Travel Photo Trick!

Today, a repeat of a 2015 post that is particularly useful for travel photographers.

With the camera on a tripod and exposure set to manual, I can take pictures like these, one by one:

…and on on. As said, I am using a tripod, so the only thing that varies is me (I used a self timer).

And then I can use Photoshop or the GIMP (the latter is a free equivalent) to do things like this very easily:

Or even this:

OK.. so a cool trick. You do this with layers and masks. Hellishly complicated user interface, but once you know the silly UI, the process itself is very simple. It’s the only thing I have the GIMP for.

So. Why would I think this is useful, other than for fun?

Well…. think. You can also use it the other way. Instead of replacing the wall by me, replace me by the wall. And now you can perhaps see a benefit looming.

No? Think on. You are at the Eiffel Tower. Or the Grand Canyon lookout point. Or whatever tourist attraction you can think of. What do you see? Tourists. Right. It attracts them: that’s why it is a tourist attraction.

But not in the same spot all the time. So all you need to do is the same I did here: take a bunch of pictures. Say 10-20 of them. So that you have each spot of attraction at least once without a covering tourist. Then you put them into layers—one each—in PS. And then you manually remove tourists. One by one, poof.. they disappear.

Or you go one further: depending on your version, you can use function File > Scripts > Statistics.  Now choose “median” and select the photos. And you end up automatically with an Eiffel tower without tourists, a Grand Canyone without other onlookers, and so on.

Cool? Yes, very.

So there.

Kai Tak

A few photos I took at Kai Tak airport, Hong Kong, around 1985. These were slides, and they are well preserved. Still, of course after scanning I had to so some touchups and restoration.

The famous checker board:

Pretty steep tun at very low altitude. An adventure, landing at Kai Tak.

And the large aircraft were amazing. I was at the Hong Kong aviation club, at the foot of Rwy 13. I was learning to fly Cessnas at the time. And afterward we’d drink in the bar and see htis:

Anyone who has been there will recognize this – and feel the humidity, small the smells, and feel like they’re there again. That is the power of photography.

Click to see larger. Ektachrome; touched up with Lightroom and de-noised with Avast De-noise AI.

Deep Dreaming

Google DeepDream is the neural network technology Google developed to see what a deep neural network is seeing when it is looking in a given image. Now, the algorithm has become a new form of psychedelic and abstract art.

Often, the “dreams” are pretty disturbing. Like this pretty well known “Dog Spaghetti” image:

Scary, but then… that is the stuff dreams are made of, right?

And here’s one of mine – two images together, tulips and a frog, and how the AI, after crunching away at them for a while, makes sense of them:

Awesome, no?

You can read more about DeepDream here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DeepDream.

Magic.

That’s the only word I can use. Magic.

I am talking about Topaz Sharpen AI. Software that uses AI to sharpen blurry or out of focus images.

Dreadfully slow, but that’s fine. Look what it does. View these images full size and look at the cat in the background “before” and “after”.

Need I say any more? This kind of AI sharpening was, until recently, impossible.

This is one reason, by the way, why I have always said “don’t delete your bad images”. Who knows what the future brings.

Recommended.

Apollo 13

Sometimes I feel like an Apollo 13 engineer. Everything is going wrong – but you use ingenuity (and duct tape) to make it work again.

Yesterday afternoon, suddenly:

  • My Mac has unrecoverable disk errors
  • My external drive, where my photos live, spontaneously lost all of 2020!

Fortunately:

I make backups.

…and as it happens I had made a backup that very morning. So after a quick restore, all is well again.

And now I need to find a day where I do not need the Mac, so that I can reformat the drive and start over…

“Mastering Your Camera”, 4th Edition

Of my seven books, the one you should read first if you are a beginner or intermediate user, is “Mastering Your Camera”. It starts from zero, and will make you a competent photographer technically, and it also starts you off in terms of composition and subject selection.

The FOURTH Edition of this e-book has just been released. It contains many corrections, some clarifications, a few new flowcharts and tables, and general updates. As before, it is a PDF that you can use on any device, and you can also print a copy for personal use. The new edition’s ISBN is 978-0-9950800-8-9.

And if you do not have it yet, I have some great news: for one week only, it is available for just C$4.95. After that week, the price will revert to the usual $19.95.

Check it out here: www.michaelwillemsphoto.com/ebooks.html

Wall Art

As you may know, one of the things I sell in the store is Wall Art. Photos in many sizes that look great on walls, in other words. You can see some examples by clicking on https://michaelwillemsphoto.com/wall-art/. Here’s one:

And I recommend you give serious consideration to doing this as well – hand prints on your wall. Your own prints, or my prints, or anyone else’s prints: as long as you have decorative visual art that is on walls, not just on Facebook walls.

Here’s another example:

If you need help, ask. And you may, because sorting out print quality, paper types, sizes, frames. and so on can be a bit of a struggle. But we’re here to help.

One tip: as the two photos here show: don’t forget Black and White!