Unfamiliar views – ‘Familiar Objects’ series: 6 new updates

A new gallery http://www.philipchudy.com/galleries/household_objects featuring 6 new larger than life banal images.

Broadly conceived as an extension to the Road Kill series from February, which  morphed into the Familiar Objects series, the common thread being ‘messing with the viewer’s sense of scale’.

Bulbstack

A burned out oven bulb is full of sculptural detail

lupeStack

A grimy work worn lupe helps use see things larger, other than itself.

The way I have been addressing this is by producing extraordinarily high resolution images which have a powerful ‘larger than life’ quality when encountered as large prints. Not only that, the images are laboriously ‘stack processed’ from a huge number of capture files (sometimes 100+). What this means is that depth of field and are many times greater than is possible with any lens/aperture combination. The idea is to represent a small object as it would appear were we, the viewers to be shrunk to, say 2 centimeters tall.

It was technically impossible for anyone to produce images like these just a few years ago.  That said – it takes a deal of practical experience to get it to work. And even then, the time required to process a single image is considerable. But I am not doing this merely as a dry technical exercise.

In principle, there is definitely nothing new about the ‘scale thing’. Product photographers, tasked to make imagery of small objects, destined for giant repro on street posters (for example) have long sought to redefine scale using a number or cues. We are wholly familiar with slick scaleless images featuring jewelry, watches, cell phones and so on. A sense scale confusion leads to a sense of ‘larger that life’, which important to advertisers as it enhances the perceived  importance of their product. Scale confusion is possible with blemish free product renditions – which is also suits advertisers,  for obvious reasons.

Without visual cues such as fingerprints and scratches It is hard to get a really accurate sense of the size of an object.  We may know how large a given object is based on familiarity. But we frequently also concede that scaleless product renditions are ‘larger than life’ simply because we are primed to the intention of the people ‘who plastered the image across the side of a  building’ .

Coaxing idealized levels of perfection into advertising images to make them ‘scale free’ has long been the task of photographers and retouchers who have gone to extreme lengths to achieve this.

Then came CGI and product prototyping. You might think this presented the perfect solution. Unlimited depth of field bypasses one cue for judging scale in macro photos. Given that we are extremely utilitarian in way we look at small ‘hold in the hand objects’ (rarely scrutinizing them) some feared that CGI would replace photography completely because no one would cross reference what the thing really looks like in the hand.

But CGI proved ‘way too perfect’ by default – and way to time consuming to make ‘imperfect’ to just the right degree. We always need some grime and yuk for a credible proper sense of scale, even if it is a manipulated or warped one.

The cellphones and diamond rings we see on giant street posters are ‘larger than life’ in some senses but the sterility of the image limits things, We accept the intention in good faith, but we never ‘really’ believe the scale and perfection.

My images in this series are full of grime and imperfection on purpose. And yet I choose to feature and contrast objects which have been machined to high levels of precision, as demanded in our modern world. We used to seeing macro nature photos and being awe struck by their raw naturalness  – but we are not used to dwelling on images which give mixed signals about technical objects .

We are used to seeing ‘parts of objects’ in macro and micro images, but we are not used to getting a sense of the ‘whole thing’ at the same time. I try to achieve some of that here. We are used to seeing small objects enlarged but we normally view them from a distance. Here I want the viewer to go right up to the print too.

I accept it might be confusing to be presented with all these things in one package. While I accept that my intention in dabbling with scale might be just as bemusing. I hope that exposure to these images goes some way to provoke questions and provide answers.

I can’t say that my only intention in this project is to present a ‘more convincing sense of scale’ than that which we are used to –  but it is certainly a large part of it. For me the fascination of seeing the objects anew and as ‘more real’ is sufficient.

But standing back and thinking about the following does make me laugh – the degree to which these images end up being  ‘not credible’ in some senses. A sloppy cell phone image would be believed as more genuine a rendition much of the time. What a shame that we have to factor in the disinterest of the viewer in the type of objects to give them credibility. “I don’t give a fig for ‘burned out bulbs’. I just throw them in the trash. If you want to convince me your photos are ‘real’ then don’t bother to be meticulous in your photography”. Taking as much care, the way I have with this series has certainly annoyed one or viewers thus far. Presumably the logic is that I am demonstrating seriously misplaced priorities.

Unfortunately, these images really beg to be seen as large photo prints. They don’t reveal their potential on a regular computer monitor. I have featuring some detail 100% views in the web gallery in the hope that this will compensate for the limitations. It would be interesting to shoot something along these lines for a poster campaign. Coupled with the right concept and seen on posters, it could turn heads and be memorable for one reason or another.

 

Photo-composing – the famous Hardly Strictly Bluegrass limited edition poster (2014).

First of all  – no, it is not merchandising and it is not for sale.

This large format (30″x 40″) limited edition poster has traditionally been printed solely for the benefit of the artists and others who made the free SF Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival happen.  Hardly Strictly Bluegrass (HSB) is the work of the late philanthropist Warren Hellman (1934-2011).

This thing came together – as usual – design, concept and photography driven by Claude Shade (Goodby Silverstein & Partners, whose participation in all the art for HSB – and beyond – has been crucial and is legendary) and Olivia Hellman.

I was happy to lend myself to the team again this year,  with their ‘as ever’ highly imaginative and ambitious  photo-composition and retouching brief.

Prior posters I worked on are here 2010   2011   2012

I have a reserved copy of the poster, for myself. Don’t ask  – It is not for sale.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Poster 2014

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Poster 2014 (click to enlarge)

Thanks to ‘smart layers’ I was able to work 16 bit, non destructively at extremely high resolution. The image comprised a frightening number of nested layers till the sun rose on us on deadline day.

Mouse detail - Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Poster 2014

Mouse detail – Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Poster 2014

 

 

Quasi-Turneresque treatment for Koenigsegg CCX hyper-car

The Koenigsegg CCX is a mid-engined hyper–sports car built by Swedish Koenigsegg Automotive AB.

The Koenigsegg CCR ruled as fastest production car in the world at 241.63 mph (388.87 km/h), till 2005  when Bugatti stole the title. The CCX is no slouch with a manufacturer estimate of 249 mph (400 km/h).  Hyper car owners can anguish about top speed but looks are what interest me.

Koenigsegg CCX

Koenigsegg CCX

24 lazy late summer ‘whiskey tinted’ images

Were it not for flocks of migrating birds making their presence felt here in the Bay Area in the last couple of weeks, it would be hard to think of it as ‘late summer’ already.

Smoke drifting in from fires inland produce an interesting whiskey colored light.

The following gallery contains mostly natural landscapes but it also contains a few images intended to supplement my ongoing ‘suburbscapes’ series.
http://philipchudy.com/galleries/latesummer14/

Migrating swallows

Migrating swallows

Mount Diabolo sunset with Bay Area fog

Mount Diabolo sunset with Bay Area fog

Flock of Brown Pelicans- Marin coast

Flock of Brown Pelicans- Marin coast


Watch out if you work with many adjustment layers in Photoshop – tones can appear to change when you flatten the file

Photoshop tones change when flattening complex many layered files such as this

Photoshop tones change while zoomed out and flattening complex many layered fine detailed files such as this

I count myself among those who normally don’t even think that changes do or even should occur when routinely flattening a multi-layered file in Photoshop. Well too be 100% technically accurate – the tones in the file itself are unlikely to change in any perceptible way – but what you see on screen certainly can.

It can be disconcerting if you are not aware of what is going on and are taking measures to compensate for it.

Here is an instance where the difference was significant and worth sharing. I posted an animated interactive example. Click the colored square at the top see the before an after.

The images which were used to create were screen grabbed before and after pressing ‘flatten’. Note that I was viewing this image zoomed out to fit the screen. Photoshop caches images which it uses for screen display and therein lies the problem.

There are 2 strategies for dealing with this problem and they may provide some clues as to what the causes are.

  1. View the image at 100% and when you flatten the image there is no perceptible change.
  2. Set the image cache in Photoshop preferences to 1 and restart Photoshop and reopen the file. The zoom out and flatten the image and there is no longer a perceptible change. But having said that – the entire image now looks very different zoomed out than it did with a normal cache setting)

The people at Adobe know the cause – and meantime I can only guess – – but it is conceivable that this is a ‘detail/scaling/cache’ issue rather than a straightforward tonal accuracy issue (a ’rounding up’ or down of layer tonal values for fast interactivity – which, initially is all I thought was was happening).

The reason I say this is because  of the change in the appearance of those areas in the image which change tonally when I instituted the second strategy outlined above. Those sections of the image appeared way less anti aliased (i.e. more granular and gritty).

Whatever algorithm employed in creating and displaying the multi-cached images is smoothing and averaging those areas tonally.  Smoothing over the extreme fine high contrast detail contained in those areas may have resulted in a the tone change which was evidenced.

All this is neither here nor there, but one practical take-away: If the image changes on flattening – undo and then check the tones first at 100% or reduce cache settings to be sure you have the tonal values you need before flatten button is depressed.

 

Blather in a tea cup – shooting a new stacked image for the ‘familiar objects’ series and figuring out ‘where’s the beef’

Still life series 'familiar objects' - cup of water

Still life series ‘familiar objects’ – blowing a lot of wind into a tea cup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a familiar view I see daily on my kitchen counter. I always like what I see and now I finally got the the heavy equipment into position to stack-capture it in high fidelity.

Producing still life of stuff like this is normally a voyage of discovery. It is initiated by the requirement to photo-capture a designated object. Interpreting it begins when it is placed in front of the camera in the studio. Only then does one start figuring out how to position and light it.

That is opposed to setting out to document a familiar sight – as was the case in this time.

The reason I make the distinction is firstly because there is always a difference between how the eye perceives an object and photography. The head and the eye are rarely static, there is always a change of viewpoint as well as a change of focus (mental as well as optically) . This results in a disconnect between the real thing and the photo image/print which never really changes from wherever in the room one might view it.

The disconnect is only ever greater when contemplating an object as close as arms length scale, not only because the slightest movement of the head gives one a dramatically different perspective, but these differences are compounded by the fact that the view on the scene is significantly different from each eye.

We certainly get a strong sense of 3D stereoscopic depth when we look at things at this distance, but we also tend to retain less iconic visual memory of such scenes.

Since we generally have the power to manipulate objects at that distance we probably don’t have the psychological need to retain single image or macro viewpoint memories relating to them. These are not landmark objects such a city squares and bridges, which we have no choice but to orient ourselves to, to navigate around or map.

The still life product photographer tries to tune the brain to look differently at this scale, with the hope of creating iconic memorable images. Most people can read and identify with such iconic images but never actually see the featured objects themselves in remotely the same way, on a daily basis.

Strange is it not – our culture has been flooded with giant high fidelity mouth watering food photos or blemish free larger-than-life product images, such that we now use these representations – rather than the daily evidence of our eyes – when we think of the objects themselves.

Advertisers have so confused our sense of scale such that these hand-holdable items (which we can always identify by brand and name) are of a such significance we now tend hold them in our visual memories in the same category as as immovable architectural sized landmarks which we have no choice but to navigate around.

On this occasion I was only motivated by little more than by what I saw (sorry) .

The satisfaction for me is to have captured the flavor fairly accurately of  a scene which I often notice, even when I am not trying to use my eyes in photographer mode.

You just have to trust me that this image of a mug of water looks the way I routinely see it on my counter.

 

Spacing out – a retro science fiction image of downtown San Francisco

Out of this World Travel- science fiction photo/CGI illustration by Philip Chudy

Out of this World Travel- science fiction photo/CGI illustration by Philip Chudy

This picture is a slight tip of the hat stylistically to Perry Rhodan among other early science fiction illustrators. And a rather liberal interpretation of the  Sutter and Kearny junction in downtown San Francisco. Check it the difference out on Google streets.

The added spaciousness of the image is mostly down to the spherical panoramic projection produced from a series of images shot from street level. Everything else in the image (store, phone magazine windows and neon displays) are all CGI.

As with most highly contrived images, the result is far from perfect and there are many things one would like to do again, But I think we achieved a generally satisfying look and feel.

In terms of the creative process, sometimes it is more important to get the ‘general idea’ than it is to fulfill to the nth degree. Indeed sometimes there is more poignancy in presenting an barely adequately executed image which  merely reaches out and reveals no more than a basic potential to reach that ‘general idea’. But without some sort of ‘general idea’  lurking somewhere in the background, no image of this sort will fly.

davidchudy.com website updated – David Chudy (1916-1967)

David Chudy

David Chudy

The website I hastily threw together some years back, to feature some of the paintings and sculpture of my father has finally received a bit of a face lift. I hope to expand the scope of the content as well as the quality of some of the repro,  in due course.    www.davidchudy.com

 

 

David Chudy portrait of Sri Purani

David Chudy portrait of Sri Purani

David Chudy bronze sculpture of Premalya Singh

David Chudy bronze sculpture of Premalya Singh

David Chudy portrait of Ellen Chudy

David Chudy portrait of Ellen Chudy

David Chudy clown painting

David Chudy clown painting

 

 

 

Topless in the City – 3 new Aston Martin pictures -Vanquish Volante, DB9 and Rapide S

Well, only one of them is actually ‘topless’, the Vanquish Volante. The ‘Topless in the City ‘ number is the subject line in a recent email promo campaign (see sample here).

Aston Martin Vanquish Volante: Featured on my mailer - downtown San Francisco

Aston Martin Vanquish Volante: Featured on my mailer – downtown San Francisco

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aston Martin DB9

Aston Martin DB9

Topless in the City: Aston Martin Rapide-S.

Topless in the City: Aston Martin Rapide-S.

An accidental long exposure shot of migrating Fosters Terns

 

A lucky long exposure grab shot of a flock of Fosters terns blurred as they flocked in the dusk

A lucky long exposure grab shot of a flock of Fosters terns blurred as they flocked in the dusk

A tight flock of perhaps 50 migrating Fosters Terns stopped over in Marin for a couple of days.

As dusk turned to night we were privileged to witness some extraordinary aerial acrobatics as a flock formed momentarily and then dispersed in a stunningly explosive manner – – again and again. Perhaps the group was preparing to continue their migration north, or to proceed to a roost for the night. But each time they formed a tight formation something told them they should peel off and continue feeding in the random scattered way they normally do. It looked like so much fun.

I grabbed the camera and fired the first shot without checking exposure only to realize that the camera  was set to ISO 50 and the exposure dragged. But this elaborate abstract pattern was the result. I went back the next day hoping to shoot better versions of this effect but the flock was gone. Not a single Fosters Tern seen since at that location. And suddenly it is summer!

 

 

Sky High Eye Care – new tongue in cheek photo illustration

Sky High Eye-Care - the affordable solution

Sky High Eye-Care – the affordable solution

Gut busting humor is pretty hard to achieve with photography – and harder still to do good ‘tongue in cheek’. Somehow the medium is always so damned ‘po-faced’ serious. Perhaps it is all the heavy duty technology which primes one to be impressed rather than amused.

On the occasions when seems to work somewhat, the image is usually a lucky chance documentary snapshot of something goofy ‘going on’ (as they say). But I always feel there is something derisory ‘going on’ in the mind of the viewer presented with such images. Like “dumb dog got his head stuck in a paint pot – what an idiot”, kind’a thing.

Although we are prepared to live with the fact of post production and retouching, and even stretch that to tasteless or even grotesque ‘furrowed brow’ interpretations of reality, we don’t want to admit that any but neutral or ‘harmless’ filters ever came between the reality of life out there and that little print we just bought.  Somehow ‘photo humor’ seems to shoe horn something into the mix and that seems ‘a ‘bridge, way too far’.

This is a hybrid photo/CGI image. CGI elements are the airplane and the banner. They don’t exist in photographic ‘out there’ reality. Does that make a difference?

I don’t really know, But I tend to the view that any joke which can be told becomes redundant when it is illustrated visually. And any illustration which can be achieved with a few strokes of a pen is redundant when presented with ‘full photographic detail’. Most jokes are conceptual, but once in a blue moon an important part of the jape is to have a real tactile sense of ‘being there’. Partly because of the uncommonness of such scenarios, I am always pleased to have been the photo illustrator dude, and even more pleased if I hear anyone chuckle on seeing the image.

See this image bigger in the site gallery 

 

Another small super detailed series of images – familiar household items, as you probably have never seen them.

Familiar household object in super high resolution for extreme large prints.

Familiar household object in super high resolution for extreme large prints.

Upsetting the viewer’s regular sense of scale was the primary objective in producing this series of super high resolution stacked images. These qualities would be obvious when seen as large prints but are hard to get across on the web. As such this gallery, as with the preceding ‘Roadkill’ gallery features some detail sectional images in the hope of stimulating a facsimile of the sensation of seeing the full size prints.

Check out the set:  http://philipchudy.com/galleries/household

Nowadays we are used to seeing awe inspiring images, revealing extreme macro or microscopic features, which are well beyond the range of human vision. But there is a disconnect, because what we see in these  are sectional crops only, or objects which are too small to see, or experience in a tactile way. This series features entire discrete objects and yet the viewer can drill down to the macro/micro without loosing touch with the full familiar portable form.

The series borrows from an ethos long extant in advertising but these are grubby and realistic, All of us are familiar with heroic images of small consumer products such has watches, cellphones and such like. Whereas advertisers have an interest in making their products ‘larger than life’, ‘perfection’ usually trumps the object as hero element.

Imperfections may sometimes be welcomed as visual cues which useful and powerful in defining scale. But most of us, most of the time don’t want to see too much.

The more we see, the more dissatisfied we would become with our cleaning produces and cleaning routines. We choose to live a fantasy life with fantasy hygiene standards. There is not much more to it: simply put, if you don’t look too hard you don’t see the dirt.

Our culture values extreme  macro and micro images but it does not care for the intermediate scale addressed by this set. As such, photographers tend to take their interests elsewhere. The roadkill series which precedes this set were closer to these limits on the lower end. This set probably demonstrates the upper limit.

Borderline macro imagery looses out because it brings the viewer dangerously close to the ‘yuk’ factor, but it can also be powerful in story telling terms, by stimulating a sense of wonder at seeing the familiar anew.

Advertisers are not always constrained by having to feature ‘perfect’ consumer products or palatable food ingredients but they often are tempted to use all the potential of large poster prints. Once in a while there an interesting advertising or editorial application which can capitalize on the techniques used in this series and the story telling offered by the ‘unreal’ scale and detail,. That said, the corporate world will always demand exactly the right balance of grime.

On a technical level, as with the Roadkill series, all the images in this set were created by by laboriously combined from between 60-290, high resolution digital images. Although the images look deceptively simple (intentional for aesthetic reasons), extreme state of the art, professional high end cameras could not get close to match the depth of field and detail of any of these images with a single shot.

‘Drinking out of jam jars’ – 290 photos combined to make this larger than life image

Was it jam or was it pickle?

Was it jam or was it pickle?  I don’t remember, but I wont forget how much work went into producing this image. Areas in the rectangles are show in high resolution in the gallery.

Hard to believe, this this bland image required the combining of 290 shots to complete. The ‘larger than life’ effect could not have been achieved by normal photography. Sure, what you are looking at could be captured in a single shot but the sharpness would not be adequate to give the same impression on a gigantic print. To achieve a comparable depth of field (focus depth) the lens would need to be stopped down to the point where diffraction would significantly degrade the detail.  

This image was focus stacked (which bypasses the diffraction problem) as well as shot in stitch sections to be combined later. A real labor of love – the final detail is incredible and all is sharp from the top of the jar to the paper in the far background.

I wanted the image to work as as a large print, somewhat as per the recent roadkill series. As alluded to above, It is not easy to give a sense of scale on a web page. The final image is approx 240  megapixels or roughly 16,000 pixels square – which equates to 10 ft @ 150 DPI (although I have around 4-5ft. in mind) when I print it).

A ‘retina’ sized jpeg and detailed clips (represented by the red rectangles) are featured in the small gallery http://www.philipchudy.com/galleries/jamjar/

…..not a lot to do with this image but : ‘drinking out of jam jars’ is a British expression usually rolled out to taunt someone who is perceived as trying to gain sympathy for having suffered extreme poverty in childhood.

 

 

Unseasonal post ~ seasonal photo

Marin County seasonal decorations

Marin County seasonal decorations

This year this is the only Christmas lights photo I took. Normally I would force myself to drive around and try to shoot new stuff. Marin County has the most extravagant offerings but I prefer this modest and simple design – and I like the hills in the background.

Now, January 10 and spring is already in the air (mimosas and apple trees starting to bloom) so everything is unseasonal – not just this post.

 

A road kill gallery -tiny crushed inanimate objects shot in the studio for very large impossibly detailed prints

A few of the road kill photo images. Click image to view gallery

A few of the road kill photo images. Click image to view gallery

Uncharacteristically for me – ‘road kill’ is a new set of images of ‘found objects’.

http://philipchudy.com/galleries/roadkill/

It all started when I found the ‘Giants‘ key abandoned and crushed on the street and I decided to make a mega resolution macro image of it. I decided to make a small set of similar crushed objects and only became aware how clean Marin Counties’ roads, and private thoroughfares are after having to drive miles to collect this small handful of street trash. These images are destined to be printed large to demonstrate an extra ordinary level of detail and many of the images will be 50x or more larger than the objects themselves.

‘Larger than life’ has been part of the advertising product photographer’s brief since it all began. The object as ‘hero’ even when in fact it is small an insignificant has been a persistent object. From watches to bottles of booze, jewelry and phones – all need to be larger and life and ‘perfect’. What perfect means is tons of retouching since nothing that small is uncontaminated with ‘yuk’. Even when the engineering is astonishing there are fingerprints, dust grease and grime. CGI offers to an alternative way to present form ‘in perfect form’ free from bacteria scratches.

Naturally it is possible to make big things ‘larger than life’ but in advertising it becomes more important with small objects. Photography of small objects has always been tricky not just from the ‘yuk’ point of view. Diffraction, depth of field limitation and being able to light the objects effectively when the lens to object distance is so cramped are big problems. Not least is that it is hard to create a ‘Mount Rushmore larger than life’ view on a small object when the camera itself dwarfs the object in question.

CGI frees one from these constraints to some degree, but what is often forgotten is that the brain also needs detail and texture to construct effective larger than life mental images. In the real world scale is usually defined by natural objects and their textures. In advertising, just about the only permissible natural thing is pure water. Water droplets and sometimes ice crystals decorate objects giving them atmosphere at the same time as defining scale. Whereas product photographers spend most of their time trying to clean off or hide the ‘yuk’ CGI operators struggle to create wholly convincing textures and revel in their ability to create new and more effective dirt filters.

I had no compunction to clean any of these objects but was aware that the dirt on them was something which would surprise the viewer. The dirt distinguishes and contrasts these images from their advertising equivalents. Crushed aged and broken is another kind of ethos which is popular in the fine art world. Some of these objects are not as earthy and folksy as I would prefer but I am prepared to live with that. New manufactured relatively pristine objects fall onto the street all the time. The transition from being run over once or twice to being obliterated by car tires.

Being dirty does not make these  into Art. But nor will I maintain an obsession with doing these things endlessly. Being seen by others as being obsessed is often an important cue to being recognized as an artist. Perhaps I will try that with another project.

The images in this set were focus stacked and stitched to produce files of between 14000 and 18000 pixels in size. A few of these were constructed from more than 100  exposures.

Because it is hard to get a sense of scale with these images (even with retina type screens), the gallery has a few ‘details’ images which show a sample swatch at full resolution, which the sampled region designated.

 

The camera rig used for this macro series

The camera rig used for this macro series

 

 

 

Portrait : Bud Lingo – former F101 pilot

Bud Lingo - Novato, CA

Bud Lingo – Novato, CA

Byron (Bud) Ernest Lingo June 28, 1933 –  July 12, 2014

Ex USAF pilot, Bud Lingo related of an extraordinary experience he had while in charge of his McDonnell_F-101_Voodoo. Flying in formation at about 35,000 ft. at around Mach 1 (750mph) over western US airspace, suddenly the entire front of his aircraft — forward of the pilot seat — disintegrated. Like a scene from a horror movie, he found himself at the absolute leading edge of the aircraft, bodily exposed to the full force of the wind.

Bud explained that the pilot of the aircraft below and forward of him decided to push his stick forward, to lose altitude. Rather than drop the front of a plane, using the stick in this manner initially causes the tail of the plane to lift. The forward plane’s tail-plane had impacted Bud’s aircraft removing everything forward of the pilot seat.

Fortunately he was not hit by debris and was still able to breathe, his face and lungs protected from the wind pressure by a breathing mask. But that was as far as it went  –  it blinded him by it being blown up against his eyes. His arms were blown above his head and he was pinned thus. The force of the wind at that extreme speed made it impossible for him to bring them down to his waist and pull the ejector lever. Eventually he figured a way of sliding them in contact with his body and the seat so the wind would not blow them back, and he was finally able to eject.

Now out of the aircraft but suffering oxygen loss and spinning uncontrollably and fearing he would lose consciousness, he opened his chute at a higher than ideal altitude. As such he drifted from where the plane crashed in the desert. Steerable parachutes were not government issue. Finally he landed in a dry river on soft sand but he hit his head on a lonely large rock, breaking his helmet in the process.  As luck would have it, he shook himself down and found his skull was undamaged at least.

Eventually he made contact with a farmer and Air Force helicopters flew in for the rescue. His navigator had ejected earlier and was found by his parachute, exactly where he had landed some miles away. He did not dare walk to  the road in the distance. He must have seen it as he descended from the sky. He was afraid of snakes.

The leading aircraft which had caused this catastrophe was not too badly damaged and made it to base. Months of investigations ensued. ‘Government property was damaged’ – that was the only thing which mattered and someone would have to pay. Fortunately for Bud, it was not him.

Bud was born in Kansas and raised in rural Nebraska. He joined the Air Force in 1953. I photographed him shortly after his 80th birthday in 2013. Bud passed less than a year later in 2014.

 

 

Police Navidad – season’s best – our illustration

 

'Police Navidad; season's best from yours truly

‘Police Navidad; season’s best from yours truly

According to Larry Silverberg, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at North Carolina State University Santa would have to be real speed freak to get around to every stocking in the world in one evening. Indeed, to cover the required distance in 24 hours he would need to travel at a average speed of 5,083,000 mph. Not surprising that Santa ends up getting cited by the police every now and again.

Reporting of such busts has been seriously repressed and stories abound of payoffs in the media and in city halls to keep photos out of the papers. Not surprisingly police and others lie in wait every year hoping to capitalize on their unique ability to ‘stop and search’.

Meanwhile, with the proliferation of smart phones and dash cams, things have got harder to cover up. People are snapping images everywhere. We were able to capture this image with the latest in miniaturized digital capture technology.

Although on the face of it this photo gets close to recording a moment in the life of the ‘great man’ things are moving fast. We can’t reveal our sources but we learn that the entire operation is degenerating into what some describe is a ‘sordid and fragmented franchise’. Sightings of what we can only describe as proxy Santas of questionable integrity a being seen all over the country. Skepticism is necessary even in every instance including this one.

Megyn Kelly’s recent factual revelations on Fox News go a long way to help the man in the street try to resolve the genuine article from low wage official stand in surrogates, let alone foreigners or out and out counterfeits.

 

 

Dispelling a photographer’s optical/sunset/atmospheric mirage type myth – and meanwhile enjoying the perfect Point Reyes Sunset.

 

A distorted sun sets while its actual position is compared - see the gallery sequence

A distorted sun sets while its actual position is compared – see the gallery sequence

Seems a lot of us photographers believe that the sun’s rays are routinely twisted by the atmosphere in such a way that distorted remnants of the sun’s orb are still visible for a brief period after it has gone past the horizon line.

Yesterday I went on a fools errand to Point Reyes to shoot some pics. Fools errand, because I did not stop to think that access to most of the prime national park spots would be closed due to government shutdown. I found myself on a hill overlooking the ocean in the company of 4 or 5 cars with people improvising their day out, sitting on the roofs of their cars meditating on the magic of the moment.

In fact you could not imagine a more perfect still silent new age Californian vigil.  It was unusual that things were so becalmed- – not a whisper of air – – so unusual so close to the ocean. Not a word was spoken by anyone. It was as if any utterance  could cause the universe to change its mind about existing.

On the ocean lack of haze was quite normal for this place. But the lack of air movement meant that visibility was even better than normal. One could see a stunning amount of detail such a birds many miles out and patches of floating kelp. A shame there were no whales around – they would have been so easy to spot .

The sun seemed to go behind the horizon and then it seemed that we were left with an incongruous sun band squashed into a line on the horizon. It was subjective but that band appeared to persist for many minutes longer than it should have done given the sun’s earlier rapid dash for the horizon.

Musing on  all that, on the winding dark road home, I decided to apply some simple arithmetic to the matter (time of shooting in the EXIF  and correlate something close to the actual sun’s position in the sky, excepting air and distortion).

Naively I was convinced I was about to demonstrate some evidence for my notion that interesting mirage effects had been at work, permitting us a magic last minute view of the sun even after it had gone. I felt certain on the basis of subjectivity that there was no question that this light was being bent right around the horizon. .

To my big surprise, I saw that this was not happening  – the squished band must have been present before the sun had actually cleared the horizon.

Somehow it seemed that more kudos accrues to the viewer to still see something which is ‘gone away’ – as opposed to seeing something which is simply veiled or obscured. This was the little emotional bubble which I burst with my test.

Here is a gallery sequence which shows the sun going down and overlaid a circle which gives a rough idea where the sun would have been had there been no distorting atmosphere  (according to my crude estimate). 

http://philipchudy.com/galleries/sunsetmyth/#1.

This estimate clearly is very inaccurate because the sun images which defined my base rate of the descent of the sun were already subject to distortion of the atmosphere. The sun’s image is already compressed in the first image. I did not know precisely when the photos were taken. The camera date was never precise and furthermore it had been adjusted after the shoot.The only accurate timing data I had was the interval between the photographs. 

Naturally no self respecting scientist nowadays would use such poor data and crude methodology to prove anything useful  – but my intention was pretty simple. I wanted only to know whether the sun was present in the sky or had it actually disappeared over the horizon when the last tantalizing distorted remnants were still visible. The data I collected at least accurate enough to show that this was simply not happening.

I could certainly improve on this by shooting a few more photos of the sun, with the identical focal length lens at intervals, but when the sun is high in the sky and not subject to the same level of atmospheric distortion.

I intend to do this some time soon and compare the rate of descent to that which was calculated in the above gallery. 

Of course there is still nearly zero scientific merit to this – even if I improve the accuracy a lot – but there is some satisfaction in trying to extend ones self using only the technology one holds in ones hand. In this case it was my camera and a set of photos.

Just so this does not look like a dry quixotic tech exercise alone, here are 4 regular pics from the outing. One merely has to look at them.

http://philipchudy.com/galleries/PointReysSunset

Point Reyes sunset - the sun as a thin strip along the horizon

Point Reyes sunset – the sun as a thin strip along the horizon

 

Sonoma County Fair 2013

Sonoma County Fair 2013

Sonoma County Fair 2013

Here is a gallery of images which I created shortly after the event http://www.philipchudy.com/galleries/SonomaCountyFair2013/#1

I failed to blog the link till now so it is not hot news.

I have also folded some of the images into my formal Summer Fairs Gallery on my fine art site http://www.philipchudyfineart.com/projects/proj1/index.html#1 where they can be seen alongside other similar images, collected over time.

America’s Cup – crowd pictures – day 8

Like many I thought that day 8 would be a conclusive win for the Kiwis. But the second run of they day was rescheduled due to high winds. The weather from a spectator point of view at Pier 38 was beyond perfect, but rules are rules. My shoot time was reduced there was no ‘celebration’ to capture for posterity.

What there was, was an awful lot of ogling at and use of smartphones. Indeed, I have never seen so much phone-centric activity (and cell phone photography) in a single restricted public place. I am personally not worried – but anyone so disposed might have a good case for being alarmist about the future of humanity..

Had the race been decided yesterday it is arguable that what I would have actually have got to document would have been no more than detailed documentation (by the crowd) of a win, rather than any kind of real celebration. See some of the crowd shots in my 24 picture photo gallery http://www.hilipchudy.com/galleries/AmericasCup/#1.

Pier 38-  crowds use smart phones to photograph the US and New Zealand craft.

Pier 38- crowds use smart phones to photograph as the US and New Zealand craft pass close by..

 

Chazz (Chudy Jazz) playlist – studio sounds

..Not all that much to do with with photography, except that there is a soundtrack to most photography studios.  

Via spotify – chazz is a sample of the sounds emanating from our place.

The set consists of about 500 selected jazz and vocal tracks which go well beyond ‘background’. Just because these intelligent sounds enhance mindful activities, that does not mean that it ends there. This is actually serious music worthy of a lot of respect in its own right. The set is good for more than three full 8 hour work day’s listening – without any repeats. If you want a quick list of who is featured, go here.

Give it a go!

 

Marin County Fair 2013 – photo gallery

Sunset, Reveler, Marin County Fair 2013

Sunset, Revelers, Marin County Fair 2013

As part of my ongoing Summer Fairs project, here is a new set of 63 photos shot on 5th July.

Given that many things at the show are the same each year (rides, uniforms, etc.) – this year I was shooting only for new stuff – or trying for a touch more subtlety. The cream of the latest images will eventually be folded into the existing mega collection.

Once in a lifetime – unusually bright daylight 22° halo (ring around the sun) in Marin County

Of a cold winter night one would not be surprised to see a bright 22°halo  around the moon, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/22%C2%B0_halo But that is winter – and winter is cold after all.

At midday in June the heat of the sun would tend to turn ice crystals into water droplets and that would appear only as an amorphous halo around the sun. It did not today. Lucky us – in Marin and some parts of Sonoma – to see this on a pristine cloudless summer’s day. There must have been a freak layer of moisture at very high altitude.

Rare and very bright daylight ice ring around the sun in Marin, June 18 2013

Rare and very bright daylight ice ring around the sun in Marin, June 18 2013

Here is a gallery of 8 higher resolution pictures http://www.philipchudy.com/galleries//ringaroundthesun

With the sun so high in the sky, it was stunning how bright the ring appeared. The brightness of the ring itself I is the ‘once in a lifetime’ element. I would guess that this is a function of the height of the sun above the horizon. In winter the sun is never that high and one tends to see sun dogs instead https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_dog

I accosted a few people I saw wondering down the street and said “look”, pointing up at the sky. Most greeted this with a hint of a scowl at first (who is that crazy!) but it was comical how stunned they were as soon as their eyes were raised a few degrees. And some nearly ducked when they saw it before bursting out laughing. What does not come across in the photos is how big the thing looked in real life. You really would want to duck. I shot the pics mostly on 16mm wide angle because without some trees and buildings, there would be no sense of it at all. But that has the disadvantage of making the ring look small in the shots.