Alison Raynor’s Magic Garden

Posted in Guest Shots, Photography Tricks on November 5th, 2010 by MadDog
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Today we’re going to do some more of Alison Raynor’s shots from Amazing Australia. How could a place called Toogoolawah not  be magical? I’m getting very bored talking about myself, so I’m giving my ego a holiday. It needs a rest. I will have a few comments to make concerning photography and the the care and feeding of images.

Let’s start with this sunset shot at Mt. Beppo. This probably won’t be hanging on any gallery walls, but it has some interesting features. The first thing which I noticed was the colour of the sky in the upper part of the image. It is most unusual. I tried not to mess with it, so it is pretty faithful to the original, I think. The horizon is slightly tilted. In this shot, it works fine for me. It’s not quite an angled line, which is a good compositional tool, but it isn’t straight either. It teases the eyes just a little, like a picture hanging crooked on the wall. I like the fence post standing right in the middle. The eyes keep coming back to it. There are two trees, but they are very different. This provides some contrasting elements:

All in all, it’s a pleasant, simple shot which speaks with a small, comforting voice. Ali emailed it to me at 1280 x 960 pixels and the file size was about 140K. That is about the minimum size in pixels and the tightest compression which works well for a photography oriented site such as MPBM. You can click on it to enlarge and have a nice viewing experience.

This is another very pretty image. It reminds me of the succulent plants which we called “Hens and Chickens” as children. Ali can tell us what it is, I’m certain:

I got this one in an email also. It came in at 516 x 639 pixels and the file size was 65K. Now we are getting into the range of too few pixels for pleasant “click me” viewing. If you do click to enlarge you will be able to begin to see some jaggie edges and the level of detail has dropped off. It’s fine to view on the page, but when you blow it up, it suffers. According to your browser and your display resolution, it may also not fill your screen.

I hasten to add that I haven’t talked to Ali about any of this yet, so I hope she can forgive me for jumping the gun. Ali shoots lovely images. I want them to keep coming – just a little bigger.

When I first saw this one I thought that someone had woven a spider web out of string. It is a near perfect coating of morning dew. The web is being dragged down by the weight of the water:

This one came in at 480 x 640 pixels and about 70K. It is too small for blown-up viewing. Also, if you do enlarge it you can begin to see chunky little out-of-place bits, especially around the edges of the web, which are produced when the image is compressed down to a too-small file size. You might have to zoom in a little to see this. In Firefox you can hold the CTRL key down and press the “+” or “-” key to zoom in or out. These chunky bits are called compression artefacts. Once they are there, you can’t get rid of them. All you can do is go back to your original file and save it again with less compression, and possibly more pixels. There is no free lunch. This is why I always save a copy of an image which I have edited at the full resolution that it was shot. I use a different file name for the “save as”, but keep the image number in it, so that I have both the camera image and the edited image. I might want to start all over on the editing for a different effect. I don’t want to waste all of my editing work by downsizing the image and compressing it too much. I can then make smaller versions for special purposes as I need them.

Again I’ll note that Ali did not know that I was going to put these up on MPBM, though she should suspect that I’m likely to, because nearly everything that she sends, I like. I’ll also say that I’m a little jealous of that spider web. I don’t have any which are nearly so good.

This is another very interesting spider web shot, because of its depth of field (pretty much in focus from near to far). I really like the washed out colours and the way the building and tree seem to float behind the web. The jumbled twigs in the sky are a nice touch:

This one was about the same size and compression as the previous one. If you click to enlarge, you will see that it also suffers when blown up. It is the same problem, not enough pixels and too much compression. The fewer pixels you start with, the more the image will suffer from too much compression.

This is a very sweet, loud image. It tickles my fancy. It breaks a few compositional rules, but it still pops!

It came in at 1280 x 960 pixels and 213K. Though a little short on my usual standard of 1600 pixels on the longest dimension, it still looks very nice enlarged. Also the larger file size means that the compression was not too great, so there are no nasty compression artefacts. Very pretty indeed, but you don’t want to stare at it for too long. If you do, you will no longer be in Kansas!

I like this Snake in the Garden shot. It is so hard to get close enough to snakes to get great shots such as this one. For one thing, I’m never quite certain what might like to bite me and what the consequences of that might be. This one doesn’t look dangerous, but neither does Britney Spears. Still, I would keep my distance from her:

This one came in at 640 x 480 and 48K. That’s too small and too compressed. If you click to enlarge, you will see another type of compression artefact. Look in the lighter areas especially and you will notice some little squares of colour which don’t blend in with each other. This is because the compression program is breaking the image into little blocks to try to make the image smaller. As you enlarge the image, you can see the blocks.

So, what’s the message? Well, if you would like to send to me some of your tasty images for a guest shot (and I can’t imagine why you would not), just follow this simple formula. Resize your final, perfect image down (remembering to keep a copy at full size) to 1600 pixels on the longest edge. Then, when you are saving, set your compression to make a file no smaller than about 200K. The resulting file will look beautiful on a full screen view.

I can but hope that Ali will forgive me for using her very pretty shots as examples. If I had received them at larger sizes I would have not had the chance for this little excursion into the bone-crushingly boring details of image sizing and compression. So, thank you Ali.

By the way, I cannot resist, at the slightest opportunity, to poke fun at rabid Britney Spears fans. My post  Britney Spears Will Make Me Famous attracted more comments than any other on MPBM. There were many more acid remarks left which I did not allow into the comments. I received no death threats, but there were some which made me glad that I was half a world away from the sender.

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More Mount Beppo – Guest Shooter Alison Raynor

Posted in Guest Shots on September 19th, 2010 by MadDog
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I need to persuade my head to give me a break from my own difficulties for an hour or so. Let’s have some beautiful images from our guest shooter, Alison Raynor. Alison lives in Toogoolawah in Queensland, Australia. She has been a guest shooter here before. She is getting right into sunrises and has sent me some very nice ones. I’ll devote most of this post to her images and fill in at the end with an update on my currently miserable life.

This is not the prettiest of the lot, but it has four items of interest, namely four black cockatoos. You may have to click to enlarge to see them:

Along with the photo, Alison included this amusing comment.

The old farmers here have a  saying that, when there are an uneven number of black cockatoos overhead that means that there will be rain.  Well, it’s an interesting theory which can be listed alongside the one that says that if you see the long neck turtles walking uphill it is also a sign of BIG rain, not to mention the swarming of the flying ants (termites) that are said to mean HUGE rain, possibly floods (if the swarm is big enough).   The thing is, that the later two are both quite accurate and make sense if one chooses to analise the natural reasoning behind what initially seems to be a crazy “old cockies tail”.

I did not count the total number of cockatoos this morning, as I was too busy with the camera, but soon found out that the stunning light and colour show that was capturing  my attention in the east was actually an  insidious diversion for what was  sneaking up and preparing to thrash me from behind. A big thunderous black cloud full of flatulence and cold water. Mmmmmm?

Here is another more colourful shot:

And one even more so:

The best of the bunch, I’d say.

In the cloud here I see some curious banding which I can’t explain:

Is it an omen? No, wait. I don’t believe in omens. I’d go really crazy if I did.

This isn’t a sunrise, but it’s my favourite of these images:

Alison’s veranda looks like a peaceful place to me. I’d like to spend some time there – in a peaceful place.

Thank you, Alison for a little time off.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The ruckus in my head continues – intensifies. When it rains it pours. I won’t bore you with the growing list of Things I Never Thought Of. Let’s just say that every day seems to bring some new, terrifying fact to light. The renter in the house in Brownsburg has chosen this fine time to move out, leaving me with a house that’s empty, earning no income and not in good shape. Oh, did I mention that I have joined the immense club of those owing more on their house than it’s worth and having no money to pay the payments? Yes, that’s me – a joiner.

Does grief magnify one’s problems? I suppose it could. I don’t know. This is my first experience with bone-rattling grief – the kind of grief that makes you feel weak and shaky all the time and won’t let you sleep.

By the way, I’ve stopped asking what else can go wrong.

The possible answers terrify me.

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