"Hindsight is always twenty-twenty. " Billy Wilder
"Hindsight is an exact science. " Guy Bellamy

31 May 2011


Image © PeteM2020

Making the 109  B&W Photo Essay rekindled my interest in monotone images.  Rather than letting colours set the mood of the image – varying the shade and contrast does it instead.

Sepia became a popular way of giving warmth and mood to stark B&W images. Many photographers would furthermore choose to print family images on warm coloured, heavy stock to give the photographs a touch of class. Edge scalloping / torn edges and embossing were further enhancements – techniques now the sole domain of fine art print makers.

Today, Photoshop has made the reproduction of the old art forms sepia, duotone, tritone and quadtone a simple matter. By learning colour theory – the judicious use of colour tinting can subtly change the mood of a B&W photograph to suit the intended message of the image.

Sadly, small images on the web does little justice to an art perfected by old masters.

29 May 2011

Addictive additives

The photographic community seems to have two sharply divided camps when it comes to HDR imaging. People either love or hate the pictures. For me, it was love at first sight. 

I can still remember my first attempts at the additive colour process in the darkroom. Very long hours spent in a small, horribly smelly and stuffy room handling corrosive chemicals – all in pursuit of that elusive champion colour image. Sadly, the failure rate was frustratingly high. 

However, Andy Warhol was at that time perfecting the craft of making those strangely coloured  “failed” images into an art form. That was great for morale – my failures were now cutting edge photography. Just a pity the buying public did not share my newfound enthusiasm for my take on the art form!

These Photomatix / Photoshop processed HDR images are the result from a quick trip to Southbank on Saturday afternoon:

Image © PeteM2020

Image © PeteM2020
Click on the images for a larger version

25 May 2011


However much I find the drawing classes challenging, I always have that sense of elation when I have actually produced a finished piece. Whether the drawing is good or bad is largely immaterial – for me the process and engagement is what is now more important. My recurring mantra is “learning to see “–  and having studied the life of successful photographers  - they all suggest that drawing or sketching is an important part of that “learning to see” process. 

So although the connection between hand(s) and brain frequently feels like the image below – I’ll keep at it! 
Hobart, Tasmania
Image © PeteM2020

24 May 2011


Creative accounting I hear –absolutely! It comes in many guises. This is how it goes: Take five 15Mb images of the same subject but at different exposures (derivatives).  Apply some fancy mathematical logarithm, choose a colour to suit the mood and you end up with one HDR image of about 53Mb. What happened to the missing 22Mb? Politicians loosely refer to that kind of calculation as a “Black Hole”, whilst the Tax Office would suspect Tax Evasion. (The Tax Office should hire more artists).

The bankers are smarter – they add another totally unrelated 20Mb picture into the equation – pull some leavers, do some jiggery pokery and – hey presto - a 120Mb masterpiece. So far I am following their lead:
Image copy PeteM2020
However, the American Bankers have further refined the game. When recently unable to get rid of their toxic art, they cleverly managed to convince Congress to purchase the bad stuff with taxpayer’s money. The Bankers, of course, retain the good stuff for further sales. Now that’s the mastery all artists should perfect!

22 May 2011

Japanese lacquer art

Wandering around our garden late this afternoon, the amazing autumn colours brought back powerful memories of our visits to Japan. As a ray of sun momentarily lit up leaves on a copse of maples, the landscape briefly looked like a finely decorated Japanese lacquered screen. The recent rain and the darkening sky further enhanced the vivid spectacle.
Acer Palmatum (Polymorphum), Olinda, Victoria
Image © PeteM2020
How often do we see something and say –“If I just had a camera at hand!” Well, this time I did, and as luck would have it, the camera had a long lens attached and was set up for high speed HDR bracketing!
(Click on the image for a larger version) 

18 May 2011


My long journey on Tuesday to the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery was richly rewarded by the fabulous “In Search of Utopia “ exhibition. On display were works by artists from Australia, China, France and UK. One can only marvel at the innovative ideas and the artist’s ability to harness the power of current computer software to produce some stunning works. For me, the “Interactive Typewriter” and the “Xanadu 2009” HD video installation were amongst the highlights.

That said – the old-fashioned shadow puppets installation was still fascinating, possibly because of its large size and sheer simplicity.
The image only shows a small part of the installation
Image © PeteM2020
The talk by Isobel Knowles and Van Sowerwine was inspirational - taking us through their work from humble beginnings to their current rather sophisticated 45 min interactive stop motion masterpiece. It must take a fair dose of enthusiasm and dedication to produce a video of more than 33,000 frames. That they have remained friends after all that work speaks volumes for their unwavering belief in their art form and their symbiotic collaboration.

Finishing the day at Mornington pier for an open-air lunch and some pencil drawings (under expert tuition) was the culmination of a great day out. Thanks David.

14 May 2011


Image © PeteM 2020
As with most new software I find playing with it is the only way of coming to grips with it. My starting point is 5 raw images exposed at -2,-1, 0, +1 and +2 stops – mostly using a tripod, but I am also pleasantly impressed with Photomatix’s ability to align 5 handheld shots (can’t just be my steady hand!).
Image © PeteM 2020
After that its play, play, play with the myriad of sliders and settings until I have an image with some resemblance of reality, yet enhanced. The processed image is then brought into Photoshop for final adjustments – size, curves and sharpening. The latter can be done in Photomatix, but I have not found any user controls for the sharpening process.

My next step using Photomatix - probably make images far removed from anything resembling reality!
(Click on either of the images for a larger version)

11 May 2011

Smoke in her Eyes

I decided to experiment with masks, blending modes and other stuff in After Effects. As for artistic merit – well let’s rather agree that this was just another learning exercise.

10 May 2011

HDR Panorama

I have done further experiments with Photomatix – it’s quite a learning process to find out how to get the most out of the bracketed raw files. At times the results are quite surreal and make landscapes look like they belong on a different planet. Still much to learn!
Image © PeteM2020

This panorama was made from stitching together a couple of HDR files. I am pleased with the result, bearing in mind how dark it was in the creek today. (f8 1/10sec @800iso, +/- 2 stops) The final psd file was about 120Mb and has been squeezed down to about 50Kb for the blog entry! To see a slightly larger version, just click on the image.

As I have as yet not received my licence key for Photomatix, this image carries the watermarks.

06 May 2011

Wangi Wiggle

I spent a few days last week sailing around Wangi Wangi, a small hamlet at the edge of Lake Macquarie, NSW. The weather was changing frequently and on this particular morning I found the cloudscapes rather exciting. So whilst the skipper was doing some minor repairs, I took the opportunity to set up the camera and make this short stop-motion animation. In hindsight, I should have taken the images at a higher frequency – next time!

02 May 2011


Image © PeteM2020
This, my first HDR image, was made using 5 images bracketed -2, -1, 0 , +1, +2  stops and then processed in Photomatix Pro

01 May 2011

Pile of Bricks

Image © PeteM2020

The humble brick has lost its glory as the prime building material in current constructions. Render and glass reign supreme in today’s slick architecture – but I still have a soft spot for bricks. When I found this artistically arranged pile of bricks, I felt obliged to record it. I have gathered a few of my images on a web page – just click here to view it!