Nikon P5100 image formats

I was playing about with the image-size options on the Nikon P5100 yesterday and took a couple of shots with the image parameters set to produce a 16:9 aspect ratio image. The pixel dimensions are 3968×2232 (8,856,576 pixels) as against the 4000×3000 (12,000,000 pixels) 4:3 aspect ratio, maximum image size of the camera.

I like the 16:9 letterbox format. I think, however, that the square format is my favourite format, and the Nikon P5100 offers that as well at 2992×2992 pixels.

And it also offers a 3:2 format at 3984×2656 pixels (10,581,584 pixels), which means I can keep to the same format as my Nikon D200 if I wish.

Ah yes, choice. One of the problems with choice is not remembering to change the settings. Which is what happened today when I took a shot of some furniture.

As it happened, the format probably suited the shot, but it was not until I opened the shot in Photoshop that I noticed the format was not square, nor 4:3, nor 3:2, but the long letterbox shape of 16:9.

I put failure to see the aspect ratio down to the fact that I only had my long distance glasses with me, and could not see the LCD screen clearly. Ah well, any excuse.

Gustav Klimt
I think a lot of people are familiar with the work of Gustav Klimt, even if not everyone knows the name of the artist.

But it wasn’t until I saw an exhibition of his work recently at the Tate Liverpool, that I learned that as well as having a vivid imagination and a liberated vision of life, he could also paint. By which I mean that he could really paint, as in this portrait below.

Before seeing this I kind of suspected that perhaps he hid his lack of technical ability under a show of style. But with this portrait he shows he could paint.

Klimt belonged to the Secession, a group of artists and craftsmen who sought to do something similar to the Arts and Crafts Movement in England, namely to integrate all facets of life with the higher aspirations of man, free from the forces of faceless mechanization and degradation.

These pieces of furniture were designed and built by Josef Hoffman, a close friend of Klimt’s and a member of the Secession.

Klimt’s paintings always tell a story that cherishes freedom and acknowledges the procession of life. The furniture doesn’t do it for me. It seems a little stiff and bourgeoise. Maybe there is a smile in the chair if I look hard. Ah, maybe the table has a smile too.

But to get back to image formats. I had the camera set to 16:9 and this is what it produced.

Composite shots with the NIKON P5100

One of the nice things you can do with the P5100 is choose from a list of image sizes, from the largest 4000×3000 pixels down to 1 megapixel and beyond (for TV) as well as square format and 16:9 letterbox format.

The square format appeals to me, as does the ability to put a black keyline around the shot after it has been taken. It looks very attractive.

But the appeal of smaller image sizes comes into its own with composite shots. Composite shots – called Photomerge in Photoshop, are made by taking a number of shots dotted around a large subject, making sure to cover every part of it and even beyond its boundaries, and then using the photomerge function in Photoshop (file > automate > photomerge) to merge them into one composite image.

And therein lies the potential for a problem. Because if I take twenty shots of a building and each shot is 12 megapixels, and then ask Photoshop to merge them and blend them into one image, well that is a lot of images and a lot of processing power needed to deal with it. I have produced images with a Macbook Pro that at some stages in the photomerge process are over 1.2GB in file size.

Hence the attraction of using 5 megapixel images to build up the picture rather than the full 12 megapixel ones.

Photomerge is a very powerful tool that deals with differences in exposure in the shots taken around an image very well. I have tried using the Manual setting but Aperture Priority produces good results, even when some individual shots seem dark (such as is caused by strong backlighting) when seen in the LCD when taking the shot.

This building is opposite the railway station in Leeds, England and it extracts lots of drama out of a setting that is not that auspicious.

Auto Color in Photoshop CS3

If you haven’t clicked on Auto levels or Auto Color in Photoshop CS3 when you are processing images then I recommend you do.

When I am processing shots in Photoshop CS3 I often click on Auto Levels or Auto Color (Image > Adjust > Auto Color) to see that the effect is, and quite often I’m surprised at the result Auto Color produces.

It’s not a question of whether I like the result but rather, than I am surprised at what a powerful tool it is. It reminds me of the color recovery capabilities in scanning old, faded color photographs. The results are often nothing short of amazing.

I clicked on Auto Color when I was processing this shot, but it took all the yellow out of the background I had carefully put in, and whilst it opened up the shot, it was not what I was looking for. This shot of irises is pasted over a shot of a sheet of art paper I had soaked in coffee and let dry.

I am building up a small collections of backgrounds over which to lay photographs.