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Reading list

I have not mentioned the books I was listening to while taking photos for a while now, so how about we take a look what I got through recently :)

It was a pleasant surprise when I noticed that there was a new book from one of my favorite series, the Threshold Universe by Peter Clines. The first two books 14 and the Fold deal with alternate realities. I read both 3-4 times as I enjoyed them a lot. The new book Death Moon, while still good, was a bit of a disappointment. Probably if it was not a part of the series, I would have liked it more. It just does not fit with the others. I have seen a description, calling it zombies on the moon, and that really fits.

From the fiction genre, I also read Solitude by Dean M. Cole. It’s only the first part in a series, but it was intriguing enough for me to want to read the next one. It’s something like a combination of the movie Gravity with the last man on Earth :).

In the non-fiction part, the last book I listened to was Humble Pi: A Comedy of Maths Errors by Matt Parker. I used to study math a lot at university, and I still have a bit of interest in it. Because of that, this was quite enjoyable. But probably even for those that don’t like math would be interesting to read how really small errors can have huge consequences. Other than that, I read again Bad Astronomy by Philip Plait. Similar to the other book, this one is about the bad portrayal of astronomy in media like movies and tv. Another really entertaining book, that I have already read a few times, and will do again.

Not sure yet what book I will read next, as there are so many too choose from, but will mention them in a post sooner or later.

One almost sunny day in Bratislava

I call this photo the almost sunny day, as if you look to the right part of it, you can see it’s raining in the distance. And it has been raining in Bratislava for most of the last two weeks. I took this photo on Friday, and while it looks sunny, I got rained on a few times that day.

This is a two shot panorama, each shot from two exposures. Blended and merged in Photoshop.

One almost sunny day in Bratislava

And here are a few details:

One almost sunny day in Bratislava

Passing clouds over Bratislava

I did not manage to post an update yesterday, as I got home quite late. But there is a new one today, with a photo I took yesterday :)

The weather was all over the place in Bratislava yesterday. It was cloudy, sunny, raining and it changed every few minutes. And it was also quite windy a bit higher up. So the clouds moved really fast. Of course, that immediately brought a thought of long exposure to my mind, and I took some. As this is the view from the new Old bridge in Bratislava, I had to retake the shots a few times. The passing trams cam make the bridge shake, and while it was not a big problem in such a long exposure, I still did not like it.

This photo is a panorama from two shots, each one from a single exposure. I used the 11 stop VFFOTO filter here to push the exposure up to a 60 second one (with F14 and ISO 50). Combined and edited in Photoshop.

Passing clouds over Bratislava, Slovakia

And here are a few details:

Passing clouds over Bratislava

Topaz Gigapixel AI

I wrote about Topaz Gigapixel AI before. It’s an application that you can use to enlarge your photo up to really huge sizes. And it’s pretty good at it. You can see my test examples in the article here, together with more explanation on this application. But while I was playing around with it, I was thinking, can’t this be used also for something else? Like oversampling? And today I will show you what I got.

Topaz Gigapixel AI

Enhancing clarity using Topaz Gigapixel AI

You probably already heard of oversampling while referring to some mobile phone cameras. It’s a process where the camera takes a high megapixel photo, which is then downscaled to the final resolution it provides. So for instance, to create a good clarity 12Mpix photo, the mobile phone takes a 48Mpix photo that is then resized. The results are usually much clearer and sharper than just taking the 12Mpix photo from the start.

And here is where Topaz Gigapixel AI comes in. What if I used it to upscale an image to something huge, and then downscaled it back to the original size. Would I get a similar result? Would it be worth it? And from me writing this article, you probably deduced the answer.

The results are really nice. Not only they are sharper, have more clarity, but even the noise is reduced. The details stand out more and overall there is more definition in the photos. It’s a bit longer process than just using sharpening, but the results are also a bit different.

Let’s look at a few examples. For all of these, I took the full-size JPG, enlarged it to the 6x size (32000px width as maximum, as that’s the limit of JPG file) using Topaz Gigapixel AI and then resized again using Photoshop to the original size. I did try downscaling again using the Gigapixel AI but it took longer, and I preferred the Photoshop result as it was a tiny bit sharper.

The left photo is the original JPG, the right is the oversampled one. All images were taken at 100% zoom.

Enhancing clarity using Topaz Gigapixel AI
Enhancing clarity using Topaz Gigapixel AI
Enhancing clarity using Topaz Gigapixel AI
Enhancing clarity using Topaz Gigapixel AI
Enhancing clarity using Topaz Gigapixel AI
Enhancing clarity using Topaz Gigapixel AI
Enhancing clarity using Topaz Gigapixel AI

Overall, I think in all the examples, the clarity and definition were enhanced, and the details just stand out more. Not yet sure if this could be used as a replacement for sharpening or something like a details enhancer. But anyway, it’s an interesting use for this application, and if you already got it for the upscaling feature, you can try also this process.

There is a 30 day trial available on the Topaz labs website, so you can get it now and give a try.

Colorful bicycle in Amsterdam

I like to use bicycles as foreground elements in my Amsterdam photos. There are so many there and they just fit the city so much. And if I find a nice one, the better. So when I have seen this very colorful bicycle, I knew I wanted to use it in a photo.

This is a two shot vertorama. The bottom part made from a single photo, the top from two. I needed the second, darker one to get rid of some overexposed light in the background.

Colorful bicycle in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Innorel

In my article on the Innorel RT85C tripod, I mentioned that I also got the Innorel PW50 table tripod/monopod base with it. At that time I did not write anything about it, as it was not yet delivered. But it arrived a few days later and today I will share my thought on it with you.

Innorel PW50 table tripod & monopod base

The Innorel PW50 can be used as a small tripod, or as a monopod base. It’s well made, build completely from metal with rubber on the end of the feet. It can be collapsed in both directions, so it can be put into a small compact state. There is a 3/8″ to 1/4″ adapter included, but by using it the tripod gets taller.

Innorel PW50 table tripod
Innorel PW50 table tripod

The legs lock into two positions, the lower will make the tripod 9cm in height (when without the adapter) and the taller will be 19cm (also without the adapter). The legs snap into place easily and in both configurations, the tripod feels solid. The manufacturer declares the weight limit at 10kg.

Innorel PW50 table tripod
Innorel PW50 table tripod

I tried it with a smaller and also a bigger camera. In both situations the tripod and also the ball head held fine. There is no slit on the side of the ball head, so you can’t put a camera vertically if you don’t have an L-bracket. This is not really a problem with a DSLR, as it’s big to rotate anyway, but if you want to do a vertical shot with a smaller camera, this is not the tripod for you. You also can’t point the camera up by more than about 45%.

Innorel PW50 table tripod
Innorel PW50 table tripod

The 3/8″ screw is quite long, probably because it’s also used as a monopod base. It makes attaching a plate clamp a bit problematic. For all I have, the screw goes through and mostly obstructs the quick release plate. Of course, you can use the 1/4″ adapter, and then another 1/4″ to 3/8″ adapter on the plate clamp, but that makes the tripod taller and less stable. Luckily for me, if I use the L bracket, the screw is not in the way.

Innorel PW50 table tripod

When you remove the rubber foot from the monopod part of the Innorel RT85C tripod, you can attach the PW50 as a monopod base. It has a rubber foot on it, so you can keep it on even collapsed. It collapses around the monopod, so it does not add much bulk to it. The tripod feels stable when in the fully opened state, as the base of 34cm diameter is quite big.

Innorel PW50 table tripod
Innorel PW50 table tripod

Overall I’m quite pleased. It feels well made, sturdy and stable. I got it mostly to be able to take photos from really low positions and in places where I can’t use the big tripod. And for both this will work for me perfectly. I found only two issues. The long screw can be fixed by using a 3/8″ nut on it, so shortening it. The no side slit can be partially fixed with an L-bracket. But there will be situations where it will be limiting. Still, taking into account the price you can get this for, this is a well-made table tripod for a really good price.

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