Experimenting with LomoChrome Purple

purple pine needles in Carkeek Park shot with LomoChrome Purple

I’ve made my love for the Infra-red films of old pretty clear around here.  There’s just one problem – you can’t buy them anymore.  Thanks Kodak, and, I suppose economic reality.

There’s another issue though – that film was hard to use.  You had to load it in complete darkness.  It had to be unloaded and processed in complete darkness.  Neither the camera nor the processor could have an infrared detector to read the film codes, which most do.  It was expensive.  You had to process it E-6 – it was slide film.  Don’t get me wrong – if I found some new 35mm stock, I’d immediately buy a ton, but it’s not without issues.

Freight train in Carkeek park, shot with LomoChrome Purple

Enter LomoChrome Purple.  To be clear, this isn’t infrared.  It’s a color-shifting print film.  Ignore the chrome part of the name – it’s print, not slide.  Ignore the implication of infrared – it does some of the same stuff, but it isn’t.  That makes it less cool, but much easier and cheaper to work with.  Although the film isn’t cheap or readily available, you can get it processed the “normal” way at your corner drug store.  And how does it work?

Red tree leaves using pseudo-infrared LomoChrome Purple film

Fiery red leaves on a spring day – color shift courtesy of LomoChrome Purple film

Pretty darn well in the same places that EktaChrome EIR worked best – trees and foliage.  I took it out for a day at the beach in Carkeek Park, and I was happy with the tree shots, fairly happy with the broad panoramas, and a little less happy with people.  Things get a little weird with a green tint on skin, which is too bad – when your jacket turns from purple to green it’s neat.  When your skin turns from tan to green, it’s a little creepy.  The grain is pretty pronounced as well, but the effect is nice.  I’ve left these pictures more or less how they scanned.  You can also shoot and process the film anywhere between 100 and 400 ISO – these I shot at 200.  I’ve got a bunch more so I’ll see what else I can do, now that I know how these came out.

 

 

 

 

Palm Trunks of the Rich and Famous

Maybe it’s a personal thing, but I really like these shots I took of the hotels in Waikiki.  They’re geometric and I like the simplicity, but they don’t scream Hawaii.  To make up for it, here’s this:

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That is all.

Waikiki Beach Skyline

Waikiki is the epitome of Hawaii 5-0-style Hawaii.  The beach culture of the mid 20th century might have evolved a bit between then and now, but the beach is the same.  They’re even bringing back the series, so nostalgia runs high.

I can appreciate the beach and strolling the sand, but the encroaching high-rise hotels, some of them dating back directly to those glory days, make for some of my favorite pictures.

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Starting from the south (zoo, aquarium) end of the strip with Diamondhead at your back, the Aston Waikiki Beach is the first big hotel you see.  I love the scalloped balconies.

I got a bunch more.  Click for the jump.

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How Photoshop Won The Panorama War

When I started talking about panoramas, there was some question about how you might turn a few pictures into one.  You didn’t need a tripod, but it was strongly recommended.  A bubble level wouldn’t hurt too.  Care needed to be exercised.  Incantations were recited.  If you took a picture of water buffeted by the wind, god help you.  Back in the day, I used Panorama Factory.  It crashed a lot.  I spent hours mapping little dots from one picture to the next.

Starting with Photoshop CS4, Adobe changed all that.  There was a panorama tool built right in, and it had a magic setting called “Auto”.  With CS5 it got even better.  No matter what you throw at it, it blends, warps, and just works magic.  The pictures always look good.  Always.  Here is my latest:

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Like before, I’m posting my panoramas at twice the width of most of my pictures so you can see a little of the magic in there!

This is a shot from the end of highway 270 on the north shore of the big island of Hawaii.  Stretching out to the east is the Waipio Valley.  From this side, near Hawi, you can drive only so far, and then you can hike.  The beach below is only 20 or 30 minutes, but you can go a couple days farther if you’re stupid brave enough.  It’s a beautiful place with lazy cows, fields of waist-high grass and the odd taro patch.  It might not be obvious but this shot is a bit odd.  I’m standing on a hill, shooting down and panning the camera diagonally – sort of inland + underneath me.  In the past, this just wouldn’t work.  You’d have to map every point in the panorama by hand, and at the end of the day you’d have a distorted picture that would probably lead to a lot of rending of hair and kicking of computers.  With Photoshop CS5, you just hit go and wait.  I’d like to say I miss the old days when things were hard, but I don’t – at all.  Not only does this let you just take pictures and do what you want to do, but it means you can shoot hand-held and with lesser equipment and still have something serviceable come out the other side.  Adobe, this time, I love you.

The Evolution Of Panorama

Panoramic photography is a lot of fun.  There is nothing like the viewpoint you can get by stitching together a bunch of shots into a broad sweeping view.  I first posted instructions on how to shoot a panorama back here.  We then had a couple posts in a row alternately described as Panoramania and Panorama-orama.  Lots of fun.  All the instructions for how to actually capture the pictures are still fairly valid but I want to tell you there is a better way.  Behold!

ocean-beach-panorama

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See that shot?  Not too bad, right?  The real magic however, is twofold.  First off,  I shot that hand-held.  Yes, it was in fairly bright sun so the exposure was easy, but it includes a beach scene and rolling waves are just about the hardest thing to put in a panorama.  The real beauty behind it all is Adobe Photoshop CS4.  Whereas before I told you to use Panorama Factory or Autostitch, which are still fine, I just need to spread the word that the built-in panorama creation tool in CS4 beats them all.  In fully auto mode, it stitched together 6 individual shots to create this without any manual intervention.  Without much if any moire, and without totally barfing when it came to the water.  The original shot is 10,000 and some pixels wide and I think it’s beautiful.  If anyone is really interested, I can post a larger version too.

The moral of the story is this: go shoot some panoramas.  Certainly a tripod and level will help and for night shots it might be the only way, but don’t limit yourself!  Software is constantly improving and even if you don’t have Photoshop CS4 right now, you might get it down the road (or you might get this feature in something free or low cost in 6 months).  Things change!  The only thing you can’t change is the fact that you might not take pictures today.  I’ve certainly regretted the things I’ve not captured.  Do yourself a favor.  Digital is cheap.  Go take pictures.

Digging In The Vault #1 – Thailand

Sairee Beach on Koh Tao is pretty great.  Very picturesque, nice sand, and every tourist around will be there to shoot pictures like this around sunset.  But I think this post sets a different kind of record for me.

Boulders at Sairee Beach, Koh Tao, Thailand

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I’ve been employed for all of two weeks now and already I’m digging in the vault as I’m out of new stuff.  Of course this pic is from my trip a while back, but it’s still good stuff, right?

Anyway, these sorts of rock formations were all around the beaches on Koh Tao and I lived them all.  This one seemed to have particularly nice asymmetry.  I can’t figure out if I’m happy with the framing in this shot or not.  On one hand, the subject is halfway up, seeming screwing up the rule of thirds pretty good.  On the other hand, horizontally, I think the positioning is very nice.  I’m coming around to the idea that the vertical symmetry and the horizontal asymmetry make it work.  But I took it, so I’m a little biased.