All our Challenge images can be seen at Amersham Beyond Group on Flickr
For APS Members only, the images are also available for viewing and commenting on Facebook here.
The current Challenges are;
#33 FINE ART FOUND OBJECT
#34 LIGHT IN THE DARK
… and the latest Challenge,
#35 DECONSTRUCTED LANDSCAPE
A variety of landscapes were deconstructed in creative and interesting ways for our great enjoyment.
The next Challenge is;
#36 SHOOT THROUGH
Shoot through something to frame or distort or add to a subject beyond. For example a dirty window, a lace curtain, glass vase,
a prism, a plastic sheet, water droplet, foliage etc.
The plane of focus is your decision, you could focus on the surface being shot through or the subject beyond. It may be necessary to override any auto focussing for the latter.
BEYOND US - ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
There has been further experimentation over the last month from three members. Dall.E continues to be popular especially via Night Café which gives additional daily credits. Also Midjourney.
Bob has been using Dream by Wombo which at the moment is a bargain, even with a small optional subscription. It runs on Chrome OS and iOS to a reasonable resolution of 1500px on the longest side. Their revenue stream relies on advertising and selling prints of your work which seems popular. He recommends it for beginners. The input text gives wildly variable results – never the same result twice even with the same prompt. Other influences in the result are Style (which can be too powerful) and also an optional photo prompt of your own. The influence of the inputs can be adjusted but the results are never predictable which can be seen as a major problem as you never have enough influence over the results. Being able to quote an existing artist’s style (Dali, Hopper, Warhol etc) and even extrapolate from their original work without acknowledgement is going to be a future battleground for copyright. However extrapolating from your own work could be very interesting.
Bob has also used NightCafe Creator, the benefits of which are:
- it give the option of using different methodologies such as Dall.E and Stable Diffusion and
- it gives extra free credits each day which at least allows to playing a little bit with small images for free.
With a powerful Windows computer and graphics card (4MB or more) the app Stable Diffusion is packaged and ready to go from GitHub for local processing.
Ken summed up his experience so far as follows; “I must say that I am mightily impressed and also slightly appalled by the capabilities that these things have”.
The planned meeting for Feb 2nd is cancelled.
The next meeting will be held on Thursday 2nd March 2023 in the Drake Hall.
Note also that the May meeting will be moved from 4th to 24th in the Pottery Room.
BACK OF BEYOND – DIARIES
Layer Styles. Double-click on any layer in Photoshop CC to bring up the Layer Styles palette. This has many useful (and I suspect often-ignored) options to create bevels, glows, outlines and overlays on the current layer. The two most useful to me are Drop Shadows and Blend If. The latter provides a powerful control over whether the current layer or the layer below are visible, pixel by pixel. Rather than blending two layers this operates like an on/off switch for each pixel and the one below it. Playing with the four sliders gives great power over the blending of two layers.
Beware - there is a major gotcha on the Layer Styles palette. For each of the options down the left hand side eg Bevel and Emboss, Stroke etc there is a whole palette of controls but you don’t see these when you tick the tick box, nor when you click on the + sign … you have to click on the option name. This is probably obvious to you, but it wasn’t to me when I started using this palette many years ago.
iPhone 14 Pro Max. I buy a new iPhone every 3 or 4 years and this was one of those times. The four (!) cameras are a novelty and results from initial tests on a solo visit to Battersea Power Station were impressive. I believe that annual improvements to the cameras are one of the largest selling points now that there is little remaining to improve the phone itself.
I have tried to read between the lines of the marketing hype from Apple also trotted out by the many reviewers.
None of the three cameras have what we would understand as a true optical zoom in terms of moving lens elements.
The three back cameras are;
- 13mm (equiv.) ultra-wide lens with 12 Mpx. 6 lens elements. F2.2. Auto focus.
- 24mm (equiv.) main lens 48 Mpx (normally ‘pixel-binned’ to 12 Mpx for improved low light performance). 7 lens elements. F1.8. Sensor shift OIS. Auto focus.
- 77mm (equiv.) telephoto lens with 12Mpx. 7 lens elements. F2.8. OIS. Auto focus.
The main 24mm (equiv.) camera has a couple of tricks up it’s sleeve;
- the central 12Mpx can be used without pixel-binning to give a 48mm (equiv.) ‘standard’ focal length. This is what is misleadingly called an ‘optical zoom’ because it doesn’t use interpolation so is of better quality than traditional cropping of digital zooms although losing the light-capturing benefits of pixel binning.
- It can also produce a 48 Mpx raw image with all the pixels available to process although there is a major penalty in file size, of course.
The ultra-wide 13mm (equiv.) is automatically used for macro close-ups.
In addition there is digital zooming for intermediate and extreme zoom range. The camera app switches automatically to the most appropriate camera for the required focal length. It may be that there is a jump in quality between the three native focal lengths and the digital zooms in-between them but I haven’t seen that reported. Apple may use a true periscope optical zoom in the next generation phone but no one knows for sure.
My initial tests show impressive results (for a phone) and I can see me using this iPhone as a camera on a daily basis. I have already used it for a detailed competition print. As expected the small sensors struggle with low light but a combination of hardware and software developments are compensating for this increasingly well. The 48Mpx raws have good detail but previewing them on my Windows desktop is slow and the thumbnails are extremely murky. Recovery of highlight and shadow detail is poor in comparison to a ‘proper’ camera raw.
Under Settings>Camera, several things need attention; for example, if you want the Raw option to be available this needs to be turned on, the Live option (grrr) can be turned off, and the option to preserve the last used ‘Creative Controls’ will stop the camera resetting every time. In particular the default aspect ratio is 4:3 rather than 16:9 which is the ratio of the sensor – why wouldn’t you want it all!
Together with amazing creative apps such as Bluristic, this is going to be a great tool in my pocket every day.
Meeting Notes on Creative Photography and Photo-Art
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