Compare the RAW output to the default (best quality) JPG files:
Here you can see the fairly dramatic distortion correction applied in-camera. When this is combined with the over-sharpening it creates halos around all hard edges like the branches in this example. You can see this in the 100% crop below.
In the first release, some RAW images were coming out as a scrambled mess but this doesn’t seem to be a problem for me with the latest firmware.
Here’s a quick run through of what the action does and how you can edit things for a different look.
Find an image. The action will brighten things up considerably so it’s best to start with an image without too many light areas and with some nice colour. I’m using an old photo I took.
Resize the image. The image quality doesn’t really matter as it will be blurred beyond recognition. We’ll resize it a bit larger than the final crop (which will be 1920x1080px). This is because we’re using the motion blur filter which can leave some ugly artifacts near the borders, so we’ll crop them off.
Next we’ll run a Crystallize filter over the image. This step defines the amount of detail you’ll get in the final image. Larger crystals will make for a less detailed wallpaper while smaller crystals will create a lot of detail. In the action it is set to 50px which is a nice medium.
Motion blur is the next step. First we’ll duplicate the layer and apply a motion blur going 45° at 400px. Feel free to adjust the length of the blur for more or less detail in the final image.
Another motion blur but on the original layer and going the opposite direction: -45°. With the top layer set to the “Darken” blend mode, it should create a nice flat criss-cross pattern.
The criss-cross pattern looks a bit sharp so we’ll round off the corners a bit – go to the Filter Gallery and choose “Paint Daubs“. These settings keep things subtle but nicely rounded.
Next we’ll crop the canvas down to 1920x1080px and apply the Maximum filter (Filter > Other > Maximum). Set to 40px and Preserve “Roundness” it should make a nice bokeh-style blur out of the image. For a bit of extra sharpness, we’ll duplicate this and apply a High Pass filter, then set the layer to “Soft Light” blend mode.
Finally, with the layer to which you applied the Maximum filter selected, set the blend mode to “Screen”. This will brighten up the image and blend it in with the background grid. If that is too bright, try scrolling through the other blend modes to see what looks best.
To finish it off, I have applied some extra contrast and some Vintage Colours with Curves.
The problem with this is that you need to have all your photos in on folder, which I didn’t have. Rather than spend ages going through each folder and finding the photo I had chosen for that day, I just downloaded mine from Flickr. Since I had them all uploaded in one set and all named with their correct numbers, this seemed like it would be the easiest method. Continue reading →
A few months ago I was given a DVD with scanned images of my great-grandfather’s photos from the 1930s – 1960s. I was looking through them and this photo seemed particularly interesting.
A lot of the pictures are family photos or travel shots, but this was just an ordinary street. A candid snap-shot of a different era. I always like this kind of historical photo.
The photos on the DVD weren’t in any particular order, so I had no idea where this place was. I knew my great-grandfather had taken a lot of the photos while travelling from England to Australia by ship and had stopped off in Europe, Africa and India along the way. I had a feeling the photo was taken in South Africa but I wasn’t positive.
Zooming in and reading the signs revealed some clues to the location. The mixture of English and Dutch-looking text confirmed that it was South Africa.
One of the clearest signs says “Waldorf Cafe”, so I tried searching for a Waldorf Cafe in South Africa. There were a few hits, but looking at Street View, they didn’t match. This did lead me to discover that Street View was actually available to a lot of South Africa, which boosted my hope of finding this location, based on a single 50 year old photo.
Next I tried searching other words that I could see, thinking they might be the town name. “Gebou” was next, but that turned out to just be the Afrikaans word for “Building” (thanks Google Translate).
Finally, there was the small, blurry sign for the hotel. I thought it said “Barys Hotel” so I searched for that in South Africa with no luck. Then I noticed the word “Pary” half cut off on the right side of the frame and realised that is probably what the sign said.
This was a big help. Parys turned out to be a city in South Africa. I started searching for hotels in Parys, which returned 3 results – all of them tiny buildings and in fairly remote looking places. Parys isn’t large, but looking through Street View one street at a time wasn’t practical. I needed to find a main street.
Looking at the layout, I noticed a small section of fairly dense streets (in the centre of the image above), and decided to go in for a look. Immediately this looked familiar and after looking through a couple of intersections, I had found something that looked very close.
Zooming in and studying the details confirmed that this was it! While the buildings on the street seem to have been remodeled significantly, the hotel in the background is largely unchanged. Comparing the distinctive roof shape is what clinched it for me.
Compare the original to the street view image.
I’m surprised partly by the fact that I was able to find this location, based on a single photo and minimal clues. But mostly I am impressed with the technology freely available to us, that allows me – on a whim – to research a photo, find its location, then lets me look through current photos of an entire city to pin-point the exact location. That is amazing.
Being able to look through my great-grandfather’s photos, tracing the route he took, seeing the places he stayed, being able to virtually walk down the same streets, really brings the history alive.