Brrrrr!

Why do I feel so cold? I usually am not bothered by winter, and even now I’m still wearing my shorts, but this winter seems unusually cold. It’s only June, too – July and August still to come. Wiwin, you would not like this, believe me.
A few days ago I was talking about using the RAW files from a camera to get better images. There’s another way, too, HDR. It stands for High Dynamic Range. It’s the technique of taking at least three successive shots, one on normal (average) exposure, one under exposed and one over exposed.
The three shots are aligned in software and the computer adjusts the processing to lift the dark parts and pull back the too bright parts to give a better exposure balance, ie the three shots are combined into one.
When done well, the results can be superb. Here’s a good example: not my photo!
Croft Castle, Herefordshire  Copyright – photographer not known.
It can look a bit artificial, but I think that one is OK.
I hadn’t realised until a few days ago, but my camera can do it in camera! It’s a menu item, but here’s an example:
L  normal exposure           R  in camera HDR
Here the difference is subtle, but see how the sky is more natural and the deep shadow is lifted? Nice. Now that I know about it, I’ll use it more, I think.
Two problems though: it takes time – you have to wait about 15 seconds for the camera to do its processing before it’s ready for the next shot; and you can only do it in jpeg mode, no RAW capture. That means you have to trust the camera to do it right, because you haven’t got a RAW file for later. Anyway …
It  actually used to be done in film days too! When you had a slide, particularly slide film, that was too contrasty, if you were really keen you could re-photograph the slide using a slide copier with b/w negative film. You developed the neg film to a low density then sandwiched the slide with the neg in perfect register to get a lower contrast print.
You can imagine the skill and time and effort this took! But sometimes, it was the only way to salvage a really important slide. Hallelujah for digital. Now it takes seconds, with better results.
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Speaking of RAW, I spent several hours last night going through all my Venice shots from 2008. Out of about 300, I’ve selected and processed about 57 for use in a slide show. You should see me in action! Crop, boost contrast, sharpen, change gamma, boost saturation, rotate, perspective correct, lift brightness, pick out a small part to use, noise reduce …
Voila –
In each case, original on left, processed on right. Hard to see in these small images, but the second last pair – crop vertical shot out of horizontal shot – picture from no picture. Still need to rotate it a little more, actually, and some I need to crop even harder but …
As I said, I got 57 keepers, through all  those processes, out of nearly 300. The more I did, the faster I got. My fingers were flying. Bit of a buzz, actually. There’s that word again.
My point is, I worked on the jpegs. I’ve still got the RAWs in their unchanged form as well. I never had to worry about making a mistake and over-writing the original, because the RAW files are still there in a separate folder. Hmmm, better do another backup, though.
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Item on the ABC News site this morning: Australia’s big four banks are among the most profitable in the world. Normally, I would be pretty cynical about news like that, but it comes only days after Moodys downgraded the credit ratings of 15 of the world’s top banks very heavily, some to near junk bond status.
Alongside that, I don’t see bank profit as such a great thing, but Australia is yet again managing its way past all the world financial turmoil.

Another quote from yesterday – Australia is virtually unaffected by the current world financial storm. That makes three in a row – the Asian financial meltdown in the mid 1990s; the “Tech Wreck” or dotcom disaster of 99/2000; and the GFC of 2008. And now this world financial disaster makes it four.

As they say, to avoid one could be considered luck, to avoid two could be considered arsey, to avoid three, we must be doing something right and to avoid the fourth, current crisis, maybe we know what we’re doing. Yet Mr Juan Manuel Barroso, President of the European Bank or whatever he is, got mad and said, “We didn’t come here to be lectured on how to manage our financial affairs.”  OK, mate, you just go on doing what you’re doing.

There’s going to be a war in Europe, I say. People are scared and they don’t like being told to take the medicine by Germany and France, or Britain, for that matter. It’s just waiting for the spark. Syria shoots down a Turkish jet. Turkey says it is going to retaliate. Saudi Arabia is bankrolling the Syrian opposition fighters. Iran is building nuclear weapons and ICBMs. 

Frightening. If you want to do something, do it now.

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