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Polishing Turds, Pumping Sand & Playing With Apps


Dallas
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Last week I was pretty busy with photographing Real Estate listings. I think I ended up doing 8 for the week. Some were great, some were just awful, so I am thinking of changing my official title from “Property Photographer” to “Turd Polisher”, because that is a very appropriate description of what I am doing when editing some of my work. 

 

Anyway, today I didn’t have anything on, so to get out of the house for a little while I took a drive down to the beachfront. For those of you who don’t know, May is the very best time of the year to visit Durban. The weather is quite stunning nearly every day. The sky is blue, there is never any wind and the ambient temperature averages about 23-25˚C. Usually this time of year we see lots of people heading to the beaches to enjoy the warm Indian Ocean water and this magnificent weather. However, this year there is a problem. Some of the main central beaches are closed while the city tries valiantly to replenish the fast eroding sand. 

 

Due to it’s position at the mouth of several rivers, large portions of the city are essentially reclaimed land and in the current age of global warming we are seeing some unusually high spring tides on a more frequent basis than has been the case historically. These events wreak havoc on the promenade as the ocean tries to reclaim its dominance over the shoreline. 

 

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Google Earth 3D view of the city, looking south west. The harbour mouth was once an estuary and the entire point area is actually a giant sandbar. On the horizon you can see the Drakensberg mountains. 

 

Since I’ve been alive and living here (50 years now), it’s been an ongoing battle. Sometime in the early 1980’s the city engaged the services of an overseas company who came up with the brilliant idea of taking the sand normally dredged from the harbor mouth and pumping it onto the beaches with water via massive 2m diameter pipes. As kids we watched this operation unfold with fascination and were astonished to see the beach grow from it’s usual width of (roughly) 50-100m to more than triple that in places. It was a huge success and the city then built its own, somewhat smaller, but permanent sand pumping system to maintain the shoreline. 

 

Sadly, as with most infrastructural systems that had been put in place by the previous regime, it fell into disrepair after the transition to democracy and only the southernmost central beaches were having their sand replenished a few times a year, while the more central and northern beaches were literally disappearing from the coastal scour that affects them. This year it reached crisis point and finally lit a fire under the new city management’s collective behinds to take emergency action. 

 

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The structure you see being eroded was actually once a pump house for the original reclamation scheme. Ironic that it is now becoming a casualty of the thing it was designed to protect us from. 

 

On my walk this morning I see that they are doing it slightly differently this time around. Instead of pumping it from the harbor mouth and spraying it towards the ocean, the sand appears to be getting pumped from a point about 300m from the shore directly onto the beach into huge mounds which are then being bulldozed flat. Honestly, I don’t think this is going to work very well and it certainly doesn’t make much sense from an economic point of view to have these big diggers and dozers running all day, taking sand from where it is being deposited and manually moving it across the beach when all they have to do is point the outlet towards the sea, pump the sand in that direction and just leave it there. That’s how they did it in the 80’s and it worked perfectly for a long time. 

 

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Bulldozers in action.

 

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Not a great pic, but this is the floating connection point for where the dredger drops off the sand to be pumped onto the main beach. 

 

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These are all iPhone pics of the current operation, taken using the Lightroom CC app. 

 

On the subject of this Lr app, I am now a bit perplexed to have discovered that all the photos I took were seriously underexposed (by around 3 stops) when I opened up the Lightroom CC app on my iMac. I don’t use the app a lot but obviously the last time I did I must have reduced the exposure quite a lot and then not bothered to reset it to normal. The problem with using the Lr phone app in bright daylight is that the phone will adjust its screen brightness automatically to compensate for the ambient light, in this case boosting itself significantly, so unless you have got a really good memory on where you last left the exposure compensation, you’re likely to make the same mistake. That’s a bit of a design flaw in the Adobe app if you ask me (something they seem to be getting very good at doing lately). That said, I am quite impressed that the files were rescuable by lifting the exposure and shadows by a couple of stops and then applying a 50% noise reduction to them.

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I discovered and really appreciated the LR Mobile app on my Android phone and tablet during our last trip to South Africa.  I will keep you point in mind about the exposure compensation, not sure if it works the same (bad) way on the Android.  For those you use Lightroom and have not ventured into using the mobile app, it is so handy to be able to capture images on your phone and then mix them in with other images taken with a "proper" camera for a presentation.  

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The ocean's not having it. Yesterday afternoon, same beach as above. 

 

IMG_1022.jpeg

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It's obvious that the countries which will suffer most from the disastrous effects of global warming will be those with the least resources and inefficient government. Dallas, I fear this is the case for your country. People in Holland tend to complain about our government but in fact it is among the most efficient in the world. For maintenance of our coast and waterways we have a government ruled institution called Rijkswaterstaat which does a splendid job. It helps we Dutch have a long history on battling water so we have a lot of expertise. And of course we pay taxes to pay for it all but I've no problem at all with well spent tax money. Here's a video (in Dutch only) on how they tackle such a beach renovation Rijkswaterstaat 

Edited by Luc de Schepper

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Luc, the inefficiency of government here is preposterous. Greed and corruption on an epic scale is what we have to deal with daily. You can't open the newspaper on any day without reading about some or other financial disaster brought about as a result of ineptitude in government.

 

If you want to renew your 5-year driver's license here, set aside a whole day and even then you are not assured of getting it all done in a day. My passport expires next year and where previously it took only about 20 minutes to process a new application for one (using the same biometric system they use today) it will now also take an entire day. That goes for all government departments. The only one with a modicum of efficiency is the revenue services. And yet the electorate continue to vote for the same "liberation movement" government we have had for close on 25 years, post apartheid. Go figure. 

 

 

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That's really a shame Dallas. Now and then I read reports about the situation in SA and it's a pity because in theory your country could do so much better. 

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Well, there has been some really, really dirty tricks at play in recent times. The whole Bell Pottinger saga set race relations here back at least 30 years and even though the truth about what they did has come to light, it was 100% effective in setting the races apart. Honestly, I have not felt this negative about the country's future since the early 90's. :( 

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The three tiers of government in Australia (federal, state, and local) are not exactly known for honesty or for their efficient & effective utilisation of the Aussie tax payers tax money.

 

No matter which of the parties you may chose to vote for, you can only be assured of disappointment in your choice. 

 

Populism and fighting amongst themselves seems to be the only things that you can be assured of.  Any then there is the scandalous nature of Australians banks and financial institutions.......

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Mike, I believe that such things exist - petrified examples from the volcanic destruction of cities like Pompeii in Italy and many towns in Indonesia have produced such items (unpolished) which have since been polished.  What lengths humans will go to in order to be bizarre!  :crazy:   (In Indonesia, a high quality piece or stump of polished Petrified Wood  can be worth thousands of dollars, as it is highly sought after by interior designers ).

 

I think that gilded lilies would have to be a DIY job - I haven't seen them either. :D

 

 

7 hours ago, Mike G said:

Never seen a polished turd! :no:

 

6 hours ago, vivionm said:

Nor a gilded lily ...

 

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Is a fossilised piece of faecal matter called a copralite?

 

We need to get to the bottom of this!

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Well Mike, you are right on to it - "Trust British humour, sure can" (with many apologies to the British Paint Company's advertisements here in OZ where they say "Trust British Paints, Sure Can"). 

 

You can buy fossilised dinosaur turds here:  https://www.debarnsteenspecialist.nl/en/fossils/coprolite/

 

The bottom line is that these things are rapidly becoming sold out so if you wish to buy such items, you will need to move quickly - it would be a bummer to miss out! :rofl:

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Or make your own and bury them for a few thousand years, but of course that may be a bit of a too long term investment!

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Would this qualify, in modern day banking parlance, as a "Long turd Deposit"? :crazy:

 

 

2 hours ago, Mike G said:

Or make your own and bury them for a few thousand years, but of course that may be a bit of a too long term investment!

 

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Gather round, ev'rbody. Pull up a stool. We gonna shoot the sh.....

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    • By Dallas
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      The properties I have done this month range from dilapidated and neglected to spectacular and aspirational. Yesterday I had two homes on polar opposites of that spectrum. One was so bad I almost walked off site. The stink from the bathroom nearly had me retching. The other was an 80’s architecturally designed space that was immaculate and had me longing for a similar space to live and work in. The basement would have made the perfect home office and studio for me. Alas…
       
      Depending on the size of the property it takes me between 20-60 minutes to shoot a listing. The editing takes a similar amount of time and if I could only find a way of automating the Lightroom HDR process I’d probably not have to break much of a sweat when it comes to editing. I did try using the Olympus in-camera HDR features which produce a JPG and .ORF file from about 4 or 5 exposures but they’re not a match for the way Lightroom does it. They tend to come out very flat and look weird. 3 frames taken stop apart and then blended in Lightroom seems to work just fine, but unfortunately I have to tell the program which 3 it has to blend together, so that forms the bulk of my “editing” time. I also apply a few presets, such as correcting verticals and distortion of the Olympus 9-18mm lens. It’s weird that the built in profile doesn’t seem to be able to do this. 
       
      So my typical morning involves photographing up to 3 properties in the same general area, then coming home, having something to eat and commencing the digital output of between 15-40 shots per listing. The rest of the day is spent contacting home-owners and making appointments to do the shoots. Kind of like herding cats. 
       
      During the course of the week I was pointed in the direction of Lumenzia which is a Photoshop panel developed by a photographer named Greg Benz and is offered by him for free. Basically it’s a thing Photoshop experts call “luminosity masking” which sounds frightfully intimidating, but after watching a few of his introductory videos I might just give this a go should I find the time and inspiration to enhance some of the landscape (and property) work I have done in the past. 
       
      The trouble with editing in Photoshop, for me at least, is that I don’t find the interface very intuitive at all and there are so many concepts and hidden shortcuts that are quite daunting. For instance, if you hold down ALT when you click on certain tools or masks, an entirely different set of editing parameters can be activated. Remembering what all this stuff does is difficult for me, but I suppose it will come with practice. But that in itself is another discussion. Do I want to be spending an inordinate amount of time and energy on editing in Photoshop, or do I want to be out and about with my cameras? I think that if I am shooting for myself then yes, I can certainly see the rewards in spending the time and effort learning Photoshop properly, but for cheaply commissioned jobs like real estate and some pack shot work like I am doing today, working with Lightroom is perfectly adequate. 
       
      I like the simplicity of Lightroom. If I could make an analogy between working with the two pieces of software, it would be to say that Lightroom is the smooth highway and Photoshop is the 4x4 track that lead to the same destination. Yes, you can do much more with Photoshop, but getting to your end result requires a lot more technical expertise than that of Lightroom. Just like tackling a 4x4 route.
       

      Regular readers will be quite familiar with this space. This is what it looks like when I am shooting pack shots. I don't do too much of that these days - it seems that most online entrepreneurs are quite content to do it themselves even if they don't get quite the result they really want. It does have me thinking that I might very well develop a short course for this group of people showing them how to get a better than cellphone pack shot. Typically I am using my two Olympus FL-600R flashes, one fired into the ceiling at full power (it's the one attached to the orange clamp on the backdrop stand) and the other through an umbrella (which you can see just beyond my camera closest to the desk). In the past I had the huge a/c strobes set up but in this space it's just too much to trip over. This shot is taken with the Samyang 7.5mm fisheye and then straightened with one click in Lightroom using a lens profile I downloaded from somewhere. If I get more pack shot work I am probably going to invest in a long active USB cable so that I can shoot this tethered, which will make it a lot easier to do. 
       

      This is the outcome of that setup above, deep etched in the dreaded Photoshop. It's not a finished shot yet.

      View full article
    • By Dallas
      It’s Saturday morning as I sit here typing this run-down of the past week or so in my world of photography. I’ve taken a break from shooting some product here in the studio, which is a nice change from all the real estate I have done this month. So far this month I have photographed 27 homes and I have a small queue of about 5 that I still have to do before the billing cycle ends. More will probably come in next week. I’m not complaining! This work is ideal for me as it gets me out of the house and I get to interact with other living, breathing humans, which is a real pleasure that you can’t explain to people who don’t experience the kind of loneliness that comes with working at home on your own. 
       
      The properties I have done this month range from dilapidated and neglected to spectacular and aspirational. Yesterday I had two homes on polar opposites of that spectrum. One was so bad I almost walked off site. The stink from the bathroom nearly had me retching. The other was an 80’s architecturally designed space that was immaculate and had me longing for a similar space to live and work in. The basement would have made the perfect home office and studio for me. Alas…
       
      Depending on the size of the property it takes me between 20-60 minutes to shoot a listing. The editing takes a similar amount of time and if I could only find a way of automating the Lightroom HDR process I’d probably not have to break much of a sweat when it comes to editing. I did try using the Olympus in-camera HDR features which produce a JPG and .ORF file from about 4 or 5 exposures but they’re not a match for the way Lightroom does it. They tend to come out very flat and look weird. 3 frames taken stop apart and then blended in Lightroom seems to work just fine, but unfortunately I have to tell the program which 3 it has to blend together, so that forms the bulk of my “editing” time. I also apply a few presets, such as correcting verticals and distortion of the Olympus 9-18mm lens. It’s weird that the built in profile doesn’t seem to be able to do this. 
       
      So my typical morning involves photographing up to 3 properties in the same general area, then coming home, having something to eat and commencing the digital output of between 15-40 shots per listing. The rest of the day is spent contacting home-owners and making appointments to do the shoots. Kind of like herding cats. 
       
      During the course of the week I was pointed in the direction of Lumenzia which is a Photoshop panel developed by a photographer named Greg Benz and is offered by him for free. Basically it’s a thing Photoshop experts call “luminosity masking” which sounds frightfully intimidating, but after watching a few of his introductory videos I might just give this a go should I find the time and inspiration to enhance some of the landscape (and property) work I have done in the past. 
       
      The trouble with editing in Photoshop, for me at least, is that I don’t find the interface very intuitive at all and there are so many concepts and hidden shortcuts that are quite daunting. For instance, if you hold down ALT when you click on certain tools or masks, an entirely different set of editing parameters can be activated. Remembering what all this stuff does is difficult for me, but I suppose it will come with practice. But that in itself is another discussion. Do I want to be spending an inordinate amount of time and energy on editing in Photoshop, or do I want to be out and about with my cameras? I think that if I am shooting for myself then yes, I can certainly see the rewards in spending the time and effort learning Photoshop properly, but for cheaply commissioned jobs like real estate and some pack shot work like I am doing today, working with Lightroom is perfectly adequate. 
       
      I like the simplicity of Lightroom. If I could make an analogy between working with the two pieces of software, it would be to say that Lightroom is the smooth highway and Photoshop is the 4x4 track that lead to the same destination. Yes, you can do much more with Photoshop, but getting to your end result requires a lot more technical expertise than that of Lightroom. Just like tackling a 4x4 route.
       

      Regular readers will be quite familiar with this space. This is what it looks like when I am shooting pack shots. I don't do too much of that these days - it seems that most online entrepreneurs are quite content to do it themselves even if they don't get quite the result they really want. It does have me thinking that I might very well develop a short course for this group of people showing them how to get a better than cellphone pack shot. Typically I am using my two Olympus FL-600R flashes, one fired into the ceiling at full power (it's the one attached to the orange clamp on the backdrop stand) and the other through an umbrella (which you can see just beyond my camera closest to the desk). In the past I had the huge a/c strobes set up but in this space it's just too much to trip over. This shot is taken with the Samyang 7.5mm fisheye and then straightened with one click in Lightroom using a lens profile I downloaded from somewhere. If I get more pack shot work I am probably going to invest in a long active USB cable so that I can shoot this tethered, which will make it a lot easier to do. 
       

      This is the outcome of that setup above, deep etched in the dreaded Photoshop. It's not a finished shot yet.
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