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

Ex USAF pilot, Bud tells 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 movie, he found himself at the absolute leading edge of the aircraft, bodily exposed to the full force of the wind.

Bud explains 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 thus 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.

I photographed Bud not all that long after his 80th birthday, 2013

 

 

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.

Grass madness – 8 new pictures of grasses

 

Marin grasses at sunset

Marin grasses at sunset

8 new grasses pictures here: http://www.philipchudy.com/galleries/grasses/#1

In principle I am not that much of a fan of ‘serial’ photography – i.e. photography which appeals to the basic  hoarding instinct: photographing the same thing again and again hoping to make the uninteresting meaningful by forcing infinite comparison. Nor am I attracted to career moves in which the main  claim to creative genius is that the main focus is on some narrow non-mainstream interest. In the first instance, in photography one starts out by feeding ones low collecting instincts by making a copy of reality. It may not be wise to keep pushing that to it’s limits. Photography for me is about interpretation not originality. If you photograph frog spawn all your life  - perhaps frog spawn is interesting but that does necessarily translate to profound interest in your photography.

But I am not fighting it – I admit I never get tired of trying to take the perfect grasses image.

In the final analysis, when a good grasses picture works it offers a touch of the magic one expects of a good abstract painting. And any time photography gets compared to painting the temptation is to throw ones hat in the air with celebration.

But photography is not painting. At at shoot time there are major visual challenges which conspire to make the final image a pale reflection of the original scene. That is always at the back of ones mind with photographs, but but it’s never really a factor when viewing an abstract painting.

The camera is mono-focal and static, while a major part of the visual magic one experiences when viewing grasses (at mid distance) is the sense of depth, definition offered by stereo vision. This sensation is accentuated by when one moves relative to the scene as one becomes aware that the ground is made up of myriads of individual grass strands.

When reviewing most of the photographs one makes of grasses, the tendency is for the texture to become a flat ill defined mass. Certainly, one could shoot high definition moving images to make a literal record which shows what it was like to be there at the time – but that is not what human memory hungers for. It seeks simple iconic still representations.

I dont plan to I will constrain myself when it comes to grasses for now. Indeed it is probably time I consolidated former work and created a projects gallery wholly devoted to grass pictures. 

Paris Photo at Paramount Studios

Paramount studios big swimming pool for those fake deep ocean sequences. The actors can take bathroom breaks half a block away.

Paramount studios’ big swimming pool for those fake lost at sea deep ocean takes. The actors can take their bathroom breaks a mere half a block away.so they never really need to look too anxious on set.

I took a few moments from my assignment to shoot a few pics for personal use. This was Paris Photo’s first gig in Los Angeles and by all accounts it was a bit hit.

I did not have time to care how it felt but it was strange to wander in and out of (or past) the 70+ galleries/spaces occupied by photo galleries/publishers from all corners of the world – intent on taking my own pictures, rather than admiring the material on show. Some of the work was excellent but at the time it had to compete with the environs for my attention and in the main, it lost. I did especially like Fred Herzog’s images shown by  Equinox

I had little time to spare for personal pics so I feature only 6 images in my own gallery http://www.philipchudy.com/galleries/paramount . As explained, the pictures are very peripheral to the event itself.

Ventura to Los Padres – a brief photo essay

Curious cattle dog, Santa Ynez

Curious cattle dog, Santa Ynez

A full gallery with 22 pictures here

A fascinating day out, from cowboy towns turned wine destinations, to big views and small mountain roads through part of the extensive Los Padres Forest area. Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch is 8 miles from Santa Ynez, but apart from a bevy of security vehicles and guards behind a secure gate, nothing is visible from the road.

Los Padres Forest
Los Padres Forest
A wine destination, Santa Ynez

A wine destination, Santa Ynez

Like anyone needs a picture with fish on bicycles!

As promised in my prior post – a properly produced version of the fish on bike picture.

a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle

Like a fish needs a bicycle

I thought the whole world was familiar with the expression behind the picture. Gloria Steinem’s statement here, for context:

“… you credit me with the witticism ‘A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.’ In fact, Irina Dunn, a distinguished Australian educator, journalist and politician, coined the phrase back in 1970 when she was a student at the University of Sydney. She paraphrased the philosopher who said, ‘Man needs God like fish needs a bicycle.’ Dunn deserves credit for creating such a popular and durable spoof of the old idea that women need men more than vice versa.”

Gloria Steinem

 

Like a bicycle needs a fish? Or has Clause 66 got it the other way round?

'like a fish needs a bicycle'  a quick and dirty CGI illustration

‘like a fish needs a bicycle’ a quick and dirty CGI illustration

Paul Ellis - creator  of Stop43.org and resolute campaigner for photographers’ rights, in the face of recent UK orphan works initiatives. asked if anyone on the AOP list had a ‘fish on a bicycle’ image. He wanted a token image to distribute, which would illustrate the incongruousness of  Clause 66. Clause 66 is another attempt to legislate ill thought out rules, permitting use of copyright in a manner which arguably dramatically erodes photo-creator’s ownership of their own intellectual property, without achieving much of real or lasting value for the rest of society.

I like others’ first reaction was to want to help but I had nothing along those lines. I began to think about creating something but was reluctant.

A ‘fish on a bicycle’ is an easy thing to mention in passing. It sounds like your client brief: give me a really bright and shiny photo of a black panther on a starless night. We all get the incongruity of the idea from the words - so now why do we need to have an inadequate image to illustrate it?

A passable image of a fish on a bike could be extremely arduous to produce. Who would have made such an image just hanging around? I thought of offering to photo-comp the thing if others would come up with the raw elements, but the prospect of dealing with mismatching images filled me with dread.

Just as the business of comedy is a very serious matter for a comedian, the maker of fantasy/surreal image needs to ground the work with a range of ‘very real’ visual cues. Capturing what people think is visual reality is hard enough but compositing an image such as this one, from a range of existing images, each which belongs in a totally different domain and lighting (i.e. under water versus the street), and making them relate to each other is quite another. Then it struck me that I should give it a go with CGI. At least both elements would exist in the same 3D space and  lighting conditions.

That said  – the request was ‘send me what you have so I can use it right now’ – not in a month. With CGI, whatever one is doing  one expects to hit a wall immediately. The normal flow is to be hit straight away with so many compositional/visual options and design decisions that, none of which can be properly assessed without a mountain of building and experimentation that one just freezes unless one has independent direction. One expects most first round results to look really dumb on completion, so it frequently takes me forever to commit to a final look.

All that said  - there was nothing stopping me giving it a go. No one would know this time  if I started and then just gave up.

But I was surprised –  thanks to existing 3D models and a set of unusually low expectations, I found I had a fairly pleasing sketch image from a rendered 3d model barely more than half an hour.That is record time for me. Anyhow here it is the token ‘in context’ on Stop 43.

Watch this space – I might develop the idea further and do a better job technically too.

More atmospheric effects – now Rainbows

More strange optical effects - see the bright area inside the arc of the rainbow

More strange optical effects – see the bright area inside the arc of the rainbow

I was prepared for a regular sized rain shower when I set out a week ago at Las Gallinas, San Rafael .  I like shooting in the rain and in general I depend on a quite effective rainproof cover for my Tenba backpack camera case. I had what I thought was adequate protection for me also, but rather than just ‘being rained upon’ is probably better described as being ‘brutally attacked from the heavens’.

It was a day of spectacular clouds and I was about 35 minutes walk away from the vehicle (and any kind of cover), shooting a distant rainbow over the bay. The moon was visible in the blue sky above squalls perhaps 10 miles away while the clouds directly above me did reveal what was about to happen.

A gallery of 6 images is here 

Suddenly big drops of rain fell out of the sky and in less than 30 seconds I had cameras stashed away. It still seemed likely that things would not go beyond the token shower I thought would catch up with me sometime. But suddenly a storm force wind appeared from nowhere followed by lashing horizontal rain. In less than half a minute the water was penetrating all of my bodily protection and I feared for my equipment. I don’t know why, but crawled under a short almost leafless, bush which in theory should have offered zero protection but somehow it had a dramatic effect. Out of the wind on hands and knees, somehow I the rain seemed to falling everywhere but on me. I could hardly believe it and t felt unreal to be in the middle of the deluge and protected only by a few twigs.

In less than 10 minutes it was all over and feeling a touch humiliated and somewhat like a a bedraggled coyote which I often see skulking about there, I crawled out and started shooting the intense double rainbow (featured here). What may or may not be apparent in the photo was how bright the arc of the rainbow was. It was near sunset and a the air was pristine and clear and the departing rainstorm was a dark backdrop and the curve seemed almost blinding.

One thing which is rarely apparent with rainbows is how bright the atmosphere is within the bounds on the primary arc, compared to outside it. It is as if rainbow is in fact a giant bubble rather than a lonely curve across the sky. The raindrops inside the rainbow clearly are acting somewhat like ‘Scotchlight paint’ which one finds on motorways and street signs. Light enters the small glass beads in the paint and the lens effect reflects it directly back to where it came from. Similarly with the drops of rain inside the rainbow but it seems amazing that the sudden cut off of this effect. Raindrops which are immediately outside the strict arc of the rainbow do not reflect the light in the same way. Apparently this is because reflections beyond this point are suddenly indirect (accounting for the secondary rainbow. this is the Alexander’s dark band (after Alexander of Aphrodisias (200 AD). I have not noticed this before, nor had a camera around to capture it.

 

Now ‘planetary/astronomical feedback’ on mirage/sunset photos

I received and interesting response to my recent post ‘Saturday, round the Bay on Frequent Sea. And, a freakish magic city mirage effect, as the sun sets from Astronomer Andrew Young of San Diego State University. Andrew’s area of expertise is photometry and planetary atmospheres. Andrew has a page devoted to the down-to-earth phenomenon of the green flash and has page devoted to computer graphic  simulations here.

Andrew wrote to request more data about where when and how high above sea level the my photos (showing the strange city like mirages) photos were made. No one suggests that the effects were caused by anything other than temperature inversion over the ocean – causing not only the cloud images from well over the horizon, but the orb of the sun itself to split into two (in the final stages of the sunset).

I was able to oblige and even to point to an archived time-lapse movie of the actual day the effects occurred from Lawrence Hall of Science‘s webcam perched high up above Berkeley. Not only that, I was able to find other images shot from perhaps 300 ft above the ocean on the Marin headlands peninsula, which show the sun actually splitting into three distinct images. Here is one of them.

phiilipchudySunsetdistortion

Sunset from Marin Headlands – the sun breaks into 3 blobs

 Andrew’s answer was to simulate a possible atmospheric scenario behind this (included below).

Andrew Young's simulation of the sunset distortion

Andrew Young’s simulation of the distortion featured above. Refresh page if animation has stalled.

Andrew wrotes:

this is the emperature profile I used.  There
are 2 thermal inversions in it.  Well, the interesting part of the
structure is (numerically) just this:

*  h    T
0.00000 278.1500
0.07500 277.6000
0.08000 278.0000
0.10000 277.8000
0.11000 278.6000
1.00000 275.1500

The heights are in kilometers; the temperatures are in Kelvin.  So the
lower inversion is from 75 to 80 meters height, and the upper one is from
100 to 110 m.  As you can see, just a few tenths of a degree suffice to
produce the image structures in the gif animation.