In Focus, Bangkok Photography Blog March 19th, 2011

Toning For Fun/Bayon Part 2/lWindows 7 God Mode

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Feature Photograph Bayon Cambodia Part 2 Windows 7 God Mode Photography News of Interest

Readers Submissions Readers Questions A Snapshot of Bangkok Images Week in Review I nfocus Blog, A New Beginning T


Feature Photograph *menu

Our fifth and last entry in our series on digital toning will center on undefined toning techniques you choose for effect or fun. As we’ve previously discussed, digital toning presets are a popular feature set in Lightroom and most imaging software. We’ve explored the genesis of the most common toning presets and how they apply to our photography. I hope you’ve enjoyed this series. Check out the first in the seriesabout Cyanotypes, the second on Sepia, , the third on Antique Toning, and the fourth on Black and White toning.

Canon 1ds Mark II, 24-105mm F4 IS USM @F8 1/50th 28mm ISO 400

While there are lots of rules and common practices to follow, sometimes we just want/need to tone to please ourselves, or a client. In the image above I wanted to duplicate, both in field of view and the feeling, what it was like standing in this very spot in Angkor Vat park. What I wanted to convey was the light, the tree roots, and the structure. Yet, the green moss, off-colored ages old stones, and shabby light wasn’t cooperating. So I sat down one night and ended up with this. To this day a 20×24” print hangs in my living room and it probably the most ‘studied’ image among various guests.

Canon 1ds Mark II, 24-105mm F4 IS USM @F11 1/10th 47mm ISO 200

Again, in Angkor Vat park before sunrise. The first hints of the sun were just peeking over the main temple but because of pollution brought on by local field burnings the colors were a drab brown. When faced with coming up with a great looking logo for my company stationary I loved this image, but not the color. Simply sliding the white balance to the right resulted in this stunning and memorable image. Memorable was the key and it worked so I kept it.

Canon 1ds Mark II, 24-105mm F4 IS USM @F11 .5sec 24mm ISO 200

This purple image certainly wasn’t created by nature. A client who owned a dentist office asked me to come up with several series of images which would fit their décor’s color scheme, and help the patients relax. This is what I came up with and the client loved the set of three purple toned trees. As far as I know they’re still hanging in the waiting room helping patients relax today. Their color scheme in this room was a lavender and peach. This fit right in.

Canon 1ds Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm F4.5-5.6 @F11 1/25th 22mm ISO 100

Once more from Angkor Vat. The original image was taken during the right time of the day and I wanted to see if I could do something to make a throwaway image more interesting. I tried a few ‘infrared’ toning plug-ins and while it’s not my favorite, I didn’t throw it away either.

When toning for effect or fun, try and keep the plot in mind. Don’t go over the edge. Try to identify what you’re trying to do, where the image should fit in, and what turns you on the most. When you set your mind to it, you’d be surprised what you can come up with!

Bayon Cambodia Part 2 *menu

Eyal hails from Israel where he works hard half the year, saving to spend the other half of the year using Thailand as a base to travel throughout South East Asia. Eyal has had a strong interest in submission writing and photography and has corresponded with me for years, asking questions, taking notes, and working up to this submission. Writing in a second language is never easy, and often it's very difficult. For some of us impossible. To keep such good records and document the trip so well, and then to put the work in to share with the readers is very much appreciated. I hope to see more of his work grace future columns. You can contact Eyal via email at [email protected]

When you visit this site it looks very impressive, but you need to look carefully.

Due to factors such as time, rain, weather, jungle growth, and human damage the state of preservation of the site requires constant attention that will take decades or more.

On this page I would like to mention the people who take part on conservation and restoration of Bayon. They deserve the credit for their unique work and effort takes years. The conservation and restoration work in the Bayon is completed and financed by the Japan government. JASA is the name of the organization.

The restoration managed by JASA can be described as very professional, impressive, and accurate. JASA has worked in Bayon for at least six or seven years.

Another project carried out by the Japanese is the library.

The library was completely dismantled and rebuilt. Each stone has been cataloged and measured. This project took several years to accomplish. This is just one building in Bayon’s huge complex and it took years. It will require many more years of effort and funding to maintain this special site.

Here we can see more cultural elements which appear in the Bayon.

We have Apsara dancers and the priest Garuda.

Similar to the ancient empires the Royal Residence Includes decorated walls with dozens of meters or more of sculptured stones describing the story of battles. The most important battles are during the era of King Jawaraman the Seventh.

The glory of the Khmer Army in the ancient times. What we are going to see is the war between the ancient Khmer kingdom against Cham kingdom (Vietnam).

In 1177 Cham invades Cambodia. There were 4 years of occupation. This event ended when the Khmer king killed the Cham king in battle. We can see from how close the Khmer army looked like the military units such as Infantry, Armored Corps (elephants), Navy, Archers, the uniform, the weapons, battles, and the prisoners.


Sunset in the Bayon.

Eyal –

Even though it’s obvious you struggle with English, you still give us a good look at these locations and enough information to understand the basics. This is really appreciated.

Yet, I’m sure there is much you could tell us if language wasn’t an issue. If you’d like to translate these pieces in your native language and with greater detail, I’ll post them on my site for even more people to enjoy.

Thank you Eyal


Steve

Windows 7 God Mode *menu

When any version of Windows is first released enthusiasts are always intrigued and delighted by the special ‘nuggets’ the Windows team embeds which are eventually found and enjoyed. Secret messages, little men marching across the screen, messages to Apple, small distractions all in good fun. Except this time, this time we get “God Mode” which is a very useful hidden feature and I’m going to tell you how to find it and how you can use it.

Which version of the control panel do you use? There are two. Then there is your “My Computer”, “Advanced Functions”, “Display Settings” and many other settings to help you set up and configure Windows 7 to your taste. The problem is, finding the setting you need to effect changes can take a lot of digging. Often you don’t even know there is such a setting until you read about it somewhere. God Mode puts 288 settings all in one place, listed by category, easily accessed in seconds. It’s a very useful and appreciated feature. Thank you Microsoft.

To enable God Mode bring up Windows Explorer and create a new folder off the root directory of your system drive. For most of you this will be your “C” drive.

Name it: GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}

(I recommend you cut&paste the above bold faced text for accuracy).

Now, off your root directory you’ll see the tiny blue icon labeled “God Mode.”

That’s it. To use God Mode you simply bring up Windows Explorer, click on the blue God Mode icon, and in the right panel you’ll see the 288 different settings choices. Double click on the one you want and you’ll be allowed to effect changes. Simple right? The 288 choices are categorized and searchable. You’ll discover features you knew you had but could never find, features you once found and lost, and features you never knew about but will be very useful. Add God Mode to you favorites list or desktop for even faster access.

In the view above you can see settings for Autoplay, Bitlocker, Color Management, Credential Manager, and desktop gadgets.

In this view we see the Device Manager, Devices and Printers, Display settings I’ll bet you never knew you had, and the Ease of Access Center.

This view shows sensors, keyboard settings, mouse settings, and all the hard to find Network settings.

Here we have Parental Controls, Pen & Touch settings, Performance tools an settings, and Personalization settings as well as modem and power options.

In this last view we see Sound, Speech Recognition, Sync Center, and System Settings.

I haven’t covered even half of them. All in one easy to access ‘clickable’ list. A truly useful feature.

Photography News of Interest *menu

Forbidden Photography from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Join Lauren Lancaster as she shoots across the UAE and shares her gallery with you.

The Android market share overtakes Apple and Blackberry. Google's Android mobile operating system has caught up and passed Apple and RIM, this is a trend that’s been in the making for some time and there is no reason to think they won’t increase their new lead in the future.

Samyang finalizes their 35mm F1.4 lens which looks to sell for less than half the price of like OEM lenses. Check out the news release over on Digital Photography Review.

SLR Gear reviews the Olympus 40-150mm F4-5.6 ED M.Zuiko Digital. If you have one of the new Olympus micro-4/3’s bodies this lens might be of interest to you. SLR Gear does really great lens reviews so it’s worth the read.

I'm often asked about volunteer opportunities in Thailand, someplace where people can donate their time and effort to help make Thailand a better place. There are the usual places in the Tak province along the Burma border and other places along the eastern borders. But these places are often too far away for most and they can only visit them for short periods of time.

But what if you had a place you could travel to daily using public transportation and make a real difference? There are many schools for the disabled without adequate staffing as told in this story in today's Independent. They're not asking for help, but I doubt they'd turn away volunteers either. I'm intimately familiar with the disabled and I can promise you these kids will show all the appreciate you'd ever expect and more. You would make an everlasting impact on their young lives like no one else could. All you have to do is walk into one of these schools and make yourself available.

Photographs and Music. A love story. Bob Coffey choreographs over 400 images to music for a visual concert of projected images. Check out the sample gallery.

Nude Photography guru Michael Charles shares the secrets of his trade. An erotic photographer and adult industry insider discusses his new book with 165 pages and 65 “razor sharp money shots.” Do you want to read this one?

Readers Submissions *menu

Hi Steve,

Here are a few images taken at the end of December 2009 in Kampot, Cambodia.

Here are some views of the Kampot River, I thought that the wooden building was a restaurant, it turned out to be a massage place with probably the most expensive beer in Cambodia.

There are many old French buildings in Kampot, some falling apart others beautifully restored.

Young boys keeping an eye on the cattle near the Bokor National Park.

A road being cut & widened leading to the hill station. The road was off limits to the locals making them very happy.


A view from the park as we hiked up to the hill station.

We hiked up through the Bokor National Park to the hill station built as a resort by the French colonialists as a cool get away. The Bokor Palace Hotel & Casino, a church and a few other ruins are all that remains, the ruins are nothing spectacular to see, the fun was getting there. A new hotel casino & town are being built on the hill. While I was there the foundations were being laid, if the placards are to be believed, the hotel would be more at home in Disneyland.

A lady working in a field.

Fishing boats docked on the river, I guess they go out to sea early mornings.

There are a lot of farms and plantations in Kampot province, producing herbs, durians, mangoes & pepper. Kampot pepper is famous in haute cuisine & the gourmets say its the best in the world.

The Kampot River at sunset.

Here are local forms of transportation.

Kampot is also a good stop over if you want to cross the Vietnamese border at Ha Tien.

Regards Khunklit.

Khunklit –

The only difference between this series of readers submissions and a full on feature destination is the narrative. Add a line or two more information per image and maybe your thoughts of why you took this image, and we'd have a great feature. I hope some day.. :)

I really enjoy your images from Cambodia. The river shots especially, but the old church was really interesting as well. Your narrative greatly adds to the overall enjoyment of viewing the images.

Thank you.

Steve

I’d like to mention that everyone, myself included, is really enjoying the current trend of readers submissions. Everyone loves them, but remember we can really use more. I have only another week’s worth in my queue, so please take the time to put together a few images and words if you can and send them in. Thank you. [email protected]

Readers Questions *menu

Hey Steve,

I have a quick question for you, might be useful for your column as well. Today we took S to her swimming lesson and took a few pictures using our Olympus point and shoot. It only shoots Jpegs and in the past any editing has resulted in considerable degradation of the already not so good image. I was wondering if it makes sense to convert the Jpegs to Tiff first as they are lossless, then process the tiff files and convert back to Jpeg when it’s done, to minimize the “damage” done to the image.

Let me know what your thoughts are on this one.

KVW

Hi KVW –

Concerning your question, and yes the answer might be useful for anyone who shoots in jpeg. Jpegs are different than tiff files as you noted because tiffs are ‘lossless’ and jpegs are not. What this means, is that each and every time you open a jpeg, edit anything, and then save it, you are degrading the quality of the original file. The old Xerox “copy of a copy” analogy comes to mind.

Should you convert to tiffs? If you are going to edit the file more than once then the answer is yes. Open the jpeg, convert/save to tiff, and then clear the jpeg file without saving. From this point work on the tiff. You can open/close/edit a tiff file as often as you like without any file type degradation. This comes in very handy years later when new software becomes available and you can start with a clean file vs. a file which has already been edited and is no longer as good as when you first made the capture.

Lightroom helps save the day. If you’re using Lightroom then you can edit a jpeg, the edits will be stored in the sidecar file, but the original jpeg will never be altered. If you export to CS5 Photoshop be sure to choose the choice where it says “edit a copy with Lightroom adjustments” and not “work on original.”

Years ago I used to be a jpeg shooter. I have tons of old jpeg files which I’d adjusted/processed as well as I could with the software (and my skills) available back then. The trouble is, I never made a copy of my original jpegs so they take heavy image quality hits if I do anything with them.

Of course you’ll want to make jpegs to put on your thumb drive to take down to the printers, email to friends, or share on the web.

Good luck

Steve

Please submit your questions to [email protected] All questions will be answered and most will show up in the weekly column.

A Snapshot of Bangkok Images Week in Review *menu

This week we started winding it down at Bangkok Images. There is lots of preparation work to be done and plans to be made. Please read Steve's Musings below for more details. In preparation for some major changes I've been doing some work on our website www.bangkokimages.com. Refresh your browser and you'll notice new header/banner images and an updated Home Page, but that's not all. Throughout the side all the sidebar menus have been updated with visual thumbnails to give you a taste of what's inside each entry when you click on it. The Article landing page pops! We've rearranged the sidebar panel placement a bit and overall made the site more visual. I dare say it's the most visual Thailand based site going. Tons of Thailand centric images, 1000's of articles, Thailand Photo Stories, galleries, and much more. If you're not a regular Bangkok Images member, check out the site. I think you'll like it.

Positive comments continue to pour in about our new look and much faster more interactive site. If you haven’t already checked it out, visit www.bangkokimages.com to see my latest galleries, share your own galleries , participate in the forums, and scour our large repository of photography related articles. The What’s New page continues to be very popular with almost daily updates and interesting content.

The Readers Submissions queue is now officially empty. If you have any images you’d like to share please send them in. If you think you have material foe.

Dana sent in a new Thailand Photo Stories piece titled "IN MEMORIAM." These Thailand Photo Stories are some of Dana's best work and some of the most popular pieces on the site.

Infocus Blog, A New Beginning *menu

I’m moving back to the States.

I’ve known this for several months, but I haven’t known exactly when I’d be leaving and as I write this I’m still not sure. There are some personal matters to clear up first and I could be leaving from the first of April to the middle of May. I’m just not sure at this point.

Why? What seems like a complicated decision was really quite simple once I acknowledged my priorities. My main priority in life started with the birth of my first son when I was 17 years old. Since then I’ve tried my best to make all subsequent decisions, based on the overall good of my family.

An opportunity has presented itself to be near two of my sons for the next 4 – 6 years. By near, I mean in the same town and actively involved in their lives. My youngest is starting uni next fall in a town where my next youngest is teaching high school. There is nothing I’d rather do than be close to both of them. It’s really that simple.

Sure, over the last few years certain things about Thailand have worn thin with me and in future columns I’ll discuss this topic more in depth. Yet, nothing that would prevent me from continuing my life here. I have a really great life in Thailand and enjoy most every day. I’ve managed to make really good friends, I have a very satisfying business where I meet interesting people from all over the world, and I love what I do. More, living in Thailand gives me the opportunity to travel the country doing what I love most, as often as I wish. Life in Thailand has been very good to me. I’d like to thank my host country and its people for this wonderful opportunity. Thank you.

You’re probably wondering about the future of my weekly column, Bangkok Images the website, and if I’ll be holding photography workshops in the Kingdom. These are all questions to which I’ve given a great deal of thought. I’ve worked out some ideas I’ll share with you next week. I think it’s very possible to keep this column going, maintain the website as a major local photography resource, and to schedule workshops here in the future. But I’ll need your help. Look for my special on this topic next week.

Until next time..