Soooo I misread a thing.
And I was kind of wrong.
And I should be in bed.
Apparently NASA white balances Mars photos so that they can view rocks under earth-like lighting conditions. Earrrrth like. Not Marrrs like. This helps them figure out what kind of rocks they are because they can compare them easier. But Mars has stuff in the air that makes light funny and I guess because it is a different planet and stuff, it has different lighting conditions I’m just a bit of a dope for trying to understand things in the middle of the night. They actually have a color calibration device on the rover.
It even has a penny.
So I had to redo everything, fix the dynamic range and there you go. You, eyeballs, Mars, breathing device, comfy shoes.
I’m going to sleep. I get very upset when I’m wrong about stuff.
I was reading some more about how Mars images are processed. Apparently due to the lighting conditions on Mars, when you white balance, it will cause the sky to become too blue. It should remain more butterscotch. So I isolated the sky and corrected it. THIS is similar to how mars would look if you were there and had proper breathing equipment and comfy shoes because those rocks look sharp. For real this time.
NOTHING TO SEE HERE!
Mars. In true colour.
Just so you know, a lot of images of Mars which you’ll see have been manipulated. A lot of them have boosted contrast and saturation. So if you’ve ever wondered – images like this one are what Mars actually looks like.
The OP is correct in saying that NASA will monkey with their photos like nobody’s business. But this photo is not an accurate depiction of what Mars looks like. The person who stitched this together used the unprocessed jpeg files from the rover’s mastcam.
The mast camera on the rover is only 2 megapixels and has technology that is several years old. It was the most prudent choice for this mission, but it is not actually a wonderful camera. If you look at the histogram of the photos it takes. all of the tones are scrunched together in a small area. There are no deep blacks, no bright whites. Everything is a bit dull. Whereas the human eye can see almost twice the dynamic range of even the best cameras available. So you would actually need to boost the contrast a bit.
So what would Mars look like at this time of day in this location? I downloaded the original files myself and processed them properly to find out.
The top is the unprocessed version from above and the bottom is my edit which has the proper amount of contrast added. Since this is mid day sunlight, the colors do look a little washed out. I imagine Mars looks a lot more red during sunrise and twilight.
And just for fun, I also did a crazy “NASA style” edit.
If I were to guess, I’d say NASA does this because impressive, grandiose images help inspire politicians to give them funding. If you thrill them with the cosmos, perhaps they will be more prone to bankroll exploration.
If that is what it takes, NASA can certainly count on me to overprocess photos for them.
As cool as this rover is… we should be the ones on Mars right now.
Q:Hello my dear frogman. I am curious. What is your favorite Canon DSLR? I was considering getting the Rebel T5i. Would that be wise?
If you are going to be taking still images mostly, the T5i is a great entry level DSLR. In fact, I can confidently say that pretty much any Canon or Nikon DSLR will give you terrific images.
However, if you plan to do a lot of video as well, I think saving up a little longer and getting the Canon 70D might be the best option. It has a special autofocus technology that works with video. It can focus just as well as a camcorder, it can focus silently with STM lenses, plus it has a touch screen so you can actually point to the area you want in focus and it will adjust accordingly. Besides the video advantages, you also get 2 extra megapixels for still images and slightly better performance in low light.
Don’t get me wrong, the T5i still does great video and it is a great option if that’s all you can afford… but using manual focus takes a lot of practice and can be frustrating for those just starting out. And it will have excellent autofocus for stills, it is just the video that will be tricky.
If I were you, I might go to a local camera shop and try shooting video with manual focus and then try the 70D. That could give you an idea of whether or not the extra cost is worth it.
Q:I've tried scouring your archive for your post about speedlights/flashes, but I can't find it. For someone starting out with a "bang-for-your-buck" budget, what would you recommend? Thanks!
If this is your first flash I recommend you get one that has TTL metering and a swivel head. TTL (through the lens) or ETTL means your flash will figure out how much light it needs to add for you. This is especially helpful when you are in a dynamic situation where lighting conditions change from shot to shot. Like a wedding reception or kids playing. Manual flashes you have to figure out how much light to add on your own. Those are better for a studio setting. Since TTL flashes can do both auto and manual, I think they are more ideal for your first flash.
The swivel head is important because you will get much nicer images if you can bounce the light off a ceiling or wall. Straight on flash can look harsh and sterile.
As far as brands go…
If this flash will be used in a professional capacity, I would recommend getting a brand name flash. Meaning if you have a Canon camera, get a Canon flash. If you have a Nikon camera, get a Nikon flash. Matching the flash brand to the camera brand will ensure the most accurate metering and give you more reliability. They are less likely to fail than off brand flashes.
The actual model you get is of less concern. The more expensive the flash, the more power it has. Having a powerful flash is nice, but not a necessity. So I recommend getting the best one you can within your budget.
If this flash will be used for more personal work and reliability isn’t paramount, then you might consider third party flashes. I really like Yongnuo flashes. You can get a very powerful flash with most of the same features and decent metering for a lot less than a name brand flash. For instance, this one for Canon cameras is only $115. I do think the Yongnuos are fairly reliable, but if you are in the middle of a paid gig and your flash craps out, you are kinda screwed. That might not be a risk you are willing to take.
So if you are searching for flashes online I would put in “TTL [camera brand] flash”. That should bring up both name brand and third party flashes in your search.
The glue has set on his little foot. It seems to be holding well. I gave him a checkup and he seems to be doing well. The foot reattachment is a complete success. I need to name him though. I’m thinking Nigel.
Q:Hi there!... i have some problem... how do i do a proper clean of the sensor and the lenses??? thank you very much... your blog is awesome by the way...
As hard as we try not to get dust and gunk on our sensors, it eventually happens to everyone. To see if you have dust on your camera’s sensor, the best way to check is to take a picture of a bright clear sky at the smallest aperture you can. f/8 to f/22 would be sufficient. Put the file on your computer and view it at 100%. Scan around the image and look for little specs. You’ll want to do this BEFORE you do any sensor cleaning so you can identify the problem areas.
The first stage to sensor cleaning is to blow it.
Umm… with air.
I recommend this cool rocket ship air blaster thing. You’ll need to look in your camera’s manual to find the “mirror lockup” setting so you can expose the sensor. Then you want to hold the camera upside down and then blow the hell out of it with the rocket ship. The air will loosen the dust and gravity will allow it to fall out.
DO NOT USE COMPRESSED AIR. The propellant in compressed air cans is a liquid and if you hold it at the wrong angle that liquid will come out and you’re in trouble.
The next stage of sensor cleaning is a bit more drastic. If you aren’t comfortable messing with your sensor, I actually recommend just taking it to a local camera shop and having the pros do it.
However… there is a tool available that is fairly easy to use and very effective. In fact, I’m told Leica uses it to clean their sensors in the factory. It is a gel stick that you can just press lightly on your sensor and it will lift up dust and oil. Unfortunately it is hard to keep in stock and only one place sells it. You’ll need the stick and the sticky paper. On the product pages you can see videos of how the process works.
If you are not patient and you want to clean your sensor now, the products from Visible Dust are also very good.
I like the gel stick because it seems a bit more idiot proof.
Cleaning your lens is a bit less anxiety inducing. It’s important to use products that are made especially for lens cleaning. Lenses have special coatings on them and if you use the wrong product, you can remove the coating and mess up your lens.
There is a great product called the Lens Pen. It has a brush on one side for heavy dust and then a dry cleaning compound on the other side that removes oil and fingerprints. It’s cool because it is very compact and you can keep it in your bag or pocket.
If the lens pen doesn’t get the job done, then I move on to using lens wipes. I love these because they are sealed and one time use. Using a lens cloth over and over means that the dirt accumulates on the cloth and sometimes you are just adding dirt to your lens with the cloth. But these wipes have the cleaning solution and cloth combined, you use them once, and throw them away.
Q:Do you copyright your photos? I want to put some of my (amateur) photos up but I'm afraid that someone will claim them as their own. Any suggestions? Thanks
Copyright is a weird thing. It feels like something you should have to register with an official place and get a certificate and make super official. But in actuality all you really have to do is say “I COPYRIGHT THIS, BITCHES!” and you’re done.
Later on, if you actually have to protect your copyright, you will have to back it up with reasonable evidence. But I really do like the fact that you can just wink, do some finger guns, say it’s copyrighted, and go on about your day.
That said, what is the best way to copyright an image?
I prefer to do it in the metadata. Most digital cameras actually have a menu item where you can type in your name and info and it will tag every photo you take with your copyright. That means it will be baked into the file along with the date the picture was taken. If you need to protect your copyright at any point, that should be sufficient evidence.
My metadata reads “Benjamin Grelle Copyright 2014 thefrogman.me”
Having my web address allows a very easy way for folks to find me if they need to.
If your camera does not have this feature, pretty much any image editor will allow you to add this later on. Just google your image editor’s name and exif data or metadata and I’m sure some tutorials will pop up.
I know a lot of people are concerned about people stealing their photos. And it certainly does happen and it can be frustrating. But do not let that scare you from publishing your work. Post anything and everything that you are proud of. The benefits of publishing your work outweigh any concerns of theft. If you hide your photos from the world, what is the point of taking pictures?
People will put large obnoxious watermarks on their photos. They will only upload super tiny versions. They will disable right clicks on their website. They put all of this effort into keeping people from stealing their work. It’s not worth it. If someone really wants to steal something, it isn’t very effective either.
A small tasteful watermark, 1-2 megapixel resolution, and a copyright in the metadata would be a more reasonable way of publishing. If someone does steal your work, send them a cease and desist, and drink some calming tea.
The joy of sharing your work with others is unmatched. Publish your stuff.
Outtakes from my shoot with leonardwashopeful
I put some marbles on my LED video light.
Q:I scan a lot of my work but I'm currently working on some things that are too big to fit in my scanner do you have any tips for photographing artwork and photographing things behind glass ?
To get good photos of artwork you will need a few things.
- 2 identical lights or flashes
- Tripod (preferably with a level)
- 50mm lens
- White balance card
50mm lenses are known for having minimal distortion. Straight lines stay fairly straight. You can use a longer lens if you wish, but I wouldn’t go any shorter than 50mm. The Canon f/1.8 is almost distortion free and only $100.
It is vital that your artwork be perfectly parallel to your lens. A tripod with a level could come in handy to help you adjust this.
You must use two lights. One light straight on will produce glare. One light off to the side will cause uneven lighting. You need to place two identical lights on either side of your camera, both pointing in at 45 degree angles. You want the lights to overlap in the middle producing perfectly even light. This should also prevent any glare from glass, but you may need to play with the angles a bit.
If you are on a tight budget, you can try this with cheap work lights from the hardware store. If you have a little more to spend you could get two of these Neweer manual flashes and some radio triggers. Using manual flashes and triggers has a bit of a learning curve, but if you are willing to learn they will do a better job.
You’ll want to use the sharpest aperture for your lens. Usually that is around f/8. You also want to use an ISO of 100 so you don’t add any noise to the image. This may require a long exposure depending on the lights.
And of course you’ll want accurate color. That means getting good white balance. If you are on a super slim budget, you can white balance with a white sheet of paper. To get better results you can get a Whilbal card. For ultimate color accuracy, the X-rite color checker passport would be ideal.
Shoot in RAW if at all possible. This will give you complete control over color and white balance in software.
I know that sounds like a lot, but if you want to get pictures the same quality as your scans, this is what you’ll need to do. The most important thing would be consistent, even lighting.