Monday, February 25, 2013

High Resolution Images with Microsoft ICE

I recently downloaded a free product from Microsoft called Microsoft ICE - for "Image Composite Editor".

Microsoft ICE allows you to take dozens - even hundreds - of images, and stitch them together to make enormously high resolution images.

The images that were used to generate the panorama.
I took 22 images of the Sutter Buttes, above, just using my eye to estimate the overlap between images.

When I got back to my computer, I processed the RAW images into JPEGs and then simply dragged the JPEGs into ICE.

The panorama in Microsoft ICE.
In less that a minute, ICE converted the images into a large scale panoramic photograph.

The final stitch - click on image to view larger.
With the dimensions of 13,685 by 7158 pixels, it could easily be printed 10 feet wide... if you could find a printer large enough to handle such a large print.

100% crop.
The detail contained in the image is phenomenal, as this 100% crop of the right-hand peak shows.

I get a lot of requests for large images to be used as murals, and I'll be using ICE more and more to generate extremely high resolution images.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Baseball Season... It's Coming

OK, I admit, I love baseball. Major league, minor league, bush league, college. It doesn't matter - I love going to baseball games.

I don't even know why, really, but I always have.

That makes winter a really long season for me, because I spend much of it waiting for baseball to return. But baseball is coming! Major League Spring training games start this week, and Chico State's season has already started. I'll be at their second home game this Thursday.

All of that love for baseball went into the inspiration for this image of winter.

Though the bats and gloves may have been forgotten for the winter in a dark corner of the garage, along with old cans of paint and a rake, spring is almost here! The dust and leaves will be brushed off and the gloves will be oiled. And the game will begin again.

I can't wait!

Monday, February 11, 2013

In the Field with Gary Crabbe

I had the privilege a few weeks ago to spend some time with Gary Crabbe, a well-known landscape photographer from the Bay Area. We spent a fair amount of time talking business, but also headed out to the rice fields south of Chico to catch the late afternoon light.

There were an amazing number of birds in the area, including geese and swans, and I was able to capture a few good images of the birds in flight.
Swans and Snow Geese
Swans in flight
As the sun began to set, we noticed the merest crescent of a moon in the west. I was able to a couple of nice shots, including geese and jets passing the moon.
Geese fly past the crescent moon.
Jet passes crescent moon at sunset.
As the sun set, the cold wind really started to cut into us, so we packed up our gear and headed out; Gary south to the Bay Area and me east toward my home in the foothills. And even though it wasn't the greatest day for shooting, there's no such thing as a bad day for shooting.
Gray Crabbe catching the sunset in the rice fields.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Tomatoes - Insidious or Otherwise

I am part of a brand new start up photographer's co-op called Insidious Tomatoes. It's a silly name, but the concept is completely serious. Traditionally photographers have either been freelancers or worked through an agency. A photographer's co-op is a new idea, where the members form a co-operative nationwide network. It's a brand new concept, and we're basically making up the concept as we go along, so we'll see how it works out in the real world. It's a great group of photographers, all of whom have participated in a year-long training program.

As part of putting up the site, we were all given the assignment to produce a 'tomato shot' for the site's home page. It's fascinating to see how differently photographer handled the same assignment. Some when for super high production levels, with extensive post-processing. Other's went for humorous or surprising angles.

My style of food photography tends towards the clean, simple and dramatic, with a minimum of props, so I ran with that.

I wanted a simple, classic look, with an emphasis on the redness of the tomatoes. To enhance the color of the tomatoes I opted for a solid black background. I decided against using any props in order to make sure the attention was focus solely on the tomatoes. Going with a very simple lighting setup (one or two lights) also enhanced the dramatic feeling of the image.

Here are the selects that I produced for the shoot, in the order I shot them.

As you can see, I started out more complex composition-wise and worked my way toward simpler and simpler compositions, until I was left with a single tomato, seemingly floating in space, dramatically lit by a single light against pure black. That's the image I went with for the site's home page.