Blog entries from January, 2021

The end of twenty seven metres

Thursday, January 7th, 2021 at 7:14 pm

How long does it take me to use up twenty seven metres of photo paper? Four and a half years.

At least that is the interval between buying the roll of paper and when I am at the end of the roll, with enough for two more prints. Over that time my usage has changed. After the couple of large prints I was making two prints a month (only ten months of the year) for camera club competitions. Then the club comp dropped down to one print per member per month, and then in 2020 we had to drop the print competition.

So what made me get to the end of the roll now instead of early last year, because I have been entering international competitions. I usually only enter digital competitions, but I need to get acceptances from Australian competitions, there aren’t many of those and a big one closing soon is a print competition.

So, after not printing anything for ten months, last night I printed out twenty images:

I had a couple of failed prints so I am glad that when I realised I was at the end of the roll that it wasn’t quite the end.

This all means that it is time to buy some new paper, with a big question being do I want to get another roll, or should I go back to sheets?

The main advantage of the roll is that I have the option of making quite large prints, but a big disadvantage of the roll is that the paper has a curl. If I cut a piece off and want to print with it immediately I need to roll it back on itself to remove the curl, otherwise it doesn’t feed through the printer right and at the start/end it rises up and gets marks on it. This is usually ok as it is outside the image I am printing which is then covered by the matt board, but it would be good to avoid this. (My printer is 13″ wide so doesn’t support the 17″ wide roll, as I am feeding it in 90° to the curl that is part of the issue, if it was fed in normally that would be ok)

If I had planned it out better I would have known I was getting near the end of the roll and saving the last few metres in case I wanted to make large prints, then buying normal sheets for most of my use.

Getting another roll does work out cheaper and if I plan ahead I can cut a bunch of sheets and let them lay flat for a while to remove the curl, though right now I am not able to make the decision as both rolls and boxes of A3+ sheets are out of stock at the local places I know of, so I will have to wait…

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A study in panorama

Friday, January 1st, 2021 at 2:44 pm

Every couple of years I clean behind my desk. I don’t do it more often as this task involves taking everything off the desk, unplugging everything and disassembling the desk. Once clean I then have to put it all back together, all up this takes a number of hours so is generally done when I have time off around the new year.

Previously I have taken a photo of the tidy desk, but this time I attempted to capture most of the room in a panorama:

Study in panorama (Lightroom)

I spent about an hour just on taking the photos for this, camera on tripod, in portrait with my homemade L bracket, and using my widest lens. Each set is eight or nine images and I took around five sets until getting a set I was happy with. I initially considered capturing the full 360°, but that was more difficult to get aligned so I settled on around 280°, skipping the cupboard and room doors.

The above panorama was merged in Lightroom with the built in tool, but if you look at the large image you can quickly find a number of alignment issues. Look along shelves, picture frames, the cornice, etc. A proper panoramic tripod head would have helped, but I don’t have one of those.

I had a try at using Photoshop to do the merge, it essentially gives the same results but with each source image as a layer so you can fine tune where the joins are and then re-merge for exposure. At least that is what I picked up from reading some tutorials, I don’t know how to do that because I rarely use Photoshop.

Thinking back at how I have made panoramas in the past I realised that I wanted to be able to go to a misaligned part and be able to fine tune that section so they were aligned. Something like I remember doing in the Canon PhotoStitch software, but that was 20 years ago and while I do happen to have the install for that, it doesn’t want to run under Windows 10.

Another program that have used is the Microsoft Image Composite Editor which I recalled was an amazing tool, but it was last updated five years ago. I gave it a try anyway, no better than Lightroom and also no fine tuning ability.

It was getting late, so thought that the Lightroom merge was good enough so I uploaded it to Flickr and wasn’t going to spend anymore time on it. Until today when I decided to see what had happened to another tool I remembered: Hugin

Back in 2011 on a road trip from Melbourne to Perth and back I played around a fair bit with Hugin. What I remember of it was that it could give good results, but it was also prone to crashing. I don’t know when I last used it because I don’t do panoramas that often and the one in Lightroom has been good enough when I do make a panorama. Upon finding that it was still an active project and that it had a release only a few weeks ago meant that I had to give it a try:

Study in panorama (Hugin)

I was impressed. While I saw the options to fine tune control points and other things, the above panorama was made using the simple settings and it has come out a lot better than Lightroom or Photoshop. All the big issues I saw before are fixed, with only a couple remaining on the lower right that could be fixed by a small amount of cloning.

However it is nowhere near as convenient as selecting the images in Lightroom and clicking Photo Merge > Panorama. Instead I exported full size versions as TIFF, loaded those into Hugin, generated the panorama, copied the result into the directory for Lightroom to see. I also took the final image into Photoshop for some content aware fill of floorboards in the corners and tweaked some levels before exporting the final JPEG for Flickr.

I don’t know if I will use Lightroom or Hugin for my next panorama, but it is good to know that suitable alternatives exist.

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