Monday, 29 December 2014

2014 - One year, one picture

My year as a photographer in one picture. Featuring Petra Brewitz, Henrik Mårtensson, Lotta Odelberg, Petri Olderhvit, Victoria Vesterlund, and Linlin Wang.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Flash photography presentation at Pan

The first slide in my presentation featured Linlin Wang. From a recent photo session where I worked very closely with Petri Olderhvit.

I had a very fun evening at the PAN Photo Club yesterday. I had been invited to hold a presentation on small flash photography.

I had been invited by Jan Thorkilsson, the chairman of PAN, because Jan had seen me present at the Partille Photo Club earlier this year.

It was great fun. I like to present, and I love when it spawns a lively discussion afterwards. We talked a lot about how to get started with small flash, and getting over that initial wave of flash induced panic.

I also did a practical demonstration, shooting with one and two flashes, speed grid and gels.

We talked a lot, not just about flash photography, but also about photography culture. For example, I mentioned all the models, artists, and other people I showed pictures of, by name:

Linlin Wang
Victoria Vesterlund
Therese Ekblad (Modell Matheka)
My Hesser
Ida Stranne
Johan Wikström
Anna Mattisson
Daniel Eliasson
Géza Pályi
Sana Sakura
Lotta Odelberg

I also made a point of mentioning Petri Olderhvit and Julia Reinhart, the photographers I worked with while shooting some of the photos.

I did this partly to remind everyone, including myself, that all the photos I showed are collaborative works. I work with human beings, some I have met only once, others a couple of times, some are close friends.

From a practical point of view, the more people who know that Victoria, Therese, and My are models, that Johan Wikström plays in the rock band Mays Hounds, that Anna and Lotta are firedancers, and that Sana is a butoh dancer and choreographer, the greater the probability that they get paying gigs.

Of course, the more paying gigs they get, the greater the probability that they will mention me, Petri, and Julia to people who might want our services.

Taking it a step further, if we help each other out in this way, it will strengthen the Gothenburg Photo Meetup network most of us are members of.

So, what started as a discussion about flash photography, evolved into a discussion about collaboration, and from there we went on to discussing organizational structure. From the point of view of any traditional organization, whether it be a photo club or a business, a network organization like Photo Meetup looks like a crazy mess, except, of course that it works very well.

I am passionate about both photography, and organization, so I was pretty much in heaven. I think the PAN people enjoyed it too.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Photo Caricatures

Julia Reinhart
During a recent photo shoot I decided to make a few caricature shots of my friends. Of course, I could not ask them to pose for caricature photos without doing it myself, so I asked Julia Reinhart to take a photo of me.
Henrik Mårtensson (Photographer: Julia Reinhart)
Making photos like this is quite easy. I have used the various liquify tools in Pixelmator. Photoshop, The gimp, and other apps have similar tools.
Petri Olderhvit
My main tool was Warp, but I also used Bump, Pinch, and Twirl to good effect.

It is best to avoid stretching or otherwise enlarging parts of a face too much. The face will stretch, but will also loose texture.

A caricature works best when you exaggerate what is already there. Ask your subjects to make the weirdest facial expressions they can come up with, and work from there.

I had a lot of fun making these, and they certainly will not be my last caricature photos.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Review: Gemini - The duplicate file remover

You tell Gemini which folder to search for duplicates in by dropping it on the application window.
Every time I use my camera, I face the same painful struggle for hard drive space. RAW files are large, Pixelmator files even larger.

In addition, the same file often gets duplicated. For example, I may import a RAW file into Aperture, then process it using DXO Optics Pro, import the DXO version into Pixelmator, save a Pixelmator file, export a JPG file, and then import the JPG file into Aperture. Finally, I may export the Aperture version to a cloud service so that someone else can download it.

That leaves me with a lot of different versions of the original, but also with several exact duplicate files.

This morning I had enough, and bought Gemini, an app that locates and removes duplicates from my Mac.

Using Gemini is easy: You drag and drop the folder you want searched for duplicates onto the application window, and click a start button.

I dropped my home folder on Gemini. I could have dropped the harddrive icon, but I did not want to take any chances with Gemini eliminating system files. Gemini is supposed to be smart enough to avoid that, but why take chances?

Scanning the harddrive takes a couple of minutes. Gemini is fairly fast compared to other apps I have used.

Gemini found 27.97 GB of duplicate files. I have seen older reviews that complained about Gemini missing duplicates, but this problem seems to have been solved.

Without running comparisons with other duplicate file eliminators, I can't be entirely sure that Gemini finds them all. However, 27.97 GB is enough to keep me quite happy, for now...

When Gemini has analyzed the harddrive contents, a new window pops up. I do like the interface. Files are broken down into major categories. Within each category, files that have duplicates are listed. The list is ordered by size, you you can gain a lot of space by eliminating duplicates in the first ten to fifteen items.

Gemini has an Autoselect feature that automatically selects duplicates. This is fast, but a little bit risky. You and Gemini may not agree which version of a file to keep.

I selected files manually. A bit slower, but it felt a lot safer.

The worst space wasters on my harddrive were not photos, but audio files. Many of these had been duplicated fifteen times or more.

When I told Gemini to remove the files I had found, it showed me a list of files to be removed.

Gemini can remove duplicates in iPhoto and Aperture libraries too. To ensure the integrity of the photo libraries, Gemini launches iPhoto or Aperture to delete duplicates.

When Gemini deletes files, they are moved to the Trash bin. They won't be deleted from the harddrive until you empty the Trash. That means you have one last chance to change your mind, even after Gemini has done its work.

Even though Gemini found 27 GB of duplicate files the first time around, I removed about 15 GB. I was a bit pressed for time. I'll have another go in about a week.

Those 15 GB makes a lot of difference though. My computer feels a lot more responsive, almost back to its usual self. Another round with Gemini, and moving some old, large files to external storage, should get my computer back to full speed even when multitasking several large apps, and working with very large files.
 Gemini has some useful but easy to miss features hidden in its Preferences dialog. for starters, you can define the minimum size of files to remove. This can speed the analysis up by reducing the number of files Gemini has to check.

 It is also useful to be able to exclude files you do not want checked. You can exclude files based on which folders they are located in, the file names, or the file extensions.
Finally, you have some control over Gemini's Autoselect feature. You can tell Gemini which folders to prioritize, and which folders to exclude from Autoselect.

Overall, I was impressed with Gemini. The app does its job, the user interface is well thought out, and it is reasonably fast.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Book cover shoot: Write Like a Pro

Write ("skriv") and sell ("sälj") is what Lennart's new book is about: The entire process, from idea to publication.
My friend, author Lennart Guldbrandsson has just published his tenth book, Skriv som ett Proffs (Write like a Pro). It's a book about how to write and sell books, something Lennart knows how to do.

Lennart asked me to shoot the cover photo. The first thing I did was to ask for a draft copy to read, which I did.

There is a lot of useful advice in those pages. I do write a little bit too, so I recognize sound advice when I see it. If I started actually following it, I might be a lot more successful.

Lennart and I met a couple of times to talk about the cover. We even did a somewhat improvised portrait shoot before we got started on the big one.

The idea that turned into the final shot was Lennart's. We wanted something that would make his book stand out, make it visible when it is on a bookshelf, competing with a lot of other books on writing and publishing.

I think we succeeded!

Lennart wrote a blog post about his book. It's over here (in Swedish).

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Droste effect with Pixelmator

I usually do droste effects with special software, but this time I decided to do it with Pixelmator.

The droste effect is interesting, and actually quite simple to do. You take part of a photo, and repeat it, over and over, giving the appearance of infinite repetition.

Here is the original photo. I asked my son, Tim, to hold a piece of colored cardboard, and took the shot.

I used Pixelmator's Paint Selection Tool and Magic Wand Tool to select the cardboard, and then used Edit->Refine Selection... to expand the selection by 1 pixel, and feather it slightly.

Then, I used the Eraser Tool to erase the cardboard, leaving a transparent hole in the photo.

I duplicated the photo, and then shrank and rotated the bottom layer, so it fit into the hole in the top layer.

I merged the two layers, which left me with a new picture with my first recursion, which of course had a smaller hole in it.

Then, I just repeated the process a couple of times: Duplicate, shrink, rotate, merge...

I exported the resulting photo, imported it into Aperture, and gave it a final touch, increasing definition, brightening it, and increasing the saturation just a touch.

Easy to do, and fun.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Victorious: How to turn toys terrifying with Pixelmator

I played with my son yesterday, and this gave me inspiration for an impromptu photo session. I recently hosted a Low Key photography themed Photo & Coffee meeting for people in my photography network, Fototräff i Göteborg (Photography meetup in Gothenburg). Low Key photography was still on my mind.

To take the shot above, used a DSLR and one remote controlled flash. The shot was taken in a living room. I did the following:

  1. Set the camera on manual, and the ISO to the lowest possible setting.
  2. Set the flash to manual, and reduced the strength to its minimum setting.
  3. I put a speed grid on the flash to eliminate light spill. You can use a snoot, or an empty Pringles tube.
  4. I put the action figure on the edge of a table.
  5. I took the shot with the flash above the figure, and angled downwards. The camera was angled slightly up. This creates dramatic shadows, and makes the figure look quite large.
At this point, the photo looked like this:

Fairly good for an improvised shot of a toy, but the look is too shiny and plastic.

Enter Pixelmator, my favorite image editor.

At first, I thought I'd just do a quickie, and add some rain, so I created a new black layer and used Pixelmator's rain generator. I then selected the rain, created a mask that left only the raindrops visible, and changed the blend mode to screen.

I wasn't happy with Venom's tongue. In the original photo it looks very plastic, and I wanted a more organic look. I decided to add some texture by using an old photo of catfish skin. (Yes, I got stuff like that lying around from other projects.)

The catfish skin looked pretty good on the tongue, but even better on the armor, so I decided to keep it. I used a mask to erase it from the Iron Man helmet though.

Next, I selected all the brightest parts of the image, copied them to a new layer, added a tiny bit of Gaussian Blur, did something I don't quite remember (sorry about that), and changed the blend mode to Luminosity. This turned the highlights into gaping black holes. Perfect battle damage.

I used a soft brush with about 10-20% opacity to touch up the picture, mostly by painting on the various masks to hide or display parts of the original photo.

I created a layer for the blood, selected a deep red color, and used two spatter brushes from Pixelmator's Abstract brush set to paint blood around the gashes on the helmet and armor. I changed the blood layer blend mode to Darken. The best blend mode to use for blood can be different on different photos.

The blood looked a bit thin on the helmet, so I copied the blood layer, and erased all blood except the blood on the helmet on the copy. That gave me a bit stronger coloring on the helmet.

The armor looked a bit dry, so I copied it to a new layer, changed the blend mode to Overlay, and reduced the opacity to about 56%.

That gave me a pretty cool look.

Best of all, my son liked it!

Friday, 22 August 2014

The Lost World: George Makes a Split

This is as gruesome as we are going to get in the Lost World project. Grisly enough, I think. We have shot most of the material, but still have a lot of post processing to do.

Right now, I am very glad we decided to do the project in a comic book style. Photorealism would have been going just one step to far...

You might wonder just how we create an image like this. We are eight people in the project, and no one can draw worth a damn (unless they are keeping it a secret).

The process started in Comic Life 3, where I wrote a first draft of the script, and made a dummy layout with empty panels.

This makes it easy for the entire team to see what we are working on, and how it fits with the bits we have done, and all the stuff we haven't done yet.

The script and dummy layout is also a great help when the team discusses story ideas and improvements.

We always have a printed copy of the dummy layout when we are out shooting.

When we have done a shoot, we add photos to key panels as quickly as possible. This helps us track what we have done. It also gives us a sense of the look and feel of the whole thing.

We do most of the compositing in Pixelmator. As you can see, the composites are not photo realistic. They are not supposed to be either, since this is just an intermediary stage, before we import the photos into Comic Life 3 and apply the final drawing conversion there.

Working this way is a great timesaver. Photorealism takes time. Using a comic book style allows us to work much faster, and still create very exciting and interesting images.

Also, when we get to the goriest parts, like this photo of George and the T-Rexes, turning the photo into a drawing reduces the emotional impact a bit. We want to tell an exciting action story, not revel in blood and gore.

See you!

Saturday, 12 July 2014

The Lost World dinosaur store is open!

The Lost World dinosaur store is open! I have opened a new store for dinosaur enthusiasts. The products in this blog post are just samples. To see all the products, visit The Lost World store using this link.

Pterosaur T Shirt
Pterosaur T Shirt by The_Lost_World
See more Pterosaur T-Shirts at

You can buy t-shirts with different motifs, and customizable in hundreds of different ways. You can choose different sizes, models, colors, even add your own text.
Brachiosaurus Beach Coffee Mug
Brachiosaurus Beach Coffee Mug by The_Lost_World
Check out Dinosaur Mugs online at zazzle

Would you like a coffee mug that is truly unique? You can have it! The Lost World store has mugs with four different motifs, and seven different style mugs.

A puzzle is a perfect gift. This one, you can customize with your own text. And, check out the Gift Box option.
Remember the above products are just samples. The Lost World store has more stuff, and new products will be added every week. Go there, and have a look!

Friday, 11 July 2014

Henrik's Last Selfie
Henrik's Last Selfie by The_Lost_World
View Dinosaur Mugs online at zazzle
I am working on a new product line: The Lost World. This is the first product. More will follow.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

The Lost World project is a go!

The Quetzalcoatlus could have a 10-12 m (32-39 ft.) wing span and weigh 200-250 Kg. This specimen was smaller than that, but strong enough to carry Roxton over the ledge.
The Lost world project got off to a great start yesterday. We currently have nine team members. This is about as many as we need.

We have a project group on G+, and an outline of a plan. Everyone agreed that the comic book style pictures are good: They look cool, and they simplify and speed up post processing and compositing work considerably. This is important, because there will be many, many composite images.

The next step is to develop characters and story, and start shooting. In addition to human models, everyone in the project will do modelling at one point or another. We also have a pretty good creature lineup.
The T-Rex has left the project due to scheduling conflicts, and an unfortunate tendency to snack on extras. However, we are very close to signing up a replacement that is even cooler.

Now, I'll get back to working. I do hope you enjoy the pictures. More will follow.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Thursday, 5 June 2014

How to give constructive photo critique – and use it

Focus the critique on things you can do to improve the photo.
Good photo critique is extremely valuable feedback, but how do you get it? Facebook and Google+ don't cut it as venues for critique. Too many people are interested in shooting other people's photographs down, just to bolster their own self-esteem. Even well meant critique is rarely useful.

Awhile ago, I started a photo group, and some of the friends I have made through that group have turned out to be not only good photographers, but also excellent critics.

A few days ago, three other group members, and I, were out shooting. Rather than submitting the photos we took to the entire group for critique, we decided to do it ourselves.

We gathered at a café in the Gothenburg City Library, and started looking at photos. I am showing only the photo we analysed most thoroughly.

As you can see in the picture above, we gave only feedback that would allow us to do something about it. It is no use complaining about things that cannot be fixed, so we didn't.

Writing the critique down is important. I kept notes while we were critiquing. When I got back home, I created the picture above, and posted it in our photo group's forum on Facebook. This way, we have a record of the critique. Because I wrote it on the photo itself, it is easy to relate the critique to elements in it.
Here is the original picture for comparison. As you can see, we did it as a single panel comic. We used a version stripped of text for the critique though. We wanted to focus on the photograph.

There is one thing left, before the process is complete: We need to reshoot the photo using our own advice. Only then will we learn from our own critique.

Of course, you cannot always reshoot. If you can't do that, make a point of using the advice when you are shooting something similar.

Of course, it is important to us to schedule a reshoot as soon as possible. The longer we wait, the greater the risk that we'll forget about it.

I'll do a new writeup after the reshoot.

Click here to read Part 2.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Why I use a 10-20mm lens for street photography

There was a discussion about lenses for street photography in an FB group. I made this comic page to show why I often use a 10-20mm zoom.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Fighter planes at the Gothenburg Aeroseum

I was at the Gothenburg Aeroseum, an aircraft museum in an underground, former military aircraft hangar. While there, I took some shots, of course.

I used a super wide angle lens, a Sigma 10-20mm, for these photos. I wanted to convey a sense of speed by distorting the perspective.

For the shot above, I hoisted my camera up high by using a monopod.

Here are some more shots from the visit.

For this shot, I put a flash with a full CTO gel in the afterburner, and another with a 1/2 CTB gel on the right wing. This enabled me to give the impression that the engine is firing up.

I could not resist adding a bit of glow to the light from the afterburner in Pixelmator.

Next time, I'll bring a duster.

The cockpit of a SAAB J35 Draken (Dragon).

The J29 Flying Barrel is one of my favorites. I did the flash-in-the-engine trick again with this one, to make the picture a bit more interesting.

My previous post was about obsessive repetition of patterns. I could not resist adding a few shots to my Whiteout series.

Cow? Well, yes, there were plenty of cows in the fields outside the Aeroseum area.

As you can see, when I left the Aeroseum, I provided a bit of entertainment for the cows. They gathered as close as they could get, to see me walk along the road, with my camera and my giant backpack.