31 July 2009

Yoshihisa Maitani Dies At 76

The man behind the Olympus Pen cameras, the OM-1 and the XA, Yoshihisa Maitani died yesterday at age seventy six. He lived to see his Pen camera system reborn as the Pen Digital through the work and enthusiasm of a new generation of engineers. The new E-P1 is not an exercise in nostalgia but a camera that acknowledges its ancestry while breaking new ground with its mirrorless design, compact lenses and in-camera digital image processing.

Olympus OM-2n w/ OM 50mm f/1.4 lens

This photograph of my OM-2n looks a bit like a shrine in light of today's news.

Olympus XA-2

My original XA-2 bought circa 1986. A classic camera and novel industrial design from Maitani's hand.

22 July 2009

The ugliest Twitter post yet?

New generation of farmers. RT @FMCorg: 40 farmers under 40 http://tr.im/tnjB (via @civileater via @ediblechicago)
about 22 hours ago from web
Things are getting ugly on Twitter. This tweet I posted to @farmfoody is more citation than message. It is filled with gibberish, the "retweet" code and the via's, the cryptic tiny url. Something will have to give and eventually meta data will find its way back to where it belongs, hidden somewhere outside of the message text in the message envelope.

17 July 2009

Apologies from the Ministry of Information

"Dear citizen, we recently discovered a problem with an ebook that you have purchased, the photograph showing the Dear Leader shaking the hand of the former enemy president has been corrected to show the Dear Leader shaking the hand of our new friends. We apologize for the inconvenience." -- Ministry of Information, 2012
How long will it be before our digital content is "corrected" for our convenience, not just pulling books from our electronic readers in the middle of the night?

I bought a Kindle 2, but I returned it out of concerns my ebooks would not be my own books, in the way my paper books are my own books. I was concerned about what might happen to my hundreds of dollars of books stored on the Kindle if amazon went bankrupt. I worried that if the Kindle did not do well, they would shut down the DRM servers and my content would become inaccessible. So I sent it back (also it was a bit small screen and I wanted to loan it to my parents on occaison, who are elderly).

Today, I found in my Twitter stream an article in the New York Times: Some E-Books Are More Equal Than Others.

I never imagined this would be the start of an Orwellian world where content of the books I own is edited at the whim of a publisher or perhaps the government whenever a judgement is rendered in a lawsuit or a contract changes, or perhaps is misread and accidentally violated. We now enter the world of my cold war childhood, when it was common for Pravda to scrub undesirable persons from a photograph or restore them once they were rehabilitated, to change history to suit political circumstance on a daily basis.

What will it be next from the Ministry of Information in the world of Big Publishing, "correcting" our photographs according to the latest lawsuit or government edict?

02 July 2009

HDR Chrome Effect in LightZone

An popular effect is the HDR, gritty, "chrome" look. After watching a video on the technique, I thought I'd give it a try in LightZone.


This look is achieved without actual HDR, but by contrast, local contrast and saturation adjustments.

The steps in LightZone involve dropping a number of tools on the stack and adjusting them, which is a different approach than Photoshop or Lightroom.

  1. Drop a Hue/Saturation tool. Set Vibrance to 100.
  2. Drop a Sharpen tool. Set Amount to 500 and Radius to 50, adjust until you get a "comic book" or "chrome" look (strong blacks, faded, three-dimensional pastel colors).
  3. Drop a Zone Mapper tool. Define points at 2 steps down from white, 5 steps down from white and 4 or 5 steps up from black. Push the white point up to where it divides the top step in two, leave the middle point alone, pull the black point all the way done to keep contrast. Later, you can adjust the middle tone contrast by adjusting the middle point.
  4. Drop another Hue/Saturation tool. Pull the Saturation slider back, reducing saturation until you like the effect.
  5. You may choose to drop a Relight tool to adjust overall brightness and graininess, but you may want to zero the Detail slider or turn off the Sharpen tool and use the Detail adjustment instead.
So you do not have to go through all of these steps, I created the HDChrome style you can download for LightZone here to use as a starting point. Download the archive file, extract the .lzt file and save it to your LightZone templates folder and it will appear under Custom styles.

Reducing saturation gives an image the feeling of a drawing, as if an ink drawing has (or photograph) has been tinted. Starting with a pastel image, mostly gray with touches of color gives this result, if there is texture, this will become the "ink" part. If you start with a metal object, like a car or motorcycle, it can enhance the curves and create the appearance the metal has been chromed, and enhance already chromed parts.