Category Archives: Uncategorized

Photochromic Filters

Here’s another idea that I have come up with while I was reading a book on photographic exposure:

We all know that camera sensors are not capable of handling high contrast scenes. Our eyes though are very complex sensors that are capable of adjusting automatically and simultaneously even if there are extreme differences in light intensity in a single “frame”.  

Here is my proposal: We use photochromic filters between the lens and the sensor. 

Photochromic glass is very commonly used in prescription eye glasses. A popular brand is called Transitions. I wear them. In direct sunlight photochromic lenses turn dark and automatically return to their perfectly transparent state under the shade. 

We can probably use this technology in photography. If the contrast is very high, areas of the frame that are bright are automatically darkened proportional to the intensity of light. Areas that are dark remain fully transparent. 

This photochromic filter should be optional because there are times when you do want a high contrast shot such as in silhouettes. I would propose that there will be increasing levels of dymanic range control. Maybe have several layers of this thin filters that can be lowered just like mirrors in SLR cameras. I don’t know yet how to implement this. 

Yes, it’s a crazy idea. 

The Theory of Reverse Evolution

The Theory of Reverse Evolution

aka Demonism (eeeek!!!)

As per yours truly, creation of new information as proposed by Darwin is mathematically improbable. I therefore propose the Theory of Reverse Evolution which states that:

A complete set of genes already existed right from the start and therefore organisms were already highly complex. Diversification and simplication happened due to LOSS of genes.

This theory can be proven if fossils of modern flora/fauna can be found together with other fossils that were thought to have been “formed” and became extinct millions of years ago. For example, if you find human fossils together with dinosaur fossils in the same soil stratum.

Implications:

1. More intelligent and complex alien life forms may have possibly come from earth. We, humans, are simplifications of these alien life forms. Yes, the aliens have left us on earth.
2. It would provide a scientific explanation for Creationism.

I Just Lost A Big Part Of Me

I’m devastated with the news I received today. My close friend who had been the most influential to my music died in his sleep.

Patrick introduced me to bands such as Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, Warrant, Extreme, Nirvana, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Ugly Kid Joe and Filipino bands such as Eraserheads, The Dawn, After Image and Introvoys among others. Without him, I would not have been able to listen to these bands because I could not afford to buy the tapes. I was quite poor. I remember how we used to share the earphones of his Walkman, an ear each, until we drained the batteries. We probably shared earwax as well. While listening to a tape he would be rewinding another tape using a pen or pencil because he could not control his excitement to introduce me to other songs. You kids won’t understand this.

Patrick is a very generous guy. He must have realised that I was digging GNR that he gave me two of their best albums: Appetite for Destruction and Use Your Illusion II. I felt a bit embarassed because although I now owned the tapes, I didn’t have a player so we ended up listening to them with the usual earwax sharing method. It took me a while to save enough money to buy my own portable player. Every time I run out of batteries I will have to borrow his player because it would take me a while to save enough to buy a new set of batts. Sometimes, I will room hop in the dorm to find rich kids who have tape players. Such was life back then. 🙂

It didn’t take long before we started forming our own band. Pat played the keyboards but later on transitioned to playing the drums. I played the guitar and we had other classmates join us to complete the group. We managed to play a few gigs in school. Our band must have influenced the entire school because the teachers decided to start introducing guitar lessons during music classes. This wasn’t in the normal curriculum at all. I often got invited to show up us a guest and talk about guitar playing in other classes. It was fun.

Our school band culminated with it’s most ambitious project ever: our graduation song. With the help of other talented classmates we composed our original song and recorded it in a real studio. It was my first time to be in a recording studio and that was an experience that I would never forget. Patrick played the drums. If I remember correctly, he did his part in just two takes. We actually planned to play live but decided that it was too risky. It turned out to be the right decision because when we sang our grad song, we were already crying even before we finished the first verse. There was no way that the band would have pulled that one live.

Pat and I parted ways in college although we planned to go to Ateneo de Manila together. Pat already reserved an apartment along Katipunan Avenue for the two of us because he was sure that I was going to Ateneo. My family was poor so even with my full scholarship in Ateneo I could not afford the living expenses. I ended up in a public university, the University of the Philippines which wasn’t too far away from Ateneo. Pat would frequently visit me in the cheap dormitory and we played songs along the driveway with my borrowed guitar.

At one point, Pat picked me up and brought me to Club Dredd which was one of the most popular venues for live gigs back then. That was my first time ever and the last time to enter Dredd until it closed down. Both of us went home deaf that night.

I formed my own band in UP and Pat joined a popular reggae band. He played keyboards and he even invited me to one of their rehearsals. He sounded very pro that night, far from what we were during high school. I envied him.

The last time I met Patrick was April of 2011 when I visited the Philippines. To my surprise, he gave me a rare CD of one of my favourite oldies band, the Electromaniacs. I was over the moon! I did not expect that at all. As far as I know, the only time we ever listened to that band was when I was trying really hard to play their songs on guitar back in high school. How could he have remembered something from more than fifteen years ago!!! As I have said, Patrick was just full of surprises.

It’s quite sad that I will never see you again my good friend. Gone too soon my favourite Intsik. My music will never be the same again. I already miss you damn it!!! Spin another tape for me once you find your favourite spot in heaven.

I’ll have to stop here ‘coz my iPad is now filled with tears 😦

Debunking the Myth of Full Frame Superiority Part 2

If you are here to understand (why) equivalence (is wrong) then read this: https://dtmateojr.wordpress.com/2014/09/28/debunking-equivalence/

This article is a continuation of my previous post that stirred multiple different forums. I suggest that you read it first before going through this article. Here’s the controversial post: https://dtmateojr.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/debunking-the-myth-of-full-frame-superiority/

Anyway, in an unrelated forum post, a dpreview article was quoted about the benefits of a certain Sigma lens. The quote went like this:

“Sigma’s choice of F1.8 as maximum aperture isn’t a coincidence; it means that the lens will offer the same control over depth of field as an F2.8 zoom does on full frame. What’s more, it will also offer effectively the same light-gathering capability as an F2.8 lens on full frame. By this we mean that it will be able to project an image that’s just over twice as bright onto a sensor that’s slightly less than half the area, meaning the same total amount of light is used to capture the image. This is important as it’s a major determinant of image quality. Essentially it means that APS-C shooters will be able to use lower ISOs when shooting wide open in low light and get similar levels of image noise, substantially negating one of the key advantages of switching to full frame.

Dpreview may be experts in reviewing photographic gear but it looks like they know nothing about photography itself. That article is completely WRONG. A f-stop is a f-stop. Period. Full stop! A f/2.8 lens will always let through lesser light compared to f/1.8 REGARDLESS of format, be it full frame or APS-C or m43.

I found another very very simple proof: FILM!!!

Yes, you read that right. FILM.

Back when the word “photographer” actually meant something, people shot on film. What’s interesting to note is that a particular film emulsion is often made available for different formats. The famous Kodak Ektar 100 for example is available in either (the measly) 35mm “full frame”, in the much larger 120 medium format and even in ginormous 8×10 sheets! The sizes may be different but the emulsion remained constant.

Those who are interested can check out the data sheet for Ektar here: http://www.kodak.com/global/en/professional/support/techPubs/e4046/e4046.pdf

Here’s the datasheet for Fuji Velvia: http://www.visionimagelab.com.au/_literature_85837/FUJICHROME_Velvia_100F_Professional_%5BRVP100F%5D

Same emulsion, same response, same everything except size!

If indeed, a larger sensor has more light gathering capability compared to smaller sensors then the same film in different film sizes would need to have different emulsions right? If the myth is true then larger films will have to be less sensitive or they will overexpose. Those shooting with 8×10 view cameras will be overexposing their shots if they follow the same data sheet for 35mm film! We know that’s not true. The same sunny f/16 rule applies to 35mm, 120 or 8×10. The same emulsion behaves exactly the same whether it’s 35mm or 120 or 8×10.

There are some panoramic cameras that allow you to shoot in square format as well just by inserting a mask that blocks the sides of the film. You get to use the same film and lens. Now the shooting instructions don’t change. You still expose the film as if you were shooting a panoramic format. If equivalence was even remotely valid then you would have to change your f-stop and/or shutter speed but you don’t. Same lens, same film, same f-stop and shutter speed even if the film size has changed. Film size does not matter!

Plain and simple! Myth has been truly busted the second time!

 

On-the-fly Dark Frame Subtraction

There had been discussions of noise performance comparisons between the Nikon D800 and D7000. Note that the D800 has a crop mode that shoots at approximately 16Mp (down from 36Mp full frame) when a DX lens is attached.

Now assuming that Nikon has not thought of this yet:

That remaining dark 20Mp can be used to perform on-the-fly dark frame subtraction. Normally this process requires two shots with the second shot performed with the shutter curtain closed or with a lens cap. If the original shot took 1 minute, the dark frame will also take another 1 minute. Waste of time. With this idea, there is no need for a second shot.

This idea can be expanded to other sensors as long as the sensor is slightly larger than the lens image circle. That means not only Nikon can do this trick but other cameras as well. Sensors are getting cheaper but the availability of quality crop lenses abound. This means crop sensor cameras can utilize existing lenses in a slightly larger sensor to improve noise performance at long exposures and higher ISOs.

I hope I’m the first to have thought of this.

The Camera Never Lies?

You probably heard this before. The camera never lies. Or does it?

 The camera may not lie but the photographer most likely had a different agenda when he made the shot. The photographer could always hide what he does not want you to see. He may only show part of the subject that caught his eye and force his own impressions on the viewer. The photograph is only as true as the truth that the photographer wants you to know.

 It was one of those work days when I didn’t have my homemade lunch so I was forced to eat outside. I bought a one-dollar can of coke from the company fridge before heading off to my favourite Japanese restaurant. As always, I had my trusty Olympus E-M5 and favourite 17/1.8 lens slung around my left shoulder just in case. I ordered the usual chicken karaage don which is quite tasty for something cheap – like $5 cheap.

 On my way back to work I decided to take a different route hoping that I might find something interesting. I got into this small dodgy alley where the cops normally park their cars. It was a favourite hang out of youngsters and “hippies”. I saw this old man sitting and smoking along the walk path. I also saw two police officers and I thought they were going to talk to him or maybe arrest him but they did not. This got me really interested. I thought I found my subject for the day.

 I quickly configured my E-M5 using my default preset: aperture priority, ISO 200, f5.6, JPEG. Although it was midday, the alley was quite dim so I opened up to f2.8 before approaching him. I was very hesitant to even go near him because I wasn’t sure how he would react. For the first time in my photography life I decided to speak to a homeless stranger. It was a very quick, “would you mind?” while waving my camera. He said yes in a very confident voice. “Go ahead”, was his follow up. Before I aimed my camera at him, I told him why I wanted to take his photo. I said that I like the way he looks, the shape of his face, and so on. I wasn’t lying mind you. That’s the truth. I really liked his friendly face. And so I crouched and took my first shot…and then another one for safety. Of the first two frames I chose this:

 Image

What do you see here? How does the shot make you feel? What does it say to you?

I could see a very confident man. A man who wasn’t ashamed to show who he is. I wasn’t really sure what was going through his head but he was very calm and very candid about it. I felt that he was quite comfortable with what I was doing. He kept smoking while he was staring right into my eyes. I took two more shots in landscape orientation hoping to get something different. I wanted to concentrate on his face because that was the thing that really got me interested in him. I didn’t even realise what he was holding with his right hand until somebody who saw my shot pointed it out. That’s how mesmerising his face was to me. And so I took more shots.

Image 

His face reminded me of Gandalf in Lord of the Rings. Very confident, calm and quiet but fatal if provoked. I could also see that he wasn’t happy but he wasn’t worried either. He looks as if he just wants to go with the flow. He goes wherever life takes him.

 At that point I said to myself that my job here was finished. I got what I wanted. I knew I had a keeper. I showed the man the four frames that I captured of him. He just smiled. I said “thank you” several times, nodding my head in respect each time I uttered those two words.

 Before I left I stepped back further to take a photo as a reminder of how I found him. A few more frames that tell the real story.

 Image

I entitled this shot “Wall Street” because that’s where I found him; smoking on the street with his back to the wall. Wall Street is where you find men in coat and tie playing with money. This man doesn’t have any of that.

It was also quite interesting that he had with him this colourful radio. Not sure if it even works and if it does then where would he find the money to buy batteries for it? I guess that’s what the empty plastic cup is for. The radio is probably his most prized possession. Music, as they say, is life. We had a bit of laugh when I showed this photo to others and I said that maybe the radio is broken and he has that screw driver to fix it. One of them pointed out that it’s not a screw driver but a fire starter – that thing you use to ignite an oven. Makes sense. That would be the thing he used to light his cigarette. 

The lesson for me here is that even with the same subject and the same location, the story that the photographer tells the viewer could change so much from one frame to another depending on how the shot was composed. In one frame you see a typical old man having a relaxing smoke break and then on a different frame it tells of the sad situation that he is in. Smoking, which is an ordinary thing for a lot of people, has suddenly become a luxury. For this man, at that time it was probably the only thing he could do. I don’t even know when the last time he had a decent meal.

 This series of shots have become very important for me. This is practically the first time that I managed to control my fear of approaching complete strangers for the sake of taking a photograph. A street portrait. My very first real street portrait. I hope that this is the start of a different and exciting photography journey.