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Master of Photography on Sky Arts

Master of Photography on Sky Arts

For the past two years on Sky Arts, the Master of Photography series has run in association Leica cameras. Last year there was an Irish interest in the series with Molly Keane involved. It is a very good show if you are interested in photography. I have another blog, a photography blog which I update with my shots. I would have loved to been involved in series 2 of Master of Photography, so that’s why I entered. 

I decided to apply for Master of Photography again this year. Last year I applied but I felt my shots lacked any punch – as they were all landscapes. One of the questions a judge on the show posed was, “so what?”. Therefore, when you take a photo you should ask “so what?”. Does it engage the viewer and does it tell a story? I am hoping my submission this year is a bit more effective.

As I watched series 2 of the program I had ideas of my own of what could be shot etc. I felt that watching series three of Master of Photography without even trying to enter would be very “sure, what’s the point”. There is a good saying “you miss every shot you don’t take” – similar to “if you’re not in, you can’t win”.

So who knows, if the judges like my submissions they may decide to include in in series three of Master of Photography. Only time will tell…

 

Update – Jan 2018

Unfortunately, I got the “Thanks but no thanks” email back. Maybe next year! I know for a fact that my shot selection was my main issue and I have lots of lovely pictures but few of the style they look for, So perhaps I need to push myself further in this regard, and do more street and studio work! I know there are certain things which I need to work on – so perhaps series 4 of the competition might be a runner.

Update to my photo blog shanemcdonald.me

Update to my photo blog shanemcdonald.me

I have been running a photo blog since 2010 on www.shanemcdonald.me .Over the past 3 years, I have not given it as much attention as I did at the start. With this in mind, I have just redesigned the whole layout of the site.

New Photo Blog additions

Firstly the homepage is a full-screen photo. This is important to show off my photos. For years I hated the fact that the photos were not as big as they could be. The front page also scrolls to give more information about the photo blog and my photography.

The blog pages are a bit nicer to read now. I stripped out a lot of widgets which added little to the user experience. The next step for the blog pages is to increase the content. I hope to have a weekly post now for this photoblog section.

The Instagram section is back up and running. A previous plugin stopped working and no longer displayed my @shanesphoto Instagram feed. Not it looks a lot better and pulls live images from my Instagram.

Photo Blog Design Challenges

One of the problems I had when I first redesigned the site was the size. Google rated it as zero on the mobile-friendly grader. There were far too many requests and the images were too large.

By adding some caching software, minifying plugins and an image optimiser the site was suddenly rated a lot better. It is now at an acceptable rating on Google but some extra tweaks in September should see it improve further.

Future Improvements

I hope to add a new gallery and some other features to further enhance the site. I have a lot of photos not uploaded so there’s plenty of content to come. The site has done very well for me in the last year and in October 2018, Shane McDonald Photography blog won a Silver Blog Award at the Blog Awards Ireland which were held in Dublin on 25th October 2018. I hope to add some new posts to the website very soon, as I recently did some food photography for Arcane chocolates in Dublin who make some of the Best Irish Chocolates.

If you wish to view the new photography site it is at www.shanemcdonald.me

 

PhotoSketch can Montage a Photo Automatically

Students in China have proposed that a technology called PhotoSketch can create an Internet image montage from other photos. The project from 5 Chinese Computer Science and Technology students at Tsinghua University and the National University of Singapore say that their PhotoSketch research paper can create a unique photo using other photos.

All you have to do to create your PhotoSketch is:

1) Create an outline of the figures you want in your photo, e.g. an Airplane, Bird, and a Sunset

2) Create and add labels for each of the outlined items in step 1, as well as for the photo background.

3) The PhotoSketch system will then search for web images that match your outline.

PhotoSketch will then combine them into a Photo Montage. Apparently, the initial results for the PhotoSketch Demo are something beyond what any current automated tool can provide. The Abstract of the system reads as follows; “We present a system that composes a realistic picture from a simple freehand sketch annotated with text labels. The composed picture is generated by seamlessly stitching several photographs in agreement with the sketch and text labels; these are found by searching the Internet. Although online image search generates many inappropriate results, our system is able to automatically select suitable photographs to generate a high-quality composition, using a filtering scheme to exclude undesirable images. We also provide a novel image blending algorithm to allow seamless image composition. Each blending result is given a numeric score, allowing us to find an optimal combination of discovered images. Experimental results show the method is very successful; we also evaluate our system using the results from two user studies.” – Tao Chen, Ming-Ming Cheng, Ping Tan, Ariel Shamir, Shi-Min Hu, (Department of Computer Science and Technology, Tsinghua University & National University of Singapore) The students at T.U and N.U.S have results from a PhotoSketch Demo: Visit http://cg.cs.tsinghua.edu.cn/montage/main.htm for details

 

 

The Joys of HDR Photography – Watch out for the HDR Hole

The Joys of HDR Photography – Watch out for the HDR Hole

HDR Photography

I have just started experimenting with HDR photography. For those who don’t know what this is, it stands for High Dynamic Range. Although I have been interested in photography for quite a while, I never heard of this until I joined the Carrick Camera Club. I heard the acronym but initially thought it was for some sort of Hard Disk Recorder. But beware – watch out for their HDR hole. The HDR Hole refers to people who HDR everything! I have seen some photographers using HDR even on portraits, which makes people’s faces look far too stark. One photo of a child in HDR was more Friday13th than a nice photo of a child. 

RTFM

I have a Fuji S7000 and in fully manual mode, I found the auto-bracketing setup … but only when I went looking for it. I had never read the manual in full, and if I did come across the auto bracketing setup, I probably didn’t know what it was used for. Having seen some photos on Flickr that did use HDR, I was unaware that this technique had been used, and started blaming the camera. I was going to switch to a Canon D450 or similar, but I think I will stick with the Fuji for a while longer. On my Canon DSLR, I have the option to shoot RAW. If you want to use HDR, I fully recommend shooting all your photos in RAW. RAW photos don’t suffer from the same problems that JPGs have if you try to adjust the exposure, highlights, or shadows.

First Attempts

My First HDR attempts are not bad and these can be seen on my Flickr Account – I have included a nice widget that links nicely to my Flickr photos, so please feel free to have a look. I have worked on HDR for a while and I can see where there is a use for it but at the same time you need to use it correctly.


Get this widget at roytanck.com