Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Weekly Photo (Week 31) Café Curtains

My quest to master my smartphone camera continues. The Nokia Lumia 900 provides an amazing camera. Yet the differences from gear that I am used to are many. No viewfinder for one. Having to hold the camera at arms length makes aiming rather awkward for me. Without manual focus I have to rely on the little brain in the camera to decide what to focus on. I still can’t figure out what it sees, but I am making progress.

The camera can focus to about four inches, I have yet to prove that to myself. The shutter will happily operate at exposure times much to long to hand-hold successfully. That I have amply demonstrated.

Here is a photo, “snap” as my British friend would say, from today, taken under difficult light. The setting sun was just to the right of the edge of the photo. The camera did alright.

Café Curtains

The statistics

  • Aperture: f/2.2 – As with all cell phone cameras, all photos are taken at the full aperture.
  • The shutter speed was 1/720 second. Continuous variable shutter time sets the exposure.
  • The geographic location coordinates are about 80 feet from the actual location of the photo.

Most photo locations are right on, some are missed, like this one – maybe I did not allow the phone to acquire the GPS satellites. Not something I had to worry about with my “old-fashioned” photo gear.

The learning curve still looms steeply ahead.


© 2012 Ludwig Keck

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Weekly Photo (Week 30) Artist at Work

We have a new gallery in the neighborhood and as part of their “get ready” efforts they conducted a painting workshop. Here is a young artist hard at work and admiring his success.

Young Artist at Work

Young Artist at Work

For my “artistical” interpretation, click the picture to see the post at Silver Gallery:

Young Artist at Work


© 2012 Ludwig Keck


Monday, July 16, 2012

The Weekly Photo (Week 29) Seeking Shelter

We were enjoying our coffee and chatting at the café, rain was coming down in streams, when I noticed two little birds. They had found shelter in the fender of the car parked right in front. I did not have my camera handy, so I pulled out my phone. With great caution I slowly moved towards the door. Of course the birds noticed my approach, one fled the shelter, the other was evaluating the situation. I quickly grabbed a shot through the glass door.

My snapshot isn’t much of a photograph, but it illustrates a couple of predicaments of digital photography with smartphones.


Smartphone tend to be wide angle lens cameras. Mine is the equivalent of a 28 mm lens on a 35 mm camera. Zoom is “digital”, meaning that the image is cropped in camera. This can be done more conveniently by cropping in “post-production”.

The smartphone camera, like all modern digital camera, is quite good at setting the exposure. As you can see in the photo above, the picture shows the dreariness of the day. The camera saw a lot of the gray, but bright, sky and the wet pavement, but may have made the scene just a little too dark. Digital cameras cannot compete with human vision when it comes to seeing bright and dark subjects without difficulties – one small area where our human brain is still ahead of technology. Then there is the limited range imposed by the JPG file format – 8 bits, just 256 levels from black to white.

With all these excuses, you might still wonder, what bird is he talking about? The little bird is sitting on the tire in the center of the photo. It is about 20 pixels high in an image that is 2448 pixels tall – less than one percent. It is so dark that you might not even find it knowing where it is.

WP-1229-LK_20120712-1-C-320So let’s crop the picture, and then tackle “too dark”. The “Fill Light” control in Picasa or the “Shadows” slider in Photo Gallery can bring up the darker parts of a picture very nicely. There is a price to be paid in “noise”, the dark areas will not be as smooth and clean looking. For a photo showing rain, this no problem at all.

While we have Picasa open there is one other item to take care of.

WP-1229-Picasa-04The default setting for smartphones is to include the geographic location information (GPS data) in photos. This is very useful, it makes it easy to go back and find out exactly where the picture was taken. When sharing with the whole wide world, as in a blog like this, some locations should be kept private – like a favorite fishing hole, or the bar that offers “bottomless” margaritas.

Picasa lets you remove the location data with just a few clicks. See the illustration here. Click on a photo (or select several), click the red pin (lower right) to open the “Places Panel”. Click the pin in the map. The little info tip offers a link to remove the location information.

Oh yeah, it does look the cars in my photo are the same cars as in the Google “Satellite” view.  Maybe it tells you something about loyal customers and a neat café. If you want to join us there, drop me a note.


© 2012 Ludwig Keck

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Weekly Photo (Week 28) Evening Sun

Evening Sun

In the week 27 post we introduced Technogran and her charming photo-transformations. This week a bit of, hopefully flattering, imitation and a peek behind the technique.

Evening Sun

The tool used by Technogran, and also for the illustration above, is Nokia Creative Studio. This application runs on Nokia phones. That’s right, this is not an app for traditional computers. This smartphone app is a creative photo editor with a number of delightful effects. The effect used here is “cartoon”. Regular photo editors typically call this effect “posterize”, as in “make it like a poster”. In earlier posts here, I have shown a similar effect available in Microsoft Office 2010 Picture Tools where it is called “Cutout”. Here is this same photo transformed in Word with the Cutout effect: I used a reduced resolution copy in Word 2010, hence the more “painterly” look.

Evening Sun

The Nokia Creative Studio effect does not permit any adjustment, but it does offer a very nice version.

Another transformation that I like and have used frequently, is “sketch”. Let’s take a look.

Evening Sun

This image, again from Nokia Creative Studio, has been post-processed to make the lines darker. As Creative Studio prepares a sketch, the lines come out pencil gray. I like them a bit darker and made the adjustment afterwards in Windows Live Photo Gallery.

You might think that in order to use this tool you have to take the photo with the camera in the phone. That certainly is the easiest way, but with the SkyDrive app installed you can also edit photos “from the cloud” – any photo that you have uploaded to your SkyDrive.

Apple TreeThe phone used here is a Nokia Lumia 900 Windows Phone. This phone has an 8 megapixel camera. The camera and the phone are new to me and I am still learning the features and peculiarities. Here is another artistic effect photo from this camera and this editor, it is this week’s picture of the week over at Silver Canvas. Click the little picture to take you there.

For a better look at these images, click the panel below to take you to my Picasa Web Album. The larger photo is the original as it came out of the phone camera, the other images are cropped from that photo (the album contains reduced resolution photos).



© 2012 Ludwig Keck

click here for help on how to leave a comment

Monday, July 2, 2012

How to leave a comment

comment-linkAt the bottom of the post there is a comment count. This is a link, see the illustration here.

  • Click the word comments.
  • The page is refreshed and a comment box will be available.
  • Type in your comment.
  • Be sure to make a selection for Comment as: Click Select profile, then click on Anonymous if you do not have one of the other listed accounts.
  • Then click Publish.


Of course I would like to know who you are, so won’t you please include your name if you do not have one of the IDs.

Now click the browser return button to get back to the post you were reading.

Two Leaves

This post shows a photo of two leaves and a “café art” derivation. Which appeals to you more?

Two leaves - photo

Two leaves - art


© 2012 Ludwig Keck

How to leave a comment:

imageClick on the comments count below.

The page is refreshed and a comment box will be available.

Type in your comment.

Be sure to make a selection for Comment as: Click Select profile, then click on Anonymous if you do not have one of the other listed accounts. Of course I would like to know who you are, so won’t you please include your name if you do not have one of the IDs.


Go ahead, click the comment count now. And many thanks for commenting!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Weekly Photo (Week 27) Visiting Artist: Technogran

This week we introduce another “visiting artist”: Technogran. Astute visitors will have already discovered her section on the Gallery – Visiting Artists page. Technogran offers some beautiful photography in the charming and captivating stories in her blogs Neither here nor there and Technogran’s Tales. Why does she replicate posts in two services? Well, Technogran has been a technology geek for quite some time and has helped many to understand computers and the web at Technogran’ tittle tattle and, yep, Technogran’s tittle tattle.

Enjoy her artistry in our gallery (click the image), but do not miss her enchanting blogs.

Join me in welcoming Technogran. More, more!!



© 2012 Ludwig Keck