Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Video Monitors for 5DMK2

Working on a project to improve the clarity of my HD video. I am finding it challenging to manually focus the Canon's 5D Mark II, due to the design of the live view mode and physical camera angles. A tethered monitor can be useful to improve my visibility.

These days, very few people are made of money, and I am not one of them. I couldn't consider purchasing an LCD monitor for a service that will not be offered to clients. So I need to figure out a way to resolve this issue without having the additional expenditure. BTW, I did some internet window shopping for a monitor and learned that (prepare for sticker shock) JVC makes a monitor for this purpose. I am sure it's a fine monitor but my pocketbook opened up and laughed.

The next obvious option was to use my notebook, a little big to carry but should work great tethered. But I have a few problems with this idea. It's not as portable as I would like. The HP notebook I have been using has a poorly designed shell. HP has been addressing this and other issues. Netbooks might be an option but I have heard that they could not support most software applications and with small battery life may not be a good option.

Then I remembered that years back, we had purchased a video walkman for my kids (SONY DVE7000S). We have not used that walkman in many months. The monitor was used for long road trips and those came to a halt with the gas prices that rose through the roof. So reusing this video walkman just might work. BTW, a quick search for it reveals that now sells used for $120-150 online. Now to get the right cables and see if it's compatible.

I am getting a black and white screen. Time to go to the manual, I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

"...Build Confidence in the Creative Spirit."

I thought I'd share some Black and White conversion tips for the blog. For many, this is a simple philosophy but for a few of you, this may change your workflow design. I selected and cropped the image to focus in on the multiple solid colors. The colors in the crab alone make this image interesting enough for conversion. Take a moment and open the image. Look at the colors and acknowledge the transitions in color. I will get back to this later.

Looking at the histogram, I was hoping for a better dynamic range. A little highlight or specular twinkle would have helped. Oh well, at least there are some cool shadows.

If you opened the image, maybe you noticed the bird droppings, or dark cracks in the handle. What about the transition to from flat black to shadow in that same handle? How about the reflective blue upper mid tones in the brushed steel or the burgundy trim around the wheel? Did you notice the dark blue trim around the crab? Indeed a picture is worth a thousand words and I will stop here as the combinations are incredible.

In a basic conversion to grayscale, the image is converted at the push of a button. Unfortunatly, this one button, or one size fits all approach doesn't fit image I wanted. To me, this image was robbed of contrast and looks a bit muted.

The beauty of digital and amazing computer engineering allows us the opportunity to use this as a starting point for incredible options . So, I grabbed one of my primary software editors and began work on the image with the adjusting sliders. Now, you can adjust the sliders till the cows come home and eventually get where you need to be but planning this trip will get you there faster and with your creativity, knowing when to stop is important.

Ansel Adams, " No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit. "

So let me reveal myself to build confidence in the creative spirit. With this particular digital image there is some hard fast rules.
For example, this is an 8 bit RGB color image and when all three colors are the same value it produces 256 shades of gray. Within the saturated shades, you can create contrast and detail. You have a pallet of 256 colors, use them. I have placed a simple gray card at the bottom of this image, imagine this was a painters palate and 256 combinations were available.
Imagine dipping into the color pallet and painting. Start using the sliders and pay attention to the color details. In my work, I'd like to ensure the contrast captured in the color image is revealed.

When I was a kid, I was introduced to canvas painting, it was fun. I learned paint by numbers, and a little landscape painting. I find even those lessons apply to photography. For example, the Paint by numbers , taught me separation, contrast, and natural transitions of color. We are doing the same thing here, just with a different brush.

To apply advanced techniques, search out masters. I like the works of Vincent Versace, Brooks Jensen, and of course Ansel Adams. They are primary influences when it comes to dodge and burn techniques.