Tag Archives: Photo

Size does matter

Yes size does matter!

Check out these prints that I recently processed for some clients.

Starting from the middle on the left, going clockwise, we have the following sizes – 6×4, 5×7, 8×12, 16×24 and 16×20.

Sure 6×4’s are good in a photo album, to pass between friends or in a small frame, but nothing beats the impact that a large print has.  The 16×24 print is stunning and would look fantastic framed up on a wall!

Next to it, the 8×12’s look really small – maybe nice to have framed on a table or ledge, but too small to be by itself on a wall.

Yes printing costs are more expensive and the framing costs even more – but it turns a photo into something you can make part of your home.

Photos from the World Wide Photowalk 2010

On the weekend, I joined about 100 other photography enthusiasts on a walk around Perth city to take photos.  It was one of the local events for the Scott Kelby World Wide Photowalk day.

I decided to pull along my father-in-law as I know how much he loves photography.  Armed with our cameras, we parked near the Perth Concert Hall and walked to the meeting point.  I was wondering – who would go to these things?  Are they all going to be real photo geeks, clothed with multi-pocketed photographer vests? 

But all was OK – just normal people with a variety of equipment from point and shoots to SLRs.    Great to see Martin there with his kids, who introduced me to this event.

After a group photo, there was a quick explanation of the day and some ground rules.  Apparently we’re allowed to take photos inside St Mary’s Cathedral!  My first D’oh!  I should have brought my tripod along. Now I’ll have to rely on noisy higher ISOs, bracketing and panoramas by hand.

And then we were off!

Or not really. 

Photographers really take their time.  You do not want to be going on a photowalk if you’re in a hurry to get to the end point!  Everyone had spread out like crime scene photographers trying to capture as much of the expansive real world onto a few inches of film or digital chip.  I wonder if in the future someone would be able to recreate a virtual copy of East Perth from all our photos.

I see a great opportunity for a photo in the middle of St George’s Terrace with blurry traffic passing by.  But I nearly got run over by a car when crossing back.  Note to self – holding a camera does not make me invincible to the laws of nature.

Then I got excited by some nature in the concrete city – a tree reaching up into the sky!!  I tried to snap it from various angles hoping to get a good shot.   I looked around and then realised I had lost our group leader.

People were taking photos of all sorts of things – storm water drains, bins, buildings, trees – basically EVERYTHING!  It was funny to hear a pedestrian couple walk past saying, “There’s a lot of people taking photos here?!?”  Were we that obvious?  Did we look like a bunch of bus’d-in tourists?

We turned up past the Mint and I suddenly realise we were in an un-picturesque part of town.  But luckily we then turned towards the recently renovated St Mary’s Cathedral and I knew there would be a plethora of things to shoot in there.

Seems like the Organ Society of WA is having a “meet and play” and majestic chords and runs of pipe music is spilling out of the church.   Luckily it helps to mask the constant chatter of shutters going off inside the church.   I take a few hand held panoramas inside and vertoramas outside, and a few 3 shot brackets – hoping that I can fix it all up later.  Photographers are lazing around the front of the Cathedral, chimping and comparing shots.  My right hand is starting to get sore.

And then it was all over.  Coffees at Dome with my father-in-law and we discuss the post-processing that we need to do and when the next photowalk is on that we can go to. 

At home, I’ve downloaded the photos, straightened and cropped and then used some of my presets in Lightroom to increase contrast and turn some into black and white.  The next step for me is to process the panoramas and HDR/bracketed shots which will take more time.

I have enjoyed seeing the others shots taken by participants that day.  It’s amazing what things you don’t see that are right in front of you, and how other people can view the same objects in ways you never imagined.  And I was also pleasantly surprised by the number of interesting things I could take in 2 hours on that side of town.

My Flickr set of shots so far is here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasechong/sets/72157624578903906/

And here are some of my favourite shots from the day:

The old town in Nice, France

I loved wandering around the streets of the old town in Nice, France. The colours of the buildings are so vibrant compared to the dull gray of our high-rises in Perth and other modern big cities. This image reminds me of the narrow streets, the colours and how close the buildings were to each other.

Here’s a view of an old building up into the clear blue sky in Nice, France.  It was a clear day, but it was cold!

Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower is one of the most photographed structures on the planet.  It’s actually much bigger than I expected.  When you’re standing under it, it’s just overwhelming you with its magnificence.  I loved the geometry of its structure and here’s a few shots I took (whilst trying to fend away people selling trinklets!)

Blurb Photo Books

Have you made a photo book before?

We’ve made a few through Target’s Photobook service.  But we just heard that Blurb currently has a special that is free shipping!

So Wifey and I have embarked on making some photo books through Blurb’s BookSmart software.  We have a huge list to get through:

* Italy trip book
* Separate books for each city in our family’s round the world trip
* Books for Miss 10’s dancing and Miss 8’s dancing concerts so far
* Books for various other family vacations
* Books of up to date family and casual snaps
* Books of the kids birthday parties
* Books of my photography
* The list just goes on…

Here’s a sneek peak of what our Italy one is looking like!

Working on our Italy book

The main problem is time.  Books take a lot of time to design!  So far, we’ve only managed one Italian city per night (about 2 hours)!  At this rate, every night this month will be tied up in book designing!

Last night we had some good debates on which photo to use, which layout, what order to put them in.  Luckily I’ve already processed most of the photos so they don’t need touching up as well!  But it’s all fun.  I can’t wait until they’re done – they will be AWESOME!

On BookSmart – I like the various page layout options and the ability to edit the layout too.   These save a lot of time!

One tip so far – my iPhoto library is HUGE, with every digital photo from 2002 onwards in there.  This basically makes the BookSmart software come to a grinding halt.  Also, I’ve configured iPhoto to not manage the location of my photos and this doesn’t agree with BookSmart.  The photo browser in BookSmart is not that great either – I can’t zoom in to preview photos or sort them the way I want.   I’ve found it’s much easier to use iPhoto to find the photo you want, and then drag it over to BookSmart.

Golden light

On Sunday afternoon, we had a relaxing picnic in Parkerville across the road from the tavern.  There was a brook there where the kids (and some adults) got their feet wet!  With sounds of a tight funk band drifting over to us, it was one glorious afternoon.

Unfortunately I didn’t bring a tripod along, but managed to take some slower shutter speed shots by resting the camera on the bridge there.  Here’s a shot of the brook.  I loved the sunlight on that day, and the clear blue sky reflecting off the water.  Combined with some of the muddy soil around, it made the water look golden.

I didn’t have much time to play around with this image – I wish I had brought my GND along, and I may have gone overboard with the sharpening, but I’m liking the direction this image is going…


Golden light

New blog header!

Don’t normally do a weekend blog post, but the girls are all asleep so I decided to do something I’ve been wanting to for ages – create a custom blog header!

I couldn’t decide between putting up one of the photos that I took myself, or putting up a family photo.  Since my blog is not just solely focussed on photography but more about life in general, I decided a family photo reflected the state of my blog at this time!

This great family photo was taken by my cousin’s wife in Singapore over 3 and a half years ago!   She runs a photo studio in Singapore called KidsPictures.  If you’re visiting or currently live in  Singapore and want some great natural family photos or photos of the kids, I definitely recommend going to see Anne.   She was so relaxed with us, made the kids feel really at ease and made us look great!   Visit the website here:  http://www.kidspictures.com.sg/

Panorama of Le Consulat, Montmartre

Le Consulat, Montmartre, Paris

I had forgotten all about a series of panoramic photos I took on a holiday back in January 2008.

I wanted to travel light On the holiday, so all I brought (and had in terms of a mid-range zoom) was the kit Nikon 18-70mm.  No tripod either, but I felt that I needed to take some panoramic shots becaues of the expansive cities and engaging environments in a new country.  

Here’s one of the Le Consulat – a famous icon in Montmartre, an arty district in Paris.  We had climbed up a heap of stairs to reach the peak of a hill where the Sacre Coeur sits.   We wound around the left side to some shops, and then reached the famous square where artists sell paintings and will draw portraits of you.   This building is little further on past the square.

I’s a 5 image stitch done in Photoshop, and I was happy to use some of the sharpening and local contrast tips that I picked up at Christian Fletcher’s workshop.

Photos from Venice

I love Venice!  The atmosphere there is so different, each canal has its own story.  And the environment was so picturesque, I struggled to capture it in a photo.

Here are some shots I took on the Rialto bridge.  They were taken at dusk, but of course I wasn’t lugging a tripod around with me, so it had to be steady hands but I decided to go bigger aperture instead of higher ISO, which the details a little soft.   I would’ve loved to have done a long exposure to get the water to look all silky. Even though I’ve chosen a wide aspect ratio to give the sense of space, in the end, I still don’t think I captured the grandness of the canal here.

Grand Canal in Venice
Grand Canal in Venice
Grand Canal in Venice
Grand Canal in Venice

We also took an expensive gondola ride.  I guess it’s something you have to do.. once.. or maybe more if you can afford it!  The best part about it was navigating through the small back canals.  Our gondola man was young, and attempted to do a bit of singing, but it felt like he did it because he thought we thought he should have been singing. We did spot only a couple of gondola dudes who actually sang like operatic tenors – I wonder how much they charge!!

I wasn’t quite sure how steady it was going to be, but I brought my camera anyway.   I didn’t want to spend too long fiddling with the camera settings on our expensive and short ride, but popped a few shots off to try to capture the feeling. Here’s one of my favourites.

Gondola ride in the back canals
Gondola ride in the back canals

Problems with uploading photos to Facebook

I’ve been running into many problems when trying to upload photos to Facebook.  I usually select a large number to upload at once and then the browser starts to do its thing.  Unfortunately, lately it always fails.

I did a Google and found quite a few other people with the same problem but there didn’t seem to be any silver bullet to solving the problem.

I found I had an hour or two on the weekend to investigate it further and eventually was able to upload the latest photos from our Italy trip.

First I looked at the Java console log and found this error message:

Starting upload
2/08/2008 01:27:29 org.apache.commons.httpclient.HttpMethodDirector isRedirectNeeded
INFO: Redirect requested but followRedirects is disabled
Status =[302]
2/08/2008 01:27:29 org.apache.commons.httpclient.HttpMethodBase getResponseBody
WARNING: Going to buffer response body of large or unknown size. Using getResponseAsStream instead is recommended.
UploadException occured

I Googled these errors and didn’t find much but did find a Facebook discussion where others had the same problem.  It seemed that the uploader would try to upload the photos, then get near the end, wait for a response from the Facebook server, and then decide to try uploading all the photos again.

Just to rule the browser out of things, I tried switching from Firefox to Internet Explorer.   Fortunately, it made no difference 🙂

I then made sure I had the latest Java toolkit and Java console.  It still made no difference.

In Internet Explorer, I checked the ActiveX controls I’ve downloaded and found that my PC actually had 3 different Facebook uploaders but was only using one.  Just to be sure, I deleted all of them and went back to the Facebook site again to reinstall it.  It still made no difference.

Downloaded ActiveX Controls
Downloaded ActiveX Controls

I then experimented with the number of photos to upload.  It could be a problem with the number of photos or the time taken to upload the photos.  Here is a screenshot of some rough notes I took:

Notes of upload numbers
Notes of upload numbers

I managed to get up to 18 photos to upload at once with no problems.  Momentarily I was joyous!  I could upload my holiday photos in batches of 18, although I still have problems trying to make out the photos in the thumbnail view.

This went all right, until it failed again.  And this time on only 11 photos.  I reduced the number down to 6, then down to 1 – and it still failed.

Check internet connection – OK.

It turns out that the Facebook photo uploader was having problems with one particular photo of mine.  Don’t know why – it was the same dimensions and roughly the same size as the others.  But I didn’t upload that one and it was fine from then onwards.

I’m pretty sure I’ve uploaded near the maximum of 60 before in one shot before – but this was at my previous place with ADSL2.   I’m unfortunately only on ADSL1 at the moment with an upload speed of 128k.  My gut feel is that it’s something to do with the time taken to upload or response time, which is related to my connection speed and the number of photos I’m uploading.

For now, I’m happy to find my magic breaking point of ~18 photos.   Something for others to think about if they’re having problems!

[Update 26 May 2009]

I’ve noticed that this blog post still gets a lot of hits!    I’m not sure whether these techniques work for anyone or not.

Lately, I’ve been having much more success uploading to Facebook if I resize my photos first to a maximum width of 1024 pixels and upload smaller groups at a time.  It even works with the Java based uploader!

I think my mistake above, nearly a year ago, was to upload the photos taken directly by my digital camera.  With digital cameras commonly having 8-12 megapixels nowadays, the images produced are really too large for viewing on computer screens.  The solution is to resize your photo BEFORE uploading.   This makes the size of the photo drop dramatically too, and reduces the work that the Facebook uploader would do in resizing the photo.   Hope this helps someone out there!

[Update 6 Oct 2009]

I tried again on the weekend to upload some photos to Facebook and it still didn’t work reliably.  But then I tried using the Facebook publishing tool in iPhoto, and it worked successfully the very first time!    This really leads me to believe it’s the java code in Facebook’s uploading page that is not very robust.

So, if you have a Mac, use iPhoto.