Jeff Armstrong

Vivacious Curiosity

Kourion Cliff Walk

Did panoramic just get too easy?

I got Photoshop CS4 a few months ago and was immediately amazed at how easy it is create panoramic images. Even hand held I can stitch 3, 4, 5 images together almost effortlessly. As many as I like.

I guess this is good. I kind of liked the challenge of stitching and then blending a panoramic manually. It was fun. Now it’s just a click…

There is a trick though. Well two: 1) Take the images with PLENTY of overlap and 2) pick to right combine mode i.e spherical, cylindrical etc… Fortunately, with patience you can try them all, if you get the images right in the first place. That’s it. Simple. Hehehehe…

I guess I am just going to have to combine my other favorite digital technique, HDR, and find some new challenges in this area.

I’m still in Cyprus. Having a great life. The dream comes to an end soon though. Or another begins. Off to Poland for a while. Postponing reality for a bit longer. where will that next pay check come from?

That’s all for now. Talk soon.

Be good, Jeff


Scooter Visit

scooter visit

Originally uploaded by Jeff Armstrong Photography

The manually inserted vignette seems to be all the rage these days.

I find it a little ironic how much research and development and money consumers pay to avoid the vignette in camera only to put it back in post production. For or against? As always: it depends.

Many images, especially those with a lot of peripheral detail, do well with a vignette. It helps focus the viewers attention and damp down extraneous information.

For me, it is more of a comment of the skill of working withing the limits of the camera. The more advanced our cameras get, the more information they capture and the more flexibility we have. the camera still has limits like dynamic range and pixel count. Know these, however, puts a photographer in a great position to work around them or, this is the great bit, exploit them.

the image below was shot on a point and shoot just for fun. The auto-focus makes it difficult to create interesting composure so the main subject of the rocks was slightly out of the focal plane. Also the poorer optics and smaller file gave a grainy look to the image.

I know this and so in post production I used this grainy feel and emphasized it to give a grungy kind of ruptured feel that I enjoy even though the limitations initially pissed me off!

Beginning with the end in mind is important and knowing the extend of you equipment, including post production, will make images or break them.

Thanks and be good, Jeff.

A day trip to Lefkara, Cyprus

Doing this on a Saturday without a car requires hiking or, in our case, hitchhiking, something I am new to.

There are so many beautiful shots in Cyprus I am spoiled for choice. That got me to thinking about inspiration and motivation.

At the moment things are pretty easy. I’ve got enough money to get by. Somebody cooks for me during the week. It’s a 20 minute walk to the beach in the heat past terraced grape vines and olive groves. Beer is cheap. My girls is here and I am content.

It’s really been tough to find things to write about amongst all this goodness. Not that I am always complain-blogging but my ideas often come when I’m pissed about something. Maybe life is too good or I’m just not used to being completely content.

So, what does a photo blog become without things to bitch about? Let’s see…

I find it difficult to delete.

I have spent the last couple of days cleaning up my storage devices of images in raw format that I have not looked at in two years. So: delete: delete: delete. Get rid of those repetitions, misfires, if I ranked it with a two or three; out it goes. If it never got used; bye-bye. If, after two years, I can’t see a new angle or editing technique or apply a new useful idea to it, it’s G.O.N.E baby!

To be fair I only cleared up 14GB of memory. Not bad but compared to the couple of hundred gig I have stored away, not a big deal. I guess I’ll have another go next spring.

BTW, Scott Kelby gave some great advice. If your doing a job. Instead of using you hard drives external or otherwise, separate these onto pen drives. They are stable, cheap, reliable and easy to store.

Maybe it can work for personal images as well. These can even be named electronically, some can be physically labelled and if your using an LCD picture frame for example, they can be easily changed depending on your mood or your visitors i.e. mother, ex-gilfriend, new girlfriend 😀

Something to ponder.

Be good, Dzeffski

I desire the opportunity to go back…

Edward Weston wrote that “…to consult the rules of composition before making a picture is a little like consulting the law of gravitation before going for a walk. Such rules and laws are deduced from the accomplished fact; they are the products of reflection”.

I have been thinking a lot about the project I undertook in Poland with the Dominikan monks.

It feels unfinnished. There is a lot I would like to have done then and since I have stewed about it, there is more that I think we can do. More portraits, definately. Better architecture shots, certainly. The monks interaction with the community, absolutely. I regret not finding these things in the first place and I hope I can make it happen again.

It’s not bad to revisit the past sometimes I think…

blue sky panorama

This is the beautiful Mediterranean blue sky over Cyprus.

I don’t usually go in for sky shots. You see it every day but having been in Edinburgh for the past five years I actually haven’t seen in that much.

The reason I am putting it up though is because it was a bit of a test for the new CS4 photo merge.

I use a polarising filter in Cyprus almost all the time. There is plenty of light for it and the colours become much more vibrant. The sky also polarises differently depending on where the sun is so it is often difficult to blend without a lot of work. CS4 worked a treat however, with very little post merge blending work required. This turns out to be a great boon in a lot of situations both including and excluding sky. Evening out light in the blended areas makes for a much more natural and easily edited image.

So, back to ‘wrork’. Blue skies and archeology.

There is something bitter sweet about zoos. I love animals and I believe in research and conservation. I really enjoy watching penguins and lions, monkeys and zebras and all the rest.

My girlfriend said it makes her feel guilty. I think this sentiment sums up exactly how I feel. Like locking your sibling in the wardrobe. It seems like fun at the time but tears and crying can break your heart.

Edinburgh zoo is a fantastic facility and the keepers and scientists there really believe in their role as conservators of the worlds bio-diversity. It just seems sad, like taking away a kind of dignity.

It is of course a mistake to transfer human emotions onto animals. While they have an amount of awareness, intelligence and instinctive reaction, giving them PERSONalities is probably incorrect.

To be fair, the penguins seem perfectly delighted with all the attention, so perhaps my guilt is misplaced.

So, this image is the view from the top of the hill at the zoo. I shot this hand-held and stitched it with Photoshop CS4. In previous versions I would have to work VERY hard to achieve such a seamless panoramic but this one is pretty good. I think I will go on a pano-crazy rampage for a while…

A bit of inspiration

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I have to say, I empathise… But tomorrow is a new day.