News and Views from Dave Wilson

Archive for June, 2008

Great (Televised) Wedding

by on Jun.29, 2008, under Uncategorized

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Erin, originally uploaded by David A G Wilson.

Erin and Sam from church got married yesterday in a lovely ceremony (despite 102 degrees and dodgy air conditioning) followed by a truly fabulous reception at “Old Glory Ranch” in Wimberley. The venue was outstanding – outdoor seating for dinner (thank goodness for large, misting fans) followed by dancing indoors and the wedding was made even more interesting due to the fact that it was being filmed for one of these reality shows. Look for an episode of “Whose Wedding Is It Anyway” on Style Network some time in the coming months.
You can find more snaps of the event here.

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Roy’s Shades

by on Jun.29, 2008, under Uncategorized

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Roy’s Shades, originally uploaded by David A G Wilson.

Roy was wearing some really cool shades at the wedding we went to yesterday so I really had to do something with them. Here’s the fun result. I wonder if he’ll like it?

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Bikes

by on Jun.28, 2008, under Uncategorized

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Bikes, originally uploaded by David A G Wilson.

It seems to have been a while since I posted a new photo so here’s another of the results from my photo day a couple of weeks ago. The “Republic of Texas” biker rally was taking place in Austin and the area was teaming with fabulous motorcycles. This was taken in Wimberley and, as for pretty much all the photos I took that day, is an HDR comprising 3 different exposures. I rather like the way the HDR processing really accentuates the reflections.

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Image viewer with true Wow! appeal

by on Jun.27, 2008, under Uncategorized

I’ve just been introduced to a truly outstanding new web site viewer called PicLens which is available as an add-on for Firefox, IE and Safari on Mac and Windows. It makes use of the 3D capabilities of your graphics card to display all the images on the current web page using a fast-scrolling, zoomable 3D wall and it’s absolutely gorgeous.

On sites such as Flickr which offer a MediaRSS feed for their pages, you get a far better experience. Take a look at the feed for someone with a huge library on Flickr and you end up standing in front of an apparently infinite wall of thumbnails (with reflections of course) that you can drag left and right. Find an image you like and you can click on it for a higher resolution view then zoom in or out using the mouse thumbwheel.

This description really doesn’t get across the true Wow! factor – download it and play with it to see what you think.

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Now Visible to Firefox 3.0 users

by on Jun.25, 2008, under Uncategorized

In adding the gallery button on the left earlier this week, I inadvertently reintroduced the syntax error that had previously caused Safari problems – oops. After upgrading to Firefox 3.0, I found that the blog was once again invisible so I guess Firefox’s claim to be more standards compliant may be true. It is, at least, different from the previous version which handled the syntax error without problems (in case anyone is interested, a closing script tag had an extra space between the “/” and the “script”). Anyway, all is now well and all the browsers I have access to can once again display the blog as intended.

Apologies for any inconvenience!

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More bad news regarding an Austin favourite

by on Jun.20, 2008, under Uncategorized

In another blow to the Wilson/Loftin favourite restaurant list, I’ve just read that Castle Hill Cafe is closing. To me Castle Hill was the quintessentially Austin restaurant. The decor was slightly funky, the service was excellent but not at all stuffy, and the food was outstanding and consistently introduced new and different flavours.

Castle Hill now joins a depressingly long list of other excellent eateries that have disappeared after becoming favourites of ours – Jean Pierre’s Upstairs, Sardine Rouge and Capitol Brasserie to name three that come immediately to mind.

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Cowboy Boots

by on Jun.20, 2008, under Uncategorized

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Cowboy Boots, originally uploaded by David A G Wilson.

Here’s another of the photos from last weekend’s photo day. This one was taken in Wimberley inside a fabulous shop called the “Wild West Store”. They specialise in antique cowboy boots and have 300 pairs, every pair different and all beautifully made. You can see a few examples here.I had no idea that there was as much variation in cowboy boots as there apparently is.

This image is a 3 exposure HDR processed using (as ever) Photomatix with Photoshop used for some final rework (minor curve tweaking and vignetting). The depth of field is not quite as I would have liked but Ulli who runs the store has invited me back so hopefully I’ll get a chance to take a few more of these in the coming weeks.

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Old Filling Station, Driftwood, Texas

by on Jun.17, 2008, under Uncategorized

I had a great day last Saturday while on my now-annual Fathers’ Day photography extravaganza. I spent the whole day shooting material for HDRs in Driftwood, Wimberley and Dripping Springs. Here’s the first processed image. This was created from 3 D70 raw exposures using Photomatix and I am extremely happy with the result. Look for more in the weeks ahead – I have about 200 images still to play with…

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Scout Camp Tornado

by on Jun.12, 2008, under Uncategorized

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Cumulo Nimbus, originally uploaded by David A G Wilson.

I was saddened today to read about the deaths of four people in an Iowa Scout camp hit by a tornado. Hearing this news makes me feel a whole lot better about leaving last month’s camp in Llano one night early after we took a look at the weather radar. On the previous night, I had had to get up and restake the tent in the middle of the night (though, thankfully, the wind hadn’t done any damage) and the forecast for the second night resulted in all but a handful of people packing up and heading home in front of the storm. There were no tornadoes reported in the immediate vicinity of the campground but the folks who stayed said it had been a pretty wild experience.

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Agua Through The Archway

by on Jun.08, 2008, under Photography

Agua Through The Archway

Here’s another of the “rehashed Antigua” shots. I’ve actually posted this one already (you can find it on Flickr here and ages ago in the blog here) but was so happy with the new version that I felt it merited a posting too.

This is another example of using Photomatix to bring out detail in a raw image that you would never otherwise see. Maybe that’s not quite true – you probably could find it if you opened the raw file in Photoshop Camera Raw, imported it as a 16 bit image then spent a lot of time with curves layers and masks – but it definitely is true to say that achieving the desired effect in Photomatix is a whole lot quicker and easier than in PS.

One thing I have learned with Photomatix is that it really pays to save your tone mapping settings when you achieve an effect you particularly like. Fairly subtle changes in any number of controls and dramatically alter the way the image looks and it’s rather depressing when you find something you like then accidentally lose it by fiddling with some other slider and forgetting how to get back to where you were.

In this particular series of images (which you can see in my Guatemala page on the gallery site or on Flickr), I’ve used pretty similar settings for each of the images. I always keep the light smoothing on the right side of the scale (High or Very High typically) and tend to turn the gamma way above “normal” (1.4 to 1.8 are pretty typical for me). Saturation is 70 to 80 and Luminosity varies between about 2 and 10. Black point typically stays at 0 but I change the white point on pretty much every image since it has a very obvious effect on the overal brightness. Generally, white point, gamma and luminosity have to be modified together to achieve the overall brightness I want.

The only problem I’ve found with this method is that skies, although extremely dramatic, end up containing a great deal of noise. Given that this ends up as a 16 bit sample image, I would be surprised if this was dithering noise but I don’t know the algorithms that Photomatix uses so am not sure where it comes from. It may be the case that the processing amplifies the noise in the original image, I suppose. In some images, the noise actually adds to the atmosphere but in others, I find it annoying and sometimes postprocess in Photoshop to mask noisy areas and try to remove the noise (the Wildflower Center picture below had this done to the sky).

Overall, however, I’m extremely happy with the results I am achieving with Photomatix as a tool to create artistic variations on original exposures and am pretty confident that you will be seeing a lot more of these in future.

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