Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween @ Karori

Every year at this time, in Karori; our house are invaded by little "monsters"!

To appease them we have little bags of sweets and goodies ready, they are happy; so are we ;)

Halloween is big business in America! Just Google the word return a whopping "About 807,000,000 results"! Horror ;)

According to Reuters, the 10 BEST places to celebrate Halloween are:

1. Salem, Massachusetts
2. Bran, Romania
3. London, England
4. New Orleans, Louisiana
5. New York, New York
6. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
7. Tombstone, Arizona
8. Forks, Washington
9. Orlando, Florida
10.Long Beach, California

New Zealand not even in the radar! Ha ha ha...

Every year the little monsters understood that they get their sweets and I get to take their pictures! Not a bad deal? :)

Happy mums with happy little "monsters" in 2008.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

BRIAN me, that BRAKE was GOOD!

I remember in the mid 60s, my classmates and I were quite rapped on this Kiwi photographer, Brian Brake. I was a Illustrative Photography student at R.M.I.T., Melbourne; Australia then.

There were much to admire about Brian...

"Brian left New Zealand for London in 1953, meeting Ernst Haas, John Morris and Henri Cartier-Bresson, who invited him to become a member of Magnum Photos, of which he remained a member until 1967. He worked as freelance photographer in Europe, Africa and Asia until joining Life in 1958, contributing work to Paris Match."

"He is best known for his coverage of China(where he was allowed an unusual level of access), his photographs of Pablo Picasso at a bullfight,and his series "Monsoon" of photographs taken in India during a sabbatical from Life during 1960." - Wikipedia -

The photography work of Brake that are most remembered are those from "Monsoon".

Saturday, October 16, 2010

JPEG Noise & Artifact

In my previous article "JPEG Hell!" I show you how high JPEG compression in Paint Shop Pro can really damage your image file.

One of my young reader argued that he cannot see much damage when his image is being compressed in Photoshop, even at a very high compression / low quality setting.

He wonder if I can "show" him that JPEG in Photoshop really damage his original file!

Your wish is my command ;)

To do this demonstration I selected this "grab shot" I captured in K.L., 1998.

I was shooting a street market scene in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, this kind Malay family let me used their veranda for an overhead view.

While I was shooting, at the corner of my eyes I saw her with the baby... quick shot with my EOS1n and 80-200 at about 200mm.

What can I say? Just pure innocent.

I was surprise how well the ISO 400 Kodak Ektapress negative film rendered her flawless complexion so well!

The colour negative was scanned with my Nikon Coolscan 4000 ED.

Now, back to our JPEG noise demo...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

JPEG Hell !!

After my THIRD story on the revolutionary compression technology call HIPIX from Human Monitoring, I thought that is the end; or at least the end for a while!

Was I wrong ;)

I received another response from Ira of HM!

Dear C.Y.

I really am sorry for not letting this go by, but I hate thinking that there is even one PSP user thinking we treated PSP wrong.

I have been using PSP at home for many years and it is beautiful. JPEG however has limitations.

Photoshop does not necessarily do a better job, but a more clever one - by putting a limit to the compression.

With PSP you can compress images of 12MP to 200KB getting these topographic maps, which Photoshop will prevent you from getting, but you'll end up with 350KB instead.

So here's a screen capture sequence of my coding session using JASC PSP7 (that's what I have at home).

You can see for yourself, single shot, no editing, resolution, size and all, how we got what we got.

Sorry JASC, COREL, Adobe, it's not you, it's the 8x8 DCT and Huffman with no spatial prediction and many other tools.

Yours truly, Ira.

Hmmm... Ira also gave me a link to download an AVI clip showing the two photos being JPEG-ed by his Paint Shop Pro (PSP).

Monday, October 11, 2010

Human Monitoring Response

There were a few unanswered questions in my second test and story on the new Hipix compression technology pioneered by Human Monitoring (HM), as expected I received a response from them today.

Ira Dvir wrote:

Dear C.Y.Leow,

I am the VP R&D of HM.

I urge you to do the following: go to and download the following original JPEGs

dreamstime_3608627.jpg (the woman portrait) and dreamstime_8651080.jpg (the Masai portrait).

These are images of 4368x2912 pixels and their original
size is 5.8MB and 5.91MB. Please code these images to JPEG 201KB and 212KB and see for yourself what you get.

There are three possibilities:

1. Your JPEG SW will not allow such a deep compression and you'll end up with bigger files (and perhaps, but not sure) better quality.

2. You'll get worse quality, since we did that using PaintShop pro, which is good)

3.You'll get identical results.

Our claim is simple, and we verified it on thousands of images.

We are no magicians, and our technology is highly detailed in the documents in our site.

Any man, professional in the field of imaging, can understand how we
manage to achieve such higher levels of compression using the tools and the IP we use.

You are invited to download our software from our site and try it

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cleaner, Better Squeeze! Or JPEG you Beauty!

I got a response within hours after I published "Putting On More Squeeze", a test report on the new compression technology from Human Monitoring (HM).

" I am connected with Human Monitoring. I enjoyed reading your post, and we'll definitely examine your suggestions.

One comment: Please try coding your highest quality picture to Hipix without degrading it first by compressing it to JPEG. Go from 16+MB to (I suggest High, Good or Normal presets) and then examine the result.

Hipix is most effective with images which do not contain noise. If you code an image low size JPEG you insert artifacts, which Hipix treats as data, and the compression is less effective."

What HM spokesperson do not realised was my test file was a Camera Raw file and after ACR, became a 16 bit TIFF file.

I tried the TIFF file with HipixWiz but found it do not support TIFF, 16 or 8 ; so I re-saved the file in JPEG, it then work.

So how do I get around "without degrading it first by compressing it to JPEG"? Catch 22?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Putting On More Squeeze!

I read something very exciting in photographyblog today! It is all about squeezing jpeg file even smaller without loosing detail! Is that possible? ;)

According to the press release:

"Human Monitoring Ltd today announced the global availability of its new hipix™ still image compression technology. hipix™ enables users to send (and store) high resolution images at between 15% and 50% of the size of normal compressed (jpeg) files! hipix™ works on Windows, Linux, Mac and the Android mobile platforms."

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Versatile Point-&-Shoot

While commenting on the impractical of the new 35x zoom Canon PowerShot SX30 IS compact camera, a reader; (hiding behind a name of "TM") have this to say about me :)

"Who really cares if you have been a photojournalist all your working life? I guess that makes you an expert in all types of photography?
For pro wildlife photographers, the Canon 800 f5.6 is a very practical lens that costs over $10,000.

For amateur photographers the 840mm reach on the SX30 will be practical, especially for under $500.

As a know-it-all photojournalist, you should know that large fees have been paid for terrible-quality images used by The National Enquirer, major newspapers, etc. I’m sure the SX30 at 840mm will produce images as good or better than some of those images.

Did you ever see the terrible quality images of the assassination of President Kennedy? Too bad some of those photographers did not have a SX30 at that time.
So maybe you should look up the meaning of “practical”."

WOW! Where was he coming from?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Kit Lens

Many years ago, in the good old days of films; SLR were sold with a standard lens of 50 or 55 mm range. The word "kit lens" was not invented yet :)

Wikipedia defined kit lens as:

"A "starter" lens which can be sold with an interchangeable-lens camera such as a single-lens reflex camera. The kit consists of the camera body, the lens, and various accessories usually necessary to get started in SLR photography. A kit lens can be sold by itself; ie; not in a kit.

It is generally an inexpensive lens priced at the lowest end of the manufacturer's range so as to not add much to a camera kit's price.

Originally kit lenses were of normal focal length; more recently kit lenses tend to be inexpensive zoom lenses that range from medium wide angle to mid telephoto for added versatility. Prime lenses are generally faster (smaller f-number), but the change to zoom lenses has usually means that a slower (higher f-number) lens is used.

This is because in most cases prime lenses are faster than comparably priced zoom lenses. However in most cases the inclusion of an inexpensive zoom lens is to maintain a low entry price and maximize usability for the beginner photographer."

Read that 4th paragraph again ;)