Monthly Archives: March 2010

Setting Up My Mac

You get home from the computer store, hastily open the box and plastic and endless twistie-ties, and turn on your new computer! Now what?

Well, for me this is a BIG process. I have the Adobe Suite to install, Final Cut Studio, Cinema 4D, and countless other small applications to set up along with updates galore for all! But I get all this done in around 3 hours or less. How do I do it?

The answer is kinda simple and right to the point: an external hard drive.

You may be thinking now about Time Machine or Carbon Copy or some other backup system, but I’m not talking about this at all. Ok, maybe for my user folders and iTunes library and preferences (what DropBox and MobileMe don’t sync) I use Time Machine, but I’m talking about something even bigger! I’m talking about all my applications!

I keep a 500GB hard drive with all my CDs and DVDs as digital images. These are a combination of DMGs, .toast images and .iso images. So the logic behind this crazy theory is just this: I hate optical drives cause they are slow and the media is prone to scratches. So let’s convert them all to images and store them on an external HD.

As a result, the difference in install time from a FireWire 800 connection compared to a CD/DVD drive connection is SEVERAL hours, if not days, when the transfer load is about 200GB.

Details:

  • Made DVD/CD images with Roxio Toast
  • They mount with Disk Image Mounter if Toast isn’t installed
  • I also install Windows 7 on another partition and use the same process to install everything
  • On another note, I also partition part of my HD right off with a backup of the operating install disk.

An Overview of HDR Photography

Photography has been possessed by a new sensation in the past couple of years known as HDR. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. You’ll be wondering what this is and why photographers, both professionals and amateurs are so crazed by it. I’ll try explaining it as briefly as I can.

Photography in the past twenty or so years has progressed at an extraordinary pace with technological advancements being made so ever frequently. Lenses have come leaps and bounds so have the sensors and both these things along with the new age of processors have made photography uncomplicated. They provide the photographer with great control over what he does and wants, and his difficulties are eased with the cleverness and assistance of the inbuilt processors. But despite these great advancements modern day cameras, even the high end professional ones cannot always capture the true reality that our eyes can see. This is because the sensor in the camera acts like our eyes, but with limitations, it cannot capture all the lights and darks of an image, if you focus on a dark space then all of the scene will be captured with the darkness in mind and the picture will be underexposed (too dark) resulting in the brighter parts of the image lacking detail. Similarly Images can be overexposed when the picture has a very bright area as compared to the rest of the scene, this results in a loss of detail in the dark areas.

These two pictures can give you a general idea of the issues of underexposed and overexposed photos. The detail in the cabin is lost because the image was metered with the backdrop in mind. While in the second photo, the turtle was metered this resulted in the ground loosing detail

Now the question arises, what does HDR do? Well the DR in HDR means dynamic range; range is a term that refers to the amount of colors in an image, from the lightest (white) to the darkest (black). So to sum up, an average photograph has a limited dynamic range therefore it cannot capture all the detail in an image, what HDR does is that it enables us to capture photographs with a much wider dynamic range, giving the photograph much more depth and emotion.

This photograph does a great job of illustrating the power of HDR, despite being a bright day the sky hasn’t been able to underexpose the image, in fact HDR has given great depth to the sky which has really stood out. Then the ship has been captured in great detail, Overall this is a very balanced photograph with a wide dynamic range and attractive contrast.

Now another important question arises, where should a person use HDR instead of normal methods and what should the scene contain? Well the main prerequisite for shooting in HDR is that the scene should be a high contrast one with great variation in light to dark tones, this is because the power of HDR is to reveal as many colors as it can, so naturally the more colors you give it the better the outcome will be. Always try to present a story in the photograph, there must a theme and a emotion in the image that the viewer can refer to. HDR on a whole can be used in a variety of scenarios; I’ll show you some examples.

HDR in Landscapes

Landscape photography is one of the most commonly perused branches of photography and is very popular among amateurs. Landscapes usually provide the highest contrast ratio making them for the use of HDR .

The first picture of a landscape on the left is very dull and doesn’t seem very attractive, the photo was underexposed because the sky was bright with allot of clouds. The second shows the transformation that HDR generates. The photo has much more detail to it with dramatic clouds, shadows and sharpness which presents a sense of scale and beauty to the scenery.

HDR in Cityscapes

The following are photographs of two famous landmarks in Liverpool, England, the Metropolitan Cathedral and the Canning Dock. Both have been taken in HDR and they have the potential to make any person an avid fan of HDR, they are both very inspiring examples to learn from. Cityscapes provide you with allot of subjects and you can narrate many stories.

HDR in Black and White

Black and White photography can be considered to be one the most powerful forms of art, it is ideal for expressing passion and details are heavily exposed. Black and white photography is normally used when colors aren’t expressing themselves correctly/meaningfully. These are two examples.

Hope you’ve got a sufficient overview, in part 2 I’ll be showing what you’ll need in order to capture HDR images and the techniques required. Thanks and Bye!

How we Made the Header Graphic (#C4D)

We hash out a new header graphic for the site every few months. So, here is the most current one in full res:

Full Image (Click to see full render)

Full Image (Click to see full render)

So, how did we make this graphic? It’s actually pretty easy!

The scene is a greeble type, and we made it with inspiration from a tutorial HERE.

Our C4D File Download

And also here is an even bigger render (it’s my desktop background) and without the words:

Even BIGGER Render

Even BIGGER Render

Thanks and be sure to reTweet and share this with your C4D friends!

Pro Video Tips: Demystifying HD Part 2

(I had to reSchedule the “How we made the Header Graphic” post till next week. Not done with the video tutorial)

The term high definition today refers to formats that have more resolution than standard definition (SD) video. In this context, when we discuss resolution its meant to describe how many scan lines (horizontal rows of picture information) make up the video image. As we looked at in an earlier section, the two main SD variations, NTSC and PAL, use 480 lines and 576 lines (respectively).

HD video today:

• There are two resolutions: 1080 or 720 scan lines.
• All HD video is widescreen using an aspect ratio of 16×9, also expressed as 1.78:1.
• Video is scanned either progressively or interlaced.
• There are multiple possible frame rates: 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 30, 59.94 and 60.

Just some personal input…

NEVER buy interlaced. If you buy 720i, then it is the same as buying SD in progressive scan. Same thing as you scale up, just never buy interlaced. It would be better to just buy the next setting down in progressive scan. However, this is my opinion based on using TVs and screens with a computer input, or for playing Blue Ray discs. However, there is a very noticeable difference in progressive and interlaced when it comes to an image that is moving horizontally. It will look jagged where progressive will look smooth. So, for a better overall quality of the picture, always go with progressive.

A Basic Guide to Adobe Camera RAW

Well as this is a basic tutorial of the topic let’s start by answering some general questions.

Qs: What is a RAW image?

Ans: When using a Professional Camera such as any in the Nikon D range, Sony Alpha range or Cannon EOS range (Cannon has many other professional ranges) the camera has a special format to capture pictures in, called the RAW format. The RAW format is a unique format that has a very high bit rate, this means that the camera lens along with the aid of its processor manages to capture allot of detail in its image, details that your average pc monitor or LCD screen cannot show.

Qs: What’s the benefit of using the RAW format?

Ans: The immense details help in the editing process, e.g. while editing the exposure of the image you are increasing or decreasing the amount of light in the image, when the exposure of the RAW image is increased the light is already present in the image (the software just enables you to see more light in the image). This way the image is as clear and original as if you had taken the picture originally with a higher EV (exposure value) number. The main purpose of using a RAW image is to keep the quality and depth of the image at its maximum so as to achieve the optimum end result.

Qs: What is Adobe Camera RAW?

Ans: Adobe camera RAW is a plug-in for Adobe Photoshop that allows you to directly edit RAW images without having to change the format of the image before editing (Photoshop versions before CS2 couldn’t process RAW images directly). Besides Adobe camera RAW there is also a new program called Adobe Light Room which allows you to edit RAW files directly.

The picture on the right shows you the basic layout of the RAW editor in Light Room. The exact options can only be found in the Camera Raw Photoshop plug-in for its CS4 version.

Qs: What do the different settings and options do?

Ans: Well here’s a basic overview of the software.

Crop Tool: Allows you to crop a section of the image and also allows you to align the image to your taste.

Spot Removal Tool: Lets you correct small imperfections in the image e.g. you sometimes have a lone bird in the sky that doesn’t go well with the composition of the image, this tools allows you to remove that speck in the sky (the bird) by cropping and pasting another bit of sky that is clear.

Red Eye Correction Tool: Basically removes any red eye spots in the eyes of the subjects.

Adjustment Brush: Lets you edit a specific area of the image.

White Balance Tool: One of the best tools around for correcting the white balance of your image (images sometimes have a yellow or blue tone to them). Select the part of the image that you think is white and the software adjusts the rest of the image accordingly.

Temp: The first of the slider adjustments, this allows you to correct the white balance manually, the bar moves from blue from the left towards yellow on the right.

Tint: Another white balance adjustment tool, but this time the colors in focus are green on the left to magenta on the right.

Exposure: As mentioned before exposure controls the amount of light and dark in the image. This setting controls the preference of the user; you can increase or decrease the amount of light in the image.

Recover: Helps to fill light in the dark parts of the image and brings depth into the brighter parts. Works as a correction tool to the Exposure Tool.

Fill light and Blacks: These two allow you to manually increase the amounts of lights and darks in the image. A higher dark tone gives depth to an image.

Brightness: This allows you to adjust the overall brightness of the image, this function only adjusts the midtones of the image i.e. the middle part of the histogram (I need a whole tutorial to explain the histogram), is short this function doesn’t’ affect the brightest of darkest areas of the image.

Contrast: This sets the intensity of color in the picture, this too only affects midtones.

Clarity: This is a great tool; it helps to bring out details in landscapes and buildings, and smoothes out the skin in portrait pictures.

Vibrance: Brings out the colors of the image without affecting its saturation.

Saturation: This adjusts the amount of colors in the image; the slider goes from no color (black and white) to intense overdose of color.

I hope you liked this brief intro into RAW editing.

Please do comment so that I’m encouraged to right more. Thanks!

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Daniel Aswell

Daniel Aswell

A few words from the Author:

Well, I’m currently waiting for June to arrive. I’m all free these days because I’ll be going to Newcastle (England) to study Interior Architecture. I’m basically a fine arts student who’s got a professional photographer for an uncle.

The purpose of my writing these posts is to 1) Share some of my knowledge and 2) To make some quick bucks so that I can get my mother a really awesome parting gift.

Oh, and my name is Danyal (It’s spelled daniel as well).

MoGraph: What I Discovered this Week

Update: By the way, the posts here are a month or so planned and written in advance. So, just to let you know, since the posting of this I have been in MoGraph A LOT! So, just to spark your interest, the head banner and footer of this site as of right now were done in MoGraph (and 5 hours of rendering) and I am recording the tutorial on how to reproduce the same thing right now! The post will be up this Friday! So be sure to reTweet this and come back Friday, and Subscribe!

Well, I will still say that I am VERY new to Cinema 4D. I am constantly amazed at it’s power and features every day!

So this week I was looking at what else C4D can do, and I found the module called MoGraph. This is the system that adds real-ish physics and density. Like I said, I am still new at this whole application, so I know there are TONS of other things MoGraph can do, but this is just showing my initial projects I played around with.

This is just a short video with me playing around in MoGraph. No frills, but a nice ending to make it not so boring.

Anyways, for you who like this, or want to see how it works, or just want this as  a starting point for your own dominoes video, here are the source files, and the non-YouTube video file for you to enjoy!

Remember to right click and “Save As”

Cinema 4D Source File

Dominoes_1.mov

And if you have any input, comments, or suggestions, let me know in the comments!

And feel free to share this with anyone!

Pro Video Tips: Demystifying HD Part 1

There are several aspects to high definition video (HD). There are multiple possible frame rates, frame sizes, in both interlace and progressive formats. In addition, its become industry “practice” to use general terminology that’s less than precise. This and the next couple articles are devoted to demystifying basic aspects of HD including:

• The basic standards and variations.
• What frame rates we should shoot for various applications.
• How terminology is misused and what people “really” mean.