Wednesday, February 23, 2011

In Awe of Adobe Photoshop Elements 9's Content-Aware

My photography workshop teacher said, in many occasions, that we are responsible for every millimeter, for every pixel there is in a photograph. He said that we should always be aware of what the camera sees because it can be different with what our own eyes can see. "You see a sheep on a pasture, loved the lighting, took the picture, assumed that you got the shot, only to find out when you view the photo in your monitor that the sheep is just a minutiae in the shot." I can say that I am also guilty of that: when I see something compelling enough to get my camera out of the bag, fling the camera and take the shot, I sometimes forget that what the camera sees is different from what I see.

Take the photo below of my friend in one of our trip to Atlantic City.

It was one muggy, grey afternoon but I noticed the place he was standing on and I definitely loved the lines surrounding him. But, when I got home to look at the photos taken that day, I suddenly noticed the "No Swimming" sign on his left. If I could repeat the shot, I would have asked him to take a step to the left to cover the sign. But that's that: we would have to go back to Atlantic City and hope for the same environmental conditions if I want to recreate the shot.

Enter Photoshop Elements 9.

I've read about Content-Aware for Photoshop CS5 and I got very happy when Photoshop included the technology in Elements. How good is Content-Aware? Look at the same photo below but with Elements doing its magic:

From People and Portraits

The sign disappeared and it was replaced by a portion of the fence! That was very, very nice!

How to use it? Click on the "Spot Healing Tool" (the one that looks like a Band Aid with a semi-circle) and click on the "Content Aware" radio button at the top. That's it. As simple as that. And let Photoshop Elements do its work.

I know that I should learn to see as the camera sees but for those times that I forget, Photoshop is a great, great help.

Photo made with a Canon Eos 7D with a Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6. Settings at f/5.6, 1/10s, ISO640.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Motion Blur for a Kid Who Can't Be Still

He's the son of a friend. While we were playing outside his mom's office, I took some photos of him. I didn't want to use a flash so I pumped the ISO and shot at Aperture Priority. I used my very first DSLR, the Canon Rebel XS with a Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 lens.

From People and Portraits
The shot was set at f/5.6, 1/50s and ISO800. It is nice to show the dynamism and the seemingly bottomless energy of kids by adding motion blur to their portraits. And, as I found out here, 1/50s is already slow enough for kids for motion blur to show.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Adventure with the Canon Powershot G12 - After A Snow Storm in Princeton, NJ

With warming temperatures and days getting longer, I look back at one of the many snow storms that we had. I am just hoping though, that, despite my love for winter, I won't be seeing any more snow this season.

Photos made with a Canon Powershot G12.

For those without Flash:

Princeton After A Snowstorm

Related topics:
  • my review of the Canon Powershot G12 can be found here.
  • the perfect camera bag for the G12 can be found here.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

There's Always A Shot... Happy Valentines

From There's Always A Shot

If you forget me...

I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.

~by Pablo Neruda

Picture made with a Canon Eos 7D with a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens and two Canon 430EX II.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Lowepro Fastpack 250 and the Emerald City

The wife and I went to Seattle, WA for a week (my posts about that trip can be found here and here). I realized that I'll be bringing my camera and laptop and I realized further that my shoulder wouldn't be able to carry that load for an extended period using a shoulder bag.

I've always wanted to have the Fastpack 250 but for one reason or another I always end up with something else. For this trip, I didn't want to settle for anything else.

The Lowepro Fastpack 250 is made up of very good materials and the construction is top-notch. The zippers glide easily and there are strings at the end of each zipper that makes it relatively easier to tug and pull even if I was wearing gloves.

The top compartment is huge! You can even put another body in it albeit without any paddings. During my walks in Seattle, when I felt warm enough, I put my gloves, winter hat and scarf in it. I also have a book there, Dane Sanders' book Fast Track Photographer and a small notebook which I can read and write to, respectively, during down times. Hey, there are a lot of coffee shops in Seattle. :) 

The pocket under the flap can house passport, batteries and other small stuff.

The business part, the camera compartment, can handle my Canon 5D Mark II kit, a Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6, Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 and two Canon 430EX II flash. The pocket is deep enough that, in my opinion, you will be able to put a gripped DSLR in it. The thing that I noticed about this bag, though, is that the camera compartment is big but it is not big enough to house the second lens with hood on. 

The laptop compartment is big enough to house my old but trusty 15-inch MacBook Pro. I noticed, though, that the laptop compartment is not enough to house my computer plus David duChemin's book Within the Frame. You can push it in but I think the added book will put too much pressure on the laptop. It's a nice touch that you can hide the laptop zipper under a flap and an untrained eye won't know that there is a laptop there. It'd be heavy though, so the weight might be a give-away.

The bag is nice to have for those times that I need to have my laptop with me. However, I don't think it's suited for those times you'd wanna add to your street photography photos. I was able to weed around Pike Market Place with this bag though I hoped, then, that I had a smaller bag with me. Take note also that when it is fully loaded, the bag may be a little harder to swing to get your camera.

The straps are very comfortable to wear and I didn't feel the weight of what I was carrying even if I walked for several hours around the city. It might have been cool those extended times I was using the bag in Seattle, but, whatever the case, my back didn't feel any hotter because of the bag. This is one comfortable bag to use.

Lastly, there might not be an all-weather cover but the material the bag is made up off was enough to repel the showers of Seattle and the snows of Princeton when the wife and I came back.

Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Canon 5D Mark II in the Emerald City (Seattle, WA)

As I mentioned in a previous post, I used the Canon Powershot G12 almost exclusively when the wife and I went to Seattle. However, I decided to use the Canon 5D Mark II when I went up the Space Needle a second time. (Yes, you can come up one more time for the same ticket within 24 hours after your first visit.)

From Canon 5D Mark II and the Emerald City

The afternoon the next day was much better than than first time the wife and I went up and, even before I took the elevator up, I've already decided thar I'll take sunset photos with the DSLR. I decided on using it because I realized that the bigger sensor of the 5D would give me more leverage regarding the noise brought by the higher ISO.

The photos made with the 5D are so much crisper than the ones made by the G12. Of course, that is to be expected considering that the sensor of the 5D is much bigger than that of the G12. I didn't do any noise reduction in all of the pictures I took and it is obvious that the noise is much controlled in the 5D.

Of course I'd still bring the 5D the next and succeeding times the wife and I have an adventure. I'd rather have it and not use it rather than want it but not have it, right?

For those without Flash:

Canon 5D Mark II and the Emerald City


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