Exploring Fake Tilt Shift.

Went up a mountain on a hazy day and took this:

Everything was whitish and thought of tilt-shift to maybe salvage the photo. Went to TiltShiftMaker.com, uploaded my photo, adjusted a couple of things and voila:

It may not be a extremely suitable photo for tilt shift effects but it's a start. Perhaps more to come later.

Moon Shots with the FZ28.

Before I bought the FZ28, I was amazed at the moon shots taken by other users on Flickr, so when I got the opportunity, I shot away.

Moon shot, f5.6, 1/250 s, ISO100, cropped, slightly resized to smaller (about 100 pixels).

So how did I shoot mine?

  • I used Program mode (P or Program Auto Exposure).

    I've read that you should use manual mode and f8.0 but when I was holding the camera and preparing to shoot, I forgot all about what I've read, so I asked the camera to decide the best aperture and shutter speed for me. Turns out the camera did a fine job.

  • I set the Metering Mode to Spot Metering.

    The normal metering mode on the FZ28 is multi area metering, but even if you set the metering to center weighted, and then point the camera at the moon, it'll appear as a white blob of light without details. Setting the camera to Spot Metering basically tells the camera to make sure the subject you're pointing to is properly lighted. On the FZ28, you could even move this metering spot to anywhere on your frame by pressing the AF/Focus button and then moving the metering cross hair with the joystick.

  • I did NOT use a tripod and I set Image Stabilizer to Auto.

    I did use a tripod initially but because my tripod was an el-cheapo, it drooped immediately after I tightened it, so I was having a hard time pointing my camera to the moon. Of course, I turned off Stabilizer when using a tripod because I've read somewhere that if you don't turn it off when using a tripod, the image will be blurred.

    Then I noticed that the moon was actually pretty bright and the camera is using a shutter speed of 1/250s or 1/200s. I thought I would not have problems holding the camera still at this speed and proceeded to set Stabilizer to Auto and hand held the camera.

    Initially I slipped the neck strap under my arm and then pushed out my camera fully so that the strap is taut between me and the camera, and this helps to stabilize the camera but later I found that placing my arms on a table or on my car also helps me keep it stable.

  • I set to 3 Megapixel and use Extra Optical Zoom (EZ) at maximum 32.1x.

    Originally I thought that the EZ zoom is nothing but a crop of the frame to get a smaller image, and thus more zoom, which amounted to nothing since I could do the same with software and crop images myself. But then I found out that EZ zoom is much more than a simple crop and may include exposure and other stuffs in the camera. I'm going to crop the moon shot anyway, so I let the camera do the job for me.

  • I did not use any sharpening nor noise reduction.

    I tried a couple of shots by playing around with Picture Adjust Settings on the camera where I could adjust Contrast, Sharpening, Saturation and Noise Reduction but did not like the effects.

  • Interesting facts about the moon.

    The moon is 384,403 km away from earth and because it's rotation about it's own axis takes about the same amount of time for it's orbit around earth, we only see the same face of the moon all the time, called the near side (the other side is called the far side, sometimes the dark side). Temperatures during the lunar day averages 107°C (beyond boiling hot) while at night it averages -153°C. The moon is said to be the most photographed object ever.

It could still be improved upon but for that I'll need help from commenters. Thanks for looking.

Strange Behaviours for RAW Processors?

It was late afternoon and the sun was about to set, but still I whipped out my Circular Polarizing Filter (CPL) to try to get the sky a little more blue, so I zoomed full wide and shot the below. When I first saw the photo on the PC it was rather OK, but when I tried to process it using ACDSee RAW processor, I was surprised to see mechanical lens vignetting (dark around the four corners of the photo). It turns out that the different processor will interpret .RW2 data differently and produces different results.

The SilkyPix RAW processor somehow reduces lens vignetting through software and actually produces very little lens vignetting. It also gives very natural colors, more bluer skies.

The cons is that it's not the easiest to use piece of software.

Note: The supplied PhotoFunStudio viewer, despite inability to process raw files, still manage to render the photo close to what you'll see in SilkyPix.

ACDSee RAW processor simply produces much more vignetting. The whole photo is also a little brighter.

Adobe DNG converter first converts .RW2 files into .DNG file which amounts to about 3 times the size of the .RW2 file. Since a .RW2 file is about 12MB, the .DNG file is about 36MB.

The results produced very little vignetting but slightly washed out colors, with the whole photo brighter on the whole.

After comparing all 3 photos, which raw processor will I use?

  • I will avoid the Adobe DNG route since it involves creating another huge file without major benefits.
  • I will always have a look at all raw photo using PhotoFunStudio and only when necessary, use SilkyPix.
  • If ACDRaw is not giving me problems, I'll stick with it since it's the easiest to use.