Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Phantom in the Sky

As promised (maybe not as timely) here are some pictures from the sky.  In the past I have posted some pictures from the Parrot Drone 2.0.  That is fun to fly, but I can get a higher perspective and better camera with the Phantom (it has a GoPro 3 Black mounted underneath it).  The picture quality is really nice, so lets kick this off.  As always, click the picture for a bigger sample

So it is winter, and I still want to play with my toys, so I take it out anyway (no touch screens, this one has a real remote, so that helps).  This is before I got good at mounting the camera so you can see the landing gear in the right side.  This is a picture of the house you can compare this view with the one I posted from the Parrot.  Much better camera here.

So I took it down to Virginia when I went to see the Grand Parents in March.  Weather was nicer (it was warm, just a few traces of snow around).  This is a shot of there backyard (you can even make us out in the yard watching it go. 

So now we have a grey sort of day in early April.  This is taken from the Riverside field looking back into the town of Hawley.  Got that pesky landing gear in the picture again.  However nice view of the town.

Here is another picture taken from my backyard (still in April).  This time, instead of looking at the house, I took it much higher and looked out towards the lake.  Still no foliage on the trees, so everything looks a little bare.  Funny thing, is my house is really up a fairly big hill from the lake, but this picture makes it all look sort of flat (so we do not look like we are on such a big hill).  That would be a result of the angle and the very wide angle lens (which also magnifies the curvature of the earth effect).

So here we are in the beginning of May.  I venture out to Lackawaxen with my Phantom in tow (I also had the Drone).  I remembered this field, on the intersection of the two rivers.  I got some nice pictures during the sunset (had I gotten there an hour earlier the light might have been better to shoot towards the rivers junction).

When I drive the little guy off to baseball practice, and take the Phantom with me.  Though I like to watch him practice, I steal away for a few minutes to get some high flying shots.  This is in Newfoundland.  I took it from the soccer/football field looking back towards the school (so all the smaller soccer fields and the baseball fields were in the picture.  

I decided I wanted to try a different camera angle, so I got an extension, and pointed the camera straight down.  This is my house from directly (quite a ways) up.  You can even see the lake a bit in the top right corner (again we are up a big hill, it is further down than it looks).  This is an interesting perspective, and one I will be playing with a bit more (maybe not straight down, but more down than forward).

Finally, a shot from June.  This one from the park in downtown Hawley.  I took this into the sunlight, and I was impressed with how good this little camera did (picture almost looks HDR, but I have done no processing on this one or any others, these are straight out of the camera).  The picture is of the Gazebo, IGA and Settlers Inn in the distance (with the great sunset above).  

These were just some of my favorites (obviously I have many more).  I am really looking forward to hitting more areas, and trying some different angles.  The Autumn should be really nice, and I hope to take advantage of that (last fall the Drone was broke, so I missed out).  Sort of a fun way to get a different perspective on some pictures.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Phone as a Creative Tool

My continued push into Photography has taken on two different approaches.  One being more use of the phone as a camera (the topic here) and the other using a new quad copter (the Phantom) and getting photos from on high (subject of a soon to be published post).  Not that I do not carry a camera (well not as much).  I still use it for some of the family photos (the quality is still better).  I am just finding having the extra processing power on board (the case of the phone) allows some new artistic freedoms that I am exploring.

This is not to say that I could not duplicate any of these with a regular camera and photoshop (indeed I could probably improve on the end product quite a bit).  However, working in camera, I can go from idea to finished product in a matter of  minutes.  Lets get started, you will get what I mean.

This photo was taken for another project.  Normally I would have used a camera, but the goal was to see what I could do with the phone.  These are two super heroine statues in front of a white sheet and a light behind it.  The color was added quickly and easily in snapseed.  The whole thing from capture to upload took only a few minutes.

This picture is another setup one I was doing as a project (like above).  I have a Cuckoo clock hanging on a knotty pine wall.  The processing was done in PicsArt Pro.  Again it only took a few minutes.  I was looking for a look that made the scene more rustic (to go with the old fashioned clock and knotty pine wall).  

The above is a picture from Johnny Rockets.  It is an old fashioned Burger and Shake joint.  They have juke boxes at each table all with the older songs.  When the fries come, they give everyone a small bowl for ketchup (and start you with a smiley face).  Mine sort of looked like it had a black eye, so I wanted a picture.  To go with the old fashioned theme, I applied a filter to match.  I went from snapping the picture to having it setup as I wanted in a matter of minutes.

Here is a picture outside of Johnny Rockets taken with Pro HDR.  For pictures taken in the dark, that are lit as the restaurant was, you get a nice glow.  This picture required no editing, it was HDR (High Dynamic Range - allows a greater span of lights and darks by combining multiple photos) right out of the phone (no blending photos in photoshop).  I find HDR to be especially effective for sunsets as well, just look at the next two examples.

This photo is straight out of the HDR program with no more modifications.  If I could have been ready a few minutes earlier, I would have had alot more color, but no matter what you are using as your camera, obviously timing is important (and if you look back at the older posts, you will see how big a difference a few minutes makes for sunsets).

This one is almost straight out of the HDR program.  I did use Photoshop Touch to play with the curves (basically effects the lightness/darkness).  The HDR program really allows capture of the colors of the sunset to occur very easily.

The above picture was taken at Steamtown.  A nice old train, in need of a bit of love.  By reducing the saturation, I gave it the old time feel (without dropping to direct black and white).  Again, this took very little time from capture to upload (on Google+). 

In addition to the setup pictures, or trying to get the phone (err camera) to capture the scene the way it feels to you, you can also have some fun with it.  If you look down a bit, you will see the memes of Florida.  Well you do not need to do a meme to have fun, sometimes a picture is all that is needed.

Seems Q does not get enough sleep.  Just walking out to the elevator, he needs to stop and nap in the chair in the lobby.  Well to show just how hard it is to wake him, I decided to add some fireworks (lets see him sleep through that).

Walking around in the woods, there is a new tree that is down (mostly).  As I had Q with me, I figured it would be a great time to make a hulk picture.  Here he is appearing to lift the tree.  In Photoshop Touch, all I had to do was duplicate the layer, make the bottom layer green, and then erase the face and hands on the top layer.  This was extremely easy and a really fun photo to share.

Finally we have a fun picture that took no post processing.  I was sitting (in a mall) across from this fountain. The color lights were changing on it constantly.  I decided to use the HDR camera to get a combination of multiple lights (and that worked, and I took a handful of those pictures and they are all a little different based on timing).  So I figured, have Q walk in front during the exposure (if timed right, he would only be in one of the three exposures and we would get a ghost image of him).  As you can see it was timed right.

So this has been a fun look at using the phone as a camera.  Not all phones are equal (I think Denise gets better pictures out of her Sony compared to my Motorola Atrix 2, but with a little work, I think I do pretty well anyhow).  This blog will continue to have more and more pictures from the phone as I am really not taking as many with the camera anymore (but trust me I still have some camera pictures I might post).

Next up however will be some high flying pictures.  No, not from the Parrot Drone, but from the Phantom (with GoPro mounted on it).  The quality of pictures is much better than the Drone, and the altitude is also much higher.  Stay tuned, that will be next.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Christmas Lights - A New Place

This year I went to the Lockheed Users Conference (and it was held late in December opposed to the more normal October).  Across from the hotel I was in was the Shady Brook Farm and there very bright and colorful Christmas lights.  I have been to a handful of the drive through light displays and I will admit that none has impressed me as much as this one.  So lets get this started (and as always, click the image to get a bigger version).

Above is a display I have seen many times (so what makes this stand out).  The big reason is that there are 12 of them (12 drummers drumming).  Most places have 3 or 4, but not all 12 (you might not be able to see them at this angle, but they were all there).  There were plenty other more standard displays as well, but in all cases they were at least full displays.

The above one is another somewhat standard one (I have not seen the train too often before, but it is a more Christmasy type of display).  So enough of the standard ones, how about what was different.

Above we have one that is not holiday focused, but more patriotic.  The Statue of Liberty was new for me as well as the tree.  You will see they lit many trees in many different colors throughout the drive.  I think the trees are what stood out the most for me.  It was something I had not seen alot of (and it was used very well here).  But we will get back to the trees in a minute.

Another example of a display I had not seen before (but again not very seasonal either).  Multiple fish and plant displays were grouped together to make a larger display.  It does not show well in the picture, but this really was a larger display.  A bit bigger scale than most places I have seen.

Well, as I said, we would get back to the trees.  Here are a group of them (this time in blue).  They used the trees as filler between different areas (here it is between a more "nature" area and a coming more Christmasy area (where they had more red in the trees).

For a close on the trees, I move just before the blue trees above, to a green set that were well integrated into a grassy scene (complete with butterflies and dragonflies).  Here nature was well integrated with the displays for a really interesting scene.  

Well here we are at the exit.  There was a little more light here from the stop (where you could go inside get hot chocolate etc).  This lit up the road nicely.  

All pictures above were taken with the SX260 and hand held.  As there were not many cars (it was a week night well still a few weeks before Christmas) I was able to get really nice dark backgrounds (on all bt the last picture).  That is important when picturing lights as this makes them really pop out.  Also because there were not alot of cars, I was able to pull over and take all these (and other) pictures (had there been a line of cars, that would have proven to be more difficult.

So if you want nice pictures, go out early, and when they are not busy.  This will make for the best conditions.