Archive for July, 2011

It Is Hot!

Today in Cincinnati, it is hot. Depending on where you are, the heat index will feel like 102-110 F. Yeah, I know that isn’t a real temperature, but it is still stifling.

This seems to happen every year. Every time when the calendar says it is summer, it gets hot. Some summers are hotter than others. When the rain is less, the humidity grows every day. It gets hotter. The ground gets drier. Why?

Why does it get hot every summer? Why does it always have to be unbearable? I mean, come on. What’s up with that? Summer? Really? Why is it so hot in August and July?

No one seems to know. Algore Gump blames the cars and trucks. Some unbelievers blame that big fire ball in the sky. All I know it is hot.

Come back in 6 months when people are complaining about the cold.

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Blink. Blink. Blink.

It is last night of vacation and packing is under way. Last bits of laundry complete and last beer consumed. Tomorrow gives the ride to the in-laws for visiting friends.

Blink. Blink. Blink.

Drive home from Richmond is long and tiring. A few Geocaches are hit on the way and the Virginia and West Virginia badges are unlocked. An Earthcache requires a photo and some research on the ground. The whole family walks about a state park.

Blink. Blink. Blink.

Home is reached. Unpacking starts. Dogs must go out. Normal life will start again tomorrow.

Blink. Blink. Blink.

The remains of the work week are nearing consumed. No blog post in far too long. Where are topics? Where did time go? Must return to reading. Must plan days again. Must account for time and work. Normal life is back fully. Time moves.

Blink. Blink. Blink.

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Some tips are placed here in a second post for the day due to not wanting them to be post in other posts. A few are mentioned in the video and others are sprinkled about.

Aperture Priority mode:

When bracketing around a base shot, whether auto or manual, it is best to get DOF as similar as possible. One good way to ensure this is to place the camera in the mode where the aperture has priority over other settings. Changing depth of field will give unreliable results when the images are put together in layers.

Focus – manual:

Using auto-focus to set the focus is fine, but once obtained, switch the camera (and the lens if required) to manual. Be sure not accidentally dump the focus ring.

Use a tripod:

Having a stable camera is very important. Some of the software is good at realigning, but the more you are able to keep various images framed the same, the more data is available for the image edge-to-edge.

Think ahead:

Look at your subject and think ahead to the end result. Doing so will help determine how many shots to get and what the EV gap should be. In general, the fewer images to be used in the result, the greater the EV will need to be. Too great though and information may be too spread.

Know your equipment:

Not only know your camera, also know the software you will use to great your HDR image. Know its limitations and strengths. Start with the latter and push to the former.

Have fun:

Throw out all the rules and do what you want. Have fun and experiment. Try staggered EV steps with gaps. Try -2 EV, 0 and +1. Explore the bounds and then cross over them with reckless abandon. Chart your own course; follow your own methods.

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Creating a walk-through slash how-to over using a Nikon D7000 to create HDR images is really lame using text only. So, with the help of my daughter, I’ve created a video. Being on vacation, I did have to use demo version of Photomatix inside of Aperture. The results are alright for the purpose it serves.

Once posted, I did see a video about creating an HDR image inside of the camera. I’m still testing settings on my D7000 as the demonstration video was for a D3. It seems interesting, but there can be absolutely no movement between shots; neither subject nor camera. The D7000 is also limited to 3 shots, so EV settings will need to be wide. More later.

Now to my video. Enjoy and comment. Let me know what you think and what other videos you would like to see.

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Yesterday was hot and fairly humid. Today, it was more of both. Basically, hair was on instant frizz. The winds out of the south to southwest, depending on the time. The wind was more like a hair dryer though.

In the morning, before all was too humid, my daughter and I were able to shoot some video covering how to shoot HDR images on a Nikon D7000. The sunshine made viewing the screen on the D7000 difficult, but moving to the shade for the setup solved that. I also learned that the flip does not focus, so getting too close was a problem. Oh well, live and learn. Will put the video together with the images and move forward.

Vacation is basically half over. Now it is time to start moving wake-ups back toward where they need to be come next week.

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In continuing the discussion about HDRI, attention is turned toward the two dark images that were chosen for the final product. Remember, these articles are not being written from well documented notes, but from the files in the auto-generated file name from PhotoMatix.

The base photo is heavily shifted to highlights, so more details need to be picked for the shadows. The outer two photos in the next two levels of bracketing (±1⅓ and ±2) provide this. The details for these photos are given. Remember, the base photo had EV at -⅓ due to overexposure tendencies of the camera and lens.

DSC_0034f/22, 1/4 sec, 48mm, EV -1⅔

DSC_0037f/22, 1/6 sec, 48mm, EV -2⅓

The next step will involve using the software to put it all together. Tone mapping is best started at a low end and moved toward more saturated.

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Today’s adventures included traveling to the northern end of Bogue Bank to Fort Macon. Contained therein was a virtual cache. Not being able to pass up the opportunity to take some pictures, a walk around the grounds was in order. This place has changed a bit since the last visit with a large visitor’s center outside the fort giving some history and information about the local ecology.

Fort Macon, North Carolina was built to protect the Beaufort area. Basically abandoned before the Civil War, it was easily captured by North Carolina troops. The union Army eventually had a one month siege before capturing it. Today, it is a state park and was one of North Carolina’s first.

The travel back southward, which is actually north of state route 58, several more Geochaces were hit (some found, some not, some skipped). The last portion of the adventure was at Emerald Isle Wine Store to get some beers made in the state.

Hoppy Trails!

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Rather than continue the discussion of HDRI being given many technical details and concepts, a walk-through seemed a better way. Featured is the path to the sample image in the first post.

The first step is creating an HDR image deciding how the end will look. What is the target? Colors or details? Depth of field? The end will determine the start. The first image to capture will be the middle. It will drive the rest. It will determine how much of shots must vary and which ones will be used in the final composition.

The subject in this image was slow water with the forest. Tree movement was a bit of a concern, but that day had very little wind. Due to the need of slow water, the 0 image had the following exposure settings: f/22, 5/8 sec, 48mm. Due to the nature of the Nikon D80 to slightly overexpose and the Tamron AF 28-80mm lens to do the same, the EV was set to -⅓ from the start. Camera was in Aperture Priority mode with automatic white balance.

The resulting image wasn’t too bad.

DSC_0032f/22, 5/8 sec, 48mm, EV -⅓

The water is well highlighted, but the shadows are missing any detail. The slight overexposed nature may also mean additional highlighting images are not necessary. The ±⅔ photos follow.

DSC_0031f/22, 1/3 sec, 48mm, EV -1

DSC_0033f/22, 1 sec, 48mm, EV ⅓

In part 2, the we’ll review the remaining chosen images.

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Some may find my title a bit odd given my current plating in the state of Ohio. The start of my driving experience was in the summer of 1985 in Stuttgart, Germany (Patch Barracks in particular). Tennessee was the the first stop state-side with Ohio coming in 1997. The history now settled, the rant starts.

Much like the PC complaint in the Microsoft answer ads to Apple’s “Mac v. PC,” Ohio drivers are becoming a stereotype. For quite some time when we first relocated to Marion, Ohio, I heard various stories about Ohio drivers this and Ohio drivers that. Stocked as heresay and folk lore, surprises were instore when encountered.

The two problems most noticed are the inability to pass trucks and the holding of traffic in the left (passing) lane. It leads well to the following joke:

What’s the best way to slow an Ohio driver?

Come up behind them.

Over the years, it is quite amazing how often an Ohio plated car will be found holding up traffic in the left lane. It seems the homegrown Ohioan feels it their patriotic duty to slow the progress of others. Once after a breakdown in West Virginia and shooting the breeze with a policeman, I asked about this phenomenon. He too had encountered this obstruction more than once.

Today’s travels took us from Beckley, West Virginia to Emerald Isle, North Carolina. Numerous times there were delays and stalls in the passing lane. A few times these were caused by truckers trying to pass another over 3 miles, but most often it was a slow car driver. Nearly without exception, it was an Ohio plated car. So often this happens that the stereotype is seems more truthful than fantasy.

It is time for Ohio drivers to take responsibility of their own actions. Either learn how to use the lanes properly or get off the road. Let the rest of the Mid-West take up the slack for passing lane blockage. Yes, the rest of them do it, but with nowhere near the intensity that is breed in Ohio.

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After a “your stupid,” “no, your stupid” styled start, the first stage of travel to our yearly destination is over. Nearly five hours from Norwood to Beckley, it is time to unwind. Tried to Geocache before eating, but the iPhone is on the Edge Network, so it timed out. What should I expect in the wilds of West Virginia?

I imagine that at one time, this area was more woods than people, but now roads and malls pollute the landscape. Cars everywhere. Where are all these people going? A nice pause would be good.

After the 20 minute discussion of where to go for supper, it was a walk to the Japanese Steak house. Not the normal travel meal, but such a place is more the experience than it is the meal. Food was very good and the chef even better. Now that too much food has entered all of us, the kids decide it is time to go swimming. The pool closes at 10pm, so it is a bit of a hurry. Uhm, it is 68F outside and so is the pool. They were back in 12 minutes, but that is all the time they had.

Tomorrow is North Carolina bound.

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