Colorization–Metro Sign in Paris

Metro station in Paris

The Metro signs in Paris are lovely to be sure. You can tweak a sign so that it stands out by making everything in the image black and white, leaving only the text in color. This process is known as colorization, even though in digital art is done subtractively. You’re not adding color, you’re taking it away.

This isn’t to say that you can’t colorize a black and white photo because you can. This type of colorization is a bit tougher process, but if you watch the colorization video, you’ll find out it’s easier than you think because of the overlay coloring option.

In the above image, I took a shortcut (no layers) in creating the color in the sign (or taking out the black and white). I used the Sponge Tool, which has an option to desaturate. Then, I selected the text of the sign and inversed it (Select>Inverse). The rest was easy. I colored in the entire frame with the soft brush, taking away all of the color around the sign.

Easy stuff.

Ten Whispers about Canon’s T6i

Canon SL1 smallest and lightest dSLR camera ever

The fact that the T5ihas just come out in March 2013 and that it’s almost identical to the Canon T4iand the lightest, smallest Canon camera, the SL1 has also made it debut is causing heated speculation about what comes next with a Canon T6i, due out next year.

All of these are in addition to Canon’s new mirrorless EOS M, considered rather amateurish because there’s no mode dial (Imagine that!) and a focusing speed that is sluggish at best.

So many models…so little time.

Knowing all of this, one has to speculate what Canon going to do with its next camera model, the T6i.

1. Canon won’t make this camera

2. mirrorless (maybe)

3. new sensor

4. smaller body

5. better video capability

6. 18-135mm IS STM (good for video) Lens Kit

7. 20 or more MP

8. last of the Txi series

9. better weatherproofing

10. the usual Canon is on its way out (which has never been the case)

Whatever Canon comes up with is surely to disappoint reviewers. Despite that, the company remains one of the most successful in the digital camera market.

Getty Villa in Malibu Modeled after Southern Italian Country House

Getty Malibu in HDR

During the 1950s John Paul Getty imagained a museum to provide an ideal context in which
to recreate the Villa Papyri, a large country house that was built around 79 AD.
It has been speculated that the father-in-law of Julius Caesar lived there.

The Getty Villa, modeled after the Villa Papyri, is located in Malibu, California. The grounds were set up from a map that had been created to aid in excavation efforts of the original archeological site in southern Italy. As of today, that original villa’s excavation has not been completed, but the map had been made as a guide to complete uncovering it.

In 1960s Getty owned a villa in the Bay of Naples. The oil magnate bought his first art piece in 1939 at an auction. From then to the 1970s, Getty continued collecting antiquities, mostly bought at high-end auctions.

In order to both house the collection and make it public, Getty had a ranch house built, which still remains on the Malibu property today. Getty’s collection quickly outgrew the space he had for it in the ranch house, hence the Getty Villa was constructed.

At the time, Getty lived in England, overseeing the project from there with the assistance of a member of his staff who frequently traveled between London and LA. Getty died in 1976, never seeing the Villa.

The Villa opened in 1974. The collections grew along with the Getty Trust, an organization which hosts many preservation and educational programs.

In 1997, the building closed for renovation. Floors were redesigned and natural light was manipulated within the hallways and galleries to enhance the antiquities that are displayed.

When visiting the Getty Villa, you’ll find yourself moving frequently between the indoors and out, so as to take advantage of the almost-perfect Malibu weather during your visit.

Getty imagined, that you, the visitor, would be a Roman walking around the Villa during the time before it had been destroyed by a fire,  so that you have the experience and same feeling Romans had way back when.

Getty Villa is daily (except Tuesday) from 10 am to 5 pm.

Fine Art Photography by Matthew Bamberg–Organizing Your Images

fine art photography photos by Matthew Bamberg
Paris circus–woman with Hula Hoops

One of the most important tasks for you, the fine art photographer, is organizing images. If you’re like me, you probably have thousands.

If you want to sell your photos at a POD (Print on Demand) website like Fine Art America, you need to have a set of images with something in common so that instead of trying to sell one, you can sell many in a set. After all, that’s what many people are looking for–to buy a set of images with a theme for their home or office.

Perhaps the most difficult tasks for you is categorizing images so that they are divided into themes.
The easiest way to categorize images is if they were taken in the same place, either on the same day (and even photo shoot) or on different days.

Gathering the images you have of your local area should come in an organizational task, a set of images that probably are in demand in your community. After you’ve categorized and tweaked your most compelling local images, try pitching them to your local car dealership. They’re always looking for local art to put on their walls.

Another way to organize images–even easier than obtaining a good set of local images–is by photo shoot. If the photo shoot has presented itself with a variety of shots, the setting for each photo will be similar so that they will automatically match.

And what place could be more photogenic than a circus, say, a circus in Paris? Check out the set of photos from the Paris Circus, a colorful death-defying set of images of beautiful people doing beautiful things.

Cropping Street Photography–Isolating Subjects

Subject cropped according to Rule of Thirds.
Two subjects standing close together, so image was cropped tighter around them.
Two girls looking as if one is a mirror reflection; cropped girls tightly using Rule of Thirds.
Three-shot portrait of two girls and a woman, leaving you questioning the young ones’ relationship to the older one, if any.
Sidewards shot of all-cap text, leaving viewer to tilt his/her head in an attempt to read; subject placed according to the Rule of Thirds.
Portrait cropped tightly to show long hair.

When you look at street photography, you might think that the photographer has framed the image as you see it; however, that might not be the case. Cropping street photography for the purpose of isolating subjects is an easy task, and one that can make a photo much better.

When you’re out in the field photographing, many times there isn’t time to frame what you see. Your mind sees a possible photo op quickly and you have to be ready to shoot on a moments notice with no real time to frame.

In postprocessing, you can look at an image and see what you shot. The reason for catching some subjects and objects usually is obvious, but every so often you find that you have a surprising element in the frame that you want to focus on. Then you would crop that element tightly, but only if it’s sharp at 100 percent resolution on the screen of your computer.

Finally, you might have a two-shot portrait where the subjects are too far apart from one another to frame them together. This was the case with the photo below. As you can see the crop makes for a fascinating photo for a number of reasons. That is what the viewer will be thinking when he/she looks at it.

What was my reasoning for this crop?


Anti-aliasing Filter Disappearing from Cameras

Can you see the moire in this image?

The latest news about new camera models put out by manufacturers such as Nikon is that they are doing away with the anti-aliasing filter.

At this very moment you may be asking: What is that, and why should I care?

The key to understanding the anti-aliasing filter is the word moiré. This word sounds infinitely one for the upper class. It’s also known as aliasing, a pesky sometimes-wavy multicolored area that appears in parts of a photo where there is a tight criss-crossing or separation of lines such as one may see in the repetition of close lines of steel gratings in modern architecture.

Traditionally camera manufacturers have installed a feature to eliminate moiré, but at the expense of an image with slightly less detail.

The new Nikon D7100 has done away with the with the filter, opting to pass on a bit of added workflow to photographers who now have to deal with it in postprocessing should it occur in an image.

Nikon’s rational for removing the filter is two-fold, first to make a camera that produces sharper images and second, calling it’s powerful 24 MP sensor good enough to prevent most moiré.

And so it goes…another camera tweaked for an “improved” picture, but this time a feature has been eliminating instead of added. Will eliminating additional image-improvement options be the new trend in cameras?

Sadat Subway Station– Busted Under Tahrir Square

You’ve probably heard about Tahrir Square, the location of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution and continuing protests that followed. The site remains a hotbed of political activism and sporadic outbreaks of unrest stemming from the new government led by President Mohamed Morsi, a faltering figurehead who appears to be controlled by the “brothers” of the organization to which he used to belong, the Muslim Brotherhood.

Underneath the noisy square is a quiet place, Sadat Station, a place where there are no protests and where everyday Egyptians tend to a semblance of normal life–going to and from work, picking up groceries and meeting friends.

A sane photographer would know better not to travel on the subway with a Canon around his neck the size of a soccer ball while taking the subway trains under Cairo–or would he? You have to consider the word sane here. Put a camera around the neck of an ardent street photographer and it’s quite possible there is no such such word as sane.

As a photographer who collects photos of train stations and subways, the opportunity to photograph under Cairo seemed thrilling. Once I got to Cairo, I had doubts about the subway, not so much associated with fear, but more about with getting lost in a maze of tunnels among indecipherable  Arabic signage.

To be sure, I decided to go underground and check it out with that Canon hanging around my neck. By the time I got to the bottom of the stairs at one of the subway stations a good distance from downtown, set my ISO to 3200 and incessantly began  snapping pictures of what had to be the quietest place in Cairo–I mean no one said anything. When the subway trains were not coming to and from the station you could hear a pin drop (well, almost).

After I got on the train I set my camera on my lap and snapped a few more pictures from the hip. When the train arrived I had a group of people were giving me curious stares that clearly revealed an annoyed why-are-you-taking-pictures-here kind of look. I’ve gotten on other subway stations around the world where taking pictures is not that big a deal. Most people, say, in Paris and New York don’t care.

Needless to say after I got off the train and snapped a few more pictures I found a group of men following and trying to talk to me. It didn’t occur to me that they were police, as I thought they were just going to ask me for money.

My first reaction was to run, but my partner looked at me sternly, letting me know that these men were the police.

Before we knew it were were asked to follow them to an undisclosed location. Once we arrived in the men’s office, we were asked why we take pictures of the subway.

At that point, fear instilled every part of my body. What had I done? What was going to happen to me? What was going to happen to my camera?

In a moment’s time the policemen asked for our passports. My camera was still around my neck. I quickly offered it the Canon to them, saying they could have it as they took our passports.

One of the men took the camera, sat down with another man and went through the images.

My heart was beating rapidly as they asked how to see the images. Then the men asked me to sit back down and began to look at the pictures.

As they thumbed thorough them, they found images I had taken the day before at the Bronx Zoo, you know pictures of animals–lions, apes, snakes and such. They began to chuckle. Clearly the other men in the room were puzzled by their behavior as they attempted to remain professional.

Suddenly my camera went up into the air, with both men asked me where the pictures of the subway were. I got up and showed them.

The men asked me over and over again–why are you taking these pictures?

I replied that it was ART, that I took pictures of subways all around the world as part of an ongoing ART project about the different subway stations of the world.

“ART!” they said, “What is ART?”

Well that just opened up a Pandora’s Box of thoughts. My partner smiled as the men waited for an answer. I thought how to I explain the meaning of art to a group of men who don’t speak English.

Before you knew it everyone in the room was smiling, except one, the last die-hard of Egyptian professionalism.

“ART,” I said “are beautiful part of life…just life as it is happening.” Hmmm, like they understood that.

As they continued looking through the subway images, the smiles took place more frequently. They handed me back my camera as the chuckles continued and led us out the door of the Sadat Subway Station, adjacent to  Tahrir Square.

My partner and I, tremendously relieved, laughed too. Of course I had to apologize for being a bit snap-happy with my camera under one of the most volatile places in the world today outside Syria.

As a photographer who just doesn’t listen to the warnings–“Don’t go to Tahrir Square”–I now had a set of images (not very good ones) of under Tahrir Square.

All this being said, Egypt is not a welcoming place for a Canon D5 Mark II or any other camera that covers a good part of your chest. Outside of the tourist attractions, most people in Egypt do not want their photograph taken.


The looks continued.

Maintaining a Platform on Google

Google the vast behemoth does indeed rule. Maintaining a platform–websites, blogs, social networking pages, profiles and images–on Google is a chore.  All photographers–amateur and professional–are dependent upon the multitude of features it offers. Whether you’re a photographer who has a business of his own or an amateur who wants portfolio exposure, everything you do on the Internet affects your exposure on Google.The primary rankings for photographers are dependent upon the images they upload to their websites, blogs, social networking sites, microstock portfolios, fine art selling websites, all of which end up appearing in search results. Where they appear is dependent upon many factors from what you upload, how you name it, how substantive the information is, how frequently you post information on blogs/websites and, more recently, how you set up Google Plus.

The most recent development in the search engine–a must for photographers to initiate–is Google Plus and the associated Authorship program. Deciphering the information to get a higher search engine ranking for your platform is at best challenging. The number of ideas you need to succeed in Google’s placement of your portfolio and associated contents runs in the multiple digits range.

Organizing the maintenance of a platform for optimal Google placement requires a plan of one time, yearly, monthly and daily tasks:

One-Time Tasks
Setting up Google Plus, Getting the right domain name, Setting up a blog using Blogger as a resource to increase your rankings, Google Authorship information/set-up, YouTube Account Set-up

Yearly Tasks

Everything you Wanted to Know about Duplicate Content but were Afraid to Report–Searching for copyright violation/duplicate content/images on all websites.
Reporting violations to Google TOS regarding your content.
Monthly Tasks
Updating Platform on all Google listings, including Facebook, Website Directories (Technorati, for example), YouTube…

Daily Tasks
Naming your images, image sizes, blog posts, SEO basics, Survival HTML, watermarks

A platform that remains stagnant results in poor Google search engine placement, the bane of any person working on the Web.

Number One Camera on Amazon

You might be wondering about what the number one camera on Amazon is these days. these days. The fact that the number one camera on Amazon is a Canon is no surprise. Canon digital cameras are usually number one on Amazon.

You’ve probably heard that point-and-shoot camera sales are down because of the improvements in mobile device cameras (cell phones). This would lead you to believe that a point-and-shoot camera wouldn’t be the number one camera on Amazon’s list, but at this time that is not the case–Amazon’s number one camera is a point-and-shoot, the Canon PowerShot SX260.

What makes this camera so special that people are snapping it off the shelves of cyberspace? For starters, the 20X optical zoom makes it easy to zone in on your subject from up to a mile away. That combined with the image stabilizer results in your taking a sharp image of a far-away subject much more likely.

The next reason the Canon PowerShot SX260 is on the list is that the lens is also capable of shooting at wide angles–up to 25 mm, which means you can get a whole-lot of a landscape in the frame.

After that, the camera offers high-definition video (1080p), which means that you can shoot video of of anything from far-away subjects by zooming in with  the telephoto lens to sweeping vistas by zooming out to catch a scene with the wide-angle lens.

Finally, there’s the price. To be sure, that’s the last straw when making a decision to buy a budget compact camera for not very much money. At $229, this device is a bargain by any standards for a 12 MP point-and-shoot digital camera, making it a better camera than any one attached to a cell phone.

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