The Witless Clunkery of a Third-Rate Mind

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Some HDR Experiments

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, and it's a type of photography where you take 3 or more exposures of a scene, (one underexposed, one normal, and one overexposed) and then feed the images into a computer which correlates the images and optimizes the contrast and colour. You can play around with the results to get really artistic if you want, (see below - boosting colours, getting almost surrealistic effects) but even the basic output is a picture which has a much higher dynamic range than most photos and so comes closer to capturing an image the way our eye sees it (keep in mind that the brain does a tremendous amount of image processing and enhancement of the limited signals it gets from the eye).

Anyway, I downloaded a trial version of Photomatix, and have taken a few HDR shots just for fun. Since it's a trial version, it leaves a watermark on the photo, but beggars can't be choosers.

Here are a few shots I've done recently. Some of them worked better than others. Since I don't really know what I'm doing, using the program is kind of unpredictable, and it's really not 100% What-you-see-is-what-you-get. Also, I didn't use a tripod with any of them, so they're a bit blurry up close, but overall I was pretty pleased with the results.

Here's a shot of Beppu tower. I like the way this one turned out. The clouds look really nice.

Even a plain old street scene like this looks warmer and more vibrant. (Also Beppu.)

I was a bit disappointed with the way this one worked out. I thought I could make the rainbow
really stand out somehow. Anyway, it captured the way the sky looked that day, despite introducing some
weird edge effects (the sky seems to "pucker" around the wires somehow).

I shot this one from the 45th floor of the Tokyo Government offices today.

This one looked much better on my computer screen before I generated the JPEG output, but
it's not so bad. I like the sky and the glow from the street signs, which is what I was going for.
This one is just a shot from Minami Kashiwa station.

If you want to see more (and better) HDR photos of Tokyo, click here. Keep in mind that they're photos ... some of them look like purely computer-generated images!

Monday, February 11, 2008


Hi! I've moved, and now I'm living in Kashiwa. Is it stupid to publish my address on here? Probably, but here goes:

202 Leopalace TSD Minami Kashiwa,
41-1 Imayakami-cho, Kashiwa
Chiba 277-0074 Japan

It was really sad to say goodbye to my friends in Beppu, but I hope that I'll be back there soon.

In the meantime, it is good/weird to be back in Kashiwa, where I lived 3 years ago. Good because I am getting to revisit some places I used to know, but a little bit weird because I never expected to live here again!

My apartment is okay, but one of the older Leopalaces. I'm pretty familiar with all the various Leopalace configurations, and I must say they are getting more liveable as they go along. In other words, newer is better! Unfortunately, being in an older apartment means that I am living in a large "box" with almost no shelf space or furniture. This means that I'm going to have to waste some money on buying furniture, which I am going to have to either throw out, or pack up and move in a couple months (depending on how much I want to keep it, how expensive it was, and how hard it is to move). I'm currently looking for a desk and chair of the "easy to assemble/dissemble Ikea variety". I'm also looking for a bookshelf, I think. I was lucky to find some super-cheap ones from the home store when I was in Beppu before.

I also have to go through the frustrating experience of re-starting iaido and jodo training with teachers who teach the same "basic" thing but in a slightly different way. This happens every time I move and start with a diffrerent teacher. It's not that what they are teaching is really that different, just that everyone has a particular way of teaching, and set of things they think are important. The outcome, however, is that they will almost certainly look at me and say, "You're doing [this] wrong" whereas my old teacher wouldn't have much of a problem with it.

I start work tomorrow (today, Monday, was a national holiday) so I'm looking forward to that. One of the nice things about teaching is the human interraction, but one of the real downsides is that everything is a performance. It doesn't matter whether you're feeling happy, healthy and motivated, or not - you still have to get up and teach a class full of people. But working in the office, at least, is pretty low pressure. You just go in, get your instructions, and plug away at it. Kind of boring, compared to teaching, but a nice break, at least for a couple months. By April, I'm sure I'll be looking forward to getting back in the classroom!

Anyway, now you have my new address, so I will be expecting the presents to start rolling in soon. Or how about e-mails, at least?