Saturday, July 25, 2015

Home studio assembled without serious loss of limbs and lives

Finally! After long consideration, hours of surfing for the best deal and a lot of decision anxiety, I had my studio equipment delivered. I thought about it for a long time, then decided on Elinchrom lights. I have used them before and they also have the advantage that old and new models can be used side by side, there is no need to renew the whole studio if you want to upgrade. It is possible to do it step-by-step. I got a good price on a three-headed studio set, Elinchrom D-Lite RX One, with umbrellas and a softbox. Since I'm not that familiar with umbrellas, I ordered another softbox. Must be careful not to get stuck with too much new things to learn, I am blonde. (Yes, I did try to color my hair black once, but I just had to resign, Mother Nature cannot be fooled.)

The studio set is 'to go', which means that I have carrying bags for everything. However, after spending the afternoon assembling the stuff, I quickly decided that this equipment is not going anywhere..... Too much trouble, not to mention hazardous to knees, ankles, eyes, fingers and nails. Mostly to nails.

I of course had to test that everything worked. That all the flashes flashed at the right time. They did, by the way. Most kind of them. But it took a while to figure out the settings, mostly because I was so eager to get started so I did not read the instructions. Bad choice. Always read the instructions! You are bound to have to read them later anyway, when all your trial and errors result in nothing. So, take it from someone who been there and tried that, Read The #¤&(&/%#" Manual! It will save a lot of good anger and despair to be used at a later convenience.

I had earlier bought a new computer since I needed a little bit more resources for Photoshop. Not as good a computer as I wanted to, my wallet and I had us a pretty nasty argument on that one a while back. Needless to say, my wallet won. Darn. But of course, as always, there is something you haven't taken into account. And there was: the colors did not match. I put both computers next to each other, opened the same picture on both computers and discovered that there were differences in color. So, here goes, the 64.000$ question: which one was right if any of them was?

The same delivery that got me the studio equipment also brought me a small monitor calibration tool called X-Rite ColorMunki Smile. I have yet to discover the Smile-part, since there was not much of that around when I installed it and calibrated the monitor. I re-calibrated the monitor many times until I finally had to settle for the results as being the correct ones. I was horrified. It seems like my old computer was seriously out wandering in the dark. That gave me a good scare. However, I looked through my earlier pictures, and luckily they were quite alright. Some of them better than others, depending on the settings and post processing on the photos.

I just wanted to see if everything worked, so I took a few test shots. My old faithful companion Teddy Rocker did the modeling for once. I think it the result is quite alright for a home studio for a hobby photographer, I have lots of possibilities to try new things and learn new and that is what I was looking for in the first place. Win - win.

Teddy Rocker

Saturday, July 4, 2015

New hometown with lots to photograph

Finally I'm here. In Tallinn, Estonia with its old town and modern town next to each other. Tallinn to me is a city of contrasts, there is old, fashionably such and less fashionably, and new side by side. I'm really not sure which part I like the best, but I know it opens a lot of opportunities when it comes to backgrounds. And theme-inspired photos. And.... And.... And so on.

Of course I had planned everything when I got here, first I take care of the necessary stuff like unpacking, then I start playing with my camera and Photoshop. Any guesses how long I stuck to that decision? Well, I got here on Sunday evening, late. And with a new job, I started Monday, and all of the visits to different authorities after work and my brothers bringing my things from Finland I think I have been most patient. I made it until today, Saturday.

I woke up today and realized that today is the day I'm going to test the Brenizer Method and actually publish the result. I have tried the method before a couple of times and I have to say that I like it. My current computer doesn't. So I have to convert all the pictures to .jpegs before I try to merge them in Photoshop. That of course makes it harder to edit, but since I'm only doing minor changes I don't mind.

The trouble with using the Brenizer Method in Old town, Tallinn, Estonia is that there is a #¤%#¤# lot of tourists. (Yeah, look who's talking.....) They tend to get in your picture anywhere you go. And most of them wants to take their own pictures with their cellular phones or overly expensive cameras (yeah, again, look who's talking...), which means that at any given time there is a number of tourists between you and your subject. I don't mind the people who take their pictures and move on. I do mind all those taking their pictures, checking their maps, discussing the next course of action and only then move on. Luckily there are not that many of them, but the few are the more annoying.

I had to be fast when I took the pictures for the Brenizer panorama below. I took altogether 22 pictures for it. I have my camera on RAW, because you never know when you might need it. And as some of you might recall, I grew up using film with 12 or 24 pictures, having a 8Gb card with room for almost 300pics even if your shooting RAW is like paradise to me. So, I shoot RAW.

My computer have been giving me the silent treatment ever since I tried to make a face out of song lyrics. I saw a tutorial on Youtube and of course I had to try. The tutorial features the face of John Lennon, I think some of you will recognize the picture in it. Here is the link.

I think I did good:
Model: Minna Lähdemäki

The trouble with this picture is the file size, I ended up with a Photoshop file around the size of 350Mb. My computer did not like that. It doesn't like panoramas either. But after the first try some months ago, I decided that for now I only shoot panoramas that I don't need to edit that much, that way I can convert the needed files to .jpegs before I start. So I did this time too, all files where converted to 1000x1500 pixel .jpegs. with 300dpi. And then I merged them in Photoshop. Or, I watched as my computer did the work. I just looked busy. And ate some chocolate.

I think the result is just fine, I only made some small adjustments in contrast and such.

Very nice spots to plant trees, I have to say. Maybe you understand why I like this town?