Fun with Polar Coordinates

20 04 2011

As a photographer, Photoshop is an integral part of my workflow. Most of my work on it is very simple.

Curves adjustments, sharpening and some dodging and burning.

Sometimes, it takes a bit more than that and I start using it like a power user. For example, I wanted to try and punch up an portrait I took in Sri Lanka over 4 years ago by emulating the work of Dragan.

Processed before and after

Processed before and after

This took about 10 minutes to get the right result I wanted and I am very impressed with it.

Photoshop has a ton of filters that you can use to create that certain look. Since it is also for designers, there are a bunch of filters that I just don’t use as a photographer. One of those is Polar Coordinates. What it does is alter the coordinates of the image from rectangular to polar. You can read the full description here. Here’s what the filter does to this photo:

On a gokart

On a gokart

This one has the filter set to Rectangular to Polar. Notice how it wraps the photo around a central point. More on that later.

Rectangular to Polar

Rectangular to Polar

The last example is set to Polar to Rectangular.

Polar to Rectangular

Polar to Rectangular

The second altered photo is completely unusable but the first, if the right side connected to the left side, it would make for a pretty funky looking photo. Then I got to thinking about panoramic photography.
So I tried it out and this is what I got after about 10 minutes of fiddling.

Panorama of Plaza Vieja in Havana using Polar Coordinates

Panorama of Plaza Vieja in Havana using Polar Coordinates

Looks pretty cool but it’s a bit uneven for me so I went and looked around for a more uniform panorama and found one from a recent trip to Phu Quoc, Vietnam.

Desert beach in Phu Quoc orb using Polar Coordinates

Desert beach in Phu Quoc orb using Polar Coordinates

Now that’s what I’m talking about!

A few tips if you want to try this. The image size has to be square. It will look wierd when you constrain the image but it will turn out in the end as the image will be restretched when the filter is applied. Also, make sure you flip the image vertically or what you get will be an image that turns in instead of out. Which is another photo in itself.

Hope you enjoyed reading this!

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Is it real or is it photoshopped?

16 03 2010

I was just on the lightstalkers website and came across this interesting blog entry.
In short, World Press Photo revoked a third place prize in Sport Features Stories category from Stepan Rudik for excessive digital manipulation. You can see the original and manipulated photo below (courtesy of wadelaube.com).

Comparison photos of Stepan Rudick

Comparison photos of Stepan Rudick


While I agree with WPP revoking the award, I don’t however agree with last years exclusion of Klavs Bo Christensen’s Haiti photos in a Danish Picture of the Year due to excessive color manipulation (photo courtesy of nppa.org).

Klavs retouched and untouched photos

Klavs retouched and untouched photos

Because of the retouching, the the Danish POY committee announced this:
“Photos submitted to Picture of The Year must be a truthful representation of whatever happened in front of the camera during exposure. You may post-process the images electronically in accordance with good practice. That is cropping, burning, dodging, converting to black and white as well as normal exposure and color correction, which preserves the image’s original expression. The Judges and exhibition committee reserve the right to see the original raw image files, raw tape, negatives and/or slides. In cases of doubt, the photographer can be pulled out of competition.”

Granted, when I first looked at the photo, I thought it was an HDR image gone awry but I still don’t feel that it was manipulated enough to disqualify.

Mainly because he used techniques on his computer that could still be used in a darkroom. For example, get a copy of War Photographer by Christian Frei. About three quarters into the doco, you watch James Natchwey work with a darkroom technician burn and dodge portions of a photo for an upcoming exhibition. That is considered acceptable behavior mainly to enhance the impact of the photo. Why not the same for digital files?





Shameless plug

16 02 2010

A multimedia piece that I adapted for the Global Post is online.

Check it out HERE.





Tilt/shift lens hack

10 02 2010

This is something I have done in the past but wanted to refine the design a bit.
Essentially, I took an old Medium Format lens and turned it onto a tilt/shift lens.
One of the great uses for this lens is to make everything look like a model. There are photoshop techniques out there that recreate this but its always better to do it outside of the computer anyways.
Lets leave that photoshop stuff to graphic designers….
And remember kids, always be wary of a photographer that say “I’ll fix it in photoshop” more than once a day.
No photoshop other than curves adjustment was made to these photos.

Construction at Gold Tower 42

Construction at Gold Tower 42

Independence Monument

Independence Monument





Touristy stuff

11 09 2009

One thing that I haven’t really done so far is blazed the tourist trail. We had a bit of time before lunch so got to check out the Tate Modern and walked around Parliament Square.

Millenium bridge at the Tate Modern

Millenium bridge at the Tate Modern

parliament square

parliament square





Hackney with the brethren

6 09 2009

Went to Hackney this afternoon to check out the Vietnamese community. So naturally, this means heading over to a restaurant to see how authentic the food is.
We ended up at Song Que which is a Zagat rated restaurant on Kingsland Road. Very nice. Had some mussels with black bean sauce, chili fried spare ribs and deep fried noodles with beef. Yum.
Its a good thing that we are walking like crazy or we would be gaining massive amounts of weight.

Green mussels in a black bean sauce at Song Que restaurant.

Green mussels in a black bean sauce at Song Que restaurant.





Borough Market

5 09 2009

Went to the Borough weekend market today. Possibly the best market I have ever been to. A great foodies market, I had some great fun taking photos.