Wednesday, 16 November 2016

The supermoon photography & post editing.

Getting ready for the supermanI got out for 4:30pm, travelled to the spot I'd chosen and pointed the camera at the horizon. The cloudy horizon. 20 minutes I thought, it might clear. But alas it didn't. I checked my compass, I knew where the moon should have been rising, but as with all of the best laid plans, it didn't show. It got darker, and darker and the conditions for a great shot became even more challenging, especially considering this was going to be the brightest moon ever. The clouds looked lovely. Illuminated as they were from behind. Then it peeked through the clouds and I started getting my first shots of it. Manually focussed, sharp, shoot, overexposed, adjust, under adjust, snap again. Full manual mode adjusting only the shutter speed. 2 second delay. Push, wait, review, adjust. Push, wait, review, adjust. This was the best, liverpool in the foreground and the moon glimpsing out of the clouds.
Supermoon daily post liverpool The Daily post liked it and shared it on their page, but I was disappointed. The world was in full supermoon frenzy and I'd failed to get the shot I wanted. So I went home and watched 'black mirror'. Alas, the night was young, and photos came as thick and fast as the cloud. Some of them, the viral ones, so obviously photo shopped. So if you can't beat them, I thought, why not join them. 2 shots sprang to mind, a wonderful street scene I snapped on 1/10 handheld in Paleochora Crete and a moon shot from a long time ago taken with my Canon.
Supermoon in CreteThey would look amazing together. 10 minutes later, a layer created from the sky, the actual image in the foreground and the moon slotted nicely in between the two, and this was born. But I knew I'd cheated. I went out and the moon was showing nicely through the clouds, so I started snapping again. Tripod on standby. 2 seconds delay again, ISO 200 this time, 1/60 shutter and f7.6. This pulled the nice detail out of the moon, but also alot of cloud glare from around. Still, a quick whiz through iPhoto (yes I've gone back to it, I can't abide the new Photos application) and I improved the visibility of it. Although the moon detail was disappointing, it was understandable considering the cloud I'd taken the shot through. (But needs another shot when the conditions are better). I pulled the contrast out and this was a legitimate shot. Pretty good, but it was no different to all the other great shots flying about. I lacked punch, it didn't show it was a moon, it looked as flat as all of the crackers and tortillas sellotaped to peoples windows.  It didn't look like a sphere as such. A quick google image search for a b&w sphere and I'd  got my inspiration. 10 minutes in pixelmator and we'd gone from this, to this. On the far left is the original image, unadulterated with a reasonable exposure. Second, brushed up with simple contract and exposure sliders in iPhoto and then finally, with a Spherical overlay to show off the real shape of the moon.
Supermoon photoshopNot the best results for a photography phenomenon. But worthwhile being a participant, even if it was only for the photo editing experience.


Supermoon sphere

Monday, 14 November 2016

Chromebook top tips....

I've been using a Chromebook for the past week, and I've stumbled across a lot of tips that make it easier to use as a replacement for an 'ordinary desktop' these are my top tips. 

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Press ALT + ‘[‘ or ‘]’ to trigger Windows snap left and right respectively. This enables you to have two windows open at the same time, to use one for reference and the other to create.

To get ‘Caps Lock’ press ALT and Search together. Why don't they have a caps lock button? Weird.

You can do quick sums in the search box, which is handy, just like on a Mac.

To lock the computer quickly press ‘Search’ (the magnifying glass) + ‘L’

Press CTRL SHIFT ALT and Reload to watch the window Barrel roll, utterly pointless, but a lot of fun to watch! Especially if you're 9 years old.

Pres CTRL and SCREEN to take a screen shot, or hold shift as well, to snapshot a portion of the screen.

Goto chrome://settings/search#accessibility in chrome to enable tap dragging. This means you can tap and drag windows which is annoying when it isn't enabled.

Press Shift opening an APP to open it in a new window (not in Chrome) this makes it look more like an app, than a chrome extension.

ALT -/+ minimises and maximises windows respectively.

Three finger swipe up/down, shows open applications.

Press and hold CTRL+SHIFT and press ‘qq’ to quickly logout.

Click the Bell (bottom right) and then the Red Bell to temporarily pause notifications, or stop distractions!

Pressing ALT and TAB tabs through active windows or applications, just like it does on Windows and Mac.

Chrome call natural scrolling (like on an iPad) ‘Australian’ scroll mode, Goto Settings>> Device>> Touchpad to enable it.
Screenshot 2016-11-08 at 23.02.30.png

In the Files app hold CTRL+SHIFT+E to safely eject USB drives

CTRL + N opens a NEW Window

In ‘Files’ app CTRL+E = new folder (see above for why it isn’t CTRL+N like on other machines). Gets confusing with USB key eject, but useful to know.

To edit video (for free) the best thing to use is Youtube Creator Studio, you can find it here after you login in the top right hand of the screen.
Screenshot 2016-11-08 at 23.28.43.png

If you delete the description in Chrome bookmarks you get neat favicon bookmarks in Chrome. (This works on Mac and Windows too and saves valuable space on your bookmarks bar).
Screenshot 2016-11-08 at 23.37.41.png

Screenshot 2016-11-08 at 23.35.43.png


You can perform simple photo edits (straighten, colour adjustments, etc) in google photos with the PEN icon.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Photographing the super moon on November the 14th

On the 14th of November this year there will be the biggest ever supermoon that the world has ever seen since records began etc etc, again.
Nevertheless it will provide (once again) fantastic opportunities to take some great pictures. However, you should probably start snapping now. The difference in diameter will be negligible and the weather, clouds conditions on the 14th may not be as favourable as they may be on the 13th, or the 12th. So my advice, is get snapping straight away, but bear in mind the 14th is when it's 'full' but that doesn't always mean more photogenic. The other thing to bear in mind is, if you want to get a natural shot of it looking supersize, then you're going to need a foreground, and peculiarly, light. It's actually much easier to photograph the moon during the day. So thinking about what time the moon rises is going to be important as well.
Without the use of photoshop or an equivalent photo editing program, if you want to get the classic giant moon shot, you're going to need a hefty telephoto lens. 300mm should be sufficient, in order to compose something reasonable. The shot (left) was taken at extremely short notice, I was in an open air restaurant in kefalonia when it cropped up, although it's acceptable, there are a number of things we can learn by studying it. On the night, the moon looked huge, but as you can see from the photo, It's not really done it any justice. The reason is because the scale of the foreground object is too large. The chimney is larger than the moon. Whilst the 250mm focal length ensures the moon fills a fair portion of the photo, the foreground objects are simply too close. The solution to creating the super-moon illusion is to ensure that you can frame the moon as close to the horizon as possible. Next to buildings looks great as the 'supermoon' will dwarf them.
This thinking gives us two problems.
1) Focus and aperture; and
2) Exposure and ISO.
The photo above was taken (in a panic) handheld. Although the Canon IS really helped out, the shutter speed had to be dropped to 1/13, which is a fair challenge to hold handheld. The f stop was thus, as low as the camera could handle and the lowest ISO I could get away with was 400. Which under the circumstances felt like the best compromise. You've got to remember as well, the moon doesn't half shift when you're zoomed in close, so planning beforehand is vital if an impressive supermoon shot is your goal. Given the same challenge, there are a number of things you can do to prepare.
1) Know where the moon is likely to rise, think about your composition and don't forget the rule of thirds.
2) Expect your best photos to come from night 2.
3) Use a tripod and leave it in situ overnight (if you're doing 2 nights and it's possible), or mark clearly where the legs were fully extended.
4) Use night 1 to experiment with camera settings and review the photos for clarity and exposure.
5) Consider HDR methodology, and set your AEB to +/- a couple of F stops. (I use HDRtist - it's simple).
6) If 5 isn't appealing, use as low an ISO as you can get away with.
7) Use a middling to high aperture, 9 or higher should be sufficient. You want the edge of the buildings sharp as the moon. Bear in mind higher aperture will mean longer shutter speeds that could show the moon blurry as it does move pretty quick.
8) Use a shutter release if possible, or 2 seconds timer delay if you can't, to keep things as still as you can.
9) Concentrate your exposure on the detail from the moon. The contrast of the moon is far harder to pull the detail from (because of the high contrast) than the simple flat silhouette of the building and the flat colour of the sky behind it.
10) Bear in mind, the finished photograph is definitely going to need some post production tweaks. If HDR isn't your thing, then your going to want to look at balancing the contrast, ensuring the highlights aren't overblown and the darks too lost. Ensure your screen brightness is set to full before you start playing.

If you're not sure where the moon will rise, have a look at Google's sky map app for android and iOS there are also plenty of apps that will tell you what time the moon will rise. Currently it's quarter to twelve, in the morning. Which would be ideal. 

Have fun, good luck and share your best pictures below.

Here's my best photo of an eclipse, but wait..... thats no moon.




Simple laptop buying advice.