a few steps back if you are too close. (On the other hand, if you are going to take pics of some kids with a sense of humor, you might want to use that ultra wide to make for some wacky perspective.) 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Faces everywhere #2

omg OMG! Is my hair falling the wrong side?! OMG!

Or at least that is what this upside down mounted outlet made me think. I have this snobby sounding voice in my head when i see it. Even the way the light hits the internal safety mechanism in its "mouth" and the LD letters as its nose.

(click on it for a bigger version)

Monday, August 13, 2012

The awe of the ancients.

I know this post has nothing to do with design or photography, but it is a thought that popped in my mind because of the Olympics and our first Olympic medalist and just wanted to put it somewhere.

Most of us tend to be awestruck when thinking about ancient civilizations and cultures, be it for their beautiful achievements, their culture or simply because of that Indiana esque romanticism. We don't even think about their quirks or things that they did that would be unthinkable today. We may even not give enough credit to us today and instead of saying "we deserve to be better just because" we think more along the lines of "ah those ancients, what a great bunch."

They were the same exact thing as us. Way of thinking, doing business, sense of justice or lack of it. Culture and ways of thinking are things that are evolved (or devolved) over time, they don't just pop up.

How come and this post was inspired by the Olympics? Well as I've said this year we got our first Olympic medalist as the Republic of Cyprus and the whole place couldn't be prouder of course. He was greeted as a hero with a special ceremony and I really think that we should have done more for him. The ceremony was in the same way as the ancient Greeks did for their Olympic winners. They would tear down parts of the city walls for their winners to come in and they would say that they fear no one now because they had their Olympic winners with them. Now this is an era where each city was its own state with their own army.

To me that says that their Olympic athletes were actually their army and the cities competing in the games was more for showing their army to each other, a show off so that the others will think twice before messing with them. Now I'm waiting for those that will start saying "But wars would stop during the games! It was for peace!" Well yeah, after all there were no soldiers left to fight a war, they were at the games competing. If you think about it the events were javelin, boxing, disc throwing, chariot racing... events that showed how strong the participants were. There were no such things as gymnastics or diving.

"And your point is?" I just realized that the games were supposedly conducted for honoring the gods and forging alliances, while it looks as if it had a deeper agenda if you like. So in that sense one could argue that the modern Olympics really are for the games themselves, for the athletes to compete with each other and get a medal to take back home not to say to each other "my army is bigger than yours." I'm not trying to reduce the significance of those games, it's just that this thought I had made the modern games all that more special to me.

I'd love to hear from an actual historian about this. In any case, normal non-pondering program should resume shorty :P It was just a thought that popped in my mind.

Friday, August 3, 2012


Who doesn't love Friday. (Well, perhaps Monday might, but who asked him/her/it)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Braking symmetry

Lets pretend that there is some symmetry going on in this photo and that the cliche effect of selective colouring is braking said symmetry :P

(Oh and photos, even though usually taken for evidence, never tell the truth. Room seems empty, but it had lots of things going on behind me when i took the photo)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Neuron tree

If you squint your eyes, or go stand away from the screen, it may look like neurons. Well anyway that's how it looks to me :P

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Graffiti 2

Old photo of an even older graffiti that just got covered up by someone so i though i'd post it here.
To those not able to read greek: "Happyness is spelled with an E not €". And then someone corrected the spelling mistake in happiness, "Learn how to spell happiness first."

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Flashing your subjects

Sorry for the wall of text, there are 2 photo examples in there, i promise.
Also, someone mentioned that the images are not loading sometimes. Try refreshing the page, i've already contacted support for this. We'll see what they say.

Most people understand that it's for the best to have lots of light when taking a picture. After all - photography basically means to draw with light. What you actually need to do with light is to control it as much as possible, not just to have lots of it. Too much light may in fact ruin a picture if it is coming from the wrong angle. Ways of controlling the angle of light is your subject’s location, a reflector of sorts or to add a light source of your own, your camera’s flash. The flash is not just for adding light in low light situations, sometimes it may even ruin a night time photo while a daytime photo might be in need of a flash. Yeap, a daytime photo that most people wouldn’t think of using a flash (because you have the sun), may need some extra light coming from the right place. Camera sensors are not even close in behaviour when compared to our eyes. What you see, is not what the camera sees. Once someone realizes that, it will be easier to get the desired effect. And no, i won’t be going into serious flash photography where you use one or more flash units to light your subject and then another flash to light the background in a way you want. (It is though a really interesting subject, but that is not the point of this post.)

The first and most important use for a flash is of course fill flash, meaning to use the flash to add light to shadowy areas. That could very well be that friend of yours that you want to take a picture of, but is standing with the sun behind his back leaving you facing the sun. Sun blinds people but it blinds camera’s even more. That auto exposure and “limited” digital sensor kick in to lower the overall brightness of the scene to manageable levels and so the image ends up with a nice sky, but with everything else really really dark. What will you do if you can’t change your location? Use your flash of course. That’s why it’s there, it will try to fill in and brighten up the dark areas.

The fill flash can be done with any camera, compacts and dSLRs alike, it just needs a flash. The next two uses are easier with an external flash like the ones for dSLR cameras.

You can also use flash to simulate a softer, more natural light source. Swivel that head. Its got joints for a reason. As humans we are used for natural light to come from a big light source located far away, and the light hitting us from above, remember the cliche scenes from movies where they tell ghost stories with a flashlight shining from below? There's a reason some find it unsettling, the light is coming from an unnatural source. (Meaning we are used to seeing the shadows in a certain way.)
So turn that light source upwards and to the left or right and bounce the light on the ceiling and walls. The reason to do this is to give light a chance to diffuse and soften up a bit. Depending on the paint, the light may come down with a slightly different color and may even make the photo look warmer. (You can also use special gels to make the light coming from the flash match the ambient lighting more closely, but if you knew that, you wouldn’t be reading this anyway...) An added bonus for bouncing light on a wall is that your friends won’t want to hurt you for making their eyes bleed. A nice trick for nice results is to let light to come in from lets say a window from the left and then bounce light from a wall to your right to try and balance things out a bit. You may even play with the power of the flash to make things interesting with shadows. (Don’t forget, shadows are one of the things our brain uses to get info about a scene, especially if it is in 2D like a photo.) If you are using a compact camera and want to test bounce your flash, just use a piece of glossy photopaper in front of the flash, tilted 45 degrees towards the ceiling.

Just compare the two examples. On the first one the flash is aimed directly at the souvenirs, notice the harsh light and shadows. On the second one the flash head was aimed upwards. Light is softer and warmer because of the ceiling's paint. To make it seem as if the sun is at 45 degrees instead of noon, all one has to do is aim the flash head upwards and to the left or right. (Settings on both snaps are the same. Only the head's orientation was changed)

Another use for that rush of light is stopping action. It’s not as easy as putting the flash on 100% power and a fast shutter speed. Most probably your camera won’t be able to sync the flash with the shutter fast enough! Most consumer grade cameras have a flash sync of 200. Meaning it won’t be able to do its thing fast enough. The trick is in the flash. You see that bulb always flashes at the same exact power. What changes is the duration that the bulb fires. When you put the flash at 50% it is going to leave the bulb on longer than when putting it at 25% of output. That is what it really means. So if you put your flash at 100%, it is going to stay on longer, and so your moving subject will appear as if it has a trail. You could play with that setting and have a long or short trail from your subject, but if you want to freeze the action, then what you need to do is a bit opposite than what most people would think about. Up your ISO, select a slow shutter speed and for the flash’s power output, put it at around 1/32 of its power. Not half, not one eight. That 1/32 (or even 1/64 power) is going to be fast, making your effective shutter speed so fast that your camera can’t even think of reaching normally. Of course, with this trick, don’t expect to light up the whole scene. Just aim the flash head at what you want to “freeze”.

This snap was taken with a shutter as slow as 1.6secs. That's so slow you need a tripod. Yet, even with having the shutter open for more than a whole second, and just by holding the flash and manually triggering it when the cherries hit the water, the drops are clearly captured. Nothing blurred. (Yes i was throwing cherries in a glass of water. I know its not classy enough :P)

P.S. click the pic for a bigger view.
Oh and the f stop was f8, with the flash manually triggered at 1/32 of its power.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Small detail drawn on the side of a bigger graffiti piece.
I find this tiny one to be a lot stronger and powerful than the bigger piece. (Shows a face with a hand placed over its mouth) 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

iphone cases
So its time for some shameless self promotion!!!
Just made an old design of mine into an iPhone/iPod case (3-4 days ago if not more. That's just how "just" it is...) Fully custom design so no stolen copyrights or images of course. Every design element hand made... using a PC.
You know what i mean.

This one is about rock, haaaard rock.
(So if you want one, click on the image to go to its entry. Or click here)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sometimes people ask me about which camera I think is the best (No, i'm not an expert). Well, the way I see it, there’s really no such thing. Yes, there are cameras that can put out good or bad images, but that is in image quality terms. Give a bad camera to someone that knows photography and has a clear idea of what he/she wants to show and then you are going to get some great photos. They will even use the camera's shortcoming to make an even stronger image. Give the best camera you can to someone that just knows how to push the buttons and you won't be getting anything more than what you would've get if you've given your run-of-the-mill compact, set on full auto.

So my answer can go two ways. First, the best camera is the one that you'd feel most comfortable holding and using, the one you'd actually want to bring with you everywhere you go and want to use. Some like the grip from a Nikon, others like the menu of a Canon. It doesn't really matter what you have if you don't feel like taking it with you. It won't be of any use even if it is one of those €5000 cameras and you don't have it along.

The second thing I say to people is “The camera closer to you. Physically...”
Ideally the camera you are most comfortable using (meaning that you know your way around the menu and settings) should be the one closer to you. You are bringing it along with you, aren't you? Even to the toilet... Anyway, chances are that a picture taking device is close to you. Your phone, a friend's phone (ask for permission!!), a tablet (though you'd look a bit funny)... If there is a scene you want to snap and you already know how to frame it, then all you need is a device to make it into a photo. Just set it on auto if you are not familiar with the device and if the outcome is not exactly what you want you can tweak it later (colour/brightness. If you screw the perspective, that's it :P) . The current generation of smart phones usually utilizes some nice camera sensors. Sure they are not as good as the ones in a dedicated camera (be it compact or DSLR or what-ever-camera) but they are more than enough. There are even people making money by having exhibitions with photographs taken with phones.

An expensive camera like a 5D MkIII or a D800, has a lot of potential and “power”, but the ones making money out of photos buy them because they know how to use all that fine control it gives them, they know how to use that tool box to their advantage. If someone - that has an idea in their head - doesn't know how to use all that extra control then the camera gets in the way.

So what I'm trying to say is that it doesn't matter if you don't have fastest DSLR or the most expensive compact. It’s you that is making the scene; the camera is just taking it. Sure I’d love a 5D MKIII, but the results will be the same for the most part with what I’m getting now with my 450D. Megapixels don't play a big role anymore as you could print 8MP photos into A4 paper and they would still look good. Instead, find a suitable camera for you by testing them in the store (and that doesn't mean that it’s going to be the best and most expensive) and try to make interesting photos by framing, colours, angles... but that is a story for another time.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Friday, April 27, 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012

To yet another blog in those intrawebs. (as if there weren't enough already :D)

Blogs are about sharing your thoughts. Well, this one won't be about the wrongs of the world or my thoughts on how to fix said wrongs, there are others with more brainpower doing so already.

So what will this blog be about? 
Photography and design/sketches mostly, posting images and some tricks that I've picked up either trial and error, or by taking advice. Tips like giving a specific feel to a photo by just changing one aspect of the coloring that can be done in camera the time of shooting, or after the photo is taken by using a PC. Or even which type of camera is right for you.

And why not, to also blatantly promote couple of my designs/photos I have up for sale on various sites.

Oh and why "choose your weapon"? Its between a camera, a pencil and the PC.