Happy Valentine's Day

I have been working on the following concept all day: to combine two techiques to extend the digital image range.  One is call High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging and the other is Focus Stacking (FS).   

HDR imaging provides for greater dynamic light range than a typical digital sensor by recombining multiple images shot with everything constant except the shutter speed.  The base image is taken at the ideal exposure and then and equal number of exposures are taken below and above the base image shutter speed.  There is much written on this technique and I use Photomatix Pro software to recombine the images.

FS imaging allows one to obtain a greater depth of field by combining multiple images focused at different depths of an image (from front to back).  Even when one uses a small aperture, it is not always possible to have a large enough depth of field.

I will show four images.  All of the pictures were taken with the D800 and the 24-70mm f2.8 lens.  A tripod and release cord were used for all pictures.  Focusing was done manually using liveview.

First a single image as one might typically take and was taken at ISO 100, f9, 1.6 sec, 38mm.  If you click on the image, you can pull up a somewhat larger version.


The second image is an HDR image with the focus point about 1/2 the distance from front to the back of the flowers.  As one can see the light range is better, but the front flowers are out of focus.

1302140037-041 fused

The third image is a stack focused image using 5 different moving front to back focal points in the image.  In this image you can clearly see the both the front flowers and the back flowers are in focus, but the dynamic range of the light is not ideal with the back window a bit blown out.

Focus Stack Primary

And the fourth image is constructed from 5 HDR images with bracketing from -1.4 to +1.4 ev and each HDR image was focused in 5 increments from front to back of the flowers.  So the final image is a combination of 25 separate pictures.

Combined stacked plus HDR

It was fun to do this, but also lots of work.  But my Valentine is worth it!!

How will your pictures survive?

8mm film from 1956 converted to 1080p digital

In this blog I discuss two special projects that relate to the concept of the legacy of our pictures.  My family has 8mm film dating from 1949-1988.  It has been faithfully stored in a dry cool place (basements which have seriously flooded over the years), but has not been viewed for a very long time.  The project had two objectives: to convert the film to digital so that it could be readily viewed, and then to repackage it in DVD/Blu-ray disks to  distribute to all of the family members whom have an interest in seeing this history.  In some cases, what was on the film was unknown.

The first task was to identify a company that could scan the film and place it into a digital format.  This was tried once before, but the company I sent it to never did anything with it.  Fortunately, I got the test film back!  After much searching on the internet, the company Debenham Media Group or MyMovieTransfer was selected for a test drive after an email and phone conversation.  Three 3" reels, deemed unimportant, were sent to the company.  I had the digital files back in less than 2 weeks (right before Christmas) as 1080p files and the results were excellent.  The company was extremely easy to work with and professional.  Their website is a bit overwhelming, but with a bit of patience, I found it highly informative.  I highly recommend them if you have a similar project.

With a huge leap of faith and lots of anxiety, I decided to move forward with the larger project.  The next task was to generate an inventory of all of the films.  Some were in boxes, some in film development bags, some had annotations and some did not.  I placed the reels in sequential order as best as I could by date (year) and numbered them in ascending order.  There were a total of 109 3" reels plus a partially filled 6 inch reel!  To keep track, I generated a spreadsheet with the numbers and any text I saw associated with the reel.

Once the inventory was complete, I needed to decide how to ship them to Debenham Media Group.  Obviously, I would use FedEx or UPS and track the shipment,  but I did not want to send the film all in one shipment nor did I want to send in one shipment film from a particular time period.  I eventually decided to ship the film in four separate shipments (nothing magical about this number) and I took every fourth reel and put them in a plastic bag, sealed it and placed them in a box for shipment.  So I took reel 1, 5, 9, 13 and etc and placed them in one box.  I then took reel 2, 6, 10, 14 and etc and placed them in a box.  With this approach I able to disperse any particular time period over several different shipments.  In each box, I included the list of reels contained in it.

In one of the boxes, I included a 2TB Western Digital Passport Drive contained in its original packaging.  Over four days, I went to UPS and shipped one of the boxes of film.  Once Debenham received all the film, they reassembled them into the original sequence, cleaned the film, spliced them together into 4 longer films and converted them to digital 1080p files.  

All of the film was at Debenham on January 9 and I received back from them my drive with about 300GB of video files on February 1.  All of the segments have now been reviewed at a high level and I am very impressed with the results.  All of the clips have been backed up on a second drive and imported into Final Cut Pro X for editing.  Eventually, these will be burned to DVD/Blu-ray disks and distributed to various family members.

In summary: 109 plus 3" 8mm film reels, about 300GB of data and 6.5 hrs of movies.

In our digital world of photography and the millions of pictures taken daily on simple devices, such as our phones, one must wonder how many of those images will ever survive for our children and grandchildren to see.  This concept of legacy is of particular importance to me (for reasons I don't really understand) and I am a strong advovcate of getting prints done of important pictures as one of the best ways of securing future availability.  Perhaps a part of my motivation comes from a project I did a couple of years ago in which I scanned about 11,800 slides that my father took from the late 1940's until his death in the late '80's.  In this case I was converting hard copies into digital media to preserve their legacy and I describe the project in a little bit of detail on this site.  Those slides still exist in one location, but the digital copies reside at three different locations. 



Above is a picture from a recent trip that my wife and I took.  During this trip over 11 days, we took 3036 still pictures and 5 3/4 hrs of video.   At the moment this picture only exists in digital form on multiple hard drives (see my discussion on back up strategies)  My second recent project has been converting the best of the stills and video clips into a fusion document that brings together the video and stills into a single 'movie'.   This movie reduces the 11 day experience to about 2 hrs and will be burn to blu-ray disks.  Perhaps, some day one of children or grandkids will wonder what we were doing with our lives some 30-50 years ago and take out the disk and play it (assumes technology will allow for that possibility).  I will be posting these up in the few weeks (without music backgrounds).

In conclusion, when I think about the legacy of the images of our day, there are two very important threads:

1. Converting all the images (stills and video) from our past into forms (digital with multiple backups) that can be readily viewed today.  Examples of this include the conversion of my father's slides into high resolution TIFF files and my wife's 8mm film into 1080p .mov files that can be shared with others.

2. Converting our important digital images into some form of hard copy media, that is prints.

I hope some of this information will prove useful to your thought process as you think about how to preserve some of the most important resources for future generations to remember and learn about us. 

A© 2011-2018 by Steven Seelig, Chicago Photographer                          630-561-6581                                      e2photo@e2photo.net