A useless^G^G^G^Gful trick

So I can take pictures like this, one by one:

…and on on. 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?

I don’t. But 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. Or if you have the extended or Cloud version, you go one further: you use function File > Scripts > Statistics.   Choose “median” and select the photos. Now you end up automatically with an Eiffel tower without tourists, a Grand Canyone without other onlookers, and so on.

Cool? Yes, that warrants four backspaces and a “–ful”, in my opinion. And those of you as experienced as I am in IT (I am avoiding saying “as old as”) know that ^G (Control-G) is a backspace.

So there.




This is what f/22 looks like (at the usual outdoors flash setting of 100 ISO and 1/200 sec):

“You know the day destroys the night
Night divides the day, tried to run, tried to hide
Break on through to the other side”

(Jim Morrison, John Densmore, Robbie Kreiger, Ray Manzarek/The Doors)
[Read more: The Doors - Break On Through (to The Other Side) Lyrics | MetroLyrics]

This was a normal day, and daytime (i.e. not evening). So with f/22 it turns dark. The flash, fired by means of Pocketwizards and set to manual, 1/4 power) is handheld by the subject, photographer Valerie.

Remember: Flash makes your camera a light shifter.


On Facebook, a photographer just asked:

I have a decade old DSLR (Nikon D200) that I have been wanting to upgrade for ages. My heart is set on a D700. I also would like to invest in a Tamron 24-70 and 105mm macro. I feel like the body is holding me back (it’s horrible in low light and noisy over ISO 200), but everyone always says to invest in better lenses then upgrade the body.

It’s true that everyone (including me) says “buy lenses rather than bodies”. But don’t listen to “everyone” without interpreting. Because every four years, bodies take over as the “must spend on” item.

Why? Sensors. That’s why. And that’s the only reason.

Sensors get better every year. In particular, the ability to work at higher ISO values, and the ability to take photos with less “noise”, i.e. with better quality, gets better. Sensors get better according to Moore’s Law. Exponentially. And since ISO is an exponential scale, that’s a good thing. With my last camera I could shoot with reasonable quality at 1600 ISO. Now, 10,800 ISO gives me the same quality.

Generally, better (faster, sharper) lenses are much more important than better cameras for your picture quality. But roughly every four years, sensors are so much better that this benefit outweighs the undoubted benefit of better lenses. So if you have a ten year old camera, replace it, take some pictures at 3200 ISO, and marvel. An order of magnitude better is something to write home about.

And then save the rest of your money for new lenses. Fast lenses: f/2.8 for zooms and f/1.4 for primes. And enjoy those.


Basics. Ask.

If you do not understand basic things: ask. There’s no such thing as a bad question, if you don’t understand something and the answer brings you closer to understanding.

I have found often, for instance, that people don’t understand shutter speed. Like “a one thousandth of a second is faster than an eight of a second”., At that stage I lose some people.

So here: shutter speeds explained in one small page.

Read that thoroughly if you are new to photography and all that tech talk confuses you. And if it is still not clear: ask more.

That’s how you learn, by asking. And that’s why I teach. Via Google Hangouts, if you aren’t local: I teach people all over the world, literally. And when most people say “literally”, they mean “not literally”. When I say “literally” I mean “literally”. :-)  See http://learning.photography to learn more.


Talking of Which…

As an aside to my appearance as guest host of TWIP in this week’s Episode 406 (thisweekinphoto.com/twip-406-i-villain-i-photographer/), I chose Honlphoto’s Speed Grid as my product of the week. Today, an update.

First, I notice that the grid comes with its own little pouch now:

Now, I see that David Honl also has new products. One is a double rollup for the gels:

Which, when you open it, has space for lots of gels at once. I have over 50 of them in one rollup:

Another development is two new sets of gels: one with 5 different blues, and one with 5 different sets of greens; to wit, these amazing colours:

Aurora Borealis:

Lime Green:


Velvet Green:

Fern Green:

And then there’s a new little bounce card/gobo::

Cool new products. If you are interested in them, go to your local quality high street photography store or get them via this link: http://www.honlphoto.com/?Click=2032 and enter “Willems” on the checkout page for an extra 10% discount off the published prices.