Category Archives: Photography

Everything I Don’t Like: It’s always distorted

Some

Very wavy experimentation using FilterForge.

A Dream About Circles

Aside from me trying to make free stuff on my spare time, here’s a recent series I produced. A Dream About Circles extends my exploration into color, shape, and repetition. The work was produced using a bunch of photographs which were then filtered using a custom filter in FilterForge. It was later edited slightly in Adobe Camera Raw.

- – -

In Depth: Multi-level highpass sharpening in FilterForge

This post discusses some stuff regarding this filter I produced in FilterForge a while ago: http://www.filterforge.com/filters/9726.html you can download the filter there too.

I’m not really THAT technical with stuff. I honestly don’t know all the math that goes behind each node I use in FilterForge but I have some clues and hints on how some of the stuff works.

Either way, some time ago I wanted to produce a multi-level sharpen filter. Unlike a single sharpen filter, this “dream” filter basically allows for a broad range of sharpening. To do this I used Filter Forge.

Let me show you some pictures of what happens when I use it. First we have our original photograph.

Original Image

The image has not been processed in anyway…. now… for the processed image.

Processed image

This is very subtle (I’m using default values) but you can see some changes in the contrasts of various areas. Some areas “pop” now more than others.

Comparison

Some comparison here so you can see what’s different. It’s still kinda subtle but you can mildly see what’s happening.

What makes it pretty neat is how this sharpen filter works. It’s on multiple levels of detail allowing you to sharpen small, medium, and large details separately. So if you ever want to sharpen a LARGE area then you can turn down the small and medium sharpen filters and leave the large sharpen with higher values. If you want small details to pop, you can do so too.

To show you what can visually happen here’s another shot at the image above.

Vivid!!!

With a couple additional nodes I was able to produce a filter that allows for various degrees of control while sharpening a photograph.

Now for the exciting technical aspect of how this was accomplished! You probably need to click and see at the full resolution

How it was done

The basics go like this. I have multiple highpass filters with different radius settings. The radius values weren’t chosen mathematically, they were chosen based on visual output so nothing fancy there. Then you see this huge stack of Min and Max nodes which allow for combinations of the nodes. This is really the fun part because it’s where I didn’t know what to do. I began combing the highpass nodes using various tools and then I realized I should just stick with min and max because of the way they operated. Also the way they looked seemed valid enough for usage. I then used a blend node (which was set to overlay as you’d expect.)

Now this is the really weird part. There are two things being mixed here: two separate chains for min and max nodes. To combine them both, I used a blend node. I lastly gave the user control over which they want to chose. If they want a brighter image then they can slide the control to achieve what they want visually.

And that’s basically all there is to this filter!

Here are some more examples of the filter in action.

Processed imagery of the streets in Tokyo

Original input picture. Note that it's not very crisp due to atmospheric factors.

And this is what it looks like when processed!

Of course you do have to be careful of over-sharpening images. I just wanted to show you what it basically can do for you.

Complex Systems

Lost in Tokyo City. This could be an interesting experience if you really don’t know what’s going on. It’s an uncomfortable experience being lost in a huge city. Everywhere you look you either see something different… or you see something repetitive.

I have uploaded the complete gallery online for viewing.

And the method? It’s really just tedious work over a span of several weeks.

Update: Seems like PetaPixel featured my works here. And I totally forgot to mention within the description: these are synthetic photographs made by tediously piecing elements from 1 photograph into multiple images. The other thing that you may have not noticed is that these are seamlessly tillable, in other words if you take the images (without the vignetting) the image will perfectly tile each other. The whole idea was that I would go and print these in mass loads without borders and would stick them up on a huge wall across space. This never happened, but I plan to find a way to do this sometime in the future.

These images, while they’re presented as photographic work, it also later became great texture resources for my film, “The Door to Tomorrow.”  I mean, they’re just so useful on their own :)

- – -

EDW: From photo to painting

So I’ve been working gently over the last couple days. I’ve been slightly unsatisfied with some results which made me go back and forth between multiple things. Lets talk about some steps to ensure a nice matte to paint on. I first of all realize I’m doing a very rough thing here, but we’ll see how this plays out later as I start painting using Studio Artist 4.03. I decided I should show the steps I’m going through. It’s not much of an example, but I thought it would be nice to be able to explain what I’m doing / and up to right now.

I also wanted to make this blog post probably like a tutorial. I began doing stuff like this not necessarily recently, up until this point I used Photoshop to mainly “paint” or filter photographs for background usage. So far, I ended up learning some of the more interesting aspects of painting through the aid of an computer. That’s what I’m doing here. It’s really not just “hey lets turn a 2D photo into 3D” it’s “hey, lets take that photo, manipulate it a bit, paint on it and make it look fun to look at, take it into 3D, and lets translate it in 3D space!” Maybe I should have said that first. But anyway, that’s my project basically.

Now, let me say that this is unlike the earlier things I’ve done. You can see my earlier experiments here: http://skybase.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/its-been-a-long-time/. On this blog post, which I did a long time ago, I did use Studio Artist 4. But you know what? I changed my workflow completely since then. Now it’s better and improved. So just some differentiation I wanted to point out before we get deeper.

So step 1: Look at the picture, if any thing is in the foreground that would get affected by the parallax, get rid of it somehow. Below, I selected the things that produced an obnoxious problem when projecting the image. I then began refining the edges for a rough delete. It does not have to be perfect in my case. I just need something to fill the space so I can paint on it. Now, if you’re going to use the actual photograph for the 3D-projection, you will need to remove these objects to the best of your ability. The cleaner the better. For me, it’s a different story.

Cool. Step 1 done. I saved the objects on a separate layer so I can call them back into the scene later. Probably using After Effects, or even as alpha-channeled planes in Maya. I don’t know for sure. Too bad the screenshot above isn’t exactly the final version. I selected a couple more areas which you’ll see in… step 2.

Step 2 is this: content-aware delete. If you just went “You’re being lazy,” I’m basically going to say, “That’s right!”

Yup. I love content aware delete. It gives you weird results. Of course that’s not what I’m looking for, though it honestly did a interesting job creating abstract art.

Alright, the problematic things are somewhat gone. It doesn’t have to be perfect like I say, but it has to be clean enough so that I can paint right over it and care less about that stuff.

Next: playing around in the most exciting program! Studio Artist 4.03!! Let me explain, Synthetik Software Studio Artist 4.03 is a powerful painting program that basically goes beyond what your normal painting program does. It’s abnormal, oriented for artists, and totally wacked out. With probably more than enough brush presets to go through, you’re pretty much unlimited to what you can do in it. For more info check out the blog: http://studioartist.blogspot.com/

Another thing to keep in mind about Studio Artist is that it works half-automatically. This means that I can set up certain parameters in the paint patch to synthesize certain traits. So I can pick up the background photograph AS the source for color, for outlines, and otherwise.

Oh and the tools! I’m using a Wacom Bamboo tablet. This actually makes a big difference since these tablets have sensitivity. That makes this whole workflow interesting and fun.

So I placed the image into Studio Artist, and I first of all applied a paint patch based on a preset from Studio Artist 4 (I changed several important settings on it), which does this kinda blocky… chunky abstraction, useful for quick visualization on how (and where) the colors will be, how the final picture will kinda look. A couple quick adjustments, and I’m happy with the result. I’ll be using this as my base to paint on it. This is where the program becomes amazing. Oh, and before I move on, I also resized the image to 3500×2333. Studio Artist works independent of resolution. I can enlarge any image and paint as if it were at that size. Horray for synthetic images!

I then began painting using one of the brush patches I’ve fallen in love with. It’s very basic, but the brush picks up the color from the point of where I place my brush down first, it then smudges that color. So it behaves like paint but not quite. So what I do with this brush is block out some general color details. Basically I’m redoing what I saw with the previous picture (the one that’s abstracted and blocky.) We’re going to again, use this to paint over details.

Add the details back in…. I’m using a brush that now picks up the edges from the photograph along with the color. It has several attributes which allow an easier coloring and detailing. Studio Artist also features an unusual set of “AI” features which allow the user to interactively paint certain things in automatically. This is kinda hard to describe without seeing it, but basically the program can use the source image to manipulate the brush strokes I put down. That way, I get detail, at the same time reserving an abstract look.

I also reserve the right to do some crazy stuff on the painting! I have tons of brush presets I created over the time I’ve been doing this project and it’s kinda looking fun. Some of these presets are based on pre-existing ones, but they’re mostly just stuff I’ve been making and using for this project. In the picture below, I just went ahead and threw in some fun stuff. I drew rough outlines of windows using a brush that resembles a line drawn with a thick, colored pencil. No care for straight lines. Just scribbling away! Ok but with moderation and with style.

So it gets crazier and crazier. But I have to pull this craziness back. What do I do? Add what detail there was back in! So I’m using a special detailing brush which specifically extracts outlines of the photograph and applies them where I place my stylus.

So at this point, I think it looks good enough. I’m happy with the result so allow me to post the final “color corrected” version here.

So those were my basic 3 or 4 days (or maybe 6… haven’t been really keeping track of time here) of just doing some work. So here’s what I’ll have towards the end of this project. 3 pieces of work all made in 3D! Then I’ll put together a movie that you can watch for your enjoyment. So stay tuned for those. BUT for the next blog post, let me try this as my projection in 3D!

This has been a long blog post. It’s 4:16 am in the morning, and I wasn’t intending to be taking screenshots and writing this at this hour.

I Don’t Know

- – -

Series: “I Don’t Know” – 2010

Imagine a space of crystals… or perhaps something. Who knows what you’re looking at. But imagine what it is. Ambiguity is sometimes better than certainty.

Isolation

Images from my grandfather’s home in Northern Japan. I took these pictures several weeks before his death. Mostly random objects on the ground… but are slowly decaying with time. Who knows how long they’ve been there for… all I know is that they’re slowly going away.