Other Skies

October 7th, 2011 § 0

Wandering in Bratislava a few moments this afternoon, this umbrella and her hair caught my eye.

other skies
other skies

Did the end of summer have to come so sudden and so soon?

The American Indians measured years in summers. An infinite wisdom.

 

MAK Nite 2010: Herman Fink Lamps

September 22nd, 2010 § 0

Dropped by MAK Nite 2010 to see my friend Herman Fink's exhibition of lamps. Here's some photos.

Herman Fink two lamps at MAK nite
Herman Fink two lamps at MAK nite
Herman Fink vertical lamp
Herman Fink vertical lamp
Herman Fink pole lamp DJ ART PARTY VIENNA
Herman Fink pole lamp DJ ART PARTY VIENNA
Herman Fink two lamps at MAK nite 1
Herman Fink two lamps at MAK nite 1
Herman Fink closeup triple lamp
Herman Fink closeup triple lamp
Artist Herman Fink with one of his lamps
Artist Herman Fink with one of his lamps

Tanz Baby at Melt

September 19th, 2010 § 1

Another good concert in the fabulous  Melt series from Pazit . The Melt series in the Austellungsraum at 23 Gumpfendorferstrasse is the most vibrant concert series in Vienna now for electronic and experimental music. Pazit focuses usually on strong singer/songwriters and doesn't really limit the series too much by genre. In the current series of concerts, there's been real experimental, along with Falco revival Tanz Baby and even almost reggae.

Tanz Baby is a little bit kitsch with David Kleinl going somewhat over the top in his ersatz Falco persona. But like the original Falco, Tanz Baby is playful and fun. Everyone there had a great time.

Here are some photos. 

tanz baby david kleinl bubbles
tanz baby david kleinl bubbles 
tanz baby david kleinl
tanz baby david kleinl

Tanz Baby at Melt Continues »

Neue Donau: World’s Largest Swimming Pool

September 12th, 2010 § 0

I've been swimming a lot in the Neue Donau in September. It's the most fabulous outdoor swimming pool you can imagine. As the weather gets colder, the water actually gets cleaner. There's nothing like swimming out in the open air as far as the eye can see.

 

neue donau worlds largest swimming pool
neue donau worlds largest swimming pool

 

vienna new city from donauinsel
vienna new city from donauinsel

I purchased a half wetsuit on sale on a lark. It's been great. I've worn it half a dozen times already. You can still swim in the Neue Donau in September but for sport swimming this year (more than 15 minutes) you need a wet suit most days.

 

 

 

 

Paolo Fresu and Ralph Towner at Porgy & Bess: Chiaroscuro tour

March 2nd, 2010 § 0

Superb trumpet play, along with quiet mastery on the guitar. Your ears are there for Paolo Fresu but Ralph Towner makes it all possible.

I bought the Chiaroscuro CD while I was there. Surprisingly the CD is just a shadow of how Fresu and Towner play live together. This is one rare occasion where the live performance clearly outranks what the musicians can do in the studio. I guess you had to be there.

Porgy & Bess artistic director Christoph Huber was very animated after the show as well. It was one of the top five concerts I’ve ever attended there in five years.

Paolo Fresu on trumpet 3
Paolo Fresu on trumpet
Paolo Fresu on trumpet 2
Paolo Fresu on trumpet
Paolo Fresu on trumpet
Paolo Fresu on trumpet

Paolo Fresu and Ralph Towner at Porgy & Bess: Chiaroscuro tour Continues »

Elio Gervasi – Geckos: The Extraordinary Ordinary

February 11th, 2010 § 1

Elio Gervasi is the great master of movement among the Vienna choreographers. His work is usually musical, the light design exquisite and artistic direction provoking. Gervasi has a talent to take simple daily objects and make them special.

Tanz Company Gervasi Geckos Kenia Bernai Gonzales Leoni Wahl
Tanz Company Gervasi Geckos Kenia Bernai Gonzales Leoni Wahl

And so it is with Geckos.

Here we meet in the rehearsal hall on Laxenburgerstrasse. The ceilings are a bit lower than in a full theatre, the seating more limited. But no matter, Markus Schwarz’s light makes the space bigger, pouring light through blinds set up between a side room and the main rehearsal space.

Leoni Wahl Salvatore la Ferla
Leoni Wahl Salvatore la Ferla

The décor is a single red armchair which serves as a place for lovers to sit together, for one lover to miss the absent one and for another as a cliff from which she considers self-destruction.

Tanz Company Gervasi Geckos Leoni Wahl psychological tightrope
Tanz Company Gervasi Geckos Leoni Wahl psychological tightrope

Gervasi is working with three dancers here, all excellent. The long and handsome Italian Salvatore la Ferla, the compact Kenia Bernai Gonzales and longtime muse Leoni Wahl.

Elio Gervasi – Geckos: The Extraordinary Ordinary Continues »

Kaffeesiederball 2010 | Nokia N97 Mini High ISO Photos

February 11th, 2010 § 1

Warning: schizophrenic weblog post on the way.

Kaffeesiederball 2010 Nokia N97 Mini high ISO 01
Kaffeesiederball 2010 Nokia N97 Mini high ISO 01

The Kaffeesiederball together with the Opernball are Vienna’s two best balls. It’s a very close call which is better. I’d say the Kaffeesiederball with its 15 live orchestras is more fun, while the Opernball is more glamourous. But the Opernball is fun too, and Kaffeesiederball has glam aplenty. The contrast between both and banal balls like the Artztball (Physicians’ Ball) are striking.

Kaffeesiederball 2010 Nokia N97 Mini high ISO 02
Kaffeesiederball 2010 Nokia N97 Mini high ISO 02

Usually I have some great shots of the Kaffeesiederball but due to an arm strain back at the Austrian Fashion Week which turned into RSI, I’m off the main camera with full lens setup except for special occasions. Quite nice as it means that I can enjoy evenings without trying to capture fleeing time through a lens. Just for fun for a few minutes in the middle of the evening I pulled out the Nokia N97 mini and tried some snaps with it. Definitely not a low-light camera, but I can see that if one caps ISO at 400, the pictures are not at all bad.

Kaffeesiederball 2010 | Nokia N97 Mini High ISO Photos Continues »

How Aperture 3 Will Make Your Photos Better: Curves

February 11th, 2010 § 4

I always liked the ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) development module. Lots of controls with curves applies at RAW level. After opening a RAW image with a curves adjustment, there was often not much too work left to be done on it to get a great image.

But when the first great Aperture-Lightroom wars broke out a few years ago, I found myself seduced by the great workflow in Aperture. You are always grading your images and can always improve them with a quick flick of a switch. I also had a terrible experience with trying to move a Lightroom library which flat out died on me. Aperture libraries were  more easily portable. I never cared for either Apple or Adobe’s attempts to get me to keep my images in their internal proprietary folders. Both companies quickly realised that photographers didn’t want their images locked away somewhere and so lightened up on the ingesting techniques.

So after losing ratings on a few thousand images in Lightroom, I ended up using Aperture and really enjoying the interface which was very similar to Final Cut Pro. Still almost every edit session I used Aperture I would be frustrated by the absence of curves. Sure I found ways to work around no curves by getting very good at manipulating Apple’s excellent exposure and enhance features. One could get very close to curves by working with exposure, black point and contrast. In an extreme case, I could always take an excursion to Photoshop.

But the absence of curves was always a wrench in speed and precision of editing. Curves are the single holy grail of subtle and powerful colour and tone editing. Just set your white balance and start working on your curves. By the time curves are set right, there should be very little left to do in a photograph, as long as you are staying in the realistic category.

Adobe knows the importance of curves too, which is why Adobe Photoshop Elements didn’t include curves at all until the latest version and why even now curves in PS Elements are crippled. Curves cannot be applied as an adjustment layer (i.e. non-reversible) like Levels, nor do you have direct control over the S curve. At $700 for Photoshop with $300 updates almost every year, working curves are a very expensive proposition with Adobe.

With Curves now in Aperture, there is a pro level alternative to Adobe and the Photoshop world. You can do all your development in Aperture and only need resort to a bitmap editor for minor tweaks. Workflow is much faster with non-destructive curves built right into Aperture.

Time for some show and tell. Here’s a couple of sample images to show you just how much curves can do for you.

Version one: developed using the Aperture 2’s Exposure and Enhance. Lots of issues with digital noise due to pushing too hard. I ended up having to make the left side of the picture too hot to get enough light on the dancer’s face.

aperture 2 no curves no dodge
aperture 2 no curves no dodge:
(dancers Salvatore La Ferla, Leoni Wahl, Kenia Bernal Gonzales
in choreographer Elio Gervasi’s Geckos, November 2009)

This picture has an exciting look but the middle dancer’s face is much too dark and there is a lot of noise on the wall in the other dancer’s shadow. The male dancer’s pants end up becoming the center of interest.

aperture 3 with curves dodge
aperture 3 with curves dodge

In Aperture 3, with a quick non-destructive dodge and burn, I am able to brighten the middle dancer’s face and cool off the male dancer’s pants. The curves allow me to improve contrast without turning the photo cartoony or generating large patches of image noise.

Apple Aperture Exposure Enhance
Apple Aperture Exposure Enhance

Curiously, the first result required a lot more tinkering. There are eight separate variables in play in the Exposure and Enhance panels to get close to the single intuitive panel of Curves.

Apple Aperture Curves
Apple Aperture Curves

Here’s another example. In this case the first image is the unprocessed RAW image (just use the M button for Master to see it). The second image is modified only with curves. Well not quite, I liked what I was seeing so I cheated a bit and added a quick vignette and burned the sky out behind the model to keep the center of focus on her eyes.

Canon 5D image unprocessed Apple Aperture
Canon 5D image unprocessed Apple Aperture

The unprocessed photo is attractive enough but pale and bled out. The sky is too bright and there is too much to distract from the model’s face. Her eyes and skin don’t have as much pop as one would wish.

Image after curves Apple Aperture
Image after curves Apple Aperture

Here’s how simple that fantastic effect in curves is, with just a big of vignette and burn to improve the core enriching contrast from curves.

Curves Vignette Burn Apple Aperture
Curves Vignette Burn Apple Aperture

How was performance in Aperture 3 on a Macbook Pro 17" 2.5 GHz with Nvidia 8600 512MB graphics card on a 30" monitor?

My photos were on an external FireWire 800 drive with the library kept on an internal 7200 RPM drive with 300 GB of free space. My library includes about 13,000 images and is 50 GB by itself, i.e. mid-size.

  • Throughout the import and upgrade process, terrible.
  • With full-size previews on, terrible.
  • With previews and the absolutely foolish Faces function* completely turned off (generated once at project import), great.

Apparently people who have the integrated graphics chips like the 9400 are suffering now. Typical Apple marketing tricks – stay away from the low end computers if you want to use their pro apps. If you want to save money buy the previous generation high end at end of line, as they will have to support the flagship computers for a few generations (those computers belong to their best customers).

Apple’s Aperture 3 can turbocharge your turnaround as you can get much better images much faster with curves than any other control. Unlike Adobe, pricing as usual with Apple software is very reasonable. $200 to join the game, $100 to continue if you’ve already been playing.

Additional Resources

For another take on Curves for natural light photographs and the new tools in Aperture be sure to watch Apple’s video interview with Chase Jarvis.


* Faces is a junky gadget and should not be included or even turned on. Most pictures do not show a face full front-on. And if you can’t recognise the faces in your own pictures, your problems are more serious than not having the latest version of Aperture. Time to see a senility doctor.