A sunny day in Jaffa – part 2

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As promised I continue with my blog on the day in Jaffa, and here I would share with you some additional sites and even one surprise

Jaffa is best viewed from the north, as seen in the following photo

And here is how Jaffa looked ~100 years ago, ans pictured by the New Zealanders soldiers in WWI.

Origin of this photo is: http://www.nzetc.org/tm/scholarly/tei-WH1-Sina-t1-body-d5-d2.html

Getting closer to the port, one can see several rocks in the see. The largest is named Andromeda Rock

Jaffa has many attractive sites, the most dominant one is St. Peter’s Church:

and a panoramic view (using the a55 panorama scene)

The port itself also has some nice points such as:


Street Theater shows:


and sport activities:


View of Tel Aviv

…and a panoramic view from the top of the hill

Finally, as promised I have a surprising picture of a non conventional wedding that took place when I was near the Church

That’s all for today’s Jaffa visit 🙂


to HDR or not to HDR

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Hi all

I decided to test the benefits of using the internal feature of HDR. When strolling in Jaffa (see previous blog), I took the picture of a wall, where part of it was shaded. Here is the original photo:

Now, this is the result of the Auto HDR produced by the camera (The camera takes 2 photos and processes the combined result)

Finally, I applied the Auto single photo HDR feature in PS5.5 to yield the following photo:

What do you say? Which is better? The internal 2-photo HDR or the 1 photo PS processed HDR?

A sunny day in Jaffa – part 1 – the walls’ graffiti

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Hi all

I decided to enjoy the wonderful weather (25 deg, clear sky) and go to Jaffa port to watch the exhibition of graffiti wall paintings

Obviously it was a good opportunity to test some of the a55 capabilities 🙂

All photos were taken with Sony 18-250mm lens

The wall paintings were all over the port, done by artists for a promoting a commercial company, here are several snapshots of them:

This photo demonstrates the contrast between the painted houses (actually a warehouse) and the other houses. It was taken using the Panorama scene, cropped at both sides

here are additional photos, click on the thumbnails




In part 2 I’ll share with you the other attractions found in Jaffa

Several interesting blogs


Hi all

Today, I would like to share with you several blogs I’m following:

The 1st one is SonyAlpha Rumors which brings a lot of information on Sony new products: News, rumors and reviews


Another blog that supplies news and rumors, but is not limited only to Sony is Camera Rumors & News


I also enjoy reading the phoblographer which brings new products reviews, and specifically a review of the Sony a55


Finally I would like to highlight the blog of Robin Wong who uses Olympus system. I started reading Robin’s blog as I have also an Olympus DSLR, but I would highly recommend looking at his blog as his personal touch is really unique


Photo post processing tools – comparison – part 2


Hi all

As promised (and requested) I tested the capabilities of Adobe PhotoShop CS5 and Corel PaintShop Pro 3.

Adobe CS5 is indeed one of the best SW tools, it opened quickly and easily the Sony Raw files and presented them correctly (which many tools fail to do including Picasa)

However, the current database of CS5 doesn’t support the Sony line of lenses, it supports Sigma and Tamron, but not Sony, so the only way to apply Lens Correction was manual

Corel PaintShop Pro 3 is a nice, cost effective program. It failed to open A55 Raw files correctly, also it doesn’t apply automatic lens correction.

So, as noted in the previous post, the only tool so far capable of automatically opening Sony A55 Raw files and apply lens correction for the 18-250mm is DxO Optic Pro http://www.dxo.com/uk/photo

I suppose this is the down side of selecting Sony line of cameras and not Nikon/Canon 😦

Let’s have some fun: Fake Miniatures – part 1

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Hi all

I am still working on the comparison of the image post processing tools, but in the meanwhile let’s have some fun with Fake Miniatures.

What are Fake Miniatures?

Wikipedia defines it as  a process in which a photograph of a life-size location or object is made to look like a photograph of a miniature scale model. it is done by blurring the upper and lower parts of the picture, simulating a shallow depth of field. In addition the colors are enhances to create a toy like appearance

Others may call it TiltShift photography, as using tilted lens creates the same impact

I obviously took the simpler path of processing the digital image, and the number of options is large. One may do it manually by using image editing tools such as CS5, GIMP or Paint.net. Others may write scripts or use a dedicated plug-in. I found a very nice web based tool that automates all steps required to create a Fake Miniature, and does it quickly and in a simple manner. The tool is called TiltShift Maker, and is located in the following address: http://tiltshiftmaker.com/. You may use it free of charge for limited output resolution, and for higher resolution you need to pay per the picture size.

here is an example of taking a rather dull photo and converting it to a more interesting one using this tool

Before: St. Thomas island in US Virgin Islands

After: the red roof buildings are kept in focus while the other regions are blurred, look at the cars, how seems to be toy cars now

Now, some homework 🙂 can you create your own Fake Miniature, either using this toll or any other and share it?

FYI, there’s a group in Flickr, dedicated to TiltShift fakes: http://www.flickr.com/groups/tilt-shift-fakes/

Photo post processing tools – comparison


Hi all

There are quite a few commercial tools for photo editing, some are free of charge, others may cost from tens of $ to several hundreds. I searched for the tool best matching my needs:

1) Ability to read Sony Raw files (.arw format)

2) Improve image quality, specifically for low light high ISO conditions

3) Ability to fix Chromatic  Aberration and Lens distortion

4) Automatic operation with minimal intervention from my side

I started by testing free of charge tools: Google’s Picasa, Microsoft Windows photo live gallery, Irfanview, Sony’s Image data converter SR, GIMP and Paint.net. Unfortunately Sony Raw format is not common and not supported by most of them! The only tool (obviously) that was able to open and load the Raw files was Sony’s Image data converter SR that was supplied with my camera. However this tool meets only the 1st and 2nd requirements in my list, as it doesn’t fix neither CA nor Lens distortion. GIMP and Paint.net may support Sony’s Raw files through conversion tools, but it’s not intuitive.

Next I moved to the low cost tools, and the one to be tested was PTLens, obtained from http://epaperpress.com/ptlens/. This tool enables you to test 10 times before you need to purchase it for $25. It recognized my camera (Sony A55) and my lens (Sony 18-250) and was able to fix automatically the Lens Distortion. It is also possible to correct manually Vignetting, Perspective and CA, and the results look quite good. Software runs quickly and with no bugs. However – it works only on JPEG files, and doesn’t read Sony Raw files 😦

Next level are the more expensive professional tools of Adobe – Photoshop Elements 9, Bible labs 5.5.2 and DxO Optics Pro 6.5.6. All did a very good job in improving image quality, however the only one that met fully all 4 requirements was DxO Optics Pro standard edition ($169), aside of the relatively long time for initial loading of the SW I wasn’t able to find any issue. The SW identified my camera and lens, was able to read raw files and performed a nice “automatic” correction

Interim summary: Recommended SW tools

Sony’s Image data converter SR

Pros:                                                                   Cons:

Free of charge                                                      Doesn’t fix CA and Lens Distortion

Reads Raw files                                                    Doesn’t have automatic mode


Pros:                                                                    Cons:

Modest cost of $25                                                Doesn’t read Sony’s Raw files

Automatically fixes Lens Distortion                         Other parameters are manually fixed

Fixes CA, vignetting and perspective

DxO Optics Pro:

Pros:                                                                    Cons:

Works on Raw files                                                Costs $169

Automatically fixes Lens Distortion                         Other parameters are manually fixed

Fixes CA, vignetting and perspective

Improves nicely image quality

I am downloading now Corel’s PaintShop Photo Pro trial version, as it finally supports Sony A55 Raw files, so say tuned to next post…

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