Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Living naturally

There is a lot of talk about eating natural foods. How about "living naturally"? What if we get used to the idea that dust and dirt are just a part of the natural environment. Imagine not having to clean the house. I mean, it is still alright to keep the house neat and tidy so that we can find things and we can fit our amenities into our limited space. However, dust and dirt occur naturally; keeping the house spotlessly clean is just something we impose on ourselves. I am pretty sure that in ancient times people do not mind having a bit of dust in their tent, or mud hut, or straw house. Somewhere along the line, someone invented the broom and from then onward we must have developed an obsession for keeping the house dust-free, and looking as unlived-in and as unoccupied as possible.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Notes to myself: Using Image>Calculations with Gradient mask

It is possible to create a selective positive/negative image using gradient mask. The resultant image is in B&W with parts of it in positive and part of it in negative.

  1. Open an image
  2. Create a new file in another tab: File>New. Set Preset to the name of the previous image file.
  3. In this blank image, choose and paint in the required gradient in black and white monotone.
  4. Go back to the previous image (click on the tab)
  5. Select Image>Calculations.Set Source 1 as the original image, and Source 2 as the gradient image. Set Blending mode to Difference, and Opacity to 100%. The result can be set to New Document or as required.
  6. To make the image save-able, set Image>Mode to Grayscale, and then repeat and set Image>Mode to RGB colour. The image is now save-able in the correct colour space.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Notes to myself: Lighthouse blending by Les Walkling

The simple contrast reducing mask is :

Duplicate layer (Ctl+J)
then de-saturate layer, (Ctl+shift+u)
invert (Ctl+i),
change blend mode to Overlay.
Go-to Filter/ blur/ Add Gaussian Blur, 10-60 adjust for effect.
Then adjust opacity for effect.

For areas with halo effect, use brush, set blend mode to Darken or Lighten, and then paint out the halo effect. (Hold down Alt key to sample the correct colour to paint out the halo.)

Notes to myself: Adding gray layer for selective exposure adjustments

Rather than using a brush to work directly on the image, it is better to create a layer filled with 50% gray. To do this:
  1. Open an image
  2. Layer>New>Layer. Select: Mode: Overlay, and tick the box ("Fill with Overlay-neutral colour (50% gray)")
  3. To make selective exposure adjustments, select Brush tool. Set Mode: Normal, Opacity 100%, Flow: 10%. Paint with Black to darken, or White to lighten.
To pin a layer to the layer directly below (so as not to affect other layers), hold down the Alt key and move cursor to the separation between the two layers. The cursor will change from hand icon to a different icon.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Living by faith

Ephesians 2:8-9 says" For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast."

The above is one of my favourite verses and I used to take great comfort in it. However, in our bible study last night I learned there is more to it. Now that we have been justified through faith, we now live in Christ and Christ lives in us.

Galatians 2:19-20: "For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."

Hence, as Christians, although we are no longer condemned by the law, if we live as Christ lives in us, we will also be upholding God's law.

The key difference is this: living under the law, we actually live quite hypocritically, in the sense that we think all is good if we toe the line. However, living in the Spirit requires us to live for God. It is not about just toeing the line anymore, but what is in the heart is just as important. Just the thought of committing sin is as bad as having committed it.

A Christian's view regarding retribution

Buddhists believe in karma. According to one definition, karma is "action, seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results, good or bad, either in this life or in a reincarnation", or "the cosmic principle according to which each person is rewarded or punished in one incarnation according to that person's deeds in the previous incarnation."

Buddhism teaches that our actions result in retribution or reward, either in this life or in the next. If we do bad, something bad will happen to us. If we do good, we will be rewarded with something good.

The bible does not tell us anything about karma. Jesus himself tells us not to seek revenge, but to "turn the other cheek". Jesus tells us to forgive others when they sin against us. And it is not just outward action that constitutes sin against God, but even what is in our heart can be held against us, in the eyes of God.

The Apostle Paul tells us not to take revenge but to leave room for God's wrath. God's wrath is different from karma. There is no retribution or reward system, but instead all our actions will be judged on the Judgement Day. The following versus cover what I have said above.

Matt 5:38-40
You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.

Matt 6:14-15
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Matt 5: 21-22
You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.

Rom 12:19
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

John 5:28-29
Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out - those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.

Rev 20:12-13
And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Are you a photographer?

Do you....
a) Own a camera?
Having a camera doesn't make one a photographer anymore than having a hammer and a chisel makes one a carpenter. Or, owning a racehorse makes one a jockey.
b) Know how to use a DSLR?
There are people who use a DSLR in the course of their work (e.g. a biologist, or an orthodontist) but do not have any interest in photography. Hence, knowing how to use a DSLR does not necessarily make one a photographer. 

c) Love to take photographs?
These days, many people take photos exclusively with a smartphone. They also publish or share photos in the social media. Yet most of these people will not call themselves a photographer.

d) Have ability to do post editing?
Strictly speaking, post editing cannot be used to determine if one is a photographer or not. It wasn't so long ago that people were still using film and the darkroom and photoshop was unheard of. We cannot disqualify all the photographers of  yore just because they did not do any post editing on a computer!  
e) Have extensive knowledge of cameras and lenses?
If that makes you a photographer, then why are photography schools not spending more time training their students on cameras and lenses?

f) Have lots of photography equipment?
Does having a garage full of tools make you a carpenter or a mechanic?

So, who is a photographer?
Now that I have listed down what does not make one a photographer, I am obliged to offer my view of what makes one a photographer. A photographer is one who strives to master the art or the craft of photography, depending on whether he defines for himself that it is an art or it is a craft. It is a continuous quest and it never ends. You are a photographer when you start to call yourself one and seriously begin on a continuous journey to master the art (or craft). 

Monday, January 26, 2015

WB350F sample - Sunrise and Photo Frame

I had to pull myself out of bed this morning to try out how well the camera captures a sunrise. You'll have to take my word for it that the sunrise is quite accurately represented here.

F/3.5, 1/180s, ISO 80

The image below is a feature called "My Magic Frame". In this mode, you first capture an image to use as a background; in this case, a fishbowl. Then you mask out a desired area using the touchscreen. Then capture a second shot; in this case it is the dog. I ended with this gruesome picture of a decapitated dog's head inside a fishbowl! Sorry, Yuna!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

WB350F sample video and Motion Photo

This is shot at 1920x1080 resolution.

 This is a frame grab from the above video clip.
This is an animated image (resolution fixed at 640x480). It is a feature Samsung calls "Motion Photo". Quite a fun feature to have, and not commonly found.

WB350F sample images - Zoom and Panorama

Here is a shot into the living room, followed by the same shot at 21x zoom. The camera was in fully auto mode, handheld. Notice that the second image appears to be quite stable, no doubt thanks to the image stabilizer at work.

F/6.3, 1/30s, ISO 240

F/6.9, 1/45s, ISO 400

The bottom two are panoramic shots of the living room. Camera was set in Panorama mode. The images appear as they are straight out of the camera. Despite very brightly lit windows, the exposure appears to be spot on.

F/4, 1/125s, ISO 320

F/4, 1/180s, ISO 320

Friday, January 23, 2015

Best wifi camera - Samsung WB350F

At a regular price of AUD$199, the Samsung WB350F is one of the best value-for-money pocketable point-and-shoot wifi camera one can get today. If you are a photographer and you yearn to have a high end smartphone simply because of its better image quality, this camera might make you think twice. The host of connectivity options is plentiful:

1. Built-in wifi hotspot. Some cameras use Eye-Fi for their wifi solution. (The Eye-Fi is a 3rd party flash memory card, and the wifi built into it does not work on all cameras.) With its built-in wifi hotspot. I can transfer an image to a smartphone or a tablet before or after taking the shot (prior download of app is required). I can also do batch transfer. I can preview the images either on the camera or on the smartphone. If enabled, I can transfer every shot as soon as it is taken (this happens in real time, but with a few seconds delay in between shots)

2. Built-in NFC. With one tap, I can transfer an image I am viewing, on to a NFC-enabled smartphone. Or, if in shooting mode, the WB350F will automatically turn the smartphone into a remote viewfinder for the camera. I can trigger the shot using the smartphone.

3. Built-in wifi recognition. The WB350F can detect and connect to any wifi hotspot out there. Note that not every wifi camera can do this. With this, I can email a photo straight from the camera to anyone; I can upload to cloud storage;  and I can upload to social media like Facebook, Picasa, and Youtube.

With the above connectivity options, the WB350F is a perfect solution for anyone who has been exclusively shooting with a smartphone. This camera comes with a 1/2.3" BSI-CMOS sensor, which can be found in high-end smartphone cameras. Needless to say, the image quality is as just as good as or better than what you see in a top end Samsung Galaxy phone. The built-in effects and filters are available on both stills (16MP) as well as on video (1920x1080, 30fps).


Here are some of the other features I find to be either interesting or useful on the WB350F:

a. Touch screen display. Navigating on the menu is so much easier with a touch screen display, especially if you are trying to type out an email address.

b. Charging via USB port. I find this very, very handy indeed. No more one-of-a-kind charger to lug around.

c. Frame grab. While reviewing a video clip on the camera, I can simply extract a frame as a jpeg image. Alternatively, I can shoot a still image while recording a video.

d. Effects and filters. A full range of effects and filters, commonly found in a smartphone, is available on the WB350F. The effects and filters can be applied either before or after taking the shot.

e. Powerful white balance control. White balance can be set using AWB, one of the presets, setting colour temperature manually, or custom shooting into a white background. Each of the presets (e.g. Daylight) can also be fine-tuned to your liking.

 Next time, I shall post some images taken with the WB350F. So far, I have found this to be a very delightful camera, having far more camera features and software features than any non-Samsung cameras, at any price. Yes, that says a lot!

Prior to this, I had planned to eventually upgrade to a high end smartphone simply for its better image quality. With the WB350F, I now have a real and dedicated camera with all the connectivity options and the fun-filled features of a smartphone, and an unrestrained battery life. As you can guess, I have struck the high end smartphone off my shopping list.